GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC – Batsmen will have to be at their best as Jamaica and Windward Islands are expected to encounter a lively, green-top pitch in the final of the WICB Regional Four-Day Championship which bowls off here today.
When the two teams arrived for training at the Beausejour Stadium yesterday they were greeted with a pitch with a full covering of grass, and with little trimming expected, the battle for the Headley/Weekes Trophy could be an exciting one when it gets going at 10 am.
The well-grassed pitch is expected to give the home side a distinct advantage as their seam bowling attack has been successful this season with the likes of Kenroy Peters, Nelon Pascal and Mervin Mathew among the wickets. They are also expected to welcome back Shane Shillingford, their ace West Indies off-spinner, who missed the last few games.
Jamaica, meanwhile, have in their arsenal out-of-favour West Indies fast bower Jerome Taylor and left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell, and these two could also present problem on a helpful surface.
Windwards will enter the match with more confidence. They easily disposed of T&T by 234 runs inside three days, in their semi-final last weekend, with left-arm seamer Peters taking seven wickets in the second innings demolition.
After a brilliant first innings century from skipper Tamar Lambert, Jamaica had to dig deep to scrape home by one wicket against Barbados and their batting must step up to avoid another implosion.
Speaking ahead of the match neither camp seemed bothered by the grass on the pitch.
“There is a lot of grass. We don’t know if anymore will be shaved off ahead of the match but we are not going to worry too much about it,” Jamaica coach Junior Bennett said.
“We just have to wait and see what we will get tomorrow (Saturday morning). We have not settled on the final combination of our team. That is something we will wait and do tomorrow.”
He continued: “It is always good to win trophies and we want to play consistently and this is no exception. We are looking for a positive result again. Our batting has been a bit inconsistent throughout the tournament but we know if we can put a competitive total on the board we have the bowling to do the job,”
Windward Islands coach Ian Allen says his team enjoys playing at Beausejour and will be looking to end the season on a high.
“We have a very good record here. Our first match here this season we beat Barbados, so coming back here we expect to do the same and have a win against Jamaica as well,” the former Windies seamer said.
“We will try to make less mistakes and stay as positive as possible. Looking at the composition of their team, they have some good talent, but what we have done better this year is being mentally strong. We expect a good fight but we want to be as calm as possible.”
“We didn’t quite get it right in the NAGICO Super50 so we had a look back to see where we went wrong and we really want to win this final to take something home this year,” Allen added
The Windwards will also be boosted by the fact they defeated the Jamaicans by three wickets when they two teams met in the preliminary round of the tournament in Kingston.
WINDWARD ISLANDS (from): Liam Sebastien (captain), Sunil Ambris, Miles Bascombe, Johnson Charles, Romel Currency, Delorn Johnson, Keddy Lesporis, Mervin Mathew, Nelon Pascal, Kenroy Peters, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Tyrone Theophile
JAMAICA (from): Tamar Lambert (captain), Carlton Baugh Jr, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Brian Buchanan, John Campbell, Jon-Ross Campbell, David Bernard Jr, Sheldon Cottrell, Damion Jacobs, Andre McCarthy, Nikita Miller, Jerome Taylor
UMPIRES: Gregory Brathwaite, Joel Wilson.