Experience counts and Roland Butcher believes his forty years as a professional cricketer and a sports administrator will serve him in good stead if he is elected vice-president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) when the eagerly anticipated elections take place at the Hilton Barbados Hotel Thursday.
Butcher, the first black man to play Test cricket for England, has played first-class cricket in England, Australia and New Zealand and once coached the Bermuda Cricket team in the 1990s.
“One of the reasons I am offering myself for the position of vice-president is I believe that with forty-odd years as a professional player and an administrator all over the world, l can utilise the knowledge I have gained over those years to assist the BCA in conjunction with the other leadership to move Barbados forward as a cricket power. And by extension, to do the same thing for West Indies’ cricket, “ Butcher told Barbados TODAY.
One of his key proposals to advance the development of cricket is to leverage international assistance to enhance the programmes of the BCA.
“The BCA spends a tremendous amount of money on its programmes. There are those who have the view that the BCA is not doing as many programmes as we should. But I do know that the programmes we have done cost a huge amount of money. The BCA’s funding comes from the lottery, this money is used to fund the various programmes of the organization. Now I believe that the BCA needs additional funding to assist with the existing programmes and to fund new programmes. I believe an area we have not sought to source funds from is in countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
“Those countries where our history is known, not only among West Indians but by the various people who have made these countries their homes. Barbados’ cricket is well know, we have produced some of the greatest cricketers the world have ever seen. These cricketers are known in many countries, I lived in England for 37 years, during that time, I have accumulated contacts with people in all spheres of life. I believe that I can use these contacts to help assist the BCA with funding for its programmes,” Butcher suggested.
The training of groundsmen is an area Butcher also feels needs attention.
“Pitch preparation is a real problem for us. Our pitches are not of a very high standard. There are several reasons for that. One of them is the perception of groundsmen in the Caribbean. I think some people think the role of the groundsmen is not very important to the development of cricket. In other countries they are called curators and play a vital role at their club. In the West Indies, unfortunately we do not give a high profile to our groundsmen. I believe that we need to develop programmes for our groundsmen. I know the University of the West Indies (UWI) will shortly be establishing a programme in pitch preparation and maintenance. I think we need to have our groundsmen enrolled in this programme so that the preparation of our pitches becomes much more scientific than is at present. Pitches are not prepared on guess work. Without knowledge, our groundsmen will be guessing on how to prepare a pitch in this modern era,” Butcher said.
He stated groundsmen had lost the art of preparing fast bouncy pitches with grass on them and expressed the view that the problem could be rectified once the BCA could assist the clubs to get the correct training for their groundsmen.
Assisting clubs financially and technically to develop junior programmes and the improvement of the facilities at clubs will also be high on Butcher’s agenda.
“There are only a few clubs on the island with a functioning junior programme. A functioning junior programme should really be the lifeblood of the clubs and Barbados’ cricket. We are going to have to encourage the clubs whether it is by way of incentive, to develop their junior programmes. If this is done, there will be a number of young people playing cricket and within the structure of the clubs. Therefore, if a player lives in a particular area, he will be adopted by the club located nearest to him,” Butcher stated.
He also suggested that the clubs adopt schools within their area and provide training and coaching opportunities for children. Butcher said this was a proactive approach that would establish a relationship with clubs and children from an early age which would lead to them becoming members.
“We need to do this at a wider scale at clubs around Barbados. It must not be left to a few clubs like Wanderers, Spartan, St Philip Juniors and Carlton. We have too many clubs in Barbados. In every community we need to have a club that is the base of cricket development in its area, a place where children can go and be coached. If I am elected vice-president of the BCA, I would work very hard with the rest of the board to encourage clubs to develop links between children and schools in their areas. As a result, it will strengthen Barbados’ cricket,” he explained.
Butcher said the BCA needed to provide coaching expertise to the primary and secondary schools to take some of the burden off the teachers. He acknowledged that this role was previously done by the National Sports Council (NSC). But according to the former Middlesex and Tasmania professional, the NSC was no longer able to perform this task because of financial constraints.
“The National Sports Council has very few coaches who are able to carry out that function. Now the BCA has to step in and work hand in hand with the NSC and provide those facilities in the primary and secondary schools whereby the children get the coaching they require to help them develop. The situation with the NSC is a bit unfortunate, but these things happen. One cannot change the fact that it has happened. So either you let it go and do nothing or pick up the slack as best as you can. I think the BCA has a responsibility to step in. We have a lot of young coaches here who have gone to England and gained their ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) level two coaching certificate. They have returned to Barbados and have nothing to do. So the BCA can use them within the schools. I have envisioned that this is something that can be done within a short time,” he explained.
Three other candidates – Kamal Springer, Maurice Gaskin and Calvin Hope – are also vying for the post of vice-president.