As we continue this special series on the structure of club cricket and what is the best solution for development, president of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB), Azim Bassarath says he would like to see cricket played on Fridays in Trinidad and Tobago.
Currently the top flight of local cricket is played only on weekends with the match starting on a Saturday, before a break for limited overs cricket on the Sunday and then finishing on the following weekend, Saturday and Sunday.
Bassarath thinks that the way forward in terms of professionalising cricket is to get the players to finish a match on three consecutive days.
He said: “The Minister of Sport the Honourable Brent Sancho has told us at the Cricket Board to start looking into a semi-professional set for top flight cricket in T&T.
“What this tells me, is that we need to get a structure whereby we start cricket on Friday afternoon and then we move into the Saturday and Sunday and finish the match in three consecutive days.
“There are benefits to this and one being, the players having the experience of playing cricket on a third day pitch. Under the current system we have players playing at best on a second day pitch. This is something that we intend to look into as we move T&T’s cricket unto the professional part.”
Calls have been made for this structure in the past but it has been met with resistance in some quarters with the argument being, players would not get time off from their place of employment to play cricket on a Friday.
Bassarath responded by saying: “I am talking about taking the cricket semi-pro or totally professional here. If this is the case, then the players would be paid well to play and they can then work out some sort of an arrangement with their employers.
“One of the ideal situations is to get one of the corporate companies locally to adopt a club. If they do this and then have ownership of the club, they can then integrate the players skills into their organisational set up to enhance his value to the company and also allow him the time to play his cricket.
“Another option for clubs is to enter into arrangements with companies to allow their players to come out half day on a Friday to play cricket and then the player makes up for the time loss during the week. If there is a will to get this done, I see no reason why it cannot be achieved.”
Bassarath also liked the point of having the Sunday Leagues played in a ‘block.’
“If the league is played on three consecutive days, then we will have no choice but to have the Sunday League played as a ‘block of games’ instead having it separated as we have now.
There is also good value to doing this because we can brand the tournament better and get more sponsors involved in the league and the benefits will trickle down to the clubs to assist with their development.”
Bassarath ended by saying that the local cricket structure is fluid and his board will continue to look at ways of getting the best out of the set up in terms of bringing betterment to the sport and the players.