Friday, March 1, 2024

Super-50 lacks heavy promotion


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THE LOW-KEYED Regional Super-50 cricket semi-finals will bowl off at Kensington Oval tomorrow with a day-night encounter between Trinidad and Tobago and the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC).
I don’t know whether it is because of Barbados’ non-appearance in the semi-finals but up to Monday evening when this column was completed, there was very little promotion of the Caribbean’s major 50-over tournament.
Maybe, with Trinidad and Tobago not having the services of their star players such as Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Kevin Cooper and Samuel Badree, the authorities probably didn’t have any quality players to build their promotion around.
Also in Friday’s second semi-finals, the Windward Islands won’t have their inspirational captain Darren Sammy while Jamaica will be without the crowd-pulling Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Andre Russell.
But it is really mind-bogging that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) would stage the championship matches of a major limited-over competition at a time when their marquee players would be unavailable because of commitments in the Indian Premier League.
Hence, it won’t be surprising if there are only a handful of spectators in the only stand which one expects to be opened at “The Mecca”, as has been the norm this season.
Still, with the Champions Trophy slated to be held later this year in England, this is the final chance for some of the players in the West Indies’ 30-man provisional squad to nudge the regional selectors for selection in the final 15-man team.
In fact, the only real noise about the semi-finals came last week with some unnecessary verbal exchanges on two radio cricket programmes over Barbados’ elimination when it was revealed that some key personnel did not read the rules of the competition.
However, with Barbados out, local cricket fans should throw their support behind the CCC, whose 13-man squad includes eight Bajans in captain Kyle Corbin, coach/player Floyd Reifer, Ryan Austin, Anthony Alleyne, Kevin McClean, Raymon Reifer, Nekoli Parris and Marques Clarke.
But it will be a Herculean task for the CCC, who barely sneaked into the semi-finals after winning only two of their six preliminary matches.
One of those defeats was a humiliating eight-wicket loss to Trinidad and Tobago, but that was at the Queen’s Park Oval when the CCC were routed for a paltry 97 in 37.5 overs.
The Trinidadians will enter the match with an unbeaten record, winning all six of their matches, and will start as favourites to reach Sunday’s day-night final.
The Trinidadians, who depend heavily on openers Lendl Simmons (191 runs, average 31.83) and Adrian Barath (145 runs, ave: 29.00), Jason Mohammed (133 runs, ave: 66.50); captain Denesh Ramdin (136 runs ave: 68.00) and Kjorn Ottley (131 runs, ave: 65.50), have been the most consistent batting side in the competition.
Apart from the match against CCC when they only had to make a winning score of 98, the Trinidadians have passed the 200-run mark in all five of their other innings, doing so without being dismissed.
Traditionally, the Trinidadian batsmen, with one or two exceptions, have been found wanting whenever they encounter genuine fast bowling.
This was evident in their final preliminary match against Barbados when the new ball pair of Javon Searles and Kyle Mayers, with his stiff fast-medium bowling, had them reeling on five runs for three wickets.
Whether CCC boost their pace attack on a pitch likely to offer the seamers assistance by handing swing bowler Clarke, who won the Man-Of-The-Match award for the University of the West Indies in the final of the domestic Sagicor Super Cup, his maiden cap at this level, is left to be seen.
Apart from pacers Kevin McClean and Keswick Williams, Raymon Reifer has continued to show his worth as a fast-medium left-arm bowler, even out-bowling the specialist bowlers with nine wickets at an average of 15.33 and an economy rate of 3.53.
One expects CCC to pin their hopes of trusted off-spinner Austin, Jamaican leg-spinner Akeem Dewar, left-arm spinner Derone Davis, and Parris, with his flat off-spin.
CCC?have passed the 200-run mark only once, when they made 207 in a losing cause against the Windward Islands. Their other totals were 175 vs Guyana; 167 which, unbelievably, was enough to give them a 59-run win versus Barbados; 157 versus Jamaica; 118-7 to win by three wickets against the Leeward Islands and 97 against Trinidad and Tobago.
For CCC?to upset Trinidad and Tobago, Corbin must lead from the front as he has endured a dismal Super50 with a mere 54 runs in six matches at an average of 9.00. His highest score is 24.
Runs must also come from wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton, who was probably named in the West Indies’ provisional Champions Trophy squad based on his Caribbean T20 and Regional 4-Day performances.
Even though he had a knock of 56, a mere 87 runs at an average of 14.50 are certainly not enough to displace Ramdin, whose scored a tournament-high 134 in one of his only two innings.


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