Dry-season drama at Queen’s Park Oval

TT’s Bryan Charles bowls during the CWI Regional Four Day Championship round four match against Windward
Islands Volcanoes, on March 13, at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair.
TT’s Bryan Charles bowls during the CWI Regional Four Day Championship round four match against Windward Islands Volcanoes, on March 13, at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair.

CONGRATULATIONS to cricketers of both teams, TT Red Force (RF) and the Windward Islands Volcanoes (WIV), in their see-saw battle for domination during the just-concluded West Indies four-day championship game on March 16, which was the fourth round of the 2024 competition.

The game brought out the fighting spirit of both teams, neither one allowing their shoulders to drop, which would have given away any advantage they might have gained. From the toss, which RF won and decided to bowl first, to the close of play on the fourth and last day, the game zigzagged very interestingly to its conclusion.

The famous Queen’s Park Oval was the venue, although the dry and dusty outfield took away some of its pristine beauty, probably caused by the ravages of the dry season. Nonetheless, the ball ran smoothly and quickly without any awkward bounce.

On the first day, the promising Dominican left-handed batsman and right-arm off-break bowler Alick Athanaze scored 56, playing some attractive strokes. The young West Indian batsman has loads of talent, but he’s too impetuous. The pitch had a tinge of green, and maybe this persuaded the RF captain to field first and give his two experienced fast bowlers, Jayden Seales and Anderson Phillip, the first chance to use the wicket for movement off the seam, expecting there would be pace and bounce. Alas! It was not to be.

Although the wicket was slow, with some movement off the seam, the pace bowling appeared innocuous at the beginning, with these two experienced bowlers bowling too wide of the mark too often. However, Phillip started penetrating defences, collecting five wickets. Sometimes, coaches and captains seem to think that once there’s grass on the surface of the pitch, it will do magical things to assist the bowler. This grass is to hold the surface together for the game to enjoy a good wicket for all four days. Plus, fast bowlers should be encouraged to bowl wicket-to-wicket on a good length, bringing the batsman onto his front foot, where any movement off the seam will be likely to beat his forward defensive stroke.

This was not apparent as both Phillip and Seales bowled too short and too wide. A wicket must be assessed as quickly as possible, and one bats or bowls accordingly. On this particular pitch, the short ball was ineffective, and should have been used sparingly as a surprise weapon. Soon enough, it was apparent that the wicket was slow with a low bounce, so the fast bowler should have been bowling fewer short balls. It would have saved him energy as well!

Windward Islands Volcanoes batsman Alick Athanaze looks back at his wicket after playing a shot against TT
Red Force, on March 13, during the Regional Four-Day Championship match, at the Queen’s Park Oval, St

The nagging length of left-arm orthodox bowler Khary Pierre was noteworthy, collecting 3/21. Bowling WIV for 191 was a good effort eventually.

At close of play, the coach, David Furlonge, must have been content with his opening batsmen giving his team the start he asked for, closing the day with 89 for one, with Kjorn Ottley departing for 47 and Vikash Mohan, the other opener, not out on 34.

By this time the preparation moisture had gone out of the wicket and with the rolling between innings, the pitch was better to bat on, although it was now turning some more, but too slow to give batsmen at this standard any problems.

The century by Tion Webster in RF’s first innings was a fine innings, with the wicket starting to play two-paced. The off-spinner Kenneth Dember of WIV bowled superbly (5/63) but the batsmen were up to it, with fifties from Jason Mohammed and Mohan.

The drama unfolded in the second innings as the deficit of 103 runs was quickly overtaken. And with two splendid innings by Sunil Ambris (71) and Jeremy Solozano (70) on a tricky pitch, the stage was set for RF to score 186 to win.

Ten runs for two wickets overnight didn’t augur well for RF’s chase for victory.

Chasing 186 on a wearing wicket on the last day of a game is not easy. The fighting qualities of Jyd Goolie shone like a beacon. Yet it was when captain Joshua Da Silva (53 n.o.) entered the fray at 71 for four and immediately showed tremendous confidence, Goolie (90 r.h.) seemed at ease to play his strokes and they both carried their team to a commendable victory, showing the value of concentration.

It was an engrossing game of cricket played on the type of wicket that tests cricketers.


"Dry-season drama at Queen’s Park Oval"

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