Category: West Indies (page 1 of 17)

Viv Richards has a chilli sauce

Or possibly had. Graeme Swann doesn’t make it clear in his tweet just how long the bottle’s been at the back of his cupboard.

More of this kind of thing in our latest Twitter round-up.

Unsure how to respond to this news? We’ll start you off with a trio of condimentary wicketkeepers: Jeffrey Dijon Mustard, Bruce French Mustard and of course, Phil Mustard.


Why Andre Russell was banned

If you didn’t know it already, “it’s not my fault, I asked someone else to do it for me” is not a legitimate defence for failing to tell dope testers where you’re going to be. Andre Russell has therefore been handed a one-year ban.

If that sounds harsh, consider that testing athletes for performance enhancing drugs is kind of important. If you can’t test them, you can’t catch them and doping is almost certainly a bigger problem in cricket than anyone currently thinks it is.

Alternatively, you might think the ban too lenient. However, its duration reflects a general impression that Andre Russell is more of a plain old shambles than he is a devious doper playing the system.

The message here – which really isn’t being broadcast loudly enough – is that all professional cricketers have to take anti-doping seriously. Failure to do so undermines confidence in the sport.

The West Indies’ World T20 win last year is far from soiled by the fact that one of their number could have been banned for the entire tournament, but it does have a bit of a greasy smudge on it now. A bigger doping scandal – or a large number of them – would tarnish the event to a greater extent. No-one wants this. Swifter action in such cases wouldn’t go amiss either.

An effective testing regime is a deterrent as much as a means of actually catching people – although it has to do the latter to function as the former. As was mentioned above, if you can’t test athletes, you can’t catch dopers, so there have to be consequences for repeated unavailability for testing.

Unfortunately for Russell, for the reasons given above, being a bit of a shambles and not really worrying too much about letting the doping authorities know where you’re going to be simply doesn’t cut it as an explanation.


Andre Russell might actually find out whether he’s going to be banned from cricket next week

If you’ve a decent memory, you might remember that Andre Russell had a possible two-year ban from cricket hanging over him after being unavailable for three doping tests during a 12-month period back in 2015.

‘Oh yeah,’ you may think. ‘What happened with that in the end?’

Well, the answer is that Andre Russell still has a possible two-year ban from cricket hanging over him. According to Cricinfo, the anti-doping panel will finally deliver its verdict next week.

We’ve read quite a bit about this case. As with pretty much anything that involves lawyers, the relentless arguing over every last little procedural detail only really leaves you pondering the brevity of life.

The gist is that Russell didn’t miss any tests in the literal sense, he just didn’t maintain his ‘whereabouts’ information. However, being as this information is what’s used to ensure that an athlete can be tested, as far as the doping agency’s concerned, it amounts to the same thing.

The whereabouts system is used in all sports. You can even update information on the day, an hour before your designated testing window. Russell said he didn’t know how to use the website. In fact he said he found the whole system a bit confusing and so asked his agent and travel agent to look after it for him.

Set against that, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s case is something like: ‘Tough shit, it’s your responsibility.’

And after that, it all got a bit…

‘You never showed me how to use the system properly.’

‘You never asked us to show you how to use it.’

Our take is that Russell’s approach to the system seems believably shambolic, but we’re not really sure that’s an acceptable excuse.

In any case, the more important point, surely, is that we are talking about 2015 filing failures in 2017 and there has still been no decision taken.

This isn’t fair on fans, who could in theory have spent the last couple of years watching someone who has had an unfair advantage over the men he has played against. Nor is it fair on Russell, who has had a potential two-year ban hanging over him that whole time for what may prove to be little more than a minor administrative failure.

Cricket really isn’t very good at this sort of thing.


Video: Cricket, penguins and lasers – together at last

dj-bravo-and-zooper-dooper

Finally!

It’s the video for the latest version of Dwayne Bravo’s Champion song, in which our man lists everyone and everything he’s ever encountered and brands them all champions.

Toast is a champion, plate is a champion, floor is a champion, wall is a champion…

If you don’t immediately comprehend the reasoning behind some of the visuals, we recommend that you don’t investigate. The real explanation is unlikely to make you any happier than the idea that they for some reason concluded that a penguin firing lasers at Dwayne Bravo from its eyes was an appropriate inclusion.

The penguin is called Coolio. It is unclear to us whether or not he is the same Coolio who was responsible for Gangsta’s Paradise but it seems pretty safe to assume that he is.

And there we were thinking that promoting a Twenty20 tournament using a robot with flames for eyes was a bit leftfield.


The riddle of Kraigg Brathwaite’s extra G

Maybe one day someone will be able to answer the riddle of Kraigg Brathwaite’s extra G. The K we can understand – it’s jarring, but not unprecedented. But the second G? What does that contribute to proceedings?

Maybe his parents wrote Kraig, knew it looked wrong and added a bonus G in the hope that this would prove the necessary correction. Realising they had actually made matters worse, they would then have resolved to stop messing lest things really got out of hand. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses.

Kraigg’s made a few Test hundreds, including a double against Bangladesh, but an away win against Pakistan – should it come about – would make for a far more significant match result than for any of those others. His first innings 142 not out already looks like being the most significant contribution to the Test and at the time of writing he’s not out in the second dig as the Windies set about chasing 153 to win.

Perhaps this is the Test when Kraigg will finally make a name for himself. If he gets to choose, may we suggest ‘Craig’.


Mickey Arthur really knows how to retract a compliment

Even by the lofty doublespeak standards of a Test match press conference, this was an impressive effort from Mickey Arthur after Pakistan were bowled out for 123 by West Indies’ Devendra Bishoo.

“I am not going to take anything away from the way Bishoo bowled because he bowled really, really well. I thought we gave him eight soft wickets.”

One can only presume that Bishoo was incredibly unlucky with pretty much all his non-wicket-taking deliveries but then dismissed batsmen with each of his eight poor deliveries thanks to terrible shots.


Tony Cozier – the man who saw all and knew all of West Indies cricket

Cricket fans moan about commentators a lot, but in general we are well served by our sport. Tastes differ, but very few talk down to us and the majority have the capacity to offer some sort of insight when working in the right environment.

But as the world becomes smaller, even the best broadcasters are becoming more homogenous. They watch the same games, read the same articles and they know the same things about the same players. There’s a slick Dubai internationalism about it all.

Not everyone’s like that though. There are still a select few – generally from the smaller Test nations – who bring a distinct flavour of their region with them. Tony Cozier was of course one.

It is not about knowing the players. Every commentator should know the players. It is about knowing the people. When the West Indies toured, Cozier could tell you not only how a player played, but why he did so. He would know his upbringing; he would know where he learned his cricket; he would know how that player was viewed in the region.

Cozier would know the player’s background better than the player himself did. He would know the history of the club he had played for in his youth and how the island’s cricket and culture had evolved since the last great player from that same club. Some commentators tell you everything they know. It’s not that Cozier wouldn’t – he couldn’t. He could show you the relevant tip of the iceberg but you always got the sense that there was infinitely more left concealed.

In recent years Cozier seemed increasingly pissed off with the chronic ill health of West Indies cricket, but his despair never reached the point of giving up on it. It was almost as if the bouts of impotent frustration would renew his energy to look for solutions – and by the broad bat of Sobers, he had to look hard to find them.

He’d cover the latest spat between players and board, or the latest Test series defeat and you’d forgive him for being worn down by it all. But then next thing you know, he’d be full of cautious hope about Rahkeem Cornwall or someone. That is what you might accurately call irrepressible enthusiasm for the sport.

Cozier was one of the few men with an impartial overview of West Indies cricket. You’d think a man who could take a step back and see things for how they were and how problems might be resolved would be greatly valued, but this doesn’t seem to have been the case.

More than one obituary has mentioned that Cozier recently filed a lawsuit against WICB president Dave Cameron. Cameron pretty much called him a blind old man.

Blind? Tony Cozier? The man who saw all and knew all of West Indies cricket surely had the clearest vision of all.


Everyone knows that hitting four successive sixes is hard, right?

We’re just checking, only a great many people seem to be holding Ben Stokes entirely responsible for England’s defeat. Sometimes the player hitting the sixes has some sort of say in things too.

Think of it like this: if you were a primitive human and you sent one of your tribe out to take on an alien with a pointed stick, only for the alien to vaporise him with his ray gun, would it be fair to take issue with Terry’s stick-prodding technique?

Carlos Brathwaite hit four sixes on the bounce to win the World T20. With tens of thousands of people shouting at him in the ground, millions more watching at home and everything he’d worked for his entire life hinging on what he did next, it was a thick slab of brilliance.

It’s not like Brathwaite set himself for one particular shot and Stokes served it up on a trendy oblong plate garnished with fresh herbs and drizzled with some sort of balsamic jus.

The first one was angled into his pads and he picked it up and hoisted it behind square leg. The second one was again legside, near enough a yorker, and he did some sort of weird contortion and wristed it over long on. The third one was again yorkerish, this time on the stumps, and departed over long off, despite having taken what looked like a leading edge. The fourth was again legside and Brathwaite just snapped his wrists through it and plopped it into the crowd.

There were good balls and bad balls in there, but the bad ones were arguably even harder to hit for six.

The first one was a bad ball in a Test match because it would never take a wicket. A batsman could easily run it away for a single or possibly even clip it for four. It wasn’t easy to hit for six though. From that angle, into the body, it was bloody hard to hit for six. Just because it ended up over the ropes doesn’t mean it was always destined to end up there. The outcome colours our perception of what came before.

To hold Ben Stokes responsible for what Carlos Brathwaite did seems a peculiarly backwards way of looking at things to us; like blaming a pedestrian for getting hit by a drunk driver. Maybe the victim could have worn hi-vis or taken a different route, but that’s not really the point is it? The point is that the guy behind the wheel was pissed and decided to drive.

So, to recap: hitting sixes is hard.


West Indies’ 2016 World T20 win: Fortunately for them, they weren’t playing cyborgs

Ben Stokes’ coolly outmanoevred Carlos Brathwaite at the death. Had the West Indian launched his attack earlier in the match, he could have hit six sixes in an over. As it was, he was denied by winning the World T20 after just four balls. Stokes is doubtless delighted.

The desired rate

There was no required rate when England batted, but there was certainly a desired rate. Samuel Badree’s opening salvo (2-16 off four) meant that they were always behind the desired rate. A few extra risks perhaps ensued.

There’s actually a case for saying that Eoin Morgan’s golden duck in the semi-final was a better innings than his 12-ball effort in the final. Facing for a tenth of England’s innings, Morgan contributed just five runs. In some respects it’s hard to blame him being as England were 8-2 when he came in, but in other, more meaningful respects, it also wasn’t good enough. Those who followed him were forced into trying to pick up the slack.

Contrast Morgan’s innings with that of Joe Root, who calmly and seemingly effortlessly rebuilt while scoring at a rate of 150 runs per hundred balls. That’s what was needed. No, it’s not easy to do, but this is the final of a world tournament. It’s about being the best.

Singles par or swingers par?

England’s score apparently fell short of ‘par’. For most of their innings, West Indies also didn’t look like achieving such a thing. Despite this, the commentators continued talking about it, as if it were of any relevance whatsoever. Maybe if the teams were playing against some sort of generic cyborg side whose results were generated by a computer before the match, it would have made sense. But they weren’t. They were playing each other.

West Indies’ innings

There’s definitely a case for bowling your five shittest bowlers in the most high pressure matches. There is nothing harder for a professional batsman to time than loopy filth.

Then there’s the ego aspect. If you open the bowling with Joe Root, for example, there is almost an obligation to get after him lest England fiddle through a couple of economical overs. And if you’re going to play on someone’s ego, pick your target carefully. Chris Gayle did what was expected of him. Johnson Charles was a bonus.

But it wasn’t really enough. Even when it got down to 19 needed from the final over, 19 didn’t seem all that large a number – although we couldn’t really have imagined how small it would prove to be. Carlos Brathwaite produced what must rank as the most brutally clinical finish under unimaginable pressure.

Moral of the story

The best way to win Twenty20 matches is to bat slowly and patiently, building a platform, before having a great big slog at the end. Turns out England were ahead of the game all that time. And now they’re behind again.

No, the truth is there’s no secret to Twenty20. The trick, really, is to play well no matter what your strategy.


Eight things to bear in mind ahead of the World T20 final between England and the West Indies

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

You can call it a preview if you want, but it’s more of a disorderly fact-dump.

1. Windies’ spinners don’t go for owt

Samuel Badree conceded 5.68 runs an over in this tournament. Sulieman Benn’s conceded 5.78. Hell, even Chris Gayle’s banged out three overs for 17 and we thought he’d retired from bowling a year or so ago.

2. David Willey usually gets a wicket

Usually early on and while it’s usually a catch, he hits the pads of right-handers a lot. Johnson Charles should watch out. He probably will be doing though because (a) that’s his job and (b) Willey got him for a duck last time they played.

3. Darren Sammy has actually been playing

You may have missed him. He’s bowled two overs and faced 11 balls.

4. Liam Plunkett has been England’s most economical bowler

True story. He replaced Reece Topley in the team and Topley has been their least economical. Does that mean Plunkett’s way better or that the Windies’ batsmen Topley had to bowl to are way better? Well that’s why they’re playing this match – to deduce whether Liam Plunkett or Reece Topley is the better T20 bowler for England. Also for silverware.

5. Chris Gayle hasn’t made runs in a while

He made 100 not out last time these two teams met, but since then for one reason or another he’s only actually added another nine.

6. India weren’t actually all that good

The West Indies may seem terrifying to England fans after brushing India aside, but it’s worth pointing out that India weren’t actually all that good in this tournament, so of course the West Indies won. India got by with one-and-a-half batsmen and a bit of solid bowling. They got bowled out for 79 chasing 127 against New Zealand and they should have been knocked out by Bangladesh if Bangladesh hadn’t been even more hellbent on losing the game than India were.

7. England have basically never been to India before

This cannot help their cause. Hardly any of them had played an international match in India before this tournament. They don’t know how to survive there. They don’t know that on a cheap hotel menu ‘scrumble toast’ almost certainly means ‘scrambled egg on toast’. They don’t know that ‘smelinge on toast’ is… actually, we’re not sure what that was and we didn’t dare order it. We suppose there’s also a chance that England are staying in plush air-conditioned hotels rather than smelinge-on-toast kinds of establishment.

8. The final’s being played at Eden Gardens

Should probably pore through the stats to work out the implications of this. Can’t be arsed.


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