Tony Becca ON THE BOUNDARY
Once upon a time in Jamaica, whenever a boy walked on the streets of Kingston with a bat in his hand, he was the centre of attention - everyone looked at him as though he was another George Headley, or later on, another Lawrence Rowe in the making.
In those days, cricket was king and boys played cricket on the street, in any open lot and in the good old backyard.
Today, times have changed and the boy with the bat in his hand on the street, or in the backyard, is seldom seen, he is almost a thing of the past. Cricket is no longer king. It is someone's cousin, and a poor cousin at that.
Cricket today is no longer as popular as it used to be. It is behind track and field and football, definitely far behind at that, and it needs someone to turn its fortunes around to bring back the love and the passion.
Cricket in Jamaica needs someone not to stop the passage of time, but to change cricket's ways, to see that cricket is played seriously, to bring back the players and the fans, to improve on its standards and to return it to its prosperous days.
Cricket needs a leader, a man or woman who is passionate about the game, who will get the people playing the game as they used to, who will knock on every door to find support for the game, to find money for the game and who will, everyday of his life, try to win friends and to influence people towards the game.
Cricket needs a change. Cricket needs a man with a plan, wherever he comes from and whether or not he played the game at any level, once he is a good administrator and once he loves the game.
Cricket does not need a man who is a friend to everyone and cricket does not need a man who promises something to a man for something in return.
Cricket needs a man who can do something for the game, who will work towards that end and who will only be happy when he sees the game in good shape and the people enjoying it.
a man from cricket
Lyndel Wright, the outgoing president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), my good friend and colleague, is a man from cricket, a man who loves cricket, a man who is passionate about the game, a man who as a player, as a selector and as a manager, knows cricket inside and outside.
That, however, as good and as important as it is, was not good enough and is not good enough for the leadership of the game or for the presidency of the cricket association, at least not for today.
The cricket association today needs a president with some of that, with most of that. But what it needs right now, more than anything else, is a president who can win friends and influence people who have money, a man who can find money, plenty money, in an effort to save the game and to bring back the game to its previous position of eminence in this country.
Milton Henry, the first vice-president of the JCA, is challenging for the job. But although he is a good man and even though he has been around for some time, he is not the right man for the job, certainly not at this time.
His track record does not glisten, even after 20 years or so in many and different positions.
Cricket needs a new man, a dynamic man, a man from outside to fill the post, especially at this time.
Wilford Adolphus 'Billy' Heaven, the CEO of The CHASE Fund, the man with a CV which takes some 15 minutes to read, a successful and honest businessman, has thrown his hat into the ring and at least, on the surface of it, he seems to be a man capable of doing the job, a man with the promise of influencing people into spending some of their money on cricket.
Heaven has a dream, and the dream is to push cricket in the schools - in all the schools, in the clubs and in the communities, to get a lot of coaches to go into every corner of this country; to get umpires, good umpires, for all matches; to train good administrators for all the clubs and most important, to set up a centre of excellence, a place where cricketers can go to really learn to play the game.
Heaven has no cricket, or very little cricket in his blood, but he has attempted to serve cricket in the past, he has cricket in his heart, or so it seems, and he can serve cricket well.
And he loves the sport. He loves it so much that he attends club matches on the weekends and is a regular visitor to Sabina Park on match days.
As good as Heaven appears to be, however, he would, if he is successful, need a good lieutenant and a good team of men around him.
He would need a good right-hand man, a man who knows about cricket, about quality cricket and how to achieve it and maintain it. Hopefully, he can find them.
Cricket definitely needs a leader and an administrator, a man to market the game and to bring in money, and a deputy who can look after the game, that is, two men and others who can lead the restructuring of the game so that it is played in an organised manner before appreciative gatherings.
Playing cricket regularly and consistently and the development of cricket and of good cricketers would be their goal; that and the job of taking Jamaica's cricket to the point where participation in its competitions is earned by prescribed performances and as such is treasured, where its competitions are the best on the island and where, for example, it offers the biggest prize money of any competition on the island.
That is the kind of leadership that cricket needs today and maybe, while we say thank you to Wright for trying to save the game he loves so much, and to Henry for throwing his hat into the ring, we should welcome Billy Heaven for stepping into the breach, providing he has the time, providing he really loves the game and providing there is no moral conflict with his substantive job as the man who is charged with disbursing the funds at CHASE.
It would be nice if Heaven becomes the head of cricket and if cricket gets whatever funds it may need to breathe again.
A few weeks ago, Jamaica had full houses at Sabina Park to see the Jamaica Tallawahs in action during the CPLT20, and some weeks ago there was a near full house at Alpart for the SDC All-Island 20/20 final.
Those things showed that cricket is not dead and it would be good if the JCA can change the image of Jamaica's cricket and the people's feelings towards Jamaica's cricket, so that Jamaica's cricket can attract more of the people, more of the time.
It would be good also if the present system of running on slates at elections could be changed so that cricket could elect its officers from a wider pool, so that cricket would be served by the best available people.