Director of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and chairman of the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence Roland Butcher, has issued a call to the governments of the region to come together and assist Cricket West Indies (CWI) in having a Regional Under 23 tournament.
He made the plea while speaking at a press conference at Kensington Oval this afternoon to launch the commencement of its Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence Under-23 cohort.
As part of the initiative, 26 cricketers between the ages of 19 and 23 will undergo training sessions at the Oval from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each Saturday under the guidance of BCA’s head coach Dexter Toppin and former Barbados and West Indies players’ Corey Collymore and Ryan Hinds.
Butcher said a Regional Under 23 tournament held alongside the West Indies Championship was imperative to stop the region from losing a significant number of young cricketers who are over the age of 19.
“I am calling on the Prime Ministers of the region and I will start with our own Mia Mottley, the new chairman of CARICOM; Dr Keith Mitchell, a former longstanding chairman of the Prime Ministerial Sub Committee on Cricket; Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the current chairman of the Prime Ministerial Sub Committee on Cricket; Roosevelt Skerritt of Dominica and Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, and all of the others prime ministers who we know love this game of cricket.
“I am calling on them to get together and assist CWI in every way they can in having a Regional Under-23 tournament in order for us to produce the type of cricketers that can be competitive at the international level. If we don’t make the staging of a Regional Under-23 tournament a priority we will continue the occasional good performance from the West Indies team, but it will not be sustainable because right across the region we will keep on losing some of our best players on an annual basis,” Butcher maintained.
According to Butcher, the franchise system has contributed to cricketers not being giving the opportunity to play a higher level of cricket after the age 19.
“In the franchise system each team retains 10 players from the previous year. They then have to select five players in the draft including two overseas players which leaves them with three players to complete the 15, and this is where it is costing the territories,” he explained.
He cited the example of allrounder Nyeem Young who was outstanding for the West Indies Under-19 team at the recently concluded International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in South Africa and was selected in the ICC’s team of the tournament.
“Nyeem comes back to the Caribbean and he is no longer available for the Under 19s because he is too old. What happens to him? It is left to his club to develop him to get him into the Barbados team. His chances of playing for Barbados at the moment are slim because Barbados has a strong bench with several cricketers in front of him. If a system is not put in place to give talented cricketers like Nyeem and others like him the opportunity to play top quality cricket he can be lost by the wayside, which is a flaw in CWI’s programme”, Butcher said.
He described the launching of the BCA’s Under 23 programme as a groundbreaking and historic occasion for Barbados’ cricket.
Squad: Kadeem Alleyne, Kilano Brathwaite, Shavon Brooks, Keemar Burrowes, Zidane Clarke, Deswin Currency, Jaden Edmund, Jadan Jones, Jadeja Edwards, Pius Emilien, Damel Evelyn. Tauron Gibson, Damario Goodman, Shkym Haynes, Khalil Herbert, Jarion Hoyte, Javed Leacock, Mekhail Marshall, Shakkae Marshall, Jair McAllister, Dante Niles, Indal Persaud, Sadrian Ward, Shem Watson, Ryshon Williams and Nyeem Young.