The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) will have to fork out more than $500 000 in refunds if the murky weather that has hovered over Jamaica for the last three days completely ruins the first of this weekend's back-to-back Cable & Wireless One-Day Internationals between West Indies and India.
With no significant rain between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. yesterday, during which there was a big mop-up operation at Sabina Park, there was increasing optimism of getting a match, even if it meant having some alterations.
The general consensus, however, is that any overnight or early morning rain will prevent any possibility of play.
In the event that less than 10 overs are possible, most of the almost 11 000 fans who have purchased tickets will be refunded, WICB marketing manager for events and promotions, Darren Millien, confirmed.
Since 1999 the WICB has taken out refund insurance for instances like this where there is a threat of rain and patrons will be refunded the full value of the ticket that was purchased, Millien said.
It translates to a 100 per cent refund in the event of 10 overs or less, 50 per cent in the event of 15 overs or less. As long as there are more than 25 overs, the refund policy wouldn't kick-in, but anything less than that there is either going to be a partial or total refund of the face value of the ticket.
Millien also revealed that a capacity Sabina brings in gate receipts of just under US$300 000, and at least 80 per cent of the ground had been sold out by yesterday afternoon.
The popular Mound, which accommodates 1 200 spectators who each pay US$55 entry fee, was completely sold out, while the big George Headley Stand had accounted for all but 200 of its 5 700 seats which are available at US$40 each.
Even if the WICB has to refund patrons, it will not lose out completely on revenue because of the refund insurance policy.
Insurance never really puts you back to the original position. In other words, you are not 100 per cent indemnified, but we do recover some of the monies that would have been lost by way of gate receipts in the event of rain, Millien added.
There were suggestions in some quarters to put back the weekend's double-header to tomorrow and Monday, but logistical problems, among other things, quickly dismissed the thought.
When we did a cost benefit, the costs were adding up to ridiculous amounts. We decided that we were going to have to take our chances with Saturday and Sunday, proceed as planned and hope that the weather co-operates, Millien said.
The WICB marketing manager was speaking late yesterday evening before International Cricket Council match referee Mike Proctor, along with umpires David Shepherd, Russel Tiffin, Eddie Nicholls and Billy Doctrove inspected the ground, which had improved significantly over 24 hours.
It still remained somewhat wet under footing and the cause was not helped by a lack of sunshine on a highly overcast day that was to be extended for the increased 16-member ground staff, headed by Charlie Joseph.
What we intend to do tonight (last night) is work whole night again like what we did last (Thursday) night until tomorrow (this) morning, Joseph said.
We are hoping that we still get the breeze. If we get rain, we have some house tents to put on.
The torrential rain, caused by a cold front which extends to beyond Cuba in the north, has already prompted officials to use the pitch that was used for the fifth Test which ended on Wednesday.
The decision was influenced by the fact that the steady, heavy rain since the Test ended, made it impossible to begin early preparations of the strip that was intended to be used for the limited-overs matches.
Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) chief executive officer Brian Breese disclosed that another option being considered is to bring in the boundaries in the area of the practice pitches in the eastern section of the ground. They have been under the covers since Wednesday.
We've made significant progress on the pitches. They have now decided that they are going to play on the Test pitch. That has been rolled. The outfield has been cut and I think we're in shape to start a match, maybe not on time, but certainly we should get a match in tomorrow (today), Breese said.
The JCA chief executive was also hoping to have the services of a helicopter to assist with the drying process, but that did not materialise by late evening.