PREVIEW: T&T enter 4-Day fray
KINGSTOWN, SAINT VINCENT - You can say that all six teams started off the 2013 domestic season on a shaky note.
Some experimented with younger players, while others went for the usual experience. But all in all, it takes the whole of Round 1 for teams to usually find their feet in domestic cricket. The Leeward Islands were lucky to escape Round 1 with a draw, after Jahmar Hamilton's second innings century. However, Barbados and the Combined Campuses & Colleges both fell to defeats.
It was nice to see not much has changed within the Jamaican camp. From a possible losing position, they fought back and not surprisingly beat Barbados away. You just knew though, that once Jamaica were down in the first innings, they were going to raise their game in the field, and they did. They were in a similar position against the same opposition last season and forced a similar result. Barbados though, will be disappointed with their batting throughout the match. Their one spark was that of young Miguel Cummins, who took five wickets in the first innings. He's done himself well with the international season bowling off in a few weeks. However, now that he's shouted loud enough for the Caribbean to watch him, it will be interesting to see how he follows up against the students in Barbados' Round 2 game.
Before that match though, Trinidad and Tobago will make their introduction into the regional season at Arnos Vale against the Windward Islands on Friday morning. The T&T boys arrived on Wednesday night in St Vincent, but jet lag isn't the concern for fans of the Red Force, but rather what the T&T players used their country's carnival celebration for. Generally, the Red Force has been disappointing over the last five years in the longer formats of cricket. They haven't been helped by their constant contribution to the West Indies team but they have been constantly revamping their local structure over the last few years to win the Regional 4 Day, and it will be interesting to see how they start. Shannon Gabriel is the name everyone is calling. He's fit again and has been bowling his usual high 80s, early 90s in Trinidad cricket. Once he can do well for T&T in his first game, he will surely be looked at to test the Zimbabweans at home later this month.
But T&T will come up against a Windward Islands team fresh from a convincing win over the students. Liam Sebastien is fit again after being ill for his team's opening round seven wicket win in Gros Islet. However, of some concern are Keddy Lesporis and Shane Shillingford, who seem to have picked up the cold now. Shillignford will surely be missed, though the likes of Dalton Polius have shown they are ready to put their hands up should someone step down. Lesporis endured an opening match to forget. Both will face a late medical test on Friday morning. With Sebastien back in, and Polius scoring 77 in Windwards' first innings against CCC, it's a good headache for the Windwards' management to have.
Starting alongside the T&T game will be Guyana's clash with Barbados in Bridgetown. It's a crucial game because both dropped points in the first round, one more than the other. Davendra Bishoo looked good for Guyana against the Leewards but it was Veerasammy Permaul's second innings five-wicket haul that really allowed Guyana to have a shot at winning. Permaul endured a torrid time in the Caribbean T20, but he's been in around the West Indies team, making his debut last year, and has a lot to work for. Barbados' batting will in no doubt look to come better. Their batting is supposed to be one of the best in the Caribbean, but they certainly didn't look like it against Jamaica.
There's a lot of cricket to play in the season, but somehow, when you start playing catch-up from early on, you find the rounds turn as quickly as the seconds hand of a clock, and usually it is the team that has that winning bite, that extra bit of mettle that raise the trophy at the end of the season.