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TTCB mulling overhaul of league format

By Roger Seepersad

Three-day cricket. An eight team Premier Division. Transfer fees. These are the main changes proposed by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) Competition Restructuring Committee during the second quarterly meeting of the Board at the National Cricket Centre, Balmain, Couva last Thursday.

Chairman of the committee Arjune Ramlal said the draft proposals deal with the issues of reorganising of the National League competition to make it more competitive, increasing the duration of matches and addressing the perennial problem of the movement of players from club to club.

He also noted that the changes were part of the TTCB’s response to some of the problems and issues raised by clubs and stakeholders during the TTCB symposium in January.

TTCB president Azim Bassarath also alluded to the fact that the clubs have been clamouring for a change. “In 2014, we are just past the halfway stage of our Premiership League, and as the action heats up on the field, with the return of our national cricketers, there is also a major murmur among our clubs for a leaner, meaner Premiership,” said Bassarath during his speech at a press conference at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, on Friday.

“Let me assure the clubs today, that we are listening to you and intend to act quickly and decisively on this matter...if you so desire. Let me toss the ball back to you,” he added. He called on the clubs to “Communicate with us ASAP, as early as today on what you see as the best structure for our National League and how we can achieve it.

“With your knowledge, you are in the best position to advise. Only yesterday (Thursday) at our quarterly board meeting, two papers were presented. Let’s have your thoughts, your ideas and your support, if you truly want a leaner, meaner Premiership in 2015. The time to act is now,” stated the TTCB president.

Ramlal also pointed out that the draft proposals will now be shared with all the major stakeholders to get their feedback on it before any decision is taken. 

In terms of the structure of the club competition, the Committee, which also includes Clint Pamphille, Daren Ganga, Andre Lawrence, Tarrandath Sammy, Allan Sammy, Patrick Rampersad, Keshwar Chaitoo and Joseph Sam Phillip, proposed that instead of having one 12-team Premier Division, there should be two Premier Divisions of eight teams each.

The current structure of the League features a 12-team Premier Division and three -- East North-East, North-Central, and South -- ten-team Championship Divisions. The rationale for the change according to the Committee’s proposal is to “enhance the quality of the competition among clubs at the Premier and Championship levels.”

To achieve this, top eight teams in the Premier Division after the 2015 season will make up Premier One and the last four teams will be demoted to Premier Two. 

The winners of the three Championship Divisions and the best second-place team will be promoted to Premier Two to make up the eight teams.

They also proposed that the Championship Division be reduced from three ten-team divisions to just two ten-team divisions (North and South). The second proposal deals with lengthening the duration of the National League matches from two days of 105 overs per day to three days with 90 overs per day.

Ramlal also pointed out that a key problem facing clubs was the movement of players from one club to the next and to address that issue, they came up with the proposal that the player’s new club pay a “transfer allowance” to the player’s old club.

The Committee suggested a “transfer allowance” of $12,000 for clubs in Premier One, $10,000 in Premier Two, $8,000 in the Championship Clubs and $4,000 in the Zonal competition.

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