CEO of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Michael Muirhead has made an appeal to current and potential West Indian batsmen to score more runs during the NAGICO Super 50 Regional tournament that bowls off on January 30 and runs until February 15.
Muirhead made the call at the official launch of the NAGICO Super 50 Regional tournament at the Grand Ball Room, Brian Lara Pavilion, Queen’s Park Oval, where NAGICO Insurances CEO Dwayne Elgin announced a US $1.2 million sponsorship package deal for the 50-over regional competition for the three year period, 2014-2016.
Muirhead said in this present economic climate when many companies are being forced to cut back, the WICB applauded NAGICO for their commitment to West Indies cricket.
But he said that greater attention has to be paid to the development of players in the territories in order to strengthen the pool of players available to West Indies cricket.
“I want to throw out a challenge to the players in the NAGICO Super 50 tournament. We want to see them raise the bar especially in the batting department. We often hear the phrase that cricket is a batsman’s game and we all know that fans in the Caribbean love batsmen with class and flair who also put runs on the board,” Muirhead said, adding that this tournament was preparation for the ICC ODI tournament in 2015 and the ICC Trophy T20 competition later this year. He said the WICB intended for the West Indies to win both competitions.
However, the WICB CEO said again noted that although last year’s WICB Regional 50 over tournament was “keenly contested”, the runs were lacking.
“The Windward Islands were deserved winners but we did not see the big scores that we are accustomed to seeing in 50 overs. In fact there was not a single total over 300,” he said.
Muirhead added that only three centuries were scored even though the region contained quality batsmen in the tournament who can perform at the highest standards.
“We want to see them (the batsmen) come out and showcase their talent and stand up and be counted,” Muirhead said.
Muirhead said further that top ICC associate member team Ireland had been invited to give the tournament an international flavour, stronger competition and wider interest among the television viewership.
Asked about the importance of solid performances in tournaments like the Super50, Muirhead expressed satisfaction that the region’s top players would be involved in this year’s competition.
“It is important that we do two things. We make sure the tournament is of the highest standard and it is done in a professional way and we make sure we are playing lots of cricket. We are gonna be embarking on various programmes so we can ensure that there is much more cricket throughout the year and it is refreshing that the participation this year will be almost at a maximum except for those who are injured at this time, so that speaks to the re-commitment of many of our players who will be enhancing the product of cricket in the region and making themselves available to their own territories and then hopefully later to the West Indies team,” Murihead said.
In explaining the St Maarten-based company’s decision to sponsor the 50-over series, Elgin pointed out that NAGICO had previously sponsored the Leeward Islands tournament and he hoped that this sponsorship would be the start of “something big.”
“It is our hope that with this sponsorship of West Indies cricket we will see a resurgence in West Indies cricket. We have been passionate supporters of West Indies cricket for a long time and we believe this partnership will help to lift the game,” he said.
In his address, TTCB president Azim Bassarath promised a Carnival-like atmosphere for the tournament and assured the TTCB would assist and support West Indies cricket going forward.