Replying to New Zealand’s daunting score of  519 for 7, the West Indies began mounting a solid response by close of play on the second day of the first Test at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

Asked to face 26 testing overs at the end of the day, the West Indies reached 49 without loss. Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell on 20 and 22, respectively, will resume on Day 3 with the visitors still 470 runs behind a New Zealand total made possible by Kane Williamson’s imperious 251.

Resuming from his overnight score of 97 and New Zealand 243 for 2, the Black Caps captain’s marathon knock was the backbone of the home side’s massive total. Kane faced 412 deliveries in his almost 10 and a half hour stay at the crease.

Ross Taylor, who joined Williamson at the crease at 168 for 2, added seven runs to his overnight score of 31 before becoming Shannon Gabriel’s second victim when he edged to wicketkeeper Shamarh Brooks, who replaced an injured Shane Dowrich.

Williamson dominance of subsequent partnerships of 30 with Henry Nicholls (7); 72 with Tom Blundell (14) and 56 with Daryl Mitchell (9), emphasized his impact on the New Zealand’s innings. His was the last wicket New Zealand to fall when he was caught by Roston Chase at deep midwicket from an Alzarri Joseph after a 94-run seventh-wicket stand of 94 with Kyle Jamieson, who remained unbeaten on 51 when the declaration came.

Williamson’s 251 included 34 fours and two sixes.

Gabriel finished with 3 for 89, while Kemar Roach, who should have got Williamson’s wicket but for a no-ball, returned 3 for 114 from 30 overs. Joseph had figures of 1 for 99.

West Indies captain Jason Holder believes opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite could be on the verge of rediscovering his best form, ahead of the start of the series against New Zealand.

The 28-year-old had shown great promise alongside Shai Hope at the top of the order, scoring 134 and 95 when the West Indies successfully chased down 322 for a memorable win at Headingley in 2017.

Brathwaite then suffered a dip in form, averaging 25.33 in his last 20 Tests ahead of the England series this year.  His struggles included poor showings against India and Afghanistan.  The player did show a flicker of returning to form during the team’s last Test tour against England where he scored two half-centuries.  Brathwaite reached 65 in the first and got 75 in the second but, however, also had other innings scores of 4, 12, 1, and 19 to average 21.

The opener though, looked good in the team’s warm-up matches against New Zealand A, where he scored 246 in the second warm-up match.  The performance has encouraged the West Indies captain.

“It’s good to see our opening batsmen, including Kraigg, getting some scores.  I thought he shaped up really well in England, he good a few half-centuries, got a few starts and he’s starting to look like the Kraigg Brathwaite of old,” Holder told CWI media.

“He’s obviously been a banker for us over the years, he’s had a lean patch over the last couple of years but to see him coming back into stride the way he has.  I was remarking to one of the coaches that the innings I saw in Queenstown, the double hundred, was one of the most fluent innings I have seen from him.  It reminded me of a Test match innings he played in Hobart where he got 97 in the second innings that was one of the most fluent innings I’ve ever seen from Kraigg but this one was similar,” he added.

“For me, his balance looks really good and he is striking the ball really well.  So, let’s hope he can continue in that vein and get us off to some really good starts.”  

New Zealand ‘A’ were 45 without loss at stumps on day two of their warm-up match with the West Indies in Queenstown.

Kraigg Brathwaite completed a double-century on day two of their warm-up match against New Zealand ‘A’ at Queenstown as the West Indies went to lunch on 463 for 4.

At the break, Brathwaite was unbeaten on 235 and Shane Dowrich, 19. So far the pair have added 34 runs for the fifth wicket from nine overs.

Resuming from his overnight score of 183 and the West Indies 353 for 3, Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood, 19 overnight, pushed the score for 429 when the latter was bowled by Rachin Ravindra for 53.

Blackwood scored his runs from 82 balls in his 115-minute stay at the crease during which he hit four fours. Together the pair that came together at 322 for 3, put in 107 runs in 27.1 overs as the West Indies continued to build on their massive total.

Ravindra has taken 2 for 59 from 19 overs.

Kraigg Brathwaite produced an unbeaten hundred and Darren Bravo just missed out on his second of the tour as the West Indies compiled 353 for 3 against New Zealand ‘A’ on the opening day of the second warm-up match at the John Davies Oval in Queenstown on Thursday.

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realize 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. 

 

  1. A disappointing start for the Jamaica Reggae Boyz both on and off the field!

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz were poor in their first international match since the Covid-19 lockdown and it ended in a 3-0 loss to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, on Saturday. It is evident that off-the-field issues has seeped onto the field with the number of careless errors displayed in the match.

 Prior to the first friendly, Covid-19 infections within the Reggae Boyz delegation were a huge blow to the Theodore Whitmore-coached squad.  In addition to 30-year-old goalkeeper Dennis Taylor, who was travelling with the Reggae Boyz delegation testing positive for the virus while en route to Riyadh, another player and a member of the Jamaica Football Federation administration fell victim to the disease. In addition, two other players are under investigation with the JFF declining to name them.

The Reggae Boyz, who were on course to be the top team in the Caribbean, will need to get their act together very quickly as these matches could have influence their 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup showing set for July 10 to August 1, 2021.

Prior to this 3-0 loss, it had been eight months since they last played an international match. Despite their inactivity, they remained at number 48 in the FIFA world rankings, even displacing Costa Rica at number 3 on the CONCACAF list. 

The Reggae Boyz looked out of sorts due to their preparation being hampered by the coronavirus. Without a doubt, there are top individual performers within the Jamaican team. However, football is a team sport and the success of the squad lies in whether or not Coach Whitmore can get each player to combine well with his teammates. It is not too late for the Reggae Boyz but they have work to do!

 

 

  1. Paternity leave for professional athletes? A step in the right direction.

India’s captain Virat Kohli and his wife Anuskha Sharma are expecting their first child and Kohli has asked for and been granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said the 32-year-old middle order batsman has been cleared to leave the India setup after the first Test against Australia in Adelaide in December. Although the skipper’s presence will be missed on the field, Kohli’s decision to be with his family increases my respect for him as a person.

 

Australia’s Head Coach Justin Langer praised Kohli’s decision.

 

“Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields. I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision to return to India for the birth of his child,” Langer said.

“He’s human being like all of us. If I was giving advice to any of my players I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do.”

 Paternity leave for professional athletes should be legislated and normalized. Once the government can create a formula within reason that avoids abuse of the system, paternity leave can be an asset. It will allow fathers to be present for the birth of their children while simultaneously providing support for the child’s mother. In the long term, it can also play a key role in the quality of families that are raised.

Policies that ensure fathers have the support they need to prioritize their family responsibilities, while also meeting work demands, can significantly increase the personal and economic well-being of their families. Paternity leave can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace.

 

  1. A good call by Windies selectors to allow Kraigg Brathwaite to focus on his game.

 

West Indies Chief Selector Roger Harper said stripping Kraigg Brathwaite of the team’s vice captaincy will allow him to concentrate on improving his batting. Brathwaite was first appointed Test vice-captain in 2015 but has averaged 21 from his last 15 Tests heading into the England series. Roston Chase has been appointed vice captain.

This is a good move by those leading the charge as it allows the 27-year-old to simply buckle down and get to work.

The Barbadian has had his fair share of struggles. His last Test century came against Bangladesh in Kingston two years ago and since then his game has been inconsistent. Before the Test series against England in July, Brathwaite played 20 innings without making a Test 50. In that time, he only scored 233 runs at an average of 12.26.

 Earlier this year, he showed signs of improvement with half-centuries in the first Test against England when he scored 65, and in the second test with 75. Brathwaite, however, also had scores of 4, 12, 1 and 19.
 Like Roger Harper, I am hoping removing the additional responsibilty will allow Brathwaite to be more consistent.

 

 

 

 

 

Kraigg Brathwaite has been dropped as West Indies Test vice-captain in order for him to be able to concentrate on improving his batting, CWI chief of selectors Roger Harper has revealed.

Brathwaite was replaced as vice-captain by all-rounder Roston Chase and batsman Nicholas Pooran ahead of the start of the team’s tour of New Zealand.  The opener, who was first appointed the Test vice-captain in 2015, had averaged 21 from his last 15 Tests heading into the England series.

He did show signs of a promised recovery with half-centuries in the first Test, where he scored 65 and 75 in the second.  Brathwaite, however, also had scores of 4, 12, 1 and 19 to average 21.  According to Harper, the decision panel is hoping less responsibility will lead to more consistency from the player.

“We thought it important at this time to allow Kraigg Brathwaite, who has been the vice-captain for a while, to just pay a little more attention, to focus a little more on his batting,” Harper told members of the media from the team’s training base in New Zealand.

“He has not been in the best of form for a little while.  I think he began to get himself together on the England tour, we want him to build on this.  We thought the relieving of the responsibility would allow him to focus some more on his batting.”

 

While Rahkeem Cornwall went wicketless in his first outing of the #raisethebat Series at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday, his vice-captain thinks the big off-break bowler had a good outing.

Cornwall ended the first day of the third Test, with the West Indies and England locked 1-1, with figures of 0-71 from 21 overs, while England were 258-4.

England’s batsmen, except for an lbw shout looked comfortable against Cornwall’s spin and when Ollie Pope, 91, and Jos Buttler, 56, started coming down the wicket, Cornwall struggled to keep them back in their crease.

Despite the struggles which saw Cornwall go at 3.38 runs per over, the most expensive of the West Indies bowlers, Brathwaite still believed it was a good outing.

“I thought Rahkeem was good. The pitch spun a bit and I thought he controlled the runs,” said Brathwaite.

Cornwall was involved in something spectacular though, a one-handed grab at slip that came from the slashing blade of Rory Burns, 57, off the bowling of Roston Chase.

Chase only bowled eight overs but had more luck than Cornwall, bagging 1-24.

But according to Brathwaite, there is enough there for Cornwall to be hopeful about.

“He didn’t go for too many runs, which was good. It was unfortunate that he didn’t get a wicket but I thought he was decent,” said the West Indies vice-captain.

The best of the West Indies bowlers was kemar Roach, who ended the day with 2-56, while Shannon Gabriel, 0-47, and Jason Holder, 0-45, were not as penetrative as in previous Tests.

West Indies vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite has backed wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich to bounce back after a forgettable day behind the stumps.

The 28-year-old gloveman often failed to get things right to start the decisive Test, with a day characterised by fumbles and being wrong-footed.  The Windies managed some control, bar a late run from England, but Dowrich never really look at ease behind the wicket. 

In defense of his teammate, however, Brathwaite was adamant that things were not as easy as they looked and was confident the player would be much improved for the second day.

“He had a tough day but he’s a strong guy so I know he’ll be looking to bounce back,” Brathwaite told members of the media, via a Zoom Press Conference, in assessing the players performance.

“I’m looking for him to improve, it has to be up from here.  We just have to keep supporting him.  Obviously, the ball was swinging quite late so it wasn’t easy but tomorrow he will be better,” he added.

Dowrich has also had a difficult time with the bat for the series, with the exception of a solid 61 in the first innings of the first Test.  The player was dismissed, without scoring, in both innings of the second Test, which England won by 113 runs.

West Indies vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite points to the second morning of the third and decisive Test against England as being crucial after a partnership between Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler wrested their early advantage on Friday at Old Trafford.

England are in a good position, having ended the day on 258-4, a far cry from the 122-4 they were in when Buttler came to the crease.

Before that, Kemar Roach had removed second-Test century-maker, Dom Sibley, for a duck, trapping him leg before wicket in the first over of the day.

Then came the run out of Joe Root for 17, Roston Chase clipping the bales.

Ben Stokes and opener Rory Burns tried to fashion a recovery before the latter was pushed back with some short deliveries before being bowled by Roach for 20.

The West Indies were looking good with England at 92-3, and when Burns was caught brilliantly at slip by Rahkeem Cornwall off the bowling of Roston Chase for 57, the West Indies were in great shape with two new batsmen and England teetering at 122-4.

But that’s where it ended as Pope, 91, and Buttler, 56, saw out the day in relative comfort, their partnership now worth 136.  

“I thought we started very well. Obviously Buttler and Pope had a good partnership, they batted well and so we know we have some hard work come tomorrow,” said Brathwaite in a press conference following stumps.

While Pope and Buttler have rescued England from a precarious position, Brathwaite does not believe the game has gotten away from the West Indies and tomorrow brings a fresh opportunity.

“We had a plan and obviously to bowl first but it’s been a pretty even day and obviously good from the two at the crease but I think tomorrow we have to start well and look to limit them to as few as possible,” said Brathwaite.

While tomorrow’s morning session is important, Brathwaite says the West Indies won’t panic and will stick to their plans and be patient.

“We have to start well and by that I mean we don’t have to rush wickets. I think if we build pressure by bowling a lot of dot balls and no boundary balls, that will create pressure to bring wickets. We don’t have to rush it in the morning session, I believe once we keep it tight, the tightness will bring wickets,” he said.

The West Indies are in danger of losing the second Test in #raisethebat Series at Old Trafford, in Manchester.

At lunch on the final day, the West Indies have already lost their openers and Shai Hope with just 25 runs on the board but more importantly, still with 74 overs to face and 287 runs to get.

England only batted for 11 overs of the morning session as Ben Stokes went into limited-overs mode to help them push their lead to 311 before a declaration 11 overs into the day.

Stokes was unbeaten on 78 off 57 balls as England declared on 129-3, giving the hosts 85 overs to bowl out the West Indies and tie the three-match series at 1-1. They will have two new balls to get the victory.

Any result looks possible on the final day — as was the case in the first Test in Southampton last week, when the Windies won by four wickets after chasing down 200 for victory.

West Indies' aim will likely be survival, though, with the victory target of 312 unlikely.

Stokes smashed two sixes over long-off as the big-hitting allrounder and England captain Joe Root put on 53 runs in the first 43 balls of the morning before Root was run out for 22 — effectively sacrificing his own wicket to get Stokes back on strike.

Now alongside Ollie Pope (12 not out), Stokes still had time to slog Jason Holder down the ground for another six, pushing the lead past 300, before Root called them back in.

By then, England had made 92 runs off 66 balls.

The second new ball will be available for England after 80 overs.

John Campbell, 4, was the first to go, going caught behind off the bowling of Stuart Broad, while his opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite was trapped on the crease off the bowling of Chris Woakes for 12.

Shai Hope’s struggles with the bat have also continued as Broad got a delivery to nip back at him, taking the top of off stump, with the batsman hapless after his decision to play back to a fullish delivery.

Roston Chase, yest to score, and Shamarh Brooks, 2, are the batsmen at the crease.

Windies vice skipper, Kraigg Brathwaite, maintains fast bowler Kemar Roach has been unlucky not to etch his name in the wickets taken column so far in the England series.

Roach was the undisputed star of the series, with the ball, when the West Indies defeated England 2-1 in the Caribbean last year.  Figures of 5 for 17, 4 for 52, and 4 for 48 routinely found a place on the scorecard for the pace bowler.

So far, in the current England series, Roach has caused a few uncomfortable moments for the England batsman but is yet to secure any kind of breakthrough.  The bowler has nonetheless enjoyed good spells.  In the first innings of the first Test, despite not claiming a wicket, Roach conceded just 41 runs in 19 overs for an economy rate of 2.15.  In the second, he went for 50 off 22 overs, an economy rate of 2.27.  On both occasions, the bowler was second to only Windies captain Jason Holder, in terms of economy rate.

In the second Test so far, Roach has bowled 20 overs with 5 maidens, while conceding 38 runs.  Brathwaite, however, backs the player to make a breakthrough soon.

“I think in the areas he bowled he was just a little bit unlucky (to not get a wicket).  Once he keeps up that pressure, I’m sure he will get wickets tomorrow (Friday),” Brathwaite said.

West Indies vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite has been quick to dismiss assertions the team will have a significant advantage with three key bowlers missing from the England line-up.

Pace bowlers Jofra Archer, James Anderson, and Mark Wood are missing from the England team for the second Test, which could be seen to leave the hosts short on firepower.  While Anderson and Wood have been rested with a long summer of Test cricket ahead, Archer has been omitted after breaking the protocol by leaving the series’ bio-secure environment.

Even without the trio, however, Brathwaite believes England has plenty of bowling options to remain dangerous.

“I wouldn’t say we have an advantage, they still have plenty of world-class players.  There is still Broad, Curran, and Woakes, these guys do well, so it will still be challenging,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Thursday.

“I think it will be very challenging because they are all still world-class players,” he added.

In addition to the above-mentioned bowlers, England will also still have the service of all-rounder Ben Stokes with the ball.  Stokes claimed 6 wickets for England in the first Test, which ended in a four-wicket win for the West Indies.  Broad was omitted from the line-up for the first Test.

West Indies vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite insists the team will look to hit the ground running on Friday’s second day, of the second Test, after a long day's toil to start the first.

England will resume play in a strong position to post a big total, with a settled Dom Sibley (86) and Ben Stokes (59) at the heart of the team’s first day total of 207 for 3. 

On Thursday’s first day’s play, spinner Roston Chase secured a breakthrough for the Windies that had left England wobbly at 29 for 2.  Following the dismissal of returning England skipper Joe Root, (23), by Alzarri Joseph, Sibley and Stokes combined to frustrate the West Indies.

With the new ball available for the start of the second day, however, Brathwaite is confident the team can secure a much-needed breakthrough.

“Obviously we would have loved more wickets, but I think we kept in touch for the day, which was good for us.  We kept the pressure on.  Obviously, unfortunately, we did not take the few chances that we had, but tomorrow it is very important for us to start back strong,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference at the close of the day’s play.

Brathwaite believes keeping the England team at, or under, 350 would be a good target for the West Indies.

“It’s a good pitch and they batted well.  So tomorrow is key for us to start well, even if we don’t get wickets we have to be tight.”

West Indies vice-captain, Kraigg Brathwaite said his side would not panic despite a strong showing from England on the first day of their second Test in the #RaiseTheBat series at Old Trafford, Manchester on Thursday.

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