By Neto Baptiste
Only four teams will advance to the semifinal round of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) State Insurance Company Super 40 Competition following this weekend’s completion of its preliminary round of matches.
CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles, unbeaten after eight rounds of matches with their only blemish being an abandoned fixture against Jennings, sits atop the standings with 32 points and are, to date, the only team confirmed for the semis.
Jennings, in second with 22 points, could ease into the next round with victory over their struggling neighbours Bolans Blasters who are yet to win a match in the competition.
Coach of the Jennings team, Glen Miller, is however not going into Saturday’s clash unprepared given the rivalry between the two teams.
“The game this weekend is the most important game for the season because we are not in the semifinals. Once other teams can overtake you on points, then you are not safe, so you cannot take [any] team for granted. I saw the end of Bolans game on Sunday because we played against Pigotts, and our game finished a bit early. Bolans has a very good team. and one of the things you have to look at is that Bolans has some very experienced guys who have come back like Earl Waldron, Gavin Williams and Elroy Francis and also, you will remember that they have one of the most exciting and young fast bowlers in the country [Taiem Tonge],” he said.
The other two available slots could be divided between New Winthorpes Lions, All Saints Pythons and Anderson Carty Empire Nation, all of whom have 20 points.
Former West Indies fast bowler and a member of the All Saints team coaching staff, Winston Benjamin, fears that a lack of experience and ‘playful’ nature of some players could work against their chances.
“It’s a playful bunch of guys and if you can see, they are very young, so I don’t think the maturity is there as yet, so one of the things that I have to do is to make sure that they understand as much as possible, how important the game over the weekend is going to be. The thing about it is that we would have to try and get them focused because they are always relaxed, and for me, they are too relaxed. I believe in relaxation but this group of guys here, they are too relaxed for my liking,” he said.
Defending Super 40 champions, Empire Nation, after going unbeaten over the weekend with wins over PIC Liberta Blackhawks and Massy United Insurance Combined Schools, could also snatch a semifinal spot with victory over Rising Sun Spartans.
Coach Ian Title admits the feat may not be as easy as some may believe.
“That’s the way cricket is so you just have to fight until the end and this weekend [Saturday] will be the last game [in the preliminary], so we will have to really come out and play our best game. I know that they understand the importance of the win this weekend and the team that we are playing against because Rising Sun has always given us a lot of problems,” the former player said.
In other match ups, All Saints Pythons face Bethesda Golden Eagles in Bethesda, Pigotts travel to New Winthorpes where they will face the Lions, and PIC Liberta Blackhawks take on Combined Schools at Pigotts.