May 31, 2006

West Indies cricket

Jamaican cricket - no longer No 1 but still alive and well

Martin Williamson

In the Jamaica Gleaner, Tony Becca reflects on the status of cricket on the island.

“In years gone by, in the days when almost every boy played the game in the backyard, in every open space, even in the streets and on hillsides, cricket was king. In those days, club matches in the city were well attended, village matches in rural Jamaica were well attended, matches involving Jamaica were well attended and there was no room at Sabina Park when a Test match was on.

“Today, however, that is not so. Today, all over Jamaica, football pitches outnumber cricket pitches, in contrast to cricket which attracts a few dozen spectators at local matches, football attracts thousands, and there is no comparison between a cricket match involving Jamaica and a football match involving the Reggae Boyz.”

But, Becca explains, that does not mean that cricket is dying on its feet, as many old timers might suggest.

“It is simply that football, like track and field, has become, as it has around the world and probably because of high-powered marketing, more popular over the years.”

And to underline his point, he cites examples that show the game is alive and well, albeit existing with a slightly lower profile.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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