Superb Pollard plugs the gaps
Barbados 7 for 0 trail Trinidad & Tobago 273 (Pollard 126, Smith 4-54, Collins 4-55) by 266 runs
For the first two-and-a-half hours, the hosts made all the running, restricting the double-crown defending Carib Beer champions to 81 for 6 thanks to the accuracy and movement of Pedro Collins and Dwayne Smith. For the next two-and-a-half hours, Pollard took command of proceedings with a spectacular century on his first-class debut that was filled with a proliferation of superb sixes.
With the minimal of effort, Pollard smashed bowlers back overhead to provide rich entertainment in amassing 126 off 150 balls that included 11 fours and seven sixes. The first three sailed over long-off against Collins, Corey Collymore and Kevin Stoute. The fourth went over long-on off Collins. The fifth was a straight hit off Collins just before tea. The sixth, the biggest of the lot, off Smith carried the 19-year-old to a memorable hundred, and the seventh, also off Smith, was a pull over cow-corner.
It was magnificent stuff, a joy to watch - authentic strokes of the highest order - and ended with a sensational one-handed catch by Kirk Edwards on the long-on boundary. Pollard and Rayad Emrit pulled Trinidad and Tobago around in a seventh-wicket partnership of 143 that should have been broken when Floyd Reifer missed a chance at first slip when Emrit was on 5.
Collins' line was impeccable, almost exclusively on or about off stump and Smith was also on the spot. Both gained sideways movement and combined to share eight wickets, many coming from catches off the edge in the arc between the 'keeper and gully.
As many as seven catches went behind the wicket, and Smith produced the best ball of the day, a lifter that Jason Mohammed gloved to the keeper. Collins, who finished with 4 for 55, took the first two wickets and bowled to suggest that he should have been in Pakistan with the West Indies team. Smith, who ended with 4 for 54, dramatically swung the match in a brief period just before lunch when he removed Mohammed, Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin.
There is a simple explanation why the pitch didn't play as fast as expected. The club was initially asked to host two matches in the KFC Cup limited-overs competition and was in the process of preparing a track suited to the shorter form of the game. By the time North Stars was confirmed as host for this match last Sunday, the pitch preparations were well advanced and there was little time to make the necessary adjustments.
There was an encouraging turnout among fans, bearing in mind that it was a Thursday. Close to 2000 spectators made the trek up north and among those at the ground were Prime Minister Owen Arthur and St Lucy MP Dennis Kellman.
It was a heartening attendance for the first day of the season, but there was one complaint from some fans watching the action. Their grouse was that there were not enough tents for protection from the elements. There was some merit in what they were saying and maybe a few more tents could have been mounted in the south-eastern section of the ground.
Leeward Islands 291 for 4 (Joseph 97*) v Jamaica
Leeward Islands captain Sylvester Joseph was on the brink of another regional century as his side revelled in Jamaica's bowling on the opening day of their first round Carib Beer Series match at St Mary's Park. Joeseph struck a composed, unbeaten 97 to lead the Leewards to 291 for 4, after losing the toss and being asked to bat first. Joseph batted a shade over five hours and faced 204 balls, stroking 17 fours in his knock.
Capitalising on a missed chance when two, Joseph formed two crucial partnerships along the way, helping the Leewards to recover after they had slipped to 34 for 2. West Indies batsman Runako Morton missed out on three figures when he fell for an enterprising 78, while 23-year old Tonito Willett hit an unbeaten 43. Steve Liburd and Austin Richards Jr got starts but failed to carry on, both hitting 33.
Fast bowler Jermaine Lawson, who finished with 3 for 55, did the early damage in the Leewards innings. He bowled opener Shane Jeffers off the inside edge without scoring and then had Richards caught and bowled off a slower ball.
Joseph then added 99 for the third wicket with Morton, who hammered 13 fours in an innings lasting 142 minutes and 94 balls. Missed by Chris Gayle at second slip off the luckless Jerome Taylor with the score on 37 for 2, Joseph flourished to keep Jamaica's bowlers at bay. When Morton fell to a catch at the wicket off leg-spinner Andre Dwyer, Joseph added a further 91 with Willett, whose 43, including six fours, came off 92 balls in 137 minutes batting.
Windward Islands 163 for 5 v Guyana
Rookie teenaged batsman Andre Fletcher and veteran Junior Murray shone as hosts Windward Islands reached 163 for 5 against Guyana on a truncated opening day of their Carib Beer Series encounter at the Tanteen Recreation Ground.
Fletcher hit the top score of 40, while Murray scored an unbeaten 38, to lead their side after Guyana won the toss and invited the Windwards to bat first in bright sunshine on a track with some moisture and a damp outfield. Heavy overnight rain had left the ground in a soggy condition, resulting in a 270-minute delay before play eventually commenced at 1:30 p.m. Murray, the former West Indies wicketkeeper, faced 99 balls and batted 120 minutes, striking a solitary four. Fletcher faced 100 balls in his 110-minute knock.