West Indies Women’s all-rounder Hayley Matthews believes the team’s overall experience will be a valuable tool in its armory ahead of the start of the ICC Women's World Cup.

The team will bowl off its campaign with a match against hosts New Zealand on Thursday at 8:00 pm.  Not known for their exploits in the format, the West Indies will not be listed among the favourites but Matthews believes the team has made progress in the last year and will still have the experience and capability to ruffle some feathers.

“For a period of time we were kind of stuck when it came to 50-over cricket, maybe not progressing as much as we wanted to, but I do believe in the last year we have made massive leaps,” Matthews told the ICC channel.

“I think our biggest strength is probably the experience we have in the team.  We have so many veterans from Deandra Dottin, Stafanie Taylor, Anisa Mohammed, and the list goes on.  I think we have people we can rely on in tough situations and they always know how to really breakthrough and take us to the next level," she added.

The team’s captain Taylor and Dottin will be taking part in their fourth tournament, while Mohammed will be taking part in her fifth.

 

Legendary West Indies bowler Sir Andy Roberts has expressed concern that the current generation of players is suffering from a lack of genuine pace.

In his heyday, Roberts was part of a generation of fierce West Indian pace bowlers, a line-up which also included the likes of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, and Malcolm Marshall, who were all known for terrorizing opposition batsmen with brutally quick deliveries.

While admitting that the up-and-coming pace bowlers can at times reach top speeds, Roberts does not believe the performances have been sustained for long enough periods of time.

“What West Indies has been lacking for a while is a genuine fast bowler.  We have fast bowlers, but we don’t have anyone of genuine pace who at night the batsmen can’t see because you are thinking of tomorrow.  We haven’t had that for a long time,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

The former quick believes a part of the issue has to do with the workload required to sustain top speeds throughout a game.

“Fast bowling is hard work, and a lot of people don’t like to work hard.  They believe that the ball comes quicker off the pitch than when you release it.  They are not prepared to put in the hard work, the donkey work," he added.

“I find that our fast bowlers can’t bowl fast for more than 2 or 3 overs.  It’s because they’re not strong enough, their legs are not strong enough.” 

Windies paceman Shannon Gabriel is currently the fastest of the current crop, but Roberts believes, even for him, there is a significant drop-off in pace the longer the bowler plays in a match.

“It’s your legs that carry you through as a fast bowler not just your chest…when Shannon Gabriel was bowling in the 90s, he bowled a number of balls 92, 95 but that was between 10 and 11 o clock between 2 and 3 o clock it's down to high 80s.  Why, because his legs aren’t strong enough.”

The West Indies Women open their Women’s ICC World Cup campaign against New Zealand tonight in poor batting form and Captain Stafanie Taylor believes that if the team is to be competitive, they have to turn that form around and bat with better consistency.

In two warm-up matches against Australia and India, the West Indies Women failed to score 200 runs each time losing by 90 and 81 runs, respectively. And while Head Coach Courtney Walsh preferred to focus on the positives, the realities of the situation are that if they are to do well, they have to produce scores well above 200 runs consistently.

Those thoughts were communicated at a recent team meeting.

"We had our meeting and we said that to be competitive we have to be scoring over two hundred runs," Taylor said in a pre-match interview. "In the two games that we played, we didn't do so. So that's something that we've had a look at and, moving forward, that's something that we need to work at."

Taylor believes the players need to spend time at the crease building innings that will give the team opportunities to get big scores that will give them better chances against Australia, India and tonight’s opponents, New Zealand.

"When it comes down to the longer format, we just need to spend more time out there in the middle. That's an area that we've been falling down a lot in, rotating the strike and try to build more partnerships. We haven't been building a lot of partnerships so hence the reason why we keep falling down in that department," Taylor argued while acknowledging that there has been less dependence of batters like Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews and her, to get runs.

In recent times, players like Kycia Knight and Chedean Nation have been getting good scores but other batters still need to step up with greater frequency, Taylor said.

"The other batters are starting to contribute. What we need to do is be in that collective in each game, be consistent. That's something that I've talked about a lot, being consistent, not just one or two batters always performing and probably looking at how teams are playing, a lot more fifties, batters stepping up and taking that responsibility. As batters we have to do that more consistently," Taylor said.

Windies opener Jeremy Solozano was run-out on his return to the crease as the West Indies President’s XI found themselves in early trouble, in pursuit of England’s sizable first-innings total, on day 2 of a four-day warm-up match at Coolidge.

The team’s ambitions of getting off to good start in their quest to match England’s first innings total of 466 for 6 declared was immediately put in check after a mix-up between Solozano and opening partner Shane Moseley saw the latter sent back to the pavilion for just 16.

Moseley did not last much longer as he was dismissed for 20 after wildly pursuing a delivery from spinner Jack Leach, which left the team struggling at 48 for 2 at the end of play.  Keacy Carty (8) and Devon Thomas (1) were the not-out batsmen at the crease heading into Thursday's day three.

Earlier, damaging knocks from Dan Lawrence and Jonny Bairstow underpinned England's solid total.  After resuming the day at 251 for 4, Bairstow and Lawrence pushed the team past the first session without losing a wicket.  Lawrence departed soon after the resumption, however, after he was caught at first slip, on 87, after edging a delivery from Colin Archibald.

Bairstow took over after lunch, pushing the score to 339 for 5, along with Ben Foakes before the latter was dismissed, for 25, after going after a short ball from Shermon Lewis.

Woakes then joined Bairstow at the crease to add a useful 49 for 91 deliveries before the team declared.  Bairstow remained unbeaten on106 from 158.  For the West Indies, Lewis ended with 2 for 75, while Archibald claimed 1 for 67.

 

Off-spinner Bryan Charles claimed a three-for to lead the resistance for West Indies President’s XI, amidst a trio of England half-centuries on day one of the four-day warm-up match at Coolidge.

Opener Alex Lees top-scored with a solid 65 off 214, and partner Zak Crawley made 62, with an additional half-century from England captain Joe Root, who added 54 from 105, as England closed the opening day on 251 for 4. 

After winning the toss and choosing to bat Lees and Crawley had England off to a comfortable start, until the partnership of 88 without loss was broken by Charles who had the batsman bowled.  Root joined Lees at the crease and the pair carried the total to 186 for 1, before Root had his stumps swept away by Shermon Lewis.  Lees' steady innings came to an end a few overs later when he was bowled around the legs by Charles.  All-rounder Ben Stokes never really got settled and was out caught at the slips after flashing at a Charles delivery, having made just 11 from 29.

Jonny Bairstow joined Dan Lawrence at the crease and the two saw out the rest of the day without further incident.  Charles ended the day with figures of 3 for 88, while Lewis ended with 1 for 48.

Despite losing by 90 runs to Australia in their warm-up match on the weekend, West Indies Women Captain Stafanie Taylor remains optimistic about how well her team will perform during the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup campaign.

That said, she opined that she doesn’t mind if the 2016 champions are considered underdogs this time around, saying that the team is a good space and is focused on the task at hand and that they won’t be letting anything distract them from taking the tournament one game at a time.

“I think we're in a really good space at the moment. The two practice games are for us to focus on ourselves and work on ourselves before the first official game against New Zealand,” Taylor said.

“We don't mind being underdogs. It’s good that we don’t get too ahead of ourselves, and some people don't look at us being a 50-over team, but I’ve seen us getting better and better so that's a plus for us.”

The West Indies Women will take on India in the second of their two warm-up games at the Rangiora Oval in Christchurch on Tuesday.

England opener Zak Crawley insists he never feared for his Test career despite enduring a "horrible" run of form in 2021.

Crawley was dropped for parts of a year that saw him register just 173 runs at an average of 10.81.

A 77 in Sydney against Australia in January helped England to salvage draw in the fourth Ashes Test and avoid a series whitewash.

Crawley, who turned 24 this month, is hoping to build on that as England play West Indies in three Test matches with a new-look group after eight players were dropped.

"No, I didn't fear it was finished," Crawley told Sky Sports when asked if he was worried about his Test career. "I knew I was young and I always believed in myself.

"It was a horrible year last year in terms of the stats, but I thought it was a bit misleading actually – I felt like I was a bit unlucky with conditions in some places when I got a chance.

"So now when conditions are hopefully in my favour I need to make sure I cash in and make up for that

"You learn a lot more from your failures than your successes and I learned an awful lot about myself last year.

"I think I'm a lot better player for it – there are no certainties in life but I feel good about my game at the moment and hopefully I’ll score good runs in this series

"It still wasn't the runs I wanted but the way that I played [against Australia], I was pleased with. It's given me a platform to kick on from. I feel I understand my game a lot more now, after having a tough year.

"You create your own luck. Obviously, people trusted in me again and I'm looking to repay them and score a lot of runs for them this year and for England in general.

"I think we're going to have a good year and hopefully I can be a big part of that."

The first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium starts on March 8.

England will be led by interim coach Paul Collingwood after Chris Silverwood was dismissed in the wake of the 4-0 Ashes loss.

"There's a lot of excitement about this series, we're loving being here in the Caribbean – it's a great place to travel to and play," added Crawley.

"We're really looking forward to the series and we're a positive group at the moment.

"It's pretty easy [to put the Ashes behind you]. We know what when wrong, we've analysed what we did wrong and we're looking to move forwards now. 

"You learn a lot in general from losing actually and it gives you a chance to bounce back strongly. I think we will during this series and in the coming year."

Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt has paid tribute to Sonny Ramadhin, the legendary spin bowler who passed away at age 92.

Ramadhin was an outstanding match-winner and formed a famous partnership with left-arm spinner Alf Valentine throughout their careers. They were a crucial part of the team which led West Indies to a famous 3-1 series win against England in 1950. Ramadhin had remarkable match figures of 11 wickets for 152 runs in the historic win at Lords – West Indies first Test match win in England.

“On behalf of CWI, I want to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Sonny Ramadhin, one of the great pioneers of West Indies cricket. Mr Ramadhin made an impact from the moment he first stepped onto the field of World Cricket,” Skerritt said.

“Many stories are told of his tremendous feats on the 1950 tour when he combined with Alf Valentine to form cricket’s ‘spin twins’ as West Indies conquered England away from home for the first time. This iconic tour is part of our rich cricket legacy, which was pioneered by Mr Ramadhin and others of his generation.

“His English exploit was celebrated in a famous calypso – and is still remembered more than 70 years later. Today we salute Sonny Ramadhin for his outstanding contribution to West Indies cricket.”

Ramadhin was born in Trinidad on May 1, 1929. He made his Test debut against England at Old Trafford in 1950 in the team alongside the legendary Three Ws, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes and Sir Clyde Walcott.

 He played 43 Test matches and took 158 wickets at an average of 28.98 each. His best bowling figures were 7-49 against England at Edgbaston in 1957. Overall, he played 184 first-class matches and captured 758 wickets at 20.24 each.

 

-ENDS-

Former West Indies spinner Sonny Ramadhin has died aged 92, Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt has confirmed. He was living in England at the time of his death.

Between 1950 and 1961, Ramadhin played 43 Tests for the West Indies taking 158 wickets at 28.98.

Born in Esperance Village in Trinidad and Tobago, in 1929, Ramadhin was introduced to cricket at the Canadian Mission School in Duncan Village.

His trials for the West Indian team were two first-class matches bowling for Trinidad versus Jamaica, where he took 12 wickets at an average of 19.25. The performance led to his selection for the 1950 tour to England at the age of 20.

During the 1950 series between West Indies and England, Ramadhin and fellow spinner Alf Valentine dominated the English batting taking 59 wickets between them.

West Indies won the series 3-1, which was their first series victory in England. When England returned to the West Indies in early 1954, Ramadhin took 13 wickets in the first two Tests and was instrumental in West Indies' victory.

West Indies Women suffered a 90-run defeat to Australia in their first warm-up match of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup played at Lincoln Green.

West Indies Women’s captain, Stafanie Taylor, is confident the team is an improving force in One Day International cricket, ahead of the start of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup, which bowls off in under a week’s time.

The West Indies, who briefly took part in the qualifiers, will get their campaign underway against host New Zealand on Friday, with few having the team among the favourites to win the title.  For one, the West Indies have never won the tournament with their best result coming in 2013 when they finished runners-up to Australia.

Nor is the team’s record in the format particularly impressive.  Over the last five years, the team has won just 3 of the last 14 series.  In that run of games, they played 46 matches, winning 15, drawing 2, and losing 27 with 2 no results.  Taylor, however, believes the team has shown improvement in recent months, with two of those wins coming in the last year.

“I think we're making strides (in the ODI format),” Taylor told members of the media.

"For us, it is more about improving every time and getting better at that,” she added.

The team has, however, never beaten New Zealand with their last encounter ending in a chastening 205 runs defeat to close out a 3-0 series defeat in 2018.

“We’re pretty excited about that. You probably wouldn't want to play the hosts in the first game but it is what it is,” Taylor said.

“I think for us, we have to go out there and play to the best of our abilities. You can see New Zealand doing pretty well, we've had a lot of cricket to look at, so hopefully we could get one over them."

Leeward Island Hurricanes batsman Devon Thomas has earmarked the upcoming West Indies President’s XI match as another opportunity to showcase his ability with improved consistency.

The 32-year-old top-order batsman has been one of the outstanding players in the West Indies Championship so far.  After two rounds, the player’s 242 runs scored at an average of 80.66 puts him second behind West Indies red ball captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who has scored 341 so far.

The Leeward Hurricanes have won one match and lost one match so far, his highest score of 112 critical in a fightback against Barbados.  Despite his exploits, he was not named to the West Indies squad to face England in the first Test but did find his name among those taking part in a 12-man President’s XI squad.

“I’m just looking at it as getting the opportunity to play some cricket, so I give thanks for that. I was motivated since last year during the 2020/21 season and I just (took) it over into 2022 and try to do a lot better and be a bit more consistent. I am trying to stay in the moment and trying to be more consistent,” Thomas told the Antigua Observer.

“I had a goal before the match where I was looking for 150 runs, but I got a bit close to that. It could have been more, but I was pleased at the end of the day. I think we had good performances in both games but we were short of a player in the first game when Jerimiah Louis came down with a sickness and we played with 10 men throughout the whole game.”

The CWI President’s XI squad will play England in a four-day warm-up match at the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) starting March 1.

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel remains very much a part of the plans of the new Desmond Haynes-led selection panel despite not being selected in the squad for the first Test against England.

The 33-year-old pace bowler, who has been playing for Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the West Indies Championship, was not named among the 15-man squad for the first Test or Presidents XI.  His omission is, however, due to sustaining a hamstring injury.

“Shannon was injured in the game that he played in Trinidad.  We were told by the medical panel that he is having a bit of a problem with his hamstring and would not be fit for selection,” Haynes told members of the media on Wednesday.

“Shannon did very well against England the last tour here.  He’s probably our fastest bowler and we are hoping to get him fit so that he can be on the park."

Overall Gabriel has taken 37 wickets against England in 11 matches and took 5 for 25 and overall figures of 9 for 137 when he face England in 2020.  The English went on to win the series 2-1.  Concerns have been raised over the player’s workload in recent times after the fast bowler has found himself sidelined by a few injuries.

Out-of-favour West Indies opening batsman Kieran Powell has admitted it was a disappointment to not at least be considered for the CWI President’s XI squad ahead of the upcoming four-match Test series against England.

The 31-year-old left-hander missed out on a chance under the new selection panel, after being skipped over in favour of Jamaica batsman John Campbell.  Powell, who last played for the West Indies last August against Pakistan, has scored 144 runs in two matches for the Leeward Islands in the West Indies Championship, the seventh-best so far.

Campbell has in the meantime scored 213.  With performances, the batsman believes there could also have been some consideration for Leewards no. 3 Devon Thomas who has scored 242, the second most behind West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who has 341.

“I definitely thought that if I didn’t make the Test squad I would make the President’s XI based on the performances, but I saw Devon Thomas batting the way that nobody else in the Caribbean batted in those two games and if the team is going to be selected on performances, the way that he has played is second to none so you would like to think that he would have gotten into this squad,” Powell told the Mason and Guest radio show.

Despite not making the squad, however, Powell was pleased with his start to the season and expressed disappointment at the competition going on a break during the England tour.

“I’m pretty happy with where I was able to get to.  I’m very disappointed the season was halted after two matches because you would have seen cricket not being played for two years and guys were so excited to get back out there and the level of cricket the Leewards played in those games, we had some tough decisions against Barbados and a few things could have gone our way.”

 

Former West Indies batsman, Carlisle Best, insists he does not understand the reluctance by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to part ways with team captain Kieron Pollard and coach Phil Simmons given the team’s recent poor run of performances.

Simmons, who was appointed a coach of the team in 2019, and Pollard, who was appointed West Indies white-ball captain that same year, have come under immense pressure in recent months, following a string of bad results and poor performances.

An aging Windies squad put in a poorly, lackluster showing at last year’s T20 World Cup, where they exited meekly, and followed that up with a historical One Day International series loss to Ireland and 3-0 T20 series sweep at the hands of Pakistan.

The team rallied to beat England 3-2 in a T20 series against England last month but were defeated 6-0 overall, 3-0 (ODI), 3-0 (T20I), in their most recent tour of India.  In particular,  the batting form of the team has been lambasted with many believing there to be an overall lack of concentration or engagement.  Best believes given the results the leaders of the squad have to be judged on what they have accomplished to date.

“What kind of leader is not going to be accountable for the results that occur under his stewardship,” Best told the Mason and Guest radio show. 

“If we are going forward, we have to focus primarily on performances and those performances have to be result oriented…Do we want a winning team and can we find that winning formula, certainly we do not have that formula now with either captain Pollard or coach Simmons. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

“The writing was on the wall a long time ago when he made the comment publicly that IPL and Trinidad came before West Indies cricket that is well documented and yet he finds himself as a Putin of West Indies cricket.”

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