West Indies leg-spinner, Hayden Walsh Jr, admits he is eager to put a difficult year behind him, with solid performances in the upcoming series of T20 internationals.

The 29-year-old was named as part of a preliminary 18-man squad that recently began preparations to face South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan in a flurry of upcoming T20 internationals. 

The group was named with preparations for the T20 World Cup in mind, which is slated for India later this year.  Despite not featuring in a number of matches for the regional team this year, he was one of 18 players offered an international retainer contract.  Chief of selectors Roger Harper went on to explain that the player’s status as the only quality leg-spinner, in the region, prompted the selectors to include him in the team’s retainer plans.

The player suffered from misfortune last year after being forced to pull out of the tour to Bangladesh, after testing positive for Covid-19.

 “I’ve been having a tough year so far, so the fact that I am still in the plans and I still have a lot to work for, it’s still a good feeling,” Walsh said in an interview with the Antigua Observer.

“I started out the year testing positive for Covid, which ruled me out of the Bangladesh series, which I was really looking forward to. I came back to the Super 50 and I didn’t really do as well, mainly because I’ve been in isolation and I didn’t have any preparation,” he added.

 “If that did not happen, then I probably most likely would have been around the T20 and One Day squads against Sri Lanka, so I feel like I’ve missed out a lot.”

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) will host the West Indies Professional Cricketers Draft for the 2021/2022 cricket season next Tuesday via video call.

The territorial board franchises will be convening to draft the final two players for their squads to play in the forthcoming season, which will hopefully include the CG Insurance Super50 Cup and the West Indies Championship. 

The draft will be conducted over two rounds, where each franchise must pick a player in each round. Each franchise will pick two players to add to their pre-selected squad of thirteen (13) protected players, to make a full squad of fifteen (15) players. The franchises will be selecting their two picks from a pool of nearly 100 players. 

For the 2021-22 season, each franchise will be allocated a pick number according to their final league position and performance of the franchise in the last West Indies Championship, held in 2019-20 and won by the Barbados Pride (see table below for sequence of draft picks).  Each franchise will have 90 seconds in each round to make a pick. Where a selection is not made within this time period, the franchise will miss their turn and will have to wait until all the other franchises have made their selection in that round, before making its selection.

Once the franchises have made their full picks to confirm their fifteen retained players, a total of 90 cricketers across the six franchises will be retained on full-time regional contracts for the next twelve months. 

CWI’s Cricket Operations Manager, Roland Holder said, “The draft, now in its eighth (8th) year, demonstrates that CWI remains committed to our professional cricket structure and system, even in these times of uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ninety (90) regional players who will be awarded regional franchise contracts, will be able to train and practice professionally as CWI hopes for a return to normalcy in regional cricket later this year.”

Each choice by each Franchise selection committee will be monitored and recorded by the draft overseer (s), as notified to the Franchises by CWI.

 

Australian cricketers, David Warner, and Pat Cummins could be given rest ahead of the West Indies series, as tensions continue to simmer over the latest ball-tampering comments.

The pair were both named as part of a 23- preliminary squad for the July series, which will consist of five T20Is and three ODIs, but recent reports are suggesting that Cricket Australia is contemplating resting the players, in order to give them more time with their families as fissions within the squad have appeared.

The issue came back into the public spotlight after recent comments were made by bowler Collin Bancroft who hinted that the team’s bowlers were aware of the plan to use sandpaper on the ball during the Test against South Africa.

The 2018 incident had led to bans for then Australia captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Warner and Bancroft.  The team’s bowlers Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Nathan Lyon all issued a statement denying any involvement in the issue but another investigation from Cricket Australia now seems likely.

Several players were left discontented after Warner’s manager, James Erskine recently came out openly to say that the Sandpaper Gate was handled badly and eventually the truth will come out.

 

The veteran trio of Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo have all been included in a provisional 18-man squad released by Cricket West Indies, ahead of a flurry of upcoming international matches.

As part of preparations for the upcoming World T20 championships the Windies, the defending champions, will be involved in three back-to-back five-match T20 International (T20I) series against South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan.

The squad, which will be captained by Kieron Pollard, will also see the return of the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, and Hayden Walsh Jr.  The players missed out on being selected for the team’s previous T20 international series against Sri Lanka, which was won 2-1 by the regional team.

Windies coach Phil Simmons has praised the squad as a combination of experience and youth.

“These upcoming T20Is are crucial in terms of our preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup. We have assembled a very solid squad — with experienced world-class match-winners and some exciting young talented players, ready to explode onto the global stage and do great things for West Indies cricket,” Simmons said.

 “We are at that point where we have identified those who we will look to be the core of the squad to defend our World Cup title, so we want to make sure the upcoming matches create that environment — the way we train, the way we plan, the way we execute and the chemistry within the group. We won five years ago, so the next few weeks and months will be major steppingstones on the road towards defending our title and being World Champions for the third time.”

 

FULL SQUAD SELECTED:

  1. Kieron Pollard – Captain
  2. Nicholas Pooran – Vice-Captain
  3. Fabian Allen
  4. Dwayne Bravo
  5. Sheldon Cottrell
  6. Fidel Edwards
  7. Andre Fletcher
  8. Chris Gayle
  9. Shimron Hetmyer
  10. Jason Holder
  11. Akeal Hosein
  12. Evin Lewis
  13. Obed McCoy
  14. Andre Russell
  15. Lendl Simmons
  16. Kevin Sinclair
  17. Oshane Thomas
  18. Hayden Walsh Jr

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel has named a 30-man squad for a three-week high-performance red-ball training camp in St Lucia, starting today in preparation for the upcoming Test Series against South Africa.

 Veteran International commentator, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira has launched a stinging rebuke of Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) for the timing of contracting players for the upcoming calendar year.

In addition, the 81-year-old Perreira says he is totally and utterly disappointed that there has been no cover for fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who in his estimation has deteriorated.

“We have given contracts to people who played four Test matches in a year, that cannot be fair,” Perreira said on the Line & Length TV Show on Sportsmax.

“The omission of (Shamar) Brooks and (Roston) Chase was surprising given the limited amount of cricket they played, I mean two series? Four or five Tests? I was hoping that WIPA would not have pushed for contracts now, especially since there is no first-class season.

“You dropped players and don’t give them contracts so how will you adequately judge their form and scores. Ideally, because of all that’s going on, those contracts should have been delayed until after the South Africa or Australia tour….or even Pakistan,” he passionately explained.

“(Shimron) Hetmyer not given a contract? He was losing weight and looked good in the IPL and we have to be careful not to lose players. Chairman Roger Harper said they are working with him, but doing what?! We just rushed a bit this year with the contracts,” he said.

As far as Gabriel is concerned, Perreira pointed to the fact that the 33-year-old who has 157 wickets from 54 Tests has slumped over the last season and CWI should have seen fit to contract two younger fast bowlers as cover for him.

“Gabriel is getting on and had an operation on his ankle. He is not the same! He struggled for rhythm and pace in England, seemed out of sorts against Sri Lanka, and in my estimation can’t play back-to-back Tests matches anymore.

“Gabriel is not bowling 140kmph easily and one good spell is not good enough. Surely, if you pick him, then the Board should have contracted two young fast bowlers to work alongside him and (Kemar) Roach,” he said.

The Guyanese Perreira who is a St. Lucian resident also endorsed the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, previously the Beausejour Stadium as the venue to hosts the West Indies vs South Africa series and advocates for a crowd of at least 1,000 spectators in the Johnson Charles stand, once they can prove a certificate of vaccination against the COVID19 virus.

 

 

West Indies all-rounder, Jason Holder, is set to be given rest ahead of the upcoming series against South Africa, as part of the team’s load management strategies.

The 29-year-old recently returned to the Caribbean following the postponement of the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he represented Sunrisers Hyderabad.  The West Indies are expected to begin camp in St Lucia, on Sunday, ahead of the series which will take place between June 10 and July 3.

The camp, which comprises 30 players, will include two 'best v best' inter-squad matches.  Holder, who was replaced as Test captain earlier this year, will join the camp at the end of the month.

The team’s Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite and fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph will also not be attending the camp, as they are currently competing in English County Championship and will return to the West Indies for the Test series if selected.

 

 

West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph has credited increased mental focus on his batting with improved performances at the crease.

Over the past several months, the bowler has made the headlines for positing solid totals at the crease, as much as if not more than multiple wicket hauls.

Against New Zealand, in December of last year, Joseph recorded his highest total of 86, which was his maiden half-century. The Antiguan then went on to add another after scoring 82 in February this year against Bangladesh.

Fast forward a few months later and the player has taken his form with the bat to a debut season of English County cricket for Worcestershire.  With best scores of 46 and 61, Joseph has shown plenty of ability to be handy with the bat when the team needs it.  In four matches to date, Joseph has scored 128 runs and claimed 10 wickets.

“Whatever I could contribute to the team I am happy to do, so it’s good that I have been getting a few scores but for me, I think it’s also about being consistent doing it,” Joseph told the Antigua Observer.

“I have always enjoyed batting but it was just down to me being a bit more focused on it so I think for me it’s just about staying focused, being consistent in any aspect of the game.”

 

 

 

It has been confirmed that the West Indies will officially host South Africa for the first time since 2010, with the series booked for the islands of Grenada and St Lucia.

The parties have been locked in negotiations for the past several months, with several obstacles to overcome.  The latest it is believed was a venue for the tour, which was reportedly originally set for Trinidad and Tobago.

A recent spike of COVID-19 cases has, however, forced an alteration to those plans.  The current plan will see the teams play two Tests at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia and the T20s taking place at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada.  The series will take place between June 10 and July 3.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) director, Graeme Smith, expressed delight to be heading back to the Caribbean, particularly in light of the difficult and uncertain times caused by the pandemic.  He reserved a special word of thanks for the countries that stepped in to host the series on relatively short notice.

 “We are extremely pleased to have the men’s team’s tour to the West Indies officially confirmed. Covid-19 has played havoc with the ICC Future Tours Programme and we are thankful to Cricket West Indies and the governments of St Lucia and Grenada for ensuring that the tour goes ahead as planned‚” Smith said.

“The hosting nations‚ in particular‚ came to the party at very short notice and Cricket South Africa would like to extend its immense gratitude to them for their enthusiasm and willingness to host us."

West Indies legend, Viv Richards, has called on talented young batsman Shimron Hetmyer to take a more mature approach to cricket, in order to realise and maximise his full potential.

In the same breath, the iconic former batsman fondly referred to as the ‘Master Blaster,’ believes any failure by the player to do so would be a great loss not just to the West Indies, but the sport as a whole.

The 24-year-old Guyanese-born batsman has been in the spotlight recently, after failing to secure an international retainer contract from Cricket West Indies (CWI).  Long-touted as one of the region’s premier talents, Hetmyer has had a disappointing period, missing out on several appearances for the West Indies and twice failing a fitness test.

“You’ve got to put in the work [because] if you take half measure, then you are going to get half measure results for sure. Shortcuts in this particular profession are of no substance and I am not sure if what I am saying here now will get to him at some point, but the individual is a talented individual and there are times when I see him on the field and he is pretty playful like he is still a kid and he actually has to be a little more mature at this stage now,” Richards told the Antigua Observer.

 “The guy has got too much talent and I think that if this talent goes to waste, it would be a huge loss, not just maybe to himself but to world cricket on a whole,” he added.

Hetmyer, who has played all three formats for the West Indies, last appeared for the team in a T20I series against New Zealand last year.  He has, however, not played One Day International Cricket since January of last year and has not played a Test match since November of 2019.

“If he really wants to make this sport his profession and to get the maximum result that everyone feels he has in him in terms of the talent then he has got to really start looking at himself in the mirror and start to think. I think he is [24 years old] now, so he has got to be serious. When you hear some of the stuff like they fail a fitness test and all that sort of stuff then that is just totally unprofessional.”

West Indies fast bowler, Alzarri Joseph, admits that getting used to conditions on a debut English County cricket season has been challenging, but that his only true focus remains continuing to improve as a player.

The 24-year-old Joseph, who signed with Worcestershire, for the first seven games of the 2021 County Championship season, has had a fairly solid debut spell so far.

In four games, Joseph has scored 128 runs, with a high score of 61, as a lower-order batsman, and taken 10 wickets.  According to the player, things have, however, not been easy as conditions are very different to the Caribbean.

 “I wouldn’t say it’s been the best or that I am extremely satisfied, but it’s improving as I go along. It’s a lot different to the Caribbean, it’s different conditions in terms of different grounds, different types of surfaces, and different types of players, so it’s also about adjusting to everything at once.  It’s helping me to improve as a player in terms of adjusting to situations a bit quicker,” Alzarri told the Antigua Observer.

“Some days you turn up and it’s like three degrees and very cold in the mornings and then it goes from three to 12 degrees, to 15 and then back down to three. So, it’s just really difficult sometimes, but it’s all part of the job.  All part of the learning experience,” he added.

Joseph signed up with the league last month, following the West Indies series against Sri Lanka.

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors, Roger Harper, believes it is an absolute necessity for players to get used to the idea of having to perform at the very top of their games in order to secure top-class retainer contracts.

The omission of the likes of Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shamarh Brooks, Shane Dowrich, Sheldon Cottrell, Rovman Powell, and Oshane Thomas from the international retainer contracts lists, for the upcoming year, has rubbed a few supporters the wrong way.  Particularly, based on the fact that fewer contracts were handed out this year.

However, according to Harper, some players did not meet the minimum criteria for selection or simply did not display the quality need.

“We have to accept that these are performance-based contracts.  So, the contracts are awarded based on performance during the evaluation period, as well as the selection panel must feel that the players must play a major role or form the nucleus of the team going forward,” Harper told members of the media on Thursday.

“The players who were not awarded contracts their performances over the period did not meet the necessary criteria as well as you had new players who came to fore and performed, so they were offered contracts,” he added.

“Going forward as a culture, if we want to see our team progress, if we want to see our team compete with the best in the world.  We have to be more conscious of the fact that we have to earn our stripes and we have to perform consistently.  I think our retainer contracts are given on that basis.”

In addition to playing at least 50 percent of the games during the evaluation period, to be considered, batsmen must average at least 30 in Test and ODI cricket.  For T20Is players the player’s batting average and strike rate combined must be a minimum 150.

 

Destructive batsman, AB De Villiers, could be part of the South African team booked for a tour to the West Indies next month, which was officially confirmed by Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith.

 After several months of negotiations, the teams are confirmed to play two Test matches and five Twenty20 Internationals.  The venue, which will be one country, due to existing coronavirus protocols, has not yet been announced.  Originally, it was believed the matches would be held in Trinidad and Tobago, but the country's fresh battle with a COVID-19 surge seems to have put that in doubt.

De Villiers, who played in the Caribbean with the Barbados Tridents in 2016, has not played for the South African team since a Test match against Australia in 2018.  The player has, however, given repeated displays of his jaw-dropping hitting ability for the India Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

It was last month that South Africa coach Mark Boucher suggested the big hitter could return to the South Africa line-up for the T20 World Cup, scheduled for India from October to November.  It could still be moved due to issues caused by an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa has not played in the West Indies since 2016.

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