Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back in practice ahead of the NBA restart.

Kyle Mayers missed out on a century on the final day of the West Indies’ four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, running out of partners, while Shannon Gabriel picked up four wickets in a low-scoring draw.

With the first day and a part of the second a wash-out, the West Indies intra-squad game came down to a one-inning affair and by necessity, a draw.

There were two points of interest with the bat, none of them coming from the usual suspects.

On day three Joshua Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 on Tuesday to post 272 against the bowling of Preston McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. On Wednesday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who faced a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI scored a paltry 178 all out, the only bright element of the innings coming from Kyle Mayers, who scored an unbeaten 74, running out of partners before he could get to three figures.

But Mayers failure to get to three figures wasn't for a lack of effort. He was savage, scoring his 74 from just 56 deliveries in which he clubbed three sixes and nine fours.

Shannon Gabriel was the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI, showing himself to be somewhere back to full fitness with an impressive bowling performance of 4-42.

Kemar Roach, 2-25, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 2-64, and Reifer, 1-21, also got in on the action.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

Heading into the final day of their four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, the West Indies have continued to find the going tough with the bat, with the exception of wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva.

Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 yesterday to post 272 against the bowling of Preston McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. Yesterday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who are competing against a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI have found things just as difficult, with Kyle Mayers, on 43, and Mindley on nine, the batsmen at the crease with the score on 112-7 from just 25 overs.

Shannon Gabriel has been the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI with 3-34.

Kemar Roach, 1-14, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 1-17, and Reifer, 1-21, have also got in on the action.

Earlier, Da Silva, batted for just over six hours, facing 248 deliveries for his tally and smacked 17 boundaries in a mature knock.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

The last of the three Ws, Sir Everton Weekes has passed.

President of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Conde Riley, is wrong to ask for the immediate sacking of West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons.

I have great respect for Mr Riley, who has served Barbados and West Indies cricket admirably for more than 20 years, but his utterances this week were, in a word, irresponsible.

Mr Riley’s comments have created an issue where there should be none.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

Simmons had a death in his family and there was a funeral which would, if he were to go, place him at risk of contracting COVID-19 because he is now outside of the bio-secure controls at Old Trafford, Manchester where the West Indies cricket team is staying ahead of a three-Test series against England.

Once outside of the bubble, Simmons (and the coach must have been fully aware of this, put himself at the risk of adding to the 313, 483 cases of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

The CWI and the England and Wales Cricket Board had come up with a strategy for ensuring the safety of cricketers in this series, inclusive of protocols for when somebody has to leave the bio-secure environment.

Those protocols satisfied both parties that those inside the environment would be kept safe from those who come into it from outside.

Simmons would now be treated like somebody coming from outside and would have to self-isolate and go through testing before being re-integrated with those who had remained inside the bubble.

That being said, once all protocols are observed, there would be no risk to the players and/or staff, even if Simmons contracts COVID-19. So far, he has tested negative on two occasions.

The BCA president pointed out that he had received a number of phone calls from concerned parents and members of the BCA with concerns about the safety of the players, given Simmons’ actions.

However, as a member of the CWI board, Riley should have known that the protocols, put in place before the players left the Caribbean, would have meant no added risk because of Simmons’ exit and subsequent return. There should never have been this sort of knee-jerk reaction.

As a member of the CWI board, it should have been incumbent on Mr Riley to assure those calling, that the maintenance of the players’ safety had not been compromised.

Instead, Mr Riley fuelled an unjustified panic regarding the situation and ‘put pen to paper’ in an email to the board, that clearly spoke to an uninformed position.

"I just heard on the radio that our head coach Mr Phil Simmons attended a funeral recently and is now being quarantined as a result. If this is true, I am calling for his immediate removal as head coach,” read the email.

Simmons wasn’t being ‘quarantined as a result’. That was part of the protocol agreed to before he left. And the president of the BCA should never ben using language like “if this is true.” Why wouldn’t you get all the facts before penning such a potentially damaging missive?

Mr Riley went on to call Simmons’ behaviour “inconsiderate and reckless” but I submit that it was carefully planned and not reckless at all. There was no danger to anyone but Simmons himself.

Cricket West Indies had made a public statement about Simmons’ activities and Riley’s email runs in stark contrast to that.

"The entire process of his exit and re-entry to the bio-secure location was approved and managed by the medical teams of the CWI and the ECB and strictly followed protocols set up prior to the tour which addressed such scenarios," read the CWI statement.

How could Mr Riley and the CWI be so divergent in their views?

Mr Riley also suggested that the CWI be pro-active in anticipation of backlash from the English press.

No such backlash has come.

In fact, the only question that has come from the English press about Simmons’ actions, have had nothing to do with player safety.

Alzarri Joseph was asked if Simmons’ self-isolation would impact the ongoing practice game the West Indies are now playing in preparation for the first Test on July 8.

Joseph’s response was instructive.

According to the young fast bowler, the team of coaches was prepared for Simmons’ absence and everybody, including the players, already know what their jobs are.

Mr Riley should also know what his job is, and it isn’t to suggest that a coach be fired.

Now let’s hope the West Indies can put this behind them and get back to the business of retaining the Wisden Trophy at the end of #RaisetheBat series.

In just his sixth Test, Jermaine Blackwood showed class in scoring a century against England all the way back in 2015.

Two and a half years later, Blackwood had been dropped, having never made the three-figure mark in another innings.

In those two and a half fairly barren years, nobody doubted Blackwood’s talent. But everybody doubted his temperament.

He seemed too willing to throw his wicket away. Now Blackwood is back with the West Indies squad and despite scoring a duck in the first practice game before his side again takes on the might of the English in England, the Jamaican swears by the changes he has made to his game.

“I want to add a little bit more to my game and bat time. I'm really pushing hard for that and I'm really putting the mental work as well in, to bat time, Blackwood has said.

Once I bat time, I will score runs

He has not played Test cricket for two and a half years but he says: “This opportunity has come out and I have to grab it with both hands. I have something to go out there and prove against all the best bowlers in the world, I want to score runs against them."

Back in 2015, on a final day North Sound pitch, Blackwood’s West Indies faced a first-innings total from England of 399 thanks in large part to Ian Bell’s 143, Joe Root’s 83 and Ben Stokes’ 79.

The West Indies would end up well short of that total, scoring 295 in their reply but Blackwood’s innings got them close and helped the hosts stay in the contest and eventually come out with a draw.

Uncharacteristically, Blackwood was measured in his approach to the innings, batting for more than five and a half hours and facing 220 deliveries for an unbeaten 112.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 46, Kraigg Brathwaite, 39, and Marlon Samuels, 33, were the only other batsmen who offered any resistance to a bowling attack that read James Anderson, 2-67, Stuart Broad, 2-67, Chris Jordan, 1-46 and James Tredwell, 4-47.

Despite the quality of the bowling attack, Blackwood was not troubled, navigating the bowlers with skill beyond his years. After all, this was just his sixth Test match.

It would take 14 boundaries and two sixes for Blackwood to bring up his tally, the most classy of which was a straight hit off the bowling of Stokes.

But the signs of Blackwood’s nature were there even in that innings. While he showed good patience for much of the innings, the day could have ended earlier, as Blackwood did have some fortune.

He was caught off a no-ball from Ben Stokes on 21 and dropped at slip on 43, granted that chance was tough.

He was also peppered with short balls and even hit on the forearm, but Blackwood would stay put throughout, emerging from long slumbers of defending to audacious moments of attack.

If only there were more moments like that when the diminutive Jamaican would find that which is most needed in Test cricket, balance. He says he understands what to do these days, let’s wait to see if there is more in him like he managed to pull out on those fateful first two days of Test cricket all the way back in 2015.

Phil Simmons, a sort of gentle giant, was an explosive batsman and a more than useful allrounder for the West Indies and at the first-class level before he turned to coaching.

His greatest achievements as a player came while playing league cricket in England.

One season, playing for Leicestershire, he scored 1244 runs and took 56 wickets. In that season, Simmons was said to have been bowling very quickly, a change from his generally medium-paced efforts.

But before those exploits, Simmons, who played in England during the 1980s and ‘90s, said while playing in the Northeast of the country, he faced quite a bit of racial abuse.

"It's not a nice thing to face. Especially in the leagues where you're by yourself sometimes. It affected my wife when I was up there. It's not a nice thing.

"I played in three or four different leagues. It was one particular league up in the northeast."

Simmons was speaking before the West Indies revealed it will be using a Black Lives Matter logo created by partner of Watford City football club captain, Troy Deeney, Alisha Hosannah.

At the time, Simmons was as yet unsure about how the West Indies would show its unity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The West Indies are in England for the #RaisyourBat series for the Wisden Trophy.

The three-Test series begins July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton with two other games scheduled for Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.

The West Indies have become the latest team to don the logo of the Black Lives Matter campaign, skipper Jason Holder and co, having it affixed to the collar of the outfits set to be worn during the #RaisetheBat Test series, starting July 8.

The West Indies are in England to challenge for the Wisden Trophy, they won last year in the Caribbean.

The logo, designed by Alisha Hosannah, partner of Watford Football Club captain Troy Deeney, features a clenched fist, along with the words Black Lives Matter. The word ‘Black’ has the logo inserted where the ‘a’ should be.

Reports out of England are that the CWI approached Deeney for permission to use the logo as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations.

“This is a pivotal moment in history for sports, for the game of cricket and for the West Indies cricket team. We have come to England to retain the Wisden Trophy but we are very conscious of happenings around the world and the fight for justice and equality. We believe we have a duty to show solidarity and also to help raise awareness," said Holder.

According to Holder, the decision to wear the Black Lives logo was not taken lightly and that the West Indies understand very well, the position they hold in regard to the fight for equality.

As a group of young men, we know of the rich and diverse history of West Indies cricket and we know we are guardians of the great game for generations to come.

“We did not take our decision lightly. We know what it is for people to make judgments because of the colour of our skin, so we know what it feels like, this goes beyond the boundary.

There must be equality and there must be unity. Until we get that as people, we cannot stop. We have to find some way to have equal rights and people must not be viewed differently because of the colour of their skin or ethnic background.”

According to Deeney, he and his partner are delighted to be part of the statement the West Indies chose to make in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“Alisha and I are immensely proud to be asked and take part in a monumental moment in world sport, this amazing decision by the West Indies cricket team to show their support for Black Lives Matter. When I got the call, I didn’t hesitate to respond, because I know as sportspersons in the spotlight, how important our efforts are to bring about change and the role we play in moving towards change in our society," said Deeney.

Deeney said growing up, the West Indies were part of what shaped his childhood.

“Watching cricket with my grandad, and seeing Brian Lara transcend from being a cricketer to a worldwide superstar, shaped my childhood, so it’s great to be able to help West Indies Cricket show their support in such a meaningful way.”

West Indies will play England in three Test matches behind closed doors – the first at the at Ageas Bowl in Southampton and the other two at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, where they are presently based.

Due to COVID19 they have been training and live in a “bio-secure” environment as part of the comprehensive medical and operations plans to ensure player and staff safety.

Former Cricket West Indies (CWI) boss, Dave Cameron, is now looking further afield at the possibility of becoming chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

According to reports, Cameron will be seeking nominations for the post but is yet to make a request that the CWI support his bid.

It is not certain if the CWI would support a bid from Cameron either after the former boss and the man who ousted him, Ricky Skerritt, had very public differences, not just during their election campaigns, but recently.

Skerritt investigated Cameron’s tenure as president by way of an audit where there were a number of questions regarding accounting practices of the organization.

CWI vice president, Dr Kishore Shallow has not commented on whether or not the CWI would back such a bid, saying he wanted to wait to discuss it with the board upon the occasion of receiving a formal notice on the matter.

ICC Chairman, Shashank Manohar, will leave the post when his term ends this year with the ICC slated to discuss the election of a new boss in the very near future.

At the moment, frontrunner to fill the spot being left vacant by Manohar is England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief, Colin Graves.

Graves was expected to be elected unopposed when he steps down from his five-year sojourn at the helm of the ECB in August.

Cameron was president of the CWI from 2013-2019.

West Indies paceman Alzarri Joseph says he is a better bowler today than the one who faced England in England three years ago.

Joseph had a torrid time of the one Test he played in England during the 2017 Wisden Trophy, toiling for 22 overs without a wicket at a cost of 109 runs.

“I think I have made some improvements as a bowler. That was a big learning experience for me, my first time in England. So I have some experience here now so I know now how to bowl in these conditions in my second time around,” said Joseph.

According to Joseph, the key to bowling in England is making small adjustments to the increased movement in the ball.

“The ball does a bit more here in England than in the Caribbean. There are just some slight adjustments. Nothing too big,” the paceman said.

Joseph and the West Indies will be going into the second of their warm-up games ahead of the July 8 start to the battle for the Wisden Trophy.

In his first outing, a three-day encounter earlier this week, Joseph picked up 4-60 as a team captained by Jason Holder drew with another skippered by Kraigg Brathwaite.

Still, Joseph isn’t using the practice games to impress the coach into putting him in the final 11 for the July 8 series start, but rather, is ensuring he is ready if that happens to be the case.

“I see this as an opportunity to get some more overs under my belt, some more time out in the middle to get used to the conditions. I’m just looking to stay consistent. I think I bowled pretty well, so I am just looking to repeat what I did last game,” he said.

Joseph has had some trouble with injuries in recent times but feels he is fitter and stronger and more able to deal with the rigours of Test cricket.

“I put it down to a lot of hours on the training ground trying to improve my strength and my conditioning. Working on bowling consistently for longer periods,” he said of his recovery.

As far as fitting into a four-pronged pace attack which is expected to give England some trouble, Joseph is banking on the element of surprise.

Obviously those three [Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, JasonHolder] guys have a lot more experience than I do, so more often than not, teams may see me as the weak link,” said Joseph.

“I can use that as an advantage for me because I know my abilities. They might not know but once I get in on the day and get the job done I know I can get on top of any opponent.”

Liverpool are the 2019/20 English Premier League champions and after their performance this season, even with eight games still to play, will likely go down as one of the greatest teams to have lifted the title.

That supposition made me think, well, which teams can boast of being the greatest team to have played in the Premier League era (1992-present)? And boom, there we have it, our next Best XI.

With the number of titles Manchester United have won during the Premier League era, it is no surprise that they have dominated a list of the best XI teams to have played in the competition, but there are 11 of them, so maybe a team you support has found its way in there.

The truth is the English Premier League has provided some wonderful entertainment over the last almost 30 years and there have been many wonderful players and teams that have brought joy to many all over the world.

Whether you agree with this list or not, and please share that opinion on Facebook or Twitter, you must agree that the world is a much more drab place without the Premier League in it. Welcome back sport.

 

BestXI Premier League teams of all time

 

 

1.      Manchester City (2017/18)

This team was the team that Pep Guardiola built. It was his second season in charge of Manchester City and by then he had them running like a well-oiled machine, changing the nature of what was required to be crowned champions of the Premiership. Pep’s galaxy of stars scored 106 goals, conceding just 27 for a goal difference of a remarkable +79 on their way to 100 points, 19 more than second-place Manchester United. They lost just two games all season and drew on four occasions, putting down a marker for teams to follow.

 

2.      Arsenal (2003/04)

This squad, having achieved an unbeaten season for the first time in 100 years of the Premier League, has been argued to be the greatest squad of all time and who could argue against that? While Chelsea’s 2004/05 team only conceded 15 goals in an entire season, the zero figure under the losses column makes this team the most revered defensively. Attackingwise, the combination of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddi Ljungberg, and Robert Pires can boast to be comparable to any ever assembled in the history of English football. The central midfield pairing of Patrick Viera and Gilberto Silva was also very formidable, with a great many big teams mimicking the formula to this day.

3.      Manchester United (1997/1998)

In the 1998/1999 season, Manchester United won the League and Fa Cup double as well as the Champions League. That feat meant Alex Ferguson’s Class of ’92 had come of age. Now without the talismanic Eric Cantona and going trophyless the season before, the combination of Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs had turned the fortunes of the side around in the most incredible fashion. While they only won the title, pipping Arsenal by a single point, their resilience, their ability to snatch victory from the draws of defeat was one of the wonders of the decade. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Champions League final where they beat Bayern Munich in the final, scoring twice in the dying seconds of the game.

 

4.      Manchester City (2018/19)

An ageing team, it was difficult for Manchester City to repeat the title-winning performance of a year before, and the team had to do it without the services of Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Company for much of the season. Showing off their depth and their mettle Manchester City had to win every game of their last 14 encounters to stay ahead of a marauding Liverpool, who finished just a point behind. The season also saw the growth of Raheem Sterling and the longevity of David Silva on display. Sergio Aguero, when fit, was also at his consistent best. Overcoming the trials of this season is what makes this Manchester City teams one of the all-time greats of Premier League history. The team finished with a +72 goal difference, 95 goals and 98 points. Their four losses and two draws represented a blip that was certainly overshadowed by their run in to the final game where they sealed the title.

 

5.      Chelsea (2004/05)

Jose Mourinho changed Chelsea from a team that played free-flowing beautiful football but often came up short when it counted most into a defensive beast in 2004. The team had 25 clean sheets in the 38 games they played from 2004 to 2005. Those stats are impressive and puts this team as the single most impressive defensive unit in the Premier League’s history. But it must be remembered that Chelsea were also a brilliant attacking force, with the combination Damien Duff and Arjen Robben counter-attacking teams into the dust. So good was the team that the 4-3-3 formation it used, was adopted by most of the league by the end of the season.

 

6.      Chelsea (2016/17)

Antonio Conte took over a Chelsea team in transition and struggled with getting them to look like a cohesive unit. That is until he switched to a 3-4-3 formation resulting in a remarkable turnaround that still brought all of 93 points to Stamford Bridge on the way to a title-winning debut for the coach.

The new formation revived the career of Cesc Fabregas, proved N’Gola Kante was no fluke and provided Eden Hazard with the kind of freedom he strived on, especially with the support of Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses’ marauding runs down either flank. Chelsea also had the robust work of Diego Costa up front. Two years before, Mourinho’s Chelsea had crawled over the line for a title-winning season, but this blues line-up seemed to get stronger as the season progressed.

 

7.      Manchester United (2008/09)

Manchester United’s 2008/09 winning season is precious not just because all Premier League titles come at a premium, but because it came at the expense of Rafael Benetiz’s Liverpool, a team of certain quality.

United, without the services of the injured Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen, depended on the silky-smooth presence of Dimitar Berbatov, who while much maligned for his lack of work ethic, still managed to keep scoring. Defensively, this United team also had great moments, going without conceding a goal from November to late February, a string of 14 games.


 

8.      Chelsea (2005/06)

Michael Essien is perhaps the name somebody could most easily point to as the reason for Chelsea’s dominance in the 2005-06 season. With an ageing Damien Duff and a less-than-his-best Arjen Robben, Chelsea were not the same attacking force they had been a season before. But that did not matter as their midfield, driven by the indefatigable Essien, gave oppositions no opportunities to take over games. There workmanlike performances over the course of the season made them an unliked team, for the most part, because there wasn’t the flair of previous seasons. However, that made them an underrated team rather than not a good one. Still, they ended eight points clear of nearest rivals Manchester United and boasted the best goal difference in the league by a long way, ending with a +50 figure as opposed to United’s +38.

 

9.      Manchester United (1993/94)

Consistency was the key to Manchester United’s 1993-94 triumph. While the Red Devils were the most dominant of all Premier League teams during the 1990s, this unit was even more so than all their different iterations over the decade. The unit saw the inclusion of newcomer Roy Keene, who along with Paul Ince, produced a formidable duo of box-to-box players rather than holding midfielders.

That dynamic meant that while Manchester United were listed as playing 4-4-2, they were perhaps the first team to really employ a 4-2-3-1 formation. Andrei Kanchelskis and Ryan Giggs provided lightning pace down the flanks while Eric Cantona played behind targetman, Mark Hughes. The line-up was irresistible when you factor in a solid backline with the ever-present Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, and Paul Parker. The four were backed up by the best goalkeeper in the league, Peter Schmeichel. Together they would rack up 92 points to finish eight clear of Blackburn Rovers.

 

10. Leicester (2015/2016)

It is easy, especially since they haven’t challenged since and never posed a significant threat before to call the Leicester City team that won the 2015-16 an aberration in a season where the other ‘big’ teams underperformed. But in doing so, you would have ignored the fact that N’Golo Kante announced himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. That Riyad Mahrez’s exploits made him one of Europe’s best performing attacking midfielders/wingers, whatever you want to call him and that Wes Morgan led a defensive unit that was almost impenetrable, even for the most creative of teams in the English Premier League. That Jamie Vardy broke the EPL record for scoring in the most consecutive games. And if you want to ignore all of that, you still have to factor in that over the course of 38 games, Leicester lost just thrice. For an entire season, Leicester threw the rulebook out the window, depending on counter-attacking football throughout, never failing to hurt teams with blinding speed even after the hard yards of defending for long periods of time.

  

11. Manchester United (1999/2000)

A year on from winning a most unlikely treble, it was hard to imagine a Manchester United repeating a league win given the last-ditch effort it took to get the better of perennial rivals, Arsenal. However, it was to be an almost unprecedented romp, as newcomers Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole tore into the league’s defenders, quickly becoming the most dangerous attacking pairing in the league.

Of course, the presence of Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham behind them didn’t make things any easier for the opposition, while Mikael Silvestre added pace to a backline that had lost some.

Manchester United scored 97 goals that season and only lost three of their 38 games, leaving Arsenal hobbled in their wake.

Tell me I’m wrong isn’t a call to prove myself to be a better cricket analyst than anybody else but rather, expresses the hope that all West Indians have ahead of the team’s historic bio-secure Test series against England beginning July 8.

West Indies vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite will get an opportunity to test the mettle of his leadership against his skipper when the two face-off in a three-day practice game inside Emirates Old Trafford in the morning.

The absences of Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo on the West Indies tour of England are still causing a few headaches for the structure of the team, with head coach Phil Simmons yet to decide on what is the best line-up ahead of the first game which begins July 8.

The West Indies are playing in the first bio-secure Test series since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted sports worldwide and Hetmyer, Bravo and Keemo Paul decided against touring England on the back of health concerns.

The absence of the trio means there are questions about how the team will line up but head coach Phil Simmons, speaking during a press conference this morning, believes the answers are to be found in the next few practice games.

According to the coach, who was responding to questions about the batting positions of skipper Jason Holder and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich when the three-Test series begins at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, the options are numerous.

“We have thought about quite a few things. The three-day game which starts tomorrow and then the four-day game will help us to decide how we structure the batting,” said Simmons.

“So there are possibilities in different directions. Jason could bat six, Dowrich could bat six, so we look at the three-day game and the four-day game and then make a decision from there,” he said.

There are also places to be considered with the returning Jermaine Blackwood to the batting line-up along with the likes Shamarh Brooks and Nkrumah Bonner and where they bat, if at all, in the new-look line-up.

The West Indies will play a three-day match game at their Emirates Old Trafford base beginning tomorrow, June 23, before a four-day encounter beginning on June 29.

 

Test Squad: Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach

 

Reserve Players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua DaSilva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican

West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel will get a runout to see where his fitness is as the West Indies go into the first practice game of their England tour.

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