Published in The Boar on the 1st May, 2015.
19 of the University of Warwick Men’s Cricket Club (UWMCC) finest clubmen, led by veteran tour secretary Jack Jewson, traversed the Atlantic this Easter on a memorable pre-season tour of Barbados. Across 12 days they played seven matches against some of the island’s most competitive high schools and cricket clubs, while immersing themselves in a relaxed Caribbean culture that delivered much in the way of sunny beaches, jerk chicken and endless rum.

Despite finishing winless to continue a long-standing UWMCC international tour tradition, there were some notable cricketing highlights. Club badger and 3s captain Ed Cooper struck a fluent 58 off 67 against Banks Brewery CC, riding his luck with the edge of his bat in the early stages before capitalising on the distinct lack of depth in the oppositions’ bowling attack. His consistent contributions with the bat throughout the tour meant that he finished as the tourists’ top run-scorer, narrowly pipping his predecessor David Barclay to the prestigious accolade.

Cooper also captained in by far the most thrilling match on tour and very nearly the club’s first ever international tour win. Chasing to win in a T20 under the dimly lit Bajan sky, the UWMCC fell 2 runs short in nailbiting circumstances at the death to the anguish of the tourists and the delight of the watching locals. A disciplined bowling and fielding performance had given Warwick a massive chance of victory going into the second innings but unfortunately they remained true to their tag of perennial bottlejobs, somehow failing to keep up with a modest required run rate of just over five. Indeed, a failure to cope under the pressure of the chase proved to be the theme of tour and perhaps the defining feature of this UWMCC contingent.

While Cooper starred with the bat, Jacob Sargeant of Warwick 1s fame stood out with the ball in hand. The all-rounder took 5-49 against the renowned Combermere School, a superb achievement considering that the opposition fielded eight high-class Barbados U19s and one West Indian U19 international. Sargeant’s excellent bowling average of 17.5 across his four games played is likely to impress 1s skipper Henry Hayes as he assesses his seam bowling options before the season commences.The group shared the island with county cricket clubs Warwickshire, Northants, Nottinghamshire and Hampshire, all of whom were also preparing for the upcoming cricket season, albeit against a slightly different calibre of opposition. They boasted the likes of England cricketers Boyd Rankin, Samit Patel and Jonathan Trott in their ranks, leaving some clubmen awestruck to say the least when we met them on the first night at a local street party. Although there were multiple attempts to engage the county cricketers in a friendly match or failing that a more winnable boat race, it is fair to say that they were far less interested in us than we were in them.

Aside from the cricket, the tourists enjoyed an island tour as well as a thoroughly enjoyable day-long Catamaran cruise on the penultimate day of their stay which included swimming with turtles and an open bar that was taken full advantage of. Barbados’ plentiful bars, clubs and beaches were frequented too, as clubmen strove to expand their horizons beyond POP! on a Wednesday night and develop a more Caribbean style of dancing. Having said that, there was still time for a highly entertaining tour circle at Bridgetown’s notorious ‘Harbour Lights’, which preceded unarguably the loosest night on tour.

After enjoying an eventful fortnight in the Bajan sun which the tourists were hesitant to leave behind, the UWMCC return to Fortress Cryfield in the coming weeks with high hopes of a successful season and promotion for all four of the club’s BUCS teams. Let us hope that the Caribbean diet of fast bowling and macaroni pie stands them in good stead for what promises to be an exciting season of cricket ahead.