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.

Former Manchester United star and Trinidad & Tobago’s most successful footballer, Dwight Yorke paints a picture of frustration at not being able to contribute to the development of sport in his country.

According to Yorke, a member of T&T 2006 World Cup team to Germany, he remains available to give back in whatever way he can.

“I would always love to contribute to my country the experience that I’ve gained at the level I’ve played at for so many years. You would’ve thought I would’ve been involved in Trinidad and Tobago football, certainly in the future,” said Yorke during an interview with T&T radio station i95FM.

Yorke explained that he was fortunate to have been given much from the sport of football and would only be too happy to give back.

However, Yorke said, there has never been an approach for such an occurrence to take place.

“I've always wanted to contribute to my country, I always want to help. I feel that with the experience and knowledge I've got, I could certainly help out in some capacity. However, that hasn't happened, I haven't been approached," he said.

The former striker, who scored 27 times in 72 appearances for the Soca Warriors says, the problem is not one he faces alone, with stars like Brian Lara and Russell Latapy finding it difficult to make their marks.

"It does make me feel a little bit concerned that someone like Brian Lara, who is the most accomplished cricketer in the West Indies, hasn't got a role in West Indies cricket," said Yorke.

“[…] the reality is there is no greater accomplishment than Lara, Latapy and myself. Why would you not use that to your benefit? I find that very, very strange, when other countries would love to use our expertise in trying to find out what it takes, what it means ... to be out there.

Chairman of selectors, Roger Harper, said in an interview recently that Caribbean territories needed to take more responsibility in the arena of developing world-class cricketers and he is right.

Now, as chairman of selectors, he may have good reason to turn attention away from the Cricket West Indies, since it is they who employ him. But even if that is the case, he still has a point.

For a long time, the blame for the dwindling fortunes of West Indies cricket has been put squarely at the feet of the West Indies Cricket Board now Cricket West Indies.

As the governing body of the sport in the region, placing the blame there is, on the face of it, the natural thing to do.

After all, what else are you there for?

I read a column from one of my esteemed colleagues, a one Leighton Levy recently, where he pointed to the death of grassroots cricket as one of the reasons for West Indies’ demise over the last 25 years.

Furthermore, Leighton went on to vaguely describe a plan to expand grassroots cricket and to create a system for the transitioning of that grassroots cricket to the senior levels and ultimately to the production of more world-class cricketers.

Leighton’s theory doesn’t seem to fall too far adrift of Harper’s, who while not charting a way forward as did the journalist among the pairing, seems to suggest the problem lies at the beginning rather than at the end.

So while Cricket West Indies is the obvious ‘scapegoat’ in analyzing the reasons for the senior team’s decline, there may be merit in pointing a finger elsewhere.

But here’s the kicker. No longer is the Caribbean an escape from the fast-paced world, a place where time stands still and where the things of importance are what they’ve always been.

Today, there is cable television, android boxes, firesticks, and websites that bring the world rushing into the Caribbean.

That has created, and understandably so, a bit of an identity crisis, although maybe it is no crisis at all.

Cricket is no longer the most popular sport in the Caribbean. Through no fault of Cricket West Indies, children are growing up with heroes on the NBA courts, on the football fields, on the track.

Players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, impose larger-than-life characters on the Caribbean but it is not the same as the days when Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards walked the region as Gods.

The West Indies, over the course of 15 years had already proved that men from humble beginnings can compete with and beat the world.

That’s nothing new.

Maybe the West Indies were too successful.

Harper suggested the territories in the West Indies were to be blamed for not producing players who could make the jump to the next level, but these territories have much to compete with.

Nobody plays cricket anymore.

I’m in a few sports groups with serious sports fans. They talk about everything from table tennis to curling, but lately, the conversations about cricket have dwindled.

These sports fans are fathers of upcoming sports fans and maybe serious players. They won’t be told about the greatness of West Indies players of old, not that they would listen anyway.

When I was growing up, I had to watch whatever was on TV. And sometimes, that meant missing out on cartoons for, you guessed it, cricket.

I was usually pissed by this, but something happened.

I would sit and watch with my Dad and I would learn.

I would learn about the difficulty of playing the game, and the bravery of standing up to a big, strong fast bowler and how quickly the .33 of a second you had to figure out what to do with a ball and do it, really was.

I grew an appreciation for it.

But at the time, there wasn’t a lot of football on TV to compete with cricket, there wasn’t a lot of anything.

Now, with a competitive media industry, filled with the pitfalls of rights buying, I don’t have to watch cricket for an entire day.

A couple of things happen with this increased content.

One, you won’t learn very much about cricket because that takes time, and two, you may never acquire the taste for it because it isn’t fast enough. Then, to add to that, your parents don’t drill the stories of Viv Richards having his cap knocked off only crash the next delivery over the boundary ropes.

All of that combined means cricket is slowly being forgotten.

So today, the talent pool that the territories have to draw from is a much smaller thing than in recent times.

How then do these territories produce world-class players?

World-class will come from talented players vying to be the best against many other talented players.

Today, the few talented players excel very easily because there isn’t a lot of talent around them. Then they get stuck in a rut.

A few half-centuries at the regional level, mixed in with one or two centuries is enough to get your team winning more often than not.

There was a time that players had to score six or seven centuries for their team to have a chance.

Then there are the few bowlers with talent. They get easy five-fors and six-fors and have great stats. But then their opposition has come from the dwindling talent pool and the work that they have to put in to be really good isn’t understood until a 16-year-old Indian thrashes them to all parts of the ground for an entire series.

Now they’re playing catch up.

And if you watch world economics, and you’re from the Third World, you understand how difficult it is to do that.

So Harper has a point, and Leighton has a point, but how do we get our youngsters loving and playing a game they have forgotten?

For West Indies cricket to get back to being a dominant force, Chairman of selectors and former West Indies bowler, Roger Harper believes changes need to be made from the ground up.

According to Harper, all the blame for West Indies’ performance woes cannot be put at the feet of Cricket West Indies and that individual territories need to take responsibility for the cricketers they produce.

"I think a lot of buck-passing has been done. We are very proud to say when a Brian Lara is breaking all those records that he is from Trinidad but when a player is not doing well, you say what the West Indies cricket board is doing,” said Harper.

The former off-spinner who ended his career with 100 ODI wickets from 105 games and 46 Test wickets from 25 matches, believes that when the Caribbean was in its hay day, the territories were much stronger on their own.

“I think there is some inconsistency and we need to get back what we were doing in the past and take the responsibility of developing quality, world-class players," he said.

In terms of creating more world-class players, Harper believes the players in the region need to be more ambitious as well.

According to Harper, who was speaking on T&T radio station i9555, the goal shouldn’t just be to get into the senior team, but to be dominant, because without more than just a few world-class players, consistent top performances won’t exist.

“We need to have world-class players in the West Indies team. That's how our cricket and our team will get to the top, if we have a number of world-class players in the team giving us world-class performances on a consistent basis,” he said.

“[…] We have to encourage our players to do: think bigger, aim higher, think of putting in world-class performances and raise their standards to be match-winning world-class players,” said Harper.

"If you are just making 30s, and the press is slamming that he deserves a strike... I would like my job to be that I don't have to pick somebody. If you are making 30, we have a person who is making 31, then I have to decide which one to select.

"But if you are averaging in the 60s or 70s, all I have to do is write your name down, you pick yourself.

Harper said the players can compete with the rest of the world at the U19 level but then there is an issue transitioning. While the other teams have players who make the leap to the big stage.

"We have to ensure our guys can make that leap as well. A lot of it has to do with their thinking and maturity in terms of cricket. We have to help them along by developing their mental skills and tactical awareness, and help them apply their skills better."

Sir Vivian Richards, Legendary West Indian batsman and former captain, has had many instances when his greatness was on show for all the world to see, however, there was one, in particular, that stands out in my mind.

Apartheid South Africa had been banished from the world of sport and while the two, politics and sport, should never meet, it was widely agreed that those sanctions were the right thing to do.

South African cricket was decimated by the sanctions, which started in 1971, and they needed to revive it.

The country hashed a plan to play unsanctioned international cricket inside South Africa, which while frowned upon, could not be stopped.

In all, South Africa would host seven tours to the country, dubbed Rebel Tours, between 1982 and 1990.

A precedence had been set in 1981 with England’s Graham Gooch going to South Africa with eleven other players. They world wholeheartedly bashed them for their actions, labelling the group the “the Dirty Dozen” in England’s Houses of Parliament.

The rebels were banned for three years, including Geoffrey Boycott, who was the world’s leading Test run-scorer at the time. Most of their careers, except for Gooch’s and John  Emburey’s, was ended by the ban.

But in 1982, the South Africans were back at it, inviting Sri Lanka this time, with 14 of their players convinced into making the trip. The players were banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka. Only Flavian Aponso would play again, turning out for the Netherlands in the 1996 World Cup at the age of 43.

Fast forward to 1982 and South Africa came calling in the Caribbean. For the first time, the South African side would get real competition because the West Indies, kings of cricket at the time, could afford to field at least two world-beating teams.

At the time, first-class cricketers in the West Indies weren’t paid at all and had to live off employment outside of cricket. In fact, the majority of those who played for the West Indies had jobs outside of cricket and so South Africa made sure to make an offer that would mean they could become financially independent.

For the first time the unofficial games had some real legitimacy as the South Africans had a West Indies team that could compete with them.

But even while the Lawrence Rowe-led team that included real talent like that of Richard Austin, Herbert Chang, Sylvester Clarke, Colin Croft, Bernard Julien, Alvin Kallicharan, Collis King, Everton Mattis, Ezra Moseley, and David Murray, was brilliant in its own right, it still needed some real star power to make it more legitimate.

There was no greater star in World cricket at the time than Viv Richards.

Viv played a swashbuckling brand of cricket few dared to attempt or had the talent to pull off for that matter.

South Africa wanted him.

In the critically acclaimed documentary ‘Fire in Babylon,’  Viv opens up about being offered a blank cheque from the South African cricket board.

To prove that the ravages of Apartheid would never impact him, or the other cricketers in South Africa, those agreeing to the tour would be called ‘Honorary White’.

Viv would never have to work again.

Then he reacted in a way that cemented his place, at least in my mind, as West Indies cricket’s greatest hero, by simply saying no, when many others would have said different.

He didn’t hit a ball out of the park, challenge an Australian quick, he simply said ‘no’.

And for that, I will be eternally grateful as it has shaped, in large part, my attitude towards racism.

 Just recently, Sir Viv was asked if he had regrets about not taking the offer and living the rest of his life in the lap of luxury.

“No sir, that has never even come to mind and I am one of those individuals that when I make my mind up in terms of the decision making and all that, then that’s it and that, to me, was worth much more than money,” he said.

Of course, Viv saying ‘no’ had the knock-on effect of making sure that nobody else, outside of Croft, would say otherwise.

Sir Viv’s ‘no’, had the knock-on effect of ensuring that the West Indies’ great legacy of the 1980s was created.

Without it, West Indies’ tour to England in 1984 where they won the Test series 5-0, would not have happened. There would have been no ‘Whitewash’.

And, of course, not losing a single Test series between 1980 and 1995 would probably not have happened.

Sir Viv’s moment may just have saved what turned out to be the greatest sporting achievement in the history of sport.

Because now, saying ‘no’ was markedly easier for Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd, Jeffrey Dujon, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding.  

And Viv had to say ‘no’ again, the following year. He did and the rest is history.

Apartheid would come to an end in 1994.

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy believes his contemporary, white ball skipper, Kieron Pollard is right for the job but needs time to get his team going.

According to Sammy, Pollard always wants to win and that is the mindset that is needed from the leader of a team if it is to be successful.

“I think what Pollard will bring is that attacking mindset,” said Sammy.

“I think his mindset is always geared towards winning and I think that’s what a leader’s mindset should be,” he said.

However, the mindset alone will not be enough to give the West Indies the edge they need to successfully defend their T20 World Cup set for November.

“He needs time. They need time to learn as a playing group,” said Sammy.

According to the only skipper to lead a team to two T20 World Cup titles, he benefitted from that time ahead of the team’s first World Cup title win.

“I am only talking from experience, from captaining in 2010. By the time 2012 came I knew so many of those guys, what situations to use them in and from constant dialogue, how I would go and who I would want to execute for me in different situations,” said Sammy.

While he is aware that his playing days with the West Indies are over, Sammy, who said he had a vision of being part of a successful T20 World Cup title defence, still wants to contribute to Pollard’s rise.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is feeling a sense of relief after the announcement that Reggae Girlz goalkeeper, Nicole McClure has recovered from COVID-19.

McClure, who is with her mother in the United States, told Radio Jamaica Sports, she had been fully recovered over the last two weeks.

The 30-year-old McClure plays for Northern Irish club, Sion Swifts, but is most fondly remembered in her country for pulling off two penalty saves in the CONCACAF final round World Cup qualifiers against … , helping to secure a spot in France last Summer.

McClure got sick after being in close contact with her mother, who likely contracted it from her job.

McClure’s mother is one of the many brave health workers in the United States on the front lines of the battle to contain COVID-19 and save as many lives as possible.

To date there have been more than 1.7 million cases of the Coronavirus worldwide with almost 109 thousand deaths.

The epicentre of the disease is by far and away, the United States where there are more than half a million cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

New York has the highest numbers of instances of the virus with 181,144 cases confirms and well over eight thousand deaths.

The importance of good spinners in Test cricket has fluctuated over the years, with different environments changing the need for them. Over the decades, the spinners to stand out are those who defied their environment. The list of spinners who have done that isn’t as small as you would think and finding the best Test spinners of all time is not the easiest task. But here is the best that we have come up with to date.


 

Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)

The wide-eyed steer of Muttiah Muralitharan has signaled the demise of batsmen in Test cricket 800 times over the course of 133 Test matches, making the Sri Lankan, the most successful bowler, let alone spinner, in the history of the game. His doosra meant that for about four and a half years, the off-spinner remained the number one bowler on the ICC Test bowlers rankings, a record to this day. For some, Murali should never have been allowed to bowl, a deformed elbow forcing a change in the laws of the game that some believe legitimized throwing. But wherever you stand on this point, for at least five Sri Lankan captains over the course of his 18 years in Test cricket, he was the man you could depend on to change the course of a game. In fact, his greatness was given an exclamation mark, when in 2004, he was asked to stop bowling his doosra. It never mattered, he would go on to devastate batting line-ups over the next six years with the same kind of consistency.

 

Shane Warne (Australia)

Shane Warne can lay claim to being the man that made being a leg spinner a thing again. After the 1980s and ‘90s where pace ruled supreme for both Australia and the West Indies, the two kings of cricket throughout those decades, the spinner was left a forgotten artform filled with people whose job it was to give the high-energy, high-impact quicks a breather. Warne was never a space filler and became Australia’s go-to bowler. Warne was rated as one of the five greatest cricketers of the 20th century, no great surprise when you remember the remarkable turn he could impart on a ball, his ability to drift it away from the batsman’s eyeline at the last moment, as well as an incredible ability to vary his pace without a discernable difference in the speed of his action. Then there was the addition of the flipper, which for the most part, batsmen never saw coming. That combination has led many to agree that Warne and not Muralitharan is the greatest bowler of all time and one couldn’t mount a serious challenge to the argument without creating some animosity. Warne was certainly a headline maker and the ball he bowled England’s Mike Gatting with in 1993, is the most famous delivery ever released from a bowler’s fingers. The ball was full and pitched well outside Gatting’s leg stump and turned so big, it clipped off stump. Warne was the first bowler to 700 wickets and would end his career with 708 from 145 Tests at an average of 25.41.

 

Jim Laker (England)

Jim Laker is most notably remembered for taking 19 Australian in wickets in a single Test match at Old Trafford, a feat that has not been repeated at the Test level or at the first-class one for that matter. But the off-spinner was more than that. Initially he was seen as good in County cricket but not quite at the Test level, however, that would change in 1952 when his 100 wickets for Surrey forced him back into the England set-up from which he was routinely dropped. He ended among the five cricketers of the year, according to Wisden. More regular inclusion meant he played 46 Tests, taking 193 wickets at an average of 21.24. That average made him one of the most dangerous spinners in the history of the game. In addition to his Test career, which admittedly could have included more Tests had his value been seen differently, he took nearly 2000 first-class wickets at the incredible average of just 18.41.

 

Anil Kumble

Tall and elegant, fairly quick through the air, Anil Kumble was not the typical Indian spinner who used flight and guile to dig batsmen from the pitch. His results weren’t typical either. Even among a country notorious for creating the best spinners in the world, Kumble still has the feather in his cap of being the bowler to have won most matches for India in their history. Kumble, rather than relying on flight and variations in pace, preferred to spear his deliveries in, extracting bite upon pitching. The leg-spinner’s tac made him notoriously hard to score off. He would get his variation from changing where he delivered from, creating illusions that were very difficult to manage. Kumble would go on to stand only behind Muralitharan and Warne in the wicket-taking department, ending his career with 619 wickets from 132 Tests at an average of 29.65. The figures meant he would break every bowling record for an Indian player.

 

Lance Gibbs (West Indies)

Lance Gibbs had unusually long fingers and it allowed him to extract prodigious turn from even the most pace-friendly wickets. Running in chest on, Gibbs was remarkably accurate and seemed to possess unlimited stamina. That stamina, combined with his ability, led to him becoming the West Indies all-time leading wicket-taker and the first spinner to go past 300 Test wickets. What was more impressive, was the fact that Gibbs, who ended his career with 309 wickets, did so in just 79 Tests at an average of 29.09. His accuracy meant he would end his career with an economy rate of 1.98 runs per over. On 18 occasions Gibbs would take five wickets in an innings, making sure that even if the West Indies batsmen were not at their best, they would never be completely out of a contest.

 

Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka)

It is not often that an active player can lay claim to being one of the greatest of all time at anything. Those athletes are usually so far ahead of the competition in their era, that it begs the question of where they could find greater. Rangana Herath has played 93 Tests for Sri Lanka, and in that time, he has taken 433 wickets at an average of 28.07. For a long time, Herath was the man that held one end, creating pressure, while Muttiah Muralitharan destroyed batting attacks from the other. With Murali’s retirement, Herath has stepped out of the great spinner’s shadow to become Sri Lanka’s go-to bowler. The left-arm orthodox spinner is accurate to a fault and his ability to bowl long spells makes him a true Test for even the most obdurate of batsmen. His greatness has been added to, by the inclusion of a mystery ball to his arsenal, a quicker delivery that darts back into the right hander. That arsenal includes the ability to vary his pace and flight, ever so subtly. But there is nothing subtle about his wicket-taking ability.

 

Bishan Singh Bedi (India)

Like the West Indies or Australia could fill a greatest of all time list with their pacers, the same is true about India and their spinners. At different times in their history, India have been able to field four high-quality spinners, keeping opposition attacks at bay. The patriarch of using spin to devastate oppositions, is one Bishan Singh Bedi.

Bedi was the consummate master of deception, conjuring variations in flight, loop, spin and pace all without changing his action. He would challenge batsmen to hit over the top, yet he wasn’t expensive, becoming a consistent wicket-taker throughout his career. In 67 Tests, Bedi carved out 266 wickets at an average of 28.71. His economy rate of 2.14 runs per over was not at all shabby.

 

Richie Benaud (Australia)

His brilliance from the commentary booth meant there are many who do not realise that at one time Richie Benaud was one of the best bowlers in the world. Benaud, who would captain Australia with the same quiet authority that he displays as a commentator, didn’t start very well, remaining a fairly ordinary player in the Australian side for the first six years of his Test career. But as captain, he thrived, leading from the front to end with 247 wickets from 63 Tests at an average of 27.03. His leg break googlies would be filled with little nuggets for batsmen on the attack to fall for, and as his wicket haul suggests, they often did. Benaud was the guru who Shane Warne would look to on his way to becoming arguably the greatest spinner of all time. Later Australian captains like Ian Chappell, who never lost a Test series as captain, would also look to the example of Benaud.

 

Clarrie Grimmett (Australia)

While Clarrie Grimmett turned out for Australia, he was really born in New Zealand, a fact which may have been why he never got the chance to suit up for Australia until he was 33 years old. Despite the advanced age for a debut, so high was his skill level, that he went on to play for 11 years, from 1925 when he started against England at Sydney, until he faced South Africa at Durban for his last.

At 44, he took his 216th wicket from just 37 Tests at an average of 24.21. Grimmett’s bowling was the stuff of legends. He was as accurate as a machine, adding the top spinner, the googly, and the flipper, by the time he began his foray in the Test arena. He was a wily customer and worked out whatever strategy batsmen had worked out for him. For instance, he would snap his left fingers when he bowled a regular leg spinner so as to hide the snap of his fingers when he produced the flipper. Australia put Grimmett out to pasture after the Durban Test, but his 7-100 in the first innings and 6-73 in the second, proved he may still have continued to twirl his magic for a few years more. Many believed, that in his earlier years, he was as important to Australia’s fortunes as was the batting of a certain Don Bradman.

Ravichandran Ashwin (India)

Ravichandran Ashwin leads the new generation of Indian spinner, who have now taken a more traditional role in bowling line-ups with the cricket-crazy country investing in fast bowlers in recent times.

Still, Ashwin has proven to be a go-to bowler, notching up 365 wickets in just 71 Tests at an average of 25.43. Ashwin broke into the Indian side via the Indian Premier League. He found it difficult to get into the Test team and play a major role thanks to the presence of Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan’s fortunes began to fade and in the meantime, Ashwin began to put together an impressive tally of performances. In his first Test against the West Indies, Ashwin took nine wickets but it was agreed that a weak batting line-up may have contributed to that. The world waited to see if the performances could have been replicated and Ashwin duly provided the proof he was for real after a lean spell. While a far more dangerous limited-overs bowler, his progress since his Test debut in 2011 has made him one of the most impressive spinners in the modern age.

 

Saqlain Mushtaq (Pakistan)

Saqlain Mushtaq can most be remembered for being the bowler who first mastered the doosra, a delivery from an offspinner that turns the other way. Saqlain has been accused of trying too many different deliveries, always trying to get a wicket. Despite the differing attitudes to the spinner, Saqlain still managed 208 wickets in just 49 Tests at an average 29.83. His 10-155 in a match against India that brought about a close 12-run win is still talked about today.

The West Indies can win in England this summer, so says their Test captain, Jason Holder.

The skipper believes his team, having experienced English conditions in a heavy defeat in 2017, have the experience to make restitution for that earlier performance.

The West Indies are scheduled to to play three Tests in England beginning June 1 but there isn’t a lot of hope that it won’t, at the very least, be postponed because of the government’s directives to combat the spread of COVID-19 in that country.

The England Cricket Board and Cricket West Indies have had preliminary discussions and should be meeting again on Sunday to decide a way forward, with the possibility of playing to empty stands, postponements or both still on the cards.

Before the series, the West Indies were to have played three warm-up matches with a camp at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire, but that is also not expected to happen, at least not in the same way or maybe even at the same time.

Holder though, is hopeful that the series will go on.

While the series in England was destructive to the West Indian confidence, last year in the Caribbean, the West Indies had bested England 2-1 in a series that showed they could, not just compete, but hurt the generations-long rivals.

"This series will be tougher than the one in the Caribbean because we are obviously going in their backyard. England are a very, very good team in their backyard. Even although we beat them in the last series I'll still say England will start as favourites," said Holder.  

According to Holder though, the West Indies aren’t the inexperienced bunch England would have played three years ago when they lost 2-1.

"You've got guys like Kraigg Brathwaite who has played county cricket as well and international cricket there. Shai [Hope] has played enough international cricket and did really well as well. So we have some guys going back there with a vengeance.

"If you speak to a lot of guys who were on that tour in 2017 everybody will say they can't wait to go back and probably just make amends for what would've happened in 2017. We believed personally in our abilities, it is just a matter of understanding the conditions and now that we've had that experience, I should only hope that we should be able to then put into practice and make a better show than we did last time," said Holder.

West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has admitted that losing the captaincy of the region’s One Day International team has not been easy for him.

Holder was replaced as captain of the ODI team last September by Kieron Pollard but was retained as a player. According to the former skipper, the transition from that leadership role has been tough.

"To be quite honest, it has been tough transitioning back just as a player," Holder said on TalkSPORT recently.

According to the former skipper, first he had to contend with getting back into the team.

"In hindsight, it has been tough trying to understand how to get back in as just a player," he said.

The switch from Holder to Pollard had caught the former by surprise, learning of it during last year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League, a tournament he went on to win as captain of the Barbados Tridents.

"Yeah, it was an interesting time for me. I had found out earlier in the tournament that we have moved as one-day international captain. For me, it was just trying to win it [the CPL]," he said.

Just prior to the switch and since, Holder has not proven very effective in the ODI version of the game, but says this is not a bother for him because he is acutely aware of his own ability.

Many had suggested that Holder’s place in the team was in question and he would not be in it were he not captain.

To date, Holder has taken 136 wickets in 111 innings at an average of 36.38, but in his last eight innings with the ball, he has not been able to get near those figures.

In 10 innings prior to losing the captaincy, Holder had seven wickets at an average of 69.85, while in the eight he has played since, he has picked up six at an average of 66.16.

"Performances obviously haven't been there as I would've probably liked, but I'm not too disheartened," Holder said. "I don't beat myself up. I don't get too worried because I know my ability. I know what I can produce. I just know that an innings is around the corner, a bowling effort is around the corner."

According to the Test skipper, he may have been suffering from a bit of burnout, having played 62 matches in 2019.

"I felt I needed the break after the India series [in December] particularly, just to refresh," Holder said.

"I had played every single series in the entire year, I played county cricket as well, and my batteries needed a little bit of a recharge. Obviously, I needed some time to go and think about how I wanted to go forward as a player and try to work out again how just to be a player as opposed to being the captain."

Like most sportspersons and fans, Hayden Walsh Jr. is anxious for action in his preferred sport to restart.

More particularly, Walsh Jr is relishing the opportunity to turn out for defending Hero Caribbean Premier League champions, the Barbados Tridents.

Walsh Jr was the leading wicket-taker for the Tridents, bagging 22 wickets on his way to helping the side lay claim to its second CPL win. More interesting than the success for Walsh Jr, though, is the experience of playing for the Barbados franchise and being led by West Indies Test captain, Jason Holder.

“I really enjoyed the Tridents setup last year with the whole coaching staff and the team and everyone just jelled together and even in the times where we looked as if we were going to go out quite miserably we still stuck together and fight it out to win the championship. So I think that was the most rewarding part of being part of the setup,” said Walsh Jr.

To boot, Walsh Jr was coached by the man who went on to lead the coaching staff of West Indies cricket in former West Indies opening batsman turned all-rounder, Phil Simmons.

“He’s like a father and I’d say he’s like a father-coach. He’s stern when he needs to be stern, he jokes around when it’s time to joke around and when things are not right he puts them into place, so it’s like when your parents or father sees things are out of place and they would put them in place. I think he has been a real father figure for all of us, even the big stars and stuff, so I really enjoy playing under him,” said Walsh Jr.

As of now, the CPL is still scheduled from August 19 to September 26 but that remaining so will depend on the spread of the Coronavirus up to that point.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus, has so far affected more than 1.6 million people worldwide and led to almost 96,000 deaths.

President of Cricket West Indies, Ricky Skerritt, says despite the economic downturn from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, West Indies players on retainer will not be asked to take a pay cut just yet.

This, according to Skerritt, doesn’t mean there will be no changes because a technical committee had been vetting retainer contracts in lieu of them coming to an end in a few months.

“There has been no move in that direction at this time. We are actually in the process right now, that is the technical team is in the process of reviewing retainer contracts [because] the retainer contracts come to an end within the next couple of months. So, it is being looked at as normal, but I expect that we will have to do a bit of a check on where we are and what we can afford to do going forward,” he said in an interview with the Good Morning JoJo Sports Show in Antigua.

Skerritt’s comments do not mean that the CWI is in great financial standing despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on sport worldwide, and in fact, the president has pointed to other areas where there might be an impact in short order.

“CWI is facing a rapidly changing world environment for sports and with no sports taking place, with revenues related to broadcast rights and sponsorship and so on, gate receipts, all of those revenues are important, so every sporting organisation around the world is facing issues. Those that were already facing cash flow issues or other organizational issues will just have it tougher and CWI is one of those,” said Skerritt.

English male cricketers have collectively donated £500,000, the women have agreed pay cuts for the next three months to help the English Cricket Board deal with the fallout from a lack of play, while the NBA is proposing a 50 per cent pay cut while games are suspended.

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s football team captain, Khaleem Hyland, is stuck in Saudi Arabia without his lifeblood, football, but he does send a message filled with hope.

According to Hyland, life without football is tough, especially when he cannot leave Saudi Arabia to be with his family in the twin-island republic, but still, there is opportunity in the midst of all this.

“It’s been difficult for everyone as not being able to play football is very hard to endure. I see everyone posting all this time without football and life is not normal. The supporters and players both here and at home have a challenging time to get through,” said Hyland.

“I wish everyone the best of health and best of luck. We know the procedures we need to follow to be clean and be healthy. We need to rally together as a country to get it all back on track. Hopefully, we can live as one again as a country and as people in this world,” he said.

As for T&T’s football, Hyland believes there is work to be done to get it back to where it should be, but that there are the tools to do it.

“Now we have a new coach. It’s been a while now Terry Fenwick has been aiming and hoping that he would get the job. Congratulations to him. I worked with him at a young age at Jabloteh and I know he is a very good person. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get information to players and get quality out of them. He tends to have his ideas and plans on board,” said Hyland.

According to the Al-Faisaly midfielder, while he has much respect for Fenwick, he is also aware that how quickly T&T can recover post-COVID-19 also depends heavily on the players and fans.

“Hopefully we can all work for the best for our country and for our football to move onto the right track and hopefully we can move on to better ways, winning ways or to even a better structure than the past,” he said.

“We just have to look forward to the future and work hard as a team. Everyone needs to do their own homework also. It’s a new coach in charge now and everyone has a chance to show what they can do and bring forward the best towards the national team. We are representing the Red, White and Black and we need to do our best for our country. It is an honour to always wear the colours of Trinidad and Tobago.”

On a more personal note, Hyland has been keeping fit in the hope that football in Saudi Arabia can restart sooner rather than later.

“I’ve been going through my paces every day, working hard, training hard The last couple months paid off with me getting on the scoresheet and the team doing great before COVID-19 took over,” he said.

Hyland also had a word for his family in a difficult time, assuring them he is safe.

“Right now here in Saudi Arabia and in the world everything is at a standstill and the league has been postponed. It is hard for me to be here with days off and I cannot leave the country and cannot fly to go and be with my loved ones. I have a couple friends here in Saudi Arabia and they make me feel at home away from home. The atmosphere in Saudi Arabia is still good and they are dealing with it well and taking the precautionary measures to ensure we are safe.

I’ve complained bitterly about the need for sports administrators to stop trying to get sports re-started as quickly as possible for fear that any such act, done too quickly, will lend itself to endangering the athletes and those they love.

I thought that administrators had been looking at it all wrong. In delaying decisions to postpone or cancel an event, they have forced athletes to continue training for that event. The fact that they must continue to train puts the athlete at risk of contracting COVID-19.

That line of argument went out the window when two French scientists promoted the idea that the testing ground for a new Coronavirus vaccine be Africa.

I was incensed.

But after the initial annoyance had worn off, I made a link between the restart of sport and the continued smashing of long-held, dangerous, perceptions.

Sport has been one of the foremost grounds for tackling injustice and inequality that this world has seen.

It is most often in the sporting arena where your background, your history, your political ideologies, count for the least.

Over many decades, sport has systematically attempted to become a place where the idea of a meritocracy is most real.

It isn’t real in life because the power has always been in the hands of a very few and they wield it with unerring indifference to anything that does not serve their purpose.

Over time, the athlete has come to the bargaining table by making it clear that without him or her, there is nothing. No fans, no money, nothing.

The latest arena where this battle has been fought is in that of gender equality, where women have stood up to say “hang on a minute, why am I not paid like the men, why is my contribution paid scant regard?”

And they have a point.

But even if they didn’t, the fact that without them, the entire thing collapses, means they have to be heard.

The same thing rings true of attempts to stamp racism from sport. The athlete, of whatever race, has wielded his power to say, “we will not play under unequal circumstances. We will not play when there is prejudice, in whatever form.”

Those realisations have led me to reconsider the idea that sports administrators shouldn’t be trying to restart sports as quickly as they are.

They should.

Sport is more than just a test of physical and mental superiority over an opponent. It is a litmus test for society. It shows society the direction it should be going in and to boot, it has the kind of unifying impact, seldom seen by any other endeavour.

For that reason, let’s get our ‘heroes’, for that is what the modern-day sportsperson has become, stand on the frontlines of a return to normalcy in the face of arguably, the most debilitating challenge faced by mankind in the 21st century.

Now the sportsperson must stand in the face of COVID-19 and say, “you have changed our world, but we’ll be damned if you stop us from trying to make it a better place.”

I remember reading or watching, I can’t remember which, ‘Fire in Babylon’, a depiction on the rise of West Indies cricket in the 1980s. More important to me than the details of how they did it and the massiveness of the achievement, relative to every sporting achievement ever had by a team, was the reason they did it.

The West Indians at the time wanted to show a couple of things. They wanted to prove they were every bit as good as their counterparts the world over, and they wanted to show the Caribbean how powerful it could be if they were unified. 

Those reasons made their achievements over the course of a decade and a bit, much bigger than sport.

Jackie Robinson becoming the first black Major League player was more than sport. His achievements in Major League Baseball had very little to do with the league or the sport, it was about destroying negative perceptions about the black man.

And so, I hope sport restarts quickly and tells these scientists willing to use a particular set of people as guinea pigs, where to shove it.

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