Sensational, amazing, miraculous. These are just a few of the words which can be used to describe the Barbados Pride’s two-run victory over the Guyana Jaguars in the third round of the WICB’s Professional Cricket League first class championship at the Guyana National Stadium in Providence on Monday.
To set a side only 69 runs to win in almost a full day’s play and then put in such a fantastic effort was incredible.
Immediately, one would believe that the bowling was either superb or the batting left a lot to be desired. It is said that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. This one speaks to that saying.
In commending the feat of the Pride, one also has to wonder about the mind-set of the Jaguars on what was the fourth and final day. Panic seemingly set in after the first four wickets fell for ten runs and even though it was anticipated that a couple partnerships would get them home, the never-say-die attitude of the Pride really won the hearts of their fans.
The fact that their two most experienced players in Ryan Hinds and Dwayne Smith played telling roles made the success even more marked.
After dismissing Guyana for 261 in the first innings, Barbados’ batting disappointed in scoring only 101. And mind you, the last seven wickets tumbled for 30 runs or even more to the point, the last five for six runs with Smith’s attacking 32 off 25 balls being the topscore.
Following on and tottering on 76 for five, the debate then turned to a likely Guyana win inside of three days. But Hinds and wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich defied the odds with a partnership of 95 in two and a half hours.
Hinds, a former national captain, led the way with 68 which took 234 minutes off 143 balls and contained four fours and one six before he was last out, while Dowrich made 50 off 120 balls with seven boundaries.
It is always easy to look at the outcome but in the context of the match, the stand between Hinds and Dowrich meant so much for Barbados. Such is the beauty of cricket.
By the close of the third day, Barbados were 214 for seven and would have been desperately counting on Hinds to help set Guyana a target of over 100.
That was not to be, but the tactics of using Hinds with his left-arm spin and medium-pacer Smith as the new ball bowlers led to another twist as the pair quickly snapped up the first four wickets before Rajindra Chandrika, who topscored with 30 and Raymon Reifer (11) added 24 for the fifth wicket.
Even when the sixth wicket fell at 50, the odds were still in favour of a Guyana win.
But Carlos Brathwaite’s team stuck to their task admirably and medium-pacer Jonathan Carter also played a vital role with a couple wickets before Smith returned to grab the last two, ending with five for 21 off seven overs –– his only five-for in his first-class career.
Carter took two for 13 off six overs and Hinds, two for 21 off seven overs.
Guyana were dismissed for 66 in 29.1 overs.
With as many as 17 wickets falling by the leg before wicket route, the nature of the pitch was brought into question. Funny enough, Esuan Crandon, the Guyana coach, pointed to the last day, stating that “it was a difficult fourth-day wicket to bat on”.
“There was wear and tear in the wicket, uneven bounce, ball keeping low, very low. Dwayne Smith was getting the ball to move, too. I am not making any excuses. Dwayne bowled well. But the pitch really helped him as well,” Crandon said.
On the contrary, Reon King, the former Guyana and West Indies fast bowler, who was the match referee, reckoned the pitch was fine.
“It was a normal four-day pitch. In my opinion it was just a collapse in batting,” King said.
The debate can go on for a long time, but the tremendous effort put in by the Barbados bowlers and indeed the fielders as well, must be highly lauded. For example, there was an excellent piece of fielding at cover by Jomel Warrican from the bat of Veerasammy Permaul in the dying stages, saving what would have been a boundary and the match.
Talking to the likes of the Pride’s Head coach Henderson Springer and his assistant Dexter Toppin, the bowling of Smith in particular was truly magnificent.
And against the background of rain having frustrated their progress in the first two rounds against Trinidad & Tobago at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, when they were in an excellent position to win on the final day and against Jamaica at the Windward Club ground, Lucas Street, St Philip with only play on the last day, Barbados desperately needed the victory in Guyana.
For me, the outcome as far as very close margins and nerves are concerned, brought back memories of 2000 when Barbados beat Trinidad & Tobago by one run at the Queen’s Park Oval in the Busta Cup Championship. The scores were: Barbados 196 and 249. Trinidad & Tobago 283 and 161.
In pursuit of victory, Trinidad & Tobago had passed 100 with only three wickets down but Barbados stuck to their task as though their lives depended on it. The ninth wicket fell at 156 and then with two runs needed to win, pacer Hendy Bryan comprehensively bowled Marlon Black to spark wild celebrations.
Hinds can tell his team-mates of that win 14 years ago as well, as he is the only survivor in the present side.
Regarding low totals being set to win and the fielding team coming out on top, reference has been made to a match between Trinidad and British Guiana (now Guyana)
at the Savannah in Port of Spain in 1869. Set 73 for victory, Trinidad fell for 45. The scores were: British Guiana 68 and 83. Trinidad 79 and 45.
Considering that match was played 145 years ago, it is truly an amazing feat by the Barbados Pride. And as defending champions and the region’s most decorated first-class nation, they have every right to beat their chests and keep boasting of what they did to the Jaguars in Providence.
(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, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com.)