Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed to postpone the planned West Indies U19 tour of England, scheduled for August and September 2020 due to scheduling clashes.

Few could fail to be amazed by the flat-out, raw hitting power or the devastating ability to single-handedly change a game that Windies T20 star Andre Russell possesses, but as far as being the new Chris Gayle or Brian Lara, he’s not quite yet there.

Now, the point recently made by veteran West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is not lost.  After a solid performance against Sri Lanka with both bat and ball, which in the end delivered the team a comfortable win, Bravo sees Dre Russ as having picked up the mantle as the team’s go-to guy.  The role played to great effect by both Gayle and Lara for the regional team over multiple formats.

To some extent, Russell has, on occasion, delivered for the Windies.  And, if we were speaking about club T20 cricket where his many big-time performances have seen him stack up titles right around the globe, there could be little argument regarding the snap assessment. 

At the international level, however, Russell still trails behind the two greats in one important area; consistency.

Not that it wasn’t ever true about the two Windies stars against which he is being compared, but too often it seems that Russell has failed to measure exactly what is required in the instant of the game when he arrives at the crease. As a result, he is sent back to hutch, head hung, with helmet in hand soon after.

A quick look at the averages will show that Russell averages almost 12-runs fewer than Gayle’s average of 32.54 in T20 international cricket. Overall, in T20s he averages 26.95 to Gayle’s 38.20.

 Of course, each man bats at different times in a innings.

Gayle has far more time to settle in than Russell who comes further down the order.  Even so, one can’t help but suspect that better application could have meant a higher average. 

In T20Is Russell is yet to register a 100 or 50 in the format, while Gayle has two 100s and 13 half-centuries.  Almost 10 years Russell's senior, Gayle has played more international T20 cricket, but not a lot more. Nine more, in fact, 58 to Russell’s 49.  One would think that with a more consistent approach, Russell would at least have registered a few more half-centuries.

As far as potential goes, however, the talented Russell could easily have the big two looking over their shoulders in the next few years.

His wicket-taking ability, which ensures that he is also a key part of the team’s bowling attack, is an element neither Lara or Gayle would have had. 

Russell also has the ability to be very effective in the ODI format of the game, giving us a glimpse at last year's ICC Cricket World Cup before being hobbled by injury.  During the tournament the quickest batsman, in terms of balls faced, to score 1,000 runs in ODIs, facing only 767 deliveries.

All that points to the fact that the sky could be the limit for a fully fit, fully focused Russell but he certainly has to deliver on a more consistent basis to fall into the same category of two of the greatest to ever play the game, even as a go-to guy.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) decision to award the Regional first-class title to runaway leaders Barbados Pride in its aborted season is untidy, although widely accepted.

The Pride were dominant all season and I am quite sure they would have emerged champions in a completed 2019-20 campaign but the fact is their lead was not impregnable with two rounds remaining.

To declare the season annulled must have been a huge consideration, primarily because the championship was incomplete and an outcome contrary to the current standings was still possible, even if unlikely.

These unforeseen circumstances should now force the CWI’s competition organisers to include a section in the conditions covering an incomplete season.

With 134.8 points, the Pride were a massive 40.2 points ahead of nearest rivals T&T Red Force (94.6) after eight completed rounds with the dethroned champions Guyana Jaguars and the Jamaica Scorpions joint third on 91.8 points.

The maximum points on offer for any winning team for each round in the 10-game home and away format is 24 points, meaning the second-placed Red Force could have finished with 142.6 points after the 10 completed rounds, clearly ahead of where the Barbados Pride are now.

No one could have foreseen the dramatic turn of events in all our lives the COVID-19 Pandemic has triggered and massive decisions have had to be made.

The CWI Board of Directors “unanimously agreed” to award the Headley/Weekes Trophy to the Barbados Pride on the basis that a huge majority of the season (80%) had been completed and on projection and form it was reasonable to deduce that the Pride would have gone on to easily top the championship table. The Pride needed a mere 7.8 points from their remaining two games to secure the title and their performance curve was comfortably heading there.

Add to that, their fast-bowling battery poised to earn valuable pace-bowling points -- world-class Test bowlers Jason Holder and Kemar Roach plus Chemar Holder and Keon Harding, No.2 and No.7 respectively on the list of the championship’s most prolific wicket-takers.

The CWI would have also considered recent precedents in the issue. In New Zealand, the 26-point league-leaders Wellington Firebirds were declared winners of their National Plunket Shield with the last two rounds of the competition cancelled even though their lead was not unassailable.

New South Wales (NSW) were also given the Sheffield Shield title in Australia after the cancellation of the final also as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. NSW were declared champions after “leading the competition through nine rounds" Cricket Australia said in a statement.

The CWI’s decision to award the Pride their first title since back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014 had “no dissenting voices” in the Board room and I have, up to this point, heard not a single complaint about the unorthodox decision.

I am eagerly awaiting the 2019-20 English Premier League football conclusion. Big leaders Liverpool are 25 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City and need six more points to be mathematically sure of the title. The push is to have the season completed no matter what but should it happen that the season is incomplete, would they award Liverpool the title?

Boxing has some clearly defined rules regarding aborted bouts, if for instance injury – example an accidental head-butt -- terminates a world championship contest. A technical draw, a virtual no-result, if the bout is halted within the first five rounds (halfway stage) but if the bout is halted beyond the halfway stage, a winner is declared by a “technical decision” based on who is leading on the scorecards at the point of the stoppage.

There is room for a leader being awarded a victory in an aborted competition, but I am more accepting of it, if the pre-existing rules stated it.

This uncontested CWI decision to crown the Barbados Pride may have also been an example of stakeholders recognizing in these times of a sweeping worldwide pandemic taking tens of thousands of lives, that understanding and compassion are human virtues winning over fighting and quarreling, which I guess is good.

Congrats to the Barbados Pride though who are rewarded for being the undisputed best in the championship.

They stuttered in an opening-game loss to the Windward Islands Volcanoes but then reeled off five consecutive wins over the Jaguars, Scorpions and Leeward Islands Hurricanes before a revenge win in the sixth round over the Volcanoes, and, to accentuate their supremacy, lashed five-time defending champions Jaguars by a massive 235 runs to close out the shortened season.

 Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave has insisted the organization is doing all it can to keep the women’s senior and junior tournaments on the cards for this year.

Concerns arising from the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of the region’s Under-15 boys Championship and Under-15 tour of England set for later this year.  In addition, the domestic first-class championship was aborted two rounds early with table-topping Barbados declared the winner.

With the Women’s World Cup expected to bowl off early next year, Grave and CWI believe the tournament as a crucial part of the women’s team’s preparations.  Instead, the tournaments up for consideration, the Women’s Super50 Cup and inaugural Regional Under-19s Women’s T20 Championship will be pushed forward until later this year.

“They are very important tournaments, not just in terms of the preparation but in terms of the preparation for the selection of those respective squads as we look to compete in the World Cups of those events due to take place in the early part of 2021,” Grave said.

As expected, the official could not a date for the start but insists the CWI would be guided by the medical given to the association.

“Following the advice from our medical advisory committee, we’ve extended the suspension that we announced 10 days ago which was for an initial 30-day period.”

The United Kingdom’s problems with containing COVID-19 could mean England’s home series against the West Indies could be moved to the Caribbean where the threat has been markedly lower than Europe.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England Cricket Board (ECB) have been trying to find a work-around so as not to delay the start of the three-Test series set to begin on June 4 at the Kia Oval.

COVID-19 cases are expected to peak in the United Kingdom in June, making it almost a certainty that the start of the English domestic season will be delayed.

The Caribbean, if it continues to remain relatively COVID-19 free, could become third-party hosts for other series, reportedly offering to provide the venues for England’s home fixtures against Pakistan in July.

There is also the possibility that the tour of England could be put off until September, after the West Indies host New Zealand in three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals from July 8 to July 19 and after South Africa visit for two Tests and five T20Is scheduled for July 23-August 16.

A delay could also mean that the Hero Caribbean Premier League could be pushed back all the way until December.

Twenty local coaches are benefitting from a Cricket West Indies (CWI) Level 2 Coaching Course delivered with the assistance of tutors from University of the West Indies and the governing body’s recently appointed Coaching Education Manager – Chris Brabazon.

 The course that began on December 12 and concludes on December 16, is being delivered at Sabina Park and also incorporated the services of two CWI Cricket Specialists, Jamaicans Phillip Service and David Bernard Jr. Prior execution in Jamaica it was delivered in Barbados, Guyana and the Windward Islands.

 “This course is part of the CWI’s ‘cricket-first’ strategy which is aimed at improving the human capital in the which supports talent development at all levels. This coaching education focus is done for the foundation through to Level 3. We are building capacity in different areas so that we can develop quality players and winning teams,” said CWI Director and Jamaica Cricket Association President Wilford “Billy” Heaven.

 “The Cricket Education Manager will add to the process a focus on the methodology used by the coaches. The pedagogy of any subject is quite important. All our players don’t learn the same way and that is being taken into consideration.”

 Meanwhile, the CWI Cricket Education Manager Chris Barbazon believes that coaching in the region is trending in the right direction but the region is behind in this regard.

 “Other countries are more advanced in terms of their accreditation systems already being in place. Once the system is in place then more workshops and seminars can be done to build more on what is learned during a course. It allows for greater focus to be placed on getting coaches to the top levels over shorter periods than currently exist,” he said.

 “I’m enthused by the positive attitude of the coaches. The next step is to take a look at all the Level 2 coaches across the region and organize a Level 3 course over the next 8-12 months. Thereafter we will seek to strengthen the various cohorts and better the franchise coaches and so on.”.

 UWI Tutor Ryerson Bahgoo noted that Level 2 focuses on identifying a player’s strengths and weakness and with the intention to reinforce and strengthen. The Level 2 course uses a more cooperative approach to coaching through observation and implicit learning using cricket drills. Coaches who have successfully completed the level 2 certification may coach in senior clubs and secondary schools that play competitive cricket.

 

A Level 2 coaching course which begins on Thursday in Kingston, Jamaica signals the start of the tenure of Chris Brabazon as Coach Education Manager, a new role created as part of CWI’s strategy to strengthen and invest in the development of coaching talent within the region. Chris has immediately travelled to Jamaica to observe the delivery of the Level 2 course.

Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, welcomed Brabazon to CWI and highlighted the selection of Brabazon to the position.

“I am delighted to welcome Chris to the Caribbean where he will be taking up the role of CWI’s first full-time Coach Education Manager.  His appointment is a critical feature of our strategic plan to produce world-class players and winning teams through the development of West Indian coaches,” Adams said.

“Chris brings a wealth of experience having held a similar role of Coach Development Manager in Western Australia for the past six years.

“He has worked at every level of the Cricket Australia coaching development pathway, from grassroots to international level, and is well-placed to drive CWI’s objective of developing our coach education programs.  I have no doubt that Chris will play a significant role in advancing our regional game and am very excited to be working with him on improving coaching standards throughout the Caribbean.”

Speaking on his appointment, Brabazon was delighted to join the legacy of West Indies Cricket.

“I am incredibly excited to join the team at CWI. In particular, I am looking forward to meeting and working with the coaches and coach developers throughout the Caribbean to ensure that all local players have access to inspirational learning environments that fosters their love of cricket.”

Brabazon holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Business Administration, with over twelve (12) years’ experience specifically in cricket. He has functioned in coaching and talent development, as well as cricket management and accounting in his native Australia.

A truly professional approach from all stakeholders will be required to make the West Indies a force in world cricket once more, says newly head coach Phil Simmons.

President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Mr Ricky Skerritt has been appointed a member of the newly formed International Cricket Council (ICC) Governance Working Group, set out to consider the future governance structure of the ICC.

The appointment was made by ICC Chairman Mr Shashank Manohar during the recent ICC Annual Conference in Dubai. The working group will be chaired by Earl Eddings from Cricket

 Australia, and will comprise Greg Barclay (New Zealand Cricket), Tony Brian (Cricket Scotland), Ehsan Mani (Pakistan Cricket Board), Chris Nenzani (Cricket South Africa) and Ricky Skerritt (Cricket West Indies).

Skerritt is also a member of the ICC Human Resource and Development Committees.

Following the successful completion of the CWI selection system review, which was a key election campaign of the “Cricket First” 10-point initiative, the other two major reviews promised by the Skerritt-Shallow administration are, like the ICC, a review of the CWI governance structure and system, and an upgrade of the professional franchise system.

“Commissioning the CWI governance review task force, led by Jamaican senator and Grace Kennedy CEO, Don Wehby was as one of the first actions we took after being elected,” said Skerritt.

“Mr Wehby and his team have been hard at work ever since and I expect to begin hearing from them over the next few weeks.”

Skerritt said serving as a member of this ICC group also gives him the opportunity to learn and share ideas at the highest level of world cricket administration and bring back to the Caribbean some best practices in our governance reform quest.

 

Former West Indies batsman Gus Logie has been named the Interim Head Coach of the West Indies Women’s Team. Cricket West Indies has also appointed a new team manager.

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