André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Jamaica's Twenty20 cricket team returned to the island yesterday afternoon empty-handed and dejected after crashing out in the play-off finals of the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament.
The Jamaicans started the campaign as one of the tournament favourites, but lost by six wickets to Guyana in Saturday's semi-final, leaving the island without a regional T20 title after four attempts in the tournament, which will be replaced by the franchise-contested Caribbean Premier League next season.
Saturday's loss came as a huge surprise after the Jamaicans posted their highest ever Twenty20 total of 183, on the back of an unbeaten 122 by West Indies star Chris Gayle.
"We should have reached the finals, no doubt about it," head coach Junior Bennett told The Gleaner. "One hundred and eighty-three runs is a whole lot in T20 cricket, but I think we bowled extremely bad against the Guyanese team, and we paid the price for it.
"I am very disappointed about it. I believe we put in the work this year and we were looking to go a place better this year," Bennett added of his team, beaten finalists the previous year.
"The pitch was holding up a bit, but once you bowl it up, you would restrict them, but I think our fast bowlers were too short and wide," Bennett analysed. "But they have been carrying us all season and it's the first they gave up some runs, so we have to give and take with them."
Captain Tamar Lambert, who has now led Jamaica to two Twenty20 semi-final appearances, agreed that the bowling performance was the team's biggest let-down.
"Before we left here we said we wanted to get to the semi-final and take it one step further. We got to the semi-final and posted a good total of 183, but the bowlers didn't bowl well."
He added: "We cannot come (down) too hard on them because that's the first time in the competition that they kind of let us down. But it's hard for us to bowl like that in a semi-final game."
Jamaica Cricket Association president, Lyndel Wright, was also disappointed with the end result, but reserved special commendation for Gayle and pointed to the Jamaica Premier League as a key developmental tool for the swashbuckling format.
"From what I saw, in particular the finals, I don't think we played to our potential, but I must say that Chris Gayle played tremendously well. He stamped his authority and class on the entire competition and the impact of his contribution was great," Wright offered.
"This is the final year of the Caribbean T20 and Jamaica didn't win it, so where do we go from here?" he queried for emphasis. "We have to continue to prepare ourselves through competition here, locally. The Jamaica Premier League is here and we hope we will continue to attain the sponsorship of the Jamaica Tourist Board through the Tourism Enhancement Fund so that our players will continue to develop their skills in playing T20," he noted.