SPORTS

Blackwood — Where There Is Smoke There Is Fire!

Jermaine Blackwood on the go

The West Indian batsman Jermaine Blackwood has been a member of the West Indian test team over the past couple of years and has had decent returns with the bat. But where did it all start?

I will explore the rise of this talented cricketer, his recent failures and posit my view on what I think he may achieve in the future.

Jermaine Blackwood hails from the rural parish of St. Elizabeth in Jamaica and started playing cricket at a very young age; he got a serious introduction to the game as a 12-year-old when he participated in the Scotia Bank Kiddy Cricket competition at Sabina Park in 2004.

He then moved on to Holmwood Technical High School where he truly began to develop as a cricketer of note, with outstanding and consistent performances in the rural area Headley Cup Competition with both bat and ball.

This led to a call-up for the West Indies under-19 squad for the 2010 World Cup in New Zealand and then a call-up for the Jamaica National Cricket team in 2012.

His talent as a batsman was never in doubt, and he topped the Regional Four Day Competition run-scoring charts in 2013 -2014 with 611 runs at and was fast-tracked into the West Indian Senior team in 2014 against the touring New Zealand Team. He has so far played 73, first-class matches, scoring 3,954 at 31. 63, his returns in List A limited overs cricket is relatively moderate – he has scored 680 runs in 32 games at 25.18.

Blackwood did not disappoint in his first test match, making an enterprising 63, including a second ball six against New Zealand’s best bowler Trent Boult. This innings showed his natural ability as a batsman and his aggressive nature.

He has gone on to play 27 Test matches so far, scoring 1324 runs, with one century and ten fifties at an average of 30. 09. Blackwood bats with intent and is a joy to watch when he is going at full throttle with typical flamboyant drives and pulls reminiscent of the great West Indian Cricketers of past generations. He has played a few match-winning innings in his fledgling career including 53 not out against England at Sabina Park in 2016 and a match-saving 112 not against the same opposition in 2015.

He also looked imperious for his 79 not out in the first day-night test match of the 2017 series against England. In this innings, he weathered aggressive and accurate bowling from the world-class England seamers including all-time greats James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Blackwood, however, did not contribute in the other two matches of the series and lost his place in the starting eleven for the current test being played against New Zealand.

For Blackwood to regain and keep his place in the West Indian team, he needs to significantly improve his level of consistency as a batsman and his rate of conversion. To improve in these critical areas, Blackwood needs to go back to first-class cricket and focus on being more selective in his strokeplay and learning to concentrate for longer periods when batting.

If he improves in these areas, he will get the opportunity to represent the West Indies again. If he does not believe he needs to improve, he might not realize his full potential as a batsman. Fans now wait to see whether he will turn his career around or he will become another wasted talent in West Indian cricket.

However, the fact is, fans and aficionados have seen Blackwood’s smoke and know that he can set the cricket world ablaze if he blows harder, will he?

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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