Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced the match schedule and venues for the much-anticipated England T20 International (T20I) and Test Tours of the West Indies in January and March 2022.

Babar Azam’s half-century for Pakistan helped condemn West Indies to a seven-wicket loss in their first warm-up match in Dubai on Monday.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is backing talismanic batsman Chris Gayle to do well at the T20 World Cup despite not heading into the event in the best of form.

Heading into the tournament, the swashbuckling left-hander is 97 runs away from scoring the most runs in T20 World Cup history.  Based on the player's most recent run of form, however, there is no guarantee of him getting there.  In the 16 games, the player has only managed 227 runs at an average of 17.46.

In addition, the 42-year-old has faced criticism from a vocal section of the West Indian cricket fanbase who are adamant that he should have stepped aside for younger talent.  Gayle was recently involved in a war of words with bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose, who suggested that while the player was still capable of lighting up bowling attacks on his day, he was not at the same level as he was a few years ago.  For Pollard, however, the batsman has been and continues to be a very valuable asset to the team.

“Again, no words to describe what he has done for us in World Cups, in the T20 World Cups, and T20 cricket around the world as an individual," Pollard said during an interview with team captains' on Saturday in Dubai.

"For him, 97 runs away, but I don't think he will be looking at that. I think the main goal for us and him, is trying to win a World Cup and defend the title. He is looking forward to that. Hopefully, he can come and deliver for us. We back him to do well," he added.

 

West Indies fast bowler Ravi Rampaul is confident the experience of senior members of the team will be crucial in its effort to retain the ICC World Cup.

The 37-year old’s call up to the squad has been among the most controversial made by the Caribbean team, with some fans insisting the West Indies should have focused on selecting younger talent.  Rampaul’s effective showing the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), however, convinced selectors that he could be an asset for a team looking to successfully defend its title.

In 10 matches, Rampaul was the tournament’s leading scorer with 19 wickets at an economy rate of 7.96 and a best of 4 for 29.  The bowler is satisfied that the work put in merited selection to the team’s T20 World Cup squad.

“In every team, you want to play for, you have to put a performance out there and I know I needed to work hard and show the selectors I could still take wickets and compete at a level.  I needed to put the performance out there and show them I could take wickets at the CPL stage,” Rampaul told members of the media on Saturday.

Despite the criticism aimed towards the age of some members of the squad, Rampaul believes the experience of the team will be critical in the bid to retain the trophy.

“Going into big World Cup games you need experience and the team that was selected is a lot of experienced guys and a lot of young guys as well, guys that play around the world in different conditions.  We know games come quick and fast and the experienced guys will know how to manage themselves.”

The West Indies will bow into action with a match against England on October 23rd.

After a COVID-19 enforced postponement, the T20 World Cup will finally get underway on Sunday.

Initially scheduled to take place in Australia last year, and then India following the postponement, the competition will now take place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

A first round featuring eight teams, including debutants Namibia and Papua New Guinea as well as 2014 champions Sri Lanka (who have reached three T20 World Cup finals, more than any other side), gets the tournament up and running, with four teams progressing into the Super 12 stage.

The West Indies are aiming to defend their title, having edged out England in the 2016 edition. Eoin Morgan's team, who have the world's top T20 batsman in their ranks, are sure to be one of the main challengers for the Windies' crown.

Virat Kohli's India are among the favourites, while Pakistan will be hoping captain Babar Azam delivers. Australia and New Zealand (the most economic side when it came to bowling in 2016) cannot be discounted either, with South Africa also improving in recent years.

It promises to be a thrilling tournament and, with the help of Opta, Stats Perform looks at some of the key data points heading into the tournament.

 

Gayle on the record trail

The Windies have won two of the last three T20 World Cups, triumphing in 2016 and 2012 either side of Sri Lanka's success, and they remain the only team to have won the tournament on multiple occasions. Key to their sustained success has been Chris Gayle, who at 42, is still the face of the sport in the Caribbean.

He is just 80 runs away from becoming the second player to score 1,000 runs at the T20 World Cup. In fact, he needs only 97 runs to surpass Mahela Jayawardene's record tally of 1,016. Gayle already holds one competition record, for the number of sixes (60), while he averages 40 across 26 innings at the tournament, with a brilliant strike rate of 146.7.

New Zealand great Brendon McCullum (123) is the only player to have a higher T20 World Cup score than Gayle's 117, and you would not bet against the Windies talisman claiming that record either.

Gayle will have able support from the likes of Kieron Pollard (1,378 T20 runs), Dwayne Bravo (1,229) and Lendl Simmons (1,508), not to mention Nicholas Pooran.

Despite batting in the middle order, Pooran hit the second-highest number of sixes in this year's Caribbean Premier League (25). He also has form in the middle east, having struck 350 runs at a rate of 170 in the most recent edition of the Indian Premier League.

 

Malan and Livingstone to lead England

The Windies' first opponents in the Super 12 phase will be England, who will be out for revenge. They had a batting strike rate of 148 in 2016, the best of any team, but still fell short. Yet while the West Indies are now ninth in the ICC's T20I rankings, Morgan's men sit top of the pile.

Dawid Malan is the star batsman. He is ranked number one in the world in T20Is, with a rating of 841, way clear of second-placed Babar (819). Over 30 innings, he has amassed 1,123 runs at an average of 43.2 and a strike rate of 139.3.

Morgan, not shy of a big innings himself, is also able to call on Liam Livingstone, who has made a fantastic start to his T20I career. 

From seven innings, Livingstone has hit 206 runs with a strike rate of 167.5. His high score of 103 is the joint-highest in England's squad, level with Malan (103 not out).

As was the case at the 2019 World Cup, England's batting depth is exceptional, though they are shorn of Ben Stokes, who always seems to deliver when it matters most.

 

Kohli's last shot

Not too far behind Malan in the ICC's T20I batsman rankings is India star Kohli, who is stepping down as the captain in the shortest format of the game following the World Cup.

Winners of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, India have only reached one other final, back in 2014. Kohli was named player of the tournament, top-scoring with 319 runs, and as he prepares to bow out as captain, he will be determined to cap off his tenure on a high.

No player has made more half-centuries in the competition than the 32-year-old (level with Gayle on nine), though Kohli is yet to log a century.

Kohli's hopes may well rest on the shoulders of Rohit Sharma. The opener debuted with an unbeaten half-century back in 2007 and has made 111 T20I appearances, behind only Shoaib Malik (116) and Mohammed Hafeez (113).

Only Martin Guptill (147) has struck more sixes than Sharma (133) in the format, while over the last five years, India have won every time the batsman has scored 50+ runs.

 

Captain fantastic

Shahid Afridi has taken the most wickets of any player in T20 World Cup history (39). Indeed, Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan has taken the most wickets at the tournament of any player set to participate in this edition (30), which shows the void Pakistan are having to fill following Afridi's retirement.

They do, however, possess a supreme batsman in the form of captain Babar. 

Since his T20I bow in 2016, Babar has tallied up 2,204 runs. His average of 46.9 puts him third on the all-time T20I list (20+ innings), behind Kohli (52.7) and his fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (48.4), who provides another string to Pakistan's bow.

Babar, who has only managed one century to date (122 from 59 balls against South Africa earlier this year) was the fastest player to 2,000 T20I runs (52 innings) beating Kohli's previous best of 56, and an enticing encounter between the sub-continental rivals takes place on October 24.

West Indies T20 vice-captain Nicholas Pooran has heaped praises on under pressure batsman Chris Gayle, insisting the veteran remains a valuable part of the team ahead of its attempted World Cup title defence.

The 42-year-old Gayle has found himself in the crosshairs of critics in recent months, with many insisting the player should have been overlooked in favour of younger talent.  The batsman'ss recent form will not have helped matters.  In the last year, Gayle has played a total of 16 matches, scored a total of 227 runs with an average of 17.46 and strike rate of 117.61, well down from his career average of 139.18.

Criticism of the batsman recently came to a head when he took exception to comments made by former fast bowler Curtly Ambrose who suggested that Gayle was not the same player he used to be.  Pooran is, however, certain of the value the player brings to the team.

“As much as everyone has questioned it, 14,000 runs doesn’t come about just like that.  Not many people know how to win T20 matches and T20 leagues and that sort of experience is invaluable,” Pooran told members of the media on Wednesday.

“The experience batting out in the middle, talking about intent, talking about taking on players when to go when not to go, you just don’t get experience like that,” he added.

“We are very happy to have him, even off the pitch he is someone who supports you 100 percent, someone who backs you 100 percent.  You talk about positivity, he is one of the most positive guys we have on the team, in the Caribbean.

“He’s a special human being.  Only when you play cricket with him or against him you’d know what it feels like to have him around.”

 

Marlon Samuels was an instrumental player in the West Indies ICC T20 World Cup triumphs in 2012 and 2016. In 2012, Samuels scored a 56-ball 78 that proved to be the foundation for the West Indies 137 for 6 that was good enough to defeat Sri Lanka by 36 runs.

Then in 2016, the outspoken Jamaican scored an unbeaten 85 from 66 balls to help the West Indies pull off a remarkable victory chasing down England’s 155 for 9.

Carlos Brathwaite stole the show at the end with his unbeaten 34 from just 10 balls and which included four consecutive sixes in the final over bowled by Ben Stokes, but it was Samuels who kept the West Indies in the game after they had stumbled to 107-6 and needing 49 from just 27 balls.

Samuels has since retired, but the West Indies might already have a replacement in their camp in the form of Roston Chase.

The lanky Barbadian believes he is the man to take over that very important role as the West Indies go in search of a third consecutive title.

“I see myself playing a similar role,” Chase said while speaking with the media from the West Indies training base in Dubai on Thursday.

“I played for the St Lucia franchise for the past two years where I come in mostly after the Powerplay and knock it around and pick up the ones and twos and the occasional boundary when the ball is in my area to score so it’s an easy role for me.

“I like that role and with the power-hitting guys that we have, my role is just to give them the strike and let them do their thing but if the ball is in my area I will put it away.”

Chase demonstrated as much during the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League in the summer when, after a slow start to the season, he was among the league's leading run-scorers with 446 runs. Those runs came at a remarkable average of 49.55 and strike rate of 144.33.

That success, he revealed, came as the result of an adjustment he made to the way he was playing.

“Early on in this year’s CPL, the pitches were a bit difficult. They had a lot of grass but the grass was kind of spongy. It wasn’t like even grass for the ball to slide on. The ball was bouncing a bit; that was a bit hard so I just thought that after the first couple of matches I was trying to go at the ball a bit too hard. It was a wicket that you needed time to get in first and then it became easier,” he explained.

“So that is what I told myself after the first couple of games, just give myself a bit of time at the crease and then let my stroke play take over from there.”

He might have to make another adjustment for the pitch in Dubai where the West Indies will open the defence of their title on October 23 against England.

“We’ve had three training sessions so far and basically, the pitches have been coming on pretty good. The only issue I see with the pitches is that they’re keeping low, so you probably have to stay low when you’re executing your shots and that should work but the pitches are coming on a lot nicer than the ones we usually get in the CPL, so it should be a bit easier to get some runs,” he said.

 

 

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team has looked to address well-noted concerns regarding the rotation of the strike but believes it is important to stick to its strengths, with the World Cup on the horizon.

Known internationally for their flamboyant, swashbuckling style, the Caribbean team will head into next week's tournament as defending champions.  However, despite having captured the global title on two occasions, questions have been raised in recent times regarding the team’s batting approach.

With a batting line-up filled with heavy hitters, the problematic issue stems from the tendency to soak up too many dot balls.  Pooran admits that it has been a focus but in the grand scheme of things the team intends to stay true to its style as it has delivered success in the past.

“We have net sessions and we as a group have spoken about it, we have players to play certain roles, honestly.  As a batting group, we want to get better, we want to improve, and getting singles is a part of that game as well, but our focus is not so much on singles,” Pooran told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We won two World Cups with the same problems, to be honest, not getting singles.  I don’t think the emphasis is so much on it, but on intent and playing smart cricket.  There are times that we know that will have to put our egos aside and grind for the team and if that means pushing a dot ball and getting singles, we’ll do that.”

West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard remains unsure regarding the extent to which a recent hamstring injury could affect star all-rounder Andre Russell for the World Cup but remains optimistic.

The 33-year-old big-hitter has been out of action since sustaining a Grade 2 hamstring tear last month.  Depending on the severity of the injury, the typical recovery time is said to run anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.  The player’s India Premier League (IPL) team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is hopeful of Russell returning in time to face the Delhi Capitals in Wednesday’s eliminator, having already missed three games.

However, the extent to which the player will fully recover in time for that match, or the start of next week’s World Cup remains a source for conjecture, already sparking concerns regarding potential workload.

“I can’t make any assumptions about what he can or cannot do at this point, we will need to make an assessment as a team,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We have not had the opportunity to see him.  We’ve gotten reports as to what he has done, but I would not want to get into trying to say what he can or can’t do at this point in time,” he added.

“We’ll judge from the assessment but he is a critical person for our team and we would love to have him 100 percent fit.”

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he remains unperturbed by the indifferent form of some players heading into the ICC T20 World Cup as there is still enough time to get things right.

With the start of the tournament just a few days away, there has been some concern raised regarding the form of a few of the team’s potential match-winners based on their performances in lead-up tournaments this year, most recently the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Indian Premier League (IPL).

Falling into that category and of primary concern would be the form of high-impact pair Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, whose IPL form this season best illustrates the point.  The duo set the IPL alight for Punjab Kings XI last season and such form would have been welcome heading into next week.

In 2020, Pooran played 14 matches scoring 353 runs at an average of 35.30, by comparison, the player’s most recent campaign has ended with 85 runs at an average of 7.72, in 12 games.  For Gayle, 2020 saw him score 288 runs and average a healthy 41.14 in 7 games, however, this time around he could only manage 193 runs at an average of 21.44 in 10 games. 

Pollard, however, believes players who might not be in form still have plenty of time to kick into gear for the global showpiece, where they will start as defending champions.

“If we look too much into the past, then that is where sometimes we get ourselves into trouble,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“Let’s deal with what we have in the present, the guys that have confidence, roll with them, the guys that don’t we try to get them into that zone with some practice sessions,” he added.

“We have a couple more games and then the big one, which is the World Cup, so from a perspective of being concerned, I know when it comes to the international stage it is about personal pride and individuals will want to show what they have to offer.”

 

      

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has revealed that Chris Gayle will be entrusted with specific roles for the West Indies once the ICC T20 World Cup begins later this month.

 Gayle, 42, was a controversial pick for the West Indies selectors with detractors citing his prolonged poor form and age as factors why he should not have been selected. However, Windies selector said Gayle’s experience and leadership were intrinsic factors that made him an asset for the Caribbean side looking to win their third T20 world title on the trot, having won in 2012 and 2016.

During a media session from the United Arab Emirates on Monday, Simmons indicated that more will be asked of the Universe Boss in his final World Cup campaign.

“We have specific roles we have put on Chris and we trust that he is going to be ready and in form and having had a short rest from the game and from the bubble he is going to come back fresh and ready to do what we ask him to do,” Simmons said of Gayle, who left the IPL bubble last month citing bubble fatigue and the need to refresh himself for the world cup.

"Over the last few months, I have been a part of the CWI bubble, CPL bubble followed by the IPL bubble, and I wish to mentally recharge and refresh myself," Gayle said in a statement last month. "I want to refocus on helping the West Indies in the T20 World Cup and would like to take a break in Dubai. My thanks to the Punjab Kings for giving me the time off. My wishes and hopes are with the squad always. All the very best for the games coming up."

Over the past weekend, Gayle posted pictures on Instagram of him enjoying his time off, refreshing himself before returning to action in the world cup.

Gayle had a lukewarm turnout for the Punjab Kings in the 2021 IPL. In 10 matches, the Jamaican star scored 193 runs at an average of 21.85 and strike rate of 125.32. His best score for the Kings was 46.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons says he is not concerned about the form of his vice-captain Nicholas Pooran as the team prepares to begin the defence of their ICC World T20 title later this month.

The West Indies, the only team to win the T20 title twice – in 2012 and 2016 – has seen their vice-captain struggle for form in the Indian Premier League where he batted in the middle order for the Punjab Kings with little success.

Coming off a fair campaign for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2021 Hero CPL where in 10 innings he scored 263 runs at an average of 32.88 and strike rate of 163.35, Pooran who turned 26 on October 2, has experienced a precipitous dip in form in the IPL.

In 11 innings for the Punjab Kings, Pooran has only managed to score 85 runs at an anaemic average and strike rate of 7.72 and 111.84, respectively, numbers that have even him concerned.

“Definitely not the IPL season I wanted but the opportunity to be tested both mentally and physically was a great experience, one to learn from very fast,” the Trinidadian posted on Instagram this past weekend.

However, Simmons expressed faith in the player’s ability to return to form in time for the world cup in the United Arab Emirates where the West Indies will open their campaign against England on October 23.

“I am not too worried about Nicholas. I think Nicholas has been batting well,” said the head coach during a media session from the UAE on Monday. “In the CPL, he played well, there was a lot of pressure on him there and there is going to be more pressure here but I think he has been working hard enough. He is doing all that he has to do and sometimes it doesn’t come off, but it will come off so I am not worried about him.”

Since the start of the CPL in August, Pooran has had one score of over 50 runs in T20 matches, and that was an unbeaten 75 against the Jamaica Tallawahs on September 10.

 

 

As the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup draws ever closer, some observers are still in disbelief at the squad Cricket West Indies selectors have chosen to defend the title the West Indies won in 2016.

Among them is Sir Vivian Richards, a man considered by many to be the greatest batsman of all time and one of the most destructive.

Richards, who played on the West Indies teams that won the Prudential World Cup in 1975 and 1979, said he still cannot believe that former West Indies captain Jason Holder, was not among the 15-man squad named for the world cup.

Holder, who played well in the recent CPL and took 16 wickets for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL this season, was only named among the four reserve players who will travel with the team to the United Arab Emirates where the West Indies will begin the defence of their title on October 23.

The decision by the selectors doesn’t sit well with the Master Blaster.

“I felt maybe it could have been a misprint and then hearing the news as well you think you were not hearing right at that particular time,” Sir Vivian told the Antigua Observer.

“We may have our issues with Jason when he was in charge as captain of the team, but we can never doubt the individual’s ability and his talent and I just felt sad that someone with such ability couldn’t make a West Indies T20, so that suggests to me that we must be seriously blessed with talented individuals the calibre of Jason Holder.”

Despite his misgivings, Richards urged fans to get behind the team as it goes for a third world title having won the tournament in 2012 and 2016.

West Indies open their defence against England in Dubai.

 

Champions Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle and will be looking to make it “seventh heaven” when they turn out in the #MenInMaroon for the marquee ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

The legendary duo has played all six tournaments since its inception in 2007 in South Africa and will want to have maximum impact as we enter the seventh edition in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

They later played in 2009 in England, 2010 at home in the Caribbean, 2012 in Sri Lanka, 2014 in Bangladesh and the last edition in 2016 in India. Gayle is the undisputed king of T20 cricket and the Universe Boss has dominated this format everywhere he has set foot on the planet. Bravo is not far behind with his expert bowling and is a sharp thinker and tactician.

Back in 2012, Gayle adopted The Gangnam style as the unofficial theme song for the team and fans joined the global street party. For Bravo, it was an extra-special moment in time as the epic performance came on the night of his birthday. He had the pleasure of taking the catch to seal the sensational result. To savour the memory, he kept the ball and still has it at home.

“It was my 29th birthday and was a very special moment. It was the first time we won the T20 World Cup and as players, we wanted to prove to the world, we were the best, as individuals and as a team,” Bravo said.

“To do it on my birthday was special and something I could never forget. I still have that ball at home … was a dream come true. A lot of people didn’t give us and chance and picked four teams and didn’t have West Indies among their top four. To win on that night against Sri Lanka on their home turf was a great end to the tournament and we proved ourselves as a team.”

Bravo and Gayle have also had some other great moments in T20 World Cups. None better than at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2016 when West Indies celebrated that famous victory over England with Bravo leading the merriment with his song “Champion”.

Gayle is the only man to hit two centuries in the T20 World Cup. In his very first outing against South Africa back in September 2007, he set ablaze the Wanderers in Johannesburg with a sizzling 117 off just 57 balls. It was just the start kind of start that world cricket needed and set the trend for more of his power-packing pyrotechnic displays.

With a sense of occasion, and with an estimated global viewing audience of over 500 million fixed eyes fixed to the Wankhede Stadium, Gayle set the tone for the tournament. It was magical and memorable as he muscled 11 mammoth sixes and lit up the Mumbai night sky to score 100 not out off just 48 balls.

Bravo recalled the moments.

 “I remember I had a launch event in Mumbai and had my teammates and friends. We had a good start to the tournament, and we formed a great unit. Chris made a hundred and started the dance and everyone was inspired and motivated … it became the anthem, and we did the dance and kept on winning,” the allrounder said.

”We won the final the song was the most played. It was a special moment for West Indian people around the world. Everywhere we went there were celebrations. We want to do it again this time around.”

Former West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels will contest recent charges made against him under the ICC anti-corruption code.

The 40-year-old former batsman retired from the sport in 2020 but was charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for breaching the anti-corruption code during his participation in the 2019 T10 league.

Samuels was charged on four counts of breaching the code relating to:

A breach of Article 2.4.2 – Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official, the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the Participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

A breach of Article 2.4.3 - Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official receipt of hospitality with a value of US $750 or more.

Breaches of Article 2.4.6 – Failing to cooperate with the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation.

Breaches of Article 2.4.7 – Obstructing or delaying the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation by concealing information that may have been relevant to the investigation.

Samuels who had 14 days to contest the charges has since hired legal representation and informed the ICC of his intent to content the allegations brought against him.

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