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EDITORIAL – Cricket, Crop-Over – a bad mix

marciadottin, [email protected]

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CRICKET AND CROP-OVER sound nice together.So when you combine the two of them, arguably among this island’s main attractions, there should be potential for a nice rhythm.However, attempts over the past two years to mesh the two suggest that like oil and water, the two don’t blend.There was evidence of this last week Friday night at Kensington Oval for the final of the Sagicor General Twenty20 competition between two of the island’s most successful teams, ICBL Empire and Sagicor UWI.Empire have arguably the biggest following in the island, and UWI  have high numbers of students among their fans.Night cricket is always popular and with it being a Friday night, many of us didn’t have to work the next day. All the ingredients for a good crowd were there, but there was a disappointing turnout of about 1 200 spectators.We feel the meagre attendance had to do with all the Crop-Over activity that was taking place the same night – the weekly Pork lime, Brewster’s Road, the judging of De Digicel Big Show, and so on.Last year, this same final was postponed because of a clash with the Pic-O-de-Crop semi-finals, which was partly an admission by organisers that the two events shouldn’t clash.The Caribbean Twenty20 tournament, which bowled off at Kensington Oval on Thursday, features Barbados playing two matches that clash with two major Crop-Over events.Last night, when they met Combined Campuses and Colleges, the Pic-0-de-Crop semi-finals were on. Barbados play Windward Islands tomorrow, the same day as the Party Monarch and Sweet Soca Monarch finals at Bushy Park, St Philip. In the past, not even local cricket was scheduled on this day.Were the organisers more conscious of the Crop-Over activity, Barbados could have been scheduled to play on Thursday and Saturday, and not Friday and Sunday.After a modest turnout for the first Caribbean Twenty20 match between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday afternoon, the crowd picked up for the night match between Jamaica and Leeeward Islands under the lights. Still, it was not close to the kind of 6 000 strong support the Stanford 20/20 tournament used to attract every night with teams of lesser quality.The Caribbean Twenty20 might not slop when it comes to spectator support but we are urging cricket authorities – local and regional – that if they want to maximise gate receipts, Crop-Over is not the time to try to cash in.We understand, however, that the  West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) had to complete the tournament by August 1 in order to send a regional team to the lucrative World Champions League in September in, South Africa. Be that as it may, it is clear that the WICB missed the boat by not staging it at the beginning of April as a prelude to the ICC World Twenty20 that started at the end of that month. In the absence of a sponsor, WICB still found the funds for a heavy advertising campaign, both in the print and electronic media.If after all of that advertising, we end up with modest crowds at Kensington,  it will be confirmation that the strokeplay and concentration needed for cricket just don’t go hand-in-hand with the revelry and feteing of Crop-Over.