By Keith Holder
Bridgetown, Barbados, May 21 - (www.bcacricket.org) - Amidst widespread debate over the likely start of the 2021 Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) domestic season in light of Covid-19 pandemic concerns, August 7 has been identified for the first ball to be bowled in a limited overs format only.
But there will be a “special” Competition for top local players as early as July with a Best v Best featuring three four-day matches on dates to be determined.
These decisions were confirmed today by the BCA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Roland Toppin, following a Board meeting on Wednesday.
Listed as “Scenario 4”, Toppin pointed out that there will be a 45-over Cup Championship, embracing the Elite and First division teams; a 40-over Shield Competition for the Intermediate division and a 35-over Plate for the Second division, with nine rounds of matches per competition.
To conclude the year, the Barbados Legends Cup will be played from November 13 to December 4.
“Our feedback is that a number of grounds are not ready for cricket as yet and that’s why we have gone for a starting date in August in order to allow the clubs and schools to ready themselves for the season,” Toppin told this columnist.
Prior to Wednesday’s decision, three scenarios had been put on the table.
The BCA had said that “due to the prevailing circumstances (inclusive of Government imposed Protocols) in our country resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, we are in a state of uncertainty in respect of scheduling the dates and formats for our various domestic competitions as normal. This is a similar situation to last year, now compounded by the severe disruption due to the ash fall coming from the volcano eruption in St. Vincent”.
“In light of the foregoing, we hereby inform you on our preliminary proposals contemplated in the scenarios shown below:
Scenario 1: Playing of all formats and competitions and assumes a season commencing on June 2 and ending December 19. In addition, the Intermediate and Second Division teams participating in the Shield 40-over and Shield T20 competitions respectively will play separate Shield and Plate competitions in the two (2) mentioned formats.
Scenario 2: Playing of all formats and competitions. It assumes a start date of July 3 and concludes in January 2022, where the finals of the lower division 3-day and 2-day leagues will be scheduled. Due to the July start and the time left in the remainder of the year, all 3-day and 2-day leagues will be reduced to five (5) series only, with Semi-finals and Finals after the preliminary rounds.
This scenario also places the Elite and First division 3-day teams in two (2) zones in each division to accommodate the playing of the aforementioned five (5) series. A Final will be played at the end of the preliminary rounds to determine the winners of each division.
Scenario 3: - Assumes a commencement date of August 7, running until November 6 in a T20 format similar to the one played in 2020.
Last season with the Covid-19 pandemic also impacting, only T20 matches were played in all divisions.
RELEASE FEES TO BE PAID TO THREE CLUBS
Toppin also revealed today that three clubs - Wildey, Empire and YMPC – would be paid their portion of the release fees from the Indian Player League (IPL).
In his last annual report, BCA president Conde Riley had noted that, “all players who participate in the IPL and or the various T20 leagues around the world are required to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their home board.
“Five years ago, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), now Cricket West Indies (CWI), sought and received ICC agreement that franchises across the world should compensate the home board for the use of their players’ services,” Riley stated.
“In addition it was decided that release fees would be paid to the ICC member board under which the player was developed even if that player subsequently qualified to play for another member board, as in the case of Jofra Archer. The fees paid to the member would then be equally divided among (1) the member board (e.g. CWI), (2) the home board (e.g. Barbados and (3) the player’s club (e.g. Wildey Sports Club).
MEMORY LANE – INTRODUCTION OF COVERED PITCHES
Two decades ago, the BCA introduced a couple innovations for its top league Competition.
For the first time in the Division 1 (rebranded as Elite in 2012) Championship, pitches were covered and matches were contested over two consecutive days instead of the traditional three, with play starting at 10:30 a.m.
That 2001 season was definitely one with a difference as all and sundry tried to come to grips with a Competition, which resembled that of a first-class, albeit that the latter is played over four days.
Not surprisingly, spectator interest in the first session of play was minimal, as fans had been accustomed for donkey years to performing their morning chores, especially on Saturdays, before turning out for play in the afternoon.
Some fans even started to make fun of the early start, suggesting that apart from the players, officials and scorers, the only “spectators” present in the pre-lunch session were a few sheep grazing around the boundaries and a couple stray dogs.
Yet for all of that, the experiment gradually met with approval from fans and lasted for five seasons before returning to the “old” format in 2006. Well, let’s use the word “old” in the right context.
For the 2006 season, to accommodate the University of West Indies (UWI) being admitted for the first time and to avoid having an uneven number of teams, Combined Schools were split into two teams (then called Barbados Youth ‘A’ and ‘B’) with a 16-team Competition featuring two zones.
After dilly-dallying over how the winners and other positions would be determined, the BCA placed an advertisement in the two daily newspapers – Barbados Advocate and NATION – outlining the format.
Signed by then Business Manager Rollins Howard, it read: NOTICE, August 30, 2006, Barbados Cricket Association Revised Fixtures 2006: “The Barbados Cricket Association met with Clubs competing in the Banks Division One Competition on Monday, August 28, 2006 to consider and discuss various issues relevant to the play-off matches.
“Following extensive discussions the BCA is pleased to advise that the play-offs for teams which finished in positions 2-7 will take place first and that a “stand-alone” final between the two top teams would be played separately over four (4) days at a neutral venue. The Grand final will be played on September 16th, 17th, 23rd and 24th at Windward.
“To achieve this objective some amendments have been made to the fixtures for the next series. The final standings, play-off fixtures and the amendments are listed below.”
The standings showed: Zone A – Carib Carlton 37, ICBL Empire 36, Maple 32, Wanderers 28, Banks 23, Super Centre Spartan 18, BRC BCL 17, Guardian General Barbados Youth ‘A’ 7; Zone B – Caribbean Lumber YMPC 44, Sagicor Life UWI 27, BNB St. Catherine 26, ESA Field Pickwick 24, Cable & Wireless BET 17, Guardian General Barbados Youth ‘B’ 14, BDFSP 13, Police 9.
The play-offs were slated for September 2, 3 and 9.
“The Barbados Cricket Association wishes to sincerely thank the Management of all Clubs who so willingly offered their support, advice, cooperation and their facilities to enable the 2006 Cricket Season to continue uninterrupted,” it was stated.
The Final was drawn with YMPC, captained by Calvin “COW” Watson, capturing the title by way of first innings lead.
Three years later, the promotion and demotion system started. Then came the rebranding in 2012 with a settled number of ten teams.