The Windward Islands endured arguably their worse day in regional first-class cricket when they were demolished by Barbados by an innings and 101 runs in their WICB Regional Four-Day Championship semi-final match-up at Windsor Park in Roseau, Dominica today.
What made the defeat so embarrassing and perhaps a sad reflection of the state of the regional game was that the Windward Islands were made to follow on to Barbados’ paltry first innings total of 212 and the game was over just after the lunch interval on today’s second day.
After buckling for a dismal first innings total of 44, the hosts showed that it was easy to replicate mediocrity by crumbling for an equally dismal 67 in their second innings.†The beneficiary of the helpful wicket and accommodating batsmen was principally Barbados’ 24-year-old off-spinner Ashley Nurse who had the ridiculously good figures of 7 for 10 in the first innings and returned in the second innings to continue the day’s feast with 7 for 30 and match figures of 14 for 40.†In the context of the now expected spin-friendly conditions at Windsor Park, Barbados middle-order batsman Jonathan Carter’s first innings century took on even greater significance.
The Windward Islands resumed this morning on 31 for 3† and almost immediately Nurse started to weave his magic against opponents who traditionally against spin, are like deers on a highway caught by the beam of onrushing headlights. Nightwatchman Gary Mathurin was bowled by Nurse’s arm-ball as he played the incorrect line. That was the fourth wicket in the 20th over and six overs later the Windward Islands batsmen had changed and were preparing to bat again.
The other overnight batsman Andre Fletcher followed his junior partner back into the pavilion when his expansive cut shot at left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn went no further than off the edge to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich with his score on one and his team 37 for 5.
One run later Nurse accounted for skipper Liam Sebastian when he edged a tentative prod to Javon Searles at second slip. Wicketkeeper Lyndon James continued the sorry procession when he was caught and bowled by Nurse for a duck at 38 for 7. Keddy Lesporis made it 38 for 8 when he was lbw to Benn for one and Delorn Johnson, swinging in hope more than purpose, offered Carter a catch at third-man off Nurse to make it 39 for 9.
Windward Islands completed their abject batting display with Nurse getting his seventh wicket when Shane Shillingford was stumped by Dowrich for a duck, leaving Nelon Pascal unbeaten on 5 in front of a stunned home crowd.
Nurse was well supported by Benn who took 3 for 15.
Spectators at the ground settled in for what surely had to be an improved performance from the home side in their second innings after following on by 168 runs. The recovery never materialised.
In a match where fast bowling was made irrelevant by those who prepared the wicket, Nurse and Benn again created mayhem in the Windward Islands’ camp.
Spin weapons unleashed
Captain Kirk Edwards went immediately to his spin weapons and in the second over Benn struck when he had opener Tyrone Theophile caught by Dowrich without scoring as he attempted a sweep shot. For those making a call for Devon Smith’s return to the West Indies team, he showed them that weaknesses against off-spin bowling were still part of his batting DNA. Driving loosely at Nurse, Smith (4) offered Edwards a catch at cover that was readily accepted to leave Windward Islands on 4 for 2. A partnership of 20 then followed between Johnson Charles and Lesporis before Charles was taken at short leg by Kevin Stoute off Nurse for 9. Lesporis soon followed when he used his pad rather than his bat to protect his wicket from Nurse and was dismissed for a duck with the score 24 for 4 in the 11th over.
Sebastien was taken by Carter at gully as he drove away from his body at Nurse to make it 34 for 5 and James completed a forgettable match when he duly collected a pair, caught by Miguel Cummins at mid-off off the bowling of Nurse. During the debacle Fletcher was the only batsman showing any pluck but his resistance came to an end in the 21st over when in attempting to remove his bat from a turning delivery from Nurse, he tickled the ball to Searles fielding at short leg. He had the top score of 27 and his wicket left Windward Islands at the point of no return on 47 for 7.
The last rites followed swiftly with Benn accounting for Mathurin (4) and Pascal (0) offering a return catch to Nurse to make it 63 for 9. The devastation was then completed when, for the second time in the match, Shillingford was stumped by Dowrich off Benn for 13 in the 28th over. Johnson was left unbeaten on 4. Benn finished the second innings with 3 for 35 and match figures of 6 for 50.†The wickets buffet today took Nurse to 44 wickets for the season, and Barbados into the final of the tournament where they will now meet either Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago. (WG)††
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