Battle for U-15 glory
Garrison Secondary will be breaking new ground when they come up against The Lodge School in the LIME Under-15 Schools’ Cricket Final at the LIME Sports Club ground, Wildey, today.While Garrison will be contesting an Under-15 final for the first time, it will be the fifth occasion The Lodge have made it this far. The previous occasions came in the midst of a memorable period when they made four finals in five years between 2001 and 2005. Having won the title in 2001 and 2003, victory here would give them a satisfying 50 per cent record.The success of The Lodge has been built on excellent teamwork and a bowling attack so imposing that only one team has scored in excess of 100 runs against them this season. Captain Tarik Shorey has led the way, taking 27 wickets with his left-arm medium fast bowling. They will be well aware of the challenge facing them in the form of Garrison’s leading batsman Jafari Toppin, who has amassed an impressive 390 runs at an equally impressive average of 97.50. This includes unbeaten centuries of 110 against Grantley Adams Memorial, and 158 against St James Secondary.Clifton Phillips, coach of The Lodge, is not preoccupied with the statistics.“I prefer to play to our strength rather than worry too much about the players on the other side. We try to deal with what we can control,” Phillips told NATIONSPORT as he took a brief break from the final preparations on the eve of the match.“Teamwork more than anything else has gotten us here,” Phillips said. “It’s the result of hard work. The boys have responded to the hard work. We have quite a few players in their first tournament but they have the will to work hard,” he stressed.Phillips and the team had excellent support from the wider school community with a number of teachers and students playing key roles in the development of the players. Jamal Grosvenor has been responsible for the fitness aspect of the preparation, while Desmond Grant and Ryan Hill have been involved with the coaching.Students Dario Weir and Dwayne Collymore, who play in the school’s Intermediate team, have also been instrumentalin offering guidance to the young cricketers.Garrison will be without their much celebrated female player Shaquana Quintyne, who is away on national duty with the senior Barbados team at the regional women’s competition in St Vincent. It puts even more responsibility on talented captain Toppin, who is also the leading wicket-taker in the team, capturing 21 scalps with his right-hand medium pace.Support comes in the form of Makeil Nurse, Caleb Carter and Theo Gaskin, off-spinners who are expected to feature even more prominently with the bat.“The absence of Shaquana has left a void in the side but we are happy that she has been chosen for higher honours,” team coach Elvis Howard told NATIONSPORT during his final training session.While admitting that the team depended heavily on Toppin, Howard expressed confidence in his players, many of whom were part of the 2008 team that won the Secondary Schools’ Under-13 Competition.“His contribution (Toppin) can be the key factor in winning or losing the final. The guys have got into the habit of winning. Winning the first three matches provided a good stepping stone for us,” he said.Howard said that the team had trained with more intensity this year than on previous occasions and he acknowledged the support given by several parents and assistant coach Uri Goddard. He also acknowledged the support and encouragement offered by former Police all-rounder Peter Clarke, who is groundsman at the YMPC club, the facility used by the Garrison as their home venue, as well as the influence of DaCosta Atherley, the National Sports Council coach assigned to the school. Having lost to Coleridge and Parry in the semi-finals of the 2000 competition, Howard is keen to make Garrison’s appearance in the final count. Squads: The Lodge School – Tarik Shorey (captain), Karrem Drakes, Shomari Taylor, Jamie Madin, Reshawn Boxhill, Jamar Bovell, Reshawn Harding, Justin Lucas, Romario Brathwaite, Joron Goddard, Mikkel Rogers, Torrian Chase, Daniel Jordan, Shakir Knight, Ross Jordan, D’sean Miller.Garrison – Jafari Toppin (captain), Makeil Nurse, Darius Jones, Elron Gill, Shaquan Callender, Theo Gaskin, Caleb Carter, Stefan Estwick, Tavonn Best, Rico Browne, Romario Hall, Hakeem Gomez, Keon Grazette, Shekiah Harris, Raphel Pollard, Sheridan McGregor.