Another wake up call

Orin Davidson's
Eye on Sport
Stabroek News
April 18, 1999

The sound on leather on willow last Wednesday in Grenada must be a wake up call not only to the cricket fraternity, but to sports administrations generally in Guyana.

The impressive Queen's Park cricket facility hosted its first ever One Day International in the Spice Isle without a hitch and from all indications it stands a very good chance of notching a permanent place on the itinerary for future regional tours by international teams.

Guyana, already relegated to the number five position as a test match venue, is in danger of attaining an identical rock bottom position for the one-day version of the game.

Our weak dollar has resulted in us being allocated only one match from seven in the current one-day series in which Trinidad and Barbados, who have two each in addition to hosting one each of the five-day Tests.

Without a doubt, Queen's Park has gained more points that the Grenada administrators could have hoped for. Apart from successfully staging last Wednesday's game, it became the first venue ever in the West Indies to sell out tickets two days prior to the start of an international match.

The 15,000 spectators who packed Queen's Park were very good news for the West Indies Cricket Board's treasury whose administrators are not about to attach sentiment when deciding on the allocation of matches. Guyana, being one of the founder countries of regional cricket and who have produced more than its fair share of super stars, have not been given any sympathy this year nor in the forceable future.

Grenada's Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, one the chief architects behind the realisation of the new Queen's Park ground, must be justifiably relishing the praises for his country, and the mileage had from television exposure to the world, especially in light of the potential benefits for the tourism industry there.

If the praises for Queen's Park are justified, more is in store for the Spice Isle as the 25 millon US dollars spent on ground is only one half of an ambitious sports facility project being undertaken by the Mitchell administration.

Not far off from the cricket ground, another facility is in process of construction for athletics, football and other outdoor team sports. A stadium, as we in Caribbean know it, no lesser in size nor in state of the art features, will soon be completed. When it does Grenada will be ushered into the elite circles of best developed Caricom countries in sport because of the availability of top class international stadia for cricket, football and athletics mainly. It will be a tremendous achievement for a country once deemed one of the LDC (Less Developed Countries). They would join Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados who have long ago set up internationally accepted sports facilities to host the big names in international sport. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Guyana. Once in the pre-independence days, our sports facilities were among the best in the region. Today instead of going forward we have slipped backwards. We still use the same cricket ground these days that was top notch then and which can hold no more than 10,000 paying spectators.

Worse that, this country is still without a stadium.

We allow the lottery fund to grow daily and opportunities are pass up to solicit help from friendly countries, to get the stadium plan off the ground.

The Grenada and Antigua governments, the latest of two so called LDC's to plough significant sums of money into construction of sports facilities are showing the type of maturity unfortunately lacking here, in their acceptance of sport as a very important tool in their respective country's development.

As they go forward, we slid further back and the shame intensifies.

Even the embarrassment of our athletes being forced to foreign countries to make qualifying standards for national selection, seems to have any effect on the decision makers.