West Indies captain Jason Holder has been confirmed to be among 12 players that have declined to take part in the upcoming tour of Bangladesh due to health concerns.

Joining Holder in making themselves unavailable for the tour are vice-captain Roston Chase, T20 captain Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich will be unavailable because of personal reasons.

The CWI Covid-19 policy allows any player the opportunity to decline selection because of health or safety fears, without the decision affecting their consideration for future selection.

The tour is set for January 10 to February 11.  It was only approved after recommendation by the CWI’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), who received a detailed report from a pre-tour visit of Bangladesh by CWI Director and Member of the CWI and ICC MAC, Dr Mansingh, and Security Manager, Paul Slowe.

It seems the precautionary measures were not enough to assuage the fears of the majority of the squad.  With 510,080 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,479 deaths, Bangladesh is one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.  The country has, however, been hosting cricket tournaments under heavy quarantine restrictions.

The West Indies were one of the first teams to resume playing international cricket when they travelled to England in July.  The team then went to New Zealand for a series earlier this month. 

Former West Indies pace bowler Franklyn Rose believes the development of the regional team has been hampered by a ‘chop and change’ mentality with batsman Shai Hope being just the most recent victim.

The decision to drop the 27-year-old Hope, after his recent monumental struggles, has divided public opinion.  While some believe the player could benefit from time away from the team to address potential confidence and technical issues, others believe the batsman would best be served staying within the system, even if he remains outside of the first team.

Rose, for his part, believes with the team currently in rebuilding mode, nothing will be gained from the talented player being pushed out of the squad at this point.

“They’re rebuilding, how are you going to get rid of the guy (Hope) when you are rebuilding.  He’s one of the brightest talents,” Rose told the Mason and Guest radio program.

 “West Indies cricket is rebuilding.  You cannot chop and change while rebuilding.  Shai Hope, one of the best talents in the Caribbean, you just drop him like that.  I would have brought him on tour, got him to play a few of the practice games.  Even if he doesn’t get to play Test matches.  What cricket is he going to play now to get back his confidence?”

Barbados wicketkeeper-batsman Jamal Smith has labeled out-of-favour West Indies batsman Shai Hope as ‘technically flawed,’  and insists he was never convinced by the player’s Test cricket batting strength, despite heroics in England three years ago.

The 27-year-old was recently dropped from the West Indies squad for the tour of New Zealand, after a nightmare run of form had seen the player averaging 19.48 since December 2017 and just 14.45 since February 2019.

 On the England tour, the scene of his triumph three years ago, Hope averaged below 18 in a 2-1 defeat against England.  Overall, his Test cricket average has slipped to around 26.27.

“He never suggested to me, even with the games where he scored those two wonderful 100s, as far as the red ball is concerned that he is a force to be reckoned with,” the former Combined Campuses and Colleges player turned analyst told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“If I remember correctly, Shai Hope took a long time before he started to score runs in our regional first-class competition and do well…I think we are always looking for heroes.  Certainly, when Shai Hope is on the go, you’d pay your money for two cover drives, but at the end of the day Shai Hope has never suggested permanence at the top,” he added.

“It’s something that at Test level, I keep stressing on his strike rate. He bats about 80 to 90 balls and gets out somewhere between the 15s to 20s.  That suggests more to me, rather than him just having to adjust his mindset, that he is technically flawed.”

Smith believes the break from the team will provide the player with an opportunity to address some of those issues.

West Indies legend Clive Lloyd does not believe discarded batsman Shai Hope should be playing T20 cricket as the sport's shortest format ruins his game.

After a barren run of form, which has led to the player averaging 19.48 since December 2017 and just 14.45 since February 2019, Hope was dropped from the team ahead of the upcoming tour of New Zealand.  Not surprisingly, since his struggles in a 2-1 defeat against England, a place where he made headlines three years ago, saw his overall Test average slip to 26.27.

The 26-year-old is one of a few players to represent the regional team in all three formats.  He has not had these struggles in One Day Internationals where he averages 52.20 from 78 games.  In T20s, however, he averages 21.63 in 13 matches with a strike rate of 136.

It is his involvement in the later that the former West Indies skipper believes could be a problem.

“I don’t think this T20 is for Shai Hope, he gets into bad habits,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I know that you don’t want to take away money from people, but the point is that he should not be playing in T20s, it is destroying his cricket,” he added.

Lloyd also believes the player should have been possibly included in some kind of A-team for the tour, instead of being left out of the squad entirely.

“If we had A-teams and A-team tours, young Shai Hope should have had a stint with the A-team to build his confidence back as England did with Nasser Hussain and (Mark) Ramprakash."

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 

1.Barca losing- the new normal?

 Real Madrid were emphatic 3-1 winners in the first El Clasico of the season and last of the decade.  A combination of factors accounted for Barcelona’s humiliating loss: dependence on single players, coach Ronald Koeman’s team selection coated in off field issues seeping onto the field.

  It is no secret that Barca has depended on Messi to lift the team. When Messi is having a good season, Barca does well. He is the club's top goal scorer, top assist provider and, among his 34 trophies with the Catalan club, he boasts four Champions Leagues, 10 La Liga and six Copa del Rey wins. The statistics speak for themselves.

Messi has now gone six consecutive games in El Clasico without scoring and it is a cause of concern. In the last 20 minutes of Saturday’s match, the 33-year-old disappeared. This disappearance can be attributed to his age as well as the mismanagement of the player. Messi should have played less minutes in the Champions league match earlier in the week and been allowed to play the full match against Real Madrid. Despite his previous superhuman performances, the Argentine is human, and it is natural for him to feel tired too.

The team has been transitioning with the new coach and integration of younger players. The club is aware Messi has a few years left in him and is now shifting the dependence, attention, and pressure on the youngster Ansu Fati. The 17-year-old became the youngest scorer in El Clasico history after scoring the equalizing goal against Real Madrid on Saturday.

 

  It is now up to Barca, if they mould Fati properly and do not become too dependent on him which can do more damage than good.  The Spanish player has notched four goals in the league and one in the Champions League, making him the club's top scorer so far. He took up the number 9 position in the Clasico and was his side's most dangerous asset against Real Madrid.

     After Saturday’s loss fingers are being pointed at Coach Ronald Koeman. Did he get his substitutions wrong? Was Barca too attacking? Is Antoine Griezmann being underutilized?  The reaction when Real Madrid scored the second goal was too slow. There were no tactical changes and the first substitution-  a triple substitution- came in the 81st minute.

Fati made way for Griezmann, Pedri for Francisco Trincao and Sergio Busquets for Ousmane Dembele. Five minutes later, Jordi Alba, who was clearly tired after returning from an injury which had kept him out for three weeks, was replaced by Martin Braithwaite.

 

  Barca is now 12th place in the points table but have played two games fewer than most of the other teams. To add insult to injury, the team confirmed on Sunday that the Brazilian Philippe Coutinho is set to miss Wednesday’s Juventus clash in the Champions League due to a hamstring injury he suffered on Saturday. It is unclear how long he will be out. He has played  five La Liga matches and one Champions League scoring one goal in each competition. 

 

What is clear is Barcelona’s play has not improved from last season, a campaign which ended without a trophy.

 

  1. Shai Hope’s comeback starts with self-responsibility!

 

          Barbadian Shai Hope’s exclusion from the Windies Test squad set to tour New Zealand from November 27th has attracted criticism. However, there comes a time where one must accept that one cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.  As CWI Chief selector Roger Harper said, sometimes by continuing to select a player you do more harm to them than good. It was time for the 26-year-old to step away and come back stronger. 

Without a doubt, Hope has been one of the outstanding batsmen in One Day Internationals, but in Test cricket, he has struggled. Since December 2017, his Test average is 19.48 and since February 2019, 14.45.

In the recent series defeat to England he averaged below 18. 

I cannot help but note that Shai Hope’s problem is not in the technical aspect of the game.  This is evident in his ODI performances as in his 78 matches he has an average of 52.20 with a high score if 170. Among these ODI performances he has nine hundreds and 17 fifties.

His bounce back in Test cricket has to begin with him taking responsibility for what has been affecting his Test form. When a batsman is in the middle, he must be able to think for himself. Despite everything taught by a coach, application is up to the player. It is now left up to the Barbadian to go back to the basics of his game and execute them to the best of his ability.

The West Indies selectors’ decision to omit Shai Hope from the tour to New Zealand is not detrimental to the player. He must now take full responsibility for the revival of his own game.

Former West Indies opening batsman, Philo Wallace, is confident the selection panel has made the right decision to omit struggling batsman Shai Hope from the WI squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand.

The 26-year-old has long been touted as one of the region’s brightest prospects but has struggled mightily at the crease in recent years.  A quick look at the player’s statistics makes for jarring reading.  Hope has averaged 19.48 since December 2017 and just 14.45 since February 2019.  In the 2-1 defeat against England, he averaged below 18.  Such dismal form has seen his 34 Test average slip to 26.27.

Even so, the debate has raged on over the player’s continued inclusion in the team, with plenty of ferocity on either side.  His proponents will point to performances like Headingley when he steered West Indies to a famous win over England in August 2017.

“He’s a great talent but Shai Hope needs to go back to the drawing board.  What the selection panel has done is correct,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He has struggled for three years in Test match cricket.  He looked out of sorts in England and he deserves to be in Barbados working on his game,” he added.

“The lead selector said that the coach has identified a program for Shai Hope.  We don’t know who will be working with him, but in Barbados, they have lots of good coaches…when we see Shai Hope again playing red-ball cricket, his physique should be different, his mentality should be different and obviously, his ability to bat and bat long should be back above even where he left off.”

West Indies lead selector Roger Harper said West Indies head coach Phil Simmons and coaches in Barbados are to design a programme that they hope will help Shai Hope rediscover his form and live up to his potential.

Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard are to captain West Indies Test and T20 teams, respectively, while Shai Hope has been dropped for the upcoming tour of New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis have declined invitations to the T20 squad that has been selected for the tour.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced a short while ago, the two squads for the proposed tour of New Zealand which will feature three T20 Internationals and two Test matches from November 27 to December 15.

Details of the tour were ratified by CWI’s Board of Directors during a teleconference on Thursday. The Board agreed to the tour in principle, subject to final details on medical and logistical protocols of CWI, New Zealand Cricket and Government of New Zealand.

Left-handed batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer have been recalled to the Test team, as well as all-rounder Keemo Paul. Bravo’s highest Test score of 218 came at the University Oval in Dunedin in 2013.

“The return of Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul will bolster the team, I expect that Darren will solidify the top-order, hopefully making it more productive, while Shimron gives the squad more options in the middle-order and it is another opportunity for him to show how good a player he is.  Keemo provides another wicket taking seam option,” said Chief Selector Roger Harper.

“The Test team has an opportunity to put into practice the learnings from the tour of England earlier this year.  The team has good all-round depth and I expect them be very competitive. New Zealand is a very good team especially in New Zealand, so we need to be on the top of our game.”

A group of reserves will also travel to help prepare the Test squad during the quarantine period and training camp as well as cover for injuries.

Meanwhile, Andre Fletcher, the experienced wicket-keeper/batsman has been named in the T20I squad for the first time since 2018. There is also a maiden call-up in this format for Kyle Mayers, the all-rounder, who performed well in last month’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

“Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell are two very experienced T20 players who performed very well on the last tour of Sri Lanka and their absence will surely be noted.  However, Andre Fletcher has another opportunity to show us what he can do and what he brings to the table,” Harper said.

“The T20I Team is now getting back into the groove after a nine-month absence from international competition. Fortunately, a number of players have been involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and before that the CPL, so they have had some competitive cricket leading up to this tour. The structure of the tour with the COVID-19 quarantine period, does not give the team any real opportunity for match practice as a team but there are a number of experienced players in the team so, hopefully, they can adapt quickly. 

“In the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup, every T20I series is an important opportunity to fine tune the team, to get our personnel, our compositions and combinations right. For our players to become more attuned to their roles and the team to have a greater understanding of what works best in each situation. So, this is a very important series for us from that perspective and also in an effort to improve our rankings.”

The T20Is will be the start of an 11-month schedule of matches building up to the ICC T20 World Cup, rescheduled for October 2021 in India. The proposed schedule for this tour of New Zealand has the defending T20 World Cup champions starting at Eden Park in Auckland under lights.

The CWI Selection Panel indicated that this upcoming series will form part of the overall planning towards defending the ICC World T20 title. The panel outlined that they will continue to monitor closely the progress of spin bowler Sunil Narine and all other players in the lead-up to the global event.

 Test Squad:

Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Chemar Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul and Kemar Roach.

 Test Reserves:

Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua DaSilva, Preston McSween, Shayne Moseley, Raymon Reifer, and Jayden Seales.

 T20 International Squad:

Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, and Kesrick Williams.

Former West Indies and Barbados batsman Philo Wallace has pointed to team captain Jason Holder’s lack of aggressive killer instinct as one of the issues that ailed the regional team in its recent loss to England.

The 28-year-old all-rounder has faced expected scrutiny in recent days, following a mid-series collapse against the Englishmen, which clouded over a promising start to the series. 

Holder had marshaled his troops to an impressive four-wicket win to begin the tour but the introduction of pace bowler Stuart Broad midway the second Test coincided with the team coming apart at the seams, with displays of less effective bowling and dismal batting.  Wallace believes a more aggressive stance from the typically laid-back captain would have been more beneficial.

“Jason handled the side well in the first Test match.  We won that match convincingly.  If you look at the second and third match and how he handled it, again, we see deficiencies in his aggression.  I don’t think he’s aggressive enough,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I don’t think he’s aggressive enough.  When Ben Stokes decided to come around the wicket we saw things change.  We didn’t see a lot of aggression from our captain and that’s why bowlers did not show the aggression,” he added.

Wallace was also highly critical of Holder’s continuing support for a struggling Shai Hope during the series.

“Obviously, when Jason decided to continually defend Hope, it's a massive statement to defend a man who hasn’t scored runs in Test match cricket for a long time.  Yet, you have the extra batsman available to you and you did not play him,” Wallace said.

“You went down the road with Shai Hope and Shai Hope did not deliver for you, so that is a massive responsibility for a captain to take on board,” he added.

“Sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves about West Indies cricket.  If West Indies cricket is to move forward, sometimes you have to make some harsh decisions.  You have to drop your friend to bring in the man who will fight and perform for you.  You cannot pick a friend and keep getting beat.”  

 

West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose believes the team should consider removing Shai Hope from the line-up against England, for his own good, after a brutal run of form has severely limited the player’s impact in the ongoing series.

Hope was among the few standout players when the team played England in the 2017 series.  In fact, his two finely crafted 100s played a critical role in the team turning the tables on England for a shock victory in the second Test at Headingly.

To say Hope has struggled since then, however, could only be construed as a massive understatement.  He has averaged below 25 in 21 Tests, with no hundreds and managed scores of 16, 9, 25 and 7 in the first two Tests against England.  With the final and decisive Test on the horizon, Ambrose believes some time out of the spotlight could be good for the 26-year-old, and that on the flip side, repeated failure could permanently damage the player.

"Something has gone terribly wrong for him since those two centuries at Headingley - he hasn't done anything really in Test cricket since then," said Ambrose recently told Sky Sports.

"He is a much better player than what he is showing at the moment and is obviously very low on confidence,” he added.

"Maybe in the next game we should rest him so he can regain some confidence. If you keep playing him and he keeps failing it will only get worse. You are going to destroy him if it continues like that.”

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted there are some long conversations to be had about the composition of the team’s top order, ahead of the third and final Test against England.

Heading into the series, concerns had been raised about how the team’s top order would fare against an experienced England bowling attack.  So far, they have not proven to be unfounded.  With the exception of Brathwaite, the top team’s top three has failed to fire so far. 

John Campbell and Shai Hope have only managed to muster high scores of 28 and 25, respectively, so far this series, and failed to make it to double digits in two of four innings.  Though offering no confirmation, Simmons admitted it could be time for some changes.

“It’s something that we have to look at over the next couple days and decide which direction we go then,” Simmons told members of the media, via a Zoom press conference.

“They haven’t fired so we have to consider it (changes) over the next couple days,” he added.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons can no longer ignore the top-order batting of Shai Hope, who has failed to come off with the bat in four innings of the #raisethebat Series for the Wisden Trophy, currently ongoing in England.

Hope had scores of 16 and nine in the first Test the West Indies won by four wickets in Southampton before scoring 25 and seven in a 113-run defeat in Manchester.

Hope, since scoring back-to-back hundreds against England in 2017, has only managed to get past 50 on four occasions, even as he faced the music 39 times.

“I am concerned. He has now gone some four innings without a score and in contrast to how he played over the last four months, five, six months in the other formats, I am concerned about his form and we will be sitting down and chatting about that,” said Simmons.

The coach, who was speaking in a press conference after the West Indies defeat by England in the second Test at Old Trafford, was referencing Hope’s phenomenal year with the bat as an ODI player.

In Hope’s last 10 ODI innings, he has scored three centuries, and three half-centuries, including 115, 51 and 72 in his last three innings against Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Simmons has said it was too early to decide on whether or not Hope would be dropped for the third Test or if another role in the batting line-up would suit him more.

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.

On the eve of the second #Raisethebat Test match between the West Indies and England and Old Trafford on Thursday, West Indies Jason Holder is backing Shai Hope to eventually come good with the bat.

On the eve of the West Indies historic bio-secure Test series against England, I thought it interesting to take a look back at the last time the Caribbean outfit had any good days in England.

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