By RENALDO DORSETT
WITH its internal issues resolved and it once again functioning as a local governing body, the Bahamas Cricket Association (BCA) looks to make cricket a major part of the Bahamas 40th Anniversary of Independence celebrations.
The Bahamas will return to the international cricket scene in a major way when it hosts two events in the new year celebrating the country and at the same time increasing the regional profile of the sport.
First up, the BCA is slated to host the International Cricket Council Tournament of the Americas Division II February 4-9.
Participating teams will include Argentina, Belize, Panama, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The Bahamas previously captured the ICC Americas Division II title despite losing a thrilling final match to Suriname by three wickets, so the Bahamas looks to be one of the major players in the tournament.
Next up, the BCA is scheduled to host a T-20 tournament for local teams with cash prizes during the Easter weekend 2013 as a part of the holiday celebrations, March 30 to April 1.
Officially listed as the national sport of the Bahamas and the oldest team sport played in the Bahamas, cricket will “be participating and be well represented in the celebrations in 2013,” said national cricket legend Paul Thompson.
“Cricket continues to thrive, although it’s not getting the publicity it deserves. Cricket and music, unlike politics, united the people of the Caribbean and made us feel proud. Recent statistics have shown that cricket is second only to soccer in the world of sports. The game is played in 125 countries worldwide with 655 million viewers. To that end, we are hoping we get some support for the upcoming tournaments,” Thompson said.
“During the Easter tournament it is expected that 40 persons who have been involved and made significant contributions to the game will be honoured. Among the honourees will be past and present players, administrators, officials and sponsors.”
Thompson highlighted the recent achievements of international teams. “The Bahamas national teams, Under-15, Under-19, and senior teams have participated successfully in International Cricket Council-sponsored tournaments all over the region of the Americas,” he said. “The 2001 team emerged as champions in the tournament played in Jamaica, in 2004, the team beat Panama to qualify to play in the World League, and in 2009, the Bahamas won the Under-15 regional tournament and the Pepsi Cola ICC tournament for senior teams.”
In 2006, the BCA took a bold step in hiring an international cricket coach from England to take the game into the country’s schools. The coach was able to make contact with 26 primary schools in Nassau, seven in Grand Bahama and one in Bimini, where Kwik Cricket was introduced to the young boys and girls.
A total of 13,600 school children are involved in that scheme. Out of that programme, the BCA was able to start an U-15 and U-13 league with four teams in each competition, with the U-15s playing with a hard ball.
The U-19 team was also developed with plans in place to sustain the game for years to come.
The BCA recently installed three turf wickets at Haynes Oval, which is the main ground. It also has three artificial practice nets.
Windsor Park, where the youths play, consists of an artificial pitch and lights around the ground.