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Shield semi looks hot


ELVIS HOWARD

Shield semi looks hot

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TWO FORMER champions, a three-time losing finalist and a first-timer to the stage all combine for what should be two exciting matches in today’s semi-finals of the Sagicor General Shield competition. Play is slated to begin at 11 a.m.
At the Brewery, in the battle of the country teams, Pine Hill Dairy St John Cultural, winners in 1995, 1996 and losing finalists in 1999 will meet Mount Gay North Stars.
Hailing from St Lucy, North Stars have reached this point for the first time in their history.
Over at Dayrells Road, it will be a repeat of the 2008 final between Nature Valley Lodge, who took their only title then, and Ince Transport MTW.
Lodge were the first school team ever to contest the final in 1997 when they lost to previous giant killers Bristol.
Despite no silverware after three attempts, with defeats to Dover in 2001, Combermere 2007 and Lodge 2008, MTW remain one of the most consistent sides over the last decade in this tournament.
Evenly matched
Both St John Cultural and North Stars seem evenly matched when it comes to youth and experience. The likes of former Division 1 players Louis Spooner and Frank Skeete, along with Adrian Howell and Charles Antrobus, are an integral part of the St John Cultural set up.
They will be joined by youthful fast bowlers Damien Sealy and Marlon Knight. There are also teenagers batsman Kyle Franklin and off-spinner Kemar Craigg, who was Man Of The Match with five for 14 in the nine-wicket quarter-final victory over Market Hill.
North Stars’ line-up will include veteran all-rounders Alvin Campbell, Andy Griffith and Rodwell London.
The fast bowling comes from the pacy Kyle Carrington and Shevel Griffith, who took seven for 18 including a beaver trick against Standard in the fourth series.
The batsmen are captain Troy Toppin, Campbell, Damien Forde, Greg Phillips, London and Ian Brome. Toppin made a superb match-winning unbeaten 71 against Windward in the quarter-final last weekend.
Meanwhile, MTW will be seeking to overcome what has become a jinx against School teams. They continue to attract some very good youngsters such as former YMPC Division 1 batsman Eric Batson and Ariel Forde, who was the leading batsman in last year’s BCA Division 2 competition with more than 700 runs.
Apart from these, you can add the very consistent all-rounders in Kevin Gittens, Junior Holder, Raymond Kellman, and the old stager Denis Payne who all played in the last two finals.
In the quarter-final, MTW defeated BRC BCL on a faster scoring rate after rain prematurely ended the match.
Lodge will be strengthened by the return of national Under-19 wicketkeeper/batsman Mario Rampersaud, who missed the rain-hit quarter-final against Barbados Community College (BCC). Lodge advanced by virtue of a superior net run rate after the preliminary round.
The final is set for Sunday, October 3, at the Desmond Haynes Oval.

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