The New year is just a few days old, and despite all the problems in West Indies cricket – the abandoned tour of India; the defeats at the hands of Australia; Sri Lanka, and Australia again; the crisis facing the Board; and the fact that no West Indian made it into Test cricket’s Top Ten at the end of the year – we wish all those in the fraternity all the best for 2016. The only saving grace last year was the wonderful and thrilling victory at Kensington Oval, the one which handed the West Indies a draw against England and which filled every West Indian with excitement and with plenty hope. Although that hope ended only in wishful thinking, my wish, despite my feeling that things will remain the same, in spite of the huffing and puffing by the toothless CARICOM governments, is that the gloom of 2015 will be replaced by a little light in 2016. I love cricket, and I am passionate about Melbourne, Jamaica, and West Indies cricket. Indeed, most people, those who know me and know me well, especially my family, will say that I eat, sleep, and drink cricket. Last year, the West Indies brought down the curtain with an embarrassing and humiliating performance against Australia. They did nothing right. They were terrible in batting, bowling, and fielding. Indeed, with the exception of Darren Bravo, Kraigg Brathwaite, and a few others, they looked like novices. This year, however, the West Indies are scheduled to play one or two series, and based on results of the recent past, things are hardly likely to be any better. In fact, every year it has been the same. Despite the utterances about improvements and little gains, nothing has changed; nothing at all. Looking at the team, which, despite its weakness, includes a few questionable selections, looking at the management team, which allows inexperience and non-performing youngsters to speak on behalf of the team, and looking at the people who consistently talk glowingly about what to expect from the players despite defeat after defeat, it is easy to write off the players – especially as it appears that nothing is really being done to remedy the situation. Despite all the talk, the huge entourage surrounding the team on every tour, the money reportedly being spent on West Indies cricket, and the outreach in West Indies cricket, nothing is really happening. The West Indies need a system to develop their young players into productive players. They need to play the game regularly, to train regularly, and not only when it is ordered and supervised. They need people, good people, checking on them regularly, and not only to sympathise with them and to pat them on the back like nice guys whenever they fail. They need people, coaches or whoever, who will also say something or do something constructive at such times, which, at this time, is most times. COMMITTED PLAYERS The West Indies need to look also for players, good players, who are also proud people, committed people, and people who, although there is not one, respect the flag. And those kinds of players are necessary, very necessary. It makes no sense, or very little sense, to have the most talented players who, at the first sign of adversity, sulk and withdraw themselves from the game, sometimes, most times, affecting other players on the team. The West Indies need players who believe in one for all and all for one, and also players who, even though it is not true, believe, like a journalist, that he, or she, is as good as his, or her, last story. It is folly to fail, and fail, after one or two good performance and to stroll around the ground, to swagger, like the proverbial “cat’s pyjamas”. It is just as bad to treat one who has failed and failed after one or two good performances like royalty. My wish for 2016 is that these things will change. West Indies cricket has been through the good and the bad. It started promisingly, it had its watershed in 1950, it had its ups and downs, it became the best in the world, and now it is back at stage one. The return to the glory days, or near to them, must come back, hopefully, if not quickly. West Indies cricket basically has good, young players. They, however, need to commit themselves to the game and to the West Indies, to train hard and to play hard, and to remember who they are, where they are from, and that although it may not be the best in the world, although players from India, England, Australia earn more money than they do, those from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and South Africa are not. The West Indies players are paid what the West Indies can afford. It is as simple as that. My wish for the new year is that from all the few basically talented West Indies players some can be found with the class to carry West Indies cricket through these parlous times. The West Indies need players who can bat, bowl, field and know how to play the game. The West Indies need batsmen who can do more than reel off a pretty stroke here and there, bowlers who can really bowl and who can get good batsmen out, and fielders who can really field. My wish for this year is that the West Indies will see the light and realise that their cricketers are nowhere nearly as good as those of yesteryear, that their cricketers will also face that fact, that their cricketers play Test cricket two or three years too early in most cases, that our administrators will end their insularity, tighten up on West Indies cricket and make it stronger, and that they need to train and practice until they hear a voice say practice no more. West Indies cricket also needs to see less swagger in the cricketers, less cheerleaders, for whatever reason, among those who should guide, and among those guide technical development, and more people who can inspire and motivate rather than simply tell how to bat and bowl.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC):Veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul has called time on his illustrious international career, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) announced late yesterday.In a release, the WICB said the 41-year-old Guyanese had given notification via email that he was no longer available for selection.Chanderpaul played a record 164 Tests, amassing 11,867 runs at an average of 51. He is second on the all-time West Indies list of run-scorers to Brian Lara who scored 11 953 runs.He also played 268 one-day internationals and 22 Twenty20 internationals.Chanderpaul was axed last May by West Indies selectors following a run of low scores but said at the time he was focused on regaining his place in the side.He represented Guyana Jaguars in the ongoing Regional Super50 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Campion College and Immaculate Conception High showed that they were a class ahead of the rest as they comfortably retained their respective titles at the Mayberry Investments High Schools Swim Meet on Friday at the National Aquatics Centre, Independence Park, National Stadium complex.Campion retained the boys’ title with 419 points, finishing well ahead of Wolmer’s Boys’ (366), Jamaica College (282), Hillel Academy (166), and Calabar High (91).Immaculate blew away their opponents in the girls’ category with a whopping 634 points. Campion College (354) were second, followed by St Andrew High (282.50), Wolmer’s Girls’ (137) and Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) 57.There was also a two-team tertiary competition, which saw the University of the West Indies (316 points) reign over Caribbean Maritime Institute (121).The high-point trophy winners with the best individual scores were:Boys 12 and Under:- Kyle Sinclair of Wolmer’s Boys’, 41 points, while recent Carifta Swim Championships record breaker Emily MacDonald led the girls’ age group for Campion College with 45 points.In the age 13-14 category, Jordane Payne of Wolmer’s Boys’ scored 43, while Immaculate’s Karci Gibson had 31.Chay Stewart of Wolmer’s Boys’ and Anjuii Barrett of Campion (girls) topped the 15-16 age group with scores of 43 and 41 points, respectively.The 17 and over boys went to Jamaica College’s Yonatan Goren, courtesy of 37 points, and Gabrielle Hopkins of Immaculate won the female award with 32.SEVEN INDIVIDUAL RECORDSSeven individual records were broken at the meet, including a double by MacDonald in the girls 12′ and under 100 and 200m freestyle events.Dominic Mullings set new marks in the boys’ 12 and under 100 and 200m freestyle, while Kyle Sinclair also broke the 50 and 100m freestyle records.The other record fell to Britney Williams in the girls 13-14 200m freestyle, while two relay records were also broken – by Wolmer’s Boys’ in the 15-16 200m freestyle and the UWI women in the 17 and over 200m freestyle.
Bencic pulls out MASON, Ohio (AP): Belinda Bencic withdrew from the Western & Southern Open because of a right forearm injury after losing the first set 6-2 yesterday against sixth-ranked Lucie Safarova. Bencic upset top-ranked Serena Williams last weekend en route to winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto. The 12th-ranked Bencic said it’s too soon to know if she will play in next week’s tournament at New Haven, Connecticut. “I don’t think it’s very serious,” Bencic said. “I wasn’t 100 percent, and to beat Lucie or even compete against her, you have to be 100 percent. I didn’t want to retire. This was the first I’ve ever had to retire. I hope it gets better.” Safarova is scheduled to meet either 14th-seeded Elina Svitolina or unseeded Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals. Chelsea sign forward Pedro LONDON (AP): While Chelsea await a first win on the field this season, the Premier League champions scored a satisfying victory in the transfer market yesterday by beating Manchester United to the signing of Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona. A fee worth US$33 million was agreed to bring the 28-year-old forward to Chelsea. The high-profile recruitment of a player who has won every major honour shifts the narrative at Chelsea following an unruly start to the season, particularly as it left United reassessing its transfer targets. Chelsea are enduring their worst start to a season for 17 years, going back before Roman Abramovich transformed the club’s fortunes with the injection of cash following his 2003 takeover. Juventus sign Brazil defender TURIN, Italy (AP): Juventus signed Alex Sandro from Porto for US$29 million yesterday with the Brazil left back agreeing a five-year contract with the Italian club. Alex Sandro, who has made six appearances for Brazil, completed a morning medical at Juventus, after flying to Turin on Wednesday night. “I’m feeling very positive, I’m happy and confident,” the 24-year-old said. “I can’t wait to be able to start training and playing and to continue making my dream come true. “The fans can rest assured that they have a player who will always give 100 percent to secure victories and success for the club.” Alex Sandro joined Porto in 2011 and scored three goals in 137 appearances.
SMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZCAPTAIN GRANVILLE MEET JUSTIN MEET JUSTIN MEET JUSTINOFFICIAL REPORT OFFICIAL REPORT OFFICIAL REPORT #OFFICIAL REPORTBARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLDANOTHER FURY GOLDEN GLORY GOLDEN GLORY GOLDEN GLORYCHIEF SECRETARIAT CHIEF SECRETARIAT #CHIEF SECRETARIAT CHIEF SECRETARIATTWILIGHT ROCKET MY FAVORITE DANCER ALL FOR THE GLORY DARLIN EMMA#SHE GOOSE #EL CLIENTE BLUE EYE BOY BLUE EYE BOY#REGALLY BOLD #REGALLY BOLD #REGALLY BOLD #REGALLY BOLDSIMPLY THE BEST SIMPLY THE BEST DREAMLINER ZUGULUMISS ADDI GEORGIAMYLOVE GEORGIAMYLOVE MISS ADDIRED FLAG SMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZ #SMOKEY TOPAZ#MEET JUSTIN MEET JUSTIN MEET JUSTIN #CAPTAIN GRANVILLEOFFICIAL REPORT #OFFICIAL REPORT #FRANKENSTORM OFFICIAL REPORTBARS OF GOLD #BARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLDANOTHER FURY GOLDEN GLORY WONDER GIRL ANOTHER FURYROUGH PATRICK CHIEF SECRETARIAT CHIEF SECRETARIAT CHIEF SECRETARIATMY FAVORITE DANCER DARLIN EMMA DARLIN EMMA TWILIGHT ROCKETCHANGE HIM NAME EL CLIENTE BLUE EYE BOY EL CLIENTE#REGALLY BOLD REGALLY BOLD JESSE’S FAVORITE REGALLY BOLDSIMPLY THE BEST ZUGULU ZUGULU SIMPLY THE BESTMISS ADDI DR DEAREST #GIRSHOM SURE MANSMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZ #SMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZMINY LEE MINY LEE CAPTAIN GRANVILLE CAPTAIN GRANVILLEOFFICIAL REPORT OFFICIAL REPORT OFFICIAL REPORT OFFICIAL REPORTBARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLD BARS OF GOLDANOTHER FURY #ANOTHER FURY GOLDEN GLORY GOLDEN GLORYVERY CRAFTY NO MONEY FRIEND CHIEF SECRETARIAT #VERY CRAFTYDARLIN EMMA DARLIN EMMA TWILIGHT ROCKET TWILIGHT ROCKETDI COBRE #SPEEDY PROCESS DI COBRE BLUE EYE BOYREGALLY BOLD REGALLY BOLD REGALLY BOLD #REGALLY BOLDZUGULU FUTURE KING ZUGULU FUTURE KINGSURE MAN MISS ADDI #SURE MAN MISS ADDISMOKEY TOPAZ SMOKEY TOPAZCAPTAIN GRANVILLE #MEET JUSTINOFFICIAL REPORT FRANKENSTORMBARS OF GOLD PRINCE OSHAUN#ANOTHER FURY ANOTHER FURYCHIEF SECRETARIAT CHIEF SECRETARIATTWILIGHT ROCKET #TWILIGHT ROCKETWINESHA CHANGE HIM NAME#REGALLY BOLD REGALLY BOLDSIMPLY THE BEST DREAMLINERDR DEAREST TRACKING DANIEL
Western Bureau: Omar Wedderburn’s lack of emotion, while directing affairs from the St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS’) bench, gives the impression he could be somewhat detached from his team’s success, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The STETHS coach for once, admits to be feeling real anxiety, as he awaits the 4:30 p.m. kick-off in the final of the 2015 ISSA-FLOW daCosta Cup Football Competition this afternoon between his team and Dinthill Technical at the Montego Bay Sports Complex. “I am anxious. I can’t wait for match time. I have been having sleepless nights over this one,” Wedderburn told The Gleaner. “This one is overdue and we need to make amends. I am expecting a ‘Texas-style shoot-out’ between the teams, where at the end the quickest and baddest will be left standing,” he said. STETHS last held the daCosta Cup in 2013 and are looking to recapture that most coveted of rural-area schoolboy football trophies, having done so four times already, but for Wedderburn, the fifth could be something special. They had to fight hard after a less than spectacular start to the campaign. STETHS lost once and were held to draws three times in the preliminary round. They then battled their way into pole position for the inter-zone round, and winning the title at Dinthill’s expense would be special for his mostly young players. “I know Dinthill will be gunning for us. I know they have quality players, and that is why they are in the final.” “The youngster Rodave Murray is a very good talent, but while we respect our opponents and show respect to him, we deserve to be here also and the team is straight up ready to knock them over,” Wedderburn said. “I am sure they are more than just one player, but whoever starts for them it doesn’t matter. It’s all about winning for STETHS,” he added. STETHS have won the daCosta Cup four times starting in 1974 and had to wait 25 years to claim a second in 1999. They were again champions in 2009, lost in the final to Glenmuir in 2012, but were back to their best in 2013 before losing out to Clarendon in the 2014 final. If the sequence is to be followed, it would result in STETHS being crowned champions a fifth time. “My players are aware of the history, and are determined to take full toll. Dinthill is a strong team and we salute them for that, but this STETHS team is superior, confident and ready,” reasoned Wedderburn. If they are to get their hands on the trophy this time around it will be up to the likes of Chris-Andrew Dixon, Michael Kerr – their red-hot striker with 29 goals to his name -, Trevaughn McCulloch, Shawn Genus and Romeo Wright to deliver.
Reminder of the legacy Grace Foods Services and Western Union have increased their sponsorship for the sixth staging of the Vere Technical High School – Ben Francis Invitational track and field meet set for February 20 at the Jamalco Sports Complex in Clarendon. “We (Grace) have increased the sponsorship by $500,000 in sponsorship and execution of this meet as title sponsors. Last year, we budgeted $700,000, and this year it will be $1.2 million,” Angella Grandison-Reid, Grace Foods Services Company promotions and consumer services manager announced at the press launch yesterday at the Spanish Court Hotel. She pointed out that Grace has always assisted in the development of track and field meets. “We have been at development meets since 1975. This year, we are sponsoring 13 development meets, up from eight last year,” Grandison-Reid disclosed. The Vere Technical past student indicated that her company will continue to assist the meet. “Dr Henritta Stewart (principal of Vere), you don’t have to call us at Grace to find out if we are coming, as it is automatic,” Grandison-Reid asserted. Meanwhile, the coaches of the top medal-winning schools will walk away with cash incentives. “The top-three coaches will get $30,000, $15,000 and $10,000,” Olive Forrester, head of the physical education department at Vere revealed. There will also be prize monies worth $40,000 for each winner of the Championship events, such as high jump Class One (girls); 400 metres Class One (boys); 4×100 metres Class One (boys) and 4×400 metres (girls). Principal Stewart says the meet is a reminder of the legacy of a former principal of the Clarendon-based institution. “We might not be the champions of Boys and Girls’ Championship in recent years, but we have won 22 times in the past, and continue to be in the top five in the girls’ category. We continue to make bold strides in sports and intellectually, as our young people are resources to be developed,” Dr Stewart said. Ben Francis thanked everyone involved in the staging of the meet that will be held for the first time outside the school compound. “On this occasion of the sixth staging of the Ben Francis meet, thanks to all who continue to make it possible. You have set the stage on which students continue to perform,” Francis said. Albert Lawrence, the first Vere Technical male Olympian and a member of Jamaica’s 4×100 metres silver-medal team in Los Angeles in 1984 is the patron of this year’s meet.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):Antigua have already begun preparations to host a Test during the upcoming India series, in anticipation of getting official word from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).Sports Minister EP Chet Greene said the country had received “verbal information” that the tour would go ahead, and officials at the island’s premier cricket venue, the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, had already started putting things in place.”We are waiting for the official communiquÈ, but the verbal information is yes, the Test series is happening,” Greene told the Observer newspaper here.Preparations have already begun at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to host a Test during the India series.”But even at the level of preparation at the stadium, we have already started the work because we don’t want to get the announcement and then we find ourselves short of time.”FOUR-TEST TOURWICB president Dave Cameron confirmed last month that the four-Test tour would go ahead in July and August, but specific dates and venues had not been announced.The tour had been in jeopardy for some while after the Board of Control for Cricket suspended bilateral relations with the WICB, following the controversial abandoned tour of India two years ago.Antigua last hosted a Test during England’s tour of the Caribbean last year, when the first Test ended in a tense draw.Greene praised the stadium team for its commitment to moving quickly to spruce up preparations.”I want to commend Anthony Merrick and his team (and) Conley Phillip, who heads the stadium staff. We have started the work, but are just waiting on the official communiquÈ from the WICB that the game is happening.”
LONDON (AP):Leicester City completed one of the greatest-ever sporting achievements yesterday when the 5,000-1 underdogs won the English Premier League for the first time.Leicester players were crowded around a television inside top-scorer Jamie Vardy’s house as they were handed the title by closest challengers Tottenham being held to a 2-2 draw by deposed champions Chelsea.With an insurmountable seven-point lead over Tottenham with two games remaining, Leicester are champions of England for the first time in their 132-year history.”Championes! Championes! Ole! Ole! Ole!” the jubilant Leicester players sang as they jumped up and down with their arms on each other’s shoulders inside Vardy’s house.”Nobody believed we could do it, but here we are Premier League champions and deservedly so,” Leicester captain Wes Morgan said. “I’ve never known a spirit like the one between these boys, we’re like brothers.”FIRST JAMAICA TITLE-HOLDERMorgan is the first Jamaican international to win the English Premier League.Just two years ago, Vardy and many of his teammates were playing in the second tier and then came close to instantly dropping out of the Premier League. They started this season as among the favourites to be relegated again. But last night, fans – who never dreamed their modest club in a city with a population of 330,000 would conquer wealthier rivals – descended on Leicester’s King Power Stadium to party into the night.”People saw it last season when everyone expected us to be relegated, but we fought back to prove people wrong,” Morgan said. “This season’s been a continuation of that. We’ve built on the momentum, but I don’t think anyone believed it would come to this.”Leicester, who will collect the trophy on Saturday when they host Everton at home, had not even finished higher than second since 1929.English soccer have not had a first-time champion of the top flight since Nottingham Forest in 1978. And for the last 20 years, the Premier League trophy has never left London or Manchester, with Arsenal, Chelsea, United and City sharing the trophy among them.Unlike that title-winning quartet or 1995 champion Blackburn, Leicester have achieved their success without lavish spending on their squad.Chelsea’s draw also ensured Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri became a league title winner for the first time in his career, 12 years after the 64-year-old Italian was fired by the Blues.”Let’s do it for Ranieri,” read one Chelsea fan’s banner during yesterday’s game at Stamford Bridge, where the trophy was presented to Chelsea last May.”It’s the greatest achievement in the history of English football and it was led by an Italian,” Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, tweeted.Leicester missed a chance to seal the title on Sunday when they were held to a draw by Manchester United, but Chelsea ensured that the party wasn’t delayed any longer.Tottenham had to win at Chelsea to keep their bid for a first title since 1961 alive and led 2-0 thanks to goals from striker Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, before Chelsea staged a second-half fight back to draw in a fiery London derby, where tempers frayed and tackles flew in from everywhere.”What a game,” Leicester defender Robert Huth tweeted. “Makes me look like an angel! CHAMPIONS!!!”Centre half Gary Cahill pulled a goal back for Chelsea early in the second half and with Tottenham clinging on, the equalising goal was scored by Eden Hazard.Ranieri called Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink to thank him for Chelsea’s part in delivering the title to Leicester, which is owned by Thai retail giant King Power.”(Ranieri said) five times ‘Thanks’, because of the emotion,” Hiddink said. “I didn’t see any tears because it was not a Facetime conversation, but his voice was trembling a bit.”One bookmaker, Sky Bet, said it paid out £4.6 million (US$6.8 million) to punters who backed Leicester to win the title, with 128 putting money on the team at 5,000-1.No sports team has defied such odds to triumph, and Leicester’s improbablesuccess has provided a feel-good story for a country divided as they prepare to vote on whether to remain in the European Union.”Many congratulations to Leicester,” British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted. “An extraordinary, thoroughly deserved, Premier League title.”
Djokovic, Nadal advance at Madrid Open MADRID (AP): Defending champion Novak Djokovic recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the third set to defeat Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 and reach the third round at the Madrid Open yesterday. Djokovic rallied in the final set by breaking Almagro to go up 6-5 and served out to earn his 15th win of the season in over two hours. The victory left Djokovic on track to play a semi-final against four-time Madrid champion and home-crowd favourite Rafael Nadal, who struggled in a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 win over Fabio Fognini of Italy in just under three hours. Nadal will play Nick Kyrgios of Australia, who defeated Ryan Harrison of the United States 6-3, 6-3. The second-seeded Djokovic will play veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who got past Gilles Simon of France 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (3). Mourinho: Europa semi is ‘most important’ match MANCHESTER, England (AP): Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described the second leg of his team’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo today as “the most important match of our history”. United, three-time European champions and 20-time English champions, lead 1-0 from the first leg in Spain last week. The winners of the Europa League earn a place in next season’s Champions League, increasing its significance for a United side that have only played in Europe’s top competition for one of the last three seasons. “For Celta, it’s – in their words – the most important match of their history,” Mourinho said yesterday. “My feelings, it’s also the most important match of our history. It doesn’t matter what happened before, how big the matches we played before.”