Decorated Jamaica track star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has brushed aside suggestions of retirement, insisting that she is feeling strong and at the peak of her career.

Although the sprinter turned 34-years-old this year, an age that in past decades would ordinarily see most sprinters, well outside prime years, looking to hang up their spikes, Fraser-Pryce’s performances last season proved she did not fall into that category.

In June, Fraser-Pryce ran the then fastest time of her career over 100m, clocking what was then the second-fastest time ever run over the distance at 10.63.  The sprinter had to settle for second spot at the Olympics behind the irrepressible Elaine Thompson-Herah but even so, there was little doubt that the duo was in a different class.

A month later, however, Fraser-Pryce bettered the time she set earlier in the year after clocking 10.60, the third-fastest time ever run over the distance, behind Thompson-Herah’s 10.54 and Florence Griffith-Joyner’s longstanding world record of 10.49.  Now, age aside, the diminutive Jamaican is hoping to push those boundaries even further.

“I’m at the peak of my career. It’s so mind-blowing that I think I owe it to myself, I owe it to the next generation of women that will come after me and those that are still here, to push this to another level,” Fraser-Pryce told Sky Sports News.

“I said to my husband and my coach, it’s so strange because I’ve heard of people when they are about to retire they say they’re feeling so much pain. And while you understand their journey, I’m looking at it like, I still feel good! And if I feel good, why not go for it,” she added.

Fraser-Pryce is one of the sport’s most decorated athletes having won a total of 11 World Championships and 8 Olympic medals.

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran hopes to see more batsmen taking responsibility as the team struggles to find its footing at the ICC T20 World Cup.

The defending champions opened the tournament with back-to-back losses against England and South Africa but got on the board after squeezing past Bangladesh by 3 runs in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Despite notching the win, the team is yet to put a solid batting performance together after getting very little from the top of the order and with several players yet to hit top form.  Along with Roston Chase, captain Kieron Pollard and the returning Jason Holder, Pooran, who received the man of the match award, was among those managing to make an impact this time around.

Pooran, who entered the line-up uncharacteristically at number 7, made an impactful 40 from 22 balls.

“Me and Polly talked about batsmen taking responsibility and doing what’s necessary for the team.  In the tournament our batting hasn’t clicked yet, so we are chopping and changing,” Pooran said following the match.

“Hopefully guys put their hands up when it’s their day.  Today I felt like it was just one of those days that I needed to put my hand up, especially losing Polly there for a bit, someone had to take the responsibility,” he added.

Prior to that, Pooran had struggled to get runs on the board after scoring 13 runs in the first two games.

Around 5000 fully vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend the Jamaica Reggae Boyz upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States after the country’s government reversed its previous position.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a request by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to allow fully vaccinated fans into the country’s National Stadium for the first time since the start of the qualifiers had been denied.

The team’s previous home matches against Panama and Canada were played in front of an empty stadium due to the country’s existing Covid-19 protocols.  The JFF attempted to rectify the situation by implementing plans and protocols that would allow some fully vaccinated patrons to enter the match.  Initially, the proposal was rejected by the government who cited concerns regarding the ability of the entities to ensure proof of vaccination for patrons.  Following an emergency meeting, at the JFF headquarters on Thursday, however, the parties have now reached an understanding to allow the stadium to be occupied at around 14 percent capacity, consisting of fully vaccinated fans, for the encounter.

With only 12.4 percent of the country’s population fully vaccinated, however, the number of patrons who will be able to take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen.  The vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the region and lowest among the countries participating in the final round.

West Indies batsman, Nicholas Pooran, is adamant that the team completely trusts captain Kieron Pollard and backs him to make the correct decisions in a crucial World Cup clash against Bangladesh on Friday.

The defending champions are off to a poor start to the tournament after facing crushing losses at the hands of England and South Africa.  With only two teams advancing to the semi-finals from the group a loss against Bangladesh would officially eliminate the struggling West Indies from contention.

Outside of the poor form of several batsmen, the team’s leadership and decision-making have also come under the spotlight in recent days.  Both captain Pollard and coach Phil Simmons have faced scrutiny after a batting line-up change against South Africa, in the second match, backfired and seemed to be far more disruptive than beneficial.

Inside the dressing room, however, Pooran, the vice-captain, insists there are no doubts regarding decisions taken by the team’s leader.

"We have a wonderful captain. He knows what he's doing," said Pooran told members of the media in a pre-match press conference.

"Whatever he says goes, and we back him to make some really good decisions for us tomorrow to be successful,” he added.

Pooran is one of a handful of West Indies impact players who have struggled to find form, managing just 13 runs in the two matches so far.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will face another empty stadium for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States, after a request for permission to have fully vaccinated fans attend the game was denied by the government.

The Jamaicans are scheduled to face the United States in a crucial encounter on November 16, as the team looks to push itself back into contention for a spot at next year’s World Cup. 

So far, the team is the only country not to allow fans into the stadium, in some capacity.  However, with an estimate of just 12.4 percent of the population being fully vaccinated Jamaica also has the lowest rate of any nation in the final round and is the only one below 20 percent.

According to a recent press release the denial was based on concerns regarding the capacity and logistics required to ensure that only vaccinated persons were allowed inside the stadium.  The decision caught Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts off guard as, according to him, the football body had harboured optimism of having fans return in some capacity for the upcoming round, following positive talks with government entities.

“We had discussions with persons from the Ministry of Health and we would have put our ID unit in motion.  In fact, one suggestion was that we would merge both ID entities so that once you apply for a ticket the JFF could say to you we can or cannot verify your vaccination,” Ricketts told TVJ.

“We put everything in place, all the plans.  We made several site visits.  We were working closely with IPL on how to have the patrons seated.  We had a meeting and went through all the protocols and that gave us the confidence that we would have been permitted to have fans.”

The government has indicated, however, that the proposal is under review and the request could be granted in time for the January round of matches. The team is currently in 6th place on 5 points, three outside of an automatic qualifying spot.

West Indies batting great Brian Lara does not believe it would be a good idea to drop an out of form Chris Gayle at this point, despite the player’s struggles at the T20 World Cup thus far.

The 42-year-old batsman has faced heavy scrutiny in recent weeks and has managed just a total of 25 runs in two heavy losses for the Windies at the tournament so far.  The storm of criticism surrounding the batsman, however, extends beyond that.

Heading into the tournament, Gayle had struggled to look like anything close to the player who has scored over 14,000 runs in T20 cricket.  In the last 16 matches, the batsman has averaged 15.93 and scored 239 runs with a strike rate of 13.80, well below his career average of 138.46.

Despite that, however, Lara, considered one of the game’s greatest ever batsmen, believes the player could still have a role to play in the team and should remain a part of the line-up at this point in time.

 "Chris Gayle is already in the World Cup and his experience and the fact that he can pass on something to the younger players is key,” Lara said recently on Star Sports.

"I personally believe that Chris Gayle has to be given a proper send-off. This, I think, is his last tournament. Dismissing Chris Gayle at this stage of the tournament, I am not sure it's the right thing. I would like to see some sort of nice approach for the rest of the tournament. I think he can still make an impression on the younger players even if he doesn't score," he added.

Former West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts insists that based on his strengths and weakness, under pressure batsman Chris Gayle should not be picked for the team if batting below position number three.

The 42-year-old has typically opened for the Caribbean team but has featured at the number 3 position in the last couple of years.  Against South Africa, Gayle batted even further down the order after coming in at 4.  Overall, batting down the order has failed to really bear fruit for the batsman, in West Indies colours, to date.  Gayle had an impressive showing batting at number during the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign for Punjab Kings XI but has not managed to replicate that kind of form this season or for the regional team.

In 17 matches batting at the number three position or below, for the West Indies, Gayle has managed a total of 239 runs, at an average of 15.93 and a strike rate of 113.80.  He has a high score of 67 runs.  At the World Cup, having played against England and South Africa so far, Gayle has scored 13 runs from 13 balls, against England, and 12 runs from 12 balls against South Africa.

“If Chris is going to bat below number three then he has no right to be in the team,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What is he going to do when you need to rotate the strike more as the overs keep going.  Chris’s strong point is batting at the top of the order where he can set the pace by playing his natural game, which is hitting straight.

“If you watch the last few games that he played he tends to use up a lot of dot balls, and not just in the World Cup, that dates back a while.  He takes his time now to try and get in, instead of before from ball one, ball two, you would have to put the field back because he is timing the ball so well.  (Currently) He is struggling for timing.”

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has questioned the team’s level of planning, particularly when it comes to its batting line-up on the back of two dismal performances to start the T20 World Cup.

The defending champions have been handed back-to-back losses at the hand of England and then South Africa.  Both losses were underpinned by underwhelming performances at the crease, which first saw the West Indies dismissed for 55 and then in the second match collapsed to 143 for 8 all-out after a promising start at 73 for 1.

Following its substandard showing against England, the team tinkered with its batting line-up promoting Nicholas Pooran up the order while pushing Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer further down.

“I think the planning season to be all over the place,” Lloyd said in assessing the team’s performances thus far, on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think if you look at what has happened.  Fifty-five runs, we are much better than that.  Our planning seems to be terrible. (Against South Africa) We had a wonderful start, and we didn’t promote people in the proper order,” he added.

“You expect the captain to come up when you are going at 9 an over, to continue, but you send Pooran who hasn’t been batting well and you have Hetmyer who has been batting well and making very good scores.  So, the batting order seems to be all over the place.”

Lloyd believes that for the team to be successful someone has to take control of the batting order.

“At one stage the prediction was 174 and we were down to so, but somewhere along the line, we feel like this game is about hitting sixes.  We are getting caught on the boundary, it’s a big ground.  If I’m at 58, I’m looking to get to 80 or 90, get more runs and take the game away from the opposition.”

Jamaica long jumper Tajay Gayle has admitted that he is excited to be adding the 100m sprint to his repertoire when the next track and field season gets underway.

Earlier this month, Stephen Francis the coach of Jamaica-based track club MVP, where Gayle plies his trade, had revealed that the athlete was set to add the 100m sprints to his list of disciplines for the 2021-2022 season.

Gayle, the 2019 Long Jump World champion, had shown plenty of promise last season after clocking a reasonably quick 10.18 over the distance.  The athlete has spent a good portion of the offseason recovering from a knee injury, which negatively impacted his performance at the Olympics.  It might be twice the work but Gayle admits that it is with a sense of excitement that he views the new season than apprehension.

“I wouldn’t say challenging, I would say exciting.  All the fun the fear, the anxiety, and all the pressure that comes with it (100m), that’s what keeps me going,”

“The fact that I can lose or might lose, you just can’t be sure.

The final of the World Championship in the 100, the sky’s the limit, why not, why would I say I can’t.  I wouldn’t say a challenge, it’s just an exciting year for me next year, once I get the knee up to speed.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has not given up hope on the team advancing to the T20 World Cup semi-finals but has called on the unit to dig deep following a horrendous start to the tournament.

The Caribbean team, who are the defending champions, was routed by England in the first match where they lost by six wickets after being bowled out for 55.  In the second encounter against South Africa, on Tuesday. after a promising start the team was dismissed for a subpar 143, which the Proteas easily chased down to win by 8 wickets.

The loss leave the West Indies rooted at the bottom of the six-team table, with a net run rate of -2.550.  With only the top two teams set to advance to the final four, the Windies are already facing an uphill battle to move on to the next round.  

“Well, we just have to do what it takes,” a dejected Pollard said following the team’s loss to South Africa.

“We have to dig deeper as a team. We have to dig deeper as a batting unit,” he added.

“We have to get wins on the board now. We’ve put ourselves in a position whereas from a run rate perspective that’s pretty low, and from a win percentage we haven’t won any games.

“So we have to win the next three games. We just have to take it one at a time and try to improve each and every time.”

The West Indies will next face Bangladesh on Friday at 5:00 am.

 

West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, says the team’s famous victory over England at the 2016 World Cup still serves as motivation as they look to open their title defense against the same opponents on Saturday.

In the 2016 final, the Caribbean team needed an improbable 19 off the final over before Carlos Brathwaite famously smacked four 6s off Ben Stokes to give the team its second world title.

Although Brathwaite is not in the squad this time around and admitting that things are not quite the same, Pollard insists the moment is a good reference point, which serves as an example of triumphing despite heavy odds in adversity.

“What Carlos did in those four deliveries, in that last over, it’s unbelievable.  It’s something we saw as a team last night and it brought goosebumps back to us,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“For us to be in that situation and get over the line, it shows that never say die attitude.  As a team, we hope to replicate winning the entire tournament, and those kinds of moments, they stick with us.  Hopefully, we can go out and play good enough cricket to get back in that kind of position, so we can be in another final and have some memories going forward,” he added.

“I don’t think it will have much bearing on the game (against England) because it’s another game of cricket and that situation was totally different it being a final, but we are looking to come out and give a good account of ourselves.”

 

 

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is confident the team has done enough work to address concerns surrounding an inability to rotate the strike ahead of the start of the T20 World Cup.

The Caribbean side will open the tournament on Saturday against England but despite being defending champions will have several questions to answer.  One of those recurring issues has been the ratio of the team’s use of traditional hitting versus rotating the strike with singles.

In the past, the Windies have had success with their power-hitting game, winning the tournament twice in just such a fashion.  In recent years, however, the team has shown a propensity to get bogged down looking for boundaries.  Pollard, however, insists that the team has been looking to address the issue, but were at the same time not looking to get away from their style of play.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes.  The guys have worked tirelessly to get to where we are right now in terms of trying to cover our bases,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“I’ve said before that we try to keep our strengths and work on our weaknesses.  We’ve accepted certain things and gone back behind the scenes and hopefully, we will see a difference,” he added.

“In terms of the two games that we played, guys didn’t show that intent and different things might have come out but we are confident that the guys have done what is needed and will look to hit the ground running come the first game.”

Stephen Francis, coach of Jamaica-based track club MVP, has backed quarter-miler Stefenie Ann Mcpherson to recover from the disappointment of the Olympic Games and is confident she still has plenty of time to claim an individual major Games medal.

The 32-year-old runner finished just outside of the medal places in Tokyo, after being caught and passed close to the finish line by USA legend Alisson Felix who captured the final podium spot.  The race was won in dominant fashion by the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo with second place going to the Dominica Republic’s Marileidy Paulino.

McPherson’s finishing time of 49.61 was much slower than her season-best of 49.34, which had been recorded in the event's semi-final.  The athlete collapsed violently sobbing after the event.  Francis admits that the athlete’s time in the final was a bit of a surprise but believes she is poised to recover and post exceptional performances in the upcoming season.

“It was disappointing because I thought she would have run 48 high in the 400m (Olympic final),” Francis told Sportsmax.Tv in a recent interview.

“She is, however, young enough and determined enough that she will be able to try again,” he added.

McPherson, the event’s reigning national champion, returned to training with the majority of the club’s athletes earlier this week.

 

Jamaica international Leon Bailey has been confirmed to be in contention to feature in the Aston Villa line-up against Arsenal on Friday, having returned to full training earlier this week.

Clarets boss Dean Smith has, however, insisted that the team will be cautious with the winger based on the fact that he was out of action for several weeks. 

Bailey, who moved to Villa Park on a transfer from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen this summer, had an impressive cameo for the club against Everton a few weeks ago, setting up one goal and scoring another.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field soon after scoring with a thigh injury.  Smith has revealed that the speedy winger has since recovered.

"Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore have both trained over the last couple of days and both will be available for the squad down at Arsenal,” Smith said in the team’s pre-match interview.

"But we have to be aware that Bailey's had a thigh injury for four weeks so we have to assess how much of a risk we take with him,” he added.

“We are building up their fitness, they will be in the squad, but we’ll have to assess where they are. They have both been out injured for a few weeks, so they are lacking minutes.”

The injury also caused Bailey to miss his national team’s previous round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Jamaica discus thrower Fedrick Dacres is looking forward to bouncing back strongly in the upcoming season after an admittedly difficult 2021.

The World Athletics Championships silver medallist missed out on the final of the Men's Discus Throw, at the Olympics in Tokyo, after throwing a best mark of 62.91m.  The mark was well below his personal best of 70.78 but the thrower has struggled to get close to the distance, set two years ago, after undergoing a series of surgeries.

“This year has been my hardest year in track and field because of the whole surgery thing.  I think overall I have done overall five surgeries in six years but this was the hardest,” Dacres said.

It was really the (throwing) hand, I’ve done a few knee surgeries done surgery on the other hand but it wasn’t the main hand.  So, for me coming back this year I struggled but it is what it is,” he added.

The athlete did, however, stage a rebound of sorts after throwing 65.33 to finish in third place at the Wanda Diamond League final last month.

“I think I finished well, not too well at the Olympics, but coming third at the Diamond League isn’t so bad.  I’ll take that as I push for next year.”

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