No matter how your turn, Sagicor Life University of West Indies (UWI) must gain your attention in a very big way when it comes to local domestic cricket.
Richness in every sense of the word has made UWI the mightiest team in the island after they were invited and duly accepted to play at the highest level of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Competition in 2006, despite not winning the Intermediate division.
With unquestionably the best facilities including indoor nets at the well-appointed 3Ws Oval at Cave Hill, UWI gradually built up a dynasty, gaining praise and envy alike.
The ability to win the three major BCA Championships – Elite (rebranded from First in 2012), Super Cup and Sagicor General Twenty20 – is now a virtual cakewalk.
Last Sunday was yet another example as UWI defeated Bayview Hospital YMPC by four wickets in the Final of the Super Cup to join ICBL Empire as the most successful team with four titles since the turn of the century.
In the 13 seasons they have rubbed shoulders with the “big” teams, UWI are the most decorated in all three major versions of the game with 15 trophies.
Apart from the latest glory (the other Super Cup titles were in 2007, 2012 and 2015), their silverware achievements show six in the Elite division – 2009, 2010 (shared with Spartan), 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017 and a record five in the Sagicor General T20 – 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 – which is only in its 11th season.
And mind you, UWI are well on course for capturing all three titles in one season for a third time, as they are in the semi-finals of the T20 scheduled for next week, and lead the Elite division, which is now in the fourth series.
Before someone from Spartan starts to attack me, on the question of capturing titles in the one-day Tournament, the Queen’s Park men still boast of the record for the most Cups (eight) since 1975, but only one has come since 2000 (in 2002) as Empire and UWI have been the dominant teams.
In fact, Empire have featured in six Finals in the last 19 seasons – they were champions in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2008 – and UWI in five.
Talking about richness in terms of money, the 15 major titles which UWI have earned since 2006 have amounted to $280 000 in their growing bank account. The breakdown is $120 000 (Elite), $100 000 (T20) and $60 000 (Super Cup).
Arguably, it is expected to reach $300 000 by the end of this season.
Please note that the emphasis here is on winning titles in the top three competitions as someone would want to remind me that I have not included the Intermediate division, which UWI captured two years ago.
Resources, and of fairly high quality, are so telling for UWI that one only has to look at the number of players they parade in a season or a Tournament to get an idea.
For example, in the just concluded Super Cup Championship, UWI fielded the highest number of players (24) without being seriously affected in any match. In fact, UWI were the only team to win every match.
In sharp contrast, Barbados Youth, always disadvantaged when the nucleus of their side has to represent national teams in regional Youth Tournaments, used the second most number of players (22). And even though Barbados Youth reached the quarterfinals, they were so weakened at that stage that YMPC cruised to a six-wicket win with 13.5 overs remaining at Beckles Road.
Apart from joining Empire with the most one-day titles since 2000, there were at least two other significant achievements for UWI as a team and individually in their success last Sunday.
Attacking opener and Player-of-the-Match Leniko Boucher, in top scoring with 56 four days before his 21st birthday, became only the third ever batsman to make 500 runs in a one-day season, and UWI, splendidly captained by the versatile Jonathan Carter, sent YMPC tumbling to the lowest total by a team batting first in a Final – 106 all out in 39.5 overs after YMPC lost the toss.
Boucher’s knock came off 61 balls and included seven fours. He ended with 530 runs from a maximum 11 innings including one hundred and four half-centuries, at an average of 53.00.
Veteran all-rounder Ryan Wiggins of YMPC was the first ever player to score 500 runs in a Super Cup season. He made 526 from 11 innings with one hundred and four half-centuries, at an average of 47.82 in 2016 when YMPC won the title for only the second time. The other was in 1995.
This season, opener Shayne Moseley of last year’s champions CounterPoint Wanderers, amassed a new record of 620 in nine innings including two centuries and three fifties, at a healthy average of 68.89.
By the way, the YMPC total on Sunday was beefed up by a top score of 31 from extras.
Ironically, the previous lowest total by a team batting first in a Final was made by UWI – 119 in 40.5 overs – against Maple in 2012, but UWI hit back to win by six runs.
The lowest total in a Final, however, is 81 in 29.4 overs by Carlton against Maple in a 116-run defeat, way back in 1977.
On Sunday, UWI romped to victory with a whopping 27 overs to spare.
Perhaps of some comfort to YMPC was that their improving off-spinning all-rounder Kemar Jabarry Smith, the brother of club-mate Dwayne Smith, the former Barbados and West Indies all-rounder, was the top wicket-taker in the 18-team Tournament with 22 scalps at 11.68 runs apiece, and an outstanding economy rate of 2.76.
Praise must be given to the BCA and Belle Imagery for bringing live streaming of the Final.
Though I was not present at Kensington because of family commitments in North America, I was able to follow the match from the start to the finish and hence cover it for the BCA website.
It was the second time in three years that I was fortunate to be in such a position for a major BCA Final and still do my work effectively by way of streaming. The other was the T20 showdown between UWI and ESA Field Pickwick, also at Kensington, on July 10, 2015 when I was in England for the graduation of my daughter, Melanie-Anne, from Leicester University.
On that occasion, it was a much more gripping match, as UWI, under the captaincy of Floyd Reifer, their celebrated batsman and indeed now their very proud coach, brought off a nine-run win, defending a total of 120.
Technology is indeed great. And UWI can argue that they, too, are a great team.
Summarised scores of the Super Cup Final:
YMPC 106 all out (39.5 overs) (Kevin Gittens 29, Ryan Wiggins 24; Kavem Hodge 2-14, Ryan Hinds 2-17, Jonathan Carter 2-18, Chemar Holder 2-20).
UWI 112-6 (23 overs) (Leniko Boucher 56, Nicholas Kirton 30 not out; Dwayne Smith 4-23, Garry Austin 2-33).
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-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com