(CMC) – CAPTAIN Carlos Brathwaite believes West Indies need to bring their ‘A’ game to the three-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand starting here today.The all-rounder reminded that the Caribbean side were World champions in the shortest format and therefore had a duty to themselves and their fans to play accordingly.“Any time you have the title of world champions you need to defend it, not only at the World Cup but in every series,” Brathwaite said, ahead of the opener at Saxton Oval which bowls off at 15:00hrs (22:00hrs Thursday Eastern Caribbean time).“Regardless of whether we win or lose we need to play like world champions. People in the Caribbean look to the T20 format for the success and feel good and we need to do that. If there’s added pressure, then so be it. We have a legacy to carry on.”West Indies are winless on tour so far and the T20 series represents the ideal chance for the visitors to make their mark.Their record against the Black Caps, however, is a dodgy one, having drawn the last two-match series they played in the Caribbean and suffering a clean sweep in a similar two-match rubber the last time they were in New Zealand three years ago.Since capturing the T20 World Cup in India last year April, the Windies have won seven of 14 matches – with three of those wins coming against minnows Afghanistan.Brathwaite will be featuring for the first time in the series and joins the side on the heels of solid performances in the Bangladesh Premier League where he topped the batting averages for Khulna Titans.The 29-year-old, the hero of the last T20 World Cup, said his focus was on making strong contributions to the unit.“I’m not the saviour,” he stressed.“But for me I’m always my own harshest critic and for me it’s just about controlling what I can control and making sure I get through my four overs as economically as possible and grab a few wickets if I can.”He cotninued: “Batting-wise I’m having a decent year, averaging around 40 (48) with the bat so it’s about closing out the year well and going into 2018 with the next two games and hopefully starting next year as well as I can.”The last two T20s will be played at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on New Year’s Day and January 3.
With the 2013 NFL draft set to begin on Thursday, a group of Trojans are anxiously awaiting the moment when Commissioner Roger Goodell announces their names at Radio City Music Hall and invites them to join one of the most exclusive fraternities around: the National Football League.Who will it be? · Matt Barkley’s draft stock has fluctuated over the past few months, but the consensus among NFL pundits is he will end up as a first- or second-round draft pick when it’s all said and done. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanQuarterback Matt Barkley, one of the most-talked about prospects in this year’s class, is one of those Trojans.His decision to return to school for his senior year did not bring him the national championship he desired, and along the way Barkley hurt both his shoulder and his draft stock.Scouts have gone back and forth on whether Barkley will ever be a starting quarterback in the NFL, let alone whether he’ll be successful if placed in the role. Some worry that his arm strength is average and that he lacks athleticism in the pocket.On the other hand, no quarterback in this year’s class seems as pro-ready as Barkley. He has been schooled in pro-style offenses for the last eight years. Former USC coach and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had this to say about the QB: “He’s thrown every route and read every coverage. … He’s as well-versed as a guy can get.”Projections about Barkley’s landing spot vary heavily. Some have him going as high as No. 8 to the Buffalo Bills, while others have him going mid-second round to the Arizona Cardinals at pick 38.Buffalo could be a intriguing landing spot for the 22-year-old. With only the unproven duo of Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson on the roster at quarterback, Barkley could walk in and instantly be in the running to start.Moreover, the offense, equipped with tight end Scott Chandler and wide receiver Steve Johnson, would aid Barkley’s transition process. The Bills also sport the impressive backfield duo of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller to provide legitimate running support.One of Barkley’s top targets, receiver Robert Woods, will look to break the USC wide receiver curse that has plagued Trojan wideouts of late. Three former USC receivers are on NFL rosters, and none accumulated more than 350 yards last season. Decision-makers in NFL front offices have praised Woods’ route-running ability and believe he is one of the most polished receivers in this class.However, he lacks the pure speed and strength that many top receivers in the league possess. As a result, Woods is more suited to be a secondary, rather than primary, option. His projections are all over the board; he has been predicted to go as high as the mid-first round and as low as the early third round. One team that has been tied with Woods lately has been the Houston Texans, who seem to be looking for a receiver to complement standout Andre Johnson.This type of situation seems like it would be a good fit for Woods, as he could learn from one of the all-time greats at the position.Barkley’s longtime center Khaled Holmes will also be up for grabs this weekend. He has shown that he can move very well for a lineman his size and is extremely coachable. However, he struggles to get low as a result of his 6-foot-4 frame.Still, any team looking for versatility in the interior of their line has to be intrigued with the possibility of drafting Holmes and adding depth at the center position. If the Bills were to take Barkley early on, they may want to add Holmes to ease the transition to the pros for their prized QB prospect.Safety T.J. McDonald has a strong pedigree and onfield IQ stemming from his extensive time at USC and his father’s experience in the NFL. McDonald lacks great speed and was often protected by schemes that kept him in the box to utilize his physicality, rather than leaving him floating in pass coverage. Still, his size and natural football intelligence have garnered interest from the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. He could be a fourth- or fifth-round selection.Standing at a mere 5-foot-8, defensive back Nickell Robey will look to sneak into the late rounds of the draft. He was a tremendous cover corner in college and is an extremely smooth athlete. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, someone who can play nickel corner becomes extremely valuable, especially for teams lacking depth in the secondary. The 49ers might take a look at Robey in the sixth round.The NFL draft begins on Thursday at 5 p.m. Rounds two and three begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, and the final rounds are on Saturday starting at noon. Complete coverage is on ESPN.
‘Mario Balotelli just does what he wants’ – The Vaccines take the talkSPORT Q&A Each week, a major band or artist takes our special Starting XI Q&A. And this week, it’s Justin Hayward-Young, lead singer of the Vaccines…What’s your favourite talkSPORT Show and why?The Warm Up. Max Rushden is a good guy! talkSPORT gives you your own show, what’s it’s called and what’s it about?50 Shades of Play. Its a four hour show during which I talk solely tactics and nothing else. Who are the greatest football team in the land?Traditionally, Manchester United. In the future, too. Who is the most rock ‘n’ roll player playing the beautiful game right now?Mario Balotelli. He does what he wants. If you were put in charge of the pre-match entertainment for the FA Cup final at Wembley, what band do you want playing live?United always come out to the Stone Roses. And assuming United are in the final, I think it would be a pretty good omen having them play. Who’s gonna sing the National Anthem?I will if no-one else wants to. What track are the players walking down the tunnel and onto the pitch to?Heroes. David Bowie. What’s on the stereo in the dressing room to psyche the players up?Watch the Throne, by Jay-Z and Kanye West.You build your own rock ‘n’ roll five-a-sde team, who’s in it? I’d take Serge from Kasabian. But I don’t think I know any other good players. I guess I’d have to have the Vaccines. You get to pick one footballer to work as roadie with your band. Who is it and what do you have them doing?Carlos Tevez would make a good runner. Good work rate, even when he doesn’t want it. What’s going on with the band at the moment?We’ve just finished a new record and now we’re on tour – in Mexico. Adios. 1