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 Peter 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.

England have confirmed Ben Stokes will captain the Test side against West Indies next week as Joe Root will attend the birth of his second child. 

Regular skipper Root will leave the team's training camp on Wednesday to be with his wife, Carrie, who is expecting their child later this week.

Due to coronavirus protocol, Root will need to self-isolate for seven days once he leaves the hospital, meaning he will miss the start of the first Test, which begins on July 8.

All-rounder Stokes, who is normally the vice-captain, will therefore fill in for Root as the skipper for the first of the three Tests.

Root is due to return to the role for the second Test, which begins in Manchester on July 13.

Former India opening batsman turned cricket pundit Aakash Chopra has excluded West Indies batsman Chris Gayle from an All-time XI IPL squad, opting in favour of a more ‘consistent’ David Warner.

Gayle, the big Windies left-hander, has his name etched on a host of IPL records and accomplishments at the top of the order in the IPL.  The opening batsman has the tournament’s highest individual score (175), most sixes (326), fastest century and the most 100s (6).  The Australian, however, has 222 more runs overall, in one more match than Gayle, and has also scored the most 50s with 44.

While acknowledging Gayle’s explosiveness as an opener, Chopra explains he chose Warner based on consistency.

“My first pick is David Warner, the first overseas player as an opener. You will also think of Chris Gayle, but he is not more consistent than David Warner,” Chopra said on his YouTube channel.

“He [Gayle] has been explosive but Warner is not behind anyone. So, Warner as one of the overseas players. He has been one of the most consistent batsmen ever.”

Mystery spinner and sometimes pinch hitter Sunil Narine was the only West Indian to make Chopra’s XI, with the former opener also finding no place for another big hitter and fan favourite Andre Russell.

 

Aakash Chopra’s All-time IPL XI

  1. David Warner
  2. Rohit Sharma

       3. Virat Kohli

  1. Suresh Raina
  2. AB de Villiers
  3. MS Dhoni
  4. Sunil Narine
  5. Harbhajan Singh

      9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar

  1. Lasith Malinga
  2. Jasprit Bumrah

Mohammad Hafeez is among six Pakistan players given the all-clear to join the squad touring England after returning a second negative test for coronavirus.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz are also set to join the team in Worcestershire, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed on Tuesday.

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and three T20Is in England, but preparations for those matches were plunged into doubt after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19.

However, a PCB statement said: "Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz have tested negative for Covid-19 for the second time in three days and, as such, are now eligible to join the Pakistan men's national cricket team in Worcestershire.

"The players were retested on Monday, 29 June, following a first negative test on 26 June.

"The PCB will now start making their travel arrangements and the departure details will be shared in due course."

Kashif Bhatti, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Imran Khan tested positive for a second time earlier this week.

The rest of Pakistan's travelling party arrived in Manchester on Sunday and underwent testing prior to a 14-day isolation period in Worcestershire.

 

 

 

With COVID-19 keeping children all over the island at home this term, I began to make a link between them and student-athletes who, because of the changing nature of sports, move from school to school, resulting in a similar sort of dislocation.

Australia's ODI series against Zimbabwe scheduled for August has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zimbabwe were due to play three ODIs in Australia later this year, but it has been postponed.

In a statement, Cricket Australia (CA) said it and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) had mutually agreed to the decision due to the short length of the series, significant biosecurity measures which would need to be in place and safety concerns.

"While we are disappointed to postpone the series, CA and ZC agree that in the best interest of players, match officials, volunteers as well as our fans, that this is the most practical and sensible decision," interim CA chief executive Nick Hockley said.

"We are committed to working with Zimbabwe Cricket on alternative dates to reschedule."

Acting ZC managing director Givemore Makoni said he was keen to see the series go ahead at another time.

"We were excited about facing Australia but, given the circumstances, deferring the tour was the only option," he said.

"We are, however, looking forward to the rescheduling of the series as soon as practically possible."

There have been more than 10.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 507,000.

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.

Ben Stokes wants to continue with the same mindset should the England captaincy be bestowed upon him in the coming weeks.

England return to Test action next month with three matches against West Indies in the bio-secure stadiums in Manchester and Southampton, and they are set to be without skipper Joe Root when the first contest begins on July 8. 

Root is due to leave the team bubble to be with his wife for the birth of their second child and he will require a seven-day period of self-isolation before returning to camp.

That means vice-captain Stokes is set to deputise as skipper, despite concerns from former captain Kevin Pietersen that such a role would curb the all-rounder's attacking instincts.

Stokes is determined to remain the same man, though, even if he admits it will be hard to get the ball out of his hand when he is on a roll.

Stokes said: "If it's flat, I'll just chuck the ball to Jofra [Archer] and Broady [Stuart Broad] and Jimmy [Anderson] and say, 'On you go!'

"It is a tough one because when Joe asks me to come and bowl… if I'm not bowling well I know, right, I'm probably going to be taken off here.

"But then when I feel like I'm in a really good rhythm and don't want to be taken off, Joe doesn't say, 'Keep going.' He sort of looks and goes, 'One more?' And he'll say that for another four or five overs.

"I guess I might have to be a little bit more mindful as I'm the person who's making that decision, but if I've got the ball in my hand or I've got the bat in my hand, I would like to think I'm still going to have to that same mentality as I always do.

"I've been in so many different situations in the field as a batter and as a bowler that I can always relate back to them and think, 'Right, what did Joe expect of me in this situation?' But it's a tough one isn't it to know if you are feeling good as a bowler when to keep yourself on."

While others such as Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Root had been earmarked to be England captain long before they were eventually handed the role, Stokes acknowledged few would have considered him as a skipper-in-waiting.

However, the 29-year-old believes he is ready for the position having played in 63 Tests since his debut in 2013.

"I've been a senior player since 2016 under Cooky and since Joe's been in charge," he added.

"Being able to learn from Alastair Cook and Rooty in terms of different situations throughout the game has rubbed off on me and will put me in good stead for all the different situations that a Test match can throw at you.

"At the same time, we've got some really experienced guys out in the field who I can use. We've got Jimmy, Broady, who've just got ample Test matches and wickets between them. There's so many people that you can throw ideas off.

"I would like to think I would be quite an open captain and wouldn't want my way is the only way. I don't think that's the best way to operate.

"There's 11 guys out in the field so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you're thinking about?"

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.

West Indies fast bowling great Andy Roberts believes Shimron Hetmyer erred when deciding to forego the West Indies tour of England.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons was granted permission to attend his father-in-law’s funeral in England last Friday. That’s the word from Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave, who was responding to queries from Sportsmax.TV.

Simmons has been self-isolating since and will only be permitted to re-join the team on Thursday, July 2, if he returns two negative Covid-19 tests.

However, his decision to leave the bio-secure location has raised some concerns and questions over whether the head coach unilaterally decided to leave the facility where the team has been preparing for the coming three-Test series beginning July 8.

Grave assured that Simmons received permission from the Chief Medical Officers of Cricket West Indies and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

“Yes, he left to go to his father-in-law's funeral on Friday and is now going through the re-entry process having had his whole exit and entry approved and managed by the medical teams,” Grave said.

In Simmons’ absence, assistant coaches Roddy Estwick and Rayon Griffith will oversee the Windies four-day, first-class fixture that starts on Monday.

Floyd Reifer will be the batting coach

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 have seen throughout the week through different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT.

Let’s not Pressure Cornwall

Former West Indies batsman Philo Wallace in an interview on the Mason and Guest radio show welcomed the inclusion of spinner Rakheem Cornwall in the final match-day squad for the Test tour of England. Wallace described the Antiguan as the “match-winner” and “trump.” In my opinion, Cornwall has immense potential but to call him a match-winner is simply putting too much pressure on the young man who is new to this level and format of the game.

The 27-year-old off-spinner has so far played two Test matches for the West Indies. He took three wickets against India on debut before claiming 10 wickets in his one-off Test against Afghanistan. During the recently concluded practise match in England, Cornwall took one wicket and scored two runs. Is this a sign that he is already feeling the pressure of expectation?

Based on Cornwall’s limited Test-match experience, I would suggest that we allow him time to settle as a member of the Test squad. I strongly believe Test cricket is a completely different level of the game and playing against England will not be a walk in the park as they are at home and hungry for a win.

Chris Gayle Opting out of CPL – A Surprise!

The 2020 Hero CPL will be different without the Universe Boss. As a journalist and a cricket fan, I will miss the energy that he brings to the games although I respect highly his personal decision not to play, especially in light of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Last Monday, Gayle communicated his decision to the St Lucia Zouks by email saying he would be unavailable.

In the email, Gayle pointed out that due to the lockdown he was unable to meet his family and his young child who are in St Kitts because he was in Jamaica. Gayle said he needed a break and wanted to spend time with his young family.

Who can fault the cricketer for this, especially considering the recent turn of events?

Gayle signed up with the Zouks in April after an acrimonious split with Jamaica Tallawahs. Based on the fallout with the Jamaica Tallawahs, I was expecting fireworks from the T20 superstar. I was expecting him to use his frustrations as fuel to score heavily this CPL.

Meanwhile, Gayle's abrupt decision will have disrupted the Zouks' plans for the players' draft, conducted virtually for the first time because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Zouks signed Gayle as one of the marquee players outside the draft in the US $130,000 - 160,000-price bracket. In his absence, the franchise is likely to get the first pick at the draft now.

 Mediation should have been the TTFA's first choice

 Having taken Mediation Studies at the post-graduate level, I believe mediation is a viable option for settling the dispute between FIFA and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Frankly, I am surprised that it was not utilized earlier. It is cheaper than heading to the courts, especially based on the reported financial situation of the William-Wallace administration finds itself in.

FIFA dissolved the Wallace-led executive on March 17, 2020, less than four months after the latter had been on the job. They were replaced by a normalisation committee led by local businessman Robert Hadad. The committee has been mandated to oversee the affairs of local football and reducing the TTFA’s crippling $50 million debt.

Mediation, though informal and flexible, could play a big part in shaping the outcome of the dispute. In the case of the TTFA, they would be presented with a chance to influence the outcome of the process while getting a listening ear from FIFA.

In addition, at the heart of mediation is the preservation of the long-term relationship between the parties. Should the TTFA have gone this route earlier things may not have been as messy as it is presently.

Congratulations! Well-deserved Liverpool

How can one be upset when a team wins a major title after 30 years of disappointment and frustration?

How can one question a team that has dropped only seven points in 31 matches so far this season? How can one not celebrate a team that has claimed a title with seven games to spare?

Hearty congratulations to the Reds, who might have experienced some anxiety because of the uncertainty of completing the season because of COVID 19. Credit must go the manager Jurgen Klopp, who took over from Brendan Rodgers in 2015 when the team was 10th in the league table. Though it has taken him five years to win English football's biggest prize, Klopp's impact on Liverpool was immediate. "We have to change from doubters to believers,” were his striking words during the press conference where he was introduced as the club’s new manager.

Overall, Liverpool has been a consistent group and as Klopp said, “They are confident because we won, but they are humble. If they stay humble, we have a good chance to be successful.” Congratulations boys!

 

 

 

 

 

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