Staying in the hosting loop
There has to be some decisive course that must be pursued if our Arnos Vale Playing Field, and by extension, St Vincent and the Grenadines wants to stay in the mix, as it relates to the hosting of international cricket matches.
The Arnos Vale venue last hosted a Test match back in 2014 when the West Indies faced Bangladesh, while the last occasion for a One-Day International was back in 2012.
Meanwhile, since the back-to-back T/20 internationals in 2013, that format has not come our way.
And, in a bumper year, amidst a pandemic, the region will host South Africa, Australia and Pakistan in the next three months.
In all, there will be a total of 22 matches, inclusive of four Tests, three ODIs and 15 T/20 internationals, will be played in the Caribbean, spanning from June 10 to August 24, this year, The schedule shows that matches will be played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia, Grenada’s National Stadium, Kensington Oval in Barbados, Guyana National Stadium and the Sabina Park in Jamaica.
Having drifted off radar, we have to stop and take stock of what must be done to once again be in the reckoning for international cricket fixtures.
Yes, St Vincent and the Grenadines was listed since 2019 to have two T/20 internationals between the West Indies and Australia here in June of this year.
At the time when the itinerary was released, it was touted then by government officials that the necessary upgrade would have been done to the Arnos Vale venue, inclusive of play-back screens and an electronic scoreboard. The noise became less as time wore on, and these were never installed.
With the obvious diversion of interests, it was clear that our venue would not have been considered. More so, things have changed drastically. Thus, St Vincent and the Grenadines has fallen from the go to venues for One-Day Internationals especially. With the new dynamics entering the fray, no longer are the aesthetics of the ground, the favourable West Indies record at the venue, and the cost effectiveness of hosting matches here, influential factors in the scheduling of international cricket matches.
But apart from the unchecked and unattended deficiencies of the Arnos Vale Playing Field, St Vincent and the Grenadines has failed to keep pace with some of the accommodation demands which professional sports have accrued.
Coupled with the threats of the spread of coronavirus and the general rise in professionalism, no longer are cricketers engaged in the sharing of hotel rooms. Too, international cricket teams are travelling with larger contingents, along with media personnel and fans, thus requiring more hotels.
Significantly too, international sports teams are demanding luxurious accommodations.
Of note too, most of the cricket grounds in the region are lighted, hence can host night matches, which are becoming the order of the day, to capture the massive television audience.
Therefore, when St Vincent and the Grenadines is matched against others in the region, we are coming up well short.
Simply put, in order for us to stay in the loop is for us to become competitive in all facets if we are still in the business of making sports a viable tourism outlet. If not, we have to just be contented with the one or two matches in the regional four-day competition.
We may not even get a look-in at the women’s list A matches involving international teams, as the standards among that gender are being lifted higher as well.
Efforts must be made immediately by the relevant authorities to take another look at the entire sports package, and what do we hope to salvage from the investments made in infrastructural developments.
Hopefully, the promised developments in the hotel industry, namely the coming on stream of Holiday Inn, the Marriott and Sandals, will enhance our rooms stock.
But this, if realised, will not be only area to be solved, as parallel, the amenities at our premier sporting facility – the Arnos Vale Playing Field, must be improved.
St Vincent and the Grenadines has to get with it, or otherwise settle for the smatterings of unsure pittances.