Windies all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall has once again launched a bid to improve upon his fitness, generally regarded as a major stumbling block to this inclusion in the senior team.

The 26-year Antiguan native is yet to receive a call to Windies squad, despite consistently performing well at both the regional and Windies A level.  In the most recent Regional Super50 competition, Cornwall took 54 wickets in nine matches at 17.68 apiece to be crowned the competition’s top bowler. 

The Leeward Islands Hurricanes talisman has also dominated at the West Indies A level on both home and overseas tours and currently boasts 256 first-class wickets at an average of 23.

Standing at an estimated 6’5 tall and close to 300 pounds, Cornwall has made several attempts to improve on his overall fitness but is seemingly yet to make any significant progress on achieving the required fitness level.  Cornwall is, however, hoping his latest stint with noted trainer Ronald Rogers will pay dividends.

“Training-wise, I am trying to get as fit as I can because I think I am preparing for India,” Cornwall told the Antigua Observer.

“It’s nothing in terms of getting to a particular weight but just to see how far I can get as quickly as possible between now and June,” he added.

The Windies are expected to host India during a full tour scheduled for June.

“It is something that I am up for and something I am happy about so it’s just up to me now to put in the work.”

Windies top order batsmen Shai Hope and John Campbell set a new world record for an opening partnership, after amassing a jaw-dropping 369 in the first One Day International (ODI) against Ireland, in Dublin, on Sunday.

Campbell, who was recording his maiden ODI century after six appearances, stroked a majestic 179 off 137 balls.  Hope, who was recording a 5th century coming from 50 ODI matches, made seven runs less runs off 152 balls.

The new mark replaced the previous best of 304 set by Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman of Pakistan against Zimbabwe in 2018.  The previous best by a West Indian opening pair was 200, set by Stuart Williams and Shivnarine Chanderpaul against India in 1997.  Overall, the total is the second highest ODI runs partnership for any batting pair, just behind the 372 set by Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle against Zimbabwe in 2015.

The record partnership put the regional team in a strong position against Ireland, after ending the innings with a total of 381 for 3.  The score was also the second highest ODI total posted by the West Indies, just below the 389 set by the regional team against England at the National Stadium in Grenada earlier this year.

With the West Indies allowing a number of its players in the Indian Premier League to remain during a tour of Ireland for a tri-nation series involving Bangladesh, there is a rare opportunity for places at the ICC Cricket World Cup. 

West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick believes the coming tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh presents an opportunity for the young players to gain experience and for the World-Cup bound players to get some useful match practice.

Four years after suffering a serious car injury, Windies batsman Nicholas Pooran has high hopes of playing a big part for the team at this month’s ICC World Cup in England.

The 23-year-old Trinidad and Tobago native was named as part of a 15-man squad, which will travel to England determined to make a mark on the tournament in a few days’ time.  However, the position he now finds himself in is quite remarkable considering the fact that two years ago he was left to wonder if he would ever walk again.  After returning from training in Port of Spain, Pooran ruptured his left patellar tendon and fractured his ankle.  The injuries left the player sidelined for several months.

“West Indies has a lot of talented players like it has always had. Obviously, things are shaping well for the World Cup and we are looking forward to it. Hope I do a great job,” Pooran said.

“The conditions in England will obviously be colder. The one thing would be to (understand) the conditions and then adjusting (accordingly) to the longer format of the game. This is our job, and this is what we do day in and out, so we have to (realize) the situation and get ready for the World Cup.”

 

Windies all-rounder Andre Russell has admitted he is champing at the bit to get back on the field for the regional team, after recently being included in a 15-man squad for next month’s ICC World Cup.  

The bullish all-rounder has been in fine form for Indian Premier League squad (IPL) Kolkata Knight Riders this season, where he has scored 406 runs from 11 games, at a brilliant strike rate of 209.27. 

Despite having not played in ODI cricket since last year against Bangladesh, the 30-year-old is confident of making an impact in England next month.  Russell was previously called to the ODI squad for the series against England but could not take the field after being hampered by a knee injury.

"I'm so hungry now to represent the West Indies.  The last time I joined the West Indies team was recently, when I had taken two injections to better my knee and it flared up again. I was so upset. I was watching the game against England and couldn't do anything about it,” Russell said.

"I wasn't surprised that I was called to the World Cup squad.  I've been doing well, I've been back and forth with the selectors and the coaches back home. I know once I'm doing my work here and performing, it will lead to national duties. I wasn't focused on the World Cup. I was just making sure that whatever happened here, I was doing my best,” he added.

 

The Windies have a plan to manage the workload of Andre Russell at the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales next month. 

Mystery spinner, Sunil Narine, who was recently left out of the Windies’ provisional 15-man squad to the World Cup in England next month, is insistent that he is not done with the regional team.

Narine has turned down a number of invitations from Cricket West Indies to be part of Windies One Day International teams for a variety of reasons.

The spinner, who was sidelined from cricket on two occasions because of an illegal action, had once said he wasn’t confident he could bowl 10 overs because of his revamped action.

Narine’s various issues have meant he hasn’t played an ODI for almost three years, dating back to October 2016, and his most recent comments about an injury ruling him out have been met with, scepticism.

That scepticism comes from the fact that Narine is, at the moment, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, but the spinner claims he cannot manage more than that.

Narine sustained a torn ligament in his right middle finger a few months ago and has since been restricted in the type of deliveries and the number of them, he can bowl.

“I would have loved to play in the World Cup,” said Narine during an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

“I have missed international cricket and I’ve missed representing West Indies. It’s where my heart lies,” he said.

According to Narine, even playing T20 cricket has put a strain on the injury and he can’t get through four overs without work from the physiotherapist.

“I don't feel my finger is quite ready for ODI cricket. I can get through a T20 where I bowl just four overs. But even that isn't easy and I need help from the physio. It's holding me back from playing international cricket. I wouldn't be able to do myself or the team justice,” he said.

Narine believes that despite the scepticism from people in the Caribbean, the selectors and, in essence, Cricket West Indies, are sympathetic to his situation and the entities are well on their way, in terms of an improved relationship.

"I'm really happy that the selectors considered me," said Narine.

"It shows they have faith in me. I haven't played international cricket in so long and this shows how much they want me to come back. It was good to have some conversations with them and I feel we're all on the same page going forward."

Windies batting star Chris Gayle believes the upcoming World Cup will be a wide open one and the regional team could have a good a chance as any to lift the title.

The 39-year-old star batsman believes that the hosts England will start favourite when the tournament bowls off next month, but with other teams know to extract good performances from conditions in England Gayle believes the tournament will be competitive.

“Almost every team has a chance to actually win the World Cup. Everybody puts England as favourites and they are at home.  They have a star-studded team as well, a well-balanced all-around team as well, so you have to give them credit,” Gayle told India Today.

“India always plays well in England, Pakistan always plays well in England so you have to look at those team that always do well in those kinds of conditions.  Australia, you can’t write them off, they're always up there and you can’t write off New Zealand either.  Everybody really and truly has a chance but there is going to be one winner, the West Indies and that goes without saying,” he added.

The big left-hander was confirmed as one of 15 members for the Windies World Cup squad, where he will make a fifth appearance at the tournament.

Newly appointed president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt has insisted the association is not looking to burn bridges with discarded officials, despite making several quick changes since taking office.

Interim coach Richard Pybus, West Indies assistant coach Vasbert Drakes and the entire Courtney Browne-led selection panel were among the casualties when the new board began to enforce its mandate last month.

Some of the parties have, however, taken exception to their dismissals and threatened legal action against CWI.  While he insisted he was not yet briefed on the legal situations, Skerritt was quick to point out that the organization was not interested in alienating the recently dismissed officials and that other positions could be open to them in the future.

“What I would say is that each situation has been handled on its own merit and there is no intention to make things more difficult for any past players than it has it to be,” Skerritt told the SportsMax Zone.

“Whatever the beliefs, we are about cricket.  We are about helping players, we are about helping past players.  We are about inclusiveness and we want past players involved in developing cricket and providing services of different kinds,” he added. 

“If somebody is not used now as a selector it doesn’t mean they can’t be used later as something else. If somebody is not used as a coach it doesn’t mean they can’t be used later as some other kind of professional in cricket.  We are not trying to burn any bridges with anybody.”

 

West Indies fast bowling legend and Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh has warned the team’s seamers to be wary of difficult conditions in England.

The Asian country will be one of 10 teams that take the field when the tournament gets under way on May 30.  Unlike drier conditions on the subcontinent, a cloudier atmosphere with more moisture in the air can cause the cricket ball to swing.

The bowling great believes doing well in different conditions will come down to discipline and use of intelligence.

  “It will be a big challenge,” Walsh said.

“There are going to be some good cricket pitches, which are batting-friendly. We have to be intelligent and try to execute well. We have to read the conditions and the surfaces we play. Some places the ball might swing more than the others. We have to assess when we get there,” he added.

Bangladesh will bowl off the tournament against South Africa on June 2nd at the Oval in London.

“Most of the pitches will be docile and flat. We have to work on our variations and execution,” he said. “Everybody studies one another these days. So they know our strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, we also know theirs.”

 

 

West Indies batting legend Brian Lara believes the current form of senior players in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign is a real fillip for the region.

With the 2019 World Cup just a little over a month away Windies stars Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell have put on some impressive displays with the bat in the IPL to date.  After starting slowly for Mumbai Indians Pollard has picked up steam in recent week, hitting a crucial 46 against Sunrisers Hyderabad before an outrageous 83 against Kings XI Punjab.

Russell has been one of the players of the tournament to date, after scoring 377 runs and claiming seven wickets in 9 matches.

It remains to be seen whether any of the players, who have been outside of the One Day International set-up for several months, will be selected to the final Windies squad.  Lara, however, believes the form of the players makes them nice options to have.

“Cricketers from the West Indies have been doing well in this edition of the Indian Premier League. A few players from other nations are also making good contributions. Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell have been pretty consistent and that augurs well for West Indies cricket. Even Chris Gayle has fired on a couple of occasions, but you need to look out for guys who are making contribution regularly,” Lara said.

“The West Indies players bring their whole-hearted effort in every performance. They are not playing for the West Indies national team, so the IPL is their opportunity to shine.”

 

Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) president Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven and Jamaican business executive Don Wehby have been drafted into the newly selected Cricket West Indies (CWI), as the body looks to improve its financial standing.

In keeping with a part of his mandate to establish good governance principles and greater transparency, newly appointed CWI president Ricky Skerritt has made several new appointments since taking office.

Heaven, who recently secured a third term as president of the JCA, will serve in the capacity as chairman of the CWI’s finance committee.  Wehby, a former Jamaica finance minister and Grace Kennedy CEO, will head a task force on corporate governance.

Other changes from Skerritt, who defeated Dave Cameron in the CWI elections last month, included the appointment of Robert Haynes as interim head of the chairman of selectors last month.

The CWI also removed interim head coach Richard Pybus and his support staff of Vasbert Drakes, Toby Radford and Esuan Crandon. Former West Indies batsman Floyd Reifer was named to replace Pybus, while Roddy Estwick, Corey Collymore and Rayon Griffith will serve as assistant coaches.

 

Former Windies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan said he is excited about working with the Windies senior team ahead of next month’s Tri-Nations One-day International Series in Ireland and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 England & Wales.

The Windies cricket team selected for the upcoming tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh next month met with the new coaching staff led by Floyd Reifer on Monday.

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