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THE SCORE – Time to pull stumps on CCC

Ezra Stuart

THE SCORE – Time to  pull stumps on CCC

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THE START of this new column is timely as it comes just before the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) meeting in St Lucia this weekend.
And the WICB directors will be required to make some bold decisions to end some of the unfortunate controversies and conflicts which have continued to encircle Caribbean cricket.
The Chris Gayle issue has needlessly dragged on for too long, denying the West Indies the services of one of the most feared batsmen in the contemporary game, especially in the limited overs and Twenty20 formats.
Have the WICB directors not realized that settlement of this matter should not only rest with head coach Ottis Gibson and CEO, Dr Ernest Hilaire, but with an independent arbitrator?
Another issue will be the controversy involving cousins Carlos Brathwaite and Jonathan Carter and which team they will represent in the upcoming Regional Super50 in Guyana.
It really borders on contempt that the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) have taken such a defiant stance by including two members of the Barbados side in their own team.
And to seek to justify their action by making reference to the WICB’s Regulation 44 (composition of teams) for the Regional Super50 is really unacceptable.
Any time two teams are competing for the same players, in the same competition, then something is fundamentally flawed with the eligibility process.
The Barbados Cricket Association has contended that the long established policy of the WICB is that countries have first choice in choosing the players.
It is also refreshing to see the BCA?taking a tough stance on this matter, as to allow both Carter and Brathwaite to play for CCC?could be setting a dangerous precedent. It is a simple case where the players have no choice in the matter. Once their countries require them, they must represent them, regardless of their preference, whether they feel comfortable or how many matches they will play. Otherwise, they must retire or change  their  nationality. 
Players should also not be allowed to change teams at their whims and fancies.
But it is really high time the WICB revert to a six-team tournament for all its competitions with a home and away round-robin format for next year’s first-class season, which would guarantee each country 10 matches. 
I have said before, and I say it again, that only the territories should be competing in regional championships as all the CCC players are eligible for selection for their respective countries. West Indies cricket was strong before without any representation from CCC and maybe, it will become strong again if players, especially those on the fringe of selection, work harder at improving their overall play to make their national sides instead of looking at the easy way out.
I truly admire Liam Sebastien for his loyalty to Windward Islands cricket and I believe someone like Romel Currency, who started his first-class debut with the Windwards should recommit himself and make them a stronger unit.
The Barbados selectors should demand that off-spinner Ryan Austin, who deserves another opportunity to play for the West Indies based on his success in the regional first-class competition, represent Barbados and not CCC.
But why should a cricketer, who happens to be enrolled at a tertiary institution, be given two bites at playing regional cricket but someone who is not as academically gifted but equally talented as a cricketer, who is gainfully employed, be denied such a luxury?
Some people will also purport that the inductees in the Sagicor High Performance Centre should be the ones playing regional cricket instead of CCC.
My view is neither should be involved as a team at that level since the competition is designed for inter-island cricketing rivalry and not for universities, colleges or developmental sides.
Such teams can arrange their own tours to any of the ICC’s associate non-Test playing countries while the WICB can also include them for warm-up matches against visiting Test countries in the same way they included the Vice Chancellor’s XI.
No longer do we have Cambridge and Oxford universities playing in the English county championship while “student teams” do not participate in state and grade cricket in Australia and South Africa.
Maybe footballers, volleyballers, netballers, basketballers and other sportsmen and women who are at the same universities and colleges around the region should be allowed to compete with countries in the regional competitions like the Digicel Cup, Caribbean Volleyball Championship and Caribbean Netball Championships, etc.
With all respect to the visionary Sir Hilary Beckles, who has been at the forefront of the cricket push at the university, it is time to pull stumps on the CCC.
But I believe the WICB directors don’t want to recognize that cricketers with “brains” could also be assets to their national teams. Right here in Barbados, the UWI also compete with the 11 parishes with some of the best cricketers from these same parishes in their side? Maybe, a parish should be invited to play in the Inter-Campus Games.
Finally, why is coach/player Floyd Reifer, at 39 years old still playing while the likes of Omar Phillips, Raymon Reifer, Yannic Ottey and Nicholas Alexis have not been selected? Is Floyd a student who wants to blend his studies and still play cricket or is it just reluctance on his part to admit he is past his best?