Point to prove

Jonathan Carter’s role in the final could prove pivotal.
Jonathan Carter’s role in the final could prove pivotal.

Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago will lock horns tomorrow in what is anticipated will be an exciting climax to this year’s WICB Regional Four-Day Championship at Kensington Oval.

When the two met in the preliminary rounds, Barbados easily disposed of their opponents and they will be seeking to do likewise tomorrow. Barbados won their last two preliminary games inside two days but tomorrow’s match is expected to be a much closer affair with several players having plenty to prove.

Barbados’ semi-final victory against the Windward Islands last week on a Windsor Park track in Roseau tailor-made to give assistance to West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford back-fired spectacularly against the hosts with Barbados off-spinner Ashley Nurse’s 14-wicket haul ensuring the Windward Islands failed to reach triple figures in both innings. It was an encounter where fast-bowling was made irrelevant.

Trinidad and Tobago’s upset semi-final win over Jamaica in Kingston was a much closer affair with Rayad Emrit and Imran Khan’s rearguard second innings batting effort gaining them the close three-wicket victory after conceding a first innings lead.†Both teams can expect far superior pitch conditions than what applied in Dominica last week.

The match could be determined by which side bats better in the first innings as batting has been both their bugbear throughout the 2013 regional season.†Barbados’ batting has simply been woeful, with Rashidi Boucher, Kevin Stoute, Shane Dowrich, Jonathan Carter and captain Kirk Edwards all under-performing.

Edwards has struck two centuries during the season but has produced very little else. Stoute also has a century but he too has been inconsistent. The multi-talented Carter, who has attracted the interest of regional selectors, scored a century on the Windsor Park minefield last week to underline his undoubted potential but needs to string together big scores more consistently if he desires to make the next step up the ladder.

Opener Kraigg Brathwaite has been Barbados’ most consistent batsman and his 455 runs at 50 has provided some solidity at one end, after his initial slow start to the season. Boucher, his opening partner, however, needs to produce in this match after a highly disappointing session.The bowling has been Barbados’ strong suit with Nurse leading the way. Sulieman Benn has been a productive accomplice while fast bowler Miguel Cummins, with 26 wickets, has been a revelation.

Debt of gratitude

Cummins owes a debt of gratitude to the current panel of selectors for their vision and for not relegating him to the sidelines on the return of Barbados’ West Indies players. Some years ago the now forgotten Jason Bennett was in a similar position to Cummins, manfully leading Barbados’ attack with 20-plus wickets in four matches. But the return from overseas duties of Ian Bradshaw, et al, led to Bennett’s unceremonious dismissal and that basically was the beginning of the end of his first-class career for Barbados.†Four years ago most in the region were raving over opener Adrian Barath.

Then a 19-year-old teen, he marked his Test debut against Australia at Brisbane in November 2009 with a century. Four years later he has only played 15 Tests and this season even found himself dropped by the Trinidad and Tobago selectors after a disappointing run of scores. The 23-year-old has tried to resurrect† his flagging career with the help of legendary Barbados opener Gordon Greenidge.

This final could provide the ideal stage to show his fans and detractors that his early performances were not merely an aberration.†Lendl Simmons has seemingly never been a favourite with regional selectors who have shown themselves quick to drop him after a few failures. He could consider himself hard-done not to be selected for the imminent ICC Champions Trophy in England.

The regional four-day final offers him the opportunity to send a message to the selectors.

Conditions are forecast to be bright and sunny tomorrow and game time is 10 a.m.

Teams:†Barbados -†Kirk Edwards (captain), Sulieman Benn, Rashidi Boucher, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Javon Searles, Kevin Stoute. Management: Hartley Reid (manager), Henderson Springer (coach), Jacqueline King (physiotherapist), Rodney Ashby (analyst), Shannon Lashley (trainer).

Trinidad & Tobago – Denesh Ramdin (captain), Jeremy Solozano, Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Steven Katwaroo, Jason Mohammed, Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Rayad Emrit, Amit Jaggernauth, Yannic Carriah, Shannon Gabriel, Marlon Richards. David Williams (coach), Omar Khan (manager).

Umpires: Nigel Duguid (Guyana), Patrick Gustard (Jamaica). (WG)†††

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