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Cricket boards unite for good of the sport

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Signed, sealed: Steven Douglas, president of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association, and Lloyd Smith, the Bermuda Cricket Board president, sign the memorandum of understanding between the two bodies. In the rear is Eddie Lamb, vice president of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda Cricket Board has reached an agreement with the Eastern Counties Cricket Association to help better promote the competition, exchange information and other initiatives beneficial to cricket locally.

The memorandum of understanding between the BCB and the Eastern Counties is to “set forth an agreement for the exchange of information and where mutually beneficial, a collaboration on initiatives, including cricket programmes, match regulations, best practices, scheduling and public relations”, the board said in a release this week.

“Moreover, to identify and agree the roles and responsibilities of each party as they relate to their common aim of promoting cricket in Bermuda generally, and in the Eastern Counties in particular.”

And while Lloyd Smith, president of the BCB, says he would like to have an MOU with the other counties and Cup Match, he insists there is no plan for the board to take over the running of those competitions. In the past the BCB has clashed with the two Cup Match clubs and the Eastern Counties — two competitions over 100 years old and older than the Bermuda Cricket Board — over disciplinary matters.

“The basic understanding this time is that the discussions are due to continue,” Smith said. “We wanted to get an MOU to understand each other’s position on competitions, us being the governing body, and where the responsibility lies with both parties.”

Even though the BCB issue the schedule to include the three counties and Cup Match, one thing the Eastern Counties are adamant about is that their three matches will fall on specific dates ... “two weeks before Cup Match, two weeks after Cup Match and two weeks after that”.

“Over the years they have been asked to change it, but one of the things we agree on is they have their specific dates, one thing that was top of their agenda,” Smith confirmed. “The committee that the Eastern Counties sent to us to negotiate, we had a very good understanding with them. There are things going forward that probably have to be added, but basically we wanted to get something done before county started.

“After having these talks, when we talk to the other counties hopefully they understand from the memorandum we have already put forward with the Eastern Counties, exactly what we are looking for with them.

“I don’t know what went down in discussions before but one thing we assured is the Bermuda Cricket Board is not looking to take over any more competitions to organise, nor get into their finances. We’re looking to do different programmes together in the future.

“We definitely also want to approach Cup Match, to get all the local competitions on board with the understanding that we’re the governing body, that we’re here for cricket, not just the leagues.”

Smith added: “As I came on as president, I understood that we had a lack of communication between the association and the county groups, as well as Cup Match, so one of my goals was to have an agreement with all the other entities of cricket.”

Steven Douglas, president of the ECCA, is happy that some progress has been made between the two parties.

“The process of communication was our biggest problem before, but it was a breath of fresh air dealing with Lloyd Smith and Cal Blankendal [new executive director],” said Douglas.

The Eastern Counties have clashed with the BCB in the past over suspensions imposed on players which have included the counties, something the ECCA say the board has no jurisdiction over. Two of the recent suspensions were Chris Douglas of St David’s in 2016 and Derrick Brangman last year when his club, Bailey’s Bay, still tried to have him play in the Eastern Counties, saying the BCB had no power to suspend him from their competition. Brangman, eventually took his case to arbitration and won the appeal in April with time already served, which enabled him to return to playing this season.

“Now we can communicate — how they do suspensions and the process of communication,” Douglas explained. “If they wanted us to uphold a decision they made, then wouldn’t it be polite to send correspondence to the Eastern Counties?

“Now we have come to an agreement where we will share information, so when they tell the player and his club first, then 24 hours later you can inform the other entities that he plays for.

“Everybody looks at the incidents with Chris and Derrick, but it is more than just the suspensions. It’s also about our competition dates, which have been that way for years.”

In agreement: Left to right: Eddie Lamb, vice president of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association, Steven Douglas, president of ECCA, Lloyd Smith, president of the Bermuda Cricket Board, and Cal Blankendal, Chief Executive of the BCB. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)