Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has expressed surprise at the unusual circumstances that have led to the dropping of explosive batsman Shimron Hetmyer ahead of the team’s campaign for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

According to a release issued by Cricket West Indies (CWI), which roiled the cricketing world on Monday, the body opted to replace Hetmyer with Shamarh Brooks after the player missed a rescheduled flight, having been advised of the consequences of doing so.

The release stated that the player's original flight was changed from Saturday to Monday due to family reasons but did not mention if Hetmyer had given a reason for being unable to catch the second flight.

“I must say I am a bit surprised because who wouldn’t want to play in the World Cup tournament and who wouldn’t want to represent their country,” Ambrose told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“What I heard in the media is that he had some family issues.  So, I take it that if you are going to miss playing for your country, or playing at the World Cup then he has some serious issues to deal with.  I reckon that if that’s the case, you want to ensure that whatever issues he has with his family are being sorted, so he has to miss the World Cup.  I wish him well.”

 

West Indies white-ball Captain Nicholas Pooran on Tuesday gave his first reaction to the absence of left-hander Shimron Hetmyer from the squad preparing for their series against Australia and the subsequent ICC T20 World Cup.

Hetmyer was originally named in the 15-man squad for the Australia series and the World Cup before being replaced by Shamarh Brooks on Monday.

The Guyanese batsman, who recently captained the Guyana Amazon Warriors to a playoff appearance in the Caribbean Premier League, was scheduled to travel to Australia to join the squad on Saturday before informing CWI that he would be unable to make the flight.

He was then rebooked for a flight on Monday before, once again, informing the CWI that he wouldn’t be able to make it. CWI’s selection panel then unanimously voted to replace him with Brooks. Before scheduling the Monday flight, he was informed that failure to make the flight would leave CWI no choice but to replace him in the squad.

“To be honest, that’s not my focus at the moment,” Pooran said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“The decision has been made, there are consequences for your actions. At the moment, I just want to focus on why we’re here and how we’re going to achieve our goals. Obviously, we planned with him but, unfortunately, he’s not here and we have to plan differently now,” he added.

“He’s definitely an experienced cricketer,” was Pooran’s reaction when Australian journalists questioned him about Hetmyer’s replacement in the squad, Shamarh Brooks.

“He’s been in our white-ball set up for the last year and has been doing fantastic. He had a really good CPL as well. He has a vital role to play for us,” he added.

Brooks is fresh off a fantastic CPL playoffs where he had scores of 47, 109* and 47 to help the Jamaica Tallawahs win their third CPL title.

 

 

Former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray has questioned the selection of left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell and leg-spinner Yannic Cariah for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

“His involvement in T20 cricket has been non-existent,” Gray said of Cariah on the Mason & Guest radio show in Barbados on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Trinidadian made his One-Day International debut for the Windies in the recently concluded series against New Zealand in Barbados last month.

“With Cariah, I think the selectors are assessing him on the couple of games he played against New Zealand but those were 50-over games. Where are you going to bat Cariah? He’s a very intelligent player, hard-working. I had him at the Under-19 level and I had to stop him a few times because he would be the one that would over-train and put too much pressure on himself,” added Gray, who represented the region in five Tests and 25 ODIs from 1985-1991.

Cariah has played four T20 matches in his career, the last coming six years ago.

Regarding Cottrell, Gray pointed to his fitness as his main question mark heading into Australia.

“I don’t think Cottrell has been fit enough in recent times to warrant a place on the West Indies team.  When you look at Cottrell in the last 50-over tournament, he was the player of the tournament for the West Indian people. When we look at Cottrell then, he was extremely fit. He was not only brilliant with the ball, but he was also brilliant in the field and took some stunning catches,” Gray said.

“The point I’m trying to make about Cottrell is that if he’s not playing consistently, I’m not sure that he’s going to fare well. We understand that he’s going to be playing on bouncier tracks in Australia and that he has different types of deliveries, but I’ve not seen him enough in recent times to make a determination on his fitness,” he added.

Cottrell has taken 48 wickets in 43 T20 Internationals since his debut in 2014. In the 2022 CPL, he took five wickets in six matches for the St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots.

 

Barbadian All-rounder Jason Holder has warned his West Indian teammates against complacency in the qualifying round for the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to commence October 15 in Australia.

The Windies, who won the tournament in 2012 and 2016, will face Scotland, Zimbabwe and Ireland in Group B with the top two teams advancing to the Super 12.

"We've got a task to uphold in terms of qualifying for the main round," Holder said.

"More or less, we have to focus on the qualifier. Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe by no means are pushovers. We've got to take it as seriously as we possibly can and just make sure we get into the next phase of the tournament."

Holder, entering his third T20 World Cup believes there are positives to playing in the qualifiers for the regional side.

"I think it's good in a way that we're playing the qualifiers," he said.

 "West Indies teams of the past have proved that we get better as we go along. To have the warm-up phase of the tournament and then to go into the actual group stage after qualification, I think it's going to be to our betterment in the sense we get more cricket. The talent we have got - depth in terms of resources and batting and bowling - we've always been pretty athletic in the field, so I'm looking forward to that challenge."

The team will be looking to rebound from an abysmal 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE where they got just one win in five matches, failing to advance from the Super 12.

 

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Sir Andy Roberts believes not having a settled team could make things difficult for the team in the upcoming T20 World Cup qualifiers.

In order to officially book a spot in Australia next month, the two-time champions must advance from a play-off group that will also feature Ireland, Scotland, and Zimbabwe.  The team will start as heavy favourites to advance from the group but the squad will feature several players that have not been in the squad for the last few months and even some who have never played the format internationally.

Since a disastrous campaign at the 2021 World Cup, the Windies have played 22 matches, but a few of the players added to the squad have not played in the majority of them over the past year.  For instance, Evin Lewis has not played since the last tournament, Johnson Charles has not played for the team since 2016, Sheldon Cottrell has played sparingly since the start of the year, and Yannic Cariah and Raymond Reifer are yet to play in the format.

Having played so many matches Roberts believes the team should have been already been using a settled squad ahead of the tournament.

“We don’t have a settled team and that is the biggest problem.  You don’t know what your teammate is capable of doing because he has just come into the team,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“When West Indies was at its best, we had a settled team for five, ten years.  If you check out Australia, Australia has a settled team, and Pakistan has a settled team.  India is fiddling around with the team and just look at the issues they have been having.  You need settled teams,” he added.

“We are going with a number of new players, new to the international scene.  We knew for a long time that the World Cup was going to be this year, so we should have been trying our best to make sure we have a unit that is ready to go from ball one.”

 

 

Former West Indies opening batsman Philo Wallace believes the 15-man squad selected for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia has the issue of being short of genuine batsmen.

It’s safe to say that the selection announced by the Desmond Haynes-led panel, earlier this week, included quite a few surprises.  The list included some players on the fringes of the T20 unit for a while, with the likes of Sheldon Cottrell and Johnson Charles recalled and the inexperienced Yannic Cariah also earning somewhat of a shock selection.  

In some ways, Wallace believes the team is similar in composition to the West Indies squad selected for last year's failed World Cup campaign, which had focused on stacking up power hitters.

“We’re going to Australia on bigger cricket grounds and we are carrying a lot of hitters of the cricket ball.  I think when these guys are asked to bat, they are going to find themselves in problems.  A lot of them are not even in form,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

The former opener also had questions regarding how different pieces of the team would fit together.

“If you play Johnson Charles you have four openers on that T20 squad right now.  Is he going to keep wicket or is he going to field out.  Yannic Cariah is a wildcard, he doesn’t play T20 cricket, and he’s not involved in CPL.  If he plays where is he going to fit into the 11?”

 

 

The Roger Harper-led West Indies selection panel has been relieved of its duties.

Former fast bowler Richard ‘Prof’ Edwards has called for Cricket West Indies (CWI) to take a radical approach to rebuild the fortunes of West Indies cricket, following a dismal showing at the ICC T20 World Cup.

Having entered the tournament as defending champions, the regional team crashed out of it after losing four of the five games played.  The team’s lone win came against Bangladesh and even more concerningly they were comfortably beaten in the rest of the matches.

The batting line-up, which featured the likes of experienced players Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo was particularly disappointing as they never seemed to come to grips with the circumstances.

“At no time when you saw West Indies batting did they give any idea or feeling of permanence there.  The batsmen looked they were in a hurry to make shots, all the time looking for attacks.”

“When I compared how they batted with Finch and Warner of Australia for example, Rahul and Rohit for India, Williamson, and co in New Zealand and people like Babar Azam, it was looking like two different games altogether.  The class that those other players exuded when they were batting, it didn’t look like at any time we were going to stick around for very long,” he added.

In light of such a catastrophic failure, Edwards believes major changes are needed, perhaps even with the leadership of the unit.

“You have to come in and be fairly cold about what you want to do. You want to try and look at the team and the players.  How long they’ve been playing? Are they still producing?

“I would think that now you have to come in and be a little ruthless, look around and try to pick, but who are you going to pick?  Do you have the resources? Whatever it is, now is the time to build.  The supposedly experienced players never came to the party.”

Rubbing salt into the gaping wound of their poor performance at the ICC T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, the West Indies will have to play an additional qualifying round against the likes of Scotland and Namibia to make the Super 12s in next year's Men's T20 World Cup in Australia.

West Indies white-ball vice-captain Nicholas Pooran and explosive opener Evin Lewis have paid tribute to retired all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and soon-to-be-retired, who have both played in their last ICC T20 World Cup tournament.

The 38-year-old Bravo announced his retirement from international cricket last Thursday after the West Indies lost to Sri Lanka by 20 runs effectively ending their world cup campaign.

"I think the time has come," Bravo said. "I've had a very good career. To represent the West Indies for 18 years, had some ups and downs, but as I look back at it I'm very grateful to represent the region and the Caribbean people for so long.”

Gayle, meanwhile, is holding off talk of retirement for the time being as he has hopes of donning West Indies colours at least once more before he calls time on his record-breaking career.

"It's been a phenomenal career. I didn't announce any retirement but they actually give me one game in Jamaica to go in front of my home crowd, then I can say 'hey guys, thank you so much. Let's see. If not, I'll announce it a long time and then I'll be joining DJ Bravo in the backend and say thanks to each and everyone but I can't say that as yet," Gayle said prior to the West Indies’ eight-wicket loss to Australia on Saturday.

Notwithstanding Gayle’s comments, there can be no doubting the fact that his days in international cricket are numbered, a reality that prompted Pooran to pay tribute to both players, who have inspired him.

“Personally, I've witnessed (ed) two gentlemen who have left it all out on the cricket field, from being super excited to reach home fast from school to see @chrisgayle333 smash it all over the park and then see @djbravo47 defend basically less to nothing in a last over and then do his dance celebrations, to then playing with them in their last world cup game, that was something special,” Pooran posted in Instagram on Saturday.

“Seeing you guys walk away today put tears to my eyes but very pleasing at the same time knowing you guys have achieved so much in your careers. So from me to you guys, thank you for my childhood and all the best in whatever you do in the future!”

Meanwhile, Lewis, who opened with Gayle for the West Indies on several occasions, wished the two departing well.

“Words can’t describe. I’m a person of few words but it’s been an honour watching you guys on TV then sharing the same dressing room. Go well champs @djbravo47 @chrisgayle333,” said the power-hitting Trinidadian.

Pooran, perhaps the man to lead the West Indies into a new era, apologized for the team’s poor performances in the world cup and promised that even as two of the game’s greats ride into the sunset of their careers, the West Indies has the talent bounce back stronger than before.

“To our fans all over the world and back home, we know we have disappointed you guys, but let's not forget what we have accomplished in the last nine years winning two titles. It has been a wonderful era, but we will rise again,” he said.

West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo hopes to play cricket for a few more years yet, despite recently pulling the curtains on his international career.

The 38-year-old officially called time on representing the West Indies, following the close of a disappointing T20 World Cup campaign that ended with a loss to South Africa.  An uninspiring performance from the titleholders saw them lose four of the five matches played. 

Overall, Bravo made 295 appearances for the Caribbean team, winning two T20 World Cup titles and one ICC Champions Trophy.  Despite the disappointment of the most recent tournamet, however, Bravo, who only months ago claimed the Indian Premier League (IPL) title with the Chennai Super Kings, is not quite ready to walk away from the game completely.

“I will continue playing franchise cricket for a few more years as long as my body will allow me to,” Bravo said during the post-match press conference.

“My aim was to retire a few years ago, but with a change of presidency and change of leadership comes a change of heart, and I wanted to give back to West Indies because I was still in a good place physically and enjoy my cricket,” he said.

Bravo had previously announced his international retirement in October of 2018 but came out of retirement in 2019 to help West Indies defend their T20 title.  He is convinced now is the time for a new generation to step into the limelight.

“I think this was the right moment for me to walk away from the game, and allow the next generation and young players who I share a very good friendship with to come through.”

West Indies batting star Chris Gayle joked about wanting to play another World Cup but is expected to officially sign off an exceptional career with one more match, at Sabina Park, when he returns to his birth nation Jamaica.

The 42-year-old competed in his final World Cup match on Thursday, his third appearance overall at the premier T20 competition.  Unlike the other two appearances, which had resulted in the West Indies lifting the trophy, however, this one ended in disappointment with the team limping to the line in second to last place and being eliminated at the group stages.

Nor was Gayle’s performance particularly statistically significant.  In five matches, Gayle tottered to 45 runs with a high score of 15 and an average of 9.  In fact, even before the tournament, the player's inclusion had divided opinion around the Caribbean region with many insisting that the batsman, no longer at the top of his game, should have stepped aside for younger talent.  He admits it was not the fairytale ending.

“It was a very disappointing World Cup, disappointing for me as well.  This is probably my worst World Cup, but these things happen and it's just sad that it came at the back end of my career,” Gayle told ICC Cricket media.

“We still have a lot to go in West Indies cricket, we have some great talent coming up right now, so all I can do is play my supporting role with them and wish West Indies Cricket the best.

“I’d love to play one more World Cup, but I don’t think they would allow me,” a laughing Gayle added.

“I haven’t announced any retirement because they have given me one more game in Jamaica, in front of my home crowd then I can saw alright, thanks, guys.  So, let’s see.  If it wasn’t for that I would have announced it a long time ago with DJ Bravo.”

Gayle has been one of the most dominant players in the sport of T20 cricket, with over 14,000 runs scored.  Internationally, he has scored the most runs for the West Indies with 1899.

 

 

 

 

Former West Indies opening batsman Philo Wallace believes T20 captain Kieron Pollard must shoulder a huge part of the blame following the team’s faltering and ultimately fruitless title defense of the T20 World Cup.

On Thursday, the regional team limped out of semi-final contention after losing to Sri Lanka by 20 runs, a result that had followed heavy defeats to England and South Africa. 

In between the three defeats, the team did manage one win, which came against Bangladesh but that was far from some of the loftier expectations heading into the event.

Ahead of the competition, the selection of several senior players had proven to be a major bone of contention with some fans around the region, who clamoured for younger players to be included. 

In response, however, it was argued that the experience of the senior players would prove vital to the campaign.  In reality, things did not quite pan out that way.  The likes of Chris Gayle, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, Dwayne Bravo, and Pollard himself, had disappointing performances.  In addition to his performances with the bat and ball, Wallace argues, however, that Pollard failed to deliver in another key area, his leadership.

“I think Pollard has failed us in that he has not stepped up to lead the team, the way we thought he would have led the team,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“…I thought that Pollard would have been the one to step up and say gentlemen I will take this on my back, and we are going to do this, X, Y, Z.  To tell the public that it is not a developing tour and then be in the position that we are in with seasoned campaigners is detrimental to his credibility,” he added.

“For all that he is worth in T20 cricket, I have not seen it at this World Cup…I know he had an injury but I expected more from him in terms of gluing that middle order together and with bowling and stuff, those guys needed a leader.”

Overall, Pollard scored 46 runs, with a best of 26 and an average of 15.33.

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has admitted that the senior players simply did not deliver as the team crashed out of the T20 World Cup, on Thursday, following a loss to Sri Lanka.

In a disappointing campaign, the defeat was the third in four games for the two-time defending champions, who in truth since the first ball was bowled never looked likely to mount a strong title defense and were barely clinging to semi-final hopes ahead of the Sri Lanka match-up.

Heading into the tournament, the team had highlighted its experience as a major advantage with several players in the team having won multiple world titles.  In reality, however, things never really panned out.  T20 star Chris Gayle, a controversial selection for the squad, made 30 runs in four games for an average of 7.50.  Lendl Simmons made 19 over two matches for an average of 9.50, Andre Russell, who came into the tournament with an injury, made 7 runs in four matches for an average of 1.75.  Pollard did slightly better with 46 runs at 15.33, while Dwayne Bravo claimed two wickets in four matches.

"A couple of young guys are putting up their hands (up) but the experienced guys, myself included, have not done well. We are not going to hide from the fact that it's been disappointing for us,” Pollard said following the match.

On Thursday, it was indeed the younger generation who stood up to be counted. Shimron Hetmyer was the team’s top scorer with 81 from 54, followed by Nicholas Pooran who scored 46 from 34.

"I'm sure all the guys are hurting in that dressing room. It's something we didn't see it coming but we have to face reality," Pollard added.

"I think we were below par. In a crucial match like this, you don't want to see those things (for fielding). Our bowlers did okay, they got 189 but it was a very good batting track.

"I think cricket smarts is something that has plagued us. We have spoken time and time again especially from a batting perspective what we need to do as individuals and we have not done well.”

Prior to the start of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, Cricket West Indies’ Facebook Page had labelled the West Indies team’s campaign to regain its title as the tournament’s reigning champions “Mission Maroon!” With two defeats and just one win, a highly squeaky last over three-run win over Bangladesh, the West Indies team’s Mission Maroon has for all intents and purposes become Mission Improbable, if not altogether impossible.

The first three matches played by the West Indies have also been a major source of embarrassment to its Selectors both at home and at the actual tournament itself.

Having accumulated just two points after its first three matches, the West Indies still has a mathematical chance of emerging as one of the two Group A teams that will progress to the tournament’s semi-final matches. In order to do so, the West Indies will have to win both of its remaining matches against Sri Lanka and Australia by very sizeable margins so as to ensure it has a better run rate than any of the other likely semi-final spot contenders. Sri Lanka, in its very close loss to South Africa, has indicated that it will not in any way be an easy pushover!

Mission Improbable indeed, made even more so by the far superior performances to date from the likes of England, Australia, and even South Africa. Punctuated as they have been by much healthier run rates than that of the West Indies.

The chances of the West Indies now progressing beyond the Super 6 and into the semi-finals now, therefore, seems highly unlikely. What has become far more of a very tangible reality is the embarrassment that has been caused to the West Indies Selectors, Chairman Roger Harper and his Panel, by the substandard performances to date from the very players whose selections to the squad were so highly controversial. Messrs Gayle and Rampaul in particular, have to date done absolutely nothing to justify the Selectors’ expressed faith in their respective abilities to perform with merit during the World Cup.

Chris Gayle had celebrated his 42nd birthday on September 21, just weeks before the World Cup’s commencement. With his legendary skills as T20 cricket’s greatest ever batsman clearly in decline, as evidenced by repeated paltry scores in his most recent matches, Gayle’s inclusion in the West Indies 15 member World Cup Squad was discussed and debated throughout the entire Caribbean.

The West Indies Selectors, as well as the team’s Coach, Captain and Vice-Captain who had all publicly voiced their respective outstanding support for Gayle’s inclusion would therefore have been hoping for him to have effectively silenced all his critics with some superlative batting performances in his World Cup appearances. His scores to date: 13, 12 and 4 in the three matches he’s played, can now only be regarded as a source of colossal embarrassment to all concerned.

Much the same can also be said of Ravi Rampaul’s World Cup performances to date, the associated embarrassment factor for which has only been slightly less than Gayle’s. Rampaul was controversially selected to the West Indies World Cup Squad based on his 2021 Caribbean Premier League bowling. Rampaul’s World Cup performances to date have, however, confirmed the substantial gap between the batting skills of the West Indies’ opponents by comparison to those he would have encountered at this year’s CPL.

Rampaul has to date taken 2 wickets at an average of 30.50 from his 9 overs bowled to date. His economy rate within those 9 overs has been a relatively unimpressive 6.77. Yet in their infinite and now obvious lack of wisdom, Messrs Harper and Co, chose him at 36 to be one of the West Indies bowling attack’s supposed leaders.

As controversial as the West Indies’ Selectors final squad inclusion of both Gayle and Rampaul may have been, it was far less so than their non-inclusion of the ICC’s number one ranked Test all-rounder Jason Holder. To add further insult to injury, the Selectors’ also found it necessary to include Holder among the squad’s four travelling reserves.

As fate would have it, Obed McCoy’s subsequent failure to recover fully from the shin splints he had suffered prior to the tournament, yet another source of embarrassment for the Selectors, eventually resulted in Holder replacing him on the squad just prior to the West Indies’ match against Bangladesh. An opportunity that Holder fully grasped with both of his very large hands.

Included in the West Indies final XI for October 29 encounter, Holder struck two much-needed boundaries in a breezy cameo innings of 15 made off of just five balls which helped the West Indies to reach its eventual 20 over a total of 142-7. His economical bowling, which yielded 1/22-4, then helped restrict Bangladesh to 138/5-20 to give the West Indies its much-needed victory by just three runs.

Holder’s height also proved crucial in his boundary-catching dismissal of Bangladesh’s top scorer Liton Das. Attempting to hit a six off the last delivery of Dwayne Bravo’s fourth and final over, the nineteenth of the innings, Das must have thought that he’d successfully cleared the boundary only to see, in absolute dismay, the ball being plucked out of the air by Holder’s extended hands.

Holder’s outstanding performances with the bat, ball, and in the field during the Bangladesh encounter would have been an additional source of embarrassment to the Roger Harper led Selection Panel. It would also have undermined whatever level of joy they must have been feeling by the reported extension of their tenure by an additional two months. Scheduled to have ended this very month, the West Indies Selectors’ term of Office has again, reportedly, recently been extended to the end of December.

As if to be consistent with the highly controversial decisions prior to the World Cup’s commencement, some of the West Indies final XI choices made for the matches played to date have been equally bizarre. Selected to the squad based on his outstanding CPL 2021 performances and has been the West Indies’ most outstanding batsman, with the only recorded half-century in either of the team’s two official warm-up matches, Roston Chase, was somehow not included in the final XI for the West Indies’ opening match encounter against England.

Despite the West Indies having been bowled out for 55 by England, the Selectors still opted not to include Chase in the XI for its second match against South Africa. They chose instead to replace the injured McCoy a bowler with Hayden Walsh a leg-spinner.

Having been so repeatedly embarrassed the West Indies’ Selectors, both at home and at the actual World Cup, will be hoping that their choices, particularly those of Gayle and Rampaul, will be vindicated by their outstanding performances in the remaining two matches and by also by the team’s progression into the semi-finals.

If and when the latter fails to become a reality, however, Mission Maroon will have effectively become “marooned!”

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