Low BCA returns
As?I?traverse Barbados or listen to the sports call-in programmes in the weeks subsequent to the Caribbean T20 cricket tournament, the main discussion surrounded the reasons for the defeat of Barbados against Trinidad in the semi-finals of that tournament.
At the forefront of the discussion was the toss and whether Barbados on winning the toss should have opted to bat or invite the opposition to bat.
However, I would like to suggest that whether Barbados had batted first or had invited Trinidad to bat, and the batting display was similar to the one given on that particular evening, the result would have been the same.
I would also like to remind those who have been very vocal on the issue that in the 2011 edition, Trinidad batted first and decimated the bowling of Barbados and even though Barbados “got off” to a good start in reply, the batting imploded with the dismissal of Dwayne Smith.
In the past, I have given credit to the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) for their efforts to improve the standard of cricket and will continue to do such. They have implemented coaches in clubs, promotion and demotion, Centre of Excellence, retainer contracts for the senior players and even assisted clubs financially just to mention a few.
However, with this kind of investment, one should expect to see some improvement in the overall game, and by extension, better performances. But are we really seeing such? And, do we have the quality personnel currently in place to take the game to the “next level”?
At the club, of which I am a member and which has limited sources of funding, there is a board of management structure and branching from this board are sub-committees which carry out the daily functions of the club. The current members of the club’s board all have full-time employment, therefore, all work done for the club is voluntary.
Hence, I find it very disturbing that the main organization which is responsible for our cricket affairs still has a similar structure with the secretariat playing only a supporting role, despite having a healthy bank account and guaranteed funding from its sources.
In this day and age why would the BCA not have persons within the secretariat in charge of the function areas such as marketing, finance, etc?
On the cricketing side of things, the association has played merry go round with the coaches over the last three years where the head coach position has been alternated on a yearly basis.
This year (before the four-day tournament), the coaching structure is now one of a bowling coach, a batting coach and the director of coaching being in charge of the team dynamics. Where is the consistency?
This lack of consistency has also filtered down to the field of play and the clear lack of planning was very evident during the T20 tournament.
Why would Ryan Hinds with 13 seasons in regional cricket not feature prominently, and in some cases batted as low as number eight?
Why would Dale Richards, following closely behind with 12 seasons, not feature at all during the tournament? Why would the team management not think that batting skills of these two would have been required to combat the crafty bowlers of Trinidad?
Why would the team management not have the foresight to allow the middle order batsmen the opportunity to bat in the latter preliminary games in order to ensure that they were all batting ready for the semi-finals?
Why would your most experienced bowler, Fidel Edwards, only be able to break into the team when a batsman became injured?
Why would a bowler in Javon Searles replace an all-rounder in Carlos Brathwaite (who got injured) when the team already had five established bowlers along with Dwayne Smith and Kevin Stoute? It must be noted that Searles did not bowl a single ball in the one game in which he was selected.
Anyone who has an understanding of the T20 format knows that the emphasis is on batting. Why would Jonathan Carter, a batsman who had been dropped due to poor form, replace Searles the following day?
If there was a clear plan at the start of the tournament, how could it have gone so wrong in a matter of two weeks?
Immediately after the tournament, the then acting chief executive officer Deighton Smith stated that a post mortem would be done after the reports of the coaches had been received. But will these reports adequately reflect any coaching deficiencies?
The results from the first four-day game against Jamaica therefore are not surprising. After all, the personnel remain virtually the same. How could the selectors three weeks before the start of the four-day tournament invite 56 players to trials, inclusive of the 14 players who were on duty during the Caribbean T20 cricket tournament?
It is common knowledge that the majority of the 14 players selected for Barbados in the T20 tournament are selected for all three forms of the game.
During the three games, which were held over three weekends, there were no significant batting performances and the bowlers who did well were not selected because the bowlers, who represent Barbados are all either playing Test cricket or have played.
This trend of poor performances during trial matches has been the norm for a number of years. Hence, I can’t understand why we would continue to have them? They clearly have outlived their purpose and were beneficial many years ago when there was severe and strong competition for places.
Would it not have been more beneficial to invite an additional 12 players for specialized training and coaching with the remaining coaches at Kensington in preparation for the four-day tournament? During these trial games, players often sit idle once they are not involved in the actual proceedings which is time wasted that could be used for specific preparation.
Many years ago, before one recited at the annual harvest, you were required to attend a ‘Grand Rehearsal’ which comprised all the elements in running order to be displayed on harvest day.
Can you imagine that in the final trial game, which was played the week before the start of the four-day tournament, the main batsmen who would be expected to feature over the following weeks were giving away to people on the fringes of the team in order to prove themselves one final time?
I certainly know that if I had invested the type of funds that are currently being invested in the cricket, I would have monitoring systems in the form of annual reviews of all the processes and personnel in order to guarantee a fair return on my investment.
Therefore, there would be a review of all player retainers and the fitness of players in order that I am not faced with a situation where a player is being paid but is unable to pass a basic West Indies fitness test.
• Ron Cumberbatch is a former Barbados Cricket League and Carlton Division One cricketer.