Former England captain turned cricket analyst Kevin Pietersen has expressed surprise at the decision by Punjab Kings XI to legendary West Indian batsman Chris Gayle out of the line-up on his birthday.

The iconic ball-beater turned 42 on Tuesday but could only watch from the bench as the team fell to a 2 runs loss to Rajasthan Royals.  The West Indian has managed 178 runs in 8 matches, with an average of 25.42.  The average is the fourth-best on the team, but on Tuesday the Kings opted for Aiden Markham at the third place in the line-up, which Gayle has been occupying since last season.

Pietersen admits he found the situation to be an unusual one.

   "There will be some questions asked. I don’t understand why you would leave Chris Gayle out on his birthday,” Pietersen said on Star Sports.

“If there was one game you were going to play him, it was this one. If he failed then you say ‘ok, you can have a bit of rest’. So, I can’t understand the thinking at all," he added.

Gayle has been selected for the West Indies T20 squad for next month’s ICC World T20, the appearance will mark his 7th at the global tournament.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) petitioned the Jamaican government to allow some fans into the National Stadium for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers.

The Reggae Boyz will be back in action next month when they tackle the United States on October 7 and play their second home game of the qualifiers against Canada.  The Jamaicans had a chastening start to their home campaign, following a 3-0 home loss to Panama earlier this month.

Due to existing coronavirus protocols, the match was, however, played in front of an empty stadium.  The JFF, however, hopes to have at least some fans for next month’s second round.  Based on the local football body’s proposal only a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the match, and they must provide proof of vaccination in order to be able to do so.

The Reggae Boyz, who are looking to get to the World Cup for the first time in over 23 years, find themselves at the bottom of the eight-team group after the first three games.  The Boyz opened with a 2-1 loss away to Mexico before the damaging 3-0 home loss to Panama.  The team, however, got the board with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.

In the midst of her post-Olympic campaign, Shericka Jackson, who won a bronze medal in the 100m in a Jamaican sweep of the event at the Tokyo Olympics in August and then a gold medal anchoring the 4x100m relay in a new national record of 41.02, was missing home.

On September 3, she tweeted about the things she was missing the most – two curry patties from Devon House, 3 grapefruit ice creams also from Devon House, chocolate, two cheese patties and two Purity Buns.

The tweet generated more than 3000 likes and was retweeted more than 300 times and eventually caught the attention of Purity Bakery, who simply responded “We got you.”

They sure did.

Earlier Monday, less than 48 hours after Jackson returned to Jamaica for the first time since July, Purity delivered on their promise with a package of Purity buns for the Jamaican star but also several palettes of product for members of her community.

“@sherickajacko just touch dung and got her Purity bun and products courtesy of Purity Jamaica,” the company tweeted.

“She also got buns for her community. We love you Shericka and we’re proud of all you did for us on an international scale.”

 Could this be the start of something sweet for Jackson and Purity.

 

 

(This column was originally published in the Stabroek News newspaper)

“Knives for Roger Harper and his hallucinating band of selectors, aren't yet drawn. But surely, they are being sharpened!"

Those were the words of the seasoned Jamaican cricket journalist Ray Ford, in reaction to the storm of controversy that has been created as a result of the choices made by Selections’ Chair Roger Harper and his Panel for the West Indies official squad of 15 plus four reserves to participate in the forthcoming ICC 2021 T20 World Cup. The 2021 ICC T20 World Cup will be held in the UAE from October 17 – November 13.

Further revelations from the most recent episodes of the West Indies World Cup Squad “selections fiasco,” would now suggest that the sharpened knives have since not only been drawn but that it is now only a matter of time before they are used to pierce the tenure of Roger Harper, Miles Bascome and Head Coach Phil Simmons as members of the West Indies Selections Panel with terminal effect!

The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) was among the first to publicly question the Panel’s competence. Angered by the Selections Panel’s omission of Sherfayne Rutherford on the grounds of his not having met the established fitness criteria, the GCB suggested that Cricket West Indies (CWI) should advise the Caribbean cricket public regarding the standard and schedule for fitness tests for regional cricketers.

Stating that the Selections Panel has disappointed both Guyana and the Caribbean at large, while referring to its decisions as a “selection fiasco,” the GCB called for the Panel to be made accountable to all cricket institutions and stakeholders in the region and to justify its choices.
“Failure to do so, the GCB calls on CWI to dismiss the Selections Panel and to replace it with a more competent one which will represent the best interests of West Indies cricket!”
In addition to the GCB’s issued statement, several Caribbean Heads of States have also weighed in with their own criticisms of the selected squad. The respective Prime Ministers of Barbados and St Vincent, the Honorable Mia Mottley and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as well as Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, have all expressed their profound disappointment and disagreement with some of the Harper-led Selections Panel’s choices.

Further, the former West Indies fast bowling legendary great, Sir Andy Roberts, referred to the Selections Panel’s non-inclusion of Barbadian Jason Holder, within the final squad of fifteen and his relegation to the status of a mere reserve as “embarrassing!”

Holder holds the current ICC ranking as international cricket’s best all-rounder. He is also the Cricket West Indies’ only all formats, Tests, ODIs and T20s, contracted player.

Holder’s relegations as a reserve, the medical exemptions provided to Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul, as well as the reported non-consideration of Odean Smith and Sherfayne Rutherford as a result of their respective failures to meet the established fitness criteria for West Indies selection. These are uppermost among the far too many highly questionable World Cup Squad decisions made by Harper and his Panel.

It can now arguably be said that never before in Caribbean cricket’s illustrious history has a selected West Indies squad caused such controversy. The very centre of which appears to be the glaringly apparent inconsistencies surrounding the fitness standards that were applied to determine selection, or conversely non-selection, of certain players to the squad.

Where is the consistency between the medical exemptions granted to Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul and the non-consideration of Smith and Rutherford for not having met the established fitness criteria? That is the very simple question now being asked of Harper and his Panel. Shouldn’t “what’s good for the goose, also be granted to the gander?”

Furthermore, as Sir Andy Roberts has also correctly reasoned as important a tournament as the T20 World Cup is, coupled with the fact that we are the reigning Champions seeking to defend our title, why are we even considering, let alone actually including players who are in need of medical exemptions?

The former West Indies opening batsman, Bryan Davis’ reaction to the fitness-related decisions of Harper and his Panel was even more damning.

“This is dangerous territory we’re entering and the precedent being set for future selectors by the disqualification of young promising players while giving past successful players a medical exemption is a sign of dishonesty in selection policy. One is either fit enough to take his place in the team or he’s not. Every international cricketer walking out on that field to represent WI must deserve his place on the team by his performances and by extension his fitness. Equal status for all.”

Harper himself has also attracted the ire of former West Indies opening batsman Philo Wallace. The outspoken Wallace has highly criticized Harper’s self-admitted decision as Selection Chairman to leave the determination of Obed McCoy’s fitness readiness for the World Cup in the hands of Cricket West Indies’ Medical Committee.

As one of the designated death bowlers and hence a vital member of the West Indies’ World Cup bowling attack, McCoy has reportedly been suffering from recurring shin splints for some time now. His appearances in actual matches of late, including both those in the recent West Indies T2o Series against Australia and Pakistan as well as this year’s recently concluded CPL, can only be best described as having been sporadic.

Harper having left the determination of McCoy’s fitness to the Medical Committee would, therefore, appear to be an abdication of his responsibilities as Selections Chair. Moreover, it also now means that in addition to already being the most aged of the 2021 T20 World Cup’s 16 participating teams, as well as arguably the most unfit, the West Indies could also well be the only squad containing an injury affected player even before the tournament’s commencement!

As a member of Cricket West Indies’ recently structured Committee to develop a new policy for the governance of the selection of West Indies teams, Wallace has also indicated that fitness was identified as the most basic fundamental requirement of its submitted recommendations. The Committee’s recommendations were subsequently wholly endorsed by Cricket West Indies’ Board of Directors. As such, in the light of the Word Cup selections decisions that have been made by Harper and Company, Wallace has suggested that the Committee’s recommendations are now seemingly being ignored.

“When does this current Panel’s tenure end?”

That was the question posed by Philo Wallace as one of the panellists on the recent September 14, 2021 broadcast of the highly popular Barbados-based Mason & Guest Programme. Mason & Guests is hosted weekly by the noted West Indies cricket Radio Commentator, Andrew Mason.

If Wallace’s question is not now surely a sign of knives not only having actually been drawn but also being pointed squarely in the direction of Roger Harper and his Cricket West Indies Selections Panel, then “the Pope isn’t Catholic!”

 

Romeo Beckham made his professional debut for American third-tier club Fort Lauderdale CF on Sunday.

The 19-year-old signed a contract with the club earlier this month and started on the right wing in his first appearance for the reserve team of Inter Miami – the MLS outfit his father David Beckham owns.

He played for 79 minutes in a 2-2 draw against South Georgia Tormenta FC in the USL League one.

"Blessed to have made my pro debut tonight for Fort Lauderdale, full focus onto the next match," Beckham posted on Instagram post-match.

Another familiar name was among the Lauderdale ranks, with Phil Neville's son Harvey playing in midfield – his 16th appearance for the Florida outfit since leaving Manchester United's academy.

Both could return to action Lauderdale against Greenville Triumph on 2 October as they look to rise from eighth place.

The Jamaica Football Federation has revealed that Shamar Nicholson suffered a facial fracture during Charleroi FC’s 1-0 loss to Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League on Sunday.

However, the player will be able to continue playing this season and in the upcoming world cup qualifiers with the use of a protective face shield.

Nicholson was forced to leave the field in the second half of the match after he was hit in the face during a violent collision with Brandon Mechele.

The striker jumped to head a ball on goal but Mechele,  the Club Brugge defender, in challenging for the ball, headed Nicholson in the jaw, rendering the Jamaican unconscious for a short time. Reports on the incident said Nicholson tried to play on after regaining consciousness but was unable to continue and was substituted.

Immediately afterwards, club officials feared Nicholson have suffered a broken jaw but were awaiting the results of additional tests. Their fears were proven valid as Reggae Boyz team manager Roy Simpson confirmed this morning that Nicholson suffered a minor fracture but will be able to continue playing this season with the use of a protective face shield.

Nicholson scored both of Jamaica’s goals in the Reggae Boyz first three World Cup qualifiers in the Octogonal round. He scored Jamaica’s only goal in Jamaica’s 2-1 loss to Mexico and scored the equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica in San Jose.

Jamaica’s next round of qualifiers begins on October 7 against the United States. The Reggae Boyz then take on Canada on October 10 before facing Honduras on October 13.

 

Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak to five games in MLS after topping Los Angeles FC 2-1 on Sunday.

The resurgent Timbers continued their run thanks to goals from Dairon Asprilla and George Fochive at Providence Park.

Asprilla opened the scoring at home to LAFC – the Timbers forward headed home in the 21st minute, though the visitors responded six minutes later via Cristian Arango's penalty.

But the Timbers emerged triumphant courtesy of Fochive's game-winning header 22 minutes from the end in Portland.

The Timbers are fifth in the Western Conference – nine points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City, while LAFC are eighth and a point outside the play-off spots.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia Union returned to winning ways by defeating Orlando City 3-1 to surge back into the play-off positions.

The Union were three games without a win in MLS heading into the contest, however, Kacper Przybylko's brace ensured Philadelphia – eliminated in the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals – snapped their skid.

After Philadelphia's Kai Wagner and Orlando's Ruan traded goals, Przybylko lifted the Union with a second-half brace.

Orlando ended the match with 10 men after Antonio Carlos was sent off in the 88th minute.

Montreal – fifth in the Eastern Conference – accounted for Chicago Fire 2-0 and Vancouver Whitecaps drew 1-1 at Colorado Rapids.

Meanwhile, Dallas and head coach Luchi Gonzalez parted ways amid their four-match winless streak which has left the team 11th in the west and seven points off the pace.

West Indies Women won the fifth and final CG Insurance One-Day International against South Africa Women on Sunday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. After the full 100 overs, the match was tied – a run out off the last ball left South Africa on 192-7 off their 50 overs in reply to West Indies 192-5.

The match then went to the one-over eliminator and the home team scored 7-1 after the visitors made 6-0.

West Indies made their highest score of the series, thanks to a career-best knock from Rashada Williams – playing her fifth match.

The opening batter, top-scored with 78 not out off 138 balls as she batted through the innings. Then, off-spinner Sheneta Grimmond took a career-best 4-33 off her 10 overs in her sixth match, as South Africa slipped from 111-0 to 143-6 in the space of 13 overs.

“It was a great finish and I’m happy I played my part in today’s win. We really wanted to win, and we gave it all we had. The end was amazing with the run out off the last ball. We didn’t panic, we were focused, we kept our nerve in the ‘super over’ and it felt great to win,” said Grimmond, who was named CG Insurance Player-of-the-Match.

Match Summary: West Indies Women 192-5 off 50 overs (Rashada Williams 78 not out, Hayley Matthews 48; Nadine de Klerk 3-33) South Africa Women 192-7 off 50 overs (Lizelle Lee 61, Tazmin Brits 48, Mignon du Preez 46; Sheneta Grimmond 4-33, Qiana Joseph 2-29)

Former Cavalier SC and Jamaica player William ‘Roy’ Welch died on Saturday night at the University Hospital of the West Indies. He was 73. Welch, who was admitted to hospital a week ago, died at 11:59 pm Saturday after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer.

Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt has advised up and coming USA sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson to focus less on talking and more on training to get better performances on the track.

Bolt has admitted to being a fan of the energy and sassy attitude of the American sprinter, which he believes is good for the sport.  Richardson has in recent times, however, failed to turn that energy into strong performances on the track.

There was plenty of enthusiasm surrounding Richardson earlier this year, following several impressive performances in the months of April and May.  Among them was a 10.72 clocking in Florida, which was at the time the fastest for the season.

Heading into the Olympics, the American cast herself as the one that could bring an end to over a decade of Jamaican dominance of athletics.  Heading into the Games, however, Richardson tested positive for marijuana, was suspended for a month, and missed the event where Jamaica swept all the podium spots in the 100m.

After that, came a much-publicised Diamond League meeting between the American and the Jamaican Olympic medallist, in Eugene, Oregon, which was framed along the lines of being an opportunity for Richardson to show what would have happened had she not been suspended for the Olympics.  Things did not go to plan, however, as she finished in 9th place, with the Jamaicans once again sweeping the top three spots. 

She followed that up with a second-place finish in Italy, and a fourth-place finish, in the 200m, at the Diamond League meet in Brussels.  Off the track, the sprinter was also criticised for what many believed amounted to disrespect for American sprint legend Allyson Felix.  Bolt believes, at this point, the young American needs to refocus.

“I would tell Sha’Carri to train harder and to be focused and not say too much…,” Bolt said in a recent interview with the New York Post.

“If you talk that big talk you have to back it up,” he added.

“So just train hard and focus on that and try to come back, do it and then talk about it.”

Richardson’s performances have split a vocal global track and field fanbase.  Her most ardent fans have continued to express support for the struggling sprinter, but others have expressed disappointment at both her performances and recent outbursts.  Many, particularly supporters of Jamaican track and field, found the American’s massive failure amusing given her pre-race antics, exuberant expression, and what they believe is disregard for their decorated Olympic medallists.

“Jamaicans were vexed because she was talking a lot of s–t before the actual race, it is just one of those things,” Bolt said of Richardson’s lopsided loss in Eugene, where Olympic champion Elaine Thompson clocked 10.54, the second-fastest time ever run over the distance.

 “Jamaicans don’t like when people talk s–t about us because we are a very proud people. So, if you talk about us we are gonna want you to back it up. It definitely gave those women the extra push.”

 

 

Emanuel Reynoso scored a double to breathe life into Minnesota United's playoffs hopes whilst denting LA Galaxy's with a 3-0 victory in the MLS on Saturday.

Reynoso scored twice inside the opening 20 minutes to set up the triumph which lifts United up to sixth spot after they had suffered back-to-back defeats.

The Argentine fired in a low left-foot shot to open the scoring in the fourth minute before jinking inside and netting from similar range in the 20th minute to double the lead.

United goalkeeper Tyler Miller saved well to deny Dejan Joveljic prior to half-time, before Ethan Finlay got in behind the Galaxy defence from Franco Frangapane's pass to add a third in the 66th minute.

The result sees Minnesota move up to sixth in the Western Conference with 34 points, while Galaxy stay fourth but are winless from their past six games.

Runaway league leaders New England were held to a 1-1 home draw with Columbus Crew.

Polish attacker Adam Buksa netted a 62nd minute equalizer after US international Gyasi Zardes had put Crew ahead in the 58th minute.

Zardes had missed a gilt-edged header in the 22nd minute but he took his opportunity early in the second half from Harrison Afful's cross.

Buksa levelled, swooping on a poor Jonathan Mensah pass in defence, handing the Pole a sniff on goal which he converted with a left-foot shot.

An injured Eloy Room made two crucial late saves to deny Buksa a winner as the Crew held on.

Struggling Austin slumped to a fifth straight defeat after blowing a 3-1 second-half lead to lose 4-3 to San Jose Earthquakes.

The Earthquakes scored three goals in 14 second-half minutes to complete the comeback headlined by Javier Lopez's double.

New York City firmed up their grip on a playoffs spot after a 2-1 win away to Cincinnati who were reduced to nine men after red cards to Alvaro Barreal and Isaac Atanga.

Damir Kreilach's early second-half goal was enough to get Real Salt Lake past Seattle Sounders 1-0, while Houston Dynamo won 3-2 over Dallas in the Texas derby.

Lowly Toronto ended their six-game losing run with a shock 2-1 home win over Nashville, while Atlanta United secured their third straight triumph with a 3-2 victory over DC United.

Jamaica international, Leon Bailey, insists he feels at home at new club Aston Villa after an impressive cameo against Everton on Saturday.

Since joining the Clarets from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the transfer window, Bailey has been used sparingly in the team’s line-up and is yet to start a match.  Against Everton, however, he gave fans a hint of what could be in store for this season with a match-changing introduction.

Bailey entered the pitch in the 61st minute and had almost an immediate impact on proceedings.  After Matty Cash’s thunderous shot put the hosts ahead in the 66th minute, Bailey’s viciously swung corner was headed into the back of his own net by Lucas Digne.

The Jamaican then got his first goal for Villa in fine style after sprinting on from the halfway line to a long ball provided by Danny Ings and crashing his shot into the net past a stranded Everton keeper Asmir Begović.  Things, however, ended on a worrying note for Bailey who had to be substituted in the 82nd minute after going down with an injury.  The change was later revealed to be more of a precaution.

“To have the fans chanting my name when I was going on, it was such an amazing feeling.  Words can’t even explain.  The fans were great tonight, it was perfect for me to get the goal for them tonight.  I feel welcome as a Villa player,” Bailey said following the match.

“I was just excited to get on the pitch, and I delivered, it was a perfect night,” he added.

As for the injury, the player did not think it was that serious.

“It might have been from hitting the ball, maybe I hit it too hard.  I just felt a little stiff in my quad, but I don’t think it’s anything serious.  So instead of risking it, I just decided to come out instead of risking it.  We have a lot of games coming up.”

Mount Pleasant secured the early advantage in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) quarterfinals following a 3-1 first-leg win over Harbour View at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre For Excellence on Saturday.

After a positive start to the encounter by the Stars of the East, it was Mount Pleasant who gradually gained the ascendency.  The Montego Bay-based franchise took the lead through 17-year-old forward Devonte Campbell in the 30th minute as he blasted past Harbour View keeper Tafari Chambers at his near post.

With the game in the balance, Kesslan Hall sprinted on to an inch-perfect Daniel Green rainbow pass over the backline and chipped over the head Chambers and into the back of the net in the 55th minute.  Jourdaine Fletcher’s neat finish in the 75th minute put Mount Pleasant in complete control but Tyrese Williams gave Harbour View a lifeline after heading home from close range in time added on.  In the day’s other match, Tivoli Gardens and Vere United ended in a 0-0 draw.

 

Inter Miami had their six-match unbeaten streak snapped by New York Red Bulls, who cruised to a 4-0 victory in MLS.

Former Manchester United utility Phil Neville – current head coach of the franchise co-owned by ex-Red Devils team-mate David Beckham – had overseen a club-first run of three consecutive victories.

Inter Miami were also in the midst of their best undefeated run in the team's young existence, having kept four straight clean sheets for the first time in their history.

However, 10-man Inter Miami crashed back down to earth at the hands of the visiting Red Bulls on Friday.

Patryk Klimala opened the scoring in the 18th minute before Red Bulls team-mate Omir Fernandez doubled the lead just past the half-hour mark at DRV PNK Stadium, where Inter Miami defender Nicolas Figal was sent off following a second yellow card prior to the interval.

The Red Bulls had collected just six points over their last 10 matches (W1 D3 L6) following a 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew on Tuesday – the fewest points New York have collected in any 10-game span since totalling just four points (W1 D1 L8) in June-August 2009.

But the Red Bulls emerged victorious after Fabio sealed the points with a second-half brace.

Inter Miami are eighth in the Eastern Conference, a point outside the play-off positions, while the 11th-placed Red Bulls are six points further back.

On Friday, Beckham increased his stake at Inter Miami, with the former United, England and Real Madrid winger "more committed than ever" to the MLS club.

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