Jamaica Scorpions Head Coach Andrew Richardson is hopeful the return of Test player Jermaine Blackwood to the squad will boost the batting unit for the fourth-round regional four-day match against hosts Guyana Harpy Eagles.
The encounter is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Blackwood, who was on West Indies duty in Zimbabwe and South Africa, replaces left-hander Kirk McKenzie — the Scorpions' only change from their third-round match versus Windward Islands Volcanoes last week.
Blackwood will also take over the Scorpions' captaincy duties from stand-in skipper Paul Palmer.
The Scorpions have been endured a dismal run in the tournament so far. They barely held on for a draw against Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the opening round, and have since lost to champions Barbados Pride by six wickets and to the Volcanoes by 181 runs.
The batsmen have been particularly disappointing – the team is yet to combine for a score of at least 250 and no Scorpions player has made a century.
"Our batsmen haven't given the sort of production we anticipated at the start of the season," Richardson told the Jamaica Observer. "We have two games remaining, and with the return of Captain Jermaine Blackwood we are longing for better performances."
Given the disparity in form between the two teams, the task will be even more difficult for the Scorpions.
The Harpy Eagles lead the six-team table with 49 points, ahead of the Volcanoes (37.8), the Hurricanes (34.2), the Pride (31.2), Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (24.8) and the Scorpions (15.4)
"We simply need to improve at the top of our batting order and continue [to bat] throughout. It's difficult to be in the field 11 out of 12 days of cricket. You just don't win cricket games at this level like that," Richardson said, referring to how quickly the team's batting has folded in previous matches.
The coach said the bowlers have also not been at their best.
"In the previous game our spinners weren't as penetrative or as consistent with their lengths and that also must improve," he noted.
Scorpions squad — Jermaine Blackwood (captain), Leroy Lugg, Tevin Gilzene, Nkrumah Bonner, Paul Palmer, Abhijai Mansingh, Aldaine Thomas, Jamie Merchant, Patrick Harty, Nicholson Gordon, Marquino Mindley, Ojay Shields, Derval Green.