Brian Lara has had many glittering moments in a stellar career, but he says Trinidad and Tobago's capture of their first regional first-class title for 21 years is an achievement he will cherish for a very long time.
"To beat Barbados in Barbados, to literally take the Cup off their shelf is an amazing feeling," Lara told reporters. "On the international circuit, playing Australia and beating Australia is real cricket to me. On the regional scene, playing Barbados in Barbados and beating them is what it is all about. You've got to understand I am now aged 36, and any sort of success on the playing field would be greeted with uncontrollable emotions because I am not sure to experience it again."
"I thought we were in a very privileged position coming to Barbados knowing we had to win. Barbados, maybe, needing just one point to earn success were under more pressure than we were and it proved so in this game. Their decision to bowl first on such a good pitch was strange, but it was great to come out and win in Barbados. Barbados and Jamaica are the premier teams in regional cricket. After 21 years, to come to Barbados and snatch this victory and this trophy away from them is a special occasion for us."
Lara also singled out praise for Daren Ganga, the T&T captain. "All kudos to Daren and the way he has molded his team over the last couple of years, and he was able to come away with a title. Hopefully, this is not the end," he said. "This is the start of things to come, and we can dominate for a few years. We have to cherish this moment, live in this moment, and I'm happy to be part of it."
Ryan Hinds, the Barbados captain, was visibly dejected after leading Barbados to their heaviest defeat in the history of the modern regional first-class championship (1966 onwards). "We are very disappointed," he said glumly. "We did not really bat well on the first day, but we still have the semifinals for which we can look forward, and we will be very positive going into that game."
Barbados' decision to field first in the match has been roundly criticised. "It really did not matter whether we put T&T in to bat or not," he said. "We bowled them out for 259 and then lost four wickets on the first day, and I think that is what put us out of this game."
Hinds expressed a bit of disappointment at the decision to push back the semifinals to April. "We would love to have the semifinals brought forward, since many of our guys will be going to England either next month or early in April on playing contracts." Hinds has been the leading batsman this season with 570 runs at an average of 81.42, and hopes to gain a place on the West Indies A-Team for their series against England-A. "I have been enjoying the cricket all season," he said. "I have been working very hard, and the team has helped me to be in this position with lots of encouragement."
In the semifinals, from April 7 to 10, Barbados host Guyana and T&T entertain the Windward Islands. The Final is set for April 15 to 19.