Knights in White Flannels

26th February 2014

Quick Singles – news round-up

Recent events in Caribbean Cricket & beyond.

The big news in the Caribbean this week is the announcement of knighthoods for 3 of Antigua’s greatest cricketing sons: Andy Roberts, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose. West Indies team manager, Richie Richardson expressed that he was “extremely honoured”. The ceremony is due to take place during the lunch interval of the 1st ODI v England on Friday.

That game is the 1st of 3 ODIs in Antigua, to be followed by a subsequent 3 T20s in Barbados. (Barbados also recently played host to this other team from England). ABCA’s Zorol Barthley says the association stands to gain financially and in other ways by hosting the ODIs.

WI coach, Ottis Gibson has said the upcoming one-day games v England are ‘very important’, although Alan Tyers is underwhelmed. WICB director, Dr Allen Sammy is cautiously optimistic of a series victory. One setback though, is that Chris Gayle has already been ruled out of the series, being replaced by Barbados’ Dwayne Smith. In Gayle’s absence, Michael Holding believes ODI skipper, Dwayne Bravo could make a big impact. Michael also shares with us his opinion on the modern trend for ice baths.

England warmed up for the ODI series with a win over the UWI Vice-Chancellor’s XI. West Indies enter the series after defeating Ireland last Sunday in the sole ODI between the two teams, following on from a 1-1 draw in the T20 international series: the WI narrowly defending a mere 96 in the 2nd game after losing by 6 wickets in the initial encounter, much to the delight of Ireland’s Trinidadian coach, Phil Simmons. Victory in the ODI gave a little lift that had been called for.

The performances against Ireland came in for a great deal of understandable criticism in the region: the Jamaica Gleaner dubbed the performances ’embarrassing’, the Jamaica Observer called them ‘pathetic’, the TTCB’s Patrick Rampersad said the T20 loss was ‘unacceptable’, while Tony Becca was not alone in lamenting woeful West Indian batting. Meanwhile, Colin Croft preferred to be impressed by Ireland rather than depressed by the WI. Ireland was sufficiently pleased with the success of the trip to be planning a return next year.

On a more general level, Clive Lloyd lamented a loss of passion in the region’s cricketers, while Tony Cozier felt the series gave a fair reflection of WI’s current position in world cricket, and Garth Wattley called upon the WI batting to ‘sober up’. On the bowling front, Nikita Miller felt the addition of Saqlain Mushtaq as the spinning coach for the series’ v Ireland & England was a ‘big boost’.

England’s tour of the Caribbean is described by the Independent’s Stephen Brenkley as ‘an opportunity to draw a line in the sand’; and is a big opportunity for one-day coach, Ashley Giles to press his claims to succeed Andy Flower – a job West Indies coach, Otis Gibson has today ruled himself out of, and both the Daily Telegraph’s Derek Pringle & ESPN Cricinfo’s George Dobell comment.

The tour is a big one for many players too: being make or break for some, including James Tredwell who hopes to fill the gap left by Graeme Swann; Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan (who Barbados Today refer to as ‘the one that got away’) and Luke Wright. Wright arrived in Antigua from Miami, on a different flight from the rest of the England team, and when his car didn’t arrive he was given a lift by the Barmy Army, who in return gave their passenger a proper grilling!

West Indies’ women are currently touring New Zealand, where they have lost the first, second & third of their 5-match ODI series. In contrast, Anand Rampersad acknowledges the great strides made by women’s cricket.

Cricket South Africa have announced that WI will take part in a 3-Test tour in SA later this year, including featuring in the popular Boxing Day Test Match at Port Elizabeth and a New Year’s Test at Newlands, Cape Town. The Tests will be followed by 2 T20s & 5 ODIs.

In the U19 World Cup in the UAE, WI were eliminated at the quarter-final stage, despite a brilliant hundred by Trinidad & Tobago’s Nicolas Pooran. Garfield Robinson lauded the innings in Cricbuzz, while Fazeer Mohammed warned against hypebole, and reminded Pooran his next knock starts at zero. T&T’s former manager, Omar Khan says his island must invest in the young player’s talent wisely. WI U19 have since narrowly beaten Afghanistan, and play India for 5th place on Thursday.

Another young T&T batsman who has impressed this week is Stephen Katwaroo. T&T were under criticism recently from their former Test player, Bryan Davis for their poor performances at the Nagico Super 50. Roger Seepersad believes the country’s 2-day club competition is part of the problem.

The TTCB thanked the public for their support of the tournament, but denied over-selling tickets, causing some fans to be locked out of the final v Barbados.

Barbados celebrated their victory, and were congratulated in a national editorial. In reflecting on the victory, all-rounder, Carlos Brathwaite acknowledged the influence of the High Performance Centre, which he described as a ‘life-changing experience’. Barbados won the competition without the help of deposed captain, Kirk Edwards, although the issues between the former skipper and the BCA still appear to be unresolved. The Barbados Advocate calls the BCA management into question. Barbados now go on to defend their regional 4-day crown. With Edwards selected for the one-dayers v England, Barbados had to amend their initial selected squad for the visit to St Lucia under new 4-day captain, Kraigg Brathwaite.

In Jamaica, the JCA have confirmed that Tamar Lambert will lead the team this season, which sees the return of Jerome Taylor, while JCA President, Billy Heaven has called for more support for community cricket.

Meanwhile, Guyana’s Leon Johnson has been ruled out of the 4-day competition through injury, and will be replaced as skipper by Shiv Chanderpaul. Earlier this week, Chanderpaul was named as Guyana’s Sportsman of the Year. Still in Guyana, Basil Butcher has been helping out with the nation’s young cricketers.

The 4-day regional first-class competition has been part of new WICB director of cricket, Richard Pybus’ focus in tackling the challenge of improving the Caribbean’s cricket fortunes, and he has expressed his excitement about the upcoming season. Day/night matches will feature this year, and bonus points for batting & bowling will be available that mirror the system used in the English County Championship.

Later this season will be edition no. 2 of the CPL, and Vinode Mamchan in the Trinidad Guardian reveals that the season’s opening games may be played in Toronto, Canada. Mike Selvey, in the UK’s Guardian, is concerned that the West Indies is prioritising T20s over Test cricket.

Elsewhere, it’s reported that work has been completed on Warner Park Cricket Stadium, Basseterre in St. Kitts; the WIPA-WICB awards will take place in Jamaica in June; Vasbert Drakes has been making positive progress helping the suspended Shane Shillingford to remodel his action; Ryan Hinds has been cleared of sexual assault charges; Andre Russell has been appointed a Foska Oats brand ambassador; fashion designer, Masabe Gupta would apparently love to dress up her dad, Sir Vivian Richards (who was apparently turned down as a player by Church & Oswaldthistle Cricket Club in 1973); & Brian Lara is dating Miss Scotland, Jamey Bowers.

David Oram

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