FOUR-DAY: Harpy Eagles enter final round with slim title hopes
By Akeem Greene in Trinidad
After the conclusion of Round Four of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Four-Day Championship on Saturday in Trinidad, the Guyana Harpy Eagles have moved to third, but leaders Barbados Pride have extended their lead over them to 15.8 points.
Eagles currently have 51.2 points, while the defending champions are on 67.0 points, but Leeward Islands Hurricanes are hot in pursuit on 65.4.
It is only a three-way race for the title and had Jamaica Scorpions (37.8 points) not frustrated the Guyanese by batting out the last day to force a draw on Saturday at Diego Martin Sporting Complex, it would have been more close.
With a maximum of 24 points on offer in a match, it is not impossible for the Eagles to win, but it is more improbable given the required scenarios that need to occur.
Ideally, they would hope both Pride and Hurricanes lose their remaining matches and gain little to no batting or bowling points.
However, the powerful Pride face the winless Windward Volcanoes (21.0 points) on a batting-friendly Diego Martin strip, and Hurricanes, with Rahkeem Cornwall waving his spin wand, will play the fifth-place Scorpions at Brian Lara Cricket Academy.
Based on form, both the protagonists in the title race would be favourites to win their Round Five encounters, which would completely knock Harpy Eagles out of the race.
But, as captain, Leon Johnson said at Saturday’s post-match, “cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties” and they will look to control the outcome in the clash against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (47.2 points) at the Queen’s Park Oval from June 1.
So, to break down the points allocation, it is 12 points for an outright win; a maximum of five batting points for a total of 400 or more by 110 overs in the first innings; three bowling points for bowling out the team by 110 overs in the first innings then a maximum of four fast-bowling points if the pacers take all 20 wickets in the match.
The latter seems improbable as the Eagles have acquired the least fast-bowling points (5.2) by any franchise, and with Nial Smith missing Round Four due to a slight groin issue and newbie Demetri Cameron lacking the control, Keemo Paul is the only other pacer that remains to potentially do such a job.
Chance to improve individual performances
Bangladesh will visit the Caribbean next month for two Test matches next month, and if history repeats itself when the selectors filled the vacant spots in the Test team for the England series after the first two rounds in February, high-performers in these rounds could find themselves in line for selection.
One spot is that of the partner for Kraigg Brathwaite, as while the incumbent John Campbell has given the Test side reasonably solid starts, his individual performances have not been up to par.
It means Tagenarine Chanderpaul, the second leading run-scorer behind Brathwaite with 414 runs at an average of 82.80 with two centuries in seven innings, must be considered a front-runner for the Test job.
Previous tryout Kieron Powell has also gotten runs (403 at 57.57), but an inconsistent past should imply that ideally, another player should be presented with an opportunity.
Cornwall, with 21 wickets at 18.61, seems to be spinning his way to a recall, but the incumbent Veerasammy Permaul is just behind with 19 wickets at 27.21.
With one round remaining, all the current standout performers will want to enhance their numbers to fortify their position for Test selection next month.