Gladiola, Empire set for exciting finish as spinners again dominate on another rain-hit day

Bridgetown, Barbados, August 19 – ( – Weather permitting, an outright win looms for either BWU/Superb Blend Gladiola or Empire on the third and final day of Series 1 in the 2023 BCA Elite division three-day Championship tomorrow following another badly rain-hit day.

Play was only possible at Rices in the south-eastern parish of St. Philip as Empire hit back with the ball after being led on first innings by 65 runs.

Set 142 to win, they will resume on 12 without loss.

The match has been significantly dominated by spin bowlers, who have taken all of the 29 wickets to fall including 18 for 166 runs today.

While not a single ball was bowled in the other four matches today, 50.4 overs were sent down at Rices.

Starting the day on 25 for one off 14 overs, Empire were bowled out for 103 in 39 overs. They were undermined by Matthew Jones, the burly, 27-year-old Gladiola captain and left-arm spinner, who grabbed seven for 40 off 17 overs including six for 37 off 12 overs today.

On the opening day, Jones had bowled rookie Yekini Miller for five as the batsman padded up, and following a delayed start of play at 12:46 today because of a drizzle, only eight balls were bowled before rain drove the players off the field.

Immediately on resumption, Jones, last season’s only bowler to haul in 50 wickets (Ave: 11.48; best of eight for seven) as captain of Carlton, who narrowly avoided demotion, showed why he must be respected.

He lured Dequan Alleyne to edge into the hands of first slip in Cyprian Payne before he had added to his overweek score of six.

Then in his next over, Jones had left-hander Kilano Brathwaite (one) leg before wicket as he essayed a sweep.

The Jones “train” continued merrily when Renako Harper (four) clipped an on-drive to short midwicket for Korie Miler take a comfortable catch.

Three balls later, allrounder Shakkae Marshall, sweetened by a straight drive to the boundary off the previous delivery, again drove and was caught at mid-off by Michael Agard Jr for 18 off 22 balls including two threes and one four.

The pressure was sustained when off-spinner Agard had left-hander Shaquille Cumberbatch (three) caught from a rebound after the ball was struck into the ankle of silly point in Giovonte Depeiza – the catch was taken by Dakio Worrell.

As skipper Camarie Boyce was putting up resistance, Jones removed former Barbados captain and current Empire coach Jason Haynes, caught at short leg without scoring and added the scalp of Romi Holder (six).

Opener Jai-Bari Yarde, who had closed the opening day on 11 but was unable to resume his innings at the start of play because of an emergency, then joined Boyce in adding a handy 27 off 20 balls before off-spinner Devon Phillips snatched the last two wickets in three balls.

Boyce hit the top-score of 29 not out off 46 balls in just under one hour with two threes and three fours, while Yarde made 26 off 44 balls including four fours.

Gladiola, minus Dave Lovell who was battling a suspected case of covid, were dismissed for 76 off 20.4 overs in the second innings.

Payne, with 25 of 39 balls including three threes and one four at No. 3 and opener Kemar Harte, who made 23 off 22 balls with four fours, were the only double-figure contributors.

Kobe Williams, an 18-year-old off-spinner, was the chief wrecker with a career-best six for 14 off 6.4 overs for a match haul of 10 for 77 off 19.4 overs.

Left-arm spinner Boyce took three for 48 off 10.2 overs to end with match figures of eight for 101 off 24.1 overs.

Now the eyes will turn to the skies.