The Cable

ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — Director of cricket Jimmy Adams has urged players to use the upcoming first-class season to stake their claim for a place at the higher level.

The four-day season is set to bowl off on October 26 and Adams said the three-month season provided the ideal chance for youth cricketers and fringe players to grab the attention of senior selectors.

“It's an opportunity for the talented players in our game to stake a claim for a place in international matches,” said Adams, who took over from Englishman Richard Pybus in the post earlier this year.

The first-class tournament will kick off the West Indies domestic season, which also includes the Regional Super50 one-day tournament next January and the Caribbean Premier League at the back end of next summer.

For the fourth straight year, the season will be played under a home-and-away format which will again see 10 rounds of matches, a feature Adams said was key to player development.

“This tournament is critical to our game in view of its length, since there are return matches. It provides so many opportunities for young players and for some that have been around for a long time to get a lot of matches under their belt,” said the former West Indies captain.

“I think it is also good for the selectors to have an opportunity to see more of the players in different conditions, so it will throw up a lot of very, very useful information and give us a better indication about the quality of our players.

Cricket West Indies has transformed the first-class tournament into a professional franchise set-up from the old territorial format, with players on full contracts and the season extended to include home-and-away fixtures.

Under the new stipulations, players can also move between franchises, and are selected out of a draft ahead of each season.

This year, the season has been squeezed into three months — wrapping up on January 21 — and Adams underscored the importance of player fitness to cope with the demands.

“It will be a demanding season for the players and to be able to cope with the level of sustained physical and mental pressure, we will need them to be in top condition, so that they can repeat good performances and so it has to be a massive part of their preparation going into the season,” he said.

Three-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars will open the defence of their title against Jamaica Scorpions at the Guyana National Stadium while Barbados Pride host Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at Kensington Oval and Windward Islands Volcanoes and Leeward Islands Hurricanes clash at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada.

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