West Indies cricket great Brian Lara has been admitted to hospital suffering from chest pains, according to reports emerging from India.

Windies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite admitted he was grateful for a maiden One Day International (ODI) century, despite a gut-wrenching loss against New Zealand on Saturday.

A controversial selection ahead of the ICC World Cup, Brathwaite had struggled to make any real impression at the tournament.  In three prior matches, his best scores were 16 against Australia and 14 against England.  He was dropped for Bangladesh and possibly only selected for New Zealand because of the injury to Andre Russell.

His sensational knock against New Zealand, however, resembled the player who promised so much after taking the West Indies over the line against England at the 2016 T20 World Cup.  With the Windies on the ropes, Brathwaite finally showed up and earned plenty of plaudits despite his efforts falling just short.

"It is a cliché to say that it doesn't matter if you don't win, but for me personally, for my confidence, it is a result of all the hard work that I put in," Brathwaite told Espncricinfo.

"It is finally good that it has come to fruition. I continue to work hard. Obviously heartbreaking to not get over the line but I give thanks for the performance and being able to get the team in the position that I was able to,” he added.

Former Windies all-rounder Phil Simmons has had his ups and downs as a coach, with his latest struggles coming at the ICC World Cup in England. 

Windies captain Jason Holder admits the form of middle order batsman Nicholas Pooran has a bit of fresh air, despite a few underwhelming performances by the team at the ICC World Cup so far.

The 23-year-old was one of the few bright sparks for the regional team in a crushing defeat against England last week.  In fact, Pooran scored his maiden half-century, with an impressive 63 from 78 balls, in an eight-wicket defeat.  His responsible partnership with Shimron Hetmyer, who scored 39 from 48, was a steadying factor for the Caribbean team who at one point seemed destined to make less than the 212 they eventually managed.

“Pooran has been really good.  I am pleased with his progress so far.  He has shown a lot of maturity, which is really good for a young player,” Holder said.

“He has got quite a few shots in his locker as well and that is really got to see from a young talent.  I just want him to continue the way that he has been going,” he added.

“If he were marking himself extremely hard, I am sure he would like a 100.  So, let’s hope tomorrow he steps up and carries it deeper.”

In three matches so far Pooran has scored 137 runs.  The West Indies will take on Bangladesh on Monday at Taunton County Ground. 

 

 

 West Indies bowling coach Cory Collymore is confident the team’s star batsman Chris Gayle will relish the challenge of facing Barbadian-born pace bowler Jofra Archer.

The Windies are booked to face England in what is expected to be a thrilling contest at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground on Friday.  Despite being in the twilight of his career, Gayle remains a formidable force at the top of the Caribbean team’s batting order and his match-up against the up and coming pace bowler Archer is expected to be one of the highlights of the match.  Having claimed six-wickets so far and regularly reaching speeds in excess of 90mph, Archer is having a splendid tournament to date.  Collymore is, however, confident that Gayle will rise to the challenge.

"Chris thrives on that.  I have known him since he was 16 and he has always loved a challenge," said Collymore said.

"He has always enjoyed the challenge of fast bowling so I expect him to relish that. I have known Archer for a while and I saw (Mark) Wood in the Caribbean last year,” he added.

"They are both very impressive, as we have seen throughout this tournament."

Wood faces a late fitness test ahead of the encounter.

Windies fast bowling legend Michael Holding has hit out at what he terms attempts at ‘censorship’ from the ICC, after formal requests made by the cricket body to cut down on criticism of umpires on air.

The former West Indies paceman was heavily critical of the umpiring during the West Indies vs Australia last week.  He was, however, far from the only one as the game featured several high-profile errors.

West Indies opener Chris Gayle was given out twice, while facing an over from Mitchell Starc, with both calls later overturned via the decisions review system.  The batsman was dismissed lbw in the next over from Starc but replays showed the previous delivery had been a huge no-ball. The ball that dismissed the West Indian should, therefore, have been free hit.

Later, two more on-field decisions were overturned. The first was reviewed by Jason Holder after he was initially sent back to the pavilion lbw, sweeping to Glenn Maxwell, the ball just pitching outside leg.

Holder then successfully reviewed once more, attempting to sweep Adam Zampa, with ball-tracker showing the ball would have comfortably missed leg stump. 

Holding, who called the umpiring ‘atrocious’, expressed the belief that the officials were being pressured by strong appeals from the players.

In response, the ICC in an email to Holding and other commentators pointed out “the importance of maintaining the highest standards and uphold the game’s best values and spirit while covering the tournament”.

Never one to hold back on his opinions, the player turned pundit claimed commentators were being increasingly “compromised by controlling organisations to the point of censorship”.

“If those umpires were FIFA officials, they would have been told to pack their bags and head home. They would not have been given another World Cup game to officiate. As a former cricketer, I think cricket should be held to a higher standard. Is the objective to protect the umpires even when they do a bad job?” Holding said in a reply accessed and published by The Times of India newspaper.

 “I am sorry, but I am not going to be part of that. Please let me know if I should be heading back to my home in Newmarket instead of heading to Cardiff because I don’t agree with what is being suggested here and happy not being part of it.”

England pace bowler Mark Wood believes the best way to tackle West Indies talisman Chris Gayle is with the raw pace of Barbadian-born speedster Jofra Archer.

The match-up between Archer and Gayle is likely to be one of the key ones when the Windies face the hosts at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground on Friday. 

A belligerent Gayle dominated the bowling the last time the teams met in the One Day International (ODI) format, which ended in a 2-2 draw in the Caribbean.  It was Gayle who was named man-of-the-series after finishing it with 424 runs at an average of 106, with 39 sixes.

Archer was, however, not a part of the squad on that occasion and has since had a splendid World Cup.  In addition to his express pace rattling batsmen, the bowler has claimed figures of 6 for 135.  Wood is confident his bowling partner can slow the big West Indian down.

“Get Jofra to bowl at him!” was Wood ‘solution to the Gayle conundrum.

“He is destructive and on his day he is hard to stop. In the West Indies, he was in great form, but you didn’t know how he was going to play. Some days he would get himself in and take his time and other days he would go ballistic from ball one,” he added.

Windies interim coach Floyd Reifer insists the team will not be rattled by facing Barbadian-born England pacer Jofra Archer, despite the bowler consistently thundering down speeds of 90mph throughout the World Cup so far.

Despite several claims to the contrary, there will be an added layer of intrigue when the Barbadian takes the pitch against the Windies, a team he represented on three occasions as a junior, before deciding to switch allegiances to England.  

Archer has been in impressive for England and recently bowled the quickest ever ODI spell by an England player, against Bangladesh, since records began 13 years ago. Reifer was quick to insist the Barbadian will offer very little the team hasn’t come across before.

“Our batsmen led by Chris Gayle —will not shy away from Archer’s speed,” Reifer said on Monday.

“It will be entertaining, we are all here to entertain. I am sure Jofra will be chomping at the bit to come at us but we will be ready for him,” he added.

“We have known Jofra for a long time, he is from Barbados. We knew him from under15, under-17 and under-19 so he is not new to us,” Reifer said.

“He is bowling quickly but that is nothing we are not accustomed to. We are looking forward to the challenge. I actually played club crick­et against him as a young guy. Jofra is a tremendous talent, we all know that.”

The teams will face off at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground on Friday.

 

Barbadian-born English fast bowler Jofra Archer insists the upcoming match-up against the team he once represented, the West Indies, will be just another game of cricket.

The 24-year-old Archer represented the West Indies U-19s three times in 2014, before moving to England and deciding to represent that nation.  Archer is eligible to represent England since his father holds a British passport.

Initially, the player was not expected to represent the country until 2022 as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rules stated that as he did not live in England until after his 18th birthday, he needed to complete a seven-year residency period. 

Last November, however, the ECB changed its rules, reducing the eligibility period from seven years to three, which saw the bowler making his debut in May.

After a strong start to the ICC World Cup, Archer’s next opponents, a match slated for June 10, will represent the place he once called home and players he once stood shoulder to shoulder with.

“It’s just another game of cricket, same as today, same as the last game,” Archer told BBC Sport after a strong performance against Bangladesh in Cardiff on Friday.

 “I know them pretty good. I played with a few of the guys in under-19s, so it will be good to actually play against them this time. I’ll be able to share some knowledge but I do that whenever we play.”

Former India all-rounder Hemang Badani believes the West Indies may have become complacent after gaining an early advantage against Australia but hopes the team learnt a valuable lesson.

In the end, it was the Australia’s who triumphed with a 15-run victory at Trent Bridge on Thursday, but for long spells of the encounter, it was the regional team who seemed to hold the advantage. 

Choosing to bowl first, the West Indies had Australia on the ropes at 3 for 56 and then 5 for 77.  The team lost its early momentum, however, after Steve Smith (73) and Nathan Coulter-Nile's swashbuckling 92 off 60 balls propelled Australia to 288 all out.

“They had the game in their hands, it was probably a question of getting one wicket.  They had to come really hard and probably even be a bit more aggressive when Australia was five down.  You just get the feeling that the West Indies took the game a little lightly and felt that they really would get them out at 150-160 and go out there and score those runs, that’s when the game comes back and bites you,” Badani assessed.

“You never take the game lightly, you always have to go hard.  When you are on top, stay on top.  They will have learnt a lesson.  Going forward the solution isn’t to change the bowling, it’s to stay in the moment, keep going hard and don’t get complacent.”

In response, at 149-3 midway through the chase, Holder's men looked well set to make it two wins from two but Shimron Hetmyer's run out and some poor shot-making saw that honour go to Australia, for whom Mitchell Starc shone with 5-46.

West Indies allrounder Carlos Brathwaite has expressed his frustration at "dodgy" umpiring during the 15-run loss to Australia and questioned why his team does not get as many lbw decisions as its rivals.

West Indies overturned four calls by the two umpires in Thursday's match at Trent Bridge, including two in three balls against Chris Gayle in the third over of the innings by Mitchell Starc.

The ball that trapped Gayle lbw in the following over from Starc should have been a free hit because of a no-ball by the Australia paceman the previous delivery that umpire Chris Gaffaney missed.

"I don't know if I'll be fined for saying it," Brathwaite said, "but I just think that the umpiring was a bit frustrating. Even when we were bowling, we thought a few balls close to head height were called wides.

"And obviously three decisions ... as far as I can remember being dodgy, it was frustrating and sent ripples through the dressing room. To lose Chris in a chase of 280, who can probably get 180 of them himself obviously, broke the start that we wanted to have. But the umpires do their job. They try to do it to the best of their ability, we as players go out there to do our job as well."

Brathwaite then delivered a cutting assessment of officiating in general.

"I just think that for West Indies, we don't have to use all our reviews and that some of the other teams get a chance to use theirs because every time we get hit on our pad, the finger goes up," he said. "When we hit the opposition on their pad, the finger stays down.

"So we have to use our reviews and it's always missing and then we have to use our reviews when we're batting as well and it's always clipping. I'm not a technology person, I don't know why that happens. I can just say what I have seen happen over the past few years."

Brathwaite said the removal of Gayle for 21 wasn't the sole reason for West Indies failing to chase down Australia's total of 288, but it didn't help.

"We had eight other wickets after that and it was incumbent on us to go out there and deliver a performance which we didn't for whatever reasons," he said. "We will discuss and try to rectify for the next game.

"Did it hamper the start? It definitely did but it didn't cost us the game."

West Indies fast bowling legend Michael Holding added to critical of umpiring decisions during the Windies, Australia match, suggesting the officials allowed themselves to be bullied.

The officials, Chris Gaffaney and Ruchira Palliyagurge, made several questionable decisions during the match, particularly as it related to Windies batting star Chris Gayle. 

The 39-year-old was given out twice by Gaffaney, while facing an over from Mitchell Starc.  Both calls were later overturned via the decisions review system. 

The drama was far from over for the big left-hander, however.  In Starc’s next over he was dismissed lbw.  Replays showed that on this occasion the batsman was indeed out, but further reviews showed the previous delivery from Starc was a huge no ball.  The delivery that eventually dismissed Gayle should have been a free hit.

Palliyaguruge later had two on-field decisions overturned. The first was reviewed by Jason Holder after he was initially sent back to the pavilion lbw, sweeping to Glenn Maxwell, the ball just pitching outside leg. Holder successfully reviewed once more, attempting to sweep Adam Zampa, with ball-tracker showing the ball would have comfortably missed leg stump.

"The umpiring in this game has been atrocious," Holding said while doing television commentary.

"For one, even when I was playing and you were not as strict as they are now, you were allowed one appeal. You don't appeal two, three, four times to the umpire.

 "They are being intimidated which means they are weak.

"This has been an atrocious bit of umpiring by both."

 

Former Australia batsman Steve Waugh has cautioned his compatriots that the West Indies have the batting power to completely take a game away, ahead of a showdown between the teams at the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Both teams showed plenty of firepower with convincing wins in their opening encounters.  After dismissing Afghanistan for 207, the Aussies cruised to a 7-wicket win on the back of 89 from David Warner. 

The Windies were ruthless against Pakistan as steep deliveries precipitated their opponent’s hasty dismissal for 105.  The Caribbean team then cruised to 108, losing three wickets in the process.  Waugh believes Thursday’s encounter will be a big test for both.

"The Windies will provide a realistic gauge on how the team are tracking, for they possess a squad full of match-winners that can dominate if they gain any sense of ascendancy in a match,” Waugh told the ICC.

‘They are the most watchable team in the tournament with a batting line-up that can kidnap any bowling attack with brute force," Waugh added.

“No ground is big enough when this behemoth of a batting order clicks into overdrive but they also have a vulnerability against high-quality bowling as they tend to play one dimensional at times,” he said.

 “For the first time in a long while they have fast-bowling depth vindicated by Friday’s win against Pakistan without their finest in Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.

“Their Achilles heel, however, will be their lack of mobility in the field and this is where Australia can influence the outcome.

Every side in this tournament will be wary of playing the Windies and I wouldn’t want to face them in a knockout match.”

 

In Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope, West Indies possess two batting talents that have the potential to light up the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup. 

Windies all-rounder Andre Russell is confident he will be fit and ready to face Australia, in the team’s second match of the ICC Cricket World Cup, on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Russell had an impressive cameo in the opening match for the Windies, who registered a convincing 7-wicket win over Pakistan.  The player, who was brought into the team mainly for his batting, was deadly with the ball in the opener as a barrage of short-pitched deliveries earned him figures of 2 for 4 in three overs.

The player who has, however, been plagued by knee injuries throughout his career, left hearts in mouths after seeming to develop a problem in the closing stages of the Pakistan innings.  The player seemed to have sustained the damage while stooping for the ball in the deep and toppled over the boundary to receive treatment.  Russell though remains confident his medical team can handle the issues ahead of the early blockbuster match-up.

"I've been playing for years with these knee injuries," Russell said after the match. "And sometimes it feels worse than some days but, at the end of the day, I'm a professional. I know what to do to get back. I think I have five days before the next game so that is more than enough time to get my knee back to normal and get it settled.

"Let's just see what happens. I have a good physio team, massage team, here so they're going to be working with me closely for the next couple of days."

 

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