Boycott and suffer the consequences.
So after the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools (BAPPSS) withdrew Combermere and Foundation from playing the Final of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Sir Everton Weekes Under-13 Championship at Bank Hall on May 25 due to dissatisfaction over a couple amended regulations relating to the 2017 domestic season, the BCA decided to pull stumps.
Look, there is a measure of sadness surrounding this saga.
In a Press release on Monday night, the BCA said the tournament “will be concluded without a winner”.
Then on Tuesday night, the president of BAPPSS, Vere Parris, gave his take on the issue as a guest on Mid Wicket on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He stated that “Combermere and Foundation can get together and play their final”, while stressing that the “BCA does not run schools”.
Parris also claimed that the BCA was “acting more like old colonial masters”.
Last week, this column outlined some aspects of the dispute.
Now, it is vital to give the full BCA statement and also share views expressed by Parris.
The BCA said it regretted the decision by BAPPSS to withdraw the schools from the Under-13 Final “without discussion or proper notification to the organisers”.
“After spending much time and effort in planning and arranging this tournament for the benefit of the schoolboys, it was unfortunate that BAPPSS took that decision to deprive the said young cricketers from participating in such a final which serves as a significant part of their development,” the release said.
The BCA listed the following as facts.
1. The rules governing the tournament were sent to all Schools and clubs on April 21, 2017.
2. On the evening of May 24, 2017, the BCA received a call from one of the representatives of BAPPSS informing the BCA that BAPPSS would be boycotting the final. The following morning, which was the same day of the final, the BCA received a letter from BAPPSS confirming that the Schools in question would not be taking part in the final. The letter also indicated that BAPPSS had some grievances arising from playing conditions issued on April 21, 2017.
3. The grievances outlined had nothing to do with the rules governing the Sir Everton Weekes Under-13 competition and, consequently, had nothing to do with the boys who worked hard to reach the final. Yet, BAPPSS stated in their letter ‘We are requesting an urgent meeting between the Board of the BCA and BAPPSS/ASCC to resolve these issues. Until then, the U-13 Final will not be played’. It is unfortunate that BAPPSS chose to use those boys as a negotiating tool on a matter unrelated to the Under-13 competition.
4. The BCA did not receive any correspondence from BAPPSS on the issue of the rules prior to May 25, 2017.
5. All arrangements were already in place for the final at a cost of over $7,000.
6. The U-13 tournament proceeded without any concerns being expressed, until the said phone call and letter referred to above.
“The Barbados Cricket Association has considered all circumstances which led us to this point and has decided that the Under-13 tournament will be concluded without a winner.
“In their letter to the BCA, BAPPSS informed of their grievances and, at the same time, advised that they would not be playing the final until the BCA meets with them to discuss the matter. In effect, the letter attempted to place the BCA in a position where it would be holding discussions under duress.
“The BCA stands ready to discuss with member clubs and schools any concerns they may have, but insists that such discussions should take place by way of a collaborative process rather than being precipitated by extreme action designed to place the BCA on the proverbial ‘back foot’.
“The Barbados Cricket Association will be making arrangements to meet with BAPPSS to discuss this matter in the context of overall Cricket Development and preparation of the nation’s young cricketers for higher national duty. However, it must be clear to all parties that, while the BCA believes it is prudent to take into consideration the views of all clubs and schools, it reserves the right to set the rules for all competitions held under its auspices”.
Now, check what Parris said on Tuesday.
“If the BCA has decided that it will not play that game, that game can still be played,” he remarked.
“Combermere and Foundation can get together and play their final. If they want to play their final, they can play their final.
“It will not be under the auspices of the BCA if that is their intention but it doesn’t stop the youngsters from getting the opportunity to play against one another and get the benefits of all the competition and whatever else would go along with it and we will be prepared to set up that game.”
Parris, who is also the long-standing principal of Combermere, went further as he referred to a statement made by BCA Director of Cricket, Steven Leslie.
“I want to make it very clear that the BCA does not run schools,” he stressed.
“I also want to make it very clear that in 2015 we had some issues with the BCA, which we met over. There was a lot of correspondence that went backward and forward at that time dealing with that matter.
“And we had what we considered certain agreements and the rest of the 2015 season was played without any further difficulty. Then to find on the day before the new season for 2017 begins that you have changes to the regulations which go against what we agreed back in 2015 would suggest that the BCA is acting more like old colonial masters.
“Even in a statement that I heard made by Mr. Leslie, he talked about this control and it seems as though they really want to just control. This is the age of negotiation and we’ve got to be prepared to negotiate and the schools cricket cannot be just simply run by a set of rules that will disadvantage school cricketers and that will not go in our opinion in terms of the development of the young cricketers or the development of the sport. It will not go well,” Parris said.
Clearly, there are still scars as a result of what transpired two years ago when at the start of the season, BAPPSS boycotted all matches involving school teams in BCA competitions due to a selection issue.
When the promotion/relegation system was introduced in 2009, the BCA probably did not brace itself for the likelihood of school teams winning the Intermediate division and the repercussions.
So what happened? Foundation captured the Intermediate division title in 2013 and moved on to the First division in 2014. Combermere won the Intermediate division in 2014 and went “up and on” to Division 1 in 2015.
Both schools, with the backing of BAPPSS, insisted on playing their best teams while at the same time the BCA reckoned that the strongest Barbados Youth (formerly known as Combined Schools) teams should be picked for all competitions – Elite, First, Twenty20 and Super Cup.
A section of Rule 18 (a) under Membership of Clubs and Composition of teams has not gone down well with BAPPSS.
It states: “Where a player is selected to represent the Barbados Youth in any BCA administered domestic competition but instead plays for his school, all points gained by said school in that series shall be forfeited.”
Furthermore, in an effort to “take control”, the BCA has introduced a regulation, which states: “From the BCA 2017 season, no school team shall be eligible for promotion beyond the Intermediate Division”.
For BAPPSS, this will not serve as an inspiration for school teams.
Ironically, with the latest saga, Foundation and Combermere were the sides set to contest the Under-13 Final.
But the issue is much bigger than those two schools.
Can the BCA, therefore, brace itself to be further placed on the ‘proverbial back foot’?
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: Keithfholder@gmail.com