The die is cast
March 13, 2007
There is no more room for delays or mistakes in relation to hosting Cricket World Cup 2007. The opening ceremony is over and today the first teams – West Indies and Pakistan - begin the quest top honours in the cricketing world.
This race to host the Cricket World Cup actually began a decade ago when the various countries tendered their bids. West Indies, who won the first two World Cup tournaments in 1975 and 1979, had never hosted what is considered the third largest sporting event in the world after the Summer Olympics and World Cup football.
The region was considered too small; incapable of hosting the throngs that attend the sport. Then the organisers recognised that more than one country could co-host the event so when the tournament moved to Asia, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, for the first time more than one country got a chance to host the prestigious event.
This time around, West Indies, which comprises a series of countries, but which appear on the international stage as one nation, is the host. This called for the construction of new stadiums since the existing Test venues were found to be inadequate. The grounds were considered small and with the new found precautions against terrorism, there is need for even more secure venues.
In our part of the world, the threat of terrorism never raised its head simply because we are a peaceful and fun-loving people. We are known internationally for our hospitality but given the global aspect of terrorism the International Cricket Council appears to want to avoid any untoward event.
It surely would not want to be caught in a position in which Germany found itself during the Summer Olympics of 1972, in Munich, when a group of Palestinian terrorists swarmed the venue and killed nearly a dozen Israeli athletes.
In Guyana we are about to complete the necessary security arrangements. For the first time, patrons to a cricket venue in Guyana would have to pass through three checkpoints. For the first time in the history of this country people will not be able to secure tickets to matches by simply turning up at the venue.
This is going to be one of the benefits to this country as a result of hosting Cricket World Cup. It is going to help create a disciplined people who would recognise the need for planning.
Those who at one time made money by counterfeiting tickets have been stumped. Further, for the first time in this country the penalties are really meaningful. No one found guilty of an offence related to CWC 2007 would be in a position to smile because the penalty is far more excessive that if a person were to be caught with a small quantity of an illegal drug.
Yet, there are some aspects of these arrangements that could affect the way West Indians enjoy their cricket. We have never been known to sit idly by and watch the game meander to whatever conclusion it would have. We dance, we cheer excellent cricket whether it is coming from the opposition or from our own people; we make noise, bringing the game to life regardless of how dull the state of play might be.
We are learning that there are going to be restrictions on certain musical instruments. We walk with our picnic baskets because cricket is about picnicking. That, too, may be affected since we are not allowed bottles of any kind.
For us, alcohol is a pastime and for some people there could be no good cricket outing without the alcohol. Of course we are an ingenious people and for all the security arrangements we will have our way. Yet the law-abiding among us would feel cramped because we would conclude that something has been taken from us.
Already there is talk that the region has surrendered its birthright by allowing the ICC to have so much say in the things that we do. We welcome the arrangements at the points of entry but we reserve the right to enjoy ourselves as only we know how.
And as if in keeping with tradition, we are still fighting to apply the finishing touches to certain aspects of our facility—the National Stadium at Providence. Again, this is what we do best, waiting until the last minute to complete anything.