‘JAMAICA CAN STILL BENEFIT’
CWI president promises to aid nation after T20 World Cup bid controversy
Jamaica has no participation in the tournament because the Government decided not to bid for any games, having cited what it says is the high cost to prepare.
Sport Minister Olivia Grange said last year that $450 million would be needed to make upgrades to Sabina Park in Kingston in order to bring the stadium up to modern standards for the World Cup. The response to this from the public was negative, with many stakeholders questioning whether the Government and Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) truly see the sport as a priority.
“Timely is the upcoming World Cup in June this year,” Shallow said while addressing an audience at the launch of the schoolboy cricket season on Thursday. “Like I’m sure every one of you [is], I’m disappointed that you won’t be hosting matches here in Jamaica at Sabina Park. I’m hoping that there’ll be some making up of that in the near future.”
Shallow says that one of the consequences of no games being hosted by Jamaica is its youngsters not being exposed to live cricket being played at the highest level by the best players from across the world.
He says this is unacceptable, because youngsters need players to look to and on whom to model their careers.
“Jamaica, no doubt, has a rich legacy. I don’t even want to start calling names,” he said. “You have Chris Gayle; you have even our current T20 Captain Rovman Powell who has, himself, created his own legacy in T20 cricket; Andre Russell — these are young role models for your upcoming cricketers, Staphanie Taylor [as well].
Although each game will be broadcast live on television, Shallow says this is not enough for a fulsome experience.
“Seeing cricket live and watching it on TV are two different things,” he said. “I always tell the story about my friend at WIPA [West Indies Players Association], Nixon McLean. Nixon will tell you that the very first time he played under lights was when he was playing for the West Indies. The first time he encountered a Test match was while he was playing a Test match.
“We can’t take it for granted that young cricketers are at home looking at cricket on TV so we have to bring cricket to the children and we have to ensure that international cricket is played right here in Jamaica — and hopefully no later than this year we’ll have some international cricket being played in Jamaica.”
Shallow says he has plans in place to ensure that the World Cup is a beneficial one for the region, and memorable for younger fans.
“But the benefits that the World Cup is going to bring to the region and West Indies cricket is tremendous, and we are going to capitalise on this wonderful opportunity to ensure that players across the region — young cricketers, school cricketers — get the exposure of engaging,” he said. “I’m sure WIPA and other stakeholders will be quite happy to be involved in a conversation where we can see how Jamaicans could still actually benefit from this, whether taking schools to some of the games across the islands [or in some other way]. This is quite viable, so we have to explore these things.”
Youth development has long been a major concern for the local cricket fraternity as critics of the JCA say more needs to be done to ensure a strong selection pool exists for the national programme.
Of around 180 high schools in Jamaica only 43 are competing in the ISSA/Grace Shield and Headley Cup tournaments this season.
JCA President Billy Heaven, who is looking to extend his 10-year tenure in office, with the presidential election set for March, admits that enough cricket is not being played in schools but says limited financial resources have forced the association to limit the number of schools from each parish playing in the tournaments.