The ICBL Empire cricketers and fans could be celebrating their 100th anniversary by popping the champagne from as early as tea time or shortly afterwards today.
The Bank Hall-based “Home of Champions” should be opening their trophy cabinet to welcome their first top-level league title since 2004 as they need just two more points to be assured of this year’s LIME Elite championship.
After scoring the day’s highest total of 331 for seven against the under-strength Guardian General Barbados Youth on last Saturday’s opening day of the penultimate series, Empire are expected to declare at their overweek total.
The Empire bowlers, led by this season’s leading wicket-taker Jomel Warrican, who needs one more scalp for 50 wickets, will then be seeking to capture at least five wickets in the first instance for the first two bowling points.
The “Blues”, who won a record six consecutive games before drawing in the last series with the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP), are on 122 points.
Empire’s task has been made even easier because defending champions CGI Maple, who started the round on 87 points, surrendered their slim hopes of retaining the title by failing to get any batting points, capitulating for 70 against lowly LIME.
LIME, who will resume from 51 for one, will be seeking to score over 200 runs and not only collect at least two batting points, but also push for a victory over Maple.
A win would significantly ease LIME’s relegation worries after starting the round on 47 points, ahead of only Barbados Youth, who are exempt from demotion.
In a match at Paragon between two teams also looking to escape relegation, CounterPoint Wanderers dismissed BDFSP for 192 to earn four vital bowling points but made a shaky reply of 27 for two.
Having started the round on 54 points, the same as ESAF Pickwick, who gained four bowling points after dismissing Massy Stores Spartan for 175 at Foursquare Oval, Wanderers will be hoping to get a 200-plus total and collect batting points and first innings lead.
BDFSP, who are on 57 points, will however, be looking to limit Wanderers to under their total to get points for bowling and first innings honours.
Brathwaite Construction/Republic Bank St Catherine, who are not entirely out of relegation danger, collected seven points to move to 63 after routing traditionally strong Sagicor UWI for a paltry 75 and responding with 125 for seven at the close. (EZS)