England batsman, Tom Banton, believes rising West Indies star Nicholas Pooran could be the best six-hitter in the game at the moment.

The 25-year-old has seen his stock rise after a big-hitting display in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year, a trend that he has continued in the Abu Dhabi T10 league.  In a league with the likes of his West Indian compatriot Chris Gayle and Chris Lynn, it is Pooran who leads the way with 33 sixes and 21 fours in 9 matches.

In fact, Nicholas Pooran has scored more runs from fours and sixes than Gayle - his 89 off 24 balls for Northern Warriors against Bangla Tigers last month included 84 runs from boundaries, while Gayle chalked up 78 in his savage 84 off just 22 balls on Wednesday.

"He's different level that guy," Banton said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo

"Anyone that bowls to him, he'll get hold of. I reckon he's the best in the world at the minute at [hitting sixes],” he added.

"We're actually playing them in a few days' time so I'm going to try and talk to him and actually see what he does. He probably doesn't do anything different to anyone else, he's just a lot better than everyone else."

Pooran’s Northern Warriors are currently second in the Super League standings but are at the top of group A.

West Indies left-arm spinner, Jomel Warrican, has credited discipline, accuracy, and strong field setting as crucial factors that enabled a three-wicket haul on day one of the first Test against Bangladesh, in Chittagong, on Tuesday.

At stumps, Warrican had claimed figures of the 3 for 58 as Bangladesh ended the day on 242 for 5.  Another wicket was claimed by pace bowler Kemar Roach with a run out accounting for the other.

The spinner could indeed have plenty of reason to delight in the field placing, and performance for that matter, as two of his wickets resulted from catches.  Firstly, John Campbell took a sharp catch at short midwicket after Mominul Haque lost some patience and failed to keep a lofted drive down.  The other was a brilliant catch at slip by Raheem Cornwall, after Mushfiqur Rahim attempted a defensive stroke that carried to the fielder.  In-between, the bowler ended the run of a dangerous looking Shadman Islam, when the batsman was given lbw just before tea.

“Being disciplined and accurate at the same time, as well as setting the right field,” Warrican responded when asked about the keys to his opening day success.

“I thought it best to bring them on the front foot as much as possible because when they play back they have a lot of time.  The more you bring them on the front foot is the more you ask questions,” he added.  

 

West Indies stand-in captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, has backed off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall to make a telling impact in the upcoming Test against Bangladesh.

The spinner showed himself to be in good form after claiming five wickets against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI last week.  Outside of taking the wickets, Cornwall proved hard to get away and boasted an economic rate of 2.82.  Brathwaite backed the spinner to carry that form into the series, on a pitch that is suited for spinners.

“He did a very good job in the practice game, created a lot of pressure, bowling dot balls and such.  I think he’ll do well in the series.  He’s a quality off-spinner, we all know this,” Brathwaite told members of the media via an online press conference on Tuesday.

“We just need to stick to our plans, support him in the field, support all the bowlers not only Rahkeem but we look forward to him doing well this series, all the bowlers."

Cornwall’s best performance so far for the West Indies came in Asia when he claimed 7 for 75 in an innings against Afghanistan and claimed 10 wickets overall.  The West Indies will begin the first Test against Bangladesh at 10:30 pm on Tuesday (9:30 pm ECT).

 

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, insists the team must be ready to take advantage of any rustiness on the part of the Bangladesh team but insists the hosts are firm favourites heading into the series.

The Bangladesh team has not played a Test since February when they faced Zimbabwe at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.  The West Indies has in the meantime, played two-Test series against England and then New Zealand.

Relying on that statistic would, however, be slightly misleading as several of the West Indies' first-team players opted out of the tour, leaving the unit to rely on more inexperienced players for the tour.  In such circumstances and Bangladesh’s home record, Simmons is skeptical of there being any advantage but hopes the team will be able to captilise once there is.

“There could be a little bit of vulnerability early in the Test because they haven’t played any international Test cricket for a year now and getting back into it might expose some vulnerability early on," Simmons told members of the media.

“I’m sure that, that would be taken care of because they have a fairly experienced team, with the likes of Tamim and Shakib.  The experience is there so it might not last too long, but if it does happen, we have to take that opportunity and seize on it,” he added.

“Bangladesh will always have the edge no matter who they are playing at home.  They are a very strong side when they play at home.  So, they will always have the edge even when they haven’t played any cricket for a year.”

Bangladesh won the previous series, which consisted of three ODI matches, against the West Indies 3-0.

 

 

 

Former West Indies Under-19 captain, Emmanuel Stewart, hopes to insert himself in the debate for selection in what he believes could be a big year for regional cricket.

The 21-year-old Windwards Islands Volcanoes batsman was part of the squad that contested the 2018 Under-19 World Cup.  Since making his First-Class debut in 2019, for the Volcanoes, he had made three half-centuries in 9 matches.

For the upcoming season, the middle-order batsman will once again form part of the Windward Islands squad looking to claim a 5th Regional Super50 crown.  With plenty of international cricket on the horizon this year, including Caribbean tours for Sri Lanka, Australia, and Pakistan, Stewart knows a solid season could place him squarely in the thoughts of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selectors.

“I think it’s an important year for cricket in the Caribbean, a lot of teams are touring the Caribbean,” Stewart told Grenada’s Talksport.

“So, I think what I have control over is my performance and once I continue putting the numbers up, then that is the most I can do,” he added.

“As long as I continue playing, I will continue putting my focus on those numbers and keep progressing for the Windwards and hopefully eventually the West Indies too.”

 

 

Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall grabbed a five-wicket haul as the West Indies dismissed Bangladesh Cricket Board XI for 160, before ending the day at 175 for 5, when they batted again, on day two of the three-day warm-up match.

In the morning session, Cornwall got the key wicket of Mohammad Naim, who was bowled five runs short of a half-century, before later accounting for Yasir Ali. His victims also included Akbar Ali, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, and Khaled Ahmed.

A left-arm spinner, Jomel Warrican, also had a splendid showing as he swept through the middle order.  Warrican took the wickets of Shahadat Hossain, captain Nurul Hasan, and Towhid Hridoy.

Batting a second time, the West Indies lost Shayne Moseley first ball, but his opening partner John Campbell and Nkrumah Bonner carried the team to 130 for 1 with a solid second-wicket partnership.  Campbell’s dismissal on 68, off the bowling of Saif Hassan, then prompted a collapse.  Jermaine Blackwood (4), Kyle Mayers (8), and Kavem Hodge (19) all departed without really settling in at the crease.  At the close of play, Bonner remained unbeaten on 80, with Joshua Da Silva yet to score at the other end. 

The West Indies will head into the third day and final with an overall lead of 276.

Windward Islands Volcanoes coach and former regional fast bowler, Andrew Richardson, insists the West Indies must close the distance between themselves and top-class cricketing nations, in terms of talent development, if the team is ever to be truly competitive again.

World cricket powerhouses India recently earned plenty of plaudits for a stunning win over Australia, with a squad full of mostly inexperienced developing players. 

The West Indies on the other hand, once the world’s best cricket team, have suffered lopsided defeats at the hands of England, New Zealand, and most recently Bangladesh.  The defeats have led to renewed criticism of the regional team in some quarters, but Ricardson insists the world’s top team are simply reaping the fruit of their labour, which took the form of talent development.

“It’s a correlation that the boards that have the luxury of having more coaches employed, more facilities, more players on contracts, more A team tours, more money invested in development, are the countries that have been doing well,” Richardson told Grenada’s Talksports program.

“Case in point, India has an academy just for fast bowling,” he added.

“In the 80s, not to knock anything from the Lloyd and Viv Richards era, we had awesome talent.  During that time, if you check the history, most teams were setting up their academies to improve their game.  We didn’t set up our academy until around 2000.  So, they have been reaping the success of what they have put in.”

Richardson insisted that the region still has the talent and pointed to the team’s performances in the youth competitions to stress the point.  The West Indies won the U-19 World Cup in 2016  and were runners up in 2004.

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, led the way with 85 as the regional team was dismissed for 257 on day one of a three-day warm-up match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI on Thursday.

The opener’s tally came from 187 balls, with 10 fours and no sixes.  Other scores of note from the innings saw fellow opener John Campbell fall just short of a half-century on 44 and Kyle Myers add 40.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the regional team put 67 on the board before Campbell was dismissed by Shahadat Hossain in the 19th over.  The regional team then tumbled from 110 for 1, to 131 for 5 as the middle-order of Shayne Moseley, Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, and Kavem Hodge collapsed.  Mosely added 15 before being dismissed, and the team lost its next three wickets for just 11 runs.

It took contributions from Joshua da Silva, Kyle Mayers, and Alzarri Joseph, who made scores of 20, 40, and 25, to drag the visitors past the 250-run mark.

Leg spinner Rishad Hossain led the way for the Bangladesh XI with a five-wicket haul, while pacer Khaled Ahmed picked up three.  At the close of play, Saif and Shadman Islam guided the hosts to 24 without loss, having batted for eight overs.

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, Ricky Skerritt, is adamant that the recent refusal by senior players to take part in the ongoing tour of Bangladesh and the subsequent results must be framed within the broader context of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regional team was on the wrong side of a 3-0 mauling, at the hands of Bangladesh, in a lopsided series that showed a tremendous gulf in quality between the two teams.

The result could not have been entirely unexpected, as a full-strength Bangladesh comfortably beat a full-strength West Indies team in 2019.  The Jason-Mohammed team that took the field last week had at least eight players making their international debut.

Skerritt’s administration has made it clear that players who opt out of tours during the pandemic will not be punished, believes that the threat that the disease poses to the players must be acknowledged.

“We have to deal with the reality that players are facing a tremendously stressful decision about their careers and whether they participate in cricket under risky situations; even though cricket West Indies and other boards are doing everything possible to minimize the risk,” Skerritt told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What do you do to get the best players on the park, when many of the best players are reluctant to travel and choose not to play?  Are you going to punish them? Are you going to say if you don’t play then you don’t play again ever, then you lose them forever?”

"I listen to some of the discussion’s about COVID and I wonder if we believe that COVID only affects us individually and we should be fearful, but players and others shouldn’t.  So what has happened with this particular tour and the two tours before, during COVID is that you could not get all of your best players on tour at the same time.”

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons hopes the relative experience of the Test team, compared to the One Day International (ODI) unit, will make for a more competitive showing against Bangladesh when the series bowls off next week.

World-class spinner Shakib Al Hasan and a full-strength Bangladesh made short work of the regional team in a lopsided 3-0 sweep of the ODI series last week.  The Windies went into the series without several of its regular first-team players who pulled out of the tour for various reasons.

The ODI team, which was captained by Jason Mohammed, was the hardest hit, however, with at least eight players making their international team debut.  With more proven campaigners like bowlers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, and batsmen Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood, the Test team should be in better shape, in terms of experience in any case.

“It’s a big difference, we may have one, maybe two debutants for this Test series, whereas we had 10 for the ODI series.  So, it’s a huge difference,” Simmons said.

“The good thing is that those guys have been down here before.  On the last tour down here, Kraigg (Brathwaite) was captain, and Shannon and Roach were here.  So, it’s good to have that kind of experience going into a Test series,” he added.

The West will play Bangladesh in a two-Test series, which begins on February 2nd.  The second Test will take place between February 10th to 15th.

 

In-form West Indies middle-order batsman, Jermaine Blackwood, has credited brief advice received from top-class India batsman Virat Kohli as helpful in changing his mindset towards scoring runs.

The 29-year-old scored his first century against England in 2015, a plucky 112 unbeaten in a draw in Antigua.  Following that impressive achievement, however, Blackwood seemed unable to cross the double-digit threshold.  In fact, before finally breaking the streak with 104 against New Zealand, in December, Blackwood had managed to score 10 half-centuries in-between but always fell short of a triple-digit score.

Included in that number were some figures frustratingly well clear of the 50 mark, but falling just short of the 100 mark, when for all intents and purposed the batsman seemed well set to do so.  The tally includes three scores in the 90s.  He scored 92 against Sri Lanka, in Galle, in 2015; 95 against Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi, in 2016, and 95 against England, in Southampton, in July of last year.  Prior to that, Blackwood also registered 85 against England, in Bridgetown, in May 2015.  During India’s tour of the West Indies, Blackwood took the opportunity to seek the advice of run-machine Kohli when the two briefly interacted off the pitch.

“I just asked him how come all the time I score so many half-centuries and just one century, and he just replied, ‘What did you do when you scored the century? How many deliveries did you face?’ I said I faced 212, and he said that’s it, once you can bat some balls you will score runs,” Blackwood recalled.

“I took a lot from that and I’ve always told myself, after that conversation, once I can bat over 200 balls or 300, I’m going to score runs.  Once I’m there, the way I bat, I’m going to score runs regardless of who I’m playing against or where I’m playing.”

Out of favour West Indies batsman Shai Hope and brother Kyle will be among three players to miss out on the CG Insurance Super50 Cup, after returning positive COVID-19 results in the latest round of PCR tests.

The Hope brothers, who would have represented Barbados Tridents, will be joined on the sidelines by left-handed opener Trevon Griffith who was part of the Guyana Jaguars batting line-up.  The latest round of tests was conducted on Sunday.

The Barbados Pride have already named Zachary McCaskie and Tevyn Walcott as replacements for the Hopes, while Kemol Savory has been named as the replacement for Griffith in the Jaguars squad.

The trio will remain in their respective territories where there will be required to follow local COVID-19 protocols.

All other members of the Barbados Pride and Guyana Jaguars squads returned negative COVID-19 tests and will undergo second tests on Thursday, January 28 before travelling for the tournament, as part of CWI's established protocols.

The CG Insurance Super50 Cup will be played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground and Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua from Sunday, February 7 to Saturday, February 27. On opening day, Leeward Islands Hurricanes will host arch-rivals Windward Islands Volcanoes at CCG.

 

West Indies fast bowler, Kemar Roach, insists he is ready for the challenge of trying to take wickets on Bangladesh pitches, despite the surfaces being more suited to spin-bowling.

Despite the presence of several spinners in the squad, the 32-year-old is expected to lead the West Indies bowling line-up, along with fellow pace bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph.  If the dominance of spinners in the One Day International series, on pitches that offered very little assistance to pace bowlers, is anything to go by they will certainly have their work cut out.

Having been in Bangladesh on two prior Test series, Roach would know first-hand what it takes to succeed on spin-friendly terrain.

In 2011, he claimed 0 for 52 off 9 overs and 1 for 49 off 13.2 overs in the second Test of the series.  When he returned in 2018, he claimed 1 for 74 off 18 overs in the first Test and 2 for 61 in 25 overs as Bangladesh made a mammoth 500 in the second Test.

“It mostly favours the spinners but I think there is enough there for fast bowlers to get something as well.  It’s just about having your plans, executing, and being disciplined,” Roach told members of the media via a press conference from Bangladesh on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be tough, we know we have to bowl a lot more overs to get our rewards but once you are willing to put the work in you can get some rewards over here…so it’s going to be tough but I’m up for the fight.”

The Windies have had recent success with pace bowling in Bangladesh with Tino Best claiming a five-for in 2012 and Fidel Edwards claiming 8 wickets in the 2011 series.

 

West Indies spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, believes the unusually long preparation time before the start of the Bangladesh Test series has been beneficial for players needing to get used to ‘difficult’ conditions.

The regional team arrived in Bangladesh on January 10 and was required to quarantine for 7 days based on the country’s COVID-19 protocols.  Since clearing that hurdle, however, the Test team has been free to train and will not start the series until February 1.

The Asian team is known for being particularly difficult to beat on their home turf and easily dispatched the West Indies 2-0 on their last visit in 2018.  One of those advantages is said to be the team’s pitches.

“It has helped (extra time) you have to adapt to these conditions. These conditions are difficult to play in, so the more time we get to understand the conditions is the better it is for us,” Cornwall said.

“It spins a bit more here.  It is always going to be drier than the Caribbean.  So, we just have to adapt to it and play to the best of our ability,” he added.

The inexperienced West Indies team will be hoping for a better showing than in the recently concluded One Day International (ODI) series where the team was summarily swept aside 3-0.  The ODI batting line-up found the top class Bangladesh spinners on the surfaces a difficult task to cope with.   

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, insists the upcoming Test series against Bangladesh will be a chance for inexperienced players to prove their mettle by doing well for the short-handed team.

If the play in the One Day Internationals (ODIs) is anything to go by, the regional team could have plenty of cause for concern as they have been unable to compete with Bangladesh to date.  In two matches so far, in which they batted first, the team was bowled out for 122 and 149 before Bangladesh easily chased down the target.

Facing off against the Asians next week, in what could be considered their weakest format, and with just as many inexperienced players in the line-up, it is likely to be a stern challenge.  Simmons sees an opportunity.

“It’s chance that guys get to show what they can do at this level.  It’s a chance for them to put their names in the hat for 2023 and put their names in the hat for Sri Lanka and later this year.  So, it’s good to see what people are made of,” Simmons said.

The coach predicts the four-day contests will be good for the team, as it should prove to be a test of strength.

“Playing in these conditions, playing in the environment that we are in and everything, you have to be strong.  You have to get stronger than just playing a cricket match.  So, you will see who are the strong ones and who leads from the front.  Let’s see who takes up the challenge and who comes out best in the two-Test matches.”

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