Adrian Frater, News Editor
WESTERN BUREAU: Following an inauspicious 2010-11 season in which the parish did not compete in the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Limited Overs competition, St James Cricket Association (StJCA) president, Cecil Fletcher, is promising a 2011-12 season chockfull of excitement.
"The JCA Limited Overs Competition started late, and as a consequence, the grounds we would have used for home games were no longer available because they were being used for football," said Fletcher, who is also president of the West Indies Cricket Umpires Association. "Without a home venue, it was not practical for us to participate."
While the absence of a venue for the JCA Limited Overs competition was just one of several factors that impacted St James' cricket last season, Fletcher says the venue situation, which is not unique to St James, was the most pronounced.
"No parish association or club outside of Kingston has their own facilities, and as a consequence, they have to be competing with football for the few available facilities," said Fletcher. "With so much football being played at this time, most of the playing fields are unavailable for cricket."
However, with last year's problems now behind him, Fletcher has big plans to make the 2011-12 StJCA season an unforgettable one with a barrage of competitions loaded with innovative ideas.
"We plan to launch the season in late November with a youth versus youth match featuring our under-19 and under-16 players," said Fletcher. "If we are to rebuild and become strong in the near future, the focus must be on the emerging youngsters."
Among the competitions now being fine-tuned for the 2011-12 season are a six-a-side competition, a knockout competition, a Twenty/20 competition, a 50-over-per-side competition, and the parish's premier tournament, the St James Limited Time Competition.
"We will be adding a number of creative ideas to these competitions, especially the premier competition," said Fletcher. "We will be offering special incentives to individuals and teams for good batting and bowling performances while ensuring good entertainment for the fans."
In an effort to prevent the stifling of the parish's young cricketers, which was a feature of former years based on the vast number of players from other parishes who were allowed to participate in the parish's domestic competitions, Fletcher said no outsiders would be allowed this year.
"If we are going to build our cricket, the emphasis must be on our players," said Fletcher. "Our focus is on the rebuilding of St James' cricket."
In former years, St James was arguably the strongest parish in rural cricket, parading players such as former national players Lawrence and Franz Cunningham, Wilbert Plummer, and Nigel Kennedy, alongside other gifted players such as Alrick Haughton, Devon Hughes, and Cecil Lee.