ST.JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC) – The recall of veteran batsman Sylvester Joseph after a four-year break from regional competition is being viewed as one of the keys to Leeward Islands breaking their jinx in the Caribbean Twenty20.
They have never reached the final four of the competition in three outings and suffered badly in the 2012 campaign, losing three of their four fixtures to bow out early.
The 34-year-old Joseph, who played five Tests and 13 One-Day Internationals between 2000 and 2007, has returned as captain and team officials believe this has boosted the Leewards’ chances.
“The idea is to have stability starting at the top. With Joseph coming back and (Kieran) Powell finding his feet, they should be able to set a platform for the innings and for the team,” said head coach Stuart Williams, the former Test batsman.
“I’m not just speaking about the CT20, but also in the Regional Super50 and 4-Day Tournaments which are to follow.”
He continued: “He (Joseph) has performed well in the past with the bat and as the leader. He was the logical choice. He brings experience and maturity on and off the field and merits his place in the team.
“I think this is a step in the right direction this year and will bring some stability to the set-up. He knows what he’s about and the team will benefit from having him around.”
Leeward Islands boast an enterprising unit, if only on paper. Powell has been in a purple patch of form for West Indies and he will be joined by big-hitting left-hander Chesney Hughes who plies his trade for Derbyshire in the English County championship.
Wicketkeeper Devon Thomas, who toured Bangladesh with the West Indies one-day side, has been included as one of two wicketkeepers along with Jahmar Hamilton.
Out-of-favour Windies leg-spinner and former skipper Anthony Martin also strengthens the squad, as does the presence of veteran seamer Gavin Tonge.
“We have Thomas who is a West Indies senior player and one in the team to whom we will look for big performances,” said Williams.
“We also have Hamilton, who just completed an excellent stint at the Sagicor WIHPC and we expect these two to do very well for us.”
He added: The senior players are all seasoned campaigners and we will look to players such as Tonge and Martin to get wickets for us, maintain pressure and help us to win matches and look to advance this year and not have to go back home after the first round like we did before.”
The CT20 runs from January 6-20 in Trinidad and St Lucia, and the Leewards launch their campaign against Barbados on the second day of competition.