Sun | Sep 24, 2017

On the boundary | Doing what is right, for cricket

Published:Monday | June 5, 2017 | 6:00 AMTony Becca
Action from a Senior Cup match between Melbourne Cricket Club and St Elizabeth at Melbourne Oval.

Ever since 1967, when I became the honorary secretary of Melbourne Cricket Club, I started talking about an islandwide Senior Cup competition, and when I became a journalist in 1973, I started writing about it.

In 1990, while I was the president of Melbourne, the all-island cricket competition, involving the clubs and the parishes, became a reality after Rex Fennell, president of the JCA, and a few others, and myself, travelled around the island to meet with the parishes.

Somewhere around 1992, things started to go downhill, and the clubs, despite their earlier boast that they could pay their way, started to complain about funding.

They found it difficult to fund the playing of cricket, some of the parishes started to turn up late, or not at all, and not with good teams. The cry was a lack of money to get the players together for practice and to travel.

Some parishes played a number of schoolboys as they were easy or easier to get them together for travelling, and some players played for two or three "clubs" or communities as it was easy, or easier, to get together.

Some parishes had a difficulty hosting matches because of a lack of a places to play, some had quarrels with other people using the ground on match days, some hosted matches on grounds with football goal posts on them, some with grounds with holes all over them, some with grounds where no seating or sanitary conveniences were available, and some teams did not finish a season and then allowed to participate again the next year.

There was no pride in playing in the Senior Cup competition. No preparation, or little preparation, was made to play, no practice or training to improve standards, and nobody really cared whether they won or lost.

On top of that, it was all left to one man, or two men, or three men, to find the money and to get the teams together and get them to matches.

 

NO CHANGE

 

I spoke and I wrote about all these things for years and nothing happened. Each year, not only were new teams introduced, but the same teams returned without any change, without any change being attempted, and for whatever reason, without any sanctions being applied.

And after a while, the clubs were just about in the same condition, some of them grateful to find 11 players, of whatever age and skill level, for a match.

For years now, others and I have been calling for a new structure, for a smaller competition of less than 23 teams, much less, for a competition which the country can afford, and for a competition, which, like a pyramid, will finish the best on top.

Such a competition would be easier to fund, more properly funded, and organised properly. It would be a competition which would be open to every Jamaican once he is good enough, and interested enough, in playing good cricket, a competition which brings together the better players against the better players regularly, and a competition played in conditions which cater for development leading to the best.

Although the powers that be seemed to share the sentiments for change, nothing has happened, and nothing, regrettably, is happening.

It continues to be one, big, free-for-all competition in which whoever will, or not, can play, and regardless of skill or commitment.

I do not know why, but I believe that the present and common desire to be popular, to get into positions, and to be in positions, to be in positions of authority and prominence, are some of the reasons.

The Jamaica Cricket Association is a big national association, it has elections, and in any restructuring, if things are to improve, some teams will have to go.

Those teams, however, have voters, and the fear, apparently, are that those teams, or some of them, will turn against the powers that be.

 

NOTHING NEW

 

That is nothing new, but that seems to be the case. In fact, in this case, it is the case.

If that is really the case, however, it is a pity, and it is a shame.

People who are voted into office should serve the needs of the specific entity, they should make it their guide and their motto, and nothing else will do, regardless of their personal desire, their dreams, and their ambitions.

It is high time that cricket in Jamaica, that the people in cricket, do the right thing if cricket in Jamaica is to change and prosper.

Jamaica, like the West Indies, were once the best in their class, but today, right now, Jamaica are sinking, and they are sinking because of the lack of guidance and the lack of commitment by its leaders and its players to get things better, to change what is happening.

Jamaica must try to do better and to get things organised, at least, if it matters to them that for the past few years, things have been going downhill.

The last few years, the Senior Cup has been deplorable, with teams not up to standard participating in it, with teams turning up at times short and at other times late, teams not finishing the competition, teams not providing lunch for the players, matches finishing early, very early, and as happened already this year, before tea on the first day.

Nationally, Jamaica had only one player on the West Indies Youth team which won the world youth championship, they have only one player in the squad preparing for the next world youth championship, and they did not have one player on the West Indies team, in three Test matches, which lost to Pakistan recently.

Although Jamaica have no right to a place on any of those teams, a country of such size in comparison to the others, of such history, and a country of such interest in the sport should, however, be embarrassed not to be doing better.

When I think of Jamaica's cricket today, and its administrators, I remember a part of John F. Kennedy's acceptance speech as president of the USA in January 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country".

And a few Sundays ago, President Barack Obama, speaking at the JFK Library in Boston while accepting the Profile in Courage Award, spoke about brave and courageous people when he said: "I hope they understand that courage means not only doing what's politically expedient, but doing what, deep in our hearts, we know is right."