West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is nowhere close to being ready to give up on talented batsman Shimron Hetmyer, despite the player’s recently well-documented struggles with fitness.

The 25-year-old batsman was left out of the West Indies' previous series against Ireland and England and also failed to be included in the squad for the ongoing India tour.  The issue stemmed from the fact that the player failed to achieve the basic fitness standards required to be eligible for selection.

It was not the first time Hetmyer had been plagued by the issue as he also failed to get a passing mark in 2020, ahead of the team’s tour of Sri Lanka, and then again later that same year during Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies.  The Windies skipper, however, backs the player to get things right in the near future.

"I think the coaches have spoken on their assessment of Shimron. I miss Shimron when he is not around. He is a young player and a superstar in his own right. He will get it right and get back to the West Indies squad pretty soon. I will be looking forward to having him," Pollard told members of the media, ahead of the team’s first T20I against India.

"We know what he can do as an individual and he has a bright future. You can never write off a guy who is 25. My love for Shimron is paramount, and he knows that and we all know that. It is a matter of time for him to do all that is necessary to get back to the team. We will welcome him with open arms."

The Guyana Harpy Eagles held on for a narrow one-wicket win over the Windward Volcanoes as the West Indies Championship encounter at the Queen's Park Oval came to a thrilling conclusion on Saturday.

Resuming the day on 157 for 7, with Larry Edward (29) and Kenneth Dember (9) the batsmen at the crease, the Windwards could only manage another 33 runs before they were all out for 190 in the 64 overs.  Dember was the first to be dismissed after managing to add just 5 to his overnight total, before being caught by Anthony Bramble off Veerasammy Permaul.

Edward briefly partnered with Preston McSween to add 17 for the 9th wicket, but that did not last long as Edward was next to depart, caught by Hetmyer off Permaul for 43.  McSween could not repeat the heroics of the first innings and followed soon after.   Permaul finished the innings with figures of 53 for 5.

 The tally meant Guyana needed 203 for victory.  The Eagles seemed well set to reach the target as they coasted to 89 without loss on the back of a smooth 60 from 72 balls from Chandrapaul Hemraj and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (28).

The bowling of off-spinner Kenneth Dember threw a wrench in those proceedings as he claimed 5-80 and triggered a collapse.  The Eagles slipped to 140-6 and then 183-9.

Permaul, however, played a crucial, steady innings late on with an unbeaten knock of 20 which pushed the Eagles to the target.  Vishaul Singh added 24 with Leon Johnson 21 and Clinton Pestano 20 also making handy contributions.

 

 

Jamaica and Texas A&M high jumper Lamara Distin set the field alight with a new national record and world-leading mark at the Don Kirby Invitational on Friday.

The 21-year-old sophomore recorded a clearance of 1.92m, which bettered her own previous best of 1.88m that had seen her tied on the country’s national best list with two other jumpers, Kimberly Williamson and Sheree Ruff, for second place. 

Her new mark broke the record of 1.90m set in March 2002 by Maresa Cadienhead.  On the way to the record, Distin cleared heights of 1.78m, 1.83m, 1.86m, and 1.89m before soaring to the record and the event title.

The jump also moved Distin ahead of Texas Tech's Sydney Sapp in the NCAA leaders table after both were previously tied at 1.88m.

Jamaica Olympic bronze medallist Shericka Jackson clocked the fastest indoor time of her career over 60m for second place at the Tyson Invitational, held at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday.

Making her indoor debut for the season, Jackson clocked a new best of 7.12 but was well behind winner Mary Beth Sant-Price of the United States who clocked 7.04 to win the event. 

Sant-Price’s time is the second-fastest in the world this year behind Eva Swoboda who clocked 7.00 at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting in Lodz.  Another Jamaican, Natasha Morrison finished third in 7.35, with the Bahamas’ Anthonique Strachan fifth in 7.41.  A third Jamaican in the race Shockoria Wallace finished 6th in 7.47.

The men’s equivalent was captured by another Jamaica, Nigel Ellis, who took top spot in 6.90.  His compatriot long jumper Tajya Gayle, who is expected to do more sprinting this season, was second with 6.95, which was also his personal best.

In other events, Jamaica’s Ronald Levy finished third in the men’s 60m hurdles with a time of 7.98.  The event was won by Australia’s Chris Douglas in 7.64, with Jamal Britt second in 7.83.

Vishaul Singh fell just short of a 9th first-class 100 but led a brilliant Guyana Harpy Eagles fightback, which left the game against the Windward Volcanoes very much in the balance heading into Saturday's final day.

At the close of play, the Windwards batting a second time were 157 for 7 with Larry Edward (29) and Kenneth Dember (9) the batsmen at the crease.  Asked to bat again, the Windwards found the going hard early on as the typically dependable Devon Smith was dismissed for a duck in the first over, bowled by Nial Smith.  They lost Teddy Bishop (15), the team’s other opener, soon after, to leave the score at 20 for 2. 

Alrick Athanaze maintained his good form for the match after first hunkering down at the crease with Kavem Hodge to briefly stop the rot.  Hodge was, however, uprooted when he was dismissed lbw off the bowling of Keemo Paul for 15.  Keron Cottoy added 12 before being dismissed by Clinton Pestano and Denis Smith added just four runs before departing two overs later with the score at 77 for 5, after also falling victim to Pestano.

Veerasammy Permaul delivered the crucial wicket of Athanaze, who made 58, in the 29th over with the team struggling at 125 for 7.  Paul, Permaul, and Pestano have so far taken two wickets each with Smith claiming one.

Earlier, resuming the day at 181 – 5, still trailing the Winwards first innings tally of 339 by 155 runs, Singh held the Harpy Eagles innings together along with Paul as the pair put on a solid 146 for the 6th wicket to change the complexion of the match.  Paul was eventually dismissed, after putting 77 on the board, when he was trapped lbw by Kenneth Dember. Singh departed two overs later, just seven runs short of a century when he was stumped by Smith off Dember.  With the score then at 290 for 7, the team added another 37 runs to move to within 12 of the total.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted the team's persistent and obvious struggles with the bat are hurtful, particularly as he believes the unit had started to show improvement last year.

Despite commendable performances from its bowling line-up, the Windies batting line-up continued to struggle for yet another series after going down 3-0 to India on Thursday.  At the crease, in South Asia, the team at times looked ill-prepared or unable to find the resolve or technical ability needed to put partnerships together at crucial times or cope with the India bowlers for any prolonged period.

Similar to its performance against Ireland last month, where they lost an ODI series against that opponent for the first time, the Windies looked, perhaps more than ever, susceptible to losing wickets in huge clusters, which made it impossible to chase even modest targets.  In three matches, the team failed to reach 200 with its highest score of 193 coming in an all-out effort in the second match, in pursuit of 237 for 9.

For the batsmen, it was Jason Holder who led the way with a modest 65 over three matches, followed by Nicholas Pooran with 61, while lower-order all-rounder Odean Smith had 60.  By comparison, India’s top three featured Kuldeep Yadav who made 104 in three matches, Rishabh Pant made 85, while Shreyas Iyer made 80 in just one match.  Overall, the India batting line-up, which chased a low target in the first match, outscored the West Indies line-up by 148 runs.

“This is difficult, the last six games have been difficult in this format.  We started putting things together last year when we played Sri Lanka, it was difficult against Australia, but we started putting things together.  For this (type of performance) to come now, it’s hard to take, it’s hard to take from the batsmen,” Simmons told members of the media on Thursday.

“It’s not outwardly showing, but it’s hurtful and the players know that.  We have to make sure that we do the right things moving forward to get this batting line-up or whoever the batting line-up is to function as a batting line-up, to have big partnerships and assess the thing properly.”

The team’s highest partnership of the series was a 78 run seventh-wicket stand between Fabian Allen and Jason Holder.  Overall, the majority of the team’s biggest partnerships came from batting places below the 5th wicket.

“The mode of dismissals is the biggest issue.  If we are assessing the situation and we are playing according to the situation, and you get out then that’s execution.  But not assessing the situation and knowing what you want to do in the situations and the modes of dismissal it’s hurtful, and it doesn’t make for good watching as we’ve seen.  It’s something the players have to sit and get right as soon as possible.  We can’t keep going like this.”

 

USA sprinter Justin Gatlin has announced his retirement from the sport of track and field at the age of 40.

The sprinter enjoyed a long career tinged with success but also with controversy.  Gatlin announced his retirement via social media platform Instagram, via a post entitled ‘Dear Track’.

“I have loved you track. You gave me tears of sadness and of joy, lessons learned that will never be forgotten,” Gatlin wrote.

“The torch is passed but the love will never fade. On your mark, get set … Gone!”

The athlete who won 100m gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and was one of few to register wins at the highest level over Jamaica superstar Usain Bolt.  He went to complete a 100m and 200m sprint double at the World Championships in Helsinki, in 2005, he then won 100m gold at the 2017 Worlds in London, handing the big Jamaican sprinter a rare defeat at a major Games.

Gatlin was also, however, plagued by doping suspension, his first coming in 2001 and arising from the use of Adderall, which contains amphetamine. He had been using the drug since childhood to treat attention deficit disorder.

A second positive test in 2006 found excessive levels of testosterone in his system.  He was banned for eight years for that offense, later reduced to four years on appeal.

 

Guyana Harpy Eagles batsman Vishaul Singh was close to a half-century at the end of play, but the team still had a long way to go in pursuit of Windwards Volcanoes' sizeable first innings total of 339.

With Singh on 40 and Keemo Paul on 20, the Eagles navigated early trouble to end the day on 181 – 5, still trailing by 155 runs.  In pursuit of the target, the Guyana franchise was pegged back early when

Chanderpaul Hemraj was dismissed for 5, in just the fourth over, with 10 runs on the board.  Tagenarine Chanderpaul then partnered with Shimron Hetmyer to stage a decent recovery taking the score to 58 without further loss, before Hetmyer (24) was caught by Ryan John off the bowling of Sherman Lewis.

Only another 15 went on the board before Chanderpaul (30) found himself striding back to the pavilion after being caught by Alrick Athanaze, again off Lewis.

Leon Johnson and Singh then combined to put a partnership worth 32 on the board to take the score to 95 for 4, for the fourth wicket.  Their time together at the crease came to an end when Johnson was bowled by Preston McSween. Anthony Bramble added a useful 26 but was trapped lbw by Lewis, with the score at 141 for 5.

Lewis was the pick of the Volcanoes bowlers after claiming 3 for 47, McSween grabbed 2 for 44.

Earlier in the day, it was the same duo that racked up a record 10th wicket stand of 124, much to the frustration of Guyana.  McSween was eventually caught on 86 by Anthony Bramble off the bowling of Gudakesh Moti.

The issue of whether or not spectators will be allowed to attend the upcoming Carifta Games is yet to be resolved and remains a key area of focus for organisers.

The regional junior track and field event is expected to be staged in Jamaica for the first time since 2011 and more specifically return to the city of Kingston for the first time since 1996, in April of this year.

With the country and globe still in the midst of battling the coronavirus pandemic, however, the situation regarding the possibility of spectators and the number of spectators that can attend a given event, as always, remains a fluid and often tenuous process.

For example, recently it was announced that another upcoming track meet, the Gibson Relays, would be allowed to have spectators in attendance.  Only a few weeks ago, however, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) was denied permission for fans to enter the National Stadium for the country’s World Cup qualifiers.

Chairman of the local organising committee of the 2022 Carifta Games, Mike Fennell, revealed negotiations regarding the situation of fans were ongoing.

“We have a meeting set up with the agencies and ministries in providing the sort of regulations that will exist,” Fennell said.

“We have not finalized anything yet because we know that that is a moving target and the times are not static, but we continue to have meetings and there is goodwill all around,” he added.

“Everyone accepts the importance of having these games.  They're not for the seniors, they’re for the juniors but it is critical in the development of the sport.”

West Indies all-rounder Odean Smith insists he still has a lot to learn despite a number of positive performances for the men in maroon in recent matches.

On Wednesday, Smith was one of the few bright sparks as the West Indies crumbled in pursuit of a modest 237, set by India, in the second One Day International match between the teams.  The player put on a solid 24 runs from 20 deliveries at the tail of the innings, a figure made more impressive considering it was the third-highest score for the team on the day.

Prior to that, during India's turn at the crease, Smith had bowled with plenty of pace and hostility in claiming 2 for 29, removing both dangerous batsmen Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli.  His figures were the best for a West Indies bowler on the day.  The player, however, insists he remains determined to better both his approach to the game and performances.

“I have a lot of work to do in both departments, bowling, and batting, so going forward I’m going to have to do a lot more work,” Smith said following the match.

“I was saying the batsmen should have tried more to bat time.  I should probably have done the same thing.  We needed 44 from four overs, it’s not a lot and if we had taken it to two overs it would have been a different game, instead of trying to get it (runs) as quick as possible,” he added.

“So, I have a lot of work to do, but everything comes with time.  It’s around my fifth ODI game, so, I think I have a lot of time to continue learning.”

A devastating six-wicket haul from T&T Red Force off-spinner Bryan Charles played a key role in skittling out Jamaica Scorpions for under 160 runs, on day one of the West Indies Championship at the Brian Lara Stadium.

The Scorpions found themselves on the back foot early on when Red Force pace bowler Jaden Seales struck to remove opener Leroy Lugg, with just 10 runs on the board.

 Charles, who ended the match with outstanding figures of 6 for 48, began his relentless attack on the Scorpions line-up by breaking up the dangerous partnership of John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood.  The duo had already come together to put on 64 for the second wicket when Campbell was caught by Imran Khan off Charles.

Blackwood seemed on track for a half-century but was also uprooted on 44, by Charles, four overs later.  A shocking collapse then saw the Jamaica-based franchise lose their next four wickets for just 5 runs as Alwyn Williams (5), Romaine Morrison (0), Derval Green (0), and Jamie Merchant (0) all departed in quick succession.  Paul Palmer combined with Marquino Mindley for a late-innings 33-run partnership to avoid further embarrassment.

Seales provided the most support for Charles after claiming 2 for 17.  In response, Trinidad and Tobago were 98 for 3 at the close of play, having lost openers Keagan Simmons (11) and Khan (9), and Jason Mohammed (22). Joshua Da Silva (22) and Yannick Cariah (11) are the not-out batsmen at the crease.

 

Solid half-centuries from opener Devon Smith and Alick Athanaze ensured that Guyana Harpy Eagles spent the day toiling in the field as Windward Volcanoes posted 278 for 9 on day one of the West Indies Championship at Queens Park Oval.

The team was, however, also bolstered by staunch lower-order resistance to close the day, with the unbeaten last-wicket partnership of 62 between Preston McSween and Sherman Lewis continuing to frustrate the Jaguars.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the Windwards found themselves in early trouble when opener Kimani Melius was struck on the helmet by a delivery from Clinton Pestano and forced to leave the field without scoring.

Smith began in shaky fashion but dominated an early partnership with Kavem Hodge, who came in after Melius.  Hodge was dismissed for 10 after being caught by Leon Johnson off the bowling of Keemo Paul, while Smith went on to record his 64th First-Class half-century.  It was Paul who also brought that innings to an end with the batsman on 52.

Smith and Athanaze had produced a partnership of 49 before the former was dismissed.  Athanaze then kept a productive middle-order going after next pairing with Keron Cottoy to put on 63 for the third wicket.  The partnership ended when Cottoy was caught by Johnson off the bowling of Paul and Athanaze, who looked in good shape for triple figures, departed after unsuccessfully attempting to reverse sweep Veerasammy Permaul and being adjudged lbw on 68.

From 190-4, the Volcanoes quickly slipped to 195-6. Melius was dismissed for three following his return to the pitch.  With Kenneth Dember dismissed on 6 and the team struggling at 215, in the 73rd over, the innings looked set to be over, but McSween went on the attack against the bowler with some clean hits late on.

Guyana spinners Gudakesh Motie (3-61) and Permaul (3-5) have managed a combined six wickets for far, while Paul claimed 3-64.

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran has lamented the team’s inability to put together quality partnerships, following a 44-run loss to India in the second One Day International on Wednesday.

For the fourth straight ODI, the West Indies struggled to occupy the crease for any significant period, this time around in pursuit of India’s of 237, which could hardly be considered as overwhelming in most circumstances.

However, as has become the norm, the team struggled early on at the top of the order, with the first three batsmen combining for 46 runs.  Shamar Brooks and Akeal Hosein managed to put 42 on the board in the middle of the innings and Odean Smith added 24 late on, but chasing even such a modest target would have required plenty more stability and application, particularly at the top of the order.

Pooran, who himself made 9 from 13, insists the team needs to be much better at occupying the crease and carrying on to make notable scores.

“We kept losing wickets after developing partnerships.  Especially losing soft wickets,” Pooran said following the match.

“Every time someone is set, we got out at the wrong time.  The top five top six batsmen did not put up our hands tonight,” he added.

The team headed into the ODI series against India on the back of a particularly rough patch of form, having lost to Ireland for the first time in the format last month.  The Windies will look to avoid a sweep when they face India in the final match on Friday.

 

Jamaica Scorpions head coach, Andre Coley, has backed the team to improve its output at the crease for the new season of the Regional Four Day Competition, with the addition of new blood.

The franchise which has not won the tournament since the 2011-2012 season, has struggled to find consistency in recent editions, particularly at the crease.

“We have gone for younger investment at the top of the order to partner John and we have brought in young wicketkeeper-batsman Romaine Morris with the intention of strengthening the batting,” Coley told members of the media on Tuesday.

“The discussion that we have had with our senior batters is if they can even replicate or do better than what they did last year, along with some production from the younger guys then we should have more consistency in our batting,” he added.

Led by Jermaine Blackwood’s 768 runs, the team had a fair showing at the crease at the last edition of the tournament and scored the second-most in the competition with 3730.  The tally saw the Scorpions finish in third spot overall behind Trinidad and Tobago and champions Barbados.  Morris has been selected ahead of Aldane Thomas to partner with the team captain Campbell at the top of the order.  The Scorpions will bowl things off against the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force on Wednesday.

President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stoke, insists the team will now shift all its attention into competition mode following an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) on behalf of the country’s two-woman team.

On Monday, a CAS panel rejected an appeal filed by woman bobsledder Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian who had called for a recalculation of the point rankings for the Beijing 2022 Quota Allocation for the two-woman event, based only on races that actually took place. 

The appeal was based on the decision made by the Olympic organisers after inclement weather had led to the cancelation of a meet scheduled for Germany on December 4.  According to the filing, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation instead counted a December 5 competition twice, which allowed a sled piloted by France’s Margot Boch to qualify for the final spot in the two-woman bobsled competition at the Olympics. The decision meant Audra Segree, Fenlator-Victorian's brakewoman, missed out on a spot via a tiebreak.  The court, however, rejected the appeal.

While insisting it was important to air their grouses, Stokes insists the team is ready to move on.

“The decision has come down as dismissed, we accept that wholeheartedly.  Winning is one thing but the more important thing is to speak up and I’m very proud of Jazmine for speaking up,” Stokes said.

“We maintain that it is better sports results be determined on the field of play and not in administration but we put that behind us and we are now in a high-performance zone and we are getting ready for competition.”

Fenlator-Victorian will compete in the Women’s Monobob, which gets underway on February 11.  Jamaica’s men’s team will compete in both the Two-Man and Four-Man events, which get underway a few days later.

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