― Blackwood comes up short with fighting 96
Defending champions, Guyana Jaguars began their 2016 campaign of the Digicel Regional Four Day Tournament with a crushing win over the Jamaica Scorpions at Providence on Monday. The 181-run victory was achieved in fading light despite a defiant 96 from Test batsman Jermaine Blackwood and a thunderstorm that kept the players indoors for over three hours.
The Jaguars had visions of an early day after the Scorpions who began the final day on 9 for 2 chasing an improbable 329 to win, lost opener Trevon Griffith, night watchman Jason Dawes and middle order batsman Andre McCarthy to be reduced to 38 for 5 early in the first session. However, international players Jermaine Blackwood and Chadwick Walton curbed their attacking instincts to resist the attacking Jaguars for 30 overs in a fighting 54-run partnership.
In the third over of the day, a fired up Keon Joseph breached the defence of Griffith with a quick ball that knocked out the middle and off stumps after a cautious start by the Scorpions.
It was evident that the plan was to bat out the day for a draw but left arm spinner Gudakesh Motie enduced a lofted drive from Dawes for Joseph to take a super catch running around at long off. Andre McCarthy joined Blackwood and the pair soaked up a lot of deliveries and time before the Jaguars’ most successful bowler of the match, Permaul got the breakthrough.
Walton joined forces with Blackwood and they were doing a great job of blocking for just over seven overs before a sharp shower send the players off at 47 for 5 at approximately 10:55h and an early lunch was taken. Blackwood, who got off the mark when he edged Joseph through the slips was on 17 and Walton was on a patient 6. The players and few spectators at the ground were hoping for a prompt resumption however, play was held up for 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Kudos must be given to the ground staff at the national stadium for their brisk effort in getting the action to resume 20 minutes after the shower ended. While the players were indoors, an early tea was taken as well.
Upon the resumption, in brilliant sunshine the Scorpions’ resistance continued and frustration began to step in to the Jaguars camp. Captain Leon Johnson rotated the bowlers in search for the break through which eventually came in the 63rd over of the Scorpions innings when Motie struck in his first over of a new spell after being switched to the northern end. Walton hit one four in his partnership of 54 with Blackwood in thirty overs either side of the rain interruption.
Time was running out and the Jaguars needed the breakthrough to go for the outright win while the Scorpions were looking for a draw but Derval Green, Damion Jacobs and Nikita Miller were not dogged enough in offering resistance and assistance to Blackwood who was exploring thoughts of a fifth First Class century.
In fading light and in the final hour of the match, Blackwood was scoring freely off of the spinners and hit some telling blows to get closer to triple figures and Johnson made the bold move to ring Joseph from the northern end with the second new ball with three overs in the match remaining and the last pair at the crease. The first ball Blackwood played to deep extra cover and did not take the single to expose number 11 Marquino Mindley to the strike. Mindley also was comfortable to the spinners and was proving to be the perfect partner in the situation. However, all the hard work went down the drain when Joseph bowled a short ball on the line of middle stump and Blackwood edged to Bramble to spark wild celebrations as the resistance ended with the visitors folding for 147 with two overs and four balls remaining. The victory is without a doubt a morale booster for the defending champions who will now continue their campaign on the road.
For the match, the Jaguars got 17.8 points with 12 for the victory, 2 batting bonus points, 3 bowling bonus points and 0.8 fast bowling bonus points while the Scorpions leave with 4.8 points, 3 for bowling, 1 for batting and 0.8 from the fast bowlers.
The Jaguars will now travel to St. Kitts to meet the Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park from Friday. The Hurricanes drew their heavy scoring opening encounter against the Pride.
The Scorpions will go home where they will host the Wndwards Volcanoes who lost their opening match to the Red Force inside three days.