Saints lock horns with Melbourne for T20 semi-final spot
Reigning champions St Catherine CC will lock horns with perennial rivals Melbourne CC in today's tantalising Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) JAM T20 semi-final encounter at Up Park Camp, starting at 2:00 pm
In the 10:00 am opening match at the venue, last season's beaten semi-finalists Manchester CA will start slight favourites to go one better this year when they go up against the promising St Mary CA outfit.
St Catherine and Melbourne are two of the more consistent clubs on the local circuit and this clash is almost certain to bring out exciting Twenty20 cricket from both sets of players.
The 'Saints', led by captain Tamar Lambert, are expected to field a strong starting team including West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, national wrist-spinner Odean Brown and former youth player Oraine Williams.
The 24-year-old Russell, a member of the regional team that won the 2012 ICC Twenty20 World Cup, grabbed 2-8 and cracked a quickfire 34 runs in the five-wicket win over parish rivals GC Foster in last week's quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Lambert expressed great respect for his opponents but shared that he is looking to get the better of them and make it into tomorrow's championship match at the same venue.
"We expect a good game because Melbourne is a strong team that gives a 100 per cent and for St Catherine, it is the same. Still, we are looking to win. We have put in a lot of work this season and I think that our bowling and fielding have been good. We just want to get the batting right now to post good totals.
"There is no focus on any particular player. Over the years we see Melbourne play and we know they play as a unit. They have wonderful individual players but we are preparing for the team," he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The talented Melbourne team, captained by national left-arm orthodox slow bowler Nikita Miller, fell at the semis last season to St Elizabeth CA and will be determined to make it to the grand final this time around.
Aside from Miller, Melbourne can rely on left-arm spinner Christopher Lamont, off-spinner of Yannick Elliott and the versatile leg-spinning all-rounder of Damion Jacobs for restricting opposition batters.
Elliott, Miller and big-hitting wicketkeeper/batsman Garfield Moore have all scored crucial runs for the 'Kangaroos' this season.
In the quarter-final match against the Jamaica Defence Force, Elliott was particularly influential, stroking an unbeaten 45 and snaring 2-14, to set up the four-wicket victory.