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HPC to join fray

Craig Cozier

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THE SAGICOR High Performance Centre (HPC) will compete in next month’s West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) 50-over tournament, while England “A” will be the eighth team in next season’s regional four-day first-class tournament.
WICB chief executive officer Dr Ernest Hilaire disclosed this last week during a press briefing at Kensington Oval.
“Last year, we had the Under-19 team participate as it prepared for the Under-19 World Cup. This year the High Performance Centre team will participate in the 50-overs competition,” Hilaire said.
That tournament will take place from October 14 to 26 with all the matches being played in Jamaica.
“It is an ideal opportunity for them to play more cricket, to play at that level in the region, so you can get a good sense of where they are,” Hilaire explained.
“It’s probably not the best format of the game you’d want them to play in. You would probably rather them play four-day but we believe it would be a very good experience for them,” he added.
“It will be an opportunity for the region to see the quality of talent we have at that level.”
Barbados will face HPC in a four-team zone that also includes recently-crowned Twenty20 champions Guyana, as well as the Windward Islands.
Hosts Jamaica will meet defending champions Trinidad and Tobago, Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC), and the Leeward Islands in the other zone.
The top two teams in each zone will progress to the semi-finals.
Next year’s regional four-day competition will see the inclusion of England “A” for the second time in its history.
England “A” were the first-ever foreign team to compete in the Caribbean’s main tournament when they finished third in the 2001 edition before losing to Guyana in the semi-finals of the International Challenge.
Bangladesh “A” (2002), India “A” (2003), and Kenya (2004) also competed during a four-year spell that also featured a West Indies “B” team.
From 2005-2007, only the traditional six territories participated before CCC entered the fray for the last three seasons in a seven-team competition.