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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” May 31, 2024)

The countdown is over. Beginning tomorrow with the opening game between Canada and the United States in Dallas, Texas, and ending with the championship game set for Bridgetown, Barbados, on June 29, lovers of “excitement cricket” anticipate a treat like never before.

The West Indies and the United States play host to this ninth edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, which will feature 20 teams competing across 55 games for the right to be crowned ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 Cricket champions.

West Indian cricket lovers expect not just the hyped excitement that comes with sixes, fours and wickets. They will settle for no less than a repeat of the magic that led the team to victory in 2012 and 2016. While our bowling is suspect, the team, on paper, has the batting talent to challenge all contenders.

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Another reason Caribbean people will settle for nothing less than success is the great sacrifice and investment of regional governments to ensure that the grounds in Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines meet the demanding standards set by the International Cricket Committee.

Here in SVG, our government is spending between $38 and $50 million. It is a high price to pay to host five games with a guaranteed US$325,000 return on each game. Like hosting the CELAC 8th Summit last March, Sandal Resort will make a handsome fee, while small hotels, guest houses, and taxi drivers will thrive as visitors flock to our shores.

Can the dance pay for the light? For some, no investment is too high, no matter the nation’s glaring deficiencies and urgent demands. However, we are allied with the sentiments of Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, who, explaining Jamaica’s decision not to bid for the games, said, “I was obliged to look beyond immediate gratification and could not defend the cost of staging games.”

For perspective, a cricket stadium built in New York for the World Cup is estimated to have cost upwards of US$30 million. It will host a few games, only to be demolished soon after the tournament ends.

Of all the names in international cricket at the moment, none looms larger than Virit Kohli. India disappointed badly last year, losing to Australia in the 50-over cricket World Cup before its home crowd. Kohli scored the most runs in that effort but failed to lift the trophy. Look for him to do everything to will his team to triumph and redemption.

Babar Azam of Pakistan is another player to watch. He has undoubtedly established himself as one of the best cricketers in the world. He is in fine form, and his country would be leaning heavily on him if it were to have any hope.

England Jofra Archer is back after a long absence due to injury. Born to a Barbadian mother and English father, his raw pace may prove decisive. Captain Josh Buttler will also lean heavily on Johnathan Bairstow, Phil Salt, and Sammy Curran if England were to hoist the ICC trophy for the third time.

Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan has his work cut out for him. His country’s fortune lies mainly on his shoulders. Khan is arguably his nation’s biggest star and most important player. He must shine as a bowler, lower-order batsman, and captain if Afghanistan is to pass the first round of games. This team may surprise many onlookers.

Bangladesh, Canada, the United States, Nepal, Ireland, and Zimbabwe are essential to lengthening the tournament, generating enthusiasm for cricket in their home country, and, most importantly, filling the ICC coffers, especially with fees from television rights and coverage.

Cricket-crazed Australia, England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and the West Indies are always in the hunt.  On paper, any of these teams can match and outclass each other. The big question is which of them will rise to the occasion and sufficiently withstand the pressures of the format to do that merry dance at Kennington Oval, Barbados, at the June 29 final.

There is a big issue regarding the West Indies team. In the India Premier League (IPL), where players make big money for three hours of a day’s play over six weeks, Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran, and Shemron Hetmyer are household names. Russell, 36, played a crucial role in Kolkata Knight Riders’ title-winning run at the recently concluded IPL. Russell is also a West Indies 2012 and 2016 winning campaigns veteran. Caribbean cricket fans are hoping beyond hope that he, Pooran and Hetmyer create some of the magic they often do while playing on the Asian sub-continent.

Shemar Joseph, whose excellent performance helped the West Indies gain a semblance of respectability in Australia with a 5- and 7-wicket haul in two test matches, may bring some hostility and fire to the West Indies attack. However, in the just-concluded IPL, he played just one game after being roughed up over four overs. The region’s hope may hang on him being a devastating early wicket-taker in the opponents’ innings.

Vincentians are pleased that home town boy Obed Mc Coy was called up for play. His previous outings for the West Indies have been even par. He is economical and is a valuable death bowler.

West Indies captain Rovman Powell, his deputy Azzari Joseph and the entire team have their work cut out for them. They cannot afford to disappoint.

Over the next 30 days, expect a lot of exciting screams and shouts as batsmen strike balls past the boundary line, into the stands or, fielders clutching dramatic catches, or when wickets fall.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

One reply on “T20 Cricket: let the games begin”

  1. Any business person with testify its a gamble. That’s why it is called an investment. With cameras rolling our flag and our name Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will be displayed- then come the Google search, then come the intrest to visit.

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