Stage set for start of West Indies Championship – team by team guide
Stage set for start of West Indies Championship – team by team guide
First-class cricket in the West Indies will make a return as we see the start of the West Indies Championship Four-day tournament. This is the first time since March, 2020 that the red ball format will be played at the regional level. This presents the eager players from the six franchises – Barbados Pride, Guyana Harpy Eagles, Jamaica Scorpions, Leeward Hurricanes, Trinidad & Tobago Red Force and Windward Volcanoes – an opportunity to work on their skills in competitive action.
This season’s West Indies Championship presents a perfect opportunity for several hopefuls to advance their cases as the teams battle for the Headley-Weekes Trophy named in honour of West Indies pioneers and icons George Headley and Sir Everton Weekes. In the first round – February 9 to 12 – defending champions Barbados Pride face Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Kensington Oval; Trinidad & Tobago Red Force host Jamaica Scorpions at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy; while Guyana Harpy Eagles meet Windward Islands Volcanoes at Queen’s Park Oval. First ball daily is 10am (9am Jamaica).
Announcing the return of the tournament, Cricket West Indies (CWI) detailed the implementation of a special “player loan” system to try to ensure that each 15-member team will be able to complete their fixtures. Under this system, if a team has players ruled out due to a positive COVID-19 result, they can request to use players from another team and/or from a pool of locally registered reserves.
Players will also want to make a claim to the West Indies squad for the upcoming Apex Test Series against England, where the teams will play for the newly-minted Richards-Botham Trophy. These matches are part of the ICC World Test Championship where West Indies will be vying for points to challenge for qualification for the World Test Championship final in 2023.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO RED FORCE
Round 1: vs Jamaica Scorpions at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, February 9-12
Round 2: vs Windwards Volcanoes at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, February 15-19
Trinidad & Tobago Red Force finished second in the 2019/20 West Indies Championship when the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to the season in March 2020. Now under the guidance of coach David Furlonge in his second season in charge and veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan who is leading the side the Red Force will be looking to take advantage of home conditions in the opening two rounds. Not since 2006 under Daren Ganga’s leadership has the Red Force tasted domestic First-class honours despite being dominant in the white-ball format. The team is boosted by current International players Shannon Gabriel, Joshua Da Silva, Jayden Seales, Anderson Phillips, Jason Mohammed and Khary Pierre They will be supported by a talented cadre of young players as the Red Force seek to claim a domestic double after winning the 2021 CG Insurance Super50.
Full squad: Imran Khan (Captain), Joshua Da Silva, Jeremy Solozano, Keagan Simmons, Jyd Goolie, Jason Mohammed, Yannic Cariah, Khary Pierre, Terrance Hinds, Anderson Phillip, Jayden Seales, Isaiah Rajah, Kirstan Kallicharan, Bryan Charles, Shannon Gabriel
Head Coach: David Furlonge
“The aim is to see the young players do well, especially the batsmen. I want to see them not just make 20s and 30s, but go and they get the book big scores. And even if and when they get hundreds you know, they go and get the big hundreds. I think the bowling department is strong and experienced enough at international and first-class level and knows what to do. But I think the inexperience we have is in the batting. So I want to see those young players do well this year.” – Coach David Furlonge
“We are not taking anybody for granted. Everyone is saying Red Force has home advantage, but cricket is played on the day so we are just looking forward to showcasing our talent and having a good first two rounds then hopefully we come off victorious. That I think that should and will be our overall goals in these first two rounds as well” – Captain Imran Khan
GUYANA HARPY EAGLES
Round 1: vs Windward Volcanoes at Queen’s Park Oval, February 9-12
Round 2: vs Leeward Islands Hurricanes, Queen’s Park Oval, February 15-19
The Guyana Harpy Eagles as they have been rebranded this season have an envious West Indies championship record since the domestic system was changed in 2014/15 into the current franchise structure. Before the Barbados Pride won in 2019/20, the Guyanese under the previous franchise name “Guyana Jaguars” under the successful coach/captain combination of Esaun Crandon and Leon Johnson won the first five titles in a row from 2014/15 to 2018/19. Their push to get back to winning ways with this experienced team is boosted for these first two rounds by the availability of international duo Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul who would be looking to put up performances. Similarly the Harpy Eagles have a trio of exciting talents in openers Tagernarine Chanderpaul, Chanderpaul Hemraj and young fast bowler Nial Smith who will be looking to put their hands up.
Full squad: Leon Johnson (Captain), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Clinton Pestano, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Veerasammy Permaul, Keon Joseph, Keemo Paul, Antony Adams, Vishaul Singh, Nial Smith, Gudakesh Motie, Anthony Bramble, Akshaya Persaud, Tevin Imlach
Head Coach: Esaun Crandon
“We spoke a lot about the importance of using our template for winning over the years, we don't want to change that. Our aim is to come and play good cricket, and we're not going to underestimate the Windwards and Leewards in the first two rounds. In the past couple of years Windwards in particular, they would have given us some problems, and they would have won a couple of times against us. Our record against the Leewards is excellent. We always appreciate the presence of our international players in Shimron Hetmyer and Kemo Paul. Always looking forward to them coming back into our setup, and to share their knowledge and their skill and really motivate others. That's a big boost for us for this competition, and I'm sure both guys are very, very hungry, to get the park and perform really well, to get back into the West Indies team” – Coach Esaun Crandon
“Everyone in the squad played first-class cricket. Adams, being the least experienced, with one game, has been a consistent performer, whether it be club cricket, inter-county cricket, franchise cricket. When teams are selected, you cannot please everybody, but from being in the midst of it, guys who have been selected…most, if not all, are fitting and worthy of their selection because of the work they put in and performance on the field” – Captain Leon Johnson
Round 1: vs Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, February 9-12
Round 2: vs Barbados Pride, Kensington Oval, February 15-19
Jamaica Scorpions enter the new season under the captaincy of John Campbell, the left-hander opening batsman who has played at the highest level. He will have the job of setting the tone for the team’s batting while looking for solid scores in a bid to regain a spot in the West Indies team for the Apex Test Series. Alongside him will be Jermaine Blackwood, who will be able to offer the benefit of his experience of 43 Test matches. Paul Palmer, the West Indies A team batter will also be expected to contribute big scores. They have made an investment in young talents identifying Leroy Lugg, wicketkeeper Romaine Morris and Kirk McKenzie and as players who have impressed and brought into the fold as the team prepared over the last two months. McKenzie, a tall left-hander, will be remembered for his 99 for West Indies Rising Stars U19s at the ICC U109 Cricket World Cup in South Africa in January 2020.
Full squad: John Campbell (Captain), Alwyn Williams, Jermaine Blackwood, Leroy Lugg, Oraine Williams, Romaine Morris, Gordon Bryan, Paul Palmer, Jamie Merchant, Marquino Mindley, Nicholson Gordon, Derval Green, Patrick Harty, Kirk McKenzie, Brad Barnes
Head Coach: Andre Coley
“At the back end of the previous season our cricket was really good in all areas, which is what propelled us to that final position at the time when the tournament ended. So that is what we're looking to do, be consistent in all areas, from the first game, I mean, this is a much shorter tournament. With just five rounds, it's important that we start well. So, it's going to be important that we are consistent in all of those areas, and consistently good in all those areas to be able to lay claim, our position to win the title. We also have some experienced players and it's going to be important that they actually lead the way and help to guide the junior ones. And the junior ones will have to learn quickly. It is going to be a steep learning curve. But they will have to go into the tournament with a level of confidence that the skills that earn them selection will be good enough to help them to get consistent performances for the team. Generally, the senior players will have to do most of the heavy lifting” – Coach Andre Coley
“Looking ahead of these games, we are taking it game by game. We have Trinidad first and obviously, Jermaine Blackwood and myself, are the batsmen and players with test experience in the squat so we'll definitely be looking to lead from the front where that is concerned. Everyone has been preparing themselves mentally because we know that there's a possibility that we won't be playing any home games so by this point, nobody should be worried about playing five games on unfamiliar territory. That wouldn't be funny new guys because basically the core group would have played across the region already numerous times” – Captain John Campbell
WINDWARD ISLANDS HURRICANES
Round 1: vs Guyana Harpy Eagles at Queen’s Park Oval, February 9-12
Round 2: vs Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, February 15-19
With a new season, the Windward Islands Volcanoes have seen new leadership at the helm with Kavem Hodge, the ambidextrous allrounder taking over as captain; while the team will have Shirley Clarke as the new Head Coach. Clarke, a former Barbados batsman and West Indies U19 captain who worked with Barbados Tridents in the CPL. The selectors have named a squad with batting talent in the middle order. They included Teddy Bishop and Ackeem Auguste, who were recently part of the West Indies Rising Stars U19s at the ICC U1=9 World Cup, hosted by Cricket West Indies. Also in the squad are Kimani Melius, and Alick Athanaze, two former West Indies U19 players. The squad experience is led by domestic stalwart Devon Smith, who at age 40 enters his 22nd season at this level and is by far the most prolific batsman with over 14,681 first-class runs in 217 appearances.
Full squad: Kavem Hodge (Captain), Keron Cottoy, Denis Smith, Devon Smith, Kimani Melius, Alick Athanaze, Ryan John, Larry Edward, Kenneth Dember, Shermon Lewis, Preston McSween, Teddy Bishop, Darel Cyrus, Josh Thomas, Ackeem Auguste
Head Coach: Shirley Clarke
“It's an honor to be part of this franchise, the Windward Volcanoes, especially in the role of a coach. I strongly believe that coaching these young talented players is the ideal situation for me at this time. I'm excited and definitely looking forward to working closely with the team and improving players individually so that the team can benefit from their performances. Our strengths will be obvious when you look at it, we have the most prolific batsman at this level in Devon Smith, the captain Kavem Hodge who is a top-order batsman, Preston McSween who has been around those ‘Best vs Best’ matches which were put on by Cricket West Indies. I believe each player's role is important and once they can execute those roles then the team can benefit overall” – Head Coach Shirley Clarke
“Firstly, it's always a pleasure to lead the Windwards. I think having had limited cricket over the past couple of years it is important to get off to a good start. We have been in a lot of preparation leading into this season, the guys are raring and ready to go. So it's just a matter of setting the tone and pace, trying to lead from the front and instilling a culture of winning, while we all enjoy our cricket and play with pride. I think for him (coach Clarke), what he has been trying to drive into the team is having pride in our cricket and identifying what brand of cricket we want to play. Coach Clarke has been a breath of fresh air. He's come with a lot of ideas and is very enthusiastic and it's a joy to have him on board.” – Captain Kavem Hodge
Round 1: vs Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Kensington Oval,February 9-12
Round 2: vs Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington Oval, February 15-19
Barbados has the most titles in the century-old regional first-class fixtures and captain Kraigg Brathwaite says his team will look to continue the rich legacy of success. As defending, champions they will be on a mission to retain the Headley/Weekes trophy when they open their title defence against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes. The team has been in training since last November and skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said they have all bases covered and ready to start at Kensington Oval – their fortress. The 15-man squad includes a number of players with international experience, including Raymon Reifer. The Left-handed seam bowling allrounder previous played 23 matches for Combined Campuses & Colleges from 2011 to 2014 and 42 matches for Guyana Jaguars between 2014/15 to 2019/2020. He needs one wicket to reach 150 wickets in the Championship. The Pride’s fast bowling stocks looks especially good with the highly-touted new ball pair of Chemar Holder and Keon Harding looking to rekindle the lethal combination they formed during the 2019/2020 road toward the triumph. There is also a first call-up for young tyro, Ramon Simmonds, who showed great promise in the West Indies Rising Stars squad at ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2020.
Full Squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jonathan Carter, Shane Dowrich, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Chaim-Alexis Holder, Chemar Holder, Shayne Moseley, Raymon Reifer, Shamar Springer, Jomel Warrican, Tevyn Walcott, Ramon Simmonds, Camarie Boyce, Demetrius Richards
Head Coach: Vasbert Drakes
Round 1: v Leeward Island Hurricanes at Kensington Oval, February 9-12
Round 2: v Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington Oval, February 15-18:
Key Quotes: “I always see myself as a leader in the Barbados team and I’m happy to get bat into the ‘game mode’ and play for the country. There are a few youngsters in the team and I’m happy to see we have a good blend of experience and youth in the set-up,” said. “I always enjoy playing here and as the captain it would be great to get out there and play on the pitch and get a feel of the surface as we prepare to face England. I really look forward to leading Barbados to some victories” – Captain Kraigg Brathwaite
LEEWARD ISLANDS HURRICANES
Round 1: vs Barbados Pride at Kensington Oval, February 9-12
Round 2: vs Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington Oval, February 15-19
Full Squad: Jahmar Hamilton (captain), Rahkeem Cornwall, Devon Thomas, Montcin Hodge, Amir Jangoo, Kieran Powell, Colin Archibald, Terance Warde, Jeremiah Louis, Keacy Carty, Ross Powell, Nino Henry, Kofi James, Daniel Doram, Kian Pemberton
Head Coach: Stuart Williams
Leeward Islands Hurricanes captain Jahmar Hamilton believes in all-round strength of his team, with all based covered. The experienced wicketkeeper noted that after six months of training, working around COVID-19 restrictions to get prepared, his team was also ready to compete – starting against the defending champs Barbados Pride at Kensington Oval. It promises to be a mouth-water contest and Hamilton stated it could be a return to the 1980s and 1990s era when fiery fast bowling dominated. He said the team will be led by its senior players including left-handed batsman Kieran Powell and allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall, who is on 227 wickets and needs seven more to overtake pacer Gavin Tonge for first place on the list of the most successful wicket-taker in team’s history in the West Indies Championship. Cornwall has also scored 1,909 runs and needs another 91 to reach 2,000 runs and become the first Leewards player to compete the double pf 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
Key Quotes: “We are absolutely delighted to have the four-day cricket return to the calendar, and we want to thank Cricket West Indies for making this a priority. The players in the Leeward Island Hurricanes are ready and fully prepared to start in Barbados next week. We have been working extremely hard in the nets and the time has come to get back on the field. Our team is well rounded and we expect some good performance. Also, this will be crucial as we look forward to the England Test matches, so I know the players will want to be at their very best.” – Team Manager Wilden Cornwall
“I think we have the right setup. We’re just leading the way for those youngsters to take over from us when we leave. I say we have enough experience with a bit of youth involved so going forward it’s just about progress.” – Captain Jahmar Hamilton