A couple sharply contrasting records and relatively good crowd support marked the first two rounds of matches in the revamped Barbados Cricket Association Sagicor General Twenty20 Championship last weekend.
Now in its ninth season and being played in two phases for the first time – Super 10 for the ten Division 1 teams and Super 12, which embraces the ten Elite division teams and the zone winners of the Super 10 – there was sure to be curiosity from the perspective of spectator interest.
Coming on the heels of the memorable success of the West Indies Women’s and men’s teams in the ICC World T20 Tournament in India and following the glory of the regional Youth team in the World Under-19 one-day Championship in Bangladesh in February, there was a high to ride on.
Significantly, double-headers, which were a feature of the second Sagicor General T20 Tournament in 2009, have returned with matches starting at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at two venues per day.
Having a significant increase in spectators at all venues and sustaining such in the Super 12 phase, which begins May 8, will be the biggest test for the organisers. The early signs are good, no doubt helped as well by the fact that only two venues per day are being used for the Super10, while there will be three for the Super 12.
In the previous two seasons, nine venues per day were used in the preliminaries. Hence, there would a sharp contrast in attendances.
With the T20 tournament finishing on June 17, the Super 12 will be played during the same period of the early stages of the Super Cup (50-over), which starts on April 30.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final of the T20 will be contested under lights at Kensington Oval.
Now as far as records were concerned in the first two rounds of the T20 Tournament, off-spinner Ian Boyce of Nicholls Baking Combermere dramatically sliced through the Gladiola (formerly LIME) batting to record the first-ever seven-wicket haul as Combermere won by 26 runs in the opening series.
Playing in Zone ‘B’ at the Lester Vaughan School, Cane Garden, Boyce took seven for 16 off four overs to trigger a collapse after coming on as the last of six bowlers.
Chasing 172 to win after Combermere made 171 for five off 20 overs following an opening partnership of 115 in 13.4 overs between Leniko Boucher (71) and Keon Wiltshire (70), Gladiola slipped from 113 for two in the 11th over to 145 all out in 17.5 overs after Boyce removed former Barbados batsman Randy Thomas for 30.
In his next over, Boyce added the scalp of all-rounder Ashley Nurse, a member of the West Indies squad at the just concluded World T20 Tournament, for the top score of 39.
Effectively, Gladiola lost their last eight wickets for 32 runs in exactly seven overs.
Boyce’s previous best figures were three for 17 off four overs, also against the same opponents, then playing as LIME, at Waterford in Series 5 of last year’s tournament.
Tino Best, the Barbados and former West Indies fast bowler, had held the record for the most wickets in a match with the first-ever six-wicket burst – six for six off 3.1 overs for ESA Field Pickwick against his old club, Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme – in a 51-run win at Paragon last season.
On Sunday, Best created another special feat when he grabbed five wickets for four runs off 3.4 overs after being introduced as the fourth of five bowlers in a 79-run win for Pickwick against Ince Transport MTW at Pine Basin in Zone ‘A’.
It was the first time a bowler had taken two successive five-wicket hauls as his six for six was his last game in 2015 before he left for England to represent Lashings.
Best is now only the third bowler after Kevin Gittens of MTW and all-rounder Roston Chase of ICBL Empire with two five-wicket hauls. He also has the second and third best figures all told.
Prior to the feats of Best and Boyce, Sean Thornton, an off-spinner, had the 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). It was the only instance that season of a bowler taking five wickets in a match.
Both of Gittens’ five-wicket feats were achieved in 2012. He grabbed five for 19 off 3.5 overs against LIME at Pine Basin and five for 30 against Empire at Bank Hall.
Chase took five for 15 off four overs against Banks (now Massy United Insurance Wildey) at The Brewery in 2012 and five for 14 against Barbados Youth at Cane Garden in 2014.
In the midst of the outstanding bowling figures, however, spare a moment of thought for pace bowling all-rounder Nyeem Young of Barbados Youth ‘B’.
Against newcomers Barbados Fire Service in the afternoon match at Cane Garden, Young had figures of one for 72 off four overs – the most runs ever clobbered off a bowler in the tournament – in a total of 203 for seven off 20 overs. Barbados Youth ‘B’ lost by 104 runs.
My records show that co-incidentally, two bowlers from Insurance & General Services Brokers Yorkshire – fast bowler Jamel Noel and medium-pacer Antonio Mayers, both with first-class experience, had previously conceded the most runs – 64 each in the same match against Wildey at Friendship last season.
Noel’s figures were 4-0-64-1 and Mayers’ 4-0-64-0.
Led by a blistering unbeaten century from left-hander David Carter (110 not out off 58 balls with 11 fours and six sixes), Wildey made 226 for three and went on to triumph by 61 runs.
Records are made to be broken but one tends to show some concern when a schoolboy finds himself at the receiving end of a hammering. Hopefully, the management and coaching staff of Barbados Youth will give Young as much encouragement as possible after such a rough baptism.
In fact, though Barbados Youth ‘B’ again lost heavily by 95 runs to Combermere at Desmond Haynes Oval on Sunday, Young’s figures of none for 28 off three overs in a total of 178 for seven off 20 overs showed that he has a strong character.
But for all of the excitement it can create, T20 cricket is still a tough exercise for school teams.
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.