West Indies Women all-rounder Hayley Matthews is hopeful that a stunning upset of New Zealand to bowl off the ICC Women’s World Cup will give the team plenty of momentum moving forward.

In a magnificent player-of-the-match performance, Matthews put together a shot-filled 119 from 128 and claimed bowling figures of 2 for 41 to anchor the West Indies in a nail-biting 3-run win over the hosts.

Prior to the win, the team had not defeated New Zealand in the format since 2014 and it was only their second win in 7 meetings between the teams at the tournament.  The innings, her third ODI century and first at the World Cup, also represented a career run high for Matthews and was the team’s fourth-highest total at the World Cup.

For a team that few would have listed among the favourites, it was a solid start to the tournament.  

“It’s exactly what we were looking to come out here and do, get off to a really good start and hopefully we can carry this momentum into the rest of the tournament,” Matthews said, following the match.

Matthews seemed to be set to bat in the middle order for the World Cup, after several strong performances in that position heading into the tournament.  The player was, however, promoted back to the spot she had previously occupied after an injury to Rashada Williams.

“I didn’t know how I felt about it at first, seeing I was pretty comfortable at 5 but I’m the type of player that whatever the team needs, I’m looking to try and do.  It seemed to work out all right."

  

A brilliant century from Hayley Matthews and miraculous death bowling from Deandra Dottin led the West Indies Women to a stunning 3-run victory over New Zealand to open the ICC Women’s World Cup at Mount Maunganui on Friday.

In a wonderful advert for women's cricket, the all-around entertaining affair got the thrilling ending it merited.  With the West Indies needing to defend just 6 runs in the last over, Dottin, who has hardly been seen with the ball over the last few months, stepped up to take 2 for 2, and also effected a run-out, to finally wrap up brave New Zealand resistance in her only over of the match. 

The result meant the West Indies had successfully defended 259 for 9, their third-highest total ever recorded at the tournament.

Earlier, a brilliant 119 of 128 from Matthews, who was named the player of the match, set the stage for the West Indies triumph.  Unexpectedly returning to the top of the order after Rashada Williams was ruled out of the match due to concussion protocol, Matthews hit 16 fours and a six, dispatching New Zealand’s bowlers to all parts of the ground while proving to be the stable catalyst the West Indies needed.

Dottin, who opened with Matthews, had promised a similar type of performance but was sent packing after hitting three fours and skying another attempt to Jess Kerr after playing across the line off Lea Tahuhu. 

With Kycia Knight then departing for just 5, Matthews formed a crucial 66-run partnership with captain Stafanie Taylor, which helped the West Indies reach 100 at a steady five runs an over.  The partnership was broken when Taylor was caught behind after clipping off Tahuhu. 

It was, however, one only of three partnerships Matthews would be involved in as she also paired with Shemaine Campbelle and Chedean Nation to glue the team’s innings together. 

Matthews was eventually dismissed going after Kerr as Hannah Rowe held on to the catch in the deep.  Nation's 46-ball 36 and then Anisa Mohammed's six-ball 11, however, added valuable runs for the team at the end of the innings.  Tahuhu was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with 3 for 57, while Kerr claimed 2 for 43.

In pursuit, Sophie Devine struck a magnificent century to keep New Zealand's chase on track, for the most part, and Katey Martin and Kerr's quickfire 40-run partnership brought it down to run-a-ball for the last over before the timely intervention of Dottin.

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.”

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.

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.”

West Indies lead selector, Desmond Haynes, insists fixing the squad’s issues at the top of the order will be a priority for the new panel.

The team’s struggles, particularly at the top of the order, have been well documented in recent times.  The issue of finding a consistent partner for team captain Kraigg Brathwaite is one of the primary concerns.

Over the last five years, Brathwaite, who has scored 2188 in 40 matches during that time, has been consistent but it has proven to be somewhat of a carousel in terms of finding an opening pairing with Kieron Powell, John Campbell, and Shai Hope all being trailed for the spot at various times.

In November, Jeremy Solozano was also set to be trialed in the position, against Sri Lanka, but did not get the opportunity after being struck on the helmet while fielding.  Ahead of the England series, Haynes and the selectors have decided to turn back to Campbell who was dropped from the team in June of last year.

The batsman has had a strong start to the West Indies Championship after scoring 213 runs in two matches so far.  Since 2019, Campbell has played 15 matches for the West Indies scoring 640 runs.

“There was good discussion regarding the opening.  That in itself is something we want to resolve shortly.  I think in all the good teams you find they have good opening batsmen so we are hoping to get our opening batsmen some confidence and make sure they can do the job for us,” Haynes told members of the media on Tuesday.

“I think we went with Campbell not just because he got the 100 but talking to the captain and him batting with Campbell in the games that he has played, we had a bit of success there,” he added.

“It was a bit unfortunate for Jeremy but we decided we would put him in the president’s XI’s game where the selectors could have another look at him because it was a bit unfortunate because after being struck on the head he didn’t get a chance to play in Sri Lanka.  

West Indies batsman Rovman Powell believes a nice understanding at the crease is developing between himself and vice-captain Nicholas Pooran after putting together another strong partnership, albeit this time in a losing effort.

India wrapped up the three-match T20 series with an 8 run win over the West Indies, after setting a more than competitive 186 for 5 in the first innings.  Thanks to the efforts of Powell and Pooran, however, the team managed to get close to the score on the back of their 100-run partnership, in 60 balls.

It was the second time in just a few weeks the duo was combining to good effect.  Against England in the third T20 international, the duo combined for 122 for 67.  In fact, Pooran and Powell have been one of the most productive partnerships over the last four years, scoring 346 in 7 innings.

“Me and Pooran, from the last series, we have been developing a nice little bromance, a nice little partnership in a sense with him batting 3 and me batting four.  It’s important for us at that point, at that position, where we bat three and four to get partnerships,” Pooran told members of the media, following the match.

“We got another partnership of 100 plus today, it’s for us to take all the things we did right today and improve the stuff that needs to improve going forward.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard was encouraged by the batting unit’s approach to Friday’s T20 International against India, even if he was admittedly disappointed with the result.

The West Indies found themselves on the losing side of another series, after going down by 8 runs to India on Friday.  The result saw the South Asian team claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, after winning the opener by 7 wickets.

This time, however, in pursuit of a solid 186 for 5, the team went a lot closer to the target and was more comfortable in the run chase.  A 100-run partnership from Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell got the team close to India's score, and, in fact, until a miserly 18th over from Harshal Patel it seemed the West Indies were favourites to level the series.

According to the West Indies captain, while the team may have come up just short on runs, the approach was closer to what was required.

“I thought the partnership with him (Rovman Powell) and Pooran almost got us over the line.  Sometimes that’s all we are asking from the guys to bat as deep as possible and for me, I’m pleased, obviously not with the result but with the way they continue to aim for consistency,” he added.

The partnership was the fourth-highest between two Windies players since 2019, adding to an overall 306 scored in 6 matches, whenever the duo of Powell and Pooran has come together during that time.

“Nicholas got another half-century, Powell has gotten two in the last four games, so, we are making progress.”

A dispute over the use of player agents is said to be one of the key issues at the heart of allegations of player victimisation, which roiled West Indies cricket a few weeks ago.

The controversial issue was brought to the fore during the England tour of the Caribbean after all-rounder Odean Smith was dropped from the team ahead of the third T20 international.  Reports of the accusations were initially downplayed by Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerrit and the senior members of the team’s hierarchy as an attempt to distract.

The CWI hierarchy has, however, since met with representatives of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) to address the claims and the body’s Honourary General Secretary Wayne Lewis has confirmed that there are in fact a few issues to resolve.

“There were complaints to WIPA about things that happened, they were uncomfortable because of the situation, they were very unhappy and so we sat with Cricket West Indies and spoke about it,” Lewis told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“The complaint was that members within the cricket West Indies set-up were calling franchises overseas and advising them that particular players would not be given NOCs to play, and we thought that was odd because we have an MOU and a protocol that covers that, that did not include anyone from that area,” he added.

“There were situations where players were encouraged to change their agents to go with an agent of their (CWIs) choice and the players were resisting that because they had their own agents already.  So that made them a little uncomfortable as well, so these issues needed to be addressed, so we did the proper thing by talking to the CWI to get to the bottom of it.”

Lewis revealed that talks between the bodies had continued to be cooperative but that a complete solution on how to address the issue had not yet been reached.

The West Indies squad have flatly rejected the suggestions that Smith's omission from the match was anything other than tactical.

 

Windies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team must find a coherent strategy to deal with India’s spinners after being caught in two minds in the opening match of the T20 series.

In the end, the West Indies were comfortably beaten by six wickets but at one point seemed set for a higher total than the 157 for 7 that the team eventually posted.  At 72 for 2, at the start of the 10th over, the West Indies had a set Pooran and Roston Chase at the crease and seemed set to build on a solid enough foundation.

 The introduction of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, however, threw a wrench into those plans as he immediately removed Chase who struggled to come to grips with the spinner before being dismissed for lbw.  Bishnoi, who ended with 2 for 17, then removed the dangerous Rovman Powell later in the over.  The debutant was the chief but not the team’s only issue as Yuzvendra Chahal had also proven difficult to get away on occasion.

“We played the spinners ok today, we would want to continue that and continue to build partnerships,” Pooran told members of the media following the match.

“We still need to negotiate the spinners a bit better, I think today we were caught in two minds how to go about them.  Whether to attack them or keep them out of the game and we got caught in both minds there.”

Pooran top-scored for the Windies with 65.

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is nowhere close to being ready to give up on talented batsman Shimron Hetmyer, despite the player’s recently well-documented struggles with fitness.

The 25-year-old batsman was left out of the West Indies' previous series against Ireland and England and also failed to be included in the squad for the ongoing India tour.  The issue stemmed from the fact that the player failed to achieve the basic fitness standards required to be eligible for selection.

It was not the first time Hetmyer had been plagued by the issue as he also failed to get a passing mark in 2020, ahead of the team’s tour of Sri Lanka, and then again later that same year during Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies.  The Windies skipper, however, backs the player to get things right in the near future.

"I think the coaches have spoken on their assessment of Shimron. I miss Shimron when he is not around. He is a young player and a superstar in his own right. He will get it right and get back to the West Indies squad pretty soon. I will be looking forward to having him," Pollard told members of the media, ahead of the team’s first T20I against India.

"We know what he can do as an individual and he has a bright future. You can never write off a guy who is 25. My love for Shimron is paramount, and he knows that and we all know that. It is a matter of time for him to do all that is necessary to get back to the team. We will welcome him with open arms."

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