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Change finals!

Change finals! MAN OF THE MATCH in the final, Shakkae Marshall of Combermere, square-driving during his second innings half-century. ((Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.))

By RANDY BENNETT | Wed, August 14, 2013 - 12:02 AM

IT IS WELL KNOWN saying that that the only thing constant in the world is change.

It is for that reason that I propose some changes  to the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA)  LIME Under-15 finals.

Firstly, let me congratulate Nicholls Baking Combermere who captured their seventh Under-15 title having gained first innings honours over Alexandra in last week’s finals at the LIME  cricket ground.

Under the guidance of coach Roddy Estwick, Combermere were undoubtedly the better side  for the majority of the three days and might  consider themselves unlucky not to have recorded  an outright victory.

However, despite their achievement, it marked the third consecutive year that the LIME Under-15 title had been decided by first innings points.

Although it is true that the 2011 and 2012 finals were both affected by inclement weather, that was  not the case in this year’s finals.

Barring rain, I personally believe that three  days is more than enough time at the Under-15 level, for a team to achieve an outright decision.

It is made even easier when one considers the fact that first innings is limited to 35 overs, which  results in both teams completing their first innings  by the end of the opening day.

But in watching last week’s encounter, it was evident that the objective was to gain first innings.

When Alexandra’s last man Rikeem Headley  was run out of the last ball of their innings to give Combermere a slim first innings lead of three runs,  the jubilation among Combermere’s players and supporters was evident.

Alexandra’s coach Renaldo Parris wasn’t worried  at that point though, pointing out that it was “just  a three-run lead”, and it only served as a “confidence booster for Combermere”.

How wrong did he turn out to be.

For the next two days, Combermere proceeded  to bat at snail’s pace, content to just occupy the crease, while showing no urge to score runs.

Why would they? After all, they had gained first innings which was all that was needed to secure  the title according to the rules.

It resulted in two extremely boring days of cricket, in which Combermere laboured 90 overs on the second day to score 173 runs at a painful 1.92 runs an over.

The third day was much the same, as they added  a further 93 runs from the 50 overs they faced.

It gave the impression that Combermere were batting for a draw, although they had gained  a first innings lead.

It is my belief that the extremely slow rate  and dull approach from the Combermere batsmen  in the second innings, did nothing to make the contest an interesting one.

I am of the view that if the finals ends in a draw, that the title should be shared, and not given  to the team which gains first innings points.

Had this been the case, Combermere would have surely batted more positively in an attempt to put some runs on the board so as to declare much earlier than they eventually did and give themselves  a realistic chance to bowl Alexandra out, instead  of opting to play for a draw.

No one likes to share a title, and therefore a competitive final would always be on the cards, with each team pulling out all the stops in their efforts to come out on top.

And since we are on the topic, I was very disappointed at the state of the outfield for the final.

The outfield was uneven and patchy, and fielders had to be extremely careful as balls regularly ‘took off,’ forcing them to move their heads away to avert possible injuries.

In addition, the pitch was prepared on all three  days of the competition, the first time that I have ever known of such an occurrence in a final over three consecutive days.

While LIME has been a proud sponsor for over  two decades, I would like to suggest that the time has come for the finals to be moved to Kensington Oval. Playing at this historic ground would certainly  give the teams even more incentive to reach the final and I am certain the boys would enjoy not only  batting and bowling at the venue but also fielding  on a lush-green outfield.

Old scholars, present students of the competing teams, parents of the boys and other spectators would also be able to be accommodated in one of the stands. Every effort should be made to attract spectators  as this year’s low-key final was watched by the smallest crowd in years.

With the Barbados leg of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) having just concluded,  I think that BCA missed a golden opportunity  to benefit from the success of that competition  by hosting the finals at “The Mecca”.

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