Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Tony Becca | ​Sunday was like a holiday

Published:Sunday | July 16, 2017 | 7:00 AM
Evin Lewis celebrates his century against India during the T20 cricket match at Sabina Park on Sunday June 11.

Christmas comes just once a year, or so it is said, up until last week.

Last Sunday, July 9, was just like Christmas - or, at least, it was like a holiday. Everybody was happy and having fun.

I was on my way to Sabina Park and, all along South Camp Road, the touts were out, pleading with drivers to follow them, and they were 'selling' places to park.

At Sabina Park, the Jamaica Cricket Association's boxes were packed out, to the extent that I wondered where, all of a sudden, all these people came from. And Box 35 - probably the most popular box in Sabina Park, the box operated by Alva 'Corpie' Anderson, Novar MacDonald, and Lanville 'Sankey' Henry - was filled beyond capacity by doctors, businessmen, and ex-cricketers from as far as Montego Bay and Negril.

Sabina Park hummed with people, not with a capacity crowd, but with a near-full house, a crowd reminiscent of my boyhood days, when cricket was king, and of the Caribbean Premier League of more recent times.

In terms of the crowd, it was like the Sabina Park of old - cars all over the place, cheers and horns greeted every four, every six, and the people were happy.

They had come to see the West Indies tackle India. They had come to witness a T20 match. They had come to see five Jamaicans, including their heroes Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, in action. They had come to watch Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni bat, and they had come to see the ball fly over the boundary and into the stands.

They saw all that - and more

 

SKILL ON DISPLAY

 

They saw Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan put on 64 runs in the first five overs for India's opening partnership, to the extent that the crowd, despite cheering every run, wondered what the hell was happening to the West Indies bowlers.

They saw the skill of 19-year-old Rishabh Pant while he scored 38 runs off 35 deliveries with some crisp drives, as India danced to 190 for six at the pace of 9.50 runs per over. They saw Gayle hit one glorious six low over long off, while scoring only 18 runs in posting 82 runs off 8.2 overs with Evin Lewis, and they got a little bit of elegance from Samuels while strolling to 36 not out off 29 deliveries during an unbroken second-wicket stand of 112 in 10.1 overs, as the West Indies hopped to 194 for one in 18.3 overs at the rate of 10.45 runs an over.

 

MARVELLOUS INNINGS

 

What they really saw, however, and what they will probably never ever forget, was a truly fabulous innings of 125 not out by 25-year-old left-hander Evin Lewis.

Going to bat a little after high noon and in the shadows of the towering Gayle, Lewis walked off Sabina Park much his own man, not equal in stature - at least not yet - but well on the way.

For 62 deliveries, bowled by some of the best T20 bowlers around, he really sailed into the attack, hitting the pretenders all over and out of Sabina Park, much to the delight of the crowd.

It was not a chanceless innings, but it did not matter. It was a stroke-filled and lovely innings, during which he lit up Sabina Park, and it included six fours and 12 towering and exciting sixes.

Who is Evin Lewis?

He is a Trinidadian who has an average of 34.75 from T20 internationals, and an average of 26.47 for 19 ODIs, with two T20 centuries and one ODI century.

He also plundered a truly exciting 91 not out off 51 deliveries against Pakistan earlier this year, an explosion that included five fours and nine sixes.

Brilliance is hardly consistent and, so far, as exciting a batsman as he can be, Lewis has been inconsistent. He has either flourished beautifully a few times, or he has failed to produce many times. The hope is that he will twinkle, like the stars, many more times, and that he will fulfil his vast potential.

Last Sunday was really like a holiday, and particularly so for Jamaicans.

In far-away England, the West Indies Women also bounced back from an eight-match losing streak - an embarrassing losing streak at that - to beat Sri Lanka in the Women's World Cup, and in San Diego, Jamaica's footballers, the Reggae Boyz, thrashed CuraÁao, the Caribbean champions, 2-0 at the start of the Gold Cup.

Two goals in one match, plus no goals against is an achieve-ment, a remarkable achievement.

Last Sunday was, indeed, a day to remember. It was a day when the West Indies won at cricket, when they won handsomely, and when Jamaicans turned out in their numbers to witness the event and to cheer them on.

The stands at Sabina Park were still buzzing long after Lewis had left the park.