Windies skipper Pollard signs for Northants with eye on World Cup

first_imgLONDON, England (CMC) – West Indies white-ball captain Kieron Pollard is poised to turn out for Northamptonshire in this year’s Vitality Blast, after signing up for several games with the East Midlands outfit.The 32-year-old all-rounder is set to play eight matches starting from June 5 in the tournament, which runs from May 28 to September 5.In addition to boosting Northamptonshire’s title chances, Pollard said he would be using the campaign to further hone his preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia starting in October.“Now visa criteria permitting I see this as a wonderful opportunity to be back in England again playing in the action-packed Vitality Blast tournament. I want to thank Northants for welcoming me to their group of exciting players.” Pollard said. “I know they have some amazing fans and I look forward to entertaining them and bringing more success to the club.”He added: “Of course as captain of the West Indies team and defending champions I have one eye on the ICC T20 World Cup later this year in Australia, but I can assure you my focus will be 100 per cent on winning games for Northants when I arrive in June.”Pollard is one of the most sought-after T20 players, having played extensively in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians, and also turned out in the Australian Big Bash and the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).Overall, he has played a record 499 Twenty20s and is just 34 runs shy of becoming only the second batsman to reach 10 000 runs in the format.Head coach David Ripley said a player with Pollard’s all-round qualities would be an asset to Northamptonshire’s upcoming campaign.“I’ve spoken to many people about Kieron and the biggest factor you get from everyone is that he’s a winner. He’s got a fantastic record in winning T20 comps, just an absolute competitor.” Ripley said.“It helps the teams he plays for that he can bowl the big overs, field in key positions and whack it out of any cricket ground in the world.”Added captain Josh Cobb: “It’s really exciting to have a player with the quality of Pollard joining the Steelbacks. His stats are unbelievable. I think it’s only Chris Gayle who has scored more runs in T20 cricket, so to have him with us is huge.” Veteram Gayle has amassed 13 296 runs from 404 matches.last_img read more

Syracuse men’s basketball roundtable: Everything to know before the ACC tournament

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (19-12, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) plays a rubber match with Wake Forest (11-19, 4-14) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Barclays Center in the first round of the ACC tournament. Syracuse has historically struggled in Brooklyn, but will need to exorcise its demons and likely go on a mini run if it hopes to make the NCAA Tournament.Our beat writers take on three questions surrounding the Orange ahead of the conference tournament.Syracuse split with Wake Forest during the regular season. What does Syracuse need to do to fend off a pesky Demon Deacons team?Matthew Gutierrez: First, overcome whatever sort of ghosts lie under the Barclays Center floor that have doomed Syracuse, because SU has lost four in a row at that place. Fellow beat writer Tomer Langer, a native of the area, may know the answer.Aside from that, all the Orange really has to do is stick to its identity, which was on full display Saturday in its first win against a ranked opponent this season, as junior point guard Frank Howard pointed out. That’s strong defense — remember WFU’s six-straight 3-pointers? — and reliance on the big three scorers.Any contributions Marek Dolezaj can bring, and any sort of job players can do to minimize turnovers, are plusses. It’s not necessary a formula to beat quality teams, but it’s a way to scrape by.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSam Fortier: Erase Bryant Crawford. Wake Forest goes as their do-it-all guard does, and if Syracuse’s defense prevents him from draining three corner 3s down the stretch — as he did in WFU’s Jan. 3 win — than the Orange should be fine. He greases the wheels, assisting on nearly one-third of his team’s buckets, per KenPom.com, and is a serviceable shooter from all over the floor.SU’s thin frontcourt should be worrisome against 7-foot-1, 280-pound big man Doral Moore, but as long as the Orange keeps him off the boards they should be OK. So, OK, there’s a lot to do to beat Wake Forest in a venue it’s faced some mighty struggles in, but Syracuse should — should — be able to do it.Tomer Langer: Contain Doral Moore on the inside and hope he doesn’t get the ball too much. Moore is fairly athletic and posed some issues for the sometimes slow-footed Paschal Chukwu on the inside the last time these two teams matched up. SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the Boston College loss last week that Chukwu is playing on sore knees. And while Syracuse’s center did have a nice double-block sequence against Clemson on Saturday, there were multiple times the Tigers got easy buckets on the inside.A lot of the focus will be on Wake Forest’s 3-point shooting after the Demon Deacons hung around in Syracuse back in mid-February by raining from deep. But if SU stretches the zone too far out, Moore can cause matchup issues in an area in which the Orange is depleted.With games on consecutive days throughout the ACC Tournament, will SU’s short bench play a factor?M.G.: You’d like to think so. But because Syracuse didn’t play a preseason tournament against formidable opponents, we don’t really know the answer. Syracuse had little rest between its home loss to No. 1 Virginia and its impressive win at Louisville, so it’s possible that SU can play when tested on short rest. Where it would get murky is if SU must play three or four in a row. Syracuse played three games in five days back in November, but that was in the Carrier Dome versus, you know, teams that visit the Carrier Dome in November.S.F.: Yes. Jim Boeheim’s strategy, which to his credit has seemed to work this season, is that media timeouts provide players adequate rest to get through a game without fatigued legs dooming his team at the end. That works for single games. Now, the ACC tournament schedule foists an untenable workload on Syracuse players who have shouldered heavy burdens this season already, timeouts be damned.Playing nearly 40 minutes a night is tiring, freshman forward Oshae Brissett admitted Saturday, but he hits the ice baths hard in between games to get himself right in the approximately two- to four-day rests he usually has. But there’s none of that now. While a short bench doesn’t guarantee a loss or anything that drastic, it’s going to impact this team and tire them out more than normal.T.L.: Conceivably, yes. I just think it’s a bit overstated how much. SU’s short bench has played a factor all year, even when there’s been rest in between the games, because if guys aren’t on their game, Boeheim has no one else to put in. And, for any team, it would be hard to have to play on the first day and win five-straight games to secure the ACC Tournament crown.But the Orange is used to its playing style, and I don’t think the back-to-back days element will be too different than it is for other teams, because teams tend to ride their star players and shorten the bench in important games, anyway.How many games does Syracuse need to win to make the NCAA Tournament?M.G.: The magic number here might be three. Two wins would probably be attractive in the eyes of the Selection Committee, but that still puts Syracuse in cloudy bubble territory, I think, while three wins this week in Brooklyn punches Syracuse’s ticket to the Big Dance. Three wins would prove that Syracuse can play away from home consistently, beat one or two quadrant one teams, and withstand the rigors of one of the toughest conference tournaments in college hoops.That, of course, means big games from the big three every night and a fourth scorer in Dolezaj. Without the latter, the NIT may be Syracuse’s final destination.S.F.: Two. If Syracuse beats Wake Forest, that impresses no one. But beating a well-rested, top-10 team on the second night of a back-to-back? That would automatically replace Clemson as the Orange’s marquee win of the season and get some double takes from the Selection Committee.No matter what, this won’t be an anxiety-free process. Syracuse fans should intently watch other bubble teams like UCLA, Marquette, Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma State and, yes, Mike Hopkins-led Washington. Two wins won’t inspire the most confidence, but it’ll get the Orange into the NCAA Tournament in the same way an action hero always slides underneath a heavy, descending door just in time.T.L.: Can I say 2.5? It’s definitely more than one and it really depends on what other bubble teams do as well. Sam is right in saying that if SU beats Wake Forest and then goes on to beat UNC, it would be the marquee win of the season. That being said, picking up really your only marquee win of the season in March might not be enough to sway a committee that looks at a team’s body of work and doesn’t put as much stock into recency. Two wins would give the Orange a jolt, and I think three wins would assure a spot. Comments Published on March 5, 2018 at 10:08 pmlast_img read more