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Well done, Edwards!

Ezra Stuart

Well done, Edwards!

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Congratulations to captain Kirk Edwards for leading Barbados to a welcome victory over Trinidad and Tobago for the first time since 2007 in first-class cricket.
After the many disappointments of losing to the Trinidadians in any format of the game during the past four years, this victory should go a long way in restoring confidence in our senior national cricketers.
Coming a few weeks after the loss in the Caribbean Twenty20 and the humiliating first match defeat by Jamaica, it was indeed a fantastic feat, especially after conceding first innings lead.
Even if there are some who would point out that the Trinidadians, who were already without Dwayne Bravo, Ravi Rampaul and Kieron Pollard, had to do without injured duo Lendl Simmons and Adrian Barath in their second innings, the Bajan cricketers can hold their heads high.
In the end, Barbados got the result that they wanted, and the aggressive move to include Chris Jordan as a fourth pacer paid off even though Barbados already had sufficient bowling firepower, with three genuinely fast bowlers in Fidel Edwards, Tino Best and Kemar Roach, plus Sulieman Benn and Ryan Hinds.
What it may have done, even if the already fragile batting, was shortened, was to put fear in the minds of the Trinidadians.
But looking at the bigger picture, the inability of batsmen on both teams to cope with fast bowling must be a worry to the West Indies, with the Australians coming to the Caribbean within the next month.
This match was plagued by injuries and it was really disheartening to see West Indian batsmen, who are normally susceptible to spin bowling, looking so uncomfortable and very suspect to fast bowling. Some were even cowardly, retreating to square leg rather than face the music.
And with batsmen on both teams who are likely to feature in the West Indies’ line-up when the first Test against the Aussies bowls off at the same Kensington Oval during the Easter weekend, fans may ask for a resurrection of the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson and Viv Richards to manhandle the visitors’ pace attack.  
Australia will be coming from “Down Under” with the likes Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Johnson, and West Indies’ coach Otis Gibson should give the regional batsmen a real test in the fast lane when he supervises the one-week camp next week.
Simmons was one exception with his assault on Best in the first innings, but he still fell to a hook shot off a bouncer from Edwards, after making one of his typical 50s. While he definitely has the shots, Simmons needs to bat with a lot more restraint and should take a leaf from Kraigg Brathwaite’s book about occupation of the crease when it comes to the longer format of the game.
However, Brathwaite, who was dropped as he fended off a bouncer from Shannon Gabriel in the first innings and batted solidly in the second innings, must work on his noticeable weak areas and look to improve his technique against short-pitched swing bowling.
Captain Kirk Edwards showed his class with two decent innings and it was a pity he did not go on to convert one into a fifth first-class century while Jonathan Carter must set his stall higher and aim for centuries.
The ground staff at Kensington Oval should also be commended for producing a hard pitch with some bounce even though it still wasn’t as fast as in the days when Livingstone “Boo” Medford was the head curator.
Sadly, the diminutive Barath and Darren Bravo, even though he managed a first innings 50, didn’t quite look the part with the former forced to retire hurt after being struck on the fingers.
Ramdin was also struck on the hand and had to get stitches while the aggressive Gabriel shook up Ryan Hinds.
There has been a lot of talk about Edwards’ captaincy but while it is clear that he is still learning the art of leadership as he has only been in the job for a couple of months, there are indeed encouraging signs.
My analysis is that Edwards tends to bowl some of the bowlers for a few overs longer that they should be. I felt Jordan and Benn went on bowling for too long and that Best could have had an earlier go at Denesh Ramdin in the first innings.
In fact, the general off-stump line of attack to Ramdin, considering he likes to cut, should’ve been altered with a lot more body-line bowling, especially after he was struck on the hand and had to get a few stitches.
But I cannot fault Edwards for his overall handling of the team. We must commend him for getting a victory in only his third first-class match at the helm of a Barbados side.