Cricket is holding its own in the Caribbean sporting spotlight these days but overseas football matches involving Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica today stand to have as good a share of interest among Caribbean sport fans.
Neither Trinidad and Tobago nor Jamaica have qualified for the upcoming FIFA World Cup finals kicking off in Brazil next Thursday but the two nations, both one-time World Cup finalists, Jamaica in France in 1998 and Trinidad and Tobago in Germany in 2006, are playing friendlies against Egypt and Argentina today.
Jamaica engage Egypt in the Matchroom Stadium in London today while Trinidad and Tobago are in Buenos Aires to play Argentina from 6.30 pm (TT and Eastern Caribbean time).
Yesterday’s Caribbean cricket spotlight was topped by the naming of the West Indies 13-player squad for the first Test of a series-three with New Zealand, this Test starting Sunday in Jamaica with 29-year-old wicket-keeper-batsman Denesh Ramdin of Trinidad and Tobago in his stint as Test series captain.
And Jamaicans Chris Gayle who has played 99 Test matches, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor who last played Test cricket for West Indies in 2009 are members of the squad that is without Trinidad and Tobago spinner Sunil Narine who was disqualified from selection after missing the West Indies Board’s June 1 deadline to report to the West Indies camp in Barbados.
Narine was in India on that date playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the final of the Indian Premier League 20-20 tournament which they won.
Another TT cricketer Dwayne Bravo was in consideration for selection but was become unavailable due to injury.
Lanky 32-year-old Barbadian left-hander Sulieman Benn and 31-year-old Dominica-born right-armer Shane Shillingford are the two frontline spinners named.
Kemar Roach, Taylor and Shannon Gabriel from Trinidad and Tobago are the fast bowlers in the squad that counts as frontline batsmen Gayle, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kraigg Braithwaite, Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell and Samuels.
New Zealand meanwhile were far from impressive in their build-up for the Test as they are heading into today’s third and last day of their second prep match against a Jamaica Select XI with an overall lead of 146 runs and with three wickets in hand.
This because after declaring their first innings at 203 for 9 with only Kane Williamson’s 47 topscore of note, they hit back to have Jamaica at 122 for 9 declared but then they closed yesterday’s second day on 65 for the loss of seven wickets.