This March will once again see six of England’s first-class counties travel to Barbados for a sun-drenched pre-season tournament. We’re speaking to players from each of the teams about their experiences of the island and looking ahead to this year’s tour.
First up, it’s Hampshire’s Michael Carberry. A dominant top order batsman in all forms of the game and a versatile fielder famed for his speed across the ground whether in the ring or on the boundary, Carberry’s family heritage means he knows a thing or two about Barbados, and he’s looking forward to going back this year.
What’s been your experience of Barbados, Michael?
Barbados has got a special place in my heart because half my family’s from there, so going there on pre-season tour is a good opportunity to go back there and catch up with family. It’s a fantastic place to go, we’ve been lucky to get very good facilities when we’ve toured over there, and I think the boys in general have loved it and really enjoyed themselves. Just the nature of the place: a very easy-going sort of place, as it generally is in the Caribbean.
The facilities, both for playing and training are great, and also the hotels: we’re very lucky to get the accommodation we do. We’re working hard on our cricket while we’re out there but the place is like a holiday destination: it’s a fun and exciting part of the year for us.
And the people are pretty passionate about their cricket out there, aren’t they?
I would definitely say so. West Indies cricket took a bit of a hit in recent years but they’re on the way up again now. Talking to locals, they still have that deep passion for wanting the West Indies to do well, they’re the most loyal supporters I know. They love good cricket – even when we’ve gone and played against local Barbadian teams the people come along and support both teams, which is brilliant really. It’s just a great place to go and tour and a fantastic experience being there.
And what about this year’s tournament?
Once again, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m happy Hampshire are taking part again! From the cricket point of view it’s a great opportunity to get some tough matches against some other English counties in a summer climate, and to hone our Twenty20 skills at a time when that’s high up on everyone’s priorities – particularly with Hampshire being the English champions. And apart from that, it’ll be great for all of us to go back to Barbados: while it’s cold and raining here in the UK we’ll be loving life in the Caribbean!