THE Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board remains committed to providing the best platform to prepare national cricketers to realise their fullest potential on the local, regional and international stages.
President of the TTCB Azim Bassarath has pushed back in the face of subjective criticism concerning the performance of the youngsters in the Cricket West Indies 2022 Rising Stars tournaments.
He said the selection of only three TT cricketers on regional teams does not paint a true picture of the state of the local game when all factors are objectively and fairly considered.
Instead, he said the TTCB is putting full stock in the governing body’s tried and tested development programmes, and the wealth of talent that abounds across the various age groups.
“We can’t allow the results of an abbreviated regional cricket season characterise the hard work and relentless effort that all stakeholders have intensively injected over the past months,” Bassarath said.
On a list of regional selections after the Rising Stars campaign, the CWI selectors only found room for three TT cricketers: Under-15 team captain Brendan Boodan, teammate Darius Batoosingh, and Orlando James in the Under-17 category.
In the case of the Under-19s, who lost a match by one run, and had their other matches in St Vincent severely ruined by the weather, the TTCB was told mere days before that the format of the Rising Stars tournament will be changed to three-day fixtures.
“One very salient point ignored by the naysayers is the fact that only in February the Government lifted restrictions on team sports, yet the TTCB was the only National Sport Organisation ready to launch their programme of activities having worked during the two-year pandemic hiatus to put everything in place for the eventuality,” Bassarath said.
However he said the effect of the shutdown had lasting effects, with cricketers facing extreme challenges, especially organising themselves back to normalcy from the schools (primary and secondary) to club level.
“There was also great difficulty in getting grounds ready, having been dormant for so long, as well as coping with the abnormal weather because of climate change in addition to financial constraints,” Bassarath pointed out.
And he emphasised that the logistics of staging red ball cricket in a shortened season were problematic, and acknowledged by the consensus of club representatives who were consulted and were of the view that white ball competitions so soon after the pandemic was the best way to go in the short term.
He is very optimistic that in planning for the 2023 season, red ball cricket will once again constitute the foundation of the local Premier League, and Zonal cricket.
“There was no concerted effort to shift focus from red ball to white ball. It was necessary because we had one objective, the get in as much cricket for our cadre of players, and in this regard we can claim great success,” Bassarath said.
He was very grateful to the Government, and corporate friends of cricket who did not shirk their responsibility by generously endorsing the plans and programs of the TTCB, and who realised the importance of hitting the ground running.
“We continue to have great faith in our cricketers who we see as the future, and their potential, commitment and preparation in testing circumstances cannot be doubted.
“We have the quantity and quality,” said Bassarath.
He said never before in the history of local cricket has there been so many chances for cricketers to stake their claim for recognition than the 2022 season with competition for seniors and age group players.
“We had an enthusiastic response from cricketers, administrators and sponsors in the way the TTCB handled the return to team cricket, and we are ready to apply what we have learnt after experiencing the most difficult period in the history of local cricket,” said Bassarath.
“There is a saying, “One swallow (a bird) does not make a summer’, so we cannot overlook the previous dominance of TT youth cricketers in the region, clearly demonstrated in the training squad which the CWI picked for the ICC World Cup which was staged in the Caribbean in January and February,” said Bassarath.
He is highly optimistic that when normalcy returns to the game in full for 2023, the local youth cricketers will get a greater opportunity to advertise their wares and make a much better showing in regional competitions, as they have been accustomed doing.