Former Barbadian-born England fast bowler Gladstone Small admits he is thrilled by the prospect of seeing a well-rested Jofra Archer making life extremely uncomfortable for opposition batsmen when the West Indies come to town next month.

The West Indies and England are expected to mark a return to international cricket action, with a three-Test series, which will be held in the UK, in July.  Due to ongoing fears concerning the Coronavirus, the matches will be played without fans and in a sterile environment.  Small, insists, however, that he does not expect or want to see a competitively sterile series.

Archer, who is himself another Barbadian-born national turned Englishman and former West Indies youth representative, is expected to capture a good deal of the spotlight.  The bowler who began his career in promising fashion, took 22 wickets in his first four matches at an average of just over 20.  Some of his 95-per-hour thunderbolts, often had batsmen on the ropes, unsettling even the best of them.  During the Ashes, Archer delivered frightening deliveries that struck Australian batsman Steve Smith on the arm and then around the neck area before he could react to the ball.  The bowler has struggled to reproduce such form since and has been hampered by injury.  With the hiatus from sport granting him some recovery time and being recently declared fit for the series, Small is hoping to see that fire return.

“He had a great first year in the international game.  He came back from South Africa with an injury and didn’t play the last couple of Test matches.  Hopefully the time off has allowed his injuries to heal and he can come back charging and hitting guys on the helmet as he did in that series last summer,” Small told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

"I think the term fast bowler gets offered around loosely, especially in the modern game but this guy is genuinely quick and he makes it looks so easy...it’s good to see batsmen hopping around the crease."

Big-hitting West Indies star Chris Gayle joined the strong chorus of athlete voices that have come out in condemnation of racial injustice and was quick to point out the fact that he also faces it in the sport of cricket.

 A growing number of athletes have spoken out in support of ongoing protests that have roiled the United States, where the killing of 46-year-old African American George Floyd by a white police officer has struck a raw nerve.

The Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was videoed pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck, ignoring the desperate pleas that he was unable to breathe.  Floyd went unconscious at the scene and was later pronounced dead at hospital.   Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder, but protests have boiled over to encompasses a global demand for an end to racial injustice and discrimination.  

In his Instagram post, which conveyed visible frustration, Gayle pointed to the issue of racism in cricket.

“I have travelled the globe and experienced racial remarks towards me because I am black, believe me, the list goes on,” Gayle said on Monday.

“Racism is not only in football, it’s in cricket too. Even within teams as a black man, I get the end of the stick. Black and powerful. Black and proud,” he said.

“Black lives matter just like any other life. Black people matter, p***k all racist people, stop taking black people for fools, even our own black people wise the p***k up and stop bringing down your own!,” Gayle wrote.

 

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other cricket governing bodies to let their voices be heard in standing up against racial injustice.

In recent days, both violent and peaceful protests have swept across the United States as citizens demand justice for the killing of George Floyd.  Floyd, an African American male in his 40s, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was recorded kneeling on his neck while he was pinned to the floor for several minutes during an arrest.

According to reports, police had been called to the scene after a convenience store clerk alerted the authorities regarding what he suspected to be a counterfeit $20 bill used by Floyd to purchase a pack of cigarettes.  Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder but protests have continued to boil over as the issue has sparked a larger debate regarding the deep-seated issue of racial injustice.

Many athletes around the world, spanning several generations, have not been shy in making their thoughts known on the issue.  The long list includes NBA greats Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lebron James, and rising tennis star Coco Gauff.  In the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi displayed “Justice for George Floyd messages” scrawled on t-shirts hidden beneath their jerseys after scoring.  Schalke’s 21-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Monchengladbach’s 22-year-old French forward Marcus Thuram also displayed support for the movement.

Closer home the ICC T20 World Cup-winning captain believes things have been too quiet and called on officials to add their voices to the mix.

“@ICC and all other boards are you guys not seeing what’s happening to people like me? Are you not gonna speak against the social injustice against my kind…” Sammy said in a series of tweets.

“Now is not the time to be silent.  I wanna hear u.”

Joining Sammy in speaking out was West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle who also posted a message on social media that advocated for black lives to be considered as important as any other life.

“Black life matters just as any other life,” Gayle’s statement read.

“Even within teams as a Black man, I get the end of the stick.”

The prospect of facing towering West Indies batsman Chris Gayle is enough for most bowlers to break into a cold sweat, not veteran Indian veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, however, who recently admitted that he never had any apprehension facing the often brutal left-hander.

The 40-year-old Windies superstar is renowned for being an equal opportunity destroyer of all types of bowling attacks and has racked up some big scores in all three formats of the game.  Singh, however, insists that he always had a strategy that was effective in keeping the big left-hander under wraps.

“Warner is very good on the back foot - he will cut you. He can switch-hit, he can sweep pretty nicely, he can hit you over cover. He can step out too. Compared to Gayle, Warner is more difficult for me to bowl to,” Singh told Espncricnfo’s Cricket Monthly.

“Gayle, if someone bowls quick to him, he will keep hitting sixes. If someone bowls slow to him, he’ll have to come out of the crease, which he is not comfortable with. I have never ever felt it difficult to bowl against Gayle,” he added.

 “I have bowled a lot at him in powerplays. He did not have the sweep. He did not have the shot over mid-on.”

The Indian spinner can point to some tangible success against Gayle, having dismissed the West Indian 5 times in One Day internationals, which makes him statistically the third most successful bowler to have faced the batsman in the format.

 

 

Former West Indies middle-order batsman turned youth coach Keith Arthurton has urged the regional body to put more effort into making sure talented youth cricketers go on to transition into successful senior players.

Arthurton, the left-handed batsman who made 33 Test and 105 ODI appearances for the West Indies, was appointed as coach of the region’s under-15 squad in 2008.  Having seen a lot of promising youth players during his time, he believes there is no doubt that the talent is abundant but too many players for one reason or the other are unable to take the next crucial step.

“Because we’re so gifted, we are naturally able to play the sport.  At the youth level, you will always see the talent but for some reason, there is a transition [problem].  Based on the experience I have doing academy work and grassroots work and so on that transition is normally made at the age of 16 and it's a crucial transition that will either build you or break you,” Arthurton told the Good Morning Jojo radio program.

One solution, he believes, is to develop avenues that serve to provide consistent exposure and high-level competition for players at that critical stage of their development.  The coach revealed that the issue had already been broached with Cricket West Indies but, as it stands, concrete plans are yet to be fully fleshed out.

“You may hear about an under-21 team or an under-23 team but there is no continuation so it may happen for one or two seasons and then it is gone,” Arthurton said.

“We have to understand what we are trying to achieve and what the main purpose of trying to help these guys, the same guys who would be leaving youth cricket and looking to go into senior cricket and how we can maintain that important continuity for players to make the transition a lot easier for them.”

Cricket West Indies has agreed in principle to send a West Indies team to England for a three-Test series in July. The decision was arrived at during a meeting of the board on Thursday.

The decision comes only after CWI medical and cricket-related representatives and advisors have been involved in detailed discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and their own medical and public health advisers over the past few weeks.

These discussions involved the local and international logistics and protocols, which are already being put in place to minimize risk and optimize the health and safety of all concerned.  CWI has also received and reviewed detailed plans for players and staff to be kept in a bio-secure environment for the duration of the tour, with all matches being played “behind closed doors”.

The CWI will now be awaiting the England Cricket Board who is to get approval from the UK Government sometime over the next few days.

CWI’s management is also now in the process of seeking to put all of the approvals and logistics in place within the Caribbean, including seeking permission from the various governments to facilitate the movement of players and support staff, using private charter planes and conducting medical screenings and individual COVID-19 testing for all members of the touring party.

“I would like to thank the CWI management, the Medical Advisory Committee, and the Financial Strategic Advisory Committee for their detailed and timely presentations given to the Board meeting,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

“In addition to our approval in principle of the proposed Test Tour of England, we made some significant financial management decisions that will be announced and implemented in due course.  The great detail to which the Board engaged in these matters is testimony to their urgency and importance, but it meant that we had to defer a few agenda items until next Wednesday (June 3), when we have scheduled to reconvene”.

Most of Thursday’s lengthy meeting focused on discussing the initial short-term recommendations from the Financial Strategy Advisory Committee (FSAC), a special purpose committee that was put in place by CWI President Ricky Skerritt on April 2, 2020.

The committee comprised a joint membership of Directors and Executive Management, all with significant financial management expertise, chaired by JCA President, Wilford “Billy” Heaven.

The Board agreed to the committee’s business continuity plan of action, for how CWI would have to operate in order to survive its cash flow crisis, in the context of the debilitating economic uncertainties of the global pandemic COVID-19.

 

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves has given the proposed West Indies tour of England in July his blessing once Cricket West Indies can establish that the players representing the region will be safe.

Former Windies bowler turned commentator Ian Bishop has heaped high praise on the current India pace attack, drawing comparisons to the relentless West Indies bowling units of the 1970s and 80s.

With a line-up that included the likes of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, and Colin Croft, the West Indies team of that era became a nightmare for opposing batsmen.  The four-pronged bowling attack was relentless but also possessed some skill to go along with sustained aggression.

Despite initially being known for producing top-class spinners, India has in recent years produced a fearsome pace bowling attack of their own.  The likes of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, have proved capable of rattling even the best batting line-ups around the globe.

Bumrah has arguably been the pick of the pack and has developed a reputation for terrorizing opposing batsmen with pace and movement, despite a relatively short run-up.  Ironically, it was the West Indies that were rocked back by the bowler last year when he put on an outstanding display during a series between the teams, particularly during a Test match at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.  Bumrah returned outstanding figures of 6-16 from 9.1 overs - including just the third Test hat-trick by an India bowler.

“When you have three fast bowlers, sometimes four and an excellent spinner, it takes my mind back to the West Indies pace quartet before my generation, the Marshalls, the Holdings, the Garners, the Roberts – I’ll stick Colin Croft in there,” Bishop told Cricbuzz in Conversation.

“There is no release point, two come out, two come on.  There is no flow of runs and there is always a threat of penetration and physical harm to a lesser extent.  That is one of the things that makes this group of fast bowlers excellent.”

Retired South African middle-order batsman Jacques Kallis has not been getting a lot of respect lately from the Ultimate XI panellists on the Sportsmax Zone.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose was typically content to let the ball do the talking but recently recalled an occasion when he was tempted to let his fists answer a few questions of their own.

Tony Astaphan SC, attorney-at-law for former Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron, has taken exception to the appearance of what he termed a diminished sense of ‘collective responsibility’, considering some of the accusations levelled against his client in the recent audit report.

The financial report, which singled out Cameron for criticism on several occasions, was commissioned by the current CWI board and conducted by independent auditors Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF).  Among other things, it raised concerns regarding an inadequate accounting system that enabled financial irregularities to go unreported.

Cameron’s legal team has already requested a copy of the contentious document, which has already been leaked, but Astaphan has also been quick to point out that the structure of the CWI remains a board of directors and all decisions were taken and approved at that level.

“If the auditor is in fact making so-called findings on matters that were dealt with by the board and they are so concerned about irregularities and abuses; the directors, including the present ones, from top to bottom, are going to have to come forward and explain their votes to the region and the shareholders,” Astaphan said on the Mason and Guest radio show.

“You can’t just decide to throw one man overboard and say well there goes Cameron swimming down the lagoon again.  Collective responsibility is very important,” he added.

The lawyer strongly rejected the notion that the board members were bullied into voting by the former president, as has been previously suggested.

“It was said that the directors were subservient, subservient, grown men, grown independent men, successful businessmen, politicians and all were subservient to Cameron, that is why they went along with the votes.  As a Caribbean man I would consider that to be contemptuous of my position on the board.”

“There is an implication that there was this and that but everyone went along with Dave Cameron like the pied piper and the rats into the pond.”

Cricket West Indies has begun for a permanent head coach for the West Indies Women. That person will replace interim head coach Gus Logie who has been in charge of the women’s team since October 2019.

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd agrees in principle with former players stepping in to provide mentorship for the new generation but has called for a careful screening process to get the best outcome from the experience.

The 75-year-old Lloyd has been respected for generations, not just for his cricketing ability but steady and inspiring leadership, which saw the West Indies lift back-to-back ICC World Cup titles in 1975 and 1979. 

With the team currently a long way from those heady days of success, several former players have pointed to the issue of mentorship as a missing element in the current team’s success and have been quick to offer their assistance to rectify the problem.  Not so fast, says Lloyd.

“We have to find out how strong they are in certain departments.  You can’t just say this guy is going to be this when he isn’t suited for that role.  You have to find out what strengths he or she has,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“I’m talking about players that have done extremely well, have been through the mill, and can pass the knowledge on," he added.

 "Not every great player can be a teacher but there are certain aspects and things that they are strong at, and that is what we have to search for, so that when we have a player coming through and they get to Test level they are not learning on the job they have already qualified.”

 

West Indies spinner Rahkeem Cornwall has vowed to 'stick to what he knows', despite being the subject of recent criticism from legendary spinner Lance Gibbs.

The 85-year-old Gibbs, undisputedly one of the region’s finest ever craftsmen in the disciple of spin bowling, was critical of the performance of the current crop of regional spinners on a whole.  His issue with Cornwall stemmed from what he described as the spinner’s short run-up and ‘lack of rhythm’.

Cornwall, who has insisted he only just heard of the remarks has insisted he is not fazed by the criticism as it was impossible to make everyone happy.

“I am not really on social media that much to see some of those things [comments] and if one or two people don’t say something to me I may not see it but I just don’t really dig too deep into it,” Cornwall told the Good Morning Jojo Radio Show.

“I really can’t stress on that, everybody has their own opinion and if you dwell on every opinion you will find yourself get mixed up in all sorts of things so you just have to control what you can control and when the opportunity arises to go and perform you just make sure you stick to what you know and perform,” he said.

The burly spinner, who made his debut for the West Indies against India last year, was recently named as part of a CWI 29-member preparatory squad for a possible tour of England.

Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt has insisted the organisation is in process of implementing several recommendations of a recently commissioned audit, which promises to deliver on previously stated targets of governance reform and financial transparency.

Recent news reports had pointed to financial irregularities discovered after an audit of the CWI balance sheets, which pointed to what was deemed to be, among other things, the improper handling of funds in a recent transfer. 

According to Skerritt, however, issues that have affected the organisation as it relates to governance structure and financial management systems were already being address in two previously commissioned reports.  The Accounting and Management Consulting firm of Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF) was employed to examine the organisation’s financial practices, with a task led by Senator Don Wehby expected to review governance systems.  The CWI president pointed out that PFK had already flagged several issues and that the recommendations suggested were already being adopted by the organisation.

“In carrying out its assessments PKF uncovered some illustrations of questionable executive standards and practices. It verified and emphasized the need for drastic operational reorganization and realignment, with an urgent need for improved risk assessment and cash flow management. The PKF consultants accordingly presented their report in person to the CWI Board of Directors in December, and their twenty-eight (28) recommendations were unanimously adopted,” Skerritt stated via press release.

The recommendations were said to include; Reinforcing the President’s role as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, with responsibility for strategic policy and governance, while empowering and supporting the CEO and his management team with full responsibility for all operational aspects of the organization; realigning the organisation’s leadership, reporting, and functional structure, to enhance accountability and reestablish clear lines of authority and responsibility; strengthening internal controls and ensuring timely reconciliation and reporting of all accounts; and modifying fundamental management practices to ensure transparency, and best practices.  It also called for discontinuing the operations of the Executive Committee of The Board and reporting to the Board on a timely basis, the accurate financial situation.

Skerritt has insisted the organisation did not consider the report for general release because it was an internal matter.  The CWI will now decide whether to release it in full.  According to the president, the recommendations from the Wehby report will be known in a few weeks.

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