The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) is set to restore the men’s Inter Zone tournament, following the scrapping of the local 50-over tournament for the 2018 season.
The TTCB is struggling to finance its programmes, claiming lack of assistance from the Sports Company (SPORTT), as well as the ending of a partnership with main sponsor National Gas Company (NGC). The financial difficulties have seen the local governing body forced to make tough decisions: reducing the three-day competition to a two-day event and eliminating the one-day matches.
The Red Force team is currently playing in the Regional Super50 tournament, but with no domestic competition, how will the national selectors select a team?
Dr Allen Sammy, first vice-president of the TTCB, said the Inter Zone tournament will be revived.
“The Inter Zone was a premier tournament. It’s a higher level because it brings together the cream of the zones. There are seven zones and Tobago – which is essentially eight zones – competing against each other. The best 11 or the best 13 out of each of the zones (will be involved).”
He said the tournament had been played “long ago, (up to) the early 1990s. There were various reasons why we had to do away with it. That format, we have it still with the Under-17 and Under-15, but now we want to bring it back at the senior level.”
The decision to restore the competition took place at a TTCB executive meeting last week, and the TTCB was expected to meet with the clubs last evening to garner feedback on the issue.
With the reduction of the three-day tournament, questions may arise about the ability of batsmen to build innings, which was a major problem during the Red Force’s dismal 2017-2018 Four-Day Tournament campaign.
According to Sammy, “We went from a two-day into a three-day format deliberately about three years ago. It takes time for a fellah to learn to build an innings.”
He added, “We have been forced to do this because of the economy, but we are compensating for the better players to engaged in a higher-level tournament with the 50-over Inter Zone.”
About the start date for the Inter Zone competition, Sammy said, “It’s going to be after the two-day tournament, in April (and) May, and then we’re going to have the T20. That’s how we have it proposed.”
As for the financial difficulties plaguing the TTCB, Sammy said, “All the sports have suffered. We are facing the reality. Last year we (got) $260,000 out of a budgeted estimate of $2.7 million.
“We were able to survive basically on our ability to manage in the circumstances. We can’t just say, ‘we have no money,’ we have to cut our cloth to suit us. That’s why we have reduced the three-(day) to the two-(day).
“The people who risk their money – which are the club owners – are welcoming the change.”
The 2018 local cricket season is expected to bowl off on the weekend of February 17 and 18. Sammy explained the delay from the usual January opening would help clubs. “We were able to do a poll this year, on all the zones, and people could not be physically ready for it because rain is still falling. The issue had to do with the ability of the grounds to be prepared on time.”