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CARIBBEAN - cricket - Greater focus on CWC 2007

WICB President, Teddy Griffith (left), ICC President Eshan Mani (centre) and nominee for WICB President, Ken Gordon, during last weeks launch of the CWC 2007 match schedule at Queens Hall, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

IT is going to get very interesting very quickly in the Caribbean. The attention on the 2007 Cricket World Cup which will be hosted in the Caribbean just got a little more intense. It was enhanced with the formal announcement of the match schedule for the event, which gives the indication of the key matches in the tournament and when these matches will be played.

However, as has become the norm with people in the Caribbean, self-doubt always seems to creep into the limelight as the event approaches. That was the case with several members of the cricketing community, even before the Bidding process began. The spectrum of comments ranged from concern over how would the region collectively pay for the event to whether the grounds would be ready for the event.
That skepticism has not diminished even after the eight host venues were selected. All of the detailed information which has been provided by local and ICC officials has done little to change the negative view. It is truly amazing that some among us do not have the necessary faith in the collective will of the people of the region to challenge the preconceived norms of the world that the Caribbean is only good as a place of rest and relaxation. The Caribbean is much more than a place to have a good time. The people of this region are on par with the rest of the world and maybe it is time for the people of the region to accept that.
The doubt is strange given the fact that the world is confident in the ability of the Caribbean to put on an excellent World Cup. That was the case which was advanced by Executive Director of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup,
Dr. Ali Bacher, who delivered the feature address at the eleventh Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture, on the topic World Cup Cricket: Challenges, Pitfalls and Opportunities in 2004. In my view there is no cricket playing area anywhere that per capita can come close to equaling the number of outstanding and great cricketers produced by this region, he added. Dr. Bacher also spoke of the contribution of Antigua and Barbados, which has produced a galaxy of legends. He also stated that the growth and development of great cricketers in the Caribbean was even more amazing given the very average and at times below average practice and playing facilities available to your players over many decades.
Dr. Bacher also stressed that hosting a World Cup, requires more than the efforts of officials but of the entire region. It requires passion and commitment, for the event by all and sundry ... It is about displaying to the world, your beautiful islands and different cultures and it is a wonderful opportunity to display your great players to the world, he added. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has also repeatedly expressed confidence in the region and stated that the expectations that the Caribbean as usual will put on an excellent show.
The grand announcement of the match schedule marks the start of potentially the most intense preparation period prior to the event. In the eight venues, it is full steam ahead with the physical construction of the stadia, which will be the focal point of the tournament. The plans have been approved and the stadiums are starting to take shape. Many would appreciate that the pace of construction will be phased at venues which host Test matches, to allow matches to be hosted there during the international season in 2006. That will give an indication of the pace of construction. That is true for Kensington Oval, which will host at least a Test match in 2006. The same can be said for Sabina Park, Jamaica and Queen s Park Oval in Trinidad. It is now up to the planners to ensure that the promised development takes place. The transformation of society, or cleaning up the country in terms of the physical infrastructure and the implementation of policies gearing to putting Barbados best foot forward must be put in place. The idea of Host country as venue must also come into the equation. The time to repair the road network in key areas of the island must take effect. The beautification of Bridgetown must also be completed and the understanding by all Barbadians that improvement in attitudes towards themselves and others will benefit the country not only in the World Cup, but put the country in good stead for future events.
Other issues will be in focus in the next year and months, prior to the start of the event. One will be the weather factor, particularly the threat from intense weather, in the form of tropical systems. Grenada bore the brunt of the fury of Hurricane Ivan, but also remains on schedule to complete its stadium by December 2006.
The issue of the major matches in the Competition, and the resulting movement of people to and fro means that the traditional airlift capabilities will have to be advanced. Also the traditionally laid back system of customs (in terms of time spent in line) and immigration in the region, will have to be sped up to move people through checkpoints fairly quickly.
Security will also be a crucial aspect of the event. The events since the last World Cup and the attacks in the United States, Britain and other countries makes the issue of security paramount. Security Ministers from around the region have been meeting with ICC officials to ensure that the visitors to the region and Caribbean nationals are protected. Housing of people in the region will be a concern.
For the West Indies, the strength of the teams competing in the event will be of interest. The West Indies will be bidding to become the first host nation to win the event, but will require a team that can win consistently. The WICB has announced that a Development Plan to achieve that objective will be put in place and will be announced shortly. That plan will be interesting to say the least given the current form of the West Indies team. Then again, it is not such a long time till 2007, so time is running short.

Web Posted - Sun Jul 24 2005
By Dorian Bryan

Compliments of the Barbados Advocate


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