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Kingston—Jamaica’s cricket captain Tamar Lambert lauded his young charges after returning to the island with the Regional Four-day Headley/Weekes Trophy. Jamaica, led by 22-year-old middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood, were dominant in claiming eight points in the drawn final against the Windward Islands (five points) in St Lucia to secure the title. In the semi-finals against rampaging Barbados in Bridgetown a week before, the Jamaicans won by one wicket. “The most important thing was just to see the youngsters, especially the batters. I think the youngsters stepped up and hopefully they can really push on from here,” Lambert told reporters at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday. “We have an inexperienced team and we had to give and take. We knew the season was always going to be up and down. Having said that, we pulled through. “It’s a very good feeling. We stepped it up in the semi-final and into the final and in the two games the batting was good. Once we have runs on the board we always back our bowlers to get 20 wickets, so it’s a good feeling to win the Headley/Weekes competition,” the Jamaican skipper said.
Blackwood, who ended the tournament as leading run scorer, amassing 611 runs in 15 innings, was imperious in the championship decider, cracking 94 and 118 in a man-of-the match performance. The 29-year-old wrist-spinner Damion Jacobs, in the starting XI due to the absence of recovering veteran spinner Odean Brown, was as influential as Blackwood, grabbing 8-47 in the first innings for a match haul of 10-122. “Jacobs has been around for a long time. He had his chance this year because of the injury to Odean Brown and he really grabbed it with both hands. He normally performs well at the [national] trials, so it wasn’t surprising the way he bowled in the final. To get 8-47 was really a great performance by him,” Lambert added. The Jamaicans had barely made it to the semi-finals after inconsistent showings during the preliminary phase, highlighted by three straight losses.
A nervy win over the Combined Campuses and Colleges hauled them to 59 points and into the pivotal fourth spot. Lambert said that victory was the turning point. “The game against the CCC was a very important one for us because we knew we had to win to get through to the semi-finals. We always backed ourselves that once we are in the semi-finals that most times we would come out on top,” he said. Barbados had taken the 2013-14 President’s Trophy to retain the tag as regional four-day title-holders after finishing top of the league standings with 82 points, followed by Trinidad & Tobago (80) and Windward Islands (65). The Combined Campuses finished fifth with 49 points, ahead of Leeward Islands (42) and last-placed Guyana (29). The Headley/Weekes Trophy is named in honour of West Indies batting legends George Headley and Sir Everton Weekes.