Scorpions players laud technical staff for improved regional 4-day campaign

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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THE Jamaica Scorpions camp has reasons to smile thanks mostly to a number of outstanding performances in the batting department as the team ended joint third in the abbreviated regional four-day tournament.

Jermaine Blackwood topped the competition with a runs aggregate of 768, while notching a career-best 248, his lone century of the season.

Three batsmen — Nkrumah Bonner, Paul Palmer and Captain John Campbell — scored two centuries each.

The 28-year-old Blackwood, who considerably curbed his attacking nature, was the most consistent while averaging 51.20 in 15 innings. His monumental ton was accompanied by six half-centuries.

The technically assured Bonner, who added two half-centuries to his pair of hundreds, ended with an aggregate of 523 runs in 13 innings. The 31-year-old's average of 58.11 was the best of the lot.

Palmer, 28, a solid middle-order batsman, accumulated 432 runs in 13 knocks at an average of 43.2.

Campbell, 26, tallied 491 runs. In 15 innings the dashing, left-handed West Indies Test opener had an average of 32.73.

The Scorpions skipper told the Jamaica Observer that a combination of factors led to the positive displays.

He said the impact of the Head Coach Andre Coley and his assistant Nikita Miller, along with the level of maturity exhibited by the top-order batsmen, was integral.

“As for the batting, we have been struggling for a few seasons. I think this season has been the best with the bat since I started to play, and that's probably like six seasons,” said Campbell, who made his first class debut in February 2014.

“The coaches and selection panel tried to keep the team together for as long as possible. There was no chop and change, really. Even after failing a few times, persons still got the opportunity to play again. And if you play a number of games you're going to improve, you're going to get better.

“Players, after a few games, really understood what they needed to do to be successful. Most of the players have been playing for a few seasons. I guess, especially in the batting, the guys are really maturing now,” he reasoned.

Bonner had by some distance his best season in regional cricket. He noted that previously his primary challenge was lack of focus.

“I don't think it's any one thing but I've had mentors who have helped in keeping my mind clear, and to focus on the job at hand. It was mental for me this year and being more focused.

“A lot of players don't know how to deal with failure, and in sport you fail more than how you perform well, so if you're able to deal with failure and keep your mind fresh for the next innings or the next game I think you'll be in good stead.

“I have to give them [the coaches] full credit — they are obviously among my mentors. If there was anything going on technically — just small shifts, not anything big — they'd put it on video and show me what's happening. They kept me on my toes at all times,” Bonner told the Observer.

Medium pacer Derval Green, who backed up his 22-wicket season haul with 263 runs at just below 30 runs per innings, praised the coaches while adding that the blossoming of the batting has been a thing in the making.

“Definitely I give him [Coley] credit for what he has done because he has gone beyond…in terms of if a player would like to bat more deliveries and so on. He has done his part, and so too Nikita Miller, the assistant coach. They threw a lot of balls for players to work on their game, to work on their weakness.

“This has been a process...other [previous] coaches have also helped players and there's also that maturity and understanding. We spoke about this as a unit, for each and everyone to step up and be responsible. That whole responsibility saw players man up to the challenge, and it helped the team,” Green argued.

Campbell pointed out that the bowling group got more effective as the tournament progressed.

“Players kept improving as the season went on, especially in the bowling department. We had a really young bowling group but over each game you could have seen the improvement.

“Both coaches worked tirelessly. At no time did a player ask for help and they refused, especially Miller with the young bowling group. And most of the guys worked with Coley in youth cricket, so it was a very easy transition,” the Scorpions captain explained.

Pacer Marquino Mindley led the way with 24 wickets, while rookie left-arm finger spinner Patrick Harty grabbed 22. Another seamer, Nicholson Gordon, though missing games due to injury, ended with 17, while off-break bowler Jamie Merchant had 16.

The Scorpions finished the league with 91.8 points, tied with former champions Guyana Jaguars.

Runaway leaders Pride (134.8 points) were declared winners of the six-team competition, which was brought to a premature end with only eight of the 10 rounds played due to health concerns arising from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (94.6 points) were runners-up, while Windward Islands Volcanoes (78) and Leeward Islands Hurricanes (52.8) were fifth and last, respectively.

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