Hurricanes Won't Burden Samuels
ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC): Leeward Islands Hurricanes head coach Reginald Benjamin, has pushed back on suggestions that his side will be overly reliant on West Indies batting star Marlon Samuels during the upcoming Regional Super50.
The franchise has managed to contract the services of the experienced Jamaican right-hander, representing a massive boost for its chances in the tournament set to be staged in Antigua and in Barbados from January 24 to February 18.
However, Benjamin said that the Hurricanes' challenge in the tournament would see what he described as a team-centred approach and not just a dependence on Samuels's run-scoring.
"We are not going to centre our batting on any one player," Benjamin stressed to the Observer newspaper in Antigua.
"We are a team in which everyone holds a certain [amount of] responsibility, and we have other players that in case Marlon shows up and he is not in the best of form, they can step up.
"We're a team that depends on each other, but, at the same time, the top players will be ready to step up and we welcome Marlon, and he knows that."
Samuels is one of three non-Leewards players in the 14-man squad, with Trinidadians Kevon Cooper and Akeal Hosein selected.
The trio are expected to strengthen a side that has struggled in the competition recently. They have not won the tournament since 2010 when they shared the title with Barbados, and have failed to make the final four since then.
Benjamin said the Hurricanes would continue to welcome other Caribbean players in the franchise set-up but stressed that performance would be key to their selection.
"Players reach out to Leeward Islands to offer their services on the field, or off the field and we as an entity saw it fit to then invite these players," he explained.
"This does not guarantee they are going to play with the team. Who performs get selected, and who does not perform gets left out, and that's how the process work."
Hurricanes have been installed in Group A, which includes reigning champions Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, Windward Islands Volcanoes, West Indies Under-19s, and English county side Kent Spitfires.
And with the likes of Test pacer Alzarri Joseph, captain and out-of-favour Test opener Kieran Powell, and West Indies A all-rounder and vice-captain Rahkeem Cornwall in the line-up, Benjamin expects Hurricanes to do well.
"I think that we have a solid team and we have people who believe that we can do it within the team, so it's a different approach than just showing up," he said. "We know that we have a lot to gain from advancing in this tournament ,and that's the focus."
Hurricanes open their campaign against Kent at the Coolidge Cricket Ground the former Stanford Cricket Ground in Antigua, in a day/night affair next Wednesday.