Inside the Banks First Division
with Elvis Howard
Date Published: 2008-04-30
Summary: Assessing the teams
Banks First Division
2008 Div.1 previews – BCL, BDFSP, Maple, Pickwick
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 BRC Barbados Cricket League (BCL), Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP), CGI Maple and ESA Field Pickwick.
BCL AIMING TO ATTRACT MORE YOUNG PLAYERS
Team: BRC Barbados Cricket League (BCL).
Home ground: Blenheim ‘A’.
2007 Position: 10th.
Position after preliminaries: 9th in Zone A - 41 points.
Highest Total: 282-7 declared (Ist Innings) v UWI at Blenheim ‘A’ – Series 1.
Lowest Total: 61 all out (Ist Innings) v Maple at Trents – Series 6.
Captain for 2008: Dave Clarke.
In the context of what they have produced for many years, 2007 was a good year for the BCL side. They were able to move away from the very lowly positions they have come accustomed to.
BCL had the honour of playing for the top place in part B of the competition against Wanderers but they were led on first innings.
The major problems for the BCL have being their ability to string together two major scores in a match. It is usually a very high first innings total followed by a below par second innings effort.
One of the other major problems facing the League is that some players prefer to stay with their community-based clubs instead of going to Blenheim to make themselves available for selection.
Former Barbados batsman Shawn Armstrong was a pillar of strength in the batting last season with 591 runs.
In 2007, for the first time in a very long time they had an excellent intake of talented youngsters joining the club. They were blessed with the inclusion of former Combermerians Krisnan Hurdle, Andre Ferdinand and Kevin McClean.
Batsmen Hurdle and Ferdinand were somewhat of disappointment with just over 200 runs but clearly the potential is there and they will be hungry to do far better this season.
McClean had a fairly good start to club life with 27 wickets and bowled with pace and hostility despite not getting a five-wicket haul on any occasion. He went on to make his debut at the first-class level for Combined Campuses & Colleges in the 2008 Carib Beer Series where he took a five-wicket haul.
With the UWI sporting a team in Division 1, it will be of great interest to see if he stays with BCL or strengthen ties with UWI.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Sylvan Stoute (coach).
“What I have observed here is that there are a lot of quality players around.
The first thing is to assess what we have and build on what the BCL has developed over the years with the youngsters. There are youngsters with tremendous ability and they just need to become au fait with what is expected at the First division level.
“Last season would have been a shock for some of them and this year from what I am seeing there should be a better group coming through.
“What I have observed from last year is that the guys were winning only parts of the day, a one session in three and fading at the end of the day. Too many catches were dropped also.
“These are things that need to be addressed and I think the guys are aware of some of the weaknesses that existed last year. I must say this is a very cohesive and good group of guys and that is a plus from the outset.
“I would like to see a better performance per player and I would like to see a total team effort in every aspect of the game - batting, bowling and fielding. I want to see it in the nets as well as on game days.
“I have told Glyne St. Hill (president of the BCL) that this could be a semi-professional team where a lot of those guys who are of quality in the district in the BCL’s competitions could come to Blenheim, play for the BCL and be awarded money for themselves and their clubs.
“I think three Saturdays push any game too long. I always consider within three weeks a lot of things could happen. A player can die in an accident or a guy can hurt himself. Three weeks for one game is really to long but at the same time one recognizes the organisation is trying to put a lot of competitions into the cricketing time frame.”
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 22.
LAST TITLE: 1973.
DEVELOPMENT STILL KEY FOR BDFSP DESPITE LOSING A COUPLE TOP MEN
Team: Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP).
Home ground: Paragon.
2007 Position: 15th.
Position after preliminaries: 6th in Zone B - 46 points.
Highest Total: 295 all out (Ist Innings) v Police at Paragon - Play-offs, Series 3.
Lowest Total: 126 all out (2nd Innings) v Spartan at Paragon – Series 5.
Captain for 2008: Andre Gill.
Some have questioned the purpose of the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) since its introduction into Division 1 in 2001. It is seen as a developmental team rather than a team to really challenge for the cup but has enough progress been made in this regard?
They had a very inconsistent 2007 season and would quickly want to forget it. The only shining lights were skipper Dadrian Forde, who made 506 runs without a single century and Shane Ramsay.
Off-spinner Shane Ramsay was one of the leading bowlers in the competition with 49 wickets at 15.14 runs each including five, five- wicket and two ten-wicket hauls. His performance subsequently earned him a call-up in the squad for the Barbados senior team.
With the exodus of this pair from the programme, the search is on for quality replacements.
Coach Henderson Springer will have to find ways and means to attract up and coming players at Paragon. He must first try to take away the stigma of a military atmosphere that has been attached to the programme, which some may say has limited the intake of participants.
The BDFSP should try to attract some of the better players who have left school and are searching for a professional environment to enhance their career.
Stephen Howell, one of the best all-rounders in the island, fell well below his expected standards in 2007 with 268 runs and 19 wickets. This was in total contrast to 2007 season when he fell short of the double of (500 runs & 50 wickets) and many thought was in line for a call to the national One-Day side.
After joining up from Wanderers after the first match in 2007, left-arm spinner Steve Pinder is expected to improve significantly on his 26 wickets.
Mario Boyce, a neat left-hander, gave a shot of his ability with 358 runs. Now he has to step up to the plate and carry the brunt of the batting on his shoulders.
Wicket-keeper/batsman Jamar Yearwood is a chirpy character in front and behind the stumps where he will likely take other the duties from Forde. The former Coleridge & Parry schoolboy will need to give a good account of himself to help lift BDFSP the standards.
Yearwood is the younger brother of Pickwick’s Rondelle Yearwood and Spartan’s Corey Yearwood.
Howell is expected to spearhead the attack with support from two other pacers in Richard Morgan and Damien Carvalho, who had 20 wickets last season.
Fast bowling all-rounder Andre Gill now has the added responsibility of captaincy but continues to improve even if not at the rate one would hope for. However, he is more than capable with either bat or ball and needs to lead from the front.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Henderson Springer (coach).
“Things have been shaping up pretty good. We have had the opportunity to do a fair amount of practice sessions with those guys who are in the Sports Programme and one or two who are recruiting at this point in time.
“Missing will be Dadrian Forde, Shawn Ramsay and (twin brother) Shane Ramsay, who have gone on to other clubs.
“I believe the Sports Programme is to develop people. We always look at it as developing cricketers. To me as a coach, my philosophy is cricket is just a phase of life. I think at the Defence Force Sports Programme, one of the things we have done over the past couple of years, I can speak for the cricket section, is try to develop people, who while playing cricket can make a positive contribution to society.
“I read in the newspaper this morning (Monday, April 29th) we have gone back to the old system (three consecutive Saturdays). I don’t know if we have come full circle or whatever the case may be.
“Whatever we are doing at the First division level should be something very, very close to what it will be at the level above that. I know it will be difficult because our society is a working society as opposed to a playing society but if we are going to compete seriously at the level above this, first-class level or whatever, our major competition has got to be leading into that.
“I think one of the things guys may be scared of is the hard work. I am not talking from a military recruiting perspective or whatever the case may be but from the actual playing and practice and preparation perspective because I believe some time in a guy’s life he has to work hard and I believe it should be when you are a young person.
“My philosophy is to work them hard, work them well, not only in cricket but also in whatever programme I have at the BDFSP. Representing the BDFSP is a balance. They will work hard at cricket or soccer, whatever the case may be, but they will also work hard developing themselves intellectually.
“I am looking for two things from my team. One is to compete and the other is to improve. Over the years the BDFSP, like the Combined Schools, have never won the Division 1 cup. The Sports Programme has been there since early 2000 and the Combined Schools since 1978.
“A lot of people are indeed impressed with the progress individual players have made from both those organisations. I am looking for progress in guys performing better and, as a team competing, showing the other teams that in spite of the fact that you may not have a lot of recognised players, it is not an easy walk over.
“Andre Gill, Stephen Howell and Richard Morgan, who I believe in the early years was one of our best bowlers. Tino Best bowled with him (Morgan) and he would bowl really quick to match up with Tino and got a bit of wickets.
“He has been one of our best bowlers. He is not an out-and-out Sports Programme person but a solider, who has been allowed to play.
“We also have Howell, Lamar Wiggins and Mario Boyce. Boyce played last year for the first time. I think he has found his feet as well.
“Steve Pinder, who has come over from Wanderers is improving.”
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 19.
LAST TITLE: None.
SPRINGER TO CAPTAIN HARD-WORKING MAPLE
Team: CGI Maple.
Home ground: Trents.
2007 Position 2007: 2nd.
Position after preliminaries: 1st In Zone A - 87 points.
Highest Total: 331-9 declared (Ist Innings) v Barbados Youth at Trents - Series 3.
Lowest Total: 106 all out (2nd Innings) v Maple at Kensington Oval.
Captain for 2008: Khalid Springer.
Maple did everything right to put themselves in an excellent position to win the 2007 Division 1 title but then within a matter of couple of hours they squandered the chance to take the cup back to the West Coast.
They took first innings lead from Banks and had one hand on the cup going into the last day of the four-day final at Kensington Oval, where the entire first day was rained out.
Their tactics on the final day, however, left a lot to be desired and they duly paid the penalty for allowing Banks back into the game.
Then it was total chaos. Set 157 for victory, Maple were bundled out for 106.
It meant there was to be no title to add to their only success in 1992.
The leading batsmen were Pedro Agard (451) and Khalid Springer (417).
Now after 20 years of top division cricket, Agard, who was captain in 1992 and 2007, has called it a day. This will be a tremendous loss to the club as skipper, batsman, bowler and wicket-keeper.
All-rounder Springer re-confirmed his ability and also bagged 27 wickets. He has now been appointed captain.
This outstanding performance gained him a place in the Barbados team for the Stanford Twenty20 tournament.
Jamar Griffith hit 338 runs and took 19 wickets with his left-arm spin and played a pivotal role in Maple’s success.
The biggest plus for Maple and the season was the bowling of Kemar Roach.
The former West Indies under-19 fast bowler snared 55 wickets at an average of 11.56. He was a disappointment in the final where he had major problems with no-balls and his rhythm was nowhere it was during the season.
However, he landed a place Barbados team in the first-class regional competition on the basis of his 55 wickets and his obvious potential. Surprisingly Roach was a shadow of himself and lost his confidence and his place in the side.
Recently, he showed signs of his batting ability with a hundred in the Jamaica Super League competition.
The 2008 season presents another chance to further enhance his ability.
Another fast bowler, Barrington Yearwood jnr, had a professional contract and was only available for four matches but was in good form, taking 20 wickets.
Former captain Renaldo Parris (284) and his elder brother Prince (303) runs fell way below their standards. Renaldo, the former Barbados and West Indies under-19 batsman, is yet to transfer that heavy scoring from the youth level to the Division 1 arena.
He is still young enough to be in the minds of the Barbados selectors. Left out of the trials for the 2008 first-class season, one hopes that this serves as a motivator for him and that he can rekindle the faith with an exceptional season of runs in 2008.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Barrington Yearwood snr (manager).
“The training sessions have gone very well. We have had a good turnout of players and we are working very hard again and things are look fairly good.
“Our ambitions are basically the same, play good cricket, work hard on our game and we believe by doing these things positive results can come to us.
“I don’t see it (Saturday play only) as a disadvantage or advantage. It is cricket on three days. Basically every day you will have a fresh pitch and our strength has primarily been in our seam bowling, so it will be more of an advantage to us than a disadvantage.
“We also have a good calibre of spinners as well. Either way it doesn’t make a lot of difference to us. It is better to go back to the three Saturdays and utilize the Sundays for just the knockout.
It is always a challenge to stay at the top. People see what you have done before and they will come gunning for you. I believe with the make-up of our side again this year we should be able to hold our own.
“We normally bowl out teams twice and our batting depth goes right away down. We have Khalid Springer at seven, Barrington Yearwood jnr at eight. We have good batting depth and both of those have scored hundreds in the First division.
“That is one of our strengths. Even if our top half doesn’t get runs we can always call on the bottom half to get runs. We boast of an all-round team. We don’t have a lot of stars but we have players that can hold their own when the chips are down.
“Pedro Agard did call it quits but I don’t if it was the shock of the defeat last year at the end of the season. He has been practicing this year again and he said to me just recently, he will be available for cricket, First division cricket once selected. I think he plans to give it another for a season or so. That would be good news for the club.
“There is a slight concern in that we will probably loose both our left-arm spinners one time but that is how the cookie crumbles. That is one of the major concerns. Dave Roach and Jamar Griffith have requested transfers to our neighbours Bristol. It will be a good thing for Bristol.
“We have Don O’neal returning, Shane Ramsay (BDFSP) returning as well and Kirk Edwards played with us in the Spartan Twenty20 and practiced with us just before leaving for his professional duties in England. I think when he returns he will be with us at Maple as well.”
NB. Maple lost the 2007 Intermediate division final to Wanderers. Like the Division 1 team they also led their opponents on first innings.
PLAYERS USED IN 2007:
LAST TITLE: 1992.
PICKWICK LOOKING TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE
Team: ESA Field Pickwick.
Home ground: Barclays Terrace.
2007 Position: 6th.
Position after preliminaries: 2nd in Zone A - 73 points.
Highest Total: 367 all out (Ist Innings) v Banks at The Brewery – Series 1.
Lowest Total: 122 all out (2nd Innings) v UWI at 3Ws Oval – Series 5.
Captain for 2008: Rondelle Yearwood.
Spare a moment for Pickwick. As one of the oldest clubs in the island, they have not had facilities of their own since they had to give up their former home at Kensington Oval a couple years ago in preparation for the 2007 ICC World Cup. Against all of this, they placed a commendable second in Zone A last year.
In Rondelle Yearwood, Pickwick possess one of the best and most stable leaders in the competition. The former West Indies under-19 wicket/keeper batsman saw them to their first title in 47 years back in 2005.
Their success has come mainly in the form of Ryan Austin, the Barbados off-spinner, who continues to gather wickets in heaps, year after year. His 55 wickets last season came at a miserly average of 13.18 runs per wicket.
One criticism of Pickwick is that they have become too heavily dependent on him. Ryan Layne came over from Cable & Wireless and claimed 31 wickets with his leg-breaks but seemed to have lost some of his guile.
The fast bowling department is in dire need of help. Only Antonio Thomas, with 17 wickets, got over ten last season. They had to depend on the likes of national basketballer Zahir Motara, in addition to veteran all-rounder Michael Matthews and Tino Best, who had two games.
Yearwood was the most productive batsman with 503 runs including one century. It was Pickwick’s only three-figure score for the season.
He was followed by new boy Layne who made 354 and Jason Gilkes 352.
Again the expectations will fall on Yearwood and Austin to shoulder the majority of the work. Austin will be raring to hit the straps having lost his place in the Barbados team for the 2008 first-class tournament.
Mark Edghill is back and should be available for the whole season to give the batting at the top that much needed foundation.
He might be partnered by Barbados under-19 batting hopeful Peter Clarke from Queen’s College who had couple matches last season.
PROSPECTS FOR THE SEASON: Views of Rondelle Yearwood (captain).
“The team will be similar to last year. The only new player we have attracted is Kyle Hope over from the Barbados Youth team.
“I think we should be there or thereabout again. Our strength will basically be in our batting. Leading into the first game we will be missing Ryan Austin and Antonio Thomas because presently they are playing in Trinidad for Queen’s Park. They should be back for the second series.
“The covers we had were a little inadequate and probably we didn’t have a good groundsman per se either, so that probably made it more difficult to get good batting wickets at Barclays Terrace.
“At the end of the day, both teams would bat on the wicket. I guess it is a wicket that you probably would get results. A little up and down, it will challenge your technique. With our strength most likely in our spin bowling department, we just have to cash in, get a good total on the board and put some teams under pressure.
“I think if we get off to a good start that is very important because with this present structure you have to be in the mix up from early. You cannot play any catch up cricket in this form of the game with the two zones.
“When we won in 2005 we played everyone, so even if you got off to a slow start, you gained momentum coming towards the end, like in September when you have couple of the overseas players coming back to strengthen the team.
“To me it (Saturdays only) is a little bit of a backward step basically. I feel the three weekends are a bit too long to be playing one game. I more prefer the first day by itself and then finish off with the remaining days the next weekend.
“I guess they (BCA) are looking at getting back some of the older players. You found that some of the older players chided away from the First division because they were not getting anytime for themselves once the season started because you were playing cricket ever Saturday and Sunday.
“With the present format you will get one Sunday off every three weekends so you can look at it from a positive way.
“Personally I would prefer the games to finish over two weekends.
“I am pinning a lot of hope on Ryan Layne this year. Last season was his first with us and probably it was a bit challenging. He got over 30 wickets and dropped off a little bit in the batting. He has been working hard in the nets and hopefully he takes this year as his opportunity and look to get back in the Barbados team. He is a quality all-rounder, a decent leg-spinner, a very capable batsman and he is also very capable in the field.
“With the new Twenty20 competition and all the competitions around, I think he will be a big asset in Pickwick’s team this year.”
PLAYERS USED IN 2007: 18.
LAST TITLE: 2005.