DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (CMC):Opener Kraigg Brathwaite has ended 2016 as the West Indies’ highest-ranked batsman in Tests.The 24-year-old opener was 20th in the latest International Cricket Council rankings released on December 31, with fast bowler Kemar Roach, the highest-placed bowler at 28th in the rankings.Brathwaite tallied 613 runs in eight Tests last year, averaging 55 and scoring one century – a magnificent unbeaten 142 in the third Test against Pakistan in Sharjah last October, which West Indies won by five wickets.The Barbadian also scored 60 not out in the second innings to become the first opener to finish unbeaten in both innings of a Test.Left-hander Darren Bravo, currently in a stand-off with the West Indies Cricket Board after being sent home from the tour of Zimbabwe for disciplinary reasons, is the next highest-ranked Windies player at 30th, with Jermaine Blackwood lying 46th and veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels, 49th.Roach, meanwhile, has remained in the top 30 of the bowlers’ rankings despite having played just one Test in the last 12 months.BACK IN ACTIONThe right-armer has struggled with injury and loss of form, but recently returned to action for Barbados Pride in the West Indies first-class competition, and has taken 12 wickets in five outings.Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, meanwhile, is ranked 29th after taking 23 wickets in six Tests last year, including a career-best eight for 49 against Pakistan in the day or night first Test in Dubai last October.Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, with 14 wickets in seven Tests last year, lies 40th, while captain and seamer Jason Holder is 50th.Australia captain Steve Smith starts 2017 in the same position he did last year – on top of the rankings – while India off-spinner Ravi Ashwin leads the bowling.In the One-Day International (ODI) rankings updated on New Year’s Day, Samuels was the highest-ranked West Indies batsman at 28th despite opting out of the Tri-Nations Series last November involving hosts Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.Bravo is the only other batsman in the top 50 at 47th.In the ODI bowlers’ rankings, wily off-spinner Sunil Narine lies third, with Holder in at 16th. They are the only two West Indies players in the top 40.South Africa’s AB de Villiers sits on top the batting while New Zealander Trent Boult holds the number one slot in the bowling.
Prominent West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle has categorically stated that he was not affiliated with any political party amid negative comments when he showed up at a rally organised by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Saturday.Cricketer Chris GayleGayle was spotted in photos on social media alongside members of the party during the event at Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) and many condemned his presence.However, the Jamaican batsman clarified that he did not endorse any political party in Guyana. As a matter of fact, he sought to set the record straight by stating that the trip was an invitation to participate in a community outreach.During last weekend’s activities, the PNCR was observing its 62nd anniversary at Congress Place in the mining town with a grand rally and cultural presentation.He explained, “I, Christopher Gayle, would like to make it very clear that I in no way, manner or form endorse or support any individual or political party in Guyana. I have noted the many social media comments in relation to my recent presence in Linden and I wish to set the record. I was invited to Linden to participate in a community outreach.”He further went on to say that meeting fans was a great outlet as a sportsman and condemned any attempts to tarnish his brand. When it comes to politics, Gayle stressed that he is apolitical.“As a sports personality, I relish the opportunity to meet with my fans and also to reach out to any community under the neutral banner of sports. I am apolitical of any political commitment and strongly condemn attempts to tarnish my brand and personality.”Ever since President David Granger announced March 2, 2020 as the election date, political parties have begun the race to campaign by rolling out manifestos and visiting their support base.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had already called out the coalition last month as Cabinet outreaches continued, unabated. He had noted that approximately $2 billion had already been spent on what he essentially called political campaigning.Jagdeo made this observation during a press conference in which he referenced statements from Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon. Harmon had defended the outreaches by saying that they were catered for in the budget.“Harmon said it’s provided for in the Budget. They have spent about $2 billion on these outreaches. The outreach is part of their campaign,” Jagdeo said.
Officials from Sonnenblick-Del Rio Development Inc., in which the two men are partners, did not return phone calls for comment. In a phone interview, West denied that he had any inappropriate dealings with Sonnenblick-Del Rio, including providing them with inside information or allowing them to pay for his vacations to Jamaica, Europe and Breckenridge, Colo. Sonnenblick-Del Rio owns three of the four buildings that are the subject of McCauley’s investigation. The fourth is owned by Chase Glendale Services LLC, whose representatives did not return calls. The county spends about $14.4 million in annual lease payments on those four buildings and another office building in Exposition Park. The county owns about 5,100 buildings – many of which are for storage – and leases 358 additional facilities. “The way we handled these buildings was not specifically provided for in federal regulations,” Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said. “We’ve had the same kind of situation in health care where we try to figure out the most aggressive ways to draw down federal dollars for health care.” But in a March 2003 letter to McCauley, David Low, Program Support Division director for the Department of Health and Human Services, questioned the lease-back deal on a Sonnenblick-Del Rio building in West Los Angeles. He noted that the parties established a private, nonprofit corporation and that the city of Los Angeles issued a tax-exempt bond to finance construction. As part of the deal, the city expects to receive title to the building at the end of the 30-year lease. At the same time, the county entered into a 30-year operating lease with the city for the facility. “Because of recent corporate financial scandals, these types of leases have been under fire by users of financial statements and regulators,” Low wrote. “We suspect that the county entered into this lease because of its belief that it would receive greater reimbursement under federal and state programs from an operating lease than from a capital lease.” At the end of the 30-year lease, the county will not own the facility and will have to extend the lease or purchase the building. If the county had sought a capital lease, it would own the building – valued at up to $189 million – once the lease was complete. Instead, the county now will have to pay $29 million to purchase the facility. The criminal investigation of West follows the prosecution of the Chief Administrative Office’s Real Estate Division lease acquisitions manager, Cheryl Fuerth, 57, of Long Beach. Court records show Fuerth had married Claus Marx, the former director of the CAO Real Estate Division, in 1998 and that the two filed for a confidential marriage license. In her statements of economic interest, Fuerth failed to disclose three properties she and Marx own in Hermosa Beach, Long Beach and Whittier. Originally charged with seven felony counts of perjury and three misdemeanor counts of failing to disclose economic interests, Fuerth pleaded no contest Sept. 15 to one misdemeanor count and will be sentenced Dec. 13. Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Government watchdogs said the investigations raise serious questions about contracting practices at the Hall of Administration. “If these allegations are proven, then all contracts and all permits should be re-examined to determine whether the developers have been providing financial inducements to county employees,” said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that looks at campaign financing and ethics. McCauley said he expects to finish his investigation soon, adding that his office also is calculating whether the county might have to reimburse the state and federal governments, and for how much. “We are working to determine if claiming these costs from the state and federal governments was appropriate,” McCauley said. The district attorney’s probe led to West, also known as Charles Mazouch, 55, of South Pasadena, being put on paid leave Sept. 14, the day before investigators served search warrants seeking financial records and vacation photos of West and his wife. Warrants seeking similar documents and photos also were served on developers Robert Sonnenblick and Nelson Del Rio and their wives. The Los Angeles County auditor is investigating lucrative lease-back deals approved by the county supervisors and handled by the county’s real estate unit for potential misuse of state and federal funds, officials say. The probe comes on top of a district attorney’s inquiry of potential improper activity by the head of the agency, officials say. The latest investigation by Auditor-Controller Tyler McCauley was requested by the federal government in 2003. Federal officials had raised concerns about leases for welfare offices and the possible waste of federal dollars intended to help mostly poor people. Under the lease-back deals, the state and federal governments provide a higher rate of reimbursement to counties that lease space rather than own it outright. The District Attorney’s Office said it is investigating the Chief Administrative Office’s Real Estate Division to determine whether its chief, Chuck West, provided inside information to a prominent Westside development company that built three of the office buildings, then leased them back to the county.