On Saturday 19th, August, I followed the performance of our West Indies team responding to England’s 1st inning total of 514/8 declared in the first day/night-pinkball-Test match ever played in England. The only reason I did not burst out in tears is because I had seen this movie before.
Indeed we were beaten by an inning and 209 runs, in less than 3 days in a five day match, after scoring 168 and 137 runs in a total of 89 overs (not even a day of batting) in a performance labelled by one English reporter as spineless, despite the 79 not out by J Blackwood in the first inning. The fact that we had eight Barbadians playing and three Guyanese – including one Barbadian born – and our best spinner Devendra Bishoo sitting in the pavilion, did not make me feel any better.
Why have our teams been performing so miserably? My first thoughts are: do we have the talent? Are our players being properly moulded, prepared and made ready for Test cricket?
I certainly believe that we have the talent, however, I strongly believe that our cricketers are not being properly prepared and made ready.
Preparation and readiness must start with our ten-year-olds at the grass-roots level. This early investment must be made and maintained throughout their youthful development. Our schools and colleges must have teachers performing as coaches and umpires teaching the game, its laws and its history. Our grounds and facilities must be provided, upgraded and maintained.
The County Boards of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice, must be provided with funding to organise and play off youth, second, and 1st Division competitions and for administrative expenditure. Most importantly, we must have administrators, coaches, umpires and groundsmen who are devoted and committed to the development of the game, our youths and their talents, instead of individuals who are only interested in filling their own pockets.
The objective must be more cricket, more preparation and exposure for cricketers, not less.
It is for these reasons that we are left to wonder, why do we have less cricket in Guyana? Why has the Guyana Cricket Board discontinued the yearly (started in 1954) 3 day Inter-County semi-final and 4 day final since 2014 and the 3 day 1st Division competition played in Berbice and Demerara since 2011? This Inter-County 4 day final was accepted as 1st Class cricket from 1971 to 1988. The 1st Division competitions in Berbice and Demerara were started since the turn of twentieth century after the World War of 1914.
These competitions and national trial matches were used as a stepping-stone for players to be selected to our Regional team, from which our Test cricketers are selected to represent the West Indies. Our players are now left with a chasm too wide and too deep to cross, with no preparation for Regional or Test cricket, hence their poor performance.
Since 2011, the Guyana Cricket Board has been embroiled in controversy with the Government of Guyana and the Demerara and Berbice Cricket Boards, resulting in about six injunctions being filed in the Guyana High Court. Said to be receiving US$54,000 monthly from Cricket West Indies, the Guyana Cricket Board has given no direct funding to these other boards since 2011, while the Berbice and Demerara Boards still bear a major responsibility for the administration, promotion and development of cricket and cricketers in Berbice and Demerara.
These issues have festered for too long, and it is time for them to be resolved. It cannot be denied that cricket plays a major role in the development of our youths and the health of our nation. We must move forward.
Former Secretary BCB 1976-83
Committee BCB 1968-83