Hiccups Mar Carib Beer Finals
Thu, Mar 25, '04
The final of the Carib Beer International Shield bowled off Thursday at the North Stars Social and Cultural Club in St Lucy, Barbados, but it was not without its fair share of hiccups. The media turned up to find provided for them, a tent, a few chairs resting on uneven ground and one table. In an age driven by technology, which is now necessary for journalists to carry out their work, there were no telephone lines, no power and insufficient table top working space.
Other hitches included the audio commentary commencing approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes after the start of play. Although the television commentary started on time, there was no audio to accompany the broadcast for some time after the start of play.
Immediately, fingers pointed to the assumed ineptitude of the North Stars Club executive. Guided by the old adage that there are many sides to every story, CaribbeanCricket.com went in search of the truth.
Directed first to Rollins Howard, the Business Manager of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), this reporter unfortunately did not get any answers. Asked about the criteria used to make the decision to host the finals at this venue, as well as the factors which contributed to the apparent disorganization, Mr Howard replied curtly ?I can?t answer any of those questions?.
North Stars Club President, Godfrey Moore and Secretary/Treasurer Ashley Toppin spared the time to tell CaribbeanCricket.com their side of the tale. According to Toppin, the Club had a commitment from the BCA from as far back as 20 February 2004, that if Barbados were to host the final, their ground would be used. The Club later heard rumours that this was not official, and the choice was yet to be made between their club and Windward in St Philip. Although this reporter received similar information in an email exchange with a member of the Barbados print media, Derrick Nicholas, WICB?s Cricket Operations Officer said ?Windward was never under consideration?.
Toppin further said that on 13 March, BCA confirmed that the final would be held at their club. However, on Thursday 18 March 2004, one week before the final was to be played, the Club was told by the BCA that the WICB wanted to ?take over? the facility for the purposes of staging the finals. The North Stars Committee agreed in principle and communicated this to the BCA the same day. The Club sought further clarification from BCA to find out what exactly ?take over? meant. The Club?s executive met with officials from the BCA, WICB and the sponsors, Carib Beer, to come to an agreement on what was required of the Club. A formal lease agreement was promised but never received by North Stars.
For North Stars, their responsibility was made clear. In the main, this involved preparation of the facility including the pitch, security, scoreboard, car park attendants and general cleanliness was their main responsibility. Among the BCA?s list of responsibilities were to provide tents, accommodation and communication for media personnel, temporary toilet facilities and spectator accommodation. While some tents were in place, there was insufficient seating resulting in journalists having to play ?musical chairs? and using bags or asking colleagues to ?hold? their chairs should they dare to get up.
Caribbean Media Coporation (CMC) provided another angle to what transpired on Day 1 of the Carib Beer Finals. Errol Clarke, Chief Operations Officer, said that CMC experienced many challenges in putting on live coverage at the ground, as there is no infrastructure for media. He said there are neither telephone facilities nor booths for commentary, therefore a request was made to Cable & Wireless on 19 March for phone lines to be put in the day before the match was to start.
According to the CMC official, Cable & Wireless reported having ?problems in St Lucy which prevented them from installing the lines?. Mr Clarke further said that they had to bring in generators and a slight problem was encountered with these, but the main issue which prevented the delay was the lack of telephone lines.
Derrick Nicholas explained that Cable & Wireless had run the lines earlier in the week and promised to have them switched on ?first thing? Thursday morning. As to why this was not done, Mr Nicholas was yet to receive an explanation from the telecommunications company, who are also title sponsors of the current England versus West Indies series.
Given the foregoing, it is evident that even though the WICB may wish to spread cricket in the rural areas of the regional territories, staging the finals here of what the WICB CEO refers to as the ?premiere West Indies first-class Championship? may just have been overly ambitious.
Why then was North Stars Cultural and Social Club chosen? Why not Kensington? Why not the 3 W?s ground at the University of the West Indies?
Nicholas, who has responsibility for all regional cricket operations, said that ?Kensington Oval was not available, as the BCA felt that the finals would be too close to the 3rd Test?. At the suggestion by CaribbeanCricket.com that this was an inadequate reason seeing that Kensington has many pitches, Nicholas said ?in as much as it is a WICB managed event, on the ground the WICB relies on the territorial boards to carry out many of its functions to stage an event like this?.
The decision was a tripartite one with the WICB, the BCA and the sponsors. Carib Beer pressed for Kensington to be used, and a thought was given to play the finals after the current England series, however Nicholas said this idea ?died a sudden death?.
Regarding the use of the UWI venue, Nicholas explained that the ground had already been confirmed to the England Cricket Board, and the WICB felt that it would be inappropriate to change it. Following on from that point, if the England schedule was finalized so far in advance, didn?t the WICB anticipate the problems of finding a suitable venue? Couldn?t the Carib Beer series have started one week earlier, to allow for the Finals to take place before the start of the England series? If the Finals would have been held from 4 ? 7 March had Kenya qualified, why couldn?t this game between Barbados and Jamaica have been staged on those dates anyway?
According to Nicholas, some thought was given to starting the series on 2 January, however, this idea had to be shelved since some of the territories would have been just finishing their domestic competitions. Regarding the staging of this match on the weekend immediately following the Semi-Finals, the Cricket Operations Officer said that the Barbadian and Jamaican players selected for the West Indies squad would have been involved in a training camp during those dates. Sponsors expect that West Indies players will be available for the Finals and so this would have caused a conflict.
The questions can go on forever and the blame game will not cease, however, the following which was extracted from the minutes of a meeting of the WICB Cricket Committee should guide future venue decisions:
?The meeting expressed deep concern about the practice of scheduling matches, especially the final, in rural areas], and noted that the poor standard of regional cricket grounds other than the traditional venues for first class matches and Tests was not conducive to uplifting the standard of cricket in the region?.