Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi has been a sports journalist with more than 10-years’ experience in the field. First as a Sports Reporter with The Gleaner in the early 2000s before he made the almost natural transition to becoming an editor. Since then he has led the revamp of The Star’s sports offering, making it a more engaging and forward-thinking component of the most popular tabloid newspaper in the Caribbean.

Few could fail to be amazed by the flat-out, raw hitting power or the devastating ability to single-handedly change a game that Windies T20 star Andre Russell possesses, but as far as being the new Chris Gayle or Brian Lara, he’s not quite yet there.

Now, the point recently made by veteran West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is not lost.  After a solid performance against Sri Lanka with both bat and ball, which in the end delivered the team a comfortable win, Bravo sees Dre Russ as having picked up the mantle as the team’s go-to guy.  The role played to great effect by both Gayle and Lara for the regional team over multiple formats.

To some extent, Russell has, on occasion, delivered for the Windies.  And, if we were speaking about club T20 cricket where his many big-time performances have seen him stack up titles right around the globe, there could be little argument regarding the snap assessment. 

At the international level, however, Russell still trails behind the two greats in one important area; consistency.

Not that it wasn’t ever true about the two Windies stars against which he is being compared, but too often it seems that Russell has failed to measure exactly what is required in the instant of the game when he arrives at the crease. As a result, he is sent back to hutch, head hung, with helmet in hand soon after.

A quick look at the averages will show that Russell averages almost 12-runs fewer than Gayle’s average of 32.54 in T20 international cricket. Overall, in T20s he averages 26.95 to Gayle’s 38.20.

 Of course, each man bats at different times in a innings.

Gayle has far more time to settle in than Russell who comes further down the order.  Even so, one can’t help but suspect that better application could have meant a higher average. 

In T20Is Russell is yet to register a 100 or 50 in the format, while Gayle has two 100s and 13 half-centuries.  Almost 10 years Russell's senior, Gayle has played more international T20 cricket, but not a lot more. Nine more, in fact, 58 to Russell’s 49.  One would think that with a more consistent approach, Russell would at least have registered a few more half-centuries.

As far as potential goes, however, the talented Russell could easily have the big two looking over their shoulders in the next few years.

His wicket-taking ability, which ensures that he is also a key part of the team’s bowling attack, is an element neither Lara or Gayle would have had. 

Russell also has the ability to be very effective in the ODI format of the game, giving us a glimpse at last year's ICC Cricket World Cup before being hobbled by injury.  During the tournament the quickest batsman, in terms of balls faced, to score 1,000 runs in ODIs, facing only 767 deliveries.

All that points to the fact that the sky could be the limit for a fully fit, fully focused Russell but he certainly has to deliver on a more consistent basis to fall into the same category of two of the greatest to ever play the game, even as a go-to guy.

Even from a distance, it seems impossible not to gawk at the mangled train wreck that has unfolded at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and not be overcome with a sense of bewilderment.

In a press conference earlier this month, then newly elected president William Wallace became the latest in a long line of TTFA bosses to firmly plant allegations of widespread corruption at the feet of the previous tenants.  The new head honcho pointed to unpaid statutory deductions, bounced checks, a faulty finance structure as partial contributors to the body accruing a towering $US7,370,990 (TT$50,000,000).  Wallace also pointed to an incomplete Home of Football in Couva, which he claimed was shown to have structural flaws and lacking proper insurance. 

In the midst of the doom and gloom, Wallace then went on to paint a much rosier outlook for the future of the TTFA, after claiming the newly appointed administration had already taken major steps to alleviate some of the issues.  A settlement had been reached with television commentator Selwyn Melville regarding the issue of who owns the ‘Soca Warriors’ (Now famous nickname of the Trinidad and Tobago Men's Senior team)  and the announcement of an unspecified memorandum of understanding that would clear the debt in ‘two to three years’. The president pointed out that the new body had secured a TT$25-million apparel deal, secured a broadcast and digital rights partner, sealed a domestic sponsor and secured a sponsor for the FA. 

Good so far, but crucially, Wallace claimed that the work of a pair of accountants posted within his administration’s new internal finance structure satisfied a recent delegation of FIFA and Concacaf officials and that a better relationship could be expected going forward.  The bodies have long been at odds regarding the financial state of the local football body and had delayed its annual subvention.  A little over two weeks later FIFA disbanded the Board of the TTFA and appointed a normalization committee to take over affairs.  What on earth is going on? Nobody has explained to date.

The timing of FIFA's intervention seems strange, deciding to disband a newly formed executive that seems to not only have implemented structural reform but also pledges for financial support. A perceived sense of chumminess with the former administration, whether real or imagined put this in an even worse light and could be a real black eye for a Gianni Infantino-led organisation, which claims to have taken on the mantle of crusaders against corruption.

The response of the former TTFA members is, however, also interesting.

Any claims about a violation of sovereign and democratically elected officials certainly does not fly as when it comes to football the twin-island republic falls directly under the governance of FIFA itself and not the state. In several instances, countries have been suspended from the organisation for violating just that principle. The charter and ordinances that govern all 211 national associations of which T&T are a part, and the particular article that was quoted, gives them the specific right to intervene in the affairs of a member nation.  Normalisation committees are not after all aberrations on the global football landscape with Ghana, Egypt, Pakistan and Namibia among a few of those that have received such ‘assistance’ in recent years. This isn't even the first time this has happened in the Caribbean, with FIFA taking over the Guyana Football Federation and putting in a normalisation committee for a little over a year.

In other words, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Randy Harris was right, even if not popular, in pointing out that the appointment of normalisation committees is the prerogative of FIFA and can happen to any of the 211 national associations.  With all members agreeing to and playing under those statues it is difficult to see how it can be argued otherwise.

Secondly, it’s hard to imagine supporting the argument that a measure put in place to mitigate against damage the TTFA has admitted exists, is unfair, and to do so with the question, 'why now?'. FIFA should perhaps have intervened long ago, but few could argue with firefighters attempting to save any part of a house that has been engulfed in flames for a prolonged period. We would not advocate them letting it burn to the ground. 

Though they may not be required to, FIFA should, in the interest of the transparency they have long sought, give more details on the specifics of these particular circumstances.

 

 

Jamaica sprint queen, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, believes compatriot Usain Bolt may have stepped away from the sport of track and field too early.

Bolt and Fraser-Pryce were the biggest stars in a decade of sprint dominance for Jamaica.  Between them, the duo racked up 20 World Championship gold medals and 10 Olympic gold medals.  However, while the evergreen Fraser-Pryce continues to dazzle the world with her prowess on the track, Bolt hung up his spikes in 2017.

At the age of 33, Fraser-Pryce created history by becoming the first athlete to claim four 100m World Championship titles, in an event not known for its longevity and consistency.  Bolt has three and Fraser-Pryce who took two years off after having her first child before returning to the top of sprinting, believes it could have been more.

“I don’t think it was ok for him to quit just yet.  I think he had more time in him, but I think he was a little tired and doesn’t like the training that much,” Fraser-Pryce said in a recent interview.

“I definitely think he misses it because he can see what I’m doing.  He messages me all the time and says it’s amazing to see what you are doing and I tell him you could still have been doing what I have been doing.”

If dreams come true, United States sprinter Noah Lyles could be the new 100m world record holder before even setting foot in the Tokyo Olympics final.

The 22-year-old American sprinter has been one of a handful of prominent stars to emerge from the pack as up and coming athletes chase the legacy of Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt.  Despite being universally acknowledged as a tremendous talent and winning his first major title earlier this year, which was the 200m at the Doha World Championships, for now, Lyles remains firmly in the Jamaican's big shadow.

In addition to boasting eight Olympics and 11 World Championship gold medals, it is Bolt who still holds the records for the fastest times ever clocked over both the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19).  The American has already at least broken one of Bolt’s records in pursuit.  Earlier this year, the young sprinter broke Bolt’s meet record at the Paris Diamond League.  Lyles clocked 19.65, eclipsing the Jamaican's previous time of 19.73.  With the Olympics on the horizon, the American has much bigger hopes, well bigger dreams in any case.

“I’m very excited for Tokyo. Japan is one of my favourite countries outside the US. I’ve got big plans,” Lyles told Olympic.org.

“I’ve got a dream that I ran 9.41 in the semis at the Olympics,” he added.

The athlete must, of course, secure himself a spot on the United States national team before having a chance to chase his dream.

 

Windies T20 skipper Kieron Pollard insists the team will focus on the positives despite a 29-runs loss to Afghanistan, which handed the South Asian team a 2-1 series win on Sunday.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, a punishing 79 from 52 balls from man-of-match Rahmanullah Gurbaz, lifted the hosts to 156 for 8 and set the table for the crucial win.  The opener was left to anchor the innings following the departure of partner Hazratullah Zazai for a duck and the team losing wickets at regular intervals.

In response, Shai Hope did his best to keep the Windies in the hunt as they pursued the target and added 52 from 46 balls.  He, however, found very little support as the team found the bowlers difficult to get away on the slow surface.  Naveen-ul-Haq was the most successful of the Afghanistan bowlers and claimed 3 for 24.

“It was a similar situation to yesterday. We found ourselves in a hole in the Powerplay and couldn't dig ourselves out of it. I can’t fault the effort of the bowlers. but having said that, the guys would have taken a lot from this series and how to adapt and play on slower pitches,” Pollard said.

 “We have a long-term plan, but we have to deal with what's in front of us right now.  I can't say what will happen in October next year (for the T20 World Cup). Yes, we are on the losing side, but these things happen. In sport, there is a winner and a loser.”

The Windies won the first T20I against Afghanistan by 30 runs, lost the second by 41 runs, before being swept aside in the decider.

Out of favour Windies batsman, Darren Bravo has admitted an authoritative start to the Colonial Insurance Super50 was a relief after struggling at find form in recent months.

Bravo cracked an unbeaten 115 off 127 balls, anchoring the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in an eight-wickets win over the Windward Island Volcanoes.  The middle-order batsman was ably partnered by Jeremy Solozano who also got to the century mark, scoring 102 from 118 balls.

In an impressive knock, Bravo sent the ball racing to the boundary on five occasions and cleared the rope eight times.  It was a welcome sight for the out of form batsman, who was dropped from the West Indies squad after failing to make any significant or consistent impact at the crease for the past several months.

“I think this innings went a long way for me,” Bravo said following the match.

 “I just needed to back myself in the best possible way.  I know as long as I spent time out in the middle things were going to get easier and that is what I did.”

Bravo who received man-of-the-match honours insisted that patience and communication had been key in the record stand with Solozano.

After spending a good chunk of their careers as fierce competitors, decorated US track star Allyson Felix never dreamed she would find an ally and close friend in Jamaican counterpart Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. 

Now, united by the unforgettable journey of motherhood, the two are joined as participants in an experience that will live long after their final races on the track have been run. 

On the track, most of the duels between the sprinters came as part of a fierce match-up that pit the United States against Jamaica in the 4x100m relays for almost a decade, coming face to face in 2011 (Daegu), 2012 (London) 2015 (Beijing) and 2016 (Rio).

Off the mondo track battleground, however, the two have learned to be teammates of sorts in a cause that spreads well beyond its neatly lined white borders.

 In March 2017, Fraser-Pryce took time away from the sport to give birth to her first child a boy named Zyon.  One year later it was Felix’s turn to collect the baton, giving birth to her daughter Camryn.  The arduous journey is one rarely undertaken by female athletes at the top of their game, perhaps for fear of unknown changes to bodies primed for elite competition.  For the legendary sprinters, however, the long climb back to the top of the winner’s podium has proven not just a source of unity but they hope a rallying cry for women in competitive sport.

"It’s been interesting, because we’ve been competitors for so long," Felix told AOL.com

It’s just life that changes you at some point and both of us becoming mothers really brought us together," Felix said of embracing the challenge motherhood alongside Fraser-Pryce.

"Whereas before, not that it wasn’t a friendly competition, but we wouldn’t really mix too much, but now we have something that brings us together, that we share in common and that gives us something to talk about,” she added.

"We’ve really been encouraging each other, and she’s been a great source of help along the way to bounce things off of and vice versa. It’s something that I never really imagined in a competitor, but it’s really cool," she went on. "To be able to support other women, at least in my sport, I didn’t feel that when I first came in. I wanted to change that culture. Let’s celebrate one another, and let's encourage one another!"

Fraser-Pryce returned to the top of world sprinting in spectacular fashion this year after claiming a fourth 100m title at the Doha World Championships.  Felix will hope to follow suit when she bids for an appearance at next year’s Olympic Games.

Newly appointed Windies chairman of selectors Roger Harper confirmed veteran batsman Chris Gayle was unavailable for the upcoming series against Afghanistan but suggested the panel would focus on younger talent going forward.

Speculation has continued to surround the future of the star batsman after he announced plans to retire, following the ICC World Cup earlier this year.  The 40-year-old, however, appeared to have a change of heart and went on to claim that the team's series again India, following the cricketing showpiece, would instead be his final. 

Controversy, however, erupted with many suggesting the batsman should hang up his tips and allow for the development of younger players.  Following the series against India, Gayle was again quick to insist that he was in no hurry to retire.  With young openers like Evin Lewis and Brandon King included in the squad, Harper suggested it was time to give younger players an opportunity to showcase their skills.

“Gayle told us he is unavailable for Afghanistan Series, but we all know Chris, he is a world-class player with a tremendous record and of course it’s difficult to replace Chris Gayle,” Harper explained.

"But I think going forward it is in a way an opportunity for young players to showcase their skills and make a name for themselves as we look ahead to the next two T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021 and the future.”

A visibly emotional Hayden Walsh Jr took time to reflect on the merits of hard work and the immense contribution of his late father as he basked in the glory of a first and in many ways unexpected Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title with the Barbados Tridents.

Few would have heard of the 27-year-old Antiguan-American before the start of this season but it's safe to say his whirlwind leg break bowling took the competition by storm.  His 22 wickets in 9 matches representing a tournament-high that earned him the Hero Player of the Tournament award. 

Twice this season the spinner proved completely unplayable for the opposition, claiming five wickets against the Trinbago Knightriders and four against the St Lucia Zouks to help catapult the team into the then-struggling team into the playoffs.  Eventually, it set the stage for one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history with a win over the previously unbeaten Guyana Amazon Warriors in the final.   

Perhaps even fewer would remember the bowler’s forgettable CPL debut season for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in 2018 where his two overs in just two matches went for a costly 54, with no wickets to show.  For Walsh, the gentle placing of the CPL crown on a head once plagued with uneasiness, surely once again proved the old adage, the price of success is hard work.

“I have no words right now.  I’ve worked so hard and all I have to do is give the almighty God thanks for bringing me this far,” Walsh Jr said after the match.

“I’ve been working for years.  I’ve been getting tips all over but I think this is the time it has started to pay off,” he added.

Despite certainly having a claim to being Leeward islands cricketing royalty, his uncle Vaughn Walsh a pace bowler and father Hayden, a gritty opener who played for the region in the 90s, the journey has been a long one for the young Walsh.

He came through the ranks but often failed to find favour with the selectors of the sub-regional group.  The spinner, as a result, went on to represent the United States at the senior level.  The player was forced to overcome perhaps his biggest obstacle when his father, who introduced him to the game and served as his mentor for several years, died of a heart attack in 2010.

“I think about him every day,” a teary-eyed Walsh said.

For his breakout exploits, the bowler was named the Hero Player of the Tournament. 

 

Jamaica Reggae Boyz assistant coach Jerome Waite believes the team was guilty of underrating its opposition in an uninspiring 2-0 win over lesser-ranked Aruba in Nation’s League action at the National Stadium on Saturday.

In the end, the Jamaicans scraped out a win courtesy of goals from Devon Williams and Shamar Nicholson but much more had been expected with approximately 129 places between the teams in the rankings.  It was the second time the Jamaicans faced the inhabitants of the tiny island, with a population of somewhere in the region of 106,314. 

Visibly annoyed spectators at the Jamaica National Stadium, galled by the home team’s misplaced passes and sloppy turnovers, clearly expected a result similar to the 6-0 beating administered to the visitors during a 1997 Caribbean Cup fixture.

“We won 2-0 and it could have been better, but we looked a little lacklustre,” Waite said following the match.

“One of the things that I believe contributed to that is that the opposition didn’t seem to have much to offer, so we went into a super-slow gear.  It’s not what we are capable of doing and when we play better opposition we have a tendency to rise to the occasion,” he added.

“Despite that, we have to understand that it’s a job and it’s our duty to continue doing what we need to do, which is to play our best at all times,” he added.

 

 

 

Trinbago Knight Rider skipper Kieron Pollard has lamented a substandard showing from the team for the CPL semi-final against Barbados Tridents, insisting they did not deserve to progress based on the showing.

The Jason Holder-led Tridents secured a nail-biting 12-run win over the hosts, who had their sights set on a third consecutive CPL final. 

Set 161 for victory, the Knightriders seemed in a comfortable position at 110 for 5 but a calamitous run out for the team’s skipper, Pollard, precipitated a late-innings collapse.  Trinbago’s profligacy could in effect also be traced back to the Trident’s batting innings where Johnson Charles was dropped twice.  Charles went on to score 35 from 41 balls, the top scorer for the team.

“When you look at our performance throughout the season, I think we deserved to lose this game tonight. You can't turn up in a semi-final and drop a couple catches like that, simple errors, and not execute in a big game like that,” Pollard said following the match.

“It’s sort of what our season has been like in terms of not executing we and it cost us in the end.”

The Tridents will play the unbeaten Guyana Amazon Warriors in Saturday’s final at the Brian Lara Stadium, in Trinidad.

 

Bahamian national record holder Shaunae Miller-Uibo insists she had very little reason to feel disappointed despite finishing second to Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser in the women’s 400m on Thursday.

Miller-Uibo entered the event as the prohibitive favourite, having not lost in the event for close to two years.  Eid Naser, who had shown impressive form as she trotted to the line in the semi-finals, was in a different class in the final, however, and put away the field with an impressive 48.14.  The Bahamian also clocked a personal best with an area record 48.37 an astounding 0.6 seconds off her previous personal best.

The time recorded by Eid Naser was, however, the third-fastest in history and the fastest run over the distance in 36 years.  On the face of such a stunning performance, Miller-Uibo has chosen to focus on the positive of a smashing new personal best and maximum effort on the track.

"I just wanted to go out there and give it my all and I did just that.  I just give God all the thanks and praise for allowing me to finish healthy.  To finish with a PR like that, .6 of a PR is huge," Miller-Uibo said.

“We came into the season knowing that we could drop 48 low and we did just that so I can’t be disappointed with the race.  We gave it our all and to come out with a silver medal with that time is impressive.”

“Coming off the curve I saw the distance between us and I already knew in my head that she was too far away.  I also knew I had a whole of strength left and I used it but it just wasn’t good enough I guess, but I know we gave it our all and to PR with .6 is impressive so I’m really happy.”

Dethroned 110 metres hurdles World Champion Omar McLeod has revealed that he suffered from a hamstring issue during a calamitous end to his title defense at the Doha World Championships on Wednesday.

In a close race, McLeod trailed eventual winner Grant Holloway of the United States but crashed into the penultimate hurdle before sprawling to the floor.  In the process, the Jamaican also briefly blocked the path of Spain’s Orlando Ortega who looked to also be in medal contention.  The athlete, who had a wobbly year in terms of his preparation for the World Championships, explained that a hamstring issue had impacted his performance.

“I got out hard and came off the first hurdle and my hamstring grabbed, so I didn’t get to be as snappy as I wanted,” McLeod explained.

“It got to a level of comfort where I thought I could pull through and at least get a medal or just still battle, still go to the line but then it grabbed again at the 6th hurdle and that’s when I lost my balance,” he added.

Heading into the championships, McLeod had suffered a tumultuous period where he changed four coaches in the last three years.  The athlete only joined his current coaching team, led by Rayna Reider, 10 weeks ahead of the Championships.  He insisted he was proud of his effort.

“I’m very proud of myself.  I showed up.  I’ve been through a lot this year and made sure I put myself to at least come prepared to defend my title.

“I’m very disheartened for Ortega for what had happened to him.  If I could take that bad I would.”

    

Decorated multi Olympic and World Championship gold medallist Allyson Felix has hailed Jamaican star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as an inspiration following her exploits at the Doha Championships.

Fraser-Pryce claimed a fourth World Championship 100m title after dismantling a quality field, once again ascending to an all too familiar top spot on the podium.  This time around, however, the journey to the gold medal was a different one for Fraser-Pryce. 

It’s difficult to imagine that just two years ago Fraser-Pryce, then an expectant mother, watched the World Championships from the comfort of her living room.  That she has been able to not only recover to compete at the highest level but claim gold in a time just outside of her personal best is a remarkable set of circumstances in and of itself.  For Felix, on a difficult journey of her own after having her first child, the Jamaican serves as a source of inspiration to female athletes everywhere.

“She’s amazing.  She is my friend.  She has helped me along this journey, and we encourage each other.  I am so happy for her and very encouraged for myself,” Felix told Nuffin Long Athletics.

“Everyone’s situation is going to be different, but she shows that it’s possible.  I think more than anything she is an inspiration.”

Felix, who had her daughter Camryn in November of last year, was a part of the United States squad for the World Championship but only managed to secure a place as a member of the relay team.  The six-time Olympic and 12-time World Championship gold medallist, however, has plans to be back in top shape in time for next year’s Olympic Games.

Newly-crowned 100m World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has offered kind words of encouragement to young compatriot Briana Williams who missed out on an appearance at the Doha Championships after being embroiled in a doping controversy.

The 17-year-old Williams was hit with a reprimand after returning an adverse analytical finding, following the Jamaica National Championships.  The athlete, who returned a test for the banned diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide, provided the explanation that the substance was part of a contaminated batch of flu medication she had ingested on the morning of the championships. 

An Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel ruling on the matter issued Williams with a reprimand and did not prescribe any period of ineligibility for the athlete but based on the IAAF’s rules the results earned at Jamaica’s National Trials were scrubbed from the record. Williams had secured her spot on the World Championship team after finishing third behind Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson in the 100m.  Though selected to the team the athlete later withdrew after being replaced by Jonielle Smith for the 100m and facing time considerations for the relay squad.

“I’ve been in that situation before when I took a painkiller and it was very hard for me to come back and not focus on that incident,” Fraser-Pryce said.

In 2010, Fraser-Pryce served a six-month ban after testing positive for Oxycodone at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting.  The athlete had taken the substance to provide relief for a severe toothache.

“It happens, unfortunately.  I would not have wished that on anyone, and I hope that she can stay strong and stay motivated and forget about what anyone else has to say.  It’s about what you know and what you believe, and you can come back from anything.”

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