Former Barbados, Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) and West Indies opening batsman Omar Phillips had plans of returning to Barbados later this month after his second stint with Stratmore Cricket Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, but due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the 33-year-old left handed batsman has been forced to remain Down Under.
“I had planned to return home this month but obviously with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closing of the borders, my departure from Australia has been delayed,” Philips told Barbados TODAY.
He explained that the pandemic brought the season to a premature end and the club that won the most games was declared winner.
“COVID-19 brought the season to an early end, we did not get to finish off the season. Some teams made it into the semifinals and never got the chance to play in the finals, while others were finalists and did not get the opportunity to play in the finals because they were called off. The season was not played to an end and several players left the country before the situation got worse,” Philips said.
Philips who is the player/coach at Stratmore spoke highly of the method used to organize cricket in Australia and described it as the ideal place for young cricketers to hone their skills. He outlined the benefits a young player could derive from playing there.
“Australia is an exciting place to play cricket, any Barbadian cricketer who is given an opportunity to play here should take it with both hands. There is a vast contrast between club cricket here and back home. The club setting is different in terms of the structure and personnel, and the way matches are played, the playing of the competitions is slightly different.
“There are different competitions a cricketer can play in. There are varying levels of Twenty20 as well as 40-overs rather than 50-overs cricket. A cricketer has a chance to play various forms of cricket if he is good. Australia is a vast country and there are more opportunities for cricketers here than in Barbados. Over here, a young cricketer has the opportunity to play against cricketers of the highest quality who play in the various competitions. Their skills are not being tested against Australian cricketers only, because there are players from England, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world playing here, therefore this will provide our cricketers with the chance to learn about the culture of other nations. However the most important factor about playing cricket here is that you are playing in a foreign environment which helps a young cricketer to mature as a cricketer, “ Philips said.
He added: “I would encourage any youngster to seek the opportunity to play cricket outside of their country especially in countries like Australia and England which gives them the chance to visit other places and play in other conditions. If a cricketer wants to be good, he must be able to adapt to new conditions and step outside of his comfort zone. He should have the capacity to build an innings, the ability to finish games. These vital skills are quickly learnt by young cricketers playing here. They also learn how to deal with different characters and cultures, therefore I would recommend a stint in a foreign country as part of the learning process of a young Barbadian cricketer especially in the early stage of his career, so that when he reaches the stage to be considered for selection for the West Indies or any of the teams that participate in the various international tournaments around the world, he will be able to adopt to different situations, conditions and cultures.”
Philips played two Tests for the West Indies against Bangladesh in 2009, averaged 40 with a top score of 94 but was never given another opportunity. He has played a total of 57 first-class matches for Barbados and the CCC. He lost his contract with the Barbados Pride franchise in 2017. Philips’ plan for the future is to become a high performance coach. He said he was gaining vital experience which would help him achieve this goal during his stint with Stratmore Cricket Club.
“I am planning to be a high performance coach in the future. At present I am a level two coach, it is my intention to become a level three coach sometime in the near future. My post at Stratmore gives me the opportunity to get the experience and to function in an environment that will assist me in my quest to be a high performance coach,” Philips said.