JEFF BROOMES: We must revive the spirit of cricket
I LOVE CRICKET. It’s the game that I believe is the only one that God gave to the world; all the others were created by man. This sport has given me much pleasure, provided me with many opportunities to serve and has left me with many fond memories.
I recall the games I played in the Barbados Cricket League and for Coleridge and Parry that gave me a mountain of friends, none more so than the guys from Ipswich where our annual games are quite memorable. Sheriff, Scratchy, Wellie, Paddy and the boys are now friends for life.
Service comes with much responsibility that helps to build character. Be it serving the Bow Road as a member of Combined Youth Club or St Lucy Secondary as coach and teacher in charge or as manager of the Combined Schools, I was given more opportunities than one could have hoped for.
This honour of serving was carried through as manager at under-15, under-19 and senior level as well as administrator with the female game and for Barbados and the West Indies.
Cricket has also left me with good memories. I recall Gary Sobers’ four consecutive fours off Jeff Jones and Mike Holding’s over to Geoff Boycott; the century from the retired Everton Weekes against the Jim Swanton team and the 261 from Leslie Reifer at junior level.
I also recall watching Tony King and Seymour Nurse bat at Wanderers in a masters’ game against Pickwick for almost two hours without a single ball touching their pads. What memories! What quality!
Today, the crowds are gone, the quality is almost non-existent and the congruence between game, players and spectators is totally fragmented. Cricket defines us as a people and it must be respected and taken back to a place of prominence; spectators and their passion are crucial in this process.
Recently, I made the tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and have also been a keen follower of the annual Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I love those moments and see how involved the fans become in this process of saying thank you.
Cricket has been the lifeblood of this country and we have produced as many quality persons as any other country. Let’s begin the process of honouring our legacy builders. Let’s resume the annual benefits that previously recognised Winston Reid, George Linton and Lawrence Maxwell.
Let us also give some motivational thrust to our game. Establish two zones and have an “All-Star” game. Let the cricket fans vote for the players in this 50/50 mid-season game by way of ballots to be accessed at the grounds on cricket days. Of course, top performers in each category should be automatic selections.
Add some flair to our first-class game by way of giving concessions to targeted groups through “Female Day,” “Teachers’ Day,” “Bankers Day,” Agricultural Workers Day,” etc. And, of course, establish a Hall of Fame (the land at Wildey is perfect for this). What a potential revenue stream.
Let’s have an annual induction ceremony and dinner with both BCA members and the general cricket fans being given a role in the process. We need to honour our administrators and our outstanding Test players. We must think outside of the box and create joint ventures with the business community.
We must revive the spirit of cricket.
Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as a vice president of the BCA and a director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]