PREVIEW: Barbados looking for upset
ROSEAU, Dominica – Newly minted one-day champions Windward Islands will hope to keep their dream season alive when they clash with Barbados in the semi-final of the Regional Four-Day Championship starting here Thursday.
The Windwards are oozing confidence after crushing Combined Campuses and Colleges in the Super50 final a fortnight ago, and believe they can go a step further to also win the four-day title.
“It was an amazing honour to lift the Clive Lloyd Trophy at Kensington Oval after we beat CCC to win our first title in over a decade,” captain Liam Sebastien said.
“That was a truly great feeling and memorable occasion. Now we want to get even better and win the four-day competition as well.
“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.”
He continued: “First we face Barbados in the semi-finals and we are focusing on that match before we even start to think about the finals. We know that 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.”
In that preliminary round contest in March, the Windwards crushed Barbados by 216 runs at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, en route to finishing second in the final standings on 60 points behind five-time defending champions Jamaica.
The victory was set up by West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford who finished with a match haul of 12 for 102 – including eight second innings wickets – and resurgent opener Devon Smith who hit an unbeaten 150 in the second innings.
Both these players will again be expected to be the trump cards for the Windwards. Smith is the tournament’s leading batsmen with 682 runs at an average of 85 while Shillingford is the joint leading wicket-taker with 46 scalps at a phenomenal average of 12.13.
“Shane and Smith have been very good and very reliable for us in all formats of the game,” Sebastien affirmed.
“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.”
Barbados, who were not as spectacular during the season and finished third on 48 points, will be hoping to thwart the Windwards’ heady plans.
They have been boosted by the inclusion of Test speedster Kemar Roach, in for the injured Tino Best, and coach Hendy Springer believes this could be the key to Barbados’ success at Windsor Park.
“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,” Springer pointed out.
“He will be familiar with the conditions here and we will be banking on his experience and knowledge when we take the field.
“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.”
Roach should have plenty of support, however. Young fast bowler Miguel Cummins has picked up 26 wickets at just under 16 apiece, while off-spinner Ashley Nurse has claimed 30 wickets and seasoned left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, 18 wickets.
Barbados’ batting has been nothing to write home about but 20-year-old Test opener Kraigg Brathwaite has stood out with 440 runs at an average off 55.
Springer said Barbados would be hoping for Brathwaite’s form to continue and for others to contribute to the effort.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Springer acknowledged the inconsistency of his side during the preliminary round but said they were viewing the semi-finals as a chance to make a fresh start.
“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.”
WINDWARDS – Liam Sebastien (captain), Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Lyndon James (wicketkeeper), Delorn Johnson, Keddy Lesporis, Garey Mathurin, Nelon Pascal, Kenroy Peters, Dalton Polius, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Tyrone Theopille.
BARBADOS – Kirk Edwards (captain), Suliemen Benn, Rashidi Boucher, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wicket-keeper), Shai Hope (wicketkeeper), Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Javon Searles, Kevin Stoute.
UMPIRES: Peter Nero, Joel Wilson.