JAMAICA’S cricket coach Junior Bennett expects out-of-form wicketkeeper/batsman Carlton Baugh to bounce back after being overlooked for the Regional Super50 tournament, set to start on January 15 in Trinidad & Tobago.
The wicketkeeper’s slot in the 14-man squad is filled by Horace Miller, a 25-year-old player known more for his batting than his work with the gloves.
“Carlton is a quality player… he is struggling a bit at the moment, so Horace Miller has been given the opportunity to keep wicket. We hope he’ll do his best,” Bennett told the Jamaica Observer.
“We know Carlton and the kind of player he is and we expect him to get back into form. He’s the first-class (four-day tournament) ‘keeper and he’s in training still because the first-class season resumes in February.
Baugh, 32, who has 12 first-class centuries to his name, has noticeably struggled with the bat of late. The sidelined West Indies player batted in three of Jamaica’s four matches in the first-half of the revamped four-day tournament and has a top score of 31 in six innings.
Overall, Bennett expressed satisfaction with the composition of the Nikita Miller-captained squad, which features a few rookies.
Left-arm swing bowler Gavon Brown, medium pacer Derval Green and left-arm wrist spinner Dennis Bulli have never played for the senior national team. Leg spinner Damion Jacobs and quick bowler Marquino Mindley have limited experience in the four-day format, but both are uncapped in 50-over cricket.
While Jamaica have won six four-day titles since the 2004-05 season, they have only topped two 50-over campaigns in that time.
Bennett, who has been at the helm throughout most of those seasons, is positive that the mixture of youthful and senior players could reap rewards. He also welcomed the return of experienced top-order batsman Danza Hyatt, who was controversially dropped ahead of last season’s tournament.
“We have about five new faces who haven’t played One-day cricket for Jamaica. We are hoping they can go out and give a good account of themselves. We have a talented squad with a fair balance. Once we go out and execute efficiently we should be very competitive in the tournament.
“The faster bowlers have been doing well and they can all do something with the ball. The spin attack is led by Nikita Miller and we have Dennis Bulli and Damion Jacobs. People might say a few of them haven’t played One-Day cricket for Jamaica before, but they have the quality.
“Danza is back and looking fairly good, so we just hope that he and [Tamar] Lambert and other senior players really stand up and we can get good team totals,” he said.
The veteran coach said favourable weather and good discipline shown by the players throughout the holidays mean they are in prime physical condition.
“They are in excellent condition and I’m pleased with where they are right now. We break for the new year and then return for the final phase [of training] on Saturday and we’ll have the first of two practice games on Sunday.”
Jamaica are scheduled to open their Super50 account against Leeward Islands on January 16 in Port of Spain.
Jamaica squad — Nikita Miller (capt), Tamar Lambert, John Campbell, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Andre McCarthy, Danza Hyatt, Horace Miller, David Bernard, Damion Jacobs, Marquino Mindley, Derval Green, Gavon Brown, Dennis Bulli.