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A rudderless Cricket ship sailing?

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Cricket in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, like many other sporting disciplines, seems to be evolving with no determined port of embarkment or port of disembarkment. In fact, the voyage is one of mere extravagance.{{more}}

But what is the most depressing in the state of Cricket here is the lack of emphasis on youth development.

The Executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association must come to the realisation that no longer will youngsters readily avail themselves to play Cricket, as there are so many competing attractions/distractions at their disposal.

The rate of development has overtaken all of us, so there is very little backyard Cricket and Cricket in the road, where, in the past, the Cricket skills of players were naturally honed by way of socialisation practices.

Also in the mix is that we do not have strong Cricket clubs which are likely to have ensured the progress and development of players, through systematic coaching programme.

And it is an established fact that most of the units which take part in the national Cricket competitions are teams which come together a month or two prior to the annual start of the season and are merely groups of players who register to play in the two divisions.

They, too, in the main, have little or no organised training and practice sessions.

The more conscientious ones form little posses and do some practices on their own, attend the gym, and generally stay ahead of their game, but they are in the minority.

Likewise, the annual secondary schools’ tournament is a ‘pick up and play’ in most cases, with not much organisation, training and coaching.

The SVGCA is lagging behind, as other sporting disciplines are going the way of grassroots and talent identification as a means of spotting emerging talents.

Why is the SVGCA not getting on board and creating that interest from the youngsters?

The National Olympic Committee (NOC) is embarking on a Women in Sports drive to help arrest the decline in female participation in sports.

This may explain why the current senior women’s Cricket team, which is taking part in the West Indies Tournament, sees the tried and tested players respresenting St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the past eight to ten years.

Therefore, can we name two or three players who have been identified and are being nurtured through systematic progression as possible future West Indies selectees?

We seem to believe that because there are Under-15 and Under-19 competitions that players are being nurtured. Not so in my book; they were simply selected to play in a team.

Have they been groomed in fashion which will ensure success down the road?

Any national sporting association today which is worth its salt will have a vibrant youth development programme going.

Yes, recently, there was the launch of a grassroots Cricket programme, but that was a West Indies Cricket Board initiative, and that, too, had its limitations in terms of numbers, hence, only the chosen ones got get a taste.

The Neil Williams Academy is a privately run organisation which caters for only those who can pay the fees.

We are not seeing the bigger picture for our youngsters as what is to be earned and gained from getting that break at regional and more so international Cricket.

Kieron Pollard of Trinidad and Tobago, at age 24, is a hot commodity in major T/20 Cricket Competitions around the world, and raking in the dollars in the six digits, albeit at the fast food type, T/20 game.

What the SVGCA must understand is that what happens below affects the final products, which may explain why our senior national teams are not doing well, neither are we rolling out players who can make the regional team with consistency.

So the ball is in the court of the SVGCA to really and truly put some muscle and re-energise the sport by placing emphasis in a determined way on youth development.

What can also help is for the few serious units which are around to align themselves to the schools and assist in seeing some players come through.

Oh! SVGCA, what has become of your Four Year Development Plan? Also, have the Sanford funds dried up?

If not, can some be used to kick off a Youth Development effort?

It is also rudderless to still have the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.