Wed | Jul 17, 2019

Make JA's Cricket great again! - JCA seeks to develop the complete cricketer

Published:Wednesday | December 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
Oneil Cruickshank, Jamaica Cricket Association's cricket operations manager, gesticulates while making a point during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at The Gleaner's North Street offices yesterday.
Jamaica Scorpions batsman Andre McCarthy plays a shot during a WICB Super50 match against the Barbados Pride at Kensington Oval in 2017.
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Aggressive, stroke-filled, and with pin-point batting and bowling accuracy are qualities the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) hopes to harvest and hone in the new Jamaican cricketer the association is trying to develop.

These qualities, the association hopes, will cause waning interest to revive for a game that is more than a sport for many.

Recognising the lost grounds, JCA officials, who were guests at a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday, say as part of the organisations' national cricket philosophy, it wants to develop the complete cricketer to make the game great again.

"We have never in the West Indies defined a philosophy. Even when West Indies was great, we were driven by something that was undefined but was understood, back when were kingpins, but there was no documented or defined philosophy about how we played," O'Neil Cruickshank, JCA operations manager, told the forum.

Part of the difficulty, he said, was the change in personnel in the life of the youngsters who show talent, good intention and technical soundness in the game at the different age-group levels.

"We have decided this won't work. We are seeking to capture the youngsters from six years old at the kiddy cricket level, get the youngsters earlier. Having got them earlier, we are going to ensure that from he begins to play cricket, he learns the fundamental that takes him through all the stages in the same level," added the former Jamaica middle-order batsman and medium pacer.

He said that the philosophy, which has informed the JCA's five-year development programme, will see the youngsters exposed to the same quality coaching at all levels.

 

TECHNICALLY SOUND PLAYERS

 

"In terms of the philosophy of what a Jamaican cricketer is and will look like, we have said he must be technically sound. We are not going to select persons to play for Jamaica who are not technically sound. We also say our players need to be fit, and nationally, that's an issue. But if you are going to play for Jamaica and you are not cricket-fit, you are not going to play for the country anymore," insisted Cruickshank.

"So what we are talking about is a five-year development programme. So in five years, when you see a Jamaican cricketer, you know that he is fit and is going to be a positive aggressive type of cricketer," he explained.

The new cricketer, he said, will not be stepping back and playing 'back foot' to anybody.

"The Jamaica team and the Jamaica player will never know when they are defeated, until they are actually defeated. That is what we are going to instill in them. And to do that, we have to ensure that they are smart, intelligent cricketers," said Cruickshank.

Local and regional cricket has lost sponsors, interest, and talent to other sports for years, which has resulted in the regional side hovering towards the bottom of the standings in Test cricket, number nine in One-Day Internationals and number seven in the Twenty20 format of the game, with only Sri Lanka below them, among men.

Addressing the famous saying that 'when Barbados cricket is weak, West Indies cricket is weak', Phillip Service, territorial development officer, has other ideas.

"We would want to change that to say that West Indies cricket is weak because too few or no Jamaicans are on the team," Service quipped.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com