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.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is expecting more energy and enthusiasm from a new-look squad as the team bowls off the year with series against Ireland and England.

The Caribbean team has endured a disappointing few months on the back of a disastrous showing at the T20 World Cup, followed by defeats in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

 A few of the team’s most experienced players have retired following a lackluster showing at the World Cup and the team did not select a few other regulars for the tour of Pakistan.  Despite a 3-0 T20 series loss in Pakistan, Simmons was encouraged by the team’s fervor.

“The way we started in Pakistan is the way we want to play now, have a lot more energy, more enthusiasm,” Simmons told members of the media earlier this week.

“It's a young group of guys and we are trying to mould them and get them into a winning frame of mind.  We want to win, and we want to do everything that it takes to win,” he added.

The team will see the likes of Brandon King and Odean Smith returning a potential debut for Justin Greaves and spinner Gudakesh Motie set to earn a second cap.

 

Six England players currently taking part in Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) have been asked to return home by the England Cricket Board (ECB).

The decision has been taken with the team’s upcoming tour of the West Indies in mind, and with consideration to rising coronavirus cases.  With the series scheduled to get underway in Barbados on January 22, all the players are expected to be back in England on January 7.

In a statement, released on Sunday, the ECB confirmed that the players were expected to be released by their clubs.  The list includes George Garton, Reece Topley, Sam Billings, James Vince, and Tymal Mills.  Chris Jordan had already left the country.

"The six English players currently playing in the KFC BBL who have been selected for England’s T20 International series against the West Indies will be returning to the UK by January 7,” the release read.

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.

 

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