Benjamin disagrees that Parish League teams can compete

Antigua Observer article.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Two Parish League cricket teams, Pigotts Crushers and Cecil Charles Mahico, finished within the top three of the just ended Cool & Smooth, Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) Twenty20 Tournament with Crushers taking the $20,000 winner’s prize, while Mahico bagged the $5,000 third place reward.

This, however, should not be perceived as an indication that the level of cricket played at the Parish League level is on par with the standard displayed at the ABCA level or that all Parish League teams can compete and succeed at the top level.

This is according to former West Indies pacer and coach of the PIC Liberta cricket team, Kenneth “Flipper” Benjamin, who said that the two teams only managed to do well in the competition owing to a number of unique factors.

“I don’t want people to get carried away and because Pigotts (won) and Mahico came third that the two competitions are equal (because) that is far from the truth. That is not true. They are not one and the same. If you look in Pigotts team, seven or eight of the guys are past national players and the same with Mahico where almost all of them have played in the ABCA programme and have probably stopped playing at that level and decided they would go and play Parish League,” Benjamin said.

“Those two teams can compete in the ABCA programme but to be quite honest, if you look around the rest of the Parish League teams those guys are playing for fun; a lot of them are very (restricted) teams. I even asked one of the more dominant teams in the Parish League, ‘you think you can manage this’ and they said, ‘the guys are too young for them.’”

Benjamin anticipates that the competition within the Parish League could improve in years to come as younger players start seeing the opportunities available to them through similar and even more lucrative competitions.

“This competition, we are hoping we can (link) it into the CPL because people are now seeing an opportunity. So what this will do is now whip up the interest back into the communities that were not so interested in playing cricket because they are seeing money, even if it’s a smallish money from Cool & Smooth, but there is now an opportunity to make bigger money from the CPL,” he said.

“So that in itself will now get back some interest and maybe in the next four or five years you may now see what it was in the ‘70s and ‘80s have switched where cricket becomes the more popular game because of the opportunities and that are good.”

Crushers defeated Caribbean Union Bank Bethesda by nine wickets in Saturday’s finals at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds to lift the title for the first time.

First Published In The Antigua Observer.

Wed, 07/03/2013 - 11:24