Just over four years ago then 29-year-old Kirk Edwards was Test vice-captain as West Indies defeated Bangladesh by 296 runs in the second Test at Gros Islet, St Lucia. A dip in form saw the former Barbados captain being subsequently ignored by both regional and Barbados selectors.
His career nose-dived with a horrid 2014-2015 season for Barbados Pride where his seven innings produced 59 runs and a below-par outing the following year for Jamaica Scorpions resulted in 346 runs at an average of 23. His first-class career seemed to be in limbo when he was ignored in the 2016/17 Professional Cricket League draft.
Then, the right-handed batsman was drafted by the Windward Islands Volcanoes for the 2017/18 first-class season. This season, he was appointed captain of the Volcanoes at the end of the sixth round of the West Indies Cricket Championship. The Volcanoes are now in second position with three wins and three defeats. One of those victories was against Barbados Pride at Kensington Oval last Sunday. But according to Edwards, beating the team he once led to their 21st regional title in 2013, did not give him any special pleasure.
“It felt great but it was not extra special for me. My days of captaining Barbados ended in 2013, so I have almost forgot that I once led the team, I am not really over the moon about that part. I am just focused on improving the Volcanoes as much as I can my in my role as captain and leader and I don’t really stray away from that,” Edwards told Barbados TODAY.
Edwards stressed that he still had the interest of Barbados cricket and its cricketers at heart and expressed delight at the manner young all-rounder Shamar Springer batted in the second innings against his team even though he made a modest score.
“I thought young Springer batted well on the last day of the match, he is still a very young cricketer, and it was good to see the fight in him. We are all one people in the region, I like to see highly competitive cricket. I am always impressed by young cricketers who are willing to stand up and fight. This is the quality that will serve our cricketers in good stead at the international level. Springer is a player I really love, I think he is one for the future”, Edwards said.
He described the Volcanoes as a young and inexperienced team that will sometimes make mistakes.
“As captain, I have to understand that the team is very inexperienced. Devon (Smith) and I are the two experienced players in the team, therefore they will make mistakes. I have to understand and formulate a strategy with that in mind. What is very important is that we have a group of guys who want to win and do well. They give a hundred per cent all of the time and I am very pleased with that,” Edwards said.
He stated that leading the Volcanoes was not a bigger challenge than captaining any other first-class team in the region.
“Captaining any team in first-class cricket is a challenge because the opposition makes it a challenge. The stakes are pretty high at this level, everyone in the team wants to do well for his country and move on to the next level. Devon (Smith) who is 37 has been setting the standard very high. There are people watching the live stream and the players are aware of this, so there is a lot to play for as well. A lot is at stake in first-class cricket so leading a team will always be a challenge,” he explained.
Edwards said there were several players in the Volcanoes with bright futures ahead of them, among them being the 20-year-old all-rounder from Dominica Alick Athanaze who is just coming back into the team, Kavem Hodge, Larry Edwards and Roland Cato.
“Almost every player in this team as long as they get it right and do the correct things will have a good future in cricket,” the captain said.
Edwards refused to speculate on a possible position for his team at the end of the season, stating he controlled what was under his control and as long as he did the right things there would be a proper result at the end of it all.
On a personal note, Edwards, who played 17 Test matches, said it was important for him to stay focused and assess his cricket day by day rather than think about playing for the West Indies.
“The important thing is to take it day by day and stay focused on what I have to do. Wherever that leads me is where I will go, so I don’t really get ahead of myself and think about playing for the West Indies. It is all about the next ball for me at the moment,” the 34-year-old former West Indies vice-captain said.