Palmer pleased as Select XI hold England Lions to draw

Thursday, February 08, 2018

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Jamaica Select XI Captain Paul Palmer was pleased with the performance of his players after the three-day warm-up game against touring England Lions at Sabina Park ended in a draw yesterday.

When play was called off shortly after 5:00 pm, the local team was 131-4 in its second innings after being set an unlikely target of 258 runs in 49 overs.

Scores: England Lions 263-8 decl (75.3 overs) & 230 (57.4 overs); Jamaica XI 236 (68.3 overs) & 131-4 (45 overs).

Wicketkeeper/batsman Aldaine Thomas, who made an accomplished 109 in the Jamaica Select XI first innings, was left unbeaten on 24, while left-hander Palmer was on 21. The Lions pacer Paul Coughlin grabbed 2-10.

In the Lions' second innings, 28-year-old off-spinner Jamie Merchant finished with 5-35 on a dry, spinner-friendly batting strip. England Lions 21-year-old player Joe Clarke, who was always busy finding the gaps in his time at the crease, top-scored with 87.

“We have a lot of inexperienced guys in this group but I think we managed ourselves well. Hats off to Aldaine Thomas because he played well in this game. He has only five first-class games under his belt and to come into this game and bat like that was wonderful, getting a century,” Palmer told reporters after the match.

Thomas, who kept wicket well on a surface that offered insufficient bounce at times, also held onto three catches in the match. He said there were signs of good form during the recent regional first-class season.

“It was a very good one…I could see it coming that my batting has come on. It was difficult because the ball was swinging a lot early on, so I had to leave alone a lot and concentrate,” said Thomas, 23.

England Lions skipper Keaton Jennings was satisfied with the opportunity to prepare for the three unofficial Tests in the Caribbean.

“It wasn't the type of wicket where you could rip through and get 20 wickets easily. If you batted well and applied yourself it was quite tough to get you out. So from our point of view, guys getting through spells and getting through a bit of workload was ideal,” Jennings said during a post-match interview.

Earlier, the Lions resumed from their overnight score of 80-3 with Clarke and Dan Lawrence at the crease. They carried their fourth-wicket partnership to 56 runs before Lawrence (35) gave impressive pacer Reynard Leveridge his second wicket of the innings.

Ben Foakes then joined Clarke to share in a fifth-wicket stand worth 76. But when Foakes fell to the persistent Merchant for 37 at 191 it triggered a lower-order collapse.

Leg-spinner Damion Jacobs dismissed Alex Davies (seven), and Merchant accounted for Paul Coughlin (three), Toby Roland-Jones (nought) and Jack Leach (one) as England Lions slipped to 217-9.

Inevitably, Clarke was left to go on the offensive with wickets tumbling around him and the three-figure landmark just around the corner.

Instead it was Merchant who claimed a milestone — five wickets in the innings — when he nabbed Clarke as the last man out.

The wicket came when the batsman pulled a short delivery from Merchant in the direction of the Kingston Cricket Club where deep mid-wicket fielder Stephan Casey bubbled the chance before clinging on at the second attempt. He hit 14 fours off 115 deliveries.

The opening “Test” at Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium on Jamaica's north coast is set to start Sunday before the teams turn attention to the second four-day match at Sabina Park from February 18 to 21. Action then switches to Antigua for the final game from February 26 to March 1 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. All three matches in the 50-over series will be played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground, also in Antigua.

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