West Indies legend Brian Lara has hailed India batting star Virat Kohli as the Cristiano Ronaldo of the sport based on the player’s extraordinary commitment to fitness.

Kohli was recently named in the Wisden top five cricketers of the decade and it was a well-earned accolade considering the fact he has scored 5,775 more international runs than anyone else in the last 10 years.  In fact, since bursting on the scene, the India skipper has sent records tumbling at a remarkable pace.  Kohli has, however, also become noted for his strict diet and rigid fitness routine.  Lara believes his attention to that aspect of his career development, comparable to the likes of Ronaldo and LeBron James, has taken the player to another level.

“It’s unbelievable. He's cricket’s version of Cristiano Ronaldo. I think he’s taken fitness to another level,” Lara said in a recent interview with The Hindu.

“When you see guys in the 70s and the fun that they were having, the fitness level wasn't that great.  In 2019, pretty much, fitness is a major part of the game and Kohli is leading the charge, not just in India but around the world. His mental strength is unbelievable,” he added.

The 31-year-old Indian was named captain of the Wisden Test team of the decade, while also featuring in the ODI XI.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) is set to welcome a new kit sponsor, Castore Sportswear, onboard for the new year after agreeing to a three-year deal reportedly worth £3m (US$3,903,300).

The new sponsorship deal will come as good news for the Caribbean cricket team, which has struggled in that particular area for the past several years as they are set to name a third sponsor in two years. 

The team’s most recent deals included a three-year contract with Australian sportswear brand BLK, signed in 2017, and a two-year agreement with Caribbean hotel chain Sandals in 2018.

For the English-based apparel franchise, who are relative newcomers to the sportswear market, the deal represents a significant escalation as the Windies will become the company's first major sports team deal.  Castore previously signed British tennis star Andy Murray in March.  The partnership with the West Indies is expected to commence in June when the team tours England before heading to Australia to defend the T20 World Cup title.  Castore chief executive Tom Beahon framed the partnership as an arrangement that should mutually benefit entities in similar positions.

“We see an opportunity to partner with like-minded teams who like us are aspirational, but see themselves as challenging,” Beahon told the Financial Times.

“Realistically, we’re not going to sponsor Real Madrid in the next two or three years but in the level below those trophy assets, there are teams and countries who are looking for a partner who will invest in them more than maybe the big guys will do.” 

Promoted Molynes United battled their way to a gritty 2-1 win over Waterhouse at the Drewsland Stadium.

West Indies all-round legend Sir Garry Sobers has warned England fast bowler Jofra Archer is not yet the finished article, as the bowler has struggled to make a significant impact in recent appearances, after a brilliant start to his career.

The 24-year-old Barbadian born fast bowler captured the attention of the world with a brilliant showing for England at ICC World Cup. Archer then went on to steal the limelight in the 2-2 home Ashes draw with Australia, taking 6-45 in the third Test at Headingley and finishing the series as the third leading wicket-taker with 22, despite only making his debut in the second Test.

The player, however, then struggled in New Zealand recently, returning figures of just 2-209 in England’s 1-0 series defeat.

“One swallow does not make a summer,” Sobers said of the players start to life in international cricket.

“Jofra has a lot of talent and the potential to go a long way, but how far depends on him.  You see a promising player come along and do well for a series, which maybe gives an inflated impression of his ability. If he thinks, ‘Oh, I’ve got it now, I’ve done this, done that’, there’s a danger he will not fulfill his potential,” he added.

“He must recognize the harder he works, the better results he will get.”

Archer will feature for England in a Boxing Day Test against South Africa at Centurion.

 

The sombre affair of laying to rest the body of Reggae Girl Tarania ‘Plum Plum’ Clarke was replaced with the loud bangs of gunshots and the unmistakable stench of fear from mourners who were hindered from doing just that on Sunday.

What started as a day celebrating the life of Clarke, where she was described as a born leader at the Excelsior High School Auditorium in Kingston, Jamaica, ended with confusion and pain at the Meadowrest Memorial Gardens in St Catherine.

Reports are that on Sunday, there was an altercation during the burial that resulted in the stabbing of an employee at Meadowrest.

It is alleged that gunmen from the nearby community, hearing of the injury to one of their own, broke up the proceedings by firing gunshots into the proceedings.

It is unknown if anybody was shot in the incident as the police are yet to release a report on the incident as investigations continue.

The October 31 death shocked the footballing community in Jamaica, with reports surfacing that the 20-year-old was stabbed during a fight with a friend over a cell phone in Half-Way Tree.

During the memorial service inside the auditorium, Reggae Girl, Khadija Shaw asked that Clarke be remembered for being funny, caring and hard working.

“She would have wanted to be with us all, to be here with our happiest smile of our times together,” said Shaw.

“For the memories, I have with her, I can tell you she was a strong person. Plum Plum’s presence will be missed by all, but she will never be forgotten.”

Clarke captained the Waterhouse women’s team for four title-winning seasons, earning a Reggae Girlz debut on September 30 during the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers and even scored her first international goal against Cuba, during a 21-1 drubbing. The defender also scored against St Lucia when the Reggae Girlz beat them 11-0.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts, said the loss of life was caused by a lack of understanding.

“It is so sad and painful to have lost someone which such a future,” Ricketts said.

“From her days at primary school, she has exhibited that ability to lead. I want to use this opportunity to ask all of you that we showed love. We [need to] go back to the days when we respect and show love to our friends. One single act of indiscretion has cost the community, the school, and certainly Jamaica, [someone] with such great talent.”

Nicholas Pooran was always a talented batsman but fell off the wagon after a car crash left him unable to walk for six months.

His return to international cricket has revitalized a West Indies batting line-up accused of being altogether too inconsistent.

Pooran though, averaging 52 from his 19 games since his return to cricket, has helped to give his side the confidence that makes a dangerous side with the bat.

While that revival isn’t complete, Pooran is grateful that he has come this far and is thanking his skipper, Kieron Pollard, for making it possible.

“He’s been like a big brother to me, a father-figure. He’s been there since I returned to cricket. He gave me opportunity. I’m thankful for that,” said Pooran.

Pooran has already begun repaying Pollard the faith he put in him, scoring 29 not out off 23 balls, 75 off 47 balls and 89 off 64 balls in a recently concluded ODI series against India.

But it isn’t just off the field that Pollard has been there for Pooran, as batting with his father figure has helped him as well.

In the final ODI against India on Sunday, Pollard batted with the West Indies middle order to help them post a challenging 315-5, himself ending unbeaten on 74.

“We play with each other, with the same club, same franchise back home. So we had a good understanding of the wicket and the situation in the game and just executed our skills,” said Pooran, who scored 89 from 64 deliveries in a partnership that took the West Indies from 144-4 in the 32nd over to 279-5 in the 48th when he finally got out.

“We know how to complement each other. Polly was stronger to the spinners, so we allowed him to attack Kuldeep (Yadav) and I would try and play more shots to the pacers. It worked out,” said Pooran.

The middle-order batting has shown some improvement, but the ease with which India got to 316-6, doing so in the 49th over, winning their second series against the Windies at home this month, suggests there is still work to be done.

“Definitely we were on a team-building (mode). India are one of the strongest teams in the world. They proved that again today in the T20I and ODI series. At least we came here and we showed fight,” said Pooran.

Pooran, no stranger to adversity after fighting his way back to fitness after his accident, strongly believes the West Indies are on their way back to being the best team in the world.

“There are better things to come. We are taking it day-by-day and eventually we’ll get where we want to get,” he said.

Shai Hope is the most prolific One-Day International batsman to his first 3000 runs the West Indies has ever seen.

On Sunday, during a losing effort against India , Hope struck a single to get to 35 runs and with it, reached 3,000 runs in ODIs.

Sir Vivian Richards, long known as the most fearsome ODI batsman the West Indies has ever seen, took 69 innings to get to 3000 runs, while Lara, the greatest the region has produced and arguably the greatest of all time, took 79 innings to do so. Hope was playing his 67th innings on Sunday.

Gordon Greenidge, who formed part of the greatest opening ODI parternships in West Indies history with Desmond Haynes, achieved the milestone in 72 innings, while one of the greatest exponents of white ball cricket, Chris Gayle took 80 innings.

In fact, there has only ever been one batsman in world cricket to get to 3000 runs faster than has Hope, with South Africa’s Hashim Amla owning the record of the quickest to the milestone of all time, getting there in 57 innings.

Hope would go on to score 42, as the West Indies went on to post 315, a total India got to for the loss of six wickets in the 49th over.

On the way to 316-6, Rohit Sharma scored 63, KL Rahul, 77, and Virat Kohli, 85, to smother the efforts of Hope, Nicholas Pooran, 89, and Kieron Pollard, 74.

Hope had also scored 102 not out and 78 in the previous two games, taking his tally to four centuries this calendar year, along with seven half-centuries.

The West Indies lost a T20I series to India, 2-1, and suffered the same result in a three-match ODI series that ended Sunday.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper Courtney Browne is in a hospital in Barbados with serious injuries suffered in a motor vehicle mishap in which a man died on Sunday morning.

 Jamaica had a creditable showing at the Men’s World Team Squash Championships finishing 18th out of 23 as the tournament concluded over the weekend in Washington DC in the United States.

Competing against the best players on the planet, the Jamaican Team, which included 9-time national and regional champion, Chris Binnie, Lewis Walters, Bruce Burrowes and Tahjia Lumley, improved on the country’s performance in the previous championships in 2017 when the team finished 21st.

The week-long campaign got off to a challenging start with 3-0 losses to Hong Kong, the number 6th ranked team and Australia, who were seeded at 7; as well as a 2-1 defeat at the hands of rising global stars, Kuwait.  The results landed Jamaica in the playoff for places 13 to 23.

The playoff round brought brighter moments with the highlights being a surprise 2-0 win over South American stalwarts, Colombia and a 2-1 victory against Singapore.  However, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the US and a 2-0 loss to Ireland landed Jamaica in 18th place overall.

“We are extremely proud of our performance at the World Team Championships, we improved on our position from the last tournament, two years ago, we finished ahead of higher-ranked teams like South Africa and a powerhouse like Colombia who we actually beat in the playoffs,” said the Jamaica Squash Association’s President, Chris Hind.

“We are extremely proud of our performance at the World Team Championships, we improved on our position from the last tournament, two years ago, we finished ahead of higher-ranked teams like South Africa and a powerhouse like Colombia who we actually beat in the playoffs.

“There were great wins along the way from our number one and two players; Chris Binnie and Lewis Walters and there was a hard fight from our other players Bruce Burrowes and Tahjia Lumley and it’s onwards and upwards for Jamaican squash in 2020.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is taking a positive outlook on his team’s four-wicket loss to India in Cuttack on Sunday.

Virat Kohli made a 55th ODI half-century following fireworks from Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard as India pulled off a big run chase to beat West Indies by four wickets and win the series 2-1.

Pooran (89 from 64 balls) and Pollard (74 not out off 51) bludgeoned 118 runs off the last 10 overs to get the Windies up to an imposing 315-5 at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Sunday.

That was not sufficient for the tourists to secure a first bilateral ODI series win over India for 13 years, though, as the second-ranked side in the world reached their target in the penultimate over.

Rohit Sharma hit a run-a-ball 63, while KL Rahul (77) and Kohli (85) also made half-centuries before Ravindra Jadeja (39no) and Shardul Thakur (17no) finished off the job. 

Keemo Paul was the pick of the bowlers with 3-59 and Shai Hope became the second-fastest to 3000 ODI runs, but that was scant consolation for Pollard's men.

The Windies got off to steady start after being put in by Kohli and Evin Lewis fell for a scratchy 21 before Hope was bowled playing across the line to a delivery from Mohammed Shami.

Shimron Hetmyer (37) struck a couple of lusty sixes but became Navdeep Saini's first ODI victim after he was put down by Rishabh Pant and Roston Chase (38) lost his off stump to a yorker from the debutant.

Pooran, also dropped by Pant, and Pollard cut loose with a devastating late onslaught, the former reaching his half-century with a second six in an expensive over from Kuldeep Yadav.

The majestic Pooran missed out on his hundred when he was removed by Shardul in the 48th over, but Pollard swelled his tally of sixes to seven to leave India facing a big run chase.

Rohit and Rahul - centurions in the second ODI - made a great start, the former stepping on the accelerator with a six and four in the fourth over from Jason Holder as the openers scored at around a run a ball for the first 15 overs.

Rahul was the first to reach his half-century after the 100 stand was brought up and Rohit moved to his 43rd ODI fifty, but was gone after edging Holder behind.

The elegant Rahul gloved Alzarri Joseph to Hope and India were 201-4 with 15 overs to bowl after Paul removed Shreyas Iyer and Pant in successive overs.

Kohli coasted to his half-century from only 51 with an array of sublime strokes and positive running, with India needing 79 for victory off the last 10 overs, but there was stunned silence when he chopped on attempting to drive Paul through the off side.

India required 30 from 23 balls when Kohli trudged off, but Shardul hooked Sheldon Cottrell for six in a 48th over that cost 15 runs and Jadeja showed his all-round class as India got home with eight balls to spare.

Jamaica Football Federation president, Michael Ricketts, held nothing back recently when he slammed former Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzies for being unprofessional.

Menzies, the coach who led the Reggae Girlz to a historic World Cup Qualification earlier this year, quit the team via the media recently, citing numerous problems with remuneration and issues with getting information about a new contract, which elapsed earlier this year.

Ricketts, however, said Menzies has been less than truthful about his issues with the JFF and pointed out that the nature of his resignation was not inkeeping with proper protocol.

“If I were to say the things that Menzies have done, it would cause all of us major embarrassment. We’ll refrain from saying anything else; just to say that Menzies up to now has not yet said to the JFF that here’s my letter of resignation, but he tells the world and every single media house that he has resigned so we take it that he has resigned so we move on,” said Ricketts on Jamaican radio station, Hitz 92 FM.

Menzies had missed the first stage of the Reggae Girlz’ Olympic qualifiers earlier this year, saying he would not coach the team until the JFF resolved their issues with him.

According to Ricketts, his organization were only made aware that this was the case, again through the media.

“Just before the start of the preliminary round of the World Cup Qualifiers, Minister (Olivia Grange) and I were on the phone and got in contact with the coach to have a three-way discussion. Menzies said to us that he could not come to the first stage of the qualifiers because he had a board meeting to attend. The next day Menzies was on the radio saying that he was not coming because the JFF owed him money,” said the JFF president.

The announcement of a new coach, the JFF has said, will take place before the end of the year.

Head coach of the Trinidad Tobago senior football team, Terry Fenwick, believes his experience in the T&T Pro League will serve him well as he attempts to turn around the flagging fortunes of the twin-island republic.

Fenwick was offered a two-year deal by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s Technical Committee earlier this week but must show improvement for that to be increased to four years.

According to the former England defender, who had successful stints with San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC in the T&T Pro League, his experience with the very players who now make up the national squad makes his transition to head coach much easier.

“I know most of the players relatively well and, having been here as long as I have, I know the strengths and weaknesses of Trinidad and Tobago football,” Fenwick told Trinidad and Tobago online news entity, Wired868.

According to Fenwick though, he cannot achieve success without support.

“I will try to tailor my plans to their strengths to bring quick success. I need support around me and I welcome the public’s support to help lift our football back to where it should be.”

Where the Soca Warriors should be and where they are, is a gargantuan distance as Fenwick’s predecessor, Dennis Lawrence, oversaw a period where the team won one of 15 games in the last calendar year, failing to take three points from a competitive fixture since a 2-1 win over the United States all the way back in October of 2017.

But Fenwick believes he has attributes that counteract that slide from grace.

“I’m organised, I’m structured and players know exactly what they have to do in my system,” he said.

“I’m also very flexible tactically and I’m able to change formations during matches and I’ve demonstrated that over the years. I demand plenty from my players.

“We might not have the Dwight Yorkes and Russell Latapys of yesteryear but we have still got lots of quality, particularly in terms of the defenders we have produced over the last 10 years.”

That quality will be called into question as early as March where Fenwick will have to lead the Soca Warriors into friendlies during the FIFA international window in a bid to get them ready for a CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff qualification tie against either Barbados or Guyana in June.

Former England defender, coach of Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh in the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Pro League, Terry Fenwick, has been named the head coach of the twin-island republic’s senior football team, the Soca Warriors.

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