Jamaica going all out for title
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Defending champions Jamaica and fancied Barbados meet in the feature attraction of the opening round in the West Indies Under-15 championship at Inshan Ali Park today.
Both sides are confident heading into the fixture, but Jamaica manager Ephraim McLeod indicated his side had an incentive to do well.
"We are going all out to keep our title," he said. "The team has trained very hard and is very focussed on the task ahead. We are going all out to play positive and good cricket."
McLeod added that his side would want to follow in the footsteps of the national senior side, which won this year's regional first-class championship, and the Under-19 side, which are the also defending champions of the three-day competition in that age group.
Three members of last year's victorious team are back in the squad including wicketkeeper/batsman and captain, Aldane Thomas, batsman Brandon King and fast bowler Maquino Mindley.
Barbados coach Dexter Toppin felt his side's preparations for the competition at home went fairly well and the players were looking forward to translate it into the competitive aspect of the game.
"We had four zones and the squad was reduced to 32, then to 18, and the final 14 for the tournament," he said.
"We are looking to give a good account of ourselves. The youngsters are looking to do well and progress on to the national Under-19 team and from then on to the national senior and then on to the 'Big Picture' - West Indies team."
Batsman Jameel Stuart, the Barbados captain, and all-rounder Jonathan Drakes, are the only two members from last year's tournament in the 14-member squad.
In other games today, hosts Trinidad & Tobago will open their quest for top honours against Leeward Islands at the National Cricket Centre, and Windward Islands face Guyana at Gilbert Park.
All matches are 50 overs a side and start at 9:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. Jamaica time).