Coach insists cricketers were prepared to win Caribbean T20

JAMAICA cricket coach Junior Bennett believes that his squad could have won the Caribbean T20 competition in St Lucia based on all the work that had been done to get the team ready for the competition this year.

The Jamaicans were eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after losing to Guyana in a play-off and returned to the island yesterday.

The local side advanced to the final on the previous occasion and Bennett said he was looking to improve on their finish this year.

“When you look at it I believe we put in the work this year and we were looking to go a place better than last year. We should have reached the final, there is no question about it. One hundred and 83 runs is plenty runs in T20 cricket, but I think we bowled extremely badly against the Guyanese team and we paid the price for it.”

Jamaica made 183 for six off a 61-ball unbeaten 122 from power hitter Chris Gayle, but were left defeated as the Guyanese reached 187 for four.

Bennett, however, did not want to lay all the blame at the feet of the bowlers.

“I believe our fast bowlers bowled too short and too wide (but) the bowlers have been carrying us all season. It’s the first match we really go for some runs, so we have to give and take with them.”

Captain Tamar Lambert believes a number of factors, including a lack of lighted facilities, played a role in the Jamaican team’s demise.

“Lack of T20 cricket. We just started playing the last three years. Trinidad and Guyana have been playing for a number of years. So sometimes when we find ourselves in situations we don’t know how to deal with it. We are one of the leading countries in cricket and we don’t have light facilities, so that hampered us a bit.”

He said that finishing in a worse position than last year did not necessarily mean the side was slipping.

“I don’t think it’s a sign of regressing. We have a fairly young team. We carried four youngsters, so it was also good experience for them. We start to blend the youngsters with the senior players and hopefully they can grow as quickly as possible, so I look at it as a positive. A lot of teams haven’t been to the semi-finals or the finals so we continue to improve. We’re going to go forward with some youngsters and hopefully in the near future Jamaica can win it.”

Meanwhile, Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) president Lindel Wright, who was also in St Lucia and returned with the rest of the team yesterday, said installing lights at Sabina Park will now become a priority, and he added that playing under lights — something Jamaican cricketers are not used to at home — may have had an impact on their performance last week.

“It is needed because lights is an integral part of T20 cricket. Most of the cricket nowadays is played at nights. They basically play night cricket when they go abroad, so it would have some impact.”

He did admit that the Jamaicans performed below par, while grateful for the contribution of Gayle, who was a late inclusion.

“I don’t think we played up to expectation, our true potential. I think that’s the result. We’re happy that Chris could have made it. It had value.”

He added: “We’re sorry to know that Jamaica is yet to win it. We have to continue to prepare ourselves through competition here locally… so that our players will continue to develop their skills in T20 competition.”

Jamaica cricket team captain Tamar Lambert looks solemn at the Norman Manley International Airport on the team’s return from the Caribbean T20 competition in St Lucia yesterday. (Photo: Bryan Cummings)

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