JUNIOR Bennett, coach of the Jamaica Scorpions, believes the team’s batting has improved significantly and is anticipating a competitive season in the West Indies Cricket Board four-day Professional Cricket League.
The youthful 13-man squad, which fields two fresh faces in Captain Paul Palmer and pacer Nicholson Gordon, was set to depart the island yesterday for Barbados ahead of their opening fixture at Kensington Oval tomorrow.
“We are looking to get off to an extremely good start this year. They [Barbados] are at home and they understand the conditions there, but once we play to the best of our ability, I believe we will be very competitive in that game,” Bennett told journalists prior to the team’s departure from Sabina Park.
However, dismal Jamaican batting was once again brought to the fore during an overall disappointing display in last year’s competition. They could only muster three wins from 10 games, while losing five and drawing two.
But Bennett is backing the team to turn the tables this season.
“Our cricket has improved immensely since last year. Majority of the youngsters that are here now have learned, and if you looked at how they played last year in comparison to how they are playing now, I believe they will give a good account of themselves this year,” he noted.
“[I am] definitely confident. If we go by what we have seen in the trial matches…I believe the batsmen have done extremely well,” he added.
The veteran coach expressed high hopes for Kirk Edwards, the out-of-favour West Indies batsman from Barbados who was drafted.
“I am pleased with Kirk’s form at the moment. He scored a hundred in the last four-day game, and I believe he should go out there, get a good start and carry on. It is a very important year for Kirk… I believe once he is productive he can find his way back into the West Indies team,” Bennett contended.
The Jamaica coach pointed out that long-time captain Tamar Lambert, who was left out of the squad for this game, will be missed, but in the same breath he added that young Palmer is a capable of filling the gap.
“Paul Palmer is young, but he has been playing through high school, right through to CCC [Combined Campus and Colleges], so I believe that once the seasoned players rally around him he will do a very good job. He is a knowledgeable player, he understands the game well, and he can manage pressure well, so I believe he should go out there and equip himself well,” Bennett declared.