Monday, 1 August 2011

Cricket Bajan style

Reggae blasts from a nearby house.  Gangly local youths perch in a tree or on a corrugated iron roof for a better view.  A couple of skinny chickens peck around the pavilion.  My son practises in the nets with the broken back of a plastic chair for stumps.  Trinidadian coaches shout encouragement to their players, 'Bat for forty overs maaaaan!'  Sixes are hit onto neighbouring tin roofs or onto the road which edges the ground on two sides.  Passing cars slow down or stop altogether to watch a few overs before continuing their journey. The sky is pure blue, the heat relentless.  This is cricket bajan style.  This is the ground where Garfield Sobers played as a boy.

 And then, in the semi-final of the Garfield Sobers Competition, the rain falls. We scan the skies nervously for breaks in the cloud.  I scan the coaches' faces too.  We need to bat for 15 overs to achieve a result, but is the weather against us?

A fellow spectator tells us that hurricane Brett has hit the US and may be heading for the Bahamas.

Still the rain falls, forming a sheet of water in front of the pavilion.  The drains are flooded.  Puddles in the outfield creep closer to the wicket.At last the deluge ends, but the pitch has turned into a bog.  The umpires are sceptical, but we are desperate to play.  We work with mops, beach towels and even plastic cups to clear water from the pitch. A local official calls the tournament organiser, 'There's  half of England out there mopping up.'  The match is abandoned and we head back to the hotel, believing we're out of the competition.

Later the same evening we get word that the semi will continue the next day.  Game on and rum punch all round.

Semi-final day two and at lunch it looks like the game is over for our boys.  Then our final batsmen smashed 55 runs off the last five overs, winning the match with the final ball.  I'm not the only one with tears in my eyes.

This is only the third time an English team has made the final of the Garfield Sobers Tournament.  The venue, Kensington Oval, Barbados' test ground.
The boys play bravely, but cannot overcome local school Combermere who win the tournament for a fifth time.

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