Brereton keeps title
Defending champions Brereton were made to fight tooth and nail before overcoming resilient Benfica to win by three wickets with a day to spare, and retain the Barbados Cricket Association Second Division title.
Having secured a 30-run first innings lead on the opening day, Brereton dismissed their opponents in 40.4 overs for 107, and set 78 to win, surrendered seven second innings wickets before scraping past the target to capture the coveted championship for the third time overall.
Both captain Adrian Jones and manager Amblith Beckles were full of praise for the allround team effort, and supremely confident that the side would come out on top.
“We always planned to win this match in two days. In fact, we (have) organised a picnic for tomorrow (today) to celebrate. We were so sure of winning this cup”, the beaming, longtime club member and first-time manager exclaimed as the celebrations among players and supporters commenced.
Benfica were left to rue the absence of their leading runscorer, allrounder Theo Chandler, who was absent yesterday due to work commitments. The “Blenheim” club folded meekly after a promising opening stand, losing the last six wickets for 20 runs to Brereton’s varied spin-bowling lineup.
Openers Ian Drakes and Sydney Munroe put on 41 in aggressive fashion, but once leg-spinner Ryan Layne trapped the latter lbw, the floodgates opened and the innings declined.
Drakes, after a number of hefty blows mainly straight down the ground, holed out to deep square-leg off Layne for the topscore of 39 off 41 balls with five threes and four fours – boundaries are threes and fours.
Layne’s double-strike opened a path for left-arm spinner Terry Connell (3-37), and off-spinners Dave Clarke (2-10) and Jason Arthur (1-9) to run through the middle and lower order, despite a gutsy 37 from first innings topscorer Antonio Forde.
Left with a minimum of 20 overs yesterday and all of today, Brereton, with clear intentions of polishing off the meagre target within the second day, lost a wicket in the first over before opening their account.
Even with four wickets down for 42 there appeared to be little doubt as to where the title was headed until veteran spinners Anthony Stuart and Tyrone Blackman prised out three wickets with the total still in the 60s.
However, Benfica’s slim hopes were dashed when Ian Drakes, fielding at long-off grassed a straightforward catch offered by Kamal Turney with the total 69 for seven.
Turney and Connell, who had the privilege of stroking the winning boundary, duly took the St Philip-based champions to victory. (WH)