A bizarre declaration by Leeward Islands, in a bid to prevent their opponents Barbados from overtaking them, backfired, as they were edged out by 0.2 points anyway in the fight for second place in the WICB Regional Four-Day Tournament.
After being bowled out for 90 and conceding a first-innings lead of 101, Leeward Islands strangely opted to call time on their second innings at 83-2, when they were still behind by 18 runs. It meant Barbados picked up an innings victory which, as per Leeward Islands’ calculations, wouldn’t have sufficed for Barbados to secure enough bonus points to overtake them.
In the end, Barbados took home 17.4 points, which took their season tally to 134.2, marginally ahead of Leeward Islands, who grabbed 2.8 points from the match to end with an even 134 for the season.
#LEEvBAR BREAKING NEWS 🚨 The game between the Leeward Islands Hurricanes and the Barbados Pride has ended prematurely just before Tea on Day 2. We are uncertain what the official position is, but we will provide further information as it becomes available. pic.twitter.com/62N2eHSt6P
— WIPA (@wiplayers) March 15, 2019
Leeward Islands’ dismal first-innings 90 had already confirmed Guyana as the West Indies first-class champions, for the fifth season in a row. Right-arm medium pacer Keon Harding’s first-class career-best 5-29 had helped rout Leeward Islands inside 38 overs after Barbados opted to give their bowlers the first go.
That had left this match to be a tussle for second place, which Leeward Islands ultimately conceded for all their troubles. Montcin Hodge (40*) and Akeem Saunders (5*) were the two batsmen at the crease, when about 40 minutes after lunch on the second day, the striker began walking off after seeing a signal from the dressing room during a passing glance towards it.
The non-striker, who was a few seconds late in seeing it, followed his partner as the players began shaking hands. The on-field umpires briefly had a word with the fielding team’s captain, but by then the batsmen had already begun walking towards the dressing room.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 15, 2019
The on-air commentators at the time seemed to concur that the Leeward Islands’ move would effectively mean that Barbados cannot overtake them, although that turned out to be not true. There were also suggestions that this was a tit-for-tat move after Barbados declared their first innings at eight down.
The move was the source of anger and bemusement among onlookers. This is the second such peculiar declaration over the last week. Northern Suburbs, a Brisbane club team, recently declared their first innings on 14-1 against the University of Queensland in the hopes of avoiding the same opponent in the semi-final of the Queensland Premier Cricket first-grade competition.
The declaration drew the ire of the tournament committee, who imposed heavy sanctions on the club, after deeming their move to be contrary to the spirit of the game. Cricket West Indies, however, have announced no such penalty for Leeward Islands.