Sun | Jan 17, 2021

Year of tests for regional cricket

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2021 | 12:10 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
West Indies’ Kemar Roach (centre) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of England’s Jos Buttler during the fourth day of the second  Test match against England at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Sunday, July 19, 2020.
West Indies’ Kemar Roach (centre) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of England’s Jos Buttler during the fourth day of the second Test match against England at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Sunday, July 19, 2020.

In a year when the global pandemic dominated the headlines, sports and in particular, cricket, took a major hit, with very little action on the pitch to speak about.

Only 22 Test matches and 44 One-Day Internationals (ODI) were played in 2020, with the West Indies taking part in just five of those Test matches and only six ODIs, in a year that was severely hampered by the pandemic.

An ODI series against Ireland in January kicked off what was supposed to be a hectic and productive year for the West Indies. The regional side made heavy work of the minnows before claiming the ODI series 3-0 and the three-match T20 series 2-0.

Then in late February, the West Indies went to Sri Lanka for three ODIs and two T20s, where Kieron Pollard’s men lost all three limited-overs matches before claiming a two-nil win in the T20 fixtures.

The away fixture in Sri Lanka would be the only action the West Indies would get until July, when they became the first team to travel and play after COVID-19 brought the entire world to a halt, in a biosecure three-Test series against England.

That series got off to the best of starts for the regional men, who defeated England by four wickets at the Rose Bowl, only to lose heavily in back-to-back Tests at Old Trafford.

It was not until late November that the regional side would play another Test match, this time it was away to New Zealand, where they would embark on another biosecure tour, featuring three T20s and two Tests.

It was a series the West Indies would want to forget in a hurry, as the Kiwis dominated all the formats, winning the T20s convincingly and then hammering the regional boys by innings defeats in the Test matches.

Both away Test series saw the emergence of Jamaican batsman Jermaine Blackwood, who ended the year as the most prolific West indies batter, scoring 427 runs in 10 innings, with one century and three half-centuries.

WOMENS’ TEAM

The West Indies Women also saw limited action in 2020, playing three games in Group B of the ICC World T20 Championship in late February and early March.

The Stafanie Taylor-led women defeated Thailand and lost to Pakistan and England, with their game against South Africa washed out.

It wasn’t until September of 2020 that the females would taste action again, failing to win any of the five T20 games they played against England.

YOUTH TEAM

The regional youth team, however, fared a bit better, as they made it to the quarter-finals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in January, before being eliminated by New Zealand.

On the regional side, the Barbados Pride were crowned West Indies champions, as they amassed 134.8 points in the eight rounds of matches that were played before the pandemic put a halt to the competition.

The first-ever biosecure Caribbean Premier League (CPL), which was held entirely in Trinidad in late August and early September, went to the Trinbago Knight Riders, who secured their fourth CPL title by defeating the St Lucia Zouks.

The competition wasn’t without its fair share of excitement off the field, as the Jamaica Tallawahs parted ways with Chris Gayle in acrimonious fashion.

Gayle, who was eventually signed by the St Lucia Zouks, pulled out of the competition for personal reasons. He also posted a series of videos on social media, lambasting Tallawahs assistant coach Ramnaresh Sarwan for his treatment and subsequent omission from the team.

On the local front, the Jamaica Cricket Association’s Senior Cup was halted at the fourth round on March 8, along with all schoolboy cricket action.

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