… Pollard, Narine omittedBRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Dynamic all-rounder Andre Russell was yesterday named in West Indies’ 15-man World Cup squad but speculation over the anticipated return of several veteran T20 stars proved pointless, as they were overlooked for the ICC showpiece in England next month.The 30-year-old Russell has played 52 One-Day Internationals but has not suited up for West Indies in almost a year. He was recalled for the recent series against England but did not feature due to injury.Left-handed opener Evin Lewis, who has also been on the sidelines for nearly a year, has been recalled in the squad which retains the core of players who featured in the recent five-match home series against England which finished tied 2-2.Debate had raged over the last week about the possible inclusion of previously marginalised players but there was ultimately no recall for the likes of all-rounders Kieron Pollard and the retired Dwayne Bravo.Off-spinner Sunil Narine, currently campaigning in the Indian Premier League, was not considered for selection due to a finger injury and neither was fast bowler Alzarri Joseph who also pulled out of the cash-rich T20 league with a dislocated shoulder.“Based on the new selection policy approach which allowed us to consider a number of players that have not regularly appeared in the side over the last two years, we had a wide base of talent from which to choose,” said new interim chairman of selectors, Robert Haynes.“There were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15, including ensuring there was some continuity in the side, but we believe we have chosen a strong squad of players taking into consideration such factors as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.“In keeping with tournament regulations, we submitted our squad prior to the deadline date of yesterday. All players named for the Tri-Nations Series could, however, stake a claim to be in the final 15-member squad that will be submitted after the Tri-Series and before the final deadline next month.”Dynamic all-rounder Andre RussellAs expected, veteran left-hander Chris Gayle heads the batting group and is now set to play his fifth World Cup and his final, following his announcement earlier this year that he intends to retire from ODIs after the tournament.If there were lingering doubts about the 39-year-old’s form, he quenched them with a Man-of-the-Series 424 runs against England recently and Haynes backed the talismanic former captain to produce at the May 30 to July 14 World Cup.“To have a player the calibre of Chris in the side to lead the batting with his vast experience and his ability to play match-winning or game-changing innings is a blessing for us and the motivation of becoming the leading scorer for West Indies in ODIs is something which I think he will relish,” said Haynes.“Looking at the condition of pitches in ODIs over the last few years in England and Wales, it appears that big totals will be the order of the day, so we believe we have a line-up that can put big totals on the board or chase them, as we have seen from recent matches.“With players like the captain, Jason Holder, as well as Andre Russell in the lower middle-order, we believe we have good depth to our batting which will allow us to play the brand of cricket that will give us the best chance of winning the World Cup.”Gayle will be surrounded by the youth of Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran, all in their first-ever World Cup.Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who will also play his first World Cup, will lead the pace attack which includes veteran Kemar Roach, left-armer Sheldon Cottrell and rookie Oshane Thomas.Holder, Russell and fellow all-rounder, Carlos Brathwaite, will all provide additional firepower in conditions expected to be seam-friendly.“We are excited about the pace attack led by Kemar and Shannon, and we are confident that any bowling combination we put on the park is capable of providing a serious challenge to the opposition in any conditions,” Haynes said“It will be a long tournament and it will be important for the bowling attack to stay fit and healthy for us to remain competitive and make a strong push to win the World Cup.”Following the upcoming Tri-Nations Series in Ireland, West Indies will stage a one-week camp in Southampton, May 18-24, before launching their World Cup campaign against Pakistan.SQUAD – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.
Look people, it is no secret that the quality levels in our local sports desperately need lifting, but the panacea can never be to shun them and spend on foreign sports. In fact shouldnâ€™t the business brains managing our biggest brands be at the forefront of any movement to clean up local sports? Shouldnâ€™t they be the ones who best understand the consequences of our disposable income disappearing into economies overseas? Are their businesses not suffering today, are some not retrenching staff, halving salaries or not paying at all, are some not shutting down?If we wonâ€™t raise ourselves who would? It has been a South African company Supersport spending billions on Nigerian sports while our own businesses have been too sexy for their shoes. What is it that global business leaders like Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Bill Gates, GEâ€™s Jeff Immelt are seeing in us that makes them want a piece of what we have, that our business leaders are blind to.We are the most populous nation in Africa, we are rich in mineral resources, we have great topography, we have talents, we are fine sports people; we have everything but the mindset to see how our individual actions mess up the whole. Given our many strengths, if we get our sports right, rather than money leaving our shores, foreign investments would come in. Global sports giants like Adidas, Nike, Puma would sponsor our teams and sports directly rather than pay millions of pounds to the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea to cover the Nigerian audience.Also, one of the biggest strengths of sports is that it spikes commerce within a country. If we get sports right, people will travel in different directions across the country weekly to compete, boosting business for airlines, hotels, local transportation, eateries, SMEs etc. A sane man, for instance, cannot dress up in Kano, tell his wife he is flying to Lagos on Medview Airlines to lodge at Eko Hotel because he wants to watch Real Madrid take on Barcelona on TV, but he would do this if he were a die-hard supporter of Kano Pillars and they had a massive game against MFM FC in the NPFL.Imagine 50,000 people descending on the National Stadium to watch a big local game: the food and drinks they would consume, the merchandising items sold, the boost to transportation, the business for banks, etc. That is what business the failure in our sports industry costs us today and that is what they gain from us in Europe. Oil will soon be yesterdayâ€™s news and we need to grow new industries at home. This is not the time to continue pouring money overseas, this is the time for thinking business people to stand up and create value within or go the way of oil.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram It is simply suicidal for any people to reason like this. My argument was that the money fans spent on sports entertainment comes from what the economist or marketing man would call disposable income: that sum available to the individual to invest, save or spend after paying their taxes. It is the money we spend on our rents, phone credit, food, school fees, cable television and data subscriptions etc. The more of your disposable income you spend in Nigeria and local businesses, the wealthier society is. The more of it you spend overseas, the poorer our local businesses â€“ many of whom entrench the EPL in our popular culture, and society, are.With our major source of income in Nigeria still being oil, and the global oil industry in a bind, it follows that life has become tough for us. WE ARE IN A RECESSION and to get out of it, it is important that we as Nigerians drastically cut down what proportion of our disposable income we ship overseas so we can create wealth within. Suppose our big advertisers instead focus on sponsoring the Nigerian Professional Football League and other sports, and by so doing boost the quality of local sports, wonâ€™t society become richer and their businesses stronger? IÂ n the first part of this write-up last week I talked about the rather shocking report on CNN that, after London, Lagos was the city with the highest sale of Arsenal jerseys in the world. I had a huge problem with how people in a poor sub-Saharan African country hit by recession could still be draining billions from their economy, and pumping this money into the British economy, in the name of entertainment. In my calculations, after taking into consideration the TV rights for the English Premier League, for which we pay over N20b annually to DSTV, and adding the money spent on sponsorship, football tourism and the acquisition of merchandising items, we pay close to N50b annually for this toxic entertainment. Experienced sports journalist Lolade Adewuyi, writing in the Guardian on August 04, referenced research conclusions that claimed that Nigeriaâ€™s top 15 brands would spend $343m (N124b) on European football sponsorship and activations between 2016 and 2019. This figure makes mine look very conservative as it does not include what fans pay in TV subscriptions, sport tourism and the acquisition of merchandising items.