In a bizarre game of fluctuating fortunes at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in which a bowler took a hat-trick and then got hit it for six sixes in an over, the West Indies battled to a four-wicket win against Sri Lanka with 41 balls to spare.

Chasing a modest total of 132, the West Indies, who took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, started strong as Evin Lewis hit three sixes off the first over bowled by Angelo Matthews that yielded 19 runs.

However, in the fourth over with the home side sailing merrily along at 52 without loss, the match evolved into an even more entertaining spectacle.

Lendl Simmons had hit a six and a four off from the first two balls of the third over bowled by Dushmantha Chameera that yielded 14 runs. At the end of the over West Indies were 48-0 but it was the start of the most bizarre period of play in the match.

It all began with Lewis hitting Akila Dananjaya’s first ball of the fourth over for four as the West Indies raced to 52-0.

Lewis was caught in the deep for 28 off Dananjaya’s second ball, Gayle was trapped lbw first ball before Nicholas Pooran’s wicket completed the hat-trick caught behind off a thin edge. In three balls the West Indies had slipped from 52-0 to 52-3.

Lendl Simmons hit a six and a four before Hasangara de Silva trapped him lbw for 26. The West Indies were then 62 for 4.

There was another dramatic twist in over number six, Dananjaya’s third.

With Captain Kieron Pollard and Jason Holder at the crease and the West Indies still needing 70 runs, Pollard went on the offensive hitting the spinner for six consecutive sixes rushing to 38 from 10 balls.

The match would swing again in the seventh when Hasangara trapped Pollard lbw for 38 and then Fabian Allen for a duck with consecutive balls as both players failed to read the spinner.

Dwayne Bravo, who was unbeaten on four at the end, survived the hat-trick ball and together with Holder, who was 29 not out, produced an unbroken stand of 31 after Holder drove Pradeep for six over long-on to seal the victory.

Hasangara ended with 3-12. Dananjaya’s figures that read 3-17 after two overs ended with 3-62.

Pollard had won the toss and put Sri Lanka into bat. The visitors lost their first wicket at 20 when Pollard diving to his right pulled off a spectacular catch at short midwicket to dismiss Danushka Gunathilaka for four and hand debutant Kevin Sinclair his first international wicket.

Niroshan Dickwella (33) and Pathum Nissanka (39) put on 51 for the second wicket but there were no other noteworthy partnerships for the Sri Lankans who crawled to 132 for 9 from their allotment of 20 overs.

Obed McCoy was the best of the West Indies bowlers with 2-25 and there was a wicket each for Jason Holder, Allen, Sinclair, Dwayne Bravo and Fidel Edwards, who bowled tight lines and lengths, hardly giving anything away to the Sri Lankan batsmen.

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, believes the team's current mix of youth and experience is an ideal balance and should be a blueprint going forward.

With the return of veteran batsman Chris Gayle and pace bowler Fidel Edwards, along with the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Jason Holder, and Pollard himself, to call upon, the West Indies has plenty of firepower to begin the series against Sri Lanka and build-up to the ICC World Cup, which will be held in India, in October.

With many of the above players forming parts of World Cup-winning teams, in the case of Simmons, Bravo, and Gayle on multiple occasions, the team has an unrivaled amount of title-winning know-how.

Added to the firepower of a younger generation, led by the likes of the explosive Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, and Andre Fletcher the two-time World Champions could have the perfect ingredients for another powder keg.  With Gayle being the oldest members of the squad to face Sri Lanka, at 41, and Kevin Sinclair the youngest at 21, the average age of the squad is around 30.

“We’re excited to have certain individuals back.  We excited as well to have the younger players trying to get an opportunity as well.  I think the way to go forward is having that sort of mix,” Pollard told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“In the team, we have youth and experience.  The youthful guys can learn from the experienced guys.  These are some of the things that have been missing throughout, from 2016 till now, can we say we have put out our best T20 team to go to any series or anything like that.  There was always different things happening in the midst of it.”

West Indies star batsman, Chris Gayle, has admitted he contemplated retirement from international cricket but could not turn down the call to don the colours of the regional team once again.

Gayle, now 41, had initially announced his intention to retire following the 2019 ICC World Cup.  The player then targeted the One Day International series against India, shortly after the World Cup, as possibly his final hurrah.  Following a standing ovation received following the series, the batsman seemed to have a change of heart.

Two years later, however, the batsman has found himself in fine form and, on the back of an outstanding IPL campaign for Punjab Kings, could once again prove a major force for the West Indies with the ICC World T20 tournament on the horizon.  As such, the player was recalled to the T20 squad as the team begins a series of matches that will lead up to defending its title in India.

“Back then I thought about actually walking away from the game and people said, no, don’t do it, stay and play for as long as possible.  I decided I would actually continue playing the game of cricket,” Gayle told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“I wasn’t looking down this road.  I thought of playing franchise cricket and exploiting my talent to entertain the people as much as possible.  When I got the call and they asked if I was willing and interested, I said yes. Once I’m playing for the West Indies that’s where my heart is.  I’m never going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket,” he added.

“I decided I was full-on, I was actually in a tournament and they said ‘you know Chris this is the structure we have in place, so we need you to be a part of it, we need you to fit into what is basically set for the team, so I basically agreed to it.  I came back from Pakistan to be part of the set-up leading into the World Cup.”   

Joe Root says England must not be "scared" about batting on another sharply turning wicket and have no "scars" from back-to-back defeats as they eye a 2-2 Test series draw with India.

The tourists are out of contention to play New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final at Lord's after India responded to a crushing defeat in the first match of the series with two resounding wins.

England can ensure it will be Australia rather than Virat Kohli's side who face the Black Caps if they come out on top in Narendra Modi Stadium in a match that starts on Thursday.

Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have tormented the England batsmen in the previous two matches in Chennai and Ahmedabad, generating huge turn from day one.

England were beaten inside two days in the third Test after been skittled out for 112 and 81, with Kohli stating batsmen had not shown the skill required to contend with the conditions.

India captain Kohli also expressed his frustration over so much talk of the quality of the surfaces, but there have been no complaints from the England camp and Root knows they must raise their game.

The England captain, who gave nothing away over selection, said in a news conference on Wednesday: "I think the most important thing is that we learn all the lessons from the last two Test matches and make sure we're better for it.

"It's important that if we get ourselves in a similar position in the first innings, we really make that count and try and get some scoreboard pressure early on."

Asked about Kohli's comments on England's batting, he said: "I think that as batters, if you don't score runs you will always look at yourselves, you will always look at ways to try to improve and we've certainly done that.

"We've looked at a couple of dismissals, we've look at how we are going to find ways of building big partnerships and getting some significant scores if it is a similar surface, figuring out a game plan that suits each individual and in turn get those partnerships which we know is so important in Test cricket."

He added: "I think the most important thing is that as a batting group we are very clear about how we want to play, and we go into the game full of confidence.

"We have no scars from the last two Tests, and we play in a controlled, but fearless way. We shouldn't be scared about the surface in any sort of way or the guys bowling on it.

"It's very important we stay very calm, clear about how we want to score runs and trust both defence and when we want to score as well, trust those shots that make us the players we are."

Root revealed assistant coach Paul Collingwood and another member of the backroom team have been suffering from illness, but the players were not affected ahead of a Test for which Dom Bess is expected to be recalled.

India captain Virat Kohli has criticised the "narrative" around spinning pitches ahead of the fourth and final Test against England. 

The hosts hold a 2-1 lead in the series going into the match, having bounced back from a heavy opening defeat inspired by Joe Root's double century to record wins of their own in Chennai and Ahmedabad. 

During the latter two encounters, India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel found prodigious turn, with the third Test over inside two days as England were dismissed for 112 and 81. 

India's 145 all out was perhaps the most eyebrow raising score though, as Kohli's opposite number Root claimed 5-8 with his part-time off-spin. 

Nevertheless, Kohli insists the scrutiny given to playing surfaces that offer early assistance to spin bowlers is disproportionate when set against those where seamers enjoy an advantage. 

"I totally believe that there's always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks," he said. 

"Unfortunately, everyone sort of plays along with that narrative and keeps making it news. 

"If a Test match happens and we win on day four or day five, no one says anything. If a match finishes in two days everyone pounces on the same issue. 

"It has always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more. When the ball seams on a particular pitch and teams get bundled out for 40, 50 or 60, no one writes about the pitch. It's always about bad batting. 

"I think we need to be very honest with ourselves. What space are we talking from and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative? What purpose does it serve people who keep coming this conversation, which is quite one-sided?"

Bad batting was a huge part of the problem last time out according to Kohli. 

The teams reconvene at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday for a traditional red-ball Test, with questions also having been posed over how easy it was to pick the pink ball used in the day-nighter. 

"I don't understand why a cricket ball or a cricket pitch, all these things are brought into focus," Kohli countered. 

"Why don't we focus on the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough on that pitch to play properly. 

"It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams. I will continue to maintain that, because I've played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field. 

"It's not a change in ball colour. It's still round, it still weights five-and-a-half ounces. I don't know what difference it makes suddenly." 

If India avoid defeat, they will secure a place in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Lord's later this year. However, a victory for England would see their Ashes rivals Australia sneak into the inaugural showpiece.

The Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has delivered record value for the Caribbean during the 2020 season, with the tourist boards across the region receiving US$258million in media exposure.

Fantastic performances from Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell ensured Australia kept their T20I series against New Zealand alive with a comprehensive 64-run victory.

Trailing 2-0 in the five-match series after a nail-biting defeat last time out in Dunedin, Australia produced an impressive response in the third T20I.

Maxwell smashed 70 from 31 balls with captain Aaron Finch adding 69 as Australia posted 208-4 after losing the toss.

Agar took 6-30 as New Zealand slumped to 144 all out in reply, setting up an intriguing fourth match on Friday.

Spin bowler Agar is the first Australia player to record six wickets in a T20 match and only the fourth ever in international cricket.

Australia are looking to avoid a third consecutive T20I series defeat following losses to England and India, while the hosts are seeking a third straight triumph.

The clash on Wednesday went against that formbook, as well as the trend of this series so far, with Finch's 44-ball knock setting the tone.

After Matthew Wade (5) fell early, the skipper - who had not registered a fifty in his previous 26 innings - put on stands of 83 with Josh Philippe (43) and 64 with a rampant Maxwell.

Maxwell scored 62 of his 70 runs in boundaries, with eight fours and five sixes in a devastating display of hitting.

Kane Williamson opted to bowl despite Mitchell Santner being ruled out with a head cold, meaning he was self-isolating as precaution while waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

Ish Sodhi (2-32) was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, none of whom could stem the flow of runs.

Devon Conway and Martin Guptill had been the batting stars of the first two matches and it was they who briefly gave the hosts hope.

Guptill fired 43 from 27 balls with Conway adding a slightly more measured 38 from 27.

But their hopes of a successful run chase were effectively ended when Agar removed Glenn Phillips (13), Conway and Jimmy Neesham (0) in the space of five balls in the 13th over.

New Zealand – who had been in with a chance at 109-3 - collapsed from there and were all out after 17.1 overs.

In support of Agar, fast bowler Riley Meredith took 2-24, including the key wicket of home captain Williamson (9), as part of an impressive debut for Australia.

India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli's side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.

The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord's.

In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.

India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.

Root not thinking of Australia

Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.

"I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India," captain Joe Root told reporters.

"Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players."

 

Rahane: India planning to turn the screw

England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.

"The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track." the batsman said.

He added: "Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch."

England to save their Bess for last?

The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.

Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.

Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.

 

Key match facts

- India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.

- England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.

- Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.

- James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.

- Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, has pointed to the fact that the senior players recalled to the team have consistently proven their value with high-level performances, which has not always been the case with younger players who got the opportunity.

The recent recall of veteran players Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards, who are 41 and 39, respectively, caused consternation in some quarters.  Some argue the selection of such senior players may have taken opportunities away from younger players looking to secure places in the World Cup squad.

Pollard, however, insists that several players have been given an opportunity in recent years and have failed to consistently provide what the team has needed.  With the reigning World Champions currently ranked at 10th in the ICC rankings and the World Cup just a few months away, Pollard believes it’s time to prioritise winning games.

“Some of the guys have gotten opportunities when we started off in 2019, I believe, and it hasn’t produced the results that we might have wanted on a consistent basis.  Guys were still in and out for non-cricketing reasons and stuff like that,” Pollard told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“These guys (Gayle and Edwards) continue to perform despite their age and one thing that has been said throughout is that the door is open to each and every individual, once you show that you can perform at the highest level,” he added.

“We need to start winning cricket matches, we need to win series…so we have to strike a balance.  We are the defending champions of the T20 World Cup and we have to get into that winning habit.  If it’s the case that we have a couple of extra senior guys to start that process, so be it.”

 

 

 

West Indies and Jamaica batsman, Chris Gayle, has expressed concern regarding the state of cricket in his home country.

In its most recent campaign, the team crashed out of the Regional Super50 competition after being comprehensively beaten in the semi-finals by eventual champions Trinidad and Tobago.  The result ended yet another poor run of form in the competition, which the team has not won since the 2011-2012 season.  In fact, since that time Jamaica has only managed just one final appearance.

Jamaica’s poor form isn’t limited to just the Super50 competition.  In the regional four-day competition, despite having 12 titles, the team also not won since the 2011-2012 season.  Jamaica’s franchise has fared better in the shortest format, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 but even then has not won that competition since 2016 when Gayle himself played a crucial role in lifting the trophy.  For his part, the batsman does not believe the country has been making full use of its talent pool.

 “Jamaica cricket needs help.  We need help and there is a lot of talent there and we don’t really want to lose them.  We have lost a lot of talent in Jamaica already,” Gayle said.

“We need to try and keep the players happy and then we can try and rebuild Jamaica cricket as well,” he added.

“I will offer whatever (help) I can offer in terms of Jamaica cricket, but a lot of structure needs to be put in place.”

 

West Indies talismanic batsman, Chris Gayle, has stressed the massive importance of talented players like Shimron Hetmyer to the regional set-up and vowed to speak to the young batsman regarding staying focused on achieving his full potential.

The 24-year-old Hetmyer will miss the upcoming T20 and One Day International (ODI) matches against Sri Lanka after disqualifying himself from selection because of a failed fitness test.  The player, who recently took part in the Regional Super50 competition, will return to the team for the Test squad after subsequently passing another fitness test, along with Roston Chase.

Of concern, however, is the fact that Hetmyer also failed a fitness test administered at around the same time last year and a result missed out on some matches of an away series to the same opponents.

“It’s very unfortunate that he is out of the squad for fitness reasons but there is a protocol and things put in place.  It is beyond my control but it is up to him if he really wants to represent the West Indies and to really help West Indies cricket because he is such a talent,” Gayle told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Monday.

“West Indies cricket needs that type of talent, it’s just unfortunate and hopefully things work out and these guys take it seriously.  These guys are the future.  A guy like Hetmyer, with his talent, he is the future.  We need him, we definitely need his talent,” he added.

“We don’t want to lose such a talent, so if I see Hetmyer I will try and have a talk with him.  I’ve spoken to him before and I will do so if I get the chance again.”

 

 Shimron Hetmyer and Roston Chase are now available for selection to the West Indies teams after both players passed fitness tests during the past few days, Cricket West Indies Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams announced today.

“We had done a press conference very recently and we had explained that there were some players that had missed the minimum fitness standard for selection, two of those players have since met that standard, that’s Roston Chase and Shimron Hetmyer,” Adams said earlier today.

“They would now be available for selection for the next selection meeting around the Test matches coming up later in March.”

The players were among four that the West Indies selectors said were not named to the T20 and ODI squads to face Sri Lanka starting March 3 because they had failed fitness tests.

Hetmyer’s omission, especially, caused a bit of a stir regionally, considering that the news of his non-selection came against the backdrop of him scoring a century for the Guyana Jaguars in the semi-final of the CG Insurance Super50 semi-final against the Windward Islands Volcanoes last week Thursday.

During a press conference last Saturday, Adams, in response to questions regarding whether the selectors would consider overlooking Hetmyer’s fitness considering his current form, said that was not likely to happen.

 “The policy asks for a minimum standard in certain aspects of fitness testing.  So on the yo-yo intermittent test, that minimum standard is 40 and for a couple of years we have had selection tied to the achievement of that minimum standard,” Adams said.

“It’s pretty simple and all the players are aware of it.  Failure to get to 40 makes them unavailable for selection. So when the panel sits, the first thing that they will consider, before looking at the teams and the squads they want to put together, is who are the players that are available through achieving that minimum standard.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) President, Ricky Skerritt, has congratulated the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force on their outstanding performance in winning the CG Insurance Super50 Cup at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.

The Red Force romped to victory in last Saturday’s final by 152 runs over the Guyana Jaguars. They were the only unbeaten team in the competition winning all seven matches giving skipper Kieron Pollard the honour of lifting the CG Insurance Super50 Sir Clive Lloyd Trophy.

In the wake of the impressive showing, CWI President Ricky Skerritt sent congratulatory messages to the team and the president of the TTCB President Azim Bassarath.

“This was a remarkable show of force by Trinidad from start to finish,” Skerritt said.

“It was a total team effort and Red Force found a match-winner at every stage. The other five franchise teams, including losing finalist Guyana Jaguars, all worked hard and showed good fighting qualities to varying degrees. But The Red Force was more dominant and consistent than ever, and simply unstoppable.” 

The CWI president in a direct message to the TTCB boss said: “Congrats on a great tournament and final victory for TTCB and your team. This incredible performance should emphasize the vital importance of planning and preparation. I hope it has also reminded us why cricket administrators should not simply throw away senior players while these players still have such good value to their team and country. Successful cricket teams employ a healthy balance of youth and experience, just like your team did in winning this tournament.”

President Skerritt also thanked the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, local health and medical officials, the tournament officials and operators from the Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association, The Leeward Islands Cricket Board, and CWI and tournament sponsor CG Insurance who worked diligently to make the CG InsuranceSuper50 event such a huge success.

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced the signing of another major long-term broadcast rights agreement, this time with Sky New Zealand for the exclusive live coverage to all West Indies home matches played in the Caribbean.

The agreement covering both television and digital rights will mean that Sky New Zealand including its Sky Go mobile app and Sky Sport Now streaming app will offer live coverage and highlights of televised West Indies regional tournaments including the current and future editions of the CG Insurance Super50 Cup.

The agreement will feature next month’s visit of Sri Lanka for three CG Insurance T20Is, three CG Insurance ODIs and two Test matches. Later this year West Indies is expected to host South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. The postponed 2020 white ball series against New Zealand is likely to be rescheduled into 2022.

“CWI is pleased to announce that we will be doing business with another leading sports broadcaster, Sky New Zealand,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

“We are continuing to ensure an expanding worldwide coverage of the exciting West Indies brand of international and regional cricket.”

Johnny Grave, CEO of CWI, welcomed the new agreement.

“This landmark long-term agreement with Sky New Zealand will ensure West Indies matches and New Zealand tours of the West Indies can be watched live on TV and mobile devices. This partnership delivers on our strategy to deliver the best of West Indies cricket to fans all over the world,” he said.

Sophie Moloney, CEO Sky New Zealand said fans love to see the West Indies play.

“The West Indies have always delivered some of the most exciting and explosive cricket, appreciated by fans around the world. New Zealand cricket lovers are no exception, and we look forward to continuing our fantastic relationship on behalf of our customers,” she said.

This is CWI’s fourth new broadcast rights agreement announced in recent weeks, following announcements with ESPN+ for the United States; BT Sport for the United Kingdom and Ireland; and SuperSport for sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya.

 

Barbadian umpire Gregory Brathwaite is likely to stand in a Test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka later this month, media reports say.

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