Jamaica international Leon Bailey could return to action for English Premier League club Aston Villa against Arsenal next week after failing to return to the line-up on Saturday.

A few weeks ago, the player had a smashing impact for the Claret and Blue, coming off the bench to provide an assist for one goal before smashing the other into the roof of the net in a 3-0 win over Everton.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field after picking up an injury soon after and has not returned to the line-up since.

Bailey also missed out on the latest round of World Cup qualifiers for his country Jamaica.  Villa boss Dean Smith confirmed that the player has come up short ahead of Saturday’s encounter against Wolverhampton.

“Leon Bailey’s hasn’t ticked all the right boxes for the medical staff yet. We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the Arsenal game,” Smith said.

Aston Villa went on to lose the match 3-2 after surrendering a two-goal lead.  The Jamaicna joined the club this summer following the departure of talisman Jack Grealish who made a big-money move to Manchester City.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is backing talismanic batsman Chris Gayle to do well at the T20 World Cup despite not heading into the event in the best of form.

Heading into the tournament, the swashbuckling left-hander is 97 runs away from scoring the most runs in T20 World Cup history.  Based on the player's most recent run of form, however, there is no guarantee of him getting there.  In the 16 games, the player has only managed 227 runs at an average of 17.46.

In addition, the 42-year-old has faced criticism from a vocal section of the West Indian cricket fanbase who are adamant that he should have stepped aside for younger talent.  Gayle was recently involved in a war of words with bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose, who suggested that while the player was still capable of lighting up bowling attacks on his day, he was not at the same level as he was a few years ago.  For Pollard, however, the batsman has been and continues to be a very valuable asset to the team.

“Again, no words to describe what he has done for us in World Cups, in the T20 World Cups, and T20 cricket around the world as an individual," Pollard said during an interview with team captains' on Saturday in Dubai.

"For him, 97 runs away, but I don't think he will be looking at that. I think the main goal for us and him, is trying to win a World Cup and defend the title. He is looking forward to that. Hopefully, he can come and deliver for us. We back him to do well," he added.

 

West Indies fast bowler Ravi Rampaul is confident the experience of senior members of the team will be crucial in its effort to retain the ICC World Cup.

The 37-year old’s call up to the squad has been among the most controversial made by the Caribbean team, with some fans insisting the West Indies should have focused on selecting younger talent.  Rampaul’s effective showing the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), however, convinced selectors that he could be an asset for a team looking to successfully defend its title.

In 10 matches, Rampaul was the tournament’s leading scorer with 19 wickets at an economy rate of 7.96 and a best of 4 for 29.  The bowler is satisfied that the work put in merited selection to the team’s T20 World Cup squad.

“In every team, you want to play for, you have to put a performance out there and I know I needed to work hard and show the selectors I could still take wickets and compete at a level.  I needed to put the performance out there and show them I could take wickets at the CPL stage,” Rampaul told members of the media on Saturday.

Despite the criticism aimed towards the age of some members of the squad, Rampaul believes the experience of the team will be critical in the bid to retain the trophy.

“Going into big World Cup games you need experience and the team that was selected is a lot of experienced guys and a lot of young guys as well, guys that play around the world in different conditions.  We know games come quick and fast and the experienced guys will know how to manage themselves.”

The West Indies will bow into action with a match against England on October 23rd.

Former Jamaica Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Ryan Thompson has questioned the practice of labelling the country’s national representatives as foreign-based or English-based in light of questions regarding the team’s unity.

In recent months, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has looked to bolster the experience and quality in the team’s ranks by extending an invitation to players who qualify to represent the country by virtue of having Jamaican heritage.  Several players have accepted the offer but the team's overall integration has not gone smoothly.

The situation was similar to the team’s historic 1998 campaign when a mix of players, some based in Jamaica and English players of Jamaica heritage qualified the unit for the tournament in France.  Ahead of its historic feat, there had also been controversy surrounding the inclusion of the players who were based abroad.

Internationally, players opting to represent countries where they were not born is hardly an unusual situation.  The likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Christian Benteke, and Raheem Sterling, who was born in Jamaica but represents England, are among just a few who feature on the list.

As it relates to the current crop, however, Thompson believes the aim must be to get the team to gel as soon as possible, a goal that having player labels and categories is unlikely to help.

“If we can get the team to gel and call everyone Jamaican and not local based or foreign-based or English based, whatever it is, that’s when we will really be able to do some damage in the world, not just the Caribbean,” Thompson told TVJ Sports.

‘You don’t hear the German team talking about, oh this guy was from Austria or the US saying the same thing about German-based players.  They're Americans, why are we throwing labels on our players?”

Jamaica international Kemar Roofe has expressed delight with opening his goal account for the Reggae Boyz after finding the net in a 2-0 win over Honduras but believes the team started gathering momentum in the previous match.

The Rangers striker found the back of the net, for a Jamaican team desperately in need of a win, in the 36th minute after successfully deflecting an attempt from strike partner Shamar Nicholson.  A defender, Oniel Fisher, scored the team's second in the second half.

The goal was the first for Roofe in four matches, having started the last two.

“It’s a special moment for all of us, getting my first goal for my country.  I want to dedicate this to my dad, he is the reason I am playing for Jamaica,” Roofe said.

“It was massive for the team to get the three points.  I think it all stems from the game against Canada.  We didn’t get the three points but we got the draw and we came out of that game with solidarity and belief and a lot of respect as well and we brought it into tonight’s game.”

The Reggae Boyz battled to a 0-0 draw with Canada at the National Stadium on Sunday.  The win sees Jamaica move to five points and 6th position, three points outside of the fourth spot, which is currently occupied by Panama.

West Indies T20 vice-captain Nicholas Pooran has heaped praises on under pressure batsman Chris Gayle, insisting the veteran remains a valuable part of the team ahead of its attempted World Cup title defence.

The 42-year-old Gayle has found himself in the crosshairs of critics in recent months, with many insisting the player should have been overlooked in favour of younger talent.  The batsman'ss recent form will not have helped matters.  In the last year, Gayle has played a total of 16 matches, scored a total of 227 runs with an average of 17.46 and strike rate of 117.61, well down from his career average of 139.18.

Criticism of the batsman recently came to a head when he took exception to comments made by former fast bowler Curtly Ambrose who suggested that Gayle was not the same player he used to be.  Pooran is, however, certain of the value the player brings to the team.

“As much as everyone has questioned it, 14,000 runs doesn’t come about just like that.  Not many people know how to win T20 matches and T20 leagues and that sort of experience is invaluable,” Pooran told members of the media on Wednesday.

“The experience batting out in the middle, talking about intent, talking about taking on players when to go when not to go, you just don’t get experience like that,” he added.

“We are very happy to have him, even off the pitch he is someone who supports you 100 percent, someone who backs you 100 percent.  You talk about positivity, he is one of the most positive guys we have on the team, in the Caribbean.

“He’s a special human being.  Only when you play cricket with him or against him you’d know what it feels like to have him around.”

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumpstarted their fading hopes of qualifying for the Qatar World Cup following a 2-0 away win over Honduras, at the Estadio Olimpico, on Tuesday.

Goals from Kemar Roofe and Oniel Fisher gave the team their first win of the campaign, a result that lifted the Jamaicans from the bottom of the table for the time in six games.  Heading into the encounter both teams were in desperate need of a win, with Honduras beginning the match just a point above the Jamaicans in 7th place.

After dominating the early opportunities, it was Roofe who put the Jamaicans in the lead after redirecting a shot from Shamar Nicholson into the back of the net in the 38th minute.  The home team battled to get back on level terms but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities.

Fisher made the game safe for the Jamaicans with a well-taken effort in the 79th minute.  Having joined the attack, the right-back collected a layoff from substitute Andre Gray before curling a shot around Honduras goalkeeper Luis López and into the net.

  Jamaica’s campaign to earn a spot in Qatar continues with a trip to El Salvador to open the November international window, while Honduras hosts Panama.

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team has looked to address well-noted concerns regarding the rotation of the strike but believes it is important to stick to its strengths, with the World Cup on the horizon.

Known internationally for their flamboyant, swashbuckling style, the Caribbean team will head into next week's tournament as defending champions.  However, despite having captured the global title on two occasions, questions have been raised in recent times regarding the team’s batting approach.

With a batting line-up filled with heavy hitters, the problematic issue stems from the tendency to soak up too many dot balls.  Pooran admits that it has been a focus but in the grand scheme of things the team intends to stay true to its style as it has delivered success in the past.

“We have net sessions and we as a group have spoken about it, we have players to play certain roles, honestly.  As a batting group, we want to get better, we want to improve, and getting singles is a part of that game as well, but our focus is not so much on singles,” Pooran told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We won two World Cups with the same problems, to be honest, not getting singles.  I don’t think the emphasis is so much on it, but on intent and playing smart cricket.  There are times that we know that will have to put our egos aside and grind for the team and if that means pushing a dot ball and getting singles, we’ll do that.”

The Jamaica Reggae Boyz will be without two key members of the squad heading into Wednesday’s crucial qualifier against Honduras with both defender Alvas Powell and forward Jamal Lowe ruled out of the encounter.

Powell, who started but did not finish Sunday’s encounter against Canada, has been diagnosed with a Grade I hamstring strain and will not be able to take part in the match against Honduras.  Typically deployed at right-back, Powell began the game at centre back. 

Regular last man Damion Lowe had been ruled out of the counter based on an accumulation of cards.  Lowe will return to the line-up for the upcoming encounter.

Meanwhile, Lowe will be returning to Championship club AFC Bournemouth based on an agreement ahead of the qualifying round.  The player started against the United States and came off the substitute’s bench against Canada.

With just two points from their first five matches the team currently sits at the bottom of the table, Honduras who are also yet to secure a win are one point above the Jamaicans in the standings.

West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard remains unsure regarding the extent to which a recent hamstring injury could affect star all-rounder Andre Russell for the World Cup but remains optimistic.

The 33-year-old big-hitter has been out of action since sustaining a Grade 2 hamstring tear last month.  Depending on the severity of the injury, the typical recovery time is said to run anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.  The player’s India Premier League (IPL) team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is hopeful of Russell returning in time to face the Delhi Capitals in Wednesday’s eliminator, having already missed three games.

However, the extent to which the player will fully recover in time for that match, or the start of next week’s World Cup remains a source for conjecture, already sparking concerns regarding potential workload.

“I can’t make any assumptions about what he can or cannot do at this point, we will need to make an assessment as a team,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We have not had the opportunity to see him.  We’ve gotten reports as to what he has done, but I would not want to get into trying to say what he can or can’t do at this point in time,” he added.

“We’ll judge from the assessment but he is a critical person for our team and we would love to have him 100 percent fit.”

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he remains unperturbed by the indifferent form of some players heading into the ICC T20 World Cup as there is still enough time to get things right.

With the start of the tournament just a few days away, there has been some concern raised regarding the form of a few of the team’s potential match-winners based on their performances in lead-up tournaments this year, most recently the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Indian Premier League (IPL).

Falling into that category and of primary concern would be the form of high-impact pair Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, whose IPL form this season best illustrates the point.  The duo set the IPL alight for Punjab Kings XI last season and such form would have been welcome heading into next week.

In 2020, Pooran played 14 matches scoring 353 runs at an average of 35.30, by comparison, the player’s most recent campaign has ended with 85 runs at an average of 7.72, in 12 games.  For Gayle, 2020 saw him score 288 runs and average a healthy 41.14 in 7 games, however, this time around he could only manage 193 runs at an average of 21.44 in 10 games. 

Pollard, however, believes players who might not be in form still have plenty of time to kick into gear for the global showpiece, where they will start as defending champions.

“If we look too much into the past, then that is where sometimes we get ourselves into trouble,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“Let’s deal with what we have in the present, the guys that have confidence, roll with them, the guys that don’t we try to get them into that zone with some practice sessions,” he added.

“We have a couple more games and then the big one, which is the World Cup, so from a perspective of being concerned, I know when it comes to the international stage it is about personal pride and individuals will want to show what they have to offer.”

 

      

 

The mystery surrounding the decision of West Ham forward, Michail Antonio, to withdraw from Jamaica’s team days ahead of the ongoing round of World Cup qualifiers has added another twist, with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) insisting it was based on a misunderstanding.

According to multiple reports, the issue stemmed from the fact that the player was not given permission to carry his personal physiotherapist on the trip, which he had agreed to pay for out of pocket.  Through his agent, Antonio who has suffered from a long history of muscular injuries, made the request for the medical professional to be able to join the squad but was turned down.

However, strangely, the JFF now insists that the player’s representative was given the wrong information as he should have in fact been granted permission to travel with the therapist.

“It was a simple mix-up that caused that caused that to happen.  What we don’t want to do is to continue to lay the blame all over the place.  We know administratively from the JFF hierarchy that that is something we had supported,” General Secretary Dalton Wint told TVJ Sports.

The official, however, seemed to be at a loss to explain how a member of the technical committee could have communicated a negative answer to the player’s agent when the answer he admits should have been a simple and positive one.

“He is allowed (to carry physiotherapist), it’s simple.  That’s why we used the term miscommunication.”

Wint went on to state that the issue had been cleared up with the player and his agent and expected him to return to the team in the near future.  The Jamaica team is at the bottom of the standings with three losses in the first four matches.

   

Jamaica Reggae Boy midfielder Anthony Grant has joined the team ahead of Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualification match against Canada.

 The Swindon Town player missed out on the United States game after a late call-up, following the decision of Preston North End's Daniel Johnson to pull out of the squad for what was reported to be injury precaution reasons.

Grant made his debut, alongside Devon Williams, for the team against Mexico in a narrow 2-1 loss before representing the team again in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica.  The player’s return should be good news for the under-pressure Theodore Whitmore coached team who used veteran JeVaughn Watson in the position against the United States.  Watson’s recall, ahead of the Costa Rica game, had come as a surprise to many.  The player had been coming off a low level of inactivity having not been included initially for the qualifiers.  The inclusion of Grant should add reinforcement for the team in the defensive midfield area, as the Reggae Boyz look to clamp the brakes on a dangerous Canadian attack, which has been one of the best in the competition so far.  

The team is yet to win a match in the competition so far and is rooted to the bottom of the eight-team table on the back of one draw and three losses.

Former West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels will contest recent charges made against him under the ICC anti-corruption code.

The 40-year-old former batsman retired from the sport in 2020 but was charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for breaching the anti-corruption code during his participation in the 2019 T10 league.

Samuels was charged on four counts of breaching the code relating to:

A breach of Article 2.4.2 – Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official, the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the Participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

A breach of Article 2.4.3 - Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official receipt of hospitality with a value of US $750 or more.

Breaches of Article 2.4.6 – Failing to cooperate with the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation.

Breaches of Article 2.4.7 – Obstructing or delaying the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation by concealing information that may have been relevant to the investigation.

Samuels who had 14 days to contest the charges has since hired legal representation and informed the ICC of his intent to content the allegations brought against him.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

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