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.
James Taylor will be jetting straight from an England Lions tour in Australia to join up with his Nottinghamshire teammates in Barbados and the England middle order man is hoping the Outlaws can emerge as victors from the Barbados Twenty20 Cup and take that winning feeling into the county season.
Presumably a pre-season tour to sunny Barbados is one the players particularly look forward to?
Yeah, it’s perfect really because it allows us to do stuff that we wouldn’t really be able to do in England, like hit plenty of balls and bowl and field outdoors. In England you’d be doing it in about minus five degrees! The facilities are quality and the fact that we get to play against tough opposition makes it all very worthwhile. It’s a great way to get the guys up to speed before the season.
You’ve been to Barbados before with Nottinghamshire and England Lions. What were your impressions of the island?
It’s amazing! I spent three weeks out there with the Lions a couple of years back and the island is perfect, it’s a beautiful place. It was the perfect start last season because I’d just joined Notts and then off we go to Barbados! The amazing facilities you get out there just make it even better.
Does playing against your rival counties give the tournament that extra competitive edge?
Yeah, no one likes losing games and as much as it is a warm-up tour, for us it’s also crucial to get back that winning mentality and to try and win as many games as we can. If we can win out there it’s a really good start to the season and will stand us in good stead when the new campaign begins.
Is the passion for the game in the Caribbean still there for all to see?
Yeah, the locals definitely still love it. It’s probably still the main sport. There is a good vibe about the place and the West Indies have got some good young players coming through. Obviously they’ve still got some greats like Chanderpaul playing and with some exciting young talent breaking through, West Indies cricket is looking in good shape going forward.
What kind of crowds do you get for the tournament?
It’s a mix of both locals and tourists who come to watch the matches, which creates a really great atmosphere. Some locals come along to watch a bit of cricket and then there are some tourists who come out to support their club. It’s great for the players to have that fan-base come out to Barbados and support us.
Fancy a pre-season trip to Barbados? Click here to book your trip to see Notts play Twenty20 in a Caribbean paradise