Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, Ricky Skerritt, insists the organisation will find some appropriate way to honour legendary batsman Chris Gayle after the player was left out of the team's T20 squad for Ireland and England.

Shortly after the team’s unceremonious exit from the World Cup, the hard-hitting left-hander had let on that the reason that he had not announced his retirement at the World Cup was that plans were already underway for a final farewell match.

Two weeks ago CWI Chief Executive Officer Johnny Grave stated on radio that the one-off match against Ireland would represent the perfect opportunity to honour the batsman.  Gayle was, however, later left out of the squad by the newly appointed selectors.  Skerritt insists the plan was never for the player to be picked for the match and that the CWI had not yet finalised plans for a farewell event.

"We're not defining what such a game (farewell) will look like. The planning has not yet commenced," Skerritt told Cricbuzz.

He insists, however, that the idea remained on the cards to honour the record T20 runs scorer.

"Gayle has been a phenomenal performer for Jamaica and the West Indies since he was a teenager. He deserves to be thanked and honored by fans. CWI will find the right way to make that happen in a manner that Chris can enjoy."

 

West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer has failed yet another fitness test, a situation that has left West Indies head coach Phil Simmons exasperated.

Hetmyer was left out of the team for the upcoming visits of Ireland and England after failing to pass fitness drills administered in his home country of Guyana recently.

The occasion is the third in the last three years that the athlete is failing to get a passing grade for the West Indies basic fitness requirement.  Hetmyer was first left out of the squad in 2020, ahead of the Sri Lanka tour, and then again later that year during the home visit of the same team.

Simmons expressed frustration that Hetmyer was not only letting down himself but failing to maintain the required standards but also the entire team.

 “It’s the same old, same old. He did his fitness assessment in Guyana and he came way below the required mark,” Simmons told members of the media during a conference call on Friday.

 “Again, it is something that is heart-wrenching because you know that you are part of this team, and you have to keep a certain fitness to be part of this team and you keep letting down your teammates.”

Simmons added the player was also “letting down himself.”

 

Ireland cricketers Paul Stirling and Shane Getkate will not travel from the United States with the rest of the team to Jamaica for the upcoming series against the West Indies after testing positive for Covid-19.

Following a final round of PCR tests ahead of the team’s departure on Friday, the duo returned positive tests and will undergo a period of 10 days of isolation.  As a result, it is likely that the pair will not join up with the rest of the team until January 9, depending on the status of follow-up procedures.

The West Indies are scheduled to play Ireland in three One Day Internationals and a one-off T20 match, beginning on January 8.

Richard Holdsworth, High-Performance Director for Cricket Ireland, admits that the period continues to be challenging, particularly when trying to balance the physical health of players with their mental well-being.

"It is a challenging time for all, but the players have responded very well to operating within the Managed Environment over the last two weeks. A Managed Environment is different to a bio-bubble, and is an approach being used currently to try and find that balance between risk mitigation from the virus and impacts of sustained periods of isolation on the mental and physical health needs of players and staff.”

West Indies Women’s all-rounder, Hayley Matthews, is part of a three-woman shortlist nominated for the ICC One Day International (ODI) Female Cricket of the Year award.

The past year saw the talented 23-year-old put in brilliant performances with both the bat and ball.  In 14 matches Matthews scored 380 runs at an average of 29.23, with one century and one half-century.  She claimed 18 wickets at an average of 22.44 and had an economy rate of 3.33.

Matthews was named Player of the Series when the West Indies Women faced Pakistan in a five-match ODI series in July.  She scored 168 runs, which included a century, and took seven wickets in a series that the Caribbean team won 3-2.

The player was not as impressive against South Africa but returned to full form in the following series against Pakistan.  Matthews started the series with a half-century and three wickets in the first ODI and followed that up with a four-wicket haul in the second game.  The all-rounder ended the series with a knock of 49 in the final match, which helped her side complete a whitewash.

Also in contention for the award are Pakistan’s Fatima Sana, and England’s Tammy Beaumont.

A grand send-off for legendary Windies T20 star, Chris Gayle, will be played in front of an empty Sabina Park as the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) was not granted permission to allow spectators for the event by the Jamaican government.

With the recent surge in coronavirus infections, and particularly with the threat posed by the new omicron strain, the government under the Disaster Risk Management act, has continued to restrict gatherings.

Gayle, the leading runs scorer in the history of T20 cricket and widely regarded as one of the format’s greatest players was widely expected to retire following the team’s disappointing showing at this year’s T20 World Cup.  However, following the conclusion of the tournament, the player announced that it was possible that he would feature in one more match, which would serve as a farewell event. 

A few weeks ago, Cricket West Indies (CWI) confirmed that the player would be a part of the T20 squad for the upcoming match against Ireland at Sabina Park.  As such, CWI and the JCA were hoping to have fans present for the event.  Gayle has been part of two World Cup-winning teams for the West Indies.   

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director from Barbados, Calvin Hope, believes the decision to sack the Richard Pybus-led coaching unit just weeks ahead of the 2019 ICC World Cup remains one of the ‘worst decisions made in recent times.’

In 2019, only a few weeks after replacing the Dave Cameron administration, the Ricky Skerritt-led regime controversially decided to sack Pybus and his entire coaching staff, with the ICC tournament less than a month away.

The move raised even more eyebrows at the time, because it came after the team had, very much against heavy odds, defeated a higher-ranked touring England 2-1 in a Test series, only weeks prior and tied top-ranked England 2-2 in a subsequent One Day International series.

On the back of several disappointing performances in recent months the decision has, on occasion, come back under the microscope and to the fore for discussion.

“It was not even bad, it was one of the worst decisions to have even been made in recent times in West Indies cricket,” Hope told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Here you were, you had just begun to see some green shoots in the performance of a team.  It doesn’t matter who was in charge before or anything like that and it was basically a political decision,” he added.

The West Indies finished 9th at the ICC World after winning just 2 matches and losing 6.

Hope and Guyana’s Anand Sanasie were part of a two-man team that challenged Skerritt and vice-president Kishore Shallow for the leadership of CWI last year.

 

West Ham striker Michail Antonio was eager to represent Jamaica’s national team almost a decade ago but was overlooked for players in England football’s lower leagues.

Earlier this year, the England-born player was approached by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), regarding the prospect of representing the Caribbean nation, and agreed to switch nationalities.  Antonio qualifies to represent Jamaica, as both his parents were born on the island.

The striker, now 31, has confirmed, however, that it was not the country’s first attempt to recruit him and that he had in fact been contacted by the JFF while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in 2012.

“When I was 22, the manager of the Reggae Boyz, I can’t remember the name of him, came to Sheffield Wednesday to speak to players saying, ‘would you want to play for Jamaica?’ I said yes, I will come and play 100 percent,” Antonio said during an interview with Sport Bible.

“He said ok, I’ll give you a call, give you some information, bla, bla, bla.  He came and watched me play against Leeds that weekend.  I’m a very honest person, I had a stinker and I’m not going to lie, but I was an established Championship player.  I played in the Championship from 19 through to 25.  The next international break they were calling up players from League One and League 2, wingers, over me, which I didn’t understand,” he added.

In 2012, then president of the JFF captain Horace Burrell travelled to England along with head coach Theodore Whitmore and assistant coach Alfredo Montesso on a scouting mission to recruit players of Jamaican heritage.  Interestingly, Antonio played under Whitmore earlier this year, before the coach was fired in November.  

The player also dismissed reports that he was approached by the federation three years later while playing for Nottingham Forrest.  Insisting that neither he nor his agent ever received an offer at that point, despite claims to the contrary.

Antonio has been an instant hit since donning the country’s national colours, scoring twice in three games, which includes a 30-yard belter against the United States.  Despite the move coming late on in his career and leaving the England national team selection pool, he insists there are no regrets.

“It got to a stage where I just thought, ‘I'm not going to get called up’. I didn’t believe I was going to get the call.  There's loads of quality young strikers out there, he’s trying to build a team for the future. And that Tammy Abraham is young, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is young and Harry Kane is still quite young,” he added.

 “My mum was born in Jamaica and my dad was born in Jamaica. I went to Jamaica all the time when I was younger.  Why not try and see if we can get Jamaica to a World Cup after they’ve not been there for 20 years.

“No regrets whatsoever, I'm enjoying my football with them. And the difference with Jamaica, with England they got to the Euros final and stuff like that but with Jamaica, every achievement is a massive achievement.”  

Left-arm spinner Jaden Carmichael claimed figures of 3 for 25 as the West Indies U-19s coasted to a comfortable 8-wicket win to level the series against South Africa U-19s on Tuesday.

Sent to bat first, the South Africans found very little answers at the crease as they were dismissed for just 103 off 31.3 overs.  In response, the West Indies eased to 104-2 off 24.2 overs, to level the four-match series at 1-1.  The South Africans had claimed the opening match of the series by 18 runs.

Carmichael had solid support from fellow left-arm spinner Anderson Mahase (2-34) and pace bowlers McKenny Clarke (2-12) and Johan Layne (2-14).  During the West Indies' time at the crease, it was opener Matthew Nandu who anchored a routine run chase.

The left-hander struck a patient unbeaten 42 from 75 balls and added 58 for the second wicket with Teddy Bishop (25).  He was then part of a 42-run unbeaten stand for the third wicket with captain Ackeem Auguste who made 28 not out.

For South Africa, it was Michael Copeland who top-scored with 24 from 52 balls, but he was one of only two top-order batsmen to reach double figures and the only one to pass 20 for South Africa.

 

Reggae Boy striker, Shamar Nicholson, will reportedly not be overly concerned by the noted issues of racism and xenophobia that have plagued Russian football for several years.

The 24-year-old forward recently secured a move to Russian Premier League club Spartak Moscow after spending two years at Belgian club Charleroi.  The move will represent a step up for the Jamaican player, with the Russian club routinely taking part in Europe’s top competitions.

Football in Russia has, however, been plagued by controversy in recent years with fans often known to direct racist and xenophobic chants towards players of different races who represent various clubs.  The issue had become so prominent in recent years that there was a campaign to address the issue ahead of the country's hosting of the 2016 World Cup.

However, according to Nicholson’s agent Kevin Cowan.  Issues pertaining to racism impact players everywhere.

"There is racism everywhere," Cowan told Voetbalkrant.com.

“That shouldn't be a factor. Shouldn't all players be playing in Italy or Russia otherwise?"

"Spartak came and wanted Shamar, then we are not concerned with possible racism. In the long run, he wants to go to an absolute top competition, but this is a nice step and a very nice club."

West Indies T20 batsman Chris Gayle will join Fortune Barishal for the upcoming season of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

The 42-year-old will be returning to Barishal having last represented the Rangpur Riders in 2018.  The stint will be the left-handers third at the franchise who were called the Barishal Burners when he began taking part in the competition in 2012.  Gayle also played for the franchise in 2015 when they were known as the Bulls.  He represented the Chittagong Vikings at the 2016 edition.

The veteran batsman will be joined at the franchise by Shakib Al Hasan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and compatriot, pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

In the meantime, spinner Sunil Narine will suit up for Cumilla Victorians alongside pace bowler O’Shane Thomas, while the trio of Kennar Lewis, Chadwick Walton, and Rayad Emrit will represent the Chattogram Challengers.

Pace bowler Kesrick Williams will represent the Sylhet Sunrisers.

The competition will take place between Jan 21 – Feb 18.

 

 Full BPL squads

Khulna Tigers: Mushfiqur Rahim, Thisara Perera, Naveen Ul Huq, Bhanuka Rajapakse, Soumya Sarkar, Seekugge Prasanna, Sikandar Raza, Farhad Reza, Rony Talukdar, Khaled Ahmed, Jaker Ali Anik, Nabil Samad

Chattogram Challengers: Nasum Ahmed, Benny Howell, Kennar Lewis, Afif Hossain, Chadwick Walton, Rayad Emrit, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Rejaur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Mrittunjoy Chowdhury, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Akbar Ali, Naeem Islam,

Dhaka: Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Rubel Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Naim, Arafat Sunny, Imranuzzaman, Shafiul Islam, Jahurul Islam, Shamsur Rahman, Ebadat Hossain. 

Fortune Barishal: Shakib Al Hasan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Danushka Gunathilaka, Chris Gayle, Nurul Hasan, Obed McCoy, Alzarri Joseph, Towhid Hridoy, Ziaur Rahman, Shafiqul Islam, Saikat Ali, Niroshan Dickwella, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Sarwar Hossain, Irfan Sukkur,

Cumilla Victorians: Mustafizur Rahman, Faf du Plessis, Sunil Narine, Moeen Ali, Liton Das, Shohidul Islam, Kusal Mendis, Oshane Thomas, Ariful Haque, Nahidul Islam, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Sumon Khan, Mominul Haque, Mahidul Islam, Parvez Hossain, Abu Hider

Sylhet Sunrisers: Taskin Ahmed, Dinesh Chandimal, Kesrick Williams, Colin Alexander, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Mithun, Ravi Bopara, Angelo Perera, Anamul Haque, Sohag Gazi, Alok Kapali, Muktar Ali, Siraj Ahmed, Mizanur Rahman, Nadif Chowdhury, Jubair Hossain, Shafiul Hayat, Sunzamul Islam

Jamaica Reggae Boy defenders Alvas Powell and Damion Lowe are the only players to be included in the annual CONCACAF Team of the Year, announced by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).

Based on the statistics accumulated for the period Powell, who spent the majority of the season with Major League Soccer (MLS) club Philadelphia Union, before moving to FC Cincinnati, was selected as as the region’s best right back.

Lowe, who plies his trade for the Egyptian club Al-Ittihad was named as part of the team’s reserves.  Back in August, the defender was named as part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI.

The list was dominated by Mexican players, with four members of the El Tri squad named to the line-up.  Club America goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was named in goal, Edson Álvarez takes his place in the backline, Hector Herrera was put in midfield, and Hirving Lozano upfront.  Three Canadians Cyle Larin, Jonathan Davis, and Bayern Munich’s Alphanso David have also been included in the XI.  The list is completed by three players from the United States who are represented by Bruce Aaronson, Weston McKenie, and Miles Robinson.

Named among the substitutes, alongside Lowe, are Matt Turner (USA), Tajon Buchanan (Can), Rogelio Funes Murray (Mex), Ricardo Pepe (USA), Julia Araujo (USA), and Sebastien Vargas Mexico.  Lowe and Powell have been crucial parts of Jamaica’s World Cup squad.  The team, who would best be suited for a 4-3-3 formation, would be coached by Mexico’s Javier Aguirre.

Former cricket executive and businessman Christopher Dehring has admitted to being disheartened by the stark difference in the sport’s infrastructure between the West Indies and developed nations.

The Caribbean team dominated the sport for the better part of 20-years, during that time routinely beating some of the world’s top teams was commonplace.  In recent times, however, the Windies have found it difficult to even remain competitive when facing the likes of Australia, England, and India.  One major reason suggested for the decline is the level of investment in the sport, particularly as it relates to youth development and infrastructure.  According to Dehring, the harsh reality was laid bare after working in South Africa during the cricket World Cup.

“I always knew the Australias, the Englands of this World had incredible facilities and such an incredible professional cricket structure that I knew the days were numbered.  But when I went to South Africa and saw what they had in place, even their high schools, your heart sank,” Dehring said recently on the Mason and Guest radio program.

Currently, the West Indies are ranked 8th in the world in Test cricket, the same in One Day Internationals, and despite claiming two T20 World titles, are 9th in that format, on the back of a disastrous showing at this year’s World Cup.

“We have some talented youngsters in the Caribbean, but we just do not have the professional structure to develop it, own it and churn it out year after year,” he added.

“You see the fruit of that vine now, it’s very inconsistent…there’s no West Indies team that when they step out on the field they don’t look like the athletes of the day.  That’s just from a visual aesthetic perspective, we were the athletes…We were the athletic reservoir people would pay to come and see.”

Despite, the introduction of the Yo-Yo Intermittent Test a few years ago, questions have constantly been asked regarding the team’s level of fitness, with some players notably overweight.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Deryck Murray, believes drastic structural changes must be implemented in order for the team to have any hope of regaining its place among the elites of international cricket.

Earlier this week regional cricket governing body Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced the decision to replace lead selector Roger Harper and Miles Bascombe, following a disastrous showing at the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year, and subsequent fruitless tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

 For Murray, however, the decisions may not run deep enough in tackling the substance of the issue.

“Yeah, they’re going to change the selectors, but are they going to exchange some for others or is it going to be a real radical change in the way West Indies cricket is run,” Murray queried on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“If our cricket is ever going to improve, the first thing to do is to get the board structure right.  The way the board is constituted now, at least three reports have been absolutely clear, The Patterson report, the Caricom Report, and the Wehby report all have said exactly the same thing, the structure, and composition of the West Indies board has to change,” he added.

“The way it’s constructed at the moment, all you are going to get is people vying to get people picked who are their friends or come from the same territories and we’re not going anywhere.”

Fourteen years ago, former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson, Sir Alister McIntyre, and Dr. Ian McDonald produced a Governance Report, which listed 65 recommendations to improve West Indies cricket.  At the time, the document was dismissed as not relevant by the then administration.  In 2015, a Caricom Governance of Cricket report was submitted by a panel chaired by Professor V Eudine Barriteau, which included former President of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Denis Byron, Murray, Warren Smith, and Dwain Gill. 

Two years ago, another report, conducted by an independent task force led by former Jamaica Senator Don Wehby, which also included Sir Hilary Beckles, O.K Melhado, Charles Wilkin QC, and Murray, produced 36-pages of recommedations that also pointed to the need for structural reforms.  The majority of the recommendations from any of the three documents are yet to be implemented.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has extended the time the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will be run by a Normalisation Committee, which will now hold the reins of power for another year.

The Committee was put in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the country’s football in 2020 after FIFA claimed it had concerns over the organisation's ability to repay its debt.  The move was initially contested at the nation’s High Court by the then William Wallace-run administration, which briefly led to T&T suspension from world football.  The body was, however, later re-admitted after dropping the court case.

The interim body was initially scheduled to hand power back to the TTFA in March of next year, but the period will now be extended to March 2023.  The decision, which was made by The Bureau of the Council, was communicated by FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura via a letter.  The Normalisation Committee, headed by Robert Hadad, was tasked with establishing ‘a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA administration, to review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary), and ensure their compliance with the Fifa Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress, and to organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA Executive Committee for a four-year mandate.’  The Committee it appears will not complete the task list in time.

According to the document, however, The Bureau of the Council took note of delays that impacted the Normalisation’s Committees ability to complete its duties.  One issue mentioned was the lawsuit brought before the courts by the former TTFA board and also the impact of the global pandemic, which has hampered its ability to freely go about its tasks.  In addition, The Bureau also pointed to certain other issues ‘that led to the backlog in the normal operations of the TTFA, including finance.’

Former New Zealand bowler turned commentator, Danny Morrison, has named West Indies captain Kieron Pollard as one of the most overrated players of the current generation.

The 35-year-old is typically one of the sport’s most widely regarded players, having amassed an impressive 11,326 runs in 573 matches.  The tally is surpassed only by compatriot Chris Gayle who is the top runs scorer in the format.

In addition, the player, who has spent 11-years at India Premier League (IPL) club Mumbai Indians, has played for the franchise and played a key role in capturing five IPL titles.  Recently, Mumbai Director of Cricket Operations Zaheer Khan hailed the player’s leadership and influence, also branding him as one of the strongest finishers in the game. 

The West Indian was one of only one four players retained, along with Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Suryakumar Yadav.  Speaking with Sportskeeda in a recent question and answer styled interview, the commentator singled out Pollard as a player he believed was overrated.  In the same breath, Morrison listed Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan as one of the most underrated.

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