On Target
July 22, 2011
Arnos Vale Playing Field and its future

The coming on stream of Windsor Park in Dominica as the latest Test Cricket venue in the Caribbean has left our beloved Arnos Vale Playing Field relegated to an almost non bargaining chip.{{more}}

Windsor Park surely has upped its chances for future tour matches, by what it had to offer, when the West Indies faced the world number one test team India two weekends ago.

Yes, it was a novelty, in that, it was that island’s debut Test match. However, other smaller islands such as St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines also experienced that first time, but the crowds did respond in the manner in which Dominicans did.

The outpouring of support for the test match came at a time when the West Indies Cricket Board was yearning to have the venues filled, and Dominicans answered the call.

To have close to 10,000 persons filing in to get into the ground on the final day, at a princely admission fee of $5, when the West Indies was staring defeat in its face, is in itself an achievement. In addition, the moral support received by the regional side from the patrons adds to Dominica’s future chances.

It seems from this distance it was a national effort to make a good show, and this they did.

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt also got involved in the act, as he sold his island firstly to the Caribbean, to be bought by the world.

Therefore, the stage is set, as the logistical difficulties of Dominica will be overlooked as other factors are brought into the mix.

So, where does that put Arnos Vale, and more so St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

From 1981 to 2010, the Arnos Vale venue has hosted 20 One Day Internationals. One of the West Indies most successful grounds, the regional side has triumphed in seventeen, including thirteen consecutive wins from 1994 to 2004.

Two tests have also been staged here, in 1997 and in 2009.

No longer does the picturesque nature of the ground sell, but we are gradually being marginalized.

Two unofficial tests between West Indies A and Pakistan A last November, the serving of regional WICB four day matches, and next month’s hosting of four One Day Internationals between West Indies and Pakistan Women are the credits for the ground.

This year’s international Cricket calendar, which saw Pakistan and India visiting the region for a total of seventeen matches, yet none came our way.

Everyone is aware of the problems which followed the refurbishing of our facility at Arnos Vale.

The absence of an electronic replay screen and a fully operated electronic scoreboard are the debilitating factors, which have been given as an explanation against us being chosen to host One Day Internationals in recent times.

So are we going to roll over and play dead, and not seek to make the best of the worst of circumstances?

Certainly, ways and means must be found to make the showpiece ground a viable and marketable facility.

We cannot always wait on the crumbs that are not falling from the tables of the West Indies Cricket Board, or when some other regional or international event is hosted.

It cannot be left to those in charge of the National Sports Council, as they alone will not have the answer.

But have the authorities given up hope that the once revered playing facility is no longer a first class venue? Or have they softened their stance on its use?

The recent observations of the facility being used for sweat purposes cannot be condoned by this column. No flippant use of your premier facility should be encouraged.

The customary preference to national, regional and international competitions, be it Track and Field, Cricket, Football and Rugby, should continue.

It is this column’s candid view that any activity at the premier facility, apart from the casual walkers and the regular training that take place, must be of an organized format, since someone or some organization must be held accountable for any damage.

The authorities must be cognizant that it will be the same persons who will be critical of them, when the facility falls into a state of disrepair.

The future of the presence of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field is still a cause for concern for this column.