Hunt is on


Hunt is on

Jamaica Scorpions Coach Coley eyes Super50 Cup crown

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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Despite not engaging in a full team training session or any practice games, Jamaica Scorpions Head Coach Andre Coley believes his squad will be ready enough to challenge for the CG Insurance Super50 Cup when the tournament gets under way in Antigua on February 7.

The tournament, which will see Jamaica battling to break a lengthy title drought, is a welcome return for regional cricket, after the novel coronavirus pandemic forced Cricket West Indies (CWI) to abort the last two rounds of the first-class championship, and then scrap Super50 Cup tournament, as well as its scheduled international home series last year.

Scorpions and five other franchises — Barbados Pride, Guyana Jaguars, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Windward Islands Volcanoes, and host Leeward Islands Hurricanes — will contest 19 matches in a round-robin format at Coolidge and Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.

The final will be played on February 27 at Coolidge Cricket Ground where the winner will hoist the coveted Clive Lloyd Trophy.

With West Indies Emerging Players unable to defend their title when they stunned the Hurricanes in a lopsided final at Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad 14 months ago, Coley is hoping his team can capitalise and be crowned new champions.

The Jamaican franchise, which has eight regional 50-over titles to its name — the last coming in 2011-12 — had its best Super50 run in 2016-17, when they placed second behind Barbados Pride.

“With this seasons Super50 being a shortened version, we are guaranteed five preliminary round games as oppose to eight from the previous season, so it is very important that we are able to start well and we have put together a squad that we believe will give us a very good chance of winning the tournament,” Coley said in a recent interview.

Though confident that they assembled a competitive 15-man squad to be led by Rovman Powell, Coley pointed out that selecting the right combination of players was by no means easy, especially with no cricket played locally since the pandemic.

Coley explained that he had only been able to conduct sessions in groups of six and sometimes four, in scaled-down net sessions.

Still, the former national wicketkeeper/batsman is banking on the experience in both departments to give a good account in the tournament, despite being without John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood due to West Indies duties. Both players will only be available for the semi-finals, if necessary.

“It [the squad] has a mix of locally contracted players, as well as centrally contracted players, players who would have also had the experience of playing franchise cricket.

“So it was a tough call in some instances, where some players would have been left out but with not a lot of competitive cricket or even the fact that we never had the opportunity to play practice games or so on added to that. Even to date we haven't been able to train as a full squad; we have been training in small groups since COVID,” Coley shared.

With the absence of Campbell and Blackwood, the bulk of the batting will rest on the shoulders of Powell, along with West Indies white-ball players Brandon King and Andre McCarthy.

Former captain Paul Palmer Jr, all-rounder Fabian Allen and rookie wicketkeeper batsman Romaine Morris, who represented the Combined Campuses and Colleges last season, are also expected to play critical roles in the batting department.

Meanwhile, West Indies left-armed seamer Sheldon Cottrell will lead the bowling attack, along with Vice-Captain Derval Green, while Allen, Jamie Merchant, Dennis Bulli, Jeavor Royal and Javelle Glenn are the spin prospects.

The Scorpions are scheduled to start their campaign against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on February 11.

“So it is really about how quickly we can gel when we get to Antigua, once everybody is assembled and all goes well. We have about seven days before we play our first match after we would have had the opportunity to practice.

“So we are looking forward to putting everything together, and everybody is really ready to go and very eager to play. It would be good to be back playing regional cricket after March of last year outside of the CPL [Caribbean Premier League], so we are all looking forward to that and we are just fine-tuning preparation to depart on January 31,” Coley ended.

SQUAD: Rovman Powell (captain), Derval Green, Aldaine Thomas, Oshane Thomas, Brandon King, Paul Palmer, Fabian Allen, Jamie Merchant, Jeavor Royal, Odean Smith, Sheldon Cottrell, Dennis Bulli, Javelle Glenn, Romaine Morris, Andre McCarthy.

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