The dismal performance of Barbados Youth this season in the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) Elite Division, has led many to suggest that the rules under which they are allowed to play in the competition be changed.
The Youth have lost six of the eight matches they have played this season and are firmly rooted at the bottom position in the division. Based on the rules of the competition Barbados Youth cannot be demoted and as a result St Catherine, the team that occupies the second last position, is in danger of being demoted.
Many believe that Barbados Youth are not competitive enough to be playing in the Elite Division and should be removed from the competition. But this notion has been rejected by former Barbados and West Indies opening batsman Sherwin Campbell, the coach of Barbados Youth for the last two seasons.
“Barbados Youth participating in the Elite Division plays a vital role in the development of our cricket. Playing in this division is of vital assistance to our young cricketers, it provides them with the priceless opportunity to play against experienced players with the chance to accumulate vital knowledge that adds to their development. One of the major benefits these boys gain by taking part in the Elite Division is the testing of their skills against mature players which causes them to learn fast.
“The youngsters playing for Barbados Youth form the bulk of the team who represent the island in the regional under 19 competition. It is my view that playing in the Elite Division gives them an advantage over their regional counterparts, this is clearly shown by the fact that our Under 17 team won the Under 17 title in 2018 and successfully defended it this year, while the Under 19 boys came second in the three-day competition last year and won the 50-over tournament this year. These boys are a step ahead of the players from other islands due to they taking part in the Elite Division,” Campbell told Barbados TODAY.
Campbell who played for the Combined Schools, the forerunner of the Barbados Youth in the 1980s, said playing against older cricketers was a critical part of his development as a schoolboy cricketer.
“I played for the Combined Schools in what was the then First Division and for Ellerslie in the Immediate Division. It was in these two divisions that I learned the fundamental elements of batting, these boys are doing the same thing. Obviously as the coach I am concerned that the team is being defeated almost every time they play, but those who are being critical should take an objective assessment of the team and examine all of the factors and place them in their correct context before they rush in to criticise the boys. While the boys have been losing they have been competitive in some of the matches. Their first match of the season was against Spartan the current leaders in the competition. We gave them a good run for their money and earned a draw in that game.
“Those who are being critical of the team’s performance never ever mention that it is made up of an extremely young group of players. Most of them are between the ages of 16 and 17 and are still learning to play the game. We are teaching them how to play cricket while they play for Barbados Youth. It is at this stage that they are beginning to mature and understand life and we are instilling in them the virtues that will help them develop their skill as cricketers but should also put them on the path to become better human being also,” he said.
The former West Indies vice-captain said a young cricketer could also learn from losing as well.
“Losing can make a young cricketer who has aspirations to play at the international level look deep into himself and analyse his flaws. It is my role to iron out any technical flaw to make them better cricketers while they are playing for Barbados Youth. These players are on a learning curve because of their age. I expect them to improve over the next couple of seasons, most of them will be around for the next couple of years,” the former Barbados captain said.
Campbell said he was enjoying his role as coach of Barbados Youth.
“As coach of the team, I try to find out their thoughts on the game and give them advice on the life of a cricketer. I encourage them to aspire to play for Barbados and the West Indies teams and tell them about the wide range of opportunities that cricket makes available to cricketers. But most of all I try to instill in them a passion and love for the game,” he said.
Campbell who is the coach of the national Under-19 team said he always enjoyed guiding and assisting with the development of young cricketers.
“Even when I played for Barbados and the West Indies, I always loved helping the younger cricketers. I used to help mentor and motivate them and was always willing to assist them with any problems they encountered. Therefore coaching was a natural progression for me. I coached the Barbados Under-15 team a few years ago, Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase and Anthony Alleyne were members of that side. I worked with Dexter (Toppin) with the Under 19 team before I was appointed as their coach in 2018. I had a stint with national team. I coached the West Indies Women for six years and took them from being unknowns to the number two position on the International Cricket Council’s ranking. I took them to the final of the 50-Over World Cup for the first time and to the semi finals on three occasions,” the certified Level Three high performance coach said.