The best man to govern cricket in Barbados will be decided in three days time at the Hilton Barbados Hotel. And Barbados Cricket Association vice-president Deighton Smith is confident he is the right person for the job.
Smith, who served under BCA’s outgoing president Joel Garner, has outlined several strategic plans for the overall growth and development of Barbados cricket.
He said the prime focus was bringing people back to cricket through better marketing, improve the coaching and developmental programmes to produce world-class male and female cricketers, and develop cricket into an industry.
Cricket West Indies has recognised BCA for its tireless approach towards regaining the public’s interest and once elected president, Smith said he intends to continue along that same vein. Based on the response gained earlier this year when Kensington Oval hosted the final leg of the NAGICO Super50 competition that attracted over three thousand people, BCA was once again chosen to host the tournament in 2018.
Also vying for the post of the presidency are seasoned campaigner Conde Riley, who lost to Garner in the last election, and former chairman of the National Sports Council, Erskine King.
Smith, a well-known banker who has served as BCA’s first, second and third vice president since 2007, has brushed aside claims that the BCA is on the verge of losing its competitive edge in the region through its revenues. In fact, he explained that the association’s largest revenue came through the Barbados lottery, which has continued to increase rather than decrease.
He made it clear that Barbados’ cricket finances compared to any other cricket association within the region. He added that with the advent of BCA’s chief executive officer Noel Lynch who has a background in marketing, along with marketing specialist Javier Reid, the association was conducting a more aggressive outreach programme in terms of acquiring sponsorship.
“I do believe that we can do more in that area [sponsorship] and it is important for the BCA to have diversified income. And recently we have proven that point because we had two major sources of income in the lottery and the lease of Kensington Oval which the government has not paid for five years now. And that illustrates what happens when you are very dependent on one or two sources of income. So I agree that we should diversify our sources of income and get more deeply into sponsorships and donations, which we are working very hard to do,” Smith said.
Partnering with the University of the West Indies to produce a properly accredited coaching certificate up to level two initially and building an indoor facility with ten indoor pitches at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex behind the Barbados Football Association, are two key areas for cricket development. Smith stressed he intended to focus on these areas once chosen to spearhead the affairs of the BCA.
He explained that pitches of that magnitude were needed in order for the BCA to continue its programmes while noting that one of the biggest constraints to development in cricket was the amount of time given to practice.
“If you are a working man and you work in town but play for St Catherine’s, by the time you drive to St Phillip you have a window of light of maybe half an hour and I am saying that instead of having half an hour in the evening, have three hours of practice at night indoors, our cricketers will undoubtedly improve their performances and if the performances at the domestic level improve, then our performances at the regional level are going to be even better.
“Our players are going to be even a step closer to being able to perform at the international level. But it requires having the facility to put in the amount of time needed to improve your game. Now if you are on a contract for Barbados, then you are fine because you have a contract and could spend all day practising cricket. But if you are a guy trying to break into the Barbados team and you have a job, that means you have to work and practise cricket which is a restriction,” Smith said.
The elections are scheduled for this Thursday at 5:30 p.m.