Merry Boys top order batsman Mario Belcon said the changes to the upcoming local cricket season is a step back, and is calling on the TT Cricket Board and the Government to come together and resolve their issues to save TT cricket.
Due to financial constraints, the TT Cricket Board was forced to reduce the three-day competition to a two-day competition for the 2018 season, while the 50-over tournament will not take place. The T20 tournament will remain.
The changes to the cricket calender may further affect an already struggling Red Force team. The Red Force finished last in the recently concluded Regional Four-Day competition. The Red Force also started the Super50 competition poorly, suffering a 171-run loss to Barbados Pride in their opening match on Tuesday.
Belcon said there is no doubt the changes to the local cricket season will negatively impact the development of local cricket.
“I think this is a no brainer. This will definitely affect us because anything that decreases the competition from what it was obviously will be a setback in terms of our development as a cricketing country within the region. We have not been doing well in the four-day format, the stats are there to see.”
The Government has reduced the amount of money they give to the TTCB to run their operations. TTCB president Azim Bassarath informed Newsday recently that the Sport Company of TT has been giving less to local cricket. Last year the TTCB received $200,000, compared to between $600,000 and $700,000 previously.
Belcon said the Government and the TTCB need to come together. “I think we making a backward step as a cricketing board. I think the Government and the board need to resolve their issues. The personal vendettas have to stop,” Belcon said.
He added, “Quite clearly there is a struggle between the board and the Government in terms of the Government releasing funds. So clearly there is a strife between the board and the powers that be in terms of the Government or the Ministry of Sport. It needs to be sorted out because what will happen to the next generation of cricketers, what will happen to their development. Everyone have their own personal agenda and the young cricketers will be the ones suffering.” Victoria Sports Club official Dhanraj Ramroop believes the TTCB is not performing. “The board for the last couple of years have lost numerous sponsorship. They have lost Carib, they have lost NGC, they have lost Shanghai Construction...it is poor management on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago cricket board,” Ramroop said.
Ramroop said more dialogue has to take place between clubs and the TTCB. “They have not invited us being the premier one clubs in Trinidad and Tobago to sit and have dialogue with us. They (TTCB) sit and they take decisions saying that they are going to eliminate the 50 overs and reverse from a three-day format to a two-day format league,” Ramroop said.
Experienced Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC) duo Petrock Nicholas and Justin Guillen said the members of QPCC are disappointed with the changes to the local cricket season, but said the young players on the team are still motivated.
Nicholas, who has been playing for the Queen’s Park first team since 2004, said the players will now have less chances to show their skills with less competitions. “It is disappointing (to see the changes) because you would have expected more opportunities to showcase whatever you would have been training for...since October players are training and now to hear that the season is cut down so drastically, it is a bit disappointing.”
Nicholas said QPCC is a big club with a lot of players and with a short season some players may only get to play a handful of matches. However, he said the youngsters are still motivated.
Guillen, QPCC first team captain, said the club looks forward to the 50-over league. “As much as the players enjoy the (three-day) league they also enjoy the 50-over game. I personally enjoy the 50-over games a lot, so it is really disappointing that we won’t be playing that format this year.”