Year in Review: 2014 sports review
A year to remember; much to forget
A year of several praiseworthy achievements by Barbadians at home and abroad, was overshadowed in October by the latest episode of what has become institutionalised incompetence.
An impasse that should have never been, resulted in the reputation of the English-speaking Caribbean’s main sport – cricket – being tarnished yet again. It was a case of the mediocrity displayed on the field for the past 18 years, combined with similar ineptitude in the boardroom, leading to the abandonment of the Indian tour by the West Indies team.
Ironically, a dispute that centered mainly on contractual arrangements and money, left the West Indies Cricket Board facing a BDS$82 million lawsuit, which they could neither win nor pay. Indeed, it was significantly more than the cricketers and administrators had been squabbling over via the channels of the WICB, the West Indies Players Association and the disgruntled players, led by Dwayne Bravo.
Unable to settle their differences, the players, their union representative and the WICB, once again left it up to a motley configuration of politicians, lawyers and conscripted investigators to probe, play to the regional gallery, placate the mob and find resolution to an avoidable mess.
The structure of the regional game took a beating in the international media and was made laughing fodder from Bombay to Brisbane and beyond. Almost predictably, the year reached closure with West Indies cricket on the field and behind closed doors still the object of much derision.
A public suggestion from a distinguished scribe that regional cricket be directly administered by the International Cricket Council seemingly fell on deaf ears. But such was the state and perception of the regional game that an open call for recolonisation drew nary a whimper from a seemingly comatosed media nor the public censure that it deserved.
If a reminder of how important a national sport can be to the psyche of a people was needed, it came with the tragic death of young Australian opening batsman Philip Hughes. Felled by a bouncer during a state match for South Australia in Sydney – just over a month after the West Indies’ exodus from India – the 25-year-old never regained consciousness and died on November 27.
The outpouring of grief and expressions of goodwill that came from presidential palaces, penthouses and patched roofs from across the globe were overwhelming. Despite being frequently in and out of the Australian side, the chorus from his colleagues was always the same – Hughes put country first and was always on the ready to wear the baggy green with pride. Pity that sentiment did not resonate across these coral isles.
On the domestic cricket front, the famous Empire Club, with an obvious sense of occasion, comprehensively won the Barbados Cricket Association’s Elite Division title in their 100th year of existence. Also capturing major domestic titles were CGI Maple who defeated ESA Field Pickwick in the December final to take the BCA’s Sagicor General Super Cup and Super Centre Spartan who in June took the Sagicor General Twenty20 title for the first time when they defeated CounterPoint Wanderers in the final at Kensington Oval.
It was generally a successful year for the organisation of domestic cricket with the BCA’s various age level competitions running smoothly. That they hired a convicted Barbadian felon who had skipped the United States jurisdiction, as their chief executive officer, could not detract from the overall efficiency of the management of domestic cricket during the year. Nevertheless, the hiring of Jefferson Miller was perhaps only superseded by the BCA’s palpably inept handling of the discovery of their faux pas.
On the regional scene, Barbados brought home the 2013-2014 Regional Four Day competition title with victory over the Leewards Islands in April. Barbados began the final round of league games in second place, seven points behind Trinidad & Tobago. They had to win and hope that T&T faltered. While Barbados breezed past Leewards with an innings win, T&T drew with bottom-placed Guyana and victory for Kraigg Brathwaite’s team was assured.
The locally-based franchise, the Barbados Tridents, also won their first Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 title which gave them a berth in the lucrative Champions League in India. Though the depleted franchise might not have done as well as it would have liked, the tournament still provided the likes of Jonathan Carter with another opportunity to display his talents before a global audience. A scintillating century against the Cape Cobras of South Africa in September, though in a losing effort, was arguably the innings of the tournament.
The pride of being Barbadian and representing her country has been a quality consistently demonstrated by athlete Akela Jones. And in July the genetically-blessed Jones brought honour to country and self when she became the first Barbadian woman to win a gold medal at an international event.
Competing at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene Oregon, the lanky 19-year-old leapt 6.34 metres to reach the top of the podium in the long jump.
It was the culmination of a successful year for Jones that also saw her winning gold at the CARIFTA Games in Martinique in the long jump, high jump and 100m hurdles. She also performed with distinction at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Athletics Championships where she won gold in the long jump.
By yearend the consensus in Barbados’ athletics circles was that the Olympics and World Championships would be the next stage for Jones to conquer.
Other athletes also bringing glory to themselves and country during the year were Shane Brathwaite and Levi Cadogan. Brathwaite saved the country, sponsors and other financiers several blushes when he won Barbados’ only medal at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, copping bronze in the 110m hurdles.
Once again Barbados’ sporting organisations had dispatched a sizable contingent to a major international event and had little to show for the expense, other than exposure. With more than 70 athletes in Scotland, folk at the Barbados Olympic Association were not amused, and rightfully so. International events of such magnitude are not the stage for mere exposure; only medals and success should suffice.
Competing at the Central American and Caribbean Games in November, Cadogan won silver in the 100 metres with a time of 10.27 seconds. He recorded the same time as gold medallist Cruz Palacios of Honduras who won by a split second. Earlier in May, through the initiative of agent Codrington Elite Performance, Cadogan signed a contract with international shoe company Adidas.
“This is a historic day for athletics in Barbados; no other schoolboy has ever turned professional and received sponsorship from an international company while still being at school. Levi has broken new grounds,” agency manager Joseph Codrington said at the time.
Horse racing in Barbados continued to go from strength to strength with local jockeys performing with aplomb at home and abroad. Once again it was Patrick Husbands who led the proverbial charge.
An inspiration for the likes of exports Rico Walcott, Demario Bynoe, Quincy Welch, Jono Jonesand several others, Husbands won the 33rd running of the prestigious Sandy Lane Gold Cup in March astride American-bred Major Marvel. He would describe the victory as akin to winning a “Grammy” award.
The celebrated jockey would end a successful 2014 by emerging as the champion jockey at the Woodbine Track in Toronto, Canada, notching up 170 victories on the way to his seventh title. What made Husbands’ achievements the more remarkable was that he had endured a horrible fall in May 2013 while riding A Tough Buck and had broken his right leg. He subsequently competed in 2014 while still feeling the painful side effects of that incident.
Here in Barbados, Anderson Trotman proved that he is indeed the island’s top jockey, as he captured his eighth title when the Barbados Turf Club’s 2014 racing season came to an end on Boxing Day at the Garrison Savannah.
Trotman, who rides for the Hopefield Stable, rode 21 winners on his way to claiming the coveted title.
Lawn tennis received a major boost during the year with victories over Chile, El Salvador and Mexico in Davis Cup action. In February Barbados disposed of the Chileans and did likewise with the Salvadorians in April and crowned their successes with a hard-fought victory over the Mexicans in September. The victories meant that Barbados was promoted to Group 1 in the Davis Cup, a status for which, Darian King, Haydn Lewis, Seanon Williams, team captain Kevin Yarde, and Russell Moseley could feel justifiably proud.
Also worthy of praise during the year was undoubtedly Dale Clarke of the Professional Road Tennis Association. His organisation not only brought a degree of professionalism to the sport, but in sourcing hitherto unheard of prize money, interest in the sport at a competitive level skyrocketed.
Intriguing battles among the likes of Julian Michael Jackson White, Antonio Lil Man Daniel and Mark Venom Griffith, to mention a few, kept thousands of fans riveted during the enthralling Monarchs of the Court and Clash of the Titans competitions. Daniel earned a $10 000 payday for winning the Monarchs of the Court crown, while Griffith defeated Daniel to take the Titans’ winning cheque of $12 000.
That the profile of the sport continued to grow was unquestionable and the year ended with the hope that Clarke’s organisation and that of newly elected president of the Barbados Road Tennis Association, Errol Edwards, could find common ground to move road tennis forward.