Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Good final, but lousy league

Published:Sunday | August 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Billy Heaven-file

ON THE BOUNDARY Tony Becca

The 2014 Senior Cup cricket season ended with a bang as the two best teams produced some good cricket in a keenly contested and exciting final.

The competition, however, involved 23 teams, some 13 teams too many, and for a start, for a country with so few good players, with such poor facilities, with so few spectators, with so few good umpires, and with so little money, that is far too many.

Just looking at the end of season figures will tell you that so many teams is a waste of time, except in a situation in which participation, any kind of participation, is the important thing, probably the most important thing.

As the big national competition run by the national association, it is supposed to be more than that, however, much more that. It is supposed to be, and it should be, all about the development of players.

The number of teams with consistently low totals, embarrassingly low scores, the number of teams like the University of the West Indies, G.C. Foster College, Boys' Town, and many of the parishes, the number of matches finished in a day, the teams turned up short, the number of teams without grounds, the number of grounds were not up to standard, the number of teams which do not practice, and the poor umpiring are causes for concern.

The big competition must be for the better players, to play regularly with and against each other, to develop their skills, who really want to play, and to really understand the game.

This country, as well intentioned as it may be, simply has not got enough money to do what is necessary for development - to accommodate 23 teams in the competition, to pay for lunches for players on 23 teams, to pay for travel and accommodation for 23 teams, to pay the expenses of umpires for 11 matches every weekend, and most important of all, 23 teams, may be none of them, have enough money, can find the money, to fund the participation of their teams in a competition involving so many teams.

It takes money, a lot of money, to prepare a pitch for practice every evening (for those who practice or have a ground to practice regularly), for matches every weekend, to provide balls for practice and for matches. Then to provide facilities for spectators, regardless of how few, and it takes money, whether their own or the JCA's, to pay umpires and to provide meals.

Apart from development, that is one other reason why it is impossible to have a league so large.

SELECTING FROM THE BEST

Another reason is selection. It is better to select from the best than to have a large league with a large number of selectors going the rounds, looking for one who can play, then calling him to trials, and having another series of non-competitive matches before making the final selection.

On top of that, too many selectors cost too much money. Every selector wants a man, his man, in the team, and you end up voting for the members of the national team.

It is the responsibility of the Government, if it wants people, or rather, most of the people to play cricket, to organise competitions, like school competition and the good old youth club competitions with the assistance of the JCA where people of any skill level can play, and where the teams can be divided into many, many zones or groups until you arrive at a final, or many finals.

It is the place for participation, for exposure, and the place where young players with natural talent are "found", and from which they progress or are sent into the bigger and better organised competitions.

DEVELOPMENT IS THE GOAL

Those who think that a good player may escape the net in a competition reserved for a few teams need not fear. Those with the talent, and who wish to go further, will find their way into one of those teams.

They will either go there, be invited there, or be taken there.

That is the harsh reality of the situation, and it cannot be any other way, once development is the goal.

It is important to realise that good bowling is important, that good batting is important, and that good fielding is also important.

It is useless taking wickets against batsmen who cannot bat, on pitches which are not good, and before an umpire who gives every inquiry for leg before wicket. It is just as it useless scoring runs against bowlers who cannot bowl, against fielders who cannot catch, or facing umpires who will not give batsmen out, particularly for leg before wicket.

Six for 20 or seven for 30 by a bowler, 100 or 150 not out by a batsman are good returns, but they are only as good as where they are accomplished or who they are achieved against.

The Senior Cup cricket competition badly needs restructuring. It will take a little more money, for travelling and for hotel accommodation, but president Billy Heaven, and his team, should look at it now and do something about it now, even if it means parting company with some of those who selfishly defend the presence of their teams in the competition, and who voted him into office so overwhelmingly.