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Arnos Vale Sports Complex on Friday, June 8, 2024. (Photo: Facebook/API)
Arnos Vale Sports Complex on Friday, June 8, 2024. (Photo: Facebook/API)
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The promised game to test the systems at Arnos Vale Sports Complex ahead of the venue’s first 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match on Thursday will not materialise.

On Friday, the floodlights at the venue — which were installed as part of the hosting agreement — were tested for the first time at night.

The facility has missed the June 1 completion deadline for the upgrades to host the matches. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said that the paving of the concrete road that spectators will use to access the stadium will be completed by Monday.

On May 29, Michael “Mike” Findlay, a member of the local organising committee, told the media that organisers were hoping to test the three pitches to be used in the tournament, but mainly the match venue at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex.

“And that will be done when everything is in place, the lights and scoreboards and everything when that is ready, then we’ll do it…” Findlay had said, adding that the game would have been between two local teams. 

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“But whether or not we pitch it to the height that we’ll want to bring in a lot of people to the ground, we don’t know as yet because we’re still in the stages of organising that,” Findlay had said.

At that same press conference, Findlay had said that the country was  “on target” to meet the June 1 deadline by which it must hand over to the International Cricket Council (ICC) the local venues for the 2024 Cricket World Cup.

However, on Wednesday, Gonsalves noted that an announcement had been made about a preliminary game between two teams to test everything at the venue.

“But I think it was decided by everybody that that’s probably not wise and you could perhaps open it before for people to see on an evening, people to see how things are without actually a game being played,” Gonsalves said on NBC Radio.

“Because you got to be careful about the pitches and the preparation. Because you can have all the party pools and everything at the end of the day what is going to be critical for the cricket is that you have good cricket pitches and that you have good outfield, good drainage and everything…”

He noted that in one of the games played in the United States, Bangladesh had to make 75 runs to win.

“Fellas hit the ball over and the thing just drop and one ball coming up to your throat another one going down low,” Gonsalves said.

“And they won with 75 in a T20. Now we don’t want games like that. So, we want to have good pitches,” he said. 

He also noted the low turnout at one of the opening matches in Guyana last weekend, between Nepal and Papua New Guinea.

“The people in Georgetown, Guyana not going to be too enthused about that…” Gonsalves said of the teams and expressed optimism about higher turnouts at the matches in St. Vincent.

The Arnos Vale Sports Complex hosts its first games on Thursday, between Bangladesh and Netherlands at 10:30 a.m. Then, on Friday, South Africa play Nepal at 7:30 p.m. followed by the Bangladesh-Nepal encounter on June 16, also at 7:30 p.m.

Action returns to the venue on June 22, at 8:30 p.m. with a match between the winner of C1 and B2 and then on June 24 between the winner of C1 and D2, also at 8:30 p.m.

“I believe we’re going to have good turnout — and the lights and the new ambience, people want to see how the $38 million … was spent. The lights and the scoreboard and the mound and all the rest of it,” Gonsalves said. 

“And justifiably so. … of every dollar of that $38 million, 70 cents of it went into new things: the lights, the scoreboard, the mound, the roads,” he said, noting that the pools that are part of the mound are above-ground, mobile pools.

“… the roads should be finished the ninth or the 10th — Sunday night Monday and importantly,” the prime minister said.

“As you’d imagine, there are a number of little snags: there’s a gate to repair, there a couple of tiles need to clean, some garbage to be collected, some of the banners to be put up at this place or that place — little annoying things,” the prime minister said.

He said there need to be some education of construction workers so that they dispose of food scraps properly so as to not attract dogs.

“And all those things have to be cleaned up and so on.”

He said that the Minister of Urban Development, Energy, Seaports, Grenadines Affairs and Local Government, Senator Benarva Browne, a town planner, had walked through the venue.

He said Browne is very interested in cricket and has an eye for details.

“… and I got a seven-page, eight-page list of a number little things, very small things, which should within a day or two be sorted out, but you have to identify them. And they will be dealt with,” the prime minister said.

“So, all told, I think we have done a pretty good effort,” he said, adding that ICC/Cricket West Indies awarded us the matches in October.

“And the Cabinet meeting immediately afterwards, Oct. 25, where the decisions were made to set up all the various institutional systems and structures and to recruit people and so on and so forth to set about to do this exercise.”

Gonsalves said that 20 local contractors performed different jobs at the site, in addition to “half a dozen regional and global contractors…”

He said that taking into account the Christmas-New Year week, the government had six months to prepare the site.

“It has been a Herculean effort,” Gonsalves said of the stadium which saw subpar maintenance after the upgrades for the 2007 cricket World Cup.

“And I want to thank all the workers, all the managers, all the state agencies, all the contractors, everybody, of course, some people as you would know did better than others, you would expect unevenness,” Gonsalves said.

He said people had built three to five shacks at the mouth of the river near the stadium.

“Well, it is dangerous because a slight increase in the flow of the water will move them. So, I asked that they’d be moved and the requisite arrangements as we always do,” the prime minister said.

“There’s somebody with some old vehicle, some old part somewhere nearby…  So, there are little bits and pieces like that. And I’m hoping that all those who would have done things which are contrary to the common good, that they respond reasonably to the authorities,” Gonsalves said.

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1 Comment

  1. Brother Mike, you are right! If there are any deficiencies, they would be exposed and can be fixed before the tournament. The June electrical failure is a typical example of what can and may happen.
    Our friendship goes back many years and I trust your judgement, not Ralphs’.

    Reply

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