Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Tony Becca | Senior Cup cricket is back

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

After a year's absence, the Senior Cup cricket competition is up and running, although in most instances, in its old format, or rather, in the format of not so long ago.

The competition, Jamaica's biggest, is too large. It still caters to all and sundry, and despite the feeling of some that the more the merrier, the present situation will never raise the standard of the country's cricket.

To lift the standard of Jamaica's cricket, the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) not only needs to spread the game, it also needs to oversee a competition of fewer teams - of maybe 10 teams - playing return matches, in which the good players play regularly with and against each other on good pitches, on good fields, with good umpires, and in generally good conditions.

The competition as it now stands has 23 teams, one more than the last time, and apart from many of the parishes being unable to put out a good team and not having proper facilities, not even a good pitch, the 23 include teams like the Kingston & St Andrew Cricket Association - whatever that is; G. C. Foster College; University of the West Indies, and, if I may dare say, also teams from the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary force.

What will the association do if, say, next year, the University of Technology wishes to enter the competition?

The competition should be for good cricketers who, mostly, have an eye on greater things and who are willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve them. It should not be for the casual cricketer or those who have other important things to do, particularly those pursuing other professional careers.

I remember, for example, back in the 1970s, a huge crowd turned up at Caxton Park to see House of Dread football team make its debut appearance in the Major League, in the country's top football league at the time. House of Dread turned up and was out warming up before the bumper crowd, but the match was not played.

The news filtered through that the JDF were not coming, and they were not coming because the army was on standby in case of an emergency.

Scholarships, for example, also should not be linked with representation of the institution.


Improving the cricket


I was hoping also that the Billy Heaven-led JCA would have looked at improving the country's cricket and spreading cricket while having a better top league, one which the JCA would be able to better control; one in which players with a common aim would play; and one from which it would get better cricketers, have fewer selectors, and, generally, get more for the money spent.

And with no sponsorship, it is not a lot of money.

Maybe it is all because of the lack of money why the league continues to be one of so many teams divided into four groups and with each team playing only four or five matches before the competition reaches the quarter-final stage.

Although they have increased the first prize to $1 million, probably in response to the prize money in the Government's T20 league, maybe it is too early for the association to reconstruct the competition. It takes a lot of money to run a league of fewer teams with return matches, to provide better facilities, to allow teams to travel around the country, and to pay for hotel accommodation.

There is, however, one other problem, and it has nothing to do with money.

When I was a boy growing up, and when I became a man, cricket was a fascinating, but difficult game to play, but a game in which the result was simple: you either won or you lost, and sometimes a match ended in neither a victory nor a loss, but in a draw.


Easier to understand


Cricket in those days was easy to understand. Victory belonged to the team which, most times, batted, bowled, and fielded better than the one that lost, and a draw occurred when the bat got the better of the ball in the allotted time or on those occasions when the weather took a hand in the proceedings.

In these days, however, especially in Jamaica and elsewhere in the West Indies, cricket, particularly as far as results are concerned, is no longer a simple thing. In a bid to breathe life into the game, to lift the standard of play, the powers that be have gone the way of bonus points.

The scoring system, and the bonus points system, appears to make the game much more complicated than it should be.

Six points for a win, four for a tie, three for first-innings lead in a drawn game, two for a team that wins on first innings but loses a match, and one for the team that loses on first innings in a drawn game seems reasonable, but to give the same two points to a team that wins on first innings in a drawn match, and one point for the team that loses first-innings loss in a drawn match, and the same number of points to the teams in an abandoned match appears unreasonable.

As far as I know also, bonus points should be awarded for doing something good and not for doing things that should be average, in this case, things that should be easily achieved on good pitches, by good cricketers.


Bonus points system


The bonus points system is based on performance during the first 80 overs of the first innings of the match. The batting team gets one, two, three, and four points for scoring 200 to 249 runs, 250 to 299, 300 to 349, and for scoring 350 runs and over. The fielding team gets one, two, and three points for taking three to five wickets, six to eight wickets, and nine and 10 wickets. If that is not bad enough, each batsman who scores a century and each bowler who takes five wickets or more, things that also contribute to the team's efforts, gets one additional bonus point each.

Apart from the fact that the bonus points are too easily won, with the scoring system as it is, a team could get more bonus points in a match than it gets for winning the match.

Does a Senior Cup team deserve batting bonus points or bowling bonus points? Maybe so, but only in situations when it has done well, when it has performed beyond the ordinary.

I do not, however, believe a team should get any bonus points when, for example, it picks up wickets at the end of an innings unless it dismisses the opposition for, say, 120 inside the 80 overs and not picking up any number of wickets inside the 80 overs when the batting team has probably passed 300 runs in the 80 overs.

Although the clubs, and all the other teams, may need a calculator to calculate the figures in order to find out the result at the end of a match, it is nice to see that the Senior Cup is back in action.