President of the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB) Hilbert Foster has reiterated the call to the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) for matches to be held in Berbice but GCB’s Territorial Development Officer (TDO) Colin Stuart says funding is the issue.
According to Stuart, a former Guyana and West Indies fast bowler, staging matches in Berbice is on the agenda of the GCB but the lack of funds is preventing it from becoming a reality.
Both Foster and Stuart were at the National Stadium Providence on Friday where Berbice completed the double of winning the three-day and 50-overs Inter-County Under-19 tournaments.
Foster said the BCB had written to the GCB to host matches in Berbice and called it “unfair” to have one team having the home advantage.
“Even at this tournament we [BCB] did write to the GCB to host one or two of the matches in Berbice.. and I just want to put on record we at the BCB are willing to host matches it is absolutely unfair for one team to be having all the home advantage and for those people who worked hard like me at clubs, Albion and Blairmont it is only fair club officials are given [the chance] to see their own players at home and at the same time parents will also want to see their children playing at home and can turn out in their numbers to support them,” Foster argued.
According to Foster if it was Berbice hosting the final the crowds would dwarf the dismal turn out at the National Stadium, a turn out he called “disappointing.”
“What I could tell you is if this final was played in Berbice we would have had hundreds of people in the ground, it is very disappointing to come and see just about 20 people at a final of this magnitude,” he declared.
Stuart, in response, said that it was the lack of financial support that has limited the competitions from going to not only Berbice but also Essequibo which he said is part of the plan.
“It is on the cards to have cricket in all three counties but as you know the GCB seeks corporate sponsorship and we would like to have the tournament played in other areas but given the magnitude of sponsorship and the fact that we are housing the players it really takes a lot so at the moment we have centralized the cricket to Demerara but it is on the cards to play as was done years ago,” he explained.
Foster also spoke of the return of Senior inter-County Cricket which Stuart again blamed on a lack of sponsorship.
“We [BCB] are calling for the return of senior Inter-County cricket, while it is nice to be known as an Upper Corentyne, Lower Corentyne or West Berbice player, there is a certain amount of pride of being identified as a Berbice player,” said Foster.
He recalled that in recent conversations with a former test player, that the individual said he holds the same pride of playing for Berbice as he did when playing for Guyana and the West Indies.
Foster added that while he thinks the League is not a bad idea in terms of financial rewards for the cricketers, he is calling for the GCB to bring back the senior Inter-County tournament.
Stuart said that the idea of having the League system was to have a larger showing of potential for the selection into the Guyana senior team since it was eight teams competing rather than three Inter-County teams. He explained that the idea was to have the eight teams in a round robin before it boiled down to four strong teams and then two.
However, because of the limited funds, the format is still an eight team one although Stuart said he would not rule out different formats in the future.