Windies skipper Kieron Pollard had plenty of reasons to strike an unmistakably defiant tone after a hard-fought series win over England at the Kensington Oval on Sunday.

The victory will have gone some way in easing the pressure faced by both the captain and the team itself following an anemic performance at the T20 World Cup and a shock loss to Ireland in its most recent One Day International series.

During the England series, the West Indies were once again put in a negative spotlight as rumours of player victimization, pertaining to fast bowler Odean Smith came to the surface.

A performance against world number one England, albeit an understrength unit, and particularly one where so many players put in exceptional performances, was timely.  The fact did not escape Pollard.

“Every single one in the dressing room, we rallied together through everything.  Every time we won a game there was something negative against us, but we came out and the guys really won it,” Pollard said after briefly opening with his own rendition of a verse from the popular Jamaica dancehall artist.

“Empty vessels make the most noise.  The guys have worked tirelessly, when we came back from Jamaica our heads were down.  We had conversations in the dressing room regarding how we wanted to play the cricket and I think the guys bounced back pretty well,” he added.

“It’s one series but we have been on the losing end of a lot of series and a lot of games and you have to take this one.  The guys needed an opportunity to just free up themselves and enjoy themselves for a couple of games.”

Particularly pleasing for the team would have been the performance of former captain Jason Holder who claimed man of the series following a virtuoso performance just months after being controversially left out of the 15-man T20 World Cup starting team.

West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, did not put too much blame on the shoulders of all-rounder Jason Holder after an expensive 18th over led to the ballooning of England’s first innings total.

On Saturday, England leveled the series on the back of a stroke-filled 64 from the team’s captain Moeen Ali, which bankrolled the team’s first innings score of 193 for 6.

Things had looked far more controlled at the start of the 18th over, with England on 134 for 3.  Holder, who had put together a tidy spell to that point, was the target of a savage attack from Ali who launched four consecutive sixes and eventually milk 28 off it.  The following over for Romario Shepherd also proved costly as it ended up adding another 18 to England’s tally.  Pollard admitted the expensive final overs were likely where the game turned.  

“That’s the nature of T20 cricket all it takes is six balls or a couple hits to get you away from where you want to be,” Pollard said following the match.

“We were looking at around at around 160, 170, a total that would have been chasable but them getting to 190 put that extra 20 runs out of our reach,” he added.

“I thought right until then, and even when we started to bat, we had a very good chance.  We slowed up in the middle not losing wickets but we were a little slow.”  

Former Windies skipper, Darren Sammy, believes the team has the potential to do well on the upcoming tour of India, particularly with some of the talents on display during the England series.

The Caribbean team will head to South Asia immediately following the conclusion of the ongoing series against England, where they are currently leading 2-1.  The series has featured a number of standout performances so far, with the likes of Akeal Hosein, Romario Shepherd, and some of the more commonly known names like Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran all putting together noteworthy performances during the series so far.

 “They have got some really good one-day players, but we have unearthed some new talents in the ongoing series against England,” Sammy said of the team’s chances for the upcoming series.

“I think the West Indies would do well, but you would need the guys to take the wickets with the new ball.”

The former captain also believes the team’s cause could be helped by the knowledge of current captain Kieron Pollard.

“He has been playing in India for so long (at the IPL) and knows the conditions very well,” Sammy said. “Hopefully that experience and knowledge he could bring on to the field.”

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is pleased to see vice-captain Nicholas Pooran slotting comfortably into the number three role in the team’s recent T20 win against England.

Partnered with man-of-the-match Rovman Powell, Pooran put on a near-perfect display, a combination of power-hitting, game management, and finesse.  The batsman put together a crucial 70 from 43 deliveries, which formed part of a match-winning 122 partnership for the third wicket.

Simmons admits the knock was a good illustration of the type of role the team envisions the batsman is capable of playing.

“It’s been a plan since World Cup.  As we saw, he is understanding his role better and better and yesterday (Wednesday) just showed exactly how we see him controlling the innings,” Simmons told members of the media on Wednesday.

“His communication and control with Rovman was a big plus yesterday,” he added.

Pooran came to the crease following the departure of Brandon King and was part of a 37-run partnership with Shai Hope before joining forces with Powell.

In total, Pooran has played 14 matches batting at the number three position, scoring a total of 356 runs, and has averaged 32.36 so far.

 

 

 

West Indies vice-captain, Nicholas Pooran, believes his performance against England was enhanced by a certain clarity of thought regarding what needed to be accomplished for the team.

Rovman Powell may have stolen the headlines with his sensational knock of 107, but Pooran played just as critical a role in providing the backbone that the 20-run win for the West Indies was built on. As a pair, they combined to frustrate the England bowlers after adding 122 runs for the third wicket.

Pooran, who admits he is still working on adapting to batting at the unfamiliar position of three, scored a crucial 70 off 43 balls.

“For me it was simple. The last couple of games, even from Pakistan I got the opportunity to bat at number 3 and I’m trying to figure out how I should bat at number three. Today I just felt like I had to be clear. Today was about being clear and just executing. If I said I wanted to look for a single for example, I looked for a single and picked the gap. I just tried to put the ego away for me it was all about staying in the moment, playing the situations well. Trying to play things as well as I can."

The team was also forced to put in a strong effort in the field as led by 75 from Tom Banton, England made a good effort of chasing the target before falling short at 204 for 9.

"For me the extra 22 runs at the end was key. In saying that England batted well but we knew if we could string a couple good overs together we would have a good chance. It seems like they played more bowlers today, so that was also a big help for us."

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has pointed to the importance of putting egos aside in selecting the right team, following a stunning display from returning batsman Rovman Powell against England.

The Windies crept ahead in the five-match T20 International series, on Wednesday, on the back of a brilliant century from Powell.  The batsman, who was playing his first match in the series, came into the line-up at four and smashed a stunning 107 a knock that included 10 towering sixes.

Ahead of the match, some considered it to be somewhat of a controversial decision to add Powell to the line-up at the expense of Odean Smith, who has also shown plenty of promise in recent innings.  The result, however, spoke for itself.  The captain believes it speaks to the versatility of the unit.

“It vindicated the team selection, obviously, it was a good game of cricket we batted first, and we batted well, kudos to Rovman.  He came in having been out for the first two games and took his chance,” Pollard said after the match.

“We have a versatile team.  Sometimes you have to take the ego out of it and give the opportunity to the guys who have the form and the confidence that’s what we did today, so kudos to the management team and to the players who went out and played a fantastic game,” he added.

Equally important was Powell’s pairing with West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran who went into the line-up at the unfamiliar position of three and scored 70 from 43 deliveries.  The pair put on 122 for the third wicket.

West Indies century-maker Rovman Powell admits he has spent the last few months away from the team working out a susceptibility to wrist spin.

The 28-year-old returned to the regional squad with a bang on Wednesday, blasting the first T20I century of his career, and third for a West Indian player, with 107 in a 20-runs win against England.  The crucial innings, along with 70 from vice-captain Nicholas Pooran anchored the team’s effort in taking a 2-1 series lead.

In the batsman’s previous appearance, against Pakistan, he averaged 16.5 in three games where he had real issues navigating wrist spinner Shadab Khan.

“I think it’s been overall improvement, I can strike the ball well but I also have a little problem with wrist spin.  Every time I start my innings they come and bowl wrist spin.

I went away and for the last six, seven months and I’ve been working on wrist spin and trying to open up the offside and I think that showed today," Powell said after the game.

Powell played a watchful innings in seeing off dangerous England spinner Adil Rashid, who claimed 2 for 24 in the previous match of the series.

“We know Rashid is the most threatening of all the bowlers, so all we did is see if we can get 24 or 30 off him, that’s good, just to limit his wicket count and take our chances against the other bowlers for the other 16 overs.”

West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder believes he could be getting back to approaching his best form, partly due to a change in mentality, after a tumultuous past year of cricket.

The 30-year-old was replaced as captain of the team, in March, before finding himself controversially left out of the 15-man squad for the team to last year’s World Cup.  Despite the turmoil, the player has, however, managed to put in consistent performance, particularly with the ball.

Against England, Holder recently achieved a new milestone after taking career-best figures of 4 for 7 against in the ongoing series.  In two matches, he has taken six wickets and looked an assured presence for the team on the field.  The all-rounder admits, these days, he is in a different frame of mind.

“In the recent past…I’ve probably been overthinking it too much.  I’ve been working on some things technically as well from both the batting and bowling standpoint.  Honestly speaking, I would have studied it a little too much in the game and not been as clear as I wanted to be,” Holder told members of the media on Tuesday.   

“So, I’ve tried to iron out a few things mentally and trying to be a lot more focused and committed to what I want to do on a given day and try not to focus on just having a perfect technique,” he added.

The former captain believes it has been a difficult period for the entire group.

“There’s been a lot on my mind in the last year.  I’m just trying to find ways to shut some of it out and try to narrow in and focus on what’s needed.  I think the group has that challenge as well, we are working hard.  Anybody that says we are not working hard enough, I would always challenge that, but there is a lot more to cricket and sport than just working hard.”

India captain Rohit Sharma has been passed fit to lead the team for the upcoming series against the West Indies in February.

The 34-year-old batsman is only just recovering from injury, having missed out on the team’s most recent tour of South Africa, which ended in a disappointing 3-0 loss.

According to reports, the batsman is already back in training and will be ready to go for the T20 and perhaps ODI series.  The series will get underway on February 6th, while the T20 series gets underway on February 16th.  Rohit is recovering from a left hamstring injury.  In the past, the player has captained India vs the West Indies in three matches in 2018.  India won the series 3-0.  Overall, in 17 T20Is India has won 10 and lost 6.

"Rohit is fit and available for the series against the West Indies," a BCCI source was quoted as saying.

"By the time the West Indies series starts, it will be more than seven and half weeks of rehabilitation and recuperation for Rohit.

The West Indies are expected to head to India immediately after the England tour.

 

 

West Indies Women opened their tour of South Africa on a winning note when they defeated a South Africa Women's XI by 53 runs in a warm-up match at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

Batting first, West Indies Women posted 202 all out from 46.5 overs. Shemaine Campbelle top-scored with 42 off 48 deliveries, which included 5-fours, followed by Rashada Williams with 30 off 73, inclusive of 3-fours. Nadine de Klerk returned the best bowling figures for the South Africa Women's XI with 7-0-27-3, followed by Tumi Sekhukhune with 5-1-20-2.

Tazmin Brits and Delmari Tucker top-scored for the South Africa Women's XI, with 32 and 24 respectively. Bowling for West Indies Women, Cherry Ann Fraser caused a middle-order collapse in her spell, finishing with 4-0-11-3, While Shamilia Connell wrapped up the innings with 2-0-13-2 and a direct-hit run-out.

West Indies Women's Head Coach Courtney Walsh was pleased with the performance but says the preparations are not completed with a win.

"I thought the girls did well, it was good to get out in the middle and play today. We haven't played a lot of cricket of late so even though it was a practice match, the atmosphere and the execution went pretty well. Most of the girls had decent knocks and a decent bowl as well. What I was most impressed was the two Super-Over practice scenarios we had as well, with how precise and good the execution was. This win will give us confidence going into the series (yes) but also for the World Cup."

West Indies will return to the Imperial Wanderers Stadium on Friday, for the first of four One Day Internationals against South Africa Women. It is a day/night fixture with first ball at 2 pm (8 am Eastern Caribbean/7 am Jamaica).

 

West Indies T20 vice-captain, Nicholas Pooran, has hailed the mammoth effort put in by lower-order batsmen Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd albeit coming in a losing effort against England on Sunday.

The English levelled the series after a narrow 1-run win, at the Kensington Oval, but early on in the West Indies run chase, after the visitors had scored 171, the result seemed a mere formality.

After a slow start from the hosts, tight bowling from England during the middle overs, spearheaded by Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, saw the West Indies tumble from 47 for 2 to 65 for 7 but a superb display of power hitting from Hosein and Shepherd, in the end, left the team just short of the target.

Shepherd blasted 44 from 28, a tally which included 5 sixes, while Hosein put in 44 from 16, including a flurry of boundaries to close out the match.

“Akeal and Shepherd have been working really hard on their batting.  We have a long list of hitters in our team and tonight we saw something special from Akeal and Shepherd, kudos go to them, they didn’t give up at all,” Pooran said.

“It just shows the strength in our team, tonight was their night, we lost the game by two runs but another night someone else will turn up to the party,” he added.

At the same time, Pooran admits that the team could have gotten a bit more contribution from the top order.  Pooran scored 24 himself and Darren Bravo 23, but both openers Brandon King (0) and Shai Hope (2) went for peanuts.

“I think Kingy (Brandon King) had a tough decision, but we have to accept those things and Hope was a bit unfortunate, the wrong decision maybe at that time.  That set us back in the powerplay but having said that (Reece) Topley bowled really well in the powerplay.”

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Sir Andy Roberts, insists all of the team’s shortcomings at the crease should not be blamed on coaches at the senior team level, as overall, more work needs to be put into developing the region’s young players.

On the back of a historic shock loss to Ireland in their most recent international One Day International (ODI) series, the team’s performances have come under the microscope even more than usual, particularly as it relates to the patchy performance of the batting line-up.

Against Ireland, the batsmen seemed technically incapable of dealing with either the moist conditions on the pitch or the craft of the Irish bowlers.  The team’s struggles have led some to question the work of head coach Phil Simmons and the team’s batting coaches, but while admitting that more needed to be done by the coach, Roberts insists the team’s troubles run a lot deeper.

“For what it is now, I don’t think I would blame the coach alone because of the (low) quality of our players coming out of the region,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“We have to put some emphasis on the coaches from our lower levels coming up because that is where you learn the skills of batting because most focus today is on batting.  I read where the captain said that the West Indies has a batting problem but we’ve been having a batting problem for years… we want to blame others at the top when this is a problem that comes from the lower level.”

 

West Indies T20 star Chris Gayle has made himself unavailable for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League, which could signal an end to his time at the tournament.

The 42-year-old has played in the world’s premier T20 tournament for the past 13 seasons, where he has played a total of 142 matches since making his debut in 2009.  Gayle has represented the Punjab Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

After experiencing inconsistent playing time during the last edition, for Punjab, and leaving the tournament early to prepare for the T20 World, questions had been raised regarding the player’s future.

The batsman has been one of the league’s most iconic players and is its seventh-highest runs scorer, having scored 4,965 runs at an average of 39.72 and with a strike rate of 148.96.  Gayle tops the list with the most centuries (6) and also holds the record for hitting the highest number of sixes (357).  The West Indian has, however, never managed to win a title.

On the back of a disappointing World Cup, Gayle was expected to retire from international cricket but has registered to play for Fortune Barishal in this year’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).  The BPL got underway yesterday, but Gayle is not expected to join the squad until later in the season.

Former Ireland batsman turned commentator, Nyle O’Brien, believes the West Indies batsmen have become caught-up playing an old fashion type of cricket, which has little chance of success in the modern game.

The Caribbean side was beaten by Ireland, in a One Day International series, for the first time in their history earlier this week.  The team had a poor showing all-around but as has become custom in recent times their substandard display at the crease was noticeable.

The team struggled to come to grips with not just the surface, but also the Irish bowlers, particularly Andy McBrine who took 10 wickets over the three games. O’Brien believes a major part of the issues at the crease stems from the batting unit’s outdated philosophy of run-scoring.

“The West Indies, they’re playing a very old school type of cricket.  They just stand around in the crease and either block or try to hit the ball for four or six.  Unfortunately, when you are playing international cricket that doesn’t happen very often.  Very rarely do you see a West Indies batter come down the pitch, using their feet, knock it to long-on, or long-off for singles, rotate the strike, or manipulate the field.  We saw very few sweeps, when Shamarh Brooks did play a sweep he was out lbw,” O'Brien told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“When you’re a batter if you’re going to stand in the crease waiting for a bad ball, this is international cricket, the bad balls don’t come very often…It’s a technical thing, it’s a tactical thing…it’s something for West Indies cricket, it’s been a pattern for many, many years they don’t play spin very well.  They really on their brute force and teams are getting more clever with how to go about that.”

 

 

Legendary West Indies batsman, Viv Richards, has once again decried what he believes to be the role of poorly prepared playing surfaces in the underdevelopment of both the region’s batsman and bowlers.

The regional team is in the grips of a particularly bad spell, after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Ireland in the most recent One Day International series.  The series was the first the Irish have won again them and sent shockwaves around the region.

The team’s batsmen were in particularly woeful form with only Sharmarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Odean Smith managing to average over 30.  Albeit on a pitch that held moisture early on, and losing the toss three times, the West Indies only managed to make over 250 runs in the first match, well short of the total typically required for a good innings in modern ODI cricket.

With many of the batsmen continuing to look out of sorts, despite often putting in strong spells in regional cricket, Richards believes substandard pitches are partially to blame for the situation.

“I don’t think there is enough preparation being put into wickets, and wickets play a huge part because sometimes you get some individuals who would be selected because of some good performances on some dodgy tracks,” Richards told Antigua’s Good Morning Jojo Radio program.

“So, when you get to the bigger picture or they take a step up, then you find individuals are found wanting because these wickets are rather inferior on either sides of the coin, whether it’s batting or bowling. We need to pay a little more attention to having proper wickets that can be quite competitive for bat and ball,” he added.

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