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Single league just not the way to move forward

Bermuda Cricket Board apparently reached out to clubs once again regarding the ‘One League’ structure of our domestic season, but it is not yet known whether they will go ahead with the change or revert back to having two divisions incorporating promotion and relegation.

The announcement should be forthcoming shortly and many are hoping that having a League with two divisions will be the final decision. Here are a few comments regarding the proposed One League Structure.

Stephen Outerbridge (Bermuda national team captain): I have spoken about this topic on numerous occasions. Quite frankly I am tired of saying why the change offers no value in what I believe is Bermuda’s perceived direction for cricket. I think if we are to go to one league then a few structural changes will have to be made. I believe it is very possible for each club to become a franchise team.

Therefore each team will need a certain amount of junior and senior teams, financially stable, adequate training facilities, accredited coaches etc.

These changes will create a more standardised structure for our sport with the view on improvement at all levels from administration to players. Otherwise, the same behaviours which we are trying to eradicate domestically and internationally will still persist as many players struggle in a competitive environment. If we don’t have things in place, then why get rid of the only performance based barometer (i.e. two leagues) and replace it with mediocrity (i.e. one league).

Saleem Mukkedem (Bermuda World Cup player and former Somerset Cup Match player: “In my humble Opinion . . . and I have played cricket on many continents . . . One Division will be a BAD idea. For any league to thrive and for players to improve one has to compete each week against the best. It is this challenge that defines ALL sportsmen and sportswomen.

As a cricketer who still plays and coaches I often ask myself why I do this. I could be doing 100 things on a Saturday morning instead of playing cricket, but I choose to play cricket for the opportunity to challenge myself and to perform against the best. You run the risk of the better players sitting out games when they play weaker opposition.

Janeiro Tucker ( Bermuda World Cup player and Somerset Cup Match player): I am for the two-league structure. We need promotion and relegation, something to play for and get teams training hard to stay up or go down. Teams with younger players may get discouraged with results or the fact that the stronger teams may have no pity.

Some teams may not show up after a few weeks if there’s nothing to play for and can’t get relegated. Bermuda just came fourth in the World Division 3 cricket tournament. How is one league going to improve our game? Every other country in the world has more than one league and they are improving very fast. We have not moved forward since the 2007 World Cup.

Dennis Archer (Bermuda World Cup qualifying team): For cricket anywhere to improve there must be a promotion and demotion system in place. If that's not done teams who play poorly will continue to do so with no regard to self-improvement, hence the standard of cricket will not improve.

I am of the opinion that Bermuda cricket will improve only through the mindset of persons playing the game.

Once there’s an adjustment in cricketers’ approach to the game, an improvement will be seen. For too long cricket has been played like and viewed as a hobby by those playing it. If its value to one’s lifestyle is improved, the standard of cricket in my opinion will also improve.

Therefore, I believe that two leagues are better than one and a proper structure based on Bermuda s international schedule would serve a better purpose than tampering with the league structure.

Wendell Smith (former Bermuda international captain and assistant coach): Having one league, national team players will be flattered by their achievements, i.e. accumulating high scores and taking bunches of wickets when in fact their skills are not being stretched. Batsmen will not learn the art of scoring when the bowling is consistently tight, as we witnessed watching Bermuda against Uganda.

There will not be a home and away basis format in the schedule, leaving a one off match versus your top opposition. Rain-outs against certain teams can prove pivotal in the final analysis of league standings. There is little incentive for most teams as there is no relegation or promotion.

Later in the year, defaults are inevitable, meaning groundsmen and umpires will have wasted their time. Crowd interest will subside.

Shouldn’t clubs be made to improve their standards and consequently earn the right to participate in the upper echelon?

Finally, it is so obvious that clubs voted according to self-interests, and not the betterment of the game. Are we looking to make our cricket recreational? Or are we looking to improve standards of play? For those who think that our club teams are of similar ability, look at the decades that some clubs have played without winning major competitions. Sorry for being brutally honest, but data speaks volumes.

Dean Minors (Bermuda World Cup player and former St. George’s Cup Match player): I am truly confused as to why they would want one league. Unfortunately, like other things (in cricket) this has not been explained, the pros and cons. If the change is because we have limited teams, then this is where we need to incorporate the commercial teams that are still interested in playing cricket as their league folded. Again, it would be really nice to know the concept behind why one league so everyone can support it and know that our cricket is moving forward.

Duan Leverock (Bermuda’s numbe cricket fan): I personally don't agree with the logic behind having one league. I think it takes cricket backward instead of forward. The same problems will remain with teams not fielding a full eleven and others just forfeiting because they don't want to play a particular opponent. I think we needed to get innovative to improve the two-league format before we just scrapped it. The underlying issues at the club level need to be addressed with continuity being achieved so that the national programme can begin to thrive. Set firmer guidelines with respect to coaching and youth programmes to ensure that there is a legacy to continue in some of the weaker clubs.

It is important that the Bermuda Cricket Board be transparent in their reasoning behind major decisions now and in the future. Maybe there is time for a Players Association to be formed so that the player’s voices can he heard and taken seriously. The common question revolves around an explanation of why the Board have made a critical decision without explaining or giving background information and data to support how this format will improve our cricket.

Countries that are considered on par with us all have more than one division in their Leagues: Cayman Islands(two divisions), Uganda Cricket Association (two divisions), Canada (Toronto District Association, four divisions), Oman Cricket has eight divisions.

No-one can argue that the Board are good administrators off the field, but how does that improve the standard of cricket on the field. It doesn’t. We need to have on our cricketing website a three to five detailed plan in place, as those who are serious about their cricket do. The websites that I visited explicitly demonstrated what they were planning on doing to try to improve the game, the areas they wanted to focus on, and how even school cricket was fitting into the plan. Those who were really serious about the development of the game structured their leagues to play cricket at least six to seven months of the year. This year we will only be playing four months (May18 — September 18 roughly). That is a joke! One league and only four months of cricket, equals a recipe for disaster.

If I am coming across as negative then it is only because I love Bermuda cricket and only want to see our cricket improve. If we keep patting ourselves on the back for the inadequate job that we are doing then everyone will continue to rest on their past laurels. Cricket needs fresh ideas and people who genuinely have cricket’s best interest at heart.

I wish the Cricket Board the best moving forward, but we as a country have to do better and all one league is definitely not the answer.

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Published May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 09, 2013 at 4:27 pm)

Single league just not the way to move forward

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