League not smooth

hitting out

Not surprisingly, after a fair amount of going forward and backward, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) will now hopefully announce on Monday the first ever player draft of its professional league ahead of the 2014-15 first-class season, which starts in mid-November.

A Press conference is slated for the Accra Beach Hotel here in Barbados, starting at 11 a.m.

According to a release from the WICB today, the player draft has been organised with the goal of achieving an equitable distribution of the available player talent in the four-day and NAGICO Super50 Championships.

The head coach and chairman of selectors of each of the six franchise teams – Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Windward islands – will participate in the player draft.

Each of the six franchises will contract a minimum of 15 players, as follows: (1) ten players pre-selected from the home territory and (2) five players selected from the player draft.

The player draft shall be conducted over five rounds, and each franchise will have three minutes in each round to select a player.

The order of the draft shows: Guyana, Leeward Islands, Jamaica, Windward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.

So much for the preamble.

Now while the WICB yearned for secrecy with the naming of players ahead of any major announcements, it was always inevitable that they would be scooped at their own game.

Hence, the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian newspaper released the names of the players from the twin-island republic earlier this week, soon to be followed by radio reports on those from the Windward Islands.

And with speculation over who would in the Barbados set-up, why should Barbados TODAY not spill its guts as well?

So here we go, comrades.

It is my understanding that there was an original list of 25 including ten contracted players, submitted to the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) by its selectors on September 22. That list showed the contracted players, with their grades, as: Kirk Edwards (A), Kemar Roach (A), Sulieman Benn (B), Carlos Brathwaite (B), Kraigg Brathwaite (B), Jonathan Carter (C), Miguel Cummins (C), Shane Dowrich (C), Jason Holder (C) and Ashley Nurse (C).

The draft players were Anthony Alleyne, Tino Best, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Kyle Corbin, Fidel Edwards, Ryan Hinds, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Omar Phillips, Raymon Reifer, Javon Searles, Kevin Stoute, Jomel Warrican and Kenroy Williams.

Then, the fact in the main list of players were five with West Indies contracts – Kirk Edwards, Roach, Benn, Kraigg Brathwaite and Holder – they were replaced by the following: Corbin, Phillips, Stoute, Warrican and Dwayne Smith, who had initially asked not to be included altogether and understandably so since he has international Twenty20 contracts for the Big Bash League in Australia and the Indian Premier League.

The other four then placed in the draft list were Rashidi Boucher, Antonio Greenidge, Justin Greaves and Kyle Mayers.

But not everyone is happy with the way the player draft is expected to work. In fact, there are already cries that a couple players are insisting they want to represent their own territories and are prepared to be banned for not accepting a call-up to represent a so-called “foreign” team.

The WICB may be well intentioned with this new idea but there are some players who view the four-day game quite differently to the Twenty20 stuff, such as the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), which started last year, replacing the Caribbean T20 tournament.

With its extremely proud first-class record of 22 titles since 1966 when championships were first numbered with the sponsorship of Shell, Barbados always commanded great respect throughout the region and indeed the world. To say they need no help from other territories is putting it mildly.

And mind you, with the loads of talent around and such a well-organised BCA domestic season, which runs from May to November, the Barbados players are always well prepared. So much so that even in the face of news circulating that no trial matches are to be played after all (four were initially planned), picking a squad of all Barbadians for the four-day championship, which starts November 14, would not be a problem.

But it is always amusing the way WICB does some of its business. Well-placed sources have revealed that from a public relations perspective, the Board was planning to announce the list of retained players with that of players in the draft yesterday.

And gosh, they wanted to make it look pretty, saying that “to create some added interest in this announcement, we are planning to make the announcement via the WICB Facebook page and Twitter account”.

There were, however, a few hiccups and only late this morning the WICB issued a couple Press releases re the player draft of its professional league, as well as the fixtures. Well done, my friends! Make it simple.

Originally, here was the order for yesterday’s announcements with times shown: 14:00 (Barbados), 14:10 (Guyana), 14:20 (Jamaica), 14:30 (Leeward Islands), 14:40 (Trinidad & Tobago), 14:50 (Windward Islands), 15:00 (List of players in the inaugural draft ceremony of the WICB Professional Cricket League) and 15:05 (full media release of all retained players list and list of players in draft).

Furthermore, the WICB was asking each franchise/TB to refrain from pre-empting the announcements by naming their retained players prior to 15:05, yesterday.

And just some background on the new Professional Cricket League. Back in May, the WICB announced that a critical funding component for the professionalisation of first-class cricket would be provided by the CPL which will contribute US$360,000 towards the annual retainer contracts for first-class players.

At that time, the board said that following its previous meeting in March, there was an approval of a 19-point plan for the complete professionalisation of the first-class game in the region, and as part of the plan, 15 players in each of the six territories would be contracted on a full time, year-round basis.

“This will allow for 90 first-class players to be annually contracted joining those contracted under WICB Annual Retainer Contracts.”

“The professionalisation of first-class cricket in the Caribbean is long overdue and finally we have taken a firm decision to realise this. It will be a costly venture but one which is absolutely necessary for West Indies cricket to move forward. We are exceedingly grateful to the CPL for this significant commitment towards the funding of these annual first-class contracts,” WICB chief executive officer Michael Muirhead was quoted as saying.

“Under the new Professional first-class structure, the contracts will see players being part of a first-class Franchise system, the details of which will be made public shortly,” the May 13 release said.

With great relief, almost five months later, the meaning of “shortly” has been defined. That’s the WICB for you.

(Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights.)

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