By Neto Baptiste
Emerging joint winners of the West Indies Cricket Board’s Regional One Day Tournament alongside Barbados back in 2010, has been identified by former Leeward Islands players and teammates Wilden Cornwall and Gavin Tonge as their most memorable moment with the sub-regional squad.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Cornwall, who captained the team that year, said players from that successful squad often reminisce whenever they meet.
“Even now, people still talk about that moment and the guys who were in that particular team always [relive] that moment because we left the Leeward Islands and went to Jamaica with no stars, no sort of Test players, no sort of One Day International players so it was just amongst ourselves,” he said.
“The belief was huge and even though we didn’t get the adequate training and, as a matter of a fact, the head coach at the time was Kuma Rodney and he was called into the job, I think, the night before we travelled. so you would see that the coach didn’t really do any work with us like to have atrial game or anything. We just went straight into the tournament,” he added.
Cornwall, who scored 1959 runs in 53 First Class matches, said winning the title was even more special given the treatment meted out to players that year and what he called the obvious lack of confidence placed in the team by those in authority.
“Every game that we played in that particular tournament, every morning they checked us out [of the hotel] because they never thought we were going to really make inroads into the tournament so when we got back from the games it was like chaos at the front desk because they had to check us back in. So it was like the belief was not there [from the administration] and there were the things that we went through as cricketers for the Leeward Islands,” the captain said.
“Seeing the passion in the players’ eyes in that tournament, I don’t think anything could have stopped us. We strung performances together here and there so we didn’t leave the job for anybody and when people got the opportunity they made sure they put in some sort of performance,” Cornwall added.
Meanwhile, Tonge, who also played a pivotal role in the team’s success that year, praised Cornwall for his leadership.
“That same tournament with Polo [Wilden Cornwall] lifted the trophy with Ryan Hinds; that was my best tournament with Leeward Islands. I want to go back a bit because you talked about fair play but Wilden didn’t get a fair chance because he didn’t play a next tournament after that and he was the captain and in that same match against Barbados I bowled two bad overs and I wasn’t happy. I went to him and I said, Will give me a chance and said Gavin you need to come off the ball and honestly he just took control of the whole game,” he said.
The final ended in a dramatic tie at Sabina Park on October 24, 2010.
Chasing 140 for victory, Barbados, needing one run off 12 overs, were bowled out for 139, as the last wicket pair of Tino Best and Kemar Roach attempted a suicidal single which resulted in Best being run out.
For Leeward Islands, Lionel Baker captured a career best of five for 33 and Tonge had two for 33. Kirk Edwards top-scored with 44 for the Bajans.
Earlier, the Leeward Islands, electing to bat, were bowled out for 139 off 32.5 overs with Best grabbing four for 28 and Ryan Hinds three for 30. Cornwall top-scored with 43.