Former Jamaica and West Indies youth team Captain Andre Creary is urging cricket administrators to find more effective ways of governing the sport if they are to save it from total ruin.
"To move forward, based on my opinion, we need to be managing and supervising the cricket better because… if the leaders do not lead better in coming years, cricket in Jamaica will be of no use," Creary argued, before identifying areas in which he believes the growth of the sport in Jamaica is found wanting.
The St Mary Cricket Association skipper said academies will help players to fine-tune their craft, while commercial partnerships will inject much needed funds in the sport.
"My personal thoughts on the development of Jamaica's cricket is that [there has to be] academies in our country so players can become better equipped," said Creary, who captained the West Indies Under-19s to a third-place finish at the 2010 World Cup in New Zealand.
"I believe that we, as a cricketing country, need to be nurturing the players with such abilities better. I think players have way more to offer to the sport, but due to the lack of support and resources we are underperforming," the 31-year-old middle-order batsman, who was beset by injury as a young player, told the Jamaica Observer.
"We should be looking for sponsors to come on board or create [opportunities] that can bring money into the cricket at even the lower levels. That would take care of players seeking nine-to-five jobs rather than sticking to their A plan which is playing cricket only," Creary said.
Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Chief Executive Officer Courtney Francis conceded that lack of financial support has retarded development.
"Funding is a major challenge," he told the Observer when asked about the possibility of the JCA organising cricket academies across the island.
"Theoretically, it would be ideal to have an academy in each parish, but the reality is that it is not sustainable based on resources that are available," he said, noting that preparing the various national teams, both men and women, already stretches the association to its financial limit.
"And even if we are to have academies in each county then you still have the transportation expense from people travelling from one parish to another," he said.
Barry Barnes, one of the country's top cricket coaches, acknowledged the financial struggles, but insisted more can be done by way of marketing the sport.
"If you don't sell the product then nobody is going to buy the product. The problem is, personally, for me, we have to do more in terms of marketing the cricket because that's the only way the cricket can [develop]," he told the Observer.
"I can honestly say they [cricket administrators] are trying, but I think we need to try harder because I think we can do much better," said Barnes, who has coached Manchester CA to numerous national titles, along with leading Manchester High to historic championship triumphs in school cricket.
The veteran coach said Jamaica has loads of talent at the youth level — a solid platform for the future, providing those players are developed properly.
"We have six or seven players at the Under-19 level who are eligible to play for the Under-17 team. If we can develop these youngsters over another two years or so I can tell you that Jamaica will be winning regional cricket for a very long time," Barnes said.
Francis said that with most restrictions lifted since the novel coronavirus pandemic, he has advocated for primary school cricket to be the cornerstone of immediate plans.
"We have limited resources so we have to try to focus on where we would get maximum benefit," the JCA chief executive said.
"We have identified that, for the age group up to 14 years old, we have lost a lot of those cricketers. The recommendation I have made is that at that level is where we have to double down our focus.
"We have to ensure we have as many of our primary schools playing cricket again, and that includes girls," Francis, who welcomed the return of the Kingston Wharves Under-15 competition which had been sidelined because of the pandemic, said.
Earlier this summer, St Mary relaunched its Youth Cricket Academy in the parish. The academy had been launched in 2019 but because of the pandemic the training programme had to be put on hold.
In recent times other academies have got off the ground, including the 4Milla Academy — the brainchild of former Jamaica and West Indies spin bowler Nikita Miller — which opened in November last year.
An academy at Lucas Cricket Club, led by the late Coach Dennis Miller, and the Chris Gayle Academy, which is affiliated with Gayle's boyhood club Lucas, ran simultaneously for a few years, but neither has been open since the pandemic.