Good move, but be careful

Published: Sunday | December 23, 2012 Comments 0
Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium.
Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium.

Tony Becca, Contributor

In every aspect of life, time moves on, with that comes changes, and one must move, and is expected to move, with the times if one hopes to keep improving. In other words, regardless of what you do, and who you are, time waits on no one, and nothing stands still, really.

Everything moves. The problem is that sometimes some things move backwards, and that sometimes some things mark time, sometimes some things move, but only round, and round, and round.

They never go anywhere.

In other words, they stand still, or they stagnate.

Thank God, the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) is not marking time, and it is not stagnating, at least not in all things.

The JCA is moving along with the times, it is following the lead of India, Australia, England and company and hanging on to T20 cricket to the point that everything in Jamaica these days, it seems, is T20 cricket.

Village versus village

There seems to be no more interest in the two-day club game and in the 50-over game. Everything, it seems, big club versus big club, little club against little club, village versus village, anybody against anybody, is T20 cricket.

Once upon a time, cricket was an all-day affair, it was a one-innings match, or a two-innings contest spread over two days, it was a club season lasting Saturday and Saturday after Saturday and Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday after Saturday and Sunday, for months after months and then followed by the 35-over or 50-over game.

Today, or so it seems, it is Saturday and Sunday for a month or two, no 50-over cricket, not even for a day, or so it seems, and T20, nothing but T20 cricket until you hear a voice saying, "no more".

Nothing is wrong with plenty T20 cricket, especially as Jamaica has never won the regional title, particularly, as one suspects, it is partially a case of the sponsors dictating how their money is used, and on top of that, there can never be such a thing as too much cricket, regardless of its format.

Throughout the world of sponsorship, especially in a world that has a country like Jamaica with a sports association as poor as the JCA, he who "pays the piper calls the tune", especially in Jamaica, in an association like the JCA where sponsorship is sometimes looked upon as a gift.

It is oftentimes not something sold: it is given, it is not a business deal, and it is not something sought for in return for something else.

The JCA cannot and could not tell its sponsors, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), that it did not want the T20 competition, if indeed it did not prefer it, it cannot and could not tell the TEF it was not playing the semi-finals and final of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) competition at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium because it knew there would be no tourist present at the matches and because the pitch was not good enough for such a semi-final and final.

The reason why the pitch was not good enough for the climax of a spectator-oriented cricket competition was because it was not being used regularly.

That was the main reason why the ball bounced so unevenly, why the scores were so low, and why the final, and the semi-finals, ended like a wet squib.

The JPL T20 was a good tournament, however, despite the semi-finals, the final, and the low scores.

Glorious opportunity missed

There were two things wrong with the competition: it was too short with no return matches, and it was free to the spectators.

The competition lasted just three weeks, and that makes no sense, unless it is for entertainment only, unless it is not an important part of the game, and unless it is not being used to win friends and influence people.

To prepare for a competition, a regional competition, needs a little longer time. At least a two-round competition, one match away and one match at home, would have made more sense.

An important side to the tournament, however, is money, and JCA missed a glorious opportunity to earn some money.

Money makes the mare go round, the JCA needs the money, and a few dollars collected at the gate for a match of 40 overs of fun is no big thing.

It is strange that the JCA did not collect at any of the ground except in Treasure Beach where they pocketed some $70,000 over two days.

It was even more unfortunate that it advertised free entrance to see the semi-finals and the final when fans drove from Kingston, and other places, paying for things such as gas, food, and drinks.

Indeed, it was strange especially when one thinks that in this day and age, schoolchildren were bussed to the ground to see the matches, to give an impression that fans were on hand to see the game.

There are a few things that the JCA should learn from this exercise: the competition was too quickly organised, the competition was too short, the teams were too restricted in the selection of players, and cricket, the semi-finals and the finals, must be played where the support is strongest.

You must also collect at the gates at certain times, otherwise the game will die, the attitude of bussing people to matches like political rallies must stop, and as much as Jamaica need T20 cricket to lift the support for the game, to win friends for the game, more two-day games are needed if Jamaica is to continue winning the four-day competition regionally, and more 50-over games are necessary if Jamaica is to win the shorter version of the game more regularly.

Cricket is cricket, and all three versions of the game, that is up to now, must be encouraged as best they can.

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