Eastern Counties saga needs to be solved
It's that time of the year when clubs meet to start making preparations for the 2012 cricket season.
This season promises to be a more entertaining and challenging season as for the first time ever the league has been reduced from eight teams to six.
This is just one of the changes made to improve the level and quality of the cricket season. However, changes like these will have little or no impact if we do not address the underlying issues that are plaguing Bermuda cricket.
The Eastern Counties debate is one that has now gone on far too long. The best team in the Eastern Counties is not participating, therefore any team that wins the trophy cannot really celebrate wholeheartedly as they know it just isn't the same as when you conquer the best.
There was talk of the Eastern Counties having an AGM in November, what happened? To my knowledge, this meeting never took place.
Surely there has to be some sort of sporting governing body that can press this issue and force the Eastern Counties to have an AGM. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong at this point. It's time to sit down and hash it out as adults for the betterment of our cricket.
If those teams that are involved in the Eastern Counties are content to go along having Eastern Counties the way it is without St David's simply because they have a chance to realistically win, then our domestic cricket will certainly continue to spiral downward. Come on now, let's rectify the situation and do what's best for the game. It's simply time for the BCB to step in and if they don't have the power to make a difference find someone who does because it's the cricket lovers of Bermuda that are losing out.
The same can be said for in the Western Counties concerning Southampton Rangers. Rangers are without a doubt the team to beat in that zone. Having games played at Somerset Cricket Club for the Western Counties is something that should have never been considered. It's almost like having the Eastern Counties played at Wellington Oval.
Let's face it, St George's and Somerset will never be asked to join or be involved in either of the Counties, giving no validity of their grounds being used. Rangers have a valid point, but again in the end cricket has to be the winner.
T20 cricket is another issue plaguing our cricket. While it's necessary to play because of our status in the ICC, the amount played locally should be limited. T20 cricket hinders our young players from learning the true value of the game and how it should be played.
I honestly feel that no-one under the age of 18 should even be allowed to play T20 cricket as the focus of that age group should solely be the longer version of the game.
The more T20 cricket we play the worse our cricket gets. Reflecting on the past two seasons of T20 and how many games have been defaulted, I do not think the players truly enjoy that format of cricket either.
Umpire shortage is another distressing factor in Bermuda cricket. There were several games last season that had to be played without the services of qualified umpires. That type of situation is never good for cricket.
The umpires have made a recommendation that each club send two representatives to their meetings to get trained as a square leg umpire. This is a compromise that enables the Umpires Association to send just one umpire to a game, confident that the club has a trained official to assist as the square leg umpire. Now the onus is on the clubs. Send a representative to be trained if you want to be assured of an umpire at your game, the ball is in your court.
Those are just a few of the problems that we as clubs can help solve as we have control of those situations. The new format of the league is something we have no control over, and I wonder with six teams forming our Premier League together with the changes in promotion and demotion of one being relegated and one being promoted, will this have a positive impact on improvement?
What consequences will this have for teams in the lower division? Will they lose players as the better players may want to play in the Premier league? It will not surprise me if we see an all-time high of transfers this year. It will also not surprise me if another club drops out of the league due to player shortage.
Another change that is controversial is the ICC proposed changes with respect to the white new ball. If we do follow suit and abide with the ICC changes it will hit the clubs financially. The proposal is that a new ball be bowled from each end, thus having clubs to buy two new balls per game instead of one. The way it will work is that each umpire will have a new ball and after each over the ball is returned to the umpire. With the recession that we are in, is this wise? Would it be more economical to return to the red ball and white clothes to make cricket more feasible for clubs?
Two new rules that are being introduced this season seem a bit strange but nevertheless it's a rule and will be adhered to internationally. For one no longer will an injured batsman be able to call for a runner. So if a batsman gets injured, suck it up and limp. The other rule is one being resurrected from many years ago. You can now be stumped out at the bowlers' end prior to him bowling. As the bowler runs in to bowl beware batsmen, don't leave early as you can be stumped out.
Lastly, there is also a change to the power play format. Normally after the first ten overs the two teams can take their power play at any time. However, the new rule requires the power play to be taken between the 20th and 40th over. This is normally a period of the game which is quiet and non-exciting, so this new rule should assist in enlivening the game for the fans.
With the season two to three months away at most there is quite a bit for the Bermuda Cricket Board to think about and consider. Are we going to change our structure of cricket so that we are in line with all of the ICC rules, or are we going to pick through the proposed changes and choose what we feel will work best in Bermuda? It is no secret that our cricket needs to be revitalised. The clubs and the players need to start getting together now to start planning. If each club takes responsibility to improve their own programme then collectively we will improve as a country.
P.S. After reading yesterday's Royal Gazette article re: Mr Fray's interview, I urge St George's Cricket Club to come forward and make a public statement in our defence and even expose the horrendous facts in which the two cricketers in St George's were suspended. Right is right and wrong is wrong.