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March 12, 2014
A battle looks likely to break out within the Caribbean cricketing community after it emerged that several traditional venues could miss out on hosting England Tests next year. The matter is already being discussed in the highest levels of government.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the WICB is keen to grant the Tests to Guyana, Jamaica and Grenada, meaning the likes of Trinidad, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados will be left disappointed. Barbados, which has enjoyed close to sell-out crowds for the T20I series against England, is thought to be particularly disappointed and is trying to persuade the WICB to change their plans.
With many of the Caribbean nations heavily reliant upon tourism, the allocation of an England Test is especially valuable. No other country brings as many travelling supporters and their willingness to embrace the local hotels, restaurants and bars provides a meaningful boost to the local economies.
The WICB has many nations to satisfy and many grounds from which to select, meaning disappointment is inevitable for some.
But at a time when international cricket is struggling to fill stadiums, it does seem odd to stray from a ground like Kensington Oval, in Barbados, which has a proven popularity not just for cricket supporters in the Caribbean but also for thousands of travelling England fans.
In the past, the ECB has privately lobbied for their overseas Tests to be scheduled in popular tourist venues, with the Barmy Army in mind and it remains to be seen whether they will attempt to broker such a deal.
The Kensington Oval is referred to as "the Mecca of cricket" in these parts - and where cricket lovers from England and the Caribbean flock in unparalleled numbers.
With a tour of Sri Lanka scheduled for late 2014, followed by the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, England supporters will be spoilt for choice over the next year, leaving the Caribbean up against it in any case to attract its usual quota of supporters for a tour scheduled for April 2015.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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