On July 25, 1971, Nevis was the site of the greatest collapse in Montserrat cricket history. After starting 104 for 1, Montserrat was bowled out for 114 and eventually lost by an innings and 118 runs. Grove Park has since been renamed to honor Elquemedo Willett, the Nevis bowler responsible for that painful Montserrat loss.
From February 19-21, 2023, the Montserrat team was in Nevis again. But this time there was no collapse. The Emerald boys won the toss, batted first, posted a solid 243 runs and held on for a 45-run victory. It was Montserrat’s first win on Nevis’ home field in a three-day match since 1959.
“We are so over the moon right now,” Montserrat fast bowler Damion Williams told Radio Montserrat on Wednesday morning. “I even shed a tear because of all the things we’ve been through as cricketers in Montserrat.”
Williams, who was recently with the Leeward Islands team competing in the West Indies Championship, claimed three wickets in the second innings for Montserrat.
The Leeward Islands Cricket Tournament was last contested in 2019, then canceled from 2020 to ’22 due to COVID. From 2016 to ’19, the tournament featured only 50-overs matches because of funding and other issues. Now, the three-day format has returned for the first time in a decade.
During the COVID hiatus, the Montserrat team played many intrasquad matches, and several players also joined clubs in the United Kingdom. The Montserrat Cricket Association has also been revamped, with the notable addition of coach Parmanand Jailall.
GRANT’S BIG FEAT
Montserrat opening batsman Joshua Grant made history Tuesday by scoring 66 not out in the second innings. He is one of a handful of Montserrat players to carry their bat in a match. The first was Reginald Clarke, who scored 49 against Antigua in September of 1952.
“I didn’t realize I made history until I saw someone post it on What’s App,” Grant said. “It feels great. I want to thank The Almighty.”
Montserrat’s first innings was boosted by a game-high and career-high 82 runs from Shernyl Burns. Kasjuan Sullivan added 63 and Jemol Williams chipped in a rapid-fire 45. Montserrat then bowled out the hosts for 142 runs, a total even more impressive considering Montserrat yielded 25 extras.
In the second innings, Montserrat lost some quick wickets late but Grant proved to be a crucial anchor with his unbeaten 66. Despite being bowled out for 152, Montserrat set Nevis a challenging 254 to win.
Nevis got off to a horrible 14 for 4 start, sparked by three quick wickets from Damion Williams.
A crucial breakthrough came in the 47th over when Carlon Bowen-Tuckett hit a lackluster drive straight back to the waiting hands of bowler Deno Baker, who claimed nine wickets in the contest and earned Man of the Match. Bowen-Tuckett was out on 68.
“I saw that he was getting comfortable and trying to hit everything to long-on or long-off,” explained Baker, who took the final five wickets. “So I flighted the ball and bowled it into his body. So he had no choice but to play forward right back to me.”
A dejected Bowen-Tuckett slammed his bat as he trudged off the field. His dismissal snapped a 78-run partnership with Adelvin Phillip. Bowen-Tuckett is the son of former Nevis, Leeward Islands and West Indies player Carl Tuckett, who served as an umpire in the match.
In the first innings, Montserrat captain Zawandi White stymied Nevis with his off-spin, taking three wickets for an economical 34 runs in 15.5 overs. But he sustained an injury and was unable to bowl in the second innings.
Montserrat’s previous win in Nevis in a three-day contest came in a semifinal match in 1959 when Kingsley Rock (125) hit Montserrat’s first century in regional cricket.
Following Tuesday’s victory, the team celebrated at its guest residence, then flew the following morning to St. Kitts, where it will face Antigua & Barbuda starting Thursday at Warner Park. St. Kitts and Nevis are hosting the tournament.
Montserrat has defeated Nevis only five times in Charlestown since Nevis began playing regional cricket as an independent team in 1949:
1951: Montserrat won in semifinal, then beat Antigua to win the Hesketh Bell Shield.
1959: Montserrat won in semifinal, then lost to Antigua in the final.
1991: Montserrat won 50-over match.
1997: Montserrat won 50-over match.
2023: Montserrat won three-day match.