Midfielder Vishinul Harris on Monday night knocked even harder on the door to a Reggae Boyz invite with another fine display as he spurred defending champions Arnett Gardens to a 2-1 win over leaders Portmore United in the Red Stripe Premier League.The 22-year-old could not have chosen a better stage than in front of a capacity crowd with national coach Winfried Sch‰fer in attendance. Blessed with the languid movement, deceptive skill of former national player and coach Theodore Whitmore at his best, Harris glided through opposition defenders at will and sprayed passes long and short, almost to perfection. The only ‘negatives’ displayed by Harris was a tendency to hold on to the ball a little bit too much, which contributed to his failure to score.For Harris, though, the important thing was getting the three points for his team.THREE POINT AIM”The three points are what we wanted. That was the aim before this match started, to get the three points, and we are happy that we got them,” the national Under-23 player said.The win pushed Arnett Gardens to 42 points, just one below Portmore United.Both of Arnett Gardens’ goals resulted from Harris assists. In the ninth minute, he made a slide rule pass to Leon Strickland, who collected with his back to goal, spun around and steered to the opposite corner from where goalkeeper Shaven-Sean Paul was rooted.For the second goal, which came in the 42nd minute from the boot of Newton Sterling, Harris found him with a long pass – which he collected while off balance – and managed to get the shot off while going down.Jovan East scored a beauty for Portmore United in the 48th minute to give them more belief, as Arnett Gardens hung on for the win.GELLING”The main thing in the camp right now is to push for another title and this win will help us as we are just a point behind Portmore now. We normally gel properly in about December so we are in a good spot to make a run now,” admitted Harris of his team’s standing.His own performance, he said, could have been better.”It was a good performance, but not for me, enuh. But I should have killed off the game before it got to stoppage time, and I am a bit disappointed with that,” said Harris, who failed to score after cutting through the backline and dismissing ‘keeper Paul, but hesitated in firing and had his eventual cutback blocked.The former Charlie Smith High School player said he was denied a clear foul in the dying minutes when he was cut down just outside the 18-yard box.”Actually, it was a foul. It was definitely a foul. My feet were hurting me, but I had to keep on pushing,” he said.Despite not adding to his goal tally, Harris said he showed national coach Sch‰fer enough to convince him that he deserves a look.”I think I would have shown him some of the things that I can do. Actually, I was the MVP for the game, so definitely I was the player for the night,” he said confidently.StandingsTeams P W D L GF GA GD PtsPortmore 22 13 4 5 27 17 10 43Arnett G 22 13 3 6 34 19 15 42MoBay U 22 11 8 3 34 13 21 41Humble L 22 8 8 6 18 17 1 32H View 22 7 9 6 23 22 1 30UWI FC 22 8 6 8 24 29 -5 30Cavalier 22 7 6 9 18 21 -3 27Boys’ T 22 7 6 9 23 30 -7 27Reno 22 5 9 8 20 30 -10 24W house 22 4 8 10 20 28 -8 20Tivoli G 21 5 4 12 23 30 -7 19Rivoli U 21 4 7 10 20 28 -8 19
Everyone wants to play T20 cricket to the extent that a No Objection Certificate is required from the country of a player who wants to play it. The No Objection Certificate is to prevent a drain of players on Test cricket, otherwise players would leave the Test game for the lucrative T20 game at the drop of a hat. Right now, especially in the West Indies, there is a war going on between Test cricket and T20 cricket, so much so that many fans believe that the West Indies Test team would have been much better had they had the services of the likes of Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, and Lendl Simmons. The West Indies, because of the schedule of their domestic tournaments and the lack of money to pay their players reasonably well, suffer most of all the Test-paying countries and more than the likes of New Zealand and South Africa. Many of the world’s cricket people lament the fall of the West Indies, however, or so they say, and they keep trying to find a solution to the problem, with many suggesting a “window” for T20 cricket. Nothing has worked. NO OBJECTION CERTIFICATE These are changing times. West Indies cricket is in a bind. It needs money to help itself grow, to properly pay the players, and to develop the sport. West Indies cricket was once the best in the world. If the West Indies is to get more money for cricket, it must come from West Indies cricket. It must come from their own sweat and blood, not from handouts, or gifts, or what have you. Hardly anybody watches cricket in the West Indies these days, and in Jamaica especially, hardly anyone remembers cricket, except whenever the West Indies lose a Test match and all the cursing starts. Why, therefore, should other people pay the West Indies to play the game? West Indies cricket will only get stronger if it stands on its own two feet. It must stop employing foreigners in an effort to solve the problem of poor structure and poor performance, stop paying local people to do nothing, and start running a clean and lean ship. The days of bringing in people from England to show the West Indies the way is long gone, by at least 66 years. Money is needed, very much so, but it must come from within, from utilising good, honest, hard-working and knowledgeable administrators at all levels. It must come from the hard work, improved skills, and performances of the cricketers, all the cricketers, from full houses at matches, and from the support of sponsors and others who can benefit from the glory, from the triumphs of a successful and wonderful team. CHANGING TIMES Once upon a time, cricket was played mostly for entertainment and for fun, first-class cricket and Test cricket for a little pay, for one’s country, and for glory. Times have changed, however, and while cricket is sometimes now played for fun, today, it is looked upon as a profession for some, especially the recently popular T20 version. Test cricket, still considered the best of cricket by a vast majority of players and fans, is, however, gradually losing ground, or has lost ground in the popularity stakes. Whereas Test cricket still means something to those in cricket, T20 is the order of the day. It is the thing to play, for young and old cricketers alike, it is the thing to watch, and the thing which everyone wants to play. And the reason for that, apart from the entertainment, the music, including the drums, the dancing girls, the flashing lights, and all the things that greet a towering hit for six or a blinding bit of fielding, is money, lots of money. PAY TO PLAY TEST CRICKET Recently, however, the former England player Kevin Pietersen came up with a suggestion. He called on the powers that be to change the order of things, to improve the pay to play Test cricket in the poorer countries, and Jason Holder, the young captain of the West Indies, quickly supported it. The suggestion was to improve their pay to compete with the pay to play T20 cricket so that the players would play both versions of the game, or at least would not leave Test cricket to play T20 cricket. That sounds good, except for a few things. Cricket, it has always been said, especially recently, is business, big business, and no business pays out what it does not make. Cricket is poor in Jamaica, and the West Indies these days. Hardly anyone watches cricket at any level in Jamaica or in the West Indies these days except when it comes to the privately-owned T20 competition, and West Indies cricket makes no money, at least hardly anyone pays to see cricket in the West Indies. Why, it may be asked, should those countries who love cricket and those who pay to see cricket subsidise those countries who do nothing to develop the game, those countries which do not even go to see it being played? Cricket is no different from anything else in life. What you put in is what you get out, most times. If you put in nothing, you get back nothing. It is as simple as that. On top of that, there is no guarantee, at least not in Jamaica or the rest of the West Indies, that with more money will come greater responsibility and, therefore, more development. The more money, from whatever quarter, will probably, more than likely, only bring greater swagger from the players. Holder has since been denied a No Objection Certificate to play in the Pakistan T20 League by the West Indies Board, and from all reports, he is an angry man. It was a tough call, and it must be rough on both sides. As a young man, Holder needs to look about his future, but as the West Indies Board, the board members must look about West Indies cricket, and as the West Indies captain, Holder is also obligated to do so. He is expected to play in the West Indies domestic competitions so as to get to know the players and also to protect the integrity of West Indies cricket.
Speaking at the launch of the inaugural Racers Grand Prix yesterday, club patriarch Glen Mills is promising a meet with a difference, while his top draw, Usain Bolt, says he will be using the June 11 event to show his readiness ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”I’m looking forward to it, I am excited. I don’t get to compete here that often, so the fact that I will be competing this year is a motivation to work even harder to make sure that I will be in top form and run fast times to show the country that I am ready to go to Rio and do big things,” Bolt told The Gleaner after yesterday’s launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.”This helps a lot of athletes; a lot of athletes really want to compete here. I think it’s a well-positioned meet because it’s just before the trials, so they can go out and compete and know where they are just before the trials, so it will be the right time for me,” he added.A long-time ambition of Mills, the IAAF Area Permit-certified Racers Grand Prix – which gets under way at 6:30 p.m. inside the National Stadium just a few weeks before the National Senior Championships, the Olympic trials – will boast some of the biggest names in local and international track and field, including Bolt.Mills, the driving force behind Racers Track Club, promised that the meet will bring together the largest collection of Olympic and World Championships medallists ever to compete on our shores, and believes it will serve as a catalyst for the formation of a regional circuit of international athletics meetings.EXPECTED PARTICIPATIONOrganisers are expecting the participation of 112 athletes in 15 events – the 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, javelin, and discus for male athletes, and the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 100m hurdles, high jump, and triple jump for females.In addition to local stars Bolt, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, Danielle Williams, Warren Weir, Hansle Parchment and Rasheed Dwyer, several international standouts such as 400m World Champion Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa); American stars LaShawn Merritt, Jason Richardson, Queen Harrison, Lolo Jones, Tori Bowie and Isaiah Young; Caribbean standouts Shaunae Miller, Michelle-Lee Ahye, and Kelly-Ann Baptiste; plus Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, are among the confirmed athletes.”We are currently having negotiations with several other big names in the sport and are awaiting confirmation from others who have expressed strong interest in competing at Racers Grand Prix,” Mills shared.”I am excited, I’m very excited about it,” Mills added. “This region is the most powerful in the athletics world and boasts a number of world stars and emerging future champions in the sport. The potential of success is great and will bring meaningful benefits to the region.”BROADCASTING MEETMills mentioned plans to broadcast the meet in the European, North American and regional markets, and hopes that its growth will help the club to secure much-needed technical equipment and facilities such as electronic starting systems, high-speed cameras for biomechanics analysis, and a treatment centre to aid in its continued success.Newly returned sports minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, welcomed the meet and believes it presents several benefits to the country’s sporting brand.”We are delighted and extremely proud that our country is staging another major track and field event of international repute,” Grange said.”The inaugural Racers Grand Prix is testimony as well as further proof that we are a major force in global athletics. It provides yet another opportunity for brand Jamaica as the world will be watching some of the best athletes on show,” Grange added.Organisers have promised to confirm ticket and entertainment package information at a later date.