West Indies cracks down on alcohol access

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has prohibited alcohol from being brought to international matches, as it seeks to comply with the International Cricket Council's (ICC's) Safety and Security Pro Forma. Starting with the first one-day international against Zimbabwe at Antigua today, alcohol will not be allowed into the stadiums, but will be sold from concessionaire stands within the grounds at respective matches.

"We want to meet our obligations as a member of the ICC and therefore it is important to adhere to this regulation," Zorol Barthley, the WICB's chief cricket operations officer, said. "Cricket in the Caribbean is steeped in tradition, but we are operating in a global marketplace and we must keep pace with international standards. This policy is part of the ICC Safety and Security Pro Forma which will still permit the sale of alcohol by concessionaires. Making alcohol available in this manner will help match authorities to manage the level of alcoholic consumption by fans."

The ICC's Safety and Security Pro Forma was designed to ensure a safe environment for the game. As per the rules, glass bottles and cans containing alcohol and soft drinks will not be sold to spectators. Plastic is the norm, and spectators will have to submit mandatory security checks of their bags and hampers.

The decision to prohibit alcohol to ICC-sanctioned venues was taken at the ICC chief executives' committee meeting back in June 2003, but came into effect on April 1 after a two-year implementation period. Clive Hitchcock, the ICC's cricket operations manager, added: "The reason for the cut-off date of April 2006 was to give those members that do not have a policy plenty of time to implement it at international venues."

It remains to be seen how this goes down in the West Indies, where spectators who have traditionally enjoyed a glass of rum or bottle of beer purchased from outside the ground will have to change their ways.