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.

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel remains very much a part of the plans of the new Desmond Haynes-led selection panel despite not being selected in the squad for the first Test against England.

The 33-year-old pace bowler, who has been playing for Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the West Indies Championship, was not named among the 15-man squad for the first Test or Presidents XI.  His omission is, however, due to sustaining a hamstring injury.

“Shannon was injured in the game that he played in Trinidad.  We were told by the medical panel that he is having a bit of a problem with his hamstring and would not be fit for selection,” Haynes told members of the media on Wednesday.

“Shannon did very well against England the last tour here.  He’s probably our fastest bowler and we are hoping to get him fit so that he can be on the park."

Overall Gabriel has taken 37 wickets against England in 11 matches and took 5 for 25 and overall figures of 9 for 137 when he face England in 2020.  The English went on to win the series 2-1.  Concerns have been raised over the player’s workload in recent times after the fast bowler has found himself sidelined by a few injuries.

Out-of-favour West Indies opening batsman Kieran Powell has admitted it was a disappointment to not at least be considered for the CWI President’s XI squad ahead of the upcoming four-match Test series against England.

The 31-year-old left-hander missed out on a chance under the new selection panel, after being skipped over in favour of Jamaica batsman John Campbell.  Powell, who last played for the West Indies last August against Pakistan, has scored 144 runs in two matches for the Leeward Islands in the West Indies Championship, the seventh-best so far.

Campbell has in the meantime scored 213.  With performances, the batsman believes there could also have been some consideration for Leewards no. 3 Devon Thomas who has scored 242, the second most behind West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who has 341.

“I definitely thought that if I didn’t make the Test squad I would make the President’s XI based on the performances, but I saw Devon Thomas batting the way that nobody else in the Caribbean batted in those two games and if the team is going to be selected on performances, the way that he has played is second to none so you would like to think that he would have gotten into this squad,” Powell told the Mason and Guest radio show.

Despite not making the squad, however, Powell was pleased with his start to the season and expressed disappointment at the competition going on a break during the England tour.

“I’m pretty happy with where I was able to get to.  I’m very disappointed the season was halted after two matches because you would have seen cricket not being played for two years and guys were so excited to get back out there and the level of cricket the Leewards played in those games, we had some tough decisions against Barbados and a few things could have gone our way.”

 

Former West Indies batsman, Carlisle Best, insists he does not understand the reluctance by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to part ways with team captain Kieron Pollard and coach Phil Simmons given the team’s recent poor run of performances.

Simmons, who was appointed a coach of the team in 2019, and Pollard, who was appointed West Indies white-ball captain that same year, have come under immense pressure in recent months, following a string of bad results and poor performances.

An aging Windies squad put in a poorly, lackluster showing at last year’s T20 World Cup, where they exited meekly, and followed that up with a historical One Day International series loss to Ireland and 3-0 T20 series sweep at the hands of Pakistan.

The team rallied to beat England 3-2 in a T20 series against England last month but were defeated 6-0 overall, 3-0 (ODI), 3-0 (T20I), in their most recent tour of India.  In particular,  the batting form of the team has been lambasted with many believing there to be an overall lack of concentration or engagement.  Best believes given the results the leaders of the squad have to be judged on what they have accomplished to date.

“What kind of leader is not going to be accountable for the results that occur under his stewardship,” Best told the Mason and Guest radio show. 

“If we are going forward, we have to focus primarily on performances and those performances have to be result oriented…Do we want a winning team and can we find that winning formula, certainly we do not have that formula now with either captain Pollard or coach Simmons. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

“The writing was on the wall a long time ago when he made the comment publicly that IPL and Trinidad came before West Indies cricket that is well documented and yet he finds himself as a Putin of West Indies cricket.”

West Indies women’s team head coach Courtney Walsh is convinced the team heading to ICC Women’s World next month is a well-balanced one.

On Monday, Cricket West Indies announced the naming of a 15-man squad, which as expected will be led by Windies Women captain Stephanie Taylor and feature several other experienced players.  Joining the likes of Taylor will be the experienced Deandra Dottin, Shemaine Campbell, and Anisa Mohammed who will be headed to her fourth World Cup.

The team, however, will also feature a host of younger players and two uncapped players Kaysia Schultz and Jannellia Glasgow in the reserves.  Walsh believes the team’s combination is suited to performing well in all areas.

“We were just trying to get the best combination we thought for the World Cup, so all the tours we had, the camps and thing.  All those things were taken into consideration in trying to get as balance an attack as we can in terms of batting, bowling, and fielding as well,” Walsh said.

“We wanted the complete package with regards to batting, bowling, and fielding. The 18 players that we have here is what we as the selectors thought was the best balanced 18, we could take. We have an adequate backup should there be any injuries.”

West Indies lead selector, Desmond Haynes, insists fixing the squad’s issues at the top of the order will be a priority for the new panel.

The team’s struggles, particularly at the top of the order, have been well documented in recent times.  The issue of finding a consistent partner for team captain Kraigg Brathwaite is one of the primary concerns.

Over the last five years, Brathwaite, who has scored 2188 in 40 matches during that time, has been consistent but it has proven to be somewhat of a carousel in terms of finding an opening pairing with Kieron Powell, John Campbell, and Shai Hope all being trailed for the spot at various times.

In November, Jeremy Solozano was also set to be trialed in the position, against Sri Lanka, but did not get the opportunity after being struck on the helmet while fielding.  Ahead of the England series, Haynes and the selectors have decided to turn back to Campbell who was dropped from the team in June of last year.

The batsman has had a strong start to the West Indies Championship after scoring 213 runs in two matches so far.  Since 2019, Campbell has played 15 matches for the West Indies scoring 640 runs.

“There was good discussion regarding the opening.  That in itself is something we want to resolve shortly.  I think in all the good teams you find they have good opening batsmen so we are hoping to get our opening batsmen some confidence and make sure they can do the job for us,” Haynes told members of the media on Tuesday.

“I think we went with Campbell not just because he got the 100 but talking to the captain and him batting with Campbell in the games that he has played, we had a bit of success there,” he added.

“It was a bit unfortunate for Jeremy but we decided we would put him in the president’s XI’s game where the selectors could have another look at him because it was a bit unfortunate because after being struck on the head he didn’t get a chance to play in Sri Lanka.  

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard insists the club is anxiously waiting to see the best of Jamaica forward Leon Bailey after a stop-start beginning to life at Villa Park.

The 24-year-old returned to English Premier League action last weekend, with a 10-minute spell against Newcastle, following a lengthy lay-off.

The player had been out of action since December after damaging his thigh muscle during the first half against Manchester City.  At the time, Bailey was finding himself sidelined for the second time with the same injury after damaging the muscle against Everton in September.

His exhilarating cameo against the Toffees, however, showed glimpses of what the player could bring to the table.  Gerrard took notice.

“I remember he came off the bench against Everton – I was watching the game on TV – and he lifted the stadium up,” the coach said.

“He scored a wonderful goal,” he added

“Everyone is waiting for him. The owners, the board, the staff, the players.

“We’re all waiting for Leon to really burst onto the scene, stay healthy and find his best level.

“We have signed a talent who has produced at his previous clubs, and he’s shown flashes.

“Leon’s focus has to be on staying fit, getting himself in the best physical condition, and allowing his talent to flourish.”

West Indies batsman Rovman Powell believes a nice understanding at the crease is developing between himself and vice-captain Nicholas Pooran after putting together another strong partnership, albeit this time in a losing effort.

India wrapped up the three-match T20 series with an 8 run win over the West Indies, after setting a more than competitive 186 for 5 in the first innings.  Thanks to the efforts of Powell and Pooran, however, the team managed to get close to the score on the back of their 100-run partnership, in 60 balls.

It was the second time in just a few weeks the duo was combining to good effect.  Against England in the third T20 international, the duo combined for 122 for 67.  In fact, Pooran and Powell have been one of the most productive partnerships over the last four years, scoring 346 in 7 innings.

“Me and Pooran, from the last series, we have been developing a nice little bromance, a nice little partnership in a sense with him batting 3 and me batting four.  It’s important for us at that point, at that position, where we bat three and four to get partnerships,” Pooran told members of the media, following the match.

“We got another partnership of 100 plus today, it’s for us to take all the things we did right today and improve the stuff that needs to improve going forward.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard was encouraged by the batting unit’s approach to Friday’s T20 International against India, even if he was admittedly disappointed with the result.

The West Indies found themselves on the losing side of another series, after going down by 8 runs to India on Friday.  The result saw the South Asian team claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, after winning the opener by 7 wickets.

This time, however, in pursuit of a solid 186 for 5, the team went a lot closer to the target and was more comfortable in the run chase.  A 100-run partnership from Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell got the team close to India's score, and, in fact, until a miserly 18th over from Harshal Patel it seemed the West Indies were favourites to level the series.

According to the West Indies captain, while the team may have come up just short on runs, the approach was closer to what was required.

“I thought the partnership with him (Rovman Powell) and Pooran almost got us over the line.  Sometimes that’s all we are asking from the guys to bat as deep as possible and for me, I’m pleased, obviously not with the result but with the way they continue to aim for consistency,” he added.

The partnership was the fourth-highest between two Windies players since 2019, adding to an overall 306 scored in 6 matches, whenever the duo of Powell and Pooran has come together during that time.

“Nicholas got another half-century, Powell has gotten two in the last four games, so, we are making progress.”

A five-wicket haul from pace bowler, Alzarri Joseph, capped off a sensational overall Leeward Islands Hurricanes performance as they ended with an innings and 57 run win over the Guyana Harpy Eagles, in the West Indies Championship, at Queens Park Oval on Thursday.

In pursuit of the Leewards massive first innings total of 438 for 7 declared, Guyana were dismissed for 265, after Joseph did his part by ripping through the top order.  Chanderpaul Hemraj led the resistance from the top of the innings but could not find steady partners before being himself being bowled for 50 by Jeremiah Louis.

Anthony Bramble took up the challenge next and added 58, while Gudakesh Motie made 49 at the bottom of the order but it was never close to being enough.  In support of Joseph, Louis and Collin Archibald each claimed two wickets. 

Earlier, resuming the day at 366 for 5, already with a lead of 250 runs, the team added another 72 before announcing their declaration.  Ward, who resumed the day on 46, moved on to 78, following the departures of Rahkeem Cornwall, who only added two to his overnight 13, and Archibald who added a quick-fire 38. 

For Guyana, Motie finished with figures of 3 for 111, while Nial Smith took 3 for 100.

 

 

Jamaica Reggae Girlz striker, Khadijah Shaw, bagged a brace as the team kicked off its World Cup qualification campaign in strong fashion with a 4-0 win over Bermuda at the National Stadium on Thursday.

After missing several presentable opportunities early on, against a game Bermuda unit, Jamaica finally took the lead in the 21st minute when Jodi Brown opened the scoring.  Trudy Carter doubled the team’s lead 9 minutes later after booting the ball into the net from around 8 yards, profiting from a late run into the box and a searching cutback from Brown on the flank.

Shaw, who headed the ball onto the ball early on, looked to have earned a penalty when she was brought down midway the second half by Bermuda goalkeeper Micah Pond, but her protest was waved off by the referee.

 The Manchester City forward made no mistake in the 79th minute, adding the team’s third after smashing the ball high into the net from close range, after the goalkeeper had parried an effort from winger Kalyssa Van Zanten.  She added her second only moments from the final whistle after picking up the ball ten yards from goal, swiveling around her defender, and firing home.

The team will face Grenada in the second match of the round on Sunday.

Reggae Girlz and Manchester City forward Khadijah Shaw has expressed confidence ahead of the team’s match-up against Bermuda in the opening match of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Thursday.

The competition will be the official start of the team’s campaign to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.  Despite facing lower-ranked opposition, the team will not be kicking off its journey in ideal circumstances.

Several players who were part of the history-making World Cup squad are unavailable for the fixture due to injury or other reasons.  In addition, the team will feature a number of new players and has had limited time to work out its kinks.  The situation has given interim coach Vin Blaine plenty of pause for thought, but Shaw remains confident the squad will be capable of racking up positive results in this round.

“Football is a team sport, I trust my teammates.  There’s a reason why they are here, and the coach selected them, and I trust the coaching staff as well,” said Shaw, in assessing the situation.

“We have to just come in and understand each other as fast as possible.  It’s not ideal right now but I trust my teammates and I really do think we can get the job done despite other players not being here.”

The team will also travel away to face Grenada in the second match of the window.

 

A dispute over the use of player agents is said to be one of the key issues at the heart of allegations of player victimisation, which roiled West Indies cricket a few weeks ago.

The controversial issue was brought to the fore during the England tour of the Caribbean after all-rounder Odean Smith was dropped from the team ahead of the third T20 international.  Reports of the accusations were initially downplayed by Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerrit and the senior members of the team’s hierarchy as an attempt to distract.

The CWI hierarchy has, however, since met with representatives of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) to address the claims and the body’s Honourary General Secretary Wayne Lewis has confirmed that there are in fact a few issues to resolve.

“There were complaints to WIPA about things that happened, they were uncomfortable because of the situation, they were very unhappy and so we sat with Cricket West Indies and spoke about it,” Lewis told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“The complaint was that members within the cricket West Indies set-up were calling franchises overseas and advising them that particular players would not be given NOCs to play, and we thought that was odd because we have an MOU and a protocol that covers that, that did not include anyone from that area,” he added.

“There were situations where players were encouraged to change their agents to go with an agent of their (CWIs) choice and the players were resisting that because they had their own agents already.  So that made them a little uncomfortable as well, so these issues needed to be addressed, so we did the proper thing by talking to the CWI to get to the bottom of it.”

Lewis revealed that talks between the bodies had continued to be cooperative but that a complete solution on how to address the issue had not yet been reached.

The West Indies squad have flatly rejected the suggestions that Smith's omission from the match was anything other than tactical.

 

The Leeward Islands' top three batsmen Montcin Hodge, Kieran Powell, and Devon Thomas, all registered scores in the 70s as the Hurricanes heaped misery upon Guyana Harpy Eagles on day two of the West Indies Championship at the Queen's Park Oval.

Resuming the day on 116 with loss, already 10 ahead of where they had previously left Guyana all-out, the team added another 36 runs before the Eagles claimed their first wicket. 

Powell was the first to go, after being bowled for 74 by Nial Smith.  But there was no respite, as Thomas joined Hodge at the crease and the two put on a further 85 before Thomas was dismissed for 72.

 Hodge looked well set for a triple-digit tally but only lasted another five overs as he was dismissed for 72 off the bowling of Clinton Pestano, with the team at 246 for 3.  Guyana broke through soon after, with Gudakesh Motie claiming Kofi James for 11.

The Eagles faced another chastening spell at the crease, however, after Jahmar Hamilton and Terance Ward put on an 85 run partnership for the 5th wicket.  Hamilton was eventually dismissed for 48 after being trapped lbw by Smith.  At the close of play, Ward remained unbeaten on 46 with Rahkeem Cornwall on 13.  

The Leewards ended the day on 366 for 5 a lead of 250 runs.

Windies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team must find a coherent strategy to deal with India’s spinners after being caught in two minds in the opening match of the T20 series.

In the end, the West Indies were comfortably beaten by six wickets but at one point seemed set for a higher total than the 157 for 7 that the team eventually posted.  At 72 for 2, at the start of the 10th over, the West Indies had a set Pooran and Roston Chase at the crease and seemed set to build on a solid enough foundation.

 The introduction of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, however, threw a wrench into those plans as he immediately removed Chase who struggled to come to grips with the spinner before being dismissed for lbw.  Bishnoi, who ended with 2 for 17, then removed the dangerous Rovman Powell later in the over.  The debutant was the chief but not the team’s only issue as Yuzvendra Chahal had also proven difficult to get away on occasion.

“We played the spinners ok today, we would want to continue that and continue to build partnerships,” Pooran told members of the media following the match.

“We still need to negotiate the spinners a bit better, I think today we were caught in two minds how to go about them.  Whether to attack them or keep them out of the game and we got caught in both minds there.”

Pooran top-scored for the Windies with 65.

 

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