‘Truth is often stranger than fiction,’ goes the saying. It certainly appeared to be the case in a specially arranged match at Carlton CC in Barbados when several outstanding performances from county players were put in the shade by a local bus driver’s hat-trick.
While a number of scheduled fixtures have already taken place between the six first-class county sides currently on tour, there are a number of players each day who can’t get a game.
In order to rectify this, a combined Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire XI were chosen to compete against a combined side featuring the spare squad players from Derbyshire and Warwickshire.
A local club player was allocated to each side to make up the numbers, with Warwickshire’s bus driver, Omar Wiggins, one of those used.
Paul Best scored a splendid century as Warwicks/Derbys made 266 all out from 40 overs. Tom Milnes, also of Warwickshire, hit 60, with Yorkshire’s Iain Wardlaw taking 4 for 35.
Azeem Rafiq (72) and Alex Lees (42) put on 103 for the first wicket after lunch to set up a successful run-chase, completed after Ben Phillips of Notts had smashed 77 from just 45 balls, with nine fours and three sixes.
Phillips certainly enjoyed his day, even though he was involved in an unusual twist towards the end. “Paul Best batted really beautifully on a good wicket but our openers gave us an ideal platform and I just went out there with a bit of a licence to play a few shots,” said Phillips.
“Both sides seemed a little light on specialist batsmen, so I relished the chance to go in at number four.” The former Somerset man sped his side towards their victory of 267 but within sight of the finishing post he fell.
“Most of the side had had a bowl,” added the 38-year old. “The ball was then tossed to the Warwickshire bus driver, who was making up the numbers in the game. He rattled me on the pad from his fifth ball and I was given out lbw. He then dismissed our local player first ball.”
At the start of his second over, Wiggins thudded one into the pads of Nottinghamshire’s George Bacon and, amidst jubilant scenes and great banter, the bus driver had got his hat-trick.
“All-round it was a really good day and very beneficial,” said Phillips. “But the day certainly belonged to Omar – a day he’ll never forget!”
The Yorkshire/Notts side reached the winning post shortly afterwards to complete a memorable three-wicket chase.