Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Tony Becca | Some words of advice for president Billy Heaven

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2016 | 5:00 AM
Heaven

The Senior Cup cricket season is over, and congratulations to Melbourne on being crowned champions, and to St. Thomas for reaching their first final.

The question may well be asked of Melbourne, however, and justifiable so, and especially by cricket lovers, champions of what?

The season has come and gone. It lasted only a few weeks, between late March and early May, and it only lasted until May because of a protest which extended the season by one week.

Melbourne, having won the cup for the umpteenth time, although not for some time, may not mind it. They certainly will not mind winning the $500,000 prize money, and neither will the one or two players who did really well as batsmen, bowlers, and as fielders, throughout the exercise.

With 23 teams playing in the competition which was divided into four groups, probably because of the lack of money, with each team playing four or five matches before going in the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, and the final, the competition was too short, much too short at that.

Whatever is said about Jamaica's cricket, regardless of how many people play the game, regardless of how many competitions there are around the country, and regardless of who wins these competitions, Jamaica's cricket is poor, and it is getting weaker and weaker.

Once upon a time, cricket was the number one sport in Jamaica. Today, it is not so. Today, and it really does not matter, it is number three, behind football and track and field, or track and field and football.

 

Losing ground

 

What matters really is that cricket has been losing ground over the years, and, in losing ground in its popularity and its influence, it has, like the West Indies, lost its strength.

Cricket needs some serious action if it is to survive, and if it is to make a U-turn and show some improvement while really developing itself.

Cricket needs to divide itself into three groups, into those who play for fun and exercise, those youngsters who play to get better, and those who play seriously with the aim of doing so professionally at the first-class level and beyond.

Jamaica's cricket needs many competitions for its many players. The Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), however, needs to spearhead one long two-day competition so that its few talented players can train daily to play against each other on Saturdays and Sundays in return matches for a season of 14 or 18 matches.

Rome was not built in a day, and the standard of Jamaica's cricket cannot and will not be built in a day, regardless of who thinks so.

 

Will improve

 

Most of Jamaica's good cricketers, as happened this year, play cricket for four or five weeks a year, in March and April, but what happens in the months of May, June, July, and August?

Those are the months for cricket in Jamaica, and the more we play, properly, with the best up against the best, the more we will improve.

We need a long season annually in which to develop our cricket, for the best to play against the best, on good pitches and on bad pitches, in rain or shine, for the batsmen to really learn to bat, for the bowlers to really learn to bowl, (fast leg breaks, googlies, et cetera), and for everybody to learn how to field properly.

We need a competition of the best eight or ten clubs playing all over Jamaica in one league of return matches. Those clubs will eventually attract the best players, and with the clubs falling in line with good work habits and good discipline, with the players playing the right atmosphere and learning from it, the Jamaica team should be selected from these players.

So many players do not train properly, so many players are not coached properly, so many players believe that they are good, and so many people believe that there are many talented players in this country.

I do not know, but I do not believe so.

But for a few, I do not see them.

What I see every day are batsmen who drive beautifully through the covers one or two times, batsmen who play a cut shot or two, and get out for 10 or 20 runs.

I also see bowlers who bowl on a length most times, but who never attempt to bowl something like a "wrong 'un" or even a "flipper".

Although a few of our batsmen look good, even when not in the nets, I have not seen, for a long, long time, a batsman bat for a day or a team bat out a day in a Senior Cup match.

 

Six-wicket hauls

 

Some of our batsmen score hundreds in local cricket. They hit the ball to all parts of the field, and some of bowlers take five or six-wicket hauls by just attempting to bowl wicket to wicket, and that is fine.

Put a Jamaica cap on their heads, however, send them out to bat or to bowl for Jamaica, and they look, most of them, like misfits.

Jamaica is not a rich country, and it cannot do the things that others can do. It can, with a little planning, however, do a lot more to develop our cricket, or, at least, to make it as good as it was once upon a time with what we have.

We do not need to talk about longer terms in office. Two years is a long time, and neither do we need to propose term limits for officers. Jamaica is too small a country.

The JCA needs to talk to the Government also. The Senior Cup should be the biggest competition in the land, and, therefore, it should carry the highest prize money.

If cricket is to progress, you cannot have a situation where a competition of less quality deals out a greater prize money, and where some players, definitely less talented, will, if there is clash, choose the competition which promises more money.

Congrats Melbourne, and well done St. Thomas, but better, from cricket administrators, for cricket and for cricketers, is needed, and urgently.