By Neto Baptiste
Coach of the Combined Schools cricket team Pernel Watley said he has been placing emphasis on a number of weak areas as they fine tune preparations for the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association’s (ABCA) Super 40 Competition slated to bowl off at various venues on Saturday.
Combined Schools will open their campaign against Bolans on Saturday, in Jennings, before travelling to All Saints Sunday where they will face the Pythons.
“We have been looking at the weaker areas and we try to get the guys to play a little one-tip [hit and run] in the practice just to find the gap and run short singles. We have also been [practicing] some yorkers because you know in maybe the last five or 10 overs the [batting team] trying to go hard, so we are trying to get the guys to bowl yorkers just to stop the runs scoring,” he said.
“We have also practiced bowling some slower balls and trying to get the spinners to get the ball to turn, do a little drifting. The batsmen — before we actually start the sessions in the nets — we try to get them to do some shadow batting,” he added.
Watley, who has coached at both the national and at the Leeward Islands levels, also welcomed the initiative where a number of Leeward Islands players will be attached to teams competing in the Super 40 as they prepare for the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Super 50 starting in February.
The coach, however, hopes that the more experienced Leewards players will also seek to take on a mentorship role with the young players.
“I am hoping that when they come and go to the different teams, whatever they have learnt in the past that they would be able to pass it on to whether the captain, the bowlers, the batters, and to just rub shoulders with them and share their experience. That is what I am looking for and not for them to come and take over because after they leave, we will still have to go back to our own players,” he said.
As for the readiness of the team’s home venue at Factory, Watley said that although the sports ministry is ultimately responsible, the team’s coaching and management staff has made sure that measures are in place to safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus.
“What I do as the coach is that I have a cooler that is filled with water every day with a little Clorox, a little [liquid soap] in there so that the guys could wash their hands. I think they do understand because I’ve seen a lot of them coming to practice with a little bottle of sanitizer, they are coming with their masks on and they are always reminding each other of the distance and things like that,” he said. In other matches scheduled for Saturday, Pigotts Crushers host Rising Sun Spartans, New Winthorpes Lions host Jennings, All Saints Pythons travel to King George where they face Empire Nation, and PIC Liberta Blackhawks soar into the nest of CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles.