BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, CMC – Marlon Samuels enhanced his chances of a recall to the West Indies side for future assignments, when he collected his third hundred for Jamaica in the WICB Regional first-class championship against Leeward Islands on Friday.
The 30-year-old Samuels was undefeated on a chanceless 143, as Jamaica, choosing to bat, reached 332 for three in their first innings on the opening day of the fourth round match at Warner Park.
Samuels has so far struck 15 fours and two sixes from 206 balls in just over four hours to lead a consistent batting down the order from the visitors.
Brendan Nash supported with 67, and Simon Jackson scored 61 in significant stands with Samuels, after Danza Hyatt made 44.
Samuels reached his milestone from 134 balls, when he pulled a short ball from Anthony Martin through mid-wicket for two. It followed scores of 13, 250 not out, 40, 20, 0, and 105 in his six previous innings in the competition.
He added 76 for the second wicket Jackson, and put on 163 for the third wicket with West Indies Test batsman Brendan Nash.
Hyatt had given the Jamaicans the early impetus with seven fours and one six his knock before he was run out in the final half-hour before lunch.
Jamaica were 102 for one at the interval, and they continued to took a firm grip on the contest on resumption, when Samuels and Jackson filled their troughs.
Jackson, a former Combined Campuses & Colleges captain, batted solid to pass 50 before he was caught behind off medium-pace bowler Tonito Willett. He struck 11 fours and one six from 110 balls in a little over 2 ½ hours.
Nash joined Samuels, and was fortunate, when Leewards captain Steve Liburd dropped him at cover off leg-spinner Anthony Martin on 15.
The left-hander shrugged-off this setback, and with Samuels consolidated for the Jamaicans, taking the visitors to 218 for two at tea.
After the break, Nash remained to reach his 50, and usher Samuels past his landmark before Liburd compensated for his earlier miss, when he had him caught at short mid-wicket in the last half-hour before stumps were drawn. The Aussie-born batsman struck 10 fours from 140 balls in just under three hours.
Jamaica made one change to their line-up, with former Young West Indies fast bowler Jason Dawes replacing Jerome Taylor, who has returned home, following the death of his grandmother.
Leewards made four changes, with Shane Jeffers, Dalson Tuitt (on debut), Gavin Williams, and Jacques Taylor (on debut) replacing the injured Kieran Powell, as well as Montcin Hodge, Omari Banks, and Justin Athanaze.
Leewards stand at the foot of the eight-team ladder on three points, following their second defeat this season, after the Combined Campuses & Colleges crushed them by 158 runs in the previous round on home soil at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua.
Jamaica have the same 24 points as the CCC and the England Lions at the top of the table, but they are effectively third, under the tie-breaker rules for the competition, after they settled for first innings points in a draw with Barbados last time out.
Warner Park has been a happy hunting ground for the Jamaicans. They have won their last two matches at the ground two years ago, and last year.
But they know they cannot take the Leewards lightly, as they found out two years ago, when their opponents sprung a surprise, and beat the Jamaicans by 28 runs in their own backyard at Sabina Park in Kingston.
JAMAICA 1st Innings
D. Hyatt run out (Tonge/Hamilton) 44
S. Jackson c wkpr Hamilton b Willett 61
M. Samuels not out 143
B. Nash c Burton b Liburd 67
T. Lambert not out 7
Extras (lb1, w1, nb8) 10
TOTAL (3 wkts, 92 overs) 332
W. Hinds, D. Bernard Jr, +C. Walton, O. Brown, A. Richardson, J. Dawes to bat
Fall of wickets: 1-79, 2-155, 3-318
Bowling: Baker 13-5-51-0; Tonge 16-2-56-0 (nb7); Willett 11-1-40-1 (w1); Martin 28-1-100-0; Taylor 15-0-60-0 (nb1); Liburd 9-2-24-1
LEEWARD ISLANDS: S. Jeffers, D. Tuitt, S. Burton, *S. Liburd, G. Williams, T. Willett, +J. Hamilton, G. Tonge, J. Taylor, L. Baker, A. Martin
First-class debut: J. Taylor, D. Tuitt (Leewards)
Umpires: W. Mitchum, P. Nero
Matchreferee: V. Burnes
Reserve umpire: T. Texeira