Rain hits hard

hitting outRain has put early pressure on Barbados in defence of their regional first-class title.

Now known as Barbados Pride under the new franchise system in the rebranded Professional Cricket League (PCL), Kraigg Brathwaite’s team would have had every reason to argue that rain robbed them of a win against Trinidad & Tobago in the opening round at Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain.

Barbados dominated play for most of the match but rain on the final day dealt them a telling blow when they were in an excellent position to force a victory.

If, however, Barbados reckoned that the luck was against them in Trinidad, they must be seriously wondering about the current match against Jamaica at the Windward Club ground, Lucas Street, St. Philip.

It rained cats and dogs from late last night and well into today, wiping out play on the opening day, leaving the ground with several puddles and very saturated. In fact, unless there is some miraculous turnaround in the weather conditions, play also looks doubtful for tomorrow and at this stage one would not want to even speculate about the last two days.

Traditionally, the regional first-class season starts early in the year but with the PCL coming on stream and each of the six teams playing ten matches, mid-November was considered to be a fitting beginning. We have no control over the weather but losing significant play and points in early matches could create pressure.

There will be four rounds running to December 8 before a break for Christmas and then the NAGICO Super50 to be played again in Trinidad & Tobago in January. Then the first-class Championship resumes on February 6 and ends March 23 with a short break after Round 7.

Be that as it may, statistical information at least pointed to a few outstanding performances against Trinidad & Tobago as Barbados gained eight points and Trinidad & Tobago, five.

Opener Kraigg Brathwaite led by example with a fine 182 in Barbados’ only innings of 360 all out off 126.2 overs after they were sent in. It was his ninth first-class century and talking to a couple persons who were present, it was a truly, high-quality knock.

The 21-year-old Brathwaite batted for 454 minutes, faced 361 balls and struck 17 fours. Those statistics do tell a story, again underlining his rich appetite for runs and occupying the crease for long periods.

The quality of Brathwaite’s innings was further marked by the fact that Barbados were in some bother on 85 for four before he found a solid partner in wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich, who made 76 in 244 minutes off 207 balls with ten boundaries.

Brathwaite and Dowrich added 176 for the fifth wicket.

In the case of Dowrich, it was a matter of taking advantage of an opportunity, which was due to illness to Shai Hope a couple days before the start of the match.

Having not been selected in the original squad because of what was described as a niggling injury, Dowrich suddenly found himself being called up on the eve of the match as cover when Hope complained of feeling unwell.

Now having taken advantage of his break, Dowrich must seek to maintain consistency, not only with the bat but also the gloves. He is talented but there is a feeling by some of his close observers that he needs to work harder at his game.

To dismiss Trinidad & Tobago for 96 in 46.4 overs and enforce the follow-on was an excellent effort on the part of the Barbados bowlers. Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican was the leading wicket-taker with four for 12 off 5.4 overs, having been brought on as the last of six bowlers.

Seamer Carlos Brathwaite, who took the first three wickets, finished with three for 13 off 12 overs and West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach, two for 25 off nine overs.

Trinidad & Tobago were 213 for five off 68.1 overs in their second innings and would have needed to really bat extremely well on the last day to avoid defeat, rain having allowed only 14.4 overs –– all in the pre-lunch session –– after they closed the third day on 165 for three.

Warrican’s performance comes on the heels of an outstanding season for the new BCA Elite division champions ICBL Empire. He not only took the most wickets (59) and headed the overall bowling averages (10.54) including six five-wicket and two ten-wicket hauls but was also the only bowler with over 50 scalps.

He is oozing with confidence and with the knowledge that the far more experienced Sulieman Benn, who also bowls left-arm spin will be heading to South Africa with the West Indies Test team after this round, Warrican can settle down and concentrate on his game.

After the match against Jamaica, places will have to be found for Kraigg Brathwaite, Benn, Roach and pacer Jason Holder who are all in the West Indies squad which leaves at month-end for a three-Test series in South Africa.

Kraigg Brathwaite’s replacement is straightforward with Kyle Corbin expected to get his chance after a wonderful Elite division season in which he amassed the most runs (752) including three centuries and two fifties, at an average of 53.71 for Sagicor Life UWI. Rashidi Boucher is another contender.

And as the season progresses, among those vying for batting places will be former captain Kirk Edwards, who is currently injured, veteran all-rounder and another former national captain Ryan Hinds, who was a victim of illness for the match against Trinidad & Tobago, Roston Chase, who played in the first match, all-rounders Kevin Stoute and Kenroy Williams and Kyle Hope, the older brother of Shai Hope.

West Indies ‘A’ team player Miguel Cummins was omitted for the match against Trinidad & Tobago and will take one of the fast bowling spots, with the experienced Tino Best and Javon Searles also in contention.

Barbados can boast of having a strong all-round squad and despite the early frustration on account of rain, there is every reason to believe that they will play like true champions and again make the nation proud.

(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.)

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