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Champions but …

hadyngill, [email protected]

Champions but …

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NATION Associate Editor (Sports) Haydn Gill takes issue with the format of the WICB regional four-day competitionHATS OFF to Barbados for winning the 2013 WICB regional four-day competition.
They made a final a virtual no-contest, annihilating Trinidad and Tobago by an innings and 22 runs inside two and a half days.
Their fast bowlers took advantage of a grassy Kensington Oval pitch on which their inexperienced opponents lacked the courage and technique to cope.
In winning the championship, Barbados extended their record number of first-class titles to 21 but there are many who will ask if they were the best team in the competition.
I say no.
They won the two key matches that mattered most – the semi-finals and final – but throughout the preliminaries, they were inconsistent.
Barbados lost to both Jamaica and the Windward Islands in the first stage of the tournament and went through to the semi-finals as the third placed team.
In the final, they faced a Trinidad and Tobago side that was even more up-and-down in the preliminaries with a 3-3 record.
To make the final, Barbados reversed their earlier defeat against Windwards and Trinidad and Tobago did the same against Jamaica.
The latter was a shock result that dethroned five-time defending champions and overwhelming favourites Jamaica.
It was a tag they earned after rolling over each of their six opponents in the preliminaries and Jamaica must feel hard done that they have nothing to show for their impressive efforts.
It just seems a little strange that Trinidad and Tobago, whose 36 points were half the number gained by Jamaica, were in the final ahead of the defending champions.
With the benefit of hindsight, one can always point to shortcomings but I’ve always questioned the format of the competition.
Traditionally, the champion in a league tournament is the team with the most points after they have played each of their opponents. In this case, it was Jamaica.
There is no way they should be asked to play a semi-final and a final after beating everyone.
It is the equivalent of asking new English Premier League football champions Manchester United to now come and play Arsenal or Tottenham in a semi-final before meeting the winner of the other semi-final between Manchester City and Chelsea.
I can appreciate that the West Indies Cricket Board might want to give players further opportunities during a relatively short season. Be that as it may, what should have been done – as was the case a few years ago – is to have two trophies on offer.
The Cup, the more prestigious of the two, will be presented to the team ending the preliminaries with the most points and the Challenge, a secondary competition, for the winner of the final.
I hope the point is clear.