West Indies opening batsman, Kieran Powell, admits he is looking forward to an opportunity to cement his position in the squad having recently earned a long-awaited recall.

Earlier this week, the 31-year-old left-hander was named among the final 13-man Test squad that will compete against South Africa.  His selection marked a two-and-a-half-year absence from the team, despite some believing the player to be among the region’s top talents.

 Powell, who last represented the West Indies in 2018, during the team’s series against Bangladesh, was in contention for selection to the team last year but failed a fitness test in May.

With several first-string players opting out of the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, he was certainly favourite to claim a spot in the squad but was declared to not have met the fitness standard required by the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel.  Both the player and the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) rejected the claims and insisted the batsman had in fact met the required fitness standard.  Having been given another chance to shine, Power is, however, eager to claim the opportunity.

“I’ve been out of the team for two and half years now and I’ve counted each month I was not on it,” Powell told members of the media.

“So, it’s obviously a great feeling to be back, but being back is just the start.  Obviously, now when I get my opportunity I have to go out and perform and cement my spot,” he added.

 

CWI chairman of selectors, Roger Harper, has defended the selection of young fast bowler Jayden Seales, despite the player’s lack of experience at the regional level.

With strike bowler Shannon Gabriel out of the upcoming series against South Africa, due to injury, the 19-year-old Seales made it into the final 13-man squad on the back of an impressive performance in the recent West Indies Best vs Best practice match.

The young fast bowler took five wickets overall, including a three-wicket burst that saw him remove the top order of West Indies Best B in the second innings. 

With only one first class match under his belt, however, some have objected to the young bowler being picked ahead of those with a lot more experience.  Harper has insisted, however, that the player’s performance in the practice match was enough to show the selectors plenty of what they were looking for.

“I saw a young bowler play in games where Test players and the best of our regional first class players were playing and he performed exceedingly well, better than a number of players that have been playing first class cricket over a number of years,” Harper told members of the media.

“The match was not classified as a first class match but those matches were played by the best of our regional first class players and he did exceedingly well.  So, I like to think that if he can perform well in those games against those players, he had the potential to transfer that to Test games,” he added.

The series against South Africa will get underway at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, on Thursday.

 

James Anderson says Ollie Robinson has the "full support" of the England team after he was suspended from international cricket for sending historic racist and sexist tweets.

Offensive social media posts by Robinson in 2012 and 2013 came to light while he was making his Test debut against New Zealand at Lord's last week.

Robinson made a public apology following day one of a match he ended with an impressive seven wickets, also making an important 42 with the bat.

The 27-year-old will not play in the second Test at Edgbaston as he was sent back to his county, Sussex, by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and must await the verdict of a disciplinary investigation.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said the ECB had "gone over the top" by suspending Robinson, sentiments that were later echoed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It emerged on Monday that a second unnamed England player is under investigation for a historical racist tweet.

Anderson, poised to become England's most-capped Test player by making his 162nd appearance for his country against the Black Caps at Edgbaston this week, says Robinson has the backing of his team-mates and has learned from his mistakes.

Asked if Robinson's apology had been accepted, the seamer said: "I think it's been accepted, he stood up in front of the group and apologised.

"You could see how sincere and upset he was. I think as a group we appreciate he is a different person now. He's done a lot of maturing and growing since then and he's got the full support of the team."

Anderson said he did feel let down by Robinson, who must now wait to discover whether further action will be taken.

"I wouldn't say let down," said England's leading Test wicket-taker. "The tweets coming 10 years ago, obviously there was initial shock with the language that was used but his remorse was sincere.

"He's definitely changed as a person, he's definitely going to improve and learn from these mistakes."

Anderson revealed the ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) had put on workshops to educate players over important issues such as racism.

He said: "It's a difficult time but as players we are trying to learn from this. We realise it's important to try and get educated around these issues, which we are continuing to do with the ECB and PCA.

"We've already been doing workshops before this series to try and help improve ourselves as people, to try and make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen."

Dan Christian has been added to Australia's preliminary squad for the white-ball tours of West Indies and Bangladesh along with uncapped pacemen Wes Agar and Nathan Ellis.

The selectors announced an initial party of 23 to face the Windies and the Tigers, featuring a number of players who played in an Indian Premier League that was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They have now added Christian, Agar, Ellis, Ben McDermott, Cameron Green and Ashton Turner.

All-rounder Christian, 38, and wicketkeeper-batsman McDermott will end spells in England with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire respectively to fly home and complete the mandatory two-week quarantine period before the final squad's scheduled departure for the Caribbean late in June.

Christian has not played for his country since October 2017, while Agar and Ellis will be hoping to make their international debuts.

Promising all-rounder Green made his ODI bow against India last December, while Turner has featured in the 50-over format six times and played 11 Twenty20 Internationals.

Confirmation of the tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.

There was no Sunday drama at Lord's on this occasion as England dug in for a drab draw in the first Test against New Zealand.

On the same ground where England beat the Black Caps in an incredible ICC World Cup final two years ago, Kane Williamson's side were unable to force a final-day victory.

The tourists set Joe Root's home team 273 to win when they declared on 169-6 at lunch, but New Zealand could not take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series as Dom Sibley ground out an obdurate unbeaten 60.

Root (40) also frustrated New Zealand, with England showing no intention of chasing down their target and they were 170-3 when the two captains shook hands after 7pm in London, so both sides will head to Edgbaston next week in the hunt to win the series.

Nightwatchman Neil Wagner was removed by Ollie Robinson early in the day after the tourists resumed chasing quick runs on 62-2 and New Zealand were 105-4 when Stuart Broad trapped Tom Latham (36) leg before.

Ross Taylor made a brisk 33 from 35 balls, hitting Robinson and Mark Wood for six, before edging the latter behind, and Henry Nicholls was dismissed by Root for 23.

Williamson declared after lunch was taken slightly early due to a shower, but a breakthrough proved to be elusive at first when play resumed.

It was Wagner who came into the attack to end an opening stand of 49, Tim Southee holding on at second slip after the seamer drew an edge from Rory Burns (25).

England were 56-2 just before tea with Zak Crawley sent on his way by Southee for two, and the impressive Wagner ended a third-wicket stand of 80 by snaring Root lbw, but New Zealand could not see the back of Sibley or Ollie Pope (20 not out).

 

Broad ends long Test drought

There was relief for England paceman Broad when he ended a long wait for a Test wicket in the morning session.

Broad did not add to his impressive tally of Test scalps in the series defeat in India and his dismissal of Latham was his first in the longest format for 81.2 overs. Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews was his previous victim in January.

Positive Williamson declaration not rewarded as Sibley returns to form

The draw left New Zealand still with only one Test victory at Lord's, which came back in July 1999. Williamson's positive declaration did not pay dividends as England ground out what was ultimately a drab draw.

It was a welcome return to form for the stubborn Sibley, who faced 207 balls as he showed great application after falling for a duck in the first innings.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Jackie Hendricks, believes Cricket West Indies (CWI) selectors should consider looking at hard-hitting left hander Evin Lewis as a Test team opener.

The 29-year-old Trinidadian-born batsman, who idolizes another big hitting left hander, Chris Gayle, has had some success in the shorter formats of the game, but, unlike Gayle, is yet to play a Test match for the West Indies.

Lewis has scored 1791 runs in 54 One Day International (ODI) matches, at an average of 37.31, with a high score of 176.  In 35 T20 Internationals, the batsman has managed 989 runs with a strike rate of 155.74 and an impressive high score of 125.

The batsman, who also has 1229 runs in 22 First Class cricket matches, and a century scored while representing the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the regional four-day competition, has not played the format since 2017.

“I’ve always thought the selectors were a little short-sighted for not given him a go in the Test matches,” Hendricks told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“I’ve been impressed with how he plays in the 50 overs.  He is not a real hitter, he plays his shots very well, he always gets into position and so on.  So, I’m disappointed that he is not thought about for the team,” he added.

Recently, there have been calls for the selectors to consider widening the pool of available Test players but considering some of the players that do very well in the shorter formats.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Andy Roberts, is hopeful developing young pacer Alzarri Joseph has learned a thing or two from his recent stint in English County Cricket.

The 24-year-old Joseph has spent a little over a month representing Worcestershire, where he made his debut following the West Indies home series against Sri Lanka.  As per the arrangement, the player is now back in the Caribbean for the team’s upcoming series against South Africa.

In his six matches there, Joseph did make some impression, claiming 15 wickets, the second most in the team and adding 148 runs, with a high score of 61.  In addition, he claimed an innings best of 2 for 22 and match best of 4 for 106.   

The English championships is typically lauded as a good place for young cricketers to develop, not only due to the difficult and different conditions, but also the volume of cricket played in a short period of time.  During the West Indies spell as the top cricketing nation, several of the players took part in the competition.

“He spent some time in England which everyone feels like that is the bedrock for development because of the amount of cricket that you play, but gone are the days when you use to play seven days or sometimes, 12 to 14 days in a row, and if you can’t develop from that system then you can’t develop,” Roberts, who represented Hampshire and Leicestershire, told the Antigua Observer.

“I am just hoping that he spent most of his time in the nets learning to hone his craft because there is no point to playing County cricket and you don’t learn nothing from playing County cricket. For years I’ve been saying the same thing over and over like the record is stuck; personal development is the key to success.”

 

Pace bowler Marquino Mindley has been released from quarantine, after testing positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago.

The 26-year-old was called to the West Indies red-ball camp a few weeks ago, as part of the team’s preparations to face South Africa in two weeks time.

The player was, however, forced to isolate, as part of strict COVID-19 protocols, after returning a positive PCR test.  The player was put into isolation at the team hotel away from the other players and the coaching staff.

He was cleared to resume training with the rest of the camp on Thursday, after returning a second negative RT-PCR test result.

Mindley even managed a short spell on the final day the intra-squad four-day match, which concluded on Thursday.  The bowler, however, missed the majority of the Best vs Best four-day match, which was used to select the squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa beginning June 10. Both Tests will be played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

Shai Hope, Kieran Powell, and Jayden Seales have been included in a provisional 17-man squad for the upcoming Betway Test Series against South Africa set to begin on June 10. Opening batsman, John Campbell, however, has not made the cut.

No play was possible on day three of the first Test between England and New Zealand at a soggy Lord's.

England had been due to resume on 111-2 in their first innings after bowling out the Black Caps for 378, only for persistent rainfall throughout Friday to make sure the players never made it out onto the field.

Saturday's action will be extended to try to make up some of the time lost with 98 overs now scheduled – weather permitting, of course.

Opener Rory Burns and captain Joe Root are the two not out batsmen for England, having reached stumps on the second day unbeaten on 59 and 42 respectively.

Their partnership of 93 had helped the hosts out of an early hole, Dom Sibley having departed for a duck at the start of the fourth over before Zak Crawley then fell soon after for two, leaving the score at 18-2.

Devon Conway had starred for New Zealand with the bat, the debutant becoming just the seventh player to register a double hundred on debut in Test cricket as he made exactly 200. 

After Lord's, the teams will move on to Edgbaston to conclude the two-match series, though the Black Caps will remain in England as they take on India in the ICC Test Championship final later in June.

Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah have been recalled to the Pakistan Test squad for their series against West Indies.

Pakistan will play two Test matches in the Caribbean in August.

Seamer Abbas - who has 84 Test wickets at an impressive average of 22.80 - had been dropped for the series' against South Africa and Zimbabwe.

But the 31-year-old has been rewarded for his productive spell with Hampshire in the County Championship.

Eighteen-year-old paceman Naseem is also recalled after struggling with a back injury for much of 2020.

Tabish Khan and Salman Ali Agha are not included in the 21-man squad which is led by captain Babar Azam, with the involvement of Yasir Shah subject to his fitness.

Pakistan will also play five T20I matches against West Indies, with that tour preceded by three ODIs and as many T20Is against England.

Wicketkeeper Azam Khan has made the T20I squad for the first time, while Imad Wasim is also included.

Haris Sohail and Saud Shakeel are back in the 50-over group after regaining their fitness.

"We have remained consistent in our selection and kept the same core of cricketers who have been in the set-up for a while," chief selector Mohammad Wasim said. 

"This is an extremely important and critical tour for Pakistan as we will be playing the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs against England as well as the T20Is against England and the West Indies as part of our preparations for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup. 

"The Jamaica Test will count towards the ICC World Test Championship. As such, keeping in view the above and in consultation with captain Babar Azam and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, we have tried our best to maintain the winning combinations but at the same time recalled four experienced players and rewarded uncapped Azam Khan for his domestic performance, while also giving him the required confidence for the future challenges.

"Mohammad Abbas has regained his form, Naseem Shah and Haris Sohail have reclaimed the required fitness standards, while Imad Wasim has been recalled considering the T20 World Cup is likely to be held in the UAE and he enjoys an excellent record there." 
 

Test squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf , Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Yasir Shah (subject to fitness), Zahid Mahmood.

ODI squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir.

T20I squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Usman Qadir.

Noted cricket commentator and pundit, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira, believes batsman Shai Hope should be a definite selection for the 13-man West Indies squad, which will face South Africa in a few days time.

The 27-year-old batsman, who was dropped from the team after a poor run of form last November, has looked sharp since returning to the fold.  Against Sri Lanka, in March, Hope slammed 258 runs in the three-match series, including a shot-filled 110.

He certainly looks to have taken that type of form into red-ball cricket with the West Indies Best vs Best four-day practice match this week.  Hope made 79 in the first innings and got another century, 104, in the second.

Interestingly, however, because of a lack of quality options in the position, Perreira believes Hope can be used as an opener alongside West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite for the upcoming series.

“It’s been a little mystery why they didn’t want to use him as an opener.  If you have stacks of openers then you probably don’t want to sacrifice a middle-order batsman,” Perreira told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“However, when the cupboard is very bare, it’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s not magical thinking, Hope has definitely got to play…I certainly would be opening with Brathwaite and Hope.”

Hope opened at the top of the innings for the four-day practice match.

International players who miss the resumption of the India Premier League (IPL) could face salary reductions and pro-rata payments from their various franchises.

The IPL was suspended in early May after four players in the biosecure bubble tested positive for Covid-19.  The competition is now expected to take place in the September-October window later this year in the UAE.

With a packed international schedule, however, that decision has not found favour with some countries that have players taking part in the competition.  England and Bangladesh players have been prohibited from taking part in the rescheduled IPL 2021. 

With the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled for October, the timing of the IPL could interfere with the teams' preparation for the World Cup.  This season, nine West Indian players were taking part in the competition before it was postponed.

Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran (Punjab Kings) Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders) Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings) Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders), Shimron Hetmyer - Delhi Capitals, and Fabian Allen - Punjab Kings.  There is no indication as of yet, whether IPL resumption will clash with plans of Cricket West Indies (CWI). The West Indies are expected to tackle Pakistan in August. 

“In case they (foreign players) can’t make it to UAE for IPL, franchises will be within their right to cut their salaries and pay them only on a pro-rata basis,” a Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI) member told Inside Sports.

 

Roston Chase scored an unbeaten 45 in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 61 with Keron Kottoy, who remained not out in 19, helped steer Jahmar Hamilton’s WIBest ‘B’ side to a three-wicket win over WIBest ‘A’ on today’s final day of their four-day match at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia.

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