Palmer to the rescue

Palmer to the rescue

'It's a great privilege to lead the Jamaica team'

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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AFTER his match-saving efforts against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the regional four-day tournament opener, former Jamaica Scorpions skipper Paul Palmer says not being burdened by leadership responsibilities has allowed him the freedom to focus more on his batting.

On Sunday's final day, he ended on a back-to-wall 116 not out on a wearing pitch as the Scorpions earned a draw at Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, Trinidad.

The left-handed batsman, who turned 28 earlier this month, had made a crucial, even 50 in the first innings.

“It's a great privilege to lead the Jamaica team, but not being the captain brings less pressure for me as an individual player. There is still pressure to perform, but it's not the same as being captain,” Palmer told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the Scorpions cricket team returned to the island yesterday.

The background context made the accomplishment against the Red Force all the more outstanding.

He was not even in the initial 13-member squad for the first-round match — Palmer, who led the Scorpions last season, only made the cut after batsman Nkrumah Bonner was ruled out with illness on the eve of the team's departure.

The Jamaica franchise was forced to follow-on after making only 278 in their first-innings response to the Red Force's daunting 460-4 declared. Joshua Da Silva and Yannic Cariah registered unbeaten knocks of 113 and 100, respectively, for the Red Force.

When the Scorpions desperately needed a hero, Palmer, a gritty top-order batsman, soaked up 217 deliveries while striking 10 boundaries to lift them to 300-8.

While scoring his second century in 34 first-class matches, he got main second- innings support from Jermaine Blackwood (78). His other hundred at firstclass level, an eye-catching 136 which came in December 2017, was also against the Red Force.

“It was the afternoon [before the team left for Trinidad] that I got confirmation that I would replace Bonner. I was just looking to contribute in any way that I could; to help the team in the best way possible.

“I was very determined because I wasn't in the team but then got the opportunity to play as a replacement. I wanted to put my best foot forward and to relish the opportunity. I managed to do that, and I'm quite happy for that,” the former national youth captain said.

“Every time you score a hundred it will bring some level of satisfaction and some level of jubilation. It came at a time when the team needed somebody to bat some overs to draw the game, so that makes it even more pleasing that I was able to do that.

“It was difficult [to bat] because the wicket was really playing low from day three; a lot of balls were keeping low when we were batting. The balls were up and down, so to really come away with a draw on a difficult track was good,” Palmer added.

He made his first-class debut for Combined Campuses and Colleges in 2014. A season later, his debut for Jamaica's senior team came with the captain's role — a forgettable experience for him.

He generally struggled with the bat, and matters were compounded by the side's dismal performances. Palmer told the Observer that his exploits in Trinidad has laid a platform, but he is mindful of not getting carried away.

“I'm pretty confident going forward, but it's just for me to maintain a certain level. It's not just how you start, it's how you finish, so it's important for me to remember the things I did well in the game and to try to be as consistent as possible,” he said.

Despite being dominated over the course of the match, the Scorpions picked up batting and bowling bonus points to be fourth in the six-team league table with 6.6 bonus points.

The Red Force are third with 9.4 points. Guyana Jaguars, the reigning five-time champions, are on 21 points for an early lead in the competition.

The Jaguars left Leeward Islands Hurricanes (two points) in last place after beating them by 10 wickets in their firstround contest at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua.

In the round's other match, Windward Islands Volcanoes (16.6 points) defeated Barbados Pride (4.2 points) by three wickets at Arnos Vale Cricket Ground in St Vincent.

The Scorpions' next game is scheduled for Sabina Park in Kingston, starting Thursday at 10:00 am.

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