Cricket's global community expanded just a little further on Friday February 6 when the Netherlands Antilles hosted its first first-class cricket match. The Leeward Islands played host to the Windwards in their Carib Beer Series match at the Carib Lumber Ground, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. The Netherlands Antilles is now the 35th country to host first-class cricket.
The island of St Marten/St Maarten is split in two entities: the north (St Marten) is part of the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, while the south (St Maarten) is part of the Netherlands Antilles. St Maarten is also an associate member of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association and has fielded representative teams in tournaments within the Leewards.
The match itself finished in a draw on Monday afternoon. The Leewards made 378 for 9 declared in their first innings, Windward Islands replying with 435. Leeward Islands were 153 for 6 in their second innings when the match came to an end.
Devon Smith, who played for the West Indies in 2003, goes down in history as the first first-class centurion on Netherlands Antilles soil, scoring 153 in the Windwards innings. Windwards captain Rawl Lewis, who has a Test career bowling average of 318, comes away with the best innings (4/82) and match (7/124) bowling at the ground thus far, added to his 82 when he batted.
The LICA has spread its Carib Beer Series home games around this season, with none planned for their home base in Antigua. Having already played at Anguilla and Nevis, they head to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands later this week to play Barbados. They have added both the US and British Virgin Islands to their itinerary in recent years.
For the record, these are the 35 countries, as they exist today, which have hosted first-class cricket matches at one time or another, in alphabetical order. Fourteen of them are within the West Indies.
Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Montserrat, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Kitts Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, US Virgin Islands, Zambia, Zimbabwe.