President Cameron seeing shift in focus
Jamaica Gleaner article.
Kingston, Jamaica - Money to be allocated to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) from the Caribbean Premier League, an annual contribution of US$360,000, will, according to board President Dave Cameron, boost the pace of the professionalisation of first-class cricket in the region, and initiate a shift from the way things are done currently.
It is a position supported by West Indies Players Association (WIPA) President and CEO Wavell Hinds.
The move to professionalise West Indies first-class cricket was announced in March following a meeting of the board, and forms part of a 19-point plan to raise the quality of first-class cricket in the region. In addition to the Test players already contracted by the WICB, 15 first-class players from each of the six territories will be contracted on a full-time, year-round basis.
This development, however, does not mean that the West Indies will turn its back on grassroots players.
"We have 151,000 kids playing grass-roots cricket across the region. That's a huge number, but we haven't been able to translate that into winning Test matches and one-day internationals, so we now have to focus a little bit on performance," the WICB president said. "We are not going to take our foot off the development and getting kids in the game, but obviously, if you are more successful, then kids will gravitate towards the sport.
"But, in my view, we have been a little too focused on the development side rather than performance, so we have shifted gears. Now our HPC team will be our 'A' team, always ready to get into action, and that means we will now have 30 players who you can call your senior team. That's a big difference from what we had before. And then, backing that up, the other 70 or 80 players that will be on contract throughout the region, so it's a huge step for us."
The money from the CPL will represent a significant portion of the sum that the WICB will allocate towards the new thrust, Cameron said, and this will allow for players to spend more time focused on developing their skills, which, in turn, will benefit regional cricket.
Cameron estimates that it will cost the board about US$2 million. That money, divided among the 80 players, represents a significant boost to their annual earnings, and in addition to the US$1,300 each will receive for each four-day game and US$750 for each one day game, and earnings from the CPL, the players should be able to live off their cricket earnings alone.
"You will have players, my guess, earning in the region of US$20,000 a year," Cameron said. "That is a good entry level for any cricketer. That will keep them interested in the game, keep them working harder, and have them striving to be getting into the senior team."
This will now require some adjustments from the players and their approach to their careers.
"What we're saying now is that you need to come to work five days a week being a cricketer, not having jobs on the side and only turning up when there is a camp," Cameron said.
"Players obviously need to go to their place of work, so in the case of the Windward Islands, we need to determine which island will be the centre, and all the players will have to move there, because they need to turn up for work. They need to be monitored because we are not just talking about batting and bowling stats, we're talking about physical fitness as well, and those things will have to be monitored all the way through."
Hinds believes that under the new paradigm, players will have to work harder, but, in return, will have greater financial security.
"We are appreciative that that US$360,000 will go into the pool of six to get the cricket professionalised so that our youngsters and our cricketers can understand what it means to be a professional from the territorial level. Then when they go to represent the West Indies on the international scene, they're not learning on the job, they are consummate professionals and will execute accordingly," he said.
"As a professional, you will be expected to put in the hours. You will be having guidelines and training schedules to follow and, as such, you will be remunerated accordingly so that you can look after yourself and your family."