West Indies lead selector, Desmond Haynes, insists fixing the squad’s issues at the top of the order will be a priority for the new panel.

The team’s struggles, particularly at the top of the order, have been well documented in recent times.  The issue of finding a consistent partner for team captain Kraigg Brathwaite is one of the primary concerns.

Over the last five years, Brathwaite, who has scored 2188 in 40 matches during that time, has been consistent but it has proven to be somewhat of a carousel in terms of finding an opening pairing with Kieron Powell, John Campbell, and Shai Hope all being trailed for the spot at various times.

In November, Jeremy Solozano was also set to be trialed in the position, against Sri Lanka, but did not get the opportunity after being struck on the helmet while fielding.  Ahead of the England series, Haynes and the selectors have decided to turn back to Campbell who was dropped from the team in June of last year.

The batsman has had a strong start to the West Indies Championship after scoring 213 runs in two matches so far.  Since 2019, Campbell has played 15 matches for the West Indies scoring 640 runs.

“There was good discussion regarding the opening.  That in itself is something we want to resolve shortly.  I think in all the good teams you find they have good opening batsmen so we are hoping to get our opening batsmen some confidence and make sure they can do the job for us,” Haynes told members of the media on Tuesday.

“I think we went with Campbell not just because he got the 100 but talking to the captain and him batting with Campbell in the games that he has played, we had a bit of success there,” he added.

“It was a bit unfortunate for Jeremy but we decided we would put him in the president’s XI’s game where the selectors could have another look at him because it was a bit unfortunate because after being struck on the head he didn’t get a chance to play in Sri Lanka.  

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard insists the club is anxiously waiting to see the best of Jamaica forward Leon Bailey after a stop-start beginning to life at Villa Park.

The 24-year-old returned to English Premier League action last weekend, with a 10-minute spell against Newcastle, following a lengthy lay-off.

The player had been out of action since December after damaging his thigh muscle during the first half against Manchester City.  At the time, Bailey was finding himself sidelined for the second time with the same injury after damaging the muscle against Everton in September.

His exhilarating cameo against the Toffees, however, showed glimpses of what the player could bring to the table.  Gerrard took notice.

“I remember he came off the bench against Everton – I was watching the game on TV – and he lifted the stadium up,” the coach said.

“He scored a wonderful goal,” he added

“Everyone is waiting for him. The owners, the board, the staff, the players.

“We’re all waiting for Leon to really burst onto the scene, stay healthy and find his best level.

“We have signed a talent who has produced at his previous clubs, and he’s shown flashes.

“Leon’s focus has to be on staying fit, getting himself in the best physical condition, and allowing his talent to flourish.”

West Indies batsman Rovman Powell believes a nice understanding at the crease is developing between himself and vice-captain Nicholas Pooran after putting together another strong partnership, albeit this time in a losing effort.

India wrapped up the three-match T20 series with an 8 run win over the West Indies, after setting a more than competitive 186 for 5 in the first innings.  Thanks to the efforts of Powell and Pooran, however, the team managed to get close to the score on the back of their 100-run partnership, in 60 balls.

It was the second time in just a few weeks the duo was combining to good effect.  Against England in the third T20 international, the duo combined for 122 for 67.  In fact, Pooran and Powell have been one of the most productive partnerships over the last four years, scoring 346 in 7 innings.

“Me and Pooran, from the last series, we have been developing a nice little bromance, a nice little partnership in a sense with him batting 3 and me batting four.  It’s important for us at that point, at that position, where we bat three and four to get partnerships,” Pooran told members of the media, following the match.

“We got another partnership of 100 plus today, it’s for us to take all the things we did right today and improve the stuff that needs to improve going forward.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard was encouraged by the batting unit’s approach to Friday’s T20 International against India, even if he was admittedly disappointed with the result.

The West Indies found themselves on the losing side of another series, after going down by 8 runs to India on Friday.  The result saw the South Asian team claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, after winning the opener by 7 wickets.

This time, however, in pursuit of a solid 186 for 5, the team went a lot closer to the target and was more comfortable in the run chase.  A 100-run partnership from Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell got the team close to India's score, and, in fact, until a miserly 18th over from Harshal Patel it seemed the West Indies were favourites to level the series.

According to the West Indies captain, while the team may have come up just short on runs, the approach was closer to what was required.

“I thought the partnership with him (Rovman Powell) and Pooran almost got us over the line.  Sometimes that’s all we are asking from the guys to bat as deep as possible and for me, I’m pleased, obviously not with the result but with the way they continue to aim for consistency,” he added.

The partnership was the fourth-highest between two Windies players since 2019, adding to an overall 306 scored in 6 matches, whenever the duo of Powell and Pooran has come together during that time.

“Nicholas got another half-century, Powell has gotten two in the last four games, so, we are making progress.”

A five-wicket haul from pace bowler, Alzarri Joseph, capped off a sensational overall Leeward Islands Hurricanes performance as they ended with an innings and 57 run win over the Guyana Harpy Eagles, in the West Indies Championship, at Queens Park Oval on Thursday.

In pursuit of the Leewards massive first innings total of 438 for 7 declared, Guyana were dismissed for 265, after Joseph did his part by ripping through the top order.  Chanderpaul Hemraj led the resistance from the top of the innings but could not find steady partners before being himself being bowled for 50 by Jeremiah Louis.

Anthony Bramble took up the challenge next and added 58, while Gudakesh Motie made 49 at the bottom of the order but it was never close to being enough.  In support of Joseph, Louis and Collin Archibald each claimed two wickets. 

Earlier, resuming the day at 366 for 5, already with a lead of 250 runs, the team added another 72 before announcing their declaration.  Ward, who resumed the day on 46, moved on to 78, following the departures of Rahkeem Cornwall, who only added two to his overnight 13, and Archibald who added a quick-fire 38. 

For Guyana, Motie finished with figures of 3 for 111, while Nial Smith took 3 for 100.

 

 

Jamaica Reggae Girlz striker, Khadijah Shaw, bagged a brace as the team kicked off its World Cup qualification campaign in strong fashion with a 4-0 win over Bermuda at the National Stadium on Thursday.

After missing several presentable opportunities early on, against a game Bermuda unit, Jamaica finally took the lead in the 21st minute when Jodi Brown opened the scoring.  Trudy Carter doubled the team’s lead 9 minutes later after booting the ball into the net from around 8 yards, profiting from a late run into the box and a searching cutback from Brown on the flank.

Shaw, who headed the ball onto the ball early on, looked to have earned a penalty when she was brought down midway the second half by Bermuda goalkeeper Micah Pond, but her protest was waved off by the referee.

 The Manchester City forward made no mistake in the 79th minute, adding the team’s third after smashing the ball high into the net from close range, after the goalkeeper had parried an effort from winger Kalyssa Van Zanten.  She added her second only moments from the final whistle after picking up the ball ten yards from goal, swiveling around her defender, and firing home.

The team will face Grenada in the second match of the round on Sunday.

Reggae Girlz and Manchester City forward Khadijah Shaw has expressed confidence ahead of the team’s match-up against Bermuda in the opening match of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Thursday.

The competition will be the official start of the team’s campaign to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.  Despite facing lower-ranked opposition, the team will not be kicking off its journey in ideal circumstances.

Several players who were part of the history-making World Cup squad are unavailable for the fixture due to injury or other reasons.  In addition, the team will feature a number of new players and has had limited time to work out its kinks.  The situation has given interim coach Vin Blaine plenty of pause for thought, but Shaw remains confident the squad will be capable of racking up positive results in this round.

“Football is a team sport, I trust my teammates.  There’s a reason why they are here, and the coach selected them, and I trust the coaching staff as well,” said Shaw, in assessing the situation.

“We have to just come in and understand each other as fast as possible.  It’s not ideal right now but I trust my teammates and I really do think we can get the job done despite other players not being here.”

The team will also travel away to face Grenada in the second match of the window.

 

A dispute over the use of player agents is said to be one of the key issues at the heart of allegations of player victimisation, which roiled West Indies cricket a few weeks ago.

The controversial issue was brought to the fore during the England tour of the Caribbean after all-rounder Odean Smith was dropped from the team ahead of the third T20 international.  Reports of the accusations were initially downplayed by Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerrit and the senior members of the team’s hierarchy as an attempt to distract.

The CWI hierarchy has, however, since met with representatives of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) to address the claims and the body’s Honourary General Secretary Wayne Lewis has confirmed that there are in fact a few issues to resolve.

“There were complaints to WIPA about things that happened, they were uncomfortable because of the situation, they were very unhappy and so we sat with Cricket West Indies and spoke about it,” Lewis told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“The complaint was that members within the cricket West Indies set-up were calling franchises overseas and advising them that particular players would not be given NOCs to play, and we thought that was odd because we have an MOU and a protocol that covers that, that did not include anyone from that area,” he added.

“There were situations where players were encouraged to change their agents to go with an agent of their (CWIs) choice and the players were resisting that because they had their own agents already.  So that made them a little uncomfortable as well, so these issues needed to be addressed, so we did the proper thing by talking to the CWI to get to the bottom of it.”

Lewis revealed that talks between the bodies had continued to be cooperative but that a complete solution on how to address the issue had not yet been reached.

The West Indies squad have flatly rejected the suggestions that Smith's omission from the match was anything other than tactical.

 

The Leeward Islands' top three batsmen Montcin Hodge, Kieran Powell, and Devon Thomas, all registered scores in the 70s as the Hurricanes heaped misery upon Guyana Harpy Eagles on day two of the West Indies Championship at the Queen's Park Oval.

Resuming the day on 116 with loss, already 10 ahead of where they had previously left Guyana all-out, the team added another 36 runs before the Eagles claimed their first wicket. 

Powell was the first to go, after being bowled for 74 by Nial Smith.  But there was no respite, as Thomas joined Hodge at the crease and the two put on a further 85 before Thomas was dismissed for 72.

 Hodge looked well set for a triple-digit tally but only lasted another five overs as he was dismissed for 72 off the bowling of Clinton Pestano, with the team at 246 for 3.  Guyana broke through soon after, with Gudakesh Motie claiming Kofi James for 11.

The Eagles faced another chastening spell at the crease, however, after Jahmar Hamilton and Terance Ward put on an 85 run partnership for the 5th wicket.  Hamilton was eventually dismissed for 48 after being trapped lbw by Smith.  At the close of play, Ward remained unbeaten on 46 with Rahkeem Cornwall on 13.  

The Leewards ended the day on 366 for 5 a lead of 250 runs.

Windies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team must find a coherent strategy to deal with India’s spinners after being caught in two minds in the opening match of the T20 series.

In the end, the West Indies were comfortably beaten by six wickets but at one point seemed set for a higher total than the 157 for 7 that the team eventually posted.  At 72 for 2, at the start of the 10th over, the West Indies had a set Pooran and Roston Chase at the crease and seemed set to build on a solid enough foundation.

 The introduction of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, however, threw a wrench into those plans as he immediately removed Chase who struggled to come to grips with the spinner before being dismissed for lbw.  Bishnoi, who ended with 2 for 17, then removed the dangerous Rovman Powell later in the over.  The debutant was the chief but not the team’s only issue as Yuzvendra Chahal had also proven difficult to get away on occasion.

“We played the spinners ok today, we would want to continue that and continue to build partnerships,” Pooran told members of the media following the match.

“We still need to negotiate the spinners a bit better, I think today we were caught in two minds how to go about them.  Whether to attack them or keep them out of the game and we got caught in both minds there.”

Pooran top-scored for the Windies with 65.

 

Middle-order batsman Yannic Cariah and opener Jeremy Solozano were critical in a recovery effort for the T&T Red Force who ended day one of the West Indies Championship match against the Windward Island Volcanoes, at the Brian Lara Stadium, on a promising 217 for 5.

At the close of play, Joshua Da Silva (51) and Terrance Hinds (5) were the not out batsmen at the crease. Hinds came in to bat after team captain Imran Khan retired hurt, after scoring one run, with what looked like a pulled muscle.

Earlier, it was Cariah who yet again anchored another Red Force recovery.  The team found themselves in early trouble following the dismissals of opener Keagan Simmons (8), Isaiah Rajah (0), and Jason Mohammed (0), which left them struggling at 22 for 3.  All three batsmen were sent packing on the back of a brilliant spell from fast bowler Sherman Lewis who ended the day with 3 for 24.

With the team in desperate need, Cariah joined Solozano, who had watched the early carnage from the other end, and the two proceeded to rescue the innings with a patient 112-run stand for the fourth wicket.  The partnership was broken when Solozano was caught, on 66, by Teddy Bishop, after attacking Kenneth Dember.

Cariah then joined up with Da Silva to stage a 59-run partnership before he was trapped lbw by Ryan John.

 

Two three-wicket hauls from Leeward Hurricane bowlers Daniel Doram and Colin Archibald devastated the Guyana Harpy Eagles batting line-up, to claim a strong position on the opening day of the West Indies Championship at Queens Park Oval.

At the close of play, in response to the Eagles being all out for 116, in 34.3 overs, the Leewards were 126 without loss and already leading by 10 runs.  Openers Kieran Powell (55) and Montcin Hodge (51) had each put half-centuries on the board to give the team a solid base heading into the second day.

Earlier, only four Guyana players managed double figures, Anthony Bramble (38), Keemo Paul (20), Clinton Pestano (14), and Veerasammy Permaul (11) in an innings that feature the rapid capitulation of the Eagles batting line-up.  Before Bramble, Guyana's first five batsmen managed a total of 24 runs combined, leaving the team in serious trouble at 37 for 5.

A partnership between Bramble and Keemo Paul, who combined for 50 was the highlight of the innings and briefly added respite.  Paul made 20 from 17 deliveries.

Doram ended the innings with figures of 3 for 16, Archibald 3 for 29, while Alzarri Joseph also claimed two wickets for 26 runs.

 

Jamaica Reggae Girlz coach Vin Blaine expects a strong start to the World Cup qualifiers, despite missing a few of the squad’s key players, when the campaign kicks off on Thursday, at the National Stadium, with a match in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.

The Reggae Girlz, who made a historic debut at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, have called up an experienced squad to face Bermuda and Grenada in the upcoming international window.  Despite retaining a number of players that formed part of the historic team, a few others will not be available for the campaign.

Notably absent will be Havana Solange, the scorer of the team’s only World Cup goal, who is injured, Cheyna Matthews, who is taking time away from the sport, and the team’s skipper Konya Plumber.

The likes of Khadijah Shaw and many others have, however, been called up for the fixture along with a few recent additions and players who could make their debut.

“Most of these players have played before and are quite seasoned campaigners.  We’re without a few players that we invited due to documentation issues, but we are looking forward to having them in the future.  These are the girls that have been chosen and I have selected, and we still have a formidable squad,” Blaine said.

“There are many experienced players and some new players that I am taking the opportunity to look at,” he added.

The Reggae Girlz have been given all Caribbean opponents for the first round of qualifiers. Apart from Bermuda, they will also face the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and the Cayman Islands in Group C.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is nowhere close to being ready to give up on talented batsman Shimron Hetmyer, despite the player’s recently well-documented struggles with fitness.

The 25-year-old batsman was left out of the West Indies' previous series against Ireland and England and also failed to be included in the squad for the ongoing India tour.  The issue stemmed from the fact that the player failed to achieve the basic fitness standards required to be eligible for selection.

It was not the first time Hetmyer had been plagued by the issue as he also failed to get a passing mark in 2020, ahead of the team’s tour of Sri Lanka, and then again later that same year during Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies.  The Windies skipper, however, backs the player to get things right in the near future.

"I think the coaches have spoken on their assessment of Shimron. I miss Shimron when he is not around. He is a young player and a superstar in his own right. He will get it right and get back to the West Indies squad pretty soon. I will be looking forward to having him," Pollard told members of the media, ahead of the team’s first T20I against India.

"We know what he can do as an individual and he has a bright future. You can never write off a guy who is 25. My love for Shimron is paramount, and he knows that and we all know that. It is a matter of time for him to do all that is necessary to get back to the team. We will welcome him with open arms."

The Guyana Harpy Eagles held on for a narrow one-wicket win over the Windward Volcanoes as the West Indies Championship encounter at the Queen's Park Oval came to a thrilling conclusion on Saturday.

Resuming the day on 157 for 7, with Larry Edward (29) and Kenneth Dember (9) the batsmen at the crease, the Windwards could only manage another 33 runs before they were all out for 190 in the 64 overs.  Dember was the first to be dismissed after managing to add just 5 to his overnight total, before being caught by Anthony Bramble off Veerasammy Permaul.

Edward briefly partnered with Preston McSween to add 17 for the 9th wicket, but that did not last long as Edward was next to depart, caught by Hetmyer off Permaul for 43.  McSween could not repeat the heroics of the first innings and followed soon after.   Permaul finished the innings with figures of 53 for 5.

 The tally meant Guyana needed 203 for victory.  The Eagles seemed well set to reach the target as they coasted to 89 without loss on the back of a smooth 60 from 72 balls from Chandrapaul Hemraj and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (28).

The bowling of off-spinner Kenneth Dember threw a wrench in those proceedings as he claimed 5-80 and triggered a collapse.  The Eagles slipped to 140-6 and then 183-9.

Permaul, however, played a crucial, steady innings late on with an unbeaten knock of 20 which pushed the Eagles to the target.  Vishaul Singh added 24 with Leon Johnson 21 and Clinton Pestano 20 also making handy contributions.

 

 

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