Lambert: Jamaica motivated for 5
Kingston, Jamaica - To maintain a successful run requires plenty of motivation and extra-ordinary resolve. That is the strongly held view of Jamaica Captain Tamar Lambert as his team chases a record-breaking five consecutive Regional 4 Day titles.
Guided by head coach Junior Bennett, Jamaica won three regional championships from 2008-2010.
Last season when the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) technical committee replaced Bennett with Trinidadian Gus Logie, Lambert's team continued its winning ways and equalled Barbados's admirable feat between 1977 and 1980.
Lambert noted that he expects his rivals to raise their standard against Jamaica, but emphasised that the prospect of rewriting the history books provides overwhelming encouragement for his players.
"I think that this season every game is going to be extra hard because teams know we are aiming for five straight titles. They will all provide tough challenges, but we are very much motivated.
"For us it is a motivation because no other team has done it. We are aware of what to expect and we still have to take things one game at a time," the 30-year-old middle-order batsman told the Observer recently.
Reunited with Bennett, Jamaica won the 50-overs title for the first time since the 2007-08 season, but lost in the final of the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament.
They have been off to a perfect start in the four-day format recording three wins in as many matches -- all ending inside three days and top the standings on maximum 36 points.
Powered by a regal 165 from sidelined West Indies opener Christopher Gayle, Jamaica survived a classy century from left-hander Devon Smith to beat the Windward Islands by 81 runs at Sabina Park in the tournament's opening round.
In the round-two feature match against a formidable Barbados team, the reigning champions were without Gayle and all-rounder Andre Russell due to their engagements in the Bangladesh Premier League.
However, left-arm slow bowler Nikita Miller took ten wickets on an unusually dry Sabina track to lead Jamaica to a relatively comfortable 120-run win.
Lambert supported with attractive half-centuries in either innings to counter determined spells from the fearsome Bajan pace trio of Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach and Tino Best and lanky spinner Sulieman Benn.
Those successes were followed by a thumping innings win over the hapless Leeward Islands team, also at Sabina Park. Donovan Pagon, stroking a monumental 155; accurate bowling from leg-spinner Odean Brown and Miller and shoddy batting from the Leewards team highlighted the two-and-a-half days of cricket.
Despite the bright start, Lambert insists on getting more from his team.
"We are on the right path, but first and foremost we want to reach the semi-final... (then) we will take it from there. We just want to show improvement with each game," he said.
Jamaica now turn to the Guyanese, whom they will face starting Friday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua in a day/night encounter. The squad left the island yesterday.