Though veteran Barbadian and West Indies cricket stars and administrators would not pronounce definitively how much the practices in society have to do with the current demise of the regional game, they agreed that money was sorely needed.
This was gleaned from a discussion Tuesday night among retired West Indies superstars Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, former national cricketer Franklyn Stephenson and Barbados Cricket Association president, Conde Riley.
Chaired by Riley in a Barbados Museum and Historical Society-sponsored discussion on Cricket as Popular Culture in the Steel Shed, Queen’s Park, the cricketers spoke on the need for facilities, with the two former opening batsmen disagreeing to an extent on the impact of the popular shortest version of the game, Twenty20, and on declining standards.
Two questions from the floor from Hartley Harris and Queen’s College principal, David Browne, ventilated the social and educational concerns of West Indies cricket.
Harris asked the panel to examine whether society was leading cricket into decline, and while complaining that his school was still awaiting cricketing assistance, Browne asked if T20 was destroying the game.
Riley put things into perspective by stating that regardless of whether persons believe that T20 was destroying the classical and traditional version of cricket, Test, involvement in the shortest version was how the bread was now buttered.
“The reality is that last week the BCA collected a cheque from the West Indies Cricket Board, which is a share of the money that the players in the IPL and the Bangladesh [T20] Cricket Leagues would have made,” he said, adding, “it is 20 per cent. And it is not from their salaries, this is 20 per cent to what they earned”.
He said out of that fund the BCA would this week present $115,000 to YMPC.
“That was a percentage of what Dwayne Smith was paid,” he explained and went on to say that the Wildey Club, “will get a percentage of what Carlos Brathwaite was paid. And Wanderers will get Jason Holder’s.
So, the reality that we face as administrators is how do we get these guys, who say to you, you know my span in cricket will be 20 to 35 [years] if I’m lucky. After that who is going to provide for me and my family and so on.
So we had to juxtapose all these things as administrators,” Riley stated.
He explained that agreements covering the shortest format of the international game were so lucrative that local clubs were reaping rewards even from players such as Jofra Archer, who had turned his back on Barbados and the West Indies and declared his preference to represent England.
“A hundred and something thousand dollars goes to Banks Wildey next year for Jofra Archer, … regardless of the fact that Jofra played for Sussex and he has never played for Barbados.”
Riley said that the receiver of this development money is determined by the player’s country of origin.
Archer played in the Barbados Under-15, Under-17, and Under-19 teams, which gave Barbados and his club recognition as the initial developers of his game.
Riley said he wished to see a change from the development money being split three ways for the WI Board, the territorial association and the club, to become a four-way share so that schools could also benefit.
“It should also filter down to the schools because secondary schools now need a bit of help with their cricket development programmes. Some schools don’t even have a PE teacher that can teach cricket,” Riley said.
The BCA president’s last suggestion found agreement with Stephenson, a current coach now heading his third cricket academy.
“School has its place,” he said and contended that alongside the schools, “that money should be helping to upgrade the playing fields of Barbados, where these kids grew up not the club that they opted to play for…put the manure where it is necessary, at the root of the plants.
“Nearly all the communities are seriously struggling … our playing fields are way underused,” the coach said, insisting “they benefit from that long before some of these kids went to school.”
He also wants some funds to go towards establishing 25 academies across Barbados, making them easily accessible to all children.
Haynes said that the game in Barbados and the region needed lots of money, and while welcoming the development funds that Riley announced, he said there could be much more if the Caribbean owned a franchise.
“We’re the only cricket nation that doesn’t own our T20. In order for the West Indies to get strong again, we must own our T20 cricket,” he said.
“The money that we could generate from T20 cricket could help with all the programmes that Frankie is talking about, all the programmes that Conde is talking about.
Where are you going to get the money from if you don’t have the type of cricket that brings in the revenue?”
Haynes added:”I believe inT20 cricket, and I know … I have always felt that T20 cricket is here to stay. You got your minuses and you got you plusses.”
Haynes pointed to improved fielding but declining batting ability. He contended that “it is not fair to say that T20 hasn’t got a part to play, that it’s going to destroy our cricket.”
Greenidge said that while not ruling out T20, he believed it damages WI cricketers who become good at only the shorter version of the game.
He said this made them inconsistent and cited last year’s England tour when WI levelled the three-match series with a fantastic display to win the second Test but fell apart in the third.
Conceding that WI players couldn’t win much now, he said they needed at least to show more ability in the long format.
“What I would like to see the team do often is to put two good innings together and be able to last for five days. That way I think you have a chance of coming back, and the T20 game is having an effect on the batsmanship in cricket,” Greenidge said.