Barbados, the country that has produced the most cricketing legends in the West Indies, is primed to get back on top of cricket in the blue Caribbean Isles.
When Cricket West Indies (CWI) postponed its Four-day Championships on March 16 due to the COVID-19, Barbados was well on top of the standings after eight of the 10 rounds of matches.
There is a saying that “when Barbados cricket is strong, West Indies cricket is strong” and the performance of the Barbadian team augurs well for regional cricket as several very talented young players are now coming through the ranks.
After eight rounds, Barbados has garnered 134.8 points having won six of its eight matches. It was defeated twice this season but has been the most consistent of the six teams. Guyana, which has won the title for the last five years, is currently 43 points away in the third position, and with two rounds of matches to go after the coronavirus break, it will be hardpressed to repeat as champion.
Barbados started its campaign on the wrong foot as it went under to the Windward Islands by three wickets at the Arnos Vale playing field in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Kyle Mayers stroked a century for the Bajans as they posted a first-inning score of 233. The Windwards responded with 234 runs in their first knock. West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite then scored 72 to lead them to 269 but they lost the game as the Windwards reached their target of 269 thanks to Desron Maloney’s 83.
Licking their wounds, the Barbadians next stop was home at the famed Kensington Oval where they defeated Guyana by seven wickets. West Indies pacer Kemar Roach starred with the ball, collecting 4/28 in the first innings. Keon Harding 4/77 did the damage to Guyana in the second innings. The men who contributed significantly with the bat for Barbados were Mayers (75) and West Indies middle-order batsman Jonathan Carter (73).
With the win and the confidence, the players boarded a flight to Jamaica where they humbled the home team by 119 runs at Sabina Park. Mayers again counted runs with the bat getting 53 in the first innings and 53 in the second. West Indies wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich scored 73 in the second innings. Chemar Holder, a former West Indies Under-19 fast bowler, collected five wickets to keep Jamaica in check and collected another six to end the match with 11 scalps, ensuring the win.
While on the road, Barbados then jetted off to Warner Park in St Kitts where it continued its winning form, recording an inning and 81-run win over the Leeward Islands. Spinner Kamarie Boyce took five wickets to bowl out the home team for 181 despite 76 from West Indies player Keiran Powell. Shamarh Brooks then scored a century and Mayers continued his purple patch with 69 to give Barbados a healthy 398. The Leewards then folded for 136 in their second innings. Holder had another three wickets to add to his already impressive tally for the season.
Back home, they were faced with a challenge from T&T and the hosts came up trumps with a massive 299-run win. Batting first they got to just 209. Harding took 5/57 to bowl out T&T for 175 giving Barbados a slender lead of 34 runs.
Openers Brathwaite (53) and Shane Moseley (155 not out) carried their team to 342/5. T&T was then bowled out for 77 by Harding who took 5/19 and 10 wickets in the match.
The following week, Barbados hosted the Windwards for its second game against them this season and ran away with a 127-run victory. Mayers continued his great form with 140 runs as Barbados tallied 417 to take control of the game early. Holder then grabbed five wickets as the Islanders were dismissed for 258. Barbados’ second crack with the bat saw then tally 239 for four with Mayers again amongst the runs with 62 not out.
Kerron Cottoy scored a century for the Windwards but the other batsmen caved-in to Roach, who ended the game with 6/84.
Barbados then flew across to T&T and against all odds the host team defeated them. Buoyed by the return of its captain Darren Brave, the T&T team won the toss and batted first scoring 239. There was half-century to West Indies A team player Joshua DaSilva. Holder was the chief destroyer with four wickets, while there were three apiece for Mayers and Kevin Stoute.
Barbados responded with 260 after being 83/6 at one point. Dowrich slammed 96 and off-spinner Ashley Nurse 81 to lead the charge as young pacer Anderson Phillip snared 6/59. T&T in its second turn made 350 with West Indies batsman Jason Mohammed getting 112 and Barbadian import Kyle Hope 67. Nurse followed his good batting with four wickets. Barbados was then bowled out for 182 in their second innings despite 42 from Mayers.
The Barbadians then headed to Guyana. A first inning of 174 was not much to write home about. However, their bowlers came to the park and Guyana was bowled out for 55. Roach had 5/20 and West Indies Test captain Jason Holder 4/24. Batting a second time, Barbados made 210 with Brathwaite finding his mojo and scoring 84 not out. Guyana then failed miserably with the bat again in its second innings scoring just 94 with Roach taking 4/36.
So Barbados is primed to become kings of the Caribbean again with two rounds to go. In the second position is T&T with 94.6 points.