Windward confident of claiming maiden title
Ian Allen, the coach of Windward Islands, has said the likely return of Shane Shillingford would boost his side in their quest for a maiden Regional Four Day title. Windward will take on Jamaica in the final on April 26, the winner taking home the Headley-Weekes Trophy.
Shillingford has played only two matches for Windward after a suspension over an illegal bowling action ruled him out of competitive cricket. In these two games, he took 16 wickets, including 11 against Jamaica in a group-stage encounter that Windward won by three wickets.
"We are going into the game with a similar approach to the other matches... the attitude that we went into the other game [semi-final] should not change," Allen said. "We will be positive and look to win. We played a match here earlier in the season, against Barbados, and we were successful. We always enjoy playing here at Beausejour - where we get a lot of support - and we believe that gives us an edge over Jamaica.
"We are delighted to have Shane back. Over the years he has been the leading wicket-taker for us and he is a fantastic servant of Windward Islands cricket. Having him back in the set-up is always a plus for us and we know he will do well again this weekend."
Jamaica's coach Junior Bennett was also confident of his team's chances in spite of the absence of Marlon Samuels, who was ruled out after failing to recover from a hamstring injury. Jamaica were Regional Four Day champions for five successive years before Barbados won the title last season.
Bennett admitted the batting had been inconsistent throughout the tournament - they have had two 300-plus scores but were also dismissed by Trinidad & Tobago for 98 in a chase of 244 - but captain Tamar Lambert's hundred in the semi-final against Barbados was a good sign for the team.
"Our batting has been a bit inconsistent throughout the tournament but we know if we can put a competitive total on the board we have the bowling to do the job," Bennett said. "It was good to see the captain Tamar Lambert getting a hundred in the semi-final against Barbados and that helped us to win the game. Once the senior players go out and set the example we expect the younger players to follow and do the job for Jamaica."
Bennett was also hopeful of a good performance from pacer Jerome Taylor, who is the second-highest wicket-taker for the team in the competition. Taylor, who has been plagued with injuries in his career, made a comeback to the Jamaica side after three years in the one-dayer against Ireland and then played two games in the Nagico Super50 tournament. He has since picked up 24 wickets in seven first-class games at an average of 23.58.
"Jerome has bowled exceptionally well this year since he came back," Bennett said. "If you go back to the one-day tournament and then look at the four-dayers, he has been demonstrated his ability and is a key player for us. We hope he stays injury-free and continues to do what he does best - that is bowl fast and good."