Host nation Saint Lucia survived a few nervous moments to win their Windward Islands Lotteries (WINLOTT) opener relatively handily on Wednesday afternoon.
Playing at the Gros Islet Playing Field, the defending champions opened the 2015 WINLOTT Under-15 cricket tournament with a 66-run win over Dominica, before a crowd of about 100, including parents, coaches and fellow athletes.
Batting first, Saint Lucia got what coah Alton Crafton described as ” a fair score” of 261-7 from their 50 overs.
Catpain Kimani Melius opened the batting with Dhan-Raj ‘Chaz’ Cepal, and the pair put on an opening stand of 80 before Chaz got out for 37, having struck seven boundaries.
Although Saint Lucia lost some middle order wickets relatively cheaply, the captain stuck around, punishing the Dominican bowling with a massive 14 boundaries and four maximum hits.
He eventually succumbed for 110, especially severe on Nigel Jn Louis. Renee Montoute also added 22.
Jn Louis took two wickets, but conceded 54 runs off 36 deliveries. Ethan Doctrove took two for 43 off eight overs, and Anakym Moreau two for 29 off seven overs.
The Dominican reply began to gain momentum about halfway through their innings, when Micah Joseph and Jahsceon Alexander put together a solid partnership. Joseph in particular began to pierce the field and take advantage of some lax fielding.
Spinners Simeon Gerson and Keygan Arnold were rested in favour of pacer Shelton St Rose, and his tight, disciplined line and length put the batters under serious pressure.
Eventually, Gerson and Cepal got twin breakthroughs, Gerson capturing Alexander for 21 and Cepal taking Joseph for 102 shortly thereafter.
Cepal ended with three wickets for 25 runs, bowling one maiden in his 7.2 overs, despite struggling a bit with his line at times.
Gerson took two for 39 from his 10 overs, and Stavone Gabriel contributed one for 27 from his five overs, with one maiden. But Crafton had particular praise for his young speedster.
“Shelton St Rose, he finished with one wicket,” Crafton pointed out. “But he bowled brilliantly; he bowled with pace and control. And then the spinners did pretty well, Simeon and Cepal.”
The Saint Lucian fielders had difficulty coming to grips with a tricky outfield, and their bowling attack lost off spinner, Haniff Antoine, who was withdrawn with a finger injury after he had delivered just one over. But the coach said he would accept no excuses, and looked forward to seeing improvement in coming games.
“A good victory,” Crafton acknowledged. “But I think there is a lot of mental work we still need to do with the boys. For them to understand the mental aspect of it, for them to understand… you know, when partnerships come by, they sort of break down, but we’re trying to work on that, let them understand that partnerships will happen, so we want them to react better when [the opposition] has partnerships.”
The next game for Saint Lucia is on Maundy Thursday at the Gros Islet Playing Field, when the home side takes on St Vincent and the Grenadines from 10am.
The tournament takes a break on Good Friday and resumes on Holy Saturday (Sabbatum Sanctum), when Saint Lucia will play Grenada at the Mindoo Phillip Park.