“The pride of playing for your country, I’m not seeing it!”- JCA CEO Courtney Francis cites absent national pride and desire to bat long among reasons for Jamaica’s downfall in 4-day cricket

By April 20, 2023
CEO of the Jamaica Cricket Association, Courtney Francis. CEO of the Jamaica Cricket Association, Courtney Francis.

From 2008-2012, Jamaica dominated red-ball cricket in the Caribbean, winning five consecutive Regional Four-Day titles. This feels like centuries ago.

In the recently concluded 2022/23 season of the West Indies Championship, the Scorpions failed to win a single game, finishing last with 25.6 points after recording four losses and a draw in five matches. This was following a fifth-place finish in the 2021-22 season.

The team was especially poor with the bat, scoring the second-lowest amount of runs in total in the season with 1803.

Individually, only two batsmen, Abhijai Mansingh with 248 and Leroy Lugg with 217, scored over 200 runs for the Scorpions. To put it in perspective, Alick Athanaze of the Windward Islands Hurricanes finished as top run-scorer with 647, 182 more runs than Jamaica’s two highest run-scorers combined.

It begs the question, what on earth has happened to the Scorpions batting in the longer format of the game?

“Aggression without proper selection and lack of a desire to bat long are two things that jumped out at me,” Jamaica Cricket Association CEO Courtney Francis told SportsMax.TV.

“The pride of playing for country, I am not seeing it. Even in dialogue with them, I don’t think they have an appreciation for what the sport has done for us as a people,” Francis added.

The Scorpions did start the year well, however, by winning the Regional Super50, their first since 2012 but, as Francis explains, that may have been detrimental to their hopes in the longer format.

“A significant number of the players who played that tournament were unavailable to play the 4-day tournament. We had persons playing at the highest level or playing all over the world,” he said.

“The significant influx of white-ball cricket,” is another reason for Jamaica’s downward spiral in the red-ball game according to Francis.

“If you notice, our players aren’t batting an extended number of overs. Some games are ending with a day to spare,” Francis added.

He went further, analysing a technical flaw he saw throughout the line-up.

“It seems like whenever the ball is bouncing, our batsmen don’t seem to cope with it properly. I am very confident that they would have had enough training. They’ve had the facilities here at Sabina Park and elsewhere,” he said.

Another contributing factor highlighted by Francis is the weakness of the Island’s premier two-day competition, the Senior Cup.

“Our Senior Cup competition is not competitive enough. In the Senior Cup, when certain teams play against certain teams, you might get a competitive game which is commendable but, there are a significant number of instances where games finish within a day and we’re not going anywhere with that. The transition from Senior Cup to first-class is not it,” said Francis before offering up a potential solution to that problem.

“In my view, we need to have a tier higher than the Senior Cup. I’ve recommended that we have the best 60 players in the country playing a four-team competition. You can hold trials to see who can get up there,” Francis added.

Francis then took issue with the complacency of contracted players, noting that their desire to improve seemingly dwindled after being rewarded.

“Persons who are on contracts now seem to not want to work hard enough because the contract is set for one year. If you notice, we have 15 persons on contract and of those 15 persons, maybe 40% of them did not feature in the Super50 and/or the West Indies Championship. That is something for us to take a different look at,” Francis said

“We can understand that persons are contracted from July so people may lose form and others come in for pay-for-play and stuff but that percentage is too high.

As selectors, coaches and administrators we have to come up with a different mechanism to ensure that we do not waste money. If you look at the numbers of a number of the players, we’re not getting a return on our investment” he added before noting that shorter term, incentive-based contracts may be the way forward to return Jamaica to winning ways in the longest format.

 

Bradley Jacks

Bradley Jacks is a budding journalist and an avid sports fan. His love of research and sports has led him to SportsMax.tv, a place where those passions work hand in hand to allow him to produce content.

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