By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Wednesday 3rd October 2018) – Two top officials of the St.Kitts Cricket Association, President Dennis Phillip and Vice President Charles Morton have shared the organisation’s focus to have the sport return to its number one status.
Both echoed such sentiments while speaking at a press conference held yesterday morning (Tuesday) at Warner Park in celebrating the historic three-peat success of the Leeward Islands Cricket Champions-the St.Kitts Cricket Team- following its recent victory in Montserrat.
The media event also served as a forum to highlight the work of the cricket association and as well as to give reporters an opportunity to get updates through a question and answer segment.
According to Phillip: “We have been doing a lot of work in the background with our teams and cricket on a whole. We have had a number of tournaments over the past couple of years [that] we have been in office and this is what would be our second term leading up to four years and in those three and half years at this point, we believe that we would have achieved not just the three wins but we have also won the under 15 when we started and programmes that are in place now are our new programmes that we have implemented including tournaments etc. and we want to continue on that trend once are given the opportunity to continue that is.”
Morton disclosed: “Three years ago, the current management under the leadership of President Phillip undertook the mantle to embark on a new direction. We decided that we wanted to restore the product; bring back patrons to the games, establish a winning formula by having our elite players join a contingency programme to develop their skills, win championships and place more Kittitians on the Leeward Islands Team. I dare say that we are on the right path. Thanks to God, thanks to you and thanks to all supporters of cricket.”
“We have been working steadfastly as President Phillip indicated with a number of initiatives to have cricket regain its number one status in St.Kitts. It’s not there yet but I know based on the fact that we have you here present and the fact that we are speaking to the entire nation and to the world via social media and interlinks that we are intending to make sure that cricket becomes again the number one sport for Caribbean people,” he added.
Asked by this reporter about what needs to be done specifically to boost the public’s interest in cricket, Morton talked about playing cricket with friends just outside his parents’ home at Greenlands pasture in Basseterre.
“We’re not too old but when we were younger, the focus for cricket was West Indies Cricket. We were the champions of the world and persons like to associate with champions and winners. What happened is that every young person played cricket… Everywhere we had an opportunity to play cricket, we played cricket.”
He continued: “And we want to see that kind of interest again as young people. The playing of cricket in the streets, that where we learnt our game…granted it was soft ball but we were playing cricket and so cricket became part of us; it was in our DNA. Now, unfortunately, like you see here it’s a tablet, phones…we have so many things that distract us as individuals and we want to be able to have cricket so focal in the minds of our youth that it just becomes natural to want to play and I believe I believe that once that inclination is developed and developed to a point that they become so interested because right now we have four players on the Leewards team and we had two players who represented on a West Indies B team over the last couple months.”
Those two players are Jeremiah Louis and Sheeno Berridge, praised by Morton as “two excellent cricketers.”
“So that should speak some interest in young people because there are opportunities and so we are of the view that if we continue to foster and create the environment for persons to develop themselves within the game of cricket then other person would say ‘well, I want to be like Sheena, I want to be like Jere- and I believe that that will come,” he added.
According to Morton, Cricket West Indies “need to start winning too and winning consistently to get that fever; that Caribbean fever that we once had.”
Reflecting further on past years, he remarked: “People used to walk around with transistor radios listening to cricket because they wanted to know what the West Indies Team was doing at all times. If we could get at least half of that interest restored because of our winning then I believe we would have made quite an impact and some progress.”
Phillip pointed out that lots of things have changed as it relates to cricket hosting on the island which would be addressed.
“Thursday afternoons would have been a half holiday. You had an opportunity to play cricket then. Now, you have just a weekend basically unless you’re playing under lights. Most games play under lights simply because you get a much higher attendance and so forth. All of that we’re looking into. We are looking to convert quite a number of ground facilities around the island to have lighting so even within the communities, you can go out and practice in the evening.”
He went on to say that the association is not just focusing on the men only but also women, noting that the women have been converted from soft ball to hard ball.
“They are now competing for a spot on cricket West Indies women team just as the men are. Over the past two years, we have had three females going off to play for Leewards in the hopes of -just like the men- getting promoted to the cricket west indies female team. You know they are winners; and have been winning more than the men in some cases so more.”