Scorpions, Jaguars clash in Guyana
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
Two-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars will launch the defence of their regional four-day title when the WICB's Professional Cricket League bowls off across the region with the opening round starting today.
Jaguars take on Jamaica Scorpions at the Guyana National Stadium in a morning start, confident of making a winning start and setting the tone for another title-winning campaign.
And even though the hosts have been successful against their opponents in their last four outings, skipper Leon Johnson said they were taking nothing for granted.
"I think our chances of defending our title this season are very good. Of the 13 players that have been selected, 11 have been with us for the last two seasons and make up the core of our team, so those players have gained a lot of experience and were previously experienced," the Test opener said.
"Recently, we've been having the better of the Scorpions, but traditionally, Jamaica have always performed well at the regional level. We're all starting back at zero points. Everybody starts the same this season, so we just have to go out and play good cricket."
Scorpions, meanwhile, finished third last year, and new captain Nikita Miller said he was confident his side could improve on that finish. He also said that Scorpions would not be intimidated by facing the reigning champions.
"I think we have improved a lot as a unit from last year. A few guys have moved on ... but in terms of the batting unit, and on the whole, I think we have improved, and I hope that can manifest itself in our play this coming season and enhance our chances of finishing higher," said the seasoned campaigner.
In another morning fixture, Leeward Islands Hurricanes host Barbados Pride at Warner Park, with newly-installed skipper Kieran Powell attempting to prevent the 10th straight defeat at the hands of the powerhouses.
"Obviously, it is important to break any losing streak, but we are quietly confident going into this season," Powell said.
While Hurricanes finished bottom of the table last year, Pride were second, just seven points off the winners, and captain Kevin Stoute said they were focused on being consistent again.
"We've been playing consistent throughout the last couple of years. Sometimes, at the end of the day, you need the luck going with you as well as it doesn't always work out that you come out on top in every game you play," the all-rounder noted.
The day/night game of the round, which bowls off at 3 p.m., will see Trinidad and Tobago Red Force hosting Windward Islands Volcanoes, hoping to end a run of three defeats to the visitors at Queen's Park Oval.
Volcanoes, who have won five of their last seven outings against Red Force, finished one from bottom last season, and long-time skipper Liam Sebastien said a strong start would be important to a successful campaign.
"I think what is important is that we get off to a winning start. Yes, we have been doing well against Trinidad over the last couple of years, but it's a new tournament, a new game, a new season, as well as a day/night fixture," he pointed out.