Antigua and Barbuda celebrated its 38th Independence Day on Friday, November 1. To mark the occasion in a cricketing context, here’s an Antiguan all-time XI formed by Antiguan players who have represented the West Indies in international cricket.
Ridley Jacobs (65 Tests and 147 ODIs from 1996 to 2004 – wicketkeeper)
One of the most prolific West Indian wicketkeepers, Jacobs takes the gloves for my team. Though he invariably batted lower down the order in Tests, he often opened in ODIs. The southpaw scored 317 runs at 45.87 in his debut Test series in South Africa in 1998-99 – even as the Windies were blanked 5-0 – and went on to score the first of his three Test centuries (113*) against the Proteas at Bridgetown in 2000-01.
Sylvester Joseph (five Tests and 13 ODIs from 2000 to 2007)
Partnering Jacobs at the top is Joseph, who made his Test debut at Old Trafford in 2004. His only international 50 was a gritty 58 that contributed towards a 35-run win for a West Indian side depleted due to a players’ strike in an ODI against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 2005. A day later, he captained the West Indies (instead of an ill Shivnarine Chanderpaul) against India, in what was to be his last ODI outing.
Vivian Richards (121 Tests and 187 ODIs from 1974 to 1991 – captain)
My captain is the great Richards, who redefined batting with his powerful stroke-making and game-changing abilities, which made him one of the legends of cricket. His epic 291 in the 1976 Oval Test and his incredible 189* in the 1984 Old Trafford ODI were two of the many gems that adorned his career. Adding to the package was his handy bowling, excellent fielding and aggressive captaincy.
Richie Richardson (86 Tests and 224 ODIs from 1983 to 1996)
Coming in at number four is Richardson, another former West Indian captain. Nine of his 16 Test hundreds came against Australia, including 131* and 154 in back-to-back matches in his first home series in 1983-84 and a rousing 182 at Georgetown in 1990-91. He led the West Indies at the 1992 and 1996 World Cups, with the semi-final of the 1996 edition against Australia being his international swansong.
Dave Joseph (four Tests in 1999)
Joseph’s entire international career spanned four Tests in a single series, at home against Australia in 1998-99. He scored a promising 50 in his maiden appearance at Port of Spain, but that would remain his only Test half-century in seven innings. In September 1998, he captained Antigua and Barbuda at the Commonwealth Games.
Rahkeem Cornwall (one Test from 2019)
Cornwall might have just arrived on the international scene, but he makes this team due to his all-round skills. The second Test against India in August 2019 saw the giant all-rounder make his debut for the West Indies – an apt reward for the waves he has made with his big hitting and impressive off spin in domestic cricket.
Eldine Baptiste (ten Tests and 43 ODIs from 1983 to 1990)
Interestingly, Baptiste played ten Tests in nearly seven years, and the West Indies emerged victorious in every one of them. The pace-bowling all-rounder’s best Test score of 87* came batting at number nine against England at Edgbaston in 1984.
Winston Benjamin (21 Tests and 85 ODIs from 1986 to 1995)
Though Benjamin never took a five-wicket haul in Tests, he did collect one in ODIs – a match-winning 5/22 against Sri Lanka at Mumbai in 1992-93. In the 1988 Test series in England, the fast bowler took 12 wickets at just 12.58 apiece. He was also useful with the bat, as shown by his 40* that steered the West Indies to a two-wicket win over Pakistan at Bridgetown in 1987-88, as well as his 85 at Christchurch in 1994-95.
Andy Roberts (47 Tests and 56 ODIs from 1974 to 1983)
Roberts became the first Antiguan to play for the West Indies when he made his Test debut against England at Bridgetown in 1973-74. The fast bowler’s best match performance of 12/121 (7/64 and 5/57) came in his fifth Test, in a losing cause against India at Madras in 1974-75. His best innings return was 7/54, in the second innings of the 1975-76 Perth Test. In 1976, he took 10/123 (5/60 and 5/63) at Lord’s.
Curtly Ambrose (98 Tests and 176 ODIs from 1988 to 2000)
The menacing Ambrose was the scourge of many a batsman, as a Test record of 405 wickets at 20.99 attests. The great paceman reserved his best for England – he took 164 wickets at 18.79 against them, with his 8/45 at Bridgetown in 1989-90 and 6/24 at Port of Spain in 1993-94 being the most memorable outings. Another defining spell was his burst of 7 for 1 in 32 balls en route to 7/25 against Australia at Perth in 1992-93.
Kenny Benjamin (26 Tests and 26 ODIs from 1992 to 1998)
Rounding off my XI is yet another fast bowler. Unrelated to Winston, Kenny first appeared for the West Indies in South Africa’s first Test after readmission at Bridgetown in 1991-92. He took 22 wickets in the home series against England in 1993-94, including a career-best 6/66 at Kingston. In the 1995 series in England, he snared 23 victims, and took his only ten-wicket match haul (10/174) at Trent Bridge.