Let the games begin – that is exactly what the doctor has ordered as Saint Lucian cricket aficionados anxiously wait for some level of entertainment and sportsmanship to return to the pitch. The Saint Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) is already in a planning mode to return into action commencing on Thursday 11th June 2020 with the inaugural T10 Blast.
The VOICE spoke to a representative of the SLNCA earlier this week about the planned tournament who noted, “First of all I must say, no spectators will be allowed at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground (DSCG); exception will be made in terms of media personnel. The ten-team tournament is set to get underway on June 11th until June 21st 2020.
The ten-day tournament will be played behind closed doors with three matches per day starting from 8.30 a.m. and ending at 1.30 p.m. as the entire tournament will be streamed live.
“We are currently in discussion with an overseas sponsor with Indian connection; they are associated with the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Caribbean Premier League (CPL),” the representative added.
In terms of participating teams: “The teams participating in the SLNCA Inter District 2 day tournament which has been affected by COVID-19 namely – Gros Islet, Babonneau, Central and South Castries, Mabouya Valley, Mon Repos, Vieux Fort, Choiseul and Soufriere will compete in two groups of five with the top two teams going into the semifinal round and the two winners from each group playing each other for the monetary prize that will be up for grabs.”
Additionally, “Normally the SLNCA pays out EC$3000 at the end of its tournament, but this time around we are looking to double that amount to EC$6000. Also at the end of every match, we will select a Player of the Day and a Player of the Match. For Man of the Match, the software picks up the individual; for Play of the Day we will select a couple of adjudicators and get them to vote online.”
Women and veterans to showcase their talent? “We are catering for the women and veteran players as well; the women will play two exhibition matches amongst themselves, while the veterans from the north with take on their counterparts from the south in what is expected to be a fitting thriller from some of yesteryears players.”
The format? “The participating teams will select 15 players, 8 will be retained / protected. The eight will include the marquee player and a minimum of two Under 19 players; the remaining 7 players will go into the pool/draft. The format will be similar to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).”
It is still uncertain whether international player Johnson Charles, who was part of the Barbados Tridents last year; Kimani Melius, Saint Lucia Zouks emerging player and captain of the West Indies World Cup team earlier this year in South Africa; Ackeem Auguste who scored three consecutive centuries in the SLNCA Two Day tournament and Gaspard Prospere who scored a century last year in the Saint Lucia Premier League (SPL) are the marquee players for their respective teams.
The SLNCA hierarchy is optimistic about the tournament, with a representative noting: “We are awaiting word/ feedback from the CMO on the ICC Back to Cricket 16 page Guidelines which was adopted in Dubai earlier this month; also we haven’t taken into account any of the measures for handling of personal equipment as all the matches will be spectator free. In keeping with the protocols, guidelines will be in place to include Temperature Testing before all the matches.”
Meanwhile, with all the planning going on, several cricketers are not aware of this latest development. The VOICE spoke to a coach who said, “I am hearing that, but I am a little confused as to that whole thing. I haven’t seen any preparation taking place at the DSCG for the proposed tournament. I am just confused with that whole thing; I am not 100 percent for it.”
A national youth cricketer when asked about the upcoming SLNCA T20 Blast said, “I don’t know anything about that.”
When contacted by the VOICE, DSCG curator Ken Crafton said, “I haven’t been contacted by anyone yet. With the restrictions on water supply we are on a low maintenance programme right now. I don’t think they plan on using DSCG for the tournament.”
So, the question is, has the SLNCA informed the 10 participating teams and the various stakeholders of the upcoming T10 Blast, or will most get to know via word of mouth and at the roadside?