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New era in regional cricket begins today
The eagerly anticipated start of the Nagico Regional Super50 tournament has arrived and when the umpires call play at 2 pm between Jamaica and the Windwards at the Queen’s Park Oval today, they will usher in a new era in West Indies cricket.
With the marquee Caribbean event (the T20 format) now in the hands of Verus International, the West Indies Cricket Board is looking to make this 50-over format their main attraction and they are starting by twinning it with T&T’s Carnival, considered the greatest show on earth.
With the hosts idle until Sunday when they challenge Barbados, the defending champions Windwards would hold centre stage today, as they take on the very capable First Class champions Jamaica. A good start in this tournament is very important for all teams and hence both will be going out to register their first win. Jamaica has been severely depleted by the absence of big hitter Chris Gayle and attractive middle order batsman Marlon Samuels.
However in their ranks are men like Dave Bernard Jr who is now the skipper, the experienced Tamar Lambert, West Indies players Andre Russell, Sheldon Cotterrell and the in-form Nikita Miller. Also making a return is the very talented fast bowler Jerome Taylor, who has been away from the game for the past two years.
The Windwards also have their injury problems and will be without skipper Darren Sammy. However, they will take comfort in the fact that they won the title without his services last year.
Head coach of the Windward Islands, Ian Allen, is calming his troops ahead of the battle. “All tournaments are a challenge especially when you are defending champions but I think we’re trying to be as calm as possible, just erase any added pressure that may come between our game and just stay focused as much as possible and take one game at a time,” Allen said.
“It’s a format where you can’t be too relaxed because you’re just guaranteed basically three games so we’ll just take it from there.”
Allen, a former West Indies seam bowler believes his team’s preparation for the tournament has gone well. It was helped by the fact the side arrived in Trinidad early to play warm-up matches in order to get acclimatised to the conditions.
The long-standing coach is also backing his international players to deliver for the team, similar to last season, and singled out top-order batsmen Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher as two team leaders. “When the international players comes back into your unit at the regional level, you expect them to bring a lot to the team, not just for their experience but also to dominate the regional tournament and I'm just hoping that ‘Johno’ has a great tournament this year as a lot of responsibility will fall on him,” Allen said.
JAMAICA: David Bernard Jr (captain), Nikita Miller (vice captain), Andre Russell, Carlton Baugh Jr (wicket-keeper), Tamar Lambert, Andrew Richardson, Horace Miller, John Campbell, Jermaine Blackwood, Andre McCarthy, Sheldon Cottrell, Jerome Taylor, Nkrumah Bonner, Kenar Lewis; Junior Bennett (coach)
WINDWARD ISLANDS: Liam Sebastien (captain), Andre Fletcher (vice captain), Johnson Charles (wicket-keeper), Tyron Theophille, Mervin Matthew, Craig Emmanuel, Garey Mathurin, Keddy Lesporis, Devon Smith, Dalton Polius, Delorn Johnson, Kenroy Peters, Romel Currency, Alston Bobb; Ian Allen (coach)
Matches (At Queen’s Park Oval)
Today: Windwards vs Jamaica
Tomorrow: Guyana vs Ireland
Saturday: Leewards vs CCC
Sunday: T&T vs Barbados
Regional Limited Overs Winners
1972 to 2013
Geddes Grant/Harrison Line Trophy
Geddes Grant Shield
1993-94 Leeward Islands
Red Stripe Bowl
President’s Cup (West Indies)/WICB Cup/Regional Super50
2010-11 Shared (Barbados/Leewards)
2012-13 Windward Islands.