Key Windies strike bowler Kemar Roach believes young pace bowler Alzarri Joseph can have a decisive impact against England in the upcoming Test series.

Roach and Joseph are expected to form part of a four-pronged bowling attack that also includes the returning Shannon Gabriel and West Indies captain Jason Holder.  The quartet did well on home soil last year when the team secured a 2-1 win over England and the Wisden trophy.

On that occasion, it was Roach that played a starring role with the ball, but Joseph provided plenty of support with a 10-wicket haul for the series and gave the England batsman plenty to think about.  Ahead of the upcoming series, Roach believes his young teammate is even better this time around.

“Once he sticks to his game plan and has confidence in himself, I don’t see why he can’t do very well in this series,” Roach told members of the media.

“He’s a fantastic talent and we all know what he is capable of,” he added.

“At a young age, he is enthusiastic, very good, and always willing to learn.  He has improved significantly in my eyes and I think he has a great future for the West Indies.”

The 23-year-old Joseph made his debut for the West Indies as a 19-year-old against India in 2016.  He has since then, however, been plagued by injury issues but heads into the England Test in good shape.

“I’m looking forward to playing with him and in years to come, i’ll probably be at home and watching him lead the West Indies bowling attack.  So, I think he has a great future and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can produce.”

Retired Jamaica international Jobi McAnuff insists he is not just along for the ride after signing a new one-year contract with England League Two club Leyton Orient.

McANuff the club captain, will be 39 years old later this year and transitioned to a player/coach role last season.  He will be in a similar capacity this year but despite being the senior statesman of sorts is determined to be more than just a passenger on the pitch.

“I don’t just want to be a bit part or be here for the ride, I want to contribute, that’s a big, big thing for me,” McAnuff said in an interview with the club’s official website.

“I’m feeling good,” he added.

 “Last year, as everyone knows, was frustrating. I worked really hard to get back to playing, and I’ve got a lot of work again to get to the level I want to get to.”

The injury kept McAnuff out of action for almost the entire season, not playing his first match until March.  Orient coach Ross Embleton is confident the Jamaica midfielder will be a major contributor both on and off the pitch – and is delighted to see him stay.

“He’s been at the club since I came back, and we all know what an inspiration he is on the pitch,” Embleton said.

McAnuff has made 141 appearances for the O’s in two spells.

 

West Indies batsman Shamarh Brooks has hailed the telling impact on a new generation of regional cricketers by the late, great Sir Everton Weekes, insisting his legacy would be proudly carried on.

Weekes, who was the only living member of the legendary three Ws, which had also included Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott, passed away earlier this week at the age of 95.  The on-pitch records written by the iconic cricketer are many and fabled, but tellingly, his impact on the sport did not stop when he retired from it in 1958.

Despite the gulf in years and many generations in-between them, Weekes served as a mentor to 31-year-old Brooks and many others along the way.  Freely dishing out needed advice at cricket grounds he once dominated.

“When I scored my first Test 100 in India, against Afghanistan, I spoke to sir Everton.  And even in first-class cricket if there is a game played at Kensington, he would always be in the president’s suite watching,” Brooks told members of the media.

“We would also be able to go up there either during the game or after the game to have a word with him about what he had seen or what we could do differently or that kind of stuff,” he added. 

According to the player, who pointed out invaluable tips he learned about playing spin, Weekes’ contribution did end when he reached the end of his life on July 1st. 

“It’s sad that a great man is gone but he has left a legacy and hopefully the guys in the team now can carry on that legacy.”

 

West Indies batsman Shamarh Brooks insists the team has no need to fear a powerful England bowling attack, ahead of the upcoming series, once they are willing to apply themselves at the crease.

A lot of the talk so far heading into the England versus West Indies match-up has centered on worries about how the regional team’s often inconsistent batting line-up will fend off an explosively quick Jofra Archer and an experienced England bowling line-up.

The first team’s batting performances in the recent intra-squad preparational matches would not have done much to inspire confidence.  In the final warm-up, a top-five of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase subsided to nine for three and 49 for five.

“Some of us got the opportunity to bat at the crease but having said that, it’s still a batsman and bowlers game.  Our bowlers bowled well, especially in the second practice game.  I think they came with a different level of intensity in the last game and it showed in terms of us losing wickets.  That’s the game sometimes but we are still backing our preparation to bring success in the series,” Brooks told members of the media.

“Spending time at the crease will be key, as long as we apply ourselves and spend some time out there it will get easier,” he added.

“Not to put down the England bowling attack but we need as a batting unit to stand up in this series and I know it will make a difference,” he added.

Cricket West Indies (CWI), yesterday, announced Phizz as the Official Hydration Tablet Partner.

The partnership is set to launch on the pitch on Wednesday, July 8 in the team’s highly anticipated first Test match of the Sandals West Indies Tour of England 2020 in the #RaiseTheBat Series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

The second and third Test matches will be at Emirates Old Trafford Bowl in Manchester on July 16-20 and July 24-28

Phizz is scientifically formulated to create the most comprehensive formula of hydration, vitamins and minerals. It was created as a hydration amplifier, ensuring players rapidly absorb two to three times more than drinking water alone, while also replenishing the main electrolytes lost in sweat.

“Player nutrition and hydration is key in supporting performance, recovery and immune systems under stress from training and travel,” said Dr. Oba Gulston, CWI’s Sports Science and Medicine Manager.

“We are pleased to bring Phizz on board. We feel that Phizz provides the ideal blend of hydration, essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to support our athletes.”

Dominic Warne, Commercial and Marketing Director for CWI said:

“We are excited to have Phizz on board to support our athletes on the pitch and on the road as one of our technical partners. This great addition to our family of technical partnerships brings genuine benefits for our teams’ preparation and performance development.”

Yasmin Badiani, Phizz Head of Sport said:

"Phizz is proud to partner a legendary team such as the West Indies."

"This is a big moment for our growing company, and we are looking forward to working closely with the team on this partnership.”

Phizz supplies more than 60 professional sports clubs as well as airlines, gyms and five-star hotels around the world.

Olympic 110-metre hurdles champion, Omar McLeod, is now a PUMA athlete, making the move from Nike, with whom he had been contracted since 2015.

McLeod made the announcement himself on Instagram on Friday, saying: “happy to be part of the #foreverfaster family.”

McLeod burst onto the scene in 2015, lowering his personal best of 13.44 to 12.97, setting the national record for the first time and becoming the national champion.

A year later, McLeod was winning the World Indoor title, running the 60-metre hurdles in 7.41 seconds.

He would finish sixth at the World Championships. In another year, McLeod would make history for Jamaica, running 13.05 seconds to claim Olympic gold. He would add a World Championship gold to his Olympic title the following year, but was unable to defend that title in 2019 after clipping a hurdle.

England have opted not to recall Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali for their first Test against West Indies, but Dom Bess does make the 13-man squad.

Test cricket returns on Wednesday when England meet the Windies behind closed doors in Southampton in the opening Test of a three-match series.

Ben Stokes will captain the side for the first time as regular skipper Joe Root has left the team bubble to attend the birth of his second child.

Sam Curran, who has been battling illness, is the only other player to miss out from the XI that faced South Africa in Johannesburg in England's last Test in January.

The squad for the West Indies Test also includes Rory Burns, James Anderson and Jofra Archer - who were missing at the Wanderers due to injury - and spinner Bess, who played earlier in the South Africa series.

There is no recall for either Bairstow or Moeen, neither of whom are included on the nine-man reserve list, which does feature Curran.

Bairstow has not played since scoring a combined 10 across two innings against South Africa in the first Test of that series last December.

All-rounder Moeen has not featured in the five-day game since the 2019 Ashes having opted out of England's three tours since, though he was named in the 30-man squad that has been training in preparation for the Windies series.

Uncapped pair James Bracey and Dan Lawrence - both of whom scored half-centuries in the intra-squad match this week - are on the reserve list too along with bowling options Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood and Ollie Robinson.

Vasbert Drakes says the pace of former sprinter Chemar Holder can make a fierce West Indies attack even more potent in the Test series against England.

Uncapped 22-year-old Holder was named in the touring party following some outstanding domestic performances for Barbados Pride in the West Indies Championship.

The Barbadian gave a demonstration of his huge potential back in 2016 when the Windies won the Under-19 Cricket World Cup and could make his senior debut during a three-match series in England, which starts behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday.

Former West Indies fast bowler and assistant coach Drakes has helped to nurture Holder's talent and thinks he can cause England problems if he is given an opportunity.

Drakes told Stats Perform News: "I've known Chemar from a young age, he went to school with my son, Dominic, and they have come through the system together and been part of the group of West Indies Emerging Players.

"I have done some one-to-one coaching work with him and he's got some good attributes, good skill sets. He's a hard worker and used to be a sprinter, he was a 400 metres runner and also competed in the 1500 metres.

"When he gets it right, he's consistently in the high 80s [miles per hour]. The only way to find out if he's ready is to throw him in at the deep end against England.

"He would have played against England A team last year and would have gone to England the year before that as part of the Emerging Players group, so he would have had the experience of bowling in those conditions."

Kemar Roach was among 12 members of the Windies squad who Drakes worked with before they flew out to England for the first international cricket since the coronavirus pandemic brought the vast majority of sport to a halt.

Roach was man of the series when West Indies won a Test series against England in the Caribbean last year and Drakes, who was assistant coach for that 2-1 triumph, says he can make a big impact again.

Asked if Roach will be the spearhead of the attack, he replied: "Absolutely. One of the things he did well last year was he took early wickets.

"Without giving away too much methodology in how to deconstruct the opposition gameplan and counter them, Kemar Roach has the ability to take early wickets, releasing the ball from wide of the crease and moving away from batsmen - particularly the right-handers.

"His track record against left-handers is phenomenal and England have some left-handers. Kemar and Jason [captain Holder], they set the tone along with [Alzarri] Joseph and Shannon Gabriel can be a threat with his pace and uncertainty he creates.

"It will be interesting to see if that combination can work as it did in the Caribbean."

England all-rounder Sam Curran will return to training this weekend after testing negative for COVID-19.

Curran pulled out of an intra-squad practice match in Southampton, which ends on Friday, as he was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.

The 22-year-old was tested for coronavirus on Thursday and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed he has been given the all-clear.

Curran has been self-isolating in his hotel room at the Ageas Bowl but is set to re-join his team-mates ahead of the first Test against West Indies, which starts next Wednesday.

He will be tested for COVID-19 again on Sunday along with the rest of the England team and management group.

Regional cricket analyst Fazeer Mohammed has taken exception to recent comments made by Windies coach Roddy Estwick, who recently compared the current bowling unit to the famed West Indies pace attack of the past.

The bowling unit of Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel and on occasion Alzarri Joseph has done well for the West Indies in recent series, leading an excited Estwick's claim that the West Indies were ‘beginning to get blessed again with fast bowlers’ and that 'the current crop was the best group since the great days.’

While agreeing that the unit did possess some amount of talent, Mohammed insisted Estwick’s comparison was a bit over the top.

“I think there is too much being made about the quality of our fast bowling.  Roddy Estwick made the point that this is our best fast bowling unit since the great era, that is complete nonsense,” Mohammed told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“These four fast bowlers are really good and show tremendous talent, but I think Roddy is getting a little carried away, there is no way this quartet compares with the like of Roberts, Malcolm, Croft, and Garner,” he added.

In addition to the afore mention trio, however, the current crop is also able to call on the likes of bowlers Chemar Holder and O’shane Thomas who have plenty of pace, if not the necessary experience.

Kyle Mayers missed out on a century on the final day of the West Indies’ four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, running out of partners, while Shannon Gabriel picked up four wickets in a low-scoring draw.

With the first day and a part of the second a wash-out, the West Indies intra-squad game came down to a one-inning affair and by necessity, a draw.

There were two points of interest with the bat, none of them coming from the usual suspects.

On day three Joshua Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 on Tuesday to post 272 against the bowling of Preston McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. On Wednesday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who faced a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI scored a paltry 178 all out, the only bright element of the innings coming from Kyle Mayers, who scored an unbeaten 74, running out of partners before he could get to three figures.

But Mayers failure to get to three figures wasn't for a lack of effort. He was savage, scoring his 74 from just 56 deliveries in which he clubbed three sixes and nine fours.

Shannon Gabriel was the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI, showing himself to be somewhere back to full fitness with an impressive bowling performance of 4-42.

Kemar Roach, 2-25, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 2-64, and Reifer, 1-21, also got in on the action.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has been included in the Test squad for the upcoming series against England.

Initially, the 32-year-old quick was included as a reserve, having recovered from an ankle injury in the past several months.  With no competitive cricket available to the player during the COVID-19 pandemic, doubts had surfaced regarding his fitness.

Gabriel has, however, proven himself match fit over the last couple of weeks and is expected to return to the bowling line-up.  In the warm-up matches, the bowler has claimed eight wickets at an average of just over 15.

Thursday was the last day of the West Indies' second and final warm-up game.  The team’s coach Phil Simmons returned to the bench after his latest negative coronavirus test.

West Indies captain Jason Holder, who has struggled for form with the bat, tried to gain more time in the middle by promoting himself up the order to open the batting for his team, against the Kraigg Brathwaite XI.  The all-rounder could only manage two off 15 deliveries, for a total of just seven runs in the warm-up games.

Gabriel was much better as he took four for 42 as Brathwaite's XI were bowled out for 178 in a drawn encounter, after resuming on 112 for seven.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) yesterday paid tribute to Sir Everton Weekes, the legendary West Indies batsman and pioneer. Sir Everton was one of the most significant figures in the history of the sport – as a batsman of the highest quality, he played alongside other forefathers of West Indies cricket for a decade at the international level.

He was part of the famous Three Ws – alongside Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott. He was also a highly respected coach, a knowledgeable analyst on the game for the regional and international media, as well as a former Team Manager, Match Referee for the International Cricket Council, and a member of the ICC Hall of Fame.

He passed away on Wednesday at the age of 95.

Ricky Skerritt, President of CWI said: “On behalf of CWI I want to publicly express our deepest sympathy to the family of this remarkable Iconic sportsman and gentleman, who passed away earlier today [yesterday]. I also send condolences to former CWI President Sir Wes Hall, and his family, who were all extremely close to Sir Everton. I never had the opportunity to see Sir Everton bat, but I had the opportunity to get to know him a little in his later years. I learned about his incredible career by reading about him and looking at old videos when I could. His performance stats were excellent as he set tremendously high standards for his time.

Sir Everton was, therefore, a most amazing pioneer in West Indies cricket; a gentleman and quite simply a wonderful human being. I got to spend a couple of hours with him last year just sitting at his home and talking with him, at a time when he was recovering from a serious illness. I have never known a more humble and gentle human being. I grew to appreciate his sense of humour and his love of people and witnessed the love and respect that so many held for him in Barbados and across the entire region. I am so privileged to have known this amazing West Indian Legend and gentleman. Sir Everton Weekes was truly one of the founding fathers of West Indies cricket excellence. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Born, Everton DeCourcey Weekes, he was a member of the famous Empire Club in Barbados, which was also home to several other legends of the game including Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Charlie Griffith and Sir Conrad Hunte.

He made his Test debut at age 22 against England at Kensington Oval in 1948 under the captaincy of George Headley. His final match was against Pakistan in Trinidad a decade later.

In his career, Sir Everton played 48 Test matches and made 4455 runs at an average of 58.61 per innings. This included a world record five consecutive centuries in 1948 – scores of 141 against England in Jamaica, followed by scores of 128, 194, 162 and 101 in India. In his next innings, he made 90.

His average of 58.61 runs means Sir Everton is one of two West Indies greats, along with George Headley, in the top 10 Test averages of all time. This average has been bettered by only four players in history to have scored more than 4000 runs. In all first-class cricket he played 152 matches and scored 12010 runs at an average of 55.34 with a top score of 304 not out.

West Indies interim batting coach Floyd Reifer has dismissed concerns about the team’s batting line-up, ahead of the Test series against England, insisting the unit is more than ready to adapt to difficult conditions.

Despite the team widely being acknowledged as having a potent bowling line-up heading into the series, many have raised concerns about how the Windies will fare at the crease against experienced English bowlers and potentially damp, cold conditions.

The absence of the talented duo of Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, who opted out of the tour for health reasons, have done little to assuage those fears but Reifer, who was recently returned to the coaching unit, insists the team’s hard work so far gives them a good chance of success for the upcoming series.

“I keep hearing everyone saying they are concerned about our batting.  We have some experienced guys here and the boys have been working really hard,” Brathwaite told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“We understand the English conditions now. Young Hope and Brathwaite who were here before are now experienced players…” he added.

“What we have been working on is playing the ball late, in the Caribbean, our batters tend to go fairly hard at the ball but we are working on playing the ball as late as possible, and trying to leave alone as many deliveries as possible on top of the off-stump.  It’s important when the ball is moving around you try to play as little as possible and rotate the strike.  We have been having a lot of discussion on battling their spells and building innings.”

The Caribbean team will not need to look far for an example of its batting line-up struggling in English conditions than the first Test of the tour three years ago.  After England made 514, the West Indies were dismissed for 168 and 137.

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