UWI’s ‘unfair’ advantage
By Barney Callender | Wed, September 26, 2012 - 12:03 AM
The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) recent championship victory in the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) Elite Division should not surprise anyone.
A team with players competing in the regional competition and reverting to a local competition should comfortably outplay all opponents.
The BCA should revisit, with some urgency, the rules of the competition as they relate to the UWI’s participation.
It is totally unfair to a have a team that competes in a first-class competition and has 95 per cent first-class players in the BCA Elite Division. The structure and players at UWI are positioned for first-class cricket, therefore that institution is able to lure most of the better players to its team.
UWI have tremendous resources and the best facilities and can offer scholarships and other benefits to potential players while no other team in the competition has a fraction of the resources as UWI.
Teams cannot even afford to bring in regional players because of the obvious challenges involved, but UWI can. This makes it difficult for teams to keep good cricketers or attract players.
Banks lost two of their best players in Jonathan Carter and Carlos Brathwaite and have not recovered since. Everyone wants to play for UWI. The BCA must act now and put regulations in place to control and bring fairness to its competition.
My suggestion is that the playing unit be limited to undergraduate students who play for three years; there should be no graduate/Master’s students, or staff and there should be a limit to the number of first-class players in the starting XI.
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is responsible for a similar programme with universities in England – the MCC Universities (MCCUs).
The MCC programme is geared to first-degree students only for three years; no staff or playing coaches are in the teams.
The aim of the MCCUs is to give talented young cricketers in England the chance to receive top-level coaching and playing opportunities whilst furthering their education.
Based on the MCCU model, players would go into the UWI and benefit from the education and sporting facilities and then take that knowledge and skills back to the respective clubs to improve themselves while helping build the other struggling clubs.
The Barbados Youth team in the Elite Division comprises only students and that should be the basis from which UWI function.
I am convinced that UWI is not serving the same purpose as similar universities in England.
Since 2005, MCC has funded six university cricket programmes in England and Wales and the main focus is on players’ development. This is evident by the development of Andrew Strauss, Monty Panesar, John Crawley and James Foster for England.
The focus at UWI should be the same instead of trying to build a team to win competitions. The scheme must have highly qualified coaches to take these aspiring cricketers to a different level.
I am not seeing such personnel. I am seeing the coach (Floyd Reifer) on the field, playing alongside the players. This shows a lack of focus on the development of players.
UWI must also adopt the MCCU model and start to focus on developing players for the West Indies cricket team.
What about the women’s programme? Is that forgotten because the focus is about winning the BCA competitions? Similar programmes in MCCU are producing women’s cricketers.
UWI’s programme offers other players, mostly Barbadians who cannot make the first team, an opportunity to play first-class cricket. The team has been successful by fielding mostly first-class players in the BCA competitions. But the development of players has not been taking place.
• Barney Callender is a former BCL Division One cricketer.
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