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 Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.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

 

Waterhouse and Cavalier secured spots in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) finals after semi-final wins over Mount Pleasant and Tivoli Garden at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Wednesday.

The victories were earned in contrasting fashion, with Waterhouse coming from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with Mount Pleasant, for a 2-1 aggregate win, and Cavalier playing to a 0-0 draw with Tivoli to add to a 1-0 first-leg win.

Needing to overcome an early deficit, Mount Pleasant charged back into the tie early on the back of a fiercely struck free-kick from in-form forward Jourdaine Fletcher who found the back of the net on the 6th minute.

However, Waterhouse were back in the lead just minutes before the halftime break, with Rafiek Thomas tapping home from five yards away, three minutes into time added on.  The final will be the second consecutive for Waterhouse.

In the other game, Tivoli spurned a golden opportunity to level the tie from the penalty spot after being awarded a spot-kick in the 83rd minute.  Kemar Flemmings effort was, however, saved by Jeadean White and Devroy Grey fired the rebound, which fell to his feet, high over the crossbar.  The final will take place at the same venue, at 2:30 pm on Saturday.

 

At 34-years-old, West Indies big-hitter Kieron Pollard admits these days there is great satisfaction in showing younger players he has plenty left in the tank, despite the realization that time is slowly catching up to him.

On Monday, the West Indian captain became the first player in history to take 300 wickets and 10,000 runs in T20s, after taking two wickets and making 15 runs for Indian Premier League team Mumbai Indians.

Over an outstanding career, the all-rounder is now second behind Chris Gayle on the all-time list with 11,217 runs and 8th on the all-time bowling list in terms of wickets taken.  Perhaps fitting Gayle was among one of the wickets he claimed on the way to the special milestone.  While proud of what he has accomplished in the sport, the dynamic player is keenly aware of a new generation of cricketers eager to make their own mark on the sport.

“Age is catching up with me because (there are) young guys in the dressing room, so I have to continue to show them that, ‘listen, I still got it,” Pollard said after the game.

“So, most of the time, it’s just to show these young guys what I can do,” he added.

“For me, you are just supposed to do what the team requires. As an individual, I know what I can do in all the facets of the game, and whenever I get the opportunity just try to do my best.”

The Jamaica men’s team will replace South Africa for the Sunshine Girls upcoming tri-nation series, which will also include Trinidad and Tobago.

Originally the three teams were expected to part in the series, which was scheduled to begin on October 9th.  The fixture opponents have, however, been modified after South Africa pulled out of the series due to countries rising number of Covid-19 cases. 

With short notice to find a replacement, the decision was made to employ the assistance of the country’s male team.  The dates for the fixtures have now also been moved forward, with the opening game of the tri-series now expected to be on the 14th.

The Jamaicans ranked fourth in the world, are expected to play against in a three-match series dubbed the ‘Vitality Roses Reunited’ set for London, in September.  Many of netball’s top teams will be looking to step up their preparations with the Commonwealth Games set to take part in Birmingham, England next year.  The Jamaican team has not played in international competitions since the World Netball Cup in 2020.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have been hit by another injury ahead of next month’s round of World Cup qualifiers with forward Cory Burke ruled out of the matches.

The 29-year-old player was a hardworking physical presence at the top of the line-up for the team in the first three fixtures of the final round, against Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica.

The player, however, went down with an injury during a recent training session and while it was hoped that he would have not missed more than a few days, the prognosis puts the striker’s recovery period at six weeks.

The Jamaican national team will resume competed in the qualifiers with a match away to the United States on October 7th.   The other two matches for the round will include a home game against Canada three days later and end with an away trip to Honduras.

The team has been hit by bad injury news in recent weeks with forward Shamar Nicholson also a doubt for the round after suffering a broken jaw.  Winger Leon Bailey will also not be available after suffering a thigh injury while in action for Aston Villa.  Reading’s Liam Moore is also likely to be unavailable after spending a few weeks on the sidelines after also sustaining an ankle injury.

Former Cricket West Indies head of corporate communications and Director of Communications for Guyana’s chief opposition party, Imran Khan, has died after a brief battle brought about by Covid-19 complications.

Khan who worked for several years with regional cricket’s governing body, formerly known as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), had spent the last 8 days in the intensive care unit before going into respiratory failure on Tuesday.

At the time of his death, Khan, who was 43, worked for the Alliance For Change (AFC) as head of their communications unit. During the coalition APNU+AFC’s time in office from 2015 to 2020, he also sat on several State Boards including that of the National Communications Network (NCN).

On Sunday Khan had expressed thanks for the outpouring of support he had received and vowed to keep fighting.

“Thank you for all your love, prayers, messages of encouragement, and support. I am overwhelmed beyond explanation and I am in excellent spirits…Please be assured that I am fighting and there is no giving up. One Love,” he wrote.

According to numerous reports, the communications expert was not vaccinated and did not have any underlying disease.  Khan’s wife, Tammy,  an attorney, later also tested positive for the disease and was admitted in the ICU but was discharged on Monday.

Cavalier and Waterhouse will take 1-0 advantages to the second legs of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) playoffs after narrow wins in their first leg matches, at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, on Saturday.

With the game seemingly drifting towards a scoreless draw, Colin Anderson left entered the field of play to make a telling impact.  Just 30 seconds after replacing Shaniel Thomas, Anderson was played through on goal by Nickache Murray and sprinted onto the brilliant through ball to round Tivoli goalkeeper Kewong Watkins and slot into an empty net to give Cavalier a precious first-leg lead.

The second match between Waterhouse and Mount Pleasant was a similarly cagey affair with both sides crafting good opportunities to take the lead.  It was Waterhouse who took one late on, however, when Shaquille Bradford was set up by Kymani Campbell.  The angle was a difficult one but his fierce shot managed to creep through the legs of goalkeeper Shaven Paul at his near post, in the 79th minute.  Paul will, however, be slightly disappointed having been up to what would have been considered by many to be more difficult efforts throughout the match.

The teams will meet at the same venue on Wednesday for the second leg starting at 2:30pm.

MVP head coach, Stephen Francis, is content to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to reports that track star Elaine Thompson-Herah could be planning to leave the club.

According to reports earlier this week, the double Olympic champion had submitted a letter to the club that stated her intentions to sever ties ahead of the new season.  Later in the week, however, the athlete denied the reports suggesting that they may have arisen out of her not starting training as yet.

The athlete is, however, not back due in training as yet and Francis insists that while he is not jumping to conclusions the future remains uncertain.

“From my perspective, we start back training sometime in October, the 18th or 19th…and my philosophy, as usual, is to see who turns up,” Francis told Jamaica television station TVJ.

“What my experience tells me is that sometimes athletes, in general, especially those that come from a lower expectation level.  In other words, not much was expected from them, they are usually unable to separate themselves from people who hop on to their bandwagon,” he added.

The 29-year-old is coming off her best season to date.  Thompson-Herah successfully defended both the 100m and 200m title at the Olympics and joined with former MVP athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson, and Briana Williams to win the 4x100m relays.  The sprinter later went on to record a blistering time just outside Florence Griffith-Joyner’s longstanding 100m record.

The MVP track club is no stranger to athletes leaving the club at the peak of their career with Fraser-Pryce and Melanie Walker also having secured moves away after years of success.

 

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls could be forced to make adjustments for next month’s tri-series following the reported withdrawal of South Africa from the tour.

Originally, the series was set to feature the no 4 ranked Jamaicans, 5th ranked Australians and 10th ranked Trinidad and Tobago and was set to tip-off on October 9th.  However, negotiations between Netball South Africa and the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) are said to have broken down due to the island’s rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The JNA is expected to give an update on the situation in the next few weeks with a replacement team being added being another possibility that is being looked at.

The series will be the first for the Jamaicans since the Netball World Cup in 2020, the team is, however, also expected to travel to England, in September, where they will face the England Roses in a three-match series.  The Sunshine Girls had been due to face England in January of this year, but those plans were postponed due to then-existing Covid-19 travel restrictions.  The team will be looking to vastly increase its activities in the coming months with the Commonwealth Games scheduled for next year.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is set to miss the country's next set of World Cup qualifiers after being diagnosed with a thigh strain.

The 23-year-old winger made a lively appearance for Aston Villa last weekend, playing an active role in two of the team’s three goals in a 3-1 win over Everton.  Among them was a net-busting volley to goal, which punctuated a quick counterattack.

Unfortunately, the player had to be substituted soon after but it was hoped that he would not miss much time off the pitch.  However, the club manager Dean Smith recently confirmed that the player would be out of action for the next few weeks.

"Leon has a strain which is likely to keep him out until after the international break," Smith told reporters.

 "We would be hopeful that he would be available for the Wolves game, but we'll need to assess him nearer the time and see how he progresses over the next 10 days or so."

Jamaica will resume its World Cup qualification campaign next month, with matches away to the United States, at home to Canada, and away to Honduras.  The player also missed out on the first round of the qualifiers with an injury last month.

The Jamaica international joined Villa from Bayer Leverkusen earlier this summer from a reported 25 million pounds ($US34m), is targeting a return to action against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 16.

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