Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Defending champions Barbados, Guyana and the Leeward Islands arrived in the country yesterday ahead of their participation in the 18th staging of the West Indies Under-15 Tournament, which will be held in St Elizabeth starting tomorrow.
The three are the final set of teams to arrive for the two-week tournament, following the landing of the Windward Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago last weekend and on Monday, respectively.
The tournament, which will see the teams staying at Munro College and playing their matches throughout various venues across the parish, will bowl off with three matches.
Jamaica will face a confident Barbados at St Elizabeth Technical High School, Guyana will go up against the Leewards at ALPART, while Trinidad and Tobago will engage the Windwards at Treasure Beach Sports Complex.
"We are pretty confident that we can defend our crown as we have a good set of youngsters," said former Barbados senior team coach, and now coach of their Under-15 team, Emerson Trotman.
"We have been training hard and working hard and the vibes in the camp is good, and all things being equal we are looking to do well."
Trotman outlined that his team has retained two players from last year's championship unit, batsmen Limar Pierce and Daniel Chesham, who, along with captain Najee Holder and batsman Thaddaeus Chase, are expected to form the backbone of their title defence.
Guyana, which finished last during last season's edition, have retained two players as well, captain Bhaskar Yadram and batsman Mark Williams. They are hoping for a turnaround in fortune and a repeat of their heroics in 1998 when they won the tournament here in Jamaica.
"The last time we won was in 1998 under the captaincy of Narsingh Deonarine here and we are hoping that history will repeat itself," said Guyana coach Julian Moore, a former Guyana youth player, who will be coaching at the regional level for the first time.
The Leewards, in the meanwhile, which finished mid-table last season, have retained one player from last season's unit, captain and opening batsman Dimitri Adams. Their coach, Pernel Watley, is hoping for a competitive tournament.
"If we stick to the basics, we should be able to compete," said Watley, who is in his second stint as coach.
"We have a few talented players, but they have to go out and play cricket and, hopefully, if we cannot win the championship, we can win a number of matches."