Cricket - The Mecca of Island Sports

Cricket - The Mecca of Island Sports

It’s the game that glues thousands around the world to their television screens. Fills stands locally with fans who have come to rally around the West Indies or The Bajan Tridents teams and it echoes through the streets when moments of cheer are heard simultaneously emanating from households across the island during thrilling overs. The local atmosphere here comes alive with every wicket, Bajans simply cannot get enough of this beloved sport. 

When cricketers adorned in blue and yellow step on to the pitch, the energy of Bajans is like no other. Players can be sure that no matter what, the Barbados flag will be waving high as they give of their best on the field. From the moment the hard cork ball is bowled over to the bracing batsman, the action on the pitch begins. As the ball is struck with nuclear force and launched into the air, screams and horns ring through the stadium while the batsmen race between the creases to score the desired runs. The loud shouts of players in the heat of the game, high-fives after securing runs and the antics of those who make a brilliant catch or bowl come together to bring the spirit of cricket alive. The stands erupt with a sea of blue supporters flushed with smiles and periods of dancing make for lovely cricket. Win or lose, Bajans will talk about cricket for days and the moments ( good and bad ) that the cricketers that stood out at the game.

Cricket was first treasured at the community level, where the labouring class came together to play the game. Before cricket competitions were organized nationally, the first, First Class match against Guyana of 1865 was played at The Garrison Savannah, now a part of Barbados’ UNESCO Heritage Site. In fact, five Barbadian players were among the 17-man West Indies team who played against England in 1928. Over a century later, cricket runs through the veins of many locals and has since become an asset to Barbados’ culture. 

The island’s cricket mecca is the Kensington Oval, formerly the Pickwick Cricket Club, established in 1871. The first West Indies Test match of 1930 at the oval enriched its historic value. Since then, several One-Day Internationals and Twenty20 matches have drawn thousands of local, regional and international fans to the stadium. After the 2004 - 2005 cricket season, it received a major renovation to the tune of USD 135 Million allowing Barbados to become the first Caribbean island in the region to host the historic ICC Cricket World Cup of 2007 at the oval -  that game was unfortunately won by Australia. Cricketers from around the world ( England, New Zealand and Pakistan) have all showcased brilliant talent on the historic pitch.

Fans of cricket are welcome to visit Kensington Oval and walk the grounds where the magic has happened. View 3W’s stand honouring the famous 3Ws, the Late Sir Frank Worrell, the Late Sir Clyde Walcott and the Late Sir Everton Weekes who stand among the most outstanding Barbadian cricketers. The Oval is also home to the Barbados Cricket Association charged with organizing cricket at the national level and Barbados Tridents national team. The Barbados Tridents represent the best of the best in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) since it was formed in 2013. The 17-member team is led by Captain Jason Holder and has celebrated two major CPL wins, most recently in 2019. 

Take a journey through Barbados’ history of Cricket at the Legends of Barbados Cricket Museum. This museum is just a fast bowl away from the Oval and was established to coincide with the 2007 World Cup. The portrait room, press gallery and cricketing memorabilia found in the museum represent the value of Barbados’ distinguished players to the game. Though the building is small, fans of cricket for decades will not be disappointed by the comprehensive look at Barbados’ contribution to the growth of the cricketing arena. View the gear played in matches, relive some of the best moments of the game, watch the faces of players as they fight to bring the title home. A gift shop and the Pavilion Bar and Restaurant are also onsite. 

Barbados’ stronghold in international cricket has seen sports tours like The Cricket Asylum Sports Tour arranged for young cricket hopefuls from the UK, who play with the dream team of coaches and learn the island’s unique edge of playing the game from legends like Desmond Haynes. The Sir Garry Sobers International Schools Cricket Tournament has also brought the dreams of young male cricketers to life since 1986 - Boys from test playing countries namely the UK come to Barbados in July for two weeks to learn about 40 over cricket. Former West Indies cricketers such as Darren Ganga have benefitted from the tournament, as well as players from South Africa and England.

The cricketing stalwarts, champions of the game that have permanently etched Barbados’ name on the international pitch will never be forgotten. They have been commemorated through the 3W’s Oval at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus and The BCA founded the Sir Everton Weekes Center of Excellence cricket academy. Players on the current West Indies team such as Jason Holder, Kraigg Brathwaite, Haley Matthews and Deandra Dottin have benefitted from training at Kensington. 

Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes were dubbed a dynamic opening duo for their iconic plays in the 1970s and 80s and Sir Garfield ‘Gary’ Sobers is the most accomplished all-round cricketer in the world to ever touch a bat or ball. If you have not been convinced enough about the resounding talent of Barbadian cricketers, Sir Gary is sure to seal the deal. At 16 years, he made his debut and the world watched him excel on the field earning his keep as the greatest. The power of his batting is unforgettable, making him the first player to hit six sixes in an over in a first-class game. He held the highest score in one Test match innings of 365 not out made against Pakistan in 1958, only broken over 35 years later in 1994 by Trinidadian cricketer Brian Lara. He has been described as a “five in one cricketer,” for the mastery displayed during his career. Sir Garry was knighted in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II and became a national hero in 1998, currently the only living national hero in Barbados. 

The rich contribution that Barbados has made to international cricket can never be denied, as world-class cricketers from the soil are known among the greatest in the region and the world. It’s roots within Barbados’ history shows just how strong the Caribbean cricketing culture is within the blood of Barbadians. 

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