Friday 25th July 2014 – Bridgetown, Barbados. The Antigua Hawksbills remain winless in this year’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League as they lost to the Barbados Tridents. This is the Antiguan side’s fifth defeat in this tournament, although this was by far the closest of any of those contests. Another excellent batting performance from Hawksbills’ captain Marlon Samuels was not enough to lead his side to victory as the bowling of Ravi Rampaul for the Tridents proved to be the most telling contribution.
Yet another top order collapse from the Hawksbills left them fighting against themselves to set a competitive total. The first over saw Danza Hyatt run out for a golden duck, his second blob of the tournament. It has now been four innings since the opener got into double figures. Ravi Rampaul’s first over saw another two wickets fall for the cost of just one run as the Antiguans struggled to get off to a meaningful start once again. Ben Dunk departed flashing at a wide one and Devon Thomas mistimed a drive straight back into the waiting hands of the bowler.
The last ball of the Powerplay saw yet another batsman dismissed, this time Orlando Peters who was brilliantly caught by Rayad Emrit who took the ball over his shoulder running towards the boundary. Once again Rampaul was the bowler as he picked up three wickets for just 11 runs inside the fielding restrictions.
Samuels and David Hussey came together at the fall of Peters’ wicket, and they set about another rebuilding effort, a role the two men have found themselves in more often than any other in this year’s tournament. A partnership of 51 steadied the ship before Hussey tried one shot too many. Attempting to hit against the wind, he was well caught on the mid wicket boundary by Jonathan Carter off the bowling of Ashley Nurse.
Captain Samuels has been the one bright spark for the Hawksbills this year. Despite his team not winning a single match, he is the tournament’s top scorer. If he could have had better support from the rest of his top order, things may have been different for the side from Antigua. He batted brilliantly again in this match, scoring 66 runs before he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Kieron Pollard.
Some lusty late order blows took the score up to 129 but the target was never enough to defend. Despite the uphill struggle that they faced, the Hawksbills could not have asked for a better start. A wicket maiden from Sheldon Cottrell in the first over of the Tridents innings will have given his side some hope – especially as the man to go was Dwayne Smith who scored a century for the Bajans in their last game. When Shoaib Malik, the other hero from that victory against the St Lucia Zouks, also departed the Hawksbills may have even dared to dream.
Even though there were these early breakthroughs, the Hawksbills batsmen had never given their bowlers something to work with. Local boys Shane Dowrich and Jonathan Carter looked to be cruising to victory, with both men working the ball around to keep the run rate under control. Almost inexplicably, Dowrich mistimed an innocuous delivery from Ben Laughlin to the man at short extra cover.
It was not until the 14th over that left arm wrist spinner, Brad Hogg, came into the attack. Straight away he got the ball to turn, bounce and spit. By the time he was introduced, the Tridents had all but secured victory. With other teams showing the importance of spin options early in the innings, it is remarkable that Hogg has been introduced so late by Samuels throughout this competition. In this game, his bowling was almost enough to turn things around. With him so difficult to score from, the batsmen took extra risks against the other bowlers and with their running.
The chase appeared to be a formality with Carter at the crease. He had reached an excellent 35 before he took on Cottrell’s arm to find himself run out going for a second. When Jeevan Mendis also gave his wicket away run out, some life was breathed into this match as a contest. A succession of poor decisions by the Tridents’ batsmen made it far closer than it should have been. Rayad Emrit, Ashley Nurse and Jason Holder were all guilty of lapses in judgement when the team needed calm heads.
As it was the home side snuck home in the last over to condemn the Hawksbills to yet another defeat. There were some positives for the Antiguans despite yet another loss. Cottrell bowled with pace and control, Hogg can turn matches if given an earlier bowl, Samuels is in fine form. The concern is that qualification is fast becoming a mathematical impossibility. They can’t really afford to lose again.