FORMER BARBADOS CAPTAIN, WI OPENING BATSMAN, BCA BOARD MEMBER AND SELECTOR, HAMMERS NATIONAL TEAM AND BCA SELECTION POLICIES
In a style which brought back memories of the way he batted during his career for Spartan, Barbados and West Indies, Philo Wallace slammed the disappointing showing of the national team in the recent four-nation Twenty20 series in Trinidad with an awesome display on Tuesday night.
With it came an attack on the policies of the Barbados Cricket Association, its Cricket Development Committee and the ‘interim’ national senior selection panel, now in place for six months.
“I saw friendly cricket being played by the Barbados team,” an agitated Wallace bellowed from his home in Port-of-Spain where he has been residing for a couple years, during a live telephone discussion on Mid Wicket, aired on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
“I did not see that competitive nature of cricket that Barbados is accustomed to. And it seems to me that the team is structured around friends. The selectors picked a team not knowing the importance of this competition that they came to play,” he said.
Wallace’s attack was telling. He was unquestionably hurt by what he saw from the Barbadians who lost all three of their matches in the tournament, which was in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Independence of Trinidad & Tobago and was dubbed Asia v the Caribbean, at the Queen’s Park Oval. The other teams were Trinidad & Tobago, Bangladesh and winners Afghanistan.
The results would show that Barbados, captained by West Indies Test batsman Kirk Edwards, lost by seven wickets to Bangladesh, by five wickets against Trinidad & Tobago and also by five wickets against Afghanistan.
As a proud, former Barbados first-class and limited overs captain and pugnacious opening batsman, who also served as a Barbados selector and member of the BCA Board of Management, Wallace could not hide his feelings. Add to his credentials, his stint as chairman of Cricket Legends of Barbados.
Wallace played stroke after stroke on Tuesday night and gained so much attention from all and sundry that at the end of the programme and before noon the following day, as moderator, I was flooded with calls and text messages in relation to what was debated.
In Wallace’s opinion, it was not only a matter of losing all three matches but also the manner and the combination of the team.
At the receiving end of Wallace’s onslaught on Tuesday night was Conde Riley, the BCA First vice-president and chairman of its Cricket Development Committee, who was in the studio trying desperately to give reasons for Barbados’ letdown.
But even if we were to take a couple of Riley’s defences that the timing of the tournament came at short notice and two of the Barbados players – fast bowler Tino Best and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn – were unavailable because of a training camp at the 3Ws Oval here with the West Indies team of which they were reserves as Darren Sammy’s side prepared for the ICC T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka this month, Wallace’s assessment of what he saw carried a lot of weight. And it cannot be swept under the carpet.
Now rewind. It was on March 9 this year that the Barbados selection panel of chairman George Linton, Winston Reid and Michael Inniss dramatically resigned before the start of play on the opening day of the fifth round first-class match against Guyana at Kensington Oval.
The decision was so sudden that team manager Livingstone Coppin was asked to join Head coach Henderson Springer, who is also the BCA Director of Coaching, and batting coach Emmerson Trotman in picking the final eleven for the match.
The BCA issued a Press release the same day with the following: “This morning three members of the National Senior Selection Committee tendered their resignations to the Board of Management of the Barbados Cricket Association. They are George Linton, Chairman, and Committee Members, Winston Reid and Michael Inniss.”
“They expressed their thanks to the Board for giving them the opportunity to serve and in turn the Board of the BCA wants to thank them for their services to cricket not only in their role as Selectors but also as players.
“Details of their replacements will be released later,” the BCA stated.
Then on March 10, the BCA said in another Press release: “As a result of the resignation of three members of the National Senior Selection Committee, the Board of Management of the Barbados Cricket Association met today and appointed an Interim Selection Committee for the remainder of the regional first-class season.
“The members of the Committee are: Livingstone Coppin (Current Team Manager) – Chairman; Henderson Springer – (BCA Director of Coaching); Vasbert Drakes – (BCA Coach), Emmerson Trotman (BCA Coach) and the Captain.
“The board of the BCA reiterates its expression of thanks to the members of the former committee.”
In the circumstances, let us try to make sense of the word ‘interim’. It states, 1. Serving as a temporary measure until something more complete and permanent can be established, and 2. Serving temporarily until a permanent replacement can be elected or appointed.
Therefore, should it be argued that the current selection panel could no longer be termed as interim?
It is not the first time the issue has surfaced as local cricket fans, especially those who care a great deal about the game, continue to express concern over the length of time the BCA has taken to put a new panel in place.
Riley reiterated on Tuesday night that one of the reasons for the tardiness had its genesis in the Elite and First division clubs, which have lagged in responding to requests to submit names of persons to be considered for the selection panel.
According to Riley, the BCA wrote to these clubs in April and by the end of July, only one had responded. The deadline was further extended until mid-August and again there was only one further response. As a result, the Cricket Development Committee will now go back to the old system and make recommendations to the Board.
It is my understanding that three persons have been identified and hopefully a new selection committee will be in place by October, if not sooner.
Meantime, the interim committee will again be in the picture shortly as they pick a squad to represent the island in a three-match T20 series against Trinidad & Tobago under lights at Kensington Oval next weekend.
It is part of the Trinidad & Tobago team’s preparations for next month’s Champions League T20 in South Africa.
Based on the recent criticism which they received, it would be most interesting to see if the ‘interim’ selection panel will stick with Kirk Edwards as captain and maintain the likes of Carlo Morris and a couple others when there are talented players such as the CGI Maple pair of Renaldo Parris and Ramon Greaves and BDFSP’s Renaldo Brathwaite, deserving of a look-in.
All three have been effective as off-spinners in all versions of the game and rather economical as well in limited overs competitions. Parris and Brathwaite are also known for their batting and Greaves can be dangerous with the bat, too.
Bottom line is that with three versions of the game being played domestically among the major teams – three-day league, Sagicor General 50-over and T20 – selectors must pay more attention to statistical information instead of rubber stamping some of the tried, tested and failed.
Hopefully, the new selection committee will get the message.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).