When I knew Kohli was going to be great

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published August 13, 2018

Virat Kohli’s intensity and inexorable appetite for runs in the big occasions is unmatched across all formats in today’s cricket. I could have told you he was like that years ago.

THE LION ROARS: Virat Kohli’s intensity and appetite for runs across all formats and the big occasion is unmatched in today’s cricket.
(Source: Telegraph)

The first match of the 2011 Cricket World Cup was between India and Bangladesh and for the Indians, especially those who played in the World Cup four years prior, the restoration of their pride was on the line. Four years earlier on the same day that Pakistan lost surprisingly to Ireland, India also suffered a shock defeat to then-minnows Bangladesh with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni — all legends — in the Indian side. Both India — the 2003 beaten finalist — and its neighbour Pakistan, another tournament favourite, failed to advance past the group stages of the 2007 tournament.

Four years later, with revenge on their mind, the Indian players were determined to right their wrongful performance of the previous tournament in this the first match. Sehwag, who is the closest thing to a train wreck for international bowlers since Viv Richards, butchered the Bangladeshi attack with a scintillating 175 runs in 140 balls. India posted 370 runs in 50 overs and won the match by a comfortable 87 runs. Despite Sehwag’s massacre of Bangladesh, which included five soaring sixes, the player whose temperament and adroitness caught the eyes of me and my dad was the youthful 22-year-old Virat Kohli. Continue reading

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Does West Indies cricket warrant a State of Emergency?

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published January 22, 2018

Some have suggested that a State of Emergency may be warranted in West Indies cricket. CWI President Dave Cameron has been enacting radical changes to West Indies cricket’s structure. Will he get to see the changes bear the intended fruits?

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right), flanked by his national security minister Robert Montague (centre) and the Chief of Defence Staff Major General Rocky Meade (left), declared last week a State of Public Emergency for the parish of St James in Jamaica.
(Source: Jamaica Information Service)

Last week Thursday, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, placed the parish of St James under a state of public emergency. St James, whose capital Montego Bay is dubbed the tourism capital of the country, has been under siege in recent years by an upsurge in crime.

In 2016, the murder rate for St James topped all parishes in Jamaica at 140 murders per 100,000 residents. Bearing in mind that the most murderous countries in the world have murder rates at approximately 80 murders per 100,000 residents, the situation in St James was indeed troubling. In 2017 there was no respite in St James as murders ascended to even more alarming levels at 180 murders per 100,000 residents. As such, last Thursday, Operation Take Back St James or Montego Bay – as some have called it – was in full execution as hundreds of soldiers and police officers patrolled several communities and major exit points in St James. Continue reading

New South Africa evokes memories of old West Indies

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published January 15, 2018

After West Indian-born South African head coach Ottis Gibson fielded a four-pronged pace attack in the first Test against India, many believe the West Indianisation of South Africa cricket is in progress.

It’s party time at the Wanderers, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 5th day, December 22, 2013.
© Getty Images

Last week I eagerly awaited the start of the Test series between South Africa and India in the country of Nelson Mandela’s birth. The last time the Indians visited, it was a breathtaking series. One match, in particular, stands out vividly in my memory from just over four years ago and that was the first Test. With a first-innings lead of 36, India scored 421 runs in their second innings to set South Africa a mammoth 458 runs for victory. South Africa surprisingly replied with a score of 450 runs for seven wickets when the number of overs and the match ended in a pulsating draw. If South Africa had overhauled the target, they would have shattered the record for the highest fourth innings score to win a Test match.

I remember Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander at the crease in the end. Both players desperately wanted to go for the win, however, their captain at the time, Graeme Smith, directing them from the dressing room, advised them not to. I believe the South African coach at the time was Gary Kirsten and he along with Smith must have made that final decision. Continue reading

2017 Year in Review: A year of Hope turned into utter grief

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published January 8, 2018

A review of West Indies cricket performances in 2017 revealed a year which began with a mixed bag of Hope. However, the year eventually ended in sheer despair. 

When the West Indies ended 2016, several fans and pundits harboured hope of a resurgence in 2017 of the fortunes of West Indies cricket. In fact, West Indies teams had won three world titles in 2016: the under-19 ODI World Cup, the women’s T20 World Cup and the men’s T20 World Cup. As a result, for the first time in umpteen years, hope sprung eternal in the breasts of all West Indian fans. West Indies also won their last Test match of the year in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan, their only Test win in 2016 and only their third overseas victory against a team ranked in the top-8 since 2000.

In that match and series against Pakistan, the perennial and downtrodden fans of West Indies cricket could be heard saying how the boys showed character, fight and did some things right. As such, West Indian supporters held a fragile belief that 2017 would be the year the team turned the eternal and proverbial corner. However, it was not to be. Continue reading

Guess who’s coming back to the ring? Furious Tyson

 

By Zaheer Clarke

Published December 18, 2017

One of the heavyweight division’s biggest and most furious stars is set to return to the boxing ring come 2018. With his return, the heavyweight division will get really interesting. 

 

Anthony Joshua (left) and Deontay Wilder are the current kings of the heavyweight division. A formidable threat to their thrones is returning to the ring.
(Photo source: The Boxing Tribune)

Yes! “Guess who’s back? #ReturnOfTheMac” was the Twitter message that shook the landscape of the heavyweight division last week. For the past year, the heavyweight division in boxing has been tyrannized by its two biggest stars, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. All boxers placed before them have hit the canvas emphatically and resoundingly to thunderous right hands and booming left hooks. Joshua is the reigning WBA (Super), IBF and IBO heavyweight champion while Wilder is the WBC heavyweight champion. In light of this, a face-off in the ring between both men is the fight everyone has been clamouring for in the New Year.

However, last week, a neoteric and meritable opponent for either man in the upcoming year has emerged before a potential blockbuster Joshua-Wilder clash can be signed off on. This returning and reputable opponent now makes the heavyweight division come 2018 even more interesting and all I can say is “let the fireworks begin.” Continue reading