President of the Barbados Cricket Association
(BCA) Conde Riley’s love for cricket began as
a boy while playing the game with his friends
in his neighborhood on the outskirts of Bridgetown.
Riley’s devotion to cricket continued to grow when
he entered the St Giles Primary School where
he played competitively against other primary
schools based in the parish of St Michael.
It was at the legendary Combermere School,
where Riley received his secondary education,
that he began to understand why cricket is more
than a game to the people of Barbados and the
West Indies. Combermere is a cricket institution
in Barbados, several past students of the school
have represented the West Indies.
Among them are the illustrious Sir Frank Worrell,
the first black man to captain the West Indies
overseas; Derek Sealy: the youngest cricketer to
play Test cricket for the West Indies; Sir Wesley Hall
the first West Indian to take a hat trick in Test cricket
and the first bowler to dismiss the great Australian
batsman Sir Donald Bradman for naught. Three
members of the current West Indies Test team:
Kraigg Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich and Roston
Chase are also former students of Combermere.
“I grew up playing cricket on the streets in
my village with friends. I got my first taste of
competitive cricket at St Giles, where we played
against other primary schools in the St Michael area. It was at
Combermere that I learned that cricket was more than bat and
ball. In the school hall there was a picture of Sir Frank Worrell
and the members of the Combermere cricket team that won
the First Division title in 1940. That picture aroused my curiosity,
and I started to read every publication I could find about Sir
Frank. I learned about his philosophy and what he stood for. Sir
Frank believed cricket was the unifying force in the region, and
that cricketers were warriors in the social revolution that took
place throughout the West Indies in the late 1930s. I started to
read about the exploits of Sir Everton Weekes in India in 1948
and the fact that when he established the world record of five
consecutive centuries he could not vote. Be that as it may, his
feat would have sent a strong message to young men of a
similar working-class background that if they were given the
opportunity they too could succeed. The picture made me
aware of the cricket heritage of the school and by extension
Barbados. In 1967, I played in the Under 15 Combermere
team that captured the Under 15 Championship for the third
successive year. I was amazed at the way the teachers and
students responded to the team winning the title. The delight
shown by the staff and the pupils of the school at the team
winning the under 15 Championships will stay with me forever.
It taught me how people react to success on the cricket field. I
also played First Division cricket while I was at secondary school,
which was the highest level of domestic cricket in Barbados. By
the time I’d graduated from Combermere, I had become fully
appreciative of the history of West Indies cricket and the special
skills it took to be a successful cricketer. I left school determined
to contribute to cricket, “ Riley told Wickets.
Riley was encouraged to join the BCA in 1974. He was elected to
the Board in 1996. In 2007 he became Vice President after the
former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner was
Riley was asked to chair the Cricket Development Committee.
His first major assignment as the Committee’s Chairman was
the creation of the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence.
“The establishment of the Centre of Excellence was an easy
task for me. I had a chat with Bennett King the coach of the
West Indies team. King had set up the Australia Cricket
Academy, I aimed to set up an academy similar to the one in
Australia. I am pleased with the contribution the Centre has
made to Barbados’ cricket in the past 12 years. The Centre
began with 24 cricketers from the Under 15 to Under 19 age
groups. Later, we added a ladies cohort, last year an Under
23 category was added. These young cricketers undergo
extensive training which is aimed at developing their skills
and making them first-class players”, he explained.
Riley said cricket plays a tremendous role in the development
of young West Indian males and within recent times our
“Cricket can give our players a career that can enrich them
if they go to the top. Therefore it plays a role in the upliftment
of those cricketers who make it to the top”, Riley said.
Riley who is a long-standing Director of Cricket West Indies
(CWI), has been critical
of Ricky Skerritt’s administration.He stressed though that he
is not at odds with his fellow Directors.
“There is no conflict between me and my fellow Directors. I
am committed to assisting West Indies’ cricket, but I call it
the way I see it. When I attend CWI meetings my focus is the
development of regional cricket. The improvement of West
Indies’ cricket is always foremost on my mind.
I would love to see academies in the Windward and
Leeward Islands which will allow them to do intensive work
with their young players. There are seven islands in the
Leeward that play cricket and four in the Windwards. I know
that it will be difficult to set up an academy in 11 islands
that are separated by water and that there might be
financial constraints. A few years ago, the BCA approached
the Barbados Government for financial assistance. They
rejected our request and suggested instead that we
acquire money through the Gaming Act by creating a
game of chance. The BCA created an online lottery that
has given us a solid financial base. The lottery is now
merged with the Barbados Turf Club and the Barbados
Olympic Association (BOA) lotteries into a national
lottery. The money from the lottery is equally shared
among the BCA, the BOA, the Turf Club, and the National
Sports Council. The Leeward Islands Cricket Association
and Windward Islands Cricket Association should
approach the governments in the two regions about
the possibility of establishing a lottery to assist with the
development of their cricket. The BCA will willingly assist
the two associations if they receive the permission to
set up a lottery”, Riley said.
Recently, the BCA unveiled a new marketing plan
that is aimed at increasing revenue generation and
stakeholder participation for the Association and its
subsidiary. According to Riley, the Marketing Committee
conceptualized the Plan because Barbados’ cricket has
not been rebranded for the past 80 years.
“Barbados’ cricket has not been rebranded over the last
80 years, although the ODI and the Twenty20 formats
have become a vital part of the game. We have done
nothing to rebrand our image. The awareness of what
cricket does for Barbados was dying. The Marketing
Committee has suggested that we rebrand the whole
thing to remind Barbadians of the importance of cricket
to our nation. We are using the slogan “This is We,” which
focuses on what cricket has done for cricketers and
the island. This plan is being rolled out shortly through
various means by the BCA and the marketing company
we have employed,” Riley said!
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