Jamaica aim to stay ahead
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC -- Rampant Jamaica will chase their fifth win in a row when they clash with their nearest rivals Trinidad and Tobago, in the fifth round of matches in the Regional 4Day Championship which bowls off tomorrow.
Jamaica have bullied their way through the competition scoring comprehensive wins and another one over T&T this weekend could see them all but put one hand on the title with two rounds to play.
The Jamaicans, who are yet to draw a bye in the competition, would have been refreshed by the break in the tournament last weekend and T&T could find themselves up against it.
Captain Tamar Lambert said, however, his team would be taking nothing for granted against the Trinidadians.
“T&T are always a tough challenge and have had a lot of success in recent times in the limited-overs formats,” said Lambert. “But we have a confident bunch of players and we will also be looking to get maximum points from this match."
It will be a good game between two high-class teams and the team which can hold its nerve better will come out on top.
Unlike Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica have lost very few players to West Indies duty and will be at virtual full strength. They will also be highly motivated by their push for an unprecedented fifth straight title, a milestone that is in the forefront of Lambert’s thoughts.
“We definitely want to win five straight titles, but we will take each game at a time, starting with the match this weekend against T&T,” Lambert noted. “Every time we step onto the field, we look to play hard and represent our country to the best of our ability. If we continue to do this, we are sure to claim that fifth title.”
T&T, meanwhile, have been depleted by injury and West Indies duty. Openers Adrian Barath and Lendl Simmons are both injured while fast bowler Ravi Rampaul is ill.
Captain Denesh Ramdin is with the Windies side preparing for the one-day series against Australia along with all-rounders Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine.
The absence of these leading players has left T&T with an uphill task of getting a positive result but manager Omar Khan said the side would be banking on its unity to pull them through.
“We are missing several players but we are banking on our strength in playing as a unit. This has been the hallmark of this team for the past few years and we are looking forward to playing together in the hope of taking the game to the Jamaicans,” Khan explained.
“We are not entertaining any lofty ambitions. We want to go out there and play session by session and look for the win on first innings. If we get that then we assess our position and push for the outright.”
Jamaica are on 48 points, already 20 points clear of the second placed Trinidad and Tobago.
At Kensington Oval, a re-jigged Barbados side will take on Guyana, in a clash that will determine who takes control of third place as both teams are locked on 24 points. Barbados will be without key players in fast bowlers Tino Best, Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards, along with captain Kirk Edwards.
Best and Roach are on Windies duty while Fidel Edwards is away in South Africa competing in the domestic Twenty20 tournament there. Kirk Edwards is injured and has been replaced at the helm by West Indies A all-rounder Shamarh Brooks.
Selectors have called up left-arm seamer Pedro Collins to lend experience to the attack. Guyana, meanwhile, have made just one change to their squad from their
loss to Jamaica in the last round, bringing in veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul who taks over as captain. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo has been called up the West Indies squad.
In the other match, Windward Islands and Leeward Islands do battle at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in St Lucia. This will be the first day-night first-class match featuring the pink ball for both teams this season.