Like the 1991 Red Stripe Cup team under the wonderful captaincy of Desmond Haynes, Barbados’ capture of the regional first-class Championship four years later was achieved with a solid display.
Led for the first time by wicket-keeper/batsman Courtney Browne in his fifth consecutive season at this level, Barbados lifted the title – their 14th of a record 23 – with one match to spare.
Barbados beat Jamaica by four wickets at Sabina Park in the first round, then crushed the Windward Islands by eight wickets at Arnos Vale in St. Vincent, defeated Guyana by six wickets at Kensington Oval, drew with the Leeward Islands at Ronald Webster Park in Anguilla and lost by 129 runs to Trinidad & Tobago at Kensington Oval – a rarity against their opponents at the “Mecca” of cricket in the Caribbean.
Haynes’ 1991 team had triumphed in even more convincing style, winning four matches to finish on 72 points, which almost doubled second-placed Trinidad & Tobago on 37, followed by Guyana 36, Leeward Islands also 36, Jamaica 20 and Windward Islands 12.
Browne’s side ended with 56 points, Leeward Islands 52, Trinidad & Tobago 48, Jamaica 29, Guyana 28 and Windward Islands, again 12.
And as was the case with the 1991 team, 14 players were also on show in 1995. They were (with matches in brackets): Courtney Browne (captain), Philo Wallace, Floyd Reifer, Livingstone Puckerin, Vasbert Drakes, Ottis Gibson, Winston Reid (five), Desmond Haynes, Patterson Thompson (four), Ricky Hoyte, Henderson Bryan, Dayne Maynard (three), Stanton Proverbs (two) and Adrian Griffith (one).
Browne’s team featured four of the players who were in Haynes’ champion side – Browne himself, the durable Haynes, Wallace and Gibson.
Three others from the 1991 team, who were expected to feature as well in 1995 – Sherwin Campbell, Roland Holder and Anderson Cummins – were on tour of New Zealand with West Indies for a three-match One-Day International series, which West Indies swept and a two-match Test series, which the regional side also won, 1-0.
For Haynes, who celebrated his 39th birthday nine days after the end of Barbados’ last match, the 1995 success brought mixed feelings, and I dare say amidst controversy.
It was a joint record eighth Barbados first-class champion team Haynes was part of since the inception of the Shell Shield in 1966, joining his long-standing West Indies opening partner Gordon Greenidge.
Haynes played in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1991 and 1995, while Greenidge was a member of the champion teams of 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1991.
But the 1995 season effectively signalled the end of Haynes’ international career because of a West Indies Cricket Board eligibility rule, which stated that a player had to make himself available for the full first-class tournament to be considered for international selection unless on West Indies duties or due to “illness or injury”, approved by the Board.
Haynes had been playing first-class cricket for Western Province in South Africa and indicated he would miss the opening round because of “family commitments”. But despite turning out in four matches and expressing a great desire to play in the five-match ODI and four-match Test series against Australia from March 5 to May 4, the regional Board would have none of it.
In a nutshell, they simply showed no sympathy.
Yet, Haynes was the outstanding Barbados batsman, scoring 470 runs including one hundred and two half-centuries, at an average of 67.14. In his first match of the season, he slammed an unbeaten 201 against the Windward Islands.
The other leading Barbados batsmen were Wallace (423; ave: 42.30); Reifer (308; ave: 44.00); Browne (268; ave: 53.60); Drakes (260; ave: 43.33) and Puckerin (269; ave: 29.88).
Bowling, left-arm spinner Reid took 27 wickets (ave: 19.74) from 250.1 overs; and three fast bowlers – Drakes, Gibson and Thompson – had 59 wickets between them. Drakes joined Reid as the leading wicket-taker – 27 (ave: 22.51) off 169 overs; Gibson had 22 (ave: 29.90) off 181.3 overs and Thompson 10 (ave: 27.60) off 82 overs.
Reid and Drakes were the joint second highest wicket-takers behind the Leeward Islands pair of left-arm spinner Warrington Phillip and pacer Jenson Joseph (28 each).
I was again privileged to cover the full Championship that season, and one of the most memorable matches was against Leeward Islands.
It was the first time a first-class match was played in Anguilla and the groundstaff produced a pitch tailor-made for batting. Rolled with an old-fashioned “rocking engine”, it was truly conducive for stroke-making, and there were three century-makers – Wallace, Drakes and the Leeward Islands captain Richie Richardson.
Wallace scored 106 in a first innings total of 258 to which the Leeward Islands responded with 222.
But the real fascination came in the second innings for both teams. With Barbados struggling on 144 for five, Drakes blasted a career-best, unbeaten 180 at No. 7, as the last five wickets added exactly 300.
Then set 481 for victory, the Leeward Islands ended on 406 for five with Richardson slamming 152.
Richardson, who was nursing his way back to full fitness after being floored by illness, which had ruled him out of the West Indies tour to India in the last couple months of the previous year, amassed the most runs in the Championship (544; ave: 77.71) including three centuries – the same number as his fellow Antiguan Dave Joseph, whose 514 (ave: 102.80) made him the only other batsman to score more than 500 runs. Dave Joseph is the brother of Jenson Joseph.
Summarised scores of Barbados’ matches:
At Sabina Park: January 6, 7, 8, 9. Barbados beat Jamaica by four wickets.
Jamaica 282 all out (90.4 overs) (Robert Haynes 95, Shane Ford 50, Delroy Morgan 39, Wayne Lewis 16, Frederick Redwood 15, Franklyn Rose 14 not out; Patterson Thompson 4-46, Winston Reid 3-43, Ottis Gibson 2-54) and 225 all out (69.3 overs) (Delroy Morgan 46, Mario Ventura 45, Wayne Lewis 26, Nehemiah Perry 23, Robert Samuels 18, Franklyn Rose 12, Shane Ford 10; Ottis Gibson 3-46, Winston Reid 3-47, Patterson Thompson 2-32, Vasbert Drakes 2-45).
Barbados 298 all out (93.4 overs) (Floyd Reifer 85 not out, Livingstone Puckerin 55, Philo Wallace 50, Courtney Browne 43, Winston Reid 24; Nehemiah Perry 5-41, Brian Murphy 3-65, Joseph Grant 2-46) and 210-6 (73.4 overs) (Philo Wallace 71, Courtney Browne 38 not out, Floyd Reifer 31, Vasbert Drakes 30, Winston Reid 17 not out, Livingstone Puckerin 12; Robert Haynes 2-46, Joseph Grant 2-54).
At Arnos Vale, St. Vincent: January 13, 14, 15, 16. Barbados beat Windward Islands by eight wickets.
Barbados 440-5 declared (141 overs) (Desmond Haynes 201 not out, Floyd Reifer 81, Ricky Hoyte 54, Livingstone Puckerin 44, Philo Wallace 16; Irvin Warrican 2-84) and 26-2 (7 overs) (Floyd Reifer 12 not out, Ricky Hoyte 11 not out; Ian Allen 2-18).
Windward Islands 289 all out (106.4 overs) (Dawnley Joseph 94, Roy Marshall 44, Uzzah Pope 28, Kester Sylvester 25, Nixon McClean 25, John Eugene 18, Irvin Warrican 12; Winston Reid 6-73, Vasbert Drakes 2-66) and 175 all out (69.2 overs)(Kester Sylvester 80, John Eugene 28, Ian Allen 15; Ottis Gibson 3-54, Vasbert Drakes 2-43, Winston Reid 2-52).
At Kensington Oval: January 20, 21, 22, 23. Barbados beat Guyana by six wickets.
Guyana 160 all out (50.3 overs) (Keith Semple 54, Paul Persaud 52, Nolan McKenzie 14, Gavin Nedd 14 not out; Vasbert Drakes 7-47) and 227 all out (79.2 overs) (Roger Harper 77, Sudesh Dhaniram 43, Mahendra Nagamootoo 33, Paul Persaud 21, Nolan McKenzie 20; Ottis Gibson 4-52, Winston Reid 3-58).
Barbados 230 all out (81.3 overs) (Desmond Haynes 74, Philo Wallace 66, (NB: Haynes and Wallace added 156 for the first wicket); Livingstone Puckerin 36; Roger Harper 5-77, Gavin Nedd 3-42) and 158-4 (65.4 overs) (Floyd Reifer 48 not out, Desmond Haynes 40, Livingstone Puckerin 28, Courtney Browne 18 not out, Ricky Hoyte 14; Roger Harper 2-42).
At Ronald Webster Park, Anguilla. January 27, 28, 29, 30. Match drawn.
Barbados 258 all out (64.4 overs) (Philo Wallace 106, Desmond Haynes 34, Livingstone Puckerin 23, Floyd Reifer 22, Vasbert Drakes 21, Stanton Proverbs 16, Winston Reid 11; Hamesh Anthony 4-73, Lesroy Weekes 3-46, Jenson Joseph 3-52) and 444 all out (115.4 overs) (Vasbert Drakes 180 not out, Courtney Browne 74, Desmond Haynes 67, Livingstone Puckerin 34, Philo Wallace 26, Ottis Gibson 22, Winston Reid 13; Hamesh Anthony 4-112, Warrington Phillip 3-88).
Leeward Islands 222 all out (54.5 overs) (Lanville Harrigan 37, Merlin Liburd 36, Richie Richardson 36, Carl Tuckett 33, Ridley Jacobs 20, Jenson Joseph 16; Vasbert Drakes 4-65, Winston Reid 3-44, Ottis Gibson 3-63) and 406-5 (94 overs) (Richie Richardson 152, Dave Joseph 85 not out, Ridley Jacobs 83, Jenson Joseph 26, Lanville Harrigan 13, Merlin Liburd 13; Ottis Gibson 2-114).
At Kensington Oval: February 3, 4, 5, 6, Trinidad & Tobago beat Barbados by 129 runs.
Trinidad & Tobago 297 all out (106.1 overs) (Suresh Ragoonath 96, Philip Simmons 63, David Williams 61, Keno Mason 14, Anthony Gray 14; Winston Reid 3-64, Ottis Gibson 3-79, Henderson Bryan 2-38) and 289-9 declared (87 overs) (Philip Simmons 92, Keno Mason 64, David Williams 48, Mahadeo Bodoe 20 not out, Anthony Gray 19, Nigel Francis 10; Vasbert Drakes 6-75, Winston Reid 2-56).
Barbados 220 all out (50.1 overs) (Stanton Proverbs 48, Philo Wallace 38, Desmond Haynes 34, Floyd Reifer 22, Courtney Browne 19, Livingstone Puckerin 18, Vasbert Drakes 18; Mukesh Persaud 5-63) and 237 all out (59 overs) (Courtney Browne 70 not out, Philo Wallace 49, Desmond Haynes 21, Ottis Gibson 20, Livingstone Puckerin 18, Stanton Proverbs 15; Philip Simmons 4-52, Ian Bishop 3-48, Nigel Francis 2-58).
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: [email protected]
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