Roger Harper, Cricket West Indies’ Chief Selector has expressed concern over the productivity of opening partnerships for the West Indies but laments the fact that no one is really knocking at the door to be selected.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite has had a welcome return to form with two Test half-centuries and a century in his last four Test matches but fellow opener John Campbell has not been inspiring much confidence with his performances.

The Jamaican has scores of 3, 23, 36, 18, 42, 11, 5, and 10 in his last four Tests. His last half-century, 68, was made in the second Test against New Zealand in December last year.

As a result, solid opening partnerships for the Caribbean side have been rare and this is a worry for Harper.

 “I think it has been a concern for a while. It was pleasing to see the captain get some big scores, but we need the partnership, on the whole, to be solid,” Harper said this past week on Mason and Guest.

But while Campbell has been struggling for form, Harper acknowledges that the batsman has been working hard to correct his flaws, like the ones that saw him get out in similar fashion in all four innings in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

 “We were delighted to see Campbell applying himself and being more patient, but we need some more positive returns,” he said.

There are several players who could come in to bolster the batting but recent history does not offer much hope for success. Players like Shai Hope and Shayne Moseley are potential replacements; Hope especially who has shown a welcome return to form in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but Test cricket is a different prospect for a player who has struggled in that format of the game.

Moseley, who has shown promise, is yet to demonstrate that he is ready after several failures.

“It is something we are looking at. We are looking at our best options. At the moment, from a red ball perspective, we don’t have enough openers who are knocking down the door in terms of performances,” he concluded.

 

Discarded West Indies players Shai Hope and Roston Chase will have to fight their way back into the Test team, after not being selected for the matches against Sri Lanka.

Hope, widely agreed to be one of the region’s most talented batsmen, was dropped from the team after a poor run of form in November of last year.  Chase, the consistent all-rounder, at the same time replaced Kraigg Brathwaite as vice-captain ahead of the New Zealand series.

Both players were called to the team ahead of the Bangladesh series but were among 12 players to decline due to health and safety concerns. 

Hope has since returned to the ODI squad, where he looked to be in strong form.  Chase, who initially missed out on the minimum fitness requirement ahead of the series, put on a strong display in the warm-up tour matches.  Both players remain on the sideline, so far.  For now, according to Simmons, however, the current players are doing well enough to keep their places.

“The guys who played in the Test matches have done well, so we need to continue to back the guys who have done well in the last three Test matches,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“The way I look at it is the guys did well.  The guys went to Bangladesh, each one of the batsmen did well.  They earned their places.  So, it is a case where they continue to play and play well,” he added.

“Roston, Shai, those other players will have to fight their way back in, and that just how cricket goes.”

Shai Hope hit a brilliant unbeaten half-century to follow up Roston Chase’s four-wicket haul as Cricket West Indies’ President’s XI dominated Sri Lanka on Wednesday’s first day of a two-day tour match.

After bowling out the visitors for just 172 just after tea, the President’s XI reached the close on 103-1 with Hope unbeaten on a stroke-filled 60 off just 72 balls.

Hope was the embodiment of class as he played several stunning shots, the two best of which went for sixes. The first was a nonchalant flick over deep square leg and the second a slog sweep smacked with great authority, which cleared wide long-on by some distance. He has also hit ten fours so far. Left-hander Darren Bravo ended the day on a solid 30 not out off 69 balls and has so far put on 94 for the second wicket with Hope.

Chase had earlier picked up 4-12 as Sri Lanka collapsed from 137-5 to lose their last five wickets for 35 runs in quick time. Oshada Fernando top-scored with 47, Dinesh Chandimal struck 40 while Pathum Nissanka made 23.

From the outset, Sri Lanka were never allowed to settle, as fast bowler Anderson Phillip snatched 3-47 and seamer Kemar Roach, 2-41, to cause problems early in the innings. Roach removed both openers in successive overs. He got left-hander Lahiru Thirimanne to play around a full-length delivery and gained a leg-before decision in the day’s third over.

He then had captain Dimuth Karunaratne (2) caught at first slip by Kyle Mayers, after Chase at second slip parried the initial offering. There were also four catches for wicket-keeper Jahmar Hamilton, who demonstrated excellent glovework behind the stumps.

 

 

A century from Darren Bravo and half-centuries from Shai Hope and Kieron Pollard led the West Indies to a five-wicket win with nine balls to spare, and a sweep of Sri Lanka in the CG Insurance ODI series that concluded at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua today.

Man of the Match Bravo scored 102 and shared in two crucial partnerships - a 109-run third-wicket partnership with Hope, who made 64, and a fourth-wicket partnership with Pollard that set up the West Indies for a third consecutive victory. The captain remained unbeaten on 53 at the end.

Chasing 275, after Sri Lanka made 274 for 6, their best score of the series, the West Indies had their worse start of the series. After stands of 143 and 192, respectively, in the first two matches, Evin Lewis and Hope managed only 24 runs on this occasion.

Lewis, who has been in ominous form with scores of 65 and 103 in the two previous matches, was bowled by Suranga Lakmal for 13 at the end of the fifth over. The West Indies crawled to 39 for 1 in the 10th over when Jason Mohammed was bowled by Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, who was getting his first wicket of the ODI series.

His dismissal brought Hope and Bravo together for the first of the two instrumental partnerships of the West Indies innings. However, after keeping the scoreboard ticking over at close to five runs an over, the pair got bogged down by the tight bowling. By the start of the 32nd over the pair had taken the score to 148 when Hope got out trying to slog Thisara Perera first ball only be caught by Suranga Lakmal running in from long-on.

Hope had made 64, his third consecutive score of 50 or more in the series and on the sixth consecutive occasion overall. Nicholas Pooran came intending to push the score along hitting two sixes in what was to be a brief stay at the crease. Three overs later he was back in the pavilion out lbw to Danuska Gunathilaka for 15 to leave the West Indies in a spot of bother at 169 for 3, still needing 106 from 78 balls.

Pollard arrived at the crease intent on pushing the scoring rate without unnecessary risk. He knocked balls into the gaps, running singles and twos, sprinkling four fours in between. Bravo soon followed suit and together they put on 80 runs while bringing the run rate down from near eight an over to near six and which took the West Indies within sight of their target.

By the time Bravo got out trying to hit Lakmal over extra cover, the West Indies needed 25 from 23 balls. Bravo hit five fours and four sixes.

Holder joined Pollard and together began a steady run toward the required runs.

Pollard hit one six in his 42-ball innings and it was perhaps the most important one of the innings.

It came from the last ball of the 48th over bowled by Asitha Fernando that yielded 14 runs, resulting in the West Indies needing nine from 12 balls.

After missing with an almighty swipe from the first ball of the 49th over bowled by Lakmal, Jason Holder finished the job hitting a four and a six off the next two balls to finish the job unbeaten on 14.

Lakmal, who gave up the winning runs, finished with 2-56 from 9.3 overs.

Earlier, Sri Lanka, who had been put in to bat, only managed their competitive score of 274 for 6, due to an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 123 from 111 balls between Hasaranga and Ashen Bandara.

Hasaranga who should have been run out for 42, hit seven fours and three sixes on his way to his best ODI score of 80 that came off just 60 balls while Bandara was unbeaten on 55 that included three fours and six.

They had taken the score from 151 for 6 sliding from 68 without loss.

Gunathilaka made 36 before he lost his wicket to Alzarri Joseph. Seven balls later and two balls later Dimuth Karunaratne was bowled by Mohammed for 31. It was the start of a trend wherein the Sri Lankan batsmen would all get starts and then got out.

Akeal Hossein took 3-33 taking the wickets of Pathum Nissanka for 24, Dinesh Chandimal for 16 and Dashun Sanaka for 24. The latter two getting out in a similar fashion playing across the line to faster straight deliveries and getting bowled.

By that time, Sri Lanka was struggling at 143 for 5 in the 31st over.

When Perera was run out by a direct hit from Nicholas Pooran seven balls later, Sri Lanka was slipping fast at 151 for 6 before Hasaranga and Bandara pulled out their rescue act.

For his scores of 102, 84 and 64, Shai Hope was named Player of the Series.

Both teams will now turn their attention to the Test series that begins on March 21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

 

England is among the T20 World Cup favourites.

 It is no secret that England has put a lot of focus on white-ball cricket in the last eight years. The results were clear when they trampled South Africa at the end of 2020 winning all three T20 games. It was at that point; they rose to the number one T20 team in the world. 

 Since then, they have dominated in this format of the game, having won their last five T20I and eight of their last T20I series overall. Despite struggles with their batting during the recently concluded Test series against India, it is evident that the English possess firepower in their T20 lineup.

 In the ongoing T20I against India, opener Jason Roy appears to be in great form, having blasted 49 of 32 balls. David Malan, who averages an excellent average of 54 in T20I, is also an asset with 24 from 20 balls while remaining not out.

 In this shorter format of the game, England’s rest and rotation policy has worked to their advantage and has been endorsed by England’s T20 captain Eoin Morgan.

One notable example of the benefit of their rotation policy is the performance of England’s pace bowler Jofra Archer. Having struggled with an elbow injury, the 25-year-old Archer missed two Tests in England’s 3-1 series defeat by India, he returned taking in 3 for 23 in the first T20I. 

The England Cricket and Wales Cricket Board has also maximized the benefits of having their players in the Indian Premier League. The ECB has made provisions for 13 of their players in this year’s IPL even at the expense of missing the first Test of the summer. 

“As a white-ball captain planning towards World Cups, certainly over the last five years, we’ve used it ( the IPL) and benefitted from it hugely in the development of our players and the confidence that we’ve built in the changing room in guys like Ben Stokes and Jos Butler going there and being MVP and bringing the knowledge they’ve learnt into our dressing room,” said Morgan is endorsing the move to allow their players the opportunity to play in the IPL.

A combination of all these factors places England among the favourites for the ICC T20 World Cup.

  Welcome back Shai Hope

West Indies right-hand batsman Shai Hope announced his return to international last Wednesday with his 10th ODI century as West Indies beat Sri Lanka by 8 wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

Due to a lack of form, Hope was dropped for the West Indies tour of New Zealand. He missed the tour of Bangladesh after he was infected by the Covid-19 virus.

However, while his Test form has been poor, Hope has been among the best batsmen in the world in the 50-over version of the game.

In ODIs, he continues to stamp his authority, having amassed 3483 runs at an average of 53.58. The 27-year-old hit a brilliant century in the first T20 match against Sri Lanka and maintained that form in the second match ODI, scoring 84 from 104 balls.

His maturity opening the innings for the West Indies has helped his team and the fact that the West Indies have been winning recently and he has the backing of Captain Kieron Pollard, would have helped his confidence.

“For us in the white-ball cricket Hope is the guy. He has been given a role he gives us a foundation and others can bat around him. In one day, cricket, he’s been fantastic,” Pollard said after Hope’s century in the first ODI.

Hope will now be banking transferring his form to Test cricket where he could be a boon for the West Indies for the foreseeable future.

 

Evin Lewis scored his fourth ODI century that helped lay the platform for the West Indies’ five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka with two balls to spare at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium earlier today.

Man-of-the-Match Lewis scored 103 and shared in a record 192-run first-wicket partnership with Shai Hope, who made 84, as the West Indies took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. It was the best-ever first-wicket stand at the stadium.

Chasing a challenging total of 274, after Sri Lanka made 273 for 8 in their 50 overs, Lewis and Hope kept the Sri Lankan bowling attack at bay for 37.2 overs that seemed destined to take the home side to another comfortable victory. However, they almost threw it away.

Lewis’ 103 came off 121 balls and hit eight fours and four sixes before getting out to stumped to the bowling of Lakshan Sandakan.

His dismissal seemed to lift the Sri Lankans’ spirits and they responded by tightening up on the West Indies, who managed to squeeze two runs from the next nine balls. The pressure continued to build and it yielded the desired results. At 194 for one, Hope got out caught at deep cover trying to push the scoring rate.

As a measure of how much Sri Lanka had slowed the scoring rate, the first 50 for the West Indies came up in just 54 balls, the second in 53 while the third 50 came up in 55 balls. The fourth 50 for the West Indies was made from 81 balls.

In this phase of the game, the West Indies lost the wickets of Darren Bravo for 10 and Kieron Pollard and Fabian Allen 15 each over the next 57 balls from which they managed 55 runs as they tried to rein in the escalating run-rate that had ballooned to 10 runs an over.

With Jason Holder at the other end, it was left to Nicholas Pooran to play hero and swing the match back in favour of the West Indies.

Allen had hit a six off Nuwan Pradeep to start the 48th over. He was dismissed next ball holing out to deep midwicket. However, the batsmen crossed leaving Pooran to face the next four balls from which the West Indies took 11 runs, 10 coming from Pooran’s bat via two fours and running two.

The little Trinidadian would finish the job in the final over off the same bowler with the West Indies needing nine from six balls.

After missing the first ball that was bowled wide of the off-stump, Pooran hit consecutive fours before clipping off his legs for the winning single. He would finish unbeaten on 35 while Holder, who faced four balls and was two not out.

Pradeep finished with 2-66 off 9.4 overs. Thisara Perera claimed the wickets of Hope and Bravo to return 2-45 from seven while Lakshan Sandakan finished with 1-36.

Earlier, Sri Lanka posted what turned out to be a competitive score, the foundation of which was laid by Danushka Gunathilaka, who scored a run-a-ball 96 that rescued Sri Lanka from 50 for 3 after Alzarri Joseph had removed Dimuth Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka for one and 10, respectively within the first seven overs.

Gunathilaka, who was controversially given out for obstructing the field in the opening match on Wednesday, and Dinesh Chandimal put on 100 for the fourth wicket. He looked set for a hundred when Jason Mohammed bowled him with one that kept low to claim the first of his three wickets.

In fact, Mohammed claimed the next two wickets to fall - Ashan Bandara for 18 and then Chandimal for 71 - as Sri Lanka struggled to force the rate of scoring and seemed likely to score a little more than the 232 they scored in their eight-wicket loss on Wednesday.

However, a blazing cameo of 47 from 31 balls from Hasaranga de Silva propelled Sri Lanka well past the 250-run mark and with a little help from Perera, who made 19 before he was last man out run out for 19.

Mohammed had his career-best figures of 3-48 while Joseph took 2-42. There was a wicket each for Jason Holder and Akeal Hosein.

The final match of the series is scheduled for the same venue on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

Jason Holder and Darren Bravo have been recalled to the West Indies squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka set for March 21-25, 2021.

If the West Indies do a better job of rotating the strike, combining that with their power-hitting would result in the team posting much higher scores. That is the belief of Shai Hope, who scored his 10th ODI century in the West Indies’ eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Chasing a relatively modest target of 233, the West Indies eased to 236 for 2 with 18 balls to spare. Hope hit 12 fours and a six while scoring 110 runs from only 133 balls at a strike rate of 82.71.

In the opening stand between Hope and Evin Lewis of 143 runs, the effort to rotate the strike was more evident than in the recent past. The first 50 came up in just 53 balls and while the scoring rate slowed a bit, the 100-run partnership took only 134 balls.

However, according to the Barbadian batsman, the West Indies can do a lot better.

“There is definitely a lot of improvements that can be made,” said Hope during a press conference on Thursday on the eve of the second match against Sri Lanka at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

“We always look at ourselves as power hitters, ball beaters, but there is so much more to our game.

“If we can merge the two together, limit the dot balls along with the boundary balls that will come along, then we can consistently get big totals.”

He revealed that doing a better job rotating the strike is something that the team has been working on behind the scenes, but conceded that there is still a long way to go.

“WE have been working on picking up these singles, working on our singles options, making sure we have a clear mind on how we are going to play a particular bowler to get those singles to keep the scoreboard ticking over,” he said.

“It’s a work in progress but we are going to get there.”

 

 

Shai Hope celebrated his return to international cricket on Wednesday with his 10th ODI century that helped the West Indies cruise to a crushing eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

A century from Shai Hope and a half-century from Evin Lewis helped West Indies cruise to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka with 18 balls to spare at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Devon Thomas made a career-best 117 to guide Leeward Islands Hurricanes to a seven-wicket win over Barbados Pride in the CG Insurance Super50 Cup fifth-place playoff.

Out of favour West Indies batsman Shai Hope and brother Kyle will be among three players to miss out on the CG Insurance Super50 Cup, after returning positive COVID-19 results in the latest round of PCR tests.

The Hope brothers, who would have represented Barbados Tridents, will be joined on the sidelines by left-handed opener Trevon Griffith who was part of the Guyana Jaguars batting line-up.  The latest round of tests was conducted on Sunday.

The Barbados Pride have already named Zachary McCaskie and Tevyn Walcott as replacements for the Hopes, while Kemol Savory has been named as the replacement for Griffith in the Jaguars squad.

The trio will remain in their respective territories where there will be required to follow local COVID-19 protocols.

All other members of the Barbados Pride and Guyana Jaguars squads returned negative COVID-19 tests and will undergo second tests on Thursday, January 28 before travelling for the tournament, as part of CWI's established protocols.

The CG Insurance Super50 Cup will be played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground and Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua from Sunday, February 7 to Saturday, February 27. On opening day, Leeward Islands Hurricanes will host arch-rivals Windward Islands Volcanoes at CCG.

 

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.

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