Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Pre-sident Dave Cameron has come out in support of the SIG High Schools Invitational T20 cricket competition that is set to bowl off tomorrow at Chedwin Park in St Catherine.
Eight schools from across the island will be competing for the first prize of $100,000 in cricket gear. Cameron believes the inaugural staging of the competition will excite young, aspiring cricketers.
"The schools T20 will continue to add more excitement and variety to schools cricket as we seek to improve and increase the participation of youngsters in the sport," he said.
The competition begins tomorrow with St Elizabeth Technical High School down to take on Excelsior High in the opening match. Manchester versus Jamaica College, St Jago versus Vere, and Kingston College playing Eltham complete the schedule of matches on the day. The semi-finals are due to take place on Saturday, with the final set for Sunday.
The competition is also getting much support from the initial invitees. Manchester coach Barry Barnes said his school was eager to be part of the competition.
"When we were approached by the organisers to be part of this festival we didn't have to think twice about it. First, we had heard that ISSA (Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association) would be introducing a schoolboy T20 cricket competition at some point in this schoolboy cricket season, and we were also looking to get in some practice," Barnes said.
"Beyond that, though, we here at Manchester believe this will aid, not hinder, the players' development," he added. "Most of them have already been exposed to the T20 format through localised and even national competitions, and most follow it on television too."
Barnes said his players are raring to go.
Training very hard
"The youngsters were very excited when we broke the news to them about our involvement in the SIG event, and they are training very hard with the aim of winning the competition in its first go," he said. "The matter of the winning prize of cricket gear hasn't escaped us either, as it will go a far way in helping us to outfit our team for the 2014 schoolboy cricket season."
Meanwhile, tournament manager Oneil Cruikshank believes the time is right for the competition and expects a good showing from the schoolboy cricketers.
"I have always felt that there was a place on the cricket landscape for a schoolboy T20 tournament, even though I'm aware that this would be to the chagrin of the purists," Cruikshank said.
"However, we can't fight natural progression forever, and at any rate, these boys are already exposed to this format by playing and viewing it on television. Given the teams involved, I am expecting a very competitive tournament, and though only for three days, I am also expecting that it will be an exciting affair."