By Neto Baptiste
Former national and West Indies fast bowler Gavin Tonge has added his voice to a growing number of sporting officials and players who are questioning why the country has not yet resumed playing competitive sports.
The Bethesda player said he has received news from players in several other Caribbean countries that have successfully resumed competitive cricket.
“I have friends all over the Caribbean and they have been playing tournaments after tournaments, so I was just wondering. Also, the young players in the community of Bethesda, we want to know when are we going to play some competition in terms of cricket because we are thirsty and want to play some competition,” he said.
“We have some quality players that I know for a fact, are good enough to play the under-19 [World Cup] and they are going to miss it because of the age factor and all that, and these guys have really been training hard. We don’t really have any control over that, but if maybe [the authorities] could put a bit of urgency in it to see if something can happen before the year finishes, or even early next year,” he added.
Reports are that competitive cricket has returned to Barbados, St Vincent and Dominica, while St Kitts has resumed its national football league.
Tonge, who played one Test and five ODI matches for the West Indies, believes there needs to be a unified approach geared towards a safe return to cricket, and sports in general, at the regional level.
“I think the clubs across the region should actually have an input and hopefully some of the players and members are listening and they could try to write a letter or even have a club meeting, because I think the clubs need to meet and really get down to it and maybe meet with the ministers of sports and health and they could put something together,” he said.
Tonge played his first game for Leeward Islands on February 28, 2003. In the 2008/9 season, he took 44 wickets at 25.09, including four five-wicket-hauls. His efforts led to a place in the West Indies ODI team.
Tonge was also selected to represent the West Indies at the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy and featured in their opening defeat at the hands of Pakistan on September 23, 2009, earning his best ever bowling figures in limited overs cricket of four for 25. He made his Test debut against Australia in December 2009 in Perth when he replaced the injured Darren Sammy.