Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago Olympian Michelle-Lee Ahye may yet make the plane to Tokyo 2020 despite a two-year ban after a whereabouts violation in April of 2019.

The postponement of the Tokyo games until the Summer of 2021 means Ahye, who is appealing that ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), would have been too late even if successful, but that is now, no longer true.

In fact, even if her appeal is unsuccessful, Ahye may still suit up for T&T.  

Ahye has the support of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) throughout the appeals process and the sprinter will be going to CAS with the organisation’s lawyer, Dave Williams.

According to Williams, who spoke to Errol Baptiste on I95.5fm recently, Ahye’s ban began in April of 2019 and is scheduled to end in April of 2019, a full three months before the next Olympics.

Ahye had missed three drug tests on June 23, 2018, February 23, 2019 and April 19, 2019.

"Yes, on a technicality yes, she is available. There is no precedent in place that would prevent her from participating once she qualifies, in the July 2021 Olympics,” said Williams.

Despite the technicality, Williams and the TTOC are still going ahead with their appeal because there are other considerations for the athlete.

"Michelle would have, in fact, suffered as a result of the order issued by the Tribunal, the medals, the titles and awards that she would have received during the period (April to August, 2019), as a result of the Tribunal’s ruling, she would no longer be entitled to such, as a matter of fact, the order goes on to say that Michele’s result from April 2019 shall be disqualified with all resulting consequences including the forfeiture of any titles or awards, medals, points so we are appealing that as well. So, notwithstanding the fact that yes she has benefitted as a consequence of COVID-19, there are still issues that we would like to have reversed in Michelle’s favour,” said Williams.

Williams explained that the process with CAS has been completed and it was now just a wait and see situation.

“We have lodged our appeal, the respondent has since submitted their response to our appeal and it is up to CAS now, both parties have in fact made their relevant submissions to CAS, so the matter is now being deliberated on by CAS," said Williams.

How soon that judgement will be handed down has not been revealed by the CAS yet.

Williams also explained that the ban cannot be extended because the Olympics were moved and/or any extenuating circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

Sir Vivian Richards believes Cricket West Indies missed an opportunity to improve Women’s cricket after their first World Cup win and again when the region hosted the event in 2018.

According to Sir Viv, a National Hero in his native Antigua, the missed opportunities mean there is now an uphill task for the women in the region to get to the level where they can, again, win world tournaments.

“After we would have had the women’s World Cup and after they would have won we haven’t seen the so-called promises we would had here with the tournament being held her in the Caribbean, and we here in Antigua would have seen the hype about the ladies and where we are going, but I think that has been a letdown,” said Richards.

“We would have dropped a few points in that particular category and that’s one of the negatives that I think in order to try and get that momentum again where we once were because it is not looking good at present, and especially with some of the tournaments we would have seen the girls partake in this year also,” he said.

Recently, Cricket West Indies CEO, Johnny Grave, indicated that his organization would be doing all it could to ensure that the regional tournament for women continued despite the fear of COVID-19 spread in the Caribbean.

The CEO was speaking about the Women’s Super50 Cup as well as the inaugural Regional Under-19 Women’s Championship.

“They are very important tournaments, not just in terms of the preparation but in terms of the preparation for the selection of those respective squads as we look to compete in the World Cups of those events due to take place in the early part of 2021,” said Grave.

There have been some wonderful pace bowlers over the years in all forms of cricket. With the bent toward the batsman in the shorter forms of the game, some of the figures of even the best pacers have looked a little worse for wear. With that said, just as we did with batsmen, SportsMax.tv chose to look at the best bowlers to play the five-day game, as running in over after over throughout a day of cricket only to come back to do it again tomorrow might be a smidge more difficult than 10-over or four-over spells at maximum.

Finding an XI from the rich history of fast bowling Test cricket has to offer was no easy feat and I’m sure we missed names that you would have undoubtedly picked, but here goes ...

 

BestXI

 

Malcolm Marshall (West Indies)

Standing at 5 feet, 11 inches, you wouldn’t think Malcolm Marshall the type of bowler who could scare world-class attacks, but he did. Marshall was regarded as the finest pace bowler to come from the West Indies, a region known for producing some of the best quicks ever to play the game. Marshall had an open run-up that should have made him less accurate but it, instead, gave him the ability to swing the ball either way with very little difference in his action. His technique also generated remarkable pace and had a very deceptive, very cruel bouncer. England’s Mike Gatting remembers that bouncer better than most after Marshall flattened his nose bridge in a match at Sabina Park. Marshall would rachet up 376 Test wickets in just 81 Tests at the remarkable average of 20.94, which represents one of the best of all time. Marshall’s 376 wickets also came at a time when all four West Indies fast bowlers were wicket-takers, making his haul even more of a prize.

 

Curtly Ambrose (West Indies)

When Curtly Ambrose walked away from International cricket there was not a soul who thought he didn’t have much more in the tank. A quiet giant, Ambrose bowled at a menacing length, too full to go back to and too short to play forward to. The master at putting the ball in that corridor of uncertainty, he would get wickets regularly by constantly getting the ball to jag bag at batsmen before making one hold its line. His yorker, from his great height, was nothing to sniff at either. Ambrose’s best of 8-45 is something that is still talked about today, though his 405 wickets in 98 Tests at an average of 20.99 will not soon be forgotten either. Ambrose would take five wickets in an innings 22 times, and 10 in a match on three occasions.

 

Michael Holding (West Indies)

The nickname “Whispering Death” speaks volumes about the man known as the Rolls Royce of fast bowling. An over to Geoff Boycott, the belligerent England opener, best describes what Holding was like at his absolute best. Boycott was bowled in the over and did not feel hard done because, as he has admitted, he had no answer to the lanky Jamaican. Holding is the textbook of fast bowling, from the first step to his leap and then to delivery, there has not been a smoother bowler in the history of the game. He was an artist and made fast bowling a beautiful thing to watch unless you were at the end of one of his 249 wickets. Holding only played 60 Tests and also fell victim to a four-pronged West Indies pace attack which would quickly ensure he had nobody to bowl at. But for those who did have to face him, they will not soon forget how the silky smoothness of his run-up and delivery would be shattered by genuine pace, accuracy and guile. In his book, ‘No Holding Back’, Mikey talks about how he gave up pace for accuracy but found, funnily enough, that once he had mastered being accurate, his pace had ratcheted up again, at least in the minds of the batsmen he faced.

 

Glen McGrath (Australia)

Anybody who calls Glen McGrath the best fast bowler of all time, cannot be argued with. The right-arm fast-medium by the time he ended his career had the ability to pitch the ball wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted and made all the great batsmen of his era have to admit, he was the most difficult customer they would encounter throughout their respective careers. McGrath is famous for being the man to have gotten the prize wicket of Brian Lara, arguably the best batsman of all time, the most in his career. To be fair, Lara average 51 against Australia, so that battle was fairly even. Still, McGrath’s mammoth 563 wickets from 124 Tests at an average of 21.64 speaks for itself. There were 29 occasions when McGrath would hold the ball aloft for earning five wickets and he, like Ambrose got 10 wickets in a match on three occasions. McGrath’s best bowling figures, 8-24, featured a spell of fast bowling that might never be matched.

 

Dennis Lillee (Australia)

Dennis Lillee, in partnership with tear-away fast bowler, Jeff Thomson, can be blamed for the rise of the fearsome four-pronged attack of the West Indies in the 1980s. It was afterall, after a crushing 5-1 defeat in Australia that regularly featured Lillee and Thomson decimations, that the Caribbean side turned to all-pace attacks. Lillee, though not as fast as Thomson, was the class of the pair, grabbing 355 wickets in just 73 Tests. Lillee was a complete bowler. When he debuted in 1971 he was frighteningly quick, but a spinal stress fracture threatened to end his career. Years later, a slowed Lillee was still outwitting batsmen with almost monotonous regularity. So much so, that there are many who consider him and not Marshall, the greatest of all time.

 

Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)

There are no superlative too good for the man who perfected swing bowling at high pace. Hadlee troubled every opponent on every kind of pitch. Hadlee almost singlehandedly lifted New Zealand cricket to unprecedented heights and along the way becoming the first bowler to notch 400 wickets in Test cricket. He, like Lillee, started as a tearaway quick, preferring to bludgeon his opponents into submission with searing bouncers. But Hadlee was a quick study and shortened his run-up while developing the attributes of the model fast bowler. His whippy action was a concern for most batsmen and when that was combined with pace, bounce and movement. When Hadlee retired in 1990, so effective was he, that he took a wicket with the last ball of his career. He would end with 431 wickets in just 86 Tests at an average of 22.29.

 

Wasim Akram (Pakistan)

Wasim Akram is likely the best left-arm pace bowler of all time. Blessed with an economical action, Akram was deceptively quick and would make batsmen used to playing against the most express of fast bowlers, still look hurried. Called the Sultan of Swing, Akram was also brilliant at producing seam movement. The two combined, produced a bowler who was always dangerous. Akram was also never the same bowler to the same batsmen when they met again in another series. Something would change, he would develop something until it came to a point where the Pakistani, who kept a strict fitness regime, could pitch four balls in the same spot and get something different to happen to it. A nightmare for anticipating, and so he had to be played off the pitch. But he was quick, and sometimes, 414 times to be exact, it was too late to adjust. Akram’s 414 wickets came in 104 Tests at an average of 23.62.

 

Imran Khan (Pakistan)

If ever Akram could claim a father figure, it was Imran Khan. The Pakistani captain is undoubtedly the finest cricketer the country has ever produced, averaging 50 with the bat and 19 with the ball over the last 10 years of his career. Khan led his country into the modern era of cricket, teaching the value of professionalism, as well as the importance of getting the public’s support. Under Imran, Pakistan became a real force, but as just a pure bowler, his figures of 362 wickets in 88 Tests was remarkable. His average of 22.81 was as brilliant as his reverse swinging yorker.

 

Dale Steyn (South Africa)

Steyn is the best quick in modern-day cricket. The South African has the best strike rate of all time. In 93 Tests, Steyn has 439 wickets at an average of 22.95 and was the world’s number-one fast bowler for a record of 263 weeks, a little more than five years. While those figures are scary, they aren’t as frightening as his extreme pace, combined with the ability to swing the ball both ways and accuracy to boot. Persistent injuries have curtailed the bowler's appearances for the Proteas over the last few years but he is always a welcome addition, especially with the likes of the talented Kagiso Rabada waiting in the wings to learn from his experience.

 

Mitchell Johnson (Australia)

Australia have, like the West Indies, consistently produced great fast bowlers and the two countries could, together, fill a list of the bestXI on their own without too many arguments. One of the best of those is Mitchell Johnson. In just 73 Tests, Johnson has taken 313 wickets and while he needs to bring down his average of 28.4 a little, he is still quite brilliant. Johnson has had his issues, having horrendous lows to go along with incredible highs. It is only now that he is beginning to be the fast bowler Dennis Lillee said he could. Late swing at pace is his major weapon, but he has now also included interesting angles that put batsmen in trouble.

Waqar Younis (Pakistan)

The longtime saying, last but not least, certainly applies to Waqar Younis. Half of the pairing with Wasim Akram, Waqar would bulldoze his way through opposition batsmen, while his partner in crime was the scalpel creating neat, tidy incisions.

The two Ws were undoubtedly one of the most effective fast bowling duos in cricket history. Waqar would take 373 wickets in 87 Tests from that partnership, relying on late swing and real pace for the most part. His execution of late reverse swing meant batsmen even muffed chances to score off bad deliveries, making him, with his slingy action, more economical than one would expect. Waqar was a problem for all the greats who bat against him from his debut in 1989 until his retirement in 2003. His strike rate was the best of all time until Dale Steyn’s arrival in Test cricket.

Isolation units and Coronavirus checkpoints at cricket grounds could see the West Indies still making the trip to that country for closed-door games.

The West Indies were scheduled to start a three-Test duel with England at T/he Oval, Edgbaston, and Lord’s on June 4 until the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Europe threatened to derail those plans.

The ECB and Cricket West Indies have been trying to come up with solutions to keep what is expected to be a lucrative series alive.

According to reports, the ECB is stepping up plans to resume cricket in June, but with no spectators, but that broadcasting would still go ahead since that was safer and that is where the majority of money to be earned from the series would be in any case.

The approach, ECB Director of Special Projects, Steve Elworthy, explained that any approach involving re-starting cricket in England would mean creating a sterile environment, safe for players and staff.

The impact of the Tokyo 2020 postponement, as well as others means track and field athletes can look forward to a tough four years to come, so says former Trinidad & Tobago sprinter and Olympic medallist Ato Boldon.

According to Boldon, the movement of the Olympics to the Summer of 2021 is likely to push the World Championships to 2022, sparking a domino effect on other major games.

“It means that we may be in for four championship years in a row. We know that the summer Olympics are going to be in 2021. I think they are going to push the World Championships over to 2022 which means that it then conflicts with the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, and then we get back on stream with the regular schedule of 2023 World Championships and 2024 Olympics in Paris,” said Boldon.

These movements, Boldon believes, won’t reset the athletic calendar for another five years, but sees no real alternative to the unprecedented action of putting an Olympics in an odd year.

Boldon has an interest in what the next few years of athletics holds as the coach of rising star, Briana Williams.

Williams was set to contest for a place in her first Olympics and in a recent SportsMax.tv interview, Boldon said the delay was good for his athlete, who would have a year to get stronger.

The hosts of the various big events in the world of sports have been missing the point over and over for the last three months, much like many governments have.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has inch by inch, ground sports to a halt all over the world and looming events have had to be either cancelled or postponed as it becomes clear that the word ‘pandemic’ is as horrifying as it sounds and the world won’t get over this issue in a few weeks or months as administrators seem to feel.

But even more important than that, these administrators seem to feel that whether or not an event can go on, depends on the environment at the event.

But I suggest there is more to it than that.

The Olympics, for instance, in Tokyo, Japan, seemed to hinge on whether or not the island could get its COVID-19 problems under control before the rest of the world would travel to the event.

When it became clear that this would not be the case, the event was postponed.

However, up until that time, even as preparatory events for the Olympics were being cancelled and/or postponed all over the world, the International Olympic Committee had been asking athletes to prepare as if there would still be an event in July of 2020.

That, I believe, was unfortunate, because it meant, even without travelling to meets all over the world, training was putting athletes at risk of contracting the virus.

The danger of picking up the virus becomes even more acute when you consider team sports and how much contact it takes to get one working in unison and performing at a high level.

For that to happen, there needs to be a combination of technical staff, trainers, teammates, and much more. That will up the chances of contracting a virus and therefore it doesn’t matter what is happening at whichever venue in the world, the athletes are at risk.

I am acutely aware that much planning goes into putting on a large event like the Olympics or the UEFA Champions League, and that there is a lot of money riding on the event going ahead as planned.

These considerations, I believe, make decisions grey and not as completely black and white like it might from the outside, however, sports and entertainment being the last to get on board with social distancing was, in my mind, slightly callous.

But that’s just in my mind. These organisers may well have foreseen the financial fallout for the athletes themselves and wanted to save them, for as long as they could, from months without earning in some cases.

Whichever way you see it, the truth is COVID-19 is likely to bankrupt far more people than it kills.

Many of the reports on COVID-19 have also indicated that it hurts people with underlying conditions and the elderly, so the athlete with his fitness at the peak of their value, along with usually being under 40, is not in any real danger.

But how about the person the athletes give it to? And, as was the case of 21-year-old Spanish coach, Francisco Garcia, who knows who has an underlying condition that this virus may attack?

Garcia, a coach at Atletico Portada Alta, found out he had undiagnosed Leukemia, after being admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms. By then, it was too late.

How I see it is that people and countries can recover from going broke. It happens all the time.

I’ve never seen anybody recover from being dead.

Cricket West Indies and the England Cricket Board are entertaining the idea of having a series between the two, scheduled for June, behind closed doors.

Hopefully, they think better of it in short order.

Jamaican international Shamar Nicholson paints a frustrated image from his home in the Belgian city of Charleroi.

Nicholson, a former Boys’ Town footballer, transferred from the Red Stripe Premier League and now plies his trade in Belgium’s Jupiter League.

Charleroi, for whom he plays, are currently third in the league but its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left him in a difficult place.

“[…] it’s a difficult situation as it’s not vacation time and I’m not used to not playing football now in season time, it feels so weird,” said Nicholson in an interview with Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner.

The 23-year-old is keeping in shape while the league is suspended courtesy of a personal trainer and a programme the club has written for his daily exercise at home, but that is not enough.

“I’m in Charleroi and when you go out, you don’t see people outside, you hear no noise, nothing, it’s so weird. It has affected the whole country and, as we speak, it’s affecting the whole world and now it’s football season and there is no football, it’s just staying home and you get so tired of staying home, even though training is hard,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson had scored nine goals for Charleroi before the forced break, with just one player having scored more for his side.

There was just one game remaining in the regular season by the time COVID-19 fears put an end to football in Belgium, with Charleroi in third place, one point of a Champions League spot.

Nicholson wants the league to play that one remaining regular season game, even if there are no playoffs to come after.

“It would mean so much to me if the team should qualify automatically for the Champions League, it would mean a lot,” he said.

The man who has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for Jamaica believes that the re-start of all the leagues around the world will be tough because teams usually develop momentum along the way as the players become more match ready as the season progresses.

Because of the break, he says, there was no way of telling which teams would start quickly.   

Reggae Boy Tevin Shaw has become the third player from Jamaica to sign up for the newly formed Canadian Premier League.

Shaw will turn out for Atletico Ottawa after signing a two-year deal last Thursday.

The deal ended Shaw’s relationship with Jamaican Red Stripe Premier League outfit, Portmore United.

Before Shaw, Alex Marshall and Nicholas Nelson, were also announced as entrants to the league.

Shaw is hoping that his efforts with Ottawa will mean he finds his way into bigger markets down the line.

“Trying to one the standout players in my role and also be a leader; add few goals, few assists and continue to work my socks off to get a few more national call-ups and take it from there. (Also) to make the transition to a better set-up into the wider world because I aspire to play at the highest level,” said Shaw.

The Canadian Premier League has been suspended until April 11.

Twenty-six years ago, a diminutive but powerful Trinidad and Tobago batsman, long known for his genius, became the highest run-scorer in a single Test innings, overtaking the man, who before his era, was regarded as possibly the finest to ever live.

Sir Garfield Sobers had a record, 365 not out, standing for 36 years, but on April 18, 1994, Brian Charles Lara cemented his name in history as one of the greatest to ever hold a bat, scoring 375 against England at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

The moment is worth remembering.

Before we get to Lara though, let’s look at the people who have held the record over the years. Of course, that ends with Lara, who broke the record for most runs in a Test innings 10 years after his journey to the rarified air of the top of the game.

In 1884, Billy Murdoch, the Australian captain, became the first man to score a double century, helping his side to 551 in a draw against England with 211.

It wasn’t until 1903 that Murdoch was overhauled, interestingly enough, by an England captain, Tip Foster. Foster, on debut for England, scored 287 against Australia in a five-wicket win.

Triple centuries would come next, as another Englishman, Andy Sandham, broke Foster’s record against the West Indies at Sabina Park in 1930, scoring 325 in a mammoth 849. The match ended in a draw.

The man, who many believe to be the greatest batsman of all time, underpinned by his 99.94 average in Test cricket, Australia’s Don Bradman, would not be left out. He smashed Sandham’s record just three months later, scoring 334 against, you guessed it, England. Bradman was just 21 at the time and scored 309 of those runs on the first day of the Test.

Another Englishman would hold the record in 1933, Wally Hammond scoring an aggressive 336 not out, slamming 10 sixes and 34 fours.

Sir Len Hutton, a man who ranks as one of the most technically correct batsmen the game has seen and with a 56.67 average and one of the best batsmen of all time, scored 364 against Australia in 1938.

20 years later, Sobers ended his innings on 365 not out in an innings and 174-run win over Pakistan at Sabina Park in Kingston.

After Lara’s 375 in Antigua in 1994, Australia’s Matthew Hayden helped his side to 735-6 declared against Zimbabwe in 2003. Hayden’s innings would include 11 sixes and 38 fours.

Lara, however, would re-take the record, becoming the first man to hold it twice when he scored 400 not out against England at the same ground he first set it.

Ten years earlier, however, Lara was in incredible form.

A few weeks earlier, he had scored more than 500 runs in a first-class innings.

Lara was a genius who entertained by playing shots that were not risk-free, though for him there was much less risk because he was so good.

In this innings, Lara would make no mistakes. He showed he could bat for long periods without making them as he did a year earlier when he was run out for 277 against Australia.

The series in the Caribbean had already been won, with the West Indies leading 3-1. The visitors had won the first Test in Barbados but having lost the next three, England had their pride to play for. Afterall 3-2 looks much better on paper than 3-1.

Things started well for England with the West Indies losing two wickets for just 12 runs on the morning of the opening day.

Things were looking good early but Lara was not in the mood to do anything else score runs; lot's of them.

He scored 164 runs on that day. He was patient to start, going about the business of rebuilding the innings. His first 50 came from 121 deliveries, but he soon accelerated, bringing up his 100 from 180 balls. From there to 150 was also slower, as he took 240 deliveries to get there. He would again accelerate to get to 200.

The point of all that data is to prove just how in control Lara was of the innings, changing pace at will, pacing himself for the long haul.

It was textbook batting, it was a teaching moment, as Lara made England’s bowler’s toil.

"We realised the record was on quite early because of the nonchalant way he went from 100 to 150 to 200. Once he got to about 250, you began to wonder where it was all going to end. By that stage, you have tried all your tactics and your variety, it has not really got you anywhere and it begins to boil down to if he will make a mistake," recalled ex-England paceman, Angus Fraser.

But the writing was on the wall even before that, according to Phil Tufnell, a former England spinner.

"I bowled my first over and was putting my jumper back on when Mike Atherton, the England captain, came over to me and said: 'Brian's batting well today, he might break the record.' He was only on 60! Athers was a clever bloke and he got it spot on," said Tufnell.

But the moment that was most significant wasn’t the score Lara would end up on. It was when England, who had been trying to keep Lara off strike to make him doubt himself or lose his rhythm, tried to stop him from scoring the single it would take to get him past Sobers.

It didn’t work.

Bringing in the field when Lara was on 365, Chris Lewis ran up and bowled a short-rising delivery. Lara did not hold back, pulling Lewis to the midwicket boundary with the assuredness that he was no longer a prince, but a king.

The argument regarding the players who should be ranked among the best of all time gets harder and harder as cricket evolves.

Batsmen are more dynamic and harder to contain these days, while bowlers had more advantages when you look back at it. There was even a time when pitches were uncovered and therefore much more of a nightmare to bat on.

Despite the ever-changing circumstances that most certainly impact the nature of performances over the decades, SportsMax’s editors have still been hardpressed to avoid the addiction of coming up with the answers to the age-old question of who is the greatest of all time.

As usual, we’ve come up with XI of them.

Now, the most challenging form of cricket is undoubtedly Test cricket. There might be a debate about which form of the game is best to watch, most profitable, which is the future of the game, all that. But there’s no argument that Test cricket has lived up to its name and is the hardest. This is why our XI will only have players who have played the longest format of the game.

Best XI

 

Don Bradman (Australia)

While many of the experts of the game today, never saw him play, it is still generally accepted that Sir Donald Bradman, with 29 centuries and 13 half-centuries from just 52 Test matches, is the greatest batsman to ever walk the planet. His average of 99.94 in Test cricket will likely never be matched. Interestingly, Bradman only hit six sixes in his glittering Test career.

Sachin Tendulkar (India)

If Bradman was the greatest, Sachin is the most complete batsman to ever play the game. The little magician’s batting is considered by those who wrote the textbook on the subject, to have the perfect mixture of balance, economy of movement, precision stroke-making, and most of all, anticipation. Sachin put all those together more often than not to average 53.78 from his 200 matches, getting to a century on 61 occasions and to a half-century on 68 others. Those statistics meant he amassed a mammoth 15,921 runs, by far the most of any batsman.

 

Brian Lara (West Indies)

Whenever the conversation about who is the greatest of all time comes up, the name Brian Charles Lara is never far away. Undoubtedly a genius, Lara still holds the world record for the most runs ever scored in a single Test innings. Lara’s 400 not out was not the first time the left-hander was putting together a score that nobody else had. Australia’s Matthew Hayden scored 380 against Zimbabwe to pass Lara’s first world-record effort of 375 against England but the diminutive left-hander would not be satisfied without breaking that record all over again. Lara’s first record-breaking effort bested Lara would score 34 centuries from 131 Tests at an average of 52.88. The Trinidad & Tobago native also scored 48 half-centuries, getting to 11,953 runs before he called it quits.

Vivian Richards (West Indies)

Sir Vivian Richards, the Master Blaster, turned Test cricket on its head with his brand of aggression. In a time when bowlers were the aggressors with the insistence on pace and bounce, Viv, changed the game, making bowlers quake at the sight of his nonchalance in the face of searing pace and his penchant for taking bowling attacks apart. Viv played 121 Test matches and ended with an average of 50.23 despite a long lean spell toward the end of his career. His highest score was 291 but his 24 centuries and 45 half-centuries were remarkable instances each time. There is many a bowler who, throughout the ‘80s hated to get wickets against the West Indies because that would mean the man who brought ‘swagger’ to cricket, would walk to the crease.

George Headley (West Indies)

Depending on where you hail from, George Headley is either the Black Bradman or Bradman is the white Headley. In 22 Tests, Headley scored a remarkable 10 centuries and five half-centuries including a highest score of 270 not out. Headley was the only batsman that stood between West Indies and regular capitulations. In fact, between 1929 and 1939, Headley did not have one bad Test series, scoring eight centuries against England and becoming the first immortal at Lord’s. Sir Len Hutton, a man who could easily make this list as one of the first batsmen who could be called a superstar, said he had never seen a batsman who played the ball later, making him a nightmare to set fields for.

 

Garfield Sobers (West Indies)

Sir Garfield Sobers is likely the finest all-rounder of all time, taking 235 wickets in his 93 Tests and scoring more than 8,000 runs in his 93 Tests. But his efforts as a batsman are by themselves, worthy of making him a certainty for this list. Sobers scored 26 hundreds in Test cricket but his first is something the game will never forget. In 14 previous Tests, Sobers had a highest score of 66 and averaged just 32.54. Though his talent was undeniable, Sobers was just not getting over that hump. Then Pakistan came calling. Sobers went into the third Test at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica having scored three half-centuries (52, 52 and 80) in the previous two. Walking in at number three with the score on 87-1, Sobers and Conrad Hunte would take the West Indies to 533-2 when Hunte fell for a brilliant 260. Sobers would keep batting, getting to 365 not out before the skipper Gerry Alexander declared the innings on 790-3. Until the era of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, the argument for the greatest batsman of all time stood between Bradman and Sobers. Sobers also became the first man to hit six sixes in an over

 

Rahul Dravid (India)

Many of the great innings the world experienced from Sachin Tendulkar were made possible by the man known as ‘The Wall’. Steadily, Rahul Dravid created the reputation for being one of the finest batsmen in the world and started the Indian revolution, helping them become a team that was dangerous, not just at home.

His technique and robotic-like concentration would help him to 36 centuries and 63 half-centuries from his 164 Tests. His 13,288 runs have made him legendary in India but around the world too. Himself and Sourav Ganguly formed the backbone of a formidable Indian batting line-up and every team knew, that without getting out either or both, India were likely to come out the winning side.

 

Sunil Gavaskar (India)

The first man to get to 10,000 Test runs and score 30 centuries, make him most undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen of all time. But Gavaskar has an even more interesting legacy. He is the man who made Indian cricket what it is today, teaching his teammates and the country of now over one billion, the importance of a professional approach to cricket. But outside of that, Gavaksar must be credited as one of the few batsmen to be able to score significantly against the West Indies all-pace attack of the 1980s, scoring 13 centuries against them. In fact, Gavaskar played five Tests at the Queen’s Park Oval, averaging 99.12 at the ground. Gavaskar was a fine opener, averaging 51.12 over the course of 125 Tests, scoring 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries with a highest score of 236 not out against the West Indies in 1983.

 

Jacques Kallis (South Africa)

Jacques Kallis is the only man to threaten Sir Garfield Sobers as the greatest allrounder of all time, and like his West Indian predecessor, his batting makes him a good fit for this list of some of the greatest batsmen of all time.

Kallis played 166 Tests and averaged 55.37 on his way to scoring a mammoth 45 centuries and 58 half-centuries on his way to putting together 13,289 runs. Kallis was part of South Africa’s second rebirth after being let back into international cricket and along with young skipper Graeme Smith, he led a fight-back to international prominence by performing at a remarkably high level for a long time.

 

Steve Waugh (Australia)

Steve Waugh is not the batsman that a ground outside of Australia might fill up to watch and it was largely agreed that his brother, Mark Waugh, was the more talented of the two batsmen. However, Steve’s drive to do well, mixed with hard work and a fine ability to read a situation from the middle of the pitch made for a career that was more than something to be proud of. Waugh led Australia to becoming the most dominant team in World cricket throughout the early 2000s, overtaking the West Indies for that title, with a symbolic 2-2 draw in the Caribbean. Interestingly, Waugh made that draw possible with a double century in the final Test at Sabina Park in Kingston that kick-started a spree of run-scoring that would not be halted until his retirement.

Waugh would play 168 Tests at an average of just over 51. That double century in Kingston was his highest score on the way to 10,927 runs. His 50 half-centuries meant there were very few times Waugh didn’t contribute to Australia’s eventual totals. Like Dravid and Ganguly were for India, Waugh was the rock that held the team together, the talented batsman evolving over time to a player who had eliminated risk from his game.

 

Kumar Sangakarra (Sri Lanka)

Kumar Sangakarra came into the Sri Lankan team on the back of careers like that of Arjuna Ranatunga and Asanka Gurusinha, who paved the way for dismissing the myth that batsmen from that area of the world could be blown off the pitch by good aggressive pace bowling. Sangakarra was decidedly a battler, but he added quite a bit of grace to the role, cementing his place in the side for 134 Tests in which he averaged 57.40. Sangakarra would end his Test career with 12,400 runs, 38 centuries and 52 half-centuries. Interestingly, nobody, not even the great Sachin Tendulkar, made it to 10,000 runs more quickly, the two being joint quickest to the milestone.

COVID-19 is making the world a bigger place with travel lockdowns and the attendant difficulties with getting a proper picture of the situation, especially in regions like the Caribbean.

In fact, there are many Caribbean nationals either trying to get home or ensuring their loved ones keep safe at a time when a virus is threatening to cripple the world economy and kill many in the process.

CEEN News, a cable news network owned by SportsMax in Jamaica and shown in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, is helping to bridge the divide for millions of persons from the diaspora with CEEN Caribbean News at 8pm.

For those in the Caribbean who want to know what is happening, CEEN Caribbean News will be aired nightly on SportsMax as well.

"CEEN News is sharing the nightly news with our viewers on SportsMax to satisfy their need for information about how individual islands are battling this highly infectious disease," said George Davis, Executive Producer at SportsMax and CEEN.

"We believe in accurate, timely information and are committed to playing our part as the most-watched sports network in this part of the world," he said.

As has become par for the course, CEEN Caribbean News, provides nightly updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, paying specific attention to the region.

According to Davis, every night on CEEN is chock-full of information on the spread of the virus in the Caribbean, including reporting on new infections, treatment of existing cases and deaths in all the countries around the region.

Tonight, for instance, CEEN Caribbean goes global and intends to speak to a Jamaican living in Italy, a country which is almost in a neck and neck race with the United States as the epicenter of the virus.

For those who cannot watch on TV, they can watch on the app which is available in the Playstore or Appstore. Viewers in the diaspora can stream live at CEEN's website.

 

West Indies Limited overs captain Kieron Pollard is asking his players to, not just stay safe during the most worrying times in recent history with the massive spread of COVID-19, but is also telling them to be ready for when normalcy returns.

According to Pollard, while the spread of COVID-19 has brought sport around the world to a halt, there is an opportunity for West Indies players to improve.

“I think it is a good time for introspection, a good time for reflection, a good time to look at where you are as an individual, in your career and what you want to achieve going forward,” said the skipper, a man not known to mince words.

The West Indies have been sporadically producing good results under Pollard’s watch, but the big all-rounder has craved consistency, something he says will come with a better mental approach.

That approach, thanks to COVID-19, can be honed during this time off.

“[…] you have to take the time to do that and also to keep yourself in physical shape and mentally as well because when the bell rings and you hear ‘ok everything is back to normal and we need to go on tour,’ there might not be enough time to prepare so you, yourself as an individual have to be prepared mentally in order for you to try to perform at your best,” he said.

According to Pollard his public statements won’t count as new to the players.

“[…] guys have been notified as to where they need to be and the onus is on individuals to try and meet those requirements,” said Pollard.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the most powerful sporting body in the world and it should be.

FIFA is in control of 211 football associations throughout the world, in a sport that is the most popular and profitable on the globe.

However, the association hasn’t always used that power in the most judicious ways and recently went through a harrowing couple of years with evidence of widespread corruption beating down on its reputation.

Many bans and jail sentences later, FIFA has tried to change its image with new, progressive bosses with a more inclusive management style.

But, in truth, FIFA is a fiefdom and that was made very clear in the events in Trinidad and Tobago over the last week.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) board does not exist anymore and its president, scratch that, former president, looks set for a lengthy legal battle to change that.

I do not want to get into the who is right and who is wrong, even though there are questions FIFA should answer.

Here are the facts as we know them.

An arm of FIFA called the Bureau of the FIFA Council investigated the financial affairs of the TTFA, which had just gone through the process of electing a new president in William Wallace just over three months before.

According to the council’s findings, the TTFA was in bad shape financially, so bad, that it risked the possibility of insolvency if the situation were not arrested.

Further, the council says it found that there was no plan to assuage the situation, leading it to replace the TTFA’s board with a normalization committee that would be in place for a maximum of two years after which it would hold elections to create a new board with its own mandate.

On an interim basis, FIFA installed former TTFA Finance Manager Tyril Patrick to oversee the day-to-day activities of the organization before the normalization committee could be properly vetted, organized and begin to work.

According to FIFA, that normalization committee would be given a mandate to:

  • Run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
  • Establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA;
  • Review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
  • Organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

 

But today, the TTFA has no direction as interim boss, Patrick, declined the position after lawyers for Wallace wrote to him, calling his appointment illegal, or at the very least unconstitutional.

In fact, the former TTFA boss has not taken his ousting lying down and is contemplating taking his grouses to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, pointing out that FIFA has ignored his plans to get the TTFA out of debt and is claiming prejudice against his administration, pointing first up to the timing of the ‘coup d’etat’ and the implications of a friendship with the TTFA’s previous boss, as well as inconsistencies regarding a FIFA-TTFA joint project dubbed ‘The Home of Football’.   

I won’t look at any of that, however. I am more interested in the entrenched laws that allow FIFA to make a decision of this nature.

Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Randy Harris sympathises with the ousted TTFA administration but believes FIFA well within their rights to install a normalization committee.

Harris is right because of article 8.2 of the FIFA statute.

Article 8.2 states: ‘Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time’.

It is here that I have a problem though.

I suppose, FIFA, as arbiters of the sport, must have in its bylaws, appropriate actions to ensure the continued growth of the sport throughout the world, but I find this article distasteful.

The article admits that the council is removing an ‘Executive’ body which has been duly elected by administrators of the sport within a country. This means, FIFA is saying it reserves the right to ignore the democracy of an entity when it has a mind to do so.

I say ‘has a mind’, because it is the council who decides what is an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and in this instance, it very well might be. But the fact that it is FIFA making this judgement, is problematic.

Each Member Association has elections and it is there that they decide if the fate of their organization can be managed by its leaders. It should certainly not be as easy as it was for FIFA to overturn that decision.

It means, in essence, if a Member Association does not operate its own affairs just the way FIFA says it should, and each country has a different set of circumstances to deal with that could mean varying ways of operating such affairs, then you could find that you have no say.

Harris pointed to this fact in a radio interview with Trinidad and Tobago’s i955 FM’s ISports radio, saying “The Trinidad and Tobago FA has found itself in a sad situation which all of us in the Caribbean could be in tomorrow.”

Therein lies my problem. This particular ‘takeover’ may very well be warranted with the TTFA in debt to the tune of TT$50 million, the question is, who decides this, and how can it be that ‘little’ Member Associations have no say in deciding whether or not they need outside help?

West Indies batting legend, Brian Lara sees quite a bit of talent in the Windies squads currently hunting for a resurgence in world cricket but there is still work to be done.

Lara, speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, for instance, believes talented 23-year-old Shimron Hetmyer has personal issues like his fitness that he needs to deal with before he is quite ready to take the world by storm.

“People have challenges in different ways and Hetmyer, obviously, is a very talented cricketer, someone who plays all forms of the game for the West Indies. If he is unfit, he has to see it as a personal challenge. Fitness levels are so very important. So if fitness is his problem, I would like to see him face that challenge himself, and he’ll be a much better cricketer,” said Lara.

Lara though, has much more immediate hopes for others in the West Indies squad like Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran and Alzarri Joseph.

According to the former Windies captain, Pooran understands his role in the team, while the West Indies can find Hope’s stability useful, even in the T20 form of the game, while Joseph is a gamechanger with his ability to take wickets.

“I like Nicholas Pooran, he’s settling down and understanding his responsibilities more now. Shai Hope could play a part in the T20 World Cup, being that solid guy with a great technique that can hold the innings together. Those are the three players I’m really looking forward to seeing. Alzarri Joseph is someone who I look at and say ‘this guy has got potential, he’s a wicket-taker’. He is someone who I’d like to see do well,” said Lara.

Lara, as he has said before, believes the team can learn much from the example of Virat Kohli.

Kohli, he said, has worked hard on his fitness and that, Lara explained, is the perfect lead for Hetmyer to follow.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant athletes worldwide cannot earn from the different meets all around the world and Jamaican track & field is no different.

Unlike footballers, who get paid a salary, athletes, outside of their endorsement contracts, depend solely on performing for their bread.

With sport shut down, these athletes cannot earn but the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association will not be able to help them.

“With the resources that we have, we are just not able to compensate athletes for lost income,” said Blake in an interview with local newspaper, The Gleaner.

“We have spoken about it at the local level, and we do not have the resources to do so.”

Blake painted a grim forecast for the athletes, saying that based on the way they get paid, there would be no making up for lost income.

“I am not sure they will be able to make up for the lost earnings because they are paid to appear at meets, and if they win, there is prize money,” said Blake.

Thus far, the Jamaican government has not included athletes in its allocation of J$25 billion earmarked for COVID-19 relief, however, Blake is not opposed to speaking to the country’s relevant ministries about providing relief.

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