Regional U-19 three-day cricket (final round)
By Sean Devers
Jamaica with 31 points, start the final round of this year’s Regional under-19 three day cricket competition today in Guyana as favourites to claim their first title since their 2009 success on home soil.
But with the conditions of the three matches venues vastly improved after brilliant sunshine blessed Georgetown for most of the last two days, play should commence on time today once there was no rain last night and Trinidad and Tobago (27.3) and Barbados (23.3) can still challenge Jamaica for this year’s title.
Jamaica plays defending champions Windward Islands at D.C.C, Barbados battle Guyana at Everest and Trinidad & Tobago take on the Leeward Islands at Bourda as outright results in all of the final round games can decide this year’s winner.
After the entire fourth round was washed out without a ball being bowled, Jamaica who crushed Barbados by nine wicket at Enmore in their third round fixture will depend on West Indies under-19 opener John Campbell with the bat and their leg-spinning Captain Donavan Nelson with the ball.
The left-handed Campbell is fifth in the overall tournament averages with 151 runs while Nelson is fourth among the wicket takers with 12 scalps.
While the Windwards have lost two of their games and have struggled as a team on 10.3 points, their Captain and West Indies under-19 player Kaveem Hodge is the tournament’s leading run scorer with 249 runs including a magnificent 155 and along with Sunil Ambris who has 186 runs, will need to do the bulk of the Windwards batting on a DCC track which should be the fastest of the slow pitches in the round.
Larry Edwards, whose 18 wickets in only behind the 23 from T&T left-arm spinner Derone Davis in the tournament, is also a leading performer in the competition in which the Windwards have had little support outside of their three main performers.
At Everest, Barbados could be hard pressed to take full points from Guyana, whose 73-run third round defeat to T&T after the lads from the twin Island Republic were bowled out for 64 in their second innings have left them on 18.8 points and no chance of claiming their first title since 2007.
Barbados must win outright to have any chance of overtaking the Jamaicans but their batting have been problematic on the spin-friendly Guyana pitches and their Test player and Captain Kraigg had managed just 57 runs in the competition.
Against a competent Guyana spin attack, the Bajans, who were dismissed for 63 by Jamaica in the third round, will look to the talented Anthony Alleyne and Braithwaite, whose only ton at this level is 112 against Guyana in 2008, to contribute against the spin of West Indies under-19 leg-spinner Amir Khan and left-arm spinners Anthony Adams and Gudakesh Motie.
On what is anticipated to be a slow turner, Skipper and West Indies under-19 pacer Ronsford Beaton and his new ball partner Clinton Pestano can also cause some problems.
Pacer Justin Greaves is one of three bowlers with seven-wicket hauls in the rain ravaged competition but rookie off-spinner Chaim Holder who also has a seven-wicket haul, could do the bulk of the damage against the Guyanese batsmen who have badly let their team down after their 317-9 declared total in the opening round.
The batsmanship against spin has been a huge disappointment from all of the teams this year but if Chanderpaul Hemraj, the only Guyanese with 100 runs gets going he could be a delight to watch.
Opener Kevin Boodie has suffered some ‘hard’ dismissals and he will be keen to show the three West Indies selectors in Guyana, why he is regarded by many as among the most accomplished batmen in the competition.
Kwame Crosse, Dominique Rikhi and Jomal La Fleur are also capable of getting big scores for the home team.
At Bourda, Akeal Hosein, only behind Hodge with 196 runs will look for support from West Indies under-19 player Kieron Joseph as T&T look to get past bottom-of-the-table Leeward Islands while the very aggressive Davis should continue to enjoy Guyana’s conditions and expect support from fellow spinners Jovan Ali and Idrees Mohammed.
Burly Leewards Skipper Rakheem Cornwall is among the tournament’s top five batsmen with 179 runs and along with their only West Indies under-19 player Akeem Saunders will hope to defy the Trinis with the bat. Cornwall could also play a role with his off-spin for the Islanders.
All matches are scheduled to commence at 10:00hrs and all involved will hope for good weather for the next two weeks since the one-day version of the competition runs from August 9-15.
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