February 26, 2003

Barbados denied

BERBICE - Horrendous!

That's how Barbados captain Courtney Browne described the tactics of Guyana after a combination of rain, faulty covers, the hosts' slow over-rate and fading light denied Barbados the opportunity of completing their first first-class victory in this country in 23 years.

The tournament leaders were 17 runs away from victory, but with only two wickets in hand, when they accepted the umpires' offer to go off because of fading light at 5:49 p.m. at the Albion Community Development Centre.

Given almost the entire day to make 138, Barbados were 66 for three when play resumed at 4:30 p.m. following two significant interruptions for rain that accounted for the loss of 200 minutes on the final day of their fourth-round Carib Beer Series match.

On resumption, the visitors needed another 72 runs from 24 overs, but the Guyanese bowled a mere 11 overs in an hour and 20 minutes, even with a spin bowler operating.

At a rate of four minutes an over, 20 overs should have been bowled in that time.

With the Guyanese seemingly delaying the game, Barbados' batsmen took several risks and wickets fell at regular intervals.

They were 121 for eight when umpires offered "light".

"The sort of cricket the Guyanese displayed here was horrendous," Browne told NATIONSPORT.

"You can't play cricket like that. It is supposed to be impossible to bowl nine overs in an hour, bowling with a fast bowler and a spinner. That is total madness."

The Guyanese constantly made several field changes, held countless discussions among themselves, and leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo was often delayed by with mud on his boots or an apparent stomach ailment.

"I would say it wasn't conducive to good cricket," Barbados coach Hendy Springer said.

"It is a matter for them, if they want to bowl four overs in an hour. Unsportsmanlike is not a word I want to use, but it was very negative.

"It's not conducive to good West Indies cricket and that's what the people participating in this tournament are aspiring to."

Even so, both Browne and Springer felt Barbados should have long wrapped up the match to achieve their third win.

"We should have won the game in three days," Browne said. "We had a very poor third day - batting, bowling, fielding, whatever."

Springer said the batsmen did not do well enough in the run-chase.

"It should not have come down to the fact that light was involved.

"We should have knocked the runs off a lot earlier. We lost some very soft wickets badly chasing those runs," he said.

With the knowledge that the light would have been a factor, Barbados' batsmen were drawn into aggressive strokes that caused their downfall.

After Floyd Reifer and Ryan Hinds extended their fourth-wicket partnership to 59 in between the stoppages, Reifer (39) was bowled playing across a full-length ball from Nagamootoo.

By now, it was 5:13 p.m. and 42 runs were required with six wickets in hand.

Browne soon lifted a catch to long-off and Hinds, on the backfoot, was lbw for 29 to one that kept low from Nagamootoo.

Once Ryan Hurley gave a catch to backward point and Ian Bradshaw was run out, the Bajans decided it would be a tall order for Dwayne Smith in the company of Sulieman Benn and with only Tino Best to come.

"I thought I did the best thing. I've played this cricket long enough and I knew that if we had batted any further on, we would have lost the game," Browne said, explaining why they accepted the umpires' offer for light.

The first sign of rain surfaced during the lunch break and light, persistent showers delayed the resumption after the break until 2:20 p.m.

Only one over was bowled before a heavy shower drove the players off the field. When the covers were removed, there were wet spots on the pitch that required the use of fire and the application of grass to dry the affected areas.

When it was all set for resumption, there was the unusual sight of batsmen emerging from the pavilion before the fielders. It was a sign that the Guyanese were going to take their time.

At no stage did the hosts appear to have been cautioned or warned about their over-rate.

Yet, when Barbados emergency fielder Antonio Thomas came out to middle to say something to Barbados' ninth-wicket pair, he was stopped.