Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

A significant reduction in the number of athletes that will be allowed to compete is among major changes set to be introduced at the 2021 GraceKennedy/ISSA Boys and Girls Championships scheduled for March 23 to 27, 2021.

Alternative dates of May 4-8 have also been set for the 110-year-old championships, should there be Covid-19-related spikes during the period. The 2020 championships were cancelled because of the pandemic.

Among major changes announced by the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association that are coming for the championships is that because of the restrictions, fewer than 1000 athletes will be able to participate. This is down from the more than 2400 athletes that are usually on show.

What this means is that for events like the sprints (100,200 and 400) only 32 athletes will be allowed to enter and will be comprised of the top-two regional athletes and the next best 24.

Meanwhile, only 24 will be eligible to compete in the hurdles and 800m events. The 1500m will only have 16.

However, the decathlon and heptathlon events will have the usual number of entries but only the top 12 from the field events will be allowed.

 

Joshua Da Silva might have only played in one Test match, but according to one of the greatest batsmen of all time, the young Trinidadian's more experienced counterparts could learn a thing or two from the greenhorn wicketkeeper/batsman.

Called to the West Indies squad to replace the injured Shane Dowrich, the 22-year-old Da Silva got off to an inauspicious start in his Test debut which came recently against New Zealand.

After looking at ease in the middle, a moment of indecision cost him his wicket.

When on three, he decided to play at a fullish outswinger in the corridor from Tim Southee. In an instant, Da Silva tried to pull his bat away but not far enough as the ball brushed the bat face on its way through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

However, in his second turn at bat with the West Indies following on, Da Silva was the most composed batsman, going on to make a polished 57. With the West Indies facing certain defeat and with only one batsman left to come, he was eventually trapped lbw by Neil Wagner. During the knock where he stroked six balls to the boundaries, the young Trinidadian impressed none other than the Master Blaster himself, Sir Isaac Vivian Richards.

“I think some of these guys should have a look at him and see how simple he keeps his game because even for the period I saw him at the crease he was compact, not flashy and had the bat coming down with all kinds of flashiness,” Sir Vivian told the Antigua Observer in a recent interview.

“He looks very respectable to me, like he knows his game.

“You see him when he is batting and when he is looking to defend, how straight his bat is. He looks organized to me and you’re not seeing that in all the other guys.”

Da Silva came away with a Test average of 30, the third best among the West Indies batsmen. Only Jermaine Blackwood with an average of 54 and Captain Jason Holder who averaged 34.33 were better.

 

 

 

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has described the current crop of Test batsmen as timid following the recently concluded debacle in New Zealand where the team lost by an innings in each of the two Tests.

For two decades, Sir Vivian, one of the greatest batsmen of all time, destroyed bowling attacks across the globe, plundering 8540 runs in 121 Tests. The nature of his dominance was such that he once held the world record for the fastest-ever Test century, getting to the hallowed milestone from just 56 balls. It is against this background that that his criticism of the current crop of West Indies batsmen is seen as being telling. 

During the recent tour of New Zealand, the West Indies batsmen were harried and bullied by the pace and bounce of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee, who between them took 38 wickets.

In the first Test at Hamilton, New Zealand, batting first on a green wicket, made 519 for 7 declared with Captain Kane Williamson getting 251 runs. In reply, the West Indies could only manage 138 and following on, 247, losing by an innings and 134 runs.

It was a similar situation in the second Test at Wellington where after New Zealand made 460 all out reduced the West Indies to 131, and following on, 317, losing by an innings and 12 runs.

Of note, is that no West Indies batsman in four innings cumulatively managed to score more runs than Williamson’s score in the first Test. Jermaine Blackwood, who scored a century and a half century over the two Tests came closest with 216 runs.

Richards, in a recent interview with the Antigua Observer, said the West Indies batsmen were not able to withstand the hostility of the home team’s bowlers.

“We are struggling to play the short ball, and we look like the individuals we used to deal with. We are looking very timid and West Indians over the years have always been part of that destructive force when it comes to playing fast bowling,” said Sir Vivian.

“There are certain improvements in the team but we are seeing it in bits and pieces and we are not seeing those pieces being out together, we are not seeing that.”

Richards said it was becoming hard to watch the West Indies play under the current state of affairs.

 

Jamaica’s Kristen McGregor won the Miss Olympia Amateur title in the Women's Figure category at the week-long 2020 NPC Worldwide Amateur Olympia competition that concluded in Orlando, Florida on Saturday.

Trinidad and Tobago wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva said making a half century on his Test debut against New Zealand was surreal. However, having got a taste of Test cricket against one of the best teams in the world, he is now more aware of what it takes to be among the best.

The 22-year-old Da Silva’s performances in front of and behind the stumps were among the few positives from what was otherwise a disastrous tour in which the Caribbean side lost each of their two Test matches inside four day by an innings.

Da Silva had scores of 3 and 57 for an average of 30 in the second Test match at Wellington after he replaced Shane Dowrich, who left the tour for personal reasons. He was also quite competent behind the stumps having taken two catches in New Zealand's innings of 460.

With the West Indies battling to save the match, Da Silva put on 82 for the seventh wicket with his Captain Jason Holder, who made 61. However, once Holder was out early on the fourth day, Da Silva batted with authority. He held the New Zealand bowling at bay for two and a quarter hours hitting six fours along the way. His was the penultimate West Indies wicket to fall, trapped lbw by Neil Wagner, but not before the West Indies had cross the 300-run barrier en route to their highest score of the series.

He said he was especially proud of his Test 50.

“It was an unreal feeling, words can’t really describe the moment. I’m still trying to process it actually happened,” Da Silva told Newsday late last week, while revealing that getting to the milestone was tougher than it may have looked having to face New Zealand's battery of world-class bowlers.

"It was quite the challenge. They don’t let up, always coming for your wicket. Very rarely do you get a bad ball. They ask a lot of questions and always have a plan.”

Notwithstanding the good showing, Da Silva said he came to realize just what it takes to excel at Test level

“It just showed me how much harder I have to work if I want to be consistent at that level. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of physical and mental strength,” he said.

 

Elaine Thompson got the gold over Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Track and Field News’ Podiums for 2020.

Briana Williams has withdrawn from the Christmas Class Odd Distance meet that was to have got underway in Freeport, Bahamas today.

Man of the Match Keithroy Freeman scored a brace as Horsford St Paul’s United defeated Ram’s Village Superstars 2-1 at Warner Park to win the SKNFA Premier League title on Wednesday night.

Wednesday night’s victory meant that St Paul’s took an unassailable lead in the best-of-three finals after winning Game 1 2-0 on the weekend.

During the keenly contested final, Freeman gave the champions an early lead in the 13th minute when he rose high at the near post to score a glancing header to put his side up 1-0.

That lead would hold until the 67th minute Tahir Hanley drove a powerful shot home from close range to pull the Superstars level.

However, Freeman who was declared the MVP of the finals, pounced on a through ball, rounded the Superstars goalkeeper before passing into an empty net from 17 yards to secure the victory in the 81st minute.

Three red cards as the match drew to close marred the occasion.

St Paul’s Deonte Liburd was sent off in the 84th minute while teammate Omar Francis and Leroy Hanley were sent off in stoppage time following an on-field scuffle.

Freeman took home a pair of Beats headphones, a 50-inch smart television set and $500 dollars cash for his efforts during the finals.

 

The inaugural Rose Cup, being staged in honour of late Jamaican golfer Seymour Rose, was launched the Caymanas Golf Club in St. Catherine on Thursday. 

Mayberry Investments will be the title sponsor for the tournament that will be held from December 29 to 30 at the Caymanas Golf Club and will feature 12-member teams of professionals and amateurs.

The format will be both team and individual match play with one point being awarded for a win and a half point for a draw. 

The play format yields a maximum of 22 points with the first team to get eleven and a half points or more to be declared the winner.  If the teams are tied there will be a sudden death play-off at holes 1, 2, 17 and 18 until a winner is determined. 

Rose, rated as one of Jamaica's best golfers, is among a select group to have won the prestigious Jamaica Open three times.  He did so in 1977, 1982 and 1987. He played for more than 50 years and served the sport as an instructor, manager and superintendent.  He also represented Jamaica at the Caribbean Golf Championships. 

His daughter Sheree Rose lauded the gesture. “He has left quite a legacy and I am proud to be his daughter.  I felt thrilled.  It was just so amazing to know that even in death he is still remembered because his life touched so many," she said while wishing the participants the best of luck for the competition. 

No cash prize will be awarded to the winners but some player costs like transportation and caddie fees will be absorbed by the organizers. 

Among the professionals confirmed for the tournament are Sebert Walker, the non-playing captain, Raymond Brown, Wesley Brown, Martin Butt, Lloyd Campbell, Orville Christie, Allan Graham, Sean Green, Kevin McDonald, Jonathan Newnham (vice-captain), Ricardo Perry, Alford Robinson and Michael Rowe.

"I expect that it will be a fun-filled competition,” said Green. 

“The Rose Cup is similar to a Ryder format which I don't think we have ever really had in Jamaica before.  It’s exciting to see all of the good golfers, what we call our elite golfers in Jamaica, playing together and just for bragging rights and so on.

“It excites us to have this tournament to have something to look forward to annually and the fact that it’s the Rose Cup which is Mr. Seymour Rose, it gives us the professionals a little more spark to want to win this trophy." 

The amateurs will be comprised of Justin Burrowes, John Dunbar, William Knibbs, Tommy Lee, Mark Newnham, Rocco Lopez, Phillip Prendergast, John O'Donoghue, Jack Stein, Sebert Walker Jr. and Shamar Wilson. 

"I believe that the amateur team is packing a lot of talent.  I believe that the guys are in good shape,” said Sean Morris, who is also co-chair for the organizing committee but who is also down to play. 

“I believe they are hungry because they did not have the Caribbean championships to play this year so I believe they are looking forward to this event as the marque event on the calendar this year."  

He also said that he was hoping to play well. 

Meanwhile, co-chair of the organizing committee Major Desmon Brown expressed his gratitude to the sponsors, who helped make the tournament possible. 

“It’s difficult at this time to get sponsors but we got Mayberry, Sports Development Foundation and some other sponsors who came on board.  I think it is a great event.  A couple of guys have been talking for a long time to me about it and there is always this banter between the amateurs and the professionals - who is better so we came up with this idea.  We are very happy that we have reached this far," he said. 

In addition to Mayberry, the Rose Cup has also attracted sponsorship from Body Forte, Coffee Traders and Grab and Go; Sterling Asset Management, Versachem International, Karmak Construction, Billy Craig Insurance, Fontana Pharmacy and Fidelity Motors.

 

Jermaine Blackwood was the only West Indies batsman to emerge from the West Indies tour of New Zealand with his reputation intact in what was otherwise a disastrous tour in which some batsmen averaged less than the team’s bowlers.

The West Indies does not lack talent in cricket but a lot more is needed if the team is to rise from the doldrums to become a respected force once more.

These sentiments were expressed by Head Coach Phil Simmons and White-Ball Captain Kieron Pollard in the aftermath of another losing series, this time in New Zealand where the West Indies lost the T20 series and Test series by 2-0 margins.

Since then, debate has swirled around the failings of the West Indies and what, if anything, can be done to bring about a reversal of fortunes.

Simmons and Pollard are of the view that a lot needs to be done administratively and by the players, if things are to change for the better.

“We are never, in the Caribbean, wanting for talent,” Simmons said in a video from CWI posted on Youtube on Wednesday.

“But now is a time for us to realize that all the talent we have hasn’t taken us anywhere and that there are some things that have to go with the talent. “There’s teaching, there’s understanding, there’s learning how to play different games in all different formats.

“There is a lot to be done still. We have to put together everything else in the Caribbean that goes with the talent to make it a successful unit again.”

Pollard, one of the best T20 players in the world and who has played with in some of the best T20 leagues across the globe, while agreeing with the head coach, opined that until the structures can be put in place for the West Indies to make full use of the talent, the current crop of players need to shoulder a greater share of responsibility. This, he said, would likely inspire the administrators to do more.

“We talk about fixing cricket and wanting to take it forward but I think as individuals, the hard work needs to be put in and I just believe that sometimes you look at it, it needs to start at the administration level,” Pollard said.

“In this case, I think we can be the driving force on the field, the group of guys we have at present, we can continue to show that we have the drive and the determination and desire to go forward and push forward, and also put ourselves in uncomfortable positions in order for this vehicle to go forward then it would transcend onto the administration and they will realize that we need to pull our socks up.

“When you look at it, we are not wanting for talent. Talent, pound for pound, we are always there and sometimes a lot better than we have seen around the world but what they have around the world is structure. What they have is people investing in the cricket, investing in themselves.”

Pollard believes the West Indies have remained in the doldrums for a long time because of a willingness to accept mediocrity suggesting that, unfortunately, it part of Caribbean culture.

He said with a renewed effort to move forward, hopefully the effort will attract the type of investment needed in regional cricket.

“There is still a long way to go in terms of playing in proper facilities. Pitches in the Caribbean, in all honesty, are not at a great standard. Things that we call world class, when you go away you see world class and those are the things we need to see as individuals and from an administration point of view.”

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bradshaw believes that at the core of the failures of current West Indies team is the simple fact that they do not consistently do the “little things” well.

The 40-year-old Barbadian only took nine wickets in the five Tests he played for the West Indies between March and June 2006.

He made his debut against New Zealand in Auckland in March 2006 and played his final Test against India at Gros Islet in June that year but during his short time with the team, his passion and commitment to the team was never in question.

He is best remembered for scoring an unbeaten 34 in fading light at the Oval as he and wicketkeeper Courtney Browne mounted an unbeaten ninth-wicket partnership of 71 that lifted the West Indies from certain defeat to an unlikely victory in the 2004 Champions Cup.

Speaking on the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados on Tuesday, Bradshaw expressed his frustration at the West Indies performance in New Zealand where they lost both Test matches by an innings and were swept by the hosts.

“Like every cricket fan I am really disappointed with the performance. We have not stood up and gave a good account of ourselves and I think that that is the most critical thing and it’s worrying the manner in which we lost the series,” he said.

“We would have seen in recent times there have been some positive steps taken in terms of our attitude and in terms of doing some of the small things better.

“I mean, you take a team like New Zealand, if we had to look at their team, maybe (they’re) not a bunch of world beaters, not the Kohli’s and the Steve Smiths that you would see dominate the headlines on other teams, but what this team has done and what we can learn so much from is that they’re doing the little things well, often and that is what we have to improve on, doing the little things well often.”

It bears noting that the West Indies only bowled New Zealand out once during the two Tests and took 17 wickets overall. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s bowlers took 38 wickets. Tim Southee was the best of the hosts’ bowlers with 12 wickets twice as many as the West Indies’ leading bowler Shannon Gabriel.

“It is not good enough that after 50 Tests or so our bowlers are not consistent enough on the first morning of a Test to be consistently putting the ball in front of the batsman,” he said.

He was equally critical of the batsmen, who failed to make any impact on the tour save for a few notable exceptions. In the second Test they also dropped seven catches, three of them off Henry Nicholls whose 174 took the match away from the visitors.

“It is not good enough that you go to New Zealand and the excuse for the batsman is that the ball is swinging. It is difficult conditions but we have been going to New Zealand for over 50 years and the conditions have not changed.

“And I appreciate the fact that New Zealand played well but I am more concerned that our performances as a professional unit was not consistent enough to merit the representation of West Indies cricket which we must hold dear.”

 

 

Neven Ilic has been unanimously re-elected President of PanAm Sports.

At the 58th General Assembly of Panam Sports, the Chilean received 52 votes from the member countries confirming the tremendous support he has in the continent and the recognition of the work he is doing while leading the Pan American Sports Organization.

Mario Moccia from Argentina, Jimena Saldaña from Mexico and Keith Joseph from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were elected as the three vice presidents. The new Executive Committee members are Susanne Lyons from the USA, Miguel Angel Mujica from Chile, Erskine Simmons from Barbados and Juan Santiago Estrada from Nicaragua.

For the first time in history, a General Assembly of the Pan American Sports Organization was being held virtually. The pandemic caused PanAm Sports to suspend the meeting scheduled for Cancun and hold the assembly remotely. 

However, this has not been an impediment for the sport leaders from 41 member countries nor the special guests of the Pan American Confederations, International Federations, International Olympic Committee and host cities, among others, from joining via Zoom and participating over the two days.

The assembly featured reports about this difficult and unprecedented year and the entire quadrennial by PanAm Sports President Ilic, Secretary General Ivar Sisniega and the commissions, as well as progress reports by the Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020, Junior Pan American Games of Cali 2021 and Pan Am Games of Santiago 2023.

However, among the most anticipated moments of this LVIII General Assembly of Panam Sports was the election of president.

Although President Ilic was the only candidate he had to receive more than 50 per cent of the voting assembly to confirm his re-election.

In the end, there were no surprises.

“The truth is, I am very happy with the support received by all the Olympic Committees. During these more than three years we have become more united as a continent, we have learned the different needs of our member countries and we have seen important results both in sporting and also in the development of our NOCs which of course motivates us to continue working for our athletes and for the Americas,” said Ilic.

“I want to congratulate all the new members that join the Executive Committee and, in turn, thank those who leave us, because their contribution was very fundamental to the success of this administration.”

On the second day of the assembly, the results of the elections of the Members of the Executive Committee and the Vice Presidents, including the new members that are joining the Board, were announced.

Faced with the challenges of the coming years, President Ilic was emphatically indicating that, “We are very happy for what has been done and we have received the recognition of many people around the world for the great work we are doing, but there is still much to do. The return to competition after COVID-19, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, our first Cali-Valle 2021 Junior Pan American Games and the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games loom as our great challenges. But in addition, we want to continue with our development as an organization and ensure the future of our member countries, our athletes and the new generations, who are undoubtedly the future of our society.”

 

The next edition of the General Assembly (LXI) will be held in Santiago, Chile in October 2021.

 

Johnson Charles and the Jaffna Stallions are the 2020 champions of the Lankan Premier League following their emphatic 53-run victory over the Galle Gladiators at Hambantota today.

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