Thursday 31st July 2014 – Kingston, Jamaica. The Antigua Hawksbills winless streak in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League extended to six matches as they lost to the Jamaica Tallawahs. Once again the Hawksbills top order failed to set a defendable total as wickets from Jerome Taylor and Nikita Miller restricted them to just 89 runs in a rain affected match that was reduced to 17 overs. The run chase was a simple affair as Chris Gayle finished on 59 not out to become the leading run scorer in the history of the CPL.
Throughout this year’s tournament, the Hawksbills have been hampered by the loss of early wickets. Their highest opening stand this season is just 40, and they didn’t come close to beating that mark as Devon Thomas was bowled for three runs. It could have been an even shorter partnership had David Bernard not dropped a simple chance in the deep; Ben Dunk was the man he failed to dismiss. Dunk has had three different men with him at the top of the order, none have managed to make the spot his own.
Marlon Samuels departed in the last over of the Powerplay, caught trying to hit Jerome Taylor over mid on, only to chip the ball into the ever reliable hands of Andre Russell. With Samuels gone, the Hawksbills promoted Rahkeem Cornwall up the order to add some impetus. Cornwall is capable of hitting a long ball, but as a man with a Twenty20 batting average of less than 10, it was always a big ask for him to rescue the innings. When he fell LBW for just a single, it was clear that the experiment had failed.
That left Dunk with everything to do to try and get this innings started. He has arrived with a stellar reputation but has failed to get going in this year’s CPL. He is yet to pass 50 for the Hawksbills, and his runs are coming at only just above a run a ball. When he mistimed a drive that was brilliantly caught by Taylor in his follow through there was a familiar feel to this Antiguan effort.
Things went even further downhill when the hugely experienced David Hussey was run out as the innings became a procession. A brilliant throw from substitute fielder, Fabian Allen, was enough to see the veteran well short of his ground.
Nikita Miller ran through the Hawksbills lower order, picking off three wickets. The most impressive of those was when Chris Gayle caught Shacaya Thomas at leg slip as the batsman attempted the sweep shot.
The Hawksbills crept up to 78-8 before light drizzle became heavy rain and the teams left the field. When they returned, the game was reduced to 17 overs per side, and off the seven remaining deliveries, the Antiguan side managed 11 more runs to reach 89 for nine. There was a wicket off the last ball as Carlos Brathwaite returned for a risky second run. He was short of his ground as wicket keeper Chadwick Walton removed the bails. Brathwaite’s momentum saw him clatter into Walton as both men were felled by the collision.
Having taken such a heavy blow, it was surprising to see Walton open the batting with Gayle, but he was there as the Tallawahs set about chasing down a Duckworth Lewis adjusted total of 87. Walton certainly showed no ill effects from his bump as he hit the first ball of the innings for four. As has been the way in every game of the tournament, Sheldon Cottrell bowled brilliantly first up, but he has never been given enough runs to work with.
The introduction of Brathwaite into the attack saw any control that had been created lost as he was hit for two sixes and a four by Gayle, with one of the shots going all the way out of Sabina Park. Gayle should have departed on 22 when he gloved a ball down the legside, however the umpire called the ball as a wide. The Tallawahs’ captain made the most of his extra life, hitting half a doxen sixes in his match-winning knock.
A solitary success for the visitors inside the first 10 overs was the wicket of Walton who was out LBW to Laughlin. A couple more wickets fell before the end, one to Cornwall and a second for Laughlin, but the Tallawahs waltzed to their target with 18 balls to spare.
Gayle won the game with a six as the Tallawahs brushed aside this year’s whipping boys. They are keeping pace with the leaders thanks to this win, and, with two more home games to come over the weekend, they will be hopeful of reaching the summit again. For the Hawksbills, just one more win by the Barbados Tridents in effect makes their qualification for the latter stages impossible.