Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Azim Bassarath promised a brighter future for T&T cricket in 2020 when he gave his address at the TTCB/bmobile Cricket Academy graduation ceremony at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba on Saturday night.
Bassarath said 2019 was a very important year for the TTCB and that “after a period of great anxiety when the administration of the game was under serious attack, we have now entered a new phase of hope and optimism when the future takes on a much brighter look as we step into the new year.”
He said the 2019 graduates represents “the next wave” of potential senior national and regional cricketers and thanked sponsors bmobile for continuing to exercise its corporate responsibility in a significant way.
Of the Academy, the TTCB president said: “Although we would have liked for the academy to run over the desired 12 weeks, we are nevertheless appreciative of the tremendous input of bmobile which will go a long way in assisting the young cricketers to realise their fullest potential in the coming years.”
While they engaged in perfecting their skills on the field, the graduates were also prepared for life outside of the game.
“Under head coach Kumar Rampat, one of the most knowledgeable and experienced tutors in the game, the especially selected squad were exposed to all the facets of team-building, personal and social etiquette, nutrition, teamwork, financial planning, social interaction and media relations,” Bassarath explained.
“In a nutshell, the youngsters, who by virtue of their natural talent were hand-picked to participate in the academy, were also being groomed to take their rightful place in society and make a valuable contribution as a highly trained cricketer, and as a responsible citizen,” he added.
Apart from Rampat, Bassarath also made special mention of Naushad Mohammed, who took up the responsibility as “stand-in parent” for the boys during their live-in weekends at the Sir Frank Worrell Development Centre, as well as Tamara Balram and Ana Grant of the TTCB office, who ensured that the day-to-day operations of the academy went on without any major disruption.
Bassarath also insisted youth development remained high on the TTCB agenda despite “dire economic circumstances”.
“Despite the fact that sponsorship streams have dried up, and financial assistance from government, due to us as a national sports organization has been slow in coming, the TTCB focus on providing the best opportunities for the growth and development of cricket has not been clouded.
He said in addition to the InterZone youth competitions for Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19, there will now be North-South Classics for all four age-groups in 2020 sponsored by the Price Club Supermarket in Chaguanas.
He said 2020 will be one of the busiest years for The TTCB with re-tweaked National League competitions, which place great importance on helping the cricketers develop a healthy appetite for the longer format of the game and a reformatted annual T20 Festival for Premiership I and II teams, which will give both divisions an equal share of the spotlight, and a stake in the attractive prize pot.
“We are also going to introduce a franchise tournament after the T20 Festival for which we have high hopes that momentum gained will be transferred from the playing field and into the stands to fire up public participation,” Bassarath added.
Also in attendance at the graduation was former West Indies senior team coach Floyd Reifer and his wife Amanda, who delivered the feature address.
TTCB/Bmobile Academy Graduates 2019
Rajiv Ramnath, Damian Joachim, Shiva Sankar, Chadean Raymond, Kyle Roopchand, Liam Mamchan, Lemuel Matthews, Sion Hackett, Justin Jaggessar, Nic Ramlal, Romario King, Jeremiah Cruickshank, Andrew Rambaran, Vanir Maharaj, Anderson Mahase, Shazard Mohammed and Verran Batchu.