Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Head coach of Jamaica's senior cricket team, Junior Bennett, hopes the young players in his squad rise to the occasion as the cricketers aim to defend their regional four-day and Super50 titles.
The Tamart Lambert-captained team includes three newcomers in Andre McCarty, Yanique Elliott and Zeniffe Fowler.
Among the other junior players who have been included in Jamaica's team for the tournament - which left the island yesterday for Barbados to participate in both tournaments - are Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, Sheldon Cotterell and Jamie Merchant.
The Jamaicans will be seeking their sixth consecutive hold on the four-day competition and their second straight lien on Super50 trophy.
"We have lost a few senior players from last season's team, but we have a lot of youngsters in the team and so they just have to step up to the plate," said Bennett.
"We are just hoping that the youngsters will go out there and put their best foot forward and play some good cricket for us in both forms of the tournament," Bennett said.
Besides Lambert, the Jamaica team will be led by experienced campaigners Andrew Richardson, Nikita Miller, Odean Brown, all-rounders David Bernard Jr and wicketkeeper/batsman Carton Baugh Jr.
They will be without the services of experienced players Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, who are now in Australia on West Indies duties.
The injured Marlon Samuels, along with Danza Hyatt, Shawn Findlay, Krishmar Santokie, Brenton Parchment and Donovan Pagon are also missing from the Jamaica team.
Bennett added that despite the absence of these players, he is very optimistic they can retain both trophies, once they stick to the game and play good, disciplined cricket.
"We are very confident because we have a few senior players in the team and a lot will depend on them to lead the team from in front," said Bennett.
Continuing, he said: "I believe that once they (senior players) can go out there and play good, consistent cricket, then I believe that we will be competitive in both competitions."
Jamaica will face hosts Barbados in the opening match of the Super50 competition at Kensington Oval on Thursday.