AS PART of the process of establishing an Institute for Cricket Excellence, the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill in Barbados hosted the annual Vice Chancellor's XI fixture against Australia at its re-developed outfield now renamed the Three Ws Oval.
The UWI recognises the need to make a sustainable contribution to the protection and enhancement of excellence achieved within the Caribbean through cricket, and the West Indies Cricket Board would like to offer its sincere appreciation for the University's continued work and recognition for the role the sport has played in the development of the region.
The UWI at Cave Hill were pioneers when they offered an under- graduate academic course entitled, The History of Cricket Culture since 1790. Two years later, the Centre for Cricket Research was established in what is now the Faculty of Humanities and Education.
There is no doubt that cricket has played an integral part in the development of the people of the Caribbean. It has often been said that West Indies cricket has been like a mirror of the societies in which Caribbean people live; reflecting the social conditions and challenges that we all face. This is the reason why the UWI sees it has responsibility to help in the nurturing of this great heritage.
The Institute for Cricket Excellence at Cave Hill is an ambitious project. It will feature five inter-related facilities: the Centre for Cricket Research, the Three Ws Oval, an Indoor Cricket School, the West Indies Cricket Walk of Fame, and an Outdoor Cricket School.
The Centre for Cricket Research has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring the link between cricket culture and academic studies is secured for the advancement of West Indies cricket and the Caribbean population.
The Centre has generated quite a bit of research and publications on all levels of West Indies cricket and has received great support from the WICB in any projects upon which it has embarked.
They have successfully hosted the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture since 1994, organised a series of public lectures throughout the region nine years ago in recognition of the 40th anniversary of Sir Garfield Sobers' Test debut and many other projects.
The Three Ws Oval will be the first of the UWI's three outfields to host a first-class match when the UWI Vice Chancellor's XI faces Australia there from April 26 to 28. Sir Frank Worrell, one the famed three Ws, designed the outfield at Cave Hill before his untimely death and this is an important way of paying homage to the "patron saint" of West Indies and Australia cricket contests.
The most appealing development of the facilities is the Indoor Cricket School. It has been constructed with the purpose of providing clinical training and coaching. There are six cricket pitches, all netted, and suited for coaching purposes.
The UWI hopes to provide this facility to its team that has been incorporated into the West Indies limited-overs championship, teams under the auspices of the WICB, national and regional cricket teams, clubs, and international teams.
It is the intention of the UWI to use the Indoor School to provide the West Indies cricket fraternity with a state-of-the-art training facility that articulates with the academic programmes and the data outputs of the Centre for Cricket Research.
The Outdoor Cricket School will accompany the indoor artificial playing surfaces. The three pitches will be netted and prepared to accommodate a variety of performance coaching objectives. The Outdoor School will be located next door to the Indoor School on the campus to enable easy access from one to the other. Finally, the Walk of Fame carries brass plates on which are engraved the names of all West Indies cricketers that have scored a Test century or captured five wickets or more in a Test innings, with the details of each achievement.
The Walk of Fame is located on the eastern embankment of the Three Ws Oval and is a natural relief that separates the burial site of Sir Frank Worrell and the outfield. The UWI sees the Walk of Fame as a cultural facility and representing a major heritage site in Barbados and the Caribbean. In summary, the UWI believes that the protection and enhancement of the excellence achieved in the Caribbean through cricket requires formal celebration and intellectual reflection. Hence, the Centre for Cricket Research, the Three Ws Oval, the West Indies Cricket Walk of Fame, the Indoor and Outdoor School form part of their contribution to preserving this majestic heritage.
The WICB fully supports them through all such initiatives as they continue to develop the academic programmes and practical training clinics to nourish and encourage a healthy cricket mentality and competitive capability that is relevant to West Indies cricket and our cricketers.