There is always a spark when top players show their mettle in major local domestic cricket competitions.
Just examine it. In the first two rounds of matches in the BCA Sagicor General Twenty20 championship last weekend, the likes of Ashley Nurse, Jonathan Carter, Shai Hope, Kevin Stoute, Shane Dowrich and Rashidi Boucher, all of whom represented double-crown champions Barbados in either the 2014 regional NAGICO Super50 or first-class championships, produced performances which were more than inspirational.
Scoring a century is special and when it is achieved in the shortest format of the game, no praise can be too high.
Nurse and Carter have now joined the list of century-makers in the Sagicor General T20 tournament, which is in its seventh year, and they did so in breath-taking style.
Nurse slammed 106 not out off 51 balls with ten fours and five sixes for LIME, of which he is the new captain, against Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme in a 64-run win at Paragon on Saturday, while Carter made 105 from 44 balls including 11 fours and eight sixes in a record total of 252 for five for defending champions Sagicor Life UWI, who beat Premix & Precast Yorkshire by 77 runs at Friendship on Sunday. Carter also took four wickets for 21 runs.
The centuries by Nurse and Carter now bring to seven the number scored in the history of the tournament. Dwayne Smith of YMPC leads the way with two.
The first ever hundred was recorded by Kirk Gibson of Carlton against Guardian General Barbados Youth at the Lester Vaughan School, Cane Garden, in the very first round of the inaugural tournament in 2008. Left-hander Gibson made 109 off 50 balls with 13 fours and seven sixes.
In 2011, Smith scored 101 off 64 balls with eight fours and seven sixes off UWI at the 3Ws Oval.
Then in 2012, he made 112, also off 64 deliveries including 12 fours and five sixes (his century came off 60 balls) against Yorkshire at Friendship. In that match, Smith also took a hat-trick en route to figures of four for 14.
The same season, Justin Brathwaite lashed 101 off 56 balls containing five fours and eight sixes for LIME against Carlton at Desmond Haynes Oval.
And last year, Shacaya Thomas smashed 131 not out off 65 balls with 12 fours and nine sixes for UWI against BRC BCL at Blenheim “A”.
Of the other outstanding performances last weekend, Hope hit 82 for Pickwick, who beat Ince Transport MTW by 59 runs at Foursquare Oval on Saturday. He again scored 82 not out on Sunday but in a losing cause by 25 runs against CounterPoint Wanderers at Dayrells Road.
Stoute made 50 for ICBL Empire against YMPC who won by eight wickets at Beckles Road on Saturday, and followed with 80 not out and three for 21 against MTW as Empire triumphed by four runs at Bank Hall on Sunday.
Dowrich scored an unbeaten 58 for YMPC against Empire, while Boucher hit 89 on Sunday for Super Centre Spartan who defeated Wildey by 77 runs at Pine/Wildey.
There is no doubt that such performances by national players provide a lift for team-mates and the competition as a whole.
At the same time, it is refreshing when talented players rise to the occasion. For instance, Shayne Moseley, who represented the Barbados Under-19 team a couple years ago and is now in his first season with Wanderers after leaving Carlton, made 58 and took three for 18 against Barbados Youth on Saturday, followed by a knock of 83 on Sunday.
There were other commendable performances as well but we must acknowledge the fact that when national and indeed international players make their presence felt, the atmosphere around the grounds and generally takes on a special feeling.
It is, therefore, a pity that some detractors have sought to publicly debate a so-called low-keyed start to the season rather than highlight positives.
This is an aspect, which those in the media in particular should always be wary of. Cricket remains our leading sport and while we bemoan a decline in the standard of play, it is vital to ensure that the public is aware of what is going on.
Whether print or electronic, knowing about players and their preparation before the start of a season can only be helped by visiting grounds and talking with captains, coaches, managers and the players themselves.
Back in the 1980s and 90s and namely in the print media, no one had to wait on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) to announce the dates for the start of the season
or call a Press conference. An initiative was taken by those who saw it as a priority to educate the public on what was going on at the various clubs and it brought joy to the players and officials alike.
Such information would have gone as far as highlighting players who were on contracts overseas. And there was continuous solid coverage throughout the season. It was really special.
We must also be grateful that in recent years, the major BCA competitions have attracted an increased number of players from other regional territories including those enrolled at the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre, which is based here at the 3Ws Oval.
These players have spoken highly of how well organised the BCA competitions are and the rivalry among teams. This is not the time to nit-pick.
Talking about nit-picking, the announcement today by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) on its website of Denesh Ramdin being appointed captain of the Test team in place of Darren Sammy for the series against New Zealand in the Caribbean next month, led to a few calls about the manner
in which it was done.
Usually, there would have been an official release as well to media houses and the list of journalists who are privileged to get such information.
“Denesh Ramdin, the wicket-keeper/batsman, has been named Test match captain of the West Indies team. Congrats to him on the appointment,” the WICB announced.
“The WICB also thanks Darren Sammy for his time at the helm as Test match captain from November 2010. He will remain as T20 captain”.
Up to the time of completing this column, I had not received an email from the WICB on Ramdin’s appointment. Is it worth nit-picking or should the WICB and its media personnel be bombarded with requests for the telephone numbers and email addresses of both Ramdin and Sammy to get their reactions?
Someone must surely want to ram it home.
(Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket talk show, Midwicket on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights.)