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The Barbados Tour was the culmination of a two year development project with our U19 Representative Cricket Squad.

Five affiliated clubs were represented in the twelve-man squad, with four players from Upminster Cricket Club, two from Halstead Cricket Club, three from Maldon Cricket Club, one from Loughton Cricket Club and two from Billericay Cricket Club. 

The staff team consisted of EBGC’s Charlie Douglas-Hughes (also a Senior Member of Halstead Cricket Club), Keith Hurst (Frenford Clubs) and Spike Townsend (Colne Engaine Youth Club).

The team met at Gatwick Airport bright and early on the morning of the 6th of August, the meet up and subsequent 9 hour flight went without a hitch, barring one of the lads bringing his mum’s passport instead of his own!  Fortunately his parents managed to make it back to Gatwick with 5 minutes to spare with his actual passport!

Day 1 (06/08/16)

We arrived in Barbados at 2.30pm local time and our pre-arranged transfers took us to the All Seasons Resort, just next to Holetown on the West coast of the island, where we would be staying for the tour.

After arriving at the resort we split the boys up into their rooms of 4 before allocating a food budget to each of them (100 Bajan Dollars per room – £40).  This budget was allocated every 2 days to each room, and the boys were given the freedom to add to it from their own spending money if they wished, and to spend it where they saw fit in order to cater in full for themselves.  We visited the local supermarket once everyone had unpacked and settled in, before spending the evening acclimatising at the resort.

Day 2 (07/08/16)

We departed from the resort for our first training session at Combermere School (former students include England Cricketer Chris Jordan, and singer Rihanna).  The temperature was 36 celcius, with extremely high humidity!  We trained on two artificial nets, a rare commodity in Barbados.  The boys were eager to play and we had a high energy training session (including obviously plenty of breaks for water etc.!)

After the session we returned to the hotel before heading over to the local beach for some beach cricket and swimming.  With the heat having taken its toll, we spent the evening at the resort with the boys taking the opportunity to brush up on their culinary skills.

Day 3 (08/08/16)

First game v. Isolation Cavaliers (35 overs):
EBGC lost the toss and were duly asked to take to the field in the hottest part of the day!

Isolation Cavaliers: 187-6 (W. Chuter 7overs 38-2, W. Bukhari 7overs 27-2)
EBGC: 144-10 (N. Jani 28, M. Bryant 28)  

EBGC lost the game in the end by 43 runs, with the damage being done by a quick fire 50 from the Cavaliers number 8 to push the required rate over 5 an over, before the Cavaliers young 14 yr old off-spinner put in a match winning performance with the ball, taking 5-22 off his 6.4 overs.

Having been completely at ease against the seamers, EBGC were soon undone by the Cavalier’s spinners on a slow, bouncy, turning track.  It was a learning experience for them playing in very different conditions and climate and we reflected as a team afterwards the different options they have when batting against spin.

Day 4 (09/08/16)

In the morning we had a tour of Harrison’s Cave, a famous network of caves which is one of Barbados’ natural wonders.  It was an interesting experience and great to go into the cave network itself.

After Harrison’s Cave we had the transport drop us straight off in Bridgetown, where we sampled the local cuisine for lunch before walking to the Kensington Oval (the International Test Ground) for a tour.  This was a great experience for the boys as they were given full access to the ground and pitch.

Our return journey saw us take a ‘yellow bus’ back to the resort, which was certainly an experience!  In Barbados, blue buses are government owned and similar to what you would expect from a bus journey in England, yellow buses (or ‘Reggae Buses’) are privately owned.  With around 50 people crammed on to a 24 seater bus, and rap music blaring out of the 8 custom installed speakers (the sound system was likely worth more than the bus itself!), it was certainly an experience the boys will never forget!

Day 5 (10/08/16)

Second game v. Diamondshire CC (30 overs)

EBGC won the toss and elected to bat.

EBGC: 22-1, match abandoned due to rain.

Unfortunately, after a cautious start, the heavens opened after 8 overs – a 20 minute deluge which completely waterlogged the pitch – and the match had to be abandoned.

All was not lost however, as a impromptu quick cricket game was arranged with mixed teams and was contested in a very competitive manner!

A good day for the boys, despite the weather, as they were able to mingle with the opposition players and enjoy a good-spirited game.

Day 6 (11/08/16)

Third match v. Northern Cricket Academy.

Unfortunately the weather got the better of us again, with monsoon like rain hitting the island and lasting the entire day.  We travelled to the game and were provided with lunch, however there was no chance of any play at all.

When we got back, we decided to take a trip to a beach not far away to visit ‘Ju-Ju’s Beach Bar’  one of the most famous beachside restaurant/bars on the island.  Unfortunately, whilst swimming, one of the boys encountered a sea urchin and was unlucky enough to tread on it, something which is extremely painful!  However the injury was not serious (apparently it happens at least once every two days in that area!) and the restaurant was able to get someone to drive to the local pharmacy and get candlewax – which is spread over the area where the spines had broken off in the unfortunate lad’s foot, then melted to draw them out. This worked to an extent, but we soon returned and took the lad to the medical centre where they cleaned it up and advised continued treatment with the candle wax.

That evening we took the boys out to a charity match at the University of West Indies which we had happened to read about in the local paper.  Upon arrival, we were shocked that the first person we saw sitting outside the pavilion was none other than legendary international cricketer Chris Gayle!  He was soon joined by a number of other West Indies internationals, including Sulieman Benn, Andre Russell and Darren Bravo.  The night was an incredible experience for the boys as they were able to talk to the West Indies players and get photos with them all.  At the end of the game we were treated to a rendition of Darren Bravo’s ‘Champions’ song from the man himself.  One of the highlights of the tour, this opportunity, which came about by chance, will not be forgotten by any of the boys.

Day 7 (12/08/16)

This was the first of our two Charity Days.  We were scheduled to help with a reforestation project on the East of the island planting trees etc.  Unfortunately, despite the weather being good that day, when we were half way there we had a call from the organisers to say they had had to cancel as the rain the previous day had left the ground completely water-logged, and any planting impossible.

We returned to the resort before heading out to a local ‘Crazy Golf’ course.  This was an impromptu visit which we decided to lay on as a result of having had the last two games called off.  Inevitably, the golf was highly competitive and it was a good way to spend the afternoon.

In the evening we headed over to Oistins Fish Fry in the south of the island.  This is one of the most famous nights on the island, with a maze of street vendors selling local delicacies such as Flying Fish, Red Snapper, Fishcakes and Marlin.  All this was infused with a party element, with a DJ and dancers on stage.

Fortunately the boys’ behaviour was exceptional, and at the agreed time of 11pm they were all back and ready for the bus back, having stayed together as a group for the entirety.

Day 8 (13/08/16)

In the morning we had our second training session at Combermere School, before heading over for our second charity event at the Government Industrial School.  The school is a Bajan equivalent of a Youth Offenders Institute, and is the only one on Barbados.  After a reticent start, the boys soon started to mingle and speak to the young people serving sentences at the school.  They were able to donate a considerable amount of sports kit which they had brought with them and were taught the game of ‘Road Tennis’  a game played with wooden paddles and a tennis ball with the outer skin removed, resembling table tennis more than anything else.

This was a really great experience for them and they were given an insight into the life of young Bajans, many of whom from the poorer parts of the island.

In the afternoon we took the boys out to the beach for lunch and the opportunity to relax, before we had a team meal at a local restaurant in the evening.

Day 9 (14/08/16)

Match Day: AM –  T20 v. Queen’s College, PM – T20 v. Wildey Sports Club

Game 1:

EBGC won the toss and elected to bat.

EBGC – 122-6 (20 overs) (W. Bukhari 52*)

Queen’s College – 123-6 (19.4 overs) (R. Bawden 3.5overs 24-3)

A brilliantly close match with Queen’s College winning with one ball to spare.  A game that EBGC perhaps should have won after a questionable decision to bat first on a damp wicket!

Game 2:

Wildey CC won the toss and chose to bat.

Wildey CC: 87-7 (M. Carter-Miller 4overs 4-1)

EBGC: 89-1 (F. Hazle 29*ret.)

In the end an easy win for EBGC after an extremely good bowling performance to limit Wildey to 87.

After the games we returned to the resort before heading out to local restaurant ‘Ragamuffins’ for a team meal and show.  It was however family friendly and turned out to be an enjoyable evening!

Day 10 (15/08/16)

As a treat to finish the tour we had booked a Catamaran Cruise up the west coast of the island where the boys had the opportunity to snorkel with sea turtles.  This was a fantastic way to round up the tour and it was a hugely enjoyable day – fortunately there was no rain!!

Day 11 (16/08/16)

Departure day – we left the resort and caught our flight at 5pm local time, arriving safely in the UK after some interesting turbulence on the way at 6.30am.

In all, a great experience for all of the boys.  Their behaviour throughout was very good and there were no instances where they over-stepped any limits that had been placed on them.  Having worked with them across a two year period was definitely an advantage, as they already had a fairly clear idea of the boundaries and there had been plenty of time to establish a level of respect.

Author ~ Charlie Douglas-Hughes