UWI success par for course
Last Sunday’s Sagicor Twenty20 final, which Sagicor UWI won for the first time, beating ICBL Empire on an ugly-looking Kensington Oval outfield and square, was another manifestation that some of our present and past national players are still not learning from their mistakes.
UWI must definitely be commended for achieving the unprecedented triple of Elite Division championship, Super Cup (50-overs) crown and T20 crown in this year’s Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) major competitions.
No praise is too high for coach/player Floyd Reifer and young captain Kyle Corbin.
Of course, the question of whether UWI?have an advantage over the other clubs will be asked because of their superior resources and support staff.
One would be foolhardy to think the team’s success arose only because of a more disciplined and professional cricketing module.
Any first-class side, and UWI, in my view, can be regarded as an identical twin of the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) but carrying a different name, should dominate when competing at the lower local level.
The same players, with one or two exceptions, like Liam Sebastien and Jonathan Carter, have played for both sides at the domestic and regional levels while the management and coaching staff is almost the same.
Hence, it is not only the set-up of UWI with a salaried support staff, which includes Roland Butcher, Steven Leslie, physio Andrew Simpson and Reifer, among others, which is responsible for the success.
The players, themselves, especially Ryan Austin, Jonathan Carter, Elite skipper Omar Phillips, Chadwick Walton and Akeem Dewar, must also be credited for sterling performances and believing in themselves in tough situations.
Of course, the cricket-driven Sir Hilary Beckles has been the driving force, using his good office and societal standing to solicit sponsorship from corporate Barbados to assist the UWI’s cricket programme.
Do you believe, for example, that Maple’s president Pedro Agard can open similar doors and get prospective sponsors to buy into a similar programme for the development of the West Coast side, which squandered a golden opportunity to beat UWI in the Super Cup final earlier this year.
On the other hand, the clubs, which depend almost exclusively on subscriptions of a few financial members/players, prize money won and a few thousand dollars in sponsorship, do not benefit from any major Government funding or amenities fees.
These clubs have only one person, a coach, who is paid a monthly stipend by the BCA to work with the players, with all the others doing so voluntarily.
And because that person also has a daily job, that coaching can be done only when he completes his work commitments, unlike the full-time situation that exists at the UWI.
It is an undisputable fact, therefore, that the playing field is not level.
Which local club can afford an indoor facility where all their players can practise at any time of the day, rain fall or sun shine; have floodlights to practise with the white ball at nights; and regularly pay the airfare and accommodation to have an overseas player for the full season?
Also, we have seen the inclusion of players such as Steven Jacobs, Derone Davis, Keswick Williams and the return of Trinidad and Tobago’s T20 selectee Yannick Ottley for the Sagicor T20 final.
Which other club can start a season with two first-class cricketers of the calibre of Kevin McClean, a West Indies “A” fast bowler, and Raymon Reifer as reserves? Then to finish the season with their Super Cup Man Of The Match awardee Marques Clarke and the talented West Indies Under-19 batsman Anthony Alleyne as the emergency fielders and not utilize High Performance Centre captain and Barbados T20 selectee Carlos Brathwaite?
Furthermore, unlike Sagicor UWI, none of the clubs participate in any parish competition as a team and benefit from more T20 cricket.
In defending UWI’s participation in the ongoing Inter-Parish tournament, it has been posited that it is their tournament and they have every right to enter a team.
This feeble defence, which is an insult to the intelligence of Barbadians, should not be accepted, as no tertiary educational institution qualifies to play in a parish competition.
The arrangement that obtains prevents many of the 11 parishes from fielding their best players, especially those who don the UWI Blackbirds colours, thus negating their chance of success and securing bragging rights as the true champions of parish cricket.
In fact, the tournament, which has lost a lot of its appeal and suffered a scaling down of the prize money to even less than what is on offer in some tapeball competitions, has now become a farce. Players are now representing parishes where they have never resided and have absolutely no affiliation with.
That is why I am calling on the BCA to step in and organize this tournament at the cricket-starved “Mecca” with strict rules and regulations regarding eligibility as well as playing conditions.
Maybe, if the BCA stipulates that the Barbados team participate because they are the organizers, those who now defend the UWI would sing a different tune.
Congrats again, UWI! Let’s hope CCC?can do on the regional stage what you have done locally.