KIRK EDWARDS has wasted no time in restating his claims to the West Indies cricket selectors.
Eased out of the regional team before he had a chance to step onto the field because of unfortunate circumstances, the 26-year-old Barbados batsman used the opening day of 2011 WICB four-daycompetition to show his class with a polished unbeaten 75 against Trinidad and Tobago at Guaracara Park yesterday.
On a day that started with high frustration because of rain and seepage that delayed the start until 2:25 p.m., Edwards batted with aplomb to lead Barbados’ quest to turn their tables on opponents who have beaten them at almost every turn during the past seven years.
When bad light halted play 17 minutes shy of the rescheduled 6 p.m. close, Barbados were 133 for two from 50 overs, and Edwards will resume this morning with the obvious intention of proceedingto his second first-class hundred.
WICB chairman of selectors Clyde Butts was among a crowd of about 1 000 spectators who watched a wonderful exhibition of how an innings should be crafted.
Butts and the rest of his panel picked Edwards for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka last December, but after rain forced a postponement of the matches, they omitted him as the only change to the squad to make way for the returning and fit again Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Edwards has used the disappointment to again show his mettle. He arrived in the middle at No. 3 about 25 minutes into the play when Dale Richards fell to a loose drive that was edged and caught on the second attempt at first slip by Amit Jaggernauth.
In tandem with teenaged opener Kraigg Brathwaite, Edwards repaired the early damage in a second-wicket stand of 64 and then dominated an unfinished third-wicket partnershipof 52 with captain Ryan Hinds.
Brathwaite played soundly in accumulating 33 in two hours before his defence was breached by a beauty from Aneil Kanhai, a batsman who trundles off breaks but was effectivein breaking the partnership in his first over after the three front-line spinners failed to make an impact.
The teams arrived at the ground in the morning to find one of the adjoining pitches and the bowler’s run-up at the south affected by seepage.
There were a series of inspections followed by brief showers that combined to add frustration.
The showers created a wet spot four feet in front of the crease and at a dangerous line just outside of the off stump to a left-handed batsman.
In such circumstances and with mainly overcast conditions, it might have been a surprise that Barbados chose to bat first, but the pitch held no terrors and was typically good for batting.
Barbados predictably left out former captain Jason Haynes and Roston Chase in a line-up in which the batting stretches all the way down to No. 9 to combat opponents who have beaten them in three of their last four contests at this venue in the south of the island.
Amidst pre-match concerns over the quality of the facilities at Guaracara Park, Barbados might have felt they were justified after the covers proved faulty.
When the action finally got going to the relief of everyone, Barbados looked comfortable in the opening stages, and ten runs came from the first over in which Richards pushed the firstball behind point for three and flicked the sixth sweetly through midwicket for a four.
The first over was sent down by the promising High Performance Centre student Shannon Gabriel, but he was immediately switched to the opposite end where he lured Barbados’most consistent opener over the past five years into a stroke in which the feet hardly moved.
Gabriel tested both Edwards and Brathwaite but the batsmen dug in and eventually got the measure of the attack.
While Brathwaite only hit one boundary, Edwards found the ropes 12 times – mainly with nice flowing strokes – and raised his only six when he lifted left-arm spinner Dave Mohammed over his head in an over in which he was inches away from another half-dozen.
Edwards was at home against both pace and spin and both he and Brathwaite displayed the type of patience skipper Hinds had requested before the match.
By stumps, Edwards had been batting for two and a half fours and faced 133 balls. When Gabriel came back for a spell late in the evening, he greeted him with a square-driven four, and the umpiresalmost immediately offered the batsmen the option to go off.