By Neto Baptiste
Chief selector for the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA), Samuel Spencer, has sought to debunk, as rumours, that national cricketer Karima Gore was snubbed by the selection panel for the pending Leeward Islands Cricket Board (LICB) 50 Overs Tournament starting here next week.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Thursday, Spencer revealed that the decision was reached following consultation with the player and following confirmation he is under contract with the USA national team.
“I personally spoke twice with Karima before the final team was selected because I heard of a situation where, at late notice, he was contracted to the American [USA] team. I spoke with him on two occasions and he indicated to me that yes, he has a contract and America will be playing in the 50 Overs tournament [CWI tournament] and he has decided that he is going to be playing with the American team and he actually, even within the conversation he said he realised that if he were to play with Antigua, he would have been taking a spot that could be [given] to someone else that could probably make the Leeward Islands team,” Spencer said.
The cricket association, earlier this week, released a 14-man squad to contest the October 17-27 tournament to be played across three venues.
The team will be led by Devon Thomas and also includes West Indies Test players Rahkeem Cornwall and Alzarri Joseph.
Leading wicket-taker in the ongoing CPL with 19 scalps thus far, Hayden Walsh Jr, has also made the cut and is joined by West Indies youth player Javier Spencer and Leeward Islands youth player Elroy Francis.
Kofi James, Tyrone Williams Jr, Orlando Peters, Shane Burton, Justin Athanaze, Kadeem Phillip, Nino Henry and Deran Benta round off the sections.
Four players, Kelvin Pitman, Michael Dover, Kenrick Scott and Avier Christian have been placed on reserve.
Spencer said the job of the selectors was not an easy one.
“It was a tedious task in terms of selecting the team. We wanted to put our best team out there and as you would have recognised, it is a fact that we haven’t won the Leeward Islands tournament for the past few years and one of our objectives is to win the tournament and at the same time, get as many players as possible into the Leeward Islands team,” he said.
“We have a group of persons who have selected the team. We put our brains together and, in our opinion, this is the best possible team at the moment that we could put on show,” the chief selector added.
Coach, Pernel Watley, believes the team is equipped with the necessary skillsets to win this year’s tournament after having narrowly missed out on the title last year.
“This time around I think we have a more balanced team, we just need to be more positive. There are some areas we need to look at from last year like rotating the strike so those are some of the areas we are looking at. Last year, we only lost one game and that was maybe, the biggest game and the only game we lost last year was to St Kitts. If everybody plays to the best of their ability, we should be able to win the tournament,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda will open their campaign against Anguilla on October 18th in Bethesda before facing Nevis one day later in Pigotts. The home team will then suit up against St Kitts on October 20th also in Pigotts before playing St Maarten on the 22nd in All Saints and then Montserrat one day later in Pigotts.
The semi-finals and finals will run from October 24th to 26th with the finals scheduled for All Saints.