Mixed feelings have been expressed on the restructured Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Sagicor General Twenty20 Championship following the completion of the Super 10 (Phase 1) last Saturday.
Featuring the ten First division teams and with only the zone winners advancing to the Super 12, the format was always likely to have its pros and cons.
ESA Field Pickwick and Carlton were the zone winners and will now join the Elite division teams for Phase 2, which starts May 8.
Pickwick will be in Zone A along with title holders Sagicor Life UWI, Brathwaite Construction St. Catherine, Police, ICBL Empire and Massy United Insurance Wildey, while Zone B includes Carlton, Guardian General Barbados Youth ‘A’, BDFSP, Massy Stores Spartan, CounterPoint Wanderers and Maple.
Some top officials and players of Division 1 teams have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the format, arguing that there should have been a few incentives. In addition, they reckoned it would have served a more meaningful purpose if teams were seeded based on past performances.
There is also a contention in relation to a disparity in having only two teams advance to the Super 12 when one considers that there will be quarter-finals in Phase 2, which would allow eight of the 12 teams to go into knockouts and qualify for prize money. The Tournament ends June 17.
In explaining the early start to the season on April 9, Steven Leslie, the BCA Director of Cricket, said: “There were two principles for having the T20 format begin in April. It would allow the players to have an increased number of matches and also build spectator interest.”
For the first time ever, Barbados Youth would have fielded two teams – a decision which has not gone down well with some observers. But Leslie reckons it is part of preparations for regional youth tournaments.
“The young men will be given no fewer than 19 matches in the T20 and 50-over format prior to going off to the West Indies regional tournaments in the summer,” he said.
“I think that is significant because in the past and from research which I have done, to enable these young men to play a minimum of 19 organized cricket matches would not have been done. I am very happy that we have been able to pull together that schedule along with what else is being done here at the BCA and we are hoping to bear fruit in that tournament.”
When he reflects on what he said, Leslie is sure to find that “players having an increased number of matches” would only be possible in the Super 12. In fact, later in this column, the number of teams from the inception in relation to how they were placed in zones would point to how many matches were played in the preliminaries.
This season, double-headers were contested in the Super 10 for only the second time in the nine-year history of the Tournament – the other was in 2009 – with matches starting at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at two venues per day.
The fixtures for the Super 12 show that three venues will be in use for each series. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final are to be played at Kensington Oval.
Last season’s Championship had a taste of controversy as well. It related to an historic boycott of matches involving the three school teams – Foundation, Combermere and Barbados Youth – over a new selection policy.
In fact, a call by the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools for all schools not to play in any division on the opening day of the season was carried out in full.
The genesis of the boycott related to a new rule, which stipulated that the Barbados Youth squad is first selected before Foundation and Combermere (both in the First division) could pick their squads.
As it turned out, Foundation, Combermere and Barbados Youth all defaulted their first two matches in the T20 Tournament.
With the debate continuing over the new format, I delved into the history of the Championship, which was initially designed for the teams in the major three-day Championship (rebranded Elite from Division 1 in 2012).
The 2008 Tournament started on May 18 and ended December 7. In Zone A were Bristol, Pickwick, Cable & Wireless, Wanderers, Banks (now Wildey), Maple, BDFSP and UWI. Zone B comprised Police, Spartan, Barbados Youth, Carlton, YMPC, BCL, Empire and St. Catherine.
In 2009 (started June 21, ended August 21), there were four zones.
Individual awards were also in place for the full competition: batsman scoring the fastest century (number of balls), batsman with the most runs, bowler with the most wickets, bowler with the best Economy Rate (must bowl a minimum of 12 overs), fielder with the most catches, wicket-keeper with the most dismissals and the Most Outstanding All-rounder.
The teams were: Zone A – Banks, Bristol, Wanderers, UWI. Zone B – Carlton, Barbados Youth, Spartan, Empire. Zone C – LIME, Pickwick, Maple, BDFSP. Zone D – YMPC, Police, BCL, St. Catherine.
The 2010 Tournament began on May 23 and ended July 16. By then, the promotion and relegation system in the league competitions was in operation so there were 14 teams, again in four zones.
But interestingly, four teams each were placed in Zones A and B and three each in Zones C and D. In the circumstances, Zones C and D featured cross-over matches.
Teams were: Zone A – LIME, YMPC, Empire, Dover. Zone B – Police, Banks, Maple, Barbados Youth. Zone C – Pickwick, Carlton. Zone D – St. Catherine, Wanderers. Inter Zones C & D – Spartan, UWI.
The 2011 Tournament started November 6 and ended December 11 with the qualifying teams moving straight to the semi-finals.
Teams were: Zone A – Empire, Barbados Youth, St. Catherine, Banks, Pickwick, Carlton. Zone B – LIME, UWI, YMPC, Maple, Spartan, BDFSP.
2012 (started October 20, ended December 9) was a significant year in that for the first time, teams from the First division (formerly Upper Intermediate division) joined those in the Elite (formerly First) division. The newcomers were MTW, Yorkshire and Lodge.
Teams were: Zone A – UWI, Wanderers, Empire, LIME, Carlton, Maple, Banks, MTW, Lodge. Zone B – YMPC, BDFSP, Barbados Youth, Pickwick, Spartan, St. Catherine, Police, BCL, Yorkshire.
2013 (started May 19, ended October 13): Zone A – UWI, Carlton, St. Catherine, MTW, BDFSP, Banks Wildey, BCL, YMPC, Barbados Youth. Zone B – Spartan, LIME, Yorkshire, Empire, Pickwick, Maple, Wanderers, Police.
2014 (started May 3, ended June 1): Zone A – UWI, St. Catherine, Spartan, Yorkshire, Wildey, Police. Zone B – Maple, LIME, BDFSP, Carlton, BCL, Foundation. Zone C – Wanderers, YMPC, Pickwick, Barbados Youth, Empire, MTW.
2015 (started May 17, ended July 10): Zone A – UWI, LIME, Carlton, Spartan, Combermere, Empire, Foundation. Zone B – Maple, Wanderers, St. Catherine, Wildey, Yorkshire, MTW. Zone C – Pickwick, Police, BDFSP, YMPC, Barbados Youth, BCL.
Champions and runners-up have been: 2008 – Maple, Cable & Wireless; 2009 – Carlton, Empire; 2010 – Empire, UWI; 2011 – Maple, Empire; 2012 – UWI, Empire; 2013 – UWI, Maple; 2014 – Spartan, Wanderers, 2015 – UWI, Pickwick. NB: All of the Finals, apart from the first at Weymouth, have been played at Kensington Oval.
Now you can make your assessments and let the debate roll on.
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 (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email:[email protected]