IT’S one of the toughest jobs in cricket, one of the least glamourous, and one of the most thankless, but today the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) want to salute the grounds staff at all eight of our international venues.
Earlier this week, the WICB released the results of the competition for the best pitch and outfield preparation for the 2002 Cable & Wireless Test and limited-overs international series between West Indies and India.
West Indies captain Carl Hooper and India captain Sourav Ganguly, along with match referees Ranjan Madugalle for the Tests and Mike Procter for the limited-overs international judged the competition.
The contest was introduced by the WICB to encourage grounds staff to produce their best work.
Venues were judged in the categories of pitch bounce, pitch competitiveness, pitch appearance, pitch management, outfield evenness, outfield appearance, and outfield management.
The WICB wants to offer congratulations to the grounds staff at Barbados’ Kensington Oval, Jamaica’s Sabina Park, and Trinidad & Tobago’s Queen’s Park Oval for gaining the top marks during the series.
These individuals who dedicate themselves to procuring the best pitches and outfields so that fans can enjoy the performances of the game’s top stars work tirelessly.
They are the first to arrive at the ground and more often than not the last to leave, but to watch them work and hear them talk about the preparations that they have put in to producing the stage on which the game’s great stars can perform, is a revelation.
Many of them are very dedicated to the job and know that their efforts are critical to the contest.
They know that too much or too little of something can make the difference between one side winning and another losing.
Though they will say that the players have got to be able to play the game properly when one side loses, complaints may be directed to the standard of the pitch.
Similarly, the WICB has recognised the value and importance of the efforts of these hardworking individuals and we have tried where possible to make their job much easier and, at the same time, have offered them an incentive for outstanding work.
The WICB through its Development Unit headed by Dr. Michael Seepersaud has over the last two years hosted a Curators’ Workshop to offer grounds staff at the various ground a forum to share experiences and gain valuable knowledge and insight into pitch and outfield preparation.
Over the years, the complaints were coming fast and furious about the unpredictable nature of our pitches and the WICB felt it was important to pay close attention to this vital area of the game.
The WICB knows that there is still a long way to go, but are happy with the results that we are seeing and will continue to build on the groundwork that we have established over the last couple of years.
The WICB hopes that in time to come that no longer will the pitch or the outfield draw the ire of the players. We know there is no exact science, but wherever possible we want to help the grounds staffs at the venues across the Caribbean limit the possibilities of costly errors.
So to the winners of this year’s grounds staff competition, we say to them take a bow and keep up the good work.
To the others, this presents a challenge for them to make next year’s competition far more interesting by producing just as good playing conditions as Hendy Davis, Charlie Joseph and Curtis Roberts and their teams or better than.