Sir Curtly Ambrose said while he fully endorses regional players plying their trade across the world to secure their financial futures, he believes those players should equally make themselves available to play for the West Indies.

There have been several instances in the past few years where players have declined invitations to represent the West Indies but then jet off to destinations across the globe to play in T20 tournaments.

The issue was brought into sharp focus recently when several West Indies players declined to tour Bangladesh citing the pandemic and their related safety concerns. However, some of those players later went on to play for T20 franchises in countries that were also experiencing spikes in the number of Covid-19 infections.

During an interview on Talk Sports Live with Michael Bascombe on Saturday, the West Indies bowling icon, said the players need to do a better job of striking a balance between playing franchise cricket and representing the West Indies.

“The game has evolved. There is a lot more cricket being played now and many different T20 tournaments around the globe and there’s lots more money as well, so guys are going to go where the money is and I have no issues with that,” Ambrose said.

“A cricket career can be a very short one, once you have injury it could be all over for you so with guys going around plying their trade with different franchises making money to set themselves up financially, I have no issues with it.

“However, I think it needs to strike a balance somewhere because most of these guys who are playing their trade around the world, it’s because they played for the West Indies team why people saw them and gave them contracts. So for me, you need to find a balance somewhere where you can give back to West Indies cricket. You need to give back to West Indies cricket at some point as opposed to abandoning West Indies cricket.”

This is not the first time that Ambrose has expressed these sentiments.

In December 2020, he publicly criticized Andre Russell, who after declined an invitation to play for the West Indies against New Zealand but later went to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League T20 tournament.

Chief selector Roger Harper told media that Russell declined the West Indies invitation citing the need to clear his mind after being in quarantine lockdown for both the Caribbean Premier League in Trinidad and Tobago where he played for the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise and then, the Indian Premier League in Abu Dhabi where he played for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Ambrose poured cold water on the explanation.

“Because he wants to clear his head for a while to get his mind together, I have no problem with that because cricket is a high-pressure game,” he said.

“So if you want to clear your head for a while, take your mind off cricket I have no issues with that, but if you are going to reject playing for your nation, your country, and then two weeks later you’re playing for somebody else, that to me is a no-no.”

 

 

 

Fast bowling icon Sir Curtly Ambrose believes it will be difficult for the West Indies to unearth players with similar talents to those from the team’s glory days of the 70s and early 90s because the current crop of players has not grasped what cricket means to the people from the region.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors, Roger Harper, believes it is an absolute necessity for players to get used to the idea of having to perform at the very top of their games in order to secure top-class retainer contracts.

The omission of the likes of Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shamarh Brooks, Shane Dowrich, Sheldon Cottrell, Rovman Powell, and Oshane Thomas from the international retainer contracts lists, for the upcoming year, has rubbed a few supporters the wrong way.  Particularly, based on the fact that fewer contracts were handed out this year.

However, according to Harper, some players did not meet the minimum criteria for selection or simply did not display the quality need.

“We have to accept that these are performance-based contracts.  So, the contracts are awarded based on performance during the evaluation period, as well as the selection panel must feel that the players must play a major role or form the nucleus of the team going forward,” Harper told members of the media on Thursday.

“The players who were not awarded contracts their performances over the period did not meet the necessary criteria as well as you had new players who came to fore and performed, so they were offered contracts,” he added.

“Going forward as a culture, if we want to see our team progress, if we want to see our team compete with the best in the world.  We have to be more conscious of the fact that we have to earn our stripes and we have to perform consistently.  I think our retainer contracts are given on that basis.”

In addition to playing at least 50 percent of the games during the evaluation period, to be considered, batsmen must average at least 30 in Test and ODI cricket.  For T20Is players the player’s batting average and strike rate combined must be a minimum 150.

 

Destructive batsman, AB De Villiers, could be part of the South African team booked for a tour to the West Indies next month, which was officially confirmed by Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith.

 After several months of negotiations, the teams are confirmed to play two Test matches and five Twenty20 Internationals.  The venue, which will be one country, due to existing coronavirus protocols, has not yet been announced.  Originally, it was believed the matches would be held in Trinidad and Tobago, but the country's fresh battle with a COVID-19 surge seems to have put that in doubt.

De Villiers, who played in the Caribbean with the Barbados Tridents in 2016, has not played for the South African team since a Test match against Australia in 2018.  The player has, however, given repeated displays of his jaw-dropping hitting ability for the India Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

It was last month that South Africa coach Mark Boucher suggested the big hitter could return to the South Africa line-up for the T20 World Cup, scheduled for India from October to November.  It could still be moved due to issues caused by an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa has not played in the West Indies since 2016.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors, Roger Harper, has admitted that there is some concern over the form of batsman Shimron Hetmyer after the player failed to secure a retainer contract.

The 24-year-old explosive batsman has been previously heralded as one of West Indies cricket’s brightest prospects but has not been at his best in recent seasons.

Hetmyer has not played a Test for the regional team since 2019, against Afghanistan, and has not played in a One Day International since January of last year, against Ireland.  In addition to that, the player has twice failed fitness tests during the period.

The batsman missed out on the team’s tour of Sri Lanka in February of last year and then missed out on early selection for the squad this year, after failing another following the arrival of the Sri Lankans to tour the Caribbean.  Hetmyer subsequently passed a follow-up test.

“I still think Shimron is the type of player that has the ability to be a world-class player in every format going forward,” Harper told members of the media via an online video chat on Thursday.

“Naturally, when you have that sort of potential, we want to see it reach the kind of level that he is capable of reaching.  So, yes, we are concerned.  Yes, we will continue to work with Shimron and yes we will try to give the short of focus that we think is required for him to maximise his potential.”

Despite losing out on his regional contract, Hetmyer, however, retains a franchise contract.

 

Former Windies captain, Jason Holder, admits he has been left disappointed with how some things have been handled by West Indies cricket, particularly given his monetary sacrifices over the years.

The 29-year-old, who made his debut for the West Indies in 2013, has been an ever-present in the regional team.  Since 2014, Holder, who has been both ODI and Test captain, has been on a retainer contract with Cricket West Indies (CWI), which gives the regional team priority in many instances.

It has meant the sought-after player has perhaps been unable to ply his trade in some of the cash-rich cricket competitions around the globe, as they, at times, have clashed with regional engagements.

“I could sit down here and safely say I’ve passed up a lot of money to play for West Indies. I could have been a lot more well off than I am. I consider myself really blessed because I’ve made a lot of money in my life for a guy my age…but I probably could have made a lot more but I’ve always had that desire to play for West Indies,” Holder told the Headstrong An Innings With… podcast.  The player was addressing the situation that arises when players are often forced between signing lucrative deals and representing the regional team.

Holder was replaced as West Indies captain by, Kraigg Brathwaite, in March, after the latter’s strong showing in the team’s series against Bangladesh.  Holder was one of several players who declined to go on the tour.  The all-rounder cited health and safety concerns but also quarantine fatigue, as reasons he did not participate in the tour.

While not getting into the specific instances to which he was referring, Holder expressed disappointment with the fact that he doesn’t believe that West Indies cricket has always been generous in their handling of players that have sacrificed a lot.

 “My disappointment, however, comes when players like myself give up so much to commit to West Indies cricket, and then West Indies cricket isn’t as accommodating as they possibly can. There have been a few instances where I’ve been very disappointed in how things were handled,” he added.

 

Cricket West Indies has awarded first-time international retainer contracts to Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Akeal Hosein and Kyle Mayers while newly-appointed Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo received International contracts for red-ball and white-ball cricket, respectively.

A total of 18 players have been offered contracts for the upcoming 2021-22 season which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

Meanwhile, Roston Chase, Shamarh Brooks and Shane Dowrich are among several who have lost their retainer contracts. Also losing their contracts were Sunil Ambris, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd and Oshane Thomas.

“Contracts offered for the 2021-22 period sees 18 players being retained, a decrease of four from last year. Jason Holder is the only player to retain his all-format contract due to his strong Test and T20I performances during the evaluation period,” CWI Lead Selector Roger Harper confirmed.

“There are several new players offered red-ball contracts earned by their strong performances during the last period. A number of players were not retained because they did not meet the minimum requirements.”

CWI Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams was pleased for the players who were retained.

“I am happy for all the players who have been offered retainer contracts for the upcoming period. Especially pleasing was the number of players who were awarded first-time contracts in recognition of their performances during the period under review,” he said.

“I know that the 11 players who have lost their international retainers will be striving and fighting hard to get back into the teams and earn their central contracts back next year.  These players, along with our T20 specialists, will ensure that we have genuine competition for places that will push everyone to attain higher standards of performance.”

The evaluation period for the 2021-22 contracts covered performances and statistics from April 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021 (this was also supported by statistics from the previous 2019-2020 evaluation period). This allows for all players to be appraised immediately after the evaluation period and provides a notice period before new contracts on July 1, 2021.

Below are the players who have been awarded retainer contracts.

All-Format Contracts: Jason Holder.

Red Ball Contracts: Kraigg Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner*, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva*, Shannon Gabriel, Kyle Mayers* and Kemar Roach.

White Ball Contracts: Kieron Pollard, Fabien Allen, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein*, Evin Lewis, Alzarri Joseph, Nicholas Pooran and Hayden Walsh Jr.

*Players offered contracts for the first time in 2021-2022

Players who are no longer receiving international retainer contracts are:

All Format Contracts: Roston Chase.

Red Ball Contracts: Shamarh Brooks and Shane Dowrich.

White Ball Contracts: Sunil Ambris, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd and Oshane Thomas.

 All players who are no longer on International retainer contracts are offered an A* grade Regional Franchise Contract for the following year.

West Indies Women’s team coach, Courtney Walsh, admits the team could be pressed for time to be fully ready to compete at the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, particularly with a lack of international and regional fixtures.

The qualifiers are expected to take place in Sri Lanka, in December of this year, giving the team just around 7 months to prepare.  The presence of the coronavirus and protocols put in place to stop its transmission, however, has meant that regional competition for female cricketers has been put on hold.

It is a similar case for international fixtures, with the team having not played a series since November of last year when the Windies faced off against England.

“Not being able to play enough cricket, you would not say it is enough time but we have to try to understand the situation and work with it as best as we can,” Walsh told members from media from Antigua, where the team was gathered for a training camp.

“In an ideal world we would be able to tour and play as much cricket as we could then yes,” he added.

“It is a tickling situation, but it is something that is understandable, so we have to do what we can and get in as much as we can.  The back of the year might be a little busier coming closer to that time.  I am still hoping that we can have a couple of tours and play and have the regionals and stuff.  Once the girls are playing, I much prefer that because it gives me a better chance of seeing who is in form, seeing who is improving, who is not improving.  With them not being able to play that’s my biggest challenge.”

Former West Indies batsman Suruj Ragoonath insists that he would leave both veteran players Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine out of a squad for the T20 World Cup, but very for different reasons.

With the World Cup just a few months away, the debate has raged on regarding the most effective composition of the squad.  Experienced players like Gayle, Narine, and Dwayne Bravo, who all have world titles under their belts, remain eligible for selection.  Some have called for the selection panel to look past the players.

Recently, the selection of veteran players Fidel Edwards and Gayle, for the West Indies series against Sri Lanka, set off vigorous debate around the region.  While some endorsed the decision the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel’s decision to add experience to the World Cup squad.  Some argued that Gayle being 41 and Edwards 39, the CWI should be invested in selecting promising youth players.

 In the meantime, top spinner Narine is only 32 but has not appeared for the West Indies since 2019 and prior to that had not played consistently.

“I don’t think that Sunil Narine is interested in going to World Cup, to be honest, given the challenges he had,” Ragoonath told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Dwayne Bravo is showing that he is still capable and Chris Gayle for me is a big question mark.  For the first time, I’ve seen Chris Gayle actually dive around in a match.  The last game they played (Punjab King’s XI).  He looks a little fitter, but at the same time, I am not inclined to taking Chris Gayle to a World Cup at this stage,” he added.

Gayle struggled to make an impact against Sri Lanka in March, scoring just 29 runs in three matches.  Since the start of this season’s IPL, the batsman has been solid, if not spectacular for Punjab Kings XI after scoring 165 runs from seven matches.

“Of the three, I would love to have Sunil Narine on my side, but psychologically Sunil is not half the player he used to be and so Bravo is the only one I would give serious consideration to.”

Legendary former West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, has called for a redoubling of efforts to get regional bowlers to achieve peak fitness levels as part of realizing ambitions to consistently challenge the world’s best.

In assessing the difference between the fitness levels of some of the current crop of bowlers and those who dominated oppositions in his time, Lloyd admitted that the players of yesteryear had the advantage of much heavier involvement in English County Cricket.

“Joel Garner was a big fellow, but he was terribly fit.  Walsh was a big fellow, tall fellow, but he was fit.  Those guys were accustomed to playing in County cricket, where you would have to bowl four spells a day and travel the next day and start again.  They got accustomed to that, our guys are not accustomed to that,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio program.

He, however, insists there should be no excuses when it comes to athletes being in the very best physical shape for cricket.

“We should have our young men fit, we have the climate and we have the coaches.  You should have fitness guys there who are strong, mentally, like Dennis Waite.  When he says run four laps, you have to run four laps,” he added.

“We don’t do enough of that.  I think that is why our players are not bowling as many overs as they should.  You ask Malcolm Marshal at 4:30 in the afternoon ‘Malcolm I’d like four overs from you’.  He would say ‘no skip, I will give you six’.  That’s the sort of thing you need, Walsh wanting to bowl, Crofty you can’t get the ball out of his hands.  We have to get that kind of hunger again.”

 

 

 

  

 

 

Former West Indies spinner and Jamaica captain, Nehemiah Perry, has called on delegates of his home country to put the interest of the sport first and not pursue what he described as a ‘separate agenda’ than wanting the best for the game.

Although an election date is yet to set, Jamaica Cricket Association president (JCA) Wilford Billy Heaven is expected to run unopposed for a fourth two-year team when the annual general meeting is held. 

He has successfully held off two challenges, winning by only four votes on the last occasion, but many in the country’s local cricketing circles believe he would still emerge victorious if confronted by any opposition in the 2021 election.

Perry, however, sees the continued re-election of the official and his slate, unchallenged, or being re-elected by big margins as incongruous when juxtaposed against the current state of the game on the island.

“I think we definitely need change.  I cannot understand why it is that we have not won anything over the years, we have been last, second to last, we’ve only won one trophy out of 30-odd, and at the end of the day the administration is winning by a landslide,” Perry told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Something is wrong if people keep voting for persons who are not delivering.  I don’t believe you should be there because at the end of the day we need positive results.  We need the team to be doing well, we need to produce a lot of Test cricketers and a lot of first-class cricketers,” he added.

“I’m not only saying Billy Heaven should be removed but that the delegates who continue to vote for a particular board need to examine themselves.  At the end of the day, if cricket is what you are really there for and you are not getting the results then why is it that you continue to put those persons to lead.  You don’t have the cricket at heart, somehow you have some sort of agenda.”  

 

 

West Indies and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) all-rounder, Andre Russell, has crossed the threshold of 6000 runs in T20 cricket during an IPL match against the Delhi Capitals.

The big hitter became the sixth West Indian to reach the mark behind the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard on top run-getter Chris Gayle.  Russell is, however, the youngest West Indian player to reach the total.

Russell, who was celebrating his birthday, reached the milestone with a double in the 16th over of the match.  He went on to blast an unbeaten 45 from 27 deliveries but Delhi won the match by 7 runs.

Overall, Russell has played 80 matches in the Indian Premier League, scoring 1635 runs at an average of 29.68 with a strike rate of 179.67 and a high score of 88*.  He has also taken 68 wickets in IPL so far, at an economy rate of 9.08 and an average of 26.86.

 This season the player is off to a strong start for Kolkata, scoring 118 runs in six matches at a solid strike rate of 151. He has also claimed seven wickets in six games.  Things have, however, not gone well for KKR who have lost four of their first 6 games.

Former Indian cricketer, Pragyan Ojha, believes the Punjab Kings XI are heaping unnecessary pressure onto batsmen Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, due to the team's approach to structuring its innings.

Pooran has struggled to make an impact in six matches so far this season, managing just a high score of 19 and failing to score on three occasions.  Gayle has had more of a mixed performance, scoring 40 plus on two occasions but also had a series of low scores, including a golden duck in the team’s last encounter against Kolkata Knightriders.

Ojha, however, believes that the team’s top two KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal might be thinking about scoring too quickly and posting too big a target too early in the innings.

"They should think about 160-170 at first. But if you start thinking from the beginning that we have a very good batting line-up with Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran and we should aim 180-190 then you are putting undue pressure on (them),” Ojha told Cricbuzz.

"You can only think about a big score once you have got a good start. So you have to change your plans accordingly. You can't think that you have big names and they will always score runs. You have the look at the kind of form they are in too. Can't plan based on past glory," Ojha added.

The upcoming edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) set to be held entirely on the island of St Kitts & Nevis and bowls off on August 28.

Due to the threat posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the entire 2020 edition of the tournament was held in Trinidad and Tobago, under strict COVID-19 protocols.

In several respects, the tournament was a success with the event successfully being delivered to a record audience of over 500 million.  The Trinbago Knightriders were eventually crowned champions on their own patch.

St Kitts and Nevis’ Warner Park has been the scene of some of the most iconic matches in Hero CPL history.  Fans were treated to Chris Gayle’s brilliant hundred against the Jamaica Tallawahs in 2019 and Andre Russell’s even more explosive century against the Trinbago Knight Riders in 2016. There have also been some amazing matches, not least the game that went to a Super Over finish between St Kitts & Nevis Patriots and the Knight Riders in 2019.

This year’s tournament takes on extra significance with it taking place in the lead up to the ICC T20 World Cup and both West Indies and overseas players will be using the opportunity to push for selection for their international teams.

 “We are delighted to be able to announce that we will be having the Hero CPL in St Kitts & Nevis in 2021 and we would like to thank those involved in welcoming the tournament to this wonderful country,” Pete Russell, Hero CPL’s COO, said.

“As was demonstrated during the 2020 tournament the CPL is a massive boost for the host country with US$51.5million delivered in sponsorship value for Trinidad & Tobago. We are really looking forward to giving St Kitts & Nevis the exposure they deserve.”

 

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