Cricket Board President says situation worrying

by Ryan Naraine
Guyana Chronicle
January 11, 1998

THE Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) yesterday confirmed that rowdy and illegal street protests being mounted by the minority PNC could jeopardise the Guyana leg of the English tour.

"If the situation continues, it could certainly cause us to lose the Test match in Guyana. Remember, the hotel (Le Meridien Pegasus) where the players will be staying was bombed recently. Yes, it is very worrying," GCB President, Mr Chetram Singh, told the Chronicle yesterday.

A bomb blast at the Le Meridien Pegasus hotel shattered 19 glass sliding doors last Tuesday morning. Since that bombing, two international airlines - British West Indian Airways (BWIA) and Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) - have withdrawn from contracts to accommodate their in-transit employees at the hotel.

Reports say the English Cricket Board (ECB) has been in contact with the British Foreign Service about the situation in Guyana where the PNC has been mounting daily street demonstrations to protest the results of the December 15 general elections.

"The Foreign Service is monitoring the situation and we will take advice from them," an ECB official was quoted as saying. The British Foreign Service has reportedly described the political climate here as "tense and volatile" and has advised Britons to travel to Guyana only if necessary.

The GCB boss, however, feels that any talk of abandoning the Guyana leg of the English cricket tour is "premature".

"I would want to think it is a bit premature to talk of abandoning the Test match in Guyana. The Test match is six weeks away," he argued.

Singh said he had spoken to Chief Executive Officer of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Mr Steve Camacho, on the recent reports.

"It is too early to talk about abandoning the Test match. But, if things don't settle down, we could be in for some trouble," Singh warned.

"I understand the fear (of the ECB). We all want a resolution to the political situation," he added.

Singh, the Guyana representative on the WICB, said the regional board has not received official word from the ECB on its concerns.

"I spoke to Mr Camacho and he has not heard anything official from the England Board. They have not said anything to our Board on the situation. But, the reports are indeed worrying," Singh said in an interview yesterday.

The England team is due in Guyana from February 18 to March 4 for a three-day match against Guyana, followed by the third Test from February 27 to March 3.

"We have started to plan for the Guyana leg of the tour. If everything goes according to plan, we will be ready for cricket next month," he asserted.