LONDON (CMC):Somerset officials said they were anxiously anticipating Chris Gayle’s appearance in the Twenty20 Blast later this year, after the West Indies batting star signed off on a six-match deal to represent the English county.The 36-year-old Jamaican had a massive impact when he played in last year’s tournament, smashing scores of 92, 151 not out and 85 not out to pile up 328 runs in just three games.Director of Cricket Matthew Maynard said the club was already looking forward to Gayle’s presence.”We are absolutely delighted to have secured the services of Chris Gayle once again. He is a genuinely world-class player and was absolutely phenomenal for us last year,” Maynard said.”He is probably the biggest name in the sport at the moment and his performances in the Big Bash recently have only underlined his status as one of the most explosive players that cricket has ever seen.Club chief executive Guy Lavender said what had been even more impressive about Gayle during his stint with Somerset last year was his community involvement and charity work.This aspect, Lavender pointed out, had been a key factor in extending the relationship with the superstar left-hander.”Everyone sees the runs that he scores, but not everyone will be aware of his willingness to help off the pitch. It is these two elements which have maintained our desire to ensure that he would be back with us in 2016.”Gayle is arguably the most valued T20 batsman in the international game and is coming off a successful outing in the Australia Big Bash for Melbourne Stars.His stint for Somerset will run from June 1-17 following his campaign in the Indian Premier League, and Gayle says he is keen on helping Somerset qualify for the advanced rounds of the competition.”I really enjoyed my time at Somerset last year. It’s a great Club and the supporters were absolutely incredible,” Gayle said.”I’m looking forward to seeing the fans again and to scoring some more runs. Hopefully, I can help the club make it through to the later stages of the NatWest T20 Blast.”
Former Jamaica national football captain, the legendary and versatile Anthony ‘Badas’ Corbett, has a burning passion for the development of Jamaica’s football and has longed to play a role in the advancement of the sport locally. Recently, the former local idol has been afforded such an opportunity to make his contribution when newly appointed national Under-20 coaches, Craig Butler and Ricardo Gardner, invited him to share his experience and knowledge with the team. Cargill, who captained the national team for six years and led the country to the Caribbean Cup in 1991 and their third-place Gold Cup finish in 1993 before retiring shortly afterwards, is presently the Under-15 coach of Miramar United Elite FC in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and one of his greatest desires is to see young Jamaican footballers make the transition from national youth teams into the senior side. However, he believes lack of exposure, experience and quality facilities locally will continue to hamper the progress of young local talent and the sport’s development in general. “Jamaica’s football has made a big jump because we qualified for World Cup. My only concern is, after the World Cup what did we achieve?” he queried. “Normally, you should have a facility, because FIFA allocates money anytime a team goes to the World Cup. But the national programme doesn’t have a facility and that is a setback. That (facilities) is where the game is going now, you need facilities to grow,” he told The Gleaner. “They (Butler and Gardner) have reached out to me and it’s nice, even if it is just in a small capacity. To know you are respected by your fellow players who want you around is a good feeling. The beauty is (Craig) Butler and (Ricardo) Gardner are in charge of the Under-20s and they invited me to just to be around the team and give voluntary support and (share) the little experience I have. “I will support the programme because they need sponsors, and I am willing to support them 200 per cent, just so they can give the youths experience,” he reasoned. Corbett also wants to assist the senior team one day and he is hoping this is just the start of his reconnection with local football and the national football programme. “I don’t really push myself up. But I don’t have to be a coach around a national programme. Any capacity, anything I can do to help; that’s why I am here, to help Butler and Gardner and anything that they need that we can do,” he concluded. However, of greater concern is the transition of our junior national players into the senior team. Corbett said there is too much focus on overseas-born players representing Jamaica, when all the talent we need is right here. “In Jamaican football, if you play Under-17, by time you reach Under-20 they throw you away, and it’s not that those players aren’t good, but you need a ladder. Where is the feeder tree, why not invest in the youth level? “But they don’t invest in the Under-17s, the Under-20s and Under-23s, and that is sad really because exposure is what gives you experience. “The senior team plays a lot of friendlies all over the world, but the young kids play local club, so where is the exposure and experience going to come from? So, that is lacking as they do not want to invest the money,” Corbett bemoaned. “At nine years and 10 years, we were the best in the world,” he recalled. “(Winston) Chung-Fah proved that years ago when there was the Miami Classics and we won that every year, nine- to 12-year-olds. But after 12 (years), nothing, and I realise Jamaica doesn’t invest in kids. Nobody wants to wait, everyone wants to plant a seed and reap tomorrow, but we will never go anywhere like that. “The US team invests about US$6-7 million in their youths and our investment is worth about 50,000, still we match strides with them. So just give them a little more opportunity and expose them and they can do it,” he continued. With regard to his involvement, Corbett, who lives in Miami, is looking to contribute in any shape or form and to any of the other programmes. But he is also looking to learn as much as he can from two of the country’s most successful local talents to make it professionally overseas. MUTUAL RESPECT LOCAL TALENT
FOOTBALL:KINGSTON:Local scrimmage players are gearing up to showcase their skill on a global stage, when the Guinness Street Football Competition (GSFC) kicks off on March 1.Now in its sixth year, the GSFC will give Jamaican street footballers a chance to prove they are made of more, while increasing their exposure to international game play.The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF)-endorsed event will kick-off with parish playoffs for Hanover and Westmoreland on March 12. Teams can sign up for the four-a-side scrimmage online at www.gsfcjamaica.com, via social media or by calling the GSFC Hotline at 618-9291.Sixteen randomly selected teams will then play for the parish title. Parish winners all go on to play for the national title and an all-expenses paid trip to St Lucia to compete against other Caribbean teams in the GSFC finals.?For Guinness, community development and the game of football are at the heart of who we are as a brand. We are excited to give Jamaicans an opportunity to shine in the premier street football tournament of the Caribbean,? said Imru James, brand manager for Guinness and Stouts at Red Stripe. ?We want to see our teams do well at home as well as in the international arena.?Last year, Jamaica had the honour of hosting the finals, but this year?s ultimate contest will be staged in St Lucia, the home of the reigning champions. This means the winning Jamaican team will get a chance to travel in addition to cash prizes at each level of the competition.?There is no lack of opportunity with this competition,? said James. ?Our players are competing just as competitively as in any national league to prove they are made of more and the opportunities that come with the competition are second to none.?The national champion will claim their portion of the $1.3m up for grabs and gain a shot at US$6,000 if they take home the big prize in St Lucia. Guinness will fund the cost of travel, including accommodation, along with spending money for the team.
MELBOURNE, Australia (CMC):Australia’s injury woes for the upcoming Tri-Nation series in the Caribbean continued yesterday when captain Steve Smith’s participation was put in doubt due to a wrist injury.Though not considered a serious injury, Cricket Australia confirmed that Smith would return from the Indian Premier League (IPL) for treatment and monitoring ahead of the squad’s departure for the June 6-26 tournament involving West Indies and South Africa.”Steve has been struggling with pain in his right wrist for the last week during his stint in the IPL,” said CA’s sports medicine manager, Alex Kountouris.”We have been working with his IPL franchise, Pune, to monitor this, and unfortunately, it has not resolved. As such, he will return home from India for further assessment and treatment ahead of the Qantas Tour of the West Indies.”From the information we have so far, this doesn’t appear to be a serious injury, but we are keen to give him the time to recover and rehabilitate before heading to the West Indies at the end of May.”Smith’s injury follows those to fast bowler John Hastings, who has been ruled out of the tour, and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who was also forced to return prematurely from the IPL with a side strain.The right-handed Smith has been in great form in the IPL for Rising Pune Supergiants, stroking his maiden T20 hundred last Friday against Gujarat Lions.His prolific form has been key to Australia’s success in recent times, and he currently averages 40 from 72 ODIs.The Tri-Nation series will be played in Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis and Barbados.
PROTEST NOT NEW WESTERN BUREAU: Orville Powell, president of newly crowned Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) champions, Montego Bay United (MBU) , said he has been stung by the callous way in which ‘The Establishment’ treated his club in the build-up to Sunday’s final against Portmore United, which precipitated what is now regarded as the ‘Respect Protest’. Powell told The Gleaner that the decision taken by MBU was to bring attention and awareness to the careless attitude of some people involved in administering football locally and that of the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA). “Our protest was justified and justifiable,” stated Powell. “We thought at the time the best way to bring to the people’s attention what was really going on was to use the biggest stage for local football – the Premier League final – as a staging ground of this protest,” he said. “Now that it was a success based on what people are now saying, I would think we achieved our goal, which was simply to highlight how badly run certain aspects of our football product is,” Powell noted. In protest, MBU turned up for Sunday’s final at the Montego Bay Sports Complex five minutes before the scheduled 4 p.m. kick-off clad in black with white letters on the back of shirts worn by the players spelling ‘RESPECT’, the word spelt with one letter each on the back of the shirts of seven players – when they turned their back to the crowd – who stood in the front line. Then there was another part to the message: ‘IF YOU WANT TO GET IT, YOU MUST GIVE IT.’ For Powell, there could be no bigger stage than the live televised final of the nation’s top league, beamed to some 24 countries. “All my players agreed that that was the way to go. We are all a family at MBU, and we felt more than disrespected by the PLCA among others about how they went about business leading up the final,” stated Powell. He said not being invited to a meeting with the PLCA, at which the date and time of the game was changed necessitated the club taking a stand. “Lest the public forgets, we at MBU started this very same protest two years ago, when we stated the PLCA – and football in general – needed to be managed with transparency. That was only the beginning. “Now, on top of the lack of transparency, among other issues, this club has clearly been to some degree insulted. Matters leading up the final against Portmore only made it worse, so we took the stand we did, and as I said, we are willing to face the consequences of our actions because in all fairness, our actions are about doing the right thing,” Powell said. MBU went on to defeat Portmore 2-1 to claim a second Premier League title in three years, and while delighted with the game’s eventual outcome, Powell declared that the protests will continue until change is made to how football is governed locally.