Opinion: CWI First-Class title to Barbados untidy but not contentious

By Lance Whittaker March 27, 2020

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) decision to award the Regional first-class title to runaway leaders Barbados Pride in its aborted season is untidy, although widely accepted.

The Pride were dominant all season and I am quite sure they would have emerged champions in a completed 2019-20 campaign but the fact is their lead was not impregnable with two rounds remaining.

To declare the season annulled must have been a huge consideration, primarily because the championship was incomplete and an outcome contrary to the current standings was still possible, even if unlikely.

These unforeseen circumstances should now force the CWI’s competition organisers to include a section in the conditions covering an incomplete season.

With 134.8 points, the Pride were a massive 40.2 points ahead of nearest rivals T&T Red Force (94.6) after eight completed rounds with the dethroned champions Guyana Jaguars and the Jamaica Scorpions joint third on 91.8 points.

The maximum points on offer for any winning team for each round in the 10-game home and away format is 24 points, meaning the second-placed Red Force could have finished with 142.6 points after the 10 completed rounds, clearly ahead of where the Barbados Pride are now.

No one could have foreseen the dramatic turn of events in all our lives the COVID-19 Pandemic has triggered and massive decisions have had to be made.

The CWI Board of Directors “unanimously agreed” to award the Headley/Weekes Trophy to the Barbados Pride on the basis that a huge majority of the season (80%) had been completed and on projection and form it was reasonable to deduce that the Pride would have gone on to easily top the championship table. The Pride needed a mere 7.8 points from their remaining two games to secure the title and their performance curve was comfortably heading there.

Add to that, their fast-bowling battery poised to earn valuable pace-bowling points -- world-class Test bowlers Jason Holder and Kemar Roach plus Chemar Holder and Keon Harding, No.2 and No.7 respectively on the list of the championship’s most prolific wicket-takers.

The CWI would have also considered recent precedents in the issue. In New Zealand, the 26-point league-leaders Wellington Firebirds were declared winners of their National Plunket Shield with the last two rounds of the competition cancelled even though their lead was not unassailable.

New South Wales (NSW) were also given the Sheffield Shield title in Australia after the cancellation of the final also as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. NSW were declared champions after “leading the competition through nine rounds" Cricket Australia said in a statement.

The CWI’s decision to award the Pride their first title since back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014 had “no dissenting voices” in the Board room and I have, up to this point, heard not a single complaint about the unorthodox decision.

I am eagerly awaiting the 2019-20 English Premier League football conclusion. Big leaders Liverpool are 25 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City and need six more points to be mathematically sure of the title. The push is to have the season completed no matter what but should it happen that the season is incomplete, would they award Liverpool the title?

Boxing has some clearly defined rules regarding aborted bouts, if for instance injury – example an accidental head-butt -- terminates a world championship contest. A technical draw, a virtual no-result, if the bout is halted within the first five rounds (halfway stage) but if the bout is halted beyond the halfway stage, a winner is declared by a “technical decision” based on who is leading on the scorecards at the point of the stoppage.

There is room for a leader being awarded a victory in an aborted competition, but I am more accepting of it, if the pre-existing rules stated it.

This uncontested CWI decision to crown the Barbados Pride may have also been an example of stakeholders recognizing in these times of a sweeping worldwide pandemic taking tens of thousands of lives, that understanding and compassion are human virtues winning over fighting and quarreling, which I guess is good.

Congrats to the Barbados Pride though who are rewarded for being the undisputed best in the championship.

They stuttered in an opening-game loss to the Windward Islands Volcanoes but then reeled off five consecutive wins over the Jaguars, Scorpions and Leeward Islands Hurricanes before a revenge win in the sixth round over the Volcanoes, and, to accentuate their supremacy, lashed five-time defending champions Jaguars by a massive 235 runs to close out the shortened season.

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