Nation's cricketers hunt 'anniversary' gift
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
History beckons for Jamaica, as the country's cricketers go into the final of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional Four-Day Tournament, seeking to claim a fifth consecutive regional crown.
The final hurdle in the team's way is fellow four-time winners Barbados. Jamaica will enter tomorrow's final, to be played at Sabina Park, as heavy favourites - having secured outright victories in all seven previous games.
When the two teams met in the preliminary round, Jamaica secured a comprehensive 120-run victory, but Barbados' team manager, Livingstone Coppin, says that it will not be such an easy ride this time around.
"We used to be at the top and our intention is to get back there. So Jamaica, look out," Coppin warned during the press conference to announce the squads at the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Main Conference Room, Sabina Park, yesterday.
"I assure the spectators and the people of Jamaica that the game is on," he added.
JCA President Lyndel Wright stressed the importance of the game to the nation.
"This game means a lot to us because it is in this year that Jamaica will be celebrating its 50th anniversary," Wright said.
"We are looking forward to a tremendous game between Barbados and Jamaica and, certainly, we are appealing to our Jamaican people, spectators and supporters of cricket to come out and enjoy the game."
He added: "We are saying that Jamaicans should wear gold to identify ourselves. It is a tremendous opportunity that our players have brought our country's cricket into by preparing themselves to seek to win five consecutive titles."
Jamaica's head coach, Junior Bennett, believes that it is a pressure game, even without the additional burden of the team seeking to make history. However, he thinks once the team bats well and plays good out cricket, the desired result will be achieved.
"This is a final, and finals have always been high-pressure games, but we are just looking to go out there to do what we have been doing over the last few weeks: play good, consistent cricket," Bennett reasoned.
"I believe once we go out there and remain focused and play good cricket, we will get the desired result," he added.
Bennett's opposite number, Henderson Springer, is looking for his team to play a better tactical game than they did in their earlier encounter.
"We just need to stick to the basics and play a stronger, more intelligent type of cricket than we did in the first round," Springer stated. "We have come here to be worthy opponents and the confidence level is high."
Jamaica welcome back Danza Hyatt, who was called up to the West Indies squad for the second T20 match in the current Australia series. The squad is completed by: Tamar Lambert (captain), Odean Brown, Donovan Pagon, David Bernard Jr, Nikita Miller, Brenton Parchment, Andrew Richardson, Jermaine Blackwood, Xavier Marshall, Jamie Merchant, Sheldon Cotterell and Horace Miller.
Barbados have called to their squad Jomel Warrican, who is yet to feature this season, and Justin Greaves, who is getting his first call-up to the senior team. They also welcome back experienced West Indies opener Dwayne Smith, who played in one previous game this season before departing for the Bangladesh Premier League.
The Barbados squad is completed by Shamarh Brooks (captain), Omar Phillips, Rashidi Boucher, Kyle Hope, Jonathan Carter, Shane Dowrich, Carlos Brathwaite, Javon Searles, Sulieman Benn and Tino Best.
It will cost adults $300 to view the game, while children under 18 will be admitted free.