Barbados come from behind to seal title
Barbados took home the Regional Four Day competition title with an emphatic victory over Leewards Islands. Barbados had begun the final round of league games at No. 2, seven points behind Trinidad & Tobago. They needed to win big, and hope that T&T did not do the same; both happened. While Barbados breezed past Leewards with an innings win, T&T could only draw with bottom-placed Guyana. That meant Barbados shot to 82 points - while T&T finished on 80 - and claimed their 22nd regional first-class title.*
Both teams will now join Windward Islands and Jamaica in the knock-out stage of the tournament, which is played for the honour of taking home the Headley-Weekes Trophy. Barbados will take on Jamaica in the first semi, while T&T and Windward will clash in the second.
Barbados' win was set up by fifties from Kraigg Brathwaite and Omar Phillips, as well as a seven-wicket match-haul from Ashley Nurse. Leeward Islands, batting first, were skittled out for 94 in the first innings, as Nurse finished with 4 for 24 to run through the line-up in 34.4 overs.
Barbados then made further inroads, as Brathwaite (92) and Phillips (79) batted Leeward Islands out of the game by forging a 146-run opening stand which set them up nicely. Legspinner Anthony Martin claimed five wickets, but handy contributions from Barbados' middle and lower order lifted them to 326, earning a lead of 232.
Leewards Islands would've hoped for a better show with the bat in the second innings, but barring a 60 from Devon Thomas, they had very little to cheer about. Fidel Edwards snared four scalps, while Nurse picked up a further three wickets to end Leeward Islands' innings at 183 and complete the win.
Jamaica sailed into the semi-finals with a 59-run win over Combined Campuses and Colleges, who also had a chance to make it to the last four. Carlton Baugh struck fifties in each innings and Nikita Miller finished with a match haul of eight wickets to set up the win.
Baugh's 57 and a late rally from Miller and Jerome Taylor helped Jamaica reach 182 in the first innings before Miller's five-for skittled CCC for 161.
Baugh fashioned another rescue act for Jamaica in the second innings, scoring 78 off 105 to haul the team from 94 for 5 to 215. Combined with their 21-run lead, Jamaica set CCC a 237-run target and, in spite of early wickets, the latter kept their chances alive through a 67-run partnership between Chadwick Walton and Raymon Reifer.
Things unravelled for CCC soon after Reifer departed. Offspinner John Campbell turned the match in Jamaica's favour by dismissing Walton for 30 and triggering a slide that saw CCC lose their last six wickets for 22 runs. Campbell picked up four of those wickets and Miller took 3 for 61 in the innings to secure Jamaica's semi-final place early on the fourth day.
Legspinner Devendra Bishoo was the star of the drawn match between Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, finishing with a match-haul of 15 wickets, including nine in the first innings. T&T had already qualified to compete for the Headley-Weekes Trophy, but the result - coupled with Barbados' - meant they had lost the first-class crown that was well within reach before this round of games. The result also did little to change Guyana's fortunes - they remained rooted at the bottom of the table.
T&T, batting first, were propelled by fifties from Evin Lewis (64) and Darren Bravo (61). Most of their batsmen made starts, but could not push on for a big score, as Bishoo delivered blows at regular intervals to end their innings at 294, with him completing a personal-best 9 for 78 in first-class cricket.
Guyana were tottering in their first innings at 89 for 5 owing to a four-for from Amit Jaggernauth, but Leon Johnson (78), Christopher Barnwell (50) and Zaheer Mohamed (58) all chipped in with half-centuries to lift the score to a respectable 282.
Bishoo then continued from where he left off in the first innings, collecting six scalps in the second to run through T&T for 212 in 59.4 overs, with Jason Mohammmed the team's top-scorer with 33.
Guyana were set 225 for victory in 40 overs, with T&T probably hoping they would go for it and enhance T&T's chances of an outright win - both, in the game and in the competition. But Guyana settled for a draw. The score was 80 for 3 when the umpires called stumps, and Barbados were champions.
*3.20GMT, April 16: This report was updated to reflect that Barbados have won the first phase of the tournament