Fitting honour for ‘Prof’ and Farmer
It is always a pleasure to discuss feats of outstanding players and clubs in the history of local domestic cricket competitions.
And when old friends, teammates and contemporaries get together for a special occasion, you can rest assured that there will be countless, wonderful stories.
Such was the case last Sunday evening as Barbados’ oldest club Wanderers, now in its 139th year, honoured two of their icons by naming the ends at their Dayrells Road ground after Richard “Prof” Edwards and Stephen Farmer.
The South is now the “Prof” Edwards End and the North, the Stephen Farmer End.
Edwards, the 76-year-old former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler, played in six Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 Cup (rebranded Elite division in 2012) winning teams over four decades and Farmer, a 66-year-old former Barbados all-rounder in three in the 1970s and 80s.
On Tuesday, as guests on Mid Wicket on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, Edwards and Farmer further shared their views on the game at all levels. Both occasions were truly educational.
As they reflected on their careers, which co-incidentally started at The Lodge School, there was a clear message of having a love for the sport and working hard.
“When you love a sport, just play for the love of it and if you are fortunate enough you do reasonably well,” Farmer said.
“I think I managed to do reasonably well. I put a lot of effort into it. I practised very, very hard. I thought about cricket relentlessly. When I was captain I used to actually sit down and think of playing against Spartan and bowling to Nolan Clarke and already setting out a field and so forth that I thought would be good to put pressure on him. That’s the way I went about it and it paid some dividends.
“I was reasonably successful. I had a lot of encouragement which is always key. I played with guys who were interested in the game and it was exciting, very exciting.”
Edwards remarked: “Basically the same thing. I would go through in my mind who I am going to bowl at, how I was going to bowl to them and so on.
“Initially, in the first ten or 12 years bowling fast all the time generally and if I got into a good rhythm and the pitch had sufficient in it to keep it, I generally with the exception of certain players could dominate them.
“There were players like Tony King, Arlington Hunte and George Brathwaite, those sort of guys who would look to attack you and of course by attacking you, they gave you a chance as well.
“But if you weren’t on your ‘A’ game when you played against players like those, they would take it away from you. You would think about whom you were bowling to.
“As Stephen said you did it for the love of the game. As I mentioned on Sunday, all I really wanted to do was to play the cricket. I enjoyed it. I loved it. I wanted to go out there and have a good time.”
Since the inception of the First division Cup in 1892, Pickwick, the island’s second oldest club at 134 years, still boast of the most titles (24) with Wanderers and Empire in joint second position (21), followed by Spartan (20).
Edwards played in the Wanderers champion teams of 1959, 1960, 1961, 1974, 1980 and 1982 and Farmer in 1974, 1980 and 1982.
“Prof” and Farmer stood out as a formidable new ball pair. Edwards was reputed for his genuine pace along with swing, while Farmer was also a fine exponent of swing, apart from being a solid batsman.
Off the field, they also served the game as members of the BCA Board of Management, as well as senior Barbados selectors.
In addition, Edwards made his mark as a comments specialist on radio for first-class and international matches and was also in charge of the pitch preparation at Kensington Oval.
Wanderers have not won the major BCA title since 1982 but are making a strong bid for silverware this season as they topped the Elite division ten-team table with 68 points going into the current fifth series of matches against second-placed Spartan on 60 points at Queen’s Park.
Significantly, of their last two titles, Edwards was the captain in 1980 and Farmer in 1982.
The 1980 success will long be remembered for the gripping finish to the season, which went down to the very last over. Wanderers ended on 50 points with Spartan second on 49.
In the last series, Wanderers drew with YMPC at Beckles Road (Scores: YMPC 280 and 162-7 declared. Wanderers 173 and 98-8), while Spartan, desperate for a win, were held to a draw by St. Catherine at Queen’s Park (Scores: Spartan 234-8 declared and 98-6 declared. St. Catherine 86 and 109-8).
Wanderers were, however, comfortable winners in 1982 with 69 points – 23 ahead of second-placed Banks.
Members of the 1980 team were Edwards, Farmer, Shane Julien, Lawrence Mapp, William Snowden, Teddy Foster, Michael Walcott, O’Neale Payne, Charlie Thornton, Mark Sealy, Michael Sealy, Ricky Clarke, Dennis Osbourne, Nigel Seale, Tony Cozier, Richard Ward, Lindsay Bellhouse, Roger Beale, Humie Yearwood, Michael Worrell and Steve Thorpe.
Farmer had a wonderful all-round season in 1980 as he performed the double, which he also achieved on a few occasions in the 1970s. He amassed 582 runs (ave: 34.23) and grabbed 73 wickets – the most all told – at 11.76 runs apiece.
Julien was the other outstanding batsman for the side in 1980, scoring 644 runs (ave: 37.88).
Edwards took 41 wickets (ave: 13.36).
Clarke, who is now the Wanderers coach, and fellow seamer Osbourne also supported with Clarke taking 34 wickets (ave: 24.64) and left-armer Osbourne 18 (ave: 22.00).
The 1982 squad showed Farmer, Edwards, Shane Julien, Mark Sealy, Michael Walcott, Lawrence Mapp, Michael Worrell, Vibert Greene, Nigel Seale, Ricky Clarke, Milton Small, Tony Cozier, Sam Headley, Edward Ince and Dennis Osbourne.
Seam bowling was a dominant factor that season for Wanderers as Farmer, Edwards, Greene, Small and Clarke accounted for an amazing 191 of 193 wickets by their bowlers.
Farmer again stood out all-round. He scored 447 runs (ave: 31.92) and took 49 wickets (ave: 14.08) – his runs and wickets being the most for the team.
Edwards took 48 wickets (ave: 10.58), while Greene had 39 (ave: 9.23) to top the overall bowling averages in the Championship. Small picked up 37 (ave: 17.43) and Clarke 18 (ave: 20.77).
Worrell was brilliant behind the stumps with 33 catches and two stumpings.
Times have changed but the current team should take inspiration from the likes of Edwards and Farmer.
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 three-and-a-half 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