St John’s, Antigua – The Sagicor High Performance Center has come in for significant praise following the first round of the WICB Regional 4 Day Tournament.
Several members of the first batch of students at the Sagicor HPC in Barbados have said that their time at centre was instrumental in their cricketing development.
Twenty year old left handed opener Kieran Powel stroked his maiden first class century against the England Lions while Guyanese fast bowler Brandon Bess took a five wicket haul against Jamaica.
Powell credited his time at the Sagicor HPC with being able to play the long innings which he had never done previously in First Class matches.
"At the HPC I did a lot of fitness work to ensure I can endure through a long innings, we do lots of fitness drills and then we have specific one-on-one drills to work on batting," Powell said following the match at Warner Park in St Kitts where he scored 131 in the first innings.
"I have done a lot of work on my batting at the HPC, especially to the spinners. I am trying to improve in that department," Powell added while remarking that it was pleasing for him to register his maiden First Class ton – a goal he had set himself in the 2011 season.
He has also said that he put his hand up to play a major role with the bat for the Leeward Islands in the tournament.
"Losing Runako Morton (who now plays for Trinidad & Tobago) has been a big blow and I felt that it would be upon me this season to bat through the innings so I was looking to bat as long as possible," Powell said.
Bess – who played one Test for the West Indies in 2010 – has also sung the praises of the Sagicor HPC for his development as a fast bowler.
"The HPC contributed a lot to my fitness and also to my bowling. I was having problems with my run-up and my delivery stride and they are better now because of the work I did at the HPC," explained Bess who picked up career best figures of 5 for 28 from 14 overs.
"The HPC has done a lot for me. I improved, especially in my fitness, and now I am where I want to be. I am also bowling the way I want to bowl. I have done a lot of work on my bowling, especially on technique and all of that is coming into play, and that made me successful with the five-wicket haul," explained the 23 year old Bess.
"The HPC is about hard work and overall it is beneficial to West Indies cricket, because you learn a lot," said the lanky bowler.
Bess further explained that his stint at the HPC allowed him to remain patient against the Jamaican batsmen when things did not start the way he had planned.
"At the start it was not what I would have like, but I just kept going at it. I just did what I had to do, because I have been training hard at the HPC and with the Guyana team. I remained patient and get the balls in the right areas," Bess said.
Other HPC students Shamarh Brooks and Shannon Gabriel also produced notable performances. Barbadian batsman Brooks made an unbeaten 61 while Trinidadian fast bowler Gabriel bowled with impressive pace at Guaracara Park as he picked up 3 for 64 from 20 overs.
Guyanese left arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul bowled a marathon 47.4 overs and picked up 2 wickets for 19 runs in Jamaica’s first innings. Rajendra Chandrika, the opening batsman made 21 and 47 while Devon Thomas the livewire Antiguan wicketkeeper kept brilliantly for Leeward Islands although he did not get among the runs.