Holmwood, STETHS in Headley Cup title showdown
Richard Bryan, Gleaner Writer
The Grace/ISSA Headley Cup finals starting today at Alpart Sports Club in Nain, St Elizabeth, rekindles past rivalry between traditional stand-outs St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and Holmwood Technical of Christiana, that goes way back to the late 1970s.
Action starts at 10:30 a.m. and will be contested over three days, featuring two innings.
The respective coaches, Clive Legister (STETHS) and Orville Pennant (Holmwood), are also familiar rivals, having played against each other as schoolboys. Legister, the man behind STETHS' last three triumphs, reckons it will be business as usual. Pennant feels he's got aces that can make it a real contest.
"We used to fight it out back in the years, but for the last three years, their programme took a nosedive and the last couple of occasions, we have been able to beat them easily," commented Legister, a former fast bowler who played youth cricket for Jamaica.
"But what they have done is get a good coach in Pennant and seem to be back on track," Legister added. "But we are confident, our objective is to control the two good batsmen they have and once we do that, we should be able to control the game."
STETHS' sojourn to the finals is their 29th in the last 31 years. Following 12 consecutive championship wins by STETHS, Holmwood finally broke through, winning the title in 1990 with their current coach, Pennant, a member of that team.
Quite interestingly, the STETHS coach, Legister, played in that match.
Since 1990, Holmwood have won seven times, including four consecutive wins between 2003-2006.
Holmwood fell off the boil in the last three years and STETHS even knocked them over easily, earlier in the season, by 77 runs in the limited overs semi-final. In that game, hosted in Santa Cruz, the champions took first strike and posted 202 off their alloted 35 overs. Brian Gayle, probably their most consistent batsman and one of five current national youth players in their starting eleven, got 109.
Since then, the STETHS machine has steamrolled every one, including producing a ruthless performance in the semi-final against Tacky, where they posted 452-7 declared before inflicting a bowling rout of 130 and 75. Captain Paul Palmer Jr scored a century, while the spin pair of Donovan Nelson and Cassius Burton Jr shared most of the wickets.
STETHS still have talented pacer Nicholson Gordon, a member of the West Under-20 team which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in New Zealand.
Holmwood, too, have made their mark but none so than their fabulous performance against Manchester High in the semi-finals, when they successfully chased 344 to secure the crucial first innings honours.
While the platform was laid by opener Marlon Pinnock with 73, the undisputable man of that match was Jermaine Blackwood, who scored 152 not out, and who missed most of Holmwod's early season matches due to his participation in the Under-20 World Cup.
Blackwood and Pinnock are the two players Legister identifies as the biggest dangers.
Pennant, however, believes his opponents will have much more to worry about, as his team will come better prepared.
"It will be different because we have done some homework and we feel we can give them a run for their money," said Pennant.