Coach Nielsen defends captain Samuels

Members of the Antigua Hawksbills celebrate after claiming a wicket in their recent match against Barbados Tridents in Bridgetown. (CPL T20 Ltd.2014)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Coach of the Antigua Hawksbills Tim Nielsen, has come to the defense of Marlon Samuels, following criticism from some quarters over the team’s seemingly inability to win in this year’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL).

Hawksbills, after five matches, is yet to gain a point, losing all five of their outings as they sit second from bottom on the six team standings.

Nielsen said it is easy to point fingers when things go wrong.

“When you’re losing and the team is not able to get across the line, the captain, the team becomes a big focus and we are trying to work hard together and pick the best sides. We have had a couple of injuries and at the last minute we’ve had Kieran Powell who was a huge player for us, an important player for us who wasn’t able to play so we’ve had to replace him. So Marlon has done a good job, I think,” he said.

Hawksbill lost their opening match to the Guyana Amazons by two wickets, on July 11, before going down by eight wickets to the Jamaica Tallawahs on July 17.

Hawksbills, two days later, went down by five wickets to Barbados Tridents before a humiliating nine-wicket loss to Trinidad & Tobago Red Steels on July 20. The Antigua Hawksbills’ latest letdown was a one-wicket loss to the Tridents on July 25.

“We have lost two or three of the games we’ve played, so far, off the last over so we haven’t turned our game up when we had the opportunity to win and now I guess we are paying the price for that,” Nielsen said.

“Marlon has been excellent as a Captain and as a player. We just haven’t had the support on the field for him and we probably lack with experience, all the new methods.”

Despite the team’s run of poor luck, Nielsen said the players have been learning from the experience.

“It’s tough playing in a tournament they are obviously not winning, but they are enjoying it. We challenge ourselves continuously to ensure we are having some fun together and trying to play exciting and a good brand of cricket to watch. T20 cricket is very fickle; you can be top of the pops one day and next day get beaten quite easily, so we know that if we can get our first win we feel we can get on a kind of roll and push forward,” the coach said.

Hawksbills will seek to grab their first victory when they play defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs on Thursday at Sabina Park in Kingston.

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