JAMAICA cricket’s lead selector Junior Bennett says he welcomes the availability of the Scorpions’ more senior batsmen as they prepare for the third-round West Indies Championship four-day match against Windward Islands Volcanoes next week.
West Indies white-ball batsman Brandon King, who missed the losses to Trinidad and Tobago Red Force and Barbados Pride last month, enters the fray for his first match of the 2022 regional four-day season.
Test middle-order batsman Nkrumah Bonner, who did not feature in the contest versus the Red Force, is also in the 15-man squad.
They join Test vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood, Test opener John Campbell, who is the Jamaica Scorpions captain, and former national skipper Paul Palmer for the Volcanoes assignment.
“It’s a significant boost and they are definitely going to boost our batting because those are our international players. A middle order that could probably consist of Blackwood, Bonner and King backed up with Palmer or others would be a strong middle order,” Bennett told the Jamaica Observer.
The Scorpions are last in the six-team table with 8.8 points after the two defeats, while the Volcanoes (10.8) are fifth. Champions Barbados Pride lead with 42 points, followed by the Red Force (38.8), Leeward Islands Hurricanes (24.8) and Guyana Harpy Eagles (21.4).
Bennett said the batting is so far the franchise’s main weakness during the campaign — as it has been for several seasons.
“John scored a brilliant hundred against Barbados, and he has done well…but I believe the batting really has to come to the party.
“If you look at the Barbados game in the first innings we were 301-3 and then to be all out for 328, you just needed someone to come in the middle and bat. These players together can help to stabilise that middle order for us,” said the former national team coach.
He noted that the bowlers were not as sharp as he would have hoped for the opening two rounds.
“I think we bowled fairly well in patches. The bowlers were fairly economical but we took too long to get those wickets and for you to win matches you need to consistently take 20 wickets. I know, coming off the COVID-19 issues and the way things were in Jamaica, everything started late, but these are seasoned campaigners and we expect more from them,” he explained.
After the encounter against the Volcanoes, set to start on Wednesday, the Scorpions are slated to face the Harpy Eagles, beginning on May 25, and the Hurricanes in a match scheduled to bowl off on June 1. All three matches are to be contested in Trinidad and Tobago.
Squad — John Campbell (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice captain), Leroy Lugg, Nkrumah Bonner, Brandon King, Kirk McKenzie, Derval Green, Paul Palmer, Aldaine Thomas, Jamie Merchant, Patrick Harty, Nicholson Gordon, Marquino Mindley, Oraine Williams, Gordon Bryan.