Stanford 20/20 June 6, 2006

Worries over state of Stanford venue

Haydn Gill

A lack of grass at the Stanford Cricket Ground is prompting concerns over the readiness of the field in time for next month's historic Stanford 20/20 tournament.

But the chairman of the tournament's technical advisory board, Andy Roberts, is giving the strong assurance that the ground will be ready in time for the lucrative tournament which bowls off here on July 11.

The ground is currently devoid of grass in most areas after undergoing major work in recent months. "I believe that the grass will come. What you're looking at now is only about two-and-a-half weeks [of growth]," Roberts said. "With another five weeks to go, we'll be ready."

Prior to the recent work, the outfield appeared to be in immaculate condition and the casual observer might have wondered why there was a need to relay the facility.

Roberts, one of 14 West Indian cricket legends who are acting as ambassadors for the tournament, said the work was done mainly with a view to improving the drainage at the ground. "The outfield was in good condition, but once it rains, we have a problem where you can't play," he said. "With the tight schedule of these matches, we wanted something that will drain, and once the rain finishes, you can play straight away. "I think we will get that once the grass grows in another three weeks." When asked if there was a contingency plan in the event that the ground was not ready, Roberts was adamant there was no need for any. "There is no 'in the event', it will happen," he said.

The Stanford 20/20 tournament, which climaxes with the grand final under lights on August 13, is the brainchild of Texan billionaire Allen Stanford.

Nineteen regional teams, including Barbados, are vying for a top prize of US$1 million. The second place finisher will receive US$500,000 and the cricket boards of the top two teams will receive US$200,000 and US$100,000 respectively which must be used towards the development and improvement of the cricket facilities in those countries.