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Quantity or quality?

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As the region gets ready to host the 2010 West Indies Cricket Board four-day Cricket Competition, there is hot debate whether the Caribbean’s showpiece should be played in one round or two.{{more}}

It is a fact that our cricketers should be involved in more competitive cricket at a higher level, as among International Cricket Council (ICC) members, the West Indies conducts the fewest matches in its first class season.

However, whilst this may be so, which is more important: Quality cricket or quantity?

So are we willing to sacrifice the former for the latter?

Last year, two rounds of matches were played. But can we safely say that it served the purpose of more young players emerging with the techniques, mentality and professionalism needed to take them to the international stage and compete effectively? True, there were 38 centuries, including five double centuries. Also to be commended were the 44 five or more wickets hauls in an innings by the bowlers.

But, it was the same tried faces who dominated: the Narsighn Deonarines, the Runarko Mortons, and the Ryan Hindses, with the bat.

We boast when Deonarine and Morton scored in excess of 1000 runs in a season. But with the type of bowling displayed, they should have hit 1,500 plus.

Last year, the Windwards placed second, but on the way lost five of their matches outright. Quality or quantity?

But as the arguments continue, it is interesting to note that when the West Indies was dominating, our players played one round of matches, and in fact, there were only five and six countries involved. Today, there is also the Combined Campuses and Colleges.

A few years back, guest teams, such as Kenya and an England A team, formed part of the regional set up. The aim, then, was to provide more matches, but this did little, as the West Indies, as it is now, remains at the bottom of the heap in world Cricket.

Also, persons were not being paid as much as they are today: US$1300 for a four-day regional match, and US$700 for a one-day match.

In this set up, last year two Vincentians raked-in in excess of EC$35,000 each, from the payment structure. Not bad for four months work.

When we were world beaters, there was not much talk about a Cricket Academy.

We had self-built academies, then, but they existed in the back yards, the street corners, and on some of the barest of surfaces called play grounds or pastures.

Academies also existed in the form of primary schools’ Cricket, which in all the islands was priority.

Yes, the likes of Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge were exposed to the English Counties. Hence they were playing top flight Cricket. But most of all they had that passion for the sport and the peoples of the Caribbean whom they represent.

West Indies opening batsman Desmond Haynes once remarked that when he was paid TT$800 for a test match, he felt like a millionaire.

Under the current pay structure of the WICB, players receive US$5,000 a Test match, US$2,000 for a One-Day International and US$1,500 for a Twenty20 International.

The players also benefit from a sponsorship fee of US$35,000, allocated by Digicel for each match day and divided among the players. Wow!

Also, there are the centrally contracted players. Based on experience, record and potential, the contracts are graded at US$120,000, $80,000, $60,000 and $24,000.

Vincentians cricketers with potential: Dellorn Johnson and Kieron Cottoy have recently benefitted from some of the WICB’s handouts.

But the WICB has found itself between a rock and a hard place.

The West Indies is near the bottom of the ladder of world Cricket. There are no sponsors for the first class competitions, i.e the four day and one day. Spectators are few and far between at the matches. And the standard of play in the main is poor, to be conservative.

The WICB may be well advised to get back to the roots and place a greater emphasis at the village levels, as it is correct that one cannot teach an old dog new tricks, neither can a tree be bent when it is old.

It is no quality for that “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

email: kingroache@yahoo.com

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