Windward Islands Volcanoes coach and former regional fast bowler, Andrew Richardson, insists the West Indies must close the distance between themselves and top-class cricketing nations, in terms of talent development, if the team is ever to be truly competitive again.

World cricket powerhouses India recently earned plenty of plaudits for a stunning win over Australia, with a squad full of mostly inexperienced developing players. 

The West Indies on the other hand, once the world’s best cricket team, have suffered lopsided defeats at the hands of England, New Zealand, and most recently Bangladesh.  The defeats have led to renewed criticism of the regional team in some quarters, but Ricardson insists the world’s top team are simply reaping the fruit of their labour, which took the form of talent development.

“It’s a correlation that the boards that have the luxury of having more coaches employed, more facilities, more players on contracts, more A team tours, more money invested in development, are the countries that have been doing well,” Richardson told Grenada’s Talksports program.

“Case in point, India has an academy just for fast bowling,” he added.

“In the 80s, not to knock anything from the Lloyd and Viv Richards era, we had awesome talent.  During that time, if you check the history, most teams were setting up their academies to improve their game.  We didn’t set up our academy until around 2000.  So, they have been reaping the success of what they have put in.”

Richardson insisted that the region still has the talent and pointed to the team’s performances in the youth competitions to stress the point.  The West Indies won the U-19 World Cup in 2016  and were runners up in 2004.

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, led the way with 85 as the regional team was dismissed for 257 on day one of a three-day warm-up match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI on Thursday.

The opener’s tally came from 187 balls, with 10 fours and no sixes.  Other scores of note from the innings saw fellow opener John Campbell fall just short of a half-century on 44 and Kyle Myers add 40.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the regional team put 67 on the board before Campbell was dismissed by Shahadat Hossain in the 19th over.  The regional team then tumbled from 110 for 1, to 131 for 5 as the middle-order of Shayne Moseley, Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, and Kavem Hodge collapsed.  Mosely added 15 before being dismissed, and the team lost its next three wickets for just 11 runs.

It took contributions from Joshua da Silva, Kyle Mayers, and Alzarri Joseph, who made scores of 20, 40, and 25, to drag the visitors past the 250-run mark.

Leg spinner Rishad Hossain led the way for the Bangladesh XI with a five-wicket haul, while pacer Khaled Ahmed picked up three.  At the close of play, Saif and Shadman Islam guided the hosts to 24 without loss, having batted for eight overs.

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced a new two-year agreement with Vibes Radio, in Dominica, for exclusive radio commentary rights to all West Indies home international matches and regional tournaments.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, Ricky Skerritt, is adamant that the recent refusal by senior players to take part in the ongoing tour of Bangladesh and the subsequent results must be framed within the broader context of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regional team was on the wrong side of a 3-0 mauling, at the hands of Bangladesh, in a lopsided series that showed a tremendous gulf in quality between the two teams.

The result could not have been entirely unexpected, as a full-strength Bangladesh comfortably beat a full-strength West Indies team in 2019.  The Jason-Mohammed team that took the field last week had at least eight players making their international debut.

Skerritt’s administration has made it clear that players who opt out of tours during the pandemic will not be punished, believes that the threat that the disease poses to the players must be acknowledged.

“We have to deal with the reality that players are facing a tremendously stressful decision about their careers and whether they participate in cricket under risky situations; even though cricket West Indies and other boards are doing everything possible to minimize the risk,” Skerritt told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What do you do to get the best players on the park, when many of the best players are reluctant to travel and choose not to play?  Are you going to punish them? Are you going to say if you don’t play then you don’t play again ever, then you lose them forever?”

"I listen to some of the discussion’s about COVID and I wonder if we believe that COVID only affects us individually and we should be fearful, but players and others shouldn’t.  So what has happened with this particular tour and the two tours before, during COVID is that you could not get all of your best players on tour at the same time.”

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons hopes the relative experience of the Test team, compared to the One Day International (ODI) unit, will make for a more competitive showing against Bangladesh when the series bowls off next week.

World-class spinner Shakib Al Hasan and a full-strength Bangladesh made short work of the regional team in a lopsided 3-0 sweep of the ODI series last week.  The Windies went into the series without several of its regular first-team players who pulled out of the tour for various reasons.

The ODI team, which was captained by Jason Mohammed, was the hardest hit, however, with at least eight players making their international team debut.  With more proven campaigners like bowlers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, and batsmen Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood, the Test team should be in better shape, in terms of experience in any case.

“It’s a big difference, we may have one, maybe two debutants for this Test series, whereas we had 10 for the ODI series.  So, it’s a huge difference,” Simmons said.

“The good thing is that those guys have been down here before.  On the last tour down here, Kraigg (Brathwaite) was captain, and Shannon and Roach were here.  So, it’s good to have that kind of experience going into a Test series,” he added.

The West will play Bangladesh in a two-Test series, which begins on February 2nd.  The second Test will take place between February 10th to 15th.

 

2015 World 100m hurdles gold medallist, Danielle Williams, is expected to open her season in the United States, at the American Track League Indoor Series, next month.

The upcoming appearance will be the first for the 28-year-old sprinter since she pulled the plug on her 2020 season, in May, when the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the international track and field schedule.

The American Track League, which is part of the World Athletics Silver Tour, gives professional athletes an opportunity to return to competition as preparations begin for an Olympic year. 

The meet, which is staged in four-parts, ran off in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Sunday.  2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 110m hurdles, Omar McLeod, who raced in the 60 metres, was one of several Jamaicans who took part on the opening weekend.  The list also included the likes of Tyquendo Tracey, Senoj-Jay Givans, and Christopher Taylor.  The meet will continue with the next three installments on January 31st, February 7th, and February 14th.

Williams, the 2019 Diamond League champion, is based in South Carolina in the USA where she trains with coach Lennox Graham at Clemson University.

In-form West Indies middle-order batsman, Jermaine Blackwood, has credited brief advice received from top-class India batsman Virat Kohli as helpful in changing his mindset towards scoring runs.

The 29-year-old scored his first century against England in 2015, a plucky 112 unbeaten in a draw in Antigua.  Following that impressive achievement, however, Blackwood seemed unable to cross the double-digit threshold.  In fact, before finally breaking the streak with 104 against New Zealand, in December, Blackwood had managed to score 10 half-centuries in-between but always fell short of a triple-digit score.

Included in that number were some figures frustratingly well clear of the 50 mark, but falling just short of the 100 mark, when for all intents and purposed the batsman seemed well set to do so.  The tally includes three scores in the 90s.  He scored 92 against Sri Lanka, in Galle, in 2015; 95 against Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi, in 2016, and 95 against England, in Southampton, in July of last year.  Prior to that, Blackwood also registered 85 against England, in Bridgetown, in May 2015.  During India’s tour of the West Indies, Blackwood took the opportunity to seek the advice of run-machine Kohli when the two briefly interacted off the pitch.

“I just asked him how come all the time I score so many half-centuries and just one century, and he just replied, ‘What did you do when you scored the century? How many deliveries did you face?’ I said I faced 212, and he said that’s it, once you can bat some balls you will score runs,” Blackwood recalled.

“I took a lot from that and I’ve always told myself, after that conversation, once I can bat over 200 balls or 300, I’m going to score runs.  Once I’m there, the way I bat, I’m going to score runs regardless of who I’m playing against or where I’m playing.”

Out of favour West Indies batsman Shai Hope and brother Kyle will be among three players to miss out on the CG Insurance Super50 Cup, after returning positive COVID-19 results in the latest round of PCR tests.

The Hope brothers, who would have represented Barbados Tridents, will be joined on the sidelines by left-handed opener Trevon Griffith who was part of the Guyana Jaguars batting line-up.  The latest round of tests was conducted on Sunday.

The Barbados Pride have already named Zachary McCaskie and Tevyn Walcott as replacements for the Hopes, while Kemol Savory has been named as the replacement for Griffith in the Jaguars squad.

The trio will remain in their respective territories where there will be required to follow local COVID-19 protocols.

All other members of the Barbados Pride and Guyana Jaguars squads returned negative COVID-19 tests and will undergo second tests on Thursday, January 28 before travelling for the tournament, as part of CWI's established protocols.

The CG Insurance Super50 Cup will be played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground and Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua from Sunday, February 7 to Saturday, February 27. On opening day, Leeward Islands Hurricanes will host arch-rivals Windward Islands Volcanoes at CCG.

 

West Indies fast bowler, Kemar Roach, insists he is ready for the challenge of trying to take wickets on Bangladesh pitches, despite the surfaces being more suited to spin-bowling.

Despite the presence of several spinners in the squad, the 32-year-old is expected to lead the West Indies bowling line-up, along with fellow pace bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph.  If the dominance of spinners in the One Day International series, on pitches that offered very little assistance to pace bowlers, is anything to go by they will certainly have their work cut out.

Having been in Bangladesh on two prior Test series, Roach would know first-hand what it takes to succeed on spin-friendly terrain.

In 2011, he claimed 0 for 52 off 9 overs and 1 for 49 off 13.2 overs in the second Test of the series.  When he returned in 2018, he claimed 1 for 74 off 18 overs in the first Test and 2 for 61 in 25 overs as Bangladesh made a mammoth 500 in the second Test.

“It mostly favours the spinners but I think there is enough there for fast bowlers to get something as well.  It’s just about having your plans, executing, and being disciplined,” Roach told members of the media via a press conference from Bangladesh on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be tough, we know we have to bowl a lot more overs to get our rewards but once you are willing to put the work in you can get some rewards over here…so it’s going to be tough but I’m up for the fight.”

The Windies have had recent success with pace bowling in Bangladesh with Tino Best claiming a five-for in 2012 and Fidel Edwards claiming 8 wickets in the 2011 series.

 

West Indies spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, believes the unusually long preparation time before the start of the Bangladesh Test series has been beneficial for players needing to get used to ‘difficult’ conditions.

The regional team arrived in Bangladesh on January 10 and was required to quarantine for 7 days based on the country’s COVID-19 protocols.  Since clearing that hurdle, however, the Test team has been free to train and will not start the series until February 1.

The Asian team is known for being particularly difficult to beat on their home turf and easily dispatched the West Indies 2-0 on their last visit in 2018.  One of those advantages is said to be the team’s pitches.

“It has helped (extra time) you have to adapt to these conditions. These conditions are difficult to play in, so the more time we get to understand the conditions is the better it is for us,” Cornwall said.

“It spins a bit more here.  It is always going to be drier than the Caribbean.  So, we just have to adapt to it and play to the best of our ability,” he added.

The inexperienced West Indies team will be hoping for a better showing than in the recently concluded One Day International (ODI) series where the team was summarily swept aside 3-0.  The ODI batting line-up found the top class Bangladesh spinners on the surfaces a difficult task to cope with.   

Captain Jason Mohammed believes the West Indies substitutes sent to tour Bangladesh were simply not up to the task as the visitors suffered a 120-run loss at Chattogram today. It was their third straight loss in the three-match series.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah

 

Kobe Bryant’s legacy is alive and well.

On Tuesday, it will be one year since the news broke that Laker legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, six other passengers and the pilot were passengers in a helicopter that crashed in the hills of Calabasas, California, killing everyone on board.  For so many, Bryant was an influential presence ripped away from his family and the world just as he was making a mark post-basketball career.

Bryant was an icon who won five NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVPs during his a 20-year career.  I was a child when I first saw Kobe play. I was utterly impressed. The other children I was around would launch paper balls at bins yelling “Kobe!”.  Everyone wanted to be him.

As a sports journalist his I was fascinated by his work ethic. The way he knew what he wanted and went about ensuring that he got it.  Even now, I find myself turning to old Kobe interviews and listening to him for self-motivation. I hope his family and loved ones continue to find the inner strength to deal with his tragic passing.

 

West Indies can take a page out of India’s book.

It is true that the West Indies’ poor form did not start with this Bangladesh tour. However, they can take a page out of India’s book following a second disastrous batting display losing to Bangladesh by seven wickets in the second ODI at the Mirpur Stadium in Dhaka on Friday.

A few days before this latest Windies defeat, India ended Australia’s record of being unbeaten at the Gabba since 1988 with a team that lacked key senior players.

Like India, coming into the Bangladesh series the Windies were not favourites. What worked for India was its ability to capitalize on their strengths. Much of their success can be attributed to the system that in place to allow new cricketers to emerge and thrive.

 Every successful team needs good structure and foundation. India’s “A” team programme has reaped its intended benefits. Take the case of Thangarasu Natarajan, who is the first Indian to make this international debut in all three formats on the same tour. He ended the Australia series as the highest wicket-taker.

There was also the case of 21-year-old Shubman Gill, who had been on the fringes of the Test side patiently awaiting his call and took his chance when it came

 He would go on to finish his maiden Test series with an average of 51.81. Rishabh Pant was another player that came through the Indian development system and is now reaping the rewards. The 23-year-old was left out of the first Test but in the series-decider was unbeaten on 89 and hit the winning runs that also won the series.

 

No Kohli, no problem.

Leadership is another area of India’s game where the Windies can look to India for inspiration. Like the Windies when Kieron Pollard opted not to tour due to Covid 19, India’s captain Virat Kohli returned home to witness the birth of his first daughter.

However, Ajinkya Rahane stepped up to the task at hand. Again, this reiterated the work being done behind the scenes to allow for ease of transition. I was impressed by how Rahane handled the resources at hand and worked with the team to unlock their full potential.

 

REDS-

 It is not too late for a Premier League turnaround. Liverpool has now gone four matches in a row in the Premier League without a goal. They are now six points away from league leaders Manchester United.  Despite struggling in the Premier League this season it is not too late for a turnaround.

Liverpool is a club that knows how to win and do so in style. Despite this, they have been lacking in confidence this season and it is evident in the errors that they are making on the field. There is a major lack of efficiency and energy. Once the club can find the rhythm that everyone admired last season they can get back to their winning ways.

It is evident that Jurgen Klopp is frustrated and not handling the pressure. Klopp’s frustration has been filtering to the players and emboldening the opposition. It is wise that the manager sticks to his principles and steers his players in the right direction. At this point, there is absolutely no need to make rash decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undefeated WBC and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. has expressed the hope of one day fighting in Jamaica, a place to which he still has strong connections.

Although the 30-year-old pugilist was born in the United States, his father Errol Spence is a Jamaican who still has roots in the town of Axe and Adze in the parish of Hanover.

Last month, the boxer scored a unanimous victory over number one contender Danny Garcia, in his first fight since a serious motor vehicle accident in 2019.

While the boxer will be content to relax and enjoy the fruits of his labour, for now, he admits staging a fight in his ancestral home sometime in the future would be a dream come true.

“I want to fight in Jamaica.  Hope I can make that happen, hopefully, it will be a big event where I still have all of my titles.  It’s something that I really wanted, it something that my dad wanted me to do as well.  It’s something we talked about even when I was an amateur so hopefully, we can make that happen,” Spence Jr. told Talking Sports.

“I think I will be able to fight there.  I want to be among those great names.  Guys like Mike McCallum, guys that could really fight.  His name was the body snatcher and I’ve watched him sometimes, how he went to the body well, how tough he was.”

The last major fight in Jamaica came in 2012 when Jamaica's Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, defeated Daulis Prescott at Jamaica's National Indoor Sports Centre.

 

 

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, insists the upcoming Test series against Bangladesh will be a chance for inexperienced players to prove their mettle by doing well for the short-handed team.

If the play in the One Day Internationals (ODIs) is anything to go by, the regional team could have plenty of cause for concern as they have been unable to compete with Bangladesh to date.  In two matches so far, in which they batted first, the team was bowled out for 122 and 149 before Bangladesh easily chased down the target.

Facing off against the Asians next week, in what could be considered their weakest format, and with just as many inexperienced players in the line-up, it is likely to be a stern challenge.  Simmons sees an opportunity.

“It’s chance that guys get to show what they can do at this level.  It’s a chance for them to put their names in the hat for 2023 and put their names in the hat for Sri Lanka and later this year.  So, it’s good to see what people are made of,” Simmons said.

The coach predicts the four-day contests will be good for the team, as it should prove to be a test of strength.

“Playing in these conditions, playing in the environment that we are in and everything, you have to be strong.  You have to get stronger than just playing a cricket match.  So, you will see who are the strong ones and who leads from the front.  Let’s see who takes up the challenge and who comes out best in the two-Test matches.”

Jamaica Premier League football club, Harbour View, where recent departed national striker Luton Shelton spent his formative years, has described his loss as heart-wrenching.

Shelton died on Friday after a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He was 35 years old.  In its release, the club chronicled the player’s rise from an eager youth representative to becoming the country’s all-time leading scorer.

“His late father, Luton Shelton Snr., brought him by the hand to coach Ludlow Bernard at an All-Prep vs All-Primary Final at Sabina Park in 1997 to play for Harbour View Football Club (HVFC) in the Under 14 Competition. The Tivoli Gardens resident began his journey, then accelerated his development through Under 16 Colt's, Manning Cup, and All Manning while attending Wolmer's Boys School. He quickly climbed the ladder to KSAFA Minor League, Under 20, and Premier League, attracting the glare of the national coaches,” it stated.

“International football came calling early and he embraced it with scoring a record 4 goals on debut. From there he never looked back as the goals flowed in buckets to surpass then-leading national goalscorer Paul 'Tegat' Davis, to hold the current record of 35 goals.”

Shelton represented Harbour View in Jamaica’s National Premier League between 2003-2006, scoring a healthy 44 goals in 43 appearances.  During his time at the club, he was part of the 2006-2007 Premier League championship team and also helped capture the CFU Club Championship in 2005.

The forward signed for Sweden’s Helzinberg, in 2007, and went on to play nine years abroad at various clubs, including a brief stint in the English Premier League with Sheffield United.  He returned to Harbour View in 2017 but was forced to retire soon after suffering injuries and later being diagnosed with the disease.

“As he returned home to HVFC, he battled training and match preparations as injuries interrupted, but at the National Stadium on February 20, 2017, he lit up the floodlights with a goal made in heaven as the bright 'Star Of The East' shone one more time to equalise against Tivoli Gardens FC. He never returned to the field after halftime.

Fond memories of a career filled with scorching runs, dribbles, and a ton of goals remind us of the man, the goalscorer, and the legend Luton George Kieshawn Shelton. Rest in eternal peace; your goal was well scored."

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