Jamaica primed for T20 success
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - The staging of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) Twenty20 (T20) and the JAM T20 cricket competitions just ahead of the regional championships is a major boost for the national team's chances, according to head coach Junior Bennett.
The 14-member Jamaica squad departs the island today for Trinidad & Tobago to play in the January 6-20 Caribbean T20 tournament, and Bennett told the Jamaica Observer that the added competitive action has helped to sharpen his young crop of players.
"It (playing more local T20 competitions) will always help because it affords the youths more chance to play T20 cricket. The JAM T20 and the JPL super-eight competitions definitely did the players well. I expect them to be very competitive," he said yesterday.
In years gone by the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has been heavily criticised by many that enough T20 cricket was not being played to give potential national representatives sufficient opportunity to hone their skills.
However, this local season, players were treated to club-based Twenty20 action that was followed closely by the inaugural franchise-oriented JPL competition as the local body sought to increase the exposure to the shortest format of the game.
The national coach said the JPL, in particular, offered the selected players ideal competitive action on weekends after their customary training sessions in midweek and called on the JCA to sustain any such programme.
"Earlier in our preparation we had practice on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and then on weekends they played those matches, and they helped. Those are competitive matches that contributed to their overall preparation.
"It is something the coaching staff welcomes and we wouldn't mind every year it happens. It is good to see the JPL which offered a few more games for them. So when you combined it with the squad practice it really helped in putting the players in sharp condition," Bennett said.
The Jamaicans, who have never won the Caribbean T20 or the now defunct Stanford 20/20 tournament, will open their account against the hosts at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain on Sunday.
While the first half of the competition will be held in Trinidad from January 6-12, the second phase is scheduled for the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia from January 15-20.