FORMER MINISTER of Sport Manohar Ramsaran is encouraging local cricket administrators and players to not be frustrated over the abandoned TT cricket season, including the monies spent by local clubs, saying the health of everyone at this time is key.
Cricket came to a halt in mid-March, just days after TT recorded its first case of covid19. Action was forced to stop with two rounds remaining in the National League two-day competition. When the competition was stopped eight teams were playing in Premiership I, eight in the Premiership II North and the same number of teams in the Premiership II South competition.
On Wednesday, the TTCB made the decision to cancel the remainder of the season.
The board has decided not to declare any champions, while no clubs will be promoted or relegated this season.
The TTCB media release on Wednesday, said, “The decisions came after detailed conversations with representatives of the National League, zones and affiliates. The TTCB was also guided in their deliberations by official Government policy as outlined by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.”
On Saturday, Dr Rowley announced that people will be allowed to exercise in public again and non-contact sports will be allowed. Team sports such as cricket is not permitted.
The media release said the players' health is of paramount importance. “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.”
Ramsaran, who is also the president of Munroe Road Cricket Club, said, “None of us could be surprised that cricket was called off after listening to Dr Rowley last week when he talked about social distancing. Cricket really is a team sport…we will have physical contact although it is not like football.”
Ramsaran added, “When you look at the all-round (situation), you have to be not selfish, accept the decision of the board.”
Munroe Road plays in the Premiership II North competition and spent about $30,000 before the season was called off. The club’s expenses include mainly providing meals and stipends for players and incentive packages.
Ramsaran said his club did not wait for the TTCB to make an official decision to end the two-day Premiership II North competition in mid-March. The club decided to default its fifth-round match against Aranguez to ensure the safety of the players, while other matches were played on the weekend of March 14 and 15.
“We defaulted the game. We spoke to Aranguez and told them we will not be coming. We started the whole question of not coming out to play. We were a day-and-a-half earlier than everybody else…we put health before wealth.”
On Wednesday, president of Central Sports Richard Ramkissoon expressed his frustration that the board did not consider completing the Premiership I two-day competition with only two rounds left. He said a lot of money was spent already for the season, saying his club spent approximately $150,000. Premiership I clubs feature national and regional cricketers and those clubs spend more during the season on salaries.
“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,” Ramkissoon said.
A Queen’s Park Cricket Club member also informed Newsday that the Parkites would have spent at least $150,000 per team before the season was called off. Queen’s Park had two teams in the eight-team Premiership I competition with expenses including player contracts, meals, water and Gatorade.
Long-time administrator at FC Clarke Road Dasrath Maharaj thinks the best decision was made. Clarke Road also featured in Premiership I this past season.
“It is sort of mixed feelings because you have those who were due for promotion…but at the end of the day safety first. It is not an individual sport, it is a team sport so that is the overriding factor really – safety,” Maharaj said.
Chairman of Raw Fitness Victoria United (Premiership I) Dhanraj Ramroop also thinks cancelling the season was a reasonable decision. Ramroop said trying to complete the season later this year will not be feasible because of the rainy season.
El Socorro Youth Movement (Premiership II North) coach Shameer Mohammed said he expected the TTCB to make that decision. Mohammed said his club did not spend an exorbitant amount of money due to a lack of sponsorship.