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GUYANA should, but won’t necessarily be part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, set to be hosted by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in 2007.
This frank revelation was made by Chief Executive Officer 2007 Cricket World Cup, Chris Dehring, at the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) annual awards ceremony, held at the Umana Yana on Friday night.
Speaking before an eminent audience, which included several ministers of the Guyana government, executives of the GCB, members of the Diplomatic Corps and awardees, Dehring stated that he knew he raised eyebrows and temperatures when he mentioned the possibility that Guyana does not have to be part of the World Cup. He pointed out that all of the so-called traditional countries - Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados - seem to take great offence when this suggestion is made as it relates to them.
According to Dehring, while he accepts the point that you are either a traditional venue or not, with respect, “I make the point that the inexact definition of the word ‘tradition’ in the context of defining a Caribbean cricketing nation, validates the need to refer to such venues as so called.”
Referring to the fact that the first ever West Indian Test victory was achieved on the hallowed turf at Bourda over 70 years ago, under a Guyanese captain no less, Dehring wondered whether in the context of establishing “tradition”, if this was greater than the achievements of tiny island of Antigua which first hosted a Test match just 23 years ago, producing a string of world rated Test cricketers which almost defies the logic of their size.
“No venue in the Caribbean has ever hosted an ICC World Cup match, so there can be no “traditional” World Cup venue,” Dehring asserted.
Dehring said one needed to understand the parameters of the ICC Cricket World Cup to appreciate that it is like no other cricket series to be held in the Caribbean. “And to compare the traditional hosting of a Test match to that of hosting a World Cup match is like using the qualification of being a teller in a commercial bank in Guyana to apply for the job as head of the World Bank.”
Dehring said the notion of “traditional venues” was actually raised by the Prime Ministers at the annual Heads of Government meeting, held in July last year in Guyana and it was unanimously agreed that all countries will have equal right to host matches in the 2007 World Cup, regardless of size and tradition. There will be no preferential treatment.
“First and foremost, what we are talking about is the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup. That is extremely important for people in the Caribbean to understand. This is not the West Indies’ World Cup, to do what we want with and to any standards we choose. There are standards to be met, even while maintaining a distinct Caribbean flavour,” Dehring told the audience.
The investment banker disclosed that the event in the Caribbean will be hosted by the West Indies, but right alongside us will be the ICC and the Global Cricket Corporation - a subsidiary of New Corporation, the global commercial rights holder to the event. The co-management of the event means that there will there be not only objectives of the WICB to be met but also objectives of the ICC and the international cricket community, of which we are a member. Also to be considered are the objectives of the commercial rights holders. “Windies World Cup 2007 has to be seen and appreciated as a global event that the West Indies have been given the privilege of hosting in 2007,” Dehring maintained.
Dehring stressed that the ICC World Cup is a global event and the region must approach and appreciate it as such. “We have already made the decision that the ‘big three’ - the semis and final will be played in countries under the aegis of the WICB. But that’s where it ends and competition will determine where all matches, including the semis and final will be played.”
Touching on the vexing issue of sponsorship, Dehring pointed out that the major commercial rights (television and sponsorship) of the 2003 and 2007 World Cups were sold two years ago for a guaranteed US$550M and the bulk of the cash was distributed between the two World Cups.
The World Cup, Dehring said, is a mammoth economic activity as the value of the television and sponsorship rights stands as testimony. “This international event will come with its international sponsors and there will be little room for domestic sponsors. In fact, it is anticipated that ‘sunset’ legislation will have to be put in place to guard against ambush marketing, such is the seriousness with which we have to protect the rights of international sponsors who have paid all that money. Understand clearly what we are saying because there will be grave consequences for Guyana if you do not. As an example, Bourda and its environs will have to be absolutely clean of all signage in order for it to be usable as an official stadium in 2007.
Dehring disclosed that the WICB will be contractually obligated to deliver certain commercial rights in order for the World Cup to be staged in the Caribbean and in turn countries wishing to host matches will be required to deliver certain commercial rights, including facilities. Those venues that do not have the required facilities will either have to put them in place or they will not be given any matches.