St. John’s Antigua- The Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) has released the 14-member squad chosen to defend the country’s title during the Leeward Islands Cricket Association (LICA) Three Day Tournament slated for June 1-19 in St Kitts.
Leading the charge is veteran Sylvester “Bouncing” Joseph who recently came out of retirement with a number of good performances on the local scene.
Joseph, who has been named captain of the squad, is joined by opener Austin Richards Jr, wicketkeeper/batsman Juari Edwards, middle-order batsmen Orlando “Baby” Peters, Gavin Williams and Rahkeem Cornwall, wicketkeeper Maxwell Georgeson and pacer Nino Henry.
Also included are medium pacer Chad Hampson, leg-spinner Anthony “I-Roots” Martin, batsman Mali Richards, off-spinner Justin Athanaze, pacer Edwin Richardson and Jamaul Fernandez.
Injury has however, ruled out three of the country’s top players in fast bowler Gavin Tonge, wicketkeeper/batsman Kerry Mentore and leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Devon “Booby” Thomas who was also selected to play, has been called up for the West Indies A team in the Digicel “Test” Series against India A. The tournament will run from June 2 to July 1 in Barbados, and will comprise three Tests, two T20s and three One-Day Internationals.
Head coach Ridley Jacobs expressed disappointment in having some players ruled out due to injury, but said it was an opportunity for others to shine.
“In selection you don’t always get what you want, but it is a couple of guys that select the final 14 so majority rules and majority got the better of it. But whatever team we have then we have to work with it. It’s kind of difficult to know that the regular players are not available because of injury, but I think in a sense, it is a positive for the guys who haven’t played yet to get an opportunity and to really show what they can do,” Jacobs said.
The former West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman is optimistic that once the players remain focussed on the task at hand, things should turn out well.
“I think that the guys are pretty focussed to keep that title. It is very important that we go out there and work hard for the nation, doing our very best and bringing home the title. I made sure that in the short space of time I had, two and a half weeks, I managed to get in two trial matches and the guys did pretty well. They are eager to perform for Antigua & Barbuda and I think they will do a good job for this country,” Jacobs said.
“I just hope that they are mentally prepared because sometimes you can get side-tracked by different things and I hope they are mentally prepared to go out there and work hard and stay in the process to really do well as a team,” he added.
The team will be managed by former national player Hugh Gore while Dane Gustave will travel as scorer. The team is slated to leave for St Kitts today.
Antigua & Barbuda have won the tournament 10 times during the past 12 competitions with their dominance periodically broken in 2006 and 2007 when St Kitts and Anguilla respectively, emerged victorious.