West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph has ambitions of someday blossoming into an all-rounder but, for now, he is content to be focussed on providing whatever the team needs to succeed.

With 13 Test match appearances and 29 One Day International (ODI) games under his belt, the 29-year-old fast bowler has done most of his damage with the ball.  Joseph has taken 32 Test wickets and 48 ODI wickets, on occasion, however, he has shown plenty of ability with the bat.

In the recent series against New Zealand, the bowler’s 85 in the first Test was one of the batting highlights in an overall poor showing at the crease for the West Indies.  Despite showing flashes of ability, the player is yet to display any type of strong consistency with the bat, but he admits he is working towards it.

“Personally, I’m aiming to be an all-rounder, but, as of now, I’m just taking everything step by step,” Joseph told members of the media from Bangladesh on Thursday.

“I’m looking to first do my main attribute, which is to contribute with the ball, and then when it comes to batting, I will give my best, whatever performance I can put in with the bat I will put it in,” he added.

Newly appointed West Indies women’s team assistant coach, Corey Collymore, insists the unit must be given time to get back to its best form.

The regional team claimed the ICC Women’s World Cup with a surprise won over Australia in 2016.  Since then, not only have the Windies failed to win another title but seem increasingly unable to compete with the game’s biggest teams.

At the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup the team failed to advance from the group stage after winning just one game.  In September of last year, the team found itself on the wrong side of a one-sided 5-0 loss at the hands of England.  Collymore, the specialist bowling coach, believes that based on their talent the Windies could once again be battling against the top teams, but it will take work.

“As I said to them, it will take some work.  I was with the U19s in 2016 but now being here with these ladies, and judging from England, I spoke to them and I said our overall game definitely needs some serious work,” Collymore told members of the media.

“We’ll put that in, but it will take time.  We’re not here to say you need five years or whatever the case may be, but we need a pool of players that we can put some consistent work in, then we can be able to choose a squad that will be able to go forward and deliver performances like the one in 2016.”

The team, which has been inactive since September, is currently at a training camp in Antigua with one eye on the World Cup qualifiers later this year.

West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph believes he and his teammates need to strive to be better for the second ODI against Bangladesh that bowls off on Friday. The Windies trail 0-1 in the series following their six-wicket loss to the home side on Wednesday.

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.

Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have not been included in the England squad for the opening two Tests against India.

Batsman Bairstow, all-rounder Curran and paceman Wood have been rested and will fly home after the ongoing Test series in Sri Lanka along with quick Craig Overton.

Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns are back in the squad for a series that starts at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on February 5.

Fast bowler Archer and all-rounder Stokes did not travel to Sri Lanka as they were given a break, while opening batsman Burns stayed at home for the birth of his first child.

Batsman Ollie Pope will fly out to India and be added to a 16-man squad when he has fully recovered from a shoulder operation.

The national selectors have also named six travelling reserves, three of which are spinners, for the series against an India side on a high from a dramatic 2-1 victory in Australia.

 

England squad for first two Tests against India: 

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Reserves:

James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has no doubts that the Proteas' Test series with Australia will go ahead but accepts that may change due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Proteas and Australia were originally due to start a three-match series next month, but doubts were raised after England cut short a tour of South Africa.

Moving the matches to Perth was also talked of as an alternative if the series could not be staged in South Africa, but the Proteas have since faced Sri Lanka in two Tests on home soil.

CSA is confident South Africa will be able to host Tim Paine's side and, although no dates have been confirmed, it appears the plan is for the series to start early in March.

Zak Yacoob, the CSA interim board chairman, said in a virtual press conference on Thursday: "I had a chat with the chair of Cricket Australia [Earl Eddings] about a week ago and we agreed that the tour is going to go ahead.

"We agreed that we are going to ensure that our facilities are as good as possible, as good as necessary.

"We also agreed we learn every day but that is not on the basis that we did anything wrong when England was here because you know that none of the English were affected. That's the bottom line. They all flew back and that was fine.

"But the learning in relation to this virus changes all the time and as it changes things must change. We agreed that as professionals neither he [Eddings] nor I know anything about this.

"We have doctors, we have experts, who lead us through this process and what we have adopted is an approach that as long as the experts on both sides, true professionals in relation to coronavirus and health, agree that the facilities are fine, we go on the basis that the facilities are fine.

"So far there is between the chair of CA and myself no doubt that the series will go ahead, but we have agreed also that the coronavirus is so changing, that we cannot predict what will happen.

"If things suddenly go down for the worse and we really can't do it and our experts say we can't do it and the other experts say we can't do it, we won't be able to."

South Africa start a two-match Test series in Pakistan on January 26 and also play Three Twenty20 Internationals in their first tour of the country in 14 years.

England have replaced Stuart Broad with James Anderson as they aim to clinch a fourth successive series victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

A seven-wicket win in Galle gave the tourists a 1-0 lead in the rearranged series, following on from an overseas triumph in South Africa a year ago, plus successes against West Indies and Pakistan on home soil.

Joe Root led from the front with a double-century last time out and, with the recalled Jonny Bairstow and debutant Dan Lawrence also contributing runs, the tourists have gone with the same batting line-up.

Anderson comes into the side as England make just the one change, with Broad given a rest, as Mark Wood retains his place and Olly Stone misses out along with Chris Woakes. 

As for Sri Lanka, they will once again be without Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne as he continues to recover from a fractured thumb.

Kusal Mendis has been dropped after a poor run of form with the bat – he has managed just 27 runs in his last six Test innings – while seam duo Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep, as well as wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka, have been allowed to depart the bio-secure bubble.

The home side will be aiming to prevent their opponents from winning a fifth successive Test overseas, a feat England have not achieved since a run of seven in a row between 1911 and 1914.

Sri Lanka fought back well after being dismissed for only 135 in their first innings of the opening Test and captain Root knows England cannot expect to have things all their own way as they eye another triumph on tour.

He said: "They are a proud team and they have a great record at this ground. Not only that, they have some very talented players.

"We already saw that throughout the game with how it unfolded in the second innings. The way that they played with the bat in the second innings was very different to the first and showed that in those conditions, they are a very hard side to break down.

"We know that this isn't going to be an easy game for us."


LEACH IN SIGHT OF RECORD

Jack Leach was understandably a little rusty in the previous game, having only played in two first-class fixtures throughout 2020. However, the left-arm spinner improved as he clocked up the overs, claiming 5-122 in the second innings to leave England needing just 74 for victory.

His six in the match lifted his career Test tally in Sri Lanka to 24, just one behind Ashley Giles who sits top of the all-time list for England. Considering it is expected to be another spin-friendly surface in Galle, Leach will fancy his chances of taking top spot before the short tour concludes.

SRI LANKA AIM TO STOP THE ROT

Despite showing some defiance with both bat and ball in the opening Test, Sri Lanka have now lost three in a row. They have not suffered a longer losing run since a four-game span between December 2015 and May 2016.

Their first-innings total of 135 left them with too much ground to make up second time around, so the continued absence of opener Karunaratne is a blow.

KEY MATCH FACTS

- England will be looking to record a third successive Test series win against Sri Lanka for the first time.
- England have lost only one of their Tests since the start of 2020 (W7, D2) and are undefeated in their last six of that stretch (W4, D2) – the last time they went on a longer unbeaten run was a 13-Test span (W7, D6) from November 2012 to August 2013.
- Joe Root made 228 last time out, his maiden Test double-century in Asia. That innings included 74 runs from conventional sweep shots, almost twice the number of his previous high in a Test match (41 at Pallekele versus Sri Lanka in November 2018).
- Lahiru Thirimanne has scored 50 or more in two of his past three Test innings at Galle, after doing so only once in his previous 12 knocks at the venue.
- Jos Buttler held on to all five catching opportunities in the series opener; only once before in his Test career has he managed to claim more catches without dropping one (July 2014 v India – 6/6).

Noted West Indian cricket analyst Fazeer Mohammed believes India’s triumph over Australia, at the historic Brisbane Cricket Ground, could indeed be the greatest moment in India cricket.

Of course, the Asian team has claimed the ICC World Cup twice, first in 1983 and then again in 2011.  the special circumstance surrounding the team’s spirited defense of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, for this particular series, however, will put this historical result right alongside the best of them.

Shorn of some of its most experienced players, due to injury, and having seen inspirational captain Virat Kohli head back to India after just one Test, for the birth of his daughter, few expected India to be able to make the series competitive, let alone retain the trophy.

In addition, the team allegedly faced racism from the crowd during the second Test in Sydney, which no doubt added fuel to the fire.  Perhaps it was fitting it came down to the last hour of the final day with all four results a possibility.

Spurred on by Rishabh Pant who stayed not out and hit a wonderful 89, young opener, Shunhman Gill also contributed with 91 at the top and the gritty Cheteshwar Pujara who held up his end for 56.

Prior to the unlikely triumph on enemy territory, no team had chased more than 236 at the Gabba, a ground where Australia had not lost a Test since 1988.

“It wasn’t just solid, it was inspirational,” Mohammed told the SportsMax Zone.

“All of the experts when it comes to Indian cricket, I can’t fault what any of them have said…when you try your best and put it into context with all of the different issues and primarily the loss of almost all of their prominent players throughout the four-Test matches, and being routed for 36 in the first Test.  Everyone had written them off with the departure of Kohli," he added.

 “To see Ajinkya Rahane holding the trophy, not with a drawn series but with a historic victory, they don’t win at Brisbane, no one beats Australia at Brisbane.  When you lump everything together, when you put all of the contexts of the individual players and their own personal journeys, to this point it has to be the greatest moment in Indian cricket, certainly when it comes to Test cricket”

 

 

Indian Premier League (IPL) club Kings XI Punjab are expected to predictably retain West Indian star batsman Chris Gayle but will release his compatriot Sheldon Cottrell ahead of the new season.

The 31-year-old pace bowler was bought for a sizeable INR 8.5 crore ($US1,156,239) during the IPL 2020 auction but failed to justify the price tag.  In six matches, Cottrell bowled 20 overs, claiming 6 wickets for 176 runs at an expensive economy rate of 8.80.  Unfortunately, perhaps the player's biggest moment came after being on the wrong side of thrashing from Rajasthan Royals Rahul Tewatia, who smashed 5 sixes off one of his overs during a record run chase.

Gayle, on the other hand, was sensational.  Despite starting the season on the sidelines, the big left-hander became the driving force behind the team's push for a playoff spot, although it ended with the team narrowly missing out on 6th spot.  The West Indian had been left on the bench for the first seven games of the season.  He was not picked for the first five, and food poisoning ruled him out for the next two.  He ended with 288 runs at an average of 44.14 and a high score of 99.

India batsman Karun Nair is also expected to be released but the team remains undecided on Australian Glenn Maxwell, who had a mediocre IPL season but had a splendid series against India.

  

The West Indies suffered a humiliating six-wicket loss to Bangladesh in the first of three ODI’s today, going down by six wickets with 97 balls to spare in the match played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.

Legendary West Indies batsman, Brian Lara, has pointed to a performance that emanated from one of the uglier, darker moments of a largely sparkling career as one of his most memorable.

In one of a few instances the batting star was not greeted by applause and gestures of widespread adoration on his sojourn to the crease, Lara was booed by the Sabina Park crowd when strode out for the second Test of the 1999 Australia tour of the West Indies.

During a tumultuous period for the Windies, the issue for some home fans stemmed from what they believed to be disrespect shown to bowling legend Courtney Walsh in what they deemed to be a hostile takeover of the captaincy by the Trinidadian.  Walsh, who was appointed captain in 1994, served as captain for 22 Test matches before being replaced by Lara in 1998.  On the back of a heavy loss to Australia in the first Test and having also previously been whitewashed by South Africa, The Prince found himself occupying the unusual status of public enemy.

His response, a classy, shot-filed 213, which would go on to underpin a massive 10 wicket win at Sabina Park to level the series, it must be said, went a long way in lightening the mood.

“Everyone says the 153 was second maybe to Sir Don Bradman’s (Against England at Melbourne in 1936-1937), maybe post-war, one of the better innings, but a week before that I was in Jamaica where we played against Australia in that second Test match,” Lara told 7Cricket.

“We came off scoring 51 in the fourth innings in Trinidad and I stood there in Jamaica, I was given the captaincy for two Test matches, on probation, never before had that happened in the history of West Indies cricket…that 213 in Jamaica was for me (special) in terms of not just batsmanship but my inner strength to come out of that situation I was in,” he went on.

“I was facing expulsion as the captain, of course, I was going to be playing, the captaincy was not that important to me that I wouldn’t play, but the threat of the expulsion and the fact that everyone was sort of jeering against me, in the Caribbean, was just unbelievable.”

West Indies captain for the upcoming One Day International (ODI) series against Bangladesh, Jason Mohammed, says the team will draw inspiration from India’s surprise triumph over Australia, at the much-vaunted Gabba fortress, on Monday.

The relatively inexperienced India team ended a 32-year unbeaten run for the Aussies on the back of a stellar innings from Rishabh Pant.  The team’s performance broke Australian hearts, and records as well, with the mammoth target of 328 runs representing the highest ever successful runs chase at the venue.  It was achieved with 3 wickets remaining.

Heading into the series as huge underdogs, the team owed a large part of the victory to resilience, Shubman Gill's crucial 91 and the dogged determination of Cheteshwar Pujara who faced 211 deliveries and 10 body blows to defend the Border-Gavaskar trophy on a dramatic final day.

For, Mohammed, who will lead a hastily assembled and likewise inexperienced squad against Bangladesh, starting on Wednesday, there is plenty about the India performance to draw encouragement from.

“It’s obviously something we will look to.  It depends on the day and how you play,” Mohammed told members of the media via a press conference call on Tuesday.

“A lot of the guys will be making their debut, but once you have that belief and belief within the team that you can do well and that you can win games then these things are achievable and it showed in the India versus Australia series,” he added.

“We have the same mindset.  We are just looking to play some good cricket starting tomorrow and hopefully, the results will be on our side as well.”

 

Rishabh Pant described his match-winning innings in India's stunning victory over Australia as "one of the biggest moments of my life".

Pant was unbeaten on 89 as India remarkably chased down 328 to beat Australia by three wickets at the Gabba, sealing a 2-1 series triumph as they retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

It ended Australia's 31-match unbeaten run at the venue as the tourists pulled off one of the all-time great Test victories, leaving Pant thrilled.

"This is one of the biggest moments of my life now, and I'm happy that all the support staff and all my team-mates supported me even when I wasn't playing," he said during an on-field presentation.

"It's been a dream series. The team management always backs me and tells me, you are a match-winner and you have to go win the match for the team.

"I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India, and I did it today. It was a fifth-day pitch and the ball was turning a bit. I thought I have to be disciplined with my shot selection."

Ajinkya Rahane was almost lost for words to sum up his feelings, having come in as stand-in captain after Virat Kohli returned home to attend the birth of his child.

"It really means a lot to us. I don't know how to describe this victory. I'm just proud of all the boys, each and every individual," said Rahane, who contributed a brisk 24 from 22 balls in the final innings.

"We just wanted to give our best, not to think about the result. When I went in, conversation between me and [Cheteshwar] Pujara was Puji to bat normal and me to go for my shots, because we knew Rishabh and Mayank [Agarwal] were there.

"Credit to Pujara, the way he handled the pressure was magnificent, and Rishabh was brilliant in the end."

Having bowled India out for 36 to win the opening Test, Australia were left to rue a series that slipped from their grasp.

Captain Tim Paine conceded India deserved their success and urged his own team to look forward to the challenges ahead.

He said: "Absolutely disappointed.

"We came here to win the Test and win the series, it's been a bit of a trend that we were found wanting in the key moments and completely outplayed by a tough Indian side that fully deserves the win.

"I think there's lots of things we'll look back at, but what's done is done. We need to look forward now, there's a big series in South Africa coming up, we've been outplayed by the better side in this series."

Dominican cricketer Tyrone Theophile is reportedly back home in Dominica following recent emergency surgery in Martinique.

Kieron Pollard will lead a powerful TT Red Force squad when the CG Insurance Super50 Cup bowls off in Antigua and Barbuda from February 7-27.

Pollard heads a seasoned squad of players that include the likes of Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and the hard-hitting Nicholas Pooran. Darren Bravo, who will form part of the strong squad will also serve as vice-captain for the team that were semi-finalists last time out.

The T&T selectors have also picked the experienced Jason Mohammed, who is on West Indies duty in Bangladesh as well as former West Indies representatives Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin and Ravi Rampaul.

Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, opener Kjorn Ottley, Khary Pierre, Anderson Phillip and Jayden Seales are also in line to represent the team from the twin-island republic that on paper should start as favourites to win the shortened version of the competition in 2021.

The full squad reads: Kieron Pollard (captain), Darren Bravo (vice-captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Kjorn Ottley, Anderson Phillip, Khary Pierre.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.