Remarkable cricketing success in the face of challenges

Saturday, April 21, 2012    

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No praise, we believe, can be too high for our national senior cricketers, led by captain, Mr Tamar Lambert, who earlier this week majestically crowned themselves undisputed regional four-day kings.

In registering this magnificent come-from-behind victory over Barbados in the final of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) competition, Jamaica defeated every team in the preliminary stage to top the standing with maximum points, before crushing Guyana in the semi-finals.

This latest feat has seen the Jamaicans rewrite the history books with an unprecedented fifth straight success, and a perfect eight-win record for the season, culminating with the players presenting the nation with an early 50th anniversary of Independence gift.

Along with Mr Lambert, who exhibited sublime tactical astuteness over the years, and again during last weekend's final at Sabina Park, commendations are also in order for Messrs Junior Bennett (coach), Courtney Francis (manager), David Bernard Snr (fitness trainer), as well as the Jamaica Cricket Association and the members of the team, some of whom participated in earlier games but are now parading their skills in the ever-improving, ultra-rich Indian Premier League.

Left-arm spinner Mr Nikita Miller, who toped the bowlers with 49 wickets, must also be given special praise.

Lest we forget, Jamaica are also the WICB Super50 champions and finished second in the last Caribbean Twenty20 tournament. The nation also won the visually impaired competition, the Under-15 competition, the Under-19 three-day competition, and the women's tournament.

In fact, the Jamaicans are the holders of all regional cricket titles, except the senior T20 and the Under-19 one-day competitions.

But even as we laud the heroic feats of our cricketers on the field, we will not be distracted by the prestige that accompanies such achievements. For, as we have said in this space before, professionalism is the only way to advance the sport in Jamaica and the West Indies.

Sadly, those entrusted with driving the machinery in this regard have failed us.

Though we have dominated the sport at the regional level in recent years, our internal structure leaves a lot to be desired. For many, the sport is dying a rapid death at the club level, especially with regard to facilities and sponsorship.

Since Mr Lyndel Wright succeeded Mr Paul Campbell for the post of president of the Jamaica Cricket Association last May, the association has attracted just $1 million in sponsorship for the 50-over competition and $5 million towards the Twenty20 championship. The two-day competition has had absolutely no sponsorship over the last few years.

And though battling the hard economic climate, Mr Campbell's administration was also criticised for being unable to effectively attract sponsorship for the nation's premier competitions during his two-and-a-half-year reign.

Today, the struggle continues, but the association's secretary Mr Fritz Harris has effectively admitted to weaknesses.

"There is still some way to go, but at least the journey has started. The association has begun to appreciate what is required to satisfy sponsors and what is required to make these sponsorship deals work," he told this newspaper.

For cricket's sake, we hope Mr Harris is right.





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