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'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 

T20 Cricket World Cup postponed, but still lots of cricket to see

The men’s T20 World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in Australia this year, between October 18th and November 15th, has been postponed due to COVID-19. The International Cricket Council Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said the decision was made with safety in mind and that it would be moved to 2021. 

Initially, the news came as a surprise and I must admit I was disappointed, to an extent, as West Indies are the defending T20 champions and I am always ready for some competitive cricket. Upon weighing the pros and cons of hosting a tournament of this magnitude and prestige, however, the huge risk it would pose due to the extent of planning and caution that would be required became clear.  

I compared it to the ongoing biosecure test in England, which has been smooth so far. It would definitely be more difficult to stage the World Cup than the biosecure tour of England as it would involve gathering 15 other nations with different levels of the coronavirus infection, in Australia, where the state of Victoria was currently under lockdown after a new surge in cases. Victoria was to stage the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

Now, with every setback, we can choose to see the positives or dwell on the negatives. The postponement has reshaped the men’s international calendar to accommodate the bilateral series that have been postponed everywhere since March, except in England. 

Despite the loss of this exciting tournament, it has cleared the way for the popular Indian Premier League. The IPL has advanced the 13th edition of the tournament by a week, rescheduling the start date from September 26th to the 19th, with the final set for November 8th in the United Arab Emirates. Sixty matches will be played in fifty-one days. 

India will see in excess of 1200 individuals flying to the UAE once both governments give the nod. However, plans on how to fly the players, staff, and team management to the venue are still being worked out. This is the first time in the history of the tournament that the entire competition has been shifted out of the country and at the last minute. The BCCI and the IPL franchises are busy figuring out the logistics. 

In addition to this venture, Cricket West Indies Chief Executive Johnny Grave confirmed that discussions are ongoing with South Africa officials over a tour to the Caribbean. Grave says the tour is likely to follow the CPL, which ends on September 10.  I am appreciative of the effort being exerted to ensure our male cricketers continue to play the game they love but I do hope the same discussions are being carried out to ensure that our Windies women cricketers are afforded similar opportunities. 

Eagerly anticipating the NBA restart

   I shall not read too much into the scrimmage matches that took place during the week, but it was heart-warming to see the players back on the court, in their gears, doing what they love. The most outstanding part of the restart is the players' commitment to highlighting social justice issues and seeking change. The players have not allowed the issues to be swept under the carpet.  

Last week, LeBron, speaking for nearly 15 minutes, outlined his objection with the term movement in the “Black Lives Matter Movement.” LeBron stressed that being born black is not a movement but instead a lifestyle. In addition, LeBron wrote a message on his shoe with a marker, #justiceforbreonnaT. What resonates with me is that LeBron is not just wearing symbols associated with the injustices meted out to black people but he is using his voice and platform to call on the authorities to make a change. 

Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell believes that inaction is not an option. What happens if they do not continue to prop up issues of racial inequality and police brutality? The conversation could fade into the background. He stressed how sad it was for one to feel unsafe at one's own home.  “It’s near and dear to my heart and painful to see,” Mitchell said. “The fact that an African American woman can’t be safe in her own home is wild, just the concept is wild. The fact that there hasn’t been anything done about it is crazier. ... What are we waiting for?” 

            Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris also put pressure on Kentucky’s AG Daniel Cameron to press charges against the officers and questioned the No Knock warrant. Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, is thanking players from the NBA and WNBA for continuing to keep her daughter’s name alive as she continues to fight for justice.  Keep up the good work on and off the court gentlemen!

Liverpool's 30-year wait well worth it!

The fireworks started at Anfield long before the Premier League trophy was presented to Liverpool at the Kop. Liverpool's 5-3 win against Chelsea was an entertaining finale to their third successive unbeaten Premier League season at Anfield. Liverpool has officially ended their 30-year wait for a Premier League title, beating all odds, even the coronavirus pandemic. 

Liverpool were confirmed as champions on June 25, with seven games to spare, when nearest rivals Manchester City lost at Chelsea, but they had to wait until their final home game of the season to be presented with the trophy. 

It was symbolic that the trophy was handed over by the last manager to win it at Liverpool, Sir Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool throughout the entire season showed they had what it took to be worthy Premier League Champions. 

How Liverpool won the title is the most striking thing for me. The 30-year time span that it took to secure the trophy. The fact that in 2018-2019 they finished one point behind Manchester City. Then came the pandemic in March and Klopp did admit he was concerned about the season being declared null and void during the enforced shutdown. As it turned out, Liverpool's tally of 82 points from 29 games when football was stopped was enough to win the title. Jurgen Klopp re-wrote the history books. A well-deserved victory. Congrats. 

 

Dwayne Bravo has been out of international cricket for a while and when he returned most recently for the West Indies, he looked rusty.

Andre Russell might be Wisden’s 2019 T20 Cricketer of the Year but the power-hitting Jamaica has no intention of resting on his laurels.

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy believes his contemporary, white ball skipper, Kieron Pollard is right for the job but needs time to get his team going.

According to Sammy, Pollard always wants to win and that is the mindset that is needed from the leader of a team if it is to be successful.

“I think what Pollard will bring is that attacking mindset,” said Sammy.

“I think his mindset is always geared towards winning and I think that’s what a leader’s mindset should be,” he said.

However, the mindset alone will not be enough to give the West Indies the edge they need to successfully defend their T20 World Cup set for November.

“He needs time. They need time to learn as a playing group,” said Sammy.

According to the only skipper to lead a team to two T20 World Cup titles, he benefitted from that time ahead of the team’s first World Cup title win.

“I am only talking from experience, from captaining in 2010. By the time 2012 came I knew so many of those guys, what situations to use them in and from constant dialogue, how I would go and who I would want to execute for me in different situations,” said Sammy.

While he is aware that his playing days with the West Indies are over, Sammy, who said he had a vision of being part of a successful T20 World Cup title defence, still wants to contribute to Pollard’s rise.

Windies star Chris Gayle has continued to give indications that he does not intend to retire anytime soon, this time expressing the desire to score another ten T20 centuries.

The 40-year-old West Indies talisman is already at the top of the list with 14923 runs inclusive of 24 centuries.  Gayle had expressed thoughts about the possibility of retiring after the last World Cup, before picking a series in the West Indies against India as a final swansong.

The player has, however, apparently now had a complete change of heart even pushing back at some of those who have suggested it could be time to step aside. Gayle has since insisted, in various interviews, that he is feeling good and hopes to play another five years.  In responding to a celebration of his achievements by cricket statistic website Crictracker, who pointed out the achievement of the most T20 centuries, Gayle insisted that there was more to come.

“10 more to come!” the player said in response to the celebratory tweet.  With the World Cup fast approaching, Gayle has been out of action for his international team since last year but has continued to participate in various T20 leagues around the world.  He is expected to take part in the upcoming IPL campaign.

The West Indies will benefit from the return of Fabian Allen and Denesh Ramdin when they go to India for a T20I series.

Allen is said to be fully recovered from a hamstring strain which put him out of the West Indies 2-1 loss to Afghanistan in Lucknow, India recently.

Ramdin played part of the series as well but had to be replaced by Shai Hope after he also went down due to hamstring issues.

The Kieron Pollard-led squad has retained newcomers Hayden Walsh Jr. and Brandon King, with an eye firmly on the T20 World Cup next year.

Andre Russell continues to be missing from both the ODI and T20I squads although the allrounder, plagued with knee injuries, was fit enough to play in the Abu Dhabi T10 recently.

According to West Indies coach Phil Simmons, who marked his return to the post with successful series against Afghanistan, India is expected to provide more of a challenge than did Afghanistan and is a good way to continue to test the ‘newbies’ in lieu of the T20 World next year.

"We have three matches in each format, so we wanted to give each squad a chance to compete against India," said Simmons.

"No disrespect to Afghanistan, but facing India will be a more difficult series. Our players really got the hang of things, with the 3-0 series win in the ODIs [against Afghanistan], and I believe we will move from strength to strength," he added.

According to Simmons, the battle for places in the T20i squad will heat up and everybody should be given a fair chance to show what they are made of.

"In the T20s this will be another chance for them to play and develop, and again, with no disrespect to Afghanistan, this should be a stronger T20 country and we will look to see how they perform against India. The next ICC T20 World Cup is in Australia and the one after that is here in India so there is a lot of preparation to be done for first for Australia. We have given the players here a chance in this series and we know we have players outside who may be coming in later on as well, so it's good to give those here another opportunity."

The T20I series begins in Hyderabad on December 6. There are two further T20Is, in Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai, before three ODIs in Chennai, Vizag and Cuttack.

T20I squad: Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pollard (capt), Nicholas Pooran, Denesh Ramdin, Sherfane Rutherford, Lendl Simmons, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams

ODI squad: Sunil Ambris, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pollard (capt), Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jr.

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