He might not have been Man of the Match, but Ashley Nurse was more than the hometown hero after picking up four wickets bowling at the death to guide the unbeaten Barbados Tridents to their second win in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
It was a match-winning performance, with the unheralded off-spinning all-rounder grabbing the key wickets of franchise star Marlon Samuels and Australian Ben Rohrer to send the Antigua Hawksbills crashing to a 12-run defeat Thursday at Kensington Oval.
“I just felt really good to come and help win the game for my team,” said Nurse, who has been overshadowed by his better known international teammates such as Trinidadian Kieron Pollard and Pakistani Shoaib Malik.
“I know it was a bit different from the last game where I basically bowled in the first six overs and in the middle [but], this game, I bowled at the death and it’s good to bring home the bacon for Barbados Tridents.
“[But] sitting in the dugout, I could see it was a bit two-paced and I saw Marlon Samuels extract a lot of turn and bounce out of the wicket, so once I got my turn, I knew I would do the same thing.”
Pollard, Dwayne Smith and Shakib Al Hasan had already pegged the Hawksbills back after the visitors got off to somewhat of a decent start.
But the match still stood in the balance, even though Antigua needed 59 runs off the last five overs, as Samuels and Rohrer appeared set with the score at 88 for three.
However, Nurse got Samuels with his very first ball when the Hawksbills captain was stumped, while Rohrer fell in Nurse’s next over to all but decide the match.
“I knew he [Samuels] was going to come hard at me since they weren’t scoring off of the overs that had come earlier, so I just had to be tight early on,” Nurse explained.
“We pegged them back and forced them to score over ten an over in the last ten. We always knew that the wicket was not a 160-, 180- [run] wicket because it was a bit slow. We wanted to get 150 and we got three short of that, so we stuck to the plan.”
It proved the basis of the second win in as many games for a Tridents team that has managed to rally most of Barbados behind it.
And the performances have been equally as stunning considering the squad did not have a single warm-up match against opposition of any kind.
“I think coach [Desmond Haynes] has done a really good job in the draft because the team is really balanced and everyone knows what they have to do,” said Nurse, about the team’s success.
“Everyone knows their role and, as you can see, when everyone plays their role, the team will be successful. And everyone knows the coach is a legend. Just his presence alone does a lot for the team and he’s doing a good job so far.
“He’s not been demanding like a slave master, he’s letting you be as comfortable as you can be and I think his approach is the best approach for Twenty20 cricket.”
The Tridents play Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel today at 8 p.m.