Zone Blitz: What's to be done about racism in football?

By Mariah Ramharrack, Wayne Lewis& Lance Whittaker February 18, 2020

Porto striker Moussa Marega walked off the pitch during a match against Vitoria de Guimaraes Sunday after he was subjected to racist abuse from opposition fans.

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  • Well played Windies - much love and respect Well played Windies - much love and respect

    I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realise 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

     

    CPL 2020 – Age, just a number?

    India’s Pravin Tambe has been signed by the Trinbago Knight Riders, for the Caribbean Premier League 2020, set for August 18 to September 10. The leg-spinner will make his debut at the age of 48. Upon the announcement, there was major opposition, with some even questioning the direction of the CPL.

    In my opinion, age is just a number, and CPL is doing a great job at marketing the product by firstly stepping out of the age group commonly associated with the tournament, and secondly, signing the first Indian player. Bollywood actor Sharukh Khan co-owns the Knight Riders franchise, which started its journey in the Indian Premier League as Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008.  One must consider that the CPL wants to expand its market even more because of COVID-19 and its financial repercussions. Attracting a new audience by signing the first Indian player is a brilliant marketing decision.

    The signing of Tambe is a good move, as his expertise will also add to the Knight Riders unit. The wrist-spinner, who played just two first-class matches for his home team Mumbai in 2013-14, was sold to KKR in the IPL auction in December. He has a total of 67 wickets in 61 T20 matches, at an average of 22.82.

    The move by CPL to sign Tambe could encourage aging players to re-think their place in the shorter format of the game. Based on how he performs, this is shaping up to be a major turning point for older players in the CPL. Best of luck sir!

     

    Respect earned West Indies!

    It has been a while since I have felt this amount of confidence and excitement waking up at 5 am to watch the West Indies play cricket.  From this Test, what is certain is this group of players is on the right track and the positives outweigh the negatives. They have re-evoked confidence and hope in the fans. Congratulations on the four-wicket win earlier today! You have shown heart and hustle.

    Jason Holder’s maturity as a captain continues to exceed expectations. He has reiterated through his performances that he should not be underestimated - especially with his new career-best of 6 for 42. The skipper came into this series with an injury cloud over his head, having bowled only five overs across West Indies’ two intra-squad warm-up games, while nursing an ankle niggle. He admitted that he felt ‘a little sore, a little stiff,’ after play on the second day but had confidence in his team. He had no hesitation in answering, ‘discipline,’ when asked at the toss what he was looking for from his bowlers, and followed that message by his own example.

    Another glaring factor, in the team's enhanced performance, is there has been a lot of improvement from the youngsters. The unit is looking much more competitive than they have in previous years. Shane Dowrich is a good example of that improvement, having scored 61 off 115 balls in the first innings. Jermaine Blackwood and his well-played 95 from 154 balls ensured the Windies secured the win.

    Kraigg Brathwaite’s 65, his first half-century in international cricket since March, put his team in a commanding position. He set up a platform from which the middle order could build on the third morning.  While many would have lost faith in Brathwaite's ability during his barren run - his most recent half-century came some 729 days ago - his captain, Jason Holder, gave him full support and he has played a pivotal role in the player’s re-emergence.

    Shannon Gabriel has also been a standout performer, picking up a total of 9 wickets in the first Test, despite initial fitness concerns. He created an impact with the ball each time he bowled. These sentiments have been echoed by the Windies skipper who said, ‘he is a strike force for us, he is a weapon.  I think we were able to use him in short bursts where he can run in and express himself.  To me his consistency was good, and he looked good.’

     It is one thing to perform well at home, but the real test is away from familiar conditions. Especially coming off a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether we win, lose, or draw the series, this display of competitiveness has got the fans feeling hopeful and celebratory for the first in a long time. Thank you, Windies!

     

     Barca without Messi? What a joke!

    Initially, when I read that Lionel Messi was leaving Barcelona, I dismissed it as fake news. I am fully aware that the captain has recently been displaying a different demeanor than we are accustomed to, but this information did not sit well with me.

    Even after establishing himself as the best player in the world, Messi has always shunned the limelight. He has always been content with his records and to let his game do the talking for him, and it has spoken volumes. Things have changed, though, dramatically.

    Recently, Messi has felt compelled to make his voice heard.

    When sporting director Eric Abidal suggested that Barcelona's players were responsible for the dismissal of coach Ernesto Valverde, in January, Messi issued a sharp rebuke. When news broke the squad was reluctant to accept a coronavirus-related pay cut, the captain responded, highlighting the report was far from the truth. Although these are significant public statements from such a private person, I don’t see Messi ending his career at another club based on the legacy that he has built at Barca.

    What we do know is that Messi is immensely frustrated with how the club is presently being run. The suspension of talks over an extension is evidence of his dissatisfaction, and it is indeed an indirect warning to the club’s management that the way things are done needs to be rectified.

    There is a twist to the tale though. If anyone must go, it will not be Messi. It was previously thought that Bartomeu would see out the final year of his tenure no matter what, but Messi's refusal to sign a new contract has thrown the president's immediate future into doubt.

    Messi's refusal to commit himself to a new deal has now piled pressure on his boss and there is every chance that next year's elections could now be brought forward. In reality, it’s Bartomeu who's now facing an early exit.

     

     

     

     

  • Holder lauds Gabriel and Blackwood after Windies take series lead Holder lauds Gabriel and Blackwood after Windies take series lead

    Jason Holder saluted Shannon Gabriel and Jermaine Blackwood after they "led the charge" in a magnificent four-wicket win for West Indies over England in the first Test.  

    Fit-again quick Gabriel took 5-75 – giving him match figures of 9-137 - to bowl England out for 313 and leave the tourists needing 200 for victory on the final day at the Rose Bowl.  

    West Indies were in deep trouble on 27-3 with John Campbell having retired hurt due to a toe injury, but Blackwood and Roston Chase (37) put on 73 for the fourth wicket.  

    Recalled batsman Blackwood fell for a classy and mature 95, but Campbell returned to hit the winning runs on a gripping Sunday behind closed doors in Southampton.  

    Holder was full of praise for his side after they secured victory in the first international fixture since the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a halt.

    The Windies captain told Test Match Special: "I'm really happy. The boys have worked hard and it's good to see it pay off. 

    "I'm happy that Gabriel came back well and Blackwood too. They put their hands up and led the charge. 

    "It was a nerve-wracking start after losing quick three wickets and Campbell to injury. But Roston and Jermaine put on a good partnership and settled the nerves. From there we could build on. 

    "I missed the Barmy Army. But it was a level playing field without the crowds. It's been a good start back to international cricket, it sets the series up quite nicely." 

    The second Test begins at the bio-secure bubble of Old Trafford on Thursday, with West Indies eyeing a first series win in England since 1988. 

  • Brilliant Blackwood stars as Windies beat England Brilliant Blackwood stars as Windies beat England

    Jermaine Blackwood justified his recall with a magnificent match-winning innings as West Indies beat England by four wickets in a gripping first Test at the Rose Bowl.

    Blackwood was given another chance to show he can cut it in the longest format after being dropped last year and he grabbed it with both hands on a tense final day behind closed doors in Southampton.

    The Windies were set 200 to win a brilliant first international match since the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a halt, Shannon Gabriel taking 5-75 - and match figures of 9-137 - to bowl England out for 313.

    Barbados-born paceman Jofra Archer struck twice as the tourists slumped to 27-3, with John Campbell also retired hurt, but Blackwood came to the rescue.

    The Jamaican made a mature, classy 95, hitting 12 boundaries before falling agonisingly short of a second Test century - five years after his first against England.

    Roston Chase (37) provided great support for Blackwood, who was dropped on five and 20, and the Windies sealed only their second Test win in England in 20 years the final session.

    Ben Stokes will face questions over his decision to bowl first in his first match as captain, with Joe Root set to return for a second Test starting at Old Trafford on Thursday.

    Archer showed his ability with the bat after England resumed on 284-8, making a valuable 23 before he gloved Gabriel behind on the hook after Mark Wood nicked the paceman through to Shane Dowrich.

    West Indies were in need of a solid start to the run chase, but a brilliant opening spell from Archer (3-45) made it very much advantage England.

    Kraigg Brathwaite chopped on to the quick and the tourists still only had seven on the board when Shamarh Brooks was trapped leg before without scoring.

    Campbell was also back in the pavilion retired hurt after being struck on the toe by Archer and Wood got in on the act by removing Shai Hope's off stump.

    Chase survived an lbw shout before lunch, which was taken at 35-3, and Stokes could not take a chance to dismiss Blackwood in the slips, having misjudged where the ball would go.

    Chase and Blackwood ticked over nicely, but a stand of 73 ended when the former fell to a brute of a delivery in a hostile spell from Archer after Zak Crawley made a mess of a run-out opportunity.

    Blackwood played with great composure and brought up his half-century after Dowrich successfully reviewed, having been given out caught at slip off his elbow.

    The tourists needed 57 in the final session with six wickets left and Stokes removed Dowrich (20) in only his fifth over after he had him caught from the previous ball but overstepped.

    Blackwood kept a cool head and looked in complete control of the situation before driving Stokes (2-39) to James Anderson at mid-off to miss out on three figures.

    Campbell returned to join captain Jason Holder at the crease with 11 needed to triumph and the opener hit the winning runs off Stokes to seal a great victory for the Windies.

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