Palmer replaces ailing Bonner as Scorpions depart for start of regional 4-day tourney
FORMER skipper Paul Palmer was an 11th-hour replacement for Nkrumah Bonner in the Jamaica Scorpions squad which departed yesterday for the regional four-day cricket tournament opener away to Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.
The match is scheduled for Brian Lara Cricket Academy, starting Thursday.
The 28-year-old left-hand batsman Palmer, who captained the team last season, was initially left out of the 13-member squad named for the encounter. But with middle-order batsman Bonner, 30, falling ill with a suspected case of dengue fever, Palmer was brought in.
There was also concern about the readiness of left-arm, wrist-spinner Dennis Bulli. He recently sustained a shoulder injury, but is expected to recover in time for the match against the Red Force.
The John Campbell-captained Scorpions squad also includes out-of-favour West Indies batsmen Jermaine Blackwood and Assad Fudadin, the Guyanese-born left-hander.
Rovman Powell, who skippered the regional side on a One-Day International tour of Bangladesh in late 2018, and Alwyn Williams are two all-rounders who bowl medium pace.
Aldaine Thomas and Grenadian-born Denis Smith are the wicketkeepers included, while pace bowling duties are to fall on the shoulders of Marquino Mindley, Derval Green and Nicholson Gordon.
Bulli and left-arm finger-spinner Patrick Harty are the slow-bowling options.
“As a selection panel we're comfortable that we have come up with the best squad for the first game. I believe we ticked the various areas — the batting, we have a couple of wicketkeeper/batsmen and we have seam bowling and spin bowling options,” Andre Coley, the Scorpions' head coach.
The Jamaica franchise selection panel, headed by Junior Bennett, includes veteran Coach Burtram “Barry” Barnes, former Jamaica batsman Delroy Morgan and Coley.
The elegant batsman Brandon King and towering speedster Oshane Thomas — both members of the West Indies set-up preparing for Ireland's tour of the Caribbean — are notable absentees.
Exciting all-rounder Fabian Allen, recuperating from injury, has not been cleared by the Cricket West Indies medical panel.
Coley, who only took over as coach effective last September, argued that while the Scorpions lack Thomas's intimidating pace, he expects the bowling unit's other attributes to come to the fore.
“What they may lack in terms of that express pace is their ability to move the ball around, so there may be a little trade off in not getting someone like Oshane Thomas. But their control could also be an asset. What we're looking to do is to get 20 wickets, and we believe that's the best combination available to us,” he said.
Former spinner Nikita Miller, who is on a three-month interim contract, is to assist Coley with coaching duties.
The regional four-day tournament, comprising 10 rounds of matches in a home-and-away league format, is set to run until April.
Since capturing five-straight titles between 2007-08 and 2011-12, Jamaica have generally fallen well short in four-day cricket.
Last season, the Scorpions were a disappointing fifth in the six-team competition.
Guyana Jaguars are presently the dominant force in regional four-day cricket, winning five-consecutive titles.
Jamaica squad — John Campbell (captain), Alwyn Williams, Jermaine Blackwood, Assad Fudadin, Paul Palmer, Rovman Powell, Denis Smith, Aldaine Thomas, Dennis Bulli, Nicholson Gordon, Derval Green, Patrick Harty, Marquino Mindley.