Letters to the Editor

Cricket going to hell under Heaven

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

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Dear Editor,

While we celebrate the apparent Lazarus-like revival of West Indies cricket after a rare series win over a top-rated team, let's not forget the old adage that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.

Hats off to Sandals, the new sponsors; Richard Pybus, the new interim coach; and much-maligned President Dave Cameron, but right now Jamaica is one of, if not the weakest link in West Indies cricket.

The building is not going to last long if the foundation is so weak.

Long before professionalism, franchise cricket, formal coaching, sponsors, annual regional first class tournaments, access to English counties, the basis of Jamaica's and West Indies cricket success was club cricket. Anyone who bothers to look back at the great clubs of Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Guyana would know this. That was the foundation for West Indies to compete against Australia for what was dubbed the world cricket championships in 1951, and to become undefeated world champions under Frank Worrell and Garry Sobers 1962-67.

Somewhere along the way we lost the strong club structure. Now, under the current leadership of Billy Heaven, the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has a Senior Cup with 24 teams playing only four games, as presidential candidate Mark Neita, a former Jamaica batsman, has pointed out. Jamaica does not have even 24 first class cricketers. And the JCA leaves the successful clubs to finance the finals on their own. Madness!

The once-successful club structure has been replaced by franchises. Clearly, Heaven does not understand the difference between a club, such as Melbourne, Kingston, Lucas or Kensington, for example, (with a ground, club house, history, former members) and a pick-up team with some nebulous name (Western Warriors). The latter structure has no chance of success, no matter how much money is poured into it.

I had long ago dismissed Heaven as a no-hoper when he mused about introducing 10/10 cricket (two overs per bowler) as a model for the development of Jamaica's cricket. Little did I know that during his tenure Jamaica's cricket would have gone to hell.

The clubs and delegates need to seize the opportunity at the upcoming annual general meeting to try reviving the dead by voting in new leadership. Neita, who has done a good job at Melbourne, offers promise of a brighter future. There is no hope under Heaven.

Errol W A Townshend

Ontario, Canada


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