WICB Boss Hypes Red Stripe Expansion

Mon, Aug 12, '02


Wes Hall republished from BARBADOS NATION

The expansion of the Red Stripe Bowl to include fledgling teams like the University of the West Indies (UWI) is part of the West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) plan to allow as many regional cricketers as possible to gain exposure at a high level.

In responding to charges that the presence of UWI, along with a second team from both the Leeward and Windward Islands, could lead to a decline in the standard of cricket, WICB president Wes Hall said it boiled down to the development of the game in the region.

"Some people have been rather prosecutorial and have given us a lot of stick, but this is indeed a giant step and I back this position of having a UWI XI into our competitions with every fibre in my body," he said.

"There are some things we need to do for the development of cricket and we are very happy to embrace this programme."

UWI manager Jai Jebodhsingh said he considered the introduction of the team in the Red Stripe Bowl as the most progressive and exciting thing to have ever happened to university sport in the West Indies.

"I see this team as a nursing ground for future national and regional players. We know we have a lot of work cut out for us because it is like a West Indies team. The logistics and so [other complications] are going to take some time," he said.

"We believe we will get it right in a couple years and this team will be highly competitive in the future of West Indies? cricket," he added.

The addition of UWI to the Bowl comes a year after two teams each from the Leewards and Windwards took part in the competition.

Those teams struggled for the most part, leading many observers to question the wisdom behind the board?s decision to allow Antigua and Barbuda, along with St Vincent and the Grenadines to compete separately from the rest of the Leewards and Windwards, respectively.

"Any time you do not do the norm ? or what you have been doing for 50 years ? there is criticism," Hall said. "We believe it might be best to give a lot of the youngsters the opportunity to be exposed."

He added that consideration could also have been given to having second-string teams from the four major countries ? Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica ? but it was felt that those in the Leewards and Windwards had not been given adequate exposure in the past.

"We make no apology for trying to expose as many West Indians to cricket,? the WICB boss said. "It's the one-day game, mind you. We feel that is where we should start."

Canada are also taking part in this year?s Bowl after missing last season?s competition.

They, along with United States, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas and Argentina are in the Americas region, whose development the International Cricket Council has mandated the WICB to assist with.

** SOURCE: Barbados Nation.