Harper praises Blackwood’s maturity after prolific season

Jermaine Blackwood  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

(CMC) — West Indies chief selector Roger Harper believes Jermaine Blackwood’s heavy scoring in the recent domestic first-class championship is a signal the player has taken a matured approach to his career.

The right-hander, known for his impetuous stroke play, recently gathered 768 runs for Jamaica Scorpions at an average of 51 to top the batting in the competition, aborted after eight rounds due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Caribbean.

More significantly, Blackwood struck a monumental career-best 248 against Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the last round — the second-highest score for Jamaica in the last 54 years and the seventh highest overall in the history of the championship.

“Blackwood has been in the team in the past and has been out of the team recently. Interestingly … I think his current Test average is 30 and he has certainly put his hand up,” Harper told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show.

“I think he is aware from listening to him and reading his interviews, he’s aware of the fact he’s gotten starts and he’s been a little too impetuous at times but putting 700-odd runs on the board — including 248 runs in one innings — tells me that he is serious this time and intends to put his head down and bat.

“He’s been fairly consistent — he didn’t get many centuries — but he was consistent throughout the season so that’s good to see.”

Blackwood was axed from the West Indies side in 2017 after a run of low scores but remained in the selection frame, as proven by his call-up as a “concussion sub” for Darren Bravo during the second Test against India last at Sabina Park last September.

And he further impressed with his form for Scorpions recently, notching six half-centuries including a 98 in the fifth round against Leeward Islands Hurricanes, in addition to his double hundred.

The 28-year-old was one of three batsmen to pass 600 runs for the season with Kyle Mayers marking his debut season for his native Barbados Pride with 654 runs and veteran Devon Smith continuing his heavy scoring with 649 runs for Windward Islands Volcanoes.

“Kyle Mayers really drew the attention of everyone especially early in the season with two hundreds and made a number of contributions as well, especially when Barbados were under pressure so he’s put his name to the fore as well,” the former West Indies off-spinner pointed out.

Harper said he was also impressed with Jamaican Nkrumah Bonner who struck 523 runs from seven matches, along with two hundreds and two half-centuries.

Bonner’s average of 58 was the best by any specialist batsman in the tournament, bettered only by West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph’s 117 which was fueled by three not outs in five innings.

However, Harper reiterated his disappointment with the performance of West Indies batsman in the tournament, arguing they had not “stamped their authority” as required.

“You expect your international players to really stamp their authority on the regional tournament and I think from a batting perspective this was not the case,” Harper lamented.

“That’s a little disappointing because you expect your international players to let the others know they’re international players and are a cut above them and to show their class, and this is something that we need to look at a little closely.”

Test openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell were two of the main culprits, both falling short of 500 runs and averaging in the low 30s.