Spartan Cricket Club ended a ten-year drought when they captured the Elite Division title of the 2019 season. It was the 22nd title for the third oldest club on the island and the first Spartan had won since 2010 when they were joint champions with the University of the West Indies.
According to coach Dave Marshall, the Queen’s Park, St Michael-based club will be disappointed if the Elite Division season is suspended by the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and they do not get the opportunity to defend their title.
“After waiting for so many years to win the Elite Division competition, it will be a big disappointment not having the chance to defend it. The guys were eagerly looking forward to the season, they were pumped up and raring to go, but unfortunately COVID-19 came and the BCA was forced to cancel the early part of the season. There is nothing we could do about that. Fortunately, the Elite competition starts in July so hopefully we might be able to play cricket later in the year.
“If we can play the Elite competition this year, it will be good for the cricketers and the fans because it was not easy for the players when the first edition of the Kadooment Cup, the Sagicor Twenty20 and 50-over competitions were called off. Even though we understood why the competitions were cancelled, it was very difficult to accept the reality that we would not be playing cricket especially on Saturdays,” the former Barbados leg-spinner said.
Marshall stated that he tried to impress upon his players that the Elite Division was the most important competition in domestic cricket because it is where they are judged as cricketers.
“The Elite Division which was formerly the First Division, is where cricketers really come under the microscope, it is the competition where their technique is tested. It is a competition that Spartan always took pride in winning. It was very pleasing for me as a former player of the club to be the coach of the team that were crowned champions in 2019. We are looking forward to winning more titles in the future,” Marshall told Barbados TODAY.
He revealed that Spartan who have produced several Barbados and West Indies players including two cricketing knights in the late Clyde Walcott as well as Sir Wesley Hall are facing financial challenges due to the lack of sponsorship.
“We have been holding discussions from last year about several things we would like to implement at the club. Unfortunately our plans did not materialise. The club needs a sponsor, we played last season without sponsorship, which was very difficult for us playing throughout the season and the finance not there. But strong minds prevailed in 2019 and the guys were more determined to win because of the financial difficulties affecting the club. It was pleasing to see my young charges out there on the field fighting. There is nothing sweeter than winning especially when you are fighting against the odds, it is imperative that we have some kind of sponsorship to help us with the cost of running the club,” Marshall said.
Marshall explained that because of the pandemic, there were no practice sessions held at the club, therefore he was unable to say who were the new cricketers joining the club.
“Due to COVID-19, the announcement of the cancellation of Twenty20 and Knockout competitions was made early, so I did not get a chance to conduct any practice sessions. So obviously I would know who was considering joining the club. We are expecting some new young players but I don’t want to call their names as yet because sometimes people change their minds at a late stage. But obviously when a club wins the title there is always an influx of young cricketers joining it,” the coach said.
“Currently, we have a nucleus of young players. The team that won the title in 2019 was a very young unit. The captain Chad Williams is a young man, our leading batsman from last season Rashidi Boucher is around 29 years of age which is still relatively young, key players such as off-spinner Chaim Holder is in his middle 20s, while the leg-spinning all-rounder Joshua Drakes and fast bowler Stefon King who had a fantastic season last year are in their early twenties. Marrodon Bend who is a very underrated cricketer in Barbados and one who I think should have been selected to play for the national team in the regional Super50 tournament over the last five years is another young player who has served us well,” Marshall explained.
He added: “I must also pay tribute to Jameel “Salty” Stuart who after he returned home from a professional stint in England was a motivator and was dynamic in the field. He did not have a lot of opportunities to bowl his off-spin because of the quartet of spinners we play throughout the season, but he played several vital innings that helped us to win crucial matches. He is one for the future, I think he should be also knocking on the door of the selectors very soon. Our teenage wicketkeeper Tauron Gibson was an inspiration behind the stumps, he is a class act and a player of the future. We have a group of extremely talented young players who I know will do well and can impress the selectors if the Elite Division is played this year.”