February 11, 2014
‘We need to lift our game’

Tue Feb 11, 2014

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – He was at the Queen’s Park Oval on Tuesday night to take in the defending champions Windward Islands versus Guyana Zone ‘A’ clash in the 2014 NAGICO Super50 Regional Cricket Tournament.{{more}} Having played the game for his native island of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Senator Luke Browne was very passionate about the defending champions’ performance.

On the following day, Wednesday, at the Hilton Hotel in Port-of-Spain, he sat down with this reporter for an interview.

Speaking of regional cricket, he pointed out that he was not satisfied with the standard. “I think we need to lift our game in the most meaningful sense of the word.”

In order to achieve just that, he revealed that the St Vincent and the Grenadines Government has a few programmes to be unfolded, aimed at improving the skills level of young cricketers.

“We have a couple developmental projects on the way and there is the sense that there is a lot of incentives for cricketers to do well, both at the regional and international level,” stated Senator Browne, who is the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Tourism, and Culture, with responsibility for Sports.

“We have to get some programmes in place at all levels. I have some ideas that I have to fine-tune, which I think could go a long way, but ultimately we have to capitalize on the technology that is available in the world right now, and make use of the financial incentives that are available to players right now.”

He is concerned that the cricketers of the Caribbean have not fully availed themselves of the programmes and technologies that are available worldwide. “I do not think that we have capitalized on the available technology in cricket to the greatest extent. I feel that the exposure to international tournaments like the IPL and a reasonable version of that – the CPL, should go a very long way towards giving West Indies cricket a boost. I do not think that it has manifested itself in the profound way that I expected. I think that this manifestation rests with the various territorial boards, in the West Indies that make up the West Indies Cricket Board.”

He admitted that each of those boards has its challenges. “Each of them might have their challenges; for example, the Windward Islands. They have a constraint in that they are separate islands, and how you coordinate in the least expensive way, the training between players from these respective islands, is something which occupies the minds of the administrators.”

That said, Senator Browne was not happy over the selection modus operandi of the Windward Islands selectors. “I do not believe that the selectors for the Windwards team have done justice and honoured the principles of proper selection.”

The Senator expressed his concerns over such policies of the regional selectors, as recently as in the case of Vincentian batsman Miles Bascombe. He gave a number of reasons why he thought that the principles of fairness, justice, and proper selection procedures were not honoured.

“Firstly, in the qualifying competition, which was held in Grenada, Bascombe had the highest average amongst the batsmen, and had the second most runs overall,” Senator Browne pointed out.

He further stated, “He is a man with West Indies cricketing experience, yet notwithstanding that experience and that brilliant recent form, he was not included in the team (for the regional NAGICO Super50 tournament). That is made worst by the fact that there was an opportunity for him to be selected, even after the competition got on its way.”

A fourteen-man squad was selected, and there was a change to the squad because of the unavailability of Captain Darren Sammy. “Rather than select a man from the reserves, and Miles was in the reserves – there were three reserves, they went out of the reserves and selected a man who did not have a good year in this competition.”

St Lucian Craig Emmanuel was selected to replace Darren Sammy, a move that has angered many, while others have raised questions over the fairness and transparency of the Windward Islands selectors’ policies.

“These things frustrate progress in Windward’s cricket in the first instance, and then in West Indies cricket,” Senator Browne lamented.

To illustrate his case, a few weeks ago he had penned an article over the non-selection of Miles Bascombe in the local press. In that article, Browne stated that Bascombe should have been in the Windward’s team for a number of reasons.

To date there has not been a response from the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control, or a statement about why Miles Bascombe was not selected. (by Robertson S. Henry/[email protected])