• Today
    October 20

  • 10:28 PM

Elite division set for debut

Haydn Gill,

Added 05 May 2012

uwi3peat

A NEW ERA in Barbados’ cricket begins today literally under a cloud. After more than a century under the banner of Division 1, the Barbados Cricket Association’s leading three-day competition is scheduled to bowl off with a rebranded Elite division. It is being introduced after three seasons of a promotion/demotion system that has culminated with a reduction from 16 teams to ten in a move aimed at increasing the standard and competitiveness. Heavy rain on the eve of the season, however, threatened to put a damper to the start. Not once in the past 25 years has there ever been a complete washout of the opening day but a forecast today for moderate to heavy showers was not encouraging to cricket lovers. However, that should take nothing away from what is expected to be a keen tournament. In the off-season, the traditional movement of players from club to club took place. There appeared to be more shifts this year, especially from the three clubs demoted last season – LIME, YMPC and Banks. It is not often that the top two teams are pitted together for a first-round match, but that’s the case for the clash between last season’s champions Sagicor UWI and second-placed CGI Maple at Trents. UWI, the envy of everyone following a hat-trick of titles starting in 2009, are affected by a new rule that prevents them from picking students from other tertiary institutions but it has made little difference in the quality of line-up they field today. The three-time defending champions are boosted by the acquisition of former Banks captain Carlos Brathwaite, the return of Nekoli Parris from YMPC and the availability of Kyle Corbin and Kevin McClean, two graduates of the West Indies High Performance Centre. Maple also welcome two returnees – Khalid Springer from Carlton and Jed Yearwood from YMPC – and have two new boys in Dario Cummins and Shane Parris in a side led by new president Pedro Agard, who starts his 25th season at this level. Cricket fans will also pay attention to the match at Weymouth where Seven Seas Police meet ICBL Empire. Police, demoted from the top division in 2010, return as Upper Intermediate champions and Sagicor General Shield kings with mainly the same players but without key all-rounder Antonio Mayers, who has turned his attention to pursuing a career in umpiring at the age of 32. Empire are traditional powerhouses but it might be a concern to them that they have not won the three-day competition since 2004. They are missing a host of players for varying reasons – Ryan Hinds, Jason Hinds, Alcindo Holder, Jason Parris and Javon Searles – but have benefited from the addition of a few newcomers, including two with first-class experience, Roston Chase and Nicolai Charles, who have left demoted clubs. St Catherine, who placed third last season, have familiar faces but will be without former Barbados wicketkeeper/ batsman Patrick Browne for the first match due to other commitments. They face a Guardian General Barbados Youth team that will have among their debutants, exciting St Michael School student Jameel Stuart, who gained four awards at the BCA’s 2011 awards ceremony on Thursday night. Super Centre Spartan and TeleBarbados Carlton have had a fair share of fierce battles over the years. They meet at the Desmond Haynes Oval where Carlton will have a new captain, Adrian Caddle, and three newcomers – Martin Nurse, Kofi Hurdle and Larando Best. In the other match, BDFSP, who have only 12 players to choose from until the recruitment process of another four is finalized, meet ESA Field Pickwick at Paragon. Editor’s note: Clubs in Division 1, Intermediate, Division 2 and schools in the Goddard Enterprises Schools Competition are requested to submit scores to our Sports Desk by 7 p.m. using telephone numbers 430-6466, 430-5403, 430-5459, 430-5547. Scores can also be emailed to haydngill@ nationnews.com, ezrastuart@gmail.com and sherrylynclarke @nationnews.com

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