As a popular summer sport, cricket has long been synonymous with The Caribbean and remains the region’s national sport. The dominance of the West Indies national team throughout the 1970s and 80s is still the source of much pride for islanders and their impact on the game remains prevalent across the sport today. The relaxed, fun-loving atmosphere of Caribbean culture complements the social and convivial tone of cricket perfectly and it is for this reason The Caribbean plays host to many important fixtures and international tours each year.
In March 2016, three English County Championship teams will fly to Barbados for a series of matches hosted across the island at notable venues including The Kensington Oval. Division One teams, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire, will join Northamptonshire to play competitive matches against each other and the Barbados national and university teams. Matches are open to the public and provide a rare opportunity to see some of England’s best players in one of cricket’s best loved countries.
The ten day tour is packed with a variety of cricket, including four day and T20 matches, whilst giving fans the unforgettable experience that is Caribbean cricket!
The 2016 tour will see players fly out on the 7th March, ahead of the first fixtures on 12th March. Teams will compete for the Barbados T20 Cup, with last year’s winners Nottinghamshire looking to defend their title for the fourth year in a row, having left the island as champions in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The series does not coincide with any England fixtures and, therefore, it is expected that many international players will be partaking in the tour as part of their pre-season schedule. Notable names scheduled to join this tour include Fidel Edwards, James Vince, Samit Patel, James Taylor, Alex Hales and Owais Shah.
The Kensington Oval is one of the most famous sporting grounds in the world. Locally referred to as ‘The Mecca of Cricket’, the ground has played host to some of the game’s most exciting and memorable matches, including the 2007 Cricket World Cup final. Located in Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown, the ground has a capacity of over eleven-thousand and, in true Barbadian style, has a party stand for spectators wishing to experience carnival-style cricket. The stadium has also appeared on Barbados postage stamps as acknowledgement of its importance to the island.
After having undergone extensive refurbishment in recent years, The Kensington Oval now boasts premier hospitality suites, television viewing stations around the ground and a pedestrian pavilion. The grassy-bank is always a popular location for those wishing to soak up the sun as they watch the game, whilst Jacuzzis have previously been provided for fans seeking a far more relaxed, and unique, match experience.
Just a stone’s throw from The Kensington Oval is the Legends of Barbados Cricket Museum. Located in historic Herbert House, the museum features many fascinating exhibits exploring Barbados’ famed cricketing past and profiles some of their best-loved, and most formidable, players. Highlights include the official portrait gallery, memorabilia room and gift shop; the perfect addition to any Barbados itinerary.
With Barbados already the destination of choice for a luxury beach holiday, setting aside a day or two to watch some cricket heavyweights do battle in the Bahamian sun is sure to make your stay truly unforgettable.