ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — Director of cricket, Richard Pybus, says players should use the Professional Cricket League (PCL) first-class championship starting today to force their way into the West Indies senior side for upcoming tours.
Six franchises will do battle in the second edition of the PCL competition, which will feature ten rounds played over five months, for the Headley/Weekes Trophy.
Pybus said the tournament would be monitored closely by West Indies selectors, and this should be enough motivation for players to want to make their mark.
“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,” said Pybus.
“Some of the promising young talent from last season, who got opportunities through their performance in the PCL Regional Four-Day, has 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.”
Three rounds of the competition will be played this month ahead of the West Indies three-Test tour against Australia Down Under. Players will be expected to use especially the first two series to press their case to selectors.
The state of pitches is expected to come under heavy scrutiny, following complaints in recent season of low, slow tracks which favoured spinners.
Pybus said to encourage the use of the faster bowlers, St Lucia-based pitch curator Kent Crafton had been commissioned to work with respective stadium curators to improve the pitches.
“There was much debate during the off season about whether fast bowling should be incentivised in the Regional Four-Day to ensure that the fast bowlers deliver more overs,” the West Indies Cricket Board official said.
“We wanted to see fast bowlers have more dominant roles in the Regional Four-Day 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.”
All franchises have been engaged in intense preparation for the tournament since the conclusion of the draft back in June, and Pybus said he was eager to see what performances would now follow.
“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,” he explained.
“Last season, the teams didn’t have the off-season to get their squads settle, 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.”
The opening round of matches today will see reigning champions Guyana Jaguars clash with Windward Islands Volcanoes in Georgetown, Barbados Pride will host Jamaica Scorpions, while Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel travel to St Kitts to take on Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park.