Barbadians are truly a very proud people. And when it comes to the wonderful game of cricket, please don’t challenge them on its rich history of winning the West Indies first-class Championship the most times, as well as the large number of world-class players the island has produced over the years.
Last week this column highlighted the fact that as the island was celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence, it also marked the same number of years for sponsored regional first-class competitions with Barbados boasting of a record 22 titles.
I did not even go into the regional one-day (List A) Tournaments, which also underline the tremendous all-round strength of Barbados.
That aspect is dealt with later in this column but it was extremely touching over the last week to know that the international media including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Cricinfo also zoomed in on the impact, which Barbados has had on the world stage.
In a radio programme, the BBC noted that Barbados had produced “brilliant cricketers” and “despite a population of just 270 000, its batsmen and bowlers have made an impact all over the world”.
It pointed that of the 11 West Indies cricketers to be knighted, no fewer than six of them have been from Barbados – Sir Frank Worrell, The Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Conrad Hunte and Sir Wesley Hall.
Worrell, Walcott and Hunte are no longer with us.
“To quote former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, cricket is the only field of endeavour in which Barbados has reached, has set and has often exceeded global standards of excellence. Quite something,” the BBC report said.
Cricinfo, fittingly on Independence Day, November 30, named an all-time Barbados XI and asked: “Is this the world’s most unbeatable X1?”
It went on: “On the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ independence, we pick a Bajan side that would conquer everything in its path.
“Barbados is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence. Is this selection of Bajan players from over the years better than most Test teams?”
Here is the all-time Barbados team listed by Cricinfo, along with the first-class statistics of the players:
Frank Worrell (captain) – Matches: 208; Runs 15,025; Batting average: 54.24. Wickets: 349. Bowling average: 28.98.
Gordon Greenidge – Matches: 523; Innings: 889; Runs: 37,354; Average: 45.88.
Conrad Hunte – Matches: 132; Innings: 222; Runs 8916; Average: 43.92.
Everton Weekes – Matches: 152; Innings: 241; Runs 12,010; Average: 55.34.
Clyde Walcott – Matches: 146; Innings: 238; Runs 11,820; Average: 56.55.
Garry Sobers – Matches: 383; Runs 28,314; Batting average: 54.87. Wickets: 1043; Bowling average: 27.74.
David Murray (wicket-keeper) – Matches: 114; Runs: 4503; Average: 30.84; Catches: 293; Stumpings: 30.
Malcolm Marshall – Matches: 408; Wickets: 1651; Average: 19.10.
Charlie Griffith – Matches: 96. Wickets: 332; Average: 21.60.
Wes Hall – Matches: 170; Wickets: 546; Average: 26.14.
Joel Garner – Matches: 214; Wickets: 881; Average: 18.53.
Desmond Haynes (12th man) – Matches: 376; Innings: 639; Runs: 26,030; Average: 45.90.
Hunte and Greenidge are the opening batsmen with a middle order of Weekes, Walcott, Worrell, Sobers (the greatest ever all-rounder, who serves as batsman, swing bowler and spinner), Murray as the wicket-keeper/batsman and four fearsome fast bowlers in Hall, Griffith, Marshall and Garner.
Now when one starts to analyse the team, debates, arguments and whatever else will surely follow for another 50 years.
For example, it would be felt by some observers that Walcott should be the wicket-keeper/batsman, hence making room for Haynes.
And then others would suggest that there should also be a place in the batting for Seymour Nurse. And so on.
Garner has always contended that Murray is the best ‘keeper he has ever played with. Is there any need for a further argument?
The team is simply very, very strong.
As far as regional limited overs competitions are concerned, last season marked the 40th anniversary.
Barbados has played in a record 19 Finals, having won six titles. Though not having the record for the most titles, there is still something to shout about in relation to its record number of finals.
Trinidad & Tobago have won the most titles (12) including 11 alone in 17 Finals (the second most).
The first two Finals were contested between Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. Barbados won both – by 43 runs at Kensington Oval in 1976 and by eight wickets at Queen’s Park Oval in 1977.
By the way, back in 1973, there was a one-day knock-out tournament between Barbados (the winners), Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – considered the Big Four – before the more formal tournament – the Gillette Cup – was set up and the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands were added to the quartet.
Following is the list of limited overs finalists, with the winners and runners-up:
YEAR WINNERS RUNNERS-UP
1976 Barbados T&T
1977 Barbados T&T
GEDDES GRANT/HARRISON LINE TROPHY
1978 (shared) Leewards/Jamaica
1979 T&T Barbados
1980 Guyana Leewards
1981 T&T Barbados
1982 Leewards Barbados
1983 Guyana Jamaica
1984 Jamaica Leewards
1985 Guyana Jamaica
1986 Jamaica Leewards
1987 Jamaica Barbados
1988 Barbados Jamaica
GEDDES GRANT SHIELD
1989 Windwards Guyana
1990 T&T Barbados
1991 Jamaica Leewards
1992 T&T Barbados
1993 (shared) Guyana/Leewards
1994 Leewards Barbados
1995 (1) Leewards Barbados
1995 (2) (Shared) T&T/Guyana
1996 T&T Guyana
RED STRIPE BOWL
1997 Leewards Guyana
1998 Guyana Leewards
1999 Jamaica Leewards
2000 Windwards Leewards
2001 Guyana Barbados
2002 Barbados Jamaica
2003 Guyana Barbados
2004 T&T Guyana
2005 Guyana Barbados
2006 T&T Windwards
2007 Jamaica T&T
2008 T&T Barbados
2009 T&T Guyana
2010 Tied (shared) Barbados/Leewards
2011 Jamaica T&T
2012 – –
2013 Windwards CCC
2014 Barbados T&T
2015 T&T Guyana
2016 T&T Barbados
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. Keithfholder@gmail.com