West Indies T20 vice-captain Nicholas Pooran has heaped praises on under pressure batsman Chris Gayle, insisting the veteran remains a valuable part of the team ahead of its attempted World Cup title defence.

The 42-year-old Gayle has found himself in the crosshairs of critics in recent months, with many insisting the player should have been overlooked in favour of younger talent.  The batsman'ss recent form will not have helped matters.  In the last year, Gayle has played a total of 16 matches, scored a total of 227 runs with an average of 17.46 and strike rate of 117.61, well down from his career average of 139.18.

Criticism of the batsman recently came to a head when he took exception to comments made by former fast bowler Curtly Ambrose who suggested that Gayle was not the same player he used to be.  Pooran is, however, certain of the value the player brings to the team.

“As much as everyone has questioned it, 14,000 runs doesn’t come about just like that.  Not many people know how to win T20 matches and T20 leagues and that sort of experience is invaluable,” Pooran told members of the media on Wednesday.

“The experience batting out in the middle, talking about intent, talking about taking on players when to go when not to go, you just don’t get experience like that,” he added.

“We are very happy to have him, even off the pitch he is someone who supports you 100 percent, someone who backs you 100 percent.  You talk about positivity, he is one of the most positive guys we have on the team, in the Caribbean.

“He’s a special human being.  Only when you play cricket with him or against him you’d know what it feels like to have him around.”

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumpstarted their fading hopes of qualifying for the Qatar World Cup following a 2-0 away win over Honduras, at the Estadio Olimpico, on Tuesday.

Goals from Kemar Roofe and Oniel Fisher gave the team their first win of the campaign, a result that lifted the Jamaicans from the bottom of the table for the time in six games.  Heading into the encounter both teams were in desperate need of a win, with Honduras beginning the match just a point above the Jamaicans in 7th place.

After dominating the early opportunities, it was Roofe who put the Jamaicans in the lead after redirecting a shot from Shamar Nicholson into the back of the net in the 38th minute.  The home team battled to get back on level terms but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities.

Fisher made the game safe for the Jamaicans with a well-taken effort in the 79th minute.  Having joined the attack, the right-back collected a layoff from substitute Andre Gray before curling a shot around Honduras goalkeeper Luis López and into the net.

  Jamaica’s campaign to earn a spot in Qatar continues with a trip to El Salvador to open the November international window, while Honduras hosts Panama.

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team has looked to address well-noted concerns regarding the rotation of the strike but believes it is important to stick to its strengths, with the World Cup on the horizon.

Known internationally for their flamboyant, swashbuckling style, the Caribbean team will head into next week's tournament as defending champions.  However, despite having captured the global title on two occasions, questions have been raised in recent times regarding the team’s batting approach.

With a batting line-up filled with heavy hitters, the problematic issue stems from the tendency to soak up too many dot balls.  Pooran admits that it has been a focus but in the grand scheme of things the team intends to stay true to its style as it has delivered success in the past.

“We have net sessions and we as a group have spoken about it, we have players to play certain roles, honestly.  As a batting group, we want to get better, we want to improve, and getting singles is a part of that game as well, but our focus is not so much on singles,” Pooran told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We won two World Cups with the same problems, to be honest, not getting singles.  I don’t think the emphasis is so much on it, but on intent and playing smart cricket.  There are times that we know that will have to put our egos aside and grind for the team and if that means pushing a dot ball and getting singles, we’ll do that.”

The Jamaica Reggae Boyz will be without two key members of the squad heading into Wednesday’s crucial qualifier against Honduras with both defender Alvas Powell and forward Jamal Lowe ruled out of the encounter.

Powell, who started but did not finish Sunday’s encounter against Canada, has been diagnosed with a Grade I hamstring strain and will not be able to take part in the match against Honduras.  Typically deployed at right-back, Powell began the game at centre back. 

Regular last man Damion Lowe had been ruled out of the counter based on an accumulation of cards.  Lowe will return to the line-up for the upcoming encounter.

Meanwhile, Lowe will be returning to Championship club AFC Bournemouth based on an agreement ahead of the qualifying round.  The player started against the United States and came off the substitute’s bench against Canada.

With just two points from their first five matches the team currently sits at the bottom of the table, Honduras who are also yet to secure a win are one point above the Jamaicans in the standings.

West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard remains unsure regarding the extent to which a recent hamstring injury could affect star all-rounder Andre Russell for the World Cup but remains optimistic.

The 33-year-old big-hitter has been out of action since sustaining a Grade 2 hamstring tear last month.  Depending on the severity of the injury, the typical recovery time is said to run anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.  The player’s India Premier League (IPL) team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is hopeful of Russell returning in time to face the Delhi Capitals in Wednesday’s eliminator, having already missed three games.

However, the extent to which the player will fully recover in time for that match, or the start of next week’s World Cup remains a source for conjecture, already sparking concerns regarding potential workload.

“I can’t make any assumptions about what he can or cannot do at this point, we will need to make an assessment as a team,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We have not had the opportunity to see him.  We’ve gotten reports as to what he has done, but I would not want to get into trying to say what he can or can’t do at this point in time,” he added.

“We’ll judge from the assessment but he is a critical person for our team and we would love to have him 100 percent fit.”

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he remains unperturbed by the indifferent form of some players heading into the ICC T20 World Cup as there is still enough time to get things right.

With the start of the tournament just a few days away, there has been some concern raised regarding the form of a few of the team’s potential match-winners based on their performances in lead-up tournaments this year, most recently the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Indian Premier League (IPL).

Falling into that category and of primary concern would be the form of high-impact pair Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, whose IPL form this season best illustrates the point.  The duo set the IPL alight for Punjab Kings XI last season and such form would have been welcome heading into next week.

In 2020, Pooran played 14 matches scoring 353 runs at an average of 35.30, by comparison, the player’s most recent campaign has ended with 85 runs at an average of 7.72, in 12 games.  For Gayle, 2020 saw him score 288 runs and average a healthy 41.14 in 7 games, however, this time around he could only manage 193 runs at an average of 21.44 in 10 games. 

Pollard, however, believes players who might not be in form still have plenty of time to kick into gear for the global showpiece, where they will start as defending champions.

“If we look too much into the past, then that is where sometimes we get ourselves into trouble,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“Let’s deal with what we have in the present, the guys that have confidence, roll with them, the guys that don’t we try to get them into that zone with some practice sessions,” he added.

“We have a couple more games and then the big one, which is the World Cup, so from a perspective of being concerned, I know when it comes to the international stage it is about personal pride and individuals will want to show what they have to offer.”

 

      

 

The mystery surrounding the decision of West Ham forward, Michail Antonio, to withdraw from Jamaica’s team days ahead of the ongoing round of World Cup qualifiers has added another twist, with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) insisting it was based on a misunderstanding.

According to multiple reports, the issue stemmed from the fact that the player was not given permission to carry his personal physiotherapist on the trip, which he had agreed to pay for out of pocket.  Through his agent, Antonio who has suffered from a long history of muscular injuries, made the request for the medical professional to be able to join the squad but was turned down.

However, strangely, the JFF now insists that the player’s representative was given the wrong information as he should have in fact been granted permission to travel with the therapist.

“It was a simple mix-up that caused that caused that to happen.  What we don’t want to do is to continue to lay the blame all over the place.  We know administratively from the JFF hierarchy that that is something we had supported,” General Secretary Dalton Wint told TVJ Sports.

The official, however, seemed to be at a loss to explain how a member of the technical committee could have communicated a negative answer to the player’s agent when the answer he admits should have been a simple and positive one.

“He is allowed (to carry physiotherapist), it’s simple.  That’s why we used the term miscommunication.”

Wint went on to state that the issue had been cleared up with the player and his agent and expected him to return to the team in the near future.  The Jamaica team is at the bottom of the standings with three losses in the first four matches.

   

Jamaica Reggae Boy midfielder Anthony Grant has joined the team ahead of Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualification match against Canada.

 The Swindon Town player missed out on the United States game after a late call-up, following the decision of Preston North End's Daniel Johnson to pull out of the squad for what was reported to be injury precaution reasons.

Grant made his debut, alongside Devon Williams, for the team against Mexico in a narrow 2-1 loss before representing the team again in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica.  The player’s return should be good news for the under-pressure Theodore Whitmore coached team who used veteran JeVaughn Watson in the position against the United States.  Watson’s recall, ahead of the Costa Rica game, had come as a surprise to many.  The player had been coming off a low level of inactivity having not been included initially for the qualifiers.  The inclusion of Grant should add reinforcement for the team in the defensive midfield area, as the Reggae Boyz look to clamp the brakes on a dangerous Canadian attack, which has been one of the best in the competition so far.  

The team is yet to win a match in the competition so far and is rooted to the bottom of the eight-team table on the back of one draw and three losses.

Former West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels will contest recent charges made against him under the ICC anti-corruption code.

The 40-year-old former batsman retired from the sport in 2020 but was charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for breaching the anti-corruption code during his participation in the 2019 T10 league.

Samuels was charged on four counts of breaching the code relating to:

A breach of Article 2.4.2 – Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official, the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the Participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

A breach of Article 2.4.3 - Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official receipt of hospitality with a value of US $750 or more.

Breaches of Article 2.4.6 – Failing to cooperate with the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation.

Breaches of Article 2.4.7 – Obstructing or delaying the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation by concealing information that may have been relevant to the investigation.

Samuels who had 14 days to contest the charges has since hired legal representation and informed the ICC of his intent to content the allegations brought against him.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

Cavalier eventually outlasted a resilient 10-man Waterhouse to claim the Jamaica Premier League crown for the first time in 40 years after a penalty shootout win at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Saturday.

It was Cavalier who deservedly took the lead, after enterprising play early on, courtesy of a towering 17th-minute header from defender Jamoi Topey.  Waterhouse goalkeeper Zemioy Nash flew off his goal line to collect a high looping corner but failed to make any contact, which left Topey with a free header.

Things went from bad to worse for the Waterhouse squad when captain Nicholai Findlayson received one caution for a poorly time tackle and was then sent from the field of play for showing dissent to the referee, just one minute after going behind.  

To their credit, however, despite being a man down, Waterhouse pressed to get back into the game.  With time running out and one hand on the trophy Cavalier goalkeeper Jaedean White was forced to make back-to-back saves to prevent a fierce shot and header from Colorado Murray from levelling the tie.  He could, however, do nothing to prevent a calmly and assuredly placed penalty Damion Binns, which got Waterhouse back on level terms with the final kick of the ball, after a Cavalier defender was deemed to have handled the ball during a last-ditch Waterhouse barrage on goal.

With neither team able to break the deadlock in extra time, the game headed to a shootout.  Shaquille Bradford, Shevon Stewart, Andre Leslie and Ricardo Thomas scored for Waterhouse, while Richard King, Jamoi Topey, Melvin Doxilly, Marlando Maxwell and Jamar Purcell scored to give Cavalier a final 5-4 advantage.

In the third-place play-off, Tivoli Gardens triumphed over Mount Pleasant also via another penalty shootout.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes the team’s overall experience will be a critical factor in the bid to successfully defend its World T20 title.

The final 15 selected to represent the West Indies, for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, has stirred up considerable debate in the Caribbean, with several questioning the age of the squad.  At current, the team boasts four players over the age of 35, with an average age of 30.6.

Pollard, however, sees the likes of Chris Gayle, Ravi Rampaul, and Lendl Simmons in the squad, several of who have won multiple World Cups, as a major advantage, particularly in tight situations.

“It’s great to have all these guys and myself playing together again,” Pollard told India.com.

“This hasn’t happened in a very long time. No matter which way you look at it you can’t beat experience because we have seen different scenarios time and time again,” he added.

“We react (to those scenarios) and we get the other players to react and understand the magnitude of what we are in and what we are about to do. Having guys like that to lean on is great, and guys that can get you out of situations where people might think, or you might think as well, that you can’t get out of.

“The younger guys get to learn and get to understand some of the things that are needed to be successful, especially from a T20 aspect. As I’ve said before, we would have seen it time and time again all over the world, different situations, different conditions, different bowlers – having guys like that to help the younger guys, I think you can’t ask for anything better than that.”

 

 

Former West Indies batting coach Toby Radford has expressed concern that Cricket West Indies' (CWI) current system of allowing for medical exemptions for some players could present the illusion of unfairness.

The debate has continued to rage around the selection of the squad after the selection panel was unable to even considered some players for the World Cup squad after they had reportedly not made the requisite CWI fitness standard.

Among that crown were batsman Sherfane Rutherford, promising fast bowler Odean Smith and spinner Sunil Narine. With that considered, for some, the selection of players like Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul proved problematic, but both players were given exemptions by the CWI’s medical committee.

At current, all players are required to pass the popular Yoyo fitness test, but the results of the tests are graded on a sliding scale.  The CWI has repeatedly insisted that its policy, along with the exemptions is a standard international practice.  It has, however, continued to stir debate.

“You have to be seen to be fair across the board.  Either everybody does it (meet fitness standard) or nobody does it,” Radford told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“You can’t choose who gets tested and who gets an exemption, it doesn’t seem to be a fair system.  I think it either all the players are tested and they all need to pass it or they don’t,” he added.

“Otherwise, it makes a mockery of the test.  You’re leaving out players who are on form and younger and fitter, generally, saying they haven’t passed the test and you are taking people 10 years older who struggle to run between wickets and the field.”

Defender Liam Moore and forward Shamar Nicholson have overcome injury concerns to be included in a 23-man Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad for the upcoming round of qualifiers.

Moore, who plies his trade for English club Reading, was a serious doubt after suffering a bad-looking ankle injury a few weeks ago, with Nicholson suffering a fractured jaw while in action for Belgian side Charleroi.  Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has, however, not recovered in time for the matches and will miss his second round of matches.

Queens Park Rangers forward Andre Gray and Bournemouth’s Jamal Lowe have been recalled to the squad, with in-form West Ham forward Michail Antonio also called back to the squad, after a difficult debut against Panama.

The Jamaicans will resume their campaign with matches away to the United States at home to Canada and away to Honduras.  Unlike the previous round, however, the squad should not be impacted by UK coronavirus travel rules, with none of the countries listed on the red list.

Full squad:

Andre Blake

Dillon Barnes

Dennis Taylor

Damion Lowe

Adrian Mariappa

Liam Moore

Ethan Pinnock

Alvas Powell

Oniel Fisher

Kemar Lawrence

Javain Brown

Daniel Johnson

Devon Williams

Je-Vaughn Watson

Bobby Reid

Junior Flemmings

Kemar Roofe

Jamal Lowe

Tyreek Magee

Michail Antonio

Javon East

Shamar Nicholson

Andre Gray

 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.