Barbados Under-15 repeat cricket champions returned home last night to a warm welcome from family, friends, supporters and the president of the Barbados Cricket Association, Conde Riley.
The RUBIS-sponsored cricket team created history on Wednesday when they successfully retained their title after competing in the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Regional Under-15 Tournament in Jamaica. They became the first team to win consecutive regional under-15 titles.
The 15-man squad led by Nimar Bolden got off to a rocky start in the first round losing miserably to Trinidad and Tobago but Barbados head coach Richard Clarke assured Barbados TODAY it was merely first game jitters.
“We went with the expectation of winning all the games and we won four of the five. They are kids, so I knew that they would be a bit nervous and that first game was all nerves. But after that they buckled down and played cricket like they are accustomed to,” said Clarke, who was overwhelmed with emotion as he recounted the boys’ performance which he described as “an all-round effort.”
Though the squad would face many challenges such as the viral infection in Jamaica which affected six of the young boys and forced Devon Stevenson to return home ill, Clarke said losing Bethell (2017’s MVP) who had to retire hurt after only contributing 20 runs was no major setback because the unit was a quality team.
“We have batting from one to 11, so as unfortunate as it was to lose Bethell I knew we could still perform,” the coach said.
Captain Nimar Bolden and vice-captain Jaden Leacock led by example, performing exceptionally well with Leacock being named as Tournament MVP.
Coach Clarke readily admitted that the half-century partnership between them played an integral part in the overall victory but stressed that the entire team was overflowing with all-rounders.
“I knew that at any time even if I had lost the captain and vice-captain, I still had guys that could come and stamp their authority,” he said.
Barbados were also named as having the lead wicketkeeper in Jomario St Hill who recorded nine dismissals.
Bolden said he was very happy with the performance of his team and added that it would not have felt right to return without the trophy.
“I really enjoyed playing with these guys, it was a lot of hard work and a rough couple of weeks preparing, every single day in the sun, but the hard work paid off and we went out there and played good cricket,” Bolden said.
Leacock amassed the most runs for Barbados – 178 (ave: 35.60) and as a medium-pacer took seven wickets (ave: 15.00), while Bethell made 171 and headed the batting averages (42.75). Bolden, with 133 (ave: 33.25) was the only other player in the side with over 100 runs.
Off-spinner Tariq O’Neale was the team’s leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps (ave: 7.55), just one short of the top wicket-taker.