The West Indies U19s did not have the best showing ahead of the start of the ICC Under-19 50-over World Cup after suffering a heavy 108 loss to India U19s  team in their first official warm-up match on Sunday.

After being set a challenging target of 279 to win, the young Windies struggled to 170 all out in just 43 overs.  The team got off to a solid enough start when openers Matthew Nandu and Shaqkere Parris put on 30 in the opening overs.   Parris was, however, the first to go after being dismissed by fast bowler Garv Sangwan.  The other batters, unfortunately, followed in quick succession, with Teddy Bishop being dismissed ten balls later, and Sangwan going lbw with the score on 35.

Nandu managed another 30 with Jordan Johnson (10) before falling to the spin of Manav Parakh in the 18th over, with the total at 65 for three.

Windies skipper Akeem Auguste went for a duck after also being bowled by Parakh, Rivaldo Clarke (11), and vice-captain Giovonte Depeiza (10) were also gone midway through the innings.

Nandu eventually departed in the 33rd over with a top-score of 52 off 101 balls, after being a victim of left-arm spinner Aneeshwar Gautam, caught by Kaushal Tambe.  Off-spinner Tambe then wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Carlon Bowen-Tuckett (20), Anderson Mahase (1), and an attacking Johann Layne.

Earlier in the innings, the team set a furious pace after skipper Yash Dhull won the toss.  Things did not start well, however, as the team found themselves at 18 for two in the seventh after excellent work from Layne got rid of openers Harnoor Singh and Angkrish Raghuvanshi.

Dhull, however, led a strong revival with 52 off 67 balls and put on 85 for the third wicket with Shaik Rasheed.   Aradhya Yadav attacked the bowling and added 82 for the fifth wicket with top-scorer Nishant Sindhu, who lashed seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 78 off 76 balls, effectively putting the match out of reach.

Scores

India U-19s 278-6, 50 overs (Nishant Sindhu 78 n.o., Yash Dhull 52, Aradhya Yadav 42; Johann Layne 3/51)

 WI U-19s 170 all out, 43 overs (Matthew Nandu 52; Kaushal Tambe 3/30, Manav Parakh 3/34, Garv Sangwan 2/18, Aneeshwar Gautam 2/37). --India U-19s won by 108 runs.

 

Windies middle-order batsman, Shamarh Brooks, admits it was a crushing blow to narrowly miss out on a debut ODI century but insists it is just part of a learning curve.

Brooks put on a solid performance that proved the backbone of a close 24-run win in the opening match of the series on Sunday

Together with Windies skipper Kieron Pollard, Brooks put 155 runs on the board for the 5th wicket, which proved critical in stabilisng the team’s middle-order after floundering at 4 for 62.

On 93 the player seemed destined to be only the second West Indian to make an ODI century on debut but was out lbw off the bowling of Mark Adair.

“Word can’t express (how disappointing it was) but at the end of the day it was still my first game and I’m still happy with the score that I got.  It’s just unfortunate to miss out on triple figures,” Brooks said.

“I wouldn’t say I panicked in the nervous 90s.  Some people would have been a little more cautious having been set but as we all know it’s a learning curve at this stage.  I’ll take this one on the chin and look to grow from strength to strength,” he added.

The West Indies and Ireland will face off again in the second match on Tuesday.

  

 

Veteran all-rounder Dwyane Bravo will join fellow West Indian Chris Gayle at Fortune Barishal for the upcoming Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) after replacing Sri Lanka's Danushka Gunathilaka.

Gunathilaka was forced to pull out of the tournament after he failed to receive a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). 

In addition to Gayle, who will be playing for the franchise for the third time, the franchise has also added another two Caribbean players.  Pace bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Obed Mccoy will also be joining the team.

The 38-year-old Bravo, who retired from international cricket following the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year, has previously represented the Chittagong Kings, Comilla Victorians, and Dhaka Dynamites in the BPL.

The competition, which is scheduled to bowl off on January 21, will be played across three cities and will feature 6 teams.

 

Jamaica track and field icon, Usain Bolt, has hailed American sprinter Justin Gatlin for keeping him sharp throughout his career.

Bolt, who remains the world record holder over both the 100 and 200 metres, retired from the sport in 2017.  His rivalry with the American, though statistically, a tad one-sided at times, was one of the most abiding and, at times, fiercest in the sport of track and field, particularly when the two-faced the starter at major games.

On the biggest stage, it was Gatlin who triumphed in the first two encounters.  Bolt failed to advance past the first round at the 2004 Olympics and it was Gatlin who went on to claim the 200m title, adding to 100m crown, which was won prior.

One year later, Gatlin left the Jamaican far behind in the 200m final to take the sprint double at the 2005 World Championship in Helsinki.  The two did not face off at the 2007 World Championship as Gatlin was banned from the sport for four years after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006.  On that occasion, Bolt finished second to another American Tyson Gay.

From 2008, however, it was Bolt who became the premier force in world sprinting and outside of the rare blip in Osaka 2011, where he false-started in the 100m, when undefeated at major games for almost 9 years.  Gatlin returned to the sport in 2010 but found it impossible to get the better of the Jamaican.  He was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the 2011 World Championships, placed third at 2012 Olympics, was second at the 2013 World Championships.  Gatlin again finished runner-up to Bolt in both the 100m and 200m at the 2015 World Championships and again took silver at Rio Olympics in 2016. 

The American did, however, manage to turn the tables on Bolt at the 2017 World Championships where he claimed gold, with the Jamaican finishing in third place in the final race before he retired. 

  “Justin Gatlin played a very important role in keeping me motivated because he kept me on my toes, he kept me working out,” Bolt explained during Puma's Only See Great campaign.

“He kept me knowing that every season he’s going to be there, if I want to be the best I have to be ready and be prepared to beat him," he added.

Overall, the Jamaican leads the head-to-head match-up between the athletes with a 9-2 advantage, but he admits with Gatlin and others around he always had to look over his shoulder.

"The rivalries were strong and for me Tyson and Justin and Asafa and Blake, they really pushed me through my career to stay on top of my game at all times to be the best me."

Jamaica international Leon Bailey could be closing in on a return to action for EPL club Aston Villa having stepped up his rehabilitation from injury in recent weeks.

The 24-year-old has been out of action since pulling up injured against Manchester City in early December.  On that occasion, the visibly disappointed player left the pitch holding his thigh after sprinting in the first half-hour of that game.

The player has had a stop-start kind of season since joining Aston Villa in the summer from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.  Bailey also spent several weeks out of action after a sensation cameo against Everton where he damaged the same muscle after scoring a spectacular goal.

Aston Villa coach Steven Gerrard gave the latest update on the player ahead of the team’s FA Cup clash against Manchester United on Monday.

"We’re [with Leon Bailey] four and a bit weeks post-injury and he’s progressing well, stepping up his rehab — he's focused. It was an injury in a similar area to the first one, so we have to be careful and respect that,” Gerrard said.

Aston Villa will, however, have Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings available for selection ahead of the match at Old Trafford.

 General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, has welcomed the implementation of Video Assistant Replay (VAR), which will be used for the final six games of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.

Prior to this, Concacaf was one of only three nations not making use of the technology, alongside AFCON (Africa) and Oceania, and were hampered in their efforts to do so by not only technological restrictions but also due to a lack of certified officials.  With both issues rectified since the start of the year, the way is now clear for the replay system to be implemented.

In its absence, the competition has been plagued by what some believe to be high-profile refereeing errors.  Against the United States with the game tied at 1-1, Jamaica defender Damion Lowe’s header, which flew into the net 7 minutes from time, was controversially ruled out for what appeared to be very little contact with US defender Walker Zimmerman.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

With the country well behind on points in their pursuit of three and a half qualification spots, three points instead of one could have made a huge difference.  Wint hopes that in the future such costly errors can be avoided.

“I think it (decisions like that) is one of the major reasons CONCACAF decided to implement it.  It is really important to get the major decisions right,” Wint said of the upcoming technology upgrade.

There have of course also been times when the technology may have gone against the country notably when Lowe was himself yellow carded for a last-ditch challenge on USA player Brenden Aaronson, although the call might have been marginal at best.

“I’m all for it.  If you have the technology, then why not use it.  You can’t have it both ways, at times it may slow the game down, but it is important to try and arrive at the correct decision.”

The Reggae Boyz, who are currently in 6th place in the eight-team standings and 7 points behind the final qualifying spot, will resume their qualification campaign against Mexico on January 27th.  

 

 

 

Preparations are advancing for the Video Assistant Replay (VAR) replay system to be installed at Jamaica’s National Stadium, with a site visit expected to take place early next week.

Production and audiovisual company MediaPro, which is already in charge of broadcasting all Concacaf events, will be responsible for implementing the technology in Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.  The other four venues, which do not have the technology installed.

The move follows up on the decision by CONCACAF to implement VAR for the region in September, but the move was held up not only by logistical considerations but also by adequately certified officials.

In recent weeks, however, football’s world governing body FIFA has accredited referees, as well as VAR assistants and managers.  Prior to that, only the United States, Mexico, and Canada had VAR officials as they were the only ones to make use of the technology in their various leagues.

Implementing the technology in Jamaica will incur an added expense as the equipment will have to be flown to the island before being installed at the country’s national stadium.  The other CONCACAF venues taking part in the Octagonal round, which do not have yet the technology, can be accessed via roadways.  The majority of the bill will be picked up by Concacaf.  Jamaica will resume World Cup qualification action against Mexico, at the National Stadium, on January 27th.

West Indies Women’s all-rounder, Hayley Matthews, has hailed the impact and approach of head coach Courtney Walsh for the team’s noticeable recent improvements.

Walsh took charge of the team in 2020, on the back of a difficult period that had seen the WI Women swept aside 5-0 during a tour of England and four straight series defeats prior to that.  The team was also the subject of criticism for their overall fitness levels.

Fast forward a few months later and a fitter-looking Windies Women have shown signs of improvement, putting together much stronger performances that saw them win 2 of the last 3 ODI series.  Matthews believes a new approach has slowly started to show benefits for both herself and the team.

“I think it’s been fantastic, just looking at the structure.  Our entire camps and training session have been going really well.  He’s brought in some fantastic coaches to work with us, you have Corey Collymore as a fast bowling coach, you have Ryan Austin as our spin coach, Steve Liburd for the fielding and the wicketkeeping and then Robert Samuels has been working with us for batting as well.  So, I think there’s a really good balance at the moment,” Matthews told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“Everyone has been getting a bit more zoned in on the specifics and that’s something we were missing in the past, not having as much firepower in the coaching area.  Really breaking it down to the basics in those general areas.  That’s been really good and Courtney has done a fantastic job bringing in the right people to blend with the girls.”

Matthews has had an exceptional season herself and is one of three nominees for the ICC Women’s ODI Player of the Year award.

West Ham forward and Jamaica international Michail Antonio has extended his contract with the English Premier League (EPL) for another two years.

The 31-year-old Antonio signed a new deal just 13 months ago, which would have kept him at the club until 2023.  The deal, however, had allowed for an extension clause that West Ham have now exercised to keep the player at the club until 2025.

Antonio has had a strong season for the Hammers so far scoring 8 times in 19 matches.  His goals have formed a crucial part of the team’s strong EPL campaign so far, which sees them currently just outside the top four.

Overall, for the club, he has scored 52 league goals in 175 appearances.  Antonio has also played his part in helping the club get to the knockout stages of the Europa League.  The forward scored the opening goal to help dispatch Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 on matchday one, a victory that ultimately helped the club top their group.

Jamaica Reggae Boy Junior Flemming has secured a move to French Ligue 2 club Toulouse FC.

The forward, who has spent the last year at USL Championship club Birmingham Legion where he scored six goals and notched three assists, made things official earlier this week after signing a two-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

At the moment, the move will be even more intriguing for the Jamaican as he faces the prospect of being able to compete in Ligue 1 by next season.

Toulouse are currently in second place in Ligue 2, having won 10, drawn seven, and lost just two of their first 19 matches this season. If the club manages to secure a top-two finish in the league this season, Flemmings and Toulouse would move up to play in Ligue 1 next season.

Legion FC general manager Jay Heaps described the transfer as an exciting one for the player and believes it illustrates the quality the club has to offer.

“We are excited for Junior to have this opportunity to join a club of Toulouse FC’s caliber,” Heaps said.

“We feel this transfer highlights the quality within Legion FC and across the USL Championship, while also setting our club up for success moving forward.”

Flemmings has played 19 games for Jamaica’s national team, managing to score 2 goals.  The player has featured regularly for the country in its ongoing World Cup qualification campaign.

Kingston College will tackle Clarendon College, while Jamaica College play Dinthill Technical as the final four of the ISSA Champions Cup was drawn on Wednesday.

In quarterfinal action, Kingston College booked their spot in the semi-final after dominating the majority of the play but had Ronardo Burgher to thank after he secured the only goal of the match in the 10th minute.  

Clarendon College, in the meantime, headed into their encounter against Charlie Smith as heavy favourites but had to fight their way back after going a goal behind.  Andre Gibbs put Charlie Smith ahead in the 35th minute, only for Kemar Dunn to bring things level two minutes later with a smashing volley.  Clarendon College finally took the lead in the 90th minute, in truth through a rather kindly awarded penalty, which was nonetheless dispatched with certainty by Jahiem Rose.

Jamaica College, in the meantime, also recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over a plucky Garvey Maceo, getting the all-important goal in the 12th minute, courtesy of Delando Wint.

In the day’s other encounter, goals flowed freely.  Leon Brown gave St Andrew Technical a surprise 9th-minute lead against Dinthill, but the daCosta Cup representatives came roaring back.  Jaheem Thomas equalised in the 16th minute, before goals from Richard Matthews (27th), Shamair Hutchinson (39th), turned the game completely on its head.  Thomas returned to score a second and third in the 60th minute and fourth four minutes from full time.

 

 

Head coach of the Guyana Eagles, Esuan Crandon, has reported that the majority of the players re-taking the Yo-Yo fitness test earlier this week improved their scores but remains perplexed at the reason fitness has become such an issue for some players.

A group consisting of Shimron Hetmyer, Chandrapaul Hemraj, and Keemo Paul were reportedly among those present for the drills, which took place on Monday at the Leonora Stadium. 

Hetmyer sent tongues around the region wagging earlier this week after it was revealed that the player was left out of the West Indies squad for the upcoming series against Ireland and England, after failing another fitness test.  The situation left head coach Phil Simmons notably frustrated.

According to Crandon, some members of the team have received higher scores this time around, but it seems clear that many of the players were still not at the required fitness levels.

“I think what we have seen today is some improvement from the guys, probably not what we were looking for but at the end of the day, most of them, about 97-98 percent would have improved on their previous scores (in the yo-yo test) so that is a good sign for us, and it also tells the entire group that once you put in the work, you will improve,” Crandon told the Guyana Times.

“It is simple as that. I do not understand why it is difficult for some of these players to understand. You are professionals and they have to put in the work to get to the level of fitness we are looking at.”

The coach revealed that there could be another test in a few days for players who were still not at the required level.  The team is currently in preparation for the regional Regional 4-Day Tournament next month.

Former Liverpool and England international, John Barnes, would be open to a second stint coaching the Jamaica national team should the right conditions present themselves.

Barnes coached the Jamaica Reggae Boyz between 2008-2009.  During the period, Barnes coach the team for nine matches, posting 6 wins and 3 draws and going on to win the Caribbean Cup.  The result saw the team secure qualification to the Concacaf Gold Cup but Barnes and the JFF unexpectedly parted ways before the team took part in the tournament.

Looking back, the Jamaica-born Barnes admits he would have loved to have coached the team at a major tournament.

“We won the Caribbean Cup and it’s a fantastic trophy to win, it’s a trophy. The Gold Cup was the big one, that is one of my biggest regrets that I wasn’t given that opportunity,” Barnes told Tallawah TV.

Barnes was later replaced by Theodore Whitmore.  But after a poor start to the World Cup qualifiers last year, however, the JFF has now sacked Whitmore and appointed his assistant Paul Hall to the interim post.  The position could, as a result, become open in the near future.

"I don’t know if it’s unfinished business but that’s one regret that I wasn’t able to go to a big tournament with Jamaica,” Barnes added.

“It’s not about tournaments it’s about every football game you play, going out there and showing what you can do, be it a friendly against Cayman or be it a Gold Cup or a World Cup qualifier and having that same attitude in every single game, every single training session, that is what I love to do, so who knows what the future holds.”

 

 

Everton forward Demarai Gray is reportedly close to finalising a move to represent Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz pending the approval of official documents.

The 25-year-old player, who qualifies to represent the country by virtue of having Jamaican parents, is one of a number of footballers with Jamaican heritage approached by the JFF in recent times, as the team looks to bolster its chances of qualifying for the World Cup.  Gray has earned 21 caps for the England U21 team but has never played for the senior team.  He is expected to secure his passport in a few weeks.

So far, the likes of West Ham’s Michail Antonio, Reading’s Liam Moore, and Fulham’s Bobby Reid to name a few have all already shown up to represent the Reggae Boyz in the World Cup qualifiers.  The team did not get off to a great start.  With eight matches played Jamaica are currently sixth in the eight-team table and seven points off the final qualifying spot.

The Jamaicans are looking to get back to the World Cup for the first time since their historic qualification in 1998.  After a slow start, the team parted ways with longtime coach Theodore Whitmore and handed the job to assistant coach Paul Hall in December.  Both men were part of the team’s historic World Cup qualification campaign.  The Reggae Boyz will be back in action on the 27th of January with a crucial home fixture against Mexico.

West Indies legend, Viv Richards, has called for there to be more accountability across the board when it comes to the affairs of the regional team, including the performances of coaches.

The West Indies men’s team, which is coached by former player Phil Simmons, has been plagued by poor performances in recent months.  At the T20 World Cup the team, who entered the tournament as defending champions, were less than inspiring and crashed out after finishing 5th in Group 1 after winning just one match and losing four.

The performance was followed by lopsided defeats in Sri Lanka for the Test team and Pakistan.  The Women’s team, who appointed former fast bowler Courtney Walsh two years ago after a string of poor results, have in the meantime won two of their last three series.

  “We’ve got to start calling on the coaches a bit more in my opinion for performances, and to have a level at some point regarding performances, where you’d say that last year we were here at that level and where we want to be next year, so I am looking for stuff like that sort of improvement,” Richards recently told the Good Morning Jojo radio program.

 “I think I am looking for that sort of improvement, which I am not seeing at the moment,” he said.

At the same time, the former player, known as the Master Blaster in his prime, also believes that there was also the need for more transparency and equality as it relates to players' selection based on fitness standards.

“There are times we play to people’s affairs and not overall in terms of the team in itself because no one or two or three individuals make up a team in itself. It’s about the solidness, and everyone being on board, and just how you dish out the treatment, I think it needs to be a little fairer in my opinion. It gives everyone an opportunity and where the fitness is concerned, that seems to be lacking for years now,” he said.

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