FINAL PREVIEW: JA, CCC set for showdown at 3Ws Oval
Bridgetown, Barbados, CMC – Combined Campuses and Colleges will seek to make history while denying Jamaica their fourth straight title, in the final of the WICB First-Class Championship starting here Friday.
First ball at the 3Ws Oval at the Cave Hill Campus at the University of the West Indies is 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time).
At the start of the season, CCC would not have been among the favourites to reach this far but have defied the odds with excellent cricket to shock the doubters. Under the leadership of opener Omar Phillips, CCC were good enough to finish on top of the standings with 57 points at the end of preliminary round and stake a claim in the semi-finals where they clobbered Windward Islands inside three days last week.
On the back of these impressive outings, Phillips said his side was highly motivated to face the more experienced Jamaicans in what promises to be a tough opponents.
“The guys are really eager to go. We’re very upbeat at this moment. We had a good week, a good day of training and the guys are really looking forward to the final,” said the 24-year-old left-hander, who played two Tests for West Indies during the bitter players strike two years ago.
When the two teams met in the preliminary round in Spanish Town last month, the match finished in a draw with CCC emerging with first innings points. And while Phillips acknowledged the performance, he said they were not focussing on it as a Final presented different challenges.
CCC have been led by batsman Kyle Corbin who has compiled 571 runs with support from opener Romel Currency (410) and all-rounder Nkrumah Bonner (388). Their attack has centred around off-spinner Ryan Austin who has taken 39 wickets and left-arm spinner Kavesh Kantasingh (37), while fast bowler Carlos Brathwaite (26) has led the seamers.
Jamaica, meanwhile, have repeated their dominance of previous years and are favoured to win the contest.
Unbeaten for the season, they finished fourth in the standings to reach the semi-final where they played to a no-decision with Trinidad and Tobago, after batting for nearly 2-1/2 days to shut the Trinidadians out of the game. Acknowledging that CCC were a tricky side, captain Tamar Lambert said his charges were taking nothing for granted against the hosts.
“It’s going to be a good game. CCC got the better of us in the preliminary round back home in Jamaica. They’ve been pushing us for a number of years now and a number of games have been close. At the end of the day it is who plays the best four days of cricket that will come out on top.”
Jamaica will rely heavily on their strong batting which has already seen three players pass the 600-run mark.
Marlon Samuels has plundered 830 runs in his comeback season while Test left-hander Brendan Nash (626) and veteran Wavell Hinds (611) have been in superb form. Their bowling, beset by injuries to key players, has struggled and Lambert said this was where Jamaica were hoping to improve.
The two teams are playing for the Headley/Weekes Trophy, which has been named in honour of West Indies legend George Headley and Sir Everton Weeks.
Combined Campuses & Colleges: Omar Phillips (captain), Romel Currency, Shacaya Thomas, Raymon Reifer, Kyle Corbin, Floyd Reifer, Nkrumah Bonner, Carlos Brathwaite, Kevin McClean, Kavesh Kantasingh, Ryan Austin, Gilford Moore, Shervon Penco; Floyd Reifer (Coach).
Jamaica: Tamar Lambert (captain), Dave Bernard, Odean Brown, Jason Dawes, Nikita Miller, Wavell Hinds, Danza Hyatt, Simon Jackson, Brendon Nash, Brenton Parchment, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Chadwick Walton; Gus Logie (Coach)
Officials: Nigel Duguid, Goaland Greaves (umpires); Gregory Brathwaite (third umpire); Mervyn Jones (match referee).