By Lloyd Jodah
The University of the West Indies particpated as “Special Guests” at the 2010 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship. UWI Pro Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles and UWI Athletic Director Roland Butcher clearly saw the value of supporting the nascent college cricket movement in the USA.

University of West Indies squad that took part in the American College Cricket tournament.

Whilst the state of West Indies cricket at large is worrisome, the University of the West Indies (UWI) is investing in the re-development of cricket in the West Indies.Some of the fruits of that investment was seen in the recent Caribbean T20 Tournament when a Combined Campuses & Colleges Team participated, and played great against the First-class teams of Caribbean nations like Barbadoes and Guyana.

At the 2010 American College Cricket Championship Montgomery College played well against UWI, and demonstrated the kind of world-class talent we have in American College Cricket, amassing 187 for 3 in 20 overs., Adil Bhatti scored 60* and Ankit Sehgal 49. Montgomery looked like they would win until Barrington Yearwood (who went on to play in the Caribbean T20) 60* and Renaldo Arthur 68* took UWI to victory.

Below is an excerpt from what Sir Hilary had to say:
The Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC) entered Kensington Oval in order to engage the Barbados team in its first T20 match on Friday, July 23. It is a team of regional students; two Vincentians (Bascombe and Currency), one Guyanese (Moore), five Barbadians (Wiggins,Barrington Yearwood, Parris, Austin, Phillips), Coach Reifer (Barbadian), one Jamaican (Walton), and one Trinidadian (Kantasingh). Within this mix there were students not only from Cave Hill campus and the wider UWI, but the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, and the Barbados Community College.This was a significant gathering of college cricketers from across the region, all keen to play for the West Indies and desiring a higher education.

Kensington witnessed the most dramatic T20 match ever played, the outcome of which will exercise the minds of statisticians for years to come. The CCC, the public underdog, held their own and gave a boost to the regional T20 project much to the satisfaction of the WICB and ESPN. Young cricketers from the region and beyond have since been excited and motivated by this match. More of them now wish to come forward and help with the rebuilding process in West Indies cricket.

The two openers posted 50 runs in record time for the competition; it was a dazzling display of batting in five overs against the top class Barbados attack. The CCC posted a competition record of 180 runs for the loss of fewer wickets than the Barbados team. They took excellent catches and entertained the crowd. Ryan Wiggins smashed a man of the match performance, a proud achievement for the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic. It was a performance that signalled the beginning of a new era in T20 cricket.

Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC) is more than the 11 players on the field. The team today is just the peak of the mountain. It is an enormous development programme. The University of the West Indies (UWI) has entered into agreement with many colleges in the region to develop their student cricketers. There are six students at UWI on cricket scholarships from the Windward Islands. CCC leaders travel to these islands, identify young cricketers and bring them to UWI when they graduate from the colleges.

This is an investment UWI is making in West Indies cricket under the terms of an agreement signed by the Vice Chancellor and the President of WICB. When Andrew Richardson from the University of Technology, for example, received his call to play for the Windies, he was already a CCC player. We have had two players from the University of Guyana, and we expect more. The CCC, then, is a grand regional project in West Indies cricket development. At this time there are more Barbados students. Barbados has about 30 % of its young men, between 18-30 years, in further and higher education, twice that of any other regional territory. But we are getting around that with scholarships and scouting visits to the regional colleges and universities.

Earlier this year, furthermore, CCC players competed in the American College Cricket Championship in Florida. As a result there are many US based West Indian students who wish to join the CCC project, and qualify for West Indies cricket.

CCC is much more than UWI. CCC is only just beginning. Sir Frank Worrell’s dream of giving young men a chance to further their education and be professional cricketers will be realized. We in the CCC felt proud of Kirk Edwards who, as a student at the Open Campus, came to the CCC camp and is now a cricketer with a great future. The agreement Mr Roland Butcher (UWI Athletic Director) has struck with the University of Trinidad and Tobago is already contributing, and will impact the team shortly. What is required now more than ever are perceptive ideas, positive thoughts and focused energy to rebuild West Indies cricket, on and off the field.

Sir Hilary Beckles is UWI Pro Vice Chancellor,Principal of UWI Cave Hill campus andChairman of the WICB/Sagicor High Performance Centre.

Lloyd Jodah is President of American College Cricket.