Bennett cites team unity ahead of CT20
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Jamaica's senior team cricket coach Junior Bennett has hailed the Twenty20 (T20) squad as a "closely knit" outfit and believes the unity will help the country as it seeks its first hold on the regional T20 crown.
The Jamaicans depart the island on Friday for Trinidad & Tobago to begin their campaign in the January 6-20 Caribbean T20 tournament and Bennett emphasised to the Jamaica Observer that the spirit within the camp is positive.
"This is a closely knit team and the players are working together to get things in place. Once they continue along that line we will have good results. It will surely enhance our chances of winning the competition," Bennett said yesterday.
The holders of five successive four-day titles and the reigning Super50 champions, the highly talented Jamaicans have never won a regional T20 title.
Recently, in particular, some have identified the inability or unwillingness of integral players to pull together to help the team get the better of the likes of CT20 powerhouses Trinidad & Tobago.
This campaign, the squad will also lack some firepower without the services of standout big-hitters Christopher Gayle and Marlon Samuels, as well as wicketkeeper/batsman Carlton Baugh.
Bennett, however, remains confident and declared that in this current 14-member squad, blessed with young players such as West Indies youth batsman John Campbell and 18-year-old wicketkeeper Aldaine Thomas, the players all have one goal.
"We have young players in this squad that want to do well. They have meshed well with the senior players, so it has been a smooth process and everyone wants to win," said the former national youth coach who has overseen successful four-day and 50-overs triumphs at the senior level.
Meanwhile, the first half of the tournament will take place at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad from January 6-12. The second phase is scheduled for the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia from January 15-20.
Jamaica will open the tournament against T&T at Queen's Park Oval on January 6 in a day/night affair.
Each of the seven participating teams will play the other once and the winners will automatically move into the final. The second and third-placed teams will play-off for a spot in the championship showpiece.