West Indies middle-order batsman Shai Hope insists players must be willing to put up their hands and be counted in order to be successful on the upcoming tour of England.

With the team missing two of its most explosive batsmen in Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, runs could be hard to come by against a dangerous England bowling attack.  On his last visit to England, Hope certainly did stand up for the Windies team.  In the second Test, his two centuries proved crucial in a five-wicket win that saw the regional team level the series before going on to lose 2-1.

Although admitting the team will be missing the duo, Hope insisted the big match-winning performances needed were simply about the players' available accepting the challenge on any given day.

“It just happened to be my day at Headingley but it can be anyone else’s day on any given day.  The key is just to make sure that whenever you get an opportunity in the middle you grasp it and do whatever you can to put in those performances for the team," Hope told members of the media.

“It’s a case where the performances will matter.  Yes, we are going to miss those guys, they play a big role on the team.  But it’s more performances that we miss rather than players, they could be here and it just doesn’t go their way, that’s how cricket goes sometimes.  You always just need someone to put their hands up, I always stress that.  It’s just key for us that we as batters put those runs on the board.”

The West Indies will defend the Wisden Trophy against England in three Test matches, beginning next month at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground.

 

West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick is confident that the bowling unit’s steady improvement over the past several years means they are now a match for any team in the world.

The Windies are currently preparing for a return to international cricket with the upcoming tour of England, after a globally enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Ahead of the series, the regional team is likely to be encouraged by the fact that it once again has a full complement of first choice strike bowlers. The likes of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph are all available having recovered from injury.  The regional team’s bowling attack has on occasion shown that they can be a handful for even top batting line-ups.  Against England, in the Caribbean last year, Roach and Holder both claimed four-wicket hauls, with Gabriel and Joseph getting among the wickets as well.  Estwick believes a major difference that has boosted the team's bowling performance in recent years is its level of fitness.

“What we’ve done is to improve our fitness,  now we can sustain pressure,” Estwick said via a news conference.

“If you look back in the 80s, that’s one thing the fast bowlers had, it’s fitness.  Another thing is that they (current players) are now understanding fast bowling.  They have got to that age, Kemar and Shannon they are leading the charge and they are very experienced,” he added.

 “Jason Holder has become a much better Test match bowler in the last two years and Alzarri Joseph is now beginning to show his potential.  So were have four fast bowlers where we can challenge any team in the world.”

West Indies batsman Shai Hope said he is ready to transform his Test fortunes when the three-Test series against England begins on July 8.

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach plans to launch his campaign towards 200 Test wickets and beyond during the upcoming three-Test series against England.

Former West Indies all-rounder Ian Bradshaw insists focus will be key for the regional team considering the prevailing extraordinary circumstances for the upcoming tour of England.

The West Indies and England will return to international cricket with a three-Test match series, in England, next month.  With the prevalence of the coronavirus still a major concern and ongoing racial equality protests around the globe, the situation to begin the tour is anything but typical.

In a bid to mitigate the risks of exposure to COVID-19, the teams will spend the entire period of the tour in what has been termed a bio-secure environment, which will keep everyone associated with the series quarantined from the general public.  With all the distractions, Bradshaw believes the task of focusing on just cricket is likely to be tougher for the team.

“We could lose the series mentality if we are distracted before the start of that series.  So, it’s going to be incumbent on the management team to keep the guys focused,” Bradshaw told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“These are trying circumstances that they are playing under, but they are professionals and they must act as professionals and really utilize the preparation time to the best of their advantage.”  

Retired West Indies all-rounder Ian Bradshaw has advised the team to realistically face up to its lack of quality all around batting and look to mirror approaches taken by past New Zealand squads, in order to be successful on the upcoming England tour.

The West Indies will return to international cricket, following an enforced absence due to the coronavirus epidemic, with a three-Test tour of England next month.  The unpredictability of the team’s batting line-up, much as it has in recent years, will again be a source of concern, particularly with explosive middle-order batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmeyer unavailable for selection.

The duo, along with all-rounder Keemo Paul, opted to miss the tour over health concerns.  The West Indies will need no further illustration than the opening Test of their last England tour for an example of a dismal batting performance.  On that occasion, the team was dismissed for 168 and 137 in pursuit of England’s 514 declared.

“We've been concerned with our batting for a while, let’s just stop and be realistic.  We don’t have the quality of batting that we want," Bradshaw told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“We don’t have the quality batsmen but what we hope for, is that collectively we can rally and that we can get 300 and 350 and 400 by batting deep and by batting sensibly," he added.

"There are other teams in the world that have a similar challenge and they manage to fight through.  For a number of years, we saw that with teams like New Zealand, where each player coming to the crease understood your job was to build a partnership that allowed the team to put a competitive total on the board.  Getting runs in England is important, especially in the first innings, so there is no doubt that we will have to bat deep.”

 

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel will have a good chance of featuring for the final Test squad against England if he can prove his fitness in the coming weeks.

The 32-year-old pace bowler was initially named as the 15th member to the official Test squad for the upcoming tour.  Gabriel, one of the team’s lead strike bowlers, has not played cricket since September of last year after a brief spell with Gloucestershire.  The player was sidelined after suffering an ankle injury that required surgery.

Head coach of the West Indies Phil Simmons, however, recently revealed the player had been training well and would be in contention for a spot in the final day Test squad.

“We have to put this in perspective.  We selected 14, but Shannon, as we know, has come back from injury and being a senior member of the squad in the past two or three years we would have to look at him if he is up to that fitness level heading into the first Test,” Simmons told members of the media on a conference call on Saturday.

Gabriel claimed eight wickets and bowled with plenty of menace when the teams met in the Caribbean last year.  The West Indies won the Test series 2-1.  The player was, however, suspended for five One Day internationals after a verbal exchange with England batsman Joe Root.

Phil Simmons does not expect boredom to be an immediate concern for West Indies as they prepare for their Test series with England in challenging circumstances.

The Windies are set to face England in three Tests behind closed doors, the first beginning at the Ageas Bowl on July 8 before two matches at Old Trafford.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought professional cricket grinding to a halt in March, West Indies are using Old Trafford for training and quarantining.

However, head coach Simmons is not concerned about his side keeping entertained, believing the hunger to play cricket again will help combat any feelings of boredom.

Speaking on a conference call on Saturday, Simmons said: "There's always dominoes - as you can imagine if you've been to the Caribbean that is a highly explosive form of entertainment.

"We have a golf simulation centre, we have cards, a few things the guys are enjoying. When you have characters like Jason Holder everyone is always laughing and enjoying themselves.

"The biggest challenge is boredom, but saying that in this scenario - because of doing nothing, no cricket being played for the last however many months - that will take a while to come into play.

"The guys are hungry, they want to play and practice."

Not since a 4-0 win in 1988 have the Windies won a Test series in England, but the current crop have not had to look far for inspiration, with Gordon Greenidge's double-hundred at Lord's in 1984 recently broadcast on British television.

"I saw the Test at Lord's where Gordon scored a double [hundred] on the last day," Simmons added.

"I'm not too sure how close some of the younger players are [to the past] but we're trying to bring that back, get younger guys to understand where we've come from in terms of being top of the world for such a long time.

"Sometimes when you know the whole West Indies saga is coming from, it gives you more impetus to be pushing forward to get the team back on top."

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy had every right to be angry with former Sunrisers Hyderabad teammates after their use of a racial slur to refer to him, even in jest, someone’s ‘blackness’ should never be the butt of a joke.

As such, it was a major disappointment to see some fans of the sport, not only accuse the player of seeking attention but also going on to further insultingly claim that he has no right to be upset.

The word used to describe the West Indian, Kalu, by one of its definitions on a list of ethnic slurs is itemized as literally meaning ‘blackie, generally used for black-skinned people in India, can also have racist overtone when referring to Africans.’ 

In a region with a long history of racial discrimination, it's hard to buy the excuse that the use of ‘blackie’ to refer to a black West Indian was used as a term of endearment. In all likelihood, it might have been used mockingly and in jest but why should that be accepted as normal or ok, how can the colour of a person’s skin be a source of even casual, 'harmless' ridicule.

If there were a bunch of roses would it be funny that one rose was redder than the rest?  It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Of course, it does.  Perhaps the reason Sammy is being told to lighten up may come from the fact that some of us, at some deep subconscious level, believe being darker than someone else is somehow misfortune. 

To some Asian and Caribbean societies that have had their mentalities warped by the negative effects of slavery and/or by the oppressive regime of colonialism, perhaps such a thing seems casual or normal. The time is right though to call some of these things what they are, even if we don’t expect them to change, or are not necessarily offended by them. Let us not insist that someone else does not have the right to do so.

After all, we haven’t heard about any nicknames given to Brendan Taylor, Dale Steyn and Aaron Finch some of the white teammates who would have been on the squad with Sammy.  If there was, I stand corrected but would love to hear the light-hearted or playful joke or nicknames for how ‘white’ they were. If it is that jokes about standing out for having different colour skin is funny or is deserving of cuddly nicknames, then it should surely fall on both sides of the colour spectrum.

It is also disingenuous to suggest that because the West Indian captain has referred to himself as black, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  

Surely we don’t mean to associate Sammy’s reference to himself as a proud or confident black man with being called the equivalent of a ‘blackie’.

What would have been more hurtful for the player was the fact that he even laughed along with it, only to find out later on that he was in fact, the subject of the joke.

Coming out in support of Sammy, however, former West Indies teammate Chris Gayle rightly pointed out ‘it’s never too late to fight for the right cause’.  In this case, Sammy is well within his right to demand an apology and he should get one.

 

The Master Blaster, Sir Viv Richards, is English county cricket's greatest overseas player. This, according to BBC Sport users, who voted on the best players from each of the 17 counties. Each winner then went through to an overall vote.

When the final votes were tallied, the former West Indies captain had secured an astonishing 43.2 per cent of the final vote, finishing ahead of another former West Indies captain, Sir Clive Lloyd (9.2 per cent), and ex-New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee who won 8.5 per cent of the vote.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Johnny Grave has sought to set aside rumours that the regional team was obligated to accept the tour of England because of a US$3m loan they received from the England Cricket Board (ECB) earlier this year.

The West Indies and England are set for a return to international cricket next month with a three-match Test series, in England.  With the spread and effects of the coronavirus still very much evident in the UK, however, some have questioned the wisdom of the decision, particularly based on the risk posed to the players.

With 291,409 thousand reported cases and 41,279 deaths, the UK is the hardest-hit region in Europe.  The ECB has, however, been taking precautions with a chartered flight for the team to the UK and the implementation of a biosecure environment for the series, which will keep the players quarantined from the rest of the general public for the duration of the tour.  There is still, however, some risk attached but Grave has been quick to dismiss suggestions the invitation was accepted because of a debt owed.

“We got a three-million-dollar advance of our ICC distribution that was given to us by ECB.  It’s a short-term interest-free advance because its due to be paid back in full in July, directly by ICC to ECB and will be deducted from the money we get,” Grave told Barbados Nationnews.

“In early May when we received it, we weren’t discussing it at all because the situation in the UK was not the state that it is now.  So, I guarantee you it’s not linked in any way shape, or form to our touring or not touring.”

James Anderson expects England players to discuss showing solidarity with West Indies and the Black Lives Matter movement during their forthcoming Test series and called on cricket to do more to encourage inclusivity.

The Windies arrived in Manchester this week ahead of three Tests next month, which will take place behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford.

Discussing his team doing their part to support protests that have swept the globe in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in police custody, West Indies captain Jason Holder stated that the tourists could take a knee.

"Protesting and standing up for what you believe in is noble and courageous, and something I would never disapprove of." Holder said.

Anderson is certainly of similar mind and conceded English cricket must do more to serve the BAME community after his former international team-mate Michael Carberry told ESPNCricinfo: "Cricket is rife with racism. Black people are not important to the structure of English cricket."

England's leading Test wicket-taker Anderson said: "I think it's been a thought-provoking few weeks for everyone. It's made me do a lot of thinking.

"We definitely will have conversations as players about what we can do to make a stand. It's something that as players and a game we need to be more active with.

"It's made me think about whether I've experienced racism on the cricket field. I couldn't think of any instances. I wasn't there when Jofra Archer was abused in New Zealand [in 2019].

"It also made me think, have I just turned a blind eye to things? I'll try and support my team-mates if they do suffer any abuse but have I been active in supporting them?

"The game in general as well - I saw the stat that there's one black player that's come through the state school system in county cricket. That's not okay. We need to actively make this game for everyone.

"It can't keep going the way it is. That's what I've been thinking about and is there more that I can do to help as a player."

England captain Joe Root could miss some of the upcoming series, with his wife Carrie due to give birth to their second child at the start of July.

Ben Stokes is in line to step up as vice-captain and Anderson does not believe the superstar all-rounder would be compromised by the extra responsibility.

"Ben's been the vice-captain for a while now," the veteran seamer said.

"He's grown and grown with that responsibility. In the dressing room he's really got a presence He's got the respect of the team.

"The natural thing to do is for the vice-captain to step up if the captain's unavailable. I'd fully expect him to do a great job."

The main challenge heading into the West Indies series for Anderson, as a master of seam and swing, could be new regulations that prohibit bowlers from applying saliva to the ball in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 37-year-old is stepping up his preparations by bowling at England and Lancashire colleague Keaton Jennings and acknowledges breaking the habit of a lifetime is tricky, although he still expects most of the usual assistance pace bowlers enjoy in English conditions.

"It's going to be unusual," he added. "For me it's a natural habit to put saliva on the ball so it's been interesting trying to stop yourself doing that.

"Fortunately in Manchester we get quite a lot of rain, so I've been able to shine the ball on the grass.

"As far as I'm aware we can use sweat, so that's something and it'll be enough to polish the ball for it to do something through the air.

"I don't think it's going to be a huge deal for players. We'll manage to prepare the ball well enough for it to swing."

James Anderson has thanked West Indies for taking the "scary decision" to play a Test series in England.

Like much of the global sporting calendar, the English cricket season has been ravaged by the coronavirus crisis, with no competitive action able to take place so far.

England will play West Indies in three matches behind closed doors next month, with the tourists based at Old Trafford.

The Manchester ground will host the second and third games as a bio-secure venue, after the Ageas Bowl in Southampton stages the opener.

It is hoped a Test series against Pakistan can take place in August, with the possibility of limited-overs engagements against the same opponents, Australia and Ireland on the schedule.

The United Kingdom has suffered more COVID-19 deaths than any other country in Europe, while the Caribbean has been minimally impacted by the virus compared to other parts of the world.

Anderson is not treating West Indies' opting to help get the international game back up and running lightly.

"From our point of view we're certainly very grateful that the West Indies are coming over here," he said.

"Obviously, with what's going on in the world, I imagine it's a scary decision for a lot of them, for all of them to make the journey over so we're hugely grateful.

"It's great for the game. It's brilliant that we are closing in on getting some Test cricket played after a decent lay-off."

Anderson, England's all-time Test wicket-taker with 584 victims, has managed to be creative in order to maintain his fitness during lockdown and in training with Lancashire.

The 37-year-old suffered injury setbacks when facing Australia and South Africa and feels Joe Root might look to rotate his battery of seam bowlers on home soil.

"Training has been going well," he said. "I've managed to tick over quite well during lockdown.

"I've luckily got enough space to fit half of my run-up in on my drive, so I've been ticking over with my bowling. When I came back to training with Lancashire I've not been going in cold.

"I felt like I hit the ground running pretty well. I've been enjoying being back."

Anderson added: "Obviously there are concerns about the fact we are not going to have had any competitive cricket before that first Test match and then we've got three Test matches in quick succession.

"So there are obviously things that we need to look at ahead of that in terms of workloads and whether we play all three as bowlers or whether we rotate.

"I'm sure the medical staff and the coaches are doing their due diligence on that; that's something we'll have to look at in a few weeks' time.

"But at the moment I'm enjoying myself, I'm enjoying being back and feeling really good."

West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts believes up and coming fast bowler Oshane Thomas should have been one of the names scribbled higher on the list for the team’s upcoming three-Test tour of England.

The 23-year-old pace bowler has been added as a reserve for the tour but is not a part of the 14-man squad for the series.  In fact, he is yet to make his test cricket debut but has played 20 ODIs and 12 T20Is since his debut in late 2018 and picked up five-wicket hauls in both limited-overs formats. 

Roberts believes the tour would provide the perfect opportunity to look at the player for the longest format of the game, because of one attribute, his raw pace.

“He should be in that 14-man squad from the onset.  He has what others want, he has pace.  Everybody wants pace,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“He may not be a wicket-taker but he may create some problems for the opposition and that is what you want.  Sometimes it’s not the guy who gets the wickets, it’s the guy who creates the problem that gets the other guys the wickets.”

Thomas had an impressive outing for the West Indies before the global game was halted due to the spread of the coronavirus.  He took 5 for 28 and 1 for 24 as West Indies swept Sri Lanka 2-0 in a T20I series in the first week of March.

 

 

 

West Indies fast bowling great Sir Andy Roberts insists it was a mistake for the team to embark on the current tour of England, without tangible compensation, due to the high risk taken by the players.

The West Indies and England will return to international cricket next month, with a three-Test match series behind closed doors.  With the spread of the coronavirus continuing to be a serious concern in the UK, for safety reasons, the players and everyone associated with the series will be kept in what has been described as a biosecure bubble for seven weeks.

With the United Kingdom (UK) being one of the hardest-hit countries by the virus and some 41,128 deaths already reported, there will doubtlessly be some element of risk in travelling for the tour.  As such, West Indies players were given the option of not accepting the invitation, with Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all deciding to opt-out due to safety concerns.  As is customary, it is the host team that will be entitled to the revenue from the series, with the decision by the West Indies expected to save the England and Wales Cricket Board £120million in reimbursements to Sky Sports.

Due to the exceptional nature of the circumstances, Roberts believes the Caribbean team should have secured better compensation.

“I don’t have a problem with them negotiating to go to England, but what I have a problem with is talk that the West Indies will not benefit from the tour financially,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think that is a mistake because the chances that we are going to take, I don’t think you have many more countries that would be willing to take such a chance,” he added.

“If they are to benefit financially then I don’t have a problem, but if they are not going to benefit from it, then I have a problem, why take the risk and sacrifice the guys?”

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