Inside the Banks First Division
with Elvis Howard
Date Published: 2008-04-28
Summary: Assessing the teams
Banks First Division
2008 Div.1 previews – St. Catherine, Cable & Wireless, YMPC, UWI
The 2008 Barbados Cricket Association season starts Saturday, May 3.
As usual, the main focus will be on the Division 1 championship, which again features 16 teams for the third consecutive year.
Matches will revert to the very old format of three consecutive Saturdays to accommodate two one-day tournaments on Sundays - the long-standing Sagicor General Super Cup 50-over-a-side and the new Twenty20, also sponsored by Sagicor.
In this preview, the teams featured are BNB St. Catherine, Cable & Wireless, Caribbean Lumber Young Men\\\'s Progressive Club (YMPC) and Sagicor General University of the West Indies (UWI).
ST. CATHERINE COUNTING ON REGULARS FOR SUCCESS
Team: BNB St. Catherine.
Home ground: Bayfield.
2007 Position 2007: 4th.
Position after preliminaries: 2nd in Zone B - 79 points.
Highest Total: 383 all out (Ist Innings) v UWI at Bayfield - Quarter-finals.
Lowest Total: 81-8 (Ist Innings closed) v Empire at Bayfield - Play-offs, Series 3.
Captain for 2008: Derick Bishop.
The boys from Bayfield have maintained the nucleus of players over the last season just like the other major teams.
However, it stops there in comparison to attracting players. One of the perennial problems is that St. Catherine have failed to attract a cadre of young players.
Kenroy Williams and Derick Bishop have been their biggest signings since they left the Combined Schools together – both as students of Deighton Griffith. The spinning all-rounders, along with new West Indies wicket-keeper/batsman Patrick Browne, have carried St. Catherine’s torch in both forms of the game and the trio have not disappointed at all.
Last year, newcomer Joel Michael Leacock was a revelation in both the three-day and the Sagicor Super Cup and was rewarded with a call to national trials. The former Coleridge & Parry student complied 340 runs including a maiden Division 1 century and picked up 23 useful wickets with his medium-pace.
There are rumours that he is looking for a switch and this would indeed be a big blow for St. Catherine who could ill-afford to lose his services.
His bowling in a spin-based attack gives it the variety that it so desires. The search is on for someone to back him up. The days of the “Pitbulls” - the four-pronged pace attack of Dayne Maynard, Brian Shepherd, Junior Parris and Victor Skeete - are long and gone.
Shepherd is still around but has lost a lot of his sting while former Barbados fast bowler Maynard has become a fairly good opening batsman.
Skeete and Parris have long given up on the game at this level.
Barbados’ under-19 off-spinner Steffan Gooding will be joining forces with Bishop and Williams and this augurs well for the team’s ability to bowl teams out twice.
Bishop took 50 wickets and was one of the five bowlers in the competition to achieve that feat last season, while Williams had 34.
Bishop, with 400 runs, Williams (471) and Patrick Browne (544) were the backbone of the batting.
Now that Browne is likely to be involved with the West Indies’ home series against Australia between late May and early July, more pressure will be put on Bishop and Williams – the two Barbados Stanford Twenty/20 all-rounders - to deliver.
The likes of veterans Shepherd, batsmen Shawn Sargeant and Dale Mason are still around to lend some worthwhile support.
Ulric Batson was somewhat of a let down last season with 17 wickets and 146 runs in nine matches. Nevertheless, he still is a very competitive individual.
Teenager Ishmael Rudder failed to capitalize on the many opportunities he was given but he should now let that experience come to bear this time around.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Derick Bishop (captain).
\\\"I rate our chances pretty high. Basically we have the same unit with a of couple new faces.
\\\"The reason behind our consistency in the last couple of years has been the mixture of youth and experience and the way our guys have gelled.
\\\"I think we do have all the ammunition to get into the final of the tournament.
\\\"The players expected to join us are batsman Roger Williams and off-spinner Steffan Gooding - both former Barbados under-19 players.
\\\"The problem with the fast bowling last year was the fitness levels. So far it has been up to par but they have not reached the full heights. I guess before the season starts we will attain our (fitness) goals and the fast bowlers should do a lot better.
\\\"Our team major strength is our all-round ability and basically our thinking. We have some very brilliant thinkers that have served us well.
\\\"I think the change back to the three Saturdays will be my main concern for this season. Before, when you played on consecutive days - Saturday and Sunday - you could have planned for the next day knowing the pitch condition.
\\\"Now with a fresh pitch on each day it is going to be a problem.\\\"
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 22.
LATEST TITLE: 1997.
CABLE & WIRELESS CONNECT WITH NEW SPIN TRIO
Team: Cable & Wireless.
Home ground: Wildey.
2007 Position: 11th.
Position after preliminaries: 8th in Zone B - 33 points.
Highest Total: 332 all out (Ist Innings) v Spartan at Wildey – Series 1.
Lowest Total: 38 all out (Ist Innings) v Wanderers at Wildey – Series 2.
Captain for 2008: To be named.
No other club in recent years has seen more players come and go than Cable Wireless. Yet, they have been fortunate to have some of the island’s leading players grace the field at Wildey. The names readily coming to mind are Floyd Reifer, Ian Bradshaw, Corey Collymore, Ryan Hurley and Courtney Browne, who all went on to play for the West Indies.
Others who have represented Barbados were Dave Marshall and Horace Waldron.
After dominating the Intermediate division for many years, Cable & Wireless were promoted to the Division 1 championship in 1989 -they were then known as Barbados External Telecommunications (BET) - and finished tenth of 14 teams.
For the next 12 seasons, they were a model of high consistency, underlined by their title sharing with Spartan in 1994, plus a couple second places and four other positions in the top five.
In recent years, however, Cable & Wireless have fallen on lean times. There has been a mass exodus of players for one reason or the other and very seldom do they play with the same combination in consecutive matches.
The good news this season is that they have gained the likes of Ashley Nurse (from Barbados Youth), Nikolai Charles (from Carlton) and Amory Holder (from Empire). Of note is that the trio are all spinners and it is spinners who wreak havoc among local batsmen.
Nurse and Holder are off-spinners and both are good enough with the bat to have each recorded a Division 1 hundred while Charles is a leg- spinner, who can also hold his own with the bat.
The batting carries a familiar look with their top player from last year Randy Thomas, who amassed 520 runs, expected to lead from the front once more.
Thomas will have Seth Holder, who made 325 runs last season and the temperamental Junior Holder (319) to make the batting spots competitive.
Veterans Ron Bates and Brian Johnson got over 300 runs but the younger brigade should help the batting cause and make a name for themselves.
The bowling lacked the cutting edge and off-spinner Daley Hurley with 24 wickets - the most last season for the club - was unable to repeat his good performance of 2006.
Former Barbados under-19 fast bowler Corey Edwards who marks himself hard would not have been happy with his 23 wickets.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Emmerson Bascombe (coach)
\\\"We have some new faces and that is a plus for the club. We have Dwayne Small, Ashley Nurse and Nikolai Charles. We did not do well last year but already the new faces are showing an interest in cricket.
\\\"The problem that we have had at the club over the past three years or so is not unique to Cable & Wireless. It is just a matter of discipline and attitude. As long as we get the attitudes right and the fellows are disciplined, we are sure to do a lot better this year.
\\\"I have said over the years the youngsters nowadays have to understand cricket is a package. It is a mind game, it is a psychological game and gone are the days when you can turn up and decide to just bat or bowl.
There are combinations of disciplines involved in the game. You have to be willing to field well, bat well, bowl well and to be a team member. Cricket is team game. We have had fellows who had this individual approach to the cricket.
\\\"My job this year is also to change that mindset and as long as I get the fellows working as a unit I am sure we will do very well this season.
\\\"I don’t have a problem with the new format. I think that it is the best way to go. I think when you are playing Saturday, Saturday and Saturday, you have enough time to really plan and get the game plan correct.
\\\"I was told by Courtney Browne that he will be turning out this season, so I am trying to gel a few of the more mature players with the youngsters we have here.
\\\"With Courtney back in the team and Brian Johnson along with Anthony Morris still around, if I can get the fellows to copy all the positive things about the senior players we will do very well this season.\\\"
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 20.
LAST TITLE: 1994 (Shared with Spartan).
YMPC WITHOUT SMITH, EDWARDS FOR MOST OF SEASON
Team: Caribbean Lumber YMPC.
Home ground: Beckles Road.
2007 Position: 8th.
Position after preliminaries: 1st in Zone B - 88 points.
Highest Total: 303-4 declared (Ist Innings) v Wanderers at Dayrells Road - Series 5.
Lowest Total: 98-8 (2nd Innings closed) v Banks at Beckles Road - Quarter-finals.
Captain for 2008: Dwayne Smith (Appointed). NB: Calvin Watson will act in Smith’s absence due to a professional contract in Britain.
The first team to have won the two zone format in 2006, their 88 points were the most overall in 2007 - one better than Maple.
However, YMPC lost a very competitive and controversial quarter-final match to rivals Banks and it meant they were unable to defend their title.
In the quarter-finals, they gambled with including Fidel Edwards and Dwayne Smith even though it was known the pair would be leaving the Island to represent the West Indies.
YMPC went through tough times from the 1998 season after several top players left the club and joined Banks but they have gradually bounced against the adversity and are now a very cohesive unit. The Club’s initials (YMPC) stand for Young Men’s Progressive Club and it has been able to attract some of the best youngsters within the past five years and re-establish its credentials.
Dwayne Smith’s days at the International level seem to be on hold for the time being but the bad news is that the all-rounder wouldn’t be available until the tail-end of the season.
Smith gives his team-mates that much needed lift with his mere presence and will be sorely missed. He scored 373 runs and had 30 wickets with his much improved fast-medium bowling last season.
Early in the season and no doubt later as well, the Beckles Road-based side will also have to do without the services of West Indies fast bowler Edwards, who will be caught up with International duties.
Others expected to figure prominently are stand-in skipper Calvin Watson who made 446 runs at an average of 34.30 last season compared with 2006 when he was voted Most Improved Cricketer overall after an aggregate of 524 (ave: 43.67).
Gifted Barbados under-19 player and senior team trial invitee Shamar Cooke will be turning out in full after he played the final match last season. The off-spinning all-rounder is a welcome addition and gives the attack some invaluable strength.
Former national Under-19 opener Jed Yearwood had a fair first season at the club with 327 runs. On the other hand, Steven Blackett took some time to wet his feet and would certainly want to improve significantly on his meagre 198 runs.
YMPC will be depending on him and Yearwood for that necessary solid start.
Fast bowler Dwayne Jordan could be very much in the minds of the senior selectors. He needs to do two very important things - stay fit and work extra hard on his fielding. His 23 wickets were a glimpse of his immense ability. An outstanding season can bring him closer to a first-class debut.
Others keen to give a good account of themselves are spinners Adrian Maynard, Richmael Jordan and wicket-keeper Matthew King whose place could be under threat.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Dwayne Smith (captain)
\\\"Ryan Wiggins has taken over the coaching job and the guys have been putting in some good work especially running between the wickets and they are all upbeat.
\\\"In my absence due to a contract with West Halton Cricket Club in the Bolton League, Calvin Watson will take over the captaincy.
\\\"Unfortunately against Banks in the quarter-finals (last season) we did not get the few more runs that were required to take us into the semi- finals and then look to push for a place the final.
\\\"We have got that behind us and we know the mistakes we made last year. It is just to correct them and I hope they would get themselves in a good position so that when I return we can finish off the season by winning the cup.
\\\"The challenge for the guys is to get themselves together and actually play as one and I don’t see anyone beating us this year.
Our weakness is not playing together. Sometimes we drift off and get flustered about some decisions that are made against us. Our strength is in our all-round play. We have a lot of guys who can bat bowl and field well.
\\\"It is just for Calvin to get the guys really playing together and YMPC will be a force to reckon with.
\\\"On his deputy, Smith said: “He started batting very well at the beginning of last season but fell away a little bit towards the end. Hopefully for him and the team’s sake he can get the same start but carry on this time and make some hundreds.”
\\\"We will be depending on the likes of Watson, Wiggins and the veteran William Lashley.
Dwayne Jordan bowled well in the Barbados trials and he is looking a lot fitter now and hopefully he would put in some better performances.
\\\"On the other hand wicket-keeper/batsman Matthew King has been around for a while but needs to step up and get some runs.
\\\"I am looking for us to be in the top three if we don’t win the cup.\\\"
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 18.
LAST TITLE: 2006.
UWI AIMING FOR MORE CONSISTENT BATTING
Team: Sagicor General University of the West Indies.
Home ground: 3Ws Oval.
2007 position: 5th.
Position after preliminaries: 3rd in Zone A - 66 points.
Highest Total: 346-6 declared (Ist Innings) v Barbados Youth at 3Ws Oval - Series 6.
Lowest Total: 127 all out (Ist Innings) v Banks at 3 Ws Oval – Series 4.
Captain for 2008: To be named.
They have been in the competition for two years but have already made a great impression. After placing fourth in their first year, they slipped one down in 2008.
Truth be told, UWI looked the most professional unit in the Division 1 championship. The first-class facilities at the 3Ws Oval lend to this sort of environment and the added incentives for the players make it more important.
In the short space of time they have justified their inclusion even though they have received some criticism in some quarters.
Unlike other clubs they did not have to build from scratch. UWI were able to bring the majority of their students who were spread across the landscape of Division 1 clubs under one umbrella. That they attracted some of the best brains and most talented young players was by no accident but forward thinking.
When they wanted an old head to steer the ship, they went for Floyd Reifer as player/coach. A player with Test experience for the West Indies and years of dominance at the local level, the aggressive left-hander showed his students how it is done by making 605 runs last year - the most for UWI.
Word is that he wants another bite at Test cricket before he throws in the towel and he knows he has to keep scoring heavy - something that is all too familiar to him.
UWI entrusted the captaincy to Shirley Clarke who has lead teams all through his life but he struggled with 282 runs - far below his high standards.
Apart from Reifer, Omar Phillips (565) and Romel Currency (546) were the other batsmen to get over 500 runs. Vincentian Currency headed the batting averages at 60.67.
The records will show that Reifer, Currency and Phillips each had two centuries. That speaks volumes about their ability. All three went on to play for Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC) at the first-class level in Carib Beer Series.
The bowling was steady without being spectacular. Off-spinner Don O’neal was chief wicket-taker with 25 dismissals and fast bowler Brian Gooding had 19 scalps in four games.
Gooding then went off with the Barbados team in the regional under-19 tournament. Unfortunately, he was saddled with injury and on his early return from the tournament the tall right-armer took no further part in the Division 1. He is still on the mend and might not be ready until mid-season.
Another injury-prone player is pacer Khismar Catlin who delivers at a very lively pace but spends more time off than on the field.
UWI also had the advantage of foreign students in Chadwick Walton, Simon Jackson (Jamaica), Liam Sebastien (Dominica), Miles Bascombe (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), Gilford Moore (Guyana) and Craigg Emmanuel (St. Lucia).
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Roland Butcher (Director of Sports).
\\\"You always look forward to the new season with optimism and obviously you should be looking to improve from last season’s performances. It is not always that you can make those improvements but your whole focus should be on improving the team and improving the team’s performance overall.
\\\"Really this year we will be focusing on what we need to do and not necessarily what others are going to do. Last year we got off to a pretty slow start, which was the problem for us. We did not get enough bonus batting points.
\\\"This year we will be looking to rectify that and to consolidate our position in the three-day competition and obviously try to be one of the top teams in the competition.
\\\"On the new format, I can understand why the BCA is doing that. I think some people found it difficult playing cricket in the same competition every Saturday and Sunday.
\\\"I don’t have a problem playing over the three Saturdays. You have to adjust. We will make the adjustment and continue from where we left off last year.
\\\"It was our bowling that got us to where we were in the league. It was our batting that caused the problem. We struggled to get the bonus batting points but we did not have any problems getting teams out. I don’t think we had a problem in the bowling department.
\\\"What I will ask for this year is more consistency in the batting. I think once we get that right this year then we will be a very formidable side.\\\"
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 22.
LAST TITLE: None.