Adams wants resources put into flagging grassroots programme
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):
EXPRESSING CONCERN that grassroots cricket in the region is under threat, Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams says administrators are desperately trying to regain momentum to preserve and nurture current and future talent.
He said there is a particular need to identify and develop female talent in the sport.
Speaking at a press conference where he discussed the launch of the CWI Emerging Players Academy which is aimed at supporting the development of world-class players from the Caribbean, Adams said while there is raw talent across CWI territories “if we don’t protect our grassroots cricket, then we might not be saying that in 10 years’ time”.
“Our grassroots cricket is under attack at the minute. We’re trying desperately to work with governments across the region to ensure that we don’t lose that base that we’ve had and that we depend on going forward,” he said.
“When I say ‘under attack’, I don’t mean in a malicious way; I mean forces of nature, the market, economics.”
The former West Indies captain further explained that the loss of Scotiabank as a partner in developing regional talent, including through the Kiddy Cricket programme, had been a blow.
“For many years we’ve had an association with Scotiabank and we did a massive amount of work at the grassroots level through Scotiabank and Scotiabank recently pulled out, just as the pandemic hit. Maybe the pandemic has bought us just a little bit of time because no one really could go out and play organised sport the last year and a half, but right now we’re really busy trying to get those linkages to give us the resources, not only to get back where we were, but the approach pre-pandemic was to keep growing that grassroots level even more.
“We can’t afford to stay still. While we’re desperate for results at this [international] level, we’re very conscious that if we don’t keep expanding our base then other issues come into play and we can’t afford to be losing our kids that early,” Adams added.
The former West Indies captain was also adamant that while the academy will see both male and female cricketers participating in several high-performance training and development camps, women’s cricket is in particular need of support.
“We need to get hundreds more of our young girls playing cricket and Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket used to be the entry point for that. So we’re just desperate to make sure we don’t lose any momentum there,” he said.
Adams said the CWI Emerging Players Academy will be a world-class facility staffed by world-class practitioners who will work to bring out the best in cricketers aged 19 to 25.
“We felt that up to age 19, we’ve got decent enough support structures for them to carry them through youth cricket. However, for those who leave youth cricket and move immediately to franchise cricket, we think that we’re losing out on some of our best talent.
“[We want to] say ‘listen, if you come here and spend time in a programme at this facility, with our practitioners, there’s every chance that if you do your part…that you’ll make it’,” Adams said.
Adams said the academy will provide a great start towards bridging the critical gap between junior and professional levels.
“It’s a starting point for us. We don’t think it’s going to be the ending point because obviously, we want to grow that concept not just here in Antigua but throughout the region so that each territory will eventually be able to handle that aspect of development,” Adams said.
“Whatever goes into creating an international player, we want to have it here but we also want to make sure that we become almost a template for the rest of the Caribbean, and territory by territory we can say… ‘look at us, this is what it looks like’ and then help them to create if not a mirror image as close to it as possible. So that eventually those kids that were lost in the past can still have a chance at becoming international players,” the cricket director said.
“We recognise that however many players we choose they’re still going to be more players out there, so it’s going to be incumbent on us to make sure that the territories become part of this whole process as well.”
The first intake for the CWI Emerging Players Academy will be in July 2022 and run for a year. Up to 30 players will be selected from both the men’s and women’s talent pool for the training and camps at the Coolidge Cricket Ground here, the new home of West Indies Cricket, according to CWI.
Selected players will have to meet the CWI minimum fitness requirements before they are exposed to the training programmes and camps in Antigua.