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Melbourne, UWI battle for Senior Cup honours

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, April 28, 2018

It is a repeat of last year's semi-finals and former Jamaica captain Robert Samuels will once again be caught in the middle, as perennial finalists Melbourne CC and University of The West Indies (UWI) square off, this time in the championship match of the Jamaica Cricket Association Senior Cup competition at Sabina Park today.

Action in the two-day contest is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am both days.

Both teams will enter the showpiece event high on confidence and evenly poised, following their dominant performances against St Catherine CC and Manchester CA, respectfully, in last week's semi-final games.

Melbourne, led by century knocks from Guyanese left-hander Assad Fudadin and Jon-Ross Campbell, piled up a daunting 445 all out in reply to St Catherine CC's paltry first-innings total of 146 on the opening day of the drawn encounter at Chedwin Park.

This was after their fearsome bowling attack, led by Jamaica Scorpions leg spinner Damion Jacobs — who had a six-wicket haul — Yannick Elliott and Nikita Miller, easily dispatched the opponents' batting line-up.

These players are once again expected to play key roles in the contest as Melbourne, the 2016 champions and last year's beaten finalists, are favoured to go all the way in this their third-consecutive Senior Cup final.

Wicketkeeper Aldaine Thomas, left-handers Javelle Glenn, Steven Taylor and another Guyanese-born left-hander Trevon Griffiths are also expected to come to the fore for the Courtney Walsh Drive-based club.

Though boasting high expectations, Andrew Richardson, coach of Melbourne, is taking nothing for granted as he is aware of the quality within the UWI team.

“We are in a familiar position being in the final, we know the kind of quality players that the UWI team possesses... they have a few national and international players but it is just for us to go out there and execute. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes that we made in the final last year and we are hoping that we can put on a better show and come out on top this time around.

“Immediately after the semi-final we had a strong meeting and we came down off the high and all the congratulations because we know that the job isn't over, because we are playing against a very formidable team with a strong coach so we do expect the quality of UWI to come,” Richardson told the Jamaica Observer.

“We know that our bowling attack is second to none, and as long as our bowlers deliver to their potential we expect some good returns. Nevertheless, I am still backing my batsmen to do their part because the batting and the fielding is where we are looking for better performances,” he added.

Meanwhile, Samuels, who is a past player of Melbourne and coach of UWI, is also anticipating a keen showdown between both teams.

“I am looking forward to it. Melbourne went to the final last year and now UWI is in the final with them and that is good... both teams played some good cricket this year and the fact that they are in the final is testament to the type of cricket that they play.

“Both teams are close to my heart, so I am just going there to sit down and see some good cricket being played. Either way, I consider myself to be a winner because Melbourne is the team that I played for most of my life and UWI is the team that I have been coaching since 2003, so I am very pleased to see both teams in the final,” Samuels shared.

The UWI are set to depend on captain Paul Palmer Jr and his national teammates Chadwick Walton, Leonardo Friginette and Oshane Walters, among others, in their hunt for a first Senior Cup title.

“It has been a journey for UWI starting from junior cup all the way up, so to see the university in the final this year is a great accomplishment for the youngsters. Many years ago UWI entered Senior Cup and dropped out for various reasons but they got there again and now they are in the finals and I am looking forward to some good performance from them,” said Samuels, who led the university team to the 50-over final two years ago.

Defending champions Jamaica Defence Force did not compete in this year's competition due to their participation in the state of emergency (SOE) and zones of special operations (ZOSO) in parts of the island.