West Indies chief of selector Roger Harper admits it was a difficult choice to relegate talented all-rounder Jason Holder to a reserve position, following the unveiling of the 15-member T20 World Cup squad on Thursday.

Many were left astonished after Holder, who has had a few standout stints in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and international T20 cricket in recent months, was only named among four reserve players.

“Leaving a player of the standard and quality of Jason out of our final 15 was a difficult decision and it provoked a lot of debate,” Harper told members of the media via an online press conference.

“When we look at the type of composition we wanted, considering the all-rounders that we had and the balance, he was unfortunate not to make it,” he added.

“It was a 15-man squad, everyone couldn’t make it, different things were taken into consideration and Jason just missed out, but with a player of his stature and quality it was a difficult decision and one we didn’t take lightly.”

In 10 matches and three series against Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, Holder totalled 90 runs, had an average of 30, and claimed 9 wickets.  He, however, struggled in the team’s most recent series against Pakistan totalling just 2 runs and 4wickets in four matches.

 

Ravi Rampaul and Roston Chase have been called for the West Indies World Cup squad for next month’s International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s T20 World Cup, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

 Defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders got their 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign up and running with a six-wicket victory over the Barbados Royals.

The Royals won the toss and opted to bat first but the decision didn’t go their way as an excellent Trinbago bowling display, led by Isuru Udana’s 5 for 21, restricted them to 122 all out.

In reply Trinbago initially made hard work of the chase before the experienced duo of Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin saw them home with ease.

The Royals had got off to a steady start reaching 37 runs at the end of the PowerPlay for the sole loss of Johnson Charles.

However, they could not build on the foundation as Udana’s double strike removed Jason Holder and Glenn Phillips in quick succession. 

A counter-attacking 30 runs from Azam Khan briefly threatened to help Barbados set an imposing target but Udana’s re-entry into the attack led to the dismissal of both Khan and Thisara Perera to complete the first five-wicket haul of the 2021 Hero CPL.

The remaining Royals wickets fell like dominoes to leave them on 122 all out.

Trinbago stuttered in their chase of the target losing three wickets in the PowerPlay as Mohammed Amir started his spell with laser-like accuracy and Oshane Thomas followed that up by getting Tim Seifert to top-edge a rising delivery to deep square leg.

At 38 for 4 the Knight Riders were in a perilous situation, but captain Pollard took on the responsibility to take the drama out of the chase with a brilliantly constructed 58 runs from 30 balls.

Along with the experienced Denesh Ramdin, the pair put on an 87-run partnership from 57 balls to see Trinbago home comfortably.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has hailed the contribution of allrounder and former captain Jason Holder as the team looks to secure its first Test series win over Pakistan in almost two decades.

Holder crafted a crucial second-innings knock of 58 and took 4 wickets as the team held on for a nail-biting one-wicket win to take the lead.

However, the top allrounder has also gained plenty of attention for his actions off the field, particularly for the mentorship shown to young fast-bowler Jayden Seales.  Seales was one of the highlights of the first match for the Windies after claiming an impressive five-wicket second innings haul.

“Obviously, Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world.  He is very crucial, and he has done a fantastic job, obviously with Jayden.  I see them having a lot of chats,” Brathwaite told members of the media via an online press conference on Thursday.

“All the guys are doing a good job, they all came together but obviously Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world so obviously he brings a lot of value.”

Brathwaite replaced Holder as captain of the team in February, following a successful tour of Bangladesh, the team has since drawn with Sri Lanka and lost to South Africa.

West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood is confident the team is on the way to providing more consistent performances at the crease, despite recent displays of inconsistent form.

The Windies scored a  dramatic win over Pakistan to take a 1-0 lead in the ongoing two-Test series.  The match featured typically robust performances from the team’s bowlers with Jayden Seales ending with 125 for 8 and Kemar Roach 5 for 77.

With the bat, there were solid performances from captain Kraigg Brathwaite, Jason Holder, and Blackwood but elsewhere in the batting order, the concentration and execution on display from the line-up sparked cause for concern.  For Blackwood, however, it remains a work in progress and a hurdle that the unit will get over sooner or later.

“We are making improvements, baby steps.  It’s just the process, we are working hard as a batting unit, even though we did not get the scores we wanted,” Blackwood told members of the media on Wednesday.

"I see this unit is in a good place and on pace to do well for all the people of the West Indies, themselves and their families, and every day that we go to train we put in 150 percent,” he added.

Since the start of the year, Blackwood has himself struggled with the bat, averaging 22.92 in 7 Test matches played.  So far, he has a high score of 68.

 

 

 

Talented up and coming West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales has vowed to continue focusing on development as he does not believe himself to be the finished product.

Seales played a leading role in the team’s one wicket over Pakistan earlier this week, in the process of securing his first-ever five-wicket haul.  In the process, he also made history by becoming the youngest West Indies bowler to achieve the feat at 19 years and 336 days.

With many already predicting a big future for the young player, however,  Seales himself believes it is important to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground.  Over the last few years, several young fast bowlers have threatened to make the breakthrough for the Caribbean team but have seen their development stalled at various points.

“It’s just for me to stay in the moment.  I will ride the fame and everything, but for me, it’s about continuing to work on my game.  I’m not where I want it to be.  I’m not the finished product.  I know I can be better,” Seales told members of the media on Tuesday.

“It’s just for me to work on my game a little more, build on the things I want to improve on, build from there and eventually become better.”

In three matches so far Seales has claimed a total of 13 wickets.

The second match of the two-Test series will begin on Friday at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.

 

Manniram Prashad, a past Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce for Guyana, and current Chairman of several prestigious commercial organizations has been appointed to the CWI Board of Directors as a non-member (independent) Director, effective July 30, 2021, CWI announced today.

Prashad’s appointment means that CWI has reached its allocation for four non-member directors. He joins Trinidadian Attorney Debra Coryat-Patton, Jamaican Surgeon and University Administrator, Dr Akshai Mansingh and former West Indies captain Daren Sammy as non-member directors whose terms will expire at CWI’s Annual General meeting in 2023.

Prashad said being appointed to the CWI was a challenge he relishes.

“I am truly honoured and humbled at my appointment. I see this as a challenge, and an opportunity, to serve West Indies Cricket and to join a team of Directors who are committed to improving and uplifting the standard of our game,” said Prashad, who has more than 25 years of experience in commerce and private sector leadership having held several senior positions in a variety of industries.

He has also held the position of chair for a number of large state corporations including the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and Guyana National Shipping Corporation.

Prashad is also the current Chairman of MP Insurance Brokers and Consultants Limited, Consul General of the Philippines to Guyana, Corporate Coordination and Executive Member of the Private Sector Commission and President of the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber.

Prashad is a long-standing cricket enthusiast, having served as President of various cricket clubs and leagues including the Gandhi Youth Cricket Club and Eastern American Cricket League.

CWI President Ricky Skerritt said Prashad adds value to the competencies of the board.

“I am confident that Manniram will add significant value to the CWI Board. I have had the benefit of knowing Mr Prashad when we were both serving our respective countries as Ministers of Tourism. He is a very experienced and astute businessman who will help to bring more gravity and focus to the CWI Boardroom. I also expect him to help CWI reach out to much needed commercial partners in our region and beyond,” he said.

 

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has backed mercurial talent Shimron Hetmyer to eventually find his way back into the Test team after an extended absence.

Despite being considered one of the team’s brightest talents, and having appeared in all formats, Hetmyer has not suited up for the Test team since 2019, against Afghanistan.

The 24-year-old, who made his debut against India in 2016, has struggled for consistency, scoring five 50s in 15 matches with a high score of 93, but with several other innings where he has not delivered.  Despite obvious potential, his overall average of 28 falls on the mediocre side.

In addition, the athlete has also had his share fair of fitness issues over the past two years, twice failing fitness standards after being included in touring squads.  Simmons has, however, backed the batsman to eventually get things right.

“I think that Hetmyer can be a world-class Test player when that time comes,” Simmons told members of the media.

“I’m sure at some point he’s going to return to the Test squad.  I’m sure the experience he’s gotten from being there before will serve him well and that he will make use of it.  I think he is maturing as we go along.  He’s had a few incidents he’s not proud of, but he’s maturing and I’m sure he will get back into the Test squad at some point in time and show what he’s made of.”

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons insists the team is preparing for a tough Test series against Pakistan, not just based on the competitiveness of previous encounters, but because of the form of the teams heading into the matches.

On the back of a largely rained-out T20I series, Pakistan should head into the encounter high on confidence following 2-0 wins over Zimbabwe and South Africa.  After two impressive performances, the West Indies will head into the series on the back of underwhelming performances, at home, against South Africa, where they were themselves swept aside 2-0.

“Going through the years we’ve always had tough battles with any Pakistan team whether we go there, or they come to the Caribbean,” Simmons told members of the media at an online press conference on Monday.

“They have played very well in their last two-Test series, so they are coming here on a high, whereas we played well in a couple of Test series and the last one we didn’t play well.  So, even though we are home, we’ll be an underdog in this, but we are going to try to put everything into it,” he added.

The West Indies last played Pakistan in a Test series in 2017 when they lost 2-1 at home, they have in fact not managed a win over the South Asian team since 2000.

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran played a sizzling career-best knock while fast bowler Jason Holder took career-best bowling figures, but Pakistan's bowling attack did just enough to take them to victory in the second match on Saturday.

Pooran's explosive unbeaten 62 off 33 balls with six 6s and four 4s kept the West Indies in with a chance of overcoming the target, even to the final over when 20 runs were required to overhaul Pakistan's total of 157-8.

However, Shaheen Shah Afridi claimed the wicket of captain Kieron Pollard (13) and then denied the rampant Pooran the opportunity to swing freely and lustily at the next three deliveries to ensure the visitors came away with the win, with the hosts kept to 150-4 off 20 overs.

West Indies suffered a setback when opening batsman Evin Lewis retired hurt on 35 off 33 balls with two fours and two sixes mid-way through the innings.

Earlier in the match, it was Holder and Dwayne Bravo who combined to put the brakes on the Pakistan scoring rate. Holder returned the excellent figures of 4-26 while Bravo, the leading wicket-taker in all T20 cricket, claimed 2-24 as the tourists squandered a solid platform provided by Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Babar’s polished 51 off 58 balls with two sixes and four 4s was the top score of the innings. He put on 67 runs for the third wicket with Rizwan (46) after Sharjeel Khan and Rizwan had set the stage for a challenging target in putting on 56.

Pollard, who played the supporting role in a 70-run fourth-wicket partnership with Pooran to revive the West Indies chances, gave credit to the West Indies bowlers for limiting the visitors after he chose to put them in to bat.

 “We were staring down the barrel of a 170-plus total and I was really happy with the way the bowlers battled back in the latter half of their innings,” Pollard said.

“We had to try and explode towards the end, but it just didn't work out.”

 Rain forced an early end to West Indies’ first Twenty20 against Pakistan with no result on Wednesday despite the game being reduced to nine overs per side.

West Indies had reached 85-5 off their nine overs before umpires abandoned the game with rain persistently falling at the Kensington Oval.

West Indies, loaded with power-hitters, couldn’t get the tempo after the game was shortened as Pakistan won the toss and elected to field first.

Lendl Simmons (9) had to retire hurt in only the second over of the innings after being hit on the left side of the neck by debutant fast bowler Mohammad Wasim’s short-pitched delivery.

Fast bowler Hasan Ali (2-11) had Evin Lewis caught at mid-on off his first delivery and Nicholas Pooran (13) smashed Mohammad Hafeez for two sixes before ballooning an easy catch to point off the off-spinner.

The two experienced power-hitters -- Andre Russell and Chris Gayle -- also couldn’t make an impact against the variations of Pakistan spin and pace.

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Russell smashed leg-spinner, Usman Qadir, for a six over extra cover in the sixth over before getting a thick edge to wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan in the same over.

Wasim had a memorable debut to his T20 international when Gayle holed out in the deep for a run-a-ball seven before captain Kieron Pollard lifted the total in the last over.

Top scorer Pollard (22 not out) hit Shaheen Afridi for a boundary and then ended the innings with a six over mid-wicket before rain ruined the series opener.

The remaining three matches will be played at Providence before a two-test series at Kingston beginning from Aug. 12.

The individual who returned a positive COVID-19 test result ahead of the West Indies second ODI against Australia has been confirmed to be a non-playing member of the West Indies staff.

The match between the teams, which was scheduled for the Kensington Oval today, was postponed shortly after the toss as news of the positive test reached the units.

According to the existing COVID-19 protocols all players, management teams, and match officials will return to their hotel rooms where they will isolate before undergoing a round of PCR testing.

According to Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave, a decision will be taken on when or if the match can resume once the testing is completed.

“Everyone will be retested later today.  In the meantime, everyone will have to stay in isolation until the results of those PCR tests are confirmed,” Grave said.

“We’ll make a further decision when the match can be replayed at a later date, once all the test results are back in, which will hopefully be by tomorrow morning.”

Australia currently leads the three-match series 1-0, after securing a 133 runs win via the DLS method in the first match on Tuesday.  

The second ODI between the West Indies and Australia was suspended due to a positive COVID-19 case. The match was set to get underway at Kensington Oval in Barbados this afternoon.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first but there was a delay at the start of play. Shortly after, it was reported by ESPN Cricinfo that play was suspended and all persons in the bubble will go into isolation.  The identity of the person who tested positive has not been revealed.

West Indies legend and commentator, Ian Bishop tweeted, “Unfortunate. It’s the risk taken in these testing times. Hope the person is not to. (sic) Adversely affected”.

Australia currently leads the three-match series 1-0 and were hoping to close out with a win today.

In game one, Australia posted a score of 252 for 9 in a game reduced to 49 overs. Captain Alex Carey top-scored with 67 while Ashton Turner added 49.

Leg spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. was the pick of the bowlers with 5 for 39 from his ten overs. In reply, the Windies were skittled out for just 123 in 26.2 overs. Kieron Pollard was the top scorer with 56 while fast bowler Mitchell Starc picked up his 8th five-wicket haul, finishing with 5 for 48 in 8 overs.

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