Chris Gayle: ‘The fans urge me to stick around. That’s why I’m still playing’

Cricket’s Disco King is ‘the most travelled man’ in the history of the sport. The hard part is getting him to talk about it

The interview starts with an apology. “Sorry,” says Chris Gayle’s handler. “We might have to push this back a bit. Chris has had a really big few days, as you can see.” He waves his arm behind him. I’m wondering exactly what he’s gesturing at when I finally spot Gayle stretched out flat on a black sofa that so exactly matches his outfit (black shoes, black trousers, a black hoodie and a pair of big black sunglasses) that he is perfectly camouflaged by the cushions.

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and he’s fast asleep. On a sofa. In a hotel lobby bar. While everyone else walks and talks around him. Cricket’s Disco King is taking a badly needed nap. We perch either side and try to carry on a conversation around him. A club sandwich arrives. The waiter puts it down by Gayle’s head. He lifts his neck, heaves a forkful to his mouth and lies back down again. “Hopefully it won’t be long now,” the handler offers.

Continue reading...

Warwickshire lead Saqib Mahmood chase as England bowler returns

  • Mahmood’s contract talks with Lancashire hit impasse
  • West Indies’ Kieron Pollard retires from international cricket

Saqib Mahmood returns for Lancashire on Thursday and begins what could be his final season at the club amid an impasse in contract talks that has put Warwickshire and others on high alert.

The 25-year-old fast bowler has risen through the ranks at Old Trafford from its academy setup and made his Test debut during England’s recent Caribbean tour, but finds himself out of contract at the end of this campaign.

Continue reading...

West Indies deserve better than supporting role in England melodrama | Jonathan Liew

As the finger of blame jabs in all directions, England are hampered above all by a misguided sense of exceptionalism

Nobody ever beats England. England only ever lose of their own accord, by their own hand, from their own failings. This is doubly true if England are playing a team they generally expect to beat and, from the outbreak of ritual bloodletting that has followed the narrow 1-0 defeat in the recent Test series, West Indies certainly seem to have fallen into that category.

Why this might be the case is less easily explained. England have not won a Test series in the Caribbean since 2004. Four members of that touring party were commentating on this series. Three are current members of the backroom setup. Two were recently sacked from that setup. One is now the host of Top Gear.

Continue reading...

West Indies 1-0 England: player ratings for Joe Root’s defeated tourists

Saqib Mahmood looked promising but this was another tour to forget for England, who have won just one of their last 17 Tests

By Gary Naylor for the 99.94 Cricket Blog

Joe Root: 289 runs, average 48; one wicket, average 69; four catches
By the hideous denouement, Root’s trademark busyness with the bat required an almost visible force of will; the words he delivered in interviews said one thing, but his eyes said another. The captain may have been dealt a weak hand by English cricket’s mismanagement, but he both bears some responsibility for those decisions (especially selection) and can be accused (again) of failing to get the most from the resources available to him. It was harder to discern the tactics of England’s most experienced captain than those of the West Indies’ much less experienced skipper. There is plenty of mitigation, but there is plenty of underachievement too. This was also Root’s report card for the Ashes defeat; so much for the reset. Grade C-

Zak Crawley: 184 runs, average 31; one catch
An opening batter will get a lot of good balls and get out to some of them – that is forgivable. It’s getting out to nothing balls that pushes an average down into the low 30s, exposes a middle order and lifts an opposition. The talent is there, but can England afford the luxury of waiting for it to flourish? Grade C+

Continue reading...

Joe Root says he is still the man to ‘take England forward’ after series defeat

  • Captain points to ‘just two bad sessions’ in third Test loss
  • West Indies romp to 10-wicket victory in Grenada

With speculation about his future as England captain at fever pitch after England slumped to defeat against West Indies in Grenada to confirm another lost series, Joe Root has recommitted himself to the role, insisting the team are rapidly improving and that he remains the best person to lead them into the next phase of their development.

England have now won just one of their past 17 Tests, and for the first time in their 145-year history they have not won any of five successive series.

Continue reading...

Joe Root should resign but finding his England replacement is not easy | Vic Marks

West Indies series defeat could be final straw for Root and now England must be more flexible in approach to captaincy

This is the sort of crisis we like, one we can revel in, a sporting calamity but no more than that. Lives have not been ruined. No one has died. The options ahead, though hard to unravel, are not terrifying.

Three months ago, England’s cricket team were thrashed by a good Australian side and as a consequence the managing director and coach were sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Red Adair, Andrew Strauss, who belied his reputation for rock-solid pragmatism by sending the side off to the Caribbean without some of their best players – just to see what happened.

Continue reading...

England’s big reset is undermined by Joe Root’s third-class captaincy | Tim de Lisle

England’s skipper may be a fine batsman and a nice guy but his poor leadership has been exposed once again in the Caribbean

After the year England’s Test team have had, nine out of 10 captains would have resigned or been sacked. Joe Root survived, somehow, while several other heads rolled. After impressing Andrew Strauss with his appetite, he was given the chance to rebuild his own broken team. He banished Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, the only top-class bowlers at his disposal. And in the first two Tests in West Indies, it looked as if it might just be working.

Even a Root-o-sceptic had to admit that there were signs of progress. The fielding was sharper, the team spirit stronger, the batters were shaking off the dismal shackles of the Chris Silverwood era. Dan Lawrence, miscast as he might be at No 4, belted some selfless runs. And although both those Tests were drawn, it was England who were pressing for victory on the fifth day.

Continue reading...