Barbados Regional Champions

11th May 2013

Behind the Bowler’s Arm – match reports

Regional 4-Day Tournament Final: Barbados v Trinidad & Tobago at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados

Day 3: Barbados 369 (Brathwaite 122) beat Trinidad & Tobago 110 (Cummins 5-30) & 237 (Simmons 140) by an innings and 22 runs

Heavy overnight rain awoke me about 2am. It continued until about 7am. In England it would not have been worth getting up.

When I arrived at the ground at 9am both sides were gleefully kicking a football around. Such is the power of the sun in the Caribbean.

It was still very overcast. If the tropical temperature and heady, heavy atmosphere were not English in character then the skyline was. This was a cloud covered morning that would have had the likes of Don or John Shepherd licking their lips, and fingers. Would Trinidad & Tobago be meek lambs to the slaughter, herded back to the pavilion in time for lunch?

Would Simmons continue from where he left off? Or would discretion be the better part of valour today?

This is a game of glorious uncertainty. Second ball of the morning he extravagantly advanced and smashed Roach over extra for four. ‘Does that answer your question?’ he seemed to say.

A repeat of the shot in Roach’s second over forced the placement of a long off. The next ball was directed so wide of the off-stump that umpire Gustard was able to briefly continue his morning stretching exercises.

In the fifth over of the morning Ramdin was spilled by Benn – a straight forward chance at chest height. Next over, Simmons came down the wicket to Cummins and hoisted him over long off for his eighth six.

It was looking a little worrying for Barbados. But Roach is capable of digging deep, and with a little extra effort he trapped Ramdin LBW. 170-5. Still 79 adrift.

Cummins’ bowling had been laboured this morning, and he was replaced by Searles. New batsman Katwaroo was dropped. He tried to remove his bat from one that followed him, and glanced it off an inside edge – straight into the left glove of a diving Dowrich, but it popped out.

Katwaroo gained in confidence and drove Searles over mid off for four. Then leg-glanced him between keeper and leg gully for four more.

My good friend Martin Dyble rang me: “Is it worth coming to the game?” I told him it might all be over before he got here. Then again, I was witnessing one of the most special innings I’d ever seen.

Roach bowled throughout the first hour. At drinks T&T were 192-5 off 37 overs. Simmons 138, Katwaroo 15.

Carter, purveyor of phantom seamers, replaced Roach. Martin arrived. He saw Simmons bat for one ball. Carter found a little inside nick to the keeper and a magnifient innings was over.

Simmons 140 off 114 balls in 176 minutes. The dancing celebrations taking place around the unlikely partnership breaker signified what most of us suspected: game over.

Searles had plugged away steadily before the break, and with his first ball after the resumption he trapped Emrit bang in front with one that hurried on. So plumb was it that the Barbados team were again cavorting and congratulating on the edge of the square even before the finger was actualy raised.

Cummins grabbed his fourth wicket. Richards, attempting a pull, lobbed up a catch which hit high on the bat and looped to mid wicket.

Barbados with one more to get. Searles bounced Gabriel, who ducked into it. Trinidad and Tobago were now literally taking it on the chin. You can guess what happened next.

The bowler put it right up there, and the batsman was right back there. Celebrations. Then hand shakes all round.

T&T’s loss was a self-fulfilling prophecy. They had played with an expectation of defeat as soon as Ramdin had incorrectly called heads on an obviously grassy pitch. Simmons excepted, they’d done little within the game to overturn their own preconceptions.

For Barbados this was their fourth win in a row in the 2013 season. Jamaica had won all six group games, but lost a semi-final. Many pundits bemoaned the structure, including several Barbadians, but those were the competition rules.

Barbados suffered in the recent Regional Super50 competition, finishing ahead of CCC in the group stage, but were eliminated despite a superior run rate. They briefly considered taking legal action. I trust the Jamaicans were taking their misfortunate with a little more stoicism.

If nothing else this proved that sporting winners often need to peak at the right time. If a comparison of Barbados to the Italian side which won the FIFA World Cup of 1982 (after failing to win any of their three group games) is fanciful and flattering, then perhaps Jamaica will be consoled to thus be cast in the role of the tragic Brazil side of that tournament.

The champions next year will probably be decided by whoever tops the group, without a knockout element. This would be a shame. Finals can provide memorable moments, and a memorable game of cricket. This year’s certainly did.

David Oram

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