FACING THE HEAT
Jamaica Scorpions start regional four-day campaign against Volcanoes
WITH regional four-day cricket returning to Jamaican soil for the first time in four years, Jamaica Scorpions are looking for a positive start in their season opener against Windward Islands Volcanoes at Sabina Park in Kingston.
The encounter is scheduled to begin today at 10 am.
Due to multiple reasons — not least the COVID-19 pandemic — Jamaica, who haven’t won the regional first class title since the 2011-12 campaign, last played a home match in early 2020. That game was at Trelawny Stadium, outside Falmouth in north-western Jamaica.
Scorpions Head Coach Andrew Richardson is optimistic that home advantage and solid preparation are enough to get his team off on the right foot.
“We’re in a good space mentally. We’ve put in a lot of work in the last two and a half months [so] I think we are really ready to go,” he told the
Jamaica Observer on the eve of the match.
“We had three practice games in which the batters got valuable time in the middle, the spinners did well, and the fast bowlers gave a good account of themselves.”
The Scorpions, captained by Jermaine Blackwood, are without marquee batsman Brandon King who is on West Indies duty in Australia.
Aside from not winning the four-day crown for over a decade, the Scorpions have been largely in poor form in recent campaigns, culminating in last season’s demoralising last-place finish. But Richardson said they have put that disappointment behind them.
“We’re not focused on [the past]. I think we have made some good changes in terms of style of play — how we want to play — identifying people for specific roles, and everyone knowing exactly what is expected of them. We’re in a good space mentally and now it’s just for us to withstand the physical pressures of four-day cricket and to execute the plans in place,” the former Jamaica fast bowler explained.
Windward Islands Volcanoes Head Coach Kenroy Peters, who is a former left-arm pacer for the franchise, expressed confidence going into the match. But he insisted there is no complacency despite finishing second to Guyana Harpy Eagles last season.
“We are very excited about starting the season well. We had a very good preparation in St Vincent… [it] was really geared around individual skill and technical work,” he said as the team trained at the match venue on Tuesday.
“We’re not going to take anyone lightly. They [the Scorpions] are playing at home [so] there’s a lot for Jamaica to prove. Our main aim is to play consistently well over the days and look to come out on top; we may be considered favourites because we came second last year. And some would say Jamaica is going through a transition period, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have quality,” Peters explained.
He told the
Observer that his squad has sufficient cover for the absence of leading batsmen Kavem Hodge and Alick Athanaze, who are with the West Indies team.
“One of the positives about the franchise system is that all the franchises have these contracted players working with all year-round so if you miss key players, you have players who are part of the system who understand the goals as a team,” said the Volcanoes coach.
Kimani Melius, 23, the former West Indies Under-19 skipper, will lead the Volcanoes.
Squads: Scorpions — Jermaine Blackwood (captain), Marquino Mindley (vice-captain), Carlos Brown, Kirk McKenzie, Chadwick Walton, Nkrumah Bonner, Peat Salmon, Abhijai Mansingh, Romaine Morris, Ramaal Lewis, Jeavor Royal, Derval Green, Gordon Bryan
Volcanoes — Kimani Melius (captain), Ryan John (vice-captain), Jeremy Solozano, Sunil Ambris, Darel Cyrus, Johann Jeremiah, Shadrack Descarte, Tevyn Walcott, Shamar Springer, Keron Cottoy, Kenneth Dember, Daurius Martin, Shermon Lewis
ROUND ONE SCHEDULE (February 7-10)
Scorpions vs Vocanoes @ Sabina Park
CCC vs Pride @ Chedwin Park
Hurricanes vs CWI Academy @ Warner Park
Harpy Eagles vs Red Force @ Conaree Cricket Centre