England in the Caribbean – 18th February 2019

Despite the proud heritage of the ‘new Barbados’ which I described yesterday, there is still room for the ‘old colonial’ Barbados in today’s society, never more obvious than the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson which stands barely 100 yards in the centre of Bridgetown from the ‘Father of Independence’, Errol Walton Barrow.

Nelson was a product of his era, obviously, but as someone who engineered the workings of the Slave Trade and crafted the suffering of millions, it would have been understandable if his edifice had been quietly removed. But no, he’s a part of this country’s history. Good or bad.

And as for ‘bad’ history, the sight of the ‘Jolly Roger’ in Bridgetown Harbour was a stark reminder of South Africa’s memorable return to Test cricket in 1991.

On that occasion thy reached 123-2 chasing 201 for victory. A Rest Day was inopportune. The bowlers believed the game to be over with Peter Kirsten and captain Kepler Wessels at the crease. The team had been invited out for a ‘sunset cruise’ on the Jolly Roger. That was, and remains, code for ‘drink as much rum punch as you like.’

Actually, like most myths, the truth is somewhat different. The Jolly Roger’s hospitality may have been blamed for South Africa’s demise, but it had everything to do with Curtly Ambrose (6-34) and Courtney Walsh (4-31) who claimed the last eight wickets for just 25 runs.

England won their only warm-up 50-over game by 171 runs at the Three W’s Ground but, as pleasing as hundreds were for Jason Roy and Joe Root, the main event – for the majority of visitors – was the venue itself. It has taken decades to develop and now incorporates the West Indies Cricket “Walk of Fame” including plaques of every century and five-wicket haul in the history of the region. More tomorrow…

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