Friday 15 March 2013 

Bears in Barbados - Keith Cook's Second Report


During the day on Tuesday a number of the squad took the chance to journey into Bridgetown to watch some of the Test Match between West Indies and Zimbabwe. For many it was a nice chance to re-charge the batteries, but also opportunity to see another International stadium staging top flight cricket.

After a few days rest and rehabilitation the team were back on the road again to Windward CC on the east side of Barbados for the 2-day game against Hampshire. 

With the decision already made in advance of the game that Hampshire would bat on Day 1 and Warwickshire on Day 2, the game was more about both sides gaining valuable middle practice. A full day in the field or building big partnerships is exactly the type of preparation that only this type of tour can provide at this time of year for English first class counties. 

After an hour or so of stretching and warm ups Jim Troughton led the Warwickshire side onto the field for the first time in white kit since becoming LV= County Champions last year.

The idea was to declare 11 players for the game, but agreement had been reached that either side could supplement their bowlers at any stage to allow everyone plenty of practice, and the chance to get some useful overs under their belts. 

A very flat pitch had been prepared to encourage batting skills to the maximum and the Hampshire openers looked set to take full advantage of the conditions, before Michael Carberry was caught by Jim Troughton off the bowling of Chris Wright for 2 runs in the 10th over.

From this point on it was a steady progression for the Hampshire pair of Adams and Dawson as they built a partnership of 118 over the next 44 overs until Adams retired himself not out on 57 from 182 balls. Wickets were very scarce for the rest of the day as the Bears experimented with 10 different bowlers at different stages of the game. Only Recordo Gordon added to the wicket tally by claiming the scalp of James Vince for 10 in the 58th over.

At close of play and indeed close of innings for Hampshire they had accumulated 236 runs for 2 wickets, but both sides had enjoyed the enormous benefit of some very valuable preparation for the long season ahead.

At the end of day one Director of Cricket, Dougie Brown felt that this had been a very good day for his team, with everyone making a valuable contribution. The bowlers had all stuck to their tasks, bowled in very good areas and worked hard without being swayed from their objectives.

Thursday saw us back at Windward for the final day of the 2-day game with plenty of batting ahead.  It would also be our final day at Windward for 2013 as we would be moving off to our next game against Derbyshire in the T20 tournament at the 3 ‘W’s’ ground – which will determine our fate in the semi finals on Sunday – with the grand finale set for Sunday afternoon at the world-renowned Kensington Oval.

Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood began the first session before Varun was dismissed without score, bringing Jim Troughton to the crease. Jim continued his fluent form from the previous one day game against Barbados XI with some fine shots against the Hampshire attack and at lunch retired himself not out on 24. 

Laurie Evans was next man in after the interval and his batting partner Ian Westwood was soon dismissed after making a very impressive 42, which saw the arrival of Tim Ambrose to the crease.

Both batsmen kept the scoreboard ticking over before Laurie top edged and the ball looped up to Jimmy Adams who took a comfortable catch. Rikki Clarke was next man in but he was unfortunately dismissed for 2.

Keith Barker joined Tim Ambrose in the middle and the pair moved the score on to 214 for 5 before Keith was caught on 32. Next to leave the field of play was Tim Ambrose who retired himself not out on 96 which included thirteen 4’s and one 6.

The last few overs of the day were played out by Tom Milnes (0), Paul Best (19*) and Chris Wright (11*) who took the final total to a very respectable 273 for 8.

The result was irrelevant, but the important factor was that almost every member of the team had managed to gain some valuable middle practice against 1st class bowlers.

So, it was a quick farewell to our friends at Windward and back on the coach to our Discovery Bay Hotel on the West side of the island for a very rapid shower and change of clothes to join up with all of the other first class County squads for the official reception party. 

The original venue of the British High Commissioners house had been switched late in the day to the ‘Cricket Legends’ centre near the Kensington Oval, which celebrates the amazing history of Barbados cricket.

With speeches from The Minister for Tourism in Barbados and the British High Commissioner, to name but a few, it was a privilege to hear from the cricket legends Sir Wes Hall and Charlie Griffiths who spoke eloquently about their experiences with West Indies over many years. 

The room was bristling with cricketers, young and old including such legends as Sir Garfield Sobers, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Ian Bishop, Jeffrey Dujon and Seymour Nurse. Once again we were back on the road quickly to the hotel and a well deserved rest day on Friday.

Next stop Derbyshire in the opening match of the T20 tournament, and hopefully the chance to make an impression in the latter stages.



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