Barbados pin hopes on Roach
Barbados Nation article.
ROSEAU – Restoring Barbados’ cricket pride and salvaging some sort of silverware despite another modest regional season.
This is very possible as Barbados go into the semi-final of the Regional 4-Day Championship against the Windward Islands at Windsor Park in Dominica today, with a chance of reaching the final and capturing the Headley And Weekes Trophy, symbol of regional first-class cricket supremacy.
And coach Hendy Springer is hoping returning Test fast bowler Kemar Roach will play a major role in turning the tables on their buoyant opponents.
“He brings experience to the team, having played the game at the highest level all over the world and having also played at this venue recently in the Test series against Zimbabwe. He will be familiar with the conditions here and we will be banking on his experience and knowledge when we take the field,” Springer said.
“A lot of our guys have not played here before, so the experience of players such as Roach will be vital. He’s also one of the best fast bowlers in the world at the moment so we expect him to make a major impact on the game as well,” added Springer.
Roach, who has replaced the injured Tino Best, is likely to share the new ball with lanky 22-year-old pacer Miguel Cummins, the tournament’s leading fast bowler with 26 wickets. Before this season, Cummins had played a solitary first-class match without taking a wicket.
Barbados will also be well served in the spin bowling department. Off-spinner Ashley Nurse is the team’s leading wicket-taker with 30 wickets in his maiden season of first-class cricket while the experienced left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn has 18 scalps in three matches.
Springer acknowledged that the Windwards would be on a high after their Regional Super50 success and victory over Barbados in the round-robin preliminaries.
“We are now at the semi-final stage and we see this as a different season altogether. We had some experiences in the first round where we finished third in the standings and we will look to make a fresh start,” Springer added.
“They [Windwards] will be buoyant, having won the 50-over competition, so we will look to combat that by executing our plans.”
Barbados’ batting has been inconsistent, but opener Kraigg Brathwaite has stood out with 440 runs at an average of 55, including a career-best 165 against the Leewards.
“Kraigg has been good and is always focused on what he has to do. He is playing well and we hope he continues to do the job at the top for us. Every player has roles and responsibilities in the team, and we expect everyone to show that fight which will be required. I believe this will be the kind of game where the team that bats better will come out on top,” the coach said.
Meanwhile, Windwards’ captain Liam Sebastien said the team spirit was very high and their goal was to achieve the double.
“The team is full of confidence after the way we played in the 50-over tournament. It is amazing what winning can do for a team and a group of people. We expect good crowd support in Dominica, where people are passionate about the game,” said Sebastien, who also hails from The Spice Isle.
Despite a massive 216-run victory over Barbados in the preliminaries, Sebastien reckons the semi-final will be a tough contest.
“They have a good team, but we got the better of them in the first round and we believe we can do it again,” he said.
The Windwards have been relying on the brilliance of their experienced players. Off-spinner Shane Shillingford is the joint leading wicket-taker with 46 wickets in five matches, the same as Jamaica’s Nikita Miller, who has played one more match.
Devon Smith’s 682 runs are the most in the tournament.
“Shane and Smith have been very good and very reliable for us in all formats of the game. They are the most experienced players and have led the way. Every man has contributed to the team’s success and we will go into the match with confidence,” said Sebastien.
The other semi-final will be between four-time defending champions Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago at Sabina Park.
BARBADOS: Kirk Edwards (captain), Sulieman Benn, Rashidi Boucher, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Javon Searles, Kevin Stoute. Henderson Springer (coach). Hartley Reid (manager).
WINDWARD ISLANDS: Liam Sebastien (captain), Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Lyndon James, Delorn Johnson, Keddy Lesporis, Garey Mathurin, Nelon Pascal, Kenroy Peters, Dalton Polius, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Tyrone Theophile. Ian Allen (coach), Lockhart Sebastien (manager).
Umpires: Peter Nero, Joel Wilson; Reserve umpire: Lennox Abraham. Match referee: Mervyn Jones.