Penalties needed for time-wasting
Now that the Eastern Counties is over, I want to address some of the issues that arose from that series, while taking a quick look at the Champion of Champions final.
Cleveland were lambasted after the first game for their players’ behaviour, but they regrouped, refocused and saw out the entire series to remain as champions. However, several deficiencies came to the forefront during the series, which need to be corrected before 2016.
What were the most prevalent issues that came to light from this series? Time-wasting, slow over-rates, ill discipline, overs not being bowled and the 7.20pm finish time.
During the Bailey’s Bay game, particularly, and the other matches, Cleveland were singled out for time-wasting, which brings about a slow over-rate. What is there in the rules to stop Cleveland or other teams from doing this? The only thing umpires can do is write a report on the team and the Eastern Counties board can deduct some of their match fees. This is obviously not enough, as many believe that there should be penalty runs and/or other measures put in place.
The following are some measures that could be put forward for bowlers who deliberately waste time:
1, Penalty runs to be given for a slow over-rate
2, Warning to offending bowler, followed by that bowler being removed from the attack
3, Captain to be warned, followed by a one-game suspension because he is in charge of his team
Discipline was another issue noted throughout the series and I feel it is time the Eastern Counties works hand in hand with the Bermuda Cricket Board. This way, any issues that arise can be dealt with by the board and the player dealt with swiftly — not only affecting them in county matches, but all cricket. This will act as a bigger deterrent.
At present, the game ends at 7.20pm whether the second team have batted their overs or not. This is a big problem because for years the team bowling second, if they have the trophy, tend to bowl extremely slow, thus not allowing the team batting second to bat their allotted overs. So, if I bat first and have 65 overs to bat and get bowled out in 50 overs the other 15 overs are supposed to be tacked on to the team batting second.
However, as we saw this year, the team batting second tend not to bat their allotted overs because of play ending at 7.20pm. This is one rule that must change to ensure that the team batting second are given every opportunity to bat their allotted overs and given a fair chance of winning the match.
If these factors can be implemented, then I do not think there should be too much fuss about the overs.
Fans of Eastern Counties would like to see a more simple 55 or 60-over game being played, which would always bring about a clear winner. However, the true cricketer and cricket fan can appreciate the more thoughtful, tactical open game. This form of the game necessitates that one must outwit their opponents through better execution of tactics. By its very nature, it causes greater thinking by all participants.
One thing I didn’t appreciate as Cleveland’s coach was how my team were targeted for the rest of the series by some, especially the commentators, for every little matter. We know what happened in the first game, but I thought my players played the game in the right spirit for the last two games, but got no praise.
The one thing I told them was do not let what happened in the first game take away your passion, and they didn’t. However, I found it rather appalling that with every little incident that occurred, one commentator in particular tried to make a mountain out of a molehill. It was very unfortunate because he painted a picture of the Cleveland team for the listeners that was very harsh.
For years, Cleveland and Flatts have been the whipping boys of the Eastern Counties and it appears that some around the Eastern Counties just simply cannot accept the change that has developed.
Tomorrow we have the final of the Champion of Champions between Cleveland and Willow Cuts. Cuts will be bolstered by the services of Malachi Jones and possibly one or two other guest players.
Cleveland will have their captain, Allan Douglas, back and will welcome the unorthodox leg spin of Hasan Durham, but will be minus Dion Stovell, who is overseas on a cricket tour with Southampton Rangers.
This game promises to be hard-fought and exciting. This is the first time that this game has been played in more than a decade. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new era for the Champion of Champions.
Having said that, I truly hope that the Eastern Counties executives come together quickly to rectify the issues surrounding their product. No doubt, these changes should satisfy all stakeholders and we see an improved series next year.