Rebuilding with Busta
Stabroek News
March 3, 2002

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THIS YEAR'S Busta Cricket Series has just crossed over the halfway mark and, already, it has produced some exciting matches even with the young, inexperienced players on display, while the more experienced players were on duty with the senior West Indies side.

The Busta Cricket Series is vital to grooming our players with potential for senior West Indies duty because it provides them with their first exposure to cricket at the first class level.

S.M. Jaleel, proud sponsors of the Busta Cricket Series together with the West Indies Cricket Board have introduced a number of measures over the last three years to spur this developmental exercise.

First, we have expanded the competition to include a developmental West Indies B Team and an A Team from our international cricket partners.

The Windies B Team concept has worked in giving some of the young players, not selected for their respective countries, an opportunity to play in the region's premier four day regional competition.

As a result, we have seen a number of players from last year's side progress into their national sides and have given a good account of themselves, while others have distinguished themselves with useful performances thus far.

The decision to invite an international side is also an idea that has worked in our favour. We now have a longer first class competition and we are now guaranteed reciprocal A Team tours to the visiting nations that will provide more avenues for future development.

Secondly, we have also increased our incentives to teams and players. The top batsman, bowler, fielder and all rounder will each receive US $1,000, and every team earns US $50 for every point they accumulate in the Series.

There is also a grand bounty of US $50,000 for the first batsman to reach 1,200 runs and similarly for the first bowler to reach 65 wickets. While these may seem to be lofty goals, we should not have to remind anyone that we are seeking to reward only excellence.

In was on that basis that we took a decision this year to extend the batting targets, recalling that last year two batsmen West Indies captain Carl Hooper and West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle came within striking distance of the 1,000 run target that was set, while West Indies leg spin bowler Dinanath Ramnarine's 41 wickets was a off the 60 wicket goal for bowlers.

Judging by what has transpired prior to the start of this weekend's sixth round of matches, it is not inconcievable that a batsman could reach the target.

Windward Islands opening batsman Devon Smith leads the way with 508 runs and Leeward Islands captain Stuart Williams is just behind with 506. They both have a maximum of eight innings including the semi finals and finals to achieve the milestone.

In respect to the bowling, Kerry Jeremy leads the way with 34 wickets after five matches. The Leeward Islands bowler is just seven short of Ramnarine's mark of 41 last year and is well on the way to becoming the first bowler in the regional first class four day competition to take 50 wickets.

Jeremy is closely followed by a host of bowlers with more than 25 wickets and so he will have other rivals in chase of this milestone during the last phase of the Busta Cricket Series.

We have also seen over the last three years a gradual increase in attendance that we would partly attribute to the pricing policies implemented, where women accompanied by children, and schoolchildren are free, with nominal charges in general admission.

We believe that these incentives have helped to stimulate interest and attendance in the Busta Cricket Series and together with S.M. Jaleel, sponsors of the competition, we shall continue to seek new and innovative ways to improve our regional first class competition.