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Drop zone getting hotter

Ezra Stuart

Drop zone getting hotter

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The final two rounds of the 2011 LIME Division One cricket championship will be decisive for a number of teams facing relegation.
While it has become a two-team race for the title between last year’s joint champions, Sagicor Life UWI (116 points) and CGI Maple (114), as Super Centre Spartan, who shared the title last year are third on 83 points, some teams are staring demotion in the face.
For the third straight year, three teams will be downgraded to the obscurity of the Upper Intermediate Division.
With the Guardian General Barbados Youth, who are last on 40 points, exempt from relegation, LIME (48), YMPC (52) and Banks (59) seem like the likely teams to get the drop. That is, unless they can win one or both of their last two games and hope that a couple of  teams above them in the standings are beaten.
Neither ESAF Pickwick nor TeleBarbados Carlton (61) are entirely out of the danger zone.
Both UWI and Maple, whose last two games are away from home, registered their second straight victories over the declining Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) and Banks respectively, despite the ninth series being reduced to just two days because of torrential rain on the first day.
Pickwick also eased their relegation worries by rolling over LIME, as a six-wicket Tino Best first innings haul saw them being bundled out for the season’s lowest total of 65 in the first innings.
LIME have a fairly easy last two matches versus BDFSP and Barbados Youth, both at home, while YMPC are to play Carlton and Banks, whose other game is against BNB St Catherine.
Pickwick have two tough games against UWI and St Catherine.
Because of the Regional Super50 Tournament – which will be held in Guyana from October 18 to 29 – some teams are going to be without key players for the final series on October 15, 22 and 23.
UWI will be without several of their frontline players, who will be representing the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), for the final round when they play Empire at Bank Hall.
The likes of Romel Currency, coach/player Floyd Reifer, his cousin Raymon Reifer, and off-spinner Ryan Austin are likely to ply for CCC.
Empire will have to do without Ryan Hinds, Kevin Stoute and Javon Searles. Jonathan Carter is in the Barbados team while Liam Sebastien will turn out for the Windward Islands.
Maple will hardly miss anyone – unless Renaldo Parris is selected for the CCC ­– in their battle with Spartan, who will miss Sulieman Benn and Rashidi Boucher.
The next series is going to be extremely crucial as no team would want to go into the final round still in choppy waters, especially with the uncertainty of the weather this year.
A complete washout or a no-decision with no batting or bowling points could be disastrous.
UWI will travel to Foursquare Oval to play Pickwick and Maple will also be away from home, playing Empire at Bank Hall.
The Barbados Youth team have been hard-hit by the loss of their premier batsman Kraigg Brathwaite for most of the season.
However, I still don’t believe the best young cricketers are representing the Barbados Youth, especially some who either played for the national under-19 team in Guyana or were reserves.
For example, I think it is high time that St Michael’s exciting left-handed all-rounder Jameel Stuart move from the weak Goddards Enterprises Zone to Division One cricket.
It would be good grooming for next season to have him play the last two games against Spartan and Maple.