By Neto Baptiste
Former national and Leeward Islands cricketer Enoch Lewis, believes that a two-year ban imposed on his hometown team Swetes back in the 1980s, not only ended in the demise of cricket in that village but also served to stymie the growth and development of a number of gifted players.
Lewis, while speaking on the Good morning Jojo Sports Show, said that the ban was imposed after the team refused to release seven of its players for Parish League duty.
“The youngsters who would have normally been on a cricket field were just there doing nothing and it started, to me, the decline of cricket in Swetes because when we came back it created a division amongst the administrators as well and some persons thought, forget cricket, we’re not going back and we’re not playing,” he said.
“Ambrose [Sir Curtly] would have probably been earlier had we not been banned, Ambrose and Jakes [Ridley Jacobs] came after that. When you ban seven cricketers at their prime for two years, to me, you were not only robbing Swetes but you were robbing Antigua of the possibility because these guys may have gone on to represent Antigua, Leewards and maybe West Indies,” he added.
The former right-handed batsman labelled the move to ban what he thought was a promising young squad, as a mistake, adding that the team was punished for standing up for its right.
“They wanted to pick seven guys from Swetes to be part of the Parish League team, which will decimate the Swetes team, and the administrators of the time said, ‘no way, these guys are not going because we can’t allow you to just take seven guys and then we are left with nothing in terms of a representative team from the community. Why not four, why not three and then we can try and work our way around?’ But the administrators were adamant that they needed seven or nothing, and so they banned Swetes,” he said.
At the time of the unfortunate banning of the Swetes cricket team, Lewis said they were one of the most dominant in the country.
“It came about because Swetes was dominating Parish League cricket in Antigua. They ran the length and breadth of Antigua and they were just beating everybody and at that point in time, Parish League had a team in First Class. The administrators, at the time, just like anybody else, they made mistakes and I think that banning Swetes from cricket from those two years created a problem,” the former player said.
Swetes has produced two of the country’s renowned international cricketers in fast bowling legend, Sir Curtly Ambrose and former wicketkeeper batsman, Ridley Jacobs.