Shame on you, WICB

Friday, July 25, 2014

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WE suspect that it has never happened that a Jamaica Under-19 cricket team finds itself being praised by this newspaper for winning the opening match in the annual regional tournament.

Usually praise would come at the end of competition — after the Jamaicans are crowned champions.

But such are the circumstances surrounding their six-wicket triumph over Barbados in Guyana on Thursday that we feel compelled to pass on our heartfelt congratulations to the young Jamaicans.

For those who missed it, the Under-19s overcame traditionally powerful Barbados despite very little post-flight rest before the start of the game Tuesday morning.

We are told that the Jamaicans arrived in Guyana at 3:00 am Tuesday. We are assuming that this was after the usual island-hopping through the eastern Caribbean. No matter how you wish to look at it, they would hardly have had time for much more than a nap at their hotel before taking the field 10:00 am Tuesday for their opening game.

We wouldn't be surprised to hear that other national Under-19 teams had similar difficulties. But it seems to us that sheer distance from Guyana means the Jamaicans would have been most affected.

In any case, no group of youngsters — from Jamaica or any other country — should have to experience such discomfort.

Clearly, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) had scheduling difficulties. But there can be no getting around the obvious. Given the circumstances, the tournament's administrators should have done whatever they had to do to have competition pushed back by at least a day. The safety and welfare of the players -- all teenagers, and many of them minors -- should be the first priority.

We are told that there were also scheduling difficulties with the recent regional Under-17 tournament in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Jamaica Under-17s, we are informed, were asked to play five matches in less than a week -- including their last three games in as many days. That, we contend, is unreasonable.

We note that the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has formally complained to the WICB in relation to the Under-19s. No doubt that will help.

But in order to ensure that our teenaged cricketers are properly protected going forward, we think child-care agencies in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, as well as relevant Cabinet ministers, should also have a word with the WICB.




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