Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Tony Becca | A time to shine

Published:Sunday | October 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The regional four-day tournament gets going on Thursday, and for the next three months or so, it will be cricket and more cricket as the six first-class teams, playing return matches for a total of 10 matches each, vie for supremacy.

The first round of matches - defending champions Guyana Jaguars hosting Jamaica Scorpions; Barbados Pride entertaining Trinidad and Tobago Red Force; and Windward Island Volcanoes at home to Leeward Island Hurricanes - should be close and exciting.

The matches should be close and exciting if only because of the cricket organisers' movement of players around, the move to split the sovereign territories into franchises, and the hope for better cricket following this move.

As the teams begin battle, however, the main hope is that the pitches will be good and that the standard of play will be refreshingly good and generally of a high standard.

A few weeks ago, the Windies director of cricket, the former West Indies captain Jimmy Adams, came out pleading, and in the plea, he called for the cricketers, especially the younger ones, to come out fighting, to stamp their class on the competition, and to show the quality they possess.

And Adams should know what it means to show everybody and all concerned how good a cricketer one is by performing in the regional competition.

As a schoolboy at Jamaica College, he was not looked upon as someone special, and as a young man representing Kingston Club and Jamaica, he was not looked upon as someone special until he made runs, and more runs, in the regional competition.

Adams went on to become Jamaica's captain, the West Indies captain, coach of Jamaica, coach of Kent, and now he is the director of cricket in the West Indies.

As Ralston Otto, and others, found out, it does not follow that making runs will get anyone into the West Indies team.

On the contrary, however, it is hardly likely, despite the promise one may display and what may have happened a few times, that anyone, or someone, will get into the West Indies team without making runs, and plenty of them, or otherwise performing.

 

UP PRODUCTION

 

Adams emphasised the point that this season will again be played on the return format, and, therefore, the players should up their production to match the opportunity of playing more matches.

Back in the days of one round of matches when players used to appear in only four matches, the good batsmen used to score 500 and more runs per season, hit two or three centuries per season, and averaged anywhere from 80 to 100 runs per season.

The pitches were good back then, and so were the bowlers - especially fast bowlers like Winston Davis, Courtney Walsh, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Uton Dowe, Colin Croft, Sylvester Clarke, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Anthony Gray, Wayne Daniel, Vanburn Holder, Ian Bishop, Patrick Patterson, Anthony Merrick, and George Ferris.

Adams is asking the batsmen to go beyond reeling off a few good strokes, and having one or two good innings, and he is also asking the bowlers - especially the fast bowlers - to push themselves beyond the token few overs at the start of an innings, or when, and if, the second new-ball arrives.

Adams' plea is one for West Indies cricket.

West Indies cricket needs batsmen who can bat, batsmen who can bat for long periods, batsmen who can bat 'until the cows come home', and batsmen who can make big scores, and more than once at that.

West Indies cricket also needs bowlers - spin bowlers and fast bowlers, but mostly fast bowlers - those who, perhaps, with the stamina and skill, are able to bowl for long spells, as Wes Hall did for a day (rain-affected) at Lord's in 1963.

The plea goes out not only to the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase, but to Kieron Powell, Jermaine Blackwood, Kyle Hope, Jason Mohammed, and Evin Lewis; also to others like Chadwick Walton, Shimron Hetmeyer, Sunil Ambris, Brandon King, Rajindra Chandrika, Andre McCarthy, Yanic Carriah, Jahmar Hamilton, Tangerine Chanderpaul, Anthony Alleyne, John Campbell, Fabian Allen, Iasiah Raja, and Paul Palmer, and all the other young, promising batsmen in the region.

It also goes out to the young bowlers, and especially the young fast bowlers, to the likes of Alzaari Joseph, Ronsford Beaton, Oshane Thomas, Odean Smith, Reynard Leveridge, Delorn Johnson, Keon Joseph, and Marquino Mindley.

Now is the time for young players to step up to the plate. The selectors are watching, or they should be watching.