By Neto Baptiste
Former West Indies fast bowler and President of the Liberta Sports Club, Kenneth Benjamin, believes that the struggling Combined Schools cricket team should play in the country’s Parish League and not in the more competitive leagues put on by the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA).
This, he said, is the only alternative to scrapping the programme altogether and allowing the players to filter into the already established community teams.
“The time came 10 years ago when I have been calling for Combined Schools to be scrapped. Let them play in the Parish League competition where they could probably play against some older guys and they could probably have more confidence in their cricket because they won’t be hammered as much as they are being crucified at this level,” he said.
His statement comes on the heels of debate regarding the goals and objectives of the programme after they were beaten by an innings and 549 runs by PIC Liberta Blackhawks in the ABCA Two Day competition over the weekend.
Benjamin said the association must also take note of the fact that the team brings no value to its competitions.
“The association needs to look at it and see if it’s devaluing their competition and the association can step in and say, ministry I am sorry but I don’t think we are going to allow Combined Schools to continue. Combined schools is owned and operated under the ministry so if they don’t want to [pull the team from the competition] then the cricket association needs to step in because it is really devaluing the cricket at this level,” he said.
Blackhawks came in for some criticism after amassing a massive 675 declared against the Massy United Insurance sponsored Combined Schools over the weekend. Schools were bowled out for 46 in their first innings and then for 80 in the second to hand a dominant Blackhawks the massive triumph.
Benjamin, however, explained that his aim has always been to get his batters to stay at the crease for longer periods.
“Against New Winthorpes we batted the whole of the Saturday and we were bowled out about 40 minutes into the Sunday, and we scored over 400 against Bolans the following week. Bolans got bowled out for lunch, we batted up until an hour before tea on the second day which would be a whole day and an hour and 20 minutes and declared for 500,” the coach said.
“Last week against Rising Sun they got bowled out for lunch on the first day and we batted until lunch on the second day. We batted for a day and 30 minutes against Combined Schools, so we have our plans where we are trying to get the team to bat a day so guys can understand batting 90 overs,” he added.
Four of Blackhawks players — Kofi James (173), Tarek Charles (109), Uri Smith (101) and Joshua Thomas (100) — scored centuries in the lopsided affair.