It was always expected to be a relatively easy exercise for the national selectors in picking a very strong Barbados Pride squad for the WICB Super50 Championship to be played in Barbados and Antigua, January 24 to February 18.
Once the names of the nine players who were in the West Indies team for the Tri-nation One-Day International (ODI) series in Zimbabwe last November were rubber stamped and a few more with international experience were added, the selection panel of chairman Henderson Wallace, Sherlon Greaves, Henderson Broomes, head coach Emmerson Trotman and captain Jason Holder only had to seriously debate at least two places.
The nine who toured Zimbabwe were Holder, fellow fast bowling all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite, wicket-keeper/batsmen Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich, middle order batting all-rounder Jonathan Carter, left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, off-spinner Ashley Nurse and pacer Miguel Cummins.
The others selected were opener Anthony Alleyne, all-rounders Roston Chase and Kevin Stoute, fast bowler Kemar Roach and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
Only two players – Alleyne and Stoute – have not represented West Indies, but it has to be also pointed out that Test caps Dowrich, Chase and Warrican are yet to play ODIs.
There is, however, no doubt that Ryan Wiggins would have come very close to being selected in the Barbados squad, based on his excellent showing for champions YMPC in last season’s BCA Super Cup when he became the first ever batsman to score 500 runs in a Tournament (526 at an average of 47.26), plus a commanding knock of 72 in the first trial match at the North Stars Cultural & Social Club ground, Crab Hill, St. Lucy on January 4.
The 32-year-old Wiggins is also a brilliant fielder and it would be a surprise if he were not among the reserves.
Shamarh Brooks, the West Indies ‘A’ team first-class captain, would have also been among the leading contenders for a batting spot but he appeared nervous in the two trial matches – the other was at the Police ground, Weymouth – and did not help his cause with scores of 21 and one.
Looking back at the trials, I was truly impressed with the way Stoute and Wiggins batted at Crab Hill as Stoute’s XI beat Brooks’ X1 by 28 runs. In a total of 253 for eight off 50 overs, Stoute topscored with 81 off 89 balls including seven fours and two sixes. He reached his half-century off 63 balls with four fours and one six.
Wiggins’ 72 came off 95 deliveries and contained seven fours and one six. His fifty took 71 balls and included four fours and one six.
The pair came together in a crisis at 34 for three after nine overs and put on 135 in 24.4 overs. Both executed some breath-taking shots on both sides of the wicket and also down the ground.
Kirk Edwards, a former national captain and West Indies player, also gave a reminder that he still has it in him to challenge for a pick with a knock of 42 off 24 deliveries including four fours and three sixes as an opener for Brooks’ XI who were bowled out for 225 in 42.1 overs. He hit the ball over the top with confidence.
The talented Aaron Jones topscored with 44 off 71 balls including four boundaries at No. 3.
The pitch for the second trial last Friday was somewhat of a disappointment as Stoute’s X1 beat Omar Phillips’ side by two wickets with seven balls remaining as they chased a revised target.
In sharp contrast to the hard, true surface provided by Andy “Vex” Yearwood at Crab Hill, balls were stopping, leading to batsmen playing too early and a few offering catches off the leading edge.
Opener Kyle Corbin, however, played a few good strokes for Phillips’ team in a purposeful knock of 41 off 61 balls including two boundaries on a sluggish outfield.
At 72 for six in the 22nd over, Nurse provided some sparks with four sixes and one four as he topscored with 58 off 52 balls in a total of 169 all out in 39.3 overs.
For Stoute’s side, left-hander Alleyne gave the innings a fairly brisk start with a few enterprising shots in scoring 26 including 26 off the same number of balls including five fours.
Rain stopped play after 11 overs with the score 47 for one and on resumption, the target was revised to 133 off 36 overs.
Shane Parris, who opened, and Stoute featured in the highest partnership of the match – 51 in 12.3 overs for the second wicket – before Stoute fell for 35, which came off 44 balls and contained four boundaries.
His dismissal led to a collapse during which seven wickets tumbled for 36 runs 13.5 overs.
The level-headed Parris and Warrican then completed victory with Parris scoring 35 not out off 83 balls and Warrican, an unbeaten 15 off only six balls with one four and one six.
And in the first of two practice matches at Bayfield yesterday, it was good to see the likes of Hope, Chase, Dowrich and Carter getting among the runs.
Hope made 62 retired out, Chase 55, Carter 46 and Dowrich 39.
The most impressive innings, however, came from opener Zachary McCaskie, who scored 90 off 109 balls with eight boundaries before he also retired out at the same time as Hope after the pair put on 147 in 32.1 overs for the second wicket for Holder’s X1, who made 286 for six off 50 overs.
Holder’s X1 won by 110 runs, dismissing Phillips’ X1 for 176 in 45.5 overs.
The way the 20-year-old McCaskie batted led to some of the spectators asking about his background. Well, McCaskie did not play in the trial matches but he was one of only two batsmen to amass over 500 runs in the BCA Elite division three-day Championship last year.
Representing Massy United Insurance Wildey, he scored 502 (ave: 50.20) including the highest century all told (154) against CounterPoint Wanderers at Dayrells Road in the sixth series.
Stoute was the top batsman with 613 runs (ave: 68.11) including two centuries for ICBL Empire.
The final practice match is scheduled for Monday, again at Bayfield.
Now, I received news this afternoon that Aaron Jones and Kyle Corbin are among six Barbadians who have been selected by Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners for the ten-team Tournament. The others are batsman Jamal Smith, who is the captain, veteran all-rounder and former Barbados captain and West Indies player Ryan Hinds, who is also one of the coaches, fast bowler Keon Harding and off-spinner Raymond Bynoe.
Like Jones and Corbin, Harding also played in the Barbados Pride 50-over trials.
The squad is completed by Amir Jangoo, Mark Deyal, Vikash Mohan (Trinidad & Tobago), Cassius Burton, Christopher Powell, Jermaine Levy (Jamaica), Larry Edward (St. Lucia), and Nino Henry (Antigua).
Two other former Barbados and West Indies players – batsman Floyd Reifer and left-arm fast bowler Pedro Collins – are on the coaching staff. Reifer is the head coach and Collins, an assistant coach.
Local fans are no doubt anxious to follow the progress of Barbados Pride with an anticipation of silverware after losing to Trinidad & Tobago in last year’s Final at Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain.
Barbados Pride are in Zone B with Guyana Jaguars, Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners, Jamaica Scorpions and ICC Americas. Ten matches will be played at Kensington Oval (all Day/Night) and five each at 3Ws Oval and Lucas Street, home of the Windward Club in St. Philip.
Barbados will play five matches at Kensington, two at 3Ws and one at Lucas Street.
Zone A includes Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, Windward Islands Volcanoes, West Indies Under-19 and English County Club, Kent Spitfires. Matches will be played at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground and Coolidge Cricket Ground, which is to also host the semi-finals and Final.
Let’s all hope for high-quality pitches and excellent weather.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org