Peterborough striker Jonson Clarke-Harris could be in line for a debut call-up to the Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad as interim coach Paul Hall looks to bolster the squad ahead of the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League.

Having failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, the national team is set to return to action with a fixture against the Spanish region Catalonia on May 25.  The friendly will be followed by matches against Suriname in the Nations League and another friendly against Uruguay in June.

The 27-year-old Clarke-Harris has been one of the most dependable scorers outside the Premier League in recent years and is a player the Jamaica Football Federation has kept close tabs on.  Since joining Peterborough in 2020, the player has scored a healthy 44 goals in 87 appearances for the club.

In 31 appearances in the English Championship, this season, the forward has scored 11 times, coupled with 3 assists.  The club will, however, be relegated from the division this season after finishing second from the bottom of the league table.

Former national player Karen Anderson has been elected as president of the Jamaica Squash Association (JSA) at the Annual General Meeting on Thursday.

Anderson a 13-time national champion and former coach has prioritized strengthening the JSA’s governance structure, ensuring financial stability, and accelerating the growth of squash island-wide.

“My involvement in squash is multifaceted from playing to coaching to refereeing, managing teams, and marketing the game and I have the depth of experience and passion to expand the reach of squash within Jamaica while making our players more competitive in regional and international arenas,” Anderson said.

Other areas of focus will include developing a grassroots program that will encompass educational institutions and community-based outreach.  Development programs for coaches and referees will also be an area of emphasis.

The new administration also includes veteran player and IT specialist, Joey Levy as Vice President while financial expert, Deanne Pryce and seasoned administrator, Gill Binnie retained their positions as Treasurer and Secretary, respectively.

 The supporting Executive Committee includes an infusion of current national team players such as Bruce Burrowes, Julian Morrison, and Tahjia Lumley as well as Nathlee Boreland, Stephen Dear, businessman, and squash aficionado, Douglas Beckford.

The full extent of the latest injury to Aston Villa and Jamaica forward Leon Bailey is yet to be determined but the team’s head coach Steve Gerrard sympathizes with the player’s situation.

On Saturday, the 24-year-old hobbled from the field five minutes before half-time, having suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury.  The setback was the latest in an up and down season for the winger.

Previously, Bailey spent lengthy spells on the sideline having injured his thigh on two separate occasions.  Since moving to the club from Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen, the attacker has shown flashes of tremendous potential but struggled to stay fit.  Gerrard admits the situation has been frustrating for everyone.

"It’s an ankle issue. In terms of the extent and the damage, I’m sure he’ll be MRI scanned in the next 24 to 48 hours. I’m really disappointed and frustrated for him because he’s worked really hard to get back, he’s been training ever so well,” Gerrard said.

Bailey started only his second match, since returning from injury, against Leicester last weekend, the coach had promised to give the player an opportunity to play his way back into form.

"We wanted to give him another opportunity off the back of Leicester to really try and keep him in the rhythm. You see how he started the game he nearly scores with a fantastic effort and a top save from Tim Krul,” Gerrard said.

"Not too far after that he’s got to come off the pitch. He’s frustrated, we’re frustrated and I’m sure the supporters are as well.”

  

Jamaica Reggae Girl Rebecca Spencer has expressed delight at signing a new contract with Women's National League club Tottenham Hotspurs.

The 31-year-old shot-stopper has been at the club since 2019 when she joined from West Ham.  The much-travelled Spencer who has also had stints at Arsenal, Birmingham, and Chelsea, believes she has settled in nicely at Tottenham where she has made 38 appearances, the most in her career at one club.

“Obviously, I am delighted to have signed a new contract. It was something that was on my mind coming back from the last international break and having that conversation nice and early made it really easy for me to make my decision,” Spencer told the club website.

The player explained that a major part of her decision to re-sign involved her work with head coach Rehanne Skinner.

“When Rehanne spoke to me it was a no-brainer for me. Just the direction the club is going in and the staff and the players and the fans equally have been amazing. They have made it really easy for me and I feel really comfortable and it really feels like a home now being here for three years now,” Spencer said. “Being here for that long it just feels like the right place for me to be.”

West Ham and Jamaica forward, Michael Antonio, has backed the team to score an away win against German club Eintracht Frankfurt, in the UEFA Europa League next week, despite losing the first leg of the semi-final tie in London.

After the team trailed to the German outfit early on, it was Antonio who restored parity when he scored for the first time since early March.  Eintracht, however, went back in front through Japanese international Daichi Kamada and went on to hold on for a valuable away win.

Despite losing the first leg at home, Antonio has backed the East London team to get a result on the road, which could see the team secure a spot in the final.

“Down but nowhere near out. Still a lot of football to be played, we’re getting that W next week. ⚒ #COYI,” Antonio posted via social media platform Twitter.

West Ham will travel to Deutsche Bank Park next Thursday, hoping to overturn the first-leg deficit.  The goal was the second for Antonio in the competition this season.

 

Aston Villa coach Steve Gerrard believes Jamaica international Leon Bailey’s struggles are likely down to a lack of game time and has vowed to give the player enough chances to play into rhythm.

The 24-year-old winger has shown sparks of brilliance since making the move from Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen last summer but has faced lengthy spells on the sideline after struggling with injury.

 Bailey has started just two of the club's last 18 league fixtures, but a thigh injury saw him miss over nine weeks of action.  The player started the club’s last game against Leicester City but was less than impressive. 

"I think that if you asked Leon, that’s what he wants and craves. I was pretty pleased with his performance last week, he should have scored early on after six or even minutes to put us in the lead,” Gerrard said when asked of the player’s desire for game time.

 "He might put that down to a lack of game time and rust and getting in the rhythm. But Leon is a big talent and we want to keep him moving, keep giving him game time and the opportunity to get back in his own rhythm,” he added.

The Jamaican could be in contention for the starting line-up against Norwich tomorrow, but Gerrard remained tight-lipped.

"We know that when he is in that rhythm he’s a top player. I haven’t confirmed my team to the boys for obvious reasons and I haven’t confirmed it to any of my staff, you know, a couple of hours before the game I’ll confirm that team and you’ll have to wait and see what options I decide."

 

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have been confirmed to face South American giants Uruguay in a friendly international set for June 17.

The fixture will come during a busy period for the national team, ahead of preparations for the CONCACAF Nation’s League.  Prior to that, the team will be in action against the Spanish region Catalonia in another friendly international set for the 25th of May.

In five matches the Jamaicans have a losing record against Uruguay, managing just one win, which came in an international friendly in 2004.  The last time the teams met was in 2016 at the Copa América Centenario.  On that occasion, Uruguay coasted to a 3-0 win after both teams had already been mathematically eliminated from advancing to the next round of the tournament.

The Uruguayans will be using the fixture as part of preparations for the 2022 World Cup, which will get underway in Qatar at the end of the year.  The Reggae Boyz, who failed to qualify for the tournament, are currently ranked 64th in the World, while Uruguay are ranked 13th.

Jamaica U-17 Reggae Girlz were forced to settle for a share of the spoils with Canada after playing to a 1-1 draw in the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship on Wednesday.

With both teams having secured their spot in the next round before kickoff, the win saw Canada top Group F on goal difference ahead of second-place Jamaica.

It was the Jamaicans who took the lead against the previously unbreeched Canadian defense when Natoya Atkinson got the go-ahead goal in the 38th minute.  The striker popped the ball into the net after a deflected cross, which headed goalward was parried by the goalkeeper, and fell at her feet.

The Canadians began the second half in an enterprising fashion and were level soon after the resumption.  Substitute Renee Watson brought the Canadians back on level terms in the 50th minute when, after ghosting past the defense and firing high into the net, over an outstretched goalkeeper Liya Brooks.

The Canadians will now face Honduras on Sunday in the round of 16, while Jamaica will play neighbours and Group H third-place team Cuba on the same day.

The CONCACAF champion, runner-up, and third-place finisher will qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India in October.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons insists he understands and respects the decision of recently retired captain Kieron Pollard but insists the player’s passion and desire will be sorely missed.

After nearly 16-years representing the regional team and three years in charge of both the One Day International (ODI) and T20 squads, the 34-year-old Pollard announced his decision to step away from international cricket last week.

“Skipper it is sad to see you retire from the maroon shirt so early…I completely understand,” Simmons said, addressing the issue via Facebook.

“Your ability to give players your backing and trust to deliver and your strong leadership both on and off the field was a joy to work with,” he added.

Pollard took charge of both squads in 2019 and experienced mixed fortunes during his tenure.  The T20 squad lost 21 of 39 matches and had a disastrous defense of its World Cup title.  The ODI squad on the other hand fared better, winning 13 and losing 11 of 21 matches played.  Still, Simmons hailed Pollard as a positive force for pushing players to reach their full potential and having a genuine desire to see the team do well.

“Your passion for pushing players to build on skills and knowledge of the game and more. Your unwillingness to settle for mediocrity was a pleasure to work with,” Simmons said.

“Your undoubted passion for the game and especially the Maroon Shirt together with your desire to bring success to the West Indies cricket team henceforth Cricket West Indies will be missed. You will be missed.”

Former India players Sunil Gavaskar and RP Singh are among those critical of all-rounder Krunal Pandya kissing former West Indian skipper Kieron Pollard during Sunday’s India Premier League (IPL) encounter between Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Super Giants.

So far this season, Mumbai, the many-time champions, have failed to gain any traction, losing all eight of the games played so far.  In Sunday’s loss, Pandya found himself at the centre of controversy after running to give Pollard a kiss on the head after dismissing the West Indian.

Despite it being generally known that the men are friends, Gavaskar believes the bowler went too far with his celebration and that his mockery could have provoked a negative reaction from the West Indian. 

“I know he is not going to like it, No! No! However good friends you are, that has to happen once the game is over. He is lucky that Pollard didn’t do anything,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.  Singh agreed, adding that the Lucknow player had gone too far.

“Nobody likes losing. When a player is not doing well, one should avoid such things. You don’t know what emotions he is going through. What if he (Pollard) had turned back and reacted. He was walking back disappointed at being unable to win matches and that reaction was definitely too much.”

 

Olympic champion Steve Gardiner turned in a quality performance to open his outdoor season after clocking a world-leading 44.22 seconds at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Gardiner continued to build momentum from a series of impressive indoor performances earlier this season, where he competed in the 200m.  On Saturday, the Bahamian beat back a challenge from the USA’s Vernon Norwood, who ran 44.59 for second place.  The time was the fourth-fastest of Norwood's career.

Great Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith finished third in 44.61 seconds and the USA’s Tyler Terry was fourth in 45.00.  The time was Gardiner’s fastest ever 400m season opener and seems to set him in good stead to defend his world title at the Eugene 2022 World Championships later this summer.  Gardiner’s time bettered the earlier mark of 44.28 seconds, set by the USA’s Michael Cherry last weekend.

Elsewhere, Jamaica’s LSU hurdles star Damion Thomas finished third in the men’s 110 metres hurdles.  Thomas’ time of 13.79 saw him finish just behind Canada’s Joey Daniels who clocked 13.78 for second, while the event was won by LSU’s Eric Edwards Jr who took top spot in a time of 13.34.

Late fireworks from Windies all-rounder Andre Russell proved to be inadequate as Kolkata Knight Riders lost out to Gujarat Titans in a dramatic eight-run win in Mumbai on Saturday.

Chasing 157 for a win, KKR ended their innings at 148 for 8, with the run of the destructive Russell finally coming to an end with the second ball of the final over.

The batsman had entered the innings with the team needing 77, with just 8 overs remaining, and immediately smashed Yash Dayal for back-to-back sixes.  In total, Russell hammered six, sixes for a late 25-ball 48, which brought the team to needing 18 from the final over.  Facing international teammate Alzarri Joseph, he smashed the first ball for a six, but it was Joseph who had the last laugh when the rampaging batsman was gobbled up by Lockie Ferguson on the very next delivery.

Prior to that, Russell had put in an even more impressive cameo with the ball.  With the 20th to be bowled and the Titans potentially poised for a big score, on 151 for 5, KKR captain Iyer Shreyas turned to Russell for the first time in the match.

Russell's amazing last over brought the Knights right back into contention. The West Indies all-rounder conceded just five runs off that final over and picked up four wickets, with Rinku Singh picking up three of those catches.  The bowler’s 4 for 5 in 1 over was the best ever for one over in IPL history.

For the Titans, Mohammed Shami, Rashid Khan, and Dayal took two wickets each, with Alzarri Joseph and Ferguson getting one each. Veteran India pacer Shami bowled a destructive opening spell, taking the wickets of new opening pair of Sam Billings (4) and Sunil Narine (5) to reduce KKR to 2 for 10 in the third over. 

 

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard insists Jamaica international Leon Bailey merited a start against Leicester on Saturday, after a week of solid training.

Bailey’s addition to the starting line-up was a bit of a surprise, given the fact that it was just his second time in a starting line-up in 2022.

Bailey previously played the full 90 minutes against Wolves at the start of the month, but aside from that has been restricted to coming off the bench on six occasions since returning from injury.

"I thought it was a performance in the right direction for Leon. He's trained ever so well in the last week, 10 days. I think he's had a frustrating time. We spoke about that in the week, the likes of Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey, ball carriers for us, people who can make the difference and help get the team up the pitch, especially when you're away from home against a Brendan Rodgers team,” Gerrard explained, following the match.

"At times, you're going to need people who can get you from one end of the pitch to another. That was the thinking behind his selection but, also, he's arguably been our best trainer and I want to reward people like that. He's doing it on a daily basis and I can't ignore people who are showing me that they deserve game time. So, all in all, I'm happy with his performance,” he added.

Despite missing a golden opportunity to put the team ahead, however, Gerrard is confident the player can contribute meaningfully before the end of the season.

"I thought he should have put us one up early on but, listen, I'll forgive him for that because he's in the right place. I'm sure with more game time, more sharpness and, if more opportunities fall for him again, I'm sure he can help us move forward."

18-year-old Omar Laing a standout player for St Andrew Technical (STATHS) during last season’s Manning Cup was shot and killed in a drive-by incident in West Kingston on Friday.

According to reports, Laing was celebrating his 18th birthday in the vicinity of Charles Street when he was struck by gunfire from a passing vehicle.

Playing as a forward, Laing was the leading scorer for the team in the Manning Cup last season, a member of local Premier League club Cavalier and was also called up to Jamaica’s youth national team.

Recently retired West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has faced his fair share of critics but ends his international career with one of the highest win percentages of any captain to lead the One Day International (ODI) team in the last 20 years.

The 34-year-old, who took charge of the ODI team in September 2019, called time on an international career that spanned some 16 years and a three-year spell in charge of two regional teams.  In ODI’s, Pollard led the team for 24 games, winning 13, losing 11, and drawing none for a win percentage of 54.17.

 Alone that would not seem so impressive, turns out that’s not so bad, as far as West Indies captains go.  Pollard’s win percentage puts him ahead of Dwayne Bravo (44.44), Darren Sammy (36.00), and Jason Holder (27.91).  The big-hitters win percentage also puts him above the like of legends Brian Lara, who won 47.20 percent of his games, and Chris Gayle who had a 32.08 win ratio.

His success rate for T20s has been much less than the ODI’s.  Pollard’s 33.33-win ratio puts him well behind Sammy at 59.57, Bravo at 50 percent, Gayle at 41.18 percent, and Carlos Braithwaite at 36.67.

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