Barbados Pride will start their quest for the 2018-19 West Indies Four-Day Championship title when they face Leeward Islands Hurricanes in a day/night match in the opening round at the 3Ws Oval today.
The traditional powerhouses are without title success since the new era of the professional league started four years ago, and captain Shamarh Brooks told Barbados TODAY that Pride were prepared to battle this season.
“The guys have been putting in a lot of hard work. It was good that our domestic season is being played which allowed our players to play cricket along with the training sessions,” Brooks said after his team completed a training session at Kensington Oval yesterday.
“We also had two practice games so we are very well prepared for the season.”
Four-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars have dominated in recent seasons, forcing Barbados Pride to play runners-up on each occasion.
Last year, Pride made an unsteady start to their campaign before recovering and Brooks said while starting the season slowly was customary for his team, it was important they found early momentum this time around.
“I think if we can hit the ground running this year against the Leewards and Jamaica especially in our first game – which is a day/night match [and] where there is always a result [that would be great],” Brooks said.
“We always do well at the backend of the season. If we can start it well, it would be a good thing for us.”
As expected, Barbados will be without several of their leading players due to West Indies duty in Bangladesh, with the likes of Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich, Roston Chase, Jomel Warrican and Kemar Roach all ruled out.
West Indies skipper Jason Holder is also missing as he recuperates from injury which kept out of the Bangladesh tour.
As a result, Brooks said the squad was a young one with several of the players still new to first class cricket, and stressed it was up to them to show they were confident enough to perform at the regional four-day level.
He also said he would not raise expectations too high but would instead encourage his players to perform to the best of their ability.
“We are a young unit, I have stressed to my players that when the chips are down there is not going to be any division in the team. We stick together, play cricket and apply the basics,” he pointed out.
“I guess once we apply the basics we will get results. Some of our senior players are soon returning home from the Test series in Bangladesh. As long as we have these players encouraging and imparting their knowledge to the junior players, we should perform well as we go forward in the season.”
In the same fixture last year, Barbados suffered a devastating result when they slumped to a heavy defeat in just two days, in a similar day/night encounter at Kensington Oval.
Brooks noted that the different venue this year would be a key factor.
“It is being played at the 3Ws Oval which is something we must factor in, and not at Kensington Oval,” Brooks noted.
“Some fans will say it is a home advantage but in my view it is not so because it is not normal for us to play pink ball cricket at the 3Ws Oval. We had a few session there under the lights and it was not too bad so hopefully we will put our best foot forward.”
Meanwhile, Hurricanes captain Devon Thomas said side were geared up for the campaign, especially after finishing third last season.
He said the key to their success last season was the outstanding performances by the bowlers and while he is hoping his batsmen will be more consistent, he believes the team’s strength lies in the bowling.
“The bowlers will be our trump card, but I would like the batsmen to bat a little bit more. Our first innings will play a vital role in our performance this season,” he stressed.
“I think our bowlers pulled us through the competition last year with a number of good performances, this year. I want the batsmen to bat a little bit more.”
BARBADOS SQUAD – Shamarh Brooks (captain), Anthony Alleyne, Jonathan Carter, Miguel Cummins, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder, Aaron Jones, Nicholas Kirton, Shayne Moseley, Shamar Springer, Tevyn Walcott, Hayden Walsh Jr.