It’s do or die tomorrow for Barbados Pride in the eighth round of the WICB Professional Cricket League (PCL) Regional 4-Day Tournament.
They take on the struggling but dangerous Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park with the task of making up a 17-point differentiation with the Guyana Jaguars if they are to challenge seriously for this year’s title.
Time and Raymon Reifer stood in their way in the drawn game against the Guyana Jaguars where defeat of the tournament leaders was vital to their run on the trophy. But the Pride’s hierarchy placed more stock on accommodating Jonathan Carter’s century than giving themselves adequate time to complete a possible win against the Guyana franchise.
The Pride welcome back West Indies Test left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican from injury and he is expected to add more incisiveness to the attack. Warrican missed the last two matches against Windward Islands Volcanoes and Guyana Jaguars because of an injury to his spinning finger following last month’s NAGICO Super50 Championship in Trinidad & Tobago.
His return is likely to result in leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. being replaced after picking up two wickets for 86 runs off 25 overs in the drawn match against Guyana. It has been the only match of the season for the 23-year-old Antiguan, who became the first non-Barbadian to represent the region’s most decorated territory since the PCL was in operation for the 2014-15 season.
The outcome of the Sabina showdown could hinge upon how a line-up with three of the season’s top run-getters – Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase and Shai Hope – negotiate a steady, if not spectacular attack that includes the season’s leading wicket-taker – veteran left-arm spinner Nikita Miller.
Chase continues to impress with the bat and his 10-wicket haul against the Jaguars means the Pride have another weapon that can no longer be viewed as an occasional option. Chase bowled outstandingly and his name must be on the lips of those seeking to add solidity and bowling options to the senior regional side.
Jamaica have held an edge in contests between the two sides over the last five years – but the visitors beat them earlier this season and had the upper hand in the corresponding fixture last season. Jamaica Scorpions’ coach Junior Bennett has not been overly impressed with his side’s batting and is hoping for improvement against the Pride.
He was philosophical about his team’s performances while speaking with the Jamaica media ahead of tomorrow’s game.
“If you are the coach of the side and they are not playing well, then you have to take responsibility for it,” Bennett told The Gleaner following the team’s eight-wicket defeat to Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at Sabina Park earlier this week.
“But, in life, you just have to do what you have to do. That’s the way I see it. That’s the way I work. You are going to have good times and bad times.”
Jamaica’s defeat was their fourth of the season in seven outings, with the other results being victories. The Red Force loss followed a surprising 82-run defeat away to perennial strugglers Leewards Hurricanes the previous week.
While the Pride focus on the Scorpions they will be paying keen interest on the happenings at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in the game between the Jaguars and Windward Islands Volcanoes. They will be hoping that the Volcanoes bode ill winds for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars have a chance to put their hands firmly on the Headley/Weekes Trophy for the second straight year with a victory against the Volcanoes.
Leon Johnson’s side were fortunate to escape from Bridgetown with their double-digit lead still in place, and will be hoping to return to winning ways in this important encounter. A victory in St Lucia will put immense pressure on the Pride to do similarly in Kingston.
It was unfortunate for the Volcanoes that they left Charlotte Amalie with only a draw after putting the Leeward Islands Hurricanes under pressure in the second innings on the final day of their rain-affected contest.
Over the last decade, the Volcanoes have held the upper hand on the Jaguars, winning five times in 11 matches, but there has been an obvious shift in the balance of power, with the visitors winning on the last three occasions the two teams have met.
The Jaguars have travelled with an unchanged side, but the Volcanoes have made three changes, including West Indies Under-19 World Cup-winning opener Gidron Pope in their line-up.
In Couva, Trinidad and Tobago and the Volcanoes should have an interesting encounter. In the previous round the Red Force grabbed a big win over Jamaica Scorpions and the Hurricanes produced one of their best batting performances for the season to save their match.
This contest has the potential to be the most explosive of the weekend. Although the Red Force have dominated over the last five years, a five-wicket victory for the Hurricanes in the final round of matches last year in the corresponding fixture will be great motivation.
The Hurricanes have included the impressive fast bowler Alzarri Joseph and batsman Kacey Carty, two players that played a key role in the West Indies Under-19 World Cup-winning squad, and Joseph in particular is sure to garner significant attention.
Points standings: Guyana Jaguars (107 points); Barbados Pride (90); Jamaica Scorpions (60); Trinidad & Tobago Red Force (56); Windward Islands Volcanoes (41); and Leeward Islands Hurricanes (36).