Inaugural UWI World Universities T20 Tournament
University players across the world will participate in the first ever UWI World Universities T20 Cricket Tournament from January 10-20, 2019 at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago. It is an initiative of The University’s Faculty of Sport supported by Cricket West Indies (CWI), Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB). The University teams set to participate in this tournament hail from the United Kingdom, Asia, United States of America and the Caribbean; The reigning Regional Super 50 Champions, Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) will match up against Oxford University UK to open the tournament on January 10th, 2019 at The UWI Sport and Physical Centre (SPEC), St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
This inaugural World Universities Tournament allows The UWI to establish academic and non-academic relationships with other reputable universities using the conduit of cricket to produce many more world class student-athletes. It will bring to the fore new talent which, along with UWI’s advanced sporting facility, will help expand a talent pool of ‘thinking cricketers’ and build the region’s dominance in cricket.
T20 cricket has become the most popular and dominant format of the sport for being faster-paced, exciting, and incorporating elements of entertainment that appeal to sports enthusiasts of all ages. The annual cricket calendar has become heavily populated with tournaments in various countries – including new cricket playing nations such as the United States, Canada, and Afghanistan. However, The UWI World Universities T20 Tournament will be the only one of its kind at the tertiary tier, providing much needed exposure and competitive grooming to facilitate the immediate advancement of players into professional cricket.
Dr. Akshai Mansingh, Dean of The UWI Faculty of Sport, points out that as player earnings increase, so too is the need for new talent. In that regard, there is a glaring void in the player development pathway at the tertiary education level. ‘The demand’, he says, ‘for professional players continues to outpace talent development and preparation for transitioning players into professional and international cricket’. The invitation and inclusion of teams from universities globally ensure that the tournament will provide incomparable academic and non-academic networking opportunities, and grow The UWI and UWI Faculty of Sport brands internationally.
This World Universities T20 initiative follows the Faculty’s ‘Pace Like Fire’ cricket programme, a unique developmental programme held earlier this year for young cricket talent across the region to improve their bowling skills. The T20 tournament also dovetails seamlessly with UWI’s decade-long investment in the CCC programme. The CCC continues to offer a viable avenue for well-rounded student-athletes to pursue their ambitions of playing professional cricket while pursuing tertiary level studies. In 2018, the CCC emerged as the champion of the Regional Super 50 tournament 2018, defeating the Guyana Jaguars at the October finals in Kensington Oval, Barbados.
Former West Indian Cricketer Daren Ganga chairs the Local Organising Committee (LOC) that will lead the planning, coordination, promotion, execution of the tournament in 2019. He said the competition is intended to be hosted in a different country every year and the top five players of the tournament will be exposed to CPL pre-tournament camps, creating a direct route for university students into professional cricket. The UWI hopes to develop the tournament over the next three years to include a maximum of 15 participating university teams by 2021.
According to Ganga, “This configuration will allow for the grooming of young student-athletes from local to global circuits, giving international exposure to players, officials, faculty, partners and sponsors to enhance their networking and competitiveness”.