We need action not words, says Douglas
Allan Douglas believes the next Bermuda Cricket Board president will have to be a Colonel Burch or Ewart Brown-type man of action not afraid to make tough decisions, as opposed to someone content with spouting the politically correct rhetoric that has often covered for inaction in the past.
The straight-talking Cleveland County Cricket Club coach believes the retirement of current president Reggie Pearman later this year represents an ideal opportunity to fix a game and a govwerning body he says is in ‘dire straights’.
Douglas pointed to the failure of the Board to get involved in the on-going Eastern County row and a lack of young cricketers coming through despite a much vaunted development programme, as just two examples of the need for a fundamental change within the BCB
So far no-one has officially announced their candidacy for the presidency, which will be voted on at the annual general meeting, although first vice president Allen Richardson has been canvasing clubs for their support and is odds-on favourite to win any vote.
However, Douglas is far from convinced that Richardson is the right man for the job and wants someone who will come in and make the tough choices necessary to turn the game around.
“I think the new person coming in needs to have some steel and say ‘here’s where we are going’,” said Douglas.
“That’s the key to me, whoever is going to take over needs to have teeth and stop saying things that are politically correct or trying to be nice and that’s my concern.
“Some people like to look good but the Colonel Burchs and Ewart Browns of this world will make decisions that will ruffle the feathers, but at the end of the day they are the right decisions.
“We need a president who is going to have some foresight and not be afraid to call a spade a spade and to say what is truthfully out there concerning our cricket and concerning the clubs.
“I don’t see that, unfortunately. The people that are vying for it (the presidency), I don’t see that. I know them very well and they like to be nice, politically correct.
“Me, I’ll make a decision that’ll ruffle you in a minute, but if I know in my heart that that is the correct way to go I’m gonna do it.”
Among things that Douglas would like to see the new regime do is to focus on a wholesale change to the structure of the BCB in light of the cut in –Government funding, and the setting of realistic goals for the national team
“It’s tough, whoever takes over it’s going to be tough,” he said. “It’s going to be hard work and you’re going to get a lot of slams for the way the Board is going.
“They’ve got to look at the whole structure. How are we going to go forward with the cutbacks that the Government made, how are we going to deal with that, where are we going with national programme, are we getting value for money for the national coach, that’s real, those are all issues that need to be dealt with.”
Outside of the administrative side of the game, Douglas is concerned by the lack of young cricketers emerging from the BCB’s development programme, which has won numerous ICC awards in recent years, and the internal rows that have wrecked both the Eastern County and Western County competitions this season.
“The youth cricket level, what’s happening with that? How are we going to make that so strong that it feeds into our senior programme?” asked Douglas. “We have been running youth cricket for a long time, the Board has been doing a lot of that and according to them they are doing it well.
“But if they have run that for the last eight years well, why haven’t we got a lot of players at 17, 18, 19 playing now? There are question marks.
“There are problems in club cricket, the Board hasn’t come into the Eastern County or Western County (rows) even though they’re the governing body. They haven’t stepped in, and haven’t made anything better.
“We all know that if the Eastern County is strong we know that Bermuda cricket is strong, without a doubt. Eastern County has some of the better players for Bermuda, the Board should be looking to sit down and figure out how we fix this.
“Whoever goes in there needs to not give lip service but be somebody of action. People might not like some of things you do, but they’ll be alright in the long run. If you’re doing the right thing then you’ll be ok.”
Douglas would also like the new man to review the move to a six team Premier Division suggesting that one league would benefit Bermuda more in the long run.
“Me personally I think you need one league, because teams like Warwick, or Flatts, will get more players playing for them,” he said. “
Players aren’t going to play for them now because they say ‘I want to play in the top division’, but if you have Warwick up there they will capture three or four players and that can help supplement their team.
“In fact, teams will balance out and all will become a bit stronger. You might get guys playing for a lower team so that they can shine better against top teams.
“I do believe that there isn’t that big of a gap between the clubs, and I think if you have one league the lesser teams will improve and so will Bermuda cricket.”
The Cleveland coach, whose side are battling for promotion to the top flight, also questioned what made a club elite and –suggested some of the Premier Division sides were far from –worthy of that tag.
“You can have six teams (in the Premier Division) but how good are those six teams? We’re calling them elite, but they’re training once a week, they’re –regurgitating older guys they’re not developing the youth, some of them don’t even have a youth programme,” said Douglas.
“So to me that’s not elite, how are they training, who’s coaching them, how’s their coaching structure. How elite is it? They’re only ‘elite’ because they are in the top six and managing to scrape through with some wins.
“The elite to me means that you’ve got to have all those other things in place, and then you –become a strong club and if you go down you can come back up.”
All these are issues that –Douglas passionately believes need to be dealt with if Bermuda cricket is to improve, and –ultimately he wants to see a president who lets their actions speak for them, rather than relying on winning people over with the usual empty promises that come during election campaigns.
“I know people have been –vying for the position for a while, but it’s not necessarily what clubs want to hear, it’s what clubs want to see done,” said Douglas.
“A lot of people can give you a lot of lip service and I know Allen (Richardson), he can talk very well and people can say this and say that to appease certain –people at a certain time, but –realisitically it’s what you are going to do that matters.
“Are you a person that is –going to put your hand to a wheel and manoeuvre the Board to where it has to go?
“Our cricket is in dire straights, but it’s not entirely the Board’s fault. Everybody has a part to play, it goes right down to the clubs, the schools, parenting, coaches, everybody has a part to play.
“My thing is how well is this person going to gel all the –resources out there to get cricket back on track, because it’s a –challenge.
“If anybody’s going in there thinking they can turn cricket around (easily) they’re joking, it’s going to be a battle. If you’re involved in it day in, day out, like I am, you know it’s going to be hard work.”