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Time for a national structure for softball cricket

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The proliferation of softball cricket here, mainly the 20/20 format, is an indication of the growing popularity of that aspect of the sport.{{more}}

Softball cricket is now the in thing and has thrown the once dominant hard ball cricket into a place lower down the ladder of acceptance by players, spectators and even sponsors.

The fact that softball cricket is fast paced, a community activity, has a minimal cost to attend, is result oriented, and attracts many, adds to the growing popularity.

Some sports groups from other disciplines, are using the softball competitions as off-season training, whilst keeping their camaraderie intact.

In the case of the RSVG Police, which participates in most of the competitions, softball cricket is part of the constabulary’s outreach and community policing efforts.

At present, there are no fewer than eight softball cricket competitions, spread across the mainland.

There is the Lauders competition at the Lauders Playing Field; the Calliaqua Area Development Organisation at the Calliaqua Playing Field; the Clinchers Sports Club runs theirs at the Richland Park Playing Field, with the East Kingstown competition being contested at the Grammar School Playing Field.

Not to be left out, the South Leeward competition is taking place at the Campden Park Playing Field, while the Barrouallie championships are throttling at the Keartons Playing Field. Further north on the leeward side, there are the Spring Village and Rose Bank competitions.

Soon there would be the Biabou, and the very popular Greiggs and Top Belair Progressive Organisations competitions to hit the road.

And, for good measure, the Owia Tape Ball competition got started last weekend.

But while the vegetation gets greener in softball, the ground in the national cricket competition is becoming parched and dry.

It is those competitions, staged under the aegis of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association, which get the hardest body blows, as players’ preference for the softball is impacting negatively on the former.

And, no one can blame them, as the financial returns are better, as some winnings are as much as $3,000 for the top placed team.

Additionally, a century scored in softball is often given a $100 award, the same as the national cricket competition, so one should understand the gravitation.

Also, the players are assured of spectators cheering them on, which is almost never the case at the national set-up.

And, there is that socialization aspect which magnetises many of the players.

On the flip side, whilst there is a proliferation of competitions throughout the island, these are mainly duplication of efforts, as it is basically the same teams and the same players who are showing up.

In some cases, teams play up to three matches in one day.

But things, in some instances, are beginning to pan out, as it is probably because of that lack of structure which has led to the annual Ashburton Sports and Cultural Organisation (ASCO) competition held at the Dauphine Playing Field, having to be shelved, at least for the time being, for the second year in succession.

Therefore, everything points in the direction of the need to put an action plan in place for a national structure for softball cricket to be enforced.

Who, then, should take the lead in getting some semblance of a parent body instituted?

Should the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association be the one to take up the mantle, since it is the organization which is most affected by the gradual overthrow by the softball component?

But does the SVGCA have the moral authority to fix anything, when its own house is also in a state of disorganization?

The attack then must be two-pronged, as the local governing body for cricket must see the threat as real and one which can erode the purity of the sport. Next are the correct actions, first of all with the men in the mirror.

Something must give one way or the others; otherwise, we can see a complete takeover of softball, as cricket is surely being slow poisoned by the simpler form.

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