9th May 2013
Behind the Bowler’s Arm – match reports
Regional 4-Day Tournament Final: Barbados v Trinidad & Tobago at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados
Day 1: Barbados 144-2 (Brathwaite 49no, Edwards 48, Boucher 46) lead Trinidad & Tobago 110 (Cummins 5-30) by 34 runs
Putting Trinidad & Tobago into bat on a beautiful, cloudless day was not a brave decision. It was less a case of captain Kirk Edwards wanting his team to bowl, than not wanting it to bat. On the radio, Roland Butcher observed:
“The pitch is patchy with some holes in certain areas. I hope inserting the opposition doesn’t backfire on Barbados.”
It was evident after the first couple of looseners from Roach that this was a pitch with pace, bounce and carry.
Barath survived a very close shout for LBW in Cummins’ first over, shuffling on the spot, his feet going nowhere. Shortly afterward he may have been caught at short-leg, but Cummins had bowled the first of his seven no-balls for the day.
The first ball of Cummins’ second over climbed cruelly and Barath was caught at the recently added fourth slip. This was only the third ball Barath had to play at – and all of them looked likely to dismiss him.
The left-handed Cariah came in at 3 and his first ball elicited an almighty appeal for caught behind. Umpire Gustard’s positive affirmation took so long to come that the batsmen had completed a single (Dowrich’s obligatory celebratory hurl of the ball into the air had sent it down to fine leg). Cummins’ hat-trick ball was a no-ball – his third thus far.
The first ball of the fifth over was a lifter that left Simmons, and he was caught at the wicket off Roach. The first ball of the sixth was a brute that caught the shoulder of Mohammed’s bat, flying to Nurse at second slip. After 5.1 overs, with T&T 9-4, one wondered whether the final would be over in less time than the Sabina Park semi.
The bowling was fast and fierce, reminiscent of the days of Clarke, Daniel et al in their pomp. Roach, West Indies’ number one quickie, was marshalling the incursions from the Joel Garner end; Cummins, bounding in from the Malcolm Marshall end, was garnering a hostile, steepling trajectory which made him look anyone’s equal.
By now Barbados were lining up five slips, and a deep-backward point in lieu of a gully. Another Cummins no-ball edged the visitors into double figures.
After an hour Trinidad & Tobago were 31-5 from 12 overs. Ramdin had been caught at third slip by Carter off another ‘there and thereabouts’ delivery from Cummins, to which the T&T captain sufficiently wasn’t.
“Very poor shot selection” said Roland Butcher, and bemoaned the general inability of the batsmen thus far to leave balls outside the off stump – an art in itself, which should be (but isn’t) practised in the nets, he said.
From the start it had been clear that seeing off the new ball would be vital, and the less the batsmen needed to play the better. The line cast by Roach and Cummins had not been irresistible, and yet the T&T top order had uniformly fished outside off stump and nibbled at the bait. With such nervous prodding continuing, Edwards’ slip corden morphed into a formation of three slips and three gullys.
Eventually the first-wave pace attack had to make way, and Roach (7-2-22-1) was replaced by Searles. In his first over Hosein was dropped by Dowrich, and in his third by Carter. Nurse succeeded Cummins (9-4-14-4), and was promptly cut for three by Katwaroo to raise the fifty. Next ball, Hosein edged to Dowrich. This was Nurse’s only over of the innings.
Edwards immediately brought his chief destroyer back into the attack, looking for the swift kill. Cummins’ line had been a little wayward to the left-handed Hosein, but now there were two right handers at the wicket. Or so appeared the rationale, except Cummins’ second spell was a single over and Benn entered the fray. Curious.
At lunch Trinidad & Tobago stood at 64-6 from 25 overs.
Benn’s second delivery after the interval was fired wide down the leg-side. Dowrich moved like greased lightning, taking the ball and removing the leg bail in a single, flowing, glorious movement, with Katwaroo momentarily overbalancing and trailing his back leg beyond the popping crease. A brilliant stumping. Brilliant cricket.
It would’ve been great to hear the moment captured by the radio commentators – sadly the local broadcasting service had yet to return to the game. We heard instead an unappealing advert for an upcoming Air Supply concert. (How many original band members one wonders?)
Next Khan aimed a wild shot over the top at Benn; and spooned a simple catch to backward point.
At the other end Roach had restarted in place of Searles. He whistled a sharp bouncer past Richards’ nose. Next ball Richards, feet firmly planted well beyond leg stump, gingerly steered to first slip off an open face (bat, that is). 70-9.
The final pair, Emrit and Gabriel, added 40, the highest of the innings. Both semi-finals had seen invaluable match-winning low order partnerships. It was possible that this stand, in the overall context of the game, could yet prove to be ultimately meaningless.
Cummins returned and removed Emrit. 110 all out. Cummins 5-30. Had the tail given T&T something to bowl at? Probably not.
Barbados’ openers added 62 for the first wicket. Boucher got off the mark with a phenomenal upper cut for six off Gabriel which landed several rows back in the Hall & Griffith stand. Next ball, to a similar length delivery, he ‘lower’ cut, getting over rather than under the ball, and it flew at speed in the same direction for four.
Having absorbed two successive blows, an under-assault Gabriel fell back on the ropes and responded with a conventional sally: a full-length offer to drive, tempting potential over-indulgence in the maybe over-confident opponent. Boucher pounced, and hit him through the ring. 14 from 3 balls. The underwhelming Gabriel was effectively counted out.
The 50 came up without any genuine alarm in the twelfth over. Boucher 38, Brathwaite 11. Already the home supporters were beginning to bask in the comfortable glow of an assured victory. It was all too easy!
After tea, Khan appeared with his floaty leg breaks, and Boucher cut his loosener for four. But shortly after he popped up one of those soft return catches which arouse such muted celebration from the fielding side that you are convinced you’ve witnessed a bump ball – until the batsman begins slowly trudging towards the pavilion.
The next hour had that pleasant soporific feel you often get when a game is settling into a predictable pattern: Trinidad & Tobago keeping the runs down by bowling wide of the off stump; Brathwaite digging in for the long haul. Only the sporadic applause for a shot of imposing class by Edwards arrested the drooping late-afternoon eyelids. Advancing down the wicket to Hosein he hoisted straight and hard for six. The hubbub awoke the dozers – just in time to see the arrival of the drinks cart.
The hundred came up in the 29th over. Barbados took the lead at 4.15pm with only one wicket down. Shortly afterwards I left the ground, a prior appointment with a diplomatic football match claiming me, confident the boys could see it through to the close without me. Brathwaite did; Edwards didn’t.