Ja start quest for Women's T20 title
HOSTS Jamaica will face the challenge of St Lucia at the Kensington Park at 2:00 pm in today's opening round of matches in the inaugural West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Women's Twenty20 (T20) Tournament.
In the curtain-raiser at the venue, Trinidad & Tobago meet St Vincent and the Grenadines at 10:00 am.
A pair of matches will also be played at Chedwin Park in St Catherine. Guyana is set to clash with Grenada in the morning fixture, while Barbados open their account against Dominica at 2:00 pm.
In the preliminary phase, all teams are scheduled to meet each other once at either Kensington or Chedwin Park. The famed Sabina Park venue will stage the third-place play-off and the final on August 18.
Jamaica are arguably the favourites to win the title due to their triumph in the 2011 WICB Women's 50-overs tournament. The Jamaicans also boast two of West Indies's standout players in all-rounders Stafanie Taylor and Shanel Daley.
Head coach Cleon Smith was cautious when asked about his team's chances.
"We have as good a chance as any. It's a new format to everybody. It's the first in the West Indies (women's cricket) we are playing Twenty20 at the regional level.
"We have our own quality players. We know what the other teams are able to do and we know how to plan around the other teams' quality players," he told the Jamaica Observer.
As is customary with national cricket teams at the various age-group levels, the Jamaican squad has been afforded limited time to prepare for the 11-day competition.
Smith said the depth in experience will have to make up for the shortfall in preparation.
"The preparation is not what we want it to be but we have to draw on our experience. We have gone through rough times in terms of training before and we came out and did well.
"We have knowledgeable and experienced players in this squad of 14, and that's a plus for us. The players and management staff have to hang in there," he said, while expressing satisfaction that the squad squeezed in three practice matches ahead of the competition.
Smith said Trinidad & Tobago will be boosted by the addition of regional batter Deandra Dottin. The Barbadian-born Dottin recently completed a switch to the twin-island republic.