Former West Indies opener turned pundit, Philo Wallace, believes the poor performance of the Barbados Pride in the recent regional Super50 tournament provides even more evidence that selectors should stick with Kraigg Brathwaite as captain for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, as Jason Holder has ‘lost the art of captaincy.’  

Brathwaite received plenty of plaudits for leading an understrength Windies squad to an unexpected 2-0 Test victory in Bangladesh earlier this year.  Brathwaite, who had been axed as vice-captain the series before, was put in charge of the squad after regular captain Holder was one of 12 players to opt-out of the tour after citing health and safety concerns.

Since then, the debate has raged fiercely on both sides regarding whether the panel of selectors should return Holder to his original position or stick with the momentum achieved by Brathwaite in the unexpected win.  Wallace falls firmly in the camp supporting the latter.

“I believe that there is a shift with what Brathwaite did in Bangladesh, something happened in Bangladesh that brought a 2-0 victory for the West Indies and 2-0 defeat for Bangladesh at home,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Kraigg Brathwaite and that management team did something right.  The head coach said he saw a difference in attitude.  He saw a different type of vibe with the guys.  Are we going to kill that vibe as we return to Antigua? Or are we going to rekindle that vibe and take it into the Sri Lanka series,” he added.

“Jason has lost the art of captaincy.  There are no tactical moves.  We just saw a Super50 competition he captained six games and we lost 5.  We had a team 87 for 8 and we could not crush them.  The captain who is 6ft 6’ could not take up the ball and bowl three devastating yorkers and bowl out the team for under 120.  That is what we call leadership, you take it up and you do it yourself.”

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, hailed the role of the team’s experienced players in a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka, in the opening game of the three-match series on Wednesday.

In the end, the West Indies coasted to the line, in fairly comfortable fashion, with some 41 balls left, but at times the result had not always seemed like a foregone conclusion. 

With the ball, the team put in a dominant performance and restricted Sri Lanka to 131 for 9 at the end of 20 overs.  In response, things also got off to a flyer with openers Evin Lewis (28) and Lendl Simmons (18) putting on 52 for the first wicket.  However, following the dismissal of Lewis, by Akila Dananjaya, in the third over, the team found itself in a real instance of concern with a flurry of lost wickets.  Dananjaya took a sensational hat-trick removing big hitters Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran for ducks.  Simmons departed the very next over to leave the West Indies struggling at 62 for 4.  /a captain’s innings from Pollard (38), which included a savage 6 sixes off Dananjaya, however, went a long way to restoring the situation.  Jason Holder, who added a resilient, unbeaten 29 from 24 balls, safely carried the team over the line following Pollard's dismissal. 

“The objective was to win the game and we did that, obviously there’s a couple of kinks to iron out, we have not played T20 cricket in a while. We had a couple of guys coming back into the set-up as well so we’ll take the win and have discussions about how we want to continue playing," Pollard said.

“In terms of the batting collapse we have had, we have seen that but what is good is that this time around we got over the line with the experienced guys like Jason, using all his Test experience, Bravo using his experience as well.  Having said that, well done to the openers for the start that they gave us, so we were able to cruise on the back end.”

 

 

In a bizarre game of fluctuating fortunes at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in which a bowler took a hat-trick and then got hit it for six sixes in an over, the West Indies battled to a four-wicket win against Sri Lanka with 41 balls to spare.

Chasing a modest total of 132, the West Indies, who took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, started strong as Evin Lewis hit three sixes off the first over bowled by Angelo Matthews that yielded 19 runs.

However, in the fourth over with the home side sailing merrily along at 52 without loss, the match evolved into an even more entertaining spectacle.

Lendl Simmons had hit a six and a four off from the first two balls of the third over bowled by Dushmantha Chameera that yielded 14 runs. At the end of the over West Indies were 48-0 but it was the start of the most bizarre period of play in the match.

It all began with Lewis hitting Akila Dananjaya’s first ball of the fourth over for four as the West Indies raced to 52-0.

Lewis was caught in the deep for 28 off Dananjaya’s second ball, Gayle was trapped lbw first ball before Nicholas Pooran’s wicket completed the hat-trick caught behind off a thin edge. In three balls the West Indies had slipped from 52-0 to 52-3.

Lendl Simmons hit a six and a four before Hasangara de Silva trapped him lbw for 26. The West Indies were then 62 for 4.

There was another dramatic twist in over number six, Dananjaya’s third.

With Captain Kieron Pollard and Jason Holder at the crease and the West Indies still needing 70 runs, Pollard went on the offensive hitting the spinner for six consecutive sixes rushing to 38 from 10 balls.

The match would swing again in the seventh when Hasangara trapped Pollard lbw for 38 and then Fabian Allen for a duck with consecutive balls as both players failed to read the spinner.

Dwayne Bravo, who was unbeaten on four at the end, survived the hat-trick ball and together with Holder, who was 29 not out, produced an unbroken stand of 31 after Holder drove Pradeep for six over long-on to seal the victory.

Hasangara ended with 3-12. Dananjaya’s figures that read 3-17 after two overs ended with 3-62.

Pollard had won the toss and put Sri Lanka into bat. The visitors lost their first wicket at 20 when Pollard diving to his right pulled off a spectacular catch at short midwicket to dismiss Danushka Gunathilaka for four and hand debutant Kevin Sinclair his first international wicket.

Niroshan Dickwella (33) and Pathum Nissanka (39) put on 51 for the second wicket but there were no other noteworthy partnerships for the Sri Lankans who crawled to 132 for 9 from their allotment of 20 overs.

Obed McCoy was the best of the West Indies bowlers with 2-25 and there was a wicket each for Jason Holder, Allen, Sinclair, Dwayne Bravo and Fidel Edwards, who bowled tight lines and lengths, hardly giving anything away to the Sri Lankan batsmen.

 

Former West Indies batting coach, Toby Radford, has suggested calls to replace all-rounder Jason Holder are an overreaction and would stick with the current captain, despite the success of Kraigg Brathwaite in Bangladesh.

Brathwaite was widely commended for his role in leading an understrength team to a 2-0 win away to Bangladesh earlier this month. Holder, on the other hand, was one of 12 players to pull out of the tour after citing health and safety concerns.

Holder had, however, also pointed to feeling some level of fatigue having had to deal with quarantine situations in both the West Indies prior tours of England and New Zealand.  However, in addition, aspects of the team’s performance on those tours had also put Holder and his captaincy under the microscope.

While admitting that the team had performed exceptionally well in Bangladesh, Radford, however, sees no reason to replace Holder as the man in charge for the upcoming Sri Lanka series.

“I think they surprised everybody not least of all Bangladesh, probably their own supporters as well.  They performed really well.  But it’s very easy to get carried away, isn’t it? You have a couple of big wins like that and then suddenly we have done it because Kraigg Brathwaite is captain and Jason Holder wasn’t captain,” Radford told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Who’s to know if Jason was captain whether you would have had the two wins anyway,” he added.

“There were a lot of very good individual performances and because individuals play well and you win two matches, to me, that isn’t down to captaincy.”

In supporting his decision to stick with Holder, Radford pointed to the example of the incident with India captain Virat Kolhi, which occurred during the Asian team's big win over Australia.

“It was raised the other day, someone mentioned Virat Kohli.  They (India) lost the game in Australia, he went home for the birth of his child.  They went suddenly and won a couple of games.  When they started the Test series against England, in India, nobody questioned whether Kohli should captain the team. He came back in because he was captain.”

   

 No need to discard Jason Holder as Test captain.

    How do we evaluate a captain? Do we use their win-loss record? Do we judge their on-field performances? West Indies Test captain Jason Holder should continue as the team’s leader despite calls for Kraigg Brathwaite to replace him at the helm.

The calls have come after Brathwaite led the squad to victory over Bangladesh in a two-Test series two weeks ago while Holder opted not to tour due to health and safety concerns.

 Changing captains is not the answer to the West Indies’ problems and if the selectors were to do so it would be a very rash and irresponsible decision. It would also amount to a knee-jerk reaction.

When Holder was selected to be Test captain in 2015, it was purported as a “long-term” appointment. By replacing Holder with Brathwaite after success in one Test series, the selectors run the risk of undermining Holder’s confidence by bringing into question his ability to lead. Nothing good would come from that.

 It would be inaccurate and quite unfair to say Holder has had no success as captain as he did win the Wisden Trophy in 2019.

The 29-year-old Holder has grown as a cricketer and is one of the world’s leading Test cricketers, ranked third on the all-rounder’s chart, 11th in bowling and 43rd in the batting rankings.

He has a lot to offer to the team and each player can learn from his exploits in different formats and levels of the game.

It is also key to note that just recently, Kraigg Brathwaite was stripped of the vice-captaincy and told to focus on improving his game.

The Windies will be confident going into their series against Sri Lanka. So instead of causing unnecessary division within the team by changing captains, each player should be encouraged to learn from the other and cooperation should be encouraged.

Both Holder and Brathwaite can work alongside each other. Holder could learn a thing or two from Brathwaite and vice versa.

 So instead of focusing on who should be captain, the focus should be on building around the core and planning for the future.

 

 The NBA All-Star Game should be cancelled.

 

The 2021 All-Star Game was initially cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but the NBA has reversed the decision and decided to hold a one-night event in Atlanta on March 7, despite public objection from players.

Despite players like LA Lakers star LeBron James coming out and voicing his displeasure with the league’s decision saying that he will be there physically but not mentally, the NBA’s persistence in continuing with the All-Star Game, gives the impression that player safety and concerns are being overlooked in the name of profit.

The All-Star Weekend provides fans with the ability to interact tradition with their favourite players. However, the fact that Covid-19 has prevented fans from being at the games undermines the need this season.

We live in unprecedented times and the safety and health of the players should be of paramount importance, and it is not unreasonable to believe that the All-Star Game could trigger virus clusters that put even more players at risk.

 

Is all this worth risking the rest of the NBA season?

 Novak Djokovic is unstoppable!  Novak Djokovic extended his dominance at the Australian Open beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 to secure his18th Grand Slam title.

The 33-year-old Djokovic dispensed of his opponent in an hour and 53 minutes to claim his ninth Australian Open title and move with two of the number of titles won by both Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal.

Not even an abdominal injury suffered earlier in the tournament could prevent the Joker from continuing his relentless march to catch up with his two contemporaries.

Congratulations!

Former West Indies fast bowler and Barbados cricketer, Ian Bradshaw, would not be in favour of replacing team captain Jason Holder just yet but believes questions regarding the player’s state of mind must be cleared up.

On the back of an impressive effort in marshaling the squad to defeat Bangladesh, in a two-Test series last week, calls have arisen for Kraigg Brathwaite to lead the team, ahead of regular captain Holder, for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka.

Holder missed out on the team’s tour of Bangladesh after being one of 12 players to pull out of the campaign due to health and safety concerns.  In addition, however, the captain, who had led the team to previous tours of England and New Zealand, also admitted to experiencing a high level of fatigue, particularly having gone through several weeks of quarantine.

For Bradshaw, provided he is in a good mental state, Holder should resume his duties leading the squad.

“I would support the retention of Jason if it is that we understand his state of mind at this time,” Bradshaw told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Jason has been earmarked as our long-term captain.  Let’s recall that he’s had some success and we were very excited when we won the Wisden Trophy.  He has had some success and he has been molding the team,” he added.

“He has led by example and I would want to sit down with him and understand the challenges he was going through.  Because if he is still challenged it may need a situation where he is given that space to ensure that his individual performance does not suffer.”

Holder was appointed captain of the team in 2015.

 

Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Deryck Murray, believes there should be a serious consideration for Kraigg Brathwaite to remain captain on the back of the team’s strong showing against Bangladesh.

Brathwaite, who took charge of the regional squad after Holder and several others opted out of the tour, after citing health and safety concerns, has widely been credited for unifying the team under difficult circumstances.

Holder, on the other hand, has had a difficult spell in charge over the last several months with lopsided losses to England and New Zealand.  Albeit triumphing against more lowly ranked opposition, Murray believes Brathwaite was able to pull exceptional performances out of the squad and is in favour of keeping momentum.

 “It is something that you have to talk about very seriously.  I do not discard Kraigg Brathwaite as Test captain automatically,” Murray told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“You need to look at the team that we are going to put together, and if it is that there is going to be four or five players from this (Bangladesh tour) team there is a strong case for doing that (retaining Brathwaite),” he added.

“There is a strong case for saying to Jason Holder ‘come back, don’t have the pressures of captaincy on you.  You are going to be the central all-rounder in this team.  You are going to bat at six, we need you to attack as a bowler, be a wicket-taking bowler, not a containing bowler as the fourth seamer in the team, and therefore we need to have the best available team at that time.”

“The team who is coming with the confidence of just being successful.  Rallying around the team that we are going to build for the next three or four months because we have two or three series coming up in quick succession.  We have to make sure we are doing that and that we don’t suddenly say ‘yep these players have done it but we are not putting too much emphasis on that.”

 

 

Former West Indies fast bowler, Franklyn Rose, has defended recent comments made by WI captain Jason Holder who suggested some past players were guilty of being overly critical without being constructive.

In addressing recent criticism aimed in his direction by legendary fast bowler Sir Andy Roberts, Holder insisted he respected the former players a great deal.  He, however, believes a great deal more could be achieved with a direct dialogue between the past and present players.

Rose, who is also well-known for pulling no punches in his analysis, agreed with the captain’s assessment.

“We’re all passionate about the game and we are all disappointed in the performance of West Indies cricket, but it seems as if some of the past players live to see the guys fail,” Rose told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“We should be supporting the guys.  Give them a call, send them a text message.  Give them a few words of encouragement,” he added.

“When I used to play Malcolm Marshall was my coach and I was honoured to be a part of that team.  So, I would always try to impress as a fast bowler, impress the great Malcolm Marshall.  I think if some of these past players would pick up their phones and send a message or words of encouragement to these guys, I think it would play a big part (in their development).”

 

 

 

West Indies captain, Jason Holder, admits he is disappointed by questions about his commitment to the team, which have come to the fore following his decision not to take part in the ongoing tour of Bangladesh.

Holder was one of 12 first-team players to opt-out of the tour, citing health and safety concerns as the primary reasons.  The player and others opting out of the tour were roundly criticised in some quarters, with Holder taking the brunt as the leader of the unit.

From his perspective, however, Holder believes he has more than proved his commitment to West Indies cricket over the years.

“A lot of people just don’t understand.  I would hate to think people would question my commitment to West Indies cricket,” Holder told the Mason and Guest radio program. 

“Over the last five, six, seven years I’ve been on the road.  Eight years consistently I’ve played for the West Indies.  I’ve had tons of opportunities to go abroad and play domestic, T20 leagues.  I could have done county cricket, well I have done it, but I’ve had opportunities to go around the world and I’ve always put West Indies cricket first,” he added.

“So, for people to come now and question my commitment that shows me that people just don’t understand.  My reasons for not going to Bangladesh, yes I had concerns over the integrity of the bubble, but it was mostly mental fatigue.”

West Indies captain Jason Holder has lashed out at the former greats who constantly criticize the current team without providing solutions.

Barbados Pride Captain Jason Holder said his team is excited and focused on winning the CG Insurance Super50 competition set to begin on February 7 in Antigua.

Barbados last won the title in the 2016/17 season and Holder believes that with a shortened season before them, they need to be ready to win consistently.

“We are really looking forward to the first tournament of the year. It’s great to be back and there is a lot of excitement in our camp. We are focused on winning,” Holder said.

“It will be important to hold our nerve under pressure and execute under pressure. The team that is most consistent always wins, and we have to look at being consistent and win for our country and our fans.”

Meanwhile, Red Force Captain Kieron Pollard believes his team is blessed with a good blend of youth and experience to advance to the finals and eventually win it all.

“I believe we have a very good team in terms of youth and experience and we can go that step further and make it to the finals,” he said.

“In the last few years, we missed out, reaching the semi-finals and being beaten, once by CCC and once by Leewards. Hopefully, we have all the energy and all the gas in the tank and go all the way. This promises to be a really good tournament, and I know players will be aiming to impress and improve their careers.”

Both captains are among several West Indies stars set to participate in this year’s tournament.

In addition to Holder and Pollard, players such as Roston Chase (Barbados Pride), Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana Jaguars), Sheldon Cottrell (Jamaica Scorpions), Hayden Walsh Jr (Leeward Islands Hurricanes), Nicholas Pooran (Trinidad and Tobago Red Force) and Andre Fletcher (Windward Islands Volcanoes) have signalled their participation in the tournament.

Whilst COVID-19 related constraints mean that 2019-2020 Champions, the West Indies Emerging Players, are unable to defend their title, eight of those talented young winners from the 2019 tournament have found spots in the competing franchise teams, including Keon Harding, Dominic Drakes and Justin Greaves (Barbados Pride), Kevin Sinclair (Guyana Jaguars), Ashmead Nedd (Leeward Islands Hurricanes), Jayden Seales (Trinidad and Tobago Red Force) as well as, Kimani Melius and Roland Cato (Windward Islands Volcanoes).

Full squads:

Barbados Pride: Jason Holder (Captain), Joshua Bishop, Shamarh Brooks, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Dominic Drakes, Jonathan Drakes, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder, Akeem Jordan, Nicholas Kirton, Zachary McCaskie, Ashley Nurse, Tevyn Walcott; Dexter Toppin (Head Coach)

 

Guyana Jaguars: Leon Johnson (Captain), Shimron Hetmyer (Vice-Captain), Christopher Barnwell, Anthony Bramble, Asad Fudadin, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Tevin Imlach, Keon Joseph, Ramaal Lewis, Gudakesh Motie, Akshaya Persaud, Kemol Savory, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair, Nial Smith; Esuan Crandon (Head Coach)

 

Jamaica Scorpions: Rovman Powell (Captain), Derval Green (Vice-Captain), Fabian Allen, Dennis Bulli, Sheldon Cottrell, Javel Glenn, Brandon King, Andre McCarthy, Jamie Merchant, Romaine Morris, Paul Palmer, Jeavor Royal, Odean Smith, Aldaine Thomas, Oshane Thomas; Andre Coley (Head Coach)

 

Leeward Islands Hurricanes: Devon Thomas (captain), Montcin Hodge (Vice-Captain), Colin Archibald, Sheno Berridge, Quinton Boatswain, Keacy Carty, Nino Henry, Amir Jangoo, Nitish Kumar, Jeremiah Louis, Ashmead Nedd, Kieran Powell, Ross Powell, Hayden Walsh Jr, Terance Warde; Stuart Williams (Head Coach)

 

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force: Kieron Pollard (Captain), Darren Bravo (Vice-Captain), Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kjorn Ottley, Khary Pierre, Nicholas Pooran, Anderson Phillip, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Lendl Simmons; David Furlonge (Head Coach)

 

Windward Islands Volcanoes: Sunil Ambris (Captain), Andre Fletcher (Vice-Captain), Alick Athanaze, Roland Cato, Keron Cottoy, Kenneth Dember, Larry Edward, Ryan John, Ray Jordan, Desron Maloney, Obed McCoy, Preston McSween, Kimani Melius, Emmanuel Stewart, Kevin Stoute; Andrew Richardson (Head Coach)

 

 

Shimron Hetmyer, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell were among West Indies players were retained by their Indian Premier League franchises on Wednesday. However, several others were cut loose and will re-enter the pool of players eligible for the IPL Draft coming up on February 11.

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