ST AUGUSTINE, Trinidad, CMC – An absorbing contest can be expected, when Trinidad & Tobago face three-time defending champions Jamaica in their semi-final of the WICB Regional first-class championship, starting today at the University of the West Indies Sports & Physical Education Centre.
Both teams have cause for optimism entering the match. T&T finished the preliminary competition strongly with a resounding victory over Guyana, and Jamaica have an enviable record against their hosts, as well as their status as title-holders.
T&T team operations manager Omar Khan said the morale of the team was high, and the players were eager for success.
“We have not won the title for a while, and the boys know this,” he said. “We have ambitions of winning all the regional titles available, and we have already started well by winning the first tournament of the season, the T20 series.” He added that his team was focused and wanted to make the country proud, but there is one critical area that would make his side more competitive.
“We are calling all of T&T to come out in their red, and show their support for the boys,” he said.
“This Jamaican team has some very talented players, and they will be very difficult to handle, so the boys could do with that ‘12th man’ in the stands.”
For Jamaica coach Gus Logie, it is a double-edged sword. Being T&T-born, he has to rise above national pride, and condition his side to topple the Jamaicans.
“We are the defending champions, and I think players know what it is like to win championships, and we want to continue to do so,” he said.
“This is the strongest team available, and we believe that every one of the young men are going to go out and do the job on the day.”
He said: “I think our chances are good, Jamaica have been the champions for the last three years.
“We have had some injury concerns over the last week or so, and all of these players are unavailable, but the guys that are here are pretty much ready to do battle.”
Both sides have been boosted with the return of players from the West Indies squad that exited the World Cup at the quarter-final stage.
T&T have included left-handed batsman Darren Bravo, all-rounder Kieron Pollard, and fast-medium bowler Ravi Rampaul.
Making way are batsmen Tishan Maraj and Nicholas Alexis, as well as fast-medium bowler Atiba Alert. They were in the squad that defeated Guyana last weekend in the final preliminary round.
Jamaica have included West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell in the squad, while Dave Bernard Jr returns from a one-match injury lay-off, and Brenton Parchment gets his first chance of the season.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Chadwick Walton maintained his place in the squad, after Carlton Baugh Jr failed a fitness test leading up to the team selection.
Baugh is recovering from a hamstring injury that forced him to return to the Caribbean prior to the start of the World Cup. Over the last decade, Jamaica has dominated the visitors in the regional first-class championship, winning nine of the last 15 matches, including one in each of the last three years.
In addition, there have been three draws, including earlier in the season in Jamaica, during this same period, and the Jamaicans have gained first innings points each time.
T&T: Daren Ganga (captain), Darren Bravo, Yannic Cariah, Rayad Emrit, Shannon Gabriel, Sherwin Ganga, Amit Jaggernauth, Imran Khan, Jason Mohammed, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Lendl Simmons
Jamaica: Tamar Lambert (captain), Dave Bernard Jr, Bevon Brown, Jason Dawes, Akeem Dewar, Wavell Hinds, Danza Hyatt, Simon Jackson, Brendon Nash, Brenton Parchment, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Chadwick Walton
Gregory Brathwaite, Goaland Greaves