Bennett toughens Jamaicans for defence
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Junior Bennett said Jamaica may be giving exposure to a few young, untested players, but they intended to make a strong defence of their titles, when the Regional 4-Day and Super50 Tournaments open this week.
The Jamaica coach said his side had brushed aside their disappointment from missing out on a place in the Grand Final of the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament last month and were eagerly looking forward to the 4-Day and RS50.
The Jamaicans are the five-time defending champions in the 4-Day and won the previous RS50 two years ago in Guyana under the leadership of talismanic West Indies opener Chris Gayle.
“I think we can make it six in the 4-Day and repeat in the RS50 once we play well and are consistent throughout the season,” said Bennett.
“We have some young players and we are looking for them to learn quickly. They definitely have the ability, but it will be the first time for them, and we are going to back them to go out there and show their talent.”
He added: “I believe to be successful this year, the senior players will have to come to the forefront and lead by example.
“We have a legacy to defend. We are defending both titles and I believe this should be enough to motivate the players to play hard and play well.”
The Jamaican squad, which will again be led by Tamar Lambert, includes uncapped Andre McCarthy, Zeniffe Fowler and Yannick Elliott.
Bennett said he had high hopes for the young players and looked forward to them making an impact.
“I believe they will fit into the team well,” he said. “They have all had exposure to being part of the squad in recent times.
“Zeniffe went to Trinidad with us last summer for a Twenty20 tournament, Yannick and Andre were part of our CT20 campaign this year, so I feel they will all fit in well. They just need to stay focussed and play well.”
Bennett said Jamaica will be taking things one step at a time. He recognised that they had to reach the semi-finals in both versions of the game and indicated this would be their first objective.
“We believe we have the resources to win both titles again,” he said. “But it all depends on the players and the way they play on any given day.
“I believe we can be very competitive. We have done very well in these versions of the game traditionally, so we want to make it six straight in the 4-Day and achieve something no other team has been able to do, but our players also relish the RS50.”
Bennett said the new format for the season was challenging, but it also presented an opportunity for the players to play more matches.
“We are not really used to it, but I believe we can cope with it,” he said.
“We knew from last year that the format was going to change, so we will have to do all we can to help them make the adjustments as quickly as possible.”
Jamaica open the RS50 on Thursday against Barbados at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, where they start the 4-Day against the same opponents two days later.