A new regional home, a more strategic focus and an era of revival
The story of West Indies cricket is set to begin a new chapter at Cave Hill Campus, galvanized by a carefully calibrated series of developments that have married the development of advanced technical resources and physical facilities at the campus with the provision of top-tier coaching resources and intellectual training for cricketers. Together these signal an increasingly vibrant cricket programme at the campus geared towards a reversal and resurgence of the fortunes of the senior regional team that once vanquished all comers and dominated the sport for more than a decade.
New Regional Home for Cricket
This renaissance has been epitomised by the entry of a University of the West Indies team at the Barbados Division One level, the strategic positioning of the 3Ws Oval at Cave Hill Campus as an international venue for day and night cricket and the selection of the Campus as the regional headquarters and primary site for the core operations of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Academy.
A New Level of Excellence
“I’m excited at the direction in which cricket
is going at Cave Hill,” declared Vincentian
Romel Currency, who represents the Windward
Islands in the regional competition and UWI in
Barbados’ premiere cricket league. “The campus
is taking cricket to a much higher level.”
Acknowledging the rapid pace of the Campus’ expanding cricket programme, his UWI teammate and opening partner, Omar Phillips, agreed: “Cave Hill is definitely taking cricket to a higher level. Participating in cricket at the Campus, one sees the great potential for its further development as a sport in the West Indies. Although I have only just finished my first year here, I can already see the positive changes.”
Establishment of Cricket Academy
This strategic vision received a major boost with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UWI and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) which will, among other things, result in the long desired WICB Cricket Academy establishing its core centre at the Cave Hill Campus. The core centre, which will be at the heart of a learning network, will be a “High Performance Centre” (HPC) from which will emanate satellite centres, called Territorial Academies. The entire network will constitute the Academy, and the Cave Hill Campus was selected as the site of the HPC, according to the WICB, because of the advanced technical resources and physical facilities available at the campus for cricket, as well as the ability to facilitate special programmes that require research, advance scientific training, aptitude testing and response monitoring.
Although the Academy is to be owned by the WICB, the UWI will be a strategic enabling partner and facilitator. The establishment of the Academy’s core operations at the Campus also signals a strategic partnership between the WICB and the UWI that will provide a learning environment for West Indies cricketers, and specifically a comprehensive programme for the development of the entire cricketer using a holistic approach in an atmosphere which stresses physical fitness, mental development, positive attitudes and organised knowledge, in addition to technical and scientific skills.
It dovetails with the Campus’ own programme of cricket development that it had aggressively embarked on as far back as 1994. In that year, the Campus established the Centre for Cricket Research (CCR) – recently renamed the C.L.R James Centre for Cricket Research – and has since pursued a vibrant cricket development programme. The programme is anchored and focused on enhancing understanding of all aspects of West Indies cricket history and culture and its contribution to the development of West Indian society. This project embraces the development of the 3Ws Oval, which now boasts world-class facilities, the design and creation of a West Indies Walk of Fame, an Indoor Cricket School and a physical home for CCR, including a library and research centre.
Introduction of Cricket Studies
However, the development of the cricket programnme at the Cave Hill Campus has not only been confined to infrastructural projects. It has been accompanied by a systematic boosting of the Campus’ training capacity and coaching resources that builds on the Campus’ legacy of intellectual leadership in spearheading cricket studies in the region. In addition to providing a cadre of top-tier coaching talent to budding cricketers enrolled at the UWI, the Cave Hill Campus is the only University Campus in the world to have a Cricket Studies programme which includes an M.Sc in Cricket Studies.
These developments, which had steadily signalled the rebirth of the sport at the Campus, propelled a new phase in this process when the Campus pushed for entry into Division One cricket. This move paves the way for the UWI’s re-entry into the rarified orbit of top-level regional cricket and opens the possibility that members of the UWI squad may be chosen to represent the region at the highest levels of the sport. In this respect, the University of the West Indies side brings with its entry into Division One cricket its own distinctive advantage: it is the only team in the league that mirrors the regional make-up of the West Indies Cricket Team because of the regional character of the institution’s population.
Taken together, these initiatives point to an exciting new era for the regional development of cricket and the Cave Hill Campus, by carving out a legacy as a regional centre of cricket excellence, is poised to spur this process forward.