Troubling times

There are at least two matters, which would have grabbed the headlines over the past couple days.

One relates to the just concluded Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Elite division three-day Championship and the other to key appointments to be made by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) this weekend.

For those who closely followed the 2016 Elite division Competition, it would hardly be a surprise to know that the batting was the poorest in the last five seasons.

The statistics are as hard as they come.

Although it was the eighth season since the promotion/demotion system was introduced, comparisons for the last five seasons have been used on account of the settled number of ten teams for the Competition, which was rebranded as Elite in 2012 after being known as the First division for donkey years.

There were only 11 centuries this season, which represented a significant drop by virtually a third compared to last year.

In fact, that number represents the lowest ever since the promotion/demotion system came into effect in 2009.

There were 32 centuries in 2015; 28 in 2014; 16 in 2013 and 17 in 2012.

And the number of batting points all told (74) also revealed the lowest in the period under review. The other years show: 143 (2015); 137 (2014); 114 (2013) and 121 (2012).

Only two batsmen – Kevin Stoute of ICBL Empire and Zachary McCaskie of Massy United Insurance Wildey – scored 500 runs in 2016.

All-rounder Stoute, a Barbados Pride player, was also the only batsman with two centuries en route to the highest aggregate of 613 at an average of 68.11. He slammed an unbeaten 150 in the second innings against Home Improvement/Sierka Rentals Maple at Trents in the opening series and 118 not out in the first innings against Guardian General Barbados Youth at Bank Hall in Series 2.

McCaskie, a 20-year-old former Foundation, St. Michael, Barbados Community College and Barbados Youth player, who also represented the national Under-19 team, scored 502 (ave: 50.20).

McCaskie, who missed Series 2 and 3 because of professional duties in England – he represented Coggdeshall in the Essex 2 Division 1 and also the Hampshire Second X1 – boasted of the highest individual score (154) in the first innings against CounterPoint Wanderers at Dayrells Road in the sixth round.

There were 48 instances of bowlers taking five or more wickets in an innings – the same number as last season – and six “ten-fors”, down by four from 2015.

The promotion/demotion system started with 16 teams and in the first season, there was an all-time record high of 65 centuries.

Following is a breakdown of centuries, five-wicket and ten-wicket hauls in the past eight seasons:

Centuries: 2009 (65); 2010 (58); 2011 (32); 2012 (17); 2013 (16); 2014 (28); 2015 (32); 2016 (11).

Five wickets in an innings: 2009 (118); 2010 (81); 2011 (58); 2012 (55); 2013 (44); 2014 (43); 2015 (48); 2016 (48).

Ten wickets in a match: 2009 (18); 2010 (9); 2011 (11); 2012 (7); 2013 (9); 2014 (6); 2015 (10); 2016 (6).

From a batting perspective, however, it was crystal clear quite early that batsmen were still in a frame of mind of playing as though the Sagicor General Twenty20 and to a lesser extent, 50-over competitions were still on.

Both the T20 and 50-over competitions were contested in close succession.

One should not forget that the T20 Championship was played in two segments – Super 10 and Super 12 – between April 9 and June 16, while the Super Cup was contested from April 30 to August 7.

Effectively, it meant that Phase 2 of the T20 and the majority of the Super Cup were played during the same period.

The Elite division started on July 2 and ended November 20.

Sagicor Life UWI would be a fine example of how disappointing the batting and gaining points in that department were.

UWI were champions in the previous season and 2016 proved to be easily their worst since competing at the top level from 2006. They have boasted of five three-day titles including four on the trot from 2009 (2010 was shared with Spartan).

In 2016, UWI barely scraped two batting points in sharp contrast to what they earned the previous four seasons.

They gained 26 (the most ever) in 2012; 15 (2013); 17 (2014) and 24 (2015).

On the regional front, three West Indians including former international players Augustine Logie and Jimmy Adams, along with Barbadian Henderson Springer, are on a shortlist of six contenders for the post of West Indies team head coach.

That position, left vacant following the firing of Phil Simmons three months ago, and the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in light of the resignation of Michael Muirhead, are to be ratified at the quarterly meeting of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in St. Maarten tomorrow and Sunday.

Well-placed sources told yours truly that former Australian batsman Stuart Law is among those on the shortlist for head coach, which attracted several candidates from England and Australia.

The sources did not name the other two candidates.

According to the sources, the WICB is anxious to have the new coach in place as early as next month to prepare for the tours to the Caribbean by England in February and March for three One-Day Internationals (ODI), to be followed by Pakistan for a four-match Test series.

The sources further said that interviews for the head coach were concluded last Friday by teleconference, while candidates for the CEO post were interviewed at the Accra Beach Hotel in Barbados three weeks ago.

The 56-year-old Logie, who played 52 Tests and 158 ODIs as a middle order batsman and an outstanding fielder between 1983 and 1991 when West Indies were still dominant on the world stage, is the current coach of Trinidad & Tobago Red Force.

After retiring from the game in 1993, Logie moved into coaching and took charge of Canada before enjoying a memorable period as coach of West Indies when they won the ICC Champions Trophy under the captaincy of Brian Lara in 2004.

He, however, soon quit after the Tournament by what was described as “mutual consent”.

Subsequently Logie coached Bermuda and had another stint with Canada between 2012 and 2013.

Adams, 48, is a former Jamaica and West Indies captain and middle order batsman, who played 54 Tests and 127 ODIs between 1992 and 2001.

He was head coach at English County Club, Kent, for five years and left the county in October to return to Jamaica for personal reasons. At that time he had been one of several coaches listed as a potential candidate for the West Indies role.

Springer, 52, who played 26 first-class and 31 List A (50-over) matches as an off-spinner between 1988 and 1997, served as a West Indies coach after the dismissal of Simmons in September, and was on the tours of the United Arab Emirates for the three-match Test series against Pakistan, as well as the just concluded Tri-nation ODI series in Zimbabwe.

He was appointed assistant coach of the West Indies team for the 2009 Champions Trophy and has also worked with the West Indies ‘A’ team, apart from being the Director of Coaching at the Barbados Cricket Association and head coach of Barbados Pride.

The 48-year-old Law served as an interim coach of Sri Lanka and was also in charge of Bangladesh, as well as being that country’s Under-19s technical advisor. His was batting coach of the Australia team.

Simmons, a former Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies batsman, was the third successive West Indies head coach to be fired after serving for 18 months.

The others were former Australia batsman John Dyson and former Barbados and West Indies fast bowling all-rounder Ottis Gibson.

Dyson was sacked in August 2009 after 21 months of a three-year contract, while Gibson was also an August victim, in 2014. 

Gibson had been in the job since February 2010, and had signed a second contract, which was expected to end in February 2016.

Dyson had differences with the captain and team manager, while reports suggested that Gibson was a victim of the dressing room.

Simmons was appointed in March 2015 on a three-year contract.

In announcing Simmons’ dismissal on September 13, the WICB noted that the decision was taken in a meeting of the Board of Directors on September 10.

As far as Muirhead is concerned, the WICB announced on September 2 that the Jamaican “will not be renewing his contract and will officially demit office on October 14”.

Muirhead, who held the post for four years, however, remained for a couple more months.

He described his time with the WICB as “insightful, challenging, interesting and an eventful period.”

Now, one hopes that the WICB will not drag its feet in naming the new head coach and CEO.

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 three-and-a-half 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. Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com

2 Responses to Troubling times

  1. Barry December 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Interesting that they are ratifying the CEO appointment – Did they even advertise the position for recruitment?

    Reply
  2. Greengiant December 11, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Hedy Springer for the job of WI head coach. Its about time he get the job, he certainly is an excellent man manager and knows how to get the best out of players.

    Reply

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