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A 'big up' for SDC T20 cricket

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This newspaper welcomes recent news that the Social Development Commission (SDC) has attracted sponsorship support worth $40 million from rum company J Wray & Nephew Ltd for its popular, annual Twenty20 cricket competition.

Equally, we are pleased that the competition has gained the endorsement of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) and that SDC will be partnering with the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) for coaching clinics.

Most people will readily agree that sports and community development should go hand-in-hand. Sadly, all too often in Jamaica this is not the case.

But through its T20 cricket competition which, we are reminded, started 13 years ago, the under-resourced SDC has admirably assisted community upliftment and well-being.

It has also helped in maintaining interest in cricket at the grass roots level. It's no secret that the popularity of the game, both as a spectator sport and in terms of participation, has been on the wane over the last 15-20 years.

No wonder then that the JCA and WIPA are joining hands with the SDC which has deep-rooted, tried and trusted linkages at the community level.

It's also testament to the strength of the SDC's cricket competition that J Wray and Nephew has seen it in its best interest to be a branding partner.

For the 2019 competition, we are told that a staggering 229 teams from 327 communities across Jamaica are participating.

As president of the JCA, Mr Wilford “Billy” Heaven, puts it “If you assume 15 persons per team, you are looking at 3,435 persons participating in this competition, and that is remarkable ...”

We note reports that Mr Heaven has plans to have the SDC cricket tournament become Jamaica's official domestic T20 competition. That's sensible, we think, not the least because it should allow the practical consolidation of resources.

As Mr Wavel Hinds, head of WIPA, has said: “Partnerships are important and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. If there is a viable T20 competition going on, we can look to build and strengthen that, and try and make sure that it is from the very root of each parish which is made up of many communities.”

And, said Mr Hinds, such a competition will make it easier for cricket authorities to unearth raw talent. As it is, most cricketers — indeed most sporting talent — come to attention initially through school competitions, which means there is always the possibility of gifted people falling through the cracks.

More to the point, we think, a logical partnership such as this will help to lift young cricketers beyond playing for mere recreation to making a living as professionals.

Said Mr Heaven: “JCA, SDC, WIPA, we need to develop a partnership that will lead to the professional development of players, and this competition must seek to produce players for the World T20 market, because that's a big market, and they are emerging markets as well.”

We can't argue with that.