Big letdown

BY SANJAY MYERS, Jamaica Observer

COACH Nikita Miller says the Jamaica Scorpions’ sluggish start to the Regional Super50 Cup to be proved their undoing as they failed to progress to the semi-finals.

The final nail in their coffin was driven in a 13-run defeat to Group A hosts Leeward Islands Hurricanes last Sunday at Conaree Sports Club in St Kitts.

Needing to win by a healthy margin to clinch second spot in the group ahead of the Hurricanes, the Scorpions went out aggressively in their run chase. But they were bowled out for 242 in the 29th over in reply to the home team’s 255-8 from their allotted 50 overs.

The Scorpions, after four wins and as many losses, tallied 16 points. They were left to settle for third place in Group A, and for them, an early trip back home.

Barbados Pride, with six wins and two losses, topped the group with 24 points. The Hurricanes also had 24 points, including six victories and two defeats, but ended second due to an inferior net run rate to the Pride. Both teams are off to Trinidad for the semis later this week. The final is scheduled for Sunday, also in Trinidad.

“In any competition that you’re leaving at the first round, you have to be disappointed. We haven’t exited the [Super50] tournament at this stage in a little while, so it’s a first for a lot of people,” Miller, assistant to Head Coach Andre Coley for the Super50 assignment, told the Jamaica Observer after the team returned to the island yesterday.

“I just think that we got into our own late into the tournament. We didn’t get off to a good start, and any time you’re in a tournament playing catch-up cricket it’s very difficult.

“We lost our first two games; it was important for us to get that good start… we spoke about it and in the end it [not getting a good start] cost us, I think,” he stressed.

After the pair of defeats, the Scorpions went on a four-game winning run that brought them back into semi-final contention.

But a loss to the out-of-form title-holders Combined Campuses and Colleges Marooners in the penultimate preliminary-round game left them in a do-or-die situation against the Hurricanes last Sunday.

Kieran Powell struck 105 off 125 balls in the Hurricanes’ 255-8, as Scorpions pacer Oshane Thomas grabbed three wickets. The Scorpions, knowing they needed to reach the target by the 31st over to eclipse the Hurricanes on net run rate, went out hell for leather.

They slumped to 25-3 at one stage, but Captain Rovman Powell entered the fray to blitz 13 fours and seven sixes in an extraordinary 40-ball 106. He sped to 50 off a mere 18 balls, and took only another 20 deliveries to reach his second century of the campaign.

However, it was not enough as wickets tumbled regularly in the quest for quick runs. The Hurricanes pacer Quinton Boatswain claimed four victims.

Miller, the former Jamaica and West Indies spin bowler, credited the bold attempt at the end.

“We tried our utmost best in the last game to get that total in 31 overs, and we almost got it – if we had executed in key moments.

“If we had made better choices in key moments we probably would have got that score in 20 overs; that’s how talented this bunch is with the bat. In the end it wasn’t enough, and I’m proud of the effort, but the decision-making and consistency will need to improve as a group. It’s the finer details that we didn’t handle well enough.

Thomas finished the tournament with 17 wickets, but Miller said the team fell short in the bowling and fielding departments throughout the tournament.

“I don’t think we bowled well, and overall I don’t think we were great in the field.

“I don’t think we bowled to our potential. We weren’t consistent in our lines — the pitches were good for batting, but I don’t think we helped ourselves with the lines we bowled,” he told the Observer.

The Scorpions’ Captain Powell, who completed the tournament with 412 runs at an average a shade under 69, the consistent Assad Fudadin, who notched the team’s other century, and the rest of the batting unit came in for praise.

“When you look at the performances with the bat throughout the tournament it was exemplary; it’s something to be proud of. We had three centuries and a number of 90s. I can’t remember being part of a Jamaica team that scored so many runs.

“The skipper led from the front, and was performing for most of the tournament. [Andre] McCarthy, I thought, could have done better with the bat, but did a great job with the ball. Fudadin did a good job for us, and so did [Nkrumah] Bonner,” Miller explained.