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‘Nothing’ first-class about Windwards, T&T semi

Colin Croft

‘Nothing’ first-class about Windwards, T&T semi

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I was?a part of a commentary team for the online/television coverage of West Indies Cricket Board’s four-day semi-final for the Headley-Weekes Trophy and despite technical challenges, we managed to complete the assignments well.
That I abandoned plans to fly two magnificent “singing engine” (“mad bull” in Trinidad and Tobago) kites that I had made, to be at cricket over Easter weekend, tells how serious this game was to me, as this is the very next level down from Test cricket. 
The real stress was with the cricket played. I found myself often thinking that this could not be the best that we can produce in regional cricket. It was. Nothing about it, except its name, was first class!
That game was an embarrassment to the levels of cricket expected from first-class cricketers in this region.
Trinidad and Tobago contained four senior West Indies players – Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons, wicketkeeper/captain Denesh Ramdin and Shannon Gabriel, as well as past player Rayad Emrit. All looked underwhelmed with this experience.
Windward Islands contained recent West Indies reserve wicketkeeper/batsman Johnson Charles, former Test opener Devon Smith and one-time former Windies fast bowler Nelon Pascal.
Neither team managed to get even 250 in any of four innings on a perfectly well prepared, placid pitch at Queen’s Park Oval. Trinidad and Tobago made 140-8 declared and 105; Windwards, 248 and 231. 
The game ended on the third day with Trinidad losing by a mammoth 234 runs. 
So there must be kudos for Windward Islands getting to the final this weekend, against Jamaica, who beat Barbados in their semi-final. 
Kudos, too, to left-arm medium-dobbler Kenroy Peters, who accounted for career-best seven Trinidad second innings wickets for only 36 runs as Trinidad disintegrated to 105 all out. 
Only two batsmen, from victorious Windward Islands – Smith and Rommel Currency – made half-centuries. Otherwise, the batting was absolutely shambolic.
Trinidad’s best batting effort in the game came from opener Evan Lewis, who made 47 not out in their first innings.
Parts of the game were even farcical, with Trinidad’s captain, Ramdin, deciding to declare his team’s first innings complete at 140-8, 105 runs behind Windwards’ 248, to try to stop Windwards getting an extra bowling point. Amazingly, this was done midway on the second day. 
I know that it was Easter, but did Ramdin expect an unbelievable miracle to unfold on the third and fourth days? 
It is no wonder that president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB), Asim Basarat, has ordered an inquiry into that debacle last weekend. 
I also know that former West Indies and Trinidad player Suruj Ragoonath, now chief executive officer of the TTCB, must be livid and speechless too, with the way-below-par performance of his representatives.  
Trinidad must have started the game as favourites, but even if they were to lose, they lost looking absolutely loose, disoriented and disenchanted with the entire proceedings, as if the whole game was one large joke. One has to wonder exactly where the players’ heads were during this shortened game.    
All this is taking place, mind you, as the last real preamble cricket regionally to the next international tour to the Caribbean, by New Zealand, which starts on June 8. 
Some of our international cricketers will have to start all over again as we are already in serious trouble.
Dwayne Bravo is injured. No one knows when he will play again, but at least, he is out for one month.
Chris Gayle is still nursing an injured leg so it could be touch and go as to whether he will play in what would be his 100th Test, if he plays in the first Test at Sabina Park. 
Marlon Samuels is again injured too, with no definitive time for his return.
Sunil Narine might be mesmerising in T20s but in Tests he is still questionable, while our fast bowling is in dire straits.
One recent hope, Kemar Roach, miraculously survived a bad automobile accident recently, while Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor are on the older side of 30.
Anyway, I did manage to fly the kites later last week and was thoroughly pleased with them too.
• Colin Croft is a former Guyana and West Indies fast bowler.