The 31st Kingston Wharves Under-15 Cricket Competition returned to the pitch with the launch and start of play at the JDF Cricket Ground in Kingston at Up Park Camp on Tuesday.
The finals of the last competition ended at the same venue in 2019 with Manchester winning it, prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Jamaica Cricket Association's Cricket Operations Officer Oneil Cruickshank, it was challenging to bring back the competition after the two-year absence in terms of finding players for all of the 20 teams as well as deliver quality games across the island.
He said: "I honestly believe that we will see a very good competition this year. One of the things we did this year was to change the age limit to allow some older boys and girls to play so the age group is now under 16 for this year. We believe that with the additional year on the age it might help with the type of performances we will see in this competition."
In explaining the structure of the competition, Cruickshank said: "This year we will have 17 teams [and] we still have four zones. It will be one zone of five and three teams of four. The teams that are in the zones of four, each team will end up playing two teams twice [and] those that are in the zone of five, a team will get a bye every week so at least at a minimum in the preliminary stage a team will play four matches... then they move the top two teams out of each zone will then progress to the quarter-finals and then to the semi-finals and finals which will be played on September one."
At the start of the tournament, title sponsor Kingston Wharves was represented by their Corporate Services and Client Experience Manager Simone Murdock who was pleased to see the safe return of the game that they have been for over three decades.
"It's a no-brainer for us and actually we continued through the pandemic as we supported a couple scouting and prep teams for the Under-19 during the pandemic, but certainly nowhere near to what the competition represents. We are glad to be back full-steam and rolling. The gentlemen here today look very good and anxious to start so we hope we will have a good competition. We know we have some lost ground to catch-up from a skills point of view but we are glad to get the ball rolling," she said.
Murdock was on the field to bowl off the first match of the competition between Kensington and Lucas. Kensington won the toss and opted to bowl.
Lucas made 175 all out on the back of 46 from Savio Jones, captain Demarco Scott 39 and Kenrick McFarlane 32. Only one other player got into double figures as there was a healthy contribution of 42 extras.
The bulk of the wickets went to Jeovanni Golding who bagged three wickets for three runs in one over and two deliveries, and Andrew Lloyd, two for 56 runs in 10 overs. The 50 overs innings was competed in 35.2 overs.
When it was Kensington' time to bat they piled on the runs quickly and was done in 30 overs flat. The scoring was led by Captain David Dewar who made 56 not out in just 49 deliveries including three fours and a six. Andrew Lloyd gave good support with 43 runs after being run out by Kenrick McFarlane.
The only wicket to fall to a bowler went to Captain Scott who got one for 19 in 10 overs.
The second round of matches in the preliminary round will bowl off today at several venues across the island.