On our way
March 29, 2007
THE first match yesterday in the Super Eight round of Cricket World Cup 2007 being played at the spanking new stadium at Providence on the East Bank Demerara ended up being a nail-biting affair.
While the attendance could have been better and the comments about the exterior of the stadium by some television commentators were less than flattering, the pitch and the outfield provided a good surface for an interesting first game.
Most of the comments about the playing surface were good and all the speculation about the unpredictability of the pitch was soon put to rest. The outfield was lush green and fast despite the rains of the past few days, and the pitch itself held true for the entire duration of the match.
This first contest played between South Africa and Sri Lanka seemed destined for a tame finish until the final few overs when the Sri Lankan strike bowler Malinga almost brought off what at one stage seemed the impossible.
South Africa were cruising to victory when with a quick burst of four wickets without conceding a run, Malinga rocked the South African lower order and brought his team within one wicket of victory. In the end, however, the South Africans held their nerves and prevailed in a contest that saved all the excitement for the dying stages.
The match also answered a number of questions about Guyana’s readiness to host this tournament. First, there were concerns that the weather would not hold. In fact, over the past few days there had been some rain but the weather held and allowed a full day’s play.
Secondly, there were concerns about our ability to handle the large number of tourists expected for the Guyana leg. Hundreds of cricket fans have been pouring into the country but given the absence of India and Pakistan from the second round, the overall numbers were expected to fall not only for Guyana but also for the other Caribbean countries.
Nonetheless, the turnout for the first match must have been a great disappointment for the local organisers.
Apart from the match involving the West Indies to be played Sunday, yesterday’s game was one of the highlight matches of Guyana’s six-match itinerary.
The crowds did not turn out for this first encounter. This sadly has also been the trend in other countries within the region.
The less than anticipated turnout meant that all systems could not be fully tested. However, it does give organisers some time to remedy any hiccups they may have encountered. With a larger crowd we will be in a better position to assess how the traffic, parking, crowd control, security and seating arrangements work out.
The next match slated for tomorrow is expected to attract a larger spectator turnout though not as much as the sold-out crowd expected for West Indies encounter Sunday.
Friday’s match should provide another dry run to test our ability to handle a large crowd and the many arrangements, including traffic that may need to be put in place.
Initial reports indicate that there were no major problems and everything went off smoothly. By Sunday, we should have a better appreciation of how much we have passed the test in hosting this tournament.
But for the time being the signs are positive that we are well on the way to successfully hosting the Super Six round of Cricket World Cup 2007.