St. John’s Antigua- Captain Sylvester “Bouncing” Joseph is optimistic about Antigua & Barbuda’s chances in the annual senior Leeward Islands three-day cricket tournament, which got on the way in St Kitts today (Friday).
Antigua & Barbuda will be seeking to maintain their dominance of the tournament, which is returning to the sub-regional sporting calendar following a two-year absence.
Antigua & Barbuda will be entering this year’s competition as defending champions, having won the title in 2009 when the last tournament was held.
And Joseph, who is leading an experienced 14-member squad, is confident Antigua & Barbuda have the players to win the five-team tournament that will be played in its entirety in St Kitts from June 1-19.
“Well I think that we have a very good chance. Most of the players that are selected were all together on the Stanford Pro Team so from the past experience we should be more experienced,” Joseph said.
“The guys are much older now and most of the guys played for Leeward Islands team this year. Even though they did not do too well in the West Indies tournament I think the experience they gained should really benefit us so I think our chances are really, really good.”
The 33-year-old Joseph is returning to lead the senior national side after ending a three and a half year hiatus from all forms of competitive cricket during this season’s Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association’s (ABCA) domestic programme.
Joseph said to captain the national team is an honour and he is delighted to be once again given such an opportunity.
“Well it feels good to be back and to be back in the position which I once held to be leading the national team,” Joseph said.
“It’s always an honour for me to play with the national team. To be back with the guys again gives me a great feeling to know that I can be a part of something good and share some knowledge with the young players and those that I have grown accustomed to play with in the past. To unite with them again, it’s a great feeling.”
Joseph said he will be using this tournament to press his chances of regaining selection on the Leeward Islands team.
The right-handed middle-order batsman said he is happy to be re-united with former team-mate and ex-Windies wicketkeeper/batsman Ridley Jacobs, who is making his debut as head coach of the senior national team during this tournament.
“Personally, you want to perform well to get back on the Leeward Islands team. It’s a comeback for me. I can say it’s a fresh start to see where the standard of Leeward Islands cricket is and to see what I can do to raise the standard,” Joseph said.
“We have a coach Ridley Jacobs, which I am really pleased to be united with again. The standard that Jacobs sets because of his experience of going through such hard, difficult task of getting into the West Indies team and maintaining his place is beneficial to us as players, especially for me.
“The way he does things make sure you always give 100 per cent and that is something that motivates you. There is a passion and a dedication that you need to excel and Jacobs brings that, which is very good at this juncture for us.”