By Neto Baptiste
The concept of Antigua and Barbuda competing as a separate entity in regional cricket is not a new one, and, as a matter of a fact, it was part of a proposal made to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) back in the mid-80s.
Heading the charge was former WICB vice president and a then-member of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA), Clarvis Joseph, who explained that the proposal allowed for a promotion and demotion type arrangement where teams would have been given the option of playing on their own given their dominance over a period of time.
“We were proposing a system where territories in the Leewards and Windwards could emerge to broaden the scope of West Indies cricket; so for instance, if Antigua was strong enough, because at a point in time, of the 11 people in a Leeward Island side, nine were Antiguans, and the other two were only token,” he said.
“We were saying that today was Antigua, tomorrow might be Nevis and the next day was St. Kitts, so let’s look at a system that would allow a territory whose growth and development warranted it to emerge, and if you slacked off because of the smallness of your population, you could be submerged back into the group,” he added.
Joseph said the move, if adopted, would have served to improve some aspects of regional cricket.
“What that would have done was increase the West Indies Cricket Board competition to about an additional two teams which meant you would be getting more competition, which also meant that you were increasing the talent pool and meant that you were increasing the business model and Antigua was proposing that,” the former administrator said.
Asked why the proposal never took root, Joseph said they did not receive the backing of the government where some WICB requirements were concerned.
“Oh well, it died a natural death because nobody took us on. The West Indies Cricket Board, to be fair, said that if you guys in Antigua want to play by yourselves, then you have to be able to play West Indies youth cricket at all levels and also host a tournament, and in order to host a tournament you would need to have at least four established grounds, so we came back to our government and said we need four grounds and well, nobody peed on us and that was the end of that,” he said. The possibility of Antigua and Barbuda competing as a single entity in regional cricket has often been discussed, but there has been no real attempts, known publicly, to move in that direction. The country still competes as part of the Leeward Islands franchise.