Jamaica Reggae Boy, Kemar Lawrence. has insisted the current dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is about more than money but also respect and equality for all members of the national team.

For the past couple of months, several members of the national team and the JFF have been locked in bitter contractual negotiations ahead of what will be a crucial year for the national team, which will see it participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and later the World Cup qualifiers.

Initial reports revealed that the parties were far apart on negotiations with the federation balking at, among other things, the player’s initial proposal of US$7,000 per game for the World Cup qualifiers.  In response, the JFF insisted it was unable to go above US$2,000 and the parties have been unable to bridge that gap since.

In recent weeks, however, the parties reportedly moved closer to an agreement in key several areas.  However, several regular team players remained absent for the recent friendly against the United States, which the team lost 4-1, meaning some issues were yet to be resolved.  With the issue sharply diving opinion, some have accused the players of being mercenaries.  Insisting nothing could be further from the truth, however, Lawrence pointed to issues of inequality and unfairness in terms of how certain players were treated as another crucial sticking point.

“The negotiations are about more than one thing, it’s not about the money. People are getting injured flying economy across the world and when they reach, they only have two days to train and then play,” Lawrence told YouTube channel Reggae Boyz Commentary.

 “The other day when we were going to Saudi Arabia, upon boarding my flight in London, I met with four English-based players who went into business class and they put me in economy. On the way back, the same thing. I play for an elite club in the topflight in Belgium. I have more caps than all four put together and these are the things that cause segregation. Enough seats were on the flight, so what do they leave me as a senior player to think? Where is the level of respect and professionalism? At the end of the day, I have a job to do and I try to do it to the best of my ability. It has happened to me, Lowe, Blake, Flemmings, all of us, and this is not the second or third time that this has happened,” he added.

 “Put players on direct flights, business class flights. We need medical staff. How can you have one physio for 24 players? You have one equipment manager, one man, and he is over 50. The JFF doesn’t think he needs some help? Then you have 12 members of their delegation. Why can’t we get additional medical staff and a physical coach on the technical team to aid our coach?” Lawrence asked.

The 28-year-old defender has made some 60 appearances for the Jamaica national team and was a part of the units that carried Jamaica to successive CONCACAF Gold Cup finals.

The Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) and president Wilford Heaven have re-ignited calls for structural reform, following the postponement of Cricket West Indies (CWI) elections at the weekend.

The election would have pitted incumbent president Ricky Skerritt and his vice-president Kishore Shallow, against challengers Anand Sanasie of Guyana and Calvin Hope of Barbados.  The event was, however, called off after a quorum could not be reached, following the absence of representatives from Barbados and Guyana.

The reason presented by both the Guyana Cricket Board and Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) is that Cricket West Indies (CWI) had failed to observe protocol by submitting an audited financial statement 14 days before the AGM.

The JCA, through a release issued on Monday, claims the decision to postpone the election, once again spoke to the need for government reform.

“This occurrence which is potentially damaging to the reputation of the people in the Caribbean as well as those in the diaspora highlights the urgent need for change to the structure of CWI,” the release read.

JCA president Wilford Heaven, a part of the CWI finance committee, responsible for distributing the financial report called the inability to reach a quorum regrettable.  He claimed that five regional boards had already agreed to waive the 14-day requirement for the consolidated report.  The fault, Heaven explained, was that of the auditors and as such there was little the CWI could do.

“We have to ensure that this does not happen again in West Indies cricket.  I believe it is an embarrassment to everyone concerned and its obvious that we need for better governance to ensure better leadership,” Heaven said.

“The Wehby report is an outstanding agenda item that we now need to pay serious attention to.  It is now even more important given what happened to the AGM.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) vice president, Dr Kishore Shallow, does not expect the recent Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) elections to affect the candidacy of former GCB secretary Anand Sanasie as independent candidates are allowed to run for the post of the presidency.

On Monday, the GCB elected Guyana businessman Bissoondyal Singh to the post of president of the association, with Rabindranauth Saywack and Hilbert Foster set to serve as vice-presidents and Ronald Williams named secretary.

Sanasie is part of a two-man slate set to challenge incumbent vice CWI president Ricky Skerritt, with Barbados’ Calvin Hope set to challenge Shallow for the vice-presidency.  Following the election, however, Sanasie would no longer be a member of the board, and as such speculation arose regarding the future of the challenge.  Shallow, however, expects Sanasie to be on the slate when the election takes place on April 11.

“Independent persons can be nominated for the post of president and vice-president, so he is not automatically disqualified,” Shallow explained.

“You don’t have to be a voting member or a shareholder to be eligible to be a candidate and that means both his and the nomination of his running mate would stand at this point,” he added.

The CWI elections were scheduled to be held last weekend but was postponed after a quorum could not be reached, following the absence of representatives from Guyana and Barbados.

 

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, batted through the day for an invaluable 99 not out as the team reached 287-7 at the close of play, on the opening day of the second and final Sandals Test against Sri Lanka, at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, in Antigua on Monday.

Brathwaite demonstrated patience and tenacity on a pitch which offered some assistance to the seam bowlers in the first session. Brathwaite’s innings has spanned six-and-a-half hours in which he faced 239 balls and struck 11 fours. He is on the verge of a ninth Test century, which would also be his second at the venue, the other was 121 against Bangladesh in 2018.

When he reached 98, Brathwaite also became the 16th West Indian batsman to surpass 4,000 Test runs – to join an elite list. The others are Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Sir Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kallicharan, Sir Richie Richardson, Sir Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredericks, Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Desmond Haynes and Carl Hooper.

He held the innings together and shared the day’s honours with Saranga Lakmal who had claimed two early wickets – John Campbell and Nkrumah Bonner and added Jermaine Blackwood to end the day with 3-71.

Brathwaite and Kyle Mayers had a third-wicket partnership of 71 as the left-handed made 49. West Indies slipped to 222-7 in the final session of the day, but Brathwaite found another resolute partner in Rahkeem Cornwall, who closed unbeaten on 43, in a partnership that has been worth 65 runs so far for the eighth wicket.

 

English Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday have decided against signing Jamaica international Ravel Morrison after a brief trial period at the club.

The former Manchester United youth standout was invited to train with the club earlier this month after leaving Eredivisie minnows ADO Den Haag in January.  The Owls were weighing up the decision to give the midfielder a contract until the end of the season but decided against doing so.

The club would have needed to register the 28-year-old last week, in order to add him to the first-team squad for the rest of the season.  The team currently finds itself mired in the relegation zone, in 23rd position, with only a handful of games to save themselves.

For his part, Morrison will be looking for his 12th club in what has been a nomadic career to date.  Some of the player’s former clubs have included West Ham United, Lazio, Queens Park Rangers, and Middlesbrough.

Interestingly Wednesday is coached by another Jamaica international Darren Moore.   Moore's men entered the international break in good heart following a positive win over Barnsley.

Wednesday return to action on Friday when they travel to automatic promotion contenders Watford.

Discarded West Indies players Shai Hope and Roston Chase will have to fight their way back into the Test team, after not being selected for the matches against Sri Lanka.

Hope, widely agreed to be one of the region’s most talented batsmen, was dropped from the team after a poor run of form in November of last year.  Chase, the consistent all-rounder, at the same time replaced Kraigg Brathwaite as vice-captain ahead of the New Zealand series.

Both players were called to the team ahead of the Bangladesh series but were among 12 players to decline due to health and safety concerns. 

Hope has since returned to the ODI squad, where he looked to be in strong form.  Chase, who initially missed out on the minimum fitness requirement ahead of the series, put on a strong display in the warm-up tour matches.  Both players remain on the sideline, so far.  For now, according to Simmons, however, the current players are doing well enough to keep their places.

“The guys who played in the Test matches have done well, so we need to continue to back the guys who have done well in the last three Test matches,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“The way I look at it is the guys did well.  The guys went to Bangladesh, each one of the batsmen did well.  They earned their places.  So, it is a case where they continue to play and play well,” he added.

“Roston, Shai, those other players will have to fight their way back in, and that just how cricket goes.”

Guyanese businessman, Bissoondyal Singh, has been elected as president of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), following an election in Georgetown on Monday.

After being postponed last month, due to a number of contentious issues raised by the Essequibo Cricket Board (ECB), the process, conducted by recently appointed cricket ombudsman Kamal Ramkarran, reportedly went off without a hitch.

Other appointments will see Rabindranauth Saywack and Hilbert Foster serve as vice-presidents with Ronald Williams named secretary.  Former West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan has been named as the Chairman of the Senior Selectors, with current Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Roger Harper, also offered a position as a technocrat member with voting rights at executive meetings.

On Sunday, the CWI elections, which were slated to have Guyana’s Anand Sanasie and Barbados’ Calvin Hope challenge the incumbents Ricky Skerrit and Kishore Shallow, was postponed after a quorum could not be reached due to the absence of representatives from the Guyana and Barbados.

The elections have been re-set for April 11 but could now take on an entirely context following the GCB elections.  Sanasie previously held the post of general secretary but has through his attorney’s questioned both the legality of appointing the Ombudsman and elections themselves.

GCB full slate

President– Bissoondyal Singh

Vice-President– Hilbert Foster

Vice-President– Rabindranauth Saywack

Secretary– Ronald Williams

Assistant Secretary– Davteerth Anandjit

Treasurer– Pretipaul Jaigobin

Assistant Treasurer– Dr. Cecil Beharry

Public Relations Officer– Claude Raphael

Marketing Manager– Mohamed Baksh

Chairman of Competitions Committee– Shaun Massiah

Chairman of Senior Selectors– Ramnaresh Sarwan

Chairman of Junior Selectors– Andre Percival

Technocrat members with voting rights at executive meetings– Roger Harper and Anil Beharry.

Newly promoted West Indies skipper, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists there is no worry about the added responsibility of captaincy affecting his batting form after somewhat of a slow start to officially taking the reins.

Brathwaite, who officially took over from Jason Holder at the start of the Sri Lanka series, made a total of 26 at the top of the order for the first Test, for an average of just 13.  The batsman did, however, manage to occupy the crease, his score of 23 in the second innings coming from 124 balls.  While not showing up on the scoreboard, the player believes it was a vital contribution.

“I’m not concerned.  In the second innings I managed to spend over two hours at the crease, which was important for us as a batting unit,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“As I said before, I always enjoy leading and I know what I have to do, I know my role as a batsman and also as the captain.  So, I’m not concerned.”

In the previous series against Bangladesh, as the stand-in captain for Holder, Brathwaite scored 149 runs over the two matches, for an average of 37.25.  The West Indies unexpectedly won the series 2-0, which played a crucial role in Brathwaite securing the leadership post.

 

 West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, has backed the team's strike bowler Shannon Gabriel to bounce back following a poor showing against Sri Lanka in the first Test.

The 32-year-old pace bowler had a first Test to forget, failing to claim a wicket for the entire match.  Overall, he ended with figures of 0 for 89 in 27 overs.  The bowler last went wicketless in a match last year, in the second Test against England where he ended 0 for 122.

In assessing the player’s most recent performances, however, Simmons dismissed Gabriel’s first-match struggles as just a blip and looked forward to a much better showing in the second Test.

“I thought in Bangladesh, he bowled exceptionally well in both Test matches and he was the main one, on the occasion in the first Test, who turned things around with his spell in the evening,” Simmons said in an assessment of the player’s recent form.

“He had a bad game and bowlers have that. Two of the main bowlers did not have a good game but that’s one game,” he added.

“I think he has been unsung, in New Zealand he was unsung, in Bangladesh he was unsung, so, one bad game does not change him being the strike bowler.”

In New Zealand, despite a tough series for the regional team, Gabriel, who was the pick of the bowlers, extracted plenty of pace and bounce from the surface to claim six wickets in two matches, where New Zealand only batted once.

 

 

 Jamaica Reggae Girl Dominique Bond-Flasza has inked a deal with Icelandic women’s top division club Tindastóli.

The 24-year-old right-back who last played in Poland is expected to join up with her new team this summer.  Tindastóll won the Lengjudeild, which is the country’s second division, last summer and will play in the top division for the first time.  As such the Jamaican has been brought in as part of reinforcements.  The Reggae Girl, who has a Polish father and Jamaican mother, will bring plenty of experience to the position.

Bond-Flasza played with PSV Eindhoven from 2018 to 2020 and also has 17 caps for her national team Jamaica.  It was Bond-Flasza scoring from the penalty spot that secured the national team a place at the 2019 World Cup. She then played one of the team's three World Cup games in France.

West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, insists the team will need to brush up on its bowling and work in the field ahead of the second and final Test against Sri Lanka, which gets underway on Monday.

The West Indies successfully negotiated the fifth and final day on the back of a patient 113 undefeated from the bat of Nkrumah Bonner.  After being dismissed for 169 in the first innings a massive 476 piled up in the second innings would have been a massive concern.  The Sri Lankans were led by 103 from Pathum Nissanka and 96 from Niroshan Dickwella.  The pair frustrating and blunting the Windies bowling attack.

For large periods of the second innings, it seemed the hosts had lost their way, with a series of poor displays in the field and poor choices to review.  Simmons believes if the team is to win a second straight Test series, the errors must be cleaned up.

“I think our discipline when we are bowling has to improve,” Simmons told Windiescricket.

“The few hours in the field that we allow runs to just slip by us, because of the discipline, that definitely has to tighten up, and then we just have to bat in the second innings like we batted in the first innings,” he added.

 

St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, The Dominican Republic and Guatemala opened their World Cup qualifying campaigns with victories on Wednesday night.

West Indies Test captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists the team will not be complacent against Sri Lanka heading into the start of the two-match series on Sunday.

The Windies are riding momentum following a hard-fought 2-0 series win away to Bangladesh and a strong performance in a 3-0 One Day International (ODI) series sweep over Sri Lanka.

Despite the recent success, however, Brathwaite, who officially replaced Jason Holder as captain to start the series, insists the team will be looking for a fierce fight from the tourists.

“It’s Test cricket so we won’t be taking them for granted.  I think they have some experienced batsmen that have played a lot of Tests, have scored a number of Test 100s, and an experienced bowler in Lakmal,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Saturday.

“Going into the game we won’t be underestimating them.  I think they will come and fight because the Sri Lanka team always tends to fight,” he added.

Sri Lanka have shown plenty of fight, despite losing both the T20 and ODI series their spinners gave the West Indies batsmen a lot to think about once they were deployed.

Newly appointed Jamaica national U-21 Annette Daley hopes to use the unit to reinforce the senior team in light of the cancelation of the Netball World Youth Cup.

The event, which was slated to take place in Fiji, in June, was initially moved to December 2021.  The tournament has, however, now been cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis.

The decision was made in consultation with Fiji's Government and the Local Organising Committee.  Considerations like travel restrictions, athlete well-being, pandemic-related uncertainty and planning difficulties, increased costs, and Fiji's low COVID-19 rate all contributed to the decision, organisers said.

Daley was appointed to the post in February and had just begun preparing the team for the tournament.

“We are going to meet with the ladies officially, but training continues.  We are looking at continuing to develop the ladies because for the senior program we do a base that we can pull players from,” Daley told TVJ Sports.

She also pointed to the fact that there could still be some international competition that the team can take part in later this year.

“There could be a championship for Jamaica in October where Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa are coming.  If that is so at least we will be ready to engage in competition.”

 

 Former Wimbledon FC defender, Andy Clement, will serve as a physical trainer for the Jamaica national team ahead of its friendly international against the United States in Austria next Thursday.

Clement, who currently plies his trade with Mount Pleasant football club, will be forced to stand in after both the national team's regular trainers Lamar Morgan and Jason Henry did not make the tour.  Henry was not able to travel with the team after reportedly not managing to secure a contract in time.

Clement was suited for the job as being an Englishman he does not need a Schengen visa to enter Europe.  The team was originally expected to depart the island for the US this weekend, after completing a four-day training camp at the Horace Burrell Academy.

However, the JFF was forced to quickly alter plans after it was discovered that applications for travel to Austria had to be done in person at the current time.  The delegation, as a result, hastily departed the island on Tuesday in order to meet a Wednesday morning appointment for Schengen visas at the Austrian Embassy, in the United States.  The group was as a result without both a physical trainer and physiotherapist, important members of the support staff.

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