New captain John Campbell is hoping for a change in fortunes when the Jamaica Scorpions meet title-hopefuls Barbados Pride in the eighth round of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional League at Sabina Park, beginning today. Parachuted into the leadership position last weekend following the axing of fellow opener, Paul Palmer Jr, Campbell lost his opening game in charge to Trinidad and Tobago Red Force by eight wickets. This followed another below average batting display by the Scorpions, who made 225 in their first innings and 155 in their second. “I would have loved to have started off with a win, but it didn’t happen,” said Campbell. “However, I have to try and put that behind me. We have three games left, and I am definitely looking forward to winning these three games.” Set for a 10 a.m. start, third-place Jamaica, on 60 points, will enter the contest with three wins, four defeats and a mere mathematical chance of winning the title. FOUR WINS This is in comparison to Barbados, who with four wins, two draws and a defeat, are second on 90 points, 17 off league leaders and title favourites Guyana Jaguars, with three rounds of matches to go. “We are not playing the best cricket at the moment, but I think we will get there,” stated Campbell, one of several batsmen in the team who is yet to score a century in 14 first class innings. Middle-order batsman Andre McCarthy, with a ton in the fourth round, is the only player to pass triple figures. “We definitely do have the talent inside the dressing room, but talent is not all; production is it. “It’s kind of hard to be positive when you’re not getting any runs, or you’re trying to survive. But we need to believe in ourselves some more,” Campbell stated. “We are playing for Jamaica, so we are good enough, and as such, need to look into ourselves. The Scorpions will enter the contest with three changes to their 13-man squad. This is after the Wavell Hinds-led selection panel dropped West Indies fast bowler, Sheldon Cottrell and young fast bowler Marquino Mindley; and left out Test batsman Jermaine Blackwood. According to the Jamaica Cricket Association, the latter has not fully recovered from an injury sustained against the Red Force. Replacing the trio are young batsman Brandon King, who was dropped after the team’s first two matches; Guyanese-born opener Trevon Griffith; and left-arm seamer Gavon Brown. Barbados, in the meantime, have brought their strongest available team, which includes West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite. The other West Indies players in the 13 are batsmen Jonathan Carter and Kyle Hope and Omar Phillips, wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich and left-arm spinner, Jomel Warrican. Exciting fast bowler, Miguel Cummins, who was drafted for West Indies recent tour of Australia but did not play, is also in the Barbados squad.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini admits he is preparing for a “vital” top-of-the-table crunch match with Premier League rivals Chelsea after losing ground in the title race.Having completely wiped out the eight-point advantage Chelsea once held over them over Christmas, the top flight champions now find themselves trailing by a large margin again.City were outgunned in a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, a result which leaves them five points adrift of Jose Mourinho’s league leaders.City controlled possession throughout at the Etihad Stadium, but lacked creativity despite the return of top scorer Sergio Aguero to their starting line-up, while Arsenal hit back on the counter-attack and netted through a Santi Cazorla penalty and Olivier Giroud’s header.Pellegrini accepts his side’s trip to Stamford Bridge in a fortnight is vital to their hopes of retaining the title, though he does believe his side can catch the Blues.“The game we must play at Stamford Bridge is a very important game,” said the Chilean. “We must close the gap to two points.“I hope we are going to recover and play the way we have been playing so far.“But it’s just five points. A few months ago we were eight points behind them and we still have 45 points left to play for.”Pellegrini felt City were not their usual attacking selves against Arsenal, who shut out the champions with an stubborn defensive display.The Chilean coach, whose side are now heading to Abu Dhabi for a warm-weather training camp, said: “With the ball we didn’t have clear ideas, I think we didn’t play a good game.“We ran a lot and had a lot of possession but we didn’t have creative ideas to try and find the space against a team that defend very well.“We conceded two goals from set-pieces. I doubt it was a penalty but after the penalty we had enough time and we didn’t create many chances to score.”