Catch me if you can - Empire beat UWI for fifth straight win in Elite division

Barbados Cricket Association article.

Bridgetown, Barbados - Catch me if you can.

That was the very strong message from ICBL Empire today as they romped to a seven-wicket success following another desperate declaration by Sagicor Life UWI, to record their fifth win in as many matches in the 2014 BCA Elite division championship.

With it, Empire remain the overwhelming favourites to lift the most prestigious local domestic title for the first time in a decade and in what is their 100th anniversary year.

Set 105 in 20 overs for victory in the pre-series top-of-the-table clash, Empire triumphed with 21 balls to spare in rapidly fading light at Bank Hall as they picked up 14 points - the least they have gained in a match so far - to move to 89 - a whopping 38 points clear of joint second-placed CGI Maple who are the defending champions and Massy Stores Spartan.

All of the other matches in what was a rain-hit Series 6 (effectively the fifth as Series 2 has been rescheduled for October 18, 25 & 26), were drawn.

Ironically, Empire have now emulated UWI as the only teams to win their first five matches in a season since bonus points for batting and bowling were introduced in 2007.

UWI's achievement came two years ago when they went on to grab a fourth consecutive title (they shared it with Spartan in 2010) and were champions by the end of the penultimate series with a 40-point advantage over second-placed Empire.

After five rounds in 2012, UWI were on 92 points and had a 29-point lead on Empire. Ultimately, they won seven of their nine matches to finish with 146 points - 47 more than Empire.

On the current path, it would take telling slips in the last four rounds for Empire not to capture the coveted Cup they last won in 2004.

At Bank Hall:

Call it adventurous or whatever you like, UWI today went for broke after agonisingly being led on first innings.

With the entire first day's play lost to wet conditions, UWI had declared their first innings on 126 for seven after 27 overs, thus limiting Empire to only two bowling points.

Resuming on nine for one, Empire were struggling on 107 for nine when Tennyson Anthony Roach, one of the most whole-hearted local club cricketers (not to be confused with his namesake Tennyson Anderson Roach, the former Barbados Under-19 team, Combined Schools, Schools South, St. Catherine and Pickwick all-rounder), joined another 'tough' player in Jomel Warrican.

Warrican, a left-arm spinner, who bats right-handed and Roach, a right-arm fast medium bowler, who bats left-handed, dug in to add 29 before Empire were bowled out for 136 in 37.4 overs just after 2 o' clock.

The 33-year-old Roach, a former Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) and YMPC player who also played professional cricket in England between 2003 and 2009, made 19 while Warrican was unbeaten on ten.

It was the second time this season that Roach had featured in a key role with the bat at a critical stage. In the fourth round derby at Queen's Park, he went to the crease with Empire needing 15 runs to win with one wicket in hand and duly remained with pacer Lemar Mascoll to ensure a memorable victory.

Now, when it was generally felt that UWI would just settle for batting practice, they declared their second innings at 114 for six off 26 overs.

Kyle Corbin was again the topscorer with 42, which lifted his aggregate for the season to 497 including two centuries from eight innings, one not out, at an average of 71.00.

Warrican took three for 33 for a match haul of eight for 66 as he pushed his tally of wickets to 29.

Empire's chase was led literally and figuratively by a Chase - Roston and skipper Jamal "Bert" Smith, both well over six feet and slimly-built.

Chase made 46 off 40 balls, while Smith scored an unbeaten 42 off 43 balls with the victory being achieved at 6.14 p.m.

Carlos Brathwaite, the UWI captain and seamer, took all three wickets for 32 runs.

At Wildey:

LIME had to settle for first innings points along with the maximum four bowling points against rock-bottom Barbados Youth in the only other match where there was no play on the opening day because of wet conditions.

But there was some agony for the home side, who are one from the bottom of the table as they just missed out on picking up two batting points following a spirited last wicket stand of 40 between Michael Agard jr and Rico Depeiza.

Starting the day on 116 for six, LIME were bowled out for 198 in 56.1 overs.

Kemar Brathwaite, who resumed on 42, topscored with 55.

Agard, son of Michael Agard, the former Pickwick and Cable & Wireless wicket-keeper/batsman and well-known musician, slammed 50 off only 33 balls with two fours and three sixes before falling to left-arm spinner Deswin Currency, who took a career-best six for 65 off 17.1 overs.

Barbados Youth, in one of their worst ever seasons, struggled to 88 all out in 55 overs against a trio of off-spinners after being 37 for seven.

Zachary McCaskie made 30 and Currency, 21.

Daley Hurley was the main wrecker with five for 17 off 15 overs; Agard took two for 12 and Jason Hinds, two for 27.

At Paragon:

Any hopes Maple had of forcing a win over BDFSP were dashed by solid lower order batting.

Having stretched their overnight score from 222 for eight to 238 all out in 67.2 overs, which meant that effectively they batted on all three days for a first innings lead of 68, Maple reduced the home side to a worrying 85 for five off 31 overs at tea with Marlon Welcome-Goodman unbeaten on 28.

But left-hander Welcome-Goodman, with a topscore of 58 in 99 minutes off 62 balls including five sixes and two fours and supporting knocks of 39 from Kemar Jabari Smith and Dwayne Skeete's 28, led to a total of 209 all out just before 5:30 p.m. when the match ended.

At Queen's Park:

Spartan opted to earn at least two batting points instead of gambling with an overnight declaration and were duly defied by CounterPoint Wanderers.

They moved from 137 for four overnight before declaring on 200 for eight off 54.4 overs - a first innings lead of 84.

Marrodon Bend had led the way with 66 on the second day.

Left-arm medium-pacer Raymon Reifer picked up two more wickets to finish with five for 72 off 24.4 overs.

Wanderers scored 124 for four in their second innings with skipper Renaldo Arthur hitting 41 not out in just under two-and-a-quarter hours.

At Foursquare Oval:

ESA Field Pickwick showed some enterprise in seeking to beat fellow St. Philip parishioners Brathwaite Construction/Republic Bank St. Catherine but hopes of an exciting finish were dashed when St. Catherine "shut shop".

Starting the day on ten without loss, Pickwick declared their second innings at 154 for seven, setting St. Catherine 181 to win in 28 overs.

The gifted and elegant Shai Hope topscored for Pickwick with an unbeaten 59 off 112 balls including three boundaries. His older brother and captain Kyle Hope contributed 28 to push his aggregate to 553 (ave: 110.60) while remaining the only batsman in the 500-run club.

Veteran left-arm spinner Derick Bishop completed his 10th ten-wicket match haul in his 15th season at this level by taking four for 32 (11 for 92 all told).

St. Vincent and Windward Islands all-rounder Alston Bobb made 67 as St. Catherine ended on 141 for seven.

POINTS TABLE (After Series 6)

Tabulate under: M-matches, W-won, L-lost, T-tied, D-drawn, ND-no-decision, MPTS-match points minus batting and bowling, BATP-batting points, BOWP-bowling points, TP-total points.

TEAMS               M    W    L    T    D    ND    MPTS    BATP    BOWP     TP    

Empire               5    5     0    0    0     0       60         11       18         89

Maple                 5    2     0    0    3     0       29         4        18         51

Spartan              5    1     1    0    3     0       21        10        20        51

UWI                   5    1     1    0    3     0       19        10        19        48

St. Catherine      5    1     1    0    3     0       19        14        14        47

BDFSP               5     1     0    0    4     0       18       14        15        47

Wanderers          5    1     1    0    3     0       17         9        17        43

Pickwick             5    0     2    0    3     0         9        10       16        35

LIME                  5    0     2    0    3     0         8         7        18        33

Barbados Youth   5    0     3    0    2     0         2         0          8       10

NB: Barbados Youth are exempt from demotion.

Series 7 - September 6, 13 & 14

UWI v Spartan at 3Ws Oval; St. Catherine v BDFSP at Bayfield; LIME v Pickwick at Wildey; Wanderers v Empire at Dayrells Road; Barbados Youth v Maple at Lester Vaughan, Cane Garden.

NB: Series 2, originally slated for June 21, 28 & 29 was rescheduled due to a late decision to play the third and final Test between West Indies and New Zealand at Kensington Oval. It is to be played on October 18, 25 & 26.

First Published On

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 04:11