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How Elite teams can copy UWI

Ezra Stuart

How Elite teams can copy UWI

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I?have?been taken aback by pronouncements that only a select group of journalists are pushing the notion that Sagicor UWI?have an advantage in the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) competitions.
Following last week’s column, it is imperative I present my formula and to-do list for Elite teams to emulate UWI’s unprecedented success, gained from their special module, which local clubs have been asked to adopt.
First, the nine other Elite teams must construct an indoor practice facility and install floodlights at their home venue like UWI.
The installation of the necessary irrigation and drainage systems at all grounds will be undertaken to ensure that even after torrential rainfall, play is still possible.
The clubs must all have a full-time coach available to assist their players at least five days weekly.
Like UWI students, who practise during breaks from classes, club players, even those who are working, must find the time during the day to travel to wherever their clubs are based, whether it be at Trents, Bayfield, Foursquare or Paragon, for practice sessions.
That way, players won’t have to rush from work at 4:30 p.m. and try to get in an hour’s practice on evenings before sunset.
The salary of the BCA-appointed club coaches will match that of UWI’s Floyd Reifer and they would be complemented by a paid manager, physiotherapist/trainer and director of sport and other support staff. Volunteerism will be no-balled as these amateur and village teams will now have a professional set-up, geared toward first-class cricket.
The Barbados Youth team will not only have a manager, coach and scorer but the BCA will see this side as theirs, and board members would attend their matches and give the necessary support, which is now only provided by the boys’ family circle and a few school friends. They would also be allowed to have a coach/player.
Each club must be able to offer employment opportunities to all their players as well as free scholarships to at least one promising young cricketer from the likes of Barbados Under-19 graduates Justin Greaves, Shai Hope, Craig St Hill, Shayne Moseley, Darnell Greenidge, Chaim Holder and Kemar Brathwaite, who would be obligated to represent the benefactor club.
The coach, manager or his assistant, and physio of the Elite clubs must also be retained to perform similar duties with a first-class team in the regional competitions in similar manner to what exists with the UWI’s personnel and the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC).
That way, the president of any Elite club would be in charge of the CCC outfit, and would automatically become an influential non-elected director of the West Indies Cricket Board just like Sir Hilary Beckles.
If that is not feasible, all the presidents, managers and coaches of the Elite clubs should be rotated and given management and coaching roles with the CCC side, instead of only UWI?operatives.
Because of the infrastructural improvements at the Elite clubs, the CCC programme or the High Performance Centre could now be based at any of these new-look venues with an annual rotation, thus generating revenue for the clubs.
Each club would be mandated to equip their players with stipends and laptops and offer incentives for success while also seeking sponsorship or raise the necessary funding to cover the expenses of securing a quality overseas player for the entire season.
Elite clubs would be required to have a minimum of five people on their ground staff, looking after the maintenance of at least three pitches on the square.
In order to boost the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme Elite team, their coach Alvin Greenidge would be granted permission to go around the Caribbean, à la UWI, to recruit at least three additional players under the age of 23.
Like the BDF Sports Programme, where the cricketing recruits spend three years and move on, the BCA would need to adjust its playing conditions to stipulate that UWI students can only play for the institution’s Elite team for a maximum of five years – enough time to complete their Masters degree – before moving on to facilitate playing opportunities for new tertiary student-cricketers.
Also on my to-do list,  the BCA must now make a concerted effort to lure the leading players from relegated Division One teams to the Elite Division to provide a greater test to the UWI.
Last season, at least seven Barbados cricketers, headed by Barbados captains Kirk Edwards and Dwayne Smith, Fidel Edwards, Shane Dowrich, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jason Holder and Ashley Nurse were playing in Division One.  
While such an exodus of their top cricketers will make it even more difficult for those relegated teams to regain promotion, the best cricketers would be required at all times to play in the Elite division with the ultimate goal of making it a semi-professional league.
Just imagine how much stronger Empire or St Catherine, for example, would be with Brathwaite, Smith or Holder in their ranks. Maple would also be a tougher side with northern boys Omar Phillips, Justin Greaves and Fidel Edwards, while Dowrich and Kirk Edwards would strengthen LIME or Pickwick.
UWI would therefore compete against all the island’s best cricketers and strengthened Elite teams in all three formats.