Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis had no reservations about signalling T&T’s interest in having the national women’s cricket team participate at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year.
Speaking to the Express on Saturday, Lewis said: “The TTOC, which also acts as the T&T Commonwealth Association (TTCGA), we have a very important programme called “The Future is Female,” so that in our case I would have had no hesitation in confirming the interest of the TTCGA and Team TTO participating in Birmingham 2022 should they qualify.”
Lewis added: “I think it is a huge boost for women’s cricket in the region and I think it can do for women’s T20 cricket in the region what the IPL has done for men’s cricket. It is a fantastic opportunity to participate in the multisport games, which has a different dynamic than any other event,” he added.
Lewis also praised the efforts of the Commonwealth Games Federation as well as the International Cricket Council (ICC) in pushing to have women’s cricket added to the Games’ programme for next year.
“It is the first time in the 90-year history of the Commonwealth Games that women’s cricket is on the programme and the last time they had cricket on the Commonwealth programme was in 1998 when it would have been 50-over cricket,” Lewis explained.
“I must congratulate president Louise Martin and the chief executive officer David Grevemberg of the Commonwealth Games Federation for the efforts of their team and ICC and the Birmingham Organising Committee for getting women’s T20 cricket on the programme. I think it is a huge opportunity,” he added.
The women’s T20 tournament at the Commonwealth Games will be an eight-team format. The host country will automatically qualify. They will be joined by the next six highest-ranked countries in the ICC rankings in addition to another team that qualifies through a Commonwealth Games qualification tournament.
“The West Indies is one of those teams in the ICC rankings but because it is individual teams, Cricket West Indies will have to use the T20 Blaze T20 tournament in 2021 to decide who will represent the West Indies,” Lewis continued.
“CWI will have to decide when that tournament will be held. If the tournament in 2021 can’t be held, I understand they will use the results of the previous Women’s T20 Blaze tournament in 2019 to determine who will represent the West Indies,” he added.
“It presents an opportunity for a significant boost for the T&T Women’s Cricket Association and it will be a good opportunity for former T&T and West Indies cricketers to contribute to women’s cricket. At the end of the day, whenever that T20 Blaze Tournament is held, the added incentive of the winners going to the Commonwealth Games will raise the level of competition,” Lewis insisted.
About T&T’s confirmation of interest in participating in the Women’s T20 tournament at the Commonwealth Games, Lewis said: “We would have been in communication with Mr Azim Bassarath in his capacity as president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board. In the context of the multisport games, the participation at the 2022 Birmingham Games, it would be the Commonwealth Games Association in whichever country that would have to enter the team, etc.
There would have been a deadline date for confirmation (with) the Commonwealth Games Association, in this case Trinidad and Tobago, to confirm interest in a T&T team participating in a women’s cricket tournament in Birmingham 2022 should the team qualify,” Lewis explained.
“It is a usual process in any multisport games. So, in theory, a Commonwealth Games Association could decide they are not interested but of course from our perspective and I am sure all the other Caribbean countries, and given the special place cricket has in the region, it is an opportunity we could not pass up,” he added.