A decade ago when Barbados were the toast of the region with ruthless play as they swept back-to-back first-class titles as well as the so-called International trophies, their captain Courtney Browne stated that he didn’t play “draw cricket”.
The years 2003 and 2004 were extremely wonderful for Barbados. As is the case this season with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) returning to two trophies – WICB President’s and the George Headley/Everton Weekes – back then when Browne was beating his chest, it was a similar format apart from the fact that an international team competed. India ‘A’ competed in 2003 and Kenya the following season.
Memories of Browne’s words in relation to ‘draw cricket” and the aggressive manner in which Barbados played in that era came readily back to mind at the 3Ws Oval last Monday, but on the contrary, title holders Barbados seemed bent on drawing the match with their approach against bottom-of-the-table Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC).
It was not the sort of stuff champions are made of. One was left to wonder if the new points system introduced by the WICB for the 2014 season had been carefully read and understood.
For the first time since the first-class championship was sponsored way back in 1966, points for first innings lead have been abandoned with batting and bowling points being introduced based on the first 110 overs for each team in the first innings. The points system is detailed later in this column.
Now here is what transpired at the 3Ws Oval. CCC were bowled out for 269 in 89 overs in their first innings and Barbados closed the opening day on three without loss off two overs.
On the second day, spurred by a fine century (109) from Kirk Edwards and a typically, painstaking knock of 85 not out from new captain Kraigg Brathwaite, Barbados went to stumps on 248 for four off 97 overs.
The third day was downright frustrating. It started to rain just before the scheduled start at 10 o’ clock and as the hours ticked away, in one of the strangest situations in memory, the umpires, Englishman David Millns, himself a former first-class player, and Jamaican Christopher Taylor, ruled that play would start as late as 5:15 p.m. while asking that the floodlights be turned on.
As fate would have it, another drizzle delayed the start until 5:20 p.m. before the rain came yet again. So only 14 balls were bowled for the day during which one run was added by way of a leg-bye.
With the mandatory half-an-hour earlier start on the final day due to the time lost the previous day, it meant that 97 overs were to be bowled. The sun was out in all of its glory from early and remained that way throughout the day.
While the immediate focus was on Kraigg Brathwaite as he approached what would have been a sixth first-class century, it should have been clear to all concerned that Barbados would go for quick runs in the extended two-and-a-half hour session.
After Kraigg Brathwaite fell for 91 in the first 28 minutes’ play, having batted for 402 minutes, while facing 318 balls, there was an anticipation of ball-beating. Far from.
What followed could only be termed “selfish” cricket and a failure to understand the circumstances of the match, as Shane Dowrich and Carlos Brathwaite seemed lost to the task at hand. Where was the urgency?
The bottom line was that Barbados limped to 324 for six off 135.5 overs at lunch. It, therefore, meant that in 36.3 overs, they added only 75 runs. That works out to just over two runs an over.
Dowrich was dismissed almost on the stroke of lunch, caught at the wicket from a drive off left-arm medium-pacer Raymon Reifer for 39. He batted for 212 minutes, faced 171 balls and hit one four.
By then Carlos Brathwaite was on 32 in roughly two hours before eventually falling for 42.
So with a lead of 55 at lunch and having wasted so much time, Barbados amazingly returned after lunch to bat for another 50 minutes before declaring at 356 for nine off 148.1 overs – a lead of 87.
CCC were 101 for five off 46 overs in their second innings when play was called off at 4:30 p.m.
Where was the intensity by the Barbados batsmen on the final day? Batting and bowling points are nothing new to the Barbados players since such a system is played in the local Elite and First division competitions. Yet they appeared like foreigners.
Barbados gained eight points (Batting 2, Bowling 3, Draw 3) and CCC six (Batting 2, Bowling 1, Draw 3).
Now, according to the WICB, the introduction of the batting and bowling points system is in an effort to encourage and incentivise positive play.
Teams will be awarded batting and bowling points for performances in the first 110 overs of each first innings only and retained whatever the result of the match.
A maximum of five batting points will be awarded based on runs scored by each team as follows:
200 to 249 runs – 1 point
250 to 299 runs – 2 points
300 to 349 runs – 3 points
350 to 399 runs – 4 points
400 runs or over – 5 points
A maximum of three bowling points will be awarded based on wickets taken by each team as follows:
3 to 5 wickets taken – 1 point
6 to 8 wickets taken – 2 points
9 to 10 wickets taken – 3 points
Completed match points
Outright win 12 + batting + bowling points earned
Tied match points
6 points each team + batting + bowling points
Incomplete match points
No outright winner 3 points + batting and bowling points
Abandoned match points
In the event of a match being abandoned without any play having taken place 1 point each
Abandoned match due to dangerous pitch points (as per clause 7.2.7 of playing conditions)
Home Team 0
Visiting Team 12
Referee awarding match points
Team Awarded Match 12
Other Team 0
The WICB also said that the teams will be playing for two trophies this year. The team accumulating the most points following the seven preliminary round matches will be awarded the WICB President’s Trophy and will qualify as one of the semi-finals of the Tournament to contest the Headley/Weekes Trophy.
As is stands, Barbados are fourth in the points table and no doubt quite wary that the outcome of their current fourth round match against Trinidad & Tobago at Kensington Oval, could determine their chances of retaining the title. It is time for more urgency.
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.