COLUMN-Another remarkable win
For the second straight round, title holders Barbados Pride managed to pull off a remarkable win in the WICB Professional Cricket League (PCL) first-class championship, triumphing by 11 runs over the Windward Islands Volcanoes at Arnos Vale in St Vincent.
It followed their two-run success against the Guyana Jaguars at the Guyana National Stadium when the victory target was only 69.
What transpired in St Vincent would have been marked with mixed emotions. The Windwards required 207 to win on the last day, Monday, and fortunes fluctuated before they were bowled out for 195.
The fact that veteran Dwayne Smith was again in the spotlight with the ball by taking the last wicket, as was the case against Guyana, to end with three for 30, and then to announce that he was quitting the game at the first-class level must have made the Barbados dressing room very emotional.
As an all-rounder, Smith’s strength is in his batting but his medium-pace bowling was telling in the last two of Barbados’ four PCL matches, with the Championship now on a break. He picked up 11 wickets at 10.90 runs each to top the Barbados bowling averages and was only one wicket behind the team’s leading wicket-taker in Jomel Warrican, the left-arm spinner.
Significantly, however, Smith has stated that his decision to quit was due to his failure with the bat, having scored only 73 runs from five innings at an average of 14.60.
According to Smith, the time has come for him to make way for a younger batsman. In 88 first-class matches,he scored 3852 runs (ave: 28.74) including seven centuries and 15 fifties and took 138 wickets at 30.95 runs each.
His highest score was 155 against Combined Campuses& Colleges at the North Stars ground, Crab Hill, St Lucy in 2009. He had only one five-wicket haul –– that memorable five for 17 against Guyana a couple weeks ago.
In relation to his first-class record for Barbados after making his debut against Guyana at Kensington Oval in 2002, Smith played 61 matches, scored 2854 runs (ave: 30.04) and hit five hundreds and 11 half-centuries. And he picked up 92 wickets at 30.08 runs apiece.
“I haven’t been performing well with the bat and that is the main reason I was being selected, to score runs,” Smith said in an interview with Barbados Today.
“I am not happy with the scores I have been returning and I think it is time to step aside and give a youngster a chance to make his mark,” he added.
At the age of 31 and in an era when there are opportunities to earn big money in global Twenty20 tournaments, there is no question that Smith knows where his bread is buttered.
He, however, has every right to be disappointed with his batting at the moment, as there were signs of impatience while at the crease.
Yet, he would surely want to beef up his International statistics as a One-Day and T20 player.
A naturally, gifted cricketer, it is also a pity that his Test career was somewhat short-lived, having played only ten matches between 2004 and 2006.
Now, apart from heading to Australia shortly for the Big Bash, one expects that he will be in the West Indies ODI and T20s squads for the series in South Africa next month, as well as for the ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February and March.
As far as the match against the Windwards was concerned, there were a few inspiring performances from the likes of Roston Chase, Shai Hope and Warrican.
The 22-year-old Chase recorded a maiden century in his 12th first-class match, hitting 120 not out in a first innings total of 352 all out. His off-break bowling also proved to be handy, especially with two wickets in the space of three balls in the dying stages of the match.
Hope, another gifted player at the age of 21, managed his first half-century –– exactly 50 –– in the first innings and had the topscore of 34 as an opener in the second in the absence of an injured Omar Phillips as Barbados fell for 128.
Hope was playing his eighth match at this level, the same as the 22-year-old Warrican, who took five for 75 in the first innings.
One must, however, spare a moment of thought for Phillips, who was the victim of a blow to the head while at the non-striker’s end when he tried to avoid a drive from Hope off left-arm spinner Alston Bobb.
At that stage, Phillips was batting confidently in scoring 38 and it must have been an extremely big relief that there was no serious damage against the background of him being initially unconscious, then to find himself in hospital and wondering what would be next.
Phillips must be admired for the way he has calmly put the scenario in perspective while being interviewed by the media. And no praise can be too high for the doctors and others who attended to him including the Barbados team physiotherapist Jacqueline King, as well as support from his teammates and others.
Now as the PCL takes a break before resuming February 6, the attention turns to the Nagico Super50 Championship in Trinidad & Tobago, starting in
Barbados are also the title holders of the Super50 and the selectors have quickly moved to ensure that preparations will be as adequate as possible by arranging four trial matches while naming a provisional 35-man squad.
And congratulations to CGI Maple for capturing the BCA Sagicor General Super Cup Championship by way of a 40-run win over ESA Field Pickwick in a low-scoring final at the 3Ws Oval last Sunday.
Having been beaten in the previous two finals against Sagicor Life UWI and LIME, it would have been a big moment for the Trents, St James team, who must be lauded for the fighting spirit they have exhibited in all formats of the game in recent years, leading to titles in the Sagicor General T20 and Elite Division Championships as well.
(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.)