Two players have produced stunning, record-breaking performances in the 2015 BCA Sagicor General Twenty20 Championship which goes into the final preliminary round tomorrow with the last two places up for grabs in the eagerly awaited quarter-finals next week.
In easily one of the fastest and most accurate spells ever in the eight-year history of the Championship, Tino Best, the ebullient Barbados and former West Indies player, grabbed the first ever six-wicket haul, fittingly at Paragon last Saturday, as he fired ESA Field Pickwick to a 51-run win over his old club, Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP).
Best’s amazing figures of six wickets for six runs off 3.1 overs including one maiden would have been a perfect farewell gift as he is now in England playing for the popular Lashings Club after leaving the island on Tuesday.
The win gave Pickwick a perfect record in topping Zone C with 20 points –– a far cry from last season when they were the very last team to qualify for the quarter-finals.
David Carter, the 24-year-old Massy United Insurance Wildey batsman and brother of West Indies One-Day International player, Jonathan Carter, also wrote his name in local cricket history books by becoming the first ever batsman to record two consecutive centuries a couple weeks ago.
In Series 3 on May 23, the bespectacled Carter slammed an unbeaten 116 off 65 balls with 11 fours and six sixes against Brathwaite Construction St Catherine at the SJPP ground and followed with 110 not out off 58 balls including 11 fours and six sixes off IGS Insurance Brokers Yorkshire at Friendship the next day –– both in winning causes.
His maiden century was also historic as he joined 27-year-old Jonathan, who made 110 for Sagicor Life UWI against title holders Massy Stores Spartan at 3Ws Oval the same day, in becoming the first siblings to score ‘tons’ in the Tournament.
To boot, left-handers Jonathan and David have now emulated West Indies one-day and T20 International player Dwayne Smith of YMPC in scoring the most centuries (two) in the Championship. There have been 11 centuries all told since the Tournament started in 2008.
The feats of Best and David Carter are further marked by the fact that in one season, both exceeded what they had done collectively in the Tournament prior to 2015.
In the case of Carter, in 19 Sagicor General T20 matches before this season, he had scored only 252 runs including one half-century (77 not out v St Catherine at Bayfield last year), at an average of 14.82.
With Wildey now failing to reach the quarter-finals, Carter ended with 298 runs at the wonderful average of 99.33, having batted at No. 3 in all five of his innings.
Best has finished this season with 12 wickets at just seven runs apiece, while boasting of an economy rate of 4.80 from 17.3 overs. In 13 matches between 2008 and 2014 (he did not play in 2010 and 2011), he picked up only eight wickets at 30.12 runs each, while conceding 5.64 runs an over, with a best of two for seven against UWI at 3Ws Oval in his first match in 2008.
Having been privileged to be at Paragon last Saturday, I must state emphatically that the performance of the 33-year-old Best truly warmed my heart.
Pickwick, led by an unbeaten 64 off 49 balls with five fours and a six from captain Kyle Hope, scored 132 for four off 20 overs after losing the toss.
Coming on as the fifth and last bowler with the score on 60 for two after ten overs, Best consistently bowled very fast and straight and also shook up the batsmen with a few well-directed short-pitched balls.
The effect was so telling that the last eight wickets tumbled for 21 runs in 6.2 overs as BDFSP were shot out for 81 in 16.3 overs.
Among his victims were opener Kemar Jabarry Smith, the 21-year-old brother of Dwayne Smith, and the experienced Renaldo Brathwaite. Smith topscored with 34 while Brathwaite’s 19 was the next best.
It was sensational stuff from Best. Brathwaite was comprehensively bowled off his first ball to trigger the collapse and left-hander Rico Wiggins was caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Craig St Hill off the third for nought.
Then in his third over, Best bowled Smith with sheer pace off the third ball; Tevyn Walcott was leg before wicket for two off the fifth and Ackeem Clinkett, also leg before wicket off the last.
He ended the match by having Kyle Franklyn caught at point by Jared Gilkes for a “duck”.
“I’ve been working really hard in the gym and in the nets as well,” Best told yours truly in a live interview on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation’s Sports Express.
“I still believe that I have a part to play for Barbados and my goal is to make sure that I am ready for the PCL [Professional Cricket League]. I didn’t get a CPL [Caribbean Premier League] contract which was quite disappointing and I really feel disrespected, but I am going up to England and ply my trade up there.
“I just want to make sure that every time I get an opportunity to play for Pickwick that I give a hundred percent, and I am playing like I am playing for Barbados or the West Indies.”
Best, who played for BDFSP between 2001 –– the first season BDFSP were promoted to the Division 1 (rebranded Elite in 2012) –– and 2003, was high in praise for the work done at the Sports Programme.
“Actually I’ve got a lot of respect for the BDF Sports Programme because obviously at 16 years and nine months old, I joined the BDF Sports Programme in 1998 and Henderson Winfield DaCosta Springer [Barbados Pride Head Coach, BCA Director of Coaching and former BDFSP coach] from down in St Lucy, taught me everything I know now.
“He and Commander David Dowridge coached me to who I am today, so when I come up here it is always a bit of nostalgia and I always feel very blessed and honoured to be even playing against a wonderful programme that has developed me into what I am today,” Best said.
As far as his pace was concerned, Best responded: “I think I was bowling about 94 to 95 miles an hour easily and against the wind as well.”
Sean Thornton, an off-spinner, had the previous best figures of five for nine off four overs in his very first T20 match for Guardian General Barbados Youth against Spartan at Black Rock (now Desmond Haynes Oval) in 2009 (Series 2).
And what about David Carter in relation to his back-to-back centuries? He asserted that improved concentration at the crease has been a major factor in his turnaround in fortunes.
“I am trying to work hard on my concentration. That has been my main problem at the crease. I already have all of the shots in the book but I just need to work more on applying myself,” he said.
“For any batsman who has created history, I feel very elated at this moment. It did not sink in until the weekend was actually over because I started to reflect on what the performance meant to my team and me. I started to reflect and realized it was something brilliant.
“I really won the hearts of my team-mates because we had suffered two losses going into the third round and we were coming from behind so we needed a performance like that.”
Carter was given an opportunity to express himself on CBC’s Mid Wicket programme. It was a pleasure to interview him and I dare say that, like Best, he spoke well and with a lot of confidence.
It is an area which a lot more of our local players need to be exposed to. While commentators and reporters like to analyse individual performances, it is always wonderful to hear from the players themselves.
David Carter and Best were not only fantastic on the field but also off it –– on air. Other players should take note.
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.