Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave has insisted the board will look to continue its objective of spreading the sport across regional venues.

Insularity and some amount of bias have often been charges leveled at those who select which grounds will be picked to host international cricket on various West Indies tours.  International grounds in bigger countries have often been given the nod but Graves insists it might not be the case in the future.

“The highest crowds we experienced in this series was in Grenada.  Grenada didn’t have cricket between 2015 and 2019 and I think it is important we spread cricket around our international grounds,” Graves said.

“I think we need to do far more as an organization to promote and market to make sure all the cricket fans and even the non-cricket fans know that the West Indies team is coming to their country to play,” he added.

“I hope everyone understands that policy and we do our best to spread cricket around the region.”

With the exception of Barbados the West Indies' first tour of the new year, against Ireland, was played in Grenada and St Kitts.  The New Zealand New Zealand tour in July will be hosted in Antigua, Dominica, and Guyana, with Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Jamaica.

Finn Russell will not feature in Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland after being sent home for disciplinary reasons.

Scottish Rugby announced on Thursday that Racing 92 fly-half Russell has been released from Gregor Townsend's squad for a breach of team protocol.

Scotland will have to do without Russell at the Aviva Stadium a week on Saturday and it remains to be seen if he will play any part in the tournament.

A Scotland team spokesperson said: “Stand-off Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland, having been disciplined for a breach of team protocol during the week's camp in Edinburgh.

"He has returned to his club."

Russell last year revealed he had a disagreement with head coach Townsend after a dramatic 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham.

"I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time]," Russell told ITV after the game.

"I said to him, 'You're telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they're just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back'.

"Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby."

The 27-year-old played at Glasgow Warriors from 2012 to 2018 before landing his move to France.

Captain Johnny Sexton and wing Jordan Larmour are expected to be fit for Ireland's opening game of the Six Nations against Scotland.

Sexton has not featured since early last month due to a knee injury but hopes to play a full part in training on Thursday.

The fly-half is optimistic he will be ready to lead his country when they take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium a week on Saturday, having been named as skipper for the tournament by new head coach Andy Farrell.

"Everything's been going to plan, so hopefully I'll take a full part in training tomorrow," said Sexton. 

"I've had no setbacks, once everything goes smoothly in training I'll be available for selection. I think everyone wants to be captain, it's an honour that I was asked to do it. 

"Obviously it's a campaign by campaign thing at the moment [being skipper], so we'll see how it goes over the next eight weeks."

Larmour damaged his foot in Leinster's European Champions Cup victory over Benetton last weekend, but Farrell is hopeful the flyer will be available for the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

Farrell said: "We met up yesterday and had a bit of a walk-through so he was able to partake in that. We'll take it day by day, it's not serious but we'll see how it goes.

"Obviously there're some new guys who are going to freshen things up, but it's not just about that, it's a matter of picking people in form."

Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey has been called up to Ireland's squad for the Six Nations.

Initially omitted from Andy Farrell's 35-man panel, McCloskey was added to the group ahead of a training camp in Portugal.

His inclusion comes after Chris Farrell missed Munster's Champions Cup win over Ospreys, the centre ruled out because of a knee injury.

"Stu has been playing well over the past few weeks," Andy Farrell said.

"Centre is a very competitive area in the squad and with a few backs picking up small niggles at the weekend, Stu is the form back who will now be added to the group to give us some extra options."

Lendl Simmons' unbeaten 91 guided West Indies to a crushing nine-wicket win against Ireland as their Twenty20 series finished level at 1-1 on Sunday.

Rain briefly threatened to scupper the third and final match just as it had the second and Ireland will have wished for a greater downpour after being comprehensively outplayed at Warner Park in Basseterre.

The tourists collapsed from 50-1 to 138 all out following a 45-minute delay as Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo snared three wickets apiece.

Simmons ensured the Windies made light work of the chase, hitting five fours and 10 sixes in a blistering 40-ball innings that surpassed his previous best T20I score of 82.

Evin Lewis added 46 from 25 deliveries in an opening stand worth 133 to help dash Ireland's chances of escaping with a series victory.

Simi Singh claimed Lewis courtesy of a top edge before Simmons ended the contest two balls later, the 34-year-old launching another six at the end of the 11th over to force a drawn series.

Rain wreaked havoc as the second Twenty20 international between West Indies and Ireland was washed out in Basseterre on Saturday.

No result was declared after the game was called off approaching 22:00 local time – Ireland boasting a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.

Career-best figures from captain Kieron Pollard helped restrict Ireland to 147-9 from 19 overs, with a rain delay leading to a reduction in overs.

Confidence was high in the Ireland camp after their memorable four-run triumph in the opening T20I in Grenada.

But Pollard claimed 4-25 from four overs – the 10th best performance for the Windies in T20I history, dismissing Gareth Delany (44), skipper Andy Balbirnie (36), Gary Wilson (5) and George Dockrell (2).

Sheldon Cottrell (2-10) and Romario Shepherd (1-38) also chopped in with wickets for the Windies.

West Indies managed to start their run chase and they reached 16-1 after Lendl Simmons (10) fell victim to Paul Stirling (1-11) before the rain set in for good.

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie insists the team is looking to create history with a T20 series win over the Windies, after taking a 1-nil lead in the three-match series on Wednesday.

On the back of 94 from Paul Sterling and 48 from Kevin O’Brien, the Irish posted a competitive 208 for 7 before restricting the Windies to 204 for 7. Along the way, the Irish, who lost their first wicket with 154 runs on the board, set the highest total ever in the powerplay. 

The win served as a tonic of sorts for the visitors who were defeated 3-0 by the Windies in the recent One Day International series between the teams. 

“It’s great to get a win but you want to win the series and make history, so if we can do that in the next two games we’ll go home very happy,” Balbirnie said.

 “We came so close in that second ODI and it may have affected us in the third ODI.  So, to come out here and show the bottle and win against one of the top teams in T20 cricket was great for the team.”

The Windies and Ireland will face off in the second T20I on Saturday at Warner Park.

 

 

 

 

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard has heaped praise on recently returned all-rounder Dwyane Bravo, despite the player experiencing mixed fortunes in a rare T20 international loss against Ireland in Grenada on Tuesday. 

The 36-year-old, who has been out of competitive action at the highest level for several months, got off to a rocky start when he entered the bowling attack in the 5th over.  The bowler conceded 17 runs but recovered to end with 2 for 28, in the end playing a pivotal role in restricting Ireland to 208 for 7.

At one point, on the back of 94 from Paul Sterling and 48 from Kevin O’Brien, the Irish, who set the record for the highest power play score in T20 cricket, seemed set for a much bigger score.

“I thought he was fantastic.  After going for 17 or 18 in his first over a lot of chatter would have been about what’s going on with Bravo, he’s back and he’s expensive but it goes to show the importance of experience in T20 cricket.  You don’t lose a game in an over and he came back to get two crucial wickets,” Pollard said following the match.

Bravo accounted for the wickets of O’Brien, where he got the crucial breakthrough, and later removed Garth Delany.  Pollard also commended spinner Hayden Walsh.

“Hayden Walsh in all the carnage that was taking place as well, he bowled two overs on a trot and he was consistent with his line and length.”

 

 

 

Paul Stirling's blistering 95 set up a thrilling four-run triumph for Ireland in the opening T20I against West Indies in Grenada.

Stirling clattered eight sixes and six fours in a 47-ball knock, putting on 154 alongside Kevin O'Brien (48) for the opening wicket – meaning the tourists' eventual haul of 208-7 was relatively disappointing.

Evin Lewis was the only Windies batsman to pass fifty but muscular contributions from Shimron Hetmyer (28), Kieron Pollard (31), Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford (both 26) took the contest to the wire.

Rutherford and Dwayne Bravo – making his first international appearance since 2016 - fell to impressive left-arm seamer Josh Little (3-29) in the final over as Ireland bounced back from defeat in the recent ODI series to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber.

Their success was built upon the best powerplay score in T20I history as the openers stood on 83 without loss after six overs, Stirling having brought up his half century from 20 deliveries with his fifth six.

They duly brought up three figures in the next over but, after leg-spinner Hayden Walsh and Pollard took pace off the ball to slightly check the scoring rate, veteran all-rounder Bravo bowled O'Brien with a fine yorker that ducked in late.

Sterling mistimed a slog sweep off Walsh to be caught by Lewis five shy of a deserved century and Ireland never truly regained momentum.

Gareth Delany was their next highest scorer with 19, producing the shot of the innings with a glorious six over extra cover from Kesrick Williams, who returned a woeful 0-48 from three overs as Bravo, Khary Pierre and Sheldon Cottrell took two wickets apiece.

West Indies were unable to find a contribution of similar substance to Stirling's at the top of the innings after George Dockrell pouched a stunning catch at deep point to remove Lendl Simmons for 22, with Little the beneficiary.

Lewis stormed to a sixth T20I fifty and was typically strong square of the wicket until he hit Craig Young to a scampering Harry Tector on 53.

Hetmyer looked in the mood with three towering sixes, only for an embattled Dockrell (1-51) to have him caught by captain Andy Balbirnie.

Pollard took up the mantle and kept his side up with the rate, although Dockrell continued to enjoy himself far more in the field and held on when the Windies skipper sent Simi Singh skyward.

The pattern continued with Pooran, who pulled Young (2-31) to Delany for 26 after the 18th over from Barry McCarthy (0-55) cost a damaging 27.

Rutherford found Dockrell's unerring hands at wide long-on before Bravo – sensing a picture-book return – also went six and out as Little and further flawless catching in the deep saw Ireland home, the Windies finishing just short on 204-7.

Johnny Sexton will be Ireland's captain under Andy Farrell, who has named five uncapped players in his first squad for the Six Nations.

Ex-defence coach Farrell replaced Joe Schmidt as head coach after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, when Ireland suffered a quarter-final exit at the hands of New Zealand.

Skipper Rory Best retired after that tournament and Farrell has opted to name 88-cap fly-half Sexton as his replacement for the leadership role.

Ulster duo Billy Burns and Tom O'Toole, along with Leinster trio Max Deegan, Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher are the uncapped players in Ireland's squad, which also includes Devin Toner after his World Cup omission.

Those not to make the cut include Rob Kearney, Jordi Murphy and Jack Carty, as well as the injured Joey Carbery.

"We have appointed Johnny as captain for the Six Nations Championship, you can see what it means to him and the enthusiasm he will bring to the role," Farrell said on the Irish Rugby Union's website.

"He has been developing as a leader for a number of years with Ireland, Leinster and the [British and Irish] Lions and he will be a positive voice for the group."

Ireland finished third in the 2019 Six Nations after being beaten by England and eventual winners Wales.

Farrell's first game in charge will come in their Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 1, with Sexton a doubt to play due to a knee injury he sustained last month.

 

Ireland squad: Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Heffernan, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jack O'Donoghue, Peter O'Mahony, Tom O'Toole, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier; Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Billy Burns, Ross Byrne, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard seemed to make good on his promise to take ‘tough decisions’ after being dissatisfied with the team’s performance in the second ODI against Ireland.

Top-order batsman Shimron Hetmyer was dropped from the team’s line-up for the third One Day International (ODI) against Ireland, on the back of what has been general frustration with the looseness of his stroke play in the first two matches of the series.

On Sunday, however, the skipper seemed to make it clear the move was just a temporary one with Hetmyer expected to return to the team’s line-up later this week.  In the two ODI games played, Hetmyer made 14 runs and was caught on both occasions after questionable shots.

“We spoke about working hard and the discipline and what is required for the team.  He is a very important player for us and it is a discussion that we had.  We need him to settle down and bat the way that we know he can bat.  In India he did it very well for us,” Pollard said following the match.

“These things happen, it just goes to show the dynamics of the team we have, Sunil coming in and getting that opportunity as well.  We want guys to be very, very hungry because there are other guys knocking on the door so we can’t relax and take anything for granted,” he added.

“At the end of the day, all is well that ends well.  He is a jovial guy.  He has helped out throughout the day and we look forward to him making runs in the T20 series.”

Evin Lewis scored a century as West Indies swept the ODI series with Ireland 3-0 by securing a five-wicket Duckworth-Lewis-Stern victory.

The Windies already had the series wrapped up going into Sunday's finale in Grenada, and they were again dominant in St George's.

Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie led by example with 71 while Andy McBrine gave the innings late impetus with an unbeaten 25.

However, the tourists were bowled out for 203 as leg-spinner Hayden Walsh (4-36) and Oshane Thomas (3-41) starred with the ball for the Windies.

That target proved well within the reach of the Windies in a rain-affected chase, which saw them pursue a revised target of 197 from 47 overs.

Lewis, who struck 99 in the opening game, was the talisman once more as he hit six fours and five maximums in a superb 97-ball knock, scoring his first international century in the Windies.

Nicholas Pooran added an unbeaten 43, with the Windies surpassing the target with 64 balls to spare. Attention now turns to a three-match T20I series, which begins at the same venue on Wednesday.

All-rounder Dwayne Bravo was called up for the T20s on Sunday after coming out of international retirement.

Windies top-order batsman Evin Lewis has cautioned that he is hungry for runs after what was in many respects an underwhelming performance in 2019.

The 28-year-old batsman went the entire season without scoring a century after eight appearances, despite getting over the half-century mark on three occasions.  In fact, the last time Lewis did make it to triple figures was in 2017.  On Sunday, in the third and final ODI against Ireland, he ensured that the trend would not continue after scoring 102 in a comfortable win and series sweep over the tourist.  

The left-hander had come close to a ton once again but failed to convert to triple figures in the first ODI eventually being stuck on 99 not.  Now with 306 runs in three matches under his belt to start the season, which earned him man-of-the-series honours, Lewis is looking forward to a good year.

“I’ve been working hard in the nets with the batting coach.  I’ve been trying to open up a little more and hit the ball straight down the ground and it has been working so far,” Lewis said following the match.

“To be honest with you I have been hungry for runs.  My last ODI century was in 2017, so this year I’m very determined and I just want to make the best of it,” he added.

“Sometimes when I score 50 I get a little ultra-aggressive.  It was a great opportunity to put my head down and bat.  We weren’t behind in the game, we were in control most of the time.  Going forward I just want to continue batting like that.”

West Indies claimed an ODI series win over Ireland after a thrilling one-wicket victory in Bridgetown on Thursday.

In an extraordinary finish at Kensington Oval, the Windies went past their target of 238 with one ball remaining in the second ODI.

Sheldon Cottrell hit a six off the second last ball of the innings to give the hosts a 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

But Ireland were left to lament what could have been after an incredible finish to the contest.

Paul Stirling (63) had guided Ireland to 237-9 after they elected to bat first, with Alzarri Joseph (4-32) again starring for the Windies.

Rain delays impacted the Windies' chase as Nicholas Pooran (52) and Kieron Pollard (40) looked to have them on track for victory.

Hayden Walsh made an unbeaten 46, but it still took a nervy finish for the hosts to get over the line.

Ireland almost found a decisive run out off the third ball of the final over, but replays were inconclusive as to whether Mark Adair broke the stumps with the ball or his hands with Cottrell well short of his ground.

They should have sealed victory off the next ball after a mix up between Walsh and Cottrell but, with both batsmen almost stranded at one end, the latter recovered after Adair was unable to cleanly take a throw.

That would be Ireland's last chance as Cottrell smashed a six over covers off the next ball to clinch victory.

The final game of the series is at St George's on Saturday.

Ireland fly-half Joey Carbery has been ruled out of the Six Nations due to a wrist injury.

The Munster number 10 did the damage during a 38-17 Pro14 defeat to Ulster last week and will be out for up to four months.

Carbery was making his first start of the season after recovering from an ankle injury, but now faces a lengthy absence.

RTE quote Munster head coach Johann van Graan as saying: "That's rugby, I'm gutted for Joey as an individual.

"He worked hard to get back into the position, he played the full 80 for the first time for quite a while and now he is out for a considerable amount of time.

"That's rugby, that's life. He'll be back, he's a class man and a brilliant rugby player.

"He'll come back stronger, take his time and I can't wait to have him back in the future."

Carbery posted on Instagram: "Devastation doesn't even describe how I'm feeling. Thanks for all the well wishes. Been a tough couple of months physically and mentally, and thought I was in the clear. But will be back soon, better than ever."

Ireland's first-choice fly-half Johnny Sexton is also out of action with a knee problem and is reportedly unlikely to feature before Ireland's Six Nations opener against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on February 1.

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