By Neto Baptiste
The final of the State Insurance Corporation-sponsored Super 40 cricket competition slated for Sunday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground promises to be highly competitive on the pitch but momentum is already building off it with players of both finalists eagerly anticipating the showdown.
Defending champions, Anderson E Carty Empire Nation and the high flying CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles both earned their places in the final following comprehensive victories in last weekend’s semifinals of the 40 overs competition being hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA).
Captain of the Empire Nation team and former Leeward Islands and national player, Justin Athanaze, said his players are looking forward to the opportunity to perform at the premier venue but are hoping that their batting, which has been their mainstay throughout the competition, can deliver against a sturdy Bethesda team.
“It is just going to be a different venue, a different field and it would just be to come there on the day and try to get the job done at that given moment. We just have to play simple and know what shots to play at any given time and for us it’s just partnerships because we bat deep. Kenrick Scott has been batting well, Damian Lowenfield has been batting well, so it’s just a whole team effort because we have been losing some games back to back. We had a talk and let the guys know that of we want to defend our championship then we have to just keep being simple and try to get the job done for the Empire Nation,” he said.
Empire enjoyed a five-wicket win over Jennings in their semifinal on Sunday to ease into the final while Eagles flew past New Winthorpes Lions by seven wickets.
Former West Indies, Leeward Islands and national player, Gavin Tonge who was adjudged Man of the Match for his half century, said the fans have chalked up the pending contest as one for bragging rights for either two or country.
He however cautioned Empire, a team which hails from the city of St John’s, that they may have to settle for second place.
“The fans, to me, are more involved than even the players because I am hearing this town and country thing in Jennings on Sunday. I went and watched the match and you’re hearing that country is going to win and town is going to win so, to me, the fans are into it more than the players reallyso I know on Sunday it’s going to be a very good match,” he said.
“I must say all the best to Empire this coming Sunday and let us play a really good game and show the people around Antigua and Barbuda and beyond that we have good talent here and let’s go out and play a real hard match, and I wish them all the best with their second position,” he added.
On Saturday, Jennings will take on New Winthorpes Lions in a third place battle at the same venue. Both matches will start at 9:30 am.