FLORENCE HALL, CMC – Shimron Hetmyer led a triumvirate of left-handed batsmen that collected half-centuries, as the WICB President’s XI made Pakistan toil in the field all day in their first-class tour match yesterday. Hetmyer led the way with a typically enterprising 97 (11×4, 2×6), fellow Guyana Jaguars batsman Vishaul Singh was unbeaten on 81 and resurgent Kieran Powell made 58, as the President’s XI reached 311 for five in their first innings at the close, after deciding to bat on a windy, but clear first day of the three-day contest at the Trelawny Multiplex. Hetmyer dominated the first half of the day and shared 148 for the second wicket with Powell to give a solid platform for the rest of the home team’s batting to flourish which Singh did to anchor two half-century stands with Jahmar Hamilton and left-handed Jaguars teammate Raymon Reifer to advance claims for higher duty. The day started bitterly for the President’s XI, when Kyle Hope, one of the contenders to open the batting with Kraigg Brathwaite in the forthcoming three-Test series against the Pakistanis, was caught at forward short leg for two from a sharply rising, second ball of the match from left-arm fast bowler Muhammad Amir.
1 Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has admitted that, for the first time in his career, he is confident the Reds will be genuine contenders for the Premier League title this season.The Merseyside outfit came agonisingly close to ending their 24-year wait for a top flight crown last term, finishing just two points adrift of winners Manchester City after dropping vital points against Chelsea and Crystal Palace at the end of the campaign.Luis Suarez’s prolific goalscoring form played a huge role in the Reds’ challenge, and though Brendan Rodgers will now have to manage without the striker following his £75million move to Barcelona, the club have strengthened the squad considerably this summer.Liverpool’s spending is expected to reach close to £100million as Southampton defender Dejan Lovren edges closer to an Anfield switch, with former Saints team-mates Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, as well as German midfielder Emre Can and winger Lazar Markovic, adding extra steel to an already impressive attacking outfit.Gerrard, Rodgers and the rest of the Reds squad kept their title hopes close to their chest last season in an attempt to play down their sudden rise back to the top of the table.But the skipper, who is desperate to add the Premier League title to his trophy haul, is pulling no punches this time around as the side aim to go one better than their runners-up spot.Reflecting on last season, Gerrard told LFC TV: “When you play at this level the margins are so tight, so when you fall short of something having been within touching distance the emotions are still going to be raw and will take time to get over.“The only way to do that is to go and achieve something this season. But the longer I’ve reflected upon it and analysed the season, you can look back and be proud of your teammates.“I think the fans will agree with me that the performance levels last season were incredible. Some of our performances were top-drawer.“I believe we are in a much better place now than we were this time last year. The reason being because we’ve got the taste, the know-how and the experience of being in a title race. If we can use the hurt of falling short last season in our favour then hopefully we can go one better.“I think this is the first time in a long time that I can be confident of telling people that we are the real deal and are real title contenders before a ball has been kicked.” Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard