Trinidad and Tobago Red Force coach Meryn Dillion insists he is confident of keeping his job, despite the post recently being advertised by the TTCB.

The 45-year-old former fast bowler took charge of the twin-island republic team in January of last year and has done a commendable job to date.  After taking over a faltering Red Force team in the 2019 edition of the West Indies Championship, Dillon, led the team to a fourth-place finish with a record of three wins, one draw and two losses.

In the following Regional Super50 competition the Red Force went as far as the semi-finals but were defeated by the Leeward Island Hurricanes.  In this season’s edition of the West Indies Four-Day Championship, the Red Force finished second to champions Barbados Pride.  His spell in charge has, however, not been without controversy with Windies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin of throwing him out of the team and not using proper channels of communication, which hurt the team.  Ramdin officially filed a complaint with the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) but was told the matter could not be looked into until the end of the season.

With Dillon’s contract coming to an end at the end of this month, the position has been advertised.  The coach, while insisting that he was not aware the post had been tendered, is confident he will be seen as the right man for the job.

“I am quite confident. I think I am probably in a better position than anybody else to retain the job,” Dillon told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

“Funny enough I heard about it after one of the (media) guys called me (on Thursday) morning. That’s when I found out about it, which was kind of disappointing because even if it is being advertised I would think I would be one of the first people to be notified,” he added.

Dillon said the president of the TTCB Azim Bassarath told him on Thursday that he was previously informed that the position would be advertised, he does not, however, recall that conversation.

Australia coach Justin Langer is open to the idea of playing games behind closed doors once cricket can resume after the coronavirus pandemic.

Langer watched on as his side emphatically defeated New Zealand in a one-dayer played inside an empty Sydney Cricket Ground last month.

It was due to be the first of three matches between the trans-Tasman rivals, though the series was cut short due the COVID-19 outbreak as the Black Caps returned home in time to avoid quarantine restrictions.

While there is no immediate sign of a resumption to the international schedule, staging contests without any supporters could be a viable option in the future.

"The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play," Langer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there's value in that (playing behind closed doors).

"Yes, it's different, but we'll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do."

Australia are due to play a two-Test series in Bangladesh in June, followed by a limited-overs tour to the United Kingdom that runs into July.

 

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.

Jos Buttler feels players will be open to everything, including two England matches being played in the same day, once cricket returns after the coronavirus pandemic.

The explosive batsman understands the importance of the revenue generated from international matches and a crowded schedule is likely if planned series' and tournaments in 2020 are to be salvaged.

Buttler believes players will be flexible in the instance of an intense run of fixtures, even if it meant days where there were multiple matches taking place.

He also thinks there will be a surge in fan interest after the break in sport, ensuring venues would sell out for games in quick succession.

"I think we have to be open to absolutely everything," Cricket World Cup winner Buttler said to talkSPORT. "It's so difficult to plan anything because everyone is in limbo with all things going on. 

"International cricket is going to be vital to the game and the revenue that comes into the game.

"If we can get any [cricket played], or as much as we can, if that means two games in the same day, then we have to be open to that.

"Everyone who is really missing their sport, hopefully when this is all over we will all appreciate it even more and want to flock to the grounds to all the different sports to watch the games. 

"I'm sure you could fill up two grounds if you had two teams playing on the same day."

Buttler is in the process of auctioning off the shirt he was wearing when he sealed England's historic World Cup final win over New Zealand.

The 29-year-old was wearing the shirt, which has been signed by his team-mates, when he ran Martin Guptill out to conclude a dramatic Super Over at Lord's last July.

It will provide much-needed funds for the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity, which launched an emergency appeal to provide life-saving equipment for COVID-19 sufferers.

The highest bid now stands at £65,800, delighting Buttler, who added: "I'm auctioning off my World Cup shirt and it's obviously gone way better than I thought it would already.

"It’s an amazing amount of money. The charity that supports the hospitals started an emergency fund to buy emergency equipment they need now because of the increase in patients due to the outbreak.

"We thought that auctioning the shirt would be a great way to raise money for that."

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed to postpone the planned West Indies U19 tour of England, scheduled for August and September 2020 due to scheduling clashes.

It is April 3, 2016. Carlos Brathwaite is on strike and there is one over to go in the ICC World Twenty20 final in Calcutta.

West Indies require 19 runs to win a see-saw final that has ebbed and flowed like the nearby Hooghly River. Having recovered from a shocking start, England have a first limited-overs international trophy seemingly within touching distance.

They battled back from 23-3 to post 155-9. Having top-scored with 54, Joe Root claimed two of three early wicket to fall in West Indies' reply with his occasional off-spin.

Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo put on a 73 for the fourth wicket, yet when Andre Russell and Darren Sammy both fell to David Willey in the space of three deliveries, England were the team in charge.

After Chris Jordan managed to deny the well-set Samuels from claiming the strike at the end of the penultimate over, Ben Stokes was tasked with seeing the job through.

His previous two overs in the game had gone for eight and nine runs respectively – combine those two together and it would still be enough for Eoin Morgan’s side to be crowned champions.

Brathwaite, however, has other ideas…

 

BALL ONE: WHAT A START!

When you need so many off so few, an early maximum quickly heaps the pressure back on the bowler. 

Stokes appears to aim for a yorker but only serves up a half-volley instead, one he's shoved down leg so far that Brathwaite simply has to help the ball on its way, depositing it over the boundary at backward square leg with a flick of the wrists.

A gift. An absolute gift. Stokes should have sent it down with a bow on. West Indies now need just 13 from five.

BALL TWO: IT'S UP, UP, UP AND OUTTA HERE!

Straighter – but still in the slot from Stokes. Brathwaite manoeuvres his front foot out of the way to clear space for the bat to come through and send this one much straighter down the ground – and several metres back into a now delirious crowd inside Eden Gardens.

Stokes pulls a face in response to suggest he either feels he was not too far off target or he's just eaten something that's way too hot. Either way, he's hurting. The once-taxing equation is now down to a seriously manageable sum of seven from off four. 

Can England somehow claw this back?

BALL THREE: GOING, GOING, GONE!

No. Braithwaite does it again as the noise levels inside the ground rise even higher.

It's a similar stroke to the last maximum, only this time the right-hander manages to send his home run over long off. There is a brief moment after it departs the bat that you wonder if it is going to clear the fielder, like a golfer who initially fears he's taken the wrong club and could end up in the water. In the end, though, the man in the deep just watches it sail over him.

West Indies require just one to win and the rest of the squad are now off their feet out of the dugout and ready to start celebrating. 

BALL FOUR: WEST INDIES WIN! WEST INDIES WIN!

Forget knocking it into a gap to pinch a single. Brathwaite winds up again as he gets another ball on his pads, allowing him to finish the job in style.

As it sails into the sky to such an extent towards mid wicket that air traffic control may need to get involved to help find a landing spot, the hero of the over stretches out his arms as team-mates rush out to the middle. What initially seemed a seriously tough challenge completed with room to spare.

"Carlos Brathwaite ​– remember the name!" Ian Bishop booms on commentary. Few who have witnessed it – whether live at the ground or on television – will forget it, least of all poor Stokes.

West Indies complete one of the most stunning heists in limited-overs cricket to be crowned T20 champions for a second time.

Guyana’s Veerasammy Permaul was easily the most successful bowler during the West Indies Championships.

Pat Cummins revealed he is in regular contact with Kolkata Knight Riders over the postponed Indian Premier League season, which may yet be moved to later in 2020.

The latest edition of the tournament was due to begin on March 29 with a rematch of last year's final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the IPL - along with all other major sporting events - on hold.

India has a travel ban in place for all international flights until April 14, meaning Australian fast bowler Cummins remains in his homeland as he waits for an update on the situation.

Media reports in India have suggested organisers may shift the campaign to take place in October and November instead, though such a move could only be made if the International Cricket Council decides to cancel the Twenty20 World Cup, which is due to take place at a similar time in Australia.

"Everything is changing, literally every single day," Cummins said during a video conference call with reporters on Friday. "The last I spoke to them (the Knight Riders), they said they're still really confident and hopeful it will be on at some stage.

"They obviously haven't cancelled it or anything like that yet. It's still a bit of a holding pattern, so we're in contact with our teams every few days.

"Obviously everyone is still really keen for it to go ahead, but the priority is to minimise risk of this spreading.

"It's going to be pretty tight, I think the travel ban (in India) is in place until April 14, so I don't expect anything too soon to happen."

While disappointed at not being able to play for the Knight Riders right now, Cummins - who became the IPL's most expensive overseas signing at December's auction - is making the most of the unexpected break following a hectic 12 months.

The bowler was part of Australia's squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and then also the Ashes series that followed, while he was a regular in all formats throughout a busy summer schedule on home soil.

"The preference would be to be over there (at the IPL) playing, but I think the silver lining is we do get a bit of a break," Cummins told the media.

"We're lucky in cricket, that it [the IPL] is right at the end of the season. We've played basically our whole season out, except for the last couple of games (against New Zealand) and we're always looking for those small breaks to refresh.

"But it almost feels like the start of an off-season at the moment, albeit we're all training by ourselves at home rather than going to the team gym."

With 405 wickets in 98 Tests at an average of 20.99, Antigua’s Sir Curtly Ambrose is an icon of the sport. He also happens to be an inspiration for Barbadian fast bowler Chemar Holder.

Australia spin legend Shane Warne has named Brian Lara as the captain of the Best West Indies XI he has ever faced, with Chris Gayle named an opening batsman.

The crafty ball-turner has spent some of the COVID-19 lockdown naming best XI’s of players from countries that he has faced.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Lara who seems to have made the biggest impression on the spinner.  Lara had the penchant to be brutal against Australia, who he averages 51 against in Test cricket, and scored a best of 277 in Sydney in 1993.  The innings has often been described as one of the finest ever played in Test cricket.

"Lara and Sachin (Tendulkar) were the two best batsmen of my time, his 277 run-knock against us was one of the best innings I saw him play," Warne said on Instagram.

Also making the cut were Desmond Haynes, who was picked to open with Gayle. Next up was Richie Richardson. The middle-order featured the likes of Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ridley Jacobs.

The bowling line-up was led by Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh and feature Ian Bishop and Patterson Thompson.

Warne’s XI

Desmond Haynes, Chris Gayle, Richie Richardson, Brian Lara (c), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Carl Hooper, Ridley Jacobs, Ian Bishop, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Patterson Thompson.

 

Guyana Jaguars spinner Veerasammy Permaul is hopeful that his success with the ball this past season of the West Indies Championships, will get him recalled to the West Indies team for the first time in almost five years.

A comparison between Chris Gayle and Brian Lara, might on the face of it, seem a little silly, but in truth, while Brian Lara is most decidedly the far superior Test cricketer, their ODI records aren't that far apart. 

For instance, Gayle has scored more centuries in ODIs than has Lara with 25 to his name, while Lara has 19.

From just having watched both players, Lara is a genius of unparalleled levels and his class versus that of Gayle's may provide a whitewash for the Trinidad and Tobago left-hander, however, in his prime, Gayle may just have drawn as many excited fans to watch his power unleashed.

At the World Cup where it matters most, Lara scored 1,225 runs between 1992 and 2007. The Prince of Port of Spain had his most productive World Cup in '92 when he scored 333, but was always a heavy contributor with 269 in 1996, 106 in 1999, and 248 in 2003 and 269 in 2007.

Gayle has scored less but not much less, from the same number of World Cups. Gayle has 1,186 runs between 2003 and 2019. He scored 206 runs in 2003, 228 in 2007, 170 in 2011, 340 in 2015, and 242 in 2019.   

With Statistics as close as that, we felt comparing Gayle and Lara, especially in ODIs was fair game. What do you think?

*T20s excluded because of the fact that Lara never got to play much.

Career highlights

BL

  • Highest individual score in Test cricket
  • Fastest batsman to score 10,000 (with Tendulkar/Sangakarra) and 11,000 Test runs

CG

  • Scored the fastest ever ODI double century
  • Highest run-scorer for the West Indies in ODIs