West Indies batting great Brian Lara does not believe it would be a good idea to drop an out of form Chris Gayle at this point, despite the player’s struggles at the T20 World Cup thus far.

The 42-year-old batsman has faced heavy scrutiny in recent weeks and has managed just a total of 25 runs in two heavy losses for the Windies at the tournament so far.  The storm of criticism surrounding the batsman, however, extends beyond that.

Heading into the tournament, Gayle had struggled to look like anything close to the player who has scored over 14,000 runs in T20 cricket.  In the last 16 matches, the batsman has averaged 15.93 and scored 239 runs with a strike rate of 13.80, well below his career average of 138.46.

Despite that, however, Lara, considered one of the game’s greatest ever batsmen, believes the player could still have a role to play in the team and should remain a part of the line-up at this point in time.

 "Chris Gayle is already in the World Cup and his experience and the fact that he can pass on something to the younger players is key,” Lara said recently on Star Sports.

"I personally believe that Chris Gayle has to be given a proper send-off. This, I think, is his last tournament. Dismissing Chris Gayle at this stage of the tournament, I am not sure it's the right thing. I would like to see some sort of nice approach for the rest of the tournament. I think he can still make an impression on the younger players even if he doesn't score," he added.

Former West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts insists that based on his strengths and weakness, under pressure batsman Chris Gayle should not be picked for the team if batting below position number three.

The 42-year-old has typically opened for the Caribbean team but has featured at the number 3 position in the last couple of years.  Against South Africa, Gayle batted even further down the order after coming in at 4.  Overall, batting down the order has failed to really bear fruit for the batsman, in West Indies colours, to date.  Gayle had an impressive showing batting at number during the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign for Punjab Kings XI but has not managed to replicate that kind of form this season or for the regional team.

In 17 matches batting at the number three position or below, for the West Indies, Gayle has managed a total of 239 runs, at an average of 15.93 and a strike rate of 113.80.  He has a high score of 67 runs.  At the World Cup, having played against England and South Africa so far, Gayle has scored 13 runs from 13 balls, against England, and 12 runs from 12 balls against South Africa.

“If Chris is going to bat below number three then he has no right to be in the team,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What is he going to do when you need to rotate the strike more as the overs keep going.  Chris’s strong point is batting at the top of the order where he can set the pace by playing his natural game, which is hitting straight.

“If you watch the last few games that he played he tends to use up a lot of dot balls, and not just in the World Cup, that dates back a while.  He takes his time now to try and get in, instead of before from ball one, ball two, you would have to put the field back because he is timing the ball so well.  (Currently) He is struggling for timing.”

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has questioned the team’s level of planning, particularly when it comes to its batting line-up on the back of two dismal performances to start the T20 World Cup.

The defending champions have been handed back-to-back losses at the hand of England and then South Africa.  Both losses were underpinned by underwhelming performances at the crease, which first saw the West Indies dismissed for 55 and then in the second match collapsed to 143 for 8 all-out after a promising start at 73 for 1.

Following its substandard showing against England, the team tinkered with its batting line-up promoting Nicholas Pooran up the order while pushing Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer further down.

“I think the planning season to be all over the place,” Lloyd said in assessing the team’s performances thus far, on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think if you look at what has happened.  Fifty-five runs, we are much better than that.  Our planning seems to be terrible. (Against South Africa) We had a wonderful start, and we didn’t promote people in the proper order,” he added.

“You expect the captain to come up when you are going at 9 an over, to continue, but you send Pooran who hasn’t been batting well and you have Hetmyer who has been batting well and making very good scores.  So, the batting order seems to be all over the place.”

Lloyd believes that for the team to be successful someone has to take control of the batting order.

“At one stage the prediction was 174 and we were down to so, but somewhere along the line, we feel like this game is about hitting sixes.  We are getting caught on the boundary, it’s a big ground.  If I’m at 58, I’m looking to get to 80 or 90, get more runs and take the game away from the opposition.”

Jamaica long jumper Tajay Gayle has admitted that he is excited to be adding the 100m sprint to his repertoire when the next track and field season gets underway.

Earlier this month, Stephen Francis the coach of Jamaica-based track club MVP, where Gayle plies his trade, had revealed that the athlete was set to add the 100m sprints to his list of disciplines for the 2021-2022 season.

Gayle, the 2019 Long Jump World champion, had shown plenty of promise last season after clocking a reasonably quick 10.18 over the distance.  The athlete has spent a good portion of the offseason recovering from a knee injury, which negatively impacted his performance at the Olympics.  It might be twice the work but Gayle admits that it is with a sense of excitement that he views the new season than apprehension.

“I wouldn’t say challenging, I would say exciting.  All the fun the fear, the anxiety, and all the pressure that comes with it (100m), that’s what keeps me going,”

“The fact that I can lose or might lose, you just can’t be sure.

The final of the World Championship in the 100, the sky’s the limit, why not, why would I say I can’t.  I wouldn’t say a challenge, it’s just an exciting year for me next year, once I get the knee up to speed.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has not given up hope on the team advancing to the T20 World Cup semi-finals but has called on the unit to dig deep following a horrendous start to the tournament.

The Caribbean team, who are the defending champions, was routed by England in the first match where they lost by six wickets after being bowled out for 55.  In the second encounter against South Africa, on Tuesday. after a promising start the team was dismissed for a subpar 143, which the Proteas easily chased down to win by 8 wickets.

The loss leave the West Indies rooted at the bottom of the six-team table, with a net run rate of -2.550.  With only the top two teams set to advance to the final four, the Windies are already facing an uphill battle to move on to the next round.  

“Well, we just have to do what it takes,” a dejected Pollard said following the team’s loss to South Africa.

“We have to dig deeper as a team. We have to dig deeper as a batting unit,” he added.

“We have to get wins on the board now. We’ve put ourselves in a position whereas from a run rate perspective that’s pretty low, and from a win percentage we haven’t won any games.

“So we have to win the next three games. We just have to take it one at a time and try to improve each and every time.”

The West Indies will next face Bangladesh on Friday at 5:00 am.

 

West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, says the team’s famous victory over England at the 2016 World Cup still serves as motivation as they look to open their title defense against the same opponents on Saturday.

In the 2016 final, the Caribbean team needed an improbable 19 off the final over before Carlos Brathwaite famously smacked four 6s off Ben Stokes to give the team its second world title.

Although Brathwaite is not in the squad this time around and admitting that things are not quite the same, Pollard insists the moment is a good reference point, which serves as an example of triumphing despite heavy odds in adversity.

“What Carlos did in those four deliveries, in that last over, it’s unbelievable.  It’s something we saw as a team last night and it brought goosebumps back to us,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“For us to be in that situation and get over the line, it shows that never say die attitude.  As a team, we hope to replicate winning the entire tournament, and those kinds of moments, they stick with us.  Hopefully, we can go out and play good enough cricket to get back in that kind of position, so we can be in another final and have some memories going forward,” he added.

“I don’t think it will have much bearing on the game (against England) because it’s another game of cricket and that situation was totally different it being a final, but we are looking to come out and give a good account of ourselves.”

 

 

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is confident the team has done enough work to address concerns surrounding an inability to rotate the strike ahead of the start of the T20 World Cup.

The Caribbean side will open the tournament on Saturday against England but despite being defending champions will have several questions to answer.  One of those recurring issues has been the ratio of the team’s use of traditional hitting versus rotating the strike with singles.

In the past, the Windies have had success with their power-hitting game, winning the tournament twice in just such a fashion.  In recent years, however, the team has shown a propensity to get bogged down looking for boundaries.  Pollard, however, insists that the team has been looking to address the issue, but were at the same time not looking to get away from their style of play.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes.  The guys have worked tirelessly to get to where we are right now in terms of trying to cover our bases,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“I’ve said before that we try to keep our strengths and work on our weaknesses.  We’ve accepted certain things and gone back behind the scenes and hopefully, we will see a difference,” he added.

“In terms of the two games that we played, guys didn’t show that intent and different things might have come out but we are confident that the guys have done what is needed and will look to hit the ground running come the first game.”

Stephen Francis, coach of Jamaica-based track club MVP, has backed quarter-miler Stefenie Ann Mcpherson to recover from the disappointment of the Olympic Games and is confident she still has plenty of time to claim an individual major Games medal.

The 32-year-old runner finished just outside of the medal places in Tokyo, after being caught and passed close to the finish line by USA legend Alisson Felix who captured the final podium spot.  The race was won in dominant fashion by the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo with second place going to the Dominica Republic’s Marileidy Paulino.

McPherson’s finishing time of 49.61 was much slower than her season-best of 49.34, which had been recorded in the event's semi-final.  The athlete collapsed violently sobbing after the event.  Francis admits that the athlete’s time in the final was a bit of a surprise but believes she is poised to recover and post exceptional performances in the upcoming season.

“It was disappointing because I thought she would have run 48 high in the 400m (Olympic final),” Francis told Sportsmax.Tv in a recent interview.

“She is, however, young enough and determined enough that she will be able to try again,” he added.

McPherson, the event’s reigning national champion, returned to training with the majority of the club’s athletes earlier this week.

 

Jamaica international Leon Bailey has been confirmed to be in contention to feature in the Aston Villa line-up against Arsenal on Friday, having returned to full training earlier this week.

Clarets boss Dean Smith has, however, insisted that the team will be cautious with the winger based on the fact that he was out of action for several weeks. 

Bailey, who moved to Villa Park on a transfer from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen this summer, had an impressive cameo for the club against Everton a few weeks ago, setting up one goal and scoring another.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field soon after scoring with a thigh injury.  Smith has revealed that the speedy winger has since recovered.

"Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore have both trained over the last couple of days and both will be available for the squad down at Arsenal,” Smith said in the team’s pre-match interview.

"But we have to be aware that Bailey's had a thigh injury for four weeks so we have to assess how much of a risk we take with him,” he added.

“We are building up their fitness, they will be in the squad, but we’ll have to assess where they are. They have both been out injured for a few weeks, so they are lacking minutes.”

The injury also caused Bailey to miss his national team’s previous round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Jamaica discus thrower Fedrick Dacres is looking forward to bouncing back strongly in the upcoming season after an admittedly difficult 2021.

The World Athletics Championships silver medallist missed out on the final of the Men's Discus Throw, at the Olympics in Tokyo, after throwing a best mark of 62.91m.  The mark was well below his personal best of 70.78 but the thrower has struggled to get close to the distance, set two years ago, after undergoing a series of surgeries.

“This year has been my hardest year in track and field because of the whole surgery thing.  I think overall I have done overall five surgeries in six years but this was the hardest,” Dacres said.

It was really the (throwing) hand, I’ve done a few knee surgeries done surgery on the other hand but it wasn’t the main hand.  So, for me coming back this year I struggled but it is what it is,” he added.

The athlete did, however, stage a rebound of sorts after throwing 65.33 to finish in third place at the Wanda Diamond League final last month.

“I think I finished well, not too well at the Olympics, but coming third at the Diamond League isn’t so bad.  I’ll take that as I push for next year.”

MVP coach Stephen Francis is confident 2019 Long Jump World Champion Tajay Gayle is set to make a serious foray into the sprints in the upcoming season.

The 25-year-old, who has completely recovered from an injury that negatively impacted his performance at Olympics, showed off some good ability in the 100m sprints last year.

Despite specializing in the jumps, Gayle showed plenty of speed over the distance after clocking 10.18 in May of last year.  The athlete’s best time over double the distance is 21.18.

“I think Tajay will be in the position to do a lot more sprinting this year and I suspect that he will be in the position to challenge for the title of fastest Jamaican,” Francis said in an interview with SportsMax.Tv.

“As well as be able to defend his title as the best long jumper in the world,” he added.

Gayle had been hoping to add the Olympic title to the World title this summer and advanced to the final but injured his left knee in the process.  He was a result unable to secure a position in the final eight.

England will join the West Indies in kneeling ahead of the team’s opening fixture of the ICC World T20 on Saturday.

The symbolic gesture has been used by sports teams around the world to take a stand against racism and discrimination.  However, some teams, for various reasons, have chosen not to adopt the action. 

The England teams took part in the anti-racism gesture ahead of each of the three Tests that were played in England last summer and for a limited-overs series against Ireland soon after.  The team was, however, later criticised for not continuing the gesture in subsequent series.  The team’s captain Eion Morgan has confirmed that England would join the West Indies ahead of the opener and would continue further discussion with the ICC.

  “We have heard from the West Indies that they will be taking a knee and we will be joining them for the first game,” Morgan said on Tuesday.

“Games going on from there, we’ve been speaking to the ICC about the potential moment of unity before the game that we’ve been doing as part of our own piece at home,” Morgan added.

“It hasn’t been cleared up whether that’s a possibility yet.”

English Premier League (EPL) club West Ham has committed to sending a specialist doctor with star forward Michail Antonio whenever he is called up for international duty with Jamaica.

The player, who made his debut for the Caribbean team against Panama in September, did not travel for the team’s most recent round of matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

 According to reports, the issue stemmed from a mix-up between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the player’s club and agent that did not allow Antonio to carry his own personal physician.  The issue has since been resolved, however, and the player will be free to join the team for a crucial round of matches next month.

West Ham have appointed the club’s head of medical services Richard Collinge to travel with the player to ensure the continued health of his hamstrings.  The player has had a history of hamstring injuries and the club is clearly determined to take all precautions to make sure the 31-year-old stays in top shape.  With five goals scored in the EPL already this season, which puts him in the top three, Antonio has been one of the club’s most influential players this season.

Having won their first match of the World Cup qualifiers in the previous round against Honduras, Jamaica will be hoping the return of Antonio will turbocharge the team’s campaign with fixtures away to El Salvador and at home to the United States.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey could return to action for English Premier League club Aston Villa against Arsenal next week after failing to return to the line-up on Saturday.

A few weeks ago, the player had a smashing impact for the Claret and Blue, coming off the bench to provide an assist for one goal before smashing the other into the roof of the net in a 3-0 win over Everton.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field after picking up an injury soon after and has not returned to the line-up since.

Bailey also missed out on the latest round of World Cup qualifiers for his country Jamaica.  Villa boss Dean Smith confirmed that the player has come up short ahead of Saturday’s encounter against Wolverhampton.

“Leon Bailey’s hasn’t ticked all the right boxes for the medical staff yet. We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the Arsenal game,” Smith said.

Aston Villa went on to lose the match 3-2 after surrendering a two-goal lead.  The Jamaicna joined the club this summer following the departure of talisman Jack Grealish who made a big-money move to Manchester City.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is backing talismanic batsman Chris Gayle to do well at the T20 World Cup despite not heading into the event in the best of form.

Heading into the tournament, the swashbuckling left-hander is 97 runs away from scoring the most runs in T20 World Cup history.  Based on the player's most recent run of form, however, there is no guarantee of him getting there.  In the 16 games, the player has only managed 227 runs at an average of 17.46.

In addition, the 42-year-old has faced criticism from a vocal section of the West Indian cricket fanbase who are adamant that he should have stepped aside for younger talent.  Gayle was recently involved in a war of words with bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose, who suggested that while the player was still capable of lighting up bowling attacks on his day, he was not at the same level as he was a few years ago.  For Pollard, however, the batsman has been and continues to be a very valuable asset to the team.

“Again, no words to describe what he has done for us in World Cups, in the T20 World Cups, and T20 cricket around the world as an individual," Pollard said during an interview with team captains' on Saturday in Dubai.

"For him, 97 runs away, but I don't think he will be looking at that. I think the main goal for us and him, is trying to win a World Cup and defend the title. He is looking forward to that. Hopefully, he can come and deliver for us. We back him to do well," he added.

 

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