Focus on Tallawahs

Focus on Tallawahs

Windies batsman Blackwood ready for Tallawahs challenge

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, August 09, 2020

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WEST INDIES Test player Jermaine Blackwood is hopeful he can carry his batting form into Twenty20 (T20) cricket, after unusual circumstances led to his late addition to the Jamaica Tallawahs squad for this season's Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

“I feel very confident but T20 cricket is a totally different cricket from Test cricket,” the middle order batsman told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview.

“Once I do the basic things I think I will have a good CPL, if I get the chance to play,” the 28-year-old Jamaican added.

Blackwood and compatriot Ramaal Lewis, the former Jamaica youth team captain, replaced batsman Andre McCarthy and left-arm finger spinner Jeavor Royal on the eve of a charter flight departure to Trinidad and Tobago.

The decision regarding McCarthy and Royal was taken because both might have been exposed to fellow Jamaican Dennis Bulli — who tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week — while training in a small group in Kingston. McCarthy and Royal were said to have returned negative results from initial tests.

Left-arm wrist spinner Bulli, who was drafted by St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, was replaced by the franchise.

“It's very hard to be left out of any team…I know they [McCarthy and Royal] were looking to play the CPL [but] unfortunately, that situation happened with them. I hope they just keep their heads up because there is a lot of cricket to be played in a few months' time,” Blackwood, who is in quarantine in Trinidad with his Tallawahs teammates, said.

Blackwood sparkled during last season's domestic four-day championship, amassing 768 runs at 51.20 in eight matches for Jamaica Scorpions.

On the recent West Indies Test tour to England — which saw the visiting team's batting unit struggle miserably in a 1-2 series loss — Blackwood was the best of the bunch, scoring two half-centuries and averaging 35.16 in six innings.

In the T20 format his numbers are quite underwhelming. He averages 12.92 in 19 matches with a top score of 38 and strike rate of 80.38.

Those T20 statistics may surprise some, given he is an attacking stroke player who is also quick between the wickets — useful attributes for a successful T20 batsman.

The diminutive cricketer suggested he is on a quest to set the record straight.

“I think I have worked very hard, [and] I always believe that once you work hard you will reap the rewards. Once I get the chance to play in the team I will just try to bat more balls,” Blackwood explained.

Jamaica Tallawahs, the two-time former CPL champions, endured a painful 2019 campaign, losing eight of 10 preliminary matches to finish last in the tournament which was eventually won by Barbados Tridents.

Blackwood is positive they can turn things around this season.

“You can't dwell on what happened in the past. I think we have a very good team and once we can play as a team I think we will get the job done,” he told the Observer.

The 2020 CPL was scheduled to be staged across venues in the region between August 19 and September 26, but changes were forced due to the spread of the coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

The rescheduled tournament is to run from August 18 to September 10. All matches are to be played behind closed doors between Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad's capital Port of Spain and Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.

The Tallawahs are set to start their campaign versus St Lucia Zouks at Brian Lara Cricket Academy on August 19.

Tallawahs squad: Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Chadwick Walton, Oshane Thomas, Sandeep Lamichhane, Carlos Brathwaite, Fidel Edwards, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Glenn Phillips, Asif Ali, Preston McSween, Jermaine Blackwood, Ramaal Lewis, Nicholas Kirton, Nkrumah Bonner, Veerasammy Permaul, Ryan Persaud.

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