Veteran West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has hailed the influence of team captain Kieran Pollard following a return to form against Australia.

The 42-year-old scored an enterprising 67 from 38 balls as the Windies took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match T20 series.

The half-century would have come as a relief for the under-pressure batsman who had struggled to make an impact since being recalled to the team.  In eight matches, against Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Australia, Gayle has averaged 12.71, with a combined 89 runs, and has a highest score of 31.  In addition, the batsman has a strike rate of 94.68, well below his career average of 139.71.  In fact, the score was the highest for the player since March 2016. 

“It’s good to be among the runs.  Yes, it’s a relief, any batter who hadn’t been among the runs for quite some time now would definitely want to be back among the runs…but it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates,” Gayle said.

“He told me that he was backing me to go out there and play the cricket that Chris Gayle is accustomed to playing.  So, getting the backing from my teammates, senior guys like Dwayne Bravo as well, Nicholas Pooran. 

“It gave me goosebumps when Pollard was speaking in the dressing room.  Me being a leader and I used to captain Pollard and I tried to help him excel in his career, now’s he’s the captain and for him to stand up and say ‘hey Chris’ and give me a reminder of how good I am.  It’s fantastic.”

 West Indies spinner Hayden Walsh Jr insists the team never doubted that they were still in the game despite facing an uphill battle late in the first T20 international against Australia.

In the end, the West Indies triumphed in an 18-run win in St Lucia on Friday but at one point seemed headed for a certain defeat.  On the back of a century from Mitchell Marsh, the Australians had put 70 for the loss of three wickets on the board, at the end of the power play.

However, Walsh Jr combined with the man of the match Obed McCoy and the spinners decimated the Australia line-up as the visitors lost their last six wickets for 19 runs.  Walsh Jr accounted for Marsh in his haul of 3 for 23, while McCoy ended with 4 for 26.

“We just kept believing and we just kept thinking we were always in the game.  We were picking up wickets all the time so with us picking up wickets we just felt we were always in the game,” Walsh said following the match.

“When I came on to bowl, the way that I bowled I just had the feeling that these guys were going to have trouble playing me and getting the ball off the square and hitting boundaries,” he added.

The spinner was returning to the squad for the first time since November of last year.

All-rounder Hayley Matthews starred with both bat and ball as the West Indies cruised to an 8-wicket win over Pakistan, at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, to take a 2-0 lead in the CG Insurance five-match One Day International Series.

Matthews ended the match with figures of 2 for 17, going to work with the ball first of before smashing 49 from 58 balls in pursuit of 120.

In stifling Pakistan, Matthews had plenty of help from the duo of Anisa Mohammed, Karishma Ramharack as the trio combined for eight wickets.

Overall, it was Mohammed who led the way with 4-27 off 9.4 overs, while Matthews had 2-17 off eight and Ramharack got 2-27 off nine.

Opener Muneeba Ali top-scored for Pakistan with 37 from 63 balls but runs and partnerships came at a premium.  Aliya Riaz also contributed 26 for the tourists.

In reply, West Indies Women were solid from the get-go as Matthews and Kyshona Knight put together 65 in 17.5 overs effectively ending the contest.

 Matthews was eventually dismissed after being run out by Diana Baigs, while Knight remained unbeaten on 39. Kycia Knight fell for 12, and Deandra Dottin was on 13 not out when victory was achieved.

Game three will take place on July 12 from 9:30 pm at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

 

West Indies chief of selectors, Roger Harper, has admitted that much better performances were expected from the team’s senior batsman after a sub-par showing against South Africa in the recently concluded T20 series.

Despite starting the series in strong fashion, the West Indies were beaten eventually beaten 3-2 after failing to successfully chase a target of close to 170 in three of five matches.

Fabian Allen had the team’s highest average with 67 in four matches, followed by Evin Lewis with 35.60 in five and Andre Fletcher 32.50 from two matches.  However, there will have been major concerns about some of the team’s seasoned batting stars who struggled to find a way into the series.

Veteran batsman Chris Gayle played four games and averaged just 18.66, with a high score of 32.  Andre Russell averaged 15.50, also in five games, with a high score of 25, team captain Pollard had a high score of 51, but also struggled, managing to average just 22 in five matches.

A few of the team's younger, but seasoned T20 players also struggled, with Shimron Hetmyer averaging 19 and Nicholas Pooran 17.75.

The panel of selectors has come under pressure in some quarters for picking the veteran’s trio of Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Darren Bravo.  However, while Edwards picked up two wickets in two matches and Bravo was the leading wicket-taker with 10, the spotlight has continued to shine on Gayle’s struggles.

“Certainly, Bravo was the leading wicket-taker and Fidel played a couple of games and started to get into stride in the second game.  But from a batting perspective we expect quite a bit more from the senior guys,” Harper told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Maybe we just got carried away with the manner and the method that we used to win that first game from a batting perspective and just thought that we could continue in the same vein and found ourselves in a hole in the middle overs because South Africa adjusted their approach.”

 

  West Indies Women secured an insurmountable 2-0 lead over Pakistan following a 7-runs DLS method win over Pakistan Women in the three-match T20I series in North Sound on Friday.

Electing to bat first the Windies Women complied just 125 with the DLS further reducing the target to 110.  Pakistan were 103 for 6 when the rain stopped the match.

The West Indies effort was built on the backbone of Chedean Nation and Kycia Knight, who put together a 32-run stand from 26 balls for the fifth wicket.  The batsmen were 28 and 30 not out respectively, after forming the partnership at 69 for 4 in the 14th over.

In pursuit, Pakistan got off to a tough start after the top three were sent back to the pavilion with just 25 runs on the board.  Pakistan had five run-outs, with Nida Dar top-scoring with 28.  West Indies Women coach Courtney Walsh admits he is hoping for a clean sweep.

“I don’t expect any complacency to set in. Winning is a habit to have and I want us to go out and focus on us winning the series comprehensively,” Walsh said, following the match.

 

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran insists the team can have no excuses for losing the third T20 match against South Africa as they were in a strong position to claim a win.

South Africa won the third encounter between the teams by a single run to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match T20I series.  At 96 for 3, at the halfway mark, chasing 168, the West Indies seemed well on the way to the target but were often stifled by Tabraiz Shamsi who turned in the most economical effort of his career (2 for 13 in four overs).

Even so, needing 44 runs off the last four overs, Andre Russell seemed set to deliver a win for the team when he smashed back-to-back sixes off Anrich Nortje but was dismissed later in the over after also being dropped.

Pooran, who made a pedestrian 26 for 28, and is really yet to fire for the series, smashed Lungi Ngidi over midwicket for six off the second ball of the 18th over but could not maintain that momentum and was dismissed by Nortje in a penultimate over that only cost 4 runs.

“I felt like South Africa bowled well, they bowled well in the middle and they bowled well in the last two overs of the game and I think that’s where they won the game,” Pooran said following the match.

“As a team, we are still building, we are still trying to bind as a team.  I didn’t think it was too bad, in T20 games partnerships form, you lose wickets, but I felt like today was our game to win in all honesty,” he added.

“We had that partnership, I was there until the second to last over with Fabian and we should have found a way to win that game.  No excuses.”

 

West Indies opener Evin Lewis believes it was important for the team to get off to a good start against South Africa, on the back of a convincing eight-wicket win on Saturday.

Lewis himself played the role of destroyer in chief as he smashed a whirlwind 71off 35 balls.  The knock included a massive 7 sixes and 4 fours, as he quickly put to bed any notion of South Africa dominating the T20 series the way they had the Test series.

“The most important thing was for us as openers was to have a good start.  We went out there and got a good start with the first six and we pushed on to win the game,” Lewis said following the match.

The batsman who was caught by David Miller at long-off, off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi, admits it was somewhat disappointing to miss out on scoring a third T20 international century.

“At the end of the day, my goal was to get the team off to a good start and push on from there.  Actually, I was thinking about batting as deep as possible, probably coming not out, getting a 100, but I look at the bigger picture of the team winning rather than scoring a 100 and the team loses.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, has questioned whether West Indies and regional cricketers are aggressive enough with their approach to honing their craft and overall self-improvement.

The issue comes to the for on the back of a tough, lopsided loss to South Africa, where the batsmen, in particular, struggled to deal with the guile and pace of the opposition bowlers.  Many, however, will point to the team’s proclivity to succumb to batting collapses as a chronic illness.  From his perspective, the situation has left the former batsman to ponder about the amount of work and investment being put in by individual players behind the scenes.

He, however, admitted that the overall issue was a complicated and difficult one to assess.

“Is it that heading into a Test series we aren’t preparing well enough technically and mentally, or is it that when players have their own downtime they are not targeting key areas that are critical,” Adams asked on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Any successful player, at the international level or the elite level, who stays there for any period of time, would have spent all of that time doing remedial work because the cycle never ends,” he added.

“If you get exposed, you cover that gap.  When you think you have that gap covered you get exposed somewhere else.  You talk to any of them, the Laras the Ricky Pontings, the Sachins, they can confirm that they spent all their careers doing remedial work.”

Against the South Africans, the Windies batsmen were floored for 97 in the first innings and never managed to make 200 in any of the four innings against the visitors.

 “I would throw it out for consideration, do we have that mindset amongst our quote and quote elite players? I’m not talking about just international players; I’m talking about first-class cricketers as well.  Are they attacking themselves enough?

“Not just batsmen, bowlers, and wicketkeepers as well.  The one thing that you can guarantee at the international level is you will know where your weaknesses are.  If you are deaf and blind, then the rest of the world will know.  The critical question is am I as a player embracing that? I am taking ownership in a way that as soon as I have my spare time I am attacking myself, I am getting at my weaknesses because the opposition already has it.”

 

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons believes it may be too early to assess the full impact of a crushing defeat at the hands of South Africa in the recently concluded Test series.

Things looked to be on the up for the regional squad following solid performances away to Bangladesh and at home to Sri Lanka, which had even led to the team moving up the Test team rankings table.

However, the West Indies could hardly find a foothold in the series against the visiting South Africans.  They failed to reach the 200 runs in any innings of the two Test matches and were bowled out for 97 in the first innings of the Test match.

The coach will be hoping the performance is more of an aberration than an erosion of the progress made in recent months.

“It has been a setback.  You don’t know how big a setback until we do our remedying and come up against Pakistan,” Simmons told members of the media.

“At the same time, we keep making sure that sometimes you have two steps forward and one step back in progress.  So, it is a little setback we will know how big a setback with the Pakistan series.”

The West Indies will play against a visiting Pakistan in a two-Test series in August.

 

 

 

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy has been appointed as a member of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) board after recently being confirmed as an independent non-member director.

The 37-year-old Sammy led the regional team to the T20 World title in 2012 and 2016, memorably criticising the then administration after claiming the latter title.

Earlier this year, Sammy stepped aside from Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team St Lucia Zouks, moving behind the scenes to become a T20 cricket consultant and brand ambassador.  He is also the current head coach of Pakistan Super League (PSL) team Peshawar Zalmi.

According to Cricket West Indies (CWI), it is hoped the appointment of the former captain will provide a fresh and youthful perspective to some of the challenges faced by the board.

“I am delighted to welcome Daren Sammy as an independent, non-member Director whose role will be to ensure that all the right questions are being asked while contributing to the shaping of new ideas and solutions. Daren’s fairly recent experience as a two-time World Cup-winning captain will bring with him a much-needed modern-day cricketer’s perspective, which should add valuable insights to Board discussions and decision-making. His appointment is testament to our commitment to strengthen CWI’s governance, and to utilize expertise from across all stakeholder groups,” CWI president Ricky Skerritt said.

For his part, Sammy expressed delight with the opportunity to continue playing an active role in West Indies cricket.

“It is an honour to be appointed as a CWI Director; this is another great opportunity for me to give my best to West Indies cricket in a new way, off the field. All my local, regional, and international experiences have prepared me to make a significant ongoing impact in West Indies cricket. I am excited and thankful for the chance to serve and look forward to giving back to the sport and region that I love so much,” Sammy said.

Sammy is one of three appointed Independent Directors approved at last Thursday’s CWI Board of Directors’ meeting.  The appointees will serve for the next two years. He joins Trinidadian Attorney Mrs. Debra Coryat-Patton and Jamaican Surgeon and University Administrator, Dr. Akshai Mansingh, who were both re-appointed to serve a second term.

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, has insisted the responsibility of leading the team has not had a negative impact on his batting performances in the recently concluded series against South Africa.

Brathwaite, who took over as captain of the team from Jason Holder in February, had his worst performance at the top of the order for some time, albeit against a rampant South Africa.

In two matches, the 28-year-old batsman could only manage a high score of 15 and in total scored 28 runs, which included an early duck in the first innings of the second match.  Prior to heading into the series, Brathwaite had averaged 33.43, including scores of 126 and 85 against Sri Lanka in the previous series.

The batsman has, however, rejected notions of added responsibility for the team impacting his performance at the crease.

“I’m not feeling any pressure.  I enjoy captaining.  I didn’t get any runs as the opening batsman, I just didn’t get any runs full stop,” Brathwaite told members of the media.

The player has targeted looking at a few technical issues and better mental preparation ahead of the next series.

“Opening the batting isn’t easy, but it’s a very crucial job because it basically sets up the game to make it easier for guys that follow and we didn’t do that and it put us on the backfoot for most of the time,” he added.

 

 

 

South Africa batsman Rassie van der Dussen clean bowled by Kemar Roach after letting a straight one go.

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, has insisted returning batsman Shai Hope is in a good frame of mind, despite a disappointing return to the Test area against South Africa.

Hope spent several months out of the team, after being dropped in November of last year, working on technical and mental issues following a poor run of form.

The 27-year-old’s return against South Africa last week, however, was a baptism of fire, so to speak, as he was uprooted for scores of 15 and 12.  Hope, who opened in the first innings and batted third in the second, was, however, far from the only batsman who struggled on the day with the team only managing 97 in the first innings.

Ahead of the start of the second Test, on Friday, however, Brathwaite has given assurances that the batsman is confident and mentally in good shape.

“Just like any batsman, it’s important how they are feeling.  He is feeling good at the top but I back him for whichever position, whether opening or number 5, I know he will do a good job,” Brathwaite told members of the media on Thursday.

“He’s always up for the challenge and he’s up for the challenge for any position, opening is obviously different but he’s ready for any position.  He is in a good space and that’s one of the main things.  Once the batter has that positive mindset and is confident then that’s the way forward.”

Hope will be looking to replicate some of the form from the Windies Best vs Best practice match where he impressed selectors with a century.

 

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach has backed the team to recover mentally for the second Test, following a disappointing start to the series against South Africa.

The visiting Proteas handed their hosts a deflating innings and 63 runs defeat in the first Test in St Lucia.  In total, the Windies managed just 259 in both innings after scoring just 97 in the first.  South Africa was tasked with batting once and 322 was comfortable enough to win the game.

The manner of the defeat was perhaps all the more surprising as the team headed into the series on the back of an exceptional away performance against Bangladesh and a solid home showing against Sri Lanka.  Roach has, however, backed the unit to recover its fortitude quickly ahead of the second Test.

“I know the guys had their batting meeting.  I’m sure they spoke about what is required to put on a better showing in the second Test match,” Roach told members of the media.

“The dressing room is good, relaxed.  We have had a good year of Test cricket.  One bad match doesn’t make us a bad team.  It about us remaining positive, trust our process, gain some confidence for the second Test match and take it from there.”

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