Director of Cricket at the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Stephen Leslie is calling for talented cricketers throughout the region to be given more opportunities in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
Since 2013, the privately owned CPL has become the premier Twenty20 tournament in the region replacing the previous competition organized by the West Indies Cricket Board (Cricket West Indies).
Prior to the creation of the CPL players from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Windward and Leeward Islands were selected by their national selectors to represent their respective countries in the annual Twenty20 tournament organized by the governing body for cricket in the region.
President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Dave Cameron in an address to a luncheon held by the BCA two months ago said CWI was staging the tournament at a loss each year but was now receiving $1 million annually from the CPL.
According to Leslie, the method used to select budding young cricketers from throughout the region to take part in the CPL to the best of his knowledge had very little to do with what transpires in the various Twenty20 competitions played at the domestic level in the Caribbean.
“Simply put, for a young cricketer to be selected for any of the franchises in the CPL is not dependent on their performance for their clubs in their respective countries. There is an application process where cricketers who are interested in playing in the CPL can apply, their names go into a pool and they might be picked at the players’ draft,” Leslie told Barbados TODAY.
“I think our administrators at the level of Cricket West Indies from the respective territorial boards should suggest to the management of the CPL that we should have a system which gives more opportunities to talented cricketers to play in the tournament. Right now, if there are 15 in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean who are talented enough to play Twenty20 cricket in the CPL but have placed themselves through the application process, they have little or no chance of playing CPL cricket which is the Twenty20 franchise of the Caribbean. So, we have to educate the players on what they are required to do to participate in the CPL,” Leslie explained.
He issued a call for the directors of the six territorial boards to hold discussions with the top brass of the CPL and ask them to create a format that allows more talented cricketers to be exposed during the tournament.
“Currently, if a cricketer is not in the pool through the application process, there is no hope of him playing in the CPL. I believe a solution must be found which gives truly talented cricketers the opportunity to play in the CPL. Communications from the CPL explaining the process that is required to play in the tournament to our cricketers is a critical element,” Leslie said.
He pointed out that from this season the BCA has been streaming all of the matches played in their Twenty20 competition.
“The streaming of our Twenty20 competition has added a new dynamic to the competition. It provides an opportunity for coaches and other persons looking for new talent to see the potential of our cricketers and could lead to some of them being included in the draft of one of the various Twenty20 leagues around the world,” Leslie said.
Since the start of the 2018 domestic season, there has been a school of thought that the current structure of the Sagicor General Twenty20 competition has placed members of First Division teams playing in the tournament at a disadvantage.
Under the current system, First Division teams compete with each other in Phase One of the tournament with the top teams joining clubs from the Elite Division in Phase Two of the competition competing against clubs from the Elite Division.
As a result, some cricketers and fans have stated in the electronic media that there is a possibility of first-class cricketers playing for First Division clubs and only getting a couple of Twenty20 matches if their team is eliminated quite early in the competition.
Leslie stressed that First Division clubs have not been placed at a disadvantage under the current format.
“Between 2008 and 2015 with the exception of two years, most of the teams within the Twenty20 framework were playing three to four matches before the play-off stage, therefore this format which began in 2016 where the First Division clubs play in Phrase One and more or less advance into Phrase Two, do not deprive the clubs of anything,” Leslie said.
He explained players such as Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Shane Dowrich and Dwayne Smith who are currently representing Division One teams are not in a unique situation.
“The reality is the current format allows the First Division teams to build up momentum going into Phase Two of the competition. They would have played three matches before advancing to the second stage of the tournament and would be better equipped to compete against teams who are at the Elite level. Recently, YMPC, one of the First Division teams who have advanced to Phase Two of the tournament, defeated Empire an Elite team. Hopefully, in 2019 we will revisit the structure of the competition and even if adjustments are needed, whatever is done should reinforce in the mind of the players that there is a competitive level to Phase One of the tournament,” the director said.