Former Cricket West Indies head of corporate communications and Director of Communications for Guyana’s chief opposition party, Imran Khan, has died after a brief battle brought about by Covid-19 complications.

Khan who worked for several years with regional cricket’s governing body, formerly known as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), had spent the last 8 days in the intensive care unit before going into respiratory failure on Tuesday.

At the time of his death, Khan, who was 43, worked for the Alliance For Change (AFC) as head of their communications unit. During the coalition APNU+AFC’s time in office from 2015 to 2020, he also sat on several State Boards including that of the National Communications Network (NCN).

On Sunday Khan had expressed thanks for the outpouring of support he had received and vowed to keep fighting.

“Thank you for all your love, prayers, messages of encouragement, and support. I am overwhelmed beyond explanation and I am in excellent spirits…Please be assured that I am fighting and there is no giving up. One Love,” he wrote.

According to numerous reports, the communications expert was not vaccinated and did not have any underlying disease.  Khan’s wife, Tammy,  an attorney, later also tested positive for the disease and was admitted in the ICU but was discharged on Monday.

Cavalier and Waterhouse will take 1-0 advantages to the second legs of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) playoffs after narrow wins in their first leg matches, at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, on Saturday.

With the game seemingly drifting towards a scoreless draw, Colin Anderson left entered the field of play to make a telling impact.  Just 30 seconds after replacing Shaniel Thomas, Anderson was played through on goal by Nickache Murray and sprinted onto the brilliant through ball to round Tivoli goalkeeper Kewong Watkins and slot into an empty net to give Cavalier a precious first-leg lead.

The second match between Waterhouse and Mount Pleasant was a similarly cagey affair with both sides crafting good opportunities to take the lead.  It was Waterhouse who took one late on, however, when Shaquille Bradford was set up by Kymani Campbell.  The angle was a difficult one but his fierce shot managed to creep through the legs of goalkeeper Shaven Paul at his near post, in the 79th minute.  Paul will, however, be slightly disappointed having been up to what would have been considered by many to be more difficult efforts throughout the match.

The teams will meet at the same venue on Wednesday for the second leg starting at 2:30pm.

MVP head coach, Stephen Francis, is content to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to reports that track star Elaine Thompson-Herah could be planning to leave the club.

According to reports earlier this week, the double Olympic champion had submitted a letter to the club that stated her intentions to sever ties ahead of the new season.  Later in the week, however, the athlete denied the reports suggesting that they may have arisen out of her not starting training as yet.

The athlete is, however, not back due in training as yet and Francis insists that while he is not jumping to conclusions the future remains uncertain.

“From my perspective, we start back training sometime in October, the 18th or 19th…and my philosophy, as usual, is to see who turns up,” Francis told Jamaica television station TVJ.

“What my experience tells me is that sometimes athletes, in general, especially those that come from a lower expectation level.  In other words, not much was expected from them, they are usually unable to separate themselves from people who hop on to their bandwagon,” he added.

The 29-year-old is coming off her best season to date.  Thompson-Herah successfully defended both the 100m and 200m title at the Olympics and joined with former MVP athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson, and Briana Williams to win the 4x100m relays.  The sprinter later went on to record a blistering time just outside Florence Griffith-Joyner’s longstanding 100m record.

The MVP track club is no stranger to athletes leaving the club at the peak of their career with Fraser-Pryce and Melanie Walker also having secured moves away after years of success.

 

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls could be forced to make adjustments for next month’s tri-series following the reported withdrawal of South Africa from the tour.

Originally, the series was set to feature the no 4 ranked Jamaicans, 5th ranked Australians and 10th ranked Trinidad and Tobago and was set to tip-off on October 9th.  However, negotiations between Netball South Africa and the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) are said to have broken down due to the island’s rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The JNA is expected to give an update on the situation in the next few weeks with a replacement team being added being another possibility that is being looked at.

The series will be the first for the Jamaicans since the Netball World Cup in 2020, the team is, however, also expected to travel to England, in September, where they will face the England Roses in a three-match series.  The Sunshine Girls had been due to face England in January of this year, but those plans were postponed due to then-existing Covid-19 travel restrictions.  The team will be looking to vastly increase its activities in the coming months with the Commonwealth Games scheduled for next year.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is set to miss the country's next set of World Cup qualifiers after being diagnosed with a thigh strain.

The 23-year-old winger made a lively appearance for Aston Villa last weekend, playing an active role in two of the team’s three goals in a 3-1 win over Everton.  Among them was a net-busting volley to goal, which punctuated a quick counterattack.

Unfortunately, the player had to be substituted soon after but it was hoped that he would not miss much time off the pitch.  However, the club manager Dean Smith recently confirmed that the player would be out of action for the next few weeks.

"Leon has a strain which is likely to keep him out until after the international break," Smith told reporters.

 "We would be hopeful that he would be available for the Wolves game, but we'll need to assess him nearer the time and see how he progresses over the next 10 days or so."

Jamaica will resume its World Cup qualification campaign next month, with matches away to the United States, at home to Canada, and away to Honduras.  The player also missed out on the first round of the qualifiers with an injury last month.

The Jamaica international joined Villa from Bayer Leverkusen earlier this summer from a reported 25 million pounds ($US34m), is targeting a return to action against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 16.

West Indies Women’s coach Courtney Walsh admits the team’s inability to properly rotate the strike was a disappointment during the recent series against South Africa, as it had been a key area of focus ahead of the games.

The regional team just managed to avoid being on the wrong end of a sweep, after winning the final game of the series in a super over.  The 4-1 scoreline was, however, an accurate reflection of the fact that the West Indies Women had struggled to keep pace with the South Africans for the great majority of the One Day Internationals.

One of those key areas was putting runs on the board, with the Windies Women on many occasions looking bogged down by South Africa’s bowling, before being dismissed after ill-advised shots.  On four occasions the team struggled to get to one 150, a target that seemed an easy reach for South Africa.

 “It’s a concern, the rotation of the strike, it’s something we’ve been talking about since the start of the camp but it was highlighted much more against South Africa,” Walsh told members of the media.

“In terms of just hitting the fielders and not being able to find gaps, not being able to play with soft hands and we have identified that,” he added.

“It has been an ongoing discussion before the series and it was one area I was disappointed in that we did not try to show that (strike rotation) because leading up to the series we had been practicing it, but match-day when we get out in the middle it wasn’t done.  We just kept picking out the fielders.  It’s the sort of the thing you have to do in 50 over games if you want to really compete and it has to be addressed.”

 

Former wicketkeeper batsman, Deryck Murray, believes the Windies World Cup squad has been picked for maximum fireworks even if they do not go on to win the tournament.

The selection of the final team for the upcoming tournament has caused a torrent of discontent around the Caribbean, with strong opinions regarding which players should have be included or left out making the rounds.

Despite agreeing that leaving Holder out of the squad was a mistake, he believes the majority of the team was determined over the last three months and has been selected along the lines of a certain philosophy.

“You saw the team in various matches around and the Caribbean and you could see the pattern of players.  So, it was obvious that what the team has agreed to is what I call a very high-octane policy,” Murray told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“West Indies are undoubtedly going to be the best team to watch, I’m not sure if they’ll be the best team to support, but every moment of every game they play is going to be exciting,” he added.

“Every player is put in there to play a little cameo of some sort, batting bowling or whatever and it is going to be thrilling, people or going to be on the edge of their seats. To me what they’ve decided is these players are going to give us winner take all.”

The West Indies have been placed in a difficult group alongside Australia, England and South Africa.

 

Former member of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) selection panel, Roland Butcher, believes it could be critical for the West Indies to find a capable replacement for retired batsman Marlon Samuels if the team is to have a chance of retaining the T20 World Cup.

The mercurial Samuels played a key role on both occasions the team won the title, managing to put together innings that balanced an abundance of caution at the crease, with scoring aggression when needed.

In 2012, Samuels average a solid 38.33, with a strike rate of 132 en route to the team’s triumph but more importantly top-scored in the final, with 78 from 56 deliveries, giving the West Indies a comfortable win over Sri Lanka.

In 2016, it was Carlos Brathwaite that got the accolades in a thrilling, brutal final-over onslaught in the final against England but it was Samuels who once again top-scored at the other end, his 85 from 66 balls proving just as crucial in the team’s title triumph.  For that tournament, Samuels averaged 36.20 with a strike rate of 112.42.

“West Indies will play their brand of cricket, which is all guns blazing, but let us remember in those two World Cups that they won there was a certain Marlon Samuels who was the glue,” Butcher told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Among all of those stars there was someone who could hold the team together and, when needed, up the scoring rate.  What they need to do is to find someone to play that role and play it successfully,” he added.

Among the candidate to do so for the upcoming tournament will be Roston Chase whose performance during the recently concluded CPL saw him force himself into the thoughts of the selectors.  For the finalists, St Lucia Kings this season, Chase averaged an impressive 49.55, with a strike rate of 144.33.

“The question will be whether Roston Chase can perform that role to that level on the international stage.  This is the international level with the best teams, it’s not the CPL.  Marlon Samuels proved, not just on those two occasions, that when things were tough, he was the go-to man.”

The Jamaica Sunshine Girls are set to take on England in a three-match series dubbed the ‘Vitality Roses Reunited’ set for London, in November.

The teams were originally set to face-off in a series in January but that was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and strict travel restrictions.  The upcoming series will still be subject to Covid-19 travel restrictions but will be played in front of a maximum capacity stadium, with measures regarding crowd sizes eased in England.

The series will help both teams begin preparations for the next year’s Commonwealth Games, which will take part in Birmingham, England next year.  The Jamaicans have not played in an official international competition since the World Netball Cup in 2020.

The series is set to tip-off on November 28th at the Copper Box Arena, before moving on to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, with consecutive games on December 4 and December 5.

Mount Pleasant coach Wally Downes has hailed the impact of star forward Jourdaine Fletcher in pushing the team to the semifinal of the Jamaica Premier League.

Having gone behind in the first half it was Fletcher who grabbed a crucial goal for the team, after being introduced from the bench.  The alert forward came into the game at the start of the second half, found the back of the net in the 62nd minute, after profiting from a defensive mix-up.

The equaliser was a heavy blow to the Stars of the East, who had come into the encounter with a 3-1 first-leg deficit but quickly cut the lead to one goal after scoring early in the second half.

The goal was the fifth of the season for Fletcher, who also found the back of the net in the first leg.

“He wasn’t 100 percent fit to play 90 minutes but he’s an addition to us that you just can’t leave off the pitch,” Downes said of the player’s substitute role.

“So I waited as long as I could and clearly it was the tactical change at the right time.”

Mount Pleasant will next face Waterhouse in the next round.

 

 

Tivoli Gardens soared into the last four of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) with a rousing 4-0 second-leg win over Vere United at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Wednesday.

After a scoreless first leg between the team, goals from Stephen Barnett, Trayvone Reid, Horatio Morgan, and Jermaine Johnson blew the tie wide open, and perhaps at the end of the tie flattered the West Kingston squad.

Barnett got things rolling in the 18th minute when he was served up with a well-weighted cross from Delroy Grey, which he was able to deflect neatly into the corner of the goal.

With Vere pushing to get back into the game, it was Tivoli who struck after catching their opponents on the counterattack. Reid broke away from a high Vere backline before calmly slotting the ball around goalkeeper Shavon Wilson to double the lead in the 62nd minute.

A loosely marked Morgan then slotted the ball into the net at close range after being picked out from a corner in the 83rd minute.  Veteran Johnson then rubbed salt into the wounds of Vere Technical after coming off the bench to score a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

In the day’s other game, Mount Pleasant also advance to the semi final's following a 1-1 draw with Harbour View to advance 4-2 on aggregate.  The Stars of the East started the game on fire after Oshane Staple found the back of the net in the first five minutes.  Needing a goal to tie the aggregate score, however, Harbour View had a mix-up at the back, which allowed Jourdaine Fletcher to ghost in and tie the game at 1-1.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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