JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH and JELANI BECKLES
PRESIDENT of Central Sports Richard Ramkissoon is disappointed that the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) decided to cancel the remainder of the local cricket season, saying the administration should have at least made an effort to complete the National League Two-Day competition with only two rounds remaining.
The TTCB made the decision following the extension of Government’s covid19 restrictions.
Due to the incomplete status of all national cricket tournaments, the local fraternity also came to the consensus that there will be no promotions, demotions or playoffs for the preceding competitive season.
These decisions came after detailed conversations with TTCB executive members and representatives of the National League, zones and affiliates via a Zoom meeting on Wednesday.
In a statement issued by the Azim Bassarath-led institution, it stated, “The TTCB has officially abandoned all cricket competitions under its aegis for the 2020 season as the prohibition on team sports is still in effect under the social distancing regulations imposed by the Government in their phased out plan to remove the lockdown restrictions.
“The TTCB was persuaded to make these decisions in the best interest of cricketers, clubs, other stakeholders and the general public in the face of the pandemic.”
In an interview with Newsday Ramkissoon said, “I am disappointed that the cricket board would have called off the season. We know that the pandemic is on and the Government said no team sports...but I am still disappointed. I feel that they could have (postponed it), instead of cancelling it because in my estimation about $3.3 million was spent already for the season.”
Ramkissoon said about $2.5 million was spent among the premiership I and II clubs and roughly $800,000 by the TTCB on club grants. “That money just wasted and gone down the drain.” Ramkissoon said Central Sports spent $150,000 this season.
Central Sports were in second place with two rounds left when the National League Premiership I tournament came to a halt on March 15 after round five because of the virus. The 50-Over competition, scheduled to start on April 4, never bowled off.
The decision to cancel the rest of the season did not come as a shock to El Socorro Youth Movement (EYM) coach Shameer Mohammed. “To be honest, I kind of predicted this was going to happen. A lot of teams would have watched what Cricket West Indies (CWI) did and gave winners, but this is a little different because this (competition) has relegations and a lot of teams were banking on the last two games to survive or win.” CWI cancelled the last two rounds of the regional four-day competition and Barbados Pride were declared the winners.
EYM played in the Premiership North II Division and Mohammed said the club did not spend a lot because sponsorship was difficult.
Any possibility of an anticipated resumption of the sport was also denied since the grounds matches are usually played on have not been maintained to the required standard during the downtime due to stay at home restrictions.
According to the TTCB statement, even if restrictions are lifted, proper restoration of these cricket pitches are expected to cover a lengthy duration.
It read, “Also taken into account was the current state of grounds on which matches are played as they are not prepared to host any cricket in the near future even if the Government eases its covid19 restrictions on team sports within the near future.”
Since the Prime Minister initiated phase one of Government’s ease on covid19 restrictions, on Monday, he affirmed an extension on restrictions for team activities, contact sports or any activity that encourages gatherings.
The TTCB indicated it was guided through its deliberations by the Government’s policy outlined by Dr Rowley on Saturday.
The local cricket organization has also received support from the Tobago Cricket Association, TT Women’s Cricket Association, Secondary Schools Cricket League, Primary Schools Cricket League and the TT Umpires Council.
The TTCB is also calling on all minor cricket leagues, affiliated and not affiliated to the national organization, to immediately abandon their competitions in the best interest of our cricketers, and public health and safety.