ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – There are still reasons for all of the teams in the WICB Professional Cricket League Regional 4-Day Tournament to approach the 10th and final round of matches, starting on Friday, with a high level of vigour.
The Tournament was concluded as a genuine contest last weekend, when Guyana Jaguars drew with Trinidad & Tobago Red Force on home soil, earning seven points which put them an unassailable 22 points clear of nearest rivals Barbados Pride and handing them the Headley/Weekes Trophy of regional supremacy.
Still, all sixteams will have a point to prove in the final round to bring the curtain down on the first season of the PCL under the new franchise format.
In Roseau, Dominica: Jaguars, the newly-minted R4Day champions, will be looking to give firm proof that they were the season’s best side against Windward Islands Volcanoes at Windsor Park.
The Volcanoes were one of the other two sides that had an outside hope of grabbing the title from the Jags before their draw with the Pride in Bridgetown put them both out of contention and will want to crash the visitors’ coronation party.
The Jaguars landed their first victory in 12 years over the Volcanoes when the two sides met in the second round of this season at the Guyana National Stadium – and they will now also eye their first win in the Windwards since 2002.
Prior to that second round defeat, the Volcanoes had won five of the previous seven matches against the Jags and have won the last two times the sides have played at this venue.
Injury has forced the Volcanoes to bring uncapped batsman Jerlonie Robinson into their squad for Miles Bascombe, but the visitors travelled with an unchanged unit.
In Couva, Trinidad: Red Force, a side that promised much prior to the season, and Leeward Islands Hurricanes, a side aiming to end a forgettable season strongly, will meet at the National Cricket Centre.
The Reds gave a redeeming performance against the Jaguars to earn a draw, and the Hurricanes blew away the Jamaica Franchise to post their first win of this season and end a string of nine straight defeats in the R4Day stretching back to last season.
Both will be looking to sow some seeds of confidence that can drive them during the off-season and give them hope for bigger, brighter and better performances next season.
The home team will be highly favoured, considering they have won six of their last seven matches against the Hurricanes, including a six-wicket victory in the second round this season at Warner Park in St. Kitts.
Injury too, has prompted the Red Force to make two changes with Akeal Hosein and fellow left-arm spinner Ricky Jaipaul replacing Yannic Cariah and Derone Davis – but the Hurricanes are unchanged.
In Kingston, Jamaica: The historic Sabina Park will be the backdrop, when the Jamaica Franchise face long-time rivals Barbados Pride.
The Franchisers, the most decorated side in the R4Day in the last decade, will hope that the green grass of home will bring them inspiration and they can come away with at least a draw to avoid slumping to their sixth straight defeat of the season.
This may prove a bit of a challenge against the Pride, who will want to continue on their trajectory of success to finish the season in second place behind the Jaguars.
The match between the two sides earlier this season was badly affected by the weather, but recent history gives the hosts the edge – the visitors’ victory last season was their first in Jamaica for close to a decade.
The Franchisers have brought in Jon-Ross Campbell and former West Indies Under-19 captain Ramaal Lewis to replace Shacaya Thomas and veteran leg-spinner Odean Brown, and the Pride have similarly made two changes with all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite and opener Omar Phillips recovered from injury lay-offs to replace the now injured duo of Tino Best and Kyle Corbin.
Windward Islands Volcanoes vs Guyana Jaguars
(AT WINDSOR PARK, DOMINICA)
WINDWARD ISLANDS VOLCANOES (from): Liam Sebastian (captain), Alston Bobb, Romel Currency, Delorn Johnson, Keddy Lesporis, Mervin Matthew, Kenroy Peters, Dalton Polius, Jelornie Robinson, Shane Shillingford, Denis Smith, Devon Smith, Tyrone Theophile
IN–Robinson; OUT–Miles Bascombe
GUYANA JAGUARS (from): Leon Johnson (captain), Christopher Barnwell, Ronsford Beaton, Devendra Bishoo, Anthony Bramble, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Rajendra Chandrika, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Keon Joseph, Veerasammy Permaul, Raymon Reifer, Vishaul Singh
UMPIRES: Lennox Abraham, Christopher Taylor (Jamaica)
MATCH REFEREE: Carlyle Felix
STANDBY UMPIRE: Ericson Degallerie
Trinidad & Tobago Red Force vs Leeward Islands Hurricanes
(AT THE NATIONAL CRICKET CENTRE, TRINIDAD)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO RED FORCE (from): Rayad Emrit (captain), Mark Deyal, Shannon Gabriel, Akeal Hosein, Ricky Jaipaul, Steven Katwaroo, Imran Khan, Jason Mohammed, Kjorn Ottley, Yannick Ottley, Marlon Richards, Jeremy Solozano, Daniel St. Clair
IN–Hosein, Jaipaul; OUT–Yannic Cariah, Derone Davis
LEEWARD ISLANDS HURRICANES (from): Devon Thomas (captain), Quinton Boatswain, Rahkeem Cornwall, Jahmar Hamilton, Montcin Hodge, Steve Liburd, Jeremiah Louis, Anthony Martin, Sherwin Peters, Lyndell Richardson, Akeem Saunders, Jacques Taylor, Gavin Tonge
UMPIRES: Danesh Ramdhanie, Raveendra Wimalasiri (Sri Lanka)
MATCH REFEREE: Hayden Bruce
STANDBY UMPIRE: Lyndon Rajkumar
Jamaica Franchise vs Barbados Pride
(AT SABINA PARK, JAMAICA)
JAMAICA FRANCHISE (from): Tamar Lambert (captain), Dave Bernard Jr, Jermaine Blackwood, Gavon Brown, Cassius Burton Jr, John Campbell, Jon-Ross Campbell, Jason Dawes, Damion Jacobs, Brandon King, Ramaal Lewis, Marquino Mindley, Chadwick Walton
IN–Jon-Ross Campbell, Lewis; OUT–Odean Brown, Shacaya Thomas
BARBADOS PRIDE (from); Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Carlos Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Kirk Edwards, Justin Greaves, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Omar Phillips, Kevin Stoute, Jomel Warrican
IN–Carlos Brathwaite, Phillips; OUT–Tino Best, Kyle Corbin
UMPIRES: Verdayne Smith, Peter Nero (Trinidad & Tobago)
MATCH REFEREE: Denovan Hayles
STANDBY UMPIRE: Christopher Wright