GROS ISLET, St Lucia – An even contest is expected between Jamaica and Windward Islands in the Final of the WICB’s Regional 4Day Tournament. Both camps expressed confidence after Friday’s training sessions as they put plans in place for the opening day on Saturday.
First ball at the Beausejour Stadium is 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time). The winning team will take home the Headley/Weekes Trophy – named in honour of legends George Headley and Sir Everton Weekes.
Speaking ahead of the match Jamaica’s long-standing coach Junior Bennett said his players are well-equipped to get the better of the home team. Windward Islands’ coach Ian Allen noted that his team always plays well at Beausejour and he believes home advantage could be crucial.
“We are going into the game with a similar approach to the other matches… the attitude that we went into the other game (semi-final) should not change,” Allen said. “We will be positive and look to win. We played a match here earlier in the season, against Barbados, and we were successful. We always enjoy playing here at Beausejour – where we get a lot of support – and we believe that gives us an edge over Jamaica.
“It was a really good team effort from everyone to help us reach the final. Everyone realises the significance of this tournament – we have never won this title… credit to everyone for the role they have played up to this point and we expect more of the same in this match as well.”
Windwards are expected to welcome back off-spinner Shane Shillingford, who is among the leading bowlers in the world. He missed the semi-final against Trinidad & Tobago.
“We are delighted to have Shane back. Over the years he has been the leading wicket-taker for us and he is a fantastic servant of Windward Islands cricket. Having him back in the set-up is always a plus for us and we know he will do well again this weekend,” added Allen, a former West Indies seam bowler.
Bennett is one of the most successful coaches in the region – having guided Jamaica to several titles at the junior and senior levels. He said a lot will depend on the batting of both teams and called on his batsmen to step up in the final.
“We are looking towards this match. It should be a very competitive match. Our batting has been a bit inconsistent throughout the tournament but we know if we can put a competitive total on the board we have the bowling to do the job,” he said.
“It was good to see the captain Tamar Lambert getting a hundred in the semi-final against Barbados and that helped us to win the game. Once the senior players go out and set the example we expect the younger players to follow and do the job for Jamaica.”
Bennett said he is looking for more good work from fast bowler Jerome Taylor, who made a successful return to the team in the NAGICO Super50 in January.
“Jeorme has bowled exceptionally well this year since he came back. If your go back to the one-day tournament and then look at the four-dayers he has been demonstrated his ability and is a key player for us. We hope he stays injury-free and continues to do what he does best – that is bowl fast and good.”
WINDWARD ISLANDS: Liam Sebastien (captain), Sunil Ambris, Miles Bascombe, Johnson Charles, Romel Currency, Delorn Johnson, Keddy Lesporis, Mervin Matthew, Nelon Pascal, Kenroy Peters, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Tyrone Theophile
JAMAICA: Tamar Lambert (captain), Carlton Baugh Jr, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Brian Buchanan, John Campbell, Jon-Ross Campbell, David Bernard Jr, Sheldon Cottrell, Damion Jacobs, Andre McCarthy, Nikita Miller, Jerome Taylor