Trinidad & Tobago surged to the Caribbean T20 title for the second time in three years after beating Hampshire by 36 runs in the final at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
It was a fitting result, with T&T the best team in the tournament having won all their games bar a rained-off group fixture against Hampshire. Having already sealed their place in the lucrative Champions League by virtue of being the best Caribbean side, T&T were free to entertain in the final.
On the day it was Darren Bravo that starred, emphasising again the glittering talent that West Indies fans desperately hope can shine at the World Cup next month. In front of a healthy crowd he ensured Denesh Ramdin’s decision to bat first was vindicated, despite an accurate start for Hampshire’s new-ball pair.
Danny Briggs, the 19-year-old left-arm spinner who will return to the Caribbean with England Lions in February, gave Hampshire an ideal start by removing Adrian Barath in the first over. Alongside Simon Jones, who ended the tournament joint top wicket-taker with 12 at 10.25, the pair restricted T&T to 10 for 1 after three overs.
Thereafter, with the change in bowling, Bravo cut loose. Tall, elegant and demonstrating again that Twenty20 batting extends beyond vein-popping power, he scythed five fours and two sixes in a 28-ball stay that changed the match. His clean striking down the ground, including a four and a six in successive deliveries from Chris Wood, was a notch above anything else in the game.
He found a willing partner is Lendl Simmons (31) and was eventually dismissed for 41 by the impressive Briggs. Ramdin’s late flurry, making 33 from 19 deliveries pushed the score up to 147.
If the target looked difficult during the innings break, it became much harder after Ravi Rampaul’s maiden first over. Jimmy Adams couldn’t get him away and set the tone for a scrappy Hampshire effort with the bat. Johann Myburgh fell second ball to Samuel Badree, beaten by a tossed-up legspinner and after making a promising 23 James Vince was the next to go, missing a pull shot to be bowled by Jason Mohammad’s offspin.
After 10 overs Hampshire 55 for 3 and had a chance but Sean Ervine, who may well have played his last game for Hampshire after rejoining the Zimbabwe set-up, fell to Mohammad and the chase fell away. Kevon Cooper picked up two wickets with his accurate medium-pace and despite a lone 28 not out from Benny Howell, Hampshire ended well short.
Meanwhile, the third-place play-off was a tighter affair with Jamaica holding off a spirited chase by Windward Islands to win by 9 runs.
The victory was crafted on Xavier Marshall’s careful 36, an unbeaten 43 from 21 balls from Danza Hyatt and a solid all-round bowling effort.