West Indies middle-order batsman Nkrumah Bonner insists the approach toward England will be the same despite the visitors missing two of their most experienced fast bowlers in Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

The duo was unexpectedly dropped for the tour of the Caribbean, albeit being England’s leading wicket-takers. Since 2004, Anderson has played 22 matches against the West Indies and taken 87 wickets, the most by any England player, 36 of those wickets have come in 10 matches in the Caribbean.  His best figures of 7 for 49 also came against the West Indies in 2017.

 Broad, who first featured against the West Indies in 2009, has gone on to take 73 wickets.  Despite the absence of the two dominant bowlers that have wreaked havoc in the team's batting line-up over the years, however, Bonner insists the team’s mental approach will not be different as the English still have plenty of firepower.

“It’s a Test match nevertheless, whether Anderson or Broad are playing.  Obviously, they still have quality bowlers and the same application is required,” Bonner told members of the media on Saturday.

“In every series, it’s the same approach and this one will be no different,” he added.

Bonner insists he is looking forward to the challenge of facing England.

“After coming from India, I played some four-day games in Barbados.  I was able to spend some time at the crease and obviously coming into this camp I’ve done a lot of hard work as well, and I’m looking forward to playing against England.  It will be an important series for us.”

 

 

Jamaica and Queensland Firebirds goalshooter Romelda Aiken is expected to take part in the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball season despite recently announcing her pregnancy.

Aiken, who got married in September of last year to former Australian basketballer Daniel George, is just two matches shy of 200 appearances.  The goalshooter is now in the early stages of her pregnancy but still has her eyes set on the milestone when the season gets underway on March 26.

Aiken, at this point, remains an active member of the roster and the club has confirmed they have no plans to replace her.  Despite what is often described as the rough and tumble nature of the Suncorp Super League there is no policy preventing pregnant players from taking part in the competition.

“Romelda’s baby news is brilliant, and the club has been fully supportive of her playing right through until she’s ready to step away,” Firebirds CEO Kate Davies told The West Australia.

“Romelda was fully intending to play at Team Girls Cup, but due to COVID-affected complications, particularly around dehydration, it was deemed unsafe, seeing her ruled unavailable,” she added.

“Romelda is still fully contracted as part of our 10, and hence the club has no ability or desire to name a replacement until she formally withdraws from the team.”

 

West Indies Women all-rounder Hayley Matthews is hopeful that a stunning upset of New Zealand to bowl off the ICC Women’s World Cup will give the team plenty of momentum moving forward.

In a magnificent player-of-the-match performance, Matthews put together a shot-filled 119 from 128 and claimed bowling figures of 2 for 41 to anchor the West Indies in a nail-biting 3-run win over the hosts.

Prior to the win, the team had not defeated New Zealand in the format since 2014 and it was only their second win in 7 meetings between the teams at the tournament.  The innings, her third ODI century and first at the World Cup, also represented a career run high for Matthews and was the team’s fourth-highest total at the World Cup.

For a team that few would have listed among the favourites, it was a solid start to the tournament.  

“It’s exactly what we were looking to come out here and do, get off to a really good start and hopefully we can carry this momentum into the rest of the tournament,” Matthews said, following the match.

Matthews seemed to be set to bat in the middle order for the World Cup, after several strong performances in that position heading into the tournament.  The player was, however, promoted back to the spot she had previously occupied after an injury to Rashada Williams.

“I didn’t know how I felt about it at first, seeing I was pretty comfortable at 5 but I’m the type of player that whatever the team needs, I’m looking to try and do.  It seemed to work out all right."

  

A brilliant century from Hayley Matthews and miraculous death bowling from Deandra Dottin led the West Indies Women to a stunning 3-run victory over New Zealand to open the ICC Women’s World Cup at Mount Maunganui on Friday.

In a wonderful advert for women's cricket, the all-around entertaining affair got the thrilling ending it merited.  With the West Indies needing to defend just 6 runs in the last over, Dottin, who has hardly been seen with the ball over the last few months, stepped up to take 2 for 2, and also effected a run-out, to finally wrap up brave New Zealand resistance in her only over of the match. 

The result meant the West Indies had successfully defended 259 for 9, their third-highest total ever recorded at the tournament.

Earlier, a brilliant 119 of 128 from Matthews, who was named the player of the match, set the stage for the West Indies triumph.  Unexpectedly returning to the top of the order after Rashada Williams was ruled out of the match due to concussion protocol, Matthews hit 16 fours and a six, dispatching New Zealand’s bowlers to all parts of the ground while proving to be the stable catalyst the West Indies needed.

Dottin, who opened with Matthews, had promised a similar type of performance but was sent packing after hitting three fours and skying another attempt to Jess Kerr after playing across the line off Lea Tahuhu. 

With Kycia Knight then departing for just 5, Matthews formed a crucial 66-run partnership with captain Stafanie Taylor, which helped the West Indies reach 100 at a steady five runs an over.  The partnership was broken when Taylor was caught behind after clipping off Tahuhu. 

It was, however, one only of three partnerships Matthews would be involved in as she also paired with Shemaine Campbelle and Chedean Nation to glue the team’s innings together. 

Matthews was eventually dismissed going after Kerr as Hannah Rowe held on to the catch in the deep.  Nation's 46-ball 36 and then Anisa Mohammed's six-ball 11, however, added valuable runs for the team at the end of the innings.  Tahuhu was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with 3 for 57, while Kerr claimed 2 for 43.

In pursuit, Sophie Devine struck a magnificent century to keep New Zealand's chase on track, for the most part, and Katey Martin and Kerr's quickfire 40-run partnership brought it down to run-a-ball for the last over before the timely intervention of Dottin.

West Indies Women’s all-rounder Hayley Matthews believes the team’s overall experience will be a valuable tool in its armory ahead of the start of the ICC Women's World Cup.

The team will bowl off its campaign with a match against hosts New Zealand on Thursday at 8:00 pm.  Not known for their exploits in the format, the West Indies will not be listed among the favourites but Matthews believes the team has made progress in the last year and will still have the experience and capability to ruffle some feathers.

“For a period of time we were kind of stuck when it came to 50-over cricket, maybe not progressing as much as we wanted to, but I do believe in the last year we have made massive leaps,” Matthews told the ICC channel.

“I think our biggest strength is probably the experience we have in the team.  We have so many veterans from Deandra Dottin, Stafanie Taylor, Anisa Mohammed, and the list goes on.  I think we have people we can rely on in tough situations and they always know how to really breakthrough and take us to the next level," she added.

The team’s captain Taylor and Dottin will be taking part in their fourth tournament, while Mohammed will be taking part in her fifth.

 

Legendary West Indies bowler Sir Andy Roberts has expressed concern that the current generation of players is suffering from a lack of genuine pace.

In his heyday, Roberts was part of a generation of fierce West Indian pace bowlers, a line-up which also included the likes of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, and Malcolm Marshall, who were all known for terrorizing opposition batsmen with brutally quick deliveries.

While admitting that the up-and-coming pace bowlers can at times reach top speeds, Roberts does not believe the performances have been sustained for long enough periods of time.

“What West Indies has been lacking for a while is a genuine fast bowler.  We have fast bowlers, but we don’t have anyone of genuine pace who at night the batsmen can’t see because you are thinking of tomorrow.  We haven’t had that for a long time,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

The former quick believes a part of the issue has to do with the workload required to sustain top speeds throughout a game.

“Fast bowling is hard work, and a lot of people don’t like to work hard.  They believe that the ball comes quicker off the pitch than when you release it.  They are not prepared to put in the hard work, the donkey work," he added.

“I find that our fast bowlers can’t bowl fast for more than 2 or 3 overs.  It’s because they’re not strong enough, their legs are not strong enough.” 

Windies paceman Shannon Gabriel is currently the fastest of the current crop, but Roberts believes, even for him, there is a significant drop-off in pace the longer the bowler plays in a match.

“It’s your legs that carry you through as a fast bowler not just your chest…when Shannon Gabriel was bowling in the 90s, he bowled a number of balls 92, 95 but that was between 10 and 11 o clock between 2 and 3 o clock it's down to high 80s.  Why, because his legs aren’t strong enough.”

Windies opener Jeremy Solozano was run-out on his return to the crease as the West Indies President’s XI found themselves in early trouble, in pursuit of England’s sizable first-innings total, on day 2 of a four-day warm-up match at Coolidge.

The team’s ambitions of getting off to good start in their quest to match England’s first innings total of 466 for 6 declared was immediately put in check after a mix-up between Solozano and opening partner Shane Moseley saw the latter sent back to the pavilion for just 16.

Moseley did not last much longer as he was dismissed for 20 after wildly pursuing a delivery from spinner Jack Leach, which left the team struggling at 48 for 2 at the end of play.  Keacy Carty (8) and Devon Thomas (1) were the not-out batsmen at the crease heading into Thursday's day three.

Earlier, damaging knocks from Dan Lawrence and Jonny Bairstow underpinned England's solid total.  After resuming the day at 251 for 4, Bairstow and Lawrence pushed the team past the first session without losing a wicket.  Lawrence departed soon after the resumption, however, after he was caught at first slip, on 87, after edging a delivery from Colin Archibald.

Bairstow took over after lunch, pushing the score to 339 for 5, along with Ben Foakes before the latter was dismissed, for 25, after going after a short ball from Shermon Lewis.

Woakes then joined Bairstow at the crease to add a useful 49 for 91 deliveries before the team declared.  Bairstow remained unbeaten on106 from 158.  For the West Indies, Lewis ended with 2 for 75, while Archibald claimed 1 for 67.

 

Jamaica’s U-20 Reggae Girlz secured a spot in the knockout round of the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship after a 0-0 draw with Haiti on Wednesday.

The result meant that the team advanced from the four-team Group H in third place.  In the group’s other match, a high-scoring showdown between Guatemala and Cuba, it was the Guatemalans who prevailed 3-2 to top the zone.

In a match with very few clear-cut opportunities, it was the Jamaicans who were presented with the best opportunities to score.  None would have been clearer than Mia Mitchell missed chance from the penalty spot, which she skied in the 27-minute.  Despite being a player light after Theanna Burnett received a second yellow card in the 41st minute, Jamaican seemed the more likely team to score but never managed to take any of the other half-chances that presented themselves.

The Jamaicans have been drawn alongside Group F second-place team Panama, with the fixture set to take place on Saturday in San Cristobal.  In an all-Caribbean affair, Haiti will face Group F third-place team Guyana in Santo Domingo on the same day.

The North American, Central American, and Caribbean Athletic (NACAC) has joined other associations around the world in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this week The World Athletics Council imposed sanctions against its Member Federations of Russia and Belarus as a consequence of the invasion.

As a result athletes, support personnel, and officials from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future, with immediate effect.  Adding its voice to the chorus the Caribbean body condemned the loss of life and property.

“NACAC today issues a very strong condemnation of the recent decision by Russia to invade the country of Ukraine and starting a war that will incur significant loss of lives, the destruction of the country’s economy and leaving untold numbers without homes and places of work,” a release issued by the organization read.

“NACAC is extremely proud that the athletes of the world have let their voices join those of millions around who vehemently reject the Russian invasion and its seeming disregard for all norms of democracy and international law,” he added.

“As a member of World Athletics, NACAC has been a party to all Congress decisions to impose sanctions on Russia for the numerous infractions of the organization’s competition rules and failure to satisfy all conditions required for a return to full participation in its global events. We understand only too well the evidence of State-sponsored doping that has characterised the Russian athletics program,” it added.

“Today, NACAC acknowledges that genuine leadership requires of us the airing of our condemnation of a government that has shown a complete lack of respect for peace and international understanding, two of the most fundamental principles for which sport exists. As the world’s leading sport for individuals, the entire athletics fraternity must be unified in this condemnation and ensure that there is no room for Russia to manoeuvre in sport to achieve its government’s ugly and most despicable aggression against Ukraine. We ask the same in respect of the government of Belarus that has made clear its support for the actions undertaken by Russia in respect of Ukraine.

We agree with the athletes of the world and encourage those of our sport to continue to make their voices heard, loud enough to have the desired impact, an end to Russian aggression against Ukraine and a return to international peace.”

Jamaica Under-20 Reggae Girlz coach, Xavier Gilbert, insists the team’s ambition will be to win the group as they look to secure a spot in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship Round of 16, despite facing somewhat of a tricky situation.

Finding themselves third in a competitive Group H, the Jamaicans have targeted taking all three points against zone leaders Haiti when the teams meet on Wednesday. 

With the top three teams advancing to the knockout stages, it is the Haitians who are top on 4 points but only by goal difference over second-place Guatemala. Guatemala will play bottom of the group Cuba in the day's other match.  Ahead of the round, despite not securing their spot in the next round as yet, Gilbert backs Jamaica to move up the table.

 “Looking ahead to the Haiti game, we would want to see if we can secure qualification to the next round.  We also need to see if we can still win the group,” Gilbert said ahead of the match.

“Our objective is to win the game, maximise our points and see where we can go from there.”

The team will head into the match without experienced midfielder Peyton McNamara who was injured on Saturday.

Off-spinner Bryan Charles claimed a three-for to lead the resistance for West Indies President’s XI, amidst a trio of England half-centuries on day one of the four-day warm-up match at Coolidge.

Opener Alex Lees top-scored with a solid 65 off 214, and partner Zak Crawley made 62, with an additional half-century from England captain Joe Root, who added 54 from 105, as England closed the opening day on 251 for 4. 

After winning the toss and choosing to bat Lees and Crawley had England off to a comfortable start, until the partnership of 88 without loss was broken by Charles who had the batsman bowled.  Root joined Lees at the crease and the pair carried the total to 186 for 1, before Root had his stumps swept away by Shermon Lewis.  Lees' steady innings came to an end a few overs later when he was bowled around the legs by Charles.  All-rounder Ben Stokes never really got settled and was out caught at the slips after flashing at a Charles delivery, having made just 11 from 29.

Jonny Bairstow joined Dan Lawrence at the crease and the two saw out the rest of the day without further incident.  Charles ended the day with figures of 3 for 88, while Lewis ended with 1 for 48.

West Indies Women’s captain, Stafanie Taylor, is confident the team is an improving force in One Day International cricket, ahead of the start of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup, which bowls off in under a week’s time.

The West Indies, who briefly took part in the qualifiers, will get their campaign underway against host New Zealand on Friday, with few having the team among the favourites to win the title.  For one, the West Indies have never won the tournament with their best result coming in 2013 when they finished runners-up to Australia.

Nor is the team’s record in the format particularly impressive.  Over the last five years, the team has won just 3 of the last 14 series.  In that run of games, they played 46 matches, winning 15, drawing 2, and losing 27 with 2 no results.  Taylor, however, believes the team has shown improvement in recent months, with two of those wins coming in the last year.

“I think we're making strides (in the ODI format),” Taylor told members of the media.

"For us, it is more about improving every time and getting better at that,” she added.

The team has, however, never beaten New Zealand with their last encounter ending in a chastening 205 runs defeat to close out a 3-0 series defeat in 2018.

“We’re pretty excited about that. You probably wouldn't want to play the hosts in the first game but it is what it is,” Taylor said.

“I think for us, we have to go out there and play to the best of our abilities. You can see New Zealand doing pretty well, we've had a lot of cricket to look at, so hopefully we could get one over them."

Jamaica Under-20 Reggae Girlz assistant coach, Tashana Vincent, has called on the team's senior players to step up, ahead of what is expected to be a difficult Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship underway in the Dominican Republic.

The Jamaicans, who have been drawn in Group H, will kickstart their campaign with a match against Guatemala on Saturday.  By their own admission, the team has, however, had less than ideal preparation for the start of the tournament.

In total, heading into the competition, the unit will have gotten less than three training sessions as a full team, with no practice matches to speak of under their belt.  It's hardly a recipe for success, but in such a difficult scenario, Vincent expects the input and performances of the seniors to be critical.

“Players like Peyton McNamara and Nevillgail Able who have played at this level before, who have also had the privilege of being part of the senior program, will have to come up big for us in this tournament,” Vincent told TVJ Sports.

“I am sure that the players know the responsibility that they will have going into this tournament and how much the team will depend on their leadership to ensure that we secure one of the qualifying spots.”

The biennial Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship will qualify three teams to the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.  The Jamaicans have never qualified from the tournament, with their best finish being 4th place in 2006.

Spartak Moscow, the Russian Premier League club of Reggae Boy forward, Shamar Nicholson, will not be allowed to host its last 16 tie of the Europa League.

The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which has sparked global condemnation, prompted the European football governing body to reschedule all the club’s matches for neutral venues, following an emergency meeting on Friday.  The ruling applies to all Russian and Ukrainian teams in European competitions.

Spartak Moscow has been drawn to face RB Leipzig in the round of 16, with the tie commencing at the Red Bull Arena in Germany, on March 10.  The return leg will take place the following week, but the venue is yet to be announced.

"The UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice,” a release issued from the sport’s governing body explained.

Nicholson joined the Moscow club from Belgian Pro League side RSC Charleroi, where he scored 13 goals and five assists in 18 matches last year.

Leeward Island Hurricanes batsman Devon Thomas has earmarked the upcoming West Indies President’s XI match as another opportunity to showcase his ability with improved consistency.

The 32-year-old top-order batsman has been one of the outstanding players in the West Indies Championship so far.  After two rounds, the player’s 242 runs scored at an average of 80.66 puts him second behind West Indies red ball captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who has scored 341 so far.

The Leeward Hurricanes have won one match and lost one match so far, his highest score of 112 critical in a fightback against Barbados.  Despite his exploits, he was not named to the West Indies squad to face England in the first Test but did find his name among those taking part in a 12-man President’s XI squad.

“I’m just looking at it as getting the opportunity to play some cricket, so I give thanks for that. I was motivated since last year during the 2020/21 season and I just (took) it over into 2022 and try to do a lot better and be a bit more consistent. I am trying to stay in the moment and trying to be more consistent,” Thomas told the Antigua Observer.

“I had a goal before the match where I was looking for 150 runs, but I got a bit close to that. It could have been more, but I was pleased at the end of the day. I think we had good performances in both games but we were short of a player in the first game when Jerimiah Louis came down with a sickness and we played with 10 men throughout the whole game.”

The CWI President’s XI squad will play England in a four-day warm-up match at the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) starting March 1.

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