Jamaica hunt winning start to Carib Super50
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica, without five of their front-line players, will today attempt to get their WICB NAGICO Insurance Super50 campaign off to a winning start when they face Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago.
The game, a day and night fixture which is set to get underway at 12:30 p.m. (Ja time), will see Jamaica entering as slight favourites. This is despite missing the services of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Andre Russell, Jerome Taylor and Sheldon Cottrell, who are in South Africa on West Indies duties.
To be led for the first time by left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, Jamaica will look to young West Indies Test batsman Jermaine Blackwood, his out-of-favour West Indies counterparts Danza Hyatt and Nkrumah Bonner and four-day captain, Tamar Lambert to lead the batting.
This is in addition to experienced all-rounder, David Bernard Jr, promising opener John Dillon Campbell, and Andre McCarthy, the team's second-leading runs scorer during last season's staging of the tournament.
Their bowling, which represents their weakest area on paper, will be led by another out-of-favour West Indies player, Miller and seamer Bernard Jr.
Leg-spinner Damion Jacobs and fast bowler Marquino, who recently made their four-day debuts, as well as uncapped players, left-arm pacer Gavan Brown, left-arm wrist spinner Dennis Bulli, and all-rounder Derval Green, represent Jamaica's other specialist bowling options.
"We have some proven performers over the years, and we are looking for them to put their best foot forward," said Jamaica coach, Junior Bennett.
"I will not single out any player. (But) if we have so many debutants, the senior players will have to step up to the plate."
The Hurricanes, who are coached by Ridley Jacobs, will be hoping to improve on their recent four-day performance against Jamaica, where they lost by four wickets at Sabina Park.
Captained by former wicketkeeper-turned-batsman Devon Thomas, the Leewards also have in their line-up seamer Gavin Tonge and leg-spinner Anthony Martin, both former West Indies players.
"It will be important that our captain, Devon Thomas, and our vice-captain, Jahmar Hamilton, put good scores on the board for us, and the other players rally around them," expressed Jacobs earlier this week.
"In the bowling department, we have Tonge and Martin, and I also expect to see good performances from (off-spinner) Rahkeem Cornwall."
Jamaica will next play Trinidad & Tobago Red Force in a Group B match on Sunday before closing the group stages against West Indies Under-19s next Tuesday.
Defending champions Barbados Pride, Guyana Jaguars, Windward Islands Volcanoes, and Combined Campuses and Colleges are the Group A teams.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals.
Jamaica Franchise (from): Nikita Miller (captain), Dave Bernard Jr, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Gavan Brown, Dennis Bulli, John Dillon Campbell, Derval Green, Danza Hyatt, Damion Jacobs, Tamar Lambert, Andre McCarthy, Horace Miller, Marquino Mindley.
Leewards Hurricanes (from): Devon Thomas (captain), Shane Burton, Jason Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Jahmar Hamilton, Montcin Hodge, Shane Jeffers, Steve Liburd, Jeremiah Louis, Anthony Martin, Orlando Peters, Austin Richards Jr, Lyndell Richardson, Gavin Tonge.