Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's cricket captain, Tamar Lambert, says the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament title race is wide open.
Lambert made the remarks yesterday, a day after Jamaica broke camp for New Year's Day celebrations, and one week before the team departs for the January 6-22 tournament.
The event will be jointly hosted in Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia.
"I would say that Trinidad is the main threat, but having said that, there are a lot of good teams in the competition," said Lambert, who guided Jamaica to a record fifth-straight hold on the West Indies four-day title last season.
"There is Barbados, which have a fairly balanced team, Guyana, who won the tournament two years ago and the Windward Islands, who made it to the semi-finals last year.
"They all have good players who on their day can be match-winners," he added.
The tournament, which will be broadcast live on ESPN, will see Trinidad and Tobago, which defeated Jamaica in last season's final, looking to defend their crown.
Among those who are down to bolster the 'Red Force' chances are world Twenty20 stars Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard.
Barbados' team includes fellow Twenty20 stars Dwayne Smith and Fidel Edwards as well as Sulieman Benn in their squad.
The Windward Islands have captain Darren Sammy, Johnson Charles and Shane Shillingford, while Guyana will counter with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine.
But that is not all, as according to Lambert, despite Jamaica not having Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels due the Australian Big Bash, they still have in their squad potential match winners.
These include Krishmar Santokie, Danza Hyatt, David Bernard Jr. and Nikita Miller.
Blend of experience
"We have a nice blend of experienced and unknown players, which could work in our favour," said Lambert.
"I have seen these young players in action and they have come a long way over the past three months, which could surprise a lot of teams."
The Caribbean Twenty20 will bowl off on Sunday with Jamaica facing Trinidad and Tobago at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. local time) at Queen's Park Oval.
The match will be preceded by an official opening ceremony, which is slated for 4 p.m. (3 p.m. local time).
The tournament will be played on a round-robin format, with each team playing each other once in the preliminary round and top team advancing to the final.
The second- and third-place teams will play off to decide the other finalist.
The final set of preliminary round matches, semi-final and final will be held in St Lucia, with the final set for January 22.