By Neto Baptiste
President of the Liberta Sports Club and former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, has suggested that the number of teams competing in the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) domestic programme should be reduced from 10 to six.
Benjamin, who also coaches the successful PIC Liberta Blackhawks, believes this could be the first in a series of drastic moves that will result in the overall improvement of cricket and cricket players at the national level.
“I don’t think we need no more than six teams and I heard what Sir Viv said and [others] said about Combined Schools, but I think it is sentimental. Honestly, I don’t’ think the quality is there, so we need to have six teams and we also need to look at the schools programme in terms of making it strong again. When the schools cricket comes back strong and they start producing more players and the clubs can absorb them, then Combined Schools can come back in. I hear a lot of people talking but I am remaining with my thing and we need to look at restructuring the ABCA programme,” he said.
The former player went on to suggest one way that he believes the reduction in teams can be achieved and how it could possibly improve the standard.
“You can say two teams may have to merge, like Liberta and Bethesda, Jennings and Bolans, or you could say to them that between the two, you’ll select your best six and then you could have a draft system between the rest of the players, so that at least you get balanced teams. What you really want is competition because that’s what is going to create the players and develop the cricket,” Benjamin said.
Blackhawks captured a third straight title for the 2022 domestic season with a three-wicket triumph over Empire Nation in the final of the Two Day competition last weekend.
Benjamin said that although he welcomed the victory, both teams displayed poor cricket.
“A grand finale like this, I just believe that both teams played some very poor cricket, honestly. In the end it was exciting for the supporters and for everyone who was watching, but from my perspective we saw some very poor cricket over the last couple of days and that is why it came down so exciting. But it was a good victory because of the pressure that was on the players, so I would rate it as a very exciting game for the supporters but very poor display from two experienced teams,” he said.
In June, ABCA president, Leon Rodney, told media that the body’s cricket committee is looking at ways in which the two-day competition could be revamped.