Cooky, the last of a dying breed of Test specialists

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on September 10, 2018, in the Western Mirror.

Alastair Cook bucks the trend in an era where the demand for T20 cricket specialists is high. He is a specialist Test cricketer and likely the last of a dying breed.

Alastair Cook announced his retirement from Test cricket.
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Last week, Alastair Nathan Cook announced that he would be retiring from Test cricket at the conclusion of the enthralling England-India Test series this week. For the average cricket fan engulfed in the razzmatazz of Twenty20 cricket, Cook would hardly feature on their radar.

For the better part of 12 years, Cook has been a mainstay in the English cricket team, albeit, mostly their Test team. Before his last Test match which begun last Friday, Cook has appeared in 161 Test matches for England, scored over 12,000 Test runs, amassed 33 centuries and 57 half-centuries, at a respectable average of 45.35 runs per dismissal. Continue reading

Jamaica’s Top-25 Sporting Moments of the past 25 years

By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published March 14, 2018 in the Jamaica Observer’s 25th Anniversary Supplement

A chronological look at the top-25 sporting achievements during the 25 years of the Jamaica Observer.

Asafa Powell wins Olympic gold for Jamaica in men’s 4x100m relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
(Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Jamaican athletes have been outstanding performers across multiple sporting disciplines, including cricket, track and field, boxing, netball, football and swimming. Choosing Jamaica’s top-25 Sporting Moments of the past 25 years is no easy feat and ranking the top-25 moments is an even more impossible task. Henceforth, picking the easier of the two assignments, let’s have a look at Jamaica’s top-25 sporting moments — in chronological order — over the 25-year existence of the Jamaica Observer. 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

Common sense returns to West Indies cricket

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published July 17, 2017

Suddenly, the Darren Bravo-CWI impasse has been resolved, the hard-line CWI selection policy looks set to be softened and it’s ‘Hakuna Matata’/’Oh Happy Days’ in West Indies cricket again. But for how long?

“Oh happy day (oh happy day) Oh happy day (oh happy day)”

It seems amicable days might be here again. Last Thursday, West Indies cricket loving fans’ hearts were jolted with a plethora of news suggesting that the various impasses between the board and its players are simply halting. Media release, after media release, and stories all pointed to a thawing of the antarctic and misanthropic relationship between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), now Cricket West Indies (CWI), and its players. If only a fool’s hope, it seems both the board and its players have discarded their mephitic differences and have joined in a warm embrace singing ‘Kumbaya, My Lord’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’. What took them so long, you may ask? How would I know?

After close to two decades of strikes, quagmires and morasses, which have left West Indies cricket at the crypt of world cricket and the heart of its fans affixed in doldrums, the fans are now being sold that they have ‘no worries for the rest of their days. It’s a problem-free philosophy.’ Who is buying this hug-me-tight moment? And how long realistically do you think it will last? Continue reading

An Ode to Sabina’s 50: perfect balance, breathtaking results & spectacular feats

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published April 24, 2017

Sabina Park hosts its 50th Test match. Over the years, it has delivered perfect balance, breathtaking results and spectacular feats. 

West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh celebrates after taking his 435th wicket at Sabina Park to break Kapil Dev’s then-world record of 434 Test wickets. (March 27, 2000)
© Getty Images

Interestingly, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23 degrees towards the ecliptic of the Sun. Psalms 23, undoubtedly, is the most famous and most quoted of all the Psalms or chapters of the Bible. William Shakespeare, the greatest writer of the English language and the greatest dramatist of all time, saw his life rise and set on the 23rd day of the same month, April. And unsurprisingly, the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, wore number 23. The above-mentioned connections to number 23 all point to balance, results and spectacular feats. Henceforth, it was no surprise that Sabina Park was the 23rd ground to host Test cricket.

From inception, Sabina Park was the exception. One hundred and ninety-two (192) Test matches were played before the first ball was bowled at Sabina Park. However, unlike the others, none had seen a batsman score a triple century in Test cricket. Sabina Park, or ‘Sabina’,  as it is often called, was not the place of West Indies’ first Test or its first Test victory. Nevertheless, it was the place where its first lion roared, and roared loudly. In response to Andy Sandham’s world record-breaking 325 and a target of 836 runs, George Headley, who later became the first black West Indian to spin the toss as captain in a Test match, responded with 223 runs, his first double century at the time. In a match spanning nine days, Headley’s innings was enough, along with the last two days of rain, to preserve a draw and stave off a series defeat to our colonial masters. Continue reading