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Former parliamentarian Hamilton Lashley believes there is an urgent need for the re-emergence of softball cricket on the island. In fact, Lashley has gone so far as to suggest that one of the reasons behind Barbados’ failure to produce as many top class cricketers as in years gone by, has been because of the lack of softball cricket being played. The former minister pointed to the fact that most of the island’s cricket legends started off by playing softball cricket. “When you look at the likes of Joel “Big Bird” Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Carlisle Best, they are all cricketers who used to play softball cricket quite frequently,” he told SUNSPORT in an interview recently. “Softball cricket helps to improve a cricketer’s technique in batting, bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping. “In fact, I would go so far as to say that softball cricket is the most physically demanding form of cricket to play.” Lashley explained that because of the lightness of the ball, batsmen, bowlers and fielders had to be extremely focused and skilled to perfect their art. He said that this meant that when those cricketers moved on to “hardball cricket” their techniques had already been sharpened. “When softball cricket was abundant in Barbados, that was when we were the cricket powerhouse of the region,” Lashley maintained. “Those were the days of the Shell Shield, when softball cricket could be seen played on every pasture around Barbados. “At that time we used to have eight and nine players in the West Indies team . . . but now that softball cricket is practically dead here, we are struggling to get three players constantly in the regional side, far less eight or nine,” he said. Lashley said it was for reasons such as these that he had tried to rejuvenate the sport through the hosting of the just concluded Joe Connell/Rosita Browne Softball Competition. He strongly believes that if softball cricket is regularly played once again, Barbados could see a turnaround in its cricket fortunes. “We need to bring softball cricket into the primary and secondary schools, and I am calling on the National Sports Council, all sporting agencies and the private sector to support such an initiative. “The game of softball cricket is on a suicidal path if it is not revived. We can’t allow it to die, because it plays an instrumental part in the development of our young cricketers,” he said.