Bridgetown, Barbados, June 18 - (www.bcacricket.org) - For the first time in 75 years, the Barbados Cricket Association’s premier domestic Championship, as well as other league Competitions, will not be played because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, for the 2020 season, it has been proposed to have Twenty20 Competitions in all of the divisions from August 2 and running as late as December 19.
Representatives of clubs and schools were informed of the plans during a meeting at Kensington Oval on Wednesday evening with key BCA officials including president Conde Riley, vice-president Calvin Hope and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Roland Toppin.
“There will be no three-day or two-day competitions this year. COVID-19 has impacted the world. Health and safety must come first,” Riley told this correspondent.
“We are proposing a T20 format across all divisions, starting early August. We will also be looking at establishing guidelines in light of the covid pandemic.”
According to the very latest revamped T20 format, 18 teams embracing the Elite and First divisions, will contest 17 rounds to be played only on Saturdays with the exception of Emancipation Day (August 1).
Hence the dates for the preliminary matches will be August 2, 8, 15, 22, 29; September 5, 12, 19, 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; November 7, 14, 21.
Quarter-finals are slated for November 28, semi-finals on December 5 and the Final, December 12.
The Intermediate division will feature 40 teams (including UWI and Barbados Youth) to be divided into two zones with 19 rounds before moving to semi-finals on December 12 and the Final, December 19.
For the Second division, there will be 60 teams split into three zones with 19 preliminary rounds. The Zone winners and best second-placed team will then advance to the semi-finals on December 12, with the Final set for December 19.
Intermediate and Second division matches will also be played on Saturdays only apart from the first round.
And with some representatives of the clubs on Wednesday suggesting that they would prefer to play one-day matches instead of T20, the BCA said: “It should be noted that these competitions can all be played as one-day matches – i.e. 30-over, 35-over, 40-over or even 50-over (for the Elite & First Division)”.
As far as assisting clubs and schools financially for the new season is concerned, Riley, himself a former school and club cricketer and now a retired investment banker, pointed out that “it will be reviewed”.
“We are conducting a club audit to establish the state of affairs at clubs. We will be in a better position to assess the situation thereafter,” said Riley, who is in his third year as the BCA president.
Riley has consistently served on the BCA Board of Management after he was first elected in 1996. He is also a director of Cricket West Indies.
1945 was the last year the top local Competition was not played because of an unavailability of balls.
The premier Championship, known as First division for virtually 120 years, started in 1892 and has been played annually apart from 1898 (because of a hurricane), 1918 and 1919 (due to the first World War) and 1945.
In 2009, a promotion and demotion system was introduced and in 2012, the First division was rebranded as Elite and contested with a settled number of ten teams with Barbados Youth (formerly known as Combined Schools) exempted from demotion.
Limited overs competition for the top division teams began in 1972 under the banner of Derrick Robins before Barbados Fire (later renamed Sagicor General) took over the sponsorship in 1975 and maintained it for a remarkable 41 years. It is now known as the BCA Super Cup.
As a renowned insurance company, Sagicor General for many years also sponsored the Shield Tournament for Intermediate and Second division teams.
And they have sponsored the major BCA T20 Tournament as well from its inception in 2008.