Blackwood expects more from Scorpions this season
Jamaica Scorpions all-rounder Jermaine Blackwood says the team’s relative youth and inexperience is no excuse for another poor performance this season.
The Scorpions head into their West Indies Championship — the Caribbean’s top-tier, four-day cricket competition — next month looking to atone for last season’s outcome in which they finished last without winning a single game. They only drew one of their five matches.
Blackwood has put his faith in coach Andrew Richardson and his technical staff and says he is pleased with how training and trial games have gone so far. But he warns his lesser-experienced teammates that the team is now under pressure to perform, especially as it finished fifth in the season before last.
“It’s been good, it’s been hard,” Blackwood told the
Jamaica Observer recently. We’ve been training very hard over the last few weeks. We and the coach took a few steps in terms of the way how we prepare right now. I haven’t seen that for a while.
“The coaches have been doing a good job so far and I’m just hoping that the players can hold their opportunities when they get them. We’re talking about the younger players. They’ve been looking very good in the trial games and the practice, so far. I have nothing bad to say, and I just implore them to do their best when they get their opportunities come February.”
Abhijai Mansingh and Leroy Lugg were Jamaica’s top batters last season with 248 and 217 runs, respectively, but more will be expected of them and their teammates this season.
Blackwood says despite the pressure facing the team this season, the players are coping well with the weight of expectations, and the mood in the camp has been positive.
“The guys are loving it so far,” he said. “It’s hard work but the guys are putting in the hard work because four-day cricket is not easy. It’s going to be four long days so we’re getting in all of the necessary hard work from now so that the guys can become used to a certain type of work so when they face it in competition, it will be a walk in the park for them.”
That hard work, Blackwood says, consists of strength and fitness training and also more focus on skills with the bat and ball.
“Players are just identifying their roles in the team but we have a young team,” he said. “But not because we have a young team [means] we shouldn’t expect them to do well. These players that we have, these younger players, are very good, in my eyes. I know that this four-day [competition], we’re going to see a much-improved team from last year.”
Blackwood’s objective is to use this tournament to force his way back into the West Indies Test squad. His last appearance there was against India last summer where he scored five and 14 in the first Test at Windsor Park in Dominica and 20 in each innings in the second, at Queens Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The Windies lost the series 1-0.
“I’m just looking to score the most runs and to dominate the four-day competition this year and get back into the Test team; it’s as simple as that,” he said. “I have to get runs and I know that, so I just have to go out there and do it.
“I always want to play ODIs (One-Day Internationals) and once I get back into the West Indies team, I’m going to play ODIs cricket after that.”
Cricket West Indies announced on Thursday that the West Indies Academy and Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) have been added this season to move the tournament to eight teams.
Jamaica will host opening round matches with the Scorpions facing Windward Islands Volcanoes at Sabina Park in Kingston, and CCC meeting Barbados Pride at Chedwin Park in Spanish Town, St Catherine from February 7 to 10.