In 207 Antigua and Barbuda and the WICB boasted of the impressive nature of the new Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground built as the new home of cricket in the country in readiness for the Cricket World Cup 2007 being hosted by the very WICB.
No sooner had the new facility been declared ready and at great cost (much like the other white elephants that came into existence or were upgraded for the same purpose), the Sir Vivian Richards cricket ground flattered to deceive. The authorities discovered that the facility had a severe drainage problem.
One would have thought that given the heavy expenditures on the Vivian Richards facility every effort would have been made to fix the problem. The first situation during the World Cup was bad enough and therefore should not be repeated.
Last year during the series against Australia, the same drainage problem surfaced and once more the entire region was embarrassed.
On Friday, 13th February 2009 it appeared like déjà vu for the two teams – England and the West Indies – only this time the venue was the new Sir Vivian Richards cricket ground in Antigua and Barbuda.
But we should have expected this given the embarrassment of the two previous experiences at the Sir Vivian Richards cricket ground.
The entire sporting population of Antigua and Barbuda knows that the facility was located in a virtual water hole. What happened at the start of the second test was that the Sir Vivian Richards cricket ground has become something of a beach.
Of course here in St Vincent and the Grenadines it is the same designation that has been reserved for the Stubbs Playing Field, one of the grounds upgraded for the ‘goat cook’ cricket matches that we had prior to the commencement of the CWC2007. It is now popularly known as ‘The Beach’.
In the case of the second test in Antigua and Barbuda, the West Indies could not bowl with any level of proficiency and the match had to be abandoned, giving the English sports writers enough material for a lifetime.
How embarrassing this must be for a West Indies Cricket Board that has already earned itself a gold medal for embarrassing situations in the sport we once saw as an important liberating influence on the peoples of the Caribbean.
In haste, the government of Antigua and Barbuda, itself mired in the preparations for pending general elections, has called for an inquiry into the disaster even before the WICB seeks to do so. Indeed one has not heard any such intention being expressed by the WICB. Perhaps it is a matter of the masters of the sport in the region believing that all is well.
To save some face the WICB and the English have agreed to include an additional test match, extending the series to five tests, with the third being convened at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
Garth Wattley (15 February 2009) noted, But it is the cricket and the little ground in the middle of town that will have to come to the rescue today.
The ARG yesterday was the scene of something like a national effort to set things right. Gangs of cleaners were busy sweeping through the dusty stands; ground staff tried to cover over as best they could the very visible markings from football, the main activity here since international cricket left St John’s in 2006; and even the local fire service pitched in, helping with the watering of the ground.