ST. JOHN’S, Antigua—Another season packed with bright prospects and great opportunities for the region’s best players begins when the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional Cricket League Regional Four-Day Tournament opens today.
Leeward Islands Hurricanes host T&T Red Force at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts. 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 at the National Cricket Centre, Balmain, Couva, against T&T.
T&T’s batting was disappointing last season, which saw the Red Force only finish ahead of the Leeward Islands on the six-team standings. The Red Force batting includes draft picks Narsingh Deonarine and Kyle Hope, older brother of West Indies opener Shai Hope, while a lot will depend on the left-handed duo of Evin Lewis and Yannic Cariah. The Guyana Jaguars are expected to face a typically stout challenge, when they face Windward Islands Volcanoes at the Guyana National Stadium. 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 in the franchise era of four-day cricket, following victories in eight of their matches including a 92-run win in the corresponding fixture last season.
The match-of-the-round is, however, shaping up to be at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
It features Barbados Pride, last year’s second-placed team, with a handful of Test stars including captain Kraigg Brathwaite, batsmen Shane Dowrich and Shai Hope, fast bowler Kemar Roach and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican, and their long-standing rivals Jamaica Scorpions boosted by Barbadian draft pick Kirk Edwards. It’s the second season of the regional four-day tournament under the franchise format, featuring ten rounds of matches – the same as last season – played over the next five months between franchises drawn from the six territorial boards of the WICB. “We’re excited going into the second season of the PCL Regional Four-Day,” said WICB director of cricket Richard Pybus. “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.”