Jamaica Scorpions captain Nikita Miller has been forced to defend his tactics after coming under criticism for his handling of star all-rounder Rovman Powell, during the side's disappointing defeat to Barbados Pride in the final of the Regional Super50 last Saturday.
Powell, a West Indies player who bowls varied right-arm seam, was only given three overs as Pride romped to 271 for nine off their 50 overs, after opting to bat first at Coolidge Cricket Ground.
Significantly, he was introduced for the first time in the 46th over with Pride already having escaped from a dodgy situation of 138 for five in the 35th over, courtesy of a scintillating 127-run sixth wicket stand between Man-of-the-Match Shai Hope (101) and captain Jason Holder (69).
“I'm a captain who works with the situation. I don't play what you did the day before,” Miller told the Observer newspaper.
“If you're playing against the same team and if you're playing on the same pitch, yes. But on the type of pitch we were playing on, and at that time, the spinners were tying down the batters and Rovman is more adept at bowling at the latter stage or at the death (the end of the innings).”
Powell had taken his maiden career five-wicket haul in List A just days earlier when he helped fire Scorpions to a comprehensive 292-run victory over deposed champions Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.
But Miller said he was forced to change tactics against the Pride who were more susceptible to slow bowling than seam.
As a result, both off-spinners Damani Sewell and John Campbell were given 10 overs apiece.
“As we saw … [Powell's] cleverness showed. I know he got five wickets [in the semis], but it's a different situation,” Miller contended.
“Yes his confidence was up, but we were playing a different team and Barbados is a team who don't do particularly well against off-spinners, as we saw with the two off-spinners bowling in tandem.”
Perhaps the most astonishing move was the decision to send Powell in at number eight, with the game virtually out of reach at 107 for six in the 26th over.
In the semi-final against Red Force, Powell was sent at number four and lashed an explosive career-best 95 from just 45 deliveries, as Scorpions piled up a record 434 for four off their 50 overs.
When he finally arrived at the wicket in the final following the lesser talents of Sewell and Damion, he proceeded to unleash a stroke-filled 65 from 59 balls – an innings which proved in vain.
“With him batting at eight we wanted, as a team, to hold him back a little bit to give us what he is capable of,” Miller explained.
“We didn't want to expose him to so much spin. He is more comfortable playing the fast bowlers and with the damage he can create in the latter stages. His type of play is [based on] power and people don't normally power hit for long.
“The [required run rate] was going down and with his power I think he could have done some damage. And if the platform was set I believe that he would have done the job.
“He did well and I believe it was his best innings of the tournament, and it's unfortunate he didn't come out in a winning way.”