West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has hailed the contribution of allrounder and former captain Jason Holder as the team looks to secure its first Test series win over Pakistan in almost two decades.

Holder crafted a crucial second-innings knock of 58 and took 4 wickets as the team held on for a nail-biting one-wicket win to take the lead.

However, the top allrounder has also gained plenty of attention for his actions off the field, particularly for the mentorship shown to young fast-bowler Jayden Seales.  Seales was one of the highlights of the first match for the Windies after claiming an impressive five-wicket second innings haul.

“Obviously, Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world.  He is very crucial, and he has done a fantastic job, obviously with Jayden.  I see them having a lot of chats,” Brathwaite told members of the media via an online press conference on Thursday.

“All the guys are doing a good job, they all came together but obviously Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world so obviously he brings a lot of value.”

Brathwaite replaced Holder as captain of the team in February, following a successful tour of Bangladesh, the team has since drawn with Sri Lanka and lost to South Africa.

West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood is confident the team is on the way to providing more consistent performances at the crease, despite recent displays of inconsistent form.

The Windies scored a  dramatic win over Pakistan to take a 1-0 lead in the ongoing two-Test series.  The match featured typically robust performances from the team’s bowlers with Jayden Seales ending with 125 for 8 and Kemar Roach 5 for 77.

With the bat, there were solid performances from captain Kraigg Brathwaite, Jason Holder, and Blackwood but elsewhere in the batting order, the concentration and execution on display from the line-up sparked cause for concern.  For Blackwood, however, it remains a work in progress and a hurdle that the unit will get over sooner or later.

“We are making improvements, baby steps.  It’s just the process, we are working hard as a batting unit, even though we did not get the scores we wanted,” Blackwood told members of the media on Wednesday.

"I see this unit is in a good place and on pace to do well for all the people of the West Indies, themselves and their families, and every day that we go to train we put in 150 percent,” he added.

Since the start of the year, Blackwood has himself struggled with the bat, averaging 22.92 in 7 Test matches played.  So far, he has a high score of 68.

 

 

 

The Jamaica duo of Tina Clayton and Kerrica Hill advanced to the final of the women’s 100m, in contrasting fashion, at the World Athletics U20 Championships, in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

In semifinal 1 Clayton put on a dominant display of sprinting to easily clear the rest of the field before stopping the clock at 11.34.  Serbia’s Ivana Ilic was second in 11.50 and secured the other qualifying spot.  Romania’s Maria Mihalache was third in 11.64 but did not advance.

Hill has a much more difficult time of things in semifinal 2.  It was Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi who put away that field, claiming the top spot in 11.35.  Switzerland’s Melissa Gutschmidt was second in 11.50 and Viktória Forster third in 11.54.  Hill was third in 11.60 but still managed to advance as one of the fastest losers.

Semifinal three was won by Nigeria’s Praise Ofoku in 11.57, with Czech Republic’s Eva Kubíčková securing the second automatic qualifying spot after finishing second in 11.64.  The Bahamas’ Camille Rutherford took third spot in Trinidad and Tobago’s in 11.72, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Leah Bertrand was fourth in 11.80.

In the men’s equivalent, Cuba’s Shainer Rengifo was one of two Caribbean athletes to advance to the final, after finishing second in semifinal 3.  The event was won by Nigeria’s Godson Oke Oghenebrume who claimed first place in 10.22.  Bahamian athlete Carlos Brown was fourth.  Jamaica’s Brian Levell faced the starter for semifinal 2 but was disqualified after a false start. 

The race was won by Oman's Ali Anwar Ali AL Balushi who won the event in a new national record of 10.27.  Italy’s Matteo Melluzzo was second in 10.29, with South Africa’s Benjamin Richardson third in 10.30.  Grenada’s Nazzio John was fourth in a personal best 10.32.  John and Melluzzo secured qualifying positions as the fastest losers.

Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo was the winner of semifinal 1 in a quick 10.11, with Poland’s Oliwer Wdowik also securing a spot after finishing second in 10.37.  Jamaica’s Alicke Cranston finished last in 10.94.

Talented up and coming West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales has vowed to continue focusing on development as he does not believe himself to be the finished product.

Seales played a leading role in the team’s one wicket over Pakistan earlier this week, in the process of securing his first-ever five-wicket haul.  In the process, he also made history by becoming the youngest West Indies bowler to achieve the feat at 19 years and 336 days.

With many already predicting a big future for the young player, however,  Seales himself believes it is important to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground.  Over the last few years, several young fast bowlers have threatened to make the breakthrough for the Caribbean team but have seen their development stalled at various points.

“It’s just for me to stay in the moment.  I will ride the fame and everything, but for me, it’s about continuing to work on my game.  I’m not where I want it to be.  I’m not the finished product.  I know I can be better,” Seales told members of the media on Tuesday.

“It’s just for me to work on my game a little more, build on the things I want to improve on, build from there and eventually become better.”

In three matches so far Seales has claimed a total of 13 wickets.

The second match of the two-Test series will begin on Friday at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.

 

Three-time Tokyo Olympics medallist Shericka Jackson impressed plenty of onlookers with her speed at the recently concluded Games, but many were left even more astonished by the superb conditioning that saw her take part in four events.

Jackson claimed a bronze medal in the 100m, competed in the first round of the 200m, and claimed gold in the 4x100m, before being part of a bronze medal-winning team in the grueling 4x400m relays.

A remarkable achievement, particularly considering that only a year ago a troublesome injury threatened to seriously curtail her participation in the Tokyo Games.  Jackson suffered from severe shin splints a condition that affects the tibia and produces sharp and razor-like pain along the bone.

With the heavy demand placed on the legs by track athletes, the condition can, at worst, be debilitating enough to require surgery or at the other end of the spectrum certainly prevent the runner from delivering their full potential on the track.

When the athlete showed up at the offices of physiotherapist and performance enhancement specialist Yael Jagbir, in September of last year, her condition was much closer to needing surgery.

“It was pretty severe because if I even touched the area it was painful and she was unable to continue her season because of the pain she was in.  She would have trouble warming up and things like that, so it was very severe initially,” Jagbir told SportsMax.TV.

“I’ve seen stress fractures that you definitely need surgery.  If hers wasn’t treated properly it could have led to her needing to do surgery on her shins.  It was right on the cusp of that point that she would have needed surgery,” she added.

After months of highly specialized treatment from Jagbir, however, the athlete slowly began to see improvement and the painstaking work really paid off in April, with the Olympic qualifiers just a few months away.

“Three months between September to November we were doing some very intense work, some pool therapy, land-based therapy.  I was also doing treatment modalities to promote healing for the stress fractures,” Jagbir explained.

“When November came, she went back to training, we continued working with some modifications.  In December, she did an x-ray and the x-ray showed that they were seeing signs of healing and that was the first time she was seeing healing in the shin from when it first started in 2019.”

“We just kept working, her work ethic is impeccable, so it was a good team effort.  In April, when she did another x-ray, by that time the pain in the shin had really started to subside, she was able to train and able to sprint.  When she went for the repeat x-ray, in April, it showed no signs of fractures.  That was amazing, that was a miracle, for those fractures to heal while she was actually training is really amazing.”

Typically, a 400m runner, Jackson dropped down to the sprints for Jamaica’s national championships, where she surprised many by placing second in both the 100m and 200m sprints.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Atapharoy Bygrave scored arguably the goal of the season that earned Dunbeholden FC a fortunate 1-1 draw with Tivoli Gardens in the feature match of the Jamaica Premier League at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Tuesday.

Romaine Bowers had given Tivoli Gardens a 9th-minute lead, slotting home from close range after William Benjamin parried Devroy Grey’s fierce shot into his path in the ninth minute.

But Bygrave picked up a ball just below halfline and unleashed a ferocious shot that sailed past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Davin Watkins on the stroke of halftime in the 45+2 minute.

It was a wonder strike by Bygrave and it was just as impressive as his celebration where he

would have been given a 10 out of 10 for his somersault and perfect landing.

Bygrave’s goal was worthy of a share of the points although, in truth, Tivoli Gardens should

have won comfortably as they wasted a number of chances.

Jamaica international and Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson has reflected positively on his time at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and believes it was good background preparation for the upcoming English Championship season.

The 28-year-old was part of the Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad that bowed out of the competition following a 1-0 loss to the United States in the quarterfinals.  Johnson, who made his debut last year in a 3-0 loss to Saudi Arabia, played all four games for the team at the tournament and was named Jamaica’s man-of-match against Costa Rica.

“It was my first experience of a tournament and was lovely to be part of.  It was a different experience playing against international players and the games had a different feel than league games over here,” Johnson told the Lancashire Post.

“The first two games in the group which we won against Suriname and Guadeloupe, we controlled.  In terms of building up my fitness ready for this season, the tournament was brilliant,” he added.

 “I played 90 minutes in the first two games, 85 in the third, and then 90 minutes in the quarter-finals. That was a big boost having missed the back end of last season.”

Preston will kick off its English Football League (EFL) against Reading on Saturday.

 

West Indies bowler Hayden Walsh Jr has paid tribute to the female athletes of the Caribbean, following a number of dominant performances in the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Games.

In total, women from the Caribbean region snapped up a total of 18 medals, with the region claiming 34 overall.

There were outstanding performances from Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah who successfully defended her Olympic titles after repeating the sprint double, and was, along with her two compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, part of a clean sweep of the 100m podium places.

Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo also put in a commanding performance after dismissing the field to defend her 400m Olympic crown in a new personal best.

“I’ve enjoyed all the successes of the Caribbean, especially the women,” Walsh Jr told SportsMax.Tv’s InCaseYouMissedIT.

“Seeing the women from Jamaica perform and bring home the medals, normally you would hear about the men from Jamaica but this  I’m proud the women pulled through for us,” he added.

The win by the Jamaica team in the 4x100m was the first for the country’s women’s team since 2000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has backed mercurial talent Shimron Hetmyer to eventually find his way back into the Test team after an extended absence.

Despite being considered one of the team’s brightest talents, and having appeared in all formats, Hetmyer has not suited up for the Test team since 2019, against Afghanistan.

The 24-year-old, who made his debut against India in 2016, has struggled for consistency, scoring five 50s in 15 matches with a high score of 93, but with several other innings where he has not delivered.  Despite obvious potential, his overall average of 28 falls on the mediocre side.

In addition, the athlete has also had his share fair of fitness issues over the past two years, twice failing fitness standards after being included in touring squads.  Simmons has, however, backed the batsman to eventually get things right.

“I think that Hetmyer can be a world-class Test player when that time comes,” Simmons told members of the media.

“I’m sure at some point he’s going to return to the Test squad.  I’m sure the experience he’s gotten from being there before will serve him well and that he will make use of it.  I think he is maturing as we go along.  He’s had a few incidents he’s not proud of, but he’s maturing and I’m sure he will get back into the Test squad at some point in time and show what he’s made of.”

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons insists the team is preparing for a tough Test series against Pakistan, not just based on the competitiveness of previous encounters, but because of the form of the teams heading into the matches.

On the back of a largely rained-out T20I series, Pakistan should head into the encounter high on confidence following 2-0 wins over Zimbabwe and South Africa.  After two impressive performances, the West Indies will head into the series on the back of underwhelming performances, at home, against South Africa, where they were themselves swept aside 2-0.

“Going through the years we’ve always had tough battles with any Pakistan team whether we go there, or they come to the Caribbean,” Simmons told members of the media at an online press conference on Monday.

“They have played very well in their last two-Test series, so they are coming here on a high, whereas we played well in a couple of Test series and the last one we didn’t play well.  So, even though we are home, we’ll be an underdog in this, but we are going to try to put everything into it,” he added.

The West Indies last played Pakistan in a Test series in 2017 when they lost 2-1 at home, they have in fact not managed a win over the South Asian team since 2000.

 Veteran jockey Shane Ellis spectacularly captured his sixth Jamaica Derby on Saturday, rallying the St Leger winner Calculus to a narrow come-from-behind win in the JA$7.5 Million (US$48,900) Classic at Caymanas Park.

The 3-5 favourite Calculus looked beaten as the front runners quickened away from him coming off the final turn, but Ellis strikingly drove Chevan Maharaj’s colt back into contention and scored by a neck for trainer Gary Subratie’s first Derby triumph.

“It was almost a miracle that he got back to the horses there to win this race,” Trinidad and Tobago’s Maharaj said in the winners’ enclosure.

Calculus clocked two minutes 37 and 4/5ths of a second in the 12-furlong trip for the win over the 6-1 bet Billy Whizz. The 2-1 second favourite Further and Beyond was another length and a half back in third.

The 41-1 outsider Iannai Links led the field for the first three furlongs, tracked by a cluster of horses including Calculus on the rail, 30-1 bet Regal and Royal, Billy Whizz and the stablemates Santorini (20-1), and Further and Beyond.

After opening splits of 24.2 and 48.4, a tightly bunched half of the field cruised past the midway point in the race at a six-furlong split of 1:16 and 4/5ths with Further and Beyond, the 2020 Champion two-year-old, edging into the lead ahead of Iannai Links, Calculus, Billy Whizz and a smooth moving 4-1 shot Big Jule in fifth within two lengths of the lead. Santorini and Regal and Royal were also within striking distance as the pace quickened.

Leaving the three-furlong marker, reigning co-champion jockey Dane Nelson whipped up Further and Beyond and shot into a clear lead while Big Jule went in chase. Billy Whizz also made a sharp move toward the lead and the three appeared to have the seemingly one-paced Calculus beaten.

Early in the homestretch, Big Jule failed to quicken and Panama-born jockey Dick Cardenas presented Billy Whizz with a surging outside challenge approaching the eighth pole that sliced into Further and Beyond’s lead. But Ellis – shifting from the inside rail -- suddenly flipped Calculus’s initial mild recovery into a jetting move between the new leader Billy Whizz and Nelson’s tiring colt. A quick change from left to right hand whipping by Ellis finished the job as Calculus swept through a tight space for the win.

“Dick was there on my outside, I had to shake my horse and let him know that the job is not done. I had to bustle my way through and show them that ‘big man a big man,” a smiling Ellis said after adding to previous Derby wins he had with Awesome Power (2011), Typewriter (2012), Relampago (2014), Orpheus (2016) and Supreme Soul two years ago.

Calculus only arrived in Subratie’s barn two months ago from champion trainer Anthony Nunes’s stables after Maharaj purchased the colt from another T&T owner Shivam Maharaj, and the season’s leading trainer in wins praised Ellis’s job in the saddle.

“The passage was getting tight but Shane did his job and that’s what we wanted,” said Subratie, whose 9-5 Derby favourite last year Wow Wow was beaten into sixth position while his other two entries Nipster and Another Affair narrowly lost in second and third to upset winner King Arthur.

Maharaj, who had a T&T Derby win in 2017 with the Jamaica-bred filly Leading Lady, also acclaimed Ellis’s ride that landed the 47-year-old jockey his 22nd Classic triumph.

“At the top of the lane, honestly I thought he was beaten I could not imagine that Shane was able to get some extra out of him to get back to the horses in front. All credit to him for a fantastic ride” said Maharaj, who was winning his second Jamaica Derby in three years, having scored with Triple Crown winner Supreme Soul in 2019.

In the co-feature, Jamaica Oaks, Fillies Guineas winner She’s a Wonder galloped to a predictable win in the JA$3.75 Million (US$24,460) event to give 21-year-old jockey Reyan Lewis and trainer Ian Parsard their first win in the 10-furlong Classic.

She’s a Wonder scored by three lengths as the 1-5 favourite ahead of Amy the Butcher (5-1) and clocked 2:13.3/5ths for her sixth win in 12 lifetime starts.

Grenadian 400m bronze medallist, Kirani James, has expressed gratitude to be back on the Olympic podium, after a difficult four years, which included being diagnosed with a debilitating disease and the passing of his mother.

As a 19-year-old James, was the toast of the Caribbean after claiming 400m gold at the 2012 London Games, four years later he battled to silver behind South African Wayde van Niekerk who won the event in a blistering world record time.

Shortly after, however, the athlete’s fortunes took a drastic turn for the worst, and, in an event as brutal and as grueling as the 400m, the odds were stacked against the athlete getting a third Olympic medal in Tokyo.  He defied them anyway.

In 2017, James had found himself struggling with fatigue and weight loss.  He dropped around 20 pounds before being diagnosed with the thyroid condition known as Graves’ disease.  Just two years later, he faced perhaps even more difficult circumstances after his mother Pamela James passed away following a lengthy battle with a terminal disease.

At the 2019 World Championship James had fought his way back to competition weight but finished fifth in the final leaving many to wonder if he would ever be back amongst the elite.  Just a year later the James had to deal with the cancelation of the Olympic Games and the disruption and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

After clocking a time of 43.88 in the semi-finals, his fastest since 2012, the athlete showed that he was doubtlessly back to his best, and, despite not crossing the line first in the final, after four years of tribulation, the bronze medal was a sweet reward for the Grenadian.

“It’s always great.  You have to give credit to all eight guys in the race, they are so, so good, so it's tough to race against them.  I’m just happy to compete against those guys and get a medal,” James said.

“I had an illness.  It’s still going on, I have to be on medication for the rest of my life.  2019 I lost my mother who was the matriarch of our family,” James added.

“I’ve had to deal with Covid, the quarantines and the lockdowns and not having a place to train and trying to figure things out.  So, it’s been a whirlwind, a roller coaster.”

James became the first man in Olympic history to win a medal in the event at three different Games.

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