The retirement of groundsmen employed by the National Sports Council (NSC) is presenting a big challenge to the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), says director of cricket Steven Leslie.
The senior BCA official told Barbados TODAY that the quality of the island’s cricket product stood to be compromised to some degree if that annual situation was not properly managed. Preparation of cricket pitches throughout the Caribbean at the senior level has come under greater scrutiny by the West Indies Cricket Board in recent times.
“There is a challenge on an annual basis where several groundsmen who facilitate the preparation of pitches are retiring or reaching retirement age. I know that the National Sports Council (NSC) has verbally communicated the challenge that exists for 2017. They are about ten groundsmen who are retiring or in that phase of retirement. We want to ensure wherever it is possible they can continue to assist in facilitating with the preparation of the grounds,” Leslie said.
He noted the BCA and NSC were having ongoing discussions to find a solution to the challenge.
“Think about it just for a moment where each year groundsmen are reaching that retirement age. Fewer persons will be around to serve as caretakers at the various venues, this will not only affect cricket for the BCA, it will also hamper the national development of the great sport we love,” Leslie said.
On the subject of covering the grounds, Leslie said there was a dire need for what could be considered adequate covers across most of the venues.
“I am not only referring to the grounds of those clubs competing in the Elite and Division One competitions but also at the schools level. This is a situation where the BCA is actively pursuing solutions to ensure that we have proper storage at the facilities,” Leslie said.
“We are also making sure that the infrastructure supports proper covering, and then we will train persons to operate the equipment that complement the covering. After we have good covering on the centre and around the square, we will also want to maintain proper outfields and grounds. We are actively pursuing those areas to ensure that covers are provided in a phased and very structural way. But most importantly, our objective is to help clubs to be self sufficient and manage their own venues,” he added.
Leslie said the measures to correct the problem of adequate covers would not be implemented in time for the upcoming season.
He explained that it was an evolving issue that was part of an ongoing conversation between the BCA and NSC.
According to Leslie, a number of strategies have already been formulated that will be implemented this season, and will go into the 2018 calendar year, once they have been discussed and approved by the BCA’s board.
Leslie stated the BCA’s board was currently pursuing a development plan of which these strategies would become featured components.
On the field of play and in response to a question about the dearth of centuries in the BCA’s Elite competition last year, Leslie said there was not one area that could be identified as the cause for the lack of centuries during the 2016 season.
“Traditionally, what we do know is that the slower bowlers do quite well each season. They get fifty wickets per season and that was the case in 2016. I believe some of the application that possibly would have been lacking by batsmen in 2016, would be applied in 2017. I believe strongly there will be an improvement of the number of centuries scored this season, “ Leslie said.
The director of cricket stated he would like to see teams and more importantly batsmen, spend more time at the crease.
“We have a situation at our school level and in other competitions, players are encouraged to bat 25, 30 or sometimes 50 overs, and when we get into the longer forms of cricket, some of our batsmen are unable to bat a day. All of us can recall watching batsmen many days at Kensington displaying grit and determination. We do not find that consistently now across Barbados and throughout the region. Certainly as it relates to batsmen being aggressive and spending longer periods at the grease, we have a few good examples of batsmen who do so in Barbados. But widespread, I would like to see a few more batsmen following their example,” Leslie said.
The cricket administrator said he would not only like to see the Barbados franchise winning championships but also playing a major role in making the West Indies a more competitive team.
“What I would like to see is maybe a minimum of three Barbadian players within each format of the West Indies team. I would like to see those players being part of the top ten in their respective areas. You will appreciate if we have a player in the top ten of the batting rankings, or in the top ten of the bowling rankings, the chances are their team has been benefiting from good performances. We are not only focused on the quantity of players we place within the West Indies framework but the quality, so that we become a more competitive team,” he explained.
Leslie said there must be a more aggressive educational campaign driven by primarily by the BCA in conjunction with other cricket stakeholders to improve the structure of club cricket on the island.
“Most clubs with the exception of a couple have a considerable amount of work to do in terms of managing their affairs and finances. I would like us get to the stage where the clubs are self sufficient and are able to manage their affairs in a more constructive manner. At the end of the day, it is a very key role that the BCA has to play. Once we are able to lend that assistance, I believe that in another five years or so, the clubs would have improved in several areas and should function better,” Leslie stressed.
He visualised Barbados’ cricket as the leaders in the region with a number of talented players in the various franchises.
“We must not sit on our laurels but must try to build on what has been already done to keep this great game flourishing”, he stated.