ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Wanted: a few quality batsmen and express fast bowlers.
That’s the word from Chairman of the Selection Panel of Cricket West Indies Courtney Browne, as he looked forward to the start of the Digicel Regional 4-Day Championship later this month.
The six regional franchises have started preparations for the upcoming #D4Day season, and Browne identified batting and fast bowling, as two key areas for which the selection panel will be keeping a keen eye.
“Finding a few consistent batsmen is important, but what is also key for us is to unearth some young fast bowlers, so that we can add to the pool that we currently have, especially players that can clock in the high 80 to 90 mph range.
He added: “So this upcoming regional season is key for players. There is an upcoming tour to the Caribbean by the England Lions early next year and such a high-profile “A” Team tour has not happened in a number of years.
“It is where our players can showcase their talent and we can identify players for selection to our “A” Team. Regional tournaments are very key in player development, so we are very happy when we have regional tournaments and “A” Team tours running closely behind each other.”
This will be the fourth year that #D4Day in its current form will be contested over 10 matches. It followed the inauguration of the Professional Cricket League by CWI and features the six territorial franchises of Barbados Pride, Guyana Jaguars, Jamaica Scorpions, Leeward Islands Hurricanes, Trinidad & Tobago Red Force and Windward Islands Volcanoes playing home and away matches, and a system that promotes player movement.
“As selectors, we are happy with the length of the season,” said Browne. “We believe 10 matches in the #D4Day is a good yardstick for the players and for us. It helps us to see a player over a period of time and puts us in a better position to analyse if he has what it takes to be considered for the higher level.
“In a shorter season, a player may do well in a few matches and you may consider him, but in the longer season, there will be highs and lows, and you get to see how he handles different situations. This put selectors in a better position to gauge how well he is doing by the end of the season.
“We would also like to urge players to work on their fitness and aim at achieving the fitness levels expected as our international teams have ramped up their fitness and conditioning work.
Browne urged players to show a higher level of consistency in performance, since this is one of the ways that the selectors use to measure a player’s quality.
“When you look at the regional tournaments, it is a pathway into our representative teams as well,” he said. “It is a breeding ground for us and it is very important when we sit as selectors to look at players that have done well in the regional tournaments to identify those players that can go into our “A” Team programme.
“CWI now has a full “A” Team programme which helps to develop a better player and also helps to shorten their learning curve in international cricket.”
He said: “There are cases where players do perform and may not make it into the senior team as quickly as persons expect.
“If there are players in the senior team that are already there, they have to be given a full opportunity and the emerging player will have to wait a bit longer than usual, rather than the chopping and changing approach. But we would urge them to continue to strive for consistency and show it over a longer period and not a one-off performance.”
The #D4Day concludes on January 21, and all matches are now regularly scheduled to start on a Thursday, rather than Friday, in a break from the long-standing tradition in the modern history (1966 onwards) of the West Indies first-class championship.
The schedule has also been tightened up, due to the heavy amount of international matches that CWI will be staging in the coming months, and it would also allow the regional governing body to complete the #D4Day ahead of the Regional Super50 Tournament.
A Thursday start has also been introduced to give fans the option of coming out to see the end of the matches over the weekend, rather than having to take Mondays off.
Reigning three-time champions Guyana Jaguars will open their #D4Day title defence against Jamaica Scorpions on home soil at the Guyana National Stadium.
The other first round matches feature Windward Islands Volcanoes and Leeward Islands Hurricanes at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada, and the fiercest rivalry in Caribbean sport between hosts Barbados Pride and Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Kensington Oval in one of six day/night matches on the season schedule.