Barbados lost in the semi-finals of the Regional One day cricket competition on Thursday. Proclaimed favorites before the tournament, mainly by themselves, the Bajan team never dominated as expected. Mind you, over the years Barbados while dominant at the 4 day version of the game has never been a great regional one day side and I can probably count the number of those tournaments they have won in my lifetime on one hand.
Still the team started the tournament confident they could win because they had won the one day tournament in 2002, lost in the finals in 2003, and then totally dominated the 4 day competition this year. They had a good warm up tour, even beating the senior West Indies squad in a friendly game, so confidence was definitely high going into the preliminaries.
To my eye, the final squad left a bit to be desired. Whilst the majority of players were the ones originally expected to be in the squad, the omission of Kirk Wilkinson to my mind was a bit of a dis-service. Why? Well earlier this year Kirk was called up to the West Indies team to South Africa, replacing one of our legion of injured players. This was after scoring a nice century in the opening round of the Regional 4 day competition and the young man was definitely on a high. His sojourn on the West Indies team comprised of him playing water boy and not getting any playing time and he came back to the Caribbean at the end of the tour in so-so form.
Since then he hasn't exactly lighted the world on fire but I question how a player can go from representing at the highest level in February to not making his island squad 8 months later. At the very least the Bajan selectors should have realized that this young man was obviously viewed as a future senior team player in the eyes of the West Indies selectors and placed him on the squad. Fair is fair in my opinion and there was at least one player on the squad that he could, no make that should, have replaced.
Sadly Barbados appears to have an over-abundance of young talent on its hand as well and youngsters like fast bowler Jason Bennett and Barbados youth team captain Renaldo Parris were unable to get into the squad. The team may also have missed fast bowlers Edwards and Best who are both out with injuries but almost every team in the competition was hit by injuries. Now would including these guys mentioned have made a difference to the results? Probably not but like I said fair is fair and I still think Wilkinson for one should have gotten a spot.
Now the tournament started as it ended for Barbados; defeat at the hands of Trinidad. Losing the flying fish war not once but twice. Barbados also lost to Jamaica in the preliminaries and it appeared at times that the entire team was not on the same page. They did somehow end up on top of the point standings after the prelims but their were various rumors of problems in the squad and the team just didn't seem to be as focused, determined or in the game as they have appeared in past years. The same could also be said for the Jamaican squad who came into the tournament quite self assured but ended up not even making the semi-finals. Well they don't call cricket a game of glorious uncertainties for nothing.
I could probably make many excuses for Barbados' losses; poor fielding, bad bowling, not batting fast enough in the semis, over-confidence, under-estimation of their opponents but at the end of the day the reality is the result still says win or loss and we loss. Not to take away anything from the teams who beat us but cricket is still just a game (blasphemy!) and the team that plays best on its day regardless of talent, hype or expectation will win. Barbados just did not do enough on the days on which they lost and at this I'm a bit disappointed.
Oh well, hopefully by not making the finals this year the Barbados team and selectors will learn from this defeat and Bajan cricket will be the better for it.
What more can I say? I see many other islanders on the message boards rejoicing not so much in the Trinidad win but in the Barbados loss. Dem no like we and we no like dem I guess. Its kind of disturbing on one hand but its not like I haven't known that the region is fragmented and animosity run deep. However, I wont generalize and label everyone from particular islands as anti-Barbados because that would be quite untrue silly on my part and again cricket is only a game. Its actually usually just extremely silly individuals with personal agendas, some bajans included, who chose to hate particular islands for whatever reasons. Its their right so I'll lose no sleep over it.
Anyway better luck next time Barbados. Hopefully you will have seen your errors this tournament and turn your weaknesses to strengths by the time the Carib cup 4 day competition rolls around.