Everything set for Digicel Test Match between WI & Bangladesh
July 3, 2009
Everything set for Digicel Test Match between WI & Bangladesh


by Rohan Thomas

When play is called on July 9th in the first Digicel Test Match between the West Indies and Bangladesh at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, the only worry of the Operations Superintendent at the National Sports Council (NSC) Lauron Baptiste will be the weather.{{more}}

Baptiste thinks that everything else will be in place as the NSC is keeping its end of the bargain to produce a top class facility, as this country hosts its second test match.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the Arnos Vale Playing Field last Saturday afternoon, the outfield was in immaculate condition, with Baptiste himself involved in the cutting of the ground.

Visible, too, was the work being done on the large scoreboard on the eastern side, with a small one being erected on the western side between the President’s Suite and the Mike Findlay Pavilion.

Wearing a broad grin, Baptiste told SEARCHLIGHT: “It is the best it has been since 2006”.

The main Arnos Vale One and Two, Sion Hill and Stubbs Playing Fields underwent extensive outfield work three years ago for the staging of warm up matches ahead of Cricket World Cup 2007.

However, following soil analysis done last year by Agri -Services International in Florida, all four fields were deemed to be deficient in the nutrients Potash, Nitrogen, Phosphate, Boron and Zinc.

With a sense of accomplishment, Baptiste said that he and his team have been able to overcome the obstacles, with regard to the sand based outfield at Arnos Vale One, which was patchy in many areas and proved difficult to maintain.

The NSC had embarked on an aggressive maintenance programme which employed a two pronged approach, both scientifically and practically.

He said that part of this approach was the use of top soil to mix with the bay sand.

In addition, Baptiste was able to develop a fertilization method of his own, which feeds the cut grass back into the ground.

The result now is a green top, which Baptiste boasted is “among the best in the Caribbean, maybe only Barbados can rival it”.

Baptiste, trained in Agronomy, on the actual strip to be used for the test match, which is set to run from Thursday, July 9, to Monday, July 13, said: “There will be a lot of grass, and there will be no roll in grass on the pitch”.

“We are trying to get it right in terms of the clay content, as you saw in the Windwards versus Trinidad and Tobago match, there was good bounce”, Baptiste, a former St. Vincent and the Grenadines senior cricketer, and former Windwards Under -19 Captain, stated.

Baptiste revealed that getting the ground ready for the test match has been his biggest venture thus far since taking up the post just over six months ago, as it has been non-stop work.

The Operations Superintendent added that the Wilf Slack Nets, located on the west of the adjoining Netball Complex, have also had some work done on them and complement the overall effort of covering all of the NSC’ s bases.

Baptiste said that the much problematic tri-vision advertising screens, located at the north and south of the ground, are fully operational.

Without thumping his chest, Baptiste said that with the help of a local electrician, a part electronic and part manual solution was found to make the two screens work.

Having achieved success with the screens here, Baptiste was summoned to St. Kitts / Nevis last week to rectify theirs, using the same mechanism as the Arnos Vale model.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines hosted its first test match twelve years ago when the West Indies played Sri Lanka in June 1997 at the same venue.

After the staging of next week’s test, the two nations will engage each other from July 17 to 21 in Grenada, in the second and final test.

Thereafter, both teams meet in three One Day Internationals and a Twenty/20 International.