Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Paul Wright | Our perennial sporting flux

Published:Tuesday | August 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Tallawahs captain Andre Russell (left) is forced to play a yorker from St Kitts and Nevis Patriots' Ben Cutting. Russell has been outspoken in his criticism of the team playing three of its five home games at the Central Broward Park in Lauderhill, Florida.

Sport as we know it is a culmination of: action on the field of play by the participants, the behind the scenes activities of support groups, the managers, medical staff, the owners of the teams that perform in competitions and leagues, and the administrators of the particular sport. Teams can win or lose games and athletes can do poorly in competition not because of a lack of competence, but because of activities of persons whose competence or incompetence directly affect the outcomes of games. Here in our beloved island, all of our major sports are going through a sort of "flux" whereby competitors with known and established competence and skill, consistently perform below potential, suffering defeat after defeat. Yet, after every result, poor or otherwise, the response is the same: "If only". If only everything that is necessary for success was in place.

The inauguration of the Caribbean Premier League, a Twenty20 competition among Caribbean Nations utilising the franchise model where international stars were invited to be a apart of competing teams, thus guaranteeing world class entertainment and exciting cricket.

The franchises promised to assist with the development of local cricket by means of seminars and interaction with the best of the world's cricketers and locals. The competition was enhanced by teams being named after competing territories. Thus the Jamaica Tallawahs, the Guyana Amazon Warriors et cetera. However inter-island travel and other factors which included high fees being paid to the players resulted in economic losses for most of the owners of the teams. Owners who had put up their cash were finishing in the red instead of breaking even or making a profit. The result of this constant economic loss meant that changes had to come.


Supplanted by big-named stars


Competing nations now discovered that their local cricketers who were in dire need of exposure were soon supplanted by big-named stars. Teams like the Jamaican Tallawahs soon found that only three locals were able to make the starting eleven, and now in 2018, three of five home games were now being played in Lauderhill, Florida, due to a contractual arrangement by the owners desperate to make a profit.

Gone are the seminars and coaching sessions by international and local stars, and gone are the prospects of local businesses and entrepreneurs to cash in on home games at our beloved Sabina Park. At Sabina, 15,000 fans came to cheer on the home team, and in Lauderhill, a crowd of 4000 seems to have a paucity of fan support for the franchise. The result so far? Two defeats from two games, and in the two games played at Sabina Park, two victories form two games. Nobody expects the owners of these franchises to keep doling out money year after year with very little prospect of a profit, but if the idea was to assist in the development of Caribbean cricket, then new and different ideas are needed.

To me, it makes no sense for the Brand "Jamaica" to be used for the enrichment of the foreign owners and the detriment of Jamaicans. There has to be a way for the owners of the franchises and the teams that allow their names to be used in the marketing of the League to be equal partners, sharing in the profits and the losses. With the Windies languishing near the bottom of the ICC ranking in all formats of the game, action is needed by all concerned. Unity of purpose is a must, or else West Indies cricket will be relegated to playing with Associate States hoping to qualify for World Competition that matters.

What a prekeh! Look what we come to!