Sport

New-look Sunshine Girls open series against Barbados

Friday, May 19, 2017

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Anticipation will be high all round when Jamaica's Sunshine Girls play Barbados in the first of three Test matches at the National Arena in Kingston, beginning at 7:00 pm today.The game is the first for newly-appointed Jamaica coach, Jermaine Allison-McCracken, plus eight of the 15-member squad.

“This is my dream job. This is something I've been searching for all my life,” said Allison-McCracken. “I think I know my stuff, I can choose talented athletes and I can see their potential at my training.

“It's the first game for me, there's a little bit of anticipation... but these girls have such tremendous natural talent, I'm looking to see them perform and rise to the challenge during an international match, seeing that they have enormous potential,” the Sunshine Girls coach outlined.

“I've trouble to choose my first 12 because all the players are so competitive… so I'm looking forward to seeing them in full flow. I'd like to win all three matches,” Allison-McCracken added.

“The Bajans are here, they've arrived. We know they're on the island, they're safe, so that's good.”

The Jamaican team is balanced with the experience of Thristina Harwood, Stacian Facey, Shamera Sterling, Kerry-Ann Brown and Adean Thomas; plus a plethora of exciting youth, including Under-21 players Carlalee Tinglin, Latanya Wilson, who is 16 years, Shimona Nelson and Hasana Williams, as well as first-time national Jodiann Ward.

Tinglin has been outstanding throughout her career, winning a number of MVP awards, including at the Caribbean Under-16 championship, while other players such as Melissa Wright, Zonasha Hinds and Antoinette Stone represented Jamaica up to Under-21 levels and Rebecca Robinson toured New Zealand with the senior Sunshine Girls last year.

“I think I've got a really strong first 12. It gives me some flexibility and depth for game one,” said Allison-McCracken.

“I think the team is gelling well, they're working well together, I think they're looking forward to playing this game. It's the first game at this level for some, the excitement is growing in camp at the moment,” she added on the eve of the contest.

“At the moment I'm quite happy with the squad that I've got and I feel that they're going to perform really well, including using some of the juniors. I feel that I was a little lacking in height so we have some great tall shooters I could use if I need to so I believe my starting seven is going to be pretty awesome and they'll go out and prove me right.”

As for Barbados, they are seeking ranking points to boost their chances of qualifying for next year's Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Australia. The Barbadians are currently ranked 12th with 88 points and if they are able to maintain that ranking, they will qualify for next year's Games.

The Eastern Caribbean team will play ninth-ranked Trinidad and Tobago and 11th-ranked Northern Ireland (89 points) after the Jamaica series, while keeping a close eye on 13th-ranked Uganda (84) and Samoa (83), which is ranked 14th.

Barbados have not played an international for two years and their captain, Rhe-Ann Niles, was quoted in the Barbados TODAY newspaper saying they will be looking to fine tune their game.

“We still have some things to work on in terms of being match-fit and cutting out the errors in our game and hopefully we can do that within the next couple weeks,” said Niles.

“What we go into any Caribbean game expecting is usually an aerial game, one that is going to be physically tough. Jamaica usually tends to be taller than we are, so we have to play to our strength, which is keeping the ball low, keeping it flat to the ground and try to outplay them across the floor. That is something we are also trying to work on, trying to get our game to be a little faster and keeping the ball at a level that works to our advantage,” The Barbados skipper added.

After tonight's opener, the series continues on Sunday with game two, beginning at 6:00 pm, while game three takes place on Monday, beginning at 7:00 pm. All games will be played at the National Arena.

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