Formidable Scorpions squad named but still notable absentees

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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The Jamaica Scorpions squad, including veteran stars Christopher Gayle and Jerome Taylor, has been named for next month's Regional Super50 cricket tournament to be hosted in Barbados.

However, irrepressible all-rounder Andre Russell and exciting fast bowler Reynard Leveridge are glaring absentees from the 14-man contingent.

The Jamaica Observer understands that the 30-year-old Russell made himself unavailable in order to undergo a minor medical procedure on his bothersome knee.

Chairman of selectors, Junior Bennett told the Observer that Leveridge missed out because he was unable to participate in pre-tournament preparation due to injury.

The left-handed Gayle, who turns 39 on Friday, and batsman Rovman Powell are only expected to play the first two games of the tournament before leaving for West Indies duty in India.

The big-hitting Gayle is to be replaced by left-hand opener John Campbell, while pace bowling all-rounder Derval Green is to step in for Powell.

Taylor, 34, missed the Super50 competition last season, but is currently representing Somerset at the tail end of their Twenty20 (T20) campaign in England.

Left-arm finger spinner Nikita Miller, 36, is the Scorpions captain, while Robert Samuels is to remain head coach.

The Super50 tournament is slated to run from October 3-28.

The West Indies are scheduled for two Tests, five One-Day Internationals, and three T20 Internationals against India between October 4 and November 11.

Both Gayle and Russell were recently announced as “icon” players for their respective franchises in the Afghanistan Premier League set for October 5-21. There was no clarity yesterday if the Afghan arrangement remains in place for both Jamaicans.

The 37-year-old batting stylist Marlon Samuels, yet again, will not suit up for the Jamaica franchise, but sources say he is to captain the West Indies 'B' team.

Wrist spinner Damion Jacobs is to represent Leeward Islands Hurricanes, while fast bowling all-rounder Odean Smith, who was a member of the triumphant West Indies Under-19 World Cup team in 2016, will turn out for West Indies 'B'.

The regional 50-over cricket tournament has in the past been staged between January and February, but Cricket West Indies has fitted this edition with an eye on picking the regional squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and Wales. It also accommodates players who would otherwise be contracted to some of the popular T20 leagues around the globe.

The Scorpions squad also includes wicketkeeper/batsman Chadwick Walton and batsmen Nkrumah Bonner, Paul Palmer, Jermaine Blackwood, Andre McCarthy, Brandon King, and Fabian Allen.

Young tear-away speedster Oshane Thomas and Gordon Bryan join Taylor in the fast bowling department.

Slow left-arm orthodox bowler Christopher Lamont is the specialist spinner alongside Miller.

Bennett said the squad comprises promising young players who have been on the regional circuit for a few years and who should be primed for success.

“It's a fairly balanced squad, and some of these guys have been playing now for years; they just have to put up their hands and take responsibility. We can no longer call them young in terms of the number of years they have been playing — for most of them it's their third and fourth season,” he explained.

He noted that while some players were engaged in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), others have been preparing for regional 50-over event.

“A lot of them played in the CPL tournament. Those back here started preseason work in August, then the tempo picked and they did a lot of physical [training] and went into the [practice] nets and so on,” Bennett told the Observer.

United States, Combined Campuses and Colleges, West Indies 'B' and Canada are to feature alongside the six established franchises.

The Scorpions are in Zone B along with Barbados Pride, Leeward Islands Hurricanes, Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) and United States

Zone A comprises title-holders Windward Islands Volcanoes, Guyana Jaguars, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, West Indies 'B' and Canada.

The Scorpions' first game is against CCC on October 4.

The Scorpions lost the 2016-17 final to Barbados but last season they failed to reach the semi-finals.

Scorpions squad— Nikita Miller (captain), Christopher Gayle, Chadwick Walton, Jermaine Blackwood, Brandon King, Rovman Powell, Fabian Allen, Andre McCarthy, Nkrumah Bonner, Paul Palmer, Christopher Lamont, Jerome Taylor, Oshane Thomas, Gordon Bryan.

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