Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 24th 2015 Contents A37
January 24, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Whichever team, the defending 2015
champions T&T s Red Force or always
determined opponents Barbados Pride,
would have won yesterday s WICB
NAGICO Super-50 2016 Tournament
final, that team would have had to over-
come two "demons" to be victorious.
Obviously, they must have played better
than their opponents to win, but winning
also meant that they had overcome under-
foot uncertainties, as pitches prepared for
the final stages had been spongy and con-
ducive to spin, hardly situations to produce
attractive batting and high run scoring.
In the first Semi-final, Guyana Jaguars
v Red Force, was a difficult game for both
Batsmen struggled to come to terms
with the slow, almost tennis-ball bounce
of the pitch.
Only batsmen with acuity for feet
movements, example, T&T s Darren Bravo,
or with excellent timing and hitting, like
Guyana s Anthony Bramble, had abilities
to negotiate such pitches.
Batting first, T&T still could not come
Tough underfoot conditions for final
stages of NAGICO 2016 Tournament!
T&T middle-order batsman Darren Bravo
close to 300.
In the second semis, Windward
Islands Volcanoes players, like the
Jaguars, appeared jet-lagged from the
short trip from St Kitts to T&T, so
labored were their movements.
For Volcanoes not to have made
200 batting first was extraordinarily
disappointing, as that 2nd semi-final
pitch, while still not great, was good
enough for at least 230, and was def-
initely an improvement on the pitch
used in the first.
Even with Dwayne Smith s dubious
LBW off Mervyn Matthew s first
delivery, batting was always relatively
easier for Pride, and especially Kraigg
Brathwaite, who looked in good touch.
Recently, West Indies captain Jason
Holder lamented that most pitches in
the Caribbean have not been con-
ducive to big scores. But why is that
West Indies Cricket Board has a
regional pitch consultant who, in the
past, has helped to produce good
pitches in other parts of the
So why is it so difficult to do so
regularly at Queen s Park Oval?
Sitting with another former WI fast
bowler Mervyn Dillon for T&T v
Guyana contest, we came to the same
conclusion that the pitch for semi-
final No. 1 was quite poor for such an
important one-day game.
Remember, performances in this
tournament were being used as yard-
sticks for possible selectees for ICC
World T20 2016 in March.
Merve made a telling observation,
one that I agree with, and know of,
from playing club cricket in T&T back
in 1975 and while playing for WI in
international games at the Oval in
1970 s and 1980 s.
"Crofty, I played my club cricket
in T&T right here at Queen s Park
Every weekend, depending on the
opposition, we literally ordered pitch
conditions to suit which style we
Always, without exception, we had
what we asked for, might it have been
a fast bouncy pitch, or one that spun
or turned, depending on our bowling
strengths at the time.
So how come that cannot be so
nowadays? These pitches are just not
good enough for this competition."
In the distant past, Sabina Park, in
Jamaica, had been mostly hard, glossy,
fast and bouncy, very occasionally
We sometimes thought that we had
actually been bowling on glass, those
pitches being so good for both runs
Kensington Oval in Barbados was
probably the best suited for even
Pitches there were normally fast
and bouncy too, but very consistent,
so that batsmen could play true
strokes and get right rewards for their
efforts, while wickets were always on
Bourda Oval in Guyana was not fast
but was firm . If a good quick bowler
put his back into proceedings, he could
Overall, though, Bourda was almost
always the best suited pitch for bats-
men, for trueness of bounce there
could only very seldom have been
From 1981, Antigua Recreation
Ground s proper bounce and consis-
tent pace allowed for great cricket and
Now used mostly for soccer, that
venerable ground had produced excel-
lent international cricket over time.
The Queen s Park Oval back then
was the enigma too. Batting first was
sometimes a lottery, as WI opener
Roy Fredericks found out v India in
His first ball from medium-trundler
Syed Abid Ali never rose more than
an inch off the ground---proverbial
shooter ---which uprooted "Freddo s"
off stump. WI lost.
Yet, in 1981, WI, batting first v Eng-
land, won after making over 400 runs!
The Oval used to be slick early on
any first day of a Test too, but with
so many confusing weather patterns,
and starts of 50-overs games slated
for mid-afternoons, any preparation
moisture in the square would have
been absorbed or would have evap-
orated long before play started.
Yet one should expect that, with
modern technology and soil engineer-
ing skills, pitches at QPO should still
have been much better than those
produced for this WICB NAGICO
Many might argue that batsmen of
all opposing teams have to endure the
same underfoot conditions.
That might be so, but batting con-
fidence need not be undermined by
Thus, special efforts should be made
by WICB to ensure that all pitches
will be in the best shape possible for
our two next international hosting
duties; India v WI Test series and that
tri-series featuring Australia, South
Africa and WI.
Those pitches must simply be excel-
COLIN EH CROFT
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