Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Tony Becca | Remembering Ja's batting explosion

Published:Sunday | March 12, 2017 | 3:00 AM

Years from now, probably for many, many years from now, Jamaicans and West Indians, and especially those from the cricket fraternity, will remember February 15, 2017.

It was the day which Dinesh Ramdin, the unfortunate captain of Trinidad and Tobago, will never forget, and it was the day on which Jamaica carved their names into the history of one-day 50-over cricket with a stunning, almost unbelievable performance.

It was the day, in the semi-final of the West Indies Super50 tournament, when Ramdin won the toss at the Coolidge ground in Antigua, sent Jamaica to bat, and stood behind the wicket in amazement as Jamaica's batsmen went to town, racing to 174 before losing their wicket after 21.2 overs, their second wicket at 269 after 35.3 overs, and their third wicket at 432 in the 50th and last over of the innings.

It was also the day on which Chadwick Walton blazed 117 with nine fours and seven sixes off 96 deliveries in an innings reminiscent of those for Lucas and Kingston against Melbourne some years ago, the left-handed Steven Taylor blasted 88 with eight fours and five sixes off 71 deliveries, Jermaine Blackwood smashed 108 not out with six fours and six sixes off 8 deliveries, and the day on which Rovman Powell enjoyed the pickings by slamming 95 with six fours and nine sixes in 70 minutes off 45 deliveries before he got out in the last over going for his maiden century.

It was the day when Jamaica's batsmen exploded, when they had no need to call on Andre McCarthy or Devon Thomas and only asked John Ross Campbell to enter the fray with only three deliveries remaining, and when they scored 434 for four, the ninth highest one-day score of all time.

It was the day when sixes fell from the sky like raindrops, only on that day it was a nice, clear sky for the pyrotechnic-like display.

On that memorable Wednesday afternoon, Jamaica, batting almost as if in a totally different zone, and hitting the ball straight down the ground almost all

the time, peppered the small but appreciative crowd with 28 fours and 29 towering sixes.

It was not an elegant, majestic, and graceful style of batting, as it was a bold, aggressive, brutal, and attacking version of the art.

And that was not all.

After giving the bowlers of the two-time defending champions the thrashing of their lives, and before going on to meet Barbados in the final, the Jamaican bowlers went out and scuttled the Trinidad and Tobago batsmen, routing them for a paltry and embarrassing 142.

It was a splendid effort by the bowlers, and one in which Powell also paraded his bowling skills for all to see.

 

GOOD ON THE DAY

 

A big and strong cricketer with the mannerisms of the more illustrious Andre Russell, Powell is not a fast bowler.

As a medium fast bowler, however, he was good on that day, and he promises to get better. He hits a good length more often than not, he swings the ball into the right-hander quite well, he bowls a well-disguised slower delivery, and on that Wednesday, he cut down the batsmen to finish with five for 36 from eight overs.

The delivery, an in-swinger, which got out the right-handed Ramdin caught at the wicket, was a beauty, and those, out-swingers, which took care of left-handers Khary Pierre and Ravi Rampaul, both caught at the wicket, were wonderful deliveries, although they may well have been wasted on both batsmen.

The almost look-a-like of Russell is an all-rounder of immense promise, and as I remember the match, as I recall the brilliance of Jamaica, I shudder to think what heights Jamaica could, or can, achieve if they could take to the field, for any match, but especially for a one-day affair, with Chris Gayle, Walton, Blackwood, Marlon Samuels, Brandon King, Powell, Russell, Damian Jacobs, Nikita Miller, Jerome Taylor, and Reynard Leveridge.

 

PERFECT FOR BATTING

 

With Shannon Gabriel, Rampaul, and Rayad Emrit going for 91, 83, and 78 runs each, the bowling, admittedly, was average, the pitch was perfect for batting in a one-day match, and in 50 overs, the seven batsmen may not all get to bat, and even if they did, they all may not strike form.

A total of 434 in 50 overs is massive, and do not happen every day. If, however, the pitch is as good for batting, and if each batsman is at the top of his form and bats for even seven overs, it would be a massacre and the total unthinkable.

It would be an explosion to remember. The neighbours, and those owners of buildings close to the ground, would have to be constantly reminded to "mind the windows" as the ball, or balls, disappear over the fences and out of the ground in monotonous regularity.

As good as the Jamaica innings was, however, Jamaica did not win the final, simply because Barbados proved a better team, either that or maybe it was because of the state of the pitch, or because Jamaica did not bat as well, as confidently and as courageously as they did on that sun-filled day in Antigua.