Miller time!

Scorpions captain revels in 'great team effort'

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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Jamaica Scorpions skipper Nikita Miller is gleeful after a successful return to first-class cricket, but says his teammates “helped a great deal” as they overcame Leeward Islands Hurricanes by 157 runs in the fourth-round regional four-day game at Warner Park last weekend.

The slow left-arm orthodox bowler claimed man-of-the-match figures of 10-87, including 5-31 in the second innings, to spur the Scorpions after missing the first three games of the season while recuperating from a haemorrhoid operation done in September.

“It was a total team effort, and in the field the entire team rallied, people were giving me encouragement [and] people were giving me advice. And it all worked out well, and it made my return a good one, an easy one as well,” Miller told the Jamaica Observer on Sunday.

“It was a man-of-the-match performance and it seemed easy, but the team helped a great deal. It feels great to be back; I missed it. I enjoy playing first-class cricket, and to miss the first three games was kind of frustrating,” the Jamaican spinner, 35, stressed.

Miller was the four-day tournament's leading wicket-taker last season with 58 victims. His 10-wicket haul in Basseterre takes him to 471 first-class wickets. His tally of 434 wickets is the highest in the modern era — 1966 and onwards — of regional four-day cricket.

Despite the first-class success, he has only played one Test for the West Indies — back in 2009 when Bangladesh toured the Caribbean.

The victory — the Scorpions' first of this campaign — was set up after they made 342 all out in their first innings and restricted the Hurricanes to 232. The Scorpions set the hosts a daunting 302 to win, though being dismissed for a subpar 191 in the second innings. The Hurricanes were dismantled by Miller and company for 144-9, with young batsman Keacy Carty not able to bat in the second innings due to a fractured hand.

Scorpions wrist spinner Damion Jacobs, who took 3-35 in the first innings, supported his captain with 6-100 in the match. Miller said pacers Oshane Thomas and Derval Green, who each ended with one wicket in the match, were also good.

“Myself and Jacobs did well, yes, we led the bowling, but I want to say well bowled to Oshane, he did a great job for us in a few spells. Derval Green bowled exceptionally well, and he easily could have had seven or eight wickets in the game because he bowled really well without luck,” he explained.

Miller also praised the first-innings batting effort.

“I must credit the batsmen because when I was out [of action] I said it to the batsmen, in a team [social media] group that first-innings runs are important, because that's where you set up the game. I spoke about it again in a team meeting that we need to score the bulk of our runs in the first innings.

“If we didn't have a good first-inning total then 191 in the second innings would have put us in a difficult position to win the game. I am very disappointed in our second-innings display because I think we have the ability to do better. It's something that has plagued us over the years — we don't bat well twice. If we bat badly in the first innings, we bat better in the second innings and vice versa,” said the Scorpions captain.

He outlined that Paul Palmer's 209-ball 86 — with support from fellow left-handers Assad Fudadin (58) and John Campbell (57) — was crucial in the first innings. A rearguard, better-than-run-a-ball 51 from the all-rounder Green in the second innings ensured the Scorpions stayed in command.

“When Green batted in the second innings he set up the game for us. He was aggressive and Palmer did well in the first innings, he tempered himself and built partnerships,” Miller told the Observer.

Following a break in the competition this weekend, Scorpions host Windward Islands Volcanoes at Sabina Park in Kingston in the fifth round, starting November 30.

It is all the time he thinks he needs to recover after a gruelling re-entry to first-class cricket.

“In this game I had some pain, but I managed myself well and I got through it. There was also little bit of stiffness after bowling so many [48.4] overs, but in terms of the [recovery from operation] there is no problem. I haven't played first-class cricket for such a long while...a couple of days off and I should be fine,” Miller reasoned.

The Scorpions are fifth in the six-team table with 36.6 points, behind defending champions and leaders Guyana Jaguars (64.8), who have won three of their four games, and the second-placed Hurricanes (44.6).

Barbados Pride are third with 42.4 points, while fourth-placed Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (41.8) and the Volcanoes (18.4) make up the rest of the standing.




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