Montserrat concludes Leeward Islands cricket tournament with lopsided loss to St. Kitts

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Photo courtesy Laurell Allen / Montserrat Cricket Association
The Montserrat cricket team warms up before its match against St. Kitts at Warner Park in Basseterre.

The Montserrat cricket team lost to St. Kitts by nine wickets on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at Warner Park in its final match of the Leeward Islands Tournament. It completed a rollercoaster 10 days that saw the Emerald Boys triumph in Nevis, then suffer decisive defeats to Antigua and St. Kitts while enduring a rash of injuries.

“I think we played good cricket overall,” said Montserrat all-rounder Deno Baker, who returned from the UK to participate in the tournament. “The guys haven’t really played cricket together for a while, and we beat a team like Nevis that plays year-round.”

The Leeward Islands senior cricket tournament returned for the first time since 2019 after being stalled by COVID, and the three-day version resumed for the first time since 2014. Teams were given only about five weeks to prepare, and the lack of match practices by the Montserrat team manifested in the form of some sloppy play and injuries.

The team fought hard, however, and cleaned up a lot of early miscues. There were many positives despite the disappointing finish. Among them:

▪ Joshua Grant, who scored 66 not out against Nevis, became just the fourth player in Montserrat history to carry his bat in a match, following Reginald Clarke (1952), Melford Harper (1983) and Franklyn Williams (1986). Grant led the team with 155 runs, followed by Shawn Tuitt’s 133. Shernyl Burns posted Montserrat’s highest score of 82 (against Nevis).

▪ After allowing 42 extras against Nevis and 22 vs. Antigua, Montserrat yielded only three in the finale against St. Kitts.

▪ Montserrat did not allow any batsmen to score a century, with the highest score 82 by Antigua’s Karima Gore. In fairness, the Emerald Boys did not have to face former West Indies players Rahkeem Cornwall (Antigua) and Kieran Powell (Nevis), who both missed those matches.

▪ Baker, despite battling illness in the final two matches, claimed a team-high 13 wickets in the tournament and was Montserrat’s workhorse, bowling 73.2 overs. He was named Man of the Match in the opener in Nevis.

“I had a fever and the flu,” says Baker, who was unable to bat or bowl in the second innings against Antigua. “I felt so left out. But once the new match started [vs. St. Kitts], I had to dig deep because I knew I was representing an entire country.”

Baker will now return to the UK and the Shelley Cricket Club, which has renewed his contract for this year.

Photo credit: Leewards Cricket
Deno Baker claimed 13 wickets in the tournament to lead Montserrat.

LOPSIDED MATCH

As for the finale against St. Kitts that began Monday, the hosts won the toss and sent Montserrat to bat. It was a wise decision as St. Kitts bowled out Montserrat for a measly 96 runs in 33.5 overs.

St. Kitts then scored 236, saddling Montserrat with a 140-run deficit. Montserrat coach Parmanand Jailall promoted Stevel Rodney to open the batting with Dion West. Rodney, who had been batting in the middle order, decided to adopt the “in for a penny, in for a pound” mantra and scored a sizzling 47 in 51 balls, including eight fours and a six.

“Once the balls are in my zone, I’m going to go after them,” says Rodney, who scored 119 runs in the three matches. “I’ve opened in the past, so I know how to deal with the new ball.”

As West played the deputy role, the two compiled a partnership of 56 runs before Rodney was caught in the slips trying to glide a delivery to third man. Rodney fell short of a half century for the second match in a row but his knock helped assure that Montserrat would not suffer an innings defeat.

Montserrat would eventually be dismissed for 179, setting St. Kitts a paltry 40 runs to win. The hosts knocked it off in 4.2 overs, hitting eight boundaries and losing only one wicket. St. Kitts wrapped up the win with an entire day to spare.

St. Kitts medium-fast bowler Rasheed Eddy – a cousin of former St. Kitts, Leeward Islands and Combined Islands all-rounder Victor Eddy – took 10 wickets for 89 runs in the match. He explained his strategy against Montserrat:

“Some of those guys would have played in England and know about batting for long periods. But batsmen eventually get frustrated. I just try to move the ball away from the right-handers and bring it into the left-handers. With the moisture in the pitch, it was a good day in the office. I was just doing my part and allowing the ball to do its part.”

St. Kitts and Antigua both finished the tournament with two wins and a draw. It is unclear when the next Leewards event will be held, although there is talk of a possible limited-overs tournament later this year.

Photo courtesy ZIZ Radio
Rasheed Eddy bagged 10 wickets to thwart Montserrat.

NOTES

Due to injuries and illness on the Montserrat team, Rushshawn Fenton was flown to St. Kitts last Saturday and played in the finale. Fast bowler Damion Williams (ankle), captain Zawandi White (knee) and top-order batsman Kasjuan Sullivan (torn hamstring) all sustained injuries. White missed two games, and Williams and Sullivan missed the finale. . . . Khairo White, who went scoreless against Nevis, was not selected for the final two matches despite the team’s injuries. . . . The St. Kitts lineup featured three brothers: Mikyle, Jeremiah and Jerrickson Louis. . . . Despite generations of regional standout players, St. Kitts has never had a player selected to the West Indies team. Nevis has had seven: Elquemedo Willett, Derick Parry, Keith Arthurton, Stuart Williams, Carl Tuckett, Runako Morton and Powell. . . . A member of the St. Kitts Cricket Association said most of the matches in the tournament were poorly attended. Interest in the longer form of the game has waned over the years as Twenty20 has increased in popularity.

A BIT OF HISTORY

The Leeward Islands Cricket Tournament was launched in 1913 by Sir Hesketh Bell, Governor of the Leeward Islands. The original four teams were Montserrat, Antigua, Dominica and St. Kitts-Nevis. In 1938, Dominica switched to the Windward Islands Tournament (Cork Challenge Cup). In 1940, Dominica was officially declared a Windward island by Britain. . . . There was no Leeward Islands tournament from 1940 to 1945 due to World War II. . . . Nevis joined the tournament in 1949 as an independent team and lost to Montserrat in its first match. . . . Montserrat has won the tournament four times – 1925, 1934, 1951 and 1953. . . . From 1913 to 1970, the tournament consisted of two semifinal matches and a championship match. Each island hosted the tournament on a rotating basis. In 1971, the format changed and all four teams were required to play each other, with each playing home and road matches. . . . Anguilla joined the tournament full-time in 1978. . . . Combined Virgin Islands joined in 1988. From 1991 to ’97, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands competed as separate teams, but in 1998 the Leewards cricket board forced them to “combine” again due to poor results. . . . 50-overs matches were added in 1989. . . . St. Maarten joined in 2003. . . . Twenty20 matches were added in 2010.

CLICK TO READ GAME STORY: MONTSERRAT DEFEATS NEVIS

CLICK TO READ GAME STORY: MONTSERRAT FALLS TO ANTIGUA

CLICK TO SEE SCORECARD: MONTSERRAT VS. ST. KITTS

CLICK TO SEE SCORECARD: MONTSERRAT VS. ANTIGUA

CLICK TO SEE SCORECARD: MONTSERRAT VS. NEVIS

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