Riley hoping for brighter 2022 after another Covid-19 hit season

By Keith Holder

Bridgetown, Barbados, January 3 – (www.barbadoscricket.org) – As he enters his third term as president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Conde Riley has conceded that the Covid-19 pandemic remains an area of great concern but he is optimistic of a significant increase in the number of fully vaccinated persons to have Competitions in 2022.

Riley, who boasts of having served on the BCA Board of Management for roughly two-and-a-half decades, was elected unopposed at the recent 19th Special Meeting.

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 season was the first time in 76 years that no BCA Competitions were played.

1945 had been the last year that not a ball was bowled in any BCA Competitions because of an unavailability of balls.

Prior to the 2020 season, the premier Championship, known as the First Division for over a hundred years (it was rebranded as Elite Division from 2012), had been played annually apart from 1898 (because of a hurricane), 1918 and 1919 (due to the first World War) and 1945.

There was no league cricket in 2020 as Covid also impacted, and the season was reduced to Twenty20 Competitions only, featuring the Cup (for Elite/Division 1), Shield (Intermediate division) and Plate (Division 2).

“The major challenges facing the BCA are Covid-19 related. The fact that we have not been able to have our annual local season is a major worry for us at the BCA,” Riley, who had his first taste of serving on the BCA Board way back in 1996, told this columnist.

“I hope we can reach 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated Barbadians.

“Club life is being impacted negatively which means that they will struggle to keep afloat.

“Our program at the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence (EWCOE) had to be curtailed but we are in constant contact with the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 unit. As soon as we get the all clear we are ready to restart.”

Riley said, however, that the Barbados senior teams have been able to train in preparation for major Tournaments.

“Our senior men’s and women’s teams have been given permission to continue training and that has been well received by the seniors. Both are the Regional defending champions and the women will be going to the Commonwealth Games in June.”

In relation to the BCA’s financial position, Riley, a retired investment banker and former local club cricketer, said: “Our finances were impacted significantly by the periods of shut down implemented to combat the rapid spread of Covid-19. The Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the Kensington Development Corporation (KDC) receivables have not changed significantly and were the subject of a qualification of our Financial statements. We continue to invest in the outfield at Kensington so that we can attract international cricket to our shores to the benefit of the business sector and individuals.

“We need to receive some of the two main receivables from CWI and KDC. These amounts total almost 25 million dollars. We want to start work on the indoor facility.”

Kensington Oval, revered as the region’s top venue, will host the five-match T20 International series between West Indies and England on January 22, 23, 26, 29, 30 (all matches start at 4 pm), as well as the second Test of the three-match series (March 16-20), also against England.

And the first three matches in the CWI first-class Championship featuring all six teams (title holders Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Windward Islands) are also to be played at Kensington in February (2-5), (9-12) and (16-19).

In relation to the heavy schedule for all of those matches, Riley said: “We have set up a Local Organising Committee which is chaired by our CEO. We meet every Tuesday. The Committee is made up of BCA, CWI and Government representatives. Everything is on schedule and we are awaiting a number of specifics from Government.”

At the recent BCA Special meeting, former chairman of the Barbados Pride senior selection committee, Henderson Wallace, an-ex national Under-19 fast bowling all-rounder, who also played professionally in Ireland for many years, was elected as a director in his first attempt.

Wallace defeated Timothy Boyce (23-18), who was a director for 14 years. Winston “The Healer” Stafford, with 27 votes, and Roland Butcher (23) retained their positions.

“Mr. Wallace brings years of experience as a former

player and administrator,” Riley said.

“The loss of Mr. Boyce is significant as he served the BCA with distinction for the last 14 years, but he has made himself available to serve on our committees.”

The full BCA Board now shows: Riley (president), Calvin Hope (vice-president), Gregory Nicholls (secretary), Jason King (treasurer), Winston Stafford, Roland Butcher, Kamal Springer, Pedro Greaves and Henderson Wallace.

Because of the pandemic, the recent BCA election was one of the most low-keyed ever – certainly in the last quarter-century.

In the period under review, the biggest election was undoubtedly that of October 12, 1999 at what was then the 65th annual general meeting at Sherbourne Conference Centre (later renamed Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre). The showdown was between former West Indies opener Sir Conrad Hunte and Keith H.L. “Tony” Marshall, who had been the president for the previous three years.

With both candidates having massive campaigns including full-page ads in the daily newspapers, Hunte won by 23 votes (337-314), while Stephen Alleyne became the First vice-president with a whopping victory over Keith Simmons (404-194).

Hunte sadly died of a massive heart attack in Sydney, Australia on December 3 the same year at the age of 67.

Another intriguing battle for the top post was in 2005 (August 4) when Marshall beat Alleyne (who died in 2007), 306 to 293.

That was an election, which resulted in First vice-president David Holford also losing his post to fellow former West Indies player, Desmond Haynes, who was contesting the poll for the first time. Haynes gained 347 votes to Holford’s 258.

Two other established members of the Board also lost their seats at that election. Third vice-president Jeff Broomes was beaten by former Barbados captain and ace West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner (368-234), while honorary secretary Philip Nicholls was “floored” by floor member, the now deceased Vernon Williams (342-256).

Garner would eventually become president two years later and served for ten unbroken years.

With Marshall not standing for re-election, Garner defeated Calvin Hope 173-133 on July 19, 2007 after former BCA secretary Basil Matthews withdrew from the contest at the fifth Special meeting at Sherbourne.

In the next election on July 30, 2009 at Kensington Oval, Garner was unchallenged.  Garner swept to a landslide win over Hope on August 4, 2011 at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. He gained 148 votes, while Hope managed just 49. Riley stepped up and challenged Garner on August 14, 2013 with the Sandiford Centre again the venue. Garner triumphed 166 to 121.

At that election, Riley also lost his position as First vice-president to Deighton Smith after two other contenders, Gregory Nicholls and Hope, withdrew.

Smith won 145 to 136.

Then on August 27, 2015, in yet another setting at the Sandiford Centre, Garner again overcame Riley 127 to 101.

Interestingly at that election, Smith was retained as First vice-president, beating Hope 121-109.

With Garner not seeking re-election at the 15th Special meeting at the Hilton Hotel in 2017 (July 27) after taking up an appointment as manager of the West Indies team, Riley had a resounding win over his two opponents. He amassed 284 votes with Erskine King (84) and Deighton Smith (80) as the other contenders.

In the previous administration, Smith had served as First vice-president, while King was the Third vice-president.

Hope became the new vice-president. He earned 170 votes, Roland Butcher (118), Maurice Gaskin (107) and Kamal Springer (37).

There was plenty interest as well at the 17th Special meeting at Kensington Oval in 2019 (August 29) as Garner returned to vie for the top post, which Riley won 198 to 112.

Now Riley will be keeping his fingers crossed that the pandemic stays away for 2022 and beyond.

Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (rebranded Elite in 2012) Championship for four decades and provides statistics and stories for the BCA website (www.barbadoscricket.org). Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com