True champions

Saturday, May 03, 2014    

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By their own high standards, Jamaica's cricketers let themselves down in the league stage of the regional four-day competition barely managing to secure fourth place.

But true champions are nothing if not resilient. Having reached the final four play-offs for the Headley/Weekes Trophy, the Jamaicans showed strength of character as well as talent to defeat league champions Barbados by one wicket in Bridgetown at the semi-final stage.

Mr Tamar Lambert and his men carried that momentum to St Lucia and dominated the Windward Islands in a drawn game to take the trophy on the strength of batting and bowling bonus points — a system used in the Caribbean for the first time this season.

It is Jamaica's sixth first-class cricket title in seven seasons.

Intriguingly, they had lost to both Barbados and the Windward Islands at Sabina Park -- as part of an alarming three-match string of defeats during the league stage.

After that disastrous run, the team could very easily have folded. Instead, they picked themselves up and showed steely resolve to defeat the Combined Campuses and Colleges in their final game of the league stage in Barbados. There was no stopping them after that.

Credit is due to Mr Lambert, coach Mr Junior Bennett and the backroom staff for lifting the players and helping them to believe in themselves, their own abilities and then to execute.

The team management and the leadership of the Jamaica Cricket Association will have been especially pleased with the showing of young and emerging players.

A special word for wrist spinner Mr Damion Jacobs who, at 29, made his first-class debut for his country this season. Mr Jacobs was in a sense a victim of Jamaica's success at the regional level over the past several years. For, he stood in the shadow of fellow wrist spinner Mr Odean Brown, who in partnership with the left-arm spinner Mr Nikita Miller repeatedly bowled Jamaica to victory year after year.

This year the 32-year-old Mr Brown missed out due to injury and Mr Jacobs, given his chance in the final four games of the season, grabbed it with both hands, taking 18 wickets including an 8-wicket haul in the first innings of the final. Again, Mr Jacobs could easily have given up somewhere along the line down the years. But his love and passion for the game and his personal ambition to be the best he can be kept him going.

He fully deserves applause.

So too, 22-year-old batsman Mr Jermaine Blackwood. Recognised since his teenage years at Holmwood Technical High School as a batsman of special talent, Mr Blackwood has repeatedly frustrated admirers with his tendency to be dismissed playing careless shots.

This season Mr Blackwood visibly grew as a player and by the final when he made his maiden first-class century was showing the maturity of a seasoned veteran. By the end he was the top run scorer in the four-day first-class season with 611 runs at an average of 40.73.

It is important that Messrs Blackwood, Jacobs and their colleague young and emerging players continue to grow, not only in the interest of themselves and Jamaica, but also for the greater glory of West Indies cricket.





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