Leewards aim to end CT20 drought
St. John’s, Antigua –Leeward Islands are on a mission to see them go where they have never gone before in the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament.
They have assembled early for a pre-tournament training camp to get mentally and physically ready as they take on the region’s best from January 6 to 20.
They have struggled in the CT20, failing to reach the Final Four in the three tournaments. They suffered two defeats and had a no-decision two years ago, lost three times before securing their first win over Canada last year, and also had three defeats and a victory – again over the Canadians – this year.
The selection panel of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association made a huge call when they recalled Sylvester Joseph as captain. The 34-year-old, also known as “Bouncing”, last played at the regional level four years ago and his return has been heralded by Head Coach Stuart Williams
Joseph will bat at the top of the order alongside left-hander Kieran Powell, who made a wonderful breakthrough on the international scene with three Test hundreds in the space of six innings last year. They will be joined by Chesney Hughes, the big, hard-hitting left-hander, who will be looking to stamp his authority.
“The idea is to have stability starting at the top,” said Williams. “With Joseph coming back and Powell finding his feet, they should be able to set a platform for the innings and for the team.
“I’m not just speaking about the CT20, but also in the Regional Super50 and 4-Day Tournaments which are to follow.”
Williams said: “He (Joseph) has performed well in the past with the bat and as the leader. He was the logical choice. He brings experience and maturity on and off the field and merits his place in the team.
“I think this is a step in the right direction this year and will bring some stability to the set-up. He knows what he’s about and the team will benefit from having him around.”
Williams expressed excitement about what is in store from his team, which has a rich blend of youth and experience.
They have picked two wicketkeepers, the livewire Devon Thomas and the highly-spirited Jahmar Hamilton, both graduates of the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre.
The bowling is led by Gavin Tonge, a strongly-built pacer, and Anthony Martin, the feisty leg-spin bowler and former skipper.
“We have Thomas, who is a West Indies senior player and one in the team to whom we will look for big performances,” said Williams.
“We also have Hamilton, who just completed an excellent stint at the Sagicor WIHPC and we expect these two to do very well for us.”
Williams concluded: “The senior players are all seasoned campaigners and we will look to players such as Tonge and Martin to get wickets for us, maintain pressure and help us to win matches and look to advance this year and not have to go back home after the first round like we did before.”