“It should be close”. That is the view of seasoned Jamaica Scorpions all-rounder David Bernard Jr, as the team prepares to battle Barbados Pride, in the opening round of the second annual WICB Professional Cricket League.
The clash, which bowls off today at Kensington Oval in Barbados, will see the Scorpions, for the first time in years, entering the contest as slight underdogs, despite boasting players, who have represented the West Indies in the past.
To be led for the first time by recent Jamaica Under-19 captain, Paul Palmer Jr, the Scorpians has in their squad discarded Barbadian Kirk Edwards, Bernard Jr, spinner Nikita Miller, and wicketkeepers, Carlton Baugh Jr, and Chadwick Walton, who has don the colours of the regional side.
However, with Barbados, playing at home, and boasting seven West Indies players, the task for the rebuilding Scorpions, could be a daunting one.
Guided by West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite, the Pride has in their squad as West Indies representatives, fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Miguel Cummins, opener Shai Hope, wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican, and off-spinner, Ashley Nurse.
“I think Barbados is as weary about us as we are of them as we are good team as they are a good team,” cited Bernard Jr.
“However, over the years we have had good battles, and, often times we have got the better of them, so it should be close.”
“It’s, therefore, about going out there, and play to the plans that we have set out,” he continued.
Jamaica, second-from-bottom place finishers last season, are set to pivot their batting around Edwards, Baugh Jr, and Walton, who is likely to play as a batsman.
The quartet, in-form based on the team’s preseason matches, will also be hoping that exciting opener John Campbell, and his new partner Palmer Jr, along with Andre McCarthy, can add in their runs scoring pursuits.
Their bowling, the team’s mainstay in their last three failed title campaigns, is again slated to led by the consistent Miller with Jason Dawes and Marquino Mindley likely to provide fast bowling support.
As for Barbados, runners-up last season behind Guyana Jaguars, their batting should stem around Brathwaite, Hope and Dowrich, who recently returned from Sri Lanka, and their bowling, Roach and Warrican, who too were on the Asian sub-continent.