West Indies batting legend, Brian Lara sees quite a bit of talent in the Windies squads currently hunting for a resurgence in world cricket but there is still work to be done.

Lara, speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, for instance, believes talented 23-year-old Shimron Hetmyer has personal issues like his fitness that he needs to deal with before he is quite ready to take the world by storm.

“People have challenges in different ways and Hetmyer, obviously, is a very talented cricketer, someone who plays all forms of the game for the West Indies. If he is unfit, he has to see it as a personal challenge. Fitness levels are so very important. So if fitness is his problem, I would like to see him face that challenge himself, and he’ll be a much better cricketer,” said Lara.

Lara though, has much more immediate hopes for others in the West Indies squad like Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran and Alzarri Joseph.

According to the former Windies captain, Pooran understands his role in the team, while the West Indies can find Hope’s stability useful, even in the T20 form of the game, while Joseph is a gamechanger with his ability to take wickets.

“I like Nicholas Pooran, he’s settling down and understanding his responsibilities more now. Shai Hope could play a part in the T20 World Cup, being that solid guy with a great technique that can hold the innings together. Those are the three players I’m really looking forward to seeing. Alzarri Joseph is someone who I look at and say ‘this guy has got potential, he’s a wicket-taker’. He is someone who I’d like to see do well,” said Lara.

Lara, as he has said before, believes the team can learn much from the example of Virat Kohli.

Kohli, he said, has worked hard on his fitness and that, Lara explained, is the perfect lead for Hetmyer to follow.

Guyanese prodigy, Shimron Hetmyer, has earned a recall to the West Indies squad scheduled to play against Sri Lanka in two Twenty20 Internationals on March 4 and six after the completion of the current One-Day International between the teams.

Hetmyer and Evin Lewis were spectacularly dropped after an announcement they had both failed fitness tests Cricket West Indies selectors had implemented as a requirement for selection.

There is still no recall for Lewis, who had, not long before, overcome poor form in typically destructive fashion.

The squad also includes a recall for Andre Russell and Oshane Thomas.

Allrounder Russell, 31,  hasn't played for the Caribbean side since pulling up short midway through the 50-over World Cup in June 2019. However, he has taken part in other matches, most notably in the Bangladesh Premier League in December and January

Russell is a two-time ICC T20 World Cup winner, having played a crucial role in the triumphs back in 2012 in Sri Lanka and 2016 in India. He has successfully completed the Cricket West Indies (CWI) return-to-play assessment programme under the supervision of CWI Medical Team in his native Jamaica. He has so far played 47 T20Is for the West Indies.

Fast bowler Thomas, who turned 23 earlier this week, is selected after making a full recovery from a car accident in Jamaica recently. Additionally, wicket-keeper/batsman Shai Hope has been included alongside left-arm spinner Fabian Allen.

Commenting on the squad, CWI lead selector Roger Harper said: “Shimron Hetmyer missed out on selection for the ODI squad. He has since attained the required fitness level, becoming available for selection and has been included.

"Andre Russell is back in the squad, having been cleared by the medical panel and successfully completing CWI’s return-to-play protocol. Andre will add potency to every department of the team. Oshane Thomas appears to be focused and raring to go. He will add pace and penetration to the bowling unit.”

Harper added: “Shai Hope provides an opening option and cover as a back-up wicket-keeper also. Fabian Allen returns from the injury he sustained in the series against Afghanistan late last year. He will provide a spin-bowling option as well as adding depth to the batting group.”

Looking ahead to the T20I matches, Harper outlined that he will have one eye on the ICC T20 World Cup to be played in Australia later this year. West Indies are the defending champions and the only team to lift the trophy twice.

“I look forward to the team building on its recent performances and winning the T20 series in Sri Lanka. This is another opportunity for the team to build on its strengths and identify areas that need improvement while continuing the process of building up with the aim of peaking for the T20 World Cup in October,” said Harper.

The two T20Is will be played at the Pallakele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.

West Indies and Sri Lanka are now contesting a three-match ODI series. Sri Lanka won the first match today by a wicket in Colombo.

The second match is in Hambantota on Wednesday.

 

West Indies T20I squad

Kieron Pollard (capt), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.

 

IN: Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Fabian Allen, Shai Hope.

 

OUT: Evin Lewis, Khary Pierre, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd.

Guyana Jaguars captain Leon Johnson found a slice of form to steady his side’s batting, after Keron Cottoy and Shane Shillingford hit half-centuries to beef up the Windward Islands Volcanoes first innings total at St. George's, Grenada.

Johnson was 65 not out and shared two successive, significant stands to prop up his side’s batting as the Jaguars closed on 145 for 3 after they had stumbled to 25 for two.

He added 74 for the third wicket with West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer, who got 32, and has added 46 – unbroken – with Christopher Barnwell, not out on 28.

Earlier, Cottoy made 56 and Shillingford hit 53 to give proof that there was a sting in the Volcanoes’ tail after they resumed from their overnight total of 212 for six.

Cottoy and Shillingford became the second and third batsmen to score half-centuries in the Volcanoes’ innings after their captain Kavem Hodge scored 53 on an opening day.

After Cottoy fell to left-arm pacer Raymon Reifer, Shillingford added 57 for the eighth wicket with Shermon Lewis to further frustrate the Jaguars.

But Shillingford was one of three wickets – two to Test left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul – that fell for 23 in 42 balls to bring the innings to a close at 318.

Permaul ended with 4-59 from 33.5 overs and West Indies leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo finished with 3-73 from 20 overs for the Jaguars.

It is normal for players who are not turning out for the West Indies to return to their franchises when a regional competition is on, but that did not happen yesterday with Shimron Hetmyer and the Guyana Jaguars who began their contest with the Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park.

Hetmyer had been dropped by the Windies ahead of an away series against Bangladesh after failing a fitness test and was expected to take his place with the Jaguars on Thursday.

However, according to the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), Hetmyer did not follow the protocol associated with contracted players not on West Indies duties ahead of the game.

“Players who are not on West Indies duties but are contracted to the West Indies are supposed to report to their franchise,” GCB Secretary Anand Sanasie was reported as saying.

“Since returning from West Indies duties he has not reported to the franchise for training … which automatically makes him unavailable,” said Sanasie.

Hetmyer and Windies opener Evin Lewis fell afoul of Windies’ fitness requirements but the team’s chief selector, Roger Harper, had said the Guyanese left-hander was well on his way to getting himself together.

With that in mind, Cricket West Indies had said Hetmyer and Lewis would have been retested in another two weeks.

Next week the Jaguars will go to Grenada where they take on the Windward Islands Volcanoes and Sanasie believes whenever Hetmyer makes himself available, he will be [art of the team.

“We wish him well. Once he has made himself available he would be selected to play for the franchise,” said Sanasie.

CWI chief executive refutes claims players omission was no conspiracy and players have known rules for two years.

Discarded West Indies batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis could rejoin the West Indies squad in a couple weeks’ time if they are able to achieve the required fitness standards when re-tests are administered.

Hetmyer and Lewis were dropped from the regional team ahead of the upcoming One Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka, after failing to meet the minimum fitness standard required.

The Windies will play three matches against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club, the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota and the Pallakele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy. The ODIs will be followed by two T20 Internationals in Kandy.

According to CWI chief executive Johnny Grave, the duo could return in time for the T20 series if they manage to pass upcoming re-tests.

“In the case of Hetmyer he has been extremely fit and bought into the fitness standards but for whatever reason, the test came back well below the minimum standard, but we expect him to be re-tested in two weeks.  Hopefully, he’ll pass the test and be available for selection,” Grave told the SportsMax Zone.

“The squad that we have announced is for the three one day internationals against Sri Lanka.  There are two T20 internationals after those and that squad hasn’t been selected.  Hopefully, the players will re-take those tests and pass them and be available for selection.”

West Indies Cricket chief executive Johnny Grave maintains the regional sport’s governing body takes very little pleasure in excluding players from the squad for fitness reasons but insists the standards are well known and accepted.

Controversy struck earlier this week after promising batsmen Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer were left out of the regional team, ahead of its series against Sri Lanka after both failed a fitness test.  The opener Lewis’ omission came as even more of a surprise in the circumstances, considering the fact that he was the team’s best player in the recently concluded series against Ireland.

“We’ve made it clear to the players for three years now.  The last thing we want to do is to be fining any players.  The last thing we want to be doing is to be downgrading a player’s contract.  The last thing we want to do is to not have any of our players available for selection,” Grave told the SportsMax Zone.

“At the same time if we have really to make a difference in driving a new fitness culture in our cricket and professionalizing all elements of cricket in the West Indies, we have to have minimum standards, accountability for those standards and consequences if players don’t adhere to those standards,” he added.

According to the official over the last two years, CWI has been forced to fine players significant sums of money and significantly reduced salaries.

Both players failed to meet the minimum standard but are expected to be re-tested in a few weeks.

  

 

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.”

Windies coach Phil Simmons is standing firmly behind the comments of his captain, Kieron Pollard and demanding that his young charges play a ‘complete’ game of cricket against Ireland when the final ODI of their Colonial Medical Insurance series bowls off on Sunday.

“I think the message is for us to play a complete game and not just bowl well, or bat well, or field well and finish the series 3-0, because 3-0 is always better than 2-1.

The West Indies took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series on Thursday when they inched over the line in a one-wicket victory at Kensington Oval. At the same venue, the West Indies had shown chinks in their armour in a more dominant display, running out five-wicket winners on that occasion.

Alzarri Joseph had earned man-of-the-match honours in both games, bagging 4-37 and 4-32 to keep the West Indies’ targets relatively low.

“I’m happy with Alzarri, not just on the pitch but the way he prepares, the way he talks about cricket and about bowling. He seems to be maturing very quickly and it showed in the two games and the way he bowled,” said Simmons regarding those two performances.

Despite the good bowling of the West Indies, the batting has left much to be desired with only Evin Lewis, 99 not out, and Nicholas Pooran, 52, showing a real willingness to bat deep into an innings.

“That’s the crux of the matter here. We need to finish well and play a properly constructed, complete, 100 overs,” said Simmons.

Pollard had been a little more caustic, saying the West Indies top order needed to stop wasting good form with poor approaches to batting.

“We can’t continue to just give away our hand just like that when you have form and confidence because it will come back to bite you,” said Pollard, who seemed to be wagging his finger at the talented Shimron Hetmyer.

Hetmyer had lost his wicket for six, having faced just six deliveries before firing an injudicious pull shot that landed safely in the gloves of Irish wicketkeeper, Lorcan Tucker.

“The batsmen need to go back to what we were doing in India and how we were putting scores together, creating a platform for the big hitters down the bottom. We need to make sure that we do that in this coming game,” said Simmons.

Prime minister of Grenada and outspoken CARICOM official Dr Keith Mitchell believes the use of promising Windies talents over multiple formats could prove a hindrance in their future development.

Currently, the likes of Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, and Shai Hope, who lead a group of the next generation of talented Windies players, play both the 50 over and T20 formats or all three.  The practice is not at all uncommon as the evolution of the sport has offered different advantages to players taking part in multiple formats.  Particularly the lucrative T20 format, which offers major cash incentives.

Mitchell, however, believes that different temperaments and various styles needed to be successful in the different formats could prove damaging to young players still honing their craft.

"We have some talented players, the Poorans and Hetmyers and so on. I’m not sure that the right thing is to play these young people in all formats of the game at this point in time,” Mitchell explained in a recent interview.

“You have talent in Pooran and Hetmyer – these guys on the 50-over and on the Test team, we’d be moulding these guys. But when a guy gets used to sixes and sixes and hitting the ball in the air in the 20-over game which they must do, I think the mindset if they’re not well-developed yet … you can be spoiling a talent that is there for the [longest] version of the game and the 50-over game,” he added.

“That’s my opinion; I might be wrong … but in watching it from the sidelines, I think it is something [CWI] and selectors must look at – do you need to play these young players in all versions of the game? I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do.”

For the moment, West Indies batsman Shai Hope can count himself as one of the top ten batsmen in One-Day International Cricket after scoring heavily against India in a just-concluded three-match series in that country.

Hope will end the year as the number nine batsman in the world, jumping five places on the ICC ODI Player Rankings after scoring 222 runs in those three matches at an average of 111.

Hope opened up in Chennai, helping the West Indies to a 1-0 series lead with an unbeaten 102, before he made things interesting despite losing efforts from the West Indies.

Hope would go on to score 72 in Visakhapatnam, and 42 in Cuttack to end the year with four centuries in 2019 and a healthy average of over 60, above his lifetime average of 52. The ODI top-order batsman now has eight centuries and became the quickest West Indian batsman to reach 3000 runs in the format. Only Hashim Amla has gotten to 3000 runs faster.

Hope lies ahead of all West Indies ODI batsmen, even Shimron Hetmyer, who has also seen improvement in his ICC ODI ranking. Hetmyer now lies at 19 in the world, while Nicholas Pooran, another player from West Indies’ young and exciting middle-order, now stands at 30th in the world, up from 63 after scoring 193 runs at an average of 96.50.

Hetmyer scored 180 runs at an average of 60.

West Indies middle-order batsman, Shimron Hetmyer, while happy for a second chance at the Indian Premier League, isn’t focusing on the lucrative, high-profile show, in which his price tag suggests he needs to play a starring role.

Hetmyer was discarded by the Royal Challengers Bangalore after just one season but scored a brilliant century in the first One-Day International against India, as well as a few attractive-looking cameos in T20 Internationals against the same team, inclusive of his first half-century.

The left-hander went for US1.1 million to the Capitals at the IPL draft but wasn’t paying any attention to it, choosing instead to focus on the final game his Windies side have against India on Sunday.

The teams go into that third ODI locked at a game apiece.

“I wasn’t really looking too far ahead about it (auction). Really and truly I was just thinking all about the West Indies,” he said.

Hetmyer believes it is what has happened while playing with the Windies that makes him an attractive sell in the IPL and he doesn’t want to quickly forget that.

“They have brought me [here] and made me the person I am today so all thanks to the West Indies for just giving me the chance to represent [them]. I just do my thing and it’s all for the team,” he said.

West Indies players Sheldon Cottrell and Shimron Hetmyer were both sold for over US$1million at the 2020 IPL draft in India on Thursday.

West Indies white-ball cricket captain, Kieron Pollard is not paying attention to the difference in ranking between his side and India who are currently locked at a win apiece in their three-match T20i series.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran, by all accounts, is a very talented player, who could do great things on the international scene, and his 38 not out to help his side to an 8-wicket win over India in the second T20 between the two in Thiruvanthapuram on Sunday is evidence of that fact.

According to Pooran though, his talent isn’t enough to help him do well for the West Indies or even keep his place, and that he has to work hard.

“I work very hard and happy it's finally paid off. I believe in my processes and glad it's coming off,” said Pooran, who came to the crease with the West Indies on 112-2 in chase of India’s 170 in the 14th over.

Six overs later it was all over, as Pooran took over from Lendl Simmons, who scored a classy 67 from 45 deliveries, slamming four boundaries and two sixes in 18 balls to take the West Indies to 173-2

That type of innings, Pooran said, was not difficult, because the hard work has already been done.

“Cricket's all about having fun. I've put in a lot of hard work, so now is time for having fun,” he said.

Pooran explained after the game that places in the middle order of the West Indies side comes at a premium with the type of talent that lies in it but that was good for the team.

“There's a bit of competition in the middle order, but we all want to do good, that's all,” he said.

Earlier Evin Lewis had scored 40 and Shimron Hetmyer, 23, in a bid to chase down India’s 170, which they were restricted to thanks to Hayden Walsh Jr’s 2-28 and Kesrick Williams’ 2-30.

Those bowling figures, along with the start from Lewis and Simmons, meant there was no pressure for Pooran.

“To be honest, we had no pressure. Tried not to panic, tried to build partnerships.”

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