Dramatic changes for Windies cricket
Guyana Chronicle
July 19, 2004

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CMC) - Dramatic changes are coming to the timing and composition of the West Indies cricket calendar for the 2005-2006 season.

The regional limited-overs competition will be contested in October, the regional first-class competition will be played from November to March, and the internationals will be scheduled between January and April.

Teddy Griffith, president of the West Indies Cricket Board, also revealed that both regional competitions would revert to the six traditional teams and the sport’s regional governing body was considering restricted movement of players between teams in the regional limited-overs and first-class competitions.

Citing several reasons for the decline in West Indies cricket regionally and internationally, Griffith indicated the aim of the changes was to provide the most competitive environment possible outside the Test arena for our players.

“The standard must be such that the step up to international cricket can be smoothly and confidently handled by those chosen to represent West Indies,” Griffith told the audience at the 48th anniversary dinner of the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board.

“It is, therefore, a priority for the WICB to strengthen and improve its competition, while maintaining their integrity,” he added.

Griffith noted it would not be possible to fully institute the changes from the 2004-2005 season but the changes that can be would be implemented immediately.

Under the new season format, both the regional limited-overs and first-class competitions will be contested over two rounds on a non-elimination format.

For the limited-overs competition, the first round will take place in one country and the second will be contested in a different country, with the top four teams moving on to the Final Four Weekend that will take place in a third country, where the semifinals and final will take place.

For the first-class competition, the season would begin in November and last through until March the next year with the teams playing on a home-and-away basis, ending with a five-day final between the top two teams.

There would be a short break built in, to allow for the Christmas holidays.

This is a dramatic change in the calendar for the WICB. In recent years, the limited-overs competition was contested separately in October, after previously being played on Wednesdays, in-between the first-class matches that were contested over successive weekends from January to March.

Griffith indicated that the WICB was also considering introducing a system, where the six teams had an option to choose up to three players not in the squad of another. It has not yet been finalised.

“The intention would be to permit regional teams with weaknesses in certain areas to strengthen their squads, thereby making for more competitive cricket and ensuring the best players take part in these important competitions,” he said.

Griffith also disclosed it was the WICB’s intention to seek an amendment at the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the West Indies’ obligations under the Future Tours Programme to accommodate the earlier commencement of the home Tests and limited-overs series in the West Indies.

“If this were achieved the regional domestic season would be played at the same time with Test and ODIs, ensuring that players were match-fit if changes were to be made to the West Indies team,” he said.

“This would also minimise the possibility of lost playing days in the international series due to rain as was now the case when the season extended through June.