Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have fallen 20 points in the latest FIFA Coco-Cola World Rankings following a dismal start to the CONCACAF World Cup qualification campaign.

The national team began the hexagonal round with a 2-1 loss to the region’s top-ranked team Mexico but followed that up with a heavy 3-0 loss at home to Panama.  The team then ended the first round with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.

As far as rankings go, the poor start has proved costly with the team currently ranked at 59th and outside of the world’s top 50 teams for the first time in several years.

In the meantime, teams like Canada and Panama who are off to a strong start to the final round have headed in the other direction.  After jumping 16 places, Canada is now ranked above Jamaica at 51st, with Panama jumping 23 points to 68th

Mexico remains the region’s top-ranked team at 9th, followed by the United States at 13th and then Costa Rica at 44th.  The World Cup qualifier will resume next month with Jamaica travelling away to face the USA, hosting Canada at home before travelling away to face Honduras.

 

A patient half-century from Matthew Nandu and a four-wicket haul by Vasant Singh helped steer West Indies U19s to a 17-run win over England Young Lions in the final ODI between the teams that was played at Canterbury on Friday. The victory means the Caribbean youngsters lost the series 4-2 but ended it on a high.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, West Indies scored 230 all out from their 50 overs thanks to Nandu, who was the top scorer with 80 from 120 balls faced. He struck nine fours. He lost his opening partner Anderson Amurdan, who failed to score and then Teddy Bishop for 12 as the West Indies got off to a poor start at 25-2.

However, Nandu and Ackeem Auguste mounted a recovery with a stand of 78 before the latter was dismissed by Rehan Ahmed for 25.

The loss of two additional wickets – Justin Beckford and Giovonte Depeiza - for just four runs saw the West Indies slip from 103-2 to 107-5 and in danger of collapsing. However, Nandu and Carlon Bowen-Tuckett staged another recovery with a 55-run sixth-wicket partnership that was broken when he was dismissed by Sonny Baker.

Tuckett and Johan Layne (16) put on 25 for the seventh wicket and then 19 more with Isai Thorne (6) before being ninth out for a well-played 48 from 94 balls faced.

Baker finished with 4-41 and Ahmed 3-30. Nathan Bramwell took 2-37.

Needing 231 for a fifth victory in the series, England Young Lions enjoyed a solid start between George Thomas and James Rew. The pair had put on 52 when Nandu bowled Rew for 28. At 64-1, Singh dismissed Alex Horton for 10 and then 27 runs later had Thomas stumped for 38 as England reached 91 for 3 in the 20th over.

England slipped further to 105-5 as Layne dismissed Daniel Ibrahim for 6 and Singh picked up his third wicket when he removed James Coles for 9.

However, Ahmed’s obdurate unbeaten 68 kept England in the hunt but they kept losing wickets at the other end as Nandu dismissed Thomas Aspinwall for 1 and Singh removed Fateh Singh for 13 as England reached 165-8 in over number 38.

Andel Gordon dismissed Barnwell for 1 and then ran out Baker for 3 as the West Indies closed out the match with their pride intact.

Singh returned figures of 4-51 while Nando had figures of 2-35.

Elaine Thompson-Herah, the three-time gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan in August, is to be rewarded with a Jamaican diplomatic passport, Minister Olivia Grange announced on Wednesday.

Former Barbadian-born Test batsman, Roland Butcher, does not believe the Cricket West Indies (CWI) panel of selectors deserves all the vitriol that it has received following its announcement of the West Indies T20 squad for the World Cup.

The decisions to include Chris Gayle, omit Jason Holder from the final 15, and the inclusion of veteran fast bowler Ravi Rampaul have been among those that have drawn criticism.  Others have called for the inclusion of players that put in strong performances in the recently concluded CPL, which includes the likes of Sherfane Rutherford and Odean Smith.

Butcher, who has himself sat on a selection panel for Barbados, has insisted some of the picks were understandable and insists that in fact, some players left themselves out of contention and does not see why the panel should bear that burden.

“In terms of the selection, Jason holder really should have been selected, because he may not have done well of late but he is a proven player if we use him correctly.  I think Jason is someone you use to bowl four overs there and then, let him bat later on the game, and he is also a good fielder,” Butcher told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“In terms of the guys who didn’t make it, everyone is shouting and screaming that Rutherford should have made it.  People forget that Rutherford has played for the West Indies for some time and he has a poor average in actual fact,” he added

“…Roger Harper didn’t say it, but if you notice Rutherford for the last few years has not played for Guyana, except for the white ball competition, that is because he has refused to take a fitness test and that is obviously why he was not selected because he was dropped before, and the caseis obviously still the same.  Why are selectors being crucified for leaving him out, by his actions he has made himself unavailable for selection.”

Butcher also did not agree with the criticism of the bowling selection as he is confident that both Rampaul and Chase can contribute meaningfully to the team.

“Roston Chase upset the applecart because no one was looking for him to perform the way he did, by doing that he forced his way into the side.  In terms of Oshane Thomas and Rampaul, Fidel Edwards really caused them to have a problem because he was picked for the 15 matches but unfortunately got injured and was able to show his best,” he said.

  “In Rampaul’s case he is proven at the international level and I can see why they have gone for him in the current crop of fast bowlers and Thomas, we’ve seen his inconsistency, but Smith is one for the future.”

 

Opening batter Rashada Williams unveiled a wide range of shots in a determined knock for West Indies Women but the home side could not stave off defeat against South Africa Women on Thursday.

Legendary WI fast bowler Andy Roberts is convinced the Cricket West Indies panel of selectors made a grave error by omitting all-rounder Jason Holder from the final 15-man World Cup squad.

Despite being better known for his exploits in the red-ball format, Holder’s exclusion from the first-team squad and selection as a reserve for the tournament caused shock and dismay across the Caribbean, following the announcement of the final squad next week.

In international T20 cricket to date, Holder has managed 27 matches with an average of 16.75 in 18 innings, added to that he has claimed 22 wickets.  In the Indian Premier League last season, however, he put on several strong performances during his time with Sunrisers Hyderabad and also had a strong showing against Sri Lanka in the series of practice games.  He did, however, struggled against Pakistan and has also failed to make a telling impact in the CPL.  For Roberts, however, the player's proven quality should have been enough to see him added to the starting team.

“I was shocked because he is the best cricketer we have in the region, bar none,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“I’d pick him as one of the first choices for the World Cup, what is he doing in the reserves.  It embarrassing for us to see how we could treat our best cricketer. Jason Holder is our best cricketer," he added.

Holder has been consistently ranked as the top, or second-best Test cricket all-rounder for the last couple of years but has not displayed that kind of dominance over the shorter formats.

 

 

Four-time winners Monterrey will play America in the final of the CONCACAF Champions League after a 4-1 second-leg away win over Cruz Azul sealed a 5-1 aggregate victory in their semi-final.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg in Monterrey, the visitors blew away Cruz Azul in a stunning opening 25 minutes where they opened up a 3-1 lead.

Maximiliano Meza and Orbelin Pineda traded goals within the opening 10 minutes, before Duvan Vergara and Rogelio Funes Mori netted to make it 3-1.

Mexican international Funes Mori added another in the 52nd minute to complete the win for Monterrey, who were Champions League winners in 2019.

Carlos Rodriguez found Meza unmarked inside the box, dispatching a low finish off the post for a seventh-minute lead and 2-0 advantage on aggregate.

Guillermo Fernandez teed up Orbelin Pineda for a low drive from a set-piece to equalize in the 10th minute.

Vergara curled in a spectacular 17th-minute goal after Meza's initial cross was over-hit, before Monterrey goalkeeper Esteban Andrada made a fine save to deny Fernandez.

Funes Mori made it 3-1 in the 24th minute, after a lengthy VAR review for offside, with a sweeping first-time left-foot finish.

Andrare denied substitute Bryan Angulo, before Funes Mori worked a one-two with Meza to settle the contest early in the second half.

Monterrey will face America in an all-Mexican final on October 28 in Guadalupe.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has said the organisation will consider playing the rest of the country’s home World Cup qualifiers on foreign soil, due to losses incurred from hosting the matches.

The JFF hosted its first home qualifier earlier this month and it’s safe to say things did not go as planned.  The team suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat to Panama, which led to questions surfacing regarding the stewardship of the national program.

In addition, however, the match was played in front of an empty stadium due to existing covid-19 protocols.  As such, the organisation has been unable to collect gate receipts or other revenue, while footing the expenses associated with hosting the game.  With seven home games left to go, Ricketts insists the issue could become a major one.

“We can’t afford to play games without making any money at all at the turn styles,” Ricketts said. 

“So we are looking at options and we will have to discuss it with some of our key players, then we will look at whatever options may present themselves,” he added.

The Jamaica national team will next be in action on October 7 when they face the United States, while their next home match will be against Canada three days later.

 

 

The 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team of the tournament has been announced. The team was selected by the Hero CPL commentary team – Ian Bishop, Danny Morrison, Darren Ganga, Simon Doull and Samuel Badree. 

Veteran Windies all-rounder and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots captain Dwayne Bravo has cited ‘belief’ and a willingness to give players an opportunity as crucial ingredients in hoisting the team’s maiden Caribbean Premier League title.

The triumphant St Kitts and Nevis Patriots were crowned Caribbean champions for the first time in the franchise’s history on Tuesday, edging out the Saint Lucia Kings in a last-ball thriller.

However, in a team that includes the likes of Bravo, legendary T20 batsman Chris Gayle, and fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell, it was 23-year-old Dominic Drakes who stole the match-winning headlines.  In addition to that, throughout the season it was the likes of Evin Lewis, who scored the second-most runs for the competition, Sherfane Rutherford, who also featured prominently in that category, that spearheaded the team’s title charge.

For Bravo, who left the Trinbago Knight Riders at the start of the season, with the aim of becoming a mentor for some of the league’s younger players, that was always the point.

“It’s about belief and giving people opportunities.  For me, all I ask is for the guys to just back each other,” Bravo said following the match.

“It doesn’t matter whether you perform or don’t perform, whether you play or don’t play, let’s support each other, let’s stay together, giving the young players the belief and the opportunity," he added.

The title was Bravo’s fifth overall, having previously won four with the Trinbago Knight Riders.

 

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots hero Dominic Drakes has praised the team’s complete overall effort in a thrilling last-ball victory over the St Lucia Kings, which saw the unit claim the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title on Tuesday.

Drakes hit the winning runs to cap off a superb finals performance, which saw the all-rounder end with an unbeaten 48 from 24 balls; in the process, sparking wild celebrations as the Patriots captured their first-ever CPL title.

In terms of momentum, the match had rocked back and forth in frantic fashion as the Kings set a target of 159 for 7.  Drakes' innings proved crucial in deciding the thrilling encounter, which saw the team needing 9 off the final over and, in the end, managing to just creep over the line.  He was, however, eager to spread the praise around.

“It was the first chance I got to play a full competition and I think I did well, but it was Ruthers (Sherfane Rutherford) and Bravo, Soldj (Sheldon Cottrell), and everyone on the team.  It’s an amazing feeling,” the 23-year-old, who made his debut three years ago with the Barbados-based CPL franchise, said.

“I thought it was a great team effort and I was just happy to do my part for the win,” he added.

Overall, Drakes ended with 102 runs and a team-high 16 wickets in 11 matches.

Sporting Kansas City crushed Minnesota United 4-0 in MLS to go top of the Western Conference standings, while Real Salt Lake prevailed in a seven-goal shoot-out.

Johnny Russell scored a goal and assisted two others as Sporting KC routed Minnesota at Children's Mercy Park on Wednesday.

Russell converted a penalty as part of a three-goal first half, with Khiry Shelton and Daniel Salloi also on target against the visitors.

Cameron Duke added a fourth goal seven minutes into the second half as Sporting KC found the back of the net in their 28th consecutive regular-season home game dating back to August 2019 – the longest active streak in MLS.

Sporting KC are a point clear in the west, though second-placed Seattle Sounders have played two games less, while Minnesota are two points outside the play-off positions.

San Jose Earthquakes star Javier Lopez scored a hat-trick, but Real Salt Lake still prevailed 4-3 in a wild clash.

Lopez opened the scoring in the 26th minute and completed his treble in the second half, however, RSL emerged victorious thanks to Rubio Rubin's brace.

The result snapped a five-match away losing streak for RSL, who ended San Jose's run of three consecutive wins over their rivals in MLS – a run that had equalled the longest streak by either team in history.

Elsewhere, former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez salvaged a 1-1 draw for LA Galaxy against Houston Dynamo.

Another ex-United star, Nani, was sent off in the first half as Orlando City were beaten 4-2 by Montreal, Ola Kamara's opening-half hat-trick lifted DC United past Chicago Fire 3-0, Atlanta United were 4-0 winners against FC Cincinnati courtesy of a Josef Martinez double, Los Angeles FC edged Austin 2-1 and 10-man Portland Timbers drew 2-2 with Colorado Rapids.

Club America reached the CONCACAF Champions League final after eliminating Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Wednesday.

Liga MX giants America sealed a 4-0 aggregate semi-final triumph thanks to second-half goals from Nicolas Benedetti and Henry Martin.

America – seven-time champions – will face either Cruz Azul or Monterrey in an all-Mexican final on October 28.

MLS outfit the Union had a two-goal deficit to overturn in Philadelphia midweek and the home side came close to scoring five minutes into the second half.

The Union had a penalty saved by Mexico international Guillermo Ochoa, who denied Jamiro Monteiro, after Kacper Przybylko was fouled by Bruno Valdez.

Philadelphia – looking to end MLS' title drought in the Champions League, dating back to LA Galaxy's success in 2000, dominated the second half.

However, Benedetti all but settled the contest in the 79th minute before Martin tapped home America's second of the night in stoppage time.

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots claimed their first-ever Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title as they defeated the Saint Lucia Kings by three wickets in a closely contested encounter at Warner Park. 

The Saint Lucia Kings won the toss and chose to bat, as they did in their semi-final match. Despite losing wickets at key stages of the game, they built a total around the batting of Roston Chase, who stabilised the innings, allowing the likes of Rahkeem Cornwall and Keemo Paul to play with attacking intent and guide them to 159-7.

In what was a dramatic final, the Patriots managed to successfully chase their target with Dominic Drakes the hero with the bat, scoring 48 off 24 balls and securing a remarkable victory with the last ball of the match.

Saint Lucia Kings started their innings with the loss of both captain Andre Fletcher and Mark Deyal in the Powerplay.

Cornwall got the innings back on track with some power hitting but the Patriots utilised spin to great effect; Fabian Allen, Jon-Russ Jaggesar and Fawad Ahmed working in unison to pick up three wickets in the middle overs and leave the Kings in peril. Roston Chase anchored the innings and a late burst from Paul, which saw him hit three consecutive sixes in an over as he scored 39 runs off just 21 balls, took the Kings to a challenging total.

It was a dream start for the Kings with the ball, as Chris Gayle was bowled by a Chase delivery, and not long after, Evin Lewis was caught out, with Chase being the fielder.

Joshua da Silva and Sherfane Rutherford began to rebuild, but quick wickets, including that of captain DJ Bravo, saw the Patriots in trouble at 95-5. However, things would take a dramatic turn as Drakes recorded his highest ever score in cricket, firing six boundaries to take the Patriots over the line in dramatic fashion with a single off the last ball.

In a contest worthy of any final, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots prevailed and lifted their maiden Hero CPL title in front of a joyous home crowd.

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots 160-7 (Drakes 48*, Da Silva 37; Riaz 2-36, Chase 1-17) beat Saint Lucia Kings 159-7 (Cornwall 43, Chase 43; Naseem 2-26, Fawad 2-32) by three wickets.

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