COVID-19 apart, this was a good regional 4-day cricket season

COVID-19 apart, this was a good regional 4-day cricket season

Friday, March 27, 2020

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Like players and fans, the West Indies cricket selectors surely feel cheated by the loss of the final two rounds of the regional 4-day championship, due to COVID-19.

Yet, the selectors will also be happy for small mercies. For, in fact, the season actually provided real insight as to personnel they should be looking towards, to fill available spots in the West Indies Test team later this year.

Of course, actual competition will be dependent on significant reduction of the threat posed by the novel coronavirus and/or decisions on ways and means to circumvent the threat, such as playing without spectators.

Up to yesterday, there was still no final word regarding the West Indies Test tour of England scheduled for June.

Later in 2020, the West Indies are also set to host South Africa and New Zealand.

And, of course, there is the T20 cricket World Cup scheduled for Australia at year-end.

As to the regional 4-day tournament, cricket watchers will be aware that last week Cricket West Indies — having abandoned the 2020 season — declared runaway leaders Barbados Pride champions.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force finished second, with the defending champions Guyana Jaguars and Jamaica Scorpions tied for third place.

The regional selectors were given food for thought by a few young fast bowlers, not least the Barbadians Messrs Chemar Holder and Keon Harding, securing 36 and 29 wickets each.

Those contributions and that of the veteran Test match pacer Mr Kemar Roach, who captured 30 wickets from five matches, proved pivotal in the Barbados Pride title run.

From a purely Jamaican perspective much praise is due to the players, their head coach Mr Andre Coley and his support staff.

It wasn't a perfect season for the Jamaica franchise by any means. There were bitter disappointments such as being bowled out for a second innings 60 against the Windward Islands Volcanoes in the seventh round in Grenada. That batting debacle opened the door for the hosts — at one point fighting for survival — to win by two wickets.

Yet for most of the season, the Jamaicans showed admirable fight — twice bouncing back to earn drawn results after being asked to follow on.

Indeed, from a batting perspective, the Jamaicans had their best season in a long time.

Discarded West Indies batsman Mr Jermaine Blackwood forced his way back into contention by scoring more runs than anyone else across the region. His 768 runs in eight games, including a maiden double century (248) against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, came at an average of 51.20.

His teammate Mr Nkrumah Bonner was outstanding with 523 runs from seven matches for an average of 58.11.

Very encouragingly, Messrs Bonner, John Campbell, and Paul Palmer scored two centuries each during the season.

Among the bowlers, pacers Messrs Derval Green, Marquino Mindley, and Nicholson Gordon were impressive.

This is a good start for Mr Coley, who took over a Jamaica franchise which had badly underperformed in recent seasons.
He knows that Jamaicans will be expecting much, much more, next season.

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