Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

Jamaica hurdler Damion Thomas believes he is finally firmly back on the right track after several recent seasons where he was plagued by injuries and indifferent form.

The 21-year-old Louisiana State University student registered his first NCAA title this past indoor season and last month continued that form with brilliant hurdling, which saw him clock a world-leading 13.22 seconds (1.3m/s) at the Texas Relays.

The efforts mark a comeback of sorts for Thomas who tied the U20 world record in the 110-meter hurdles, after running 12.99 over the 39-inch height at the 2018 Jamaican Junior Championships. He then followed up the record-breaking moment by winning gold at the World U20 Championships.

A quadriceps injury during the 2019 season, however, hampered the hurdler's efforts to build on a promising start to his collegiate career and, of course, in 2020, the global pandemic saw sports grind to a halt for several months.

 "I'd say last year's coronavirus [pandemic] shutting down the season was probably more heartbreaking than my sophomore year and the injuries," Thomas said in an interview with Milesplit USA.

"I felt healthy, training was going so well into the meet and then they shut it down for everybody. Right after that meeting, I remember all of us just going to one room and we literally were staring out the window. 'Like dang this is crazy.'"

 The athlete, however, managed to use the quarantine period to his advantage, putting work into honing his technique.  He has emerged from the hiatus as strong and sharp as ever and is so far a big favourite to secure a spot on the Jamaica Olympic squad later this year.

"It feels good to know that I'm on the right path," Thomas said of his resurgence.

“I think the big thing now is ... not to be complacent and continue to look at the flaws in my race to see where I can get better. I want to stay hungry and continue to feel like an underdog. Even though I'm world-leading, that doesn't mean anything going forward."

 

Retied Jamaica international, Fitzroy Simpson, has called for the return of the spirit of togetherness for the Reggae Boyz, expressing the hope that the current squad can go on to match the exploits of his historic 1998 unit.

Up until recently, some members of the Jamaica national team and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) were embroiled in a bitter contractual dispute, which saw several members of the team unavailable for the Caribbean team’s clash against the United States last month.

With the dispute now settled, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers coming later this year, Simpson is urging both parties to come together.

“Unity is so important,” Simpson said in a recent interview with the Irish Mirror.

“The set-up now has to be unified and improvements made on the business side,” he added.

Simpson was one of several English-based players to join the Jamaica national team ahead of their historic qualification for the World Cup in France.  The former Manchester City and Portsmouth player started all three games at the tournament and has fond memories of not just playing at the final itself but also the build-up.

“It was breathtaking.  It was the greatest honour in my playing career to lead Jamaica to history,” Simpson said.

“I remember my mother, my brother, and my uncle in the stadium when we qualified.  I looked at them and couldn't believe what we had achieved because Jamaica wasn't recognised as a footballing nation.  The whole country really drove us on, the support was incredible.”

 

 

Former West Indies captain, Daren Sammy, insists veteran batsman Chris Gayle would be a sure pick in his squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as the player’s experience and explosive ability remain invaluable.

The recent decision by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to recall the batsman for the recent series against Sri Lanka was met with criticism in some quarters, with some believing the selectors should have opted for younger talent.  The player's struggles in the series did little to dispel that notion.

Sammy, the two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, however, does not agree.

“After watching Chris Gayle play in the Pakistan Super League, the IPL late last year, and looking at his career, I think he should definitely go to the World Cup,” Sammy told Line and Length on SportsMax.

“Whether he plays in the final XI is a matter for the guys on tour because you will have Evin (Lewis) and (Lendl) Simmons, but Chris’ experience in India and what he brings to the team, I would have him with me,” he added.

“Chris is a batting leader! He has over 20 hundreds in T20s and the next person after that has eight or nine and his experience cannot be underrated so I would have him with me. He knows the big occasion and you bet he can still turn it on…. I will go with him,” said Sammy from his home in St. Lucia.

Gayle has played 31 T20s for the West Indies and scored two centuries and 13 half-centuries, with an average of 31.24 and a strike rate of 140.81. At the last World Cup, he scored an unbeaten 100 in the first match against England but ended the series with 113 runs from four innings.

Sammy, who was at the helm when the team won the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, in 2012, versus the hosts, and in 2016 against England, thinks that the West Indies can win again if they improve their bowling attack.

“We have the batting firepower, but we are missing two x-factor bowlers. Fidel is back and brings some pace, but I think our best chance will be chasing totals. We don’t have that Sunil Narine type of bowler and, to be honest, that’s the missing link. We can win but we need a couple of bowlers to put pressure on for eight overs,” explained Sammy.

 

Five years after his fiery speech criticising Cricket West Indies (CWI) hierarchy and then President, Dave Cameron at the conclusion of the T20 World Cup, Darren Sammy says he would do it all over again if he had to.

As the Windies celebrated the 5th anniversary of their historic victory over India at the 2016 Showpiece in Eden Gardens, Sammy reiterated that he would never apologise to Cameron for his statements, which eventually put an end to his international career.

 “You seek forgiveness when you have done something wrong. I wouldn’t change anything I said because I spoke the truth as to what went on and yes, I paid the price for it, but that’s the way life goes. My Mom always said if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything,” he said while a guest on Line & Length on SportsMax

“I thought I was a true representative to my team. To Dave Cameron, he has moved on. I recently saw on your show he said he is still available for advice…but I don’t know how the current administration would think about that,” he explained.

After Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to upset England in the final over, Sammy chose the presentation ceremony to vilify the administration for a number of matters prior to the tournament and during the competition when players clashed with CWI over fees, equipment, and communication differences.

“There is a vibe and player-harmony now. The players are playing for their captain...added to that, it’s been great watching Jason Holder and the respect he has gained even though no longer captain. West Indies cricket seems to be moving in the right direction,” said Sammy.

 

 

Jamaica international Liam Moore has vowed to quit social media after being the subject of vile abuse earlier this week. 

The Reading captain was the target of a poll that posed the racist question “Should a n***** be captain of Reading FC?" The account has since been deleted.

In response, Moore also laid the blame at the feet of the social media platform.  The issue has once again been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

"2021 and I'm not ****ing surprised in the slightest. Twitter you're as much to blame for making it so easy to abuse people,” he tweeted.

 Earlier this week, Swansea announced that they would not take part in any social media activity for two weeks, following the abuse of another Jamaica international Jamal Lowe.  They were joined in protest by Scottish club Rangers.  Arsenal legend Thierry Henry had also previously announced the decision to delete his social media accounts in a bid to direct attention to the issue.

While pointing out that he had enjoyed interacting with the fans via social media, Moore denoted the environment to be an increasingly toxic one.

"I have enjoyed engaging with many of you on here over the years but tonight was just another example of Twitter being toxic,” he added.

"You have to stand for something and for that reason I am deactivating my account. Thanks for your support."

 

Jamaica international and Swansea forward, Jamal Lowe, believes an end to the ability to be completely anonymous on social media platforms could go a long way in helping to combat racism online and hate speech.

The 26-year-old player found himself the target of racist online abuse following the team’s loss to Birmingham City last weekend.  The forward was the third Swansea player since February to suffer the issue.

In response, Swansea announced that the club would boycott any social media-related activities for two weeks.  They were joined in the effort by Scottish club Rangers.  The player hopes the effort will at least bring more attention to the issue or push social media platforms towards a response.

The issue of the right to online anonymity has provoked fierce debate since the early days of the internet.  At current, individuals are not required to provide identification in order to sign up for accounts, Lowe believes that could part of the issue.

“At the moment, no one knows who is abusing any of us,” Lowe told Sky Sports.

“You’ve got an Instagram account, or a Twitter account or whatever when you sign up, put your email address in, put your national insurance number in or your passport number in, your driver’s license number, something that can identify you as a person,” he added.

“Something that can be linked back to who you really are and not just a page you created in five minutes, send some abuse and delete it because that’s a never-ending story.”

 

Big-hitting Windies T20 batsman, Kieron Pollard, failed to move closer to a historic IPL milestone after being dismissed for just 7 in the season opener, which pitted Mumbai Indians against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chepauk Stadium on Friday.

Pollard remains just two sixes shy of 200 IPL sixes, a feat which has been achieved by just five other five batsmen.  At the top of the list is Pollard’s compatriot and Punjab Kings batsman Chris Gayle (349), Royal Challengers Bangalore premier batsman AB de Villiers is next (235), followed by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain MS Dhoni (216), Mumbai Indians (MI) Rohit Sharma (213), and RCB skipper Virat Kohli (201) close the list.

In Friday’s encounter, Pollard was, however, undone by a slower delivery from Harshal Patel and caught in the deep by Washington Sundar.  The player’s 7 runs consisted of just one four with no sixes.  RCB won the thrilling encounter by just two wickets.  Batting first Mumbai made 159 for 8 before RCB, needing 7 off the last over, ended with 160 for 8 off the final ball of the over.  RCB batsman AB De Villiers top-scored with 48 from 27 deliveries.

 

West Indies legend, Curtly Ambrose, has re-added his voice to the call for an end to the preparation of ‘placid’ pitches throughout the Caribbean for international and regional cricket fixtures.

In the light of the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka, which ended with two drawn games, several former players and Windies coach Phil Simmons has expressed dissatisfaction with the surface prepared for the tour.

The debate has, however, raged on long before that, with Ambrose himself listed among those previously suggesting that many of the pitches prepared are too flat and offer little assistance to bowlers. 

The West Indies, Sri Lanka series has only added to the dissatisfaction.  In both Test matches, Sri Lanka, then the West Indies, the teams enjoyed comfortable leads headed into the final day but ended up doing very little to disturb the batsmen in the pursuit of wickets.

“I have seen local cricket played at Sir Viv Richards cricket stadium where you have grass on the pitch and the ball bounces and carries with good pace … so it’s not a situation where it cannot be done,” Ambrose told the Good Morning Jojo Radio show.

“I felt that the pitches were a little too flat and I’ve been saying this for years — we need to prepare better cricket pitches where the batsmen could play their strokes and the ball bounces a bit for the bowlers,” he added.

Former Windies pace bowler, Richard 'Prof' Edwards, admits he is disappointed by what he believes to be the slow progress of promising pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

The 24-year-old fast bowler has long been tipped to give West Indies the type of firepower typical of years gone by but is yet to completely deliver on that promise.

The young bowler has shown plenty of flashes of that prodigious talent.  He put in a strong performance against England, in 2019, and took a record-breaking six for 12 on his debut for Mumbai Indians.  Joseph has, however, not produced such performances consistently.  Joseph, who made his debut in 2016, has taken 38 Test wickets in 16 matches and 54 One Day International wickets in 34 matches.

“It’s disappointing that he does not seem to have gone on from the time he started until now, there doesn’t seem to be any great improvement,” Edwards told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He seems to be bowling wide of the crease to right-handers, angling it.  He should get as close to the stumps as possible,” he added.

“He is not accurate, he had not been able to develop as much as you would have expected.  He is not a real swinger of the ball, he is athletic, he looks like he bowls pretty fast, but he is not doing much with the ball.”

 

Former West Indies fast bowler turned analyst, Richard ‘Prof’ Edwards, believes batsman Kyle Mayers could blossom into a genuine all-rounder for the regional team, buts needs to consider shedding a few pounds.

The 28-year-old has had a splendid start to his Test cricket career for the West Indies, bursting on stage with 210 on debut against Bangladesh.  The innings helped lay the foundation for an expected away series win and catapulted the player into the spotlight. 

In the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, he again garnered some attention this time with the ball. His brisk medium pace accounted for batsman Oshada Fernando and later Dinesh Chandimal at a crucial period on the third day of the opening Test.  The wickets were the first of his international career.  Overall, Mayers ended with 28 overs, 13 maidens, and four wickets.   On the back of such displays, Edwards believes the player could have the makings of a solid all-rounder.

“He did well.  He was a surprise package to the Sri Lankans.  They didn’t expect him to get the ball to swing and by the time they realized it was too late and he had wickets,” Edwards said in assessing the player’s performance on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I’m saying that if he goes on and develops his bowling, he won’t trick batsmen as early as that again and he would have to consistently bowl well, but he can, he has the natural ability to bowl.  However, he has to lose about 25 pounds.  He is too young to have all that weight carrying around on him,” he added.

“He is a big strong guy, but he has got to drop 20 pounds at least.  He will bowl faster and he would be the genuine all-rounder in the side.  We wouldn’t be looking to get four overs out of him or five overs but he would be a fellow you can throw the ball to when you are looking to get wickets in a spell of eight overs are so.”  

 

West Indies chief of selectors, Roger Harper, has revealed that the panel remains in the dark regarding the future of spinner Sunil Narine who remains unavailable for selection.

The 32-year-old Narine is widely regarded as one of the best spinners in the world but has not appeared for the West Indies since 2019.  In total, Narine has played 6 Test matches, where he claimed 21 wickets, 65 One Day Internationals, where he has claimed 92 wickets, and 51 T20 Internationals where he has taken 52.

The player has, however, throughout his career been plagued by questions surrounding his bowling action.  In 2015, Narine was suspended from bowling in international cricket, after his action was deemed to be illegal.  He was reported during the ODI series against Sri Lanka.  He was cleared a year later after doing remedial work on his action.  Narine was reported again during the 2018 Pakistan Super League but was cleared soon after.  Again, in October 2020, the spinner was reported by on-field umpires for his bowling action in the 2020 Indian Premier League, which was cleared by IPL Suspect Bowling Action Committee in September.

According to Harper, at this point, the bowler does not seem comfortable enough with his technique to return to international cricket.

“Sunil Narine has indicated to us that he is not yet ready for the international scene,”
 Harper told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He was still in the process of fine-tuning his action.  He had some issues with that so he is in the process of fine-tuning it,” he added.

“So, when he makes himself available and thinks that he is ready for international cricket, we will then have to make a determination at that point.”

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Curtly Ambrose, believes the team could have been more aggressive in going for the win against Sri Lanka in the second and final Test but admitted to being pleased with the strides the team had made.

In the end, West Indies and Sri Lanka played to a 0-0 Test series draw with neither team really able to press home advantages at various stages in both matches.  In a reversal of fortunes, it was the West Indies who had headed into the final day of the final Test with a big lead and looking to put the pressure on the visitors.  The team, however, managed to take two wickets as Sri Lanka closed the day on 193 for 2.  Ambrose, however, believes the West Indies did not give themselves enough time to win the game.

“I think that we didn’t show enough intent to try and win that game. We batted too long in my opinion, we took too long to score the runs which means we didn’t have enough time to bowl out Sri Lanka on a very placid surface and I thought that the urgency in getting those quick runs wasn’t there. We batted too long,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

During the second innings, with team captain Kraigg Brathwaite anchoring the unit on the third day, Ambrose believes the batting line-up should have been re-tooled in an attempt to score more quickly.

“We know the captain Kraigg Brathwaite isn’t going to take an attacker path. He is one of those guys who are going to bat for long and accumulate his runs and nothing is wrong with that,” Ambrose added.

“Kyle Mayers we know will go on the attack but I thought that later on after Kyle Mayers got out, we should have at least sent Jimbo [Rahkeem Cornwall] or Alzarri Joseph ahead of Da Silva to get some quicker runs so we could have enough time after the declaration to try and bowl out Sir Lanka. Sending Da Silva to me wasn’t a good move at that particular stage.”

Ambrose insisted, however, that there were several positives to be taken from the display.

“You can see that the guys are putting a lot more thought into the cricket which is very good to see. They have been patient, they try to construct their innings in terms of the batting and even in the bowling department, you could see they were really trying to bowl in good areas and not just trying to get a wicket every ball."

Windies middle-order batsman, Joshua Da Silva, believes there is plenty to be proud of when it comes to his performances so far for the regional team.

Since making his debut against New Zealand, in December of last year, the batsman has averaged 37.62 in five Test matches, with a high score of 92.  The half-century was one of two scored by the player during the period.

Da Silva has scored 301 runs so far, his innings often providing much-needed stability at crucial times in the team’s batting line-up.  Despite narrowly missing out on a triple-figure and a few half centuries, the player admitted he was pleased with his work to date.

“I don’t think I could have been more proud of what I have done so far in Test cricket. I definitely would have wanted to convert some of those forties into fifties and that 90 into a 100, but hopefully there are going to be a lot more opportunities to do that,” Da Silva told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

Da Silva recently played a crucial part in the Test series draw with Sri Lanka, which saw batsmen with the upper hand for most of the series, partly due to a flat surface.

“I don’t think we could fault any bowler or batsman according to the conditions. It was quite challenging for the bowlers. Overall, I thought we had a very positive series, a lot of good things came out of it.”

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