Preparations accelerating at Guyana National Stadium
- outfield in immaculate condition, pitches should be ready next month
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News
January 27, 2007

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Journalists embarking on their first visit for the year to the Guyana National Stadium at Providence were yesterday impressed by the immaculate condition of the outfield.

The outfield was one of the major areas of concern when the Venue Assessment Team (VAT) visited the venue last November and it is evident that tremendous work is being done at the facility which will host six Super-Eight matches between March 28 and April 9.

Yesterday the outfield was being cut and manicured by one of the newly acquired multipurpose mechanical cutters and looked lush green. The ground was also being watered. The turf was firm and smooth and almost all of the sand which was evident during a practice match last year has disappeared.

Apart from the ‘Billiards Table smooth' Queens Park Oval's surface in Trinidad, the outfield at Providence looks better than the other CWC2007 match venues in the region and according to Guyana LOC's Cricket Operations Manager Clyde Duncan, the ICC team which visited Guyana on January 19 was very impressed with the standard of the outfield and described its compaction as ‘excellent'.

“They (ICC officials) advised us not to do too much heavy rolling and expressed the view that the outfield is match-ready at present. Our main focus now is bringing the practice pitch up to scratch and getting the pitches on the ground match-ready,”

Duncan added that the sophisticated cutter and proper irrigation have played a critical part in lifting the standard of the outfield which has been almost totally transformed from what it was less than a month ago.

The leading umpire disclosed that the ICC assessment team will return on February 6 and expressed confidence that by then the ground will be in an even better condition. The ICC team also inspected the practice venues (Bourda and Everest) and according to Duncan they did not inspect Bourda since they were already satisfied with the standard of Guyana 's lone Test venue.

“The ICC officials recommended sand filling on several areas at the Everest ground and we have already commenced work in that regard. Their main focus was Providence and in their official report they stated that the loose sandy areas on the ground have consolidated well and that there was 80% of the grass on the practice pitch. They however recommended that due to the limited time available, new fertilizer be used on the practice pitches. The square where the match pitches will be prepared has been re-grassed and the preparation of the six match pitches is almost completed,” Duncan revealed.

Duncan said he was optimistic that the practice area, located behind the players' dressing rooms and which will include four turf pitches and an all weather strip with surrounding and over-head nets, will be adequately finished in time for the first practice session in late March.

The bowlers' run-up and the square for the pitches have already been built while the concrete strip (which should take a few hours to construct) will be laid shortly.

An experienced member of the ground staff told Kaieteur Sport that ‘new' grass has been planted on the square and is being cut regularly to ensure that the surface ‘binds' properly.

“This should have been done from the beginning…they removed all the grass and because of the amount of sand in the soil, the pitch was not compact enough. This caused the low and slow bounce during the practice games,” he confided.

The veteran local curator opined that the pitches should be ready for cricket by mid-next month. He said once the curators are allowed to work on the pitch properly without interruptions from practices matches too soon, a good track with even bounce will be produced for the World Cup.

Minister responsible for Sports Dr Frank Anthony confirmed that no practice match will be played at the venue for at least the next three weeks and informed that a definite date for the official opening of the stadium has not been fixed. “We (LOC) decided to shift the scheduled regional cricket matches from the Stadium because we don't want to interrupt the ongoing work here by having people all over the place,” Anthony explained

He said it was felt that it would be better not to have matches at the Stadium that were not required by the ICC and allow especially the ground staff to spend extra time working on the pitch.

Although not as large in terms of stands as some of the other new Stadiums across the region, the infrastructural work at Guyana 's Stadium is ahead of most of other CWC2007 venues. Venue Manager Walter Willis confirmed that the Stadium Works is completed, adding that completion certificate was issued to Indian contractors Shapoorji Pallonji on January 15. This he said has a guarantee period of one year from that date (defects and liability period).

Shapoorji Pallonji workers will remain here until the World Cup and Willis revealed that 45% of the corrective work has already been completed. Willis said that 75% of the work outside of the actual Stadium building (car park, paving of access road, ring road inside the stadium compound) is completed while 40% of work on the ‘Red Zone Fence' (fence between the car park and stadium) has been completed.

The Public Works Ministry official said that the furniture and fitting for the players' dressing rooms and hospitality boxes are being put in place and informed that an area of security concern; the tangle net moat (device between the boundary rope and spectator stand), should be in place by February 6 in time for the ICC's next visit.

“We have been mandated to finish all of our work by February 28, but we are now striving to complete it before that date and be ready by the official handing over date which should be sometime around mid-February” Willis stated.

The Minister confirmed that TV replay screen has been rented for the event. He added that the cost of obtaining an electronic scoreboard proved prohibitive, especially since it was felt that not enough matches will be played at the Stadium after CWC to make the electronic scoreboard a viable option. A manual scoreboard, (built to all the ICC specifications) built in Guyana with Guyanese material, will be in place for the Super-Eight matches.