THE Berbice Cricket Board (BCB) has unveiled major developmental plans for the game in the Ancient County after its monthly executive meeting last Tuesday.
The executives, under the chairmanship of president Hilbert Foster approved a number of plans for off the field events as rain and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect the hosting of the board massive cricket tournaments.
The BCB in 2021 had successfully completed the hosting of nineteen finals and has another 23 tournaments on hold.
Foster disclosed that the proposed hosting of the BCB Semi-Professional League (SPL) would be postponed until next year due to the pandemic.
He stated that with the rollout of the government vaccine programme, he was confident that cricket can restart later in the year but there would not be enough time to organise the historic tournament.
The SPL would have involved 12 first teams playing in a semi-professional structure with players for the first time in Berbice receiving a stipend along with attractive prizes.
The BCB president stated that instead the BCB would concentrate on coaching programmes across the county, publishing several periodicals including its first-ever coaching manual for youth cricketers, hosting several mini-academies and assisting clubs and youth cricketers as much as possible.
A coaching panel headed by Level Three coach Winston Smith would visit West Berbice, New Amsterdam/Canje and Upper Corentyne sub-areas to host one-day coaching clinics for a combined 120 youth cricketers with special emphasis been placed on physical fitness, batting and bowling.
BCB would also host four different two-day cricket academies across the county during the month of August.
These coaching outreaches would be held under the Dr Tulsi Dyal Singh Coaching Project.The board is also working on obtaining four more cricket pitch covers.
Foster noted that the board already has one cover and has already received financial support for one from a friend of Berbice Cricket who lives in Australia. He has also committed to raising the necessary funds for the other three. The covers, when acquired, would be placed in each of the four sub-associations to enable the board to host finals and other major matches without fear of the weather. First division clubs in the county are also expected to receive assistance – from the BCB Patron Fund – as well as dozens of less fortunate youth cricketers.
The Patron of the board, Minister Vickram Bharrrat has already committed himself to making the fund a success during the period July-August.
The BCB would also create history with the publications of two booklets within the next two months.
The first would be a coaching manual for junior cricketers which would allow them to train alone at home and allow them to work on their game on a regular basis.
Foster stated that with the COVID-19 crisis affecting the gathering of a large number of players on a regular basis, the booklet, which would be prepared by a panel of highly qualified coaches, would be a major boost to the county’s coaching efforts.
The BCB would also be publishing a 30-page booklet that would highlight one hundred of the county’s most promising youth cricketers.
The main objective would be to showcase the large pool of talent in the county and open more opportunities for the players.
Other projects that were approved by the executive committee were: Tribute to Umpires, Induction of six awardees into the BCB Hall of Hall of Administrators, 2021 Father-of-the-Year and the setting up of the Michael Ramdeen Trust Fund.
Under the Fund, former Berbice player Kevin Ramdeen would assist a youth cricketer with a cycle to attend cricket practice and school. This would be done in memory of his late father, who was actively involved in cricket administration in Berbice.
Ramdeen has committed to do so on a monthly basis for the rest of the year and to make it a long-term project.
Meanwhile, West Indies middle-order batsman Shimron Hetmyer has joined hands with BCB and Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club (RHTYSC) to donate $3M worth of food hampers across the county to families affected by the flood.
The distribution of the much-needed hampers would be done under the Shimron/Nirvani Hetmyer Berbice Cricket Trust Fund.
The Hetmyers contacted BCB president/RHTYSC Secretary Hilbert Foster with the offer to assist and he readily agreed.
Distribution of the hampers would start over the weekend. Close to 1 000 families are expected to benefit and Foster disclosed that the board would be using its network of clubs to reach those most affected by the widespread flooding that has affected the entire county.
Hetmeyer stated that he has the fullest confidence in the current administration of Berbice Cricket and he wanted to make a positive difference.