Angry and upset!
That was the feeling among many Barbados Pride fans last Sunday as Jason Holder’s team squandered excellent positions in the field and at the crease, losing to Jamaica Scorpions by 51 runs in the CWI CG Insurance Super50 Cup match to determine the last qualifying place in the semi-finals of the six-team Championship in Antigua.
The manner of the defeat at the Coolidge Cricket Ground led to questions concerning the captain’s tactics after Jamaica, who won the toss, were in dire straits on 87 for eight off 24.2 overs before recovering to score 218 all out in 45.3 overs.
Then after passing 100 with only one wicket down, Barbados lost their last nine wickets for 49 runs off 19.3 overs and even more sensationally the last eight for 26 runs in 12.3 overs to be dismissed for 167 in 41.1 overs.
Off-spinner Andre McCarthy, better known for his batting, grabbed a career-best six for 16 off 9.1 overs including a hat-trick after coming on as the last of seven bowlers. He hardly got the ball to turn.
It is said that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties but the display by Barbados was mind-boggling.
Both teams went into the match with one win and three losses. They knew that barring a no result, which would have favoured Barbados based on a better net run rate, it was a “knockout”.
Inspired by 20-year-old left-arm spinner Joshua Bishop, who took the first five wickets after he was given the new ball in tandem with Jason Holder, Barbados had every right to be bubbly. The score was 32 for five after 8.5 overs.
By the end of the 25th over, it was 87 for eight with neither Jamie Merchant nor Odean Smith having yet scored.
Bishop had completed his allotment of ten overs, taking a career-best five for 35 while Jason Holder, fellow seamer Akeem Jordan and off-spinner Ashley Nurse each sent down five overs.
Merchant and Smith gradually rebuilt the innings but were still kept on a tight rein for the next five overs as the score moved to 107 for eight.
Suddenly, the scoring rate accelerated as 44 runs came off the following five overs.
With sensible batting, Merchant and Smith added 80 in 13.2 overs before Merchant fell for 37 off 34 balls with four fours and one six.
And there was further frustration for Barbados as Smith and Jeavor Royal put on 51 in 7.5 overs.
Smith slammed an unbeaten 68 off 75 balls containing five fours and four sixes, while Royal made 16.
The fact that neither Roston Chase nor fellow off-spinner Nicholas Kirton bowled a single ball in the match was extremely baffling, especially Chase who took three for 21 off 10 overs against Trinidad & Tobago Red Force.
There were no reports of an injury to either, leading to further speculation about the thinking of the skipper.
Questions were also raised about the field placing. Some pundits were critical of the failure to go on the attack by using a silly point and short-leg after the eighth wicket fell instead of seemingly expecting the innings to be quickly wrapped up.
Yet, for all of the emotions, one must credit Merchant, Smith and Royal for the fight they showed.
So what went wrong with the Barbados chase?
Shai Hope and Justin Greaves provided a solid start, adding 52 in 9.4 overs for the first wicket before Greaves fell for 36 off 26 balls including five fours and one six.
A second wicket partnership of 66 in 12 overs between Hope and Shamarh Brooks kept Barbados on course until a run out of Brooks for 27 off 38 balls in the 22nd over inspired Jamaica.
It was the third consecutive time Brooks had been run out in the Tournament and proved to be a critical turning point.
At the end of the preliminaries, Brooks not only scored the most runs (225) for Barbados but also had the best strike rate of 92.21. His average was 45.00.
The dismissal of Hope for 51 off 81 balls with three fours and one six to leave the score 141 for three after 28.4 overs was also telling.
Four overs later, Carter fell for 26. He was dismissed at a time when the Barbados batsmen were becoming a bit tentative as the Jamaica captain Rovman Powell went on the attack by using a couple close-to-the-wicket fielders.
Then McCarthy took over with his last three victims all bowled defending from the crease.
Jason Holder, who never got cracking with the bat throughout the tournament, was McCarthy’s first victim for one, as wickets fell rapidly. In five innings, Holder mustered just 50 runs (ave: 10.00).
Funny enough, Jamaica had kept their hopes of a semi-final berth alive in their previous match against Leeward Islands Hurricanes when they were also virtually down and out before winning by six runs under the Duckworth/Lewis/Stern method at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Then they recovered from 135 for nine in the 38th over to score 220 all out off 48.5 overs. Fabian Allen, with 44 off 42 balls and Royal (38 not out off 40 balls) featured in that last wicket partnership of 85.
The Leeward Islands lost their way after being 136 for three in the 36th over and following a couple stoppages for rain, were restricted to 187 for eight in pursuit of 194 for victory.
Yet, when analysing their overall showing, the Barbados team and management will no doubt concede that the four-wicket loss to Leeward Islands with three balls to spare after scoring 301 for eight in their second match was also painful.
They had a chance to redeem themselves and earn a place in the semi-finals after crushing Windward Islands Volcanoes by 173 runs but truth is, when it came to crunch time against Jamaica, they failed to drive home strong positions and paid the price.
As one of the favoured teams for the title before the tournament started and to ultimately find themselves contesting the fifth-place match against Leeward Islands and losing by seven wickets at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium today underlined how demoralising it was for Barbados.
Trinidad & Tobago Red Force and Guyana Jaguars have played enterprisingly and should provide an exciting Final tomorrow.
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]