While having no issues with investing more money in West Indies Test cricket, iconic batsman Brian Lara believes the region’s problems goes much deeper when it comes to the game’s longest format.

In fact, Lara who has never been shy about expressing his views, pointed out that the onus is on Cricket West Indies (CWI) to take the necessary steps to resolve the slippage, as the Caribbean side –ranked eighth in the ICC Test rankings –suffered a crushing innings and 114-run defeat to England inside three days in the first of their three-match series, at Lord’s.  

“If you put 100 million, 200 million dollars into the West Indies’ bank account, is it going to change the way we play the game? I’m not sure. We are not harnessing the talent that we have,” Lara told BBC World Service’s Stumped podcast.

Though the likes of Nicholas Pooran and Shai Hope possess enough ability to play crucial roles in Test, both have opted to play just white-ball cricket internationally, which enables them to play in franchise leagues across the world.

That along with the fact that other sports, such as athletics, are vying for the sponsorship dollars across the Caribbean, Lara believes has pushed cricket on the outside.

“Obviously, cricket has been diluted by the number of different sports and different opportunities for kids, but I still believe that corporate West Indies have got to get involved,” Lara said.

“The West Indies Cricket Board hasn’t done the right job in attracting these sponsors to ensure that at least grassroots, but also the academy, all the different things, the facilities, are up to standard. I think these things are very, very important,” he added.

On that note, Lara also stressed the need for more to be done to revive public interest in the longer format.

“We don’t have anybody coming through the gate. I walked in Lord’s about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday and outside there were people waiting. That was something I was accustomed to as a kid, getting to the Queens Park Oval at 5:30 and waiting for the gate to be open.

“That’s not happening. You get there at 11 o’clock and there is an empty stadium. You could pick a seat wherever you want. We have to try to get the crowd back,” Lara shared.

“That will breathe the life back into the people of the Caribbean and let them understand what Test cricket is all about and you can get the world of money. You still need to sort of get the crowd more passionate about it and we haven’t been able to do that,” he noted.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has described his team’s performance in the first Test against England at Lord’s as “disappointing” but expects them to bounce back similarly to how they did against Australia in January.

England completed an innings and 114-run victory over the West Indies inside three days on Friday.

“It’s quite disappointing but it’s gone. We have two Test matches left in this series and we have to look ahead and stay mentally tough. That’s important for us,” Brathwaite said in Friday’s post-match press conference.

During their tour of Australia in January, the West Indies were similarly dominated by 10 wickets in the first Test in Adelaide before bouncing back with a historic eight-run win over their much stronger opponents in the second Test in Brisbane.

“Yeah for sure,” was Brathwaite’s response when asked if he believes this group can replicate that performance in response to a big loss.

“Every individual I believe in 100%. I know they can get the job done at this level so I believe in them for sure,” he added.

The 31-year-old also saw a few positives from the team’s performance in the first Test against England, mainly in the bowling department.

“Positives? We did bowl them out, albeit 50-60 runs too many. With the bat, we got three guys that got to 20-add and batted for an hour. We caught decently as well,” he said.

Brathwaite also said it’s too early to determine whether or not changes will be made to the XI for the second Test at Trent Bridge starting on July 18.

“It’s a little too early to decide. Obviously, it’s a different pitch we’ll be playing on so when we get there we’ll know,” he said.

Individually, since his 182 against Zimbabwe last February, Brathwaite’s form at the highest level has taken a massive downturn.

He has scored one fifty in his last 16 innings, 75 against India in Port-of-Spain last July.

Since that Zimbabwe series, Brathwaite has scored 227 runs in 16 innings at an average of 15.13.

Brathwaite believes something big is around the corner.

“I’m coping okay. Test cricket is always a challenge but, as I say to the boys as well it’s the same thing for myself, you’ve just got to stay mentally tough. You’ve got to believe that something’s coming around the corner. Just keep doing the right things and everything will work out,” he said.

 

 

 

The West Indies are on the brink of a quick defeat at stumps on day two of the first of three Tests against England at Lord’s.

The tourists ended Thursday 79-6 off 34.5 overs, needing a further 171 runs to force England to bat again.

Similar to the first innings, the West Indian top order failed to impress as Kraigg Brathwaite (4), Kirk McKenzie (0), Mikyle Louis (14) and Kavem Hodge (4) all fell within the first 20 overs of the innings with the West Indies teetering at just 37.

James Anderson celebrating the wicket of Kraigg Brathwaite.

Alick Athanaze was next to go after battling hard for 22 to leave the West Indies 55-5 in the 29th over before Jason Holder and Joshua Da Silva looked set to see out the English bowling for the rest of the day.

This proved not to be the case as Holder became Gus Atkinson’s ninth wicket of his magical debut in the day’s last over for 20 to leave the West Indies 79-6 off 34.5 overs at stumps.

Joshua Da Silva was 8* at the close of play.

James Anderson, Atkinson and skipper Ben Stokes have taken two wickets, each, so far.

Earlier, the hosts progressed to 371 all out off 90 overs after beginning day two 189-3.

Both overnight batsmen, Joe Root and Harry Brook, went on to bring up their fifties.

Root eventually fell for a 114-ball 68 including seven fours while Brook made an even 50 off 64 balls including five fours and a six.

The top scorer on the day, however, was debutant Jamie Smith who hit eight fours and two sixes on his way to a 119-ball 70.

Jamie Smith on his way to 70 on debut.

On his return to the Test arena, Jayden Seales was the pick of the West Indian bowlers with 4-77 from 20 overs.

Gudakesh Motie and Jason Holder provided good support for Seales with 2-41 off 16 overs and 2-58 off 18 overs, respectively.

Full Scores:

West Indies 121 all out off 41.4 overs (Mikyle Louis 27, Gus Atkinson 7-45) & 79-6 off 34.5 overs (Alick Athanaze 22, James Anderson 2-11, Ben Stokes 2-25, Gus Atkinson 2-27)

England 371 all out off 90 overs (Zak Crawley 76, Jamie Smith 70, Joe Root 68, Ollie Pope 57, Harry Brook 50, Jayden Seales 4-77, Gudakesh Motie 2-41, Jason Holder 2-58)

 

The chances of West Indies bettering England in their three-match Test series were always slim, and Wednesday’s opening day of the first encounter at Lord’s again justified why the host are overwhelmingly favoured.

No doubt the Caribbean side went into the contest confident that they can secure a Test series win in England for the first time since 1988, but their batting display was a far cry from a team hoping to achieve that feat.

They collapsed from 88-3 to 121 all out, as England’s attack, led by debutant Gus Atkinson, was quick, vicious and left West Indies in a tailspin with no response to the onslaught.

Debutant Mikyle Louis (27), Alick Athanaze (23), Kavem Hodge (24), Alzarri Joseph (17), and Gudakesh Motie, with an unbeaten 14, were the only scores in double figures. Atkinson bagged 7-45, the second best by an England bowler on Test debut behind Dominic Cork.

England in response were 189-3 at close, as they opened up a 68-run lead courtesy of half-centuries from Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57). Joe Root, on 15, and Harry Brook, on 25, will resume batting on Thursday’s second day.

Scores: West Indies 121 all out (41.4 overs); England 189-3 (40 overs)

Gus Atkinson bask in the admiration of his teammates.

West Indies assistant coach Jimmy Adams narrowed their opening day performance to England’s quality bowling and inexperience batting from his team.

“I think it was fairly bowling friendly conditions, and added to that England exploited the conditions really well. They had quality swing and they didn’t give us much freedom, and maybe a little bit of experience on our part as well. So I think a combination of those issues,” Adams said in a post-day conference.

Despite their current position, Adams remains optimistic his men can get back into the contest, provided they apply themselves accordingly.

“All of England’s bowlers are world class, so we can try (to comeback), but it is going to be difficult. But this is what Test cricket is all about, you have a bad day, you think about it, roll your sleeves up and come back on day two and try and work your way back into the match. We have seven wickets to get first of all and then hopefully we can bat for a day or two and see where we go from there,” he added.

After losing their top order in the opening session with just 44 runs on the board, Hodge and Athanaze attempted to rebuild the West Indies inning from 61-3 at lunch, but having already inflicted the wound, Atkinson duly obliged and finished what he started.

Louis, the first player to represent West Indies from St Kitts and Nevis, showed promise in a 34-run opening stand with captain Kraigg Brathwaite. Both seemed set for a positive knock before Brathwaite (six) dragged a wide delivery from Atkinson onto the stumps, while Jamaican Kirk McKenzie lasted only 14 deliveries, as he too was sent back by Atkinson for a solitary run.

Mikyle Louis receives his cap from West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards.

Louis then followed, as he edged one from England’s captain Ben Stokes, which Harry Brook collected low down at third slip.

When Athanaze edged to Joe Root, it sparked a typical West Indies collapse, as Jason Holder and Joshua da Silva came and went without scoring, while Hodge served up a catch off Chris Woakes to Ollie Pope, who took it in dazzling fashion.

Alzarri Joseph attempted a counter as he slashed four boundaries in a nine-ball cameo, before he became Atkinson’s sixth victim, and Shamar Joseph (zero), the seamer’s seventh. Motie then contributed 14 runs to push the visitors past the 120-run mark, as James Anderson, playing in his final Test series, accounted for Jayden Seales.

England in their turn at bat, lost Ben Duckett (three), who knicked a Jayden Seales delivery to da Silva. However, Crawley, who rode his luck, and Pope quickly steadied things as both scored at a decent tempo, before the latter was trapped in front by Holder.

Crawley’s luck ran out soon after and he was removed by an inswinging yorker from Seales, as West Indies briefly harboured hopes of clawing their way back into the contest, but Root and Brook kept them at bay for the remainder of the day.

Seales has 2-31 so far.

James Anderson took a wicket on the first day of his final Test but England debutant Gus Atkinson was the star of the show at Lord's.

Paceman Atkinson took seven wickets and went for just 45 runs as England dominated the opening day against West Indies, finishing with a lead of 68.

The tourists collapsed from 88-3 to 121 all out on Wednesday, with Atkinson taking three of his seven wickets during a phenomenal 35th over.

Alick Athanaze, Jason Holder and Joshua Da Silva could not cope with the England new boy, who had previously dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk McKenzie, with Atkinson following up with two more wickets before Anderson sent Jayden Seales packing.

England subsequently took control with the bat, recovering from the early loss of Ben Duckett, with Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope taking Ben Stokes' team to 123 before the latter succumbed to an edge on 57.

Crawley (76) followed when he was done leg before wicket by Holder, but Joe Root (15 not out) and Harry Brook (25 n.o) ensured there was no further loss before the close, which England reached at 189-3.

Data Debrief: Anderson bowing out, but the future's bright

It is truly the end of an era at Lord's over the coming days, and Anderson at least has the guarantee of one wicket from his farewell Test.

He is now on 701 wickets in the longest format, and 120 of those have come at Lord's.

But Atkinson proved there is life after Anderson. His figures of 7-45 are the second best any bowler has managed on men's Test debut for England, after Dominic Cork's 7-43 at Lord's in 1995.

Mikyle Louis will open alongside Captain Kraigg Brathwaite for the West Indies in the first Test against England set to start on Wednesday at Lord’s.

Louis, the 23-year-old, comes into the team on the back of a brilliant season for the Leeward Islands in the 2024 West Indies Championship where he scored 682 runs in 14 innings at an average of 49.

He is coming off a first innings half-century in their warm-up game against the County Select XI last week.

Retaining their places in the order are Kirk McKenzie at three, Alick Athanaze at four and Kavem Hodge at five.

McKenzie and Athanaze scored three half-centuries between them in the warm-up fixture last week while Hodge scored a brilliant hundred so all three are coming into the first Test in some good form.

Also making their return to the West Indies test team after missing the Australia series in December are former Captain Jason Holder and young pacer Jayden Seales.

Both Holder and Seales recently enjoyed successful County Championship stints for Worcestershire and Sussex, respectively.

Gudakesh Motie will be the lone spinner in the XI while Holder and Seales will be joined in the pace attack by Alzarri and Shamar Joseph.

Josh a Da Silva also retains his place behind the stumps.

The full XI is as follows: Kraigg Brathwaite (C), Mikyle Louis, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Jason Holder, Joshua Da Silva, Gudakesh Motie, Jayden Seales, Alzarri Joseph, Shamar Joseph

All-rounder Jason Holder and seamer Jayden Seales are both optimistic that West Indies can deliver an efficient performance to not only better England in their three-match Test series, but more importantly, to offer some semblance of upliftment to the Caribbean, which was recently brushed by Hurricane Beryl.

Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Jamaica are just a few of the islands that faced the wrath of Beryl, and West Indies players are using the setback as motivation to demonstrate the resilience and determination of Caribbean people.

Holder, who reflected on West Indies’ previous tour of England during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, believes the first step to doing their part in assisting to overcome these tough times, is to put their best foot forward in the series, which bowls off at Lord’s on Wednesday.

“The buzz around the T20 World Cup and the success of the recent past has definitely revived the cricketing lives of the people in the Caribbean. I think any bit of spark and encouragement we can give them will be through our performances and that is what we pledged as a group to try and make them as proud as possible in these tough times,” Holder said.