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Policy change

New JCA Super League to aid player selections, boost development

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has introduced a flagship competition that will change the process by which players are selected for regional tournaments.

The announcement was made yesterday at the launch of the JCA Super League, which will feature six franchise teams playing home and away over 10 rounds of matches. The first round of the two-day competition is scheduled to begin this Saturday, September 16.

National cricket selectors will choose players based on performances during the Super League, thereby removing the necessity for trial matches.

The JCA think tank reason that the Super League will better test players' abilities under pressure as opposed to trial matches, which they argue are more likely to lose their competitive edge depending on the state of a game.

The traditional two-day Senior Cup club tournament is to remain on the local cricket calendar and will act as a feeder competition for the Super League.

The idea is that whittling down the field of prospective national players into a more compact, and hopefully a higher quality competition, will refine the selection process for regional tournaments.

“This is an elite competition where we have creamed off what we consider to be the best cricketers in Jamaica. Players will now have the opportunity to play against very good competition for 10 weeks,” O'neil Cruickshank, the JCA cricket operations manager, explained to the Jamaica Observer.

“We are no longer going to participate in trials as we know it. Your performance in this competition will determine whether you get selected for the senior national team. Also, we'll be playing this competition even while the regional four-day season is going on, including while matches are going on in Jamaica.

“Therefore, if players have lost form or are injured the selectors will now have a cadre of persons — based on performances — which they can choose from to insert in the team,” added Cruickshank.

The concept of elite competition will also have a 50-over component, allowing players to showcase their talent ahead of the regional Super50 tournament. That local 50-over competition is to begin at the end of the two-day format.

The Observer understands that National Commercial Bank is confirmed as one of the competition's sponsors, and that the JCA is exploring the prospect of having a named sponsor for each franchise.

Wilford “Billy” Heaven, the JCA president, argued that investing in the Super League will be far more impactful in comparison to the expenditure in hosting seasonal trial matches in previous years.

“This [the Super League] is our flagship competition and it piggybacks on the Senior Cup. We are spending up to $14 million on this, but I want to make a distinction that in bygone years we spent up to $10 million on trials.

“The [difference between] that and this competition is about $4 million, but we will achieve much more. The incremental gain will far exceed the $4 million expenditure in terms of output, future development, the income stream that it will create for the JCA, as well as providing career opportunity for our players,” Heaven told the Observer.

The franchises to contest the 2017 edition are Combined Universities & Colleges, Eastern Tigers, Central Titans, Western Warriors, Northern Panthers and Southern Seals.

Saturday's fixtures have Southern Seals facing Central Titans at Treasure Beach Sports Park in St Elizabeth; Western Warriors hosting Eastern Tigers at Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium; and Northern Panthers entertaining Combined Universities and Colleges at Noranda Bauxite in St Ann.

The two-day team with the highest number of points at the end of 10 rounds will walk away with the winners' trophy and $500,000. The 50-over winners will win $300,000.