Flop: The new league season. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Flop: The new league season. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

The new cricket league format doesn’t work.

Putting all 12 teams in one league makes it impossible to develop young cricketers. The gap is too big between the top teams and the bottom teams.

A 14-year-old is learning how to play a straight drive or learning how to play a straight ball as opposed to a seasoned player. 

Everywhere else in the world, they have two or three leagues. If you look at the ICC World Cricket league, they have eight divisions. They have that for a reason, because you want to have competitiveness so all teams get a chance to develop. Every single game becomes competitive and the teams that move up a division, then have a chance to advance.

We had David Moore here for three years. He put together a plan of promotion and relegation of two leagues. The coach is leaving so we’re scrapping his plan and changing it into a format of open cricket. We’ve wasted the foundation he set for us. If I start as an intern at a newspaper and then next week they want me to compete with the editor, that’s impossible.

The mismatches between the top and bottom teams create shorter games, which means the guys aren’t playing very much. That hurts the development of both the younger players and the veterans who are supposed to be playing for the national team.

You want every single game to be competitive, that you have at least some chance of winning.

I can’t tell the youngsters at Warwick we have a chance to win when we’re playing St David’s or Southampton Rangers — that would be a blatant lie. 

So we have to set a target like seeing if we can bat 25 overs or get 100 runs — that would be a win for us. That’s the way we have to approach those matches because it is impossible to win. But that’s not the way league cricket should be. 

Our national team is in the World Cricket League Division 3. They still need to work on their game and sharpen their skills. The argument that the league should be about development doesn’t work.

So what should our national team players do when we come to the mismatches? Sit out so the younger guys on their teams get a chance to play to develop? 

The top players have to be able to play a competitive match, or as close to one as possible, every single week. 

This format doesn’t allow that.

It doesn’t make sense for them to rollover a bottom team and score 400 runs or bowl them out for 70-odd runs. How are they developing that way? 

When they come up against top opposition at the national team level we’re out for 70 or 80 runs.

They need to be put under pressure every single game in league cricket so when they are in the same situation at the national team level, they don’t crumble. They’ll know how to handle it.

 This format is just a lose-lose situation. If the senior players sit out or play, they aren’t developing. If they play, the mismatches create a situation where the bottom teams aren’t developing. The whole format needs a rethink for next season where we go back to two leagues with six team each.

Lionel Cann is Warwick captain/coach and a Bermuda international.