Former Indian bowler Ajit Agarkar believes an out of sorts Chris Gayle creates a tricky situation for Punjab Kings XI who may be hesitant to drop the player.

The 41-year-old game began the season on a good note, scoring 40 from 28 balls in the first match, a victory against Rajasthan Royals.  The veteran batsman has struggled to connect since then, scoring 10, 11, and 15 in the team’s next three games.  The Kings have lost all three for a 1-3 start to the season.

Agarkar believes at this age, the Kings must weigh closely the benefits of keeping Gayle in the line-up, if he is not scoring the required runs.

"I don't know, he started well. He got 40 in the first game. The challenge with Chris Gayle is that he did not play the first few games last season and then came back, and he was as good as ever. So, I can understand it is a difficult decision to sit him out," Agarkar told Espncricinfo.

"If he is it and when he has done well, you always want to accommodate him. How long can you go on if he is not firing, especially at this stage of his career?" he asked.

Last season, Gaye was left out of the line-up for the team’s first 6 games but returned to play a pivotal role in their run for a place in the play-offs, following another slow start.  Gayle is not the only West Indian struggling at the moment, however, as Nicholas Pooran, a standout performer last season has only scored 9 runs in fours games, including three ducks.

"Their problem is that Nicholas Pooran is not scoring run either, who they must have had high hopes from. It's a tricky one. I don't know how long they can keep playing Chris Gayle if he is not getting runs.”

A wretched start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) continued for Windies and Punjab Kings XI batsman, Nicholas Pooran, as he was dismissed for a third duck in just four games against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.

Last season, Pooran lit up the tournament as one of the competition’s most in-form players, scoring an impressive 353 runs in 14 games, with an average of 35.  He clearly has not started this campaign at a similar pace.

In four matches so far, the batsman has scored just nine runs, and that was in one match.  In the others, he has left the crease much too quickly to trouble the tally.

In addition to just the wretched run of form, however, some fans have poked fun at the order of the player’s scoreless dismissals. 

He was dismissed for a two balls duck against the Rajasthan Royals in his side's first game. He was then out for a first-ball duck against the Chennai Super Kings.  On Wednesday, Pooran got out for a diamond duck, without even facing a ball as he was run out as soon as he came to the crease.  Punjab Kings XI, who could muster only 120 runs in their 20 overs, lost the match by eight wickets and have recorded one win in their first four games.

 

West Indies legend Brian Lara has tipped for T20 captain, Jason Holder, as the Windies player who could shine most brightly in the India Premier League (IPL) this season.

 The all-rounder was retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for the new campaign, after only coming in as a substitute for Australian Mitchell Marsh last season.

Holder went on to score 66 runs, in seven matches, at an average of 33, and claimed 14 wickets, the third most on the team despite playing less than half the games.  Lara, who is part of a commentary panel for this season’s tournament, has tipped the player to carry on in the same vein.

“Jason Holder could do pretty well. He ended up replacing Mitchell Marsh in the 2020 IPL, so I expect him to maybe come up with trumps this year,” Lara told StarSports.

“The tracks are not so favourable to the pace where he is playing at present, but he is such a good all-round player that I hope he can maintain his play and really show that the West Indians are here to stay,” he added.

Holder could, however, have plenty of competition for the top West Indian player with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Nicholas Pooran also taking part in this season’s competition.

 

 

A yet-to-be-settled dispute currently roiling South Africa cricket threatens to scupper the team’s chances of touring the West Indies later this year.

The Proteas have been tentatively scheduled to tour the Caribbean in June of this year, most likely in Trinidad and Tobago, but a dispute between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the government could lead to its cancellation.

The issue stems from the government's request that Cricket South Africa (CSA) adopt a new constitution for cricket administration in the country.  In a recent meeting, however, CSA voted against adopting the measure.  The country’s sports minister is as a result said to be considering taking serious measures against the board.

One option could be to take away the body’s right to designate itself as the official national representative of the country.  As such, CSA could not then select a national team for the tour of the Caribbean.

South Africa is one of several countries that are lined up to tour the Caribbean this year, as the region looks to recover from the financial setback of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Sri Lanka toured the region last month and Australia and Pakistan are also expected to tour the Caribbean later this year.  The South Africa series was previously reported to consist of two Tests and five T20s.

 

 Former England captain turned cricket analyst. Michael Vaughan. has questioned the overall fitness of West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, despite the player’s fair start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

In the second game of the campaign for the Kolkatta Knight Riders, Russell cleaned up the Mumbai Indians' tail for career-best figures of 5-15.  In the same match, however, the player was unable to finish the job with the bat as the Knight Riders slumped to a dramatic 10-run defeat as Russell added 9 from 15.

Vaughan pointed to the batsman’s work in the field and running between the crease as evidence the big hitter is not quite at his best.

“You got a player like Andre Russell, who has been a superstar, but on the field, when the ball is coming to him, he is always using his feet. He is obviously someone who cannot go down. It’s a very clever and careful aspect which Eoin Morgan will have to manage,” Vaughan told Cricbuzz.

“When he (Andre Russell) is at his best, he is great. But when you see him on the field, and when is bowling, he appears to be struggling. While batting he is not taking the twos,” he added.

“He needed to take the twos in the 19th over. Because you want him back on strike. Very difficult to manage for Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan.”

The Knight Riders have won 1 of their first 3 matches.

Big-hitting West Indian batsman, Kieron Pollard, joined elite Indian Premier League (IPL) company when became one of only a handful of players to hit 200 sixes, during Mumbai Indians' third match of IPL 2021 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

After a slow start to the campaign, Pollard exploded into life on Saturday hitting 35 from just 22 balls, lifting Mumbai to 150.  The West Indian’s knock consisted of three sixes, in the end playing a crucial role in a 13-run win.

 Pollard became the 6th batter to get past 200 sixes in the IPL.  The list is led by his compatriot Gayle who has hit 351 sixes, 114 more than 2nd-placed AB de Villiers. Rohit Sharma is third on the list followed by MS Dhoni.  Pollard went level with Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli after finishing the Mumbai Indians innings on Saturday with 201 sixes.

Pollard is, however, the only man among the top 10 on the list for most boundaries in the IPL with more sixes than fours — 201 sixes, 199 fours.  Pollard also became only the third overseas player after Gayle and de Villiers to hit 200 sixes.

 West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, thinks losing the captaincy may have been a blessing in disguise for all-rounder Jason Holder, who he thinks is freer to be more himself without the additional responsibility.

After seven years in charge, Holder was replaced as captain of the Test team last month by Kraigg Brathwaite.  Brathwaite was himself promoted to the post after successfully taking charge during a successful tour of Bangladesh, which Holder had opted out of, along with 11 other players.

The change in circumstances has, however, not affected Holder’s play on the field and, equally importantly, he has been vocal with his encouragement of teammates on the field.  The previously mentioned characteristic is one many of his critics believe was absent during the majority of his tenure as captain.

 “Jason brought a different personality to the dressing room than what was in Bangladesh and it’s been working out nicely, especially the hard times in the field, Jason has been behind the guys, pushing us to do well.  I think him being skipper stopped that for a few years,” Mayers told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators podcast.

“That’s the type of person he actually is.  A jovial person, always making fun, talking a lot.  I guess as captain being focused on the game, he couldn’t do that as much but now he is free, probably just trying to play as well as he can and be as free as he can,” he added.

“For me, if you are enjoying cricket more and you have less to worry about, it should make you better.  You focus more on yourself.”

Catch the full episode of The Commentators podcast below 

 

 

Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

Former West Indies captain, Daren Sammy, insists veteran batsman Chris Gayle would be a sure pick in his squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as the player’s experience and explosive ability remain invaluable.

The recent decision by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to recall the batsman for the recent series against Sri Lanka was met with criticism in some quarters, with some believing the selectors should have opted for younger talent.  The player's struggles in the series did little to dispel that notion.

Sammy, the two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, however, does not agree.

“After watching Chris Gayle play in the Pakistan Super League, the IPL late last year, and looking at his career, I think he should definitely go to the World Cup,” Sammy told Line and Length on SportsMax.

“Whether he plays in the final XI is a matter for the guys on tour because you will have Evin (Lewis) and (Lendl) Simmons, but Chris’ experience in India and what he brings to the team, I would have him with me,” he added.

“Chris is a batting leader! He has over 20 hundreds in T20s and the next person after that has eight or nine and his experience cannot be underrated so I would have him with me. He knows the big occasion and you bet he can still turn it on…. I will go with him,” said Sammy from his home in St. Lucia.

Gayle has played 31 T20s for the West Indies and scored two centuries and 13 half-centuries, with an average of 31.24 and a strike rate of 140.81. At the last World Cup, he scored an unbeaten 100 in the first match against England but ended the series with 113 runs from four innings.

Sammy, who was at the helm when the team won the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, in 2012, versus the hosts, and in 2016 against England, thinks that the West Indies can win again if they improve their bowling attack.

“We have the batting firepower, but we are missing two x-factor bowlers. Fidel is back and brings some pace, but I think our best chance will be chasing totals. We don’t have that Sunil Narine type of bowler and, to be honest, that’s the missing link. We can win but we need a couple of bowlers to put pressure on for eight overs,” explained Sammy.

 

Five years after his fiery speech criticising Cricket West Indies (CWI) hierarchy and then President, Dave Cameron at the conclusion of the T20 World Cup, Darren Sammy says he would do it all over again if he had to.

As the Windies celebrated the 5th anniversary of their historic victory over India at the 2016 Showpiece in Eden Gardens, Sammy reiterated that he would never apologise to Cameron for his statements, which eventually put an end to his international career.

 “You seek forgiveness when you have done something wrong. I wouldn’t change anything I said because I spoke the truth as to what went on and yes, I paid the price for it, but that’s the way life goes. My Mom always said if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything,” he said while a guest on Line & Length on SportsMax

“I thought I was a true representative to my team. To Dave Cameron, he has moved on. I recently saw on your show he said he is still available for advice…but I don’t know how the current administration would think about that,” he explained.

After Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to upset England in the final over, Sammy chose the presentation ceremony to vilify the administration for a number of matters prior to the tournament and during the competition when players clashed with CWI over fees, equipment, and communication differences.

“There is a vibe and player-harmony now. The players are playing for their captain...added to that, it’s been great watching Jason Holder and the respect he has gained even though no longer captain. West Indies cricket seems to be moving in the right direction,” said Sammy.

 

 

West Indies legend, Curtly Ambrose, has re-added his voice to the call for an end to the preparation of ‘placid’ pitches throughout the Caribbean for international and regional cricket fixtures.

In the light of the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka, which ended with two drawn games, several former players and Windies coach Phil Simmons has expressed dissatisfaction with the surface prepared for the tour.

The debate has, however, raged on long before that, with Ambrose himself listed among those previously suggesting that many of the pitches prepared are too flat and offer little assistance to bowlers. 

The West Indies, Sri Lanka series has only added to the dissatisfaction.  In both Test matches, Sri Lanka, then the West Indies, the teams enjoyed comfortable leads headed into the final day but ended up doing very little to disturb the batsmen in the pursuit of wickets.

“I have seen local cricket played at Sir Viv Richards cricket stadium where you have grass on the pitch and the ball bounces and carries with good pace … so it’s not a situation where it cannot be done,” Ambrose told the Good Morning Jojo Radio show.

“I felt that the pitches were a little too flat and I’ve been saying this for years — we need to prepare better cricket pitches where the batsmen could play their strokes and the ball bounces a bit for the bowlers,” he added.

Former Windies pace bowler, Richard 'Prof' Edwards, admits he is disappointed by what he believes to be the slow progress of promising pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

The 24-year-old fast bowler has long been tipped to give West Indies the type of firepower typical of years gone by but is yet to completely deliver on that promise.

The young bowler has shown plenty of flashes of that prodigious talent.  He put in a strong performance against England, in 2019, and took a record-breaking six for 12 on his debut for Mumbai Indians.  Joseph has, however, not produced such performances consistently.  Joseph, who made his debut in 2016, has taken 38 Test wickets in 16 matches and 54 One Day International wickets in 34 matches.

“It’s disappointing that he does not seem to have gone on from the time he started until now, there doesn’t seem to be any great improvement,” Edwards told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He seems to be bowling wide of the crease to right-handers, angling it.  He should get as close to the stumps as possible,” he added.

“He is not accurate, he had not been able to develop as much as you would have expected.  He is not a real swinger of the ball, he is athletic, he looks like he bowls pretty fast, but he is not doing much with the ball.”

 

Former West Indies fast bowler turned analyst, Richard ‘Prof’ Edwards, believes batsman Kyle Mayers could blossom into a genuine all-rounder for the regional team, buts needs to consider shedding a few pounds.

The 28-year-old has had a splendid start to his Test cricket career for the West Indies, bursting on stage with 210 on debut against Bangladesh.  The innings helped lay the foundation for an expected away series win and catapulted the player into the spotlight. 

In the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, he again garnered some attention this time with the ball. His brisk medium pace accounted for batsman Oshada Fernando and later Dinesh Chandimal at a crucial period on the third day of the opening Test.  The wickets were the first of his international career.  Overall, Mayers ended with 28 overs, 13 maidens, and four wickets.   On the back of such displays, Edwards believes the player could have the makings of a solid all-rounder.

“He did well.  He was a surprise package to the Sri Lankans.  They didn’t expect him to get the ball to swing and by the time they realized it was too late and he had wickets,” Edwards said in assessing the player’s performance on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I’m saying that if he goes on and develops his bowling, he won’t trick batsmen as early as that again and he would have to consistently bowl well, but he can, he has the natural ability to bowl.  However, he has to lose about 25 pounds.  He is too young to have all that weight carrying around on him,” he added.

“He is a big strong guy, but he has got to drop 20 pounds at least.  He will bowl faster and he would be the genuine all-rounder in the side.  We wouldn’t be looking to get four overs out of him or five overs but he would be a fellow you can throw the ball to when you are looking to get wickets in a spell of eight overs are so.”  

 

West Indies chief of selectors, Roger Harper, has revealed that the panel remains in the dark regarding the future of spinner Sunil Narine who remains unavailable for selection.

The 32-year-old Narine is widely regarded as one of the best spinners in the world but has not appeared for the West Indies since 2019.  In total, Narine has played 6 Test matches, where he claimed 21 wickets, 65 One Day Internationals, where he has claimed 92 wickets, and 51 T20 Internationals where he has taken 52.

The player has, however, throughout his career been plagued by questions surrounding his bowling action.  In 2015, Narine was suspended from bowling in international cricket, after his action was deemed to be illegal.  He was reported during the ODI series against Sri Lanka.  He was cleared a year later after doing remedial work on his action.  Narine was reported again during the 2018 Pakistan Super League but was cleared soon after.  Again, in October 2020, the spinner was reported by on-field umpires for his bowling action in the 2020 Indian Premier League, which was cleared by IPL Suspect Bowling Action Committee in September.

According to Harper, at this point, the bowler does not seem comfortable enough with his technique to return to international cricket.

“Sunil Narine has indicated to us that he is not yet ready for the international scene,”
 Harper told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He was still in the process of fine-tuning his action.  He had some issues with that so he is in the process of fine-tuning it,” he added.

“So, when he makes himself available and thinks that he is ready for international cricket, we will then have to make a determination at that point.”

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