Dan Christian has been added to Australia's preliminary squad for the white-ball tours of West Indies and Bangladesh along with uncapped pacemen Wes Agar and Nathan Ellis.

The selectors announced an initial party of 23 to face the Windies and the Tigers, featuring a number of players who played in an Indian Premier League that was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They have now added Christian, Agar, Ellis, Ben McDermott, Cameron Green and Ashton Turner.

All-rounder Christian, 38, and wicketkeeper-batsman McDermott will end spells in England with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire respectively to fly home and complete the mandatory two-week quarantine period before the final squad's scheduled departure for the Caribbean late in June.

Christian has not played for his country since October 2017, while Agar and Ellis will be hoping to make their international debuts.

Promising all-rounder Green made his ODI bow against India last December, while Turner has featured in the 50-over format six times and played 11 Twenty20 Internationals.

Confirmation of the tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Jackie Hendricks, believes Cricket West Indies (CWI) selectors should consider looking at hard-hitting left hander Evin Lewis as a Test team opener.

The 29-year-old Trinidadian-born batsman, who idolizes another big hitting left hander, Chris Gayle, has had some success in the shorter formats of the game, but, unlike Gayle, is yet to play a Test match for the West Indies.

Lewis has scored 1791 runs in 54 One Day International (ODI) matches, at an average of 37.31, with a high score of 176.  In 35 T20 Internationals, the batsman has managed 989 runs with a strike rate of 155.74 and an impressive high score of 125.

The batsman, who also has 1229 runs in 22 First Class cricket matches, and a century scored while representing the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the regional four-day competition, has not played the format since 2017.

“I’ve always thought the selectors were a little short-sighted for not given him a go in the Test matches,” Hendricks told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“I’ve been impressed with how he plays in the 50 overs.  He is not a real hitter, he plays his shots very well, he always gets into position and so on.  So, I’m disappointed that he is not thought about for the team,” he added.

Recently, there have been calls for the selectors to consider widening the pool of available Test players but considering some of the players that do very well in the shorter formats.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Andy Roberts, is hopeful developing young pacer Alzarri Joseph has learned a thing or two from his recent stint in English County Cricket.

The 24-year-old Joseph has spent a little over a month representing Worcestershire, where he made his debut following the West Indies home series against Sri Lanka.  As per the arrangement, the player is now back in the Caribbean for the team’s upcoming series against South Africa.

In his six matches there, Joseph did make some impression, claiming 15 wickets, the second most in the team and adding 148 runs, with a high score of 61.  In addition, he claimed an innings best of 2 for 22 and match best of 4 for 106.   

The English championships is typically lauded as a good place for young cricketers to develop, not only due to the difficult and different conditions, but also the volume of cricket played in a short period of time.  During the West Indies spell as the top cricketing nation, several of the players took part in the competition.

“He spent some time in England which everyone feels like that is the bedrock for development because of the amount of cricket that you play, but gone are the days when you use to play seven days or sometimes, 12 to 14 days in a row, and if you can’t develop from that system then you can’t develop,” Roberts, who represented Hampshire and Leicestershire, told the Antigua Observer.

“I am just hoping that he spent most of his time in the nets learning to hone his craft because there is no point to playing County cricket and you don’t learn nothing from playing County cricket. For years I’ve been saying the same thing over and over like the record is stuck; personal development is the key to success.”

 

Pace bowler Marquino Mindley has been released from quarantine, after testing positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago.

The 26-year-old was called to the West Indies red-ball camp a few weeks ago, as part of the team’s preparations to face South Africa in two weeks time.

The player was, however, forced to isolate, as part of strict COVID-19 protocols, after returning a positive PCR test.  The player was put into isolation at the team hotel away from the other players and the coaching staff.

He was cleared to resume training with the rest of the camp on Thursday, after returning a second negative RT-PCR test result.

Mindley even managed a short spell on the final day the intra-squad four-day match, which concluded on Thursday.  The bowler, however, missed the majority of the Best vs Best four-day match, which was used to select the squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa beginning June 10. Both Tests will be played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

Shai Hope, Kieran Powell, and Jayden Seales have been included in a provisional 17-man squad for the upcoming Betway Test Series against South Africa set to begin on June 10. Opening batsman, John Campbell, however, has not made the cut.

Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah have been recalled to the Pakistan Test squad for their series against West Indies.

Pakistan will play two Test matches in the Caribbean in August.

Seamer Abbas - who has 84 Test wickets at an impressive average of 22.80 - had been dropped for the series' against South Africa and Zimbabwe.

But the 31-year-old has been rewarded for his productive spell with Hampshire in the County Championship.

Eighteen-year-old paceman Naseem is also recalled after struggling with a back injury for much of 2020.

Tabish Khan and Salman Ali Agha are not included in the 21-man squad which is led by captain Babar Azam, with the involvement of Yasir Shah subject to his fitness.

Pakistan will also play five T20I matches against West Indies, with that tour preceded by three ODIs and as many T20Is against England.

Wicketkeeper Azam Khan has made the T20I squad for the first time, while Imad Wasim is also included.

Haris Sohail and Saud Shakeel are back in the 50-over group after regaining their fitness.

"We have remained consistent in our selection and kept the same core of cricketers who have been in the set-up for a while," chief selector Mohammad Wasim said. 

"This is an extremely important and critical tour for Pakistan as we will be playing the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs against England as well as the T20Is against England and the West Indies as part of our preparations for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup. 

"The Jamaica Test will count towards the ICC World Test Championship. As such, keeping in view the above and in consultation with captain Babar Azam and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, we have tried our best to maintain the winning combinations but at the same time recalled four experienced players and rewarded uncapped Azam Khan for his domestic performance, while also giving him the required confidence for the future challenges.

"Mohammad Abbas has regained his form, Naseem Shah and Haris Sohail have reclaimed the required fitness standards, while Imad Wasim has been recalled considering the T20 World Cup is likely to be held in the UAE and he enjoys an excellent record there." 
 

Test squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf , Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Yasir Shah (subject to fitness), Zahid Mahmood.

ODI squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir.

T20I squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Usman Qadir.

Noted cricket commentator and pundit, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira, believes batsman Shai Hope should be a definite selection for the 13-man West Indies squad, which will face South Africa in a few days time.

The 27-year-old batsman, who was dropped from the team after a poor run of form last November, has looked sharp since returning to the fold.  Against Sri Lanka, in March, Hope slammed 258 runs in the three-match series, including a shot-filled 110.

He certainly looks to have taken that type of form into red-ball cricket with the West Indies Best vs Best four-day practice match this week.  Hope made 79 in the first innings and got another century, 104, in the second.

Interestingly, however, because of a lack of quality options in the position, Perreira believes Hope can be used as an opener alongside West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite for the upcoming series.

“It’s been a little mystery why they didn’t want to use him as an opener.  If you have stacks of openers then you probably don’t want to sacrifice a middle-order batsman,” Perreira told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“However, when the cupboard is very bare, it’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s not magical thinking, Hope has definitely got to play…I certainly would be opening with Brathwaite and Hope.”

Hope opened at the top of the innings for the four-day practice match.

International players who miss the resumption of the India Premier League (IPL) could face salary reductions and pro-rata payments from their various franchises.

The IPL was suspended in early May after four players in the biosecure bubble tested positive for Covid-19.  The competition is now expected to take place in the September-October window later this year in the UAE.

With a packed international schedule, however, that decision has not found favour with some countries that have players taking part in the competition.  England and Bangladesh players have been prohibited from taking part in the rescheduled IPL 2021. 

With the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled for October, the timing of the IPL could interfere with the teams' preparation for the World Cup.  This season, nine West Indian players were taking part in the competition before it was postponed.

Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran (Punjab Kings) Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders) Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings) Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders), Shimron Hetmyer - Delhi Capitals, and Fabian Allen - Punjab Kings.  There is no indication as of yet, whether IPL resumption will clash with plans of Cricket West Indies (CWI). The West Indies are expected to tackle Pakistan in August. 

“In case they (foreign players) can’t make it to UAE for IPL, franchises will be within their right to cut their salaries and pay them only on a pro-rata basis,” a Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI) member told Inside Sports.

 

West Indies opening batsman, Kieran Powell, is hopeful that a polished half-century, crafted in the ongoing West Indies Best vs Best practice match, will be enough to get the attention of the selectors ahead of the upcoming series against South Africa.

On Wednesday, Powell anchored the WI Best B innings with a responsible 95 from 175 balls, which was earned in 227 minutes.  The batsman, who has not represented the West Indies since 2018, during the team’s series against Bangladesh, has had a difficult relationship with the selection panel as of late.

With several first-string players opting out of the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, Powell was favourite for a return to the squad but was declared to not have met the fitness standard required by the West Indies.  Both the player and the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) rejected the claims and insisted the batsman had in fact met the required fitness standard.  Powell had earlier failed a test in May of 2020.

Now back in contention, the player will be hoping to put such episodes behind him.

“I would hope it (the score) leaves me in a position of strength.  I think there has been just one century, so this is the second-highest score if I’m not mistaken,” Powell said, following the day's play.

“Hopefully, I can get into the squad, and we will take it from there.  I’ve wanted to get back into the team for some time now.  So, obviously spending time and showing application, I am hoping there is hopefully a reward for that.”

 

 

 

A solid half-century at the top of the order from left-hander Kieran Powell left Jahmar Hamilton XI in a strong position against Jermaine Blackwood XI, on the third day of the Best v Best practice match.

The 31-year-old opener fell just five runs short of a century, but his 95 from 175 balls anchored the West Indies B second innings total of 218 for 4 heading into the fourth day.  The total, at the end of the day’s play, left the team with just 92 runs needed to win the match, with plenty of wickets in hand.

Powell was the anchor throughout the innings, forming key partnerships with opening partner Shane Moseley, who added 36, Shamarh Brooks (39), and Raymond Reifer (22), before being dismissed by spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, who also accounted for Moseley.

Earlier, WI Best A had resumed the day on 197-3 with an unbeaten and confident-looking Shai Hope at the crease on 104.  However, young pace bowler Javon Searles continued an excellent performance with the ball when he added Hope to the collection of top-order batsmen he removed from the crease.  Hope only managed another two runs before being caught by Mosely off the bowling of Searles.  Searles ended the innings with the best figures of 4 for 40.

Paul Palmer, not out on 15, and Reifer, who was not out on 22, will resume the day at the crease for WI Best B on Thursday.

West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, is happy to be scoring runs again on the back of an enterprising, unbeaten century on the second day of the Best v Best four-day match at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

After scoring 79 in the first innings, Hope stroked a fluid 104 from 132 balls, a total that included 9 fours and six 6s.  The total anchored Jermaine Blackwood XI’s 197 for 3 in the second innings, for an overall lead of 283 runs.  Earlier, they bowled out Jahmar Hamilton XI for 178 in their first innings.  Blackwood’s XI made 264 in the first innings.

  “It’s about making sure the bowlers don’t settle and almost putting pressure back onto them. So the key is to make sure I can stay within my game plan. Obviously, the situation of the game would dictate how I play in certain passages but more or less that is the of play I will try to portray, so hopefully, it works out in the future, and hopefully, I can continue in this vein and continue to score runs,” Hope said following the days play.

The batsman has not played a Test since the series against England last year and was dropped from the team ahead of the New Zealand series following a poor run of form.  Since returning to the team the batsman has looked in good nick, however, and will be eyeing a return to the Test team.

“For me, personally, I’m just happy to get those run I need in the red-ball format.  So, if I can continue that when I get the opportunity to play in the Test team if it comes, I’m definitely going to grab it with both hands and score as many runs as possible.”

Dr. Akshai Mansingh, a member of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Medical Advisory Committee, has cautioned that unvaccinated players could eventually find it difficult to take part in leagues around the world as more of the global population gets vaccinated.

At current, there are no cricket leagues around the world that require players to be vaccinated in order to take part in a competition.  However, with the risk and expense attached to the current model of staging tournaments in a biosecure environment and increasing evidence of the positive effect of vaccination on preventing the spread of the virus, there is no guarantee things will stay the same.

At current, a few members of the squad have taken the vaccine, but some remain hesitant at this point in time.  Mansingh pointed out that it was the duty of the medical team to educate the players on the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated but, at the end of the day, the freedom to make individual choices had to be respected.  He speculated, however, that the choices could plausibly, in the near future, affect an individual’s ability to earn income.

“We live in a free society, and we have to respect the decisions of people.  But there may be leagues around the world who say if you are not vaccinated then we will not take you and that is when personal decisions will have to made,” Mansingh told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“We have erred on the side of freedom of choice, etc., etc. and we will entertain the discussion but there are leagues that are going to pop up, which will not entertain the discussion,” he added.

“We allowed people to opt-out of bubbles that we knew were safe and some of the people that opted out at that time made a completely different choice when they went to India, which was the second most infected country in the world.”

 

 

 

Legendary West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, has called on embattled batsman Shimron Hetmyer to answer doubters by scoring a lot of runs whenever he gets the opportunity.

The 24-year-old has been in the spotlight in recent weeks after losing his international retainer contract with Cricket West Indies.  The young batsman has long been considered to be one of the region’s premier talents but has struggled to hit top gear in recent seasons.

In Test cricket, where he has not played for the team since 2019, he averages 27.93 having played 16 matches.  In One Day International cricket, where he last played in January of last year, he averages 36.66.  In T20 international cricket, he averages 18.95 with a strike rate of 116.97.

In addition, the player has struggled with fitness issues, twice failing a fitness test during the period, ahead of a subsequent tour of Sri Lanka last year and a visit of the same team earlier this year.

“The guy has got ability, we know that all he has to do is produce the runs and there should be no problem,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“We all know Pooran, Hetmyer these are very talented guys, but that talent must come out with runs.  For a bowler it’s wickets,” he added.

“I would like to say to all the young people, Mr. Hetmyer and the rest of the gentlemen.  They are asking you to be fit, they want you to produce the goods.  If you do well, we would have a world-beating team.”

Former West Indies captain, Darren Sammy, has admitted that a nasty delivery faced by batting legend Brian Lara from Pakistan fast bowling great Shoaib Akhtar made him fearfully question whether he wanted to continue playing cricket.

The incident took place during the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in a semi-final encounter between the teams.  Lara, then the West Indies captain, was on 30 when the brutish delivery from the Rawalpindi Express spat off the pitch and caught the evading batsman in the back of the neck.

Sammy, then a 19-year-old, had watched from the bench.

“When I made my debut for the West Indies in the Champions Trophy, I remember Pakistan playing West Indies at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire. They were opening with Mohammad Sami, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar," Sammy told The Current.

 "I saw Shoaib Akhtar bowling a bouncer to Brian Lara and hit him in the head. Brian Lara fell back, probably almost unconscious. I was sitting, and I was 19 years old next to Dwayne Bravo. I literally questioned whether I wanted to play cricket again. Shoaib Akhtar did that to me,” he added.

After staying down for a while, Lara left the field injured and did not return.  The West Indies, however, ended up winning the match easily with seven wickets to spare.

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