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Jamaica hoping to halt Barbados juggernaut
BRIDGETOWN—Jamaica will attempt to thwart rampant Barbados’ charge towards yet another title, when they two teams meet in the semifinal of the Headley/Weekes Trophy in Barbados today. More importantly, the Jamaicans will look to salvage their Regional first class season which saw them uncharacteristically finish fourth in the WICB President’s Trophy, and secure their spot in the final four of the Headley/Weekes Trophy only in the last preliminary round of matches last week. They started the competition strongly, winning their first two matches but then capitulated to lose three in a row and find themselves in fifth spot in the standings, and in danger of missing out on the semifinals.
Jamaica captain Tamar Lambert said their victory in the last round over Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), however, had given his side good impetus going into the semifinal at Kensington Oval. “We’ve always have good character in our side. We have some senior players with some youngsters. It’s always good to find ourselves in another semifinal and hopefully we can play four good days of cricket against Barbados,” Lambert said Good Friday (yesterday) as Jamaica pulled in a final training session. “A win is always a good thing, having lost three games in a row. It’s a long time I haven’t lost three games for Jamaica in one season so it’s always nice to get back to our winning ways and try and lift up our confidence going into the game against Barbados and we’re looking forward to it.”
When the two sides met during the regular season, it was Barbados who prevailed, with a convincing 245-run victory at Sabina Park. Lambert is hopeful the Jamaicans can exact revenge for that loss, though he says it will not be in the forefront of their minds over the next few days. “Playing for your country is motivation in itself. Every time I step on a field I represent my country and I always give and in this game I won’t be giving less,” Lambert said. “It is a very important game for us and important game for our country. We know Barbados are defending champions. They got the better of us in Jamaica but I thought they played the better cricket in Jamaica. We want to come here and really put up a good show against them and hopefully we can come out on top.”
Lambert admits Jamaica’s batting has let them down this season. Carlton Baugh has been their leading batsman with 367 runs at average of 45 and though Nkrumah Bonner (326) and opener John Campbell (319) have both scored over 300 runs, they have averaged less than 28. Left-arm spinner Nikita Miller (26 wickets) and fast bowler Jerome Taylor (21) have led the bowling department, and Lambert hopes the return of all-rounder David Bernard Jr from injury, will lift the side against Barbados. “We will welcome back Bernie knowing the standard he has set over the years, bowling wise and batting wise, so he’s a welcome addition to the squad and I’m really looking forward to having him in here,” said Lambert.
Barbados, meanwhile, will be looking to add the Headley/Weekes Trophy to their impressive collection this season. They opened the year by capturing the Regional Super50 and followed up last week by winning the WICB President’s Trophy. The hosts lost their opening game of the series to Windward Islands but then played unbeaten and captain Kraigg Brathwaite likes his side’s form heading into the semifinals. “It shows we have fight. We started out with a loss to Windwards and we knew we fell short. The batting didn’t click in that game but once the batting came together I know the team would do quite well,” Brathwaite said. “It (winning streak) was quite important. Carrying this momentum into the semifinals would be better for the team. As a team, both the batsmen and bowlers are going in with confidence.
“Obviously they (Jamaica) won’t be easy opposition. We are ready for it but we’re not going to take them lightly or underestimate them. We’re going to come and work hard and play at our best.” Brathwaite has led by example with 424 runs and Kirk Edwards, Omar Phillips and Ashley Nurse have all also averaged over 40. Spinners Ashley Nurse (30 wickets) and Sulieman Benn (29) have been at the forefront of Barbados’ attack. (CMC)