The Barbados Cricket Association’s innovation for 2017 is geared towards reaching a wider landscape of the country.
During a pre-season press conference Thursday morning at Kensington Oval, director of cricket Steven Leslie outlined a number of plans for this year including the inaugural BCA shield T20 competition scheduled to commence April 22 and geared towards clubs within the lower division outside of Elite and Division One. Also present this morning were Noel Lynch, the BCA’s chief executive officer, Sagicor General representative Roger Spencer and chairman of the Limited Overs Committee, Kamal Springer.
Leslie said they were excited about a number of initiatives brought on board and more so the BCA T20 shield which was a totally different competition from the Sagicor General T20 tournament. A complement of 44 teams has so far shown interest and the association will be seeking to take cricket throughout the length and breadth of Barbados by including various venues across the island. The tournament will be in a single eliminator format with prize money worth BDS$4,000.
“You can imagine the reality we now face where there are some young men who wish not to venture to the traditional elite and division one clubs, but they will stay in their communities and what we are providing this year is the opportunity for not only these young men to stay in their community teams if they choose but to also be able to give those persons within those areas the opportunity to come out and be able to be part of the experience known as T20 cricket.”
“The format as it stands will see on April 22 some 12 matches beginning and it would be followed the following day on April 23rd with some sixteen games and once you get through those first two days, typically what we are doing every time there is a matchup one person [team] remains, one person goes out, so over just five playing days we will be culminating with what we call festival type three match fixtures here at Kensington Oval on May 21 which would see two semifinals being played during the course of the day followed by the grand final.” Leslie said.
Among some of the venues where the BCA T20 shield will be played are Diamond Corner, Lords, Vaucluse, Inch Marlow and Boscobelle.
Speaking on Barbados Cricket generally, Leslie boasted about the number of Barbadian cricketers excelling at the highest level and making contributions in regional cricket for other franchises while singling out 21-year-old Roshon Primus who was man of the match for the victorious Trinidad and Tobago Red Force against Barbados last week at the Oval.
“I think it is really good that Barbados cricket is at a level where we can say our regional four-day side is doing quite well but at the same time we are putting some key players within the confines of other teams within the region and I think that is something we want to continue to build on. Our Everton Weekes Center of Excellence Programme and our youth programmes and the women’s programme continue to build on the very basic foundation we are placing for them,” he said.
Even though the BCA has embarked on the new BCA T20 shield tournament, they still intend to have the 40-over shield competition scheduled for June. He also explained that the Sagicor General T20 would have a similar format to 2016 where they will be a phase one beginning April 22 and following that a phase two with the culmination a grand final at Kensington Oval. The traditional three-day format for lower divisions will start on May 6 while the format for elite and division one teams will begin July 1 and will feature those two divisions competing for the championship and seeking to dethrone defending kings St Catherine’s.
Leslie made mention about the number of secondary schools that would have shown interest for the 2017 season.
“We would have explored this year seedings and the board of the BCA would have considered one or two other things. We would maintain the format that we have kept with regards to having division one teams play within phase one of the T20 competition. Similarly, our fifty over competition would see our nineteen clubs and schools of the elite and division one playing among themselves in two zones separated basically and with Young Men’s Progressive Club being the champions of 2016, they would have an opportunity to defend their championship and all of these division one and elite clubs will play among each other in the fifty over format.”
“One of the beauties about the three-day format is that most of those clubs who in the past were disadvantaged slightly by some of their leading players being away in the United Kingdom (UK), those persons would return to Barbados in late August, sometimes early September, and the majority of the season would have been completed. What this particular format permits them to do basically within a nine series format, those young men who return from the UK can join their teams after series number three, so they are playing basically from series number four to nine and that for us at the BCA gives greater reflection of teams at full strength,” Leslie said.