MINISTER of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has denied another request by the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) to commence its 2021 domestic season.
The health minister was responding to a recent letter sent to him by TTCB president Azim Bassarath which appealed for the possible resumption of the National League and Zonal competitions on April 10.
Deyalsingh responded on March 10, and for the second time, declined the TTCB’s request by quoting the Public Health Regulations (No. 5) 2021.
It states, “During the period specified in regulation 17, a person shall not, without reasonable justification (a) be found at any public place where the number of persons gathered, at any time, exceeds ten; (b) participate in any group or contact sports; or (c) participate in any team sports, except with the approval of the Minister (of health).”
On February 20, however, the Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe announced that outdoor sporting activity will resume after 11 months of dormancy. These activities must cater to 22 people or less.
She also said that domestic leagues would remain inactive after they were shut down in mid-March 2020 owing to the pandemic.
In Deyalsingh’s response to the cricket board, he also highlighted that recreational sports must be limited to the designated number where sports take place outside a building.
These regulations, however, do not apply to athletic or sporting teams approved by the Minister (of Health) who are training or participating in contact or team sports, at the national or international level.
Deyalsingh added, “I have reviewed your request for an exemption pursuant to the Regulations. In this regard, I am unable to grant approval for the conduct of this activity, at this time. Notwithstanding, due consideration may be given to your request in the future.”
The minister’s response was compiled and sent out to all National League clubs, zonal councils and zonal clubs by TTCB operations manager Dudnath Ramkessoon.
Ramkessoon confirmed Deyalsingh’s responses by saying, “Given the above, as indicated by the honourable minister, the board’s competitions remain on hold until further notice.
On December 10, the TTCB president wrote the Health Minister seeking Government approval for the top men’s cricketers to return to action. In early January, Deyalsingh confirmed the TTCB’s request “was received and not approved.”
Two days later, government approval was given to national athletes gearing up for major competition such as the Olympic Games. They were allowed to resume training at national sporting facilities but were mandated to adhere to all covid19 guidelines.
Cricketers seeking selection to the TT Red Force 50 over and regional four-day teams were also allowed to return to training ahead of a packed regional calendar.
But with the successful staging of the Caribbean Premier League T20 competition, in a bio-secure bubble, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (Tarouba) and Queen’s Park Oval (Port of Spain) last year, TTCB officials were hoping for a possible resumption of the domestic season under similar health guidelines.
Additionally, the West Indies (WI) travelled to England and New Zealand in late 2020 and early 2021 to compete in international tours. Cricket West Indies was also able to successfully host this year’s CG Insurance Super50 Cup at one location – Coolidge Cricket Grounds in Antigua – without any major hiccups.
This tournament was followed by the WI hosting Sri Lanka at the same venue for two three-match T20I and One-Day International series. The two-match Test series bowls off at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua on Sunday.
Entities such as the TTCB and even national senior football coach Terry Fenwick continue to plead with the government for a resumption of the local leagues. Over the past few months, Fenwick has been vociferous in his attempt to sway authorities to resume domestic competition.
Fenwick, like Bassarath, believes the continued stagnation of domestic competitive sport is stifling its growth and pushing athletes away from sporting activities.