The National Sports Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (NSC) has apologised to AMAAS Sporting Services, the Barbadian team that it wrongly barred from the finals of the 2023 SVG Independence International Masters T20 Cricket Competition despite an on-field protest by the team, resulting in officers from a tactical unit of the police force being summoned.
However, on Wednesday, Anthony Morris, CEO and owner of AMAAS, the disenfranchised team, told iWitness News that while the Sports Council admitted its error, it offered no compensation.
“… we paid registration fees. You play a finals for prize money. You admitted that we should have been in finals but then there’s no compensation to the team,” Morris told iWitness News of the situation that unfolded at Sion Hill Playing Field on Nov. 4.
Morris, who organises the only over 50s tournament in Barbados, told iWitness News that AMAAS participated in the Vincentian competition for the first time this year and had the largest contingent.
After being wrongfully denied its place in the finals, the team’s initial position was to boycott the tournament in the future.
“You know, if the Sports Council gets back to us within the next 12 months or so before the competition is held again, we will consider playing again,” Morris told iWitness News.
“… we enjoyed ourselves on the island, enjoyed the games and everything but it’s just what happened at the end that left a sour taste in our mouths,” he told iWitness News.
Morris, however, said that the Sports Council was yet to respond to an email that he sent in response to the apology.
“This was pretty much the case throughout when we were questioning before the finals and no one responded.”
Morris told iWitness News that the situation could have been avoided had the Sport Council followed through with the suggestion by one of its committee members, after the controversy erupted shortly before the finals were played.
“One of their committee members actually proposed that the AMAAS team and the Canadian team play a five-over match and the winner will play the other team in finals,” he said.
“So again, they were admitting that they knew they were wrong already. If you were right, you wouldn’t propose us playing a five-over match. We were ready to play but Canada refused because obviously they heard the police were coming.”
Morris told iWitness News that he did not know which of the teams that played in the finals should not have been there.
However, on Monday, Julian Burgin, acting manager of the NSC and chair of the organising committee, told iWitness News, that AMAAS and not Canada Masters should have played in the finals.
Morris told iWitness News that Canada and AMAAS were in the same category in the competition.
Canada Masters lost a match and protested because players who did not meet the age criterion had played for the opposing team.
“But then, the team who they protested against had proof that they were given permission to play the players. So how could you give a team permission to pay the players and then take away the points from them and give them to Canada. A lot of confusion is going on,” Morris said.
AMAAS was not the only teams that was displeased with the selection of the teams that played in the finals.
Second team claims unfair treatment
The competition was played in over-40 and over-50 categories and Windies Masters, which played in the over-50 category, said that they should have been in the finals.
The team have said they would never take part in the competition again and would dissuade other teams from doing so.
However, Burgin’s emails to the teams did not say that Windies Masters should have been in the finals in their category.
“All teams have been informed; the organisers issued an apology. Barbados Masters accepted the apology and were thankful that we responded in that way,” Burgin told iWitness News via telephone on Monday.
“Basically, what happened, there was some miscalculation regarding the net run rate and during the preliminary round, Barbados was ahead. In the final analysis the scorers and coordinator gave out the information that Canada Masters was in the finals by virtue of a better net run rate,” Burgin explained.
“That was advised to the teams the night but that was based on an incomplete calculation and by the time that calculation came to hand, the situation had developed where Barbados Masters were protesting saying they won more games and should have gone ahead,” he told iWitness News.
He said the issue came about because there were no-decisions in some of the games.
“In hindsight, Barbados Masters should have played by having won more games but Canada Masters played by better run rate,” Burgin said.
In an email to all teams in the tournament, a copy of which was obtained by iWitness News, Burgin said an “unfortunate situation” developed at the finals of the tournament.
“In particular, we wish to single out the AMAAS Sporting Services which was disadvantaged due to errors in the compilation of the tournament statistics, resulting in the team not being named as a finalist in the Fete Division,” Burgin wrote.
“The committee is committed to having a tournament in which all participants are treated fairly and will ensure that such a situation does not occur in the future.
The Committee thanks all teams for participating in the 2023 edition of the tournament and looks forward to welcoming you to an improved event in 2024,” Burgin said.
But Kenny Girdharry, one of Windies Master’s administrators told journalist Ashford Peters during an interview after the development on Nov. 4 that the tournament lacked transparency.
“We never came to a tournament like this where there is no transparency, it is like they have something to hide and they’re not forthcoming with information.”
Girdharry complained about a lack of communication throughout the tournament.
“The whole thing is a lot of communication. From since we came here, we’re sending emails to the council about different things, in relation to rules and so forth; stats, every day we pushing them, no stats came out. Stats came out this morning after this game started. Windies Masters are supposed to be in the finals and Barbados,” he said.
Girdharry said his team had just returned from the World Cup in South Africa and has played in tournaments all over the world.
“We spent thousands of dollars to come here and one of their (organisers’) mandates is to improve tourism. We would never come back here and all the other teams, we will talk to will not come back and other teams that want to come because we have contacts all over the place. They wouldn’t want to.”
‘some discrepancies about point system and net average’
Also on finals day, shortly after police had escorted the Barbados team off the field, Goaland Greaves, president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Umpires Association (SVGCUA) told Peters that there had been “some controversy” but the finals were taking place.
“There were some discrepancies about the point system and net average. Some of the teams themselves calculated it wrong. Some of the teams also violated some of the playing conditions. And that is what caused the whole problem,” Greaves said.
Greaves said the Sport Council had also sent out a “misleading” correspondence.
“And if you want that correspondence, they would give it to you, not me. But, in the long run, we have sorted it out and we have a reduced final in this,” Greaves said, adding that some of the teams also violated the age criterion by fielding playing who were below the age requirement.
“And according to the playing conditions, if you play underaged persons, you would lose the game,” Greaves said, but declined to name the teams that allegedly violated this criterion.
“The important thing is that is what happened. And that is what caused the problem. That is what caused the problem. When they played underaged persons.”
He said AMAAS was contending that they had more points than the other team in their group.
“However, they did not take into consideration where one of the teams, the other team they were contending with had actually lost a match but they won it because the opposing team played somebody of a younger age…. So that would end up with the Barbados team and the other team would have ended up on the same points,” Greaves said.
“And in that situation, it would come down to net run rate. When it comes down to net run rate, the other team would have had a better net run rate. Barbados was contending that the other teams were given permission to play somebody underage and that is a violation of the playing conditions. And, in any cricket, playing conditions supersedes any other thing,” Greaves said.
Correction: The AMAAS players had already exited the field by the time the police officer arrived, Morris subsequently told iWitness News.