Batting not up to par
Whether Barbados or Trinidad and Tobago capture the Headley-Weekes Trophy, symbol of Caribbean cricket supremacy, this year’s Regional Four-Day Championship will be remembered for the below-par batting.
And what was disturbing is that some players were able to maintain their places throughout despite failing consistently.
Rest assured that the West Indies selectors will still choose some of these same failures for the upcoming “A” Team series against Sri Lanka. Others will also find themselves either touring with the senior regional side or in the Test team.
Devon Smith, despite a double failure in the semi-finals when he fell twice to the off-spin of Ashley Nurse, was by some distance the most prolific batsman with exactly 700 runs in seven matches at an average of 70.
He was like the one-eyed man who was king in the land of the blind and Barbados’ decision to open the bowling with spin, again exposed an obvious vulnerability.
Should Smith play in next month’s Champions Trophy in England, spinners will be itching to bowl once he is at the crease. Maybe, the selectors wrote down the wrong Smith when they sent out the release or they have completely forgotten Lendl Simmons’ 2011 One-Day exploits.
That aside, Smith’s opening partner Tyrone Theophile was the next highest run-scorer for the Windwards with 308 (average: 23.69) while Andre Fletcher scored 218 runs in six matches (average: 24.22) without managing a half-century. Keddy Lesporis, a Sagicor West Indies High Performance graduate like Fletcher, gathered 66 runs from seven innings in four matches (average 9.42).
Johnson Charles played in four first-class matches and managed only 78 runs in eight innings (average 11.14) with a highest score of 30. Windwards’ captain Liam Sebastien scored 93 in one of his seven innings but ended with 159 runs (average 26.50) while young allrounder Dalton Polius, who should have taken Lesporis’ place in the semi-finals, scored 194 runs in five matches at an average of 32.33.
Wicket-keeper Lindon James played in all seven matches but mustered a mere 119 runs (average 11.90). His highest score was 32.
Before the start of tomorrow’s final, opener Kraigg Brathwaite, with 455 runs (average 50.55) was only Bajan batsman with over 400 runs and a batting average above 35.
Jonathan Carter’s face-saving 116 in the semi-finals compensated for a modest season as he moved his tally of runs to 320 (average 32.00). His captain Kirk Edwards, despite two centuries, has fared slightly better with 331 runs (average 33.10).
Opener Rashidi Boucher has played in all seven matches for returns of 222 runs (average 22.20) while wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich, with three not outs among his ten innings, scored 217 runs (average 31) while Kevin Stoute has 171 runs (average: 28.50) in six innings. His third first-class century of 114 was one of the 12 hundreds recorded.
Simmons was a modest performer for Trinidad and Tobago with 328 runs in six matches (average 29.81) while Adrian Barath was dropped for the semis after scoring 296 runs (average 26.90) in six matches. Jason Mohammed, despite scoring 138 in one of his nine innings, has scored only 220 runs (average 24.44). Captain Denesh Ramdin is also enduring a lean year with 178 runs (average: 19.77).
It was a similar situation for the Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC) batsmen. Wicket-keeper Chadwick Walton stood out, averaging 37.18 while amassing 409 runs. He scored CCC’s only century.
Of the others who played in all six matches and had 12 innings, Raymon Reifer made 305 runs (average: 25.41); Anthony Alleyne, in his maiden first-class season scored 286 runs (average 23.83) while captain Kyle Corbin managed 263 runs (average: 21.91) and coach/player Floyd Reifer – 211 runs (average: 17.58) and Nekoli Parris scraped 67 runs at an average of 8.37 in his eight innings.
Leon Johnson was Guyana’s top batsman with 430 runs (average 35.83) but Assad Fudadin, who played Test cricket for the West Indies last year, could only get 289 runs (average: 26.27) in all six of Guyana matches. Off-spinning all-rounder Steven Jacobs gathered 245 runs (average of 24.50) in five matches from 10 innings while opener Rajendra Chandrika, an “A” team player last year, scored 166 runs from 10 innings (average: 16.60).
Wicketkeeper Derwin Christian was finally dropped after managing 124 runs (average 15.50) in four matches. Test batsman Narsingh Deonarine only played in three matches and tallied 55 runs (average: 9.16) in six innings.
It was even worse for the winless Leeward Islands with their returning captain Sylvester Joseph topping their batting with 331 runs from 12 innings (average: 27.58).
Reserve wicket-keeper Jahmar Hamilton hit their only century while amassing 297 runs in five matches (average: 29.70) while first-choice wicket-keeper Devon Thomas’ batting returns were 222 runs from 10 innings (average: 22.20). His highest score was 40. Test opener Kieran Powell played three matches and scored 184 runs (average: 30.66) for the Leewards, who had the unenviable record of using 23 players.
Jamaican wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh’s two unbeaten semi-final innings of 88 and 38, pushed his aggregate to 395 (average: 35.90) but no other batsman passed 300 runs for the dethroned champions. Successful skipper Tamar Lambert managed a mere 223 runs (average: 18.58) while experienced allrounder David Bernard had five “ducks” in his 14 innings while scoring 198 runs (average: 14.14).
Danza Hyatt, a recent West Indies One-Day batsman, scraped 167 runs (average: 16.70) in ten innings while opener Brenton Parchment got 183 runs (average: 22.87) in his four matches.
Nkrumah Bonner, who some pundits reckon has a bright future, could only score 128 runs in 12 innings (average: 10.66). His highest score in six matches was 39.
Simon Jackson mustered 110 runs (average: 15.71) in four matches but Jermaine Blackwood batted encouragingly for 285 runs (average: 28.50) in his five matches. No wonder matches were finishing in two and three days with some teams unable to total a hundred runs.