Foster's Fairplay | Cricket is alive, but it needs our help
There are so many things wrong with cricket in the region, not the least of which is the inability to produce the type of crowd-pulling cricketer as once was the case. This is not to say that the inbred talent is no longer available, but in this age of a surfeit of distractions and alternatives for excitement and entertainment, our youngsters are gravitating to, and entrapped by, other areas of enjoyment.
Foster's Fairplay is nowhere as close to the action as previously. As such, there is a near-slavish dependence on those clinging to the sinking ship for the true tale on what obtains at the various cricketing venues across the land. The gleaned information is that the young players, after a day in the field, hustle away to other varied fun spots where anything but the game or discussion about it takes place. Spending time in the clubhouse to take advantage of mentorship and advice from older and wiser heads is a thing of the past.
The Digicel regional four-day competition is on. The Jamaica Scorpions franchise is atop the points table after round five. Their record is three wins, one loss and a draw. At press time, although the weather could be a determinant factor, Guyana Jaguars seems poised to defeat the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force. In this the longer version of the game, Jamaica's batsmen, after a shaky start, are showing a level of bold and breathtaking stroke play that is heartening. It is this braggadocio - beating ball to all corners of the park - that will threaten to swell Sabina to long-gone, almost forgotten levels of crowd draw.
EVENING PLAY A GREAT IDEA
It is, therefore, a pity that the powers that be did not consider it prudent to accord Kingston more than a single day/night game, and this against the lowly Leeward Islands team. It has long been mooted that one way to revive the first-class and, by extension, the Test game is to have them marketed around late evening play. This offers the spectators the opportunity for after-work lyming, increasing the party spirit in the stands and the take at the gates. With the dimming of administrator vision, one is only left to imagine an atmosphere in which Jamaica's John Campbell, the rising star, Brandon King, and the Test-playing shot man Jermaine Blackwood are caught displaying their batting skills under lights.
Sitting next to the Scorpions in the standings is the Jaguars, to whom the only loss was registered. Their anticipated one-two situation should be maintained half-way through the competition. The Sabina Park return spectacle would thus be augmented by the presence of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, once again back to his productive self after getting over his exclusion from the international scene. Hindsight is 20/20 vision, but one would think that the authorities missed a chance to score there.
There is a long break for the holidays and the upcoming international part of the season, which will see England visiting for a trio of one-day internationals. The start is March 3, and lasts for a week with domestic first-class cricket rolling out again on the 10th.
Is it too late or too much to ask that the bosses of regional cricket do something positive in the interest of the survival of the game? How long must the blame game as to who is responsible for its continuing demise, be prolonged? Who cares whether it is President Dave Cameron or any other individual's fault why the game in its longer state is going down the tubes? It is no salve to say that interest in Test cricket is on the decline in the region. This was not the case during the period when West Indies ruled the world.
It is time to say goodbye to all this meandering that has placed a cloud over West Indies cricket. If this is what it takes, some bright person has got to put on the gloves and get involved in the fight to restore West Indies cricket with all the vigour and vitality required to achieve the desired outcome.
That may be the only way to return to the pleasure and pride that the region once enjoyed and now craves.