Debutant West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales insists looking to maintain consistency was critical to his success, on a day when his hat-trick spell provided a rare bright spot on a tough start against South Africa.

The 19-year-old Seales ended with figures of 34 for 3.  His fiery response proved critical in ensuring the tourist ended the day with some doubts in mind at 128 for 4, some 38 runs ahead, and in command of the Test match early, but things could have been much worse.

Earlier on, Lungi Ngidi claimed a jaw-dropping 5 for 19 and Anrich Nortje 4 for 35 as the two combined to bowl out the spell-struck West Indies for 97 in the first innings.  Following the dismissal of South Africa opener and captain Dean Elgar, by Kemar Roach, Seales fired back, his deliveries removing Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, and Kyle Verreynne.

“I just tried to remain as consistent as possible.  To try and create pressure and don’t try anything too different.  I do that and I get wickets,” Seales said following the day’s play.

Despite a difficult start for the West Indies, however, the young bowler believes the team remains in the game.

“I don’t think we are out of the game.  Today is just the first day, we didn’t bat as well as we wanted to but I think we pulled it back with the way that we bowled today.”

 

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje took nine wickets between them as South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 97 shortly after lunch on the opening day of first Betway Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia.

After West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy pitch, Ngidi playing in his 10th Test match took 5-19 as he tore through the West Indies middle-order that was left exposed after Nortje (4-35) claimed the wickets of both openers – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who each made 15.

Kagiso Rabada removed Nkrumah Bonner for 10 and Nortje took the wicket of Kyle Mayers for 1 to leave the home side 48 for 4 at lunch.

On the resumption, South Africa wrapped up the rest of the West Indies batting as only Jason Holder, 20, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 13, provided any resistance to the accurate South African attack.

The West Indies troubles were compounded by news that Bonner, who was struck on the helmet, the first ball he faced bowled by Nortje, has suffered a concussion and will take no further part in the match. He will be replaced by Kieran Powell.

Recalled West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, has targeted making a solid start on his return to Test cricket ahead of the team’s series against South Africa, which bowls off on Thursday.

The 27-year-old batsman last played for the red ball team in July of last year, after being dropped for a poor run of form in Test cricket ahead of the New Zealand series, in November of last year.

After taking the time off to focus on a few technical inconsistencies and fine-tuning his mental approach, Hope was selected as part of a final 13-man squad for the upcoming Test series earlier this week.

 The batsman impressed selectors with his performance in the West Indies Best vs Best practice match, where he scored 79 in the first innings and 104 in the second.  In addition to that, he also made 68 in a practice match against Sri Lanka earlier this year.  The player is hoping that kind of form translates if he takes the pitch for the upcoming series.

“I want to be clearer in my thought processes and obviously, achieve overall success.  I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and start a fresh book, so hopefully, I can hit the ground running if I get a chance to go out there,” Hope told members of the media.

“Cricket covers different aspects, both technical and mental.  So, I have been working on different things.  The main thing is just to get success out there and I believe in finding a way.  I just need to find a way to score runs for the team.”

 

West Indies opening batsman, Kieran Powell, admits he is looking forward to an opportunity to cement his position in the squad having recently earned a long-awaited recall.

Earlier this week, the 31-year-old left-hander was named among the final 13-man Test squad that will compete against South Africa.  His selection marked a two-and-a-half-year absence from the team, despite some believing the player to be among the region’s top talents.

 Powell, who last represented the West Indies in 2018, during the team’s series against Bangladesh, was in contention for selection to the team last year but failed a fitness test in May.

With several first-string players opting out of the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, he was certainly favourite to claim a spot in the squad but was declared to not have met the fitness standard required by the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel.  Both the player and the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) rejected the claims and insisted the batsman had in fact met the required fitness standard.  Having been given another chance to shine, Power is, however, eager to claim the opportunity.

“I’ve been out of the team for two and half years now and I’ve counted each month I was not on it,” Powell told members of the media.

“So, it’s obviously a great feeling to be back, but being back is just the start.  Obviously, now when I get my opportunity I have to go out and perform and cement my spot,” he added.

 

CWI chairman of selectors, Roger Harper, has defended the selection of young fast bowler Jayden Seales, despite the player’s lack of experience at the regional level.

With strike bowler Shannon Gabriel out of the upcoming series against South Africa, due to injury, the 19-year-old Seales made it into the final 13-man squad on the back of an impressive performance in the recent West Indies Best vs Best practice match.

The young fast bowler took five wickets overall, including a three-wicket burst that saw him remove the top order of West Indies Best B in the second innings. 

With only one first class match under his belt, however, some have objected to the young bowler being picked ahead of those with a lot more experience.  Harper has insisted, however, that the player’s performance in the practice match was enough to show the selectors plenty of what they were looking for.

“I saw a young bowler play in games where Test players and the best of our regional first class players were playing and he performed exceedingly well, better than a number of players that have been playing first class cricket over a number of years,” Harper told members of the media.

“The match was not classified as a first class match but those matches were played by the best of our regional first class players and he did exceedingly well.  So, I like to think that if he can perform well in those games against those players, he had the potential to transfer that to Test games,” he added.

The series against South Africa will get underway at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, on Thursday.

 

Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Jackie Hendricks, believes Cricket West Indies (CWI) selectors should consider looking at hard-hitting left hander Evin Lewis as a Test team opener.

The 29-year-old Trinidadian-born batsman, who idolizes another big hitting left hander, Chris Gayle, has had some success in the shorter formats of the game, but, unlike Gayle, is yet to play a Test match for the West Indies.

Lewis has scored 1791 runs in 54 One Day International (ODI) matches, at an average of 37.31, with a high score of 176.  In 35 T20 Internationals, the batsman has managed 989 runs with a strike rate of 155.74 and an impressive high score of 125.

The batsman, who also has 1229 runs in 22 First Class cricket matches, and a century scored while representing the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the regional four-day competition, has not played the format since 2017.

“I’ve always thought the selectors were a little short-sighted for not given him a go in the Test matches,” Hendricks told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“I’ve been impressed with how he plays in the 50 overs.  He is not a real hitter, he plays his shots very well, he always gets into position and so on.  So, I’m disappointed that he is not thought about for the team,” he added.

Recently, there have been calls for the selectors to consider widening the pool of available Test players but considering some of the players that do very well in the shorter formats.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Andy Roberts, is hopeful developing young pacer Alzarri Joseph has learned a thing or two from his recent stint in English County Cricket.

The 24-year-old Joseph has spent a little over a month representing Worcestershire, where he made his debut following the West Indies home series against Sri Lanka.  As per the arrangement, the player is now back in the Caribbean for the team’s upcoming series against South Africa.

In his six matches there, Joseph did make some impression, claiming 15 wickets, the second most in the team and adding 148 runs, with a high score of 61.  In addition, he claimed an innings best of 2 for 22 and match best of 4 for 106.   

The English championships is typically lauded as a good place for young cricketers to develop, not only due to the difficult and different conditions, but also the volume of cricket played in a short period of time.  During the West Indies spell as the top cricketing nation, several of the players took part in the competition.

“He spent some time in England which everyone feels like that is the bedrock for development because of the amount of cricket that you play, but gone are the days when you use to play seven days or sometimes, 12 to 14 days in a row, and if you can’t develop from that system then you can’t develop,” Roberts, who represented Hampshire and Leicestershire, told the Antigua Observer.

“I am just hoping that he spent most of his time in the nets learning to hone his craft because there is no point to playing County cricket and you don’t learn nothing from playing County cricket. For years I’ve been saying the same thing over and over like the record is stuck; personal development is the key to success.”

 

Pace bowler Marquino Mindley has been released from quarantine, after testing positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago.

The 26-year-old was called to the West Indies red-ball camp a few weeks ago, as part of the team’s preparations to face South Africa in two weeks time.

The player was, however, forced to isolate, as part of strict COVID-19 protocols, after returning a positive PCR test.  The player was put into isolation at the team hotel away from the other players and the coaching staff.

He was cleared to resume training with the rest of the camp on Thursday, after returning a second negative RT-PCR test result.

Mindley even managed a short spell on the final day the intra-squad four-day match, which concluded on Thursday.  The bowler, however, missed the majority of the Best vs Best four-day match, which was used to select the squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa beginning June 10. Both Tests will be played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

Noted cricket commentator and pundit, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira, believes batsman Shai Hope should be a definite selection for the 13-man West Indies squad, which will face South Africa in a few days time.

The 27-year-old batsman, who was dropped from the team after a poor run of form last November, has looked sharp since returning to the fold.  Against Sri Lanka, in March, Hope slammed 258 runs in the three-match series, including a shot-filled 110.

He certainly looks to have taken that type of form into red-ball cricket with the West Indies Best vs Best four-day practice match this week.  Hope made 79 in the first innings and got another century, 104, in the second.

Interestingly, however, because of a lack of quality options in the position, Perreira believes Hope can be used as an opener alongside West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite for the upcoming series.

“It’s been a little mystery why they didn’t want to use him as an opener.  If you have stacks of openers then you probably don’t want to sacrifice a middle-order batsman,” Perreira told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“However, when the cupboard is very bare, it’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s not magical thinking, Hope has definitely got to play…I certainly would be opening with Brathwaite and Hope.”

Hope opened at the top of the innings for the four-day practice match.

International players who miss the resumption of the India Premier League (IPL) could face salary reductions and pro-rata payments from their various franchises.

The IPL was suspended in early May after four players in the biosecure bubble tested positive for Covid-19.  The competition is now expected to take place in the September-October window later this year in the UAE.

With a packed international schedule, however, that decision has not found favour with some countries that have players taking part in the competition.  England and Bangladesh players have been prohibited from taking part in the rescheduled IPL 2021. 

With the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled for October, the timing of the IPL could interfere with the teams' preparation for the World Cup.  This season, nine West Indian players were taking part in the competition before it was postponed.

Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran (Punjab Kings) Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders) Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings) Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders), Shimron Hetmyer - Delhi Capitals, and Fabian Allen - Punjab Kings.  There is no indication as of yet, whether IPL resumption will clash with plans of Cricket West Indies (CWI). The West Indies are expected to tackle Pakistan in August. 

“In case they (foreign players) can’t make it to UAE for IPL, franchises will be within their right to cut their salaries and pay them only on a pro-rata basis,” a Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI) member told Inside Sports.

 

West Indies opening batsman, Kieran Powell, is hopeful that a polished half-century, crafted in the ongoing West Indies Best vs Best practice match, will be enough to get the attention of the selectors ahead of the upcoming series against South Africa.

On Wednesday, Powell anchored the WI Best B innings with a responsible 95 from 175 balls, which was earned in 227 minutes.  The batsman, who has not represented the West Indies since 2018, during the team’s series against Bangladesh, has had a difficult relationship with the selection panel as of late.

With several first-string players opting out of the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, Powell was favourite for a return to the squad but was declared to not have met the fitness standard required by the West Indies.  Both the player and the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) rejected the claims and insisted the batsman had in fact met the required fitness standard.  Powell had earlier failed a test in May of 2020.

Now back in contention, the player will be hoping to put such episodes behind him.

“I would hope it (the score) leaves me in a position of strength.  I think there has been just one century, so this is the second-highest score if I’m not mistaken,” Powell said, following the day's play.

“Hopefully, I can get into the squad, and we will take it from there.  I’ve wanted to get back into the team for some time now.  So, obviously spending time and showing application, I am hoping there is hopefully a reward for that.”

 

 

 

A solid half-century at the top of the order from left-hander Kieran Powell left Jahmar Hamilton XI in a strong position against Jermaine Blackwood XI, on the third day of the Best v Best practice match.

The 31-year-old opener fell just five runs short of a century, but his 95 from 175 balls anchored the West Indies B second innings total of 218 for 4 heading into the fourth day.  The total, at the end of the day’s play, left the team with just 92 runs needed to win the match, with plenty of wickets in hand.

Powell was the anchor throughout the innings, forming key partnerships with opening partner Shane Moseley, who added 36, Shamarh Brooks (39), and Raymond Reifer (22), before being dismissed by spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, who also accounted for Moseley.

Earlier, WI Best A had resumed the day on 197-3 with an unbeaten and confident-looking Shai Hope at the crease on 104.  However, young pace bowler Javon Searles continued an excellent performance with the ball when he added Hope to the collection of top-order batsmen he removed from the crease.  Hope only managed another two runs before being caught by Mosely off the bowling of Searles.  Searles ended the innings with the best figures of 4 for 40.

Paul Palmer, not out on 15, and Reifer, who was not out on 22, will resume the day at the crease for WI Best B on Thursday.

West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, is happy to be scoring runs again on the back of an enterprising, unbeaten century on the second day of the Best v Best four-day match at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

After scoring 79 in the first innings, Hope stroked a fluid 104 from 132 balls, a total that included 9 fours and six 6s.  The total anchored Jermaine Blackwood XI’s 197 for 3 in the second innings, for an overall lead of 283 runs.  Earlier, they bowled out Jahmar Hamilton XI for 178 in their first innings.  Blackwood’s XI made 264 in the first innings.

  “It’s about making sure the bowlers don’t settle and almost putting pressure back onto them. So the key is to make sure I can stay within my game plan. Obviously, the situation of the game would dictate how I play in certain passages but more or less that is the of play I will try to portray, so hopefully, it works out in the future, and hopefully, I can continue in this vein and continue to score runs,” Hope said following the days play.

The batsman has not played a Test since the series against England last year and was dropped from the team ahead of the New Zealand series following a poor run of form.  Since returning to the team the batsman has looked in good nick, however, and will be eyeing a return to the Test team.

“For me, personally, I’m just happy to get those run I need in the red-ball format.  So, if I can continue that when I get the opportunity to play in the Test team if it comes, I’m definitely going to grab it with both hands and score as many runs as possible.”

Dr. Akshai Mansingh, a member of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Medical Advisory Committee, has cautioned that unvaccinated players could eventually find it difficult to take part in leagues around the world as more of the global population gets vaccinated.

At current, there are no cricket leagues around the world that require players to be vaccinated in order to take part in a competition.  However, with the risk and expense attached to the current model of staging tournaments in a biosecure environment and increasing evidence of the positive effect of vaccination on preventing the spread of the virus, there is no guarantee things will stay the same.

At current, a few members of the squad have taken the vaccine, but some remain hesitant at this point in time.  Mansingh pointed out that it was the duty of the medical team to educate the players on the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated but, at the end of the day, the freedom to make individual choices had to be respected.  He speculated, however, that the choices could plausibly, in the near future, affect an individual’s ability to earn income.

“We live in a free society, and we have to respect the decisions of people.  But there may be leagues around the world who say if you are not vaccinated then we will not take you and that is when personal decisions will have to made,” Mansingh told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“We have erred on the side of freedom of choice, etc., etc. and we will entertain the discussion but there are leagues that are going to pop up, which will not entertain the discussion,” he added.

“We allowed people to opt-out of bubbles that we knew were safe and some of the people that opted out at that time made a completely different choice when they went to India, which was the second most infected country in the world.”

 

 

 

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