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EDITORIAL: It’s no easy task for Garner


EDITORIAL: It’s no easy task for Garner

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CONGATULATIONS TO JOEL GARNER on his re-election as president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA). The plaudits are not because of his ability to fight off a feisty challenge, but his willingness to stay at the helm of an institution which must undergo major change if it is not to go the way of the dodo bird.

Cricket has become a profession for greater numbers today even if it is no longer the game to which most Barbadians gravitate. Yet, no one can deny that the sport maintains a measure of popularity, judging from the interest and attendance at the T20 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) a few months ago.

The BCA is undoubtedly this island’s foremost sports association and Mr Garner’s stewardship comes at a time when the game calls for leadership in issues ranging from social media to the need for full transparency and accountability. The increasing use of technology in the sport must be applied locally with greater emphasis on training and development whether in turf management or coaching. Sponsorship, merchandising and the need to attract visiting teams, particularly from England and North America, must now be on the BCA’s agenda. 

All this will require Mr Garner to be a change agent who must act astutely and boldly. This is why amongst the things to which the BCA’s elected officials should give consideration is the takeover of the Barbados Cricket League resulting in one unified cricket body. The league has long become irrelevant in today’s cricket environment.

If cricket in Barbados is going to flourish, then it must be promoted as a family sport as attractive to women as to men. This raises the importance of day/night matches, regardless of the format, to generate public appeal. Then there is the issue of reserving a place on the BCA’s board specifically for a representative defending the interests of women.

One of the pitfalls of domestic cricket in recent years has been the dismal crowd support. If it continues along this path, then it runs the risk of becoming the sports version of some of our established religious denominations, with a mostly BARP-like crowd whose attendance is based on tradition. In the meantime, the millennials will continue to gravitate to other leisure activity, such as motor sport. The marketing of the CPL should have sharpened the BCA’s vision as to what is possible.

Mr Garner must avoid being seen as just a leader steadfast in the old ways seeking to improve existing performance, but rather he must work to transform the BCA by repositioning the organisation. 

Local cricket needs visionary leadership if it is not to slip into a state of listlessness.