Heed batting points
Though Barbados Pride defeated Leeward Islands Hurricanes comprehensively by an innings and 190 runs inside three days in the fifth round of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) PCL first-class Championship at Kensington Oval last weekend, gaining only one batting point was disappointing.
After they were sent in, title holders and current second-placed Barbados amassed 406 for six declared off 149 overs and dismissed rock-bottom Leewards for 136 in 46.2 overs and 80 in 34 overs.
It meant that Barbados earned 16 points all told but on reflection, the players and management should be honest enough to concede that they could have batted much quicker with nothing less than three batting points to show.
As a reminder, last year, for the first time since the first-class Championship was initially sponsored way back in 1966, points for first innings lead were abandoned with batting and bowling points being introduced based on the first 110 overs for each team in the first innings. (See the points system below).
We were told by the WICB that the introduction of the batting and bowling points system was in an effort “to encourage and incentivise positive play”.
Those batting and bowling points are retained whatever the result of the match.
A maximum of five batting points are awarded based on runs scored by each team as follows:
200 to 249 runs –– 1 point
250 to 299 runs –– 2 points
300 to 349 runs –– 3 points
350 to 399 runs – 4 points
400 runs or over – 5 points
A maximum of three bowling points are awarded based on wickets taken by each team as follows:
3 to 5 wickets taken –– 1 point
6 to 8 wickets taken – 2 points
9 to 10 wickets taken –– 3 points
Completed match points
Outright win 12 + batting + bowling points earned
Tied match points
6 points each team + batting + bowling points
Incomplete match points
No outright winner 3 points + batting and bowling points
Abandoned match points
In the event of a match being abandoned without any play having taken place – 1 point each
Abandoned match due to dangerous pitch points (as per clause 7.2.7 of playing conditions)
Home Team 0
Visiting Team 12
Referee awarding match points
Team Awarded Match 12
Other Team 0
Against the Leewards, there was inevitably some curiosity in relation to how the pitch would have played since it was the first match at Kensington in over five months due to a major problem with “goose” or “devil” grass.
But though it was a bit slow on the opening day, the batsmen failed to capitalise on scoring opportunities as Barbados crawled to 182 for four off 90 overs. That works out to roughly two runs an over.
Dismissed in order were Kyle Corbin 26 (121 minutes, 82 balls), Kirk Edwards 5 (48 minutes, 34 balls), Shai Hope 12 (84 minutes, 64 balls) and captain Kraigg Brathwaite 72 (281 minutes, 232 balls).
At the crease were Roston Chase on 28 (106 minutes, 74 balls) and Shane Dowrich 27 (80 minutes, 57 balls).
With another 20 overs to score 68 more runs to gain at least two batting points, Barbados again batted slowly on the second morning and after 110 overs, the score was 231 for five. So it meant that only 49 runs were scored in 20 overs.
Hence, the one point for batting while the Leewards also got one point for bowling.
Chase fell for 30, which took 165 minutes off 117 balls. He, therefore, added only two off 43 balls.
While Dowrich must be complimented for a career-best, unbeaten 131 (323 minutes, 236 balls) –– his second first-class century –– one was left to wonder what tactics were discussed on Day 1 and also going into the second day’s play.
Carlos Brathwaite made 60 (135 minutes, 93 balls) and Ashley Nurse 34 not out (46 minutes, 39 balls).
The bottom line is that the Leewards are the weakest team in the tournament, having now lost all five of their matches. And Barbados should have roughed them up much more within the first 110 overs at the crease.
The display by Barbados brought back memories of last season when they batted dourly against Combined Campuses & Colleges at the 3Ws Oval and earned only batting two points despite scoring 356 for nine declared, but off 148.1 overs.
By the next match against Trinidad & Tobago at Kensington Oval, the message became clearer and lifted by maiden first-class centuries from Carlos Brathwaite and Nurse, they amassed 479 for eight declared off 124.5 overs and earned four batting points. For the records, Brathwaite and Nurse put on 190 in 28.3 for the eighth wicket.
Co-incidentally, Barbados are now also opposing Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, again at Kensington, and the way their long-standing arch-rivals have been struggling, a much more purposeful batting approach would be anticipated.
In the last round, compare Barbados’ batting in relation to the first 110 overs with Championship leaders Guyana Jaguars and Windward Islands Volcanoes who are third. Guyana made 314 all out (92.3 overs) and earned three points en route to beating Jamaica Franchise by 105 runs at Sabina Park in Kingston to gain 18 points all told, while the Windward Islands scored 400 for eight declared (94 overs) to grab five batting points as they crushed Trinidad & Tobago by an innings and 148 runs, while grabbing the maximum 20 points at Beausejour in St Lucia.
After the halfway stage, the points with batting and bowling points in brackets show: Guyana 75 (batting 12, bowling 15), Barbados 60 (batting 5, bowling 13), Jamaica 53 (batting 2, bowling 12), Windward Islands 46 (batting 10, bowling 12, Trinidad & Tobago 26 (batting 0, bowling 11) and Leeward Islands 11 (batting 1, bowling 10).
Not surprisingly, there are no major differences among the teams in the bowling points, which contrast sharply with the batting.
As much as we would all like to see teams showing more enterprise in their batting, to attain a run rate of over three runs an over in the first innings is a rarity.
The effort by the Windwards against Trinidad & Tobago is the only instance of a team scoring 400 in less than 110 overs in the first innings for the season.
Guyana boast of the highest total –– 492 for eight declared, also off Trinidad & Tobago in Port-of-Spain but it was achieved in 152.3 overs.
Once the top teams continue to be competitive, the race for the title could be very close in the end with batting points being a crucial factor. Barbados Pride must keep that in the back of their minds.
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.