October 20, 2000

Hitting out: We can't do worse

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The issue of facilities to host regional cricket has again surfaced during the last few days.

Some people believe Barbados does not have enough grounds to adequately host a zone of the Red Stripe Bowl limited-overs tournament.

If the Kensington Club ground in east Kingston, Jamaica, passed the strict requirements that are needed to entertain matches at this level, I dare say the vast majority of first division club grounds in Barbados are also capable of doing so.

When I went to Kensington 'not to be confused with Barbados' international venue' last week Wednesday, I could hardly believe what I was seeing.

It was only after I returned five days later, I realised my eyes did not deceive me on the first occasion. For whatever reason, the Barbados team was not accommodated in indoor dressing rooms for their matches against Canada and United States.

Instead, their base was under a tent immediately to the right of the pavilion and whenever someone wanted to relieve himself, he had the luxury of a portable toilet.

A permanent facility for media personnel was also non-existent. They, too, were housed in a tent next to the sightscreen at the northern end of the ground. It was very difficult to keep the sun out and whenever there was a drizzle, you felt it.

My own experience was horrendous. At the completion of the match between Barbados and the United States, I went over to the club pavilion to collect the official scores and conduct a few interviews.

By the time I returned to the makeshift mediaset-up about 25 minutes later, to my dismay, I found that the temporary supply of electricity, which isneeded to power my laptop computer, had been dismantled and the relevant personnel were no longer at the ground.

That very same day, the by-ball-ball radio commentary of that match was delayed by almost three hours because of tardiness in setting up telephone lines to patch the connection to the Caribbean Media Corporation's studios in Barbados.

The problems did not start and finish at the Kensington ground which hosted as many as three preliminary matches.

Facilities at Chedwin Park in the central Jamaican parish of St. Catherine were generally acceptable. The only hiccup was that those in the media box had to contend with more mosquitoes than runs scored in the match between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

And what about training facilities?

For two days, Barbados practised at the Jamaica Defence Force's Up Park Camp ground in Kingston without the presence of nets. With at least three bowlers in operation, it meant that fielding resources were limited and too much time was spent retrieving balls.

Meals were also a problem at the hotel where Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago were accommodated. The major headache was the unreliability in the timeliness of the meals. In some cases, they were available about an hour after they were promised.

To rectify the problem, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago resorted to eating at the hotel at which Canada and the United States were staying.

Such problems, however small, should not repeatedly crop up. After all, this is the fourth successive year Jamaica are hosting a preliminary zone as well as the Final Four since the competition started in 1997 under the sponsorship of Desnoes and Geddes.

Barbados Cricket Association officials might be baffled that Barbados are yet to host a zone in this our premier limited-overs competition. Barbados will get their chance, but we must ensure we do not make the same mistakes others have made.