Tony Becca, ON THE BOUNDARY
The recently concluded Senior Cup cricket season was, in my opinion, the worst season in my time, and that stretches back a long, long time ago, to over 50 years.
It was so poor that the winners, Melbourne, must have felt lucky when they lifted the trophy at Chedwin Park on Sunday, July 22, not so much after defeating Manchester on first innings, after scoring 216 for nine, and after being 186 for nine in reply to 203, but for their good fortune in getting to the final.
In a season that saw the most teams, 24, all the clubs, all the parishes, and KSAC as well as G.C. Foster College, contesting the title in four groups, in a season that saw the teams playing only five matches in a season in each group before the top two moved into the quarter-finals, in a season which regular Senior Cup teams were drawn alongside regular Junior Cup teams, Melbourne, the champions, were somewhat lucky to contest the quarter-finals.
At the end of the group stage of the competition, which was not sponsored and which was delayed because of rain which never came, Melbourne had a record of two first innings losses, one first innings win, and two victories to top their group.
In the first match, Melbourne lost their last five wickets for three runs to drop first innings to Kensington by 11 runs; in the second match, they won first innings points over St Thomas after scoring 130 and 104 for eight and limiting St Thomas to 86 and 74 for nine; in the third match, they beat Boys' Town by an innings and 70; in the fourth match, they dropped first innings to Kingston; and in the final match, they manage to beat the rain and beat Lucas by 80 runs.
In the quarter-final and semi-final matches, Melbourne came on strong to beat a weak St Mary and a weak St Elizabeth by an innings and 42 runs and by 10 wickets, respectively, limiting St Mary to 124 and 230 and scoring 400, and removing St Elizabeth for 111 and 230 and scoring 330 and 12 without.
poor state of cricket
The poor state of cricket in the country which has won the regional four-day title five times was underlined by the fact that 55 matches were played, 46 times teams scored just over 100 runs, and that figure did not include those times when teams were not bowled out, such as Hanover 72 for nine versus Trelawny, Lucas 73 for eight against Kingston, St Catherine CC 79 for six versus Clarendon, Clarendon 79 for six against St Catherine, Westmoreland 72 for nine versus Trelawny, and St Thomas 74 for nine against Melbourne.
And of those 46 times, 26 times teams failed to reach 100 runs, including Boys' Town who were routed for 65 and 26 by St Thomas, Trelawny who were brushed aside for 50 by St James, Westmoreland were bundled out for 88 and 48 by St Elizabeth who made 111 and 118, Trelawny who were shot out for 69 by Westmoreland who were 72 for nine in reply, and St Catherine CA, who were dismantled for 31 in their first innings against Hanover.
The matches were scheduled to last two days and the embarrassment of the season was the fact that on nice, sunny days, a number of them finished in one day.
One day, at Melbourne Oval, after Melbourne had played two matches, dropped first innings from one and gained first-innings points from the other, Boys' Town came to Melbourne, won the toss, and put Melbourne to bat.
Melbourne needed all the points, and on a bright, sunny day, they proceeded to score 207 for five declared before lunch, dismissed Boys' Town for 51 and 56, and won the match by an innings and 100 runs before the end of the first day's play.
In another match, between St Catherine CC and St Catherine CA, St Catherine CC made 218, dismissed St Catherine CA for 31, had them reeling at 107 for five, and St Catherine CA forfeited the game.
In another game, between Manchester and G.C. Foster College, G.C. Foster forfeited the game.
Throughout the season, only five times did teams score beyond 300 runs. That, even to the bowlers, including those who shared the joy of claiming five-wicket hauls 63 times, including Melbourne's right-arm leg-spinner, Damion Jacobs, who took 58 wickets at 9.09 runs each, was embarrassing.
The time has come for the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) to look at its cricket, weed out those who are not up to the standard while making every effort to help them to improve, including the teams which may be close to its officers.
It must be done now or else the competition, in a short while, will be nothing more than a little fun for everyone.
People, even if their brothers and cousins are playing, will not attend matches in which teams are regularly dismissed for 30, 40, or 50 runs and in which matches which are scheduled for two days last only for one day.
why so many teams
India, a country of over one billion people, is moving to limit their first division cricket competition, the Ranji Trophy, to below the present 27 teams for next season. The question, therefore, is this: why does Jamaica, a country of under three million people, a dot in comparison, feel it necessary to include so many teams in their competition?
And the more teams, the more funding that is needed, the more difficult it is to acquire, and the less the funding, the weaker the players will be.
The weaker the players available, the less attractive will be the competition. The less attractive the competition, the less the spectators. And the less the spectators, the less likely it is that cricket will get sponsors.
Jamaica does not need a top competition of more than 10 teams, and with a competition of 10 teams, the best will play against the best every weekend, and the best will become better.
Another embarrassing display this past season was the performance of the umpires and the players.
The umpires, most of them, were incompetent, the players, most of them, were indisciplined, they appealed for everything, and they appealed as if they wanted to fight the umpire.
The JCA needs to do something about it before it becomes uncontrollable.
The players, in appealing, ran up and down the field and then towards the umpire as if they were playing cowboys and Indians and they were the Indians preparing for a war.