And so, a new season of the Professional Cricket League (PCL) has started in the West Indies.
This is now the first time the teams are going to be playing after what is supposed to have been a year as a professional outfit (with year round training etc).
Minor changes to the League this season have been a new rule by the WICB (for which the regional integration body, CARICOM, through its Cricket Review Panel of the Prime-Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket, has called for the dissolution of and its replacement by an Interim Committee until a new body can be established):
- all teams must now pick at least two players from other territories within the WICB-system as part of their draft picks for the season
This will enable players to get used to other territories and other players long before being picked for a West Indies representative team like West Indies A, the President's XI or the senior West Indies team itself. As all the territories involved (Barbados, Leeward Islands, Jamaica, Windward Islands, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago) are a part of CARICOM's Single Market and Economy or CSME (with the exception of some of the islands in the Leewards such as the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Sint Maarten - but they rarely produce players that make it beyond the Leewards tournament level anyway; and conversely there are two territories that are a part of the CSME but not a part of the WICB-system: Belize and Suriname ) then this should present little difficulty anyway as the CSME allows for the free movement of "skilled labour" which in the relevant laws includes sportspersons.
The first round of matches started yesterday, November 6th and the scores at stumps were....quite interesting:
Barbados Pride 262/2 (K. Brathwaite 111*, Shamarh Brooks 49*, Shai Hope 77; John Campbell 1-36) v Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington Oval
Trinidad and Tobago Red Force 155/3 (Evin Lewis 66, Narsingh Deonarine 43*, Yannick Cariah 28*; Gavin Tonge 2-38) v Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park
Guyana Jaguars 287/4 (Rajindra Chandrika 140*, Vishaul Singh 48, Shiv Chanderpaul 34, Leon Johnson 29; Shane Shillingford 3-87) v Windward Islands Volcanoes at Providence
On resumption today Guyana are now 342/7 (Chandrika out for 146, Shillingford with 4-105), T&T are 239/5 (Deonarine out for 55, Cariah out for 50) and Barbados are now 315/5 with Brathwaite out for 119. Brathwaite's century and Shai Hope's half century in the very first innings of the PCL is interesting given how the West Indies test side struggled in Sri Lanka with these two players in the side. Perhaps they may do better in home tests over the next season or two, or perhaps they need to be picked in the West Indies A team for some more overseas experience. Another option of course is to try affording the drafting of overseas players (perhaps on a match-by-match basis) for involvement in the PCL since Brathwaite (and others like him) may be doing well against local bowling but struggling with the overseas bowling.
What is quite interesting is that these are just the first 3 out of a possible maximum of 12 innings in the first round and already we have 2 scores over 300 and another score only a few runs short of breaching the 250 mark. If there ends up being 12 innings and all the other scores are under 250, then this year's first round would resemble last year's third round (and seventh round) in terms of number of 300+ scores and percentage (and number) of innings of 250 runs or more. Which itself is an improvement on last year's first round. However, the way the teams have been scoring thus far it would not surprise me if all the teams batting first made scores of 300-350 and I would not be surprised if the Windwards and Jamaica made replies of 300+ and the Leewards might also reply with a score of 250+. I'll go out on a limb here and tentatively predict that there should be at least 4 scores of 300+ in this round and 5-6 scores of 250 or more overall. And we should get 10-12 innings, thus 40-60% of the scores should be 250 or more (and perhaps an average of 235-245 runs per innings) would be my prediction.
I may well turn out to be wrong of course, but the first day and half worth of play would seem to indicate that at the very least a good third of the scores should be 250 runs or more.
Additionally a woman, Jacqueline Williams became the first female umpire to officiate a men's first class game in the region when the round started.
A note on the names: Some of the names' origins are obvious (Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Jaguars). Some not so much. For T&T, the Red Force name is a moniker that had been used for T&T's cricket team in recent times, mainly for the limited overs cricket (and especially T20 cricket) and refers to the predominate colour on the T&T flag. For Barbados, the Pride moniker is supposed to be a reference both the national flower (the Pride of Barbados flower) and a faint allusion to a pride of lions. For Jamaica, the name is obviously a reference to scorpions but it's likely a name picked by force of circumstance and lack of imagination since Jamaica was the only outfit without a franchise team name in the first season after the franchises were allowed to pick their own names. This speaks poorly of the Jamaica Cricket Association since it should not have taken an entire year to come up with a team name and when such a name was picked it certainly should not have been a name like the Scorpions, since while Jamaica does have scorpions (like most places on the planets), Jamaica is not particularly associated with scorpions. They (the JCA) had apparently tried to get usage rights for the name "Tallawahs" (the name of the separately owned Jamaica outfit in the T20 Caribbean Premier League) but that went nowhere (Tallawah or Talawah by the way is a word used in Jamaica (and Belize) and refers to being full of fight or spirit (see: http://wiwords.com/word/talawah
) with a common expression being "likkle but tal(l)awah" mean "short but strong/sturdy/feisty/full of fight"). A safe generic name like Hurricane was already taken by the Leewards, but Tallawah and Hurricane were not the only words available. They could have for instance picked something related to Jamaica's history (like the buccaneers) or its national symbols (an obvious choice being the crocodile (locally called "alligator") which is on the Jamaican coat of arms).