Bracegirdle's Blog: Thank You Barbados

Comment and Analysis | 26th March 2012

It’s been quite a hectic few days but a soporific afternoon watching Chris Read and Steven Mullaney make runs in the sun gives me a short opportunity to bring you another update from this incredible island.

So the main attraction – The Banks Barbados Twenty20 Cup – has been and gone. Sadly Notts won’t be returning from this trip with any silverware (the prizes were all made of wood, anyway!) but they can take credit from their win over the host island at Kensington Oval and they were then undone in the semi’s by another Gale warning from the Yorkshire captain.

Following on from his championship tons against Notts in 2010 and 2011, he blasted a ruthless 111 to effectively settle the semi-final on his own.

At the lavish presentation evening that followed at the home of the British High Commissioner, Gale, the man of the series, was presented with his award by Sir Garfield Sobers.

On this tour there’s not been too much to better the time we’ve spent chatting to Sir Garfield, however, on this occasion he was out-done by a comment, although he did get a mention.

The acting Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt Hon Richard Sealy MP took to the microphone to say a few words and he happened to come out with the quote of the tour. “Because of  Sir Garfield’s exploits all Barbadian school children grew up wanting to follow him and play for Nottinghamshire.”

Franklyn Stephenson, in the audience, confirmed that it had been his dream too!

Franky has been excellent company and an excellent host – the facilities at his training academy have been first class and his broad, cheery smile each morning makes you feel like it’s going to be another good day in paradise!

Although the Kensington Oval has been drastically altered over the years, in preparation for the 2007 World Cup, I’m pleased to have paid a visit to a ground I’ve always wanted to see.

There wasn’t quite as much West Indian cricket history on the walls and corridors of the stadium as I’d imagined – although there is a cricket museum just down the road which I didn’t get to visit.

I did jump on a bus on Friday though and visited another ground in the city, the 3Ws Oval. The Combined Campuses and Colleges were playing Jamaica there and it was a real pleasure to see the West Indian Walk of Fame at the stadium, with inscriptions on every Test century or 5-wicket haul taken by West Indian cricketers.

As the name suggests, the ground also pays homage to the 3 Ws, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes.

Frank and Clyde are buried there and you genuinely feel like they couldn’t have a better resting place - a beautiful ground and a fitting tribute to two of the all-time legends.

The current West Indian side don’t have too many legends at the moment but they have been involved in a thrilling ODI series with Australia during our stay here. Every bar and every home have the games on tv and every car radio is blaring out the commentary.

They say that the West Indies stops whenever cricket is being played – I don’t think there’s been too much productivity in the workplaces this week.

In every commercial break during the games there is a Digicel advert (the sponsors of the West Indian side) in which Michael Holding talks passionately about all of the countries in the West Indies coming together as one – his slogan is ‘Wi all in!” It’s very infectious, I hope Brit Insurance have something similar planned for this summer (I’m available for the voice-over work…..!!)

As our tour here draws to a close I should reflect on some of the other highlights but there have genuinely been too many to remember them all.

I can’t not include the monkeys – waking up and seeing real, live, wild monkeys outside the rooms, sitting on sun-beds and running around the resort is truly mind-blowing but they’re not the slightest bit intimidating.

Also our police motorcycle escort across the island – Mr CHiPS – that was a journey I’ll never forget.

Above all else though, this place has been about the cricket and the people. The pre-season camp has been enjoyed by all six counties and the characters and former players we have met have all made this a very, very worthwhile experience. Everyone is just so friendly.

Our tour organisers, Especially Barbados, and their two reps who have looked after us here, Tom Morris and Josh Jones, deserve buckets-full of praise. If this happens again next year, I can’t recommend it enough. The small group of supporters who have come out this time will vouch for that.

I can’t wait to come back - thank you Barbados!

tunbridge wells

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