There was no room for veteran Windies opener Chris Gayle as the new Cricket West Indies selection panel named squads for all three formats for the team’s series against Afghanistan.

The 40-year-old batsman was expected to retire from the sport following this year’s World Cup but had a change of heart.  The player had also targeted the India home tour as possibly his final appearance for the regional team but insisted following the series that he had not retired.

Despite the absence of the talismanic player, however, there are several noted returnees.  As expected, having been appointed captain of the ODI and T20 teams Kieron Pollard returns to the white ball team for the first time in three years.  Pollard replaced Holder as captain of the ODI team and Carlos Brathwaite as leader of the T20 team.  While Holder has been included in all three formats, Brathwaite has been dropped from the squad. 

Fresh off successful campaigns in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Guyana Amazon Warriors opening batsman Brandon King and Barbados Tridents spinner Hayden Walsh Jr have been included in the T20 and ODI formats.  Lendl Simmons, who also put together a solid campaign for Trinbago Knightriders, has also been included in the T20 squad. 

Promising young pace bowler Alzarri Josephs, who missed the World Cup due to injury, will also return to the team for all three formats.

 

Test squad: Jason Holder (Captain), Shai Hope, John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shimron Hetmyer, Shamrah Brooks, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Sunil Ambris, Jomel Warrican, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph

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

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

News is emerging that Phil Simmons will be the new head coach of the West Indies Senior Men’s team.

Windies star Chris Gayle has sought to distance himself from rumours linking him with being a supporter of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) party in Guyana.

The 40-year-old Jamaican was recently in the country for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) fixture between the Tallawahs and unbeaten Guyana Amazon Warriors.  The player had, however, also hosted his 40th birthday party ’40 Shades of Gayle’ at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

The left-handed opener was, however, also pictured with representatives of the PNCR on a tour of Mining Town.  The photos prompted widescale speculation regarding the cricketer’s affiliation with the party.  The batsman was quick to insist that he was invited for a community outreach initiative and that he remained unattached to any political party.

“I, Christopher Gayle, would like to make it very clear that I in no way, manner or form endorse or support any individual or political party in Guyana. I have noted the many Social Media comments in relation to my recent presence in Linden and I wish to set the record,” Gayle posted via social media platform Instagram.

 “I was invited to Linden to participate in community outreach. As a sports personality, I relish the opportunity to meet with my fans and also to reach out to any community under the neutral banner of sports. I am apolitical of any political commitment and strongly condemn attempts to tarnish my brand and personality.”

 

Former West Indies coach Roger Harper has been named as a member of a new four-man panel of selectors expected to begin duties next month.

According to the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, the 56-year-old former spinner will be joined by former Windwards batsmen Mile Bascome and Lockhart Sebastien alongside Barbadian Hendy Wallace.  Sebastien will serve a second consecutive stint, having been part of a four-man body that served under the leadership of Courtney Browne.  Browne’s panel was sacked soon after a change of administration, which saw Ricky Skerritt replace Dave Cameron as CWI boss.

Sebastien, however, reapplied for the post and was chosen as part of the new panel.  The first job for the newly appointed panel will be to choose a team for the Caribbean team’s tour of India, which will be a tri-series that also includes Afghanistan.

 Harper managed the West Indies team between 2000 and 2003 and later became the manager of the West Indies Youth team in 2005.

 

 Former West Indies fast bowler Winston Benjamin believes young paceman Alazarri Joseph has been hampered by being drafted into the regional team as an undercooked product.

Joseph was called into the Windies squad three years ago as a talented 19-year-old and has for far played 9 Test matches and claimed 25 wickets.  In one day international’s (ODI) the bowler has made 16 appearances and claimed 24 wickets.  During the period, the player has struggled with both injuries and inconsistency.  Benjamin does not believe the shortcomings are a surprise.

“Let us face facts; when Alzarri got into the West Indies team we were in dire need of fast bowlers and he basically got in on his potential. I worked with him from since he was 15 years old and I said I would like to have another two years with him and then by that time, you would have seen the difference,” Benjamin told Antigua radio show Good Morning Jojo Sports Show.

“He’s here and he’s there, [and] our work was not completed, so he learns from the top [when] everybody else learns from the bottom up. Rabada and all those guys, their thing is structured where you have coaches for every meal of the day and every direction you turn,” he added.

The former fast bowler has admitted to being impressed with the progress the young bowler has made in recent months and believes he could be on the way to fulfilling his potential.

 

Veteran Windies batsman Chris Gayle has voiced his annoyance regarding constant speculation surrounding his future, particularly as it relates to expected retirement plans.

Gayle, who turns 40 tomorrow, announced that he planned to retire from the sport following the ICC World Cup a few months ago.  The player, however, seemed to have a change of heart later, insisting that he could play longer.  Following his appearance at the World Cup, Gayle participated in the Windies One Day International series against India.

 At the end of that series, it appeared several players and members of the media thought Gayle’s international career was at an end as he received a standing ovation.  The Windies talisman was, however, quick to announce that he had said nothing about retirement.  With the question continuing to linger, Gayle has made it clear he has grown weary of the speculation.

“The older you get is the wiser you get and it’s the more you feel a different sort of energy,” Gayle said in an interview posted by Jamaica Tallawahs.

"You get older you might feel a bit jaded here and there.  I’m turning 40 soon and I’m feeling pretty good.  I am going to rest aside this discussion about retirement,” Gayle added.

“It’s something I learned a couple of months ago.  When you make an actual statement about retiring while you are still playing it can be a bit complicated and it can get irritating and annoying.  I get annoyed when people say this and that so from now on, I won’t be answering anyone’s questions about retirement.”

 

 

Defending Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) champions Trinbago Knight Riders made it three wins from three in their season-opening home stint after cruising past St Lucia Zouks’ 167 for 5 with seven wickets and 13 balls to spare.

Very different yet equally impressive half-centuries from the explosive Lendl Simmons and ice-cool Denesh Ramdin ensured a mid-range target never really posed much of a threat. Simmons set the tone with a six straight back over Thisara Perera’s head from just the second ball of the innings, with Sunil Narine adding another Hero Maximum as 14 came from the opening over.

With the boundaries coming so regularly, even the loss of Narine and Tion Webster in the space of nine balls, the latter caught at point from Fawad Ahmed’s first ball of the day, did nothing to stem the flow.

Ramdin had been understandably content to play second fiddle to Simmons for the most part but he cut loose once the partnership reached 50, taking Fawad Ahmed for 10 in two balls as 17 runs came from the 11th over of the innings.

Simmons continued the boundary spree with his fifth Hero Maximum, powered down the ground off Kavem Hodge, but the bowler had instant revenge as Simmons ran past a wide to be comprehensively stumped by Andre Fletcher.

The target was by now down to 62 from 52, though, and with Kieron Pollard striding to the middle to join Ramdin there was little reason for optimism from the Zouks.

All that remained to be determined was whether Ramdin could complete his 50 before Pollard finished the game, and back-to-back fours through midwicket and point took him to 47 and the victory target down to seven at the start of the 18th over.

He duly got to the landmark with a clip for two that brought the scores level, and the Zouks’ day to forget ended with a wide outside off to hand TKR the winning run.

The Zouks innings, just as in their opening match against Guyana Amazon Warriors, was given a stunning start by Rahkeem Cornwall. He followed up a 14-ball 36 in that game with 33 from 12.

His departure, trapped plumb in front on the sweep by Narine, brought an inevitable slowing of the rate.

Fletcher struggled to cut loose in a frustrating 32-ball stay that brought him 26 runs while Najibullah Zadran’s promising cameo was ended at 26 from 17 balls when he picked out Javon Searles on the long-off boundary from a Mohammad Hasnain slower ball.

Daren Sammy smashed back-to-back sixes in his 16 from 13, while John Campbell did start to find the boundary towards the back end of the innings but once again it felt like the Zouks had failed to take full advantage of the early momentum the innings had been given by their big opener.

 

 

Trinbago Knight Riders captain expressed delight with the contribution of multiple players as the team maintained a perfect start to the new CPL season with a 7-wickets win over St Lucia Zouks on Sunday.

The win added to victories over the Jamaica Tallawahs and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, marked a third in a row for TKR who bowled off the season at the Queens Park Oval.  Powered by 50s from Denesh Ramdin (50) and Lendl Simmons (63), TKR comfortably hunted down St Lucia’s first innings total of 167 for 5.  Simmons hits five boundaries and five sixes for his total, while Ramdin reached the boundary five times only once clearing the ropes.

Against the Tallawahs the team had outstanding contributions from Sunil Narine and Tion Webster.  Jimmy Neesham and Pollard himself were the ones to deliver for the home team in the opening match.  Pollard, who took over captain duties from Dwayne Bravo at the start of the tournament believes the varied contributions so far is a good sign for the defending champions.

“That’s what cricket is about, it’s a team sport.  We know in T20 cricket in each and every game the same person is going to do it.  We spoke about it in the dressing room and every game can be someone else.  Last game was Tion Webster the youngster and Lendl has been searching for runs,” Pollard said following the match.

The TKR captain also expressed satisfaction with the team’s position in the early standings.

“I think it was crucial for us…playing three games in six days and the intensity of T20 cricket and playing at 12.  I thought the heat the better of us at the start and we were flat but we spoke about it and just asked for one big push.”

Windies batsman Kieron Pollard is poised to become the new captain of the regional team in both the T20 and ODI formats, numerous reports have claimed.

The 32-year-old Pollard, long thought of as a viable alternative for the post, is set to replace Jason Holder as head of the ODI team and Carlos Brathwaite as skipper of the T20 squad.  Holder was appointed the head of the regional team in 2014, with Brathwaite appointed as leader in the shorter format in 2016 after an outstanding performance at the World Cup.

 Neither captain has performed particularly well, however, with Holder losing 24 of 54 matches played and Brathwaite managing just a 33 percent win ratio.

Pollard has, however, not been a regular participant for the Windies squad in recent years, particularly in the ODI format where he last appeared for the team in 2016.  The player had, however, been named as a reserve for the 2019 World Cup but failed to make an appearance, as the regional team managed just one win and an eighth-place finish. 

Pollard made his T20 debut on June 2008 against Australia but was overlooked for several years after disputes with the regional board. He was, however, re­called to the West Indies team for the T20 internationals against Indian last month.

 

Sacked interim West Indies coach Richard Pybus believes the regional team was on the verge of something special before his abrupt dismissal at the hands of the new Cricket West Indies (CWI) administration a few months ago.

Pybus, who was previously held the role of director of cricket, was controversially appointed to the post by former CWI boss Dave Cameron, in December of last year.  Despite the ferocious debate, however, Pybus got off to a flying start after overseeing the team to a 2-1 win in a three-Test series against England.  The Windies also held England to a 2-2 draw the preceding three-match One-Day International.

Following the defeat of Cameron in the CWI elections by the Ricky Skerritt led team, however, Pybus was replaced with interim coach Floyd Reifer.  The move was particularly controversial with the World Cup only a few weeks away and captain Jason Holder later requesting that the change be made after the tournament.  

“Of all the sides I have coached around the world, this group was fantastic. We had a very good understanding as a collective group,” Pybus told the Jamaica Gleaner.

“The attitude was right, and we had mutual respect and belief as to what we wanted to achieve as a whole, and this team was ready to start winning,” he added.

“We had some really good guys in our back-room staff, guys such as Vasbert Drakes, Mushtaq Ahmed, Toby Radford, and Esuan Crandon. All these guys did an excellent job. The players responded to them well as most of them are well known around the region.”

“I have had persons tell me that they loved the way the team played in that England series with passion and aggression,” Pybus said.

 “That is the philosophy that we wanted across the board, and yes, I am disappointed that I was not able to carry on, but that is the nature of a democratic process, and these things do happen.”

 

Windies skipper Jason Holder admits there is no easy solution to the batting afflictions currently suffered by the regional team, following yet another disappointing display against India in the second and final Test.

The regional team found themselves on the wrong end of a 257 runs defeat at the hands of India, on Monday, which followed a 318 loss in the first Test last week.  The result meant the Windies failed to win a match against India for the entire tour.

Both Test matches featured a substandard batting display from the hosts, who for example struggled to get 100 in the second innings of the first Test and 117 in the first innings of the second match.  India pace bowler Jaspit Bumrah proved to be particularly effective after taking 13 wickets in two Tests at an average of 9.23. 

"I’m obviously disappointed, we didn't play a complete game of cricket in any of the games. We need to put up the scores and fight out those tough periods.  It’s a tough question on how to fix the batting. It’s an individual thing,” Holder said.

“We need to take ownership of our performances,” he added.

The captain was quit to admit that he did not believe the team had a lot of choices as it relates to outside batting talent with which to improve the squad.

"The situation we are in the Caribbean...we are not really spoiled for choices in terms of batsmen coming through,” Holder said.

"We've got to put things in place and to make sure we keep developing players and make sure players are doing the right things to be successful.”

 

 

 Windies interim coach Floyd Reifer believes it is crucial for the team to learn to dig deeper during its spells at the crease if they are to avoid a whitewash against world number one ranked India in the ongoing Test series.

The regional team found itself on the wrong end of a massive 318 runs defeat in the first Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.  The match, perhaps worryingly for the hosts featured and astounding second innings collapse that saw India pacer Jaspit Bumrah claim 5 for 7 as the team collapsed for 100.  On that occasion, the team’s top five batsmen combined for a total of 13 runs.

“We have to do a better job of understanding situations and fight harder through the tough spells. We have to help each other at the crease and dig deeper because this India side is a good one, so we have to improve in all areas, especially our batting,” said Reifer.

 “We have to keep working hard. We have to see off the new ball and build partnerships, and those guys that get starts have to go on to make hundreds. Once we score runs, it will put us in a position to win the game,” he added.

The Windies will play India in the second Test at Sabina Park on Friday.

Retired Windies pacer Fidel Edwards has extended his association with English County Cricket club Hampshire.

The 37-year-old pace bowler, who joined the club in 2015, recently signed another one-year contract, which will keep him at the Ageas Bowl until the end of 2020.  The player is coming off another strong season for the club after taking 47 wickets at an average of 23.55, including four five-wicket hauls, with three Championship fixtures remaining.

"I'm very pleased to have signed for my sixth season at Hampshire, which has become my second home," Edwards said. "Hopefully next year we can push on further and I'll be trying my best to help make it a successful season for the club."

Hampshire Director of Cricket Giles White believes the bowler will continue to be an excellent addition to the squad.

"Fidel has been fantastic for us since joining in 2015 and this year he's excelled once again. He's an important part of our squad and a great character to have in and around the group - we're delighted to welcome him back for another year."

Edwards played 55 Tests and 50 ODIs for the West Indies.

 

Windies skipper Jason Holder was adamant he had no issues with the team’s selection, despite a 318-run mauling at the hands of India in the first Test.

Ahead of the series, the omission of spinner Rahkeem Cornwall had furrowed the brows of several fans and pundits alike, following a string of impressive performances at the regional and A-team level.  Some took exception to the inclusion of pace bowler Miguel Cummings, at the expense of the all-rounder Cornwall who they believed could have troubled the Indian line-up.

Holder, however, insisted that there was no issue with the decision to include four fast bowlers in the team’s line-up, which had proven fruitful in a recent series.

 "No, I think team selection was good. We had won the first series early in this year with four fast bowlers and it worked for us,”

“It was difficult for me to change the winning bowling combination. It is a matter of time, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't."

West Indies will now face India in the second Test of the series at Sabina Park in Kingston from August 30.

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards believes veteran T20 player Kieron Pollard would make a better option for team captain than current skipper Carlos Brathwaite.

The 31-year-old Brathwaite was named captain of the squad in 2016, following the controversial dismal of World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and his heroics against England in the final.  The Barbadian has, however, struggled since taking charge of the unit, winning just 11 and losing 17 of his matches in charge of the team for a 36 percent win rate.

Despite being out of the squad for a couple of years, Pollard has continued to be one of the game’s most reliable players, recently returning to score 115 in a three-match series against India.  The Windies, however, lost the series 3-0.

“Given his experience in that format, I would have liked to see Kieron Pollard as the best choice for our T20 captain. But he is not, for there are some reasons for that. During the CPL, he is the best with the bat and his fielding talent,” Richards recently told the India Times.

“There is no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite, but he probably would have been part of the team still. It was a political scenario after Darren Sammy exited the captaincy. Brathwaite is magnificent as an individual and highly competitive, but I know a lot of players in that team who believe Pollard would have been a great choice as captain.”

 

 

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