Super second semi-final in store
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - Windward Islands have three batsmen in the top ten of this year’s Super50 competition.
But cricket lovers will want to see whether they can conquer Jamaica’s two wily spinners Nikita Miller and Odean Brown in what should be an absorbing semi-final duel at Kensington Oval this evening.
That is probably the key to the match. Jamaica have arguably the two best spinners in tandem in the competition, while the Windwards have probably the most fearsome top three in Johnson Charles, Devon Smith and Andre Fletcher.
When the teams met in March in Grenada, Jamaica won comfortably by 78 runs. The Windwards chasing a target of 230, folded for 151, with leg-spinner Brown capturing three for 19 and Miller, left-arm spin, two for 23. Charles scored two, Smith was out for a duck and Fletcher made 21. So it is important that one of these three make a sizeable contribution.
Johnson, the dashing 24-year-old St Lucian, who struck One-Day International hundreds in February off Australia and Zimbabwe, could be the key. His showdown with fast bowler Andrew Richardson and the left-arm fast-medium Krishmar Santokie, should be intriguing.
Windwards manager Lockhart Sebastien was upbeat after an intense morning practice session at the Desmond Haynes Oval in Black Rock.
“We are up to the challenge. We have played very well this season. Our original goal was to get to the semi-finals and we are here now, and our target is to win this game so we can get to Sunday’s final.
“We have three batsmen in the first ten in terms of aggregates and averages, so we feel confident.
“We bat all the way down. Someone like Shane Shillingford, who bats at [No.] eight, is good enough.
“We all that know that our bowling is what has helped us over the years, so we feel confident that once we put up a good score, we will be able to get through,” said the 57-year-old Sebastien, the Windwards’ leading batsman of the 1970s.
The Windwards have been no-hopers for several seasons. Not so this time. They are in the course of one of their best ever years with a double still on the cards.
“We haven’t won anything for a long time, so we are hoping to win one of the competitions, or both, it doesn’t really matter,” Sebastien said.
Shillingford, on a high after his match winning heroics against Zimbabwe, said the Windwards have stepped up their game over the last few seasons.
“Certain little things we need to put together, we have been doing more consistently. We have certain goals, winning game by game, and now trying to win championships.
“With that comes hard training and all the guys are putting in hard training in the nets,” said Shilingford, whose off spin has earned him 48 wickets in just ten Tests.
The Windwards must know they have to play really well against Jamaica, the kings of Caribbean cricket with conquests in last season’s four-day and Super 50 competitions.
Led by Tamar Lambert, the team is well served in bowling with the captain’s useful off-breaks supporting the front line spin of Miller and Brown. Vice-captain Dave Bernard remains a steady medium-pacer and back-up to Richardson and Santokie.
If the batting badly misses the class of Marlon Samuels and fireworks of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, the elegant Nkrumah Bonner, dashing Danza Hyatt and solid players such as Brenton Parchment, Bernard and the reliable Lambert will partially compensate.
Bonner went in at nought for one, and made a splendid hundred off host country Barbados in February, while the muscular Hyatt returned to his best with a blazing 99 off the Leewards’ attack last month at Sabina Park.
Lambert knows that the Windwards will provide a stern challenge.
“We don’t concentrate on our opponents too much. We try and concentrate on ourselves and prepare mentally and physically for the game.
“Smith and Shillingford have had good seasons and I know it is going to take a full team effort from us to get the better of them.
“They always play cricket right down to the end, they are a tough team and we expect the game to be competitive,” he said.
Jamaica are eyeing another double but Lambert is not taking anything for granted.
“We just want to take one game at a time. We don’t want to look too far ahead because cricket is played on the day, so we are looking forward to this game.
“We dropped a few catches in the last few games, but [that’s] nothing to write home about. That is why we have been double crown champions last season and winners of the four-day tournament for the last five years. Our out fielding, catching-wise, has improved tremendously over the years and we are continuing to work hard,” Lambert said.
Jamaica – Tamar Lambert (captain), Dave Bernard (vice-captain), Danza Hyatt, Brenton Parchment, Andrew McCarthy, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlton Baugh Jr, Nkrumah Bonner, Nikita Miller, Odean Brown, Andrew Richardson, Kishmar Santokie and Sheldon Cotterell.
WINDWARDS – Liam Sebastien (captain), Devon Smith, Johnson Charles, Tyrone Theophile, Andre Fletcher, Keddy Lesporis, Dalton Polius, Alston Bobb, Kenroy Peters, Shane Shillingford, Delorn Johnson, Dawnley Grant, Mervin Wells.