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Too Close For Comfort

By Orin Davidson

It’s exactly two months before World Cup 2007 but the silence emanating from the West Indies presently has a disconcerting feel to cricket fans far and wide.

The enormity of the event in itself should’ve raised the temperature as far away in North America, but as we wait for the final venue appraisal pass marks for the nine host countries from the International Cricket Council (ICC), one can only hope for the best.

Unlike the preparations for the next big Global sports event - the Olympics in Beijing China next year, the cricket World Cup is enduring a last minute rush as Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Antigua struggle to finish their new and refurbished playing facilities in time for the March 13 bowl off.

One year ago, each of the noted countries made emphatic promises about finishing everything by now.

Unfortunately, at a time when all of the new pitches should’ve been christened, construction work is still dominating all activities at the venues.

Therefore no one will know for sure whether the pace and bounce of pitches will be of the requirement so stridently demanded by ICC experts before construction began two years ago.

If one got the impression at the time, countries would’ve lost their hosting rights for not adhering to the excessive demands, it would be easy to conclude now, that it was mere ICC threats.

The Guyana Cricket Board for instance has been forced to revert to the GCC ground Bourda after boasting about plans to host current regional Carib and KFC Cup games at the Providence Stadium.

Word is that the country’s President Bharrat Jagdeo has informed the Board that construction work is still ongoing.

This is a steep comedown from the earlier projections of the entire facility being match- ready by October last year..

Hopefully it is not a case of another money fiasco, that has become an epidemic with big projects there, delaying the completion of the pavilion and stands, for a facility that was supposed to be way ahead of the others only recently.

In Jamaica while finishing touches are still ongoing at Sabina Park and Trelawney Stadium, we are hearing that the capital city Kingston is in a deplorable state that will be impossible to fix before the March 11 opening ceremony.

The last word out of Barbados indicates that refurbishing of Kensington Oval was stalled because the pavilion roof was not acquired on time.

Antigua’s Vivian Richards stadium has been past due for completion but so far things are silent on the home front in St John’s.

Outside of the facilities, the biggest challenge for CWC organizers would be the inter-island transportation for the thousands of fans and officials.

Unfortunately, any test run is impracticable.

From all appearances the biggest risk lies in this little talked about area which will ultimately make or break the World Cup.

And based on its recent evidence, the work of Air Jamaica, Caribbean Star, Caribbean Airlines and LIAT airlines would require special blessings from the Almighty to be successful.

Time will tell.
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