Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board targets February re-start to cricket

Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Azim Bassarath speaks during a TTCB press conference, on Thursday, at the National Cricket Centre, Balmain, Couva. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton
Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Azim Bassarath speaks during a TTCB press conference, on Thursday, at the National Cricket Centre, Balmain, Couva. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) is prepared to resume domestic cricket as early as February once given the all-clear by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Sport and Community Development.

At the Alloy Lequay Administration Centre in Couva, on Thursday, TTCB president Azim Bassarath rolled out a detailed calendar of events for the 2022 season; all of which remain solely dependent on a lift in restrictions by the relevant authorities.

However, Bassarath made clear all players, officials, staff and club members must be vaccinated to participate in any TTCB-sanctioned tourney.

Since the pandemic hit in mid-March 2020, all domestic cricket was stopped to curb the spread of covid19.

Twenty-two months later, and with recent statements by Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe vouching for a safe return to sport, cricket, like other sports, eagerly anticipates a long-awaited return.

Bassarath said that although the pandemic may have halted the sport’s on-field activity, the TTCB has not taken its eyes off the ball in positioning itself to get back on the field of play whenever the restrictions are lifted.

He affirmed the executive met on a regular basis, virtually, to make continuous assessments, formulate plans, maintain contact with major stakeholders and pressed the Ministry of Health for possible resumption.

The first tentative tournament, Bassarath said, would be a T10 in February, followed by an Under-19 (February 16-23) and Under-23 (February 18-25) inter-zone tournaments.

He continued, “The TTCB has reached out to corporate TT for their continued support in successfully undertaking several tournaments for which a calendar has already been drafted.

“The following age groups will be involved in a four-team competition for which sponsorship has already been identified. They are U23s (March 2 to 9), U19s (April 8 to 27), U16s (May 7 to 21) and Youth inter-zone tournaments carded from February to June.

“Each of these competitions will be in line for selection to the North/South fixture.

“We are also in discussion with Barbados Cricket Association and Guyana Cricket Board about hosting an Under-13 tournament in Guyana in August.”

Bassarath was also pleased to announce a possible return to the National League; TT’s top-flight competition.

“The National League will also take pride of place as the top club competition with action in the Premiership I and II North and South division scheduled to commence on March 13.

“The TTCB intends to have four teams selected from the National league 50 over competition to play in a tournament from which the representative team will be selected to travel to Tobago to engage a Tobago XI in a series of matches,” he said.

Bassarath also listed some of the board’s new initiatives for the 2022 season.

“Programmes are jump-starting pending the approval. It has been agreed that the TTCB will be extending its support to include differently-abled cricketers and also women, who for the first time, will be involved in a separate wind ball competition for which zones have been mandated to encourage participation.

“All the TTCB zones have been mandated to include an U18 team in their senior division competition which will provide more opportunities for young cricketers to further develop on the national stage,” he said.

The local cricket fraternity now awaits the health ministry’s decision on sport resumption. On Wednesday, Cudjoe said her ministry presented a plan to the Ministry of Health for sport to return on a phased basis.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said both ministries “will work together”. Bassarath said the TTCB will adhere to whatever guidelines are laid out. However, he urged players and officials to heed the call to get vaccinated.

“Nothing can happen unless the restrictions on team sports are lifted. I am now pleading with all cricketers who want to get back on the field of play to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“If that does not happen then the restrictions will continue and we will not be able to restart our cricket.

“We are waiting to see what the Minister of Health approves, advises and what needs to be implemented. We are going to adhere to whatever the min of health says so our cricket can play.

“For every National League game, there will be a match referee at the venue to ensure the proper protocols are implemented and that we adhere to the instructions from the sports’ and health ministries,” he said.

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