Solid Foundation

As he savoured the success of D’s Mega Styles Foundation in capturing three Schools’ titles in the just concluded Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) domestic season, head coach Nhamo Winn termed the feat “top notch and fantastic”.

Winn’s feelings were understandable.

After all, it was not just a matter of winning the Under-15, three-day and Under-19 limited overs Championships but the commanding way in which the teams performed in all three Finals underlined their dominance and never-say-die attitude.

In August, Foundation lifted the Under-15 Championship with a comprehensive victory by an innings and two runs with a day and a session to spare over Lodge in the Final at Desmond Haynes Oval.

The champion D’s Mega Styles Foundation team with head coach Nhamo Winn (fifth from right in cap and sunglasses) celebrating their retention of the 40-over Trophy at Bayfield on Tuesday.

Their other two titles came in quick succession – the three-day, played on consecutive Saturdays, was achieved by way of comfortable first innings lead over St. Leonard’s at Bayfield last Saturday as they came close to an outright win and then the 40-over was by 23 runs against arch-rivals Combermere, also at Bayfield, on Tuesday.

And for bragging rights, it was the sixth Under-19 limited overs title in eight Finals for Foundation with all six titles coming in seven showdowns against Combermere, who boast of the most titles all told (nine) in 19 Finals since the Tournament started in 1984.

Interestingly as well, Foundation’s 40-over trophies have been back-to-back: 1999, 2000, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. The lost to the Barbados “O” Level Institute in 1987 and to Combermere in 1998.

As head coach at the Church Hill, Christ Church School since 2010, Winn can now beat his chest in winning nine titles in 11 Finals.

Those nine trophies include four in the Under-19s, two in the three-day, and one each in the Sir Garfield Sobers Schools’ International, Intermediate division and Under-15.

He will have his admirers as well as detractors but it is a record which the authorities at the BCA must pay close attention to and hopefully not waste any time in elevating him to be coach of one of the national Youth teams.

The 29-year-old Winn has been coaching since the age of 19. Apart from being the head coach, he is a part-time Physical Education teacher at Foundation.

Winn is a former Alexandra school captain, Bristol and University of West Indies (UWI) all-rounder, who knows what success is all about, having played in champion UWI top league and limited overs teams. And he still plays for the Foundation First division side.

One can therefore understand his great feelings on the success for Foundation in 2016.

“To win three titles in one year, I would describe it as top notch. It is fantastic,” he told me.

“It was good commitment from the boys and from the coaching staff. It is just basically doing the right things over and over, staying disciplined and focussing on the small things, which are the most important things. Also good preparation, good team spirit and good guidance.

“You are dealing with young men and you need to be able to lead them in the right direction and provide the adequate knowledge.

“It is about doing the right things consistently and staying humble and disciplined,” Winn said.

But while Winn has emerged as the coach in the forefront, credit also has to be given to the likes of Denis Osbourne and Bruce Cosens, who played pivotal roles before Winn arrived at Foundation.

Apart from being a long-standing teacher, Cosens was in charge of cricket at Foundation from way back in the 1970s when I was student there. During that time, I had the privilege of not only playing as a wicket-keeper/batsman but also captaining the school in the Ronald Tree Cup Under-15 Competition in my last season, and leading the side in the Intermediate division Championship for two straight seasons.

It was indeed a pleasure working with Cosens, who was fair and very disciplined.

Though retired, Cosens still maintains keen interest in the fortunes of the school and it was a joy to see him at Bayfield for the three-day Final against St. Leonard’s taking in some of the action.

The unassuming Osbourne, affectionately called “Parker”, is a former Lodge School and Wanderers top league cricketer, known for his left-arm pace. He has been a household name at Foundation for over two decades and as a former national basketball player as well, he has played a key role in that sport as a coach at the school, apart from his involvement with cricket and swimming.

Two of Osbourne’s greatest moments came when Foundation won the 2006 Under-15 title with Lodge as the opponents in the Final at Wildey, and the Under-13 Competition one season later when they met Combermere in the Final at the Lester Vaughan ground, Cane Garden.

It will also be a proud period for head of the Physical Education department, Seibert Straughn, a former Olympian who played cricket, too, when he was at The Lodge School.

And there is yet another Lodge School connection at Foundation in the person of principal Robert Cumberbatch, who ensured he was at Bayfield for both the three-day and 40-over Competitions.

Former Foundation students Shomari Davis and Joshua Drakes who assisted as coaches during the season and still play in the First division team, as well as loyal school employees Charles Hackett, Fabian Weekes and the now retired Holrick Smith, along with regular scorers Shakira Adams and Aaliyah Holder and other supporters must also feel very proud.

It has to be noted that the rivalry between Foundation and Combermere didn’t start in recent years though it is now more much marked, especially since both schools have gone on to bigger things by winning the Intermediate division Competition, hence gaining promotion to the First division after the BCA introduced the promotion and demotion system in 2009.

Foundation were the Intermediate division champions in 2013 and Combermere won the title the next season.

As far as the Schools’ three-day Competition is concerned, there has been plenty debate about the heavy presence of Elite and First division players on parade in the Finals in the past couple years. It is a matter, which the BCA would have to address in terms of numbers but Foundation, Combermere and St. Leonard’s have all taken advantage of fielding their best available teams, resulting in some of those who were regular players in the lower division during the season losing their places for the big occasions.

One of the pleasing aspects of the 40-over Final was to see Foundation playing four members of the champion Under-15 team – Jediah Blades, Antonio Morris, Rondre Yearwood and Dasani Griffith.

Blades, a left-arm fast bowler, was very impressive, grabbing three for 22 off six overs, off-spinner Morris produced a solid all-round performance, scoring 25 in a total of 161 for nine off 40 overs and taking two for nine off 2.4 overs, while left-arm spinner Yearwood picked up two for 13 off five overs as Combermere were bowled out for 78 in 22.4 overs, chasing a revised target of 102 in 25 overs.

There was also an impressive performance with the bat from the heavy-set Foundation opener Glennico King, a left-hander who slammed 66 off 75 balls with three fours and four sixes to earn the Player-of-the-Match award.

Yearwood and Morris are the sons of well-known BCA top league players for many years – Rondelle Yearwood, who distinguished himself as a wicket-keeper/batsman for Pickwick and who has also turned to off-spin bowling in recent years, and Anthony Morris, an off-spinner as well and hard-hitting batsman for BET (renamed Cable & Wireless and LIME during his career at Wildey).

Anthony Morris watched both the three-day and 40-over Finals.

The management of St. Catherine Club must be highly commended, too, for the work done in hosting both finals, especially the groundstaff for providing excellent pitches, with former Division 1 batsman and loyal club member Ryle Stuart in the forefront.

For the moment, however, Foundation can argue that they are solid on the cricket field and Nhamo Winn can tell all and sundry that there is great significance in his surname.

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

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