Mon | Oct 23, 2017

No smiles this time around

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A dejected Tamar Lambert walks away after being dismissed for 29 on the third day of the fifth-round match against Guyana Jaguars in the West Indies Cricket Board Professional Cricket League Regional 4-Day Tournament at Sabina Park on Sunday, February 15.

After many years of basking in brilliant sunshine, years in which Jamaica preened themselves in winning title after title under captain Tamar Lambert and on the back of Nikita Miller's bowling, Jamaica's cricket took a beating this time around.

At the end of a nice, long season, and after a promising start, Jamaica finished, not so much out of the running, but almost unrecognisable.

Playing 10 matches, Jamaica won three of the first four, lost five consecutively, drew two, including the last one, and finished in fourth position with 75 points, 73 behind winners Guyana Jaguars.

Finishing fourth out of six teams is not all that bad; after all, it had to rain sometime.

What was disappointing about Jamaica's performance is that it was, more or less, expected.

 

absent players

 

Although Jamaica, like Trinidad and Tobago in recent years, suffered from their many absent players, players like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, and AndrÈ Russell, Jerome Taylor, Sheldon Cottrell, and Nikita Miller, the defeats were disappointing, and they were disappointing because Jamaica have been doing well without some of them for a while now.

It was also disappointing because a team, a country, which prides itself in a good system and in producing good cricketers cannot be satisfied with producing only eleven or so good players while producing no one to step up when called on to do so.

It was also disappointing because this season was the season of return matches in one of the efforts to try and lift the standard of West Indies cricket, to try and return it to its glory days.

And it was also disappointing because of the poor structure of cricket in Jamaica, a structure which does not cater to development, proper development, but rather to recreation purposes.

Jamaica's cricket is in shambles. Senior Cup cricket, a competition geared towards development and reserved for those playing with a purpose, is now, basically, a waste of time. The clubs, the heart of organised cricket, are under pressure to survive. In fact, they are gradually being made useless.

The state of Jamaica's cricket is such that not only did Jamaica finish fourth; they ended with almost half the number of points of the winners and were not good enough to score even one out of the 26 centuries scored throughout the competition.

Jamaica also used 23 players while Guyana, for example, played 15 players throughout the competition.

Jamaica also used one or two players who were not even in the over 60 players who were called to national trials, players who originally were not even considered for selection.

In this day and age, trials are outdated, especially if you have a well-organised competition lasting a few months in which the best cricketers are involved.

'Trials' is a lazy man's way out, and it serves no purpose except to blur the lines between commitment and dedication and recreation, and to make one forget that all glitters is not gold.

Jamaica's cricket is crying out for an administration which understands that Jamaica will never again produce a good national team until there is cricket for everyone, until there is 'curried goat' cricket, friendly cricket matches, competitive community or business-based cricket for everyone, and until there is cricket in which skills are developed for international competition.

Jamaica's cricket is crying out for an administration which is strong enough to structure Jamaica's cricket in a way that makes the best use of the little money it has in an effort to provide better facilities and to separate the casual player for the serious player.

Jamaica needs its best players to represent Jamaica; players who are well trained and well groomed, players who have performed, and players who can perform and will perform.

Jamaica does not need to play as many players from as many places as possible, and they do not need to select a player simply because he is young.

Jamaica, probably more than anything else, also needs some committed and dedicated players; players who do anything, or almost anything, to play for Jamaica, and players who, for want of a better phrase, eat, sleep, and drink cricket.

 

Jamaica needs more players

 

Jamaica needs more players, young and old, players like Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Courtney Walsh.

Overall, the season, in which Barbadian Kraigg Brathwaite scored three centuries and another Barbadian, Shai Hope, top scored with 211, and in which there were 46 instances of five wickets or over in an innings with Versammy Permaul of Guyana topping the list with eight wickets for 26 runs and eight for 36, was a fairly good one.

The disappointment, however, was not only the many low scores on reasonably good wickets, and it was not so much Jamaica's failure to score 300 runs on more than one occasion: it was Barbados' performance at Sabina Park on the last day of the tournament.

With nothing to lose, or gain, Barbados in the lead by 250 runs with eight wickets in hand at the start of the day's play, batted throughout the final day to lead by 385 runs.

In that time, Barbados scored 135 off 75 overs. Before lunch, they scored a miserable 32 runs off 28 overs, half of them bowled, not by Nikita Miller and his stifling left-arm spin, but by Tamar Lambert with his slow and gentle slow off-breaks.