Bajans after triple glory

An unprecedented triple in the history of regional cricket awaits Barbados' seemingly unstoppable cricketers over the next four days

An unprecedented triple in the history of regional cricket awaits Barbados' seemingly unstoppable cricketers over the next four days.
Under the astute leadership of Courtney Browne, they enter the Carib Beer International Challenge final against Jamaica today seeking to add the title to the Cup they won three weeks ago and the Red Stripe Bowl they secured last September.
As they prepared to meet the weary Jamaicans, Browne and his men were contemplating this rare triple treat and what it will do for Barbados' cricket.
"Even before the tournament started, we were thinking about it," Browne told NATIONSPORT during a practice session at Queen's Park yesterday.
"It will say a lot for us as a team. We have a lot of experienced players this year who have proven they can play at this level and even at the higher level."
The occasion presents something of a triple for the Jamaicans too. It is their third successive appearance in the international final and they are also trying to end the season by achieving some sort of silverware for the third successive year.
The Jamaicans arrived in Barbados around 7:30 a.m. yesterday, having had little sleep the previous night.
After spending the majority of the last two days in the field in their semifinal match against Guyana at Albion, they returned to Georgetown the same night and left their hotel in the capital city at 4 a.m. yesterday.
They are bound to be tired, but it doesn't mean they won't be ready for Barbados.
"We are ready, willing and more than able or capable," said captain Robert Samuels.
"We understood when we left home what this would have been like. We are prepared and we are happy to be in the final."
A change to the schedule which brought forward the final by a day and the strike action by the West Indies Players Association last Friday that led to the semifinals starting a day late, meant Jamaica will get just one day between matches as opposed to the usual three.
Barbados did themselves a favour by disposing of Trinidad and Tobago inside three days, something which they have now made a habit. They, therefore, would have had more time to recover and were not subjected to travelling.
"It is a mental thing for us. Once the bell goes, we are ready to play cricket," Browne said.
"We are not studying that we were out there for ten weeks."
Barbados' victory against Trinidad and Tobago in the semifinals was the sixth time in eight matches they wrapped up a match well inside the distance.
Browne, however, wasn't prepared to stick his neck out and guarantee a repeat.
"I don't want to add fuel to the fire. I don't want to give the impression that `oh yes, we are going to beat everybody'. Even if I feel that way, a team would take that as a motivator," the Barbados captain said. "I don't want to do that."
On the eve of the match, Jamaica were dealt a double-blow by the unavailability of two of their leading players, Chris Gayle and Darren Powell.
Opener Gayle has opted to play in this weekend's Double Wicket World Championship in St Lucia, to which he had given a commitment before the dates of the Carib Series final were changed, while pacer Powell has symptoms of chicken pox.
Their places in the 13 have been taken by rookie Maurice Kepple and the hard-hitting Ricardo Powell, who, co-incidentally missed the semifinal because of chicken pox.
"Chris is a big, big loss. I don't think we could have compensated him with what he would have given up," Samuels said.
"We are very supportive of him. We'll just dedicate this final to him."
Barbados took first innings lead over Jamaica in a drawn preliminary match at the North Stars Club ground seven weeks ago, but the visitors have since been boosted by the return of their five World Cup selectees.
"Jamaica will be a serious challenge. They have some young batsmen and if they get in, they can get scores," Browne said.
"They are a very competitive team, but I know we have the bowling to defeat them and once we bowl the ball in the right areas, I am sure we will come out successful."
Samuels sees one thing in his side's favour.
"Every team usually loses one game," the Jamaica captain said.
"Barbados have been running away with everything so far. Hopefully this is the game they will miss out on."
The Cup champions have made one change to their line-up, with Kurt Wilkinson returning to the side in place of Dwayne Smith to bat at No. 5.
Barbados v Jamaica
Venue: Kensington Oval
The teams:
BARBADOS - Courtney Browne (captain), Philo Wallace, Sherwin Campbell, Ryan Hinds, Floyd Reifer, Kurt Wilkinson, Ryan Hurley, Vasbert Drakes, Pedro Collins, Corey Collymore, Tino Best. 12th man: Ian Bradshaw. 13th man: Dwayne Smith.
JAMAICA (from) - Robert Samuels (captain), Leon Garrick, Brenton Parchment, Wavell Hinds, Marlon Samuels, Ricardo Powell, Dave Bernard, Gareth Breese, Keith Hibbert, Jermaine Lawson, Jerome Taylor, Ryan Cunningham, Maurice Kepple.
Umpires: Eddie Nicholls (Guyana), Basil Morgan (Montserrat). Stand-by: Halley Moore (Barbados).
Man-of-the-match adjudicator: Wayne Daniel.
Match referee: Dennis DePeiza.
Playing times: 10 a.m. - noon; 12:40 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.; 3 p.m. to close (scheduled 5 p.m.)