On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 The NBA’S MVP criteria need to be re-visited.

 Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the second successive season after garnering 25 of the 101 first-place votes and 962 points in the voting. Although the award is based on the regular season, the fact that it is awarded during the playoffs makes it potentially contentious. In this case, although Giannis gets the award, his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, have gone home after the Miami Heat eliminated them in the second round of the playoffs.

The decision has raised eyebrows including that of that Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James with some even suggesting that LeBron was robbed of the award based on his overall contribution to his team.

James, who is still in contention to win his fourth NBA title, also alluded to the inconsistencies, “Sometimes it's the best player on the best team. Sometimes it is the person with the best season statistically. Giannis had a hell of a season; I can definitely say that."

The fact that the Lakers are in the Western Conference Finals while Milwaukee barely made it through the playoffs triggered the negative criticisms. Once the criteria for winning the award is consistent and the timing that the award is presented is altered, this will help in ensuring that there is little negative perception. There is a need to change and there needs to be consistency!

Glad to see both the Windies and England women supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Taking a knee and wearing the Black Lives Matter logo are more than mere gestures. They are constant reminders and a subtle form of education.

Both the West Indies and England women will wear the Black Lives Matter logo on their playing shirts during the Vitality T20 International (T20I) series that begins on Monday, September 21. The decision was a mutual one taken by players and management based on current situation globally.

 West Indies Women’s captain Stafanie Taylor has been vocal about the cause, accepting that as athletes they have an important role to play in raising awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. I commend the women, as their actions can be a driving force for education and giving a voice to the voiceless.

 All matches will be played behind closed doors at Derby, where West Indies have been based for the past three weeks.  Monday's series opener will be the first Women's international match since Australia defeated India in the T20 World Cup final in March of this year.

Trinidad and Tobago Football have been reduced to a game of wait and see. 

FIFA has given the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) an extended deadline’ of September 23 to withdraw its claims against it currently before the Trinidad and Tobago High Court of Justice.

Ousted TTFA president William Wallace, who says he has the support of roughly half of the local body’s delegates, has refused to back down.

 On August 26, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura firmly requested’ that the ‘TTFA former leadership’ withdraw its claim from the local High Court ‘by 16 September 2020 at the latest’. She said then that ‘failure to comply with this directive would result in the commencement of suspension proceedings.

With an extra five days, one can only hope that those involved in the ongoing dispute will act in a manner that will ensure that football wins. Meanwhile, the football-loving public is left sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting the fate of the sport they love. Let us hope good sense prevails!

President of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Keith Wellington, is urging student-athletes to continue training for their various disciplines, in order to be in a position to capitalize on any opportunities to compete in this academic year.

The governing body for Jamaican high school sports has already cancelled all sporting activities for the remainder of 2020 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the island.

According to Wellington, ISSA is now using the period to assess what events, including the ones that were scheduled for this semester, could be held next year.

He pointed out that sports like table tennis and swimming are among the favourites to see competition first in 2021.

Wellington suggested that sports like basketball, football, netball and track and field might be the most difficult to stage.

Specifically speaking to the popular ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships, Wellington told the Commentators podcast, “I know that a lot of people would have said athletics provides for social distancing.”

“On the field of play it does but if you think of our track and field activities, it doesn’t have to be that way, the norm is that you have persons travelling right across the island, thousands of kids from dozens of communities across the island,” he added.

“That is something that would be difficult in this time because you could have somebody from Hanover travelling to Calabar to participate in a meet…they come into contact and right away you have a spread right across.”

Speaking with Donald Oliver and Ricardo Chambers, Wellington also made it clear he did not see testing as an option, at the moment, for any sport given the financial costs associated. 

However, the man who took over the top job in June 2019, says he is committed to ensuring that student-athletes across as many sports as possible get opportunities to compete.

To athletes, he said, “all is not lost.”

“We define luck as preparedness plus opportunity. Right now, there is little opportunity, but you still have a responsibility to be prepared so that when that opportunity comes you will be lucky.”

“I would say to them (athletes) to do all that you can to prepare yourself mentally and physically to play sport. We at ISSA are serious about providing that opportunity to make your luck and we are going to do whatever we can to provide you with the opportunities in whatever format.”

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

  1. Well-deserved CPL win Trinbago Knight Riders!

It is one thing to be strong on paper but ensuring that it translates to on the field is the true test. Execution is key in any sport.

The Trinbago Knight Riders demonstrated that critical characteristic as they clinched a record fourth Caribbean Premier League title in style, making light work of the St Lucia Zouks and winning by eight wickets in Thursday’s final.

In doing so, they completed a historic unbeaten campaign, winning all 12 games.

Overall, TKR was the strongest team in the tournament with both bat and ball. Their score of 185/3 against Barbados Tridents was the highest total in the competition this year. Captain Kieron Pollard who was awarded “Man of the Tournament”, led from the front with his own heroic performances. Even when key players sat out important matches for various reasons, other players stepped up ensuring that the team remained unbeaten.

 

  1. LaLiga is back and oozing with excitement!

          The curtain was raised on the 2020/2021 LaLiga season on Saturday with three matches. Eibar and Celta Vigo played to a goalless draw while Granada beat Athletic Club 2-0 and Osasuna overcame Cadiz 2-0.  What we know is that La Liga promises tons of excitement both on and off the field.

   With this season likely to be the last for Lionel Messi in LaLiga, I will be keeping an eye out for the young players hoping to step to fill the void.

Among the candidates is Ansu Fati, the breakout star at the Camp Nou last season. Just 17 years old, he forced his way into Barca’s first team scoring eight goals last season. He is also now the youngest scorer for the Spanish national side having found the net on debut earlier this month.

 

  1. Alex Morgan joins Tottenham Hotspur!

 Tottenham has captured the talents of forward Alex Morgan, one of the biggest names in sports in United States.  Apart from her undeniable skill, the 31-year-old will bring her commercial impact to the Women’s Soccer League.  She has 9.1 million followers on her Instagram account, more than the Spurs’ 8.5 million.

Alex, who will don the No.13 shirt for Spurs, helped the USA win back-to-back FIFA Women World Cups. She scored six goals in 2019's tournament in France. The new mom, who gave birth to her daughter on May 7, has scored 107 goals in 169 international appearances for the USA. The WSL has just attracted a lot more fans! Smart move!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using food to cope with emotional distress or emotional eating, as it is called, is part and parcel of a typical existence for many people.  Although stereotypically classified as physical specimens, surprise, surprise, our elite athletes are no different.

Presently, many athletes are sitting at home severely impacted by uncertainty. They are stressed because of it. Some are even adjusting and readjusting to ever-changing curfew guidelines that affect stadia where they often workout.

An article published by SportsMax titled, ‘Are they T20 cricketers or Pillsbury doughboys?’ even admitted that the CPL 2020 teams would have faced some uncertainty at some point before the tournament started.

Though the article focused on how an athlete’s attitude plays a significant role in performing at their best, it didn't do anything to address their mental and emotional states.  Instead, the article compared the cricketers to blowfish.

Athletes get paid to look their best. Their appearance influences their performance, brand deals, sponsorships, I get it. But it’s likely some of the athletes were just reacting to their reality since eating is therapeutic and brings comfort.

Nutrition coach, Gabrielle Julal, who recently accompanied sports nutritionist, Mrs. Patricia Thompson, at the Jamaica Olympic Association's Eat Fit Stamina Workshop, said restricted diets can make it difficult for an athlete to resist certain foods, especially in vulnerable and stressful times.

“A lot of athletes over restrict themselves - they have a lot of restrictions and certain rules in order to maintain their body image. But what most people don't recognise is that when we have these restrictions/mental restrictions it increases our desire to eat certain foods," Julal said.

She suggests, in this case, eating is the way to deal with the constant desire for food.

Julal explains, “A good way to deal with urges is to first remove the rules from your mind - allow yourself to eat. The more you start to eat certain foods that were restricted before, the less likely you'll desire them because you no longer have this ‘forbidden fruit mentally’ towards the food.”

 She added that “It's important to be sensitive to them [athletes] because people expect them to look a certain way and when they don’t, that can fuel disordered thoughts towards eating then can cause them to restrict themselves more.”

Athletes should not deny themselves the physical and the equally important emotional needs that are required as a human being. Still, when eating is the only form of coping, that's a problem.

According to Julal, eating is supposed to be a source of comfort and enjoyment for us but when it’s the only form of coping, she would encourage athletes to seek other ways of coping with difficult emotions like:

Talking to another athlete who is also going through ‘it’ as that will encourage both athletes to share their experiences in a space that allows them to relate to each other.

She also hinted that sharing doesn't have to take place between athletes but can be through honest conversations with a family member or a friend as well.

Julal even suggested that doing some form of exercise, learning new ways to prepare food, and finding other fun activities can lift spirits.

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Oftentimes, conversations about diversity in sports stop at race. There’s so much more to explore.

Don't get me wrong, discussions around race and diversity are important because there is more work to be done.

Just last Wednesday, TVJ's Prime Time sports featured international equestrian Lydia Heywood. Heywood, who is the daughter of a British mother and Jamaican father, does not look like most of her fellow competitors. Hence, she is pushing for more diversity in the sport.

Diversity in sports, however, isn’t only about race. Diversity covers a range of things including sexual orientation (yes, track star Caster Semenya is a symbol of diversity in sports) and age. Diversity would also mean accepting different sports. A diverse range of sports.

So, Heywood is onto something when she encourages prospective athletes and fans to accept non-traditional sports. In this case, equestrian.

Contributors to the gaming industry also want diversity. Before Jabari Brown decided to make his own game, he modified and animated characters. A video game modifier is a person who makes minor changes to another artist’s work. Jabari modified and animated characters because he wanted to see people who look like him. His modified black characters are called ‘cosplayers’. They have super speed, super strength; typical superpower stuff.

 Diversity is a superpower within itself. It gives a sense of worth and comfort through representation. When people identify with something, they’ll keep coming back. Jabari’s characters are influenced by Jamaican culture. His characters speak patois and the word ‘dark’ in his moniker ‘Japter Dark’ represents his dark brown complexion.

Jabari recently decided to make his own game but admits it will take many years to complete.

His mobile game will be a side scroller endless runner. A game where the player is always running. His other game will be more complex. The concept is an HD fighting game like Marvel vs Capcom. This means, it will be labour intensive and will definitely need funding.

 I get it, sprinting events spark joy and delight in Jamaicans. Our athletes give their all, excel, and have been doing so for many years. Just the same, I believe nontraditional sports can spark pride in us because anything Jamaica is a part of what makes us very proud. However, it will take truly accepting diversity for what is it for the island to be genuinely known for equestrian sports, esports, etc.

When diversity is grasped, non-traditional sports and industries can flourish. Prospective athletes and gamers will  see non-traditional sports as a plausible career choice.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

  1. St. Lucia Zouks’ Mark Deyal is turning heads with his CPL performances.

The St. Lucia Zouks franchise has never won a CPL title. Entering the 2020 edition of the tournament opinions were mixed about whether the Zouks would qualify for the top four. Upon studying the new team fielded for 2020, interviewing the new Coach Andy Flower, and accepting the new conditions created because of COVID 19, I saw the Zouks putting up a great fight.

One new addition to the team’s roster, Mark Deyal, has sparked interest based on his exploits in all three departments of the game - bowling, batting, and fielding.

So far, in the 2020 Hero CPL, Mark has a top score of 40 off 33 balls when he blasted five fours against the Trinbago Knight Riders on Saturday. In the seven games he has played, Deyal has accumulated 105 runs.

He has also been handy with the ball despite not bowling many overs. In the four overs bowled he has taken one wicket at an economy rate of 3.50. His athleticism and awareness also make him an asset on the field where he has taken four catches. In my estimation, if Mark continues working and converts his starts into bigger totals, the right people will notice him.

In an exclusive interview that I conducted with Mark, he expressed his delight representing the Zouks.  “It’s really pleasing personally because this year with this team I have more responsibilities and it’s something I'm really excited about,” he said.

On his performance in the CPL so far the 27-year-old all-rounder said, “I would have to say it is below par for me because I personally set high expectations for this year although I had a couple of good performances. Luckily, the tournament is not over so I still have time to have an impact.” 

The young Trinidadian says making the Windies limited overs team is at the top of the list of his personal goals and he sees the CPL as the ideal place to turn the right heads and gain recognition.

He also revealed his aspirations for playing in the Indian Premier League. “That’s also a dream of mine, which is why it’s important that every chance I get I showcase my ability in all areas, batting, bowling and fielding so that I can make the move up from CPL to IPL.”

The St Lucia Zouks, who are third on the CPL table with 10 points, have already made it to the semi-finals. They have one more match, against Jamaica Tallawahs. If they win that by a big margin, there is still a chance they could finish second, on net run-rate.

 

  1. Better Luck next time St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots suffered an early exit from the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) after heavy rain forced a no-result in their match Thursday against Jamaica Tallawahs at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad. They ended their 2020 run with three points.

Their highest total this season was the 150 they scored against the Guyana Amazon Warriors. Despite the team’s failure to advance to the semi-finals, the Patriots 2020 showing is not a proper representation of the individual talent that the team possess.

 

 Patriots Captain Rayad Emrit in an exclusive interview explained what he believes to be the reasons behind the team’s failure this season.

 “It has been a very tough tournament for us. Firstly, losing our head coach then Dennis Bulli due to COVID 19 and then the biggest of all, Fabian Allen missing his flight. I think we missed these players and coach. We haven’t batted well in the entire tournament and to date we only had two guys scoring half-centuries,” he said.

“I think the bowling was decent in most games but still we haven’t been as consistent as we should be. We have not learnt as a team as quickly as we should have. I know players have not been playing for close to six months and T20 can be a very cruel game.

“Joshua Da Silva has been okay for us playing his first T20 tournament, and John Russ Jaggessar has been good as well. I think we have to regroup and come back a lot better next year if we are to compete in this tournament, especially with the CPL getting better every year.”

 

  1. Can Messi genuinely enjoy football at Barcelona anymore? There are so many unanswered questions.

Ten days after he stunned the world of football and informed Barcelona that he wanted to activate the release clause in his contract, Lionel Messi has decided he will stay at the club he has called home for almost 20 years. Barcelona has been extremely silent since Messi’s public statement Friday that he will stay at the club.

 Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu has not spoken in public since the interview. 

There are so many unanswered questions swirling around. What we do know is that Messi will take his coronavirus test and then return to the club’s training on Monday. How will the Messi and coach Ronald Koeman relationship unfold? Will Messi remain as captain? What does his future at the club look like? Only time will tell! 

 

 

 

 

 Left alone to die, deep in the bushes of Falmouth, Trelawny, a former racehorse recently renamed George or Usain Bolt was rescued from certain death by a young woman who refused to turn a blind eye to the animal’s suffering.

 These days he receives plenty of love and care from his new owner, Julie, but a battle with cellulitis in one of his legs continues to put the animal’s life and health at risk.

The plight of the noble equine, however, speaks to larger issues, which we should be flushed with shame to ignore.  Firstly, we must ask the obvious question, how can we in good conscience allow such gentle creatures to be used and discarded in such a manner? But secondly, there clearly needs to be an inquiry into circumstances that have reportedly led to an increase in these life-threatening leg injuries at the island’s major racetrack, Caymanas Park, which makes it more likely for animals to end up in this or similar circumstances.

The disease afflicting George stems from a bacterial infection of the soft connective tissues under the skin, and it causes sudden, extreme swelling in the affected area—often in a leg. The disease is fairly common in horses, but on a recent occasion, George's leg had tripled in size overnight, which was terrifying especially because it causes lameness.

Lameness and infections can also be caused by a fracture in a horse’s leg.  Earlier this year former member of parliament and noted veterinarian Dr St Aubyn Bartlett called for a forensic audit into what he believed was a concerning increase in the number of leg fractures suffered by animals at Caymanas.

“We have to go right around, because I don’t think it is a matter of necessarily the track surface, but our track surface could have some impact,” Bartlett told the Gleaner in January.

 In a recent piece published in August 2020 titled, ‘Work to be done on Caymanas track’ Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe, explained that the surface at the facility was, at the moment, overdue to be repaired. 

According to Sharp the surface was typically repaired every six months, but the COVID-19 pandemic, the unavailability of equipment and other factors had led to a delay in the process.  In the same piece, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes a champion trainer, however, opined that grading should ideally be done 'almost every two to three weeks'.

While there is yet to be an established correlation, it seems more consistent repairs would remove a potentially causative factor from the equation and could lead to fewer instances where animals are put down or abandoned.  As for George, he remains far from out of the woods.

The Montego Bay Animal Haven recently thanked Dr. Sophia Ramlal, a veterinary surgeon for over 20 years, who ensures the wellbeing of the horses at Caymanas, for helping the stricken George.

This is the sad, but very real story about a lot of racehorses [but] his is different because a young lady found him. Way up in the bush, way off the beaten track, and she called me, begging for help,” the non-profit organisation said.

He has been battling the infection for a year now.  Some days are good and others are far from it. Inaccessible medication plus the lack of knowledge about the disease is preventing him from completely recovering. The Montego Bay Animal Haven said in a recent, touching post, “last night he was rushed off to @watessporthorses [Wates Sport Horses] where I promise you, if they hadn’t come, he would be in horse heaven by now.”

“We just don’t have the facilities or honestly, the knowledge to handle this. The same young lady who found him looks after and feeds him every day, rushed off at silly o’clock this morning, through a storm, pouring rain, to meet @hiprosupercentre [Hi-Pro Supercentre] in Kingston, three hours away, to get the meds needed to keep him alive.”

 The recent update  encouraged donations for George at https://www.montegobayanimalhaven.com/donate but says though he is receiving great care from Dr. Denise Cole and Dr. Sophia Ramlal, they are “not sure he will make it.”

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

Correction

SportsMax.tv would like to apologise for wrongly attributing quotes in the previous version of this article to Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe.  We deeply regret the error and any harm that may have resulted.

We would also like to categorically state that it was not our intention to suggest a direct correlation between the state of the surface at the Caymanas racetrack and equine injury. 

We accept that the issue is complex and multi-faceted and merely intended it to be analytically viewed as part of a long list of potential factors that could be at the centre of the issue.

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 1. Best of luck ladies! Stay safe!

The West Indies Women are set to face England in five Vitality International T20 matches at the Incora County Ground, Derby in September. I commend Cricket West Indies for ensuring our women cricketers are afforded an equal opportunity to play the sport they love despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

CWI have agreed to follow the strict medical protocols that were implemented for the West Indies Men’s tour to England earlier this year. The players and staff will remain in a bio-secure environment for the duration of the tour, with all matches being played behind closed doors.

In an interview with Windies captain Stefanie Taylor regarding the restart of cricket she said, “I’m excited for the restart because we’ve been away for a long time. Barring injury, this is probably the longest I have been away from the game. I know the rest of the team are also excited to get back out on the field.”

When asked about the biosecure measures put in place Stefanie said, “I am confident with the bio-secure environment. I saw how well it worked for the last two series in England and knowing we’ll have the same level of biosecurity, I’m comfortable with the protocols in place.”

Another Windies player that I contacted regarding the restart of women’s cricket Britney Cooper said, “It’s always a privilege to be selected for West Indies. I am looking forward to this series since we’ve been away for so long. Also, it’s an opportunity to restart since we didn’t have the best World Cup earlier this year.”

I am incredibly pleased with the efforts of CWI to ensure our Windies women play competitive cricket despite the ongoing pandemic. Best of luck ladies and most importantly stay safe.

 2. Continue blazing a trail Bravo. Congratulations!

Dwayne Bravo has always been one of my favourite cricketers because of his efforts on the field. There is something special about having Bravo in your team that gives you confidence that you can turn any match around no matter the situation. I enjoy the energy that he brings to the sport and the fact that in each game he gives his 100 per cent. Congratulations Champion, on becoming the first bowler to take 500 wickets in all Twenty20 cricket.

Bravo has played for 21 different teams, played alongside 400 different teammates, against over 1200 opponents and dismissed 312 different batsmen. He has now achieved a new milestone 500 wickets, over 100 more than Lasith Malinga.

What I find most intriguing about Bravo is the impact that he has in T20s. His ability to bowl at different stages of an innings, especially at the death overs is incredible. The Trinidadian is the type of player that can change a game with both bat and ball. However, we cannot fail to mention his fielding brilliance. I celebrate you, champion, keep blazing your trail!

3. The postponement of the NBA games- A powerful statement.

Since the restart of the NBA, the players have continued to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. They have shared their own stories. They continue to wear “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts. They have locked arms and kneeled during the anthem. However, after the latest shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the players did the most meaningful thing they could do: they refused to play.

By refusing to play the players made a profound statement. They withheld the only thing many fans and many Americans see when they look at them: their talent. They called on authorities to take accountability for what was taking place. The main question being asked now is, “Will the authorities finally listen to the pleas of these players and create change?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a professional athlete means more than just what a person is capable of doing in the field of play. A pro should always be trying to improve in his or her craft, putting in the hours to maintain high levels of fitness, honing their skills, improving on their weaknesses and solidifying their strengths.

The very best ones go on to become stars and superstars while the role players ensure that playing standards remain high. We see that in the NBA, NFL, Premier League, LaLiga and other competitions that command the attention of tens of millions of people globally.

Cricket is no different.

The batsmen, who are among the best work hard to be at peak physical levels. They study the game and become masters of their sport. They undertake mental exercises that ensure that their minds remain alert, sharp for those critical moments in a competition where all the elements of their preparation come together in the execution of that decisive moment that alters the course of a match.

With all this in mind, how do some of our cricketers explain coming into the 2020 Hero CPL looking like giant blowfish?

Even with the uncertainty of the times when the pandemic is raging, there was always the possibility that the CPL would be on. The IPL, too, is also a possibility. Several of these players have contracts with franchises in the richest T20 league in the world.

So, what explains their decision to come to play looking like me after months of sitting at home stuffing my face with goodies from my kitchen? It’s embarrassing. And I am not the only one who believes this.

One former cricketer mentioned in a group of which I am a member that one of the players was as thick as Berbice mud.

The reactions on social media were equally telling.

“Cricketers here look like “Gerber Babies and Pillsbury man”, “COVID Realization: West Indies cricketers care zero about belly appearance”.

It is even more embarrassing when you see the players from other countries, who are also experiencing the pandemic, looking fit and sharp. I will take the opportunity here to heap praise upon Andre Russell, who has come in looking lean and ready. If you follow his Instagram you see the work he puts in as he prepared to compete in the CPL and later this year, the IPL.

Unfortunately, there are others who lack similar levels of commitment to professionalism.

Maybe that is why West Indies cricket struggles the way it does. It’s all about attitude and aptitude and the perception right now is that some of the region’s best players lack both.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT 

 

Celebrating CPL, digitally

I am extremely impressed with the Caribbean Premier League and Digicel for the work that they have put in to ensure that cricket fans enjoy the sport they love amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The CPL experience has come alive and is available at home on television or on-the-go via the SportsMax app.  

The T20 competition has started with a bang and, despite the pause on cricket due to the pandemic, the players have dusted off the rust and has been competitive and entertaining for the fans at home. The reviews, comments, and debates on social media have been encouraging. Fans are deeply appreciative of the work that has gone into ensuring the tournament is a success. 

As a Trinbago Knight Riders fan since the start of this CPL season, Sunil Narine has impressed me. His blistering knock, which sent the Knight Riders to the top of the table, was a sight for sore eyes. Two back-to-back scores of 50 and 3 wickets in two games – very impressive! CPL continues to deliver! 

 

Sevilla has the Europa League recipe for success! 

After winning the Europa League for a sixth time, without a doubt, Sevilla has the key for success. Diego Carlos' overhead kick deflected in off Romelu Lukaku 16 minutes from time, to beat Inter Milan 3-2 in a thrilling final in Cologne. Not even the coronavirus could stop Sevilla's love affair with the Europa League. 

“It's incredible. We had such tough games, I think, the whole tournament but we played so well as a team, and you could see it during the tournament. We were really a team, like a family,” Sevilla forward Luuk de Jong said, after scoring with two headers. 

 Sevilla won it. They won it in 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2020. Six adorned the T-shirts that they had made.  Congrats Sevilla! 

 

 The Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis is a force! 

The Milwaukee Bucks had a topsy-turvy start to the playoffs. However, things are falling into place for them. They won games 2 and 3 comfortably and it was all due to the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. What is clear is the Greek Freak has improved with each passing season and established himself as one of the best players in the NBA.  

Antetokounmpo joins Kareem Abdul- Jabbar as the only Bucks players with a 20-point, 20-rebound game in the playoffs. Abdul-Jabbar did it 18 times with the Bucks. It has been 49 years since the Bucks won an NBA Championship.  Can Giannis Antetokounmpo bring a championship to Milwaukee Bucks?  That is the biggest question this season! 

 

 

 

I’ve never been a fan of politics.

The term has a number of definitions and I abhor involvement in any of the variations.

Former Cricket West Indies boss, Dave Cameron, is now in the thick of a political fight he is not likely to win because he, like myself, may not be a fan of any of the definitions either and has not played the game well.

The first definition of politics is basic. It speaks simply to activities associated with the governance of a body, area, country, whatever.

That would suggest that part of being in a leadership role (governance), is being an effective politician.

But politics also speaks to views. Your views on governance are your politics.

Whenever your politics aren’t popular, you had better find a way to massage them into a room.

Dave Cameron believed Cricket West Indies should be run like a business. He was well on his way to achieving that when he was ousted, but his politics and approach to seeing them through, meant he alienated many along the way.

Included in that alienation were heads of government in the West Indies as well as the current CWI board.

Now Cameron wants to run for International Cricket Council (ICC) Chairman and on the face of it, it looks like the former CWI president is missing the power he once wielded and seeks a way back.

However, an aspect of his politics that has gone unchallenged, even while he was president of the CWI, is his wish to see an end to the ‘triopoly’ in world cricket.

Cameron has made that issue the lynchpin of his argument for a seat at the head of the table.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and Cricket Australia (CA), dominate world cricket and all policies at the ICC level, including those involved with financial remuneration, seem to favour this big three.

It is no wonder then, that the frontrunners to replace Shashank Manohar hail from two of the three powers. Saurav Ganguly is president of the BCCI and Colin Graves, the man touted as favourite for the quasi-vacant role, Colin Graves, is a former ECB boss.

Here is where I part ways with politics. Well, we were never going in the same direction really.

Cameron would like the support of the CWI to run for ICC Chairman and while the organisation has not given a response one way or the other, it is largely expected that he will not get it.

Now the CWI board has had its issues with Cameron’s leadership style, with maybe his policies, but and this is a big but - Cameron represents the only chance for small teams like the West Indies to have their interests represented at the highest level.

There is no doubt that Cameron has a point, particularly in respect to the division of money from television rights. The big three, granted they provide the biggest audiences, corner a large part of that market and the ensuing imbalance makes it difficult for smaller nations to invest in their cricket and advance to the lofty heights of the big three, creating ‘forever minnows’.

Here is my question. Do you play politics ahead of issues, especially if that issue is as important to the future of cricket as it is?

Outspoken former West Indies batsman Philo Wallace has said Cameron’s conundrum is one of his own making, and he may be right.

Blessed or cursed with an incredible self-belief, Cameron comes across as arrogant, irreverent, and maybe a little despotic.

It cost him the presidency of the CWI but I don’t believe like Wallace does, that “Dave Cameron should just tell himself ‘I’ve run West Indies cricket for six years' and just leave it out and just be an observer now, because going up for the ICC job and looking for the West Indies support, it can’t work.”

I believe it should still be workable because what is best for West Indies cricket should be at the forefront of the minds of CWI president Ricky Skerritt and all the members of the board.

Therefore, Cameron’s transgressions should be considered water under the bridge in the wake of a bigger fight.

“It’s like trying to get a dumpling up a hill. Unfortunately, he isn’t going to get the support of Cricket West Indies and we all know it.  It’s very sad that a former president has come to this, a former president of West Indies cricket, but sometimes the way that you rule comes back to bite you, there is something called karma…he disrespected leaders and prime ministers in the region and that cannot work,” Wallace had said.

But I have no time for politics, petty grievances or Karma.

I do have time for a stronger West Indies cricket, whether or not I like the person who helps that process along.

Had it not been for the pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would have been done and dusted 10 days ago and sports fans across the world would still be gathering around water coolers and office enclosures buzzing about the spectacular show put on by the world’s greatest athletes.

Get well soon Barca

August 16, 2020

All hail Bruno Fernandes! 

There hasn't been much to celebrate at Manchester United for the last few years and the success enjoyed under legendary manager Alex Ferguson is a distant memory. Despite not being a Man U fan, as a sports journalist, I award credit where it is due. The introduction of Bruno Fernandes in January has positively impacted the club. 

United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, did not hesitate when heaping praises on the Portuguese for his game-changing ability. “He knows that keepers will wait for him to do the jump. He practices both of them and he practices both sides so he’s got them sorted. Better than I was anyway,”  Solskjaer said in reference to the player’s successful penalty-taking technique.

The results speak for themselves, since his debut at the club, United has not lost a game in the league, rising up the table to finish third and qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2018-19 season.  His eight league goals and seven assists demonstrate his calibre.  What is clear is that in Fernandes you have a leader, risk-taker and quality player. Man U are definitely stronger with the twenty-five-year-old. 

CPL - Hard work behind the scenes 

The Caribbean Premier League is the biggest party in sport. It brings together people from different walks of life eager to support their teams.  Being staged amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition is shaping up to be different in numerous ways.  Sometimes, it is easy to by-pass the immense work that occurs behind the scenes to ensure fans can enjoy the matches.  This year the job is made even more difficult with no fans in the stands and a lengthy list of COVID-19 protocols to adhere to.  Earlier this week, I interviewed Head of Digital at CPL, Vishnu Kumar, who expressed great excitement for the tournament getting underway on August 18th

  Kumar stressed the importance of ensuring that CPL puts on a great show for fans around the world amidst the pandemic.  He explained, however, that even his journey to Trinidad and Tobago was not a simple task. “Air travel at COVID-19 times is extremely challenging but our operations team worked very hard to get us on flights with great social distancing and safety protocols in place and we flew first to Barbados where we quarantined for a few days before travelling onwards to Trinidad. We took a PCR swab test before we left to ensure that we were safe to travel and also had to wear masks and maintain social distancing throughout the duration of travel," he explained.

As if the travel to T&T was not difficult enough, as the CPL team get ready for a successful and exciting tournament, they are tasked with maintaining social distancing at all times.  The head of digital explained that they are required to work in assigned bubbles to ensure the safety of the entire cohort.  This means work that would normally be done face to face is being conducted online, sometimes plagued by faulty internet connections.  

  Despite being faced with immense challenges, Kumar sees simply getting all the players to T&T safe and sound as a success in and of itself. He explained that the entire CPL team is working to ensure they cover all the bases and demand the most of themselves to ensure that CPL 2020 continues to be the biggest party in sport. 

  Get well soon Barca! 

Barcelona are set to have presidential elections in the summer of 2021, as they seek a successor to incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu, however, it is clear more than that is required to save the club. Friday's 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich was the heaviest Barca have suffered in Europe and ends a season that has also seen them lose the La Liga title to Real Madrid.  

It is hard to imagine how long it will take Barcelona to get over the impact of ‘The 8-2’ but what I do know is things must turnaround very soon if the club is to be a competitive force again.  What is clear is that the club needs structural change, a complete overhaul.  Things have deteriorated to the extent that Messi’s exasperation has been made public several times. 

The off-field problems are so numerous that they have seeped on to the field of play, for example, confrontations between players and the board over pay cuts. Messi has called out the sporting director Eric Abidal for blaming the players over the dismissal of Valverde.  

Apart from off the field problems, Barca has not managed their signings well. They signed Philippe Coutinho, for more than 100 million pounds but mishandled him. This failure to integrate a player of his quality into the squad has backfired miserably. He is now loaned out to Bayern Munich and scored twice in the final minutes against Barca. 

    As a Barcelona fan, I can only hope the team gets its business in order very soon, keeping in mind that Messi is not getting younger. The level of dependence on the player has to stop. Get well soon Barca! 

No one can question Andy Roberts’ passion for West Indies cricket. After an outstanding career for the West Indies where he took 202 wickets as part of a battery of fast bowlers, who terrorised teams for more than a decade, the no-nonsense Antiguan has for the last two decades has had to watch with despair and disdain while batting line ups have taken our bowling attacks apart almost at will.

I would imagine it would be even more frustrating for him to watch as West Indies’ batsmen, more often than not, seem incapable of batting for time in a Test match.

This was evident in the last two Test matches the West Indies lost to England at Old Trafford last month.

Therefore, it was no surprise to hear Roberts speak passionately about the team’s failures during an interview with Andrew Mason last week. Responding to comments regarding the lack of technological infrastructure that puts the West Indies at a disadvantage when compared to England, Roberts was quick to rubbish those claims, instead choosing to throw the blame squarely at the feet of the players.

“Infrastructure will not make you a better player.  You have to make yourself a better player and I don’t think the commitment is there from a lot of West Indies players,” he said.

“It’s not just the Test players but a lot of people who play cricket in the West Indies. I don’t think they commit themselves enough.  If you did, you would not be averaging 30 in first-class cricket and that is what we are getting.”

On the issue of commitment, I believe he makes a strong point. My perspective is that when you watch a West Indian batsman bat these days, you see a couple of things right away.

You see the deficiencies in technique but what you also see is how those weaknesses persist over time. I remember when Ronnie Sarwan just came into the West Indies. He was in love either with cutting balls that were close to or on his off stump.

Consequently, he would constantly get out by either playing on, being caught behind or snapped up somewhere between gully and point. However, over time he was more selective when choosing to play the shot and went on to have a successful career.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul adjusted his batting stance that allowed him to achieve incredible things like bat for 25 hours in a Test series between dismissals and face 1050 consecutive deliveries without losing his wicket.

This is something he did repeatedly – in 2002, 2004, and 2007 - all because he learned from his previous errors and adjusted.

I have yet to see this from any of the current players – a clear lack of commitment to improve, satisfied with mediocrity instead of striving for excellence.

You also see an inability to concentrate for extended periods. Watch any West Indies batsman in the current team. If they last more than an hour at the crease, you can literally see them struggling to maintain the high levels of concentration.

It manifests in bizarre shots unexpectedly as well as retreating into a defensive mode before eventually giving his wicket away.

You would never see that happen to Tiger because of how he practised.

Australian opener David Warner shared a story about how in 2011 Chanderpaul revealed to him the secret of how to occupy the crease for long periods.

“He batted on the bowling machine for six hours. I said, ‘This is ridiculous, how can you do this?’ And he said, ‘If you’re going to bat for six hours in a game you might as well practise it.’”

When you watch the current batsmen in the West Indies set up, I am sure none of them spends two hours batting in the nets let alone six.

This is the commitment needed and which Roberts believes is missing.

However, I do believe that improved structures would help the players improve.

Better facilities, better equipment, better coaches help deliver more information to players and in most cases lead to better performances even if marginal.

Better infrastructure allows players, regardless of the sport, to perform at a higher level. Think of it this way.

If you go to work each day in a rundown building where you don’t have access to the most basic of equipment; the copier doesn’t work, the air-conditioning makes you sick, and you have to take the stairs instead of an elevator, wouldn’t you feel demotivated?

To make matters worse every time you visit another office where the basics are in abundance, it depresses you. Eventually, the quality of your work deteriorates without you even realizing it.

It is the same with athletes.

If an athlete is not comfortable with his training environment, his or her ability to learn can be impacted. Like everyone else, athletes need to feel motivated in order to improve.

Modern facilities encourage athletes to work harder and hence improve..

 

 

 

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

Kudos, King on making a difference on and off the field

Jamaican hard-hitting batsman, Brandon King, is using his platform as a cricketer to support the Black Lives Matter movement and those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This selfless gesture of the young man is deserving of mention and commendation.

King, who belongs to the Caribbean Premier League franchise Guyana Amazon Warriors, scored the most runs, 496, in the 2019 edition of the tournament. He held the highest score in the tournament, 132, at an average of 55.11.  He also scored the most 6’s with a total of 32. The 25-year-old game-changer scored a 72-ball 132 against the Barbados Tridents to propel the Guyana Amazon Warriors to the 2019 CPL final. 

       On Instagram, King posted, “Over the past few months, I’ve had some time to really think about how I could make a positive impact on communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and also the Black Lives Matter movement.” 

“So, this year I will be sporting my black SG stickers and along with my management team, GGSM, we will be donating USD$100 for every six I hit during this year’s CPL tournament. Donations will be split between the Greater Trench Town, in Jamaica, and a charity in Guyana to be decided at a later date.”

“As athletes, we have the platform to speak up and make effective change,” he said.

“I am encouraging my sponsors, other athletes, and friends to join in on donations by either supporting a #BLM initiative of your choice or by matching my donations towards these local charities.

I am hopeful and looking forward to getting back out on the field very soon. Thanks for your support and let’s go Amazon Warriors.”

Some may see this as a small gesture that will go a long way, but I see a young man who cares about the less fortunate and those unable to speak up for what they believe in. This gesture will raise awareness and impact those affected by these issues in a positive manner. Based on the current climate, athletes need to use their voices and resources to educate those around them. Well done King!

CWI, what’s the big deal sharing information that has already been leaked?

The lawyer for former Cricket West Indies President, Dave Cameron, says he has filed an application with the Antigua High Court for CWI to disclose to his client a copy of the financial audit conducted by accounting and management consulting firm, ‘Pannel Kerr Foster.’

After Cameron demitted office, the new Ricky Skerritt-led board commissioned PKF consultancy to look at the board’s finances and to submit recommendations. However, the report, which was handed to the board in December last year, also found its way into the public domain and called out the former president on several items including an honorarium, monies sent by the Indian board, reportedly for past players and sponsorship money intended for the Dominican Board, which found its way directly to Cricket West Indies. It is difficult for me to understand how withholding this information benefits CWI. Is it that they are trying to protect current members of their team? These are questions that may remain unanswered.

Attorney Tony Astaphan argues it is unfair for his client’s credibility to be called into question without him even having a chance to see the document in question and to defend himself. The only logical thing to do is to let Cameron see the audit, right?

Something must be done to ensure our women cricketers remain competitive

The Women’s 50 over World Cup has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament was scheduled for February 6 to March 7, 2021, in New Zealand, but will now be held February to March 2022. It means three major women’s events will be staged in 2022. The T20 World Cup and the Commonwealth Games are the other two. While it is understandable given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Cricket West Indies need to do more for the Windies women.

  Most of these cricketers have dedicated all their time to the sport, it is their full-time job and as a result, it results in a major hit to their finances. A lack of competition also directly affects the form of our Windies women as the situation represents a sudden break in their momentum. CWI should find a reasonable alternative to ensure our women cricketers get back to playing some sort of competitive cricket and they do not become complacent. When a few Windies women were posed with the question, “How does this postponement of the World Cup affect you?” this is how they responded:

Britney Cooper: It’s very disappointing that it is postponed, after the exciting and good quality of cricket that was played in the 2017 World Cup, in England, many were looking forward to an even better World Cup in New Zealand. Looking at the ICC calendar for the next few years you can see it’s full of events for the men. The fact is that they had to take months to decide on the men’s T20 World Cup but only two weeks to decide on the postponement of the women’s. With the postponement, I don't think there will be many cricket tours taking place, which means that women's cricket will be put on the back burner.

Kycia Knight: It is disappointing to hear of the postponement of the World Cup as everyone around the world was looking forward to the tournament, especially after the success of the World T20 tournament in Australia. With that being said, it would give teams enough time to properly prepare for such a big tournament as some teams have not yet started to prepare as a unit. The tournament would've been the final World Cup event for some players and they were looking forward to the tournament and I believe it would be a little disappointing for them to have to wait a little while longer.

Karishma Ramharack: As of now, the safety of the players is important so the decision to postpone may seem best. The worst part is that the wait to get on the field is longer! However, this gives teams a proper and fair chance to prepare fully following the safety precautions. Teams can now devise proper strategies and training methods to be much more prepared for the tournament.

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