Rookie Shields has a big heart, says Coach Richardson
SHIELDS...this is what I've been looking for, this is what I've been working for ever since I was a youngster (Photo: Sanjay Myers)

THE Jamaica Scorpions' rookie fast bowler Ojay Shields says his game has grown leaps and bounds under the guidance of Head Coach Andrew Richardson.

Shields, who turns 27 on February 14, was named in the Scorpions 13-man squad for the opening two matches of the regional four-day competition after impressing selectors during preparation and trial matches.

He told the Jamaica Observer he was helped in no small part by Richardson, who was himself a standout pace bowler in regional cricket between 2002-03 and 2014.

"It's a big advantage having him as my coach because… most of the coaches I came across were former batsmen, so having a coach who was a fast bowler is a very big advantage," Shields, who is a physical education teacher at Enid Bennett High in Bog Walk, St Catherine, said.

"With the help of Coach Richardson and senior players — who always have good advice — they've added a lot to my game, teaching me how to use the angles, and also to manage myself through each spell, and how to plan an over."

Though a first timer in the Scorpions squad, Shields is no stranger to regional cricket. He made his debut in 2018 for Combined Campuses and Colleges, representing them for three seasons while attending G C Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in St Catherine.

During a training session at Sabina Park in Kingston last week, Richardson said Shields possesses the qualities to chart a successful career.

"Ojay has pace, he's skilful, and he has the main ingredient — which is a big heart — for a fast bowler," the Scorpions coach told the Observer.

"He took some wickets in the trial matches but what he has impressed with is his pace. He can be a difference maker as somebody who can bowl in excess of 140 kph. He can trouble batsmen — and certainly every time he came on in the practice games he brought a lot of excitement and he picked up timely wickets," Richardson noted.

During the practice matches Shields had best figures of 4-33 and 3-20. But the Kensington Cricket Club speedster, who said his stock delivery is the outswinger, acknowledged he is still developing his craft.

"There is always room for improvement and I could have got more wickets, but the pace and control I bowled with were good," he explained.

As he looked at the possibility of making his senior Jamaica debut against hosts Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Wednesday, Shields expressed both eagerness and confidence.

"This is what I've been looking for, this is what I've been working for ever since I was a youngster. At 26 I think I'm at peak age for any sportsperson so I'm just looking to make the best of the opportunity I have now.

"If given the opportunity, my aim is to get some wickets in the right-hand column [and] hit my lengths as hard as possible," said the former Holmwood Technical student.

– Sanjay Myers

Sanjay Myers

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