West Indies Test captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists the team will not be complacent against Sri Lanka heading into the start of the two-match series on Sunday.

The Windies are riding momentum following a hard-fought 2-0 series win away to Bangladesh and a strong performance in a 3-0 One Day International (ODI) series sweep over Sri Lanka.

Despite the recent success, however, Brathwaite, who officially replaced Jason Holder as captain to start the series, insists the team will be looking for a fierce fight from the tourists.

“It’s Test cricket so we won’t be taking them for granted.  I think they have some experienced batsmen that have played a lot of Tests, have scored a number of Test 100s, and an experienced bowler in Lakmal,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Saturday.

“Going into the game we won’t be underestimating them.  I think they will come and fight because the Sri Lanka team always tends to fight,” he added.

Sri Lanka have shown plenty of fight, despite losing both the T20 and ODI series their spinners gave the West Indies batsmen a lot to think about once they were deployed.

West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, insists the team is looking for improvement in every area ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka, on Sunday, but particularly targeted once again achieving the elusive 400 runs first innings score.

In recent matches, the regional team has carved out some momentum, following up hard-fought Test series win over Bangladesh with a T20 and dominant ODI series win over Sri Lanka.  Heading into the start of Sunday’s Test series, however, Simmons is far from satisfied.    

“We need to improve in every area, we had a good series but there are lots of things we need to keep improving on,” Simmons told Windies cricket.

“We need to make sure we get 400 in the first innings, which is something that we are striving for every time we play.  Then we have to bowl and bat even better than we did in Bangladesh,” he added.

The West Indies reached 400 first innings runs last month, in the series against Bangladesh, but reaching the total has proven to be the exception rather than the rule.  Prior to that, the team got to the total against Sri Lanka in 2018.

The highest first innings total, in the last 10 years, was 590 against India in 2011, in total they have achieved the feat seven times.  By comparison, Australia has achieved the feat 27 times within the same period.

 

Legendary West Indies batsman, Viv Richards, was hesitant to compare the talent of players currently available to the West Indies team, with those in his heyday, as he believes eras are simply too different.

Richards represented the West Indies for close to two decades, following his debut in 1974.  For the majority of his career, the Windies were known as the world’s best cricket team, securing two World Cups during that time.

The Master Blaster, as he is otherwise known, played alongside some of the game’s greatest players, the likes of Clive Lloyd, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, and bowlers Malcolm Marshal, Joel Garner, Collin Croft, and Michael Holding, to name a few, listed among his teammates.  Recently, the team has fallen far from that type of dominance.

For some, the quality comparison between the talent that was available then regionally, and the current crop, is an open and shut case with overwhelming favourability for the former.  For Richards, however, it isn’t that simple.

“It’s always tough for you to make comparisons of what took place yesterday to what’s happening today because I think the game would have moved on big time as well,” Richards told the Antigua Observer.

“There are a lot of things you would have had yesterday that (are) missing today and a lot of things you have today were missing yesterday, so, it’s a tough task for any individual to make comparisons,” he added.

One thing he insists that players can do from any era is to get the job done, regardless of the challenges.

 “The best way I would look at that is the period of time we were asked to work because remember we are not all the same age at this particular time. So, considering the times in which we all played and what was put in front of us at that particular time, we got the job done and you may ask that of the individuals today to do the very same. I don’t think I can give a definite answer to which period was better, and whoever was making whatever comparison; but all these individuals, at the time they came, they did good,” he said.

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) incumbent, Ricky Skerritt, has dismissed threats from presidential candidate Anand Sanasie as part of a ‘hopeful’ strategy designed to disqualify him from seeking re-election.

Earlier this week, Sanasie admitted to beginning procedures to bring Skerritt before the CWI Ethics Committee.  If the complaint is ignored at the regional level, the Guyana Cricket Board Secretary has not ruled out instructing his attorneys to bring the matter before the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Sanasie has accused Skerritt of improper conduct after alleging that a meeting between the latter, other board members of CWI, and Guyana Minister of Sports Charles Ramson Jr was not only illegitimately convened but that the decisions stemming from it, namely a quickly convened Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) election, were specifically designed to keep him off the ballot.  Ramson Jr has flatly rejected the assertions.

In response, Skerritt painted Sanasie’s actions as more of a desperate ploy than anything else.

“He is creating an illusion that somehow I will be disqualified from the election,” Skerritt told Sports Grill.

“It is his dream and his hope that I will be disqualified from the election because it is the only chance they would ever have of winning,” he added.

The CWI presidential elections are set to take place this Sunday.

 

Half-centuries from Kyle Mayers and Roston Chase were the highlights of the second day of Cricket West Indies’ President’s XI vs Sri Lanka as the fixture ended in a predictable draw.

Left-hander Mayers made a typically stroke-filled 57 off just 66 balls as the President’s XI took a first-innings lead of 122. He used the match as ideal preparations for the first Sandals Test match, which starts on Sunday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

They started the second day on 103-1 and made 294 in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings 172. In the second innings, the visitors were 56-0 when the match was called off at 4:50 pm.

Mayers hit 11 fours, mainly fierce cuts, and powerful drives and added 76 for the fourth wicket with Shamarh Brooks, who made 19 before he was magnificently snapped up at slip by Lahiru Thirimanne off-spinner Danajaya De Silva (3-26).

Chase then came to the crease and showed his class. The tall right-hander was excellent against the spinner as he scored 52 off 81 balls with eight fours. He was especially fluent through the on-side before he was dismissed leg-before wicket to left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya (3-69). This knock capped a very good match for Chase, who also took 4-12 on the opening day with his off-spin.

In the final session, Sri Lanka’s openers Thirimanne (27 not out) and Dimuth Karunarathne (23 not out) batted out the final 13 overs.

 

Former Windies wicketkeeper, Deryck Murray, believes it is important for the team to cultivate the habit of winning and admits to being encouraged by the displays in recent weeks.

The West Indies followed up a gutsy away win over Bangladesh, with a hard-fought T20 series win over Sri Lanka, before putting on a dominant display in a One Day International (ODI) series against the same opponents.

While some may view the results with an air of skepticism, due to what they believe is inferior opposition, Murray was quick to point out that the team’s approach and attitude in recent encounters was just as important as the results and could augur well for the future.

“We are at a stage where West Indies cricket, let’s face facts, is at the bottom of the rung and we have taken the opportunity to beat teams on an equal footing with us or just above us,” Murray told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What we saw in the One Days against Sri Lanka were people playing to their responsibilities within the team…we saw that in areas of the One Day game where people were called up to bowl at different times, people coming to bowl at the death, etc. People were moving out of their comfort zone and doing what the team needed,” he added.

“Between going from number 9 to number 1 there are going to be obstacles and hiccups along the way.  We are not going to beat everybody as we go along but being able to win in tight situations is key, forget whether it was Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.  In tight situations, we came out of it winning.  Players are going to start believing they can win.  So, when we face England, Australia, India, or New Zealand, it’s not going to be us trying to do something as a one-off but let’s get into a situation to give ourselves a chance to win.  You are going to start winning more than you are losing.”

The West Indies will now turn their attention to securing victory over Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series, which begins on Sunday.  

 

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.

 

 

Legendary West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, believes that the fighting spirit and professional display that led to a 2-0 series win, in Bangladesh, has spread to the rest of the team.

So far, the general consensus is that the regional team has, at times, been fairly impressive in the ongoing series against Sri Lanka.  They battled to a 2-1 win in the T20 series, but then swept the visitors aside in a confident display during the One Day International series.

Lloyd believes some of that confidence stems from the performance of the Kraigg Brathwaite unit, which was understrength and underestimated heading to last month’s tour of Bangladesh but battled to a surprise 2-0 Test series win.

“I believe it is because of the way our players played in Bangladesh, that it trickled down.  They put their head down and batted intelligently and won,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“It galvanized those other guys to do the same.  We had 274, 270-odd and we looked good.  We batted well. (Things were tighter) in the T20s but we won out because we are getting that professional attitude back and that I think it is because of the guys winning in Bangladesh.”

The team will look to take the momentum into the two-match Test series, which will get underway on Sunday.

 

 

 

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) presidential election race was rocked on Tuesday, following news that presidential candidate Gary Sanasie has sought to report incumbent Ricky Skerritt to the CWI Ethics Committee.

Speaking on the Mason and Guest radio program, the Guyanese board member revealed that he had launched a formal complaint, written to CWI Corporate Secretary Alanna Medford-Sigh.

Sanasie’s grouse stems from allegations that Skerritt held a meeting with Guyana’s Minister of Sports Charles Ramson Jr without convening the full board.  He further contents that the decisions taken at the meeting were deliberately made to give Skerritt an unfair advantage in his bid to secure re-election.

Neither Sanasie nor his running mate Calvin Hope of Barbados had been notified of the meeting.  If the complaint is brought before the committee and found to be valid by the group, chaired by Caribbean Court of Justice Judge Winston Anderson, Skerritt could be disqualified for seeking re-election. 

Skerritt and his running mate Dr Kishore Shallow will be seeking a second two-year team.  The due took charge in 2018 after defeating then-incumbent Dave Cameron and his vice president Emmanuel Nanthan.  The election takes place on March 28.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler turned pundit, Michael Holding, has revealed his powerful, impassioned plea for an end to institutionalised racism had just come ‘spilling’ out, following the death of American George Floyd.

Floyd’s death, at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin last year, prompted global outcry and worldwide protests.  In response to the incident, Holding gave powerful testimony about racial injustice, during Sky Cricket's coverage of England against West Indies in July 2020.

Holding won the Sports Journalists' Association (SJA) Award for Best Pundit in 2020 at the SJA Awards and Sky Sports won the Sports Network of the Year category.  The Sports Pundit award is decided by an SJA Members' vote.

The West Indian revealed the speak has simply come from thoughts that have been buried deep in his consciousness for a number of years now.

"People don't understand what it is like to go through life and always thinking that people think less of you than what you think of yourself,” Holding said at the online awards ceremony.

"It can be a little bit tiring and when I got that opportunity it just came spilling out,” he added.

He, however, holds out hope that the process that could lead to lasting change has already begun.

"If you just look at the protests on the road and look at the faces of the people that were on the road. I saw a Swedish women's football team take a knee before a game, so it is going all over the world that people are recognising that things need to be done, and it's about time it did."

West Indies middle-order batsman, Darren Bravo, has sought to assure fans of the regional team that the unit is striving to achieve consistency and has backed them to eventually accomplish it.

Spirits have been high, both for the West Indies team and many of its supporters, as the team followed up a surprise win away to Bangladesh with home wins over Sri Lanka and in both the T20 and One Day International series.

The fans will, however, be wary of celebrating a return to headier times too soon as the team has on several occasions given signs of turning the proverbial corner, so to speak, which they hope will be a crucial step to once again becoming a dominant force in world cricket.  Bravo, who scored a century in the ODI series, has explained that while things have not always quite gone to plan, the team is working to make the fans happy.

“To be honest, I don’t think it’s a situation where we have to try to be perfect because you will never ever be perfect.  It’s more about striving to be consistent in all facets of the game, whether it be bowling batting, or fielding,” Bravo told members of the media via a Zoom press conference call on Monday.

“I think as long as we strive for consistency then that is where you are going to see improvement.  If you try to be perfect, you fall short here and there.  As a team we are striving for consistency, the guys are working hard and I’m sure we are going to get it right.”

 

West Indies opener Evin Lewis has admitted it was hurtful to miss out on playing for the squad due to fitness concerns and reveals he took steps to ensure the incident did not repeat itself.

The 29-year-old was surprisingly left out of the squad last February, ahead of the team’s tour of Sri Lanka, after failing to meet Cricket West Indies' minimum fitness requirements.  Later in the year, the player turned down the opportunity to tour New Zealand citing injury and safety concerns.

A few months later, however, and Lewis has emerged from his time off in solid form.  The opener’s century, his fourth in One Day International (ODI cricket), against Sri Lanka in the second ODI, and blossoming partnership with left-hander Shai Hope was one of the highlights in a series which the West Indies dominated.

“I’ve been doing a lot of gym work and running. Due to the last (CWI) fitness test, before this series, I failed it. It hurt, to be doing so well and knowing my fitness was the problem,” Lewis told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“So, I went back home and did a lot of running and a lot of gym… Straight down until after the Bangladesh series, I’ve been training hard. I’m hungrier for it (WI selection) right now,” he said.

Ahead of the Sri Lanka series batsmen Shimron and all-rounder Roston Chase, along with pace bowlers  Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas all failed to meet the minimum fitness requirement for selection.  Chase and Hetmyer later passed the tests.

 

Former West Indies wicketkeeper and noted administrator, Jackie Hendriks, has expressed surprise at the selection of veteran batsman Chris Gayle for the T20 series against Sri Lanka, indicating he believes the batsman could be past it at this point.

The selection of the veteran pair of Gayle and fast bowler Fidel Edwards sparked heated discussions around the region, with some insisting that the players should have been overlooked for younger talent.  The 41-year-old Gayle was recalled to the regional squad for the first time in two years, along with the 39-year-old Edwards, who had not played for the team since 2012.

Neither player had a particularly strong series but have been playing in T20 leagues around the globe since last year, Gayle notably having a strong showing at the Indian Premier League (IPL), while Edwards showed up well for the Abu Dhabi T10 tournament.  For the Sri Lanka series, Gayle averaged 9 over three matches, with a high score of 16 in the second T20 match.  Edwards, in the meantime, took one wicket over the first two games but did not play the third.

Hendriks, while expressing confidence in the regional selectors, admits he was somewhat taken aback by both selections.

 “I was a little surprised that Chris was brought into the team at this stage,” said Hendriks, a former Jamaica Cricket Association president, told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I wondered what the reason was but of course he has been a tremendous player over the years but it’s just his age in life I was a little surprised,” he added.

“I don’t know what things went on in their minds. I don’t know. I certainly would’ve thought he was a little past it at this stage and having youngsters around, I would’ve gone for them. But of course, selectors are on the spot and they know what they’re doing. “[Edwards was] another question mark in my books. I would’ve thought that was a little stretch but again, the selectors must’ve had some good reason for that.”

West Indies bowling coach, Roddy Estwick, insists the team must do more than just occupy the crease if it is to be successful against Sri Lanka in the upcoming series and in One Day Internal cricket overall.

Conventional wisdom has at times suggested that a team’s best chance of doing well in the format is for batsmen to spend as much time out in the middle as possible.  With ball change rules, shorter boundaries, better bats, and more attacking-minded batsmen ODI scores in the last decade and a half have risen steadily.  Scores in the region of 350 have become more commonplace.  In fact, the top five highest scores in ODI cricket have all come in the last 14 years.

As such, Estwick points out that just occupying the crease will not be enough and the team must find a way to score runs.

“It’s hard to say you are going to bat time, you still need to make sure you get around 300 runs.  We can’t just say we will sit back and bat time,” Estwick told members of the media via a Zoom press conference call on Tuesday.

“We got to come up with better game plans, we have to execute better.  You know that you have a certain strike rate and certain runs per over to go at in ODI cricket,” he added.

“To be safe these days you have to make around 340, 350.  It might not be that much in this series but remember we are preparing for 2023 that is when the World Cup is.”

West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, believes batsmen must avoid the temptation of being too tentative in looking to navigate the Sri Lanka spin attack, as the team looks to bounce back in the third and decisive T20 international, on Sunday.

The Windies took the opening match of the series with a comfortable four-wicket win, with 41 balls remaining.  On Friday, however, Sri Lanka came roaring back to claim the second match after a star performance from the team’s spinners.

Lakshan Sandakan and Wanidu Hasaranga proved particularly hard to negotiate, each claiming three wickets, with Sandakan boasting a miserly economy rate of 2.73.  In pursuit of Sri Lanka’s 160 for 6, the Windies were restricted before being bundled out of 116.  Things had not gone smoothly against the spin in the first match, despite the result, with Akila Danajaya claiming a four-for, including a third over hat-trick before being taken apart by Windies captain Kieron Pollard who smashed 6 sixes off his over.  The coach believes a similar approach could pay dividends in the decider.

“The key is playing them in the right way.  You can’t be too tentative when you are playing against good spinners,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Saturday.

“We have to still go out there and look to score against them and playing cricket how we know how to play cricket,” he added.

“All the guys who played IPL would have played against these spinners or even better spinners and done well, so that is what we have to make sure we do tomorrow.”

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