On Target
April 5, 2013

Timely now – bear it later

The time for some intervention to arrest the deepening slide of local cricket, must be now, more than ever, as the positive signs are bleak, almost unnoticeable.{{more}}

This outlook is blinding as when one looks at the best of what is being served up at the secondary schools’ level, it causes the head to ache with pessimism.

And, the final of that annual competition, which climaxed last week Thursday at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, leaves one to shudder at what the future of cricket holds.

In fact, we are staring down a bottomless tunnel of despair if that is the best on the offering in terms of talent for the next five to ten years time.

It must be pointed out that the competition was without two of the more celebrated cricketing schools, the Georgetown Secondary and the St Vincent Grammar School.

Both former winners of the competition, the former opted out this year, with the latter dropping out after the competition had begun.

This does not erase the fact that no longer are players coming through by way of continuous practice and commitment to the sport, as today, there are so many other things competing for their attention and time.

Unfortunately, the players who were on show in the final, in the main, lacked the basics of the sport, which can be only achieved through a systematic development programme.

It is clear that little happens at the secondary school level in terms of a proper streamlining of teaching of the sport. Instead, it is those who have some knowledge who are afforded the opportunity to turn out for their respective institutions.

And, if the trend is to persist, the present crop of senior cricketers can rest assured that they would be on the list of selectees for some time to come, as there are not many to challenge them, if any.

But, one should not be too critical of the young players themselves, but the responsibility and blame lies squarely on the governing body of the sport here, the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association.

For as long as anyone can recount, that body of men has received a failing grade for the astute and constructive development of young players.

Not being cared for, youth cricket development has attained the status of dwelling in an orphanage, as mere lip service appeal and colouring are provided when there is a convenient occasion which warrants “sweet mouthing” and diplomatic posturing.

Some years ago, the local cricket authorities purported to have funds geared towards youth cricket enhancement, but the products of the proposed investments, have yet to come to fruition.

The recent introduction of the Digicel Grassroots progammme would surely be passed off for filling the void, but that too is an unacceptable gauge.

Also, the private organizations such as the Neil Williams Academy, which is a programme geared at teaching youngsters the fundamentals of the sport, are not enough, as not everyone can afford the fees which are demanded for the services of the coaches.

And, there is no longer a North Leeward Under-15 competition, which then established itself as the store house for the unearthing of cricket talent at that age grouping.

Not even the island wide zonal competition, put on by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association has provided the impetus needed, as this has been more of a convenience, rather than a deliberate thrust to hone players’ skills and take them to their fullest potential.

Reports are that one was held recently, which, to many involved in the sport, was the best kept secret of all times.

So, the current Windward Islands Under-15 tournament being hosted here should be another barometer for the measurement of our standing against the other three islands — St Lucia, Dominica and Grenada.

St Vincent and the Grenadines has faltered over the past five years in this competition for the aforementioned reasons.

This is not to say that as hosts, we may not have some abilities which could take us past the other islands; but such must not be counted, but attained through assured emergence of talents.

There is no shortage of personnel to ensure that young players are taught right; however, those who have the right to institute the necessary guidelines and implement the plans are more concerned with their status, forgetting that without the players, they have no role.