The West Indies Cricket Board Professional Cricket League Regional Four-Day Tournament bowls off tomorrow in three territories with Barbados Pride taking on the Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington Oval.
It’s the second straight season of the new franchise format featuring ten rounds of matches. The tournament will be played over the next five months between franchises drawn from the six territorial boards of the WICB.
Barbados Pride coach Henderson Springer told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that his charges were ready to go. He expressed his satisfaction with the team’s level of preparedness.
“Our preparations have gone very well. We have had our training sessions and we have also had the trial matches, so the team is at the level one would expect for such an important tournament,” Springer said.
He expressed confidence in his team and their chances of coming out on top in this year’s regional tournament.
“We are looking to go one better this year and win the tournament having placed second to Guyana last year. We have all our bases covered and the players know what is expected of them and it is just a matter of going out into the middle and playing according to our plans ,” he said.
Springer said that with the recent focus of regional selectors on youth, the young players in the Barbados Pride should strive to do well and perform to their optimum to put their names in the limelight for future consideration.
“It is for these players to simply focus and perform,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding he anticipated a good team performance against the Jamaica Scorpions tomorrow once the weather allowed.
Meanwhile WICB director of cricket, Richard Pybus, has indicated the board’s excitement about the second season of the professional league.
“We’re excited going into the second season of the PCL Regional 4-Day. We want to see how much progress the franchise teams have made having had an off-season with their squads to work on their preparation and fitness, as well as team and individual game plans.
“Last season, the teams didn’t have the off-season to get their squads settled, and for the coaches and support staff to challenge the players to grow their games, so this year will be an opportunity to evaluate the quality of the off-season work put in by the players and coaches,” Pybus said.
He noted that regional selectors would be paying a keen interest on emerging young talent.
“The selection panel of the WICB will be watching to see who can produce consistent results to force their way into the picture for selection to the West Indies Test side.
“Some of the promising young talent from last season, who got opportunities through their performance in the Professional Cricket League Regional 4-Day Tournament, have discovered it is quite a jump to the Test level and will be seeking to consolidate last season’s performance to ensure that they stay in the selectors’ thoughts,” Pybus said.
The cricket administrator also indicated that much attention will be paid to the quality of pitches produced by curators for the tournament.
“Regional curator Kent Crafton has been supporting the stadium curators to improve the pitches for the coming season. There was much debate during the off-season about whether fast bowling should be incentivised [in the tournament] to ensure that the fast bowlers deliver more overs.
“We wanted to see fast bowlers have more dominant roles [in the tournament] with the goal of creating greater competition for West Indies fast bowling spots.
“The trend has been for spinners to dominate, but the franchise coaches –– at their meeting during the off season –– all felt that if the pitches improve, the captains will use their fast bowlers more and asked that Kent and the curators be given the chance to work on them,” Pybus said.
Barbados Pride will enter tomorrow’s match with a stronger team on paper than the Scorpions with the likes of Test players, captain Kraigg Brathwaite, batsmen Shane Dowrich and Shai Hope, fast bowler Kemar Roach and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
The Scorpions will also have players with international experience with the likes of Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh Jr. and Dave Bernard Jr. in their line-up. They also have the services of West Indies batsman and former Barbados captain Kirk Edwards. Much interest will also be paid to promising fast bowler Marquino Mindley.
The other games starting tomorrow are those between the Guyana Jaguars and the Windward Islands Volcanoes at the Guyana National Stadium and Leeward Islands Hurricanes versus Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at Warner Park, St Kitts.
The Jaguars are expected to face a typically stout challenge from the Volcanoes.
It will be a hard act for the Jaguars to follow up from last season, after they became the first side to claim the Headley-Weekes Trophy, symbol of regional supremacy, by topping the table, following victories in eight of their matches including a 92-run win in the corresponding fixture last season..
The Hurricanes –– under new management –– will be hoping to continue to build on their growing confidence from the tail-end of last season, which they ended with two straight victories including a stunning, come-from-behind win in the backyard of their opponents for this weekend.
Squads: Pride (from): Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Kemar Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Kyle Corbin, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Justin Greaves, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Kevin Stoute, Jomel Warrican
Scorpions (from): Paul Palmer Jr (captain), Carlton Baugh Jr, Dave Bernard Jr, John Campbell, Jason Dawes, Kirk Edwards, Damion Jacobs, Brandon King, Andre McCarthy, Nikita Miller, Marquino Mindley, Nicholson Gordon, Chadwick Walton