Melbourne forced to make changes
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Melbourne Cricket Club of Jamaica have been forced to make two changes to their squad that will kick off a five-match tour of Bermuda later this week.
Skipper Yannick Elliott suffered a stroke and remains hospitalised while fellow all-rounder Fabian Allen has been ruled out through school commitments.
They have since been replaced by all-rounder Andre McCarthy and batsman Shawn Lodge.
Melbourne CC coach and former West Indies batsman Robert Samuels admits the pair’s services will be missed during the tour.
“These omissions will offset the team’s chemistry because we are replacing top players with second choice players,” he told The Royal Gazette. “Both players that are not coming are very good all rounders, so it will offset the team and I hope not by too much.
“I am upbeat that we will still give a good account of ourselves but with those two in I was very confident that we would’ve played exceptional cricket. We will still be playing good, competitive cricket and hopefully give a fantastic account of ourselves. We’re still looking to win and ensure that we entertain and show what Melbourne Cricket Club is all about.”
Samuels, the elder brother of current West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels, reckons that Elliott and Allen’s services will be most missed during his team’s three 50 overs matches with Bermuda’s senior national squad.
“When you are going against a national team you want to be at your best and strongest and with those two players out that is where the doubt comes in for me as a coach,” he said. “But we are still coming down with a bunch of good guys and I’m still expecting them to put their best foot forward against the national team, with the expectation that we will win games.”
Samuels is no stranger to Bermuda’s shores having previously toured here with the West Indies ‘A’ team and Jamaican national team in the 1990s.
“The most outstanding tour (to Bermuda) for me was the Jamaican tour where we played I think seven games and were way ahead, and then the Bermuda national team turned it up and we won like 4-3 at the end of the day,” he recalled. “Bermuda played some fantastic cricket towards the end so it was a good tour, and I’m expecting the same level on this tour in terms of good cricket and camaraderie.”
Samuels will be accompanied on tour by former West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh who will serve as Melbourne’s manager.
“It’s going to be an encouraging tour for the youngsters,” Walsh told The Gazette. “We are very excited about coming to Bermuda and are getting ourselves ready to give a pretty good account of ourselves.
“We are a club that has produced people like Michael Holding, Robert Samuels, myself and a number of others that played at the highest for Jamaica so we want to continue the tradition, and this is an opportunity for these youngsters to evaluate their skills.”
Melbourne CC president Neville Atkinson is also travelling with the Caribbean team who will face Jamaican Cricket Association in their opening tour match (T20) at Somerset Cricket Club on Thursday (6:30pm).