Windies hoping to extend dominance over England

first_img(CMC) – Star-studded West Indies will face nemeses England for the first time in a Twenty20 International since the dramatic T20 World Cup final 17 months ago, when the two teams clashed in a highly anticipated one-off match here today.The reigning World champions boast the likes of superstars Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Sunil Narine in their ranks, and will be fancied to get the better of the hosts, despite playing in foreign conditions.In two meetings during last year’s T20 World Cup in India, the Windies came out on top – the last coming when Carlos Brathwaite – now captain – blasted four consecutive sixes off the first four balls of the final over to hand the Caribbean side an unprecedented second title.While the memories of that event have slowly faded, what remains fresh is the Windies confidence level and Brathwaite said the unit was pumped up for the contest at the Riverside.“The camaraderie off the field it shows on the field so it’s just about coming together and letting the guys have the freedom to express themselves, make decisions, make their own calls at their point in time,” Brathwaite told reporters here yesterday.“Once guys do that we can always go back to the drawing board. I prefer that than guys thinking what would the coach or what would the captain want. They are all seasoned T20 players and they all do well for different franchises around the world and it’s for me as a young captain just to go out there and tell them ‘look, whatever you do on the field, you have my full support.’“(They are free to) make the right decision at the right time in (their) view and then as a team we assess whether we win, lose or draw and we’ll see how we can continue to improve going forward.”West Indies possess an excellent record against the English, losing only four of their last 14 outings. More recently, however, the Windies have struggled, swept 3-0 by Pakistan last year in the United Arab Emirates before being hammered 3-1 by the same side in a four-match series earlier this year in the Caribbean.They picked themselves up by whitewashing minnows Afghanistan in June and then stunned powerhouse India in one-off encounter in Kingston, when opener Evin Lewis hit a dazzling hundred.Brathwaite said the Windies would look to extend that same form while flaunting their unique brand of cricket.“As Caribbean players and Caribbean persons we bring a lot of flair to the game,” the all-rounder explained.“You can see it in our wicket celebrations and dance moves and what’s not. With bat or ball, that’s going to be the message: have fun, express yourself.“Once we’re off the field and once we come on the training pitch we’re very professional in the way we go about our preparation. So once we tick those boxes off the field and in training, it’s just a matter of coming on the field and expressing yourself and letting the natural instincts take over.”The 13-man side is a hybrid of experience and youth, with the seasoned likes of Gayle, Pollard, Samuels and Narine combining with young players like Lewis, Brathwaite and Kesrick Williams.Brathwaite said regardless of who the final XI were, West Indies would present a formidable and united force on the field.“The best players are available, the best players play. On that given day, the best XI … are the ones that take the field and we have the full support and full trust of whoever is selected and the boys in the dressing room know that,” Brathwaite stressed.“The boys that haven’t been selected are very, very good to be around. They are always adding something to the dressing room. It’s just one big set of positive vibes in the dressing room – from the team bus, into the dressing room onto the park and then back off it.“It’s just a fun place to be at the moment and long may the victories continue.”The match bowls off at 18:30hrs (13:30hrs Eastern Caribbean time).SQUADS:ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Jonathan Bairstow, Jake Ball, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey.WEST INDIES – Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Ronsford Beaton, Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.last_img read more

Top line clicking early for UW

first_imgSophomore assistant captain Craig Smith and linemates Jordy Murray and Mark Zengerle have clicked early and have already put up seven goals and 13 assists for UW in four games this season.[/media-credit]The question coming into the season was where the Wisconsinmen’s hockey team was going to get its points. UW lost four 50-point scorersfrom last season’s squad, and its leading returning scorer had just one year ofcollege under his belt.But for a team that lost almost three quarters of itsscoring from last season, the Badgers aren’t struggling to find the back of the net. Granted, it’sonly four games into the season, and three of those games came against thelikes of Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross, but Wisconsin is tied for third inthe nation in scoring offense, with 21 goals.It looked like head coach Mike Eaves would need to rely onhis top line, with returning forwards Craig Smith and Jordy Murray to take uponthe bulk of the scoring load. Wisconsin’s other returning forwards accountedfor just nine goals and 16 assists last season.“You always, as a player coming back, want to be one of thego-to players, especially with the guys we lost last year,” Murray said. “Weboth had really good summers training and we thought we were ready for a littleadded pressure.”Instead of crumbling under expectations, the Badgers’ topline of Murray, Smith and freshman Mark Zengerle has excelled, posting a combined7-13-20 to begin the season – roughly 33 percent of UW’s points.So far, so good.“It’s been good. I think Zengerle’s a nice kid, brings anatmosphere on the bench, where we both can talk to each other during a hardtime in a game,” Smith said. “I’ve been playing with Jordy for about a yearnow, so things are really clicking well.”After the first UW hat trick since Blake Geoffrion’sthree-goal game against Michigan Tech last year, Murray leads the team withfour total goals, two of them coming courtesy of Zengerle. The freshman leadsthe team with six assists, three of them to his linemates.One came in Sunday’s 5-2 win over UAH. Zengerle had the puckin the corner and fed a centering pass to Murray, who crashed the net andscored.“I don’t think we really had a guy like him last year – wehad Mike Davies, who’s similar,” Murray said. “He sees the ice so well, he’llfind you – I know on my second goal, I don’t know if anyone else on the teamcould find me like that easily.”So far, each of the three’s playing styles have complementedeach other’s nicely.“They have their own distinct personalities. Mark is a passer,Craig Smith is going to shoot first, and Jordy is somewhere in between,” Eavessaid. “They all bring something like that to the table, and they feed well offof each other.”And not only have the three manned UW’s top line all season,but they are also the forwards on Wisconsin’s first-unit power play. Thesuccess on the power play has been just as notable, with the Badgers converting11 times this season with the man-advantage. Zengerle’s three other assistswere to power-play point men Justin Schultz and Jake Gardiner.The added opportunities to play with each other has onlyhelped the trio, both at even strength and on the power play.“You’re playing with someone on the power play, you kind ofknow what you do when you have time and space, know what kind of passes eachother are looking for,” Zengerle said.With his power play and top line clicking so early in theseason, there’s not a lot Eaves could ask for offensively. On the other side ofthe puck, it’s a different story.Murray admits the three are more “offensive” players, andall three acknowledge the need to play strong defensively. He and Smith haveexperience with the team’s systems, but Zengerle has faced a learning curve, asfar as his responsibilities off the puck.“[Zengerle] wants to be a 60-foot player and we want him tobe a 200-foot player,” Eaves said. “A lot like Michael Davies had to learnthose things. Michael did and I’m sure Mark wants to be as good as he can andhe’s listening and willing. He’s just got to get some new habits.”By his senior year, Davies blossomed into one of the WCHA’sbiggest offensive forces, and comparisons between him and Zengerle seem to bodewell for the UW offense. But any Eaves-coached team needs to be sounddefensively, and that, as it was with Davies, could be the struggle for thefreshman.On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with the pointproduction, even when considering the opposition it came against. The Badgerscould get a wake-up call when they head west to take on Denver this weekend toopen conference play. Or maybe the top line will continue to roll against thePioneers.Either way, it’s early in the season.“We’re getting the chemistry going, I’m starting to knowwhere they’re going to be without even looking,” Murray said. “I’m sure we’ll justget better as the season goes on.”last_img read more