Scor­pi­ons, Jaguars clash in Guyana

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

BRIDGETOWN, (CMC): WO-TIME REIGN­ING champions Guyana Jaguars will launch the de­fence of their re­gional four-day ti­tle when the WICB’s Pro­fes­sional Cricket League bowls off across the re­gion with the open­ing round start­ing to­day.

Jaguars take on Ja­maica Scor­pi­ons at the Guyana Na­tional Sta­dium in a morn­ing start, con­fi­dent of mak­ing a win­ning start and set­ting the tone for an­other ti­tle-win­ning cam­paign.

And even though the hosts have been suc­cess­ful against their op­po­nents in their last four out­ings, skip­per Leon John­son said they were tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

TBar­ba­dos

“I think our chances of de­fend­ing our ti­tle this sea­son are very good. Of the 13 play­ers that have been se­lected, 11 have been with us for the last two sea­sons and make up the core of our team, so those play­ers have gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence and were pre­vi­ously ex­pe­ri­enced,” the Test opener said.

“Re­cently, we’ve been hav­ing the bet­ter of the Scor­pi­ons, but tra­di­tion­ally, Ja­maica have al­ways per­formed well at the re­gional level. We’re all start­ing back at zero points. Ev­ery­body starts the same this sea­son, so we just have to go out and play good cricket.”

Scor­pi­ons, mean­while, fin­ished third last year, and new cap­tain Nikita Miller said he was con­fi­dent his side could im­prove on that fin­ish. He also said that Scor­pi­ons would not be in­tim­i­dated by fac­ing the reign­ing champions.

“I think we have im­proved a lot as a unit from last year. A few guys have moved on ... but in terms of the bat­ting unit, and on the whole, I think we have im­proved, and I hope that can man­i­fest it­self in our play this com­ing sea­son and en­hance our chances of fin­ish­ing higher,” said the sea­soned cam­paigner. In an­other morn­ing fix­ture, Lee­ward Is­lands Hur­ri­canes host Bar­ba­dos Pride at Warner Park, with newly-in­stalled skip­per Kieran Pow­ell at­tempt­ing to pre­vent the 10th straight de­feat at the hands of the pow­er­houses. “Ob­vi­ously, it is im­por­tant to break any los­ing streak, but we are qui­etly con­fi­dent go­ing into this sea­son,” Pow­ell said. While Hur­ri­canes fin­ished bot­tom of the ta­ble last year, Pride were sec­ond, just seven points off the win­ners, and cap­tain Kevin Stoute said they were fo­cused on be­ing con­sis­tent again. “We’ve been play­ing con­sis­tent through­out the last cou­ple of years. Some­times, at the end of the day, you need the luck go­ing with you as well as it doesn’t al­ways work out that you come out on top in ev­ery game you play,” the all-rounder noted.

The day/night game of the round, which bowls off at 3 p.m., will see Trinidad and Tobago Red Force host­ing Wind­ward Is­lands Vol­ca­noes, hop­ing to end a run of three de­feats to the visi­tors at Queen’s Park Oval.

Vol­ca­noes, who have won five of their last seven out­ings against Red Force, fin­ished one from bot­tom last sea­son, and long-time skip­per Liam Se­bastien said a strong start would be im­por­tant to a suc­cess­ful cam­paign.

“I think what is im­por­tant is that we get off to a win­ning start. Yes, we have been do­ing well against Trinidad over the last cou­ple of years, but it’s a new tour­na­ment, a new game, a new sea­son, as well as a day/night fix­ture,” he pointed out. Nikita Miller, the Ja­maica Scor­pi­ons cap­tain.

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