As the WICB Professional Cricket League resumed in the new year after about a 20-day break, Guyana picked up where they left off in 2017, scoring another win to extend their lead at the top of the points table. This time though, it was a very close run thing, with hosts Jamaica reducing Guyana to 136 for 8 before victory was sealed in the low-scorer at Sabina Park. Guyana remain unbeaten in the competition with two rounds to go.
Guyana chose to bowl and justified their decision by rolling Jamaica for 106 on day one. Pacers Raymon Reifer and Keemo Paul were the destroyers in chief, claiming three apiece. Guyana did not take much advantage of that implosion when they came out to bat, though, falling over for 183 themselves. The only fifty of the innings came from that man Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Here, it was left-arm spinner Nikita Miller who did most of the damage with 4 for 30.
Jamaica looked like they were staging quite the fightback at 112 for no loss in their second innings when John Campbell fell to the left-arm spin of Gudakesh Motie. No. 3 Jermaine Blackwood was run out not long after, and the other opener Assad Fudadin could not kick on to a big score either - out for 70 - as Jamaica quickly fell away. They were bowled out for 212, meaning Guyana needed 136.
This time around Jamaica struck regular blows, with Miller once again being the most effective, and at 84 for 6 it looked like Guyana were in danger of registering their first defeat of the competition. But a 30-run stand for the seventh wicket, between Paul and Chanderpaul, put Jamaica off. Paul especially proved detrimental to Jamaica's cause, his cameo of 21 coming off just 11 balls with three sixes. Once he was gone, stumped off Miller, Chanderpaul kept striving - his 16 came off 83 balls - before Veerasammy Permaul and Motie took their side home.
Leeward Islands secured their second win of the season after a last-wicket partnership of 21 against Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain. Jason Campbell (30*) did all of the scoring in this stand with Sheeno Berridge facing only three balls for his 0 not out, but that did the job, taking the team to a nail-biting one-wicket win. In a low-scoring match - Devon Thomas top scored with 65 in the fourth innings - Leewards overcame a 59-run first-innings deficit to chase down a target of 222. The game was finished with one of Campbell's three sixes.
Thomas' 65 took Leewards to 123 for 3, with the visitors needing a further 99 to win, but his dismissal brought on a collapse triggered by legbreak bowler Imran Khan. Khan, who recorded five-fors in both innings, reduced Leeward to 205 for 9, before Campbell's 22-ball blitz took Leewards home.
T&T opted to bat at the toss, but could post only 222 despite six of their batsmen getting past 20. None of them got past 40 though, with Tion Webster top scoring with 38. Jeremiah Louis and Berridge took four wickets each. In reply, Leewards were skittled out for 163, Khan's legbreaks proving too much for them. But Leewards made amends soon after, with Berridge's four wickets leading their charge, as T&T were skittled out for 162 in their second innings.
Khan's repeat performance in the fourth innings innings made the chase very tense, but Leewards' tenth-wicket pair did just enough to seal the win.
Roston Chase's hundred and Kemar Roach's four-wicket-haul were the highlights of the drawn game between Barbados and Windward Islands in Bridgetown. Chase's seventh first-class hundred came at a crucial point for Barbados, who had been reduced to 31 for 5 after being put in. A 130-run stand for the sixth wicket with Justin Greaves (60) and a seventh-wicket stand of 97 debutant wicketkeeper-batsman Tevyn Walcott (49) helped lift Barbados to 316. Roach's four wickets then helped Barbados clean up the visiting team for 287, and with a first-innings lead of 29, they batted through 64 overs in the second innings to finish on 135 for 1 through an unbroken 125-run stand between Sheyne Moseley (57*) and Shamarh Brooks (69*). The third day of the match was entirely washed out.