At a time when there is talk from the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) top two of “fully professionalising” the Elite division Three-Day Championship from next season, batting performances have waned significantly in the last four years.
Both BCA president Conde Riley and vice-president Calvin Hope have spoken publicly in separate radio interviews of the proposed changes, raising optimism for at least 200 players in the premier league competition of being paid.
It has also been revealed that the Sagicor General Twenty20 tournament, which has been in existence for 12 years, is to be replaced in 2020 by a franchise-like format, which will see six teams competing in a round-robin format.
“Corporate Barbados will be approached to sponsor the teams in this tournament, which will be a professional league,” it was stated.
“Players from all teams, including the Barbados Cricket League will be eligible for the draft for this competition. The tournament will commence on Friday, March 27 with a night game at Kensington Oval to be followed by a double-header at the Oval on Sunday, March 29. All five rounds will be played in this format. The top four teams will advance to the play-offs, which will be contested in the Qualifier/Eliminator format, which was introduced by the Indian Premier League. These matches will be played at night on May 5, 6, 8 & 10.”
Now since that information was circulated, the proposed dates of the tournament, if successful, will have to be changed since Cricket West Indies recently announced the fixtures for the 2020 first-class season, and there is a clash with the Barbados Pride return match against Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington (March 26-29), which is a pink ball day/night encounter, starting at 2 p.m.
Kensington is also the venue for their last match against Leeward Islands Hurricanes (April 2-5).
In relation to the proposed changes, it was stated that, “the Elite Division will be fully professionalized with all players being paid. This competition will commence on August 15 and end on December 20”.
And “the Schools’ Division will be eliminated and the Schools currently competing in that division will be placed in the Intermediate and Second Division as follows: Intermediate – St. Leonard’s, St. Michael & Queen’s College; Second Division – All other schools.”
It was also noted that: (1) Clubs with teams in the Elite Division and the First Division will play in the Super Cup competition in two zones. This will be played immediately after the completion of the T20 tournament from May 16 to August 8. (2) The Intermediate and Second Division teams will play a Shield T20 and Shield 40-over competition as in 2019. (3) Consideration will be given to allowing Lester Vaughn to play in the Intermediate Division if the challenges, which the school encountered, that prohibited them from playing in the 2019 season can be overcome.
When one looks at the BCA promotion and demotion system, which started in 2009 with 16 teams, before there was a settled number of ten from 2012 (rebranded Elite from First division), several questions must be asked about the standard of play and how will the authorities go about grading players to put money in their pockets.
Statistics will be crucial and a lot of work has to be done from a marketing perspective.
One must be mindful that the Elite division has not been sponsored for the last six years and there has not been a sponsor for the Super Cup (50-over) since 2016 following 41 wonderful, unbroken years by Sagicor General (previously known as Barbados Fire & Commercial Insurance Co. Ltd and Barbados Fire & General Insurance), as well as the Shield (40-over).
In the last few seasons, the Schools’ three-day division also lost its long-standing sponsors, Goddard Enterprises Ltd, and so, too, the Schools’ one-day (40-over) Championship, which was supported for many years by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
The proposed changes appear to be very ambitious but Riley, Hope and the other members of the BCA Board of Management should be given as much support as possible in their attempt to beef up a couple of the competitions.
They should start by using the last eight seasons (settled number of ten teams) as a guide in assessing performances.
In the just concluded Elite Division Championship, only one batsman – opener Rashidi Boucher of new champions Spartan, scored over 500 runs (603; ave: 50.25). That was also the case the previous season when Roshon Primus, the Wanderers all-rounder, made 541 (ave: 60.11).
And for the first time, a bowler failed to take 50 wickets. The highest wicket-taker was 19-year-old left-arm spinner Ryshon Williams of Wanderers with 40 (ave: 16.07).
Statistics for the top players (with over 500 runs and 40 wickets in a season) in the last eight seasons are provided later in this column.
The number of players taking part in the Elite division for period under review shows: 2012 (182), 2013 (190), 2014 (201), 2015 (195), 2016 (191), 2017 (209), 2018 (216) and 2019 (223).
So let’s say roughly 200 players have been on show annually with the numbers increasing in the last three years.
Following are batsmen who scored over 500 runs and bowlers with over 40 wickets in each season since 2012:
2012 (Six) – Jonathan Carter (UWI) 648 (ave: 72.00); Marrodon Bend (Spartan) 613 (ave: 43.78); Antonio Greenidge (BDFSP) 580 (ave: 38.67); Shamarh Brooks (Spartan) 561 (ave: 43.15); Ahmed Proverbs (St. Catherine) 516 (ave: 43.00); Chadwick Walton (UWI) 503 (ave: 41.91).
2013 (Two) – Kenroy Williams (St. Catherine) 608 (ave: 50.66); Rashidi Boucher (Spartan) 578 (ave: 44.46).
2014 (Eight) – Kyle Corbin (UWI) 752 (ave: 53.71); Kyle Hope (Pickwick) 656 (ave: 72.88); Kavem Hodge (UWI) 616 (ave: 56.00); Renaldo Brathwaite (BDFSP) 576 (ave: 33.88); Marlon Welcome-Goodman (BDFSP) 570 (ave: 38.00); Roston Chase (Empire) 546 (ave: 54.60); Kenroy Williams (St. Catherine) 546 (ave: 36.40); Antonio Greenidge (BDFSP) 541 (ave: 33.81).
2015 (Ten) – Kemar Brathwaite (BDFSP) 754 (ave: 44.35); Shamarh Brooks (Spartan) 721 (ave: 80.11); Kraigg Brathwaite (Wanderers) 651 (ave: 108.50); Craig St. Hill (Pickwick) 612 (ave: 40.80); Rashidi Boucher (Spartan) 592 (ave: 39.46); Kenroy Williams (St. Catherine) 576 (ave: 44.30); Aaron Jones (Wildey) 573 (ave: 47.75); Roshon Primus (Wanderers) 562 (ave: 46.83); David Carter (Wildey) 533 (ave: 35.53); Jameel Stuart (BDFSP) 525 (ave: 35.00).
2016 (Two) – Kevin Stoute (Empire) 613 (ave: 68.11); Zachary McCaskie (Wildey) 502 (ave: 50.20).
2017 (Two) – Craig St. Hill (Pickwick) 574 (ave: 35.87); Rashidi Boucher (Spartan) 547 (ave: 39.07).
2018 (One) – Roshon Primus (Wanderers) 541 (ave: 60.11).
2019 (One)– Rashidi Boucher (Spartan) 603 (ave: 50.25).
2012 (Two) – Akeem Dewar (UWI) 52 (ave: 13.90); Renaldo Brathwaite (BDFSP) 46 (ave: 20.47).
2013 (Two) – Derick Bishop (St. Catherine) 52 (ave: 15.44); Romelle Small (Pickwick) 41 (ave: 13.00).
2014 (Two) – Jomel Warrican (Empire) 59 (ave: 10.54); Derick Bishop (St. Catherine) 45 (ave: 15.95).
2015 (One) – Derick Bishop (St. Catherine) 85 (ave: 12.20).
2016 (One) – Derick Bishop (St. Catherine) 61 (ave: 13.26).
2017 (Five) – Jomel Warrican (Empire) 50 (ave: 11.14); Chaim Holder (Spartan) 48 (ave: 12.27); Larry Joseph (UWI) 45 (ave: 11.60); Derick Bishop (St. Catherine) 44 (ave: 16.38); Nikolai Charles (Wanderers) 43 (ave: 13.62).
2018 (Four) – Damario Goodman (BDFSP) 58 (ave: 13.26); Derick Bishop (St. Catherine) 48 (ave: 17.42); Romario Greaves (Wildey) 47 (ave; 15.87); Jameel Stuart (BDFSP) 41 (ave: 15.95).
2019 (One) – Ryshon Williams (Wanderers) 40 (ave: 16.07).
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 over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Email: [email protected]