By L.K Hewlett
“We could not have asked for better weather, a better crowd, more energy nor a greater cricket match!”
These were the words of Charles Wilkin, Chairman of World Cup Cricket St.Kitts-Nevis, the day after the highly anticipated match.
With a massive crowd of more than 7600 people, all trepidation and concerns were cast to the wind as Kittitians and visitors alike revelled in a party-like atmosphere from the game’s start to its finish in the newly constructed stadium.
Although it fell short of being sold out by a mere 400 tickets, the new stadium was a sight to behold, as all the stands seemed to filled to capacity.
Cricket lovers and people who just went along for the ‘lime’ were undoubtedly in high spirits and displayed such an extreme amount of energy that even our beloved West Indies team felt it.
The roars and cheers could be heard from as far away as three streets over as the cricket match gained momentum.
“We had a few minor snags but we worked them out expeditiously, much to the delight and appreciation of the fans. The gates opened a bit later than had been announced, and it was amazing to see the huge crowd that had gathered and been waiting there since as early as 7 a.m.,” Wilkin commented. “There was also a problem where tickets were sold with the same seat number, but that too was ironed out with minor fuss. Those things occurred because of the newness of the whole thing. Hopefully everything will run smoothly for the upcoming Test Series.”
Wilkin said by all reports the entire event had been a rousing success. Despite bad rumors, speculation and general misinformation, a good time seemed to be had by all. The sun was out in all its glory as those not seated in the shade could be seen covering their heads with flags, rags and anything that could provide a bit of relief from the sun.
The Party Mound was by far the most festive as they jammed, blew conch shells and horns and raised numerous chants throughout the match.
A few complained about the dust and not being able to see the manual scoreboards properly, but still they managed to eat, drink and ‘be merry’ while watching the game.
“I’ve been to cricket in Grenada and Antigua, and this was by far my best experience. I had a blast from the get-go. Our stadium is right up there with all the rest, especially since they were still doing construction the day before the game. I was between two minds about coming because I thought all the rules and regulations would have cramped peoples style but they didn’t, and I’m so glad I came,” a local cricket veteran said.
One visitor said he found security was a little lax as people were roaming from stand to stand, which was not fair to those who had paid for the more expensive seats. He said it did not deter him from enjoying a very memorable game of cricket.
Wilkin said that aside from one minor scuffle between two ladies, which was not cricket related, the event was virtually incident free as Kittitians were on their best behaviour and did St. Kitts proud.
Even with so many persons drinking alcohol and feting, there were no reports of disorderly conduct.
“As far as the organisation is concerned, we are still on a learning curve. Fortunately, the few problems that we had did not affect spectator enjoyment. We were pleased to see so many visitors from as far away as India. Scores of fans also came from neighbouring islands such as Trinidad, St. Marten, B.V.I., and Antigua,” Wilkin said. “There is still room for improvement however, as our preparation for the match was complicated by our involvement in getting the stadium itself ready. Everything was being put in place at the same time and that made things extremely difficult. This was our test and I think by all accounts, we rose to the occasion.”
More work and some finishing touches have to be completed at the Warner Park for the June Test Series when West Indies and India collide again. The Party Mound is scheduled to be extended to hold 800 people as opposed to the 500 it can accommodate currently. Adjustments also have to be made in other areas such as security and traffic, although Wilkin did not go into specifics. Wilkin commended the committee for working tirelessly, the volunteers who showed true patriotism by going out and working hard at no financial gain, and to the locals and visitors who showed up and supported the event.
The West Indies 16-man team came in on Sunday evening and left very early Wednesday morning for Trinidad, no doubt feeling very proud. Brian Lara, captain of the team, complimented St. Kitts and its people on their facility, hospitality and unwavering support.
The cricket match came to a nailbiting conclusion, as West Indies had to make at least 1 run per ball by the last 20 balls in order to beat India and break the 1-1 tie coming into the match. This was not the first time in this series that the last few balls decided the match. It was pure pandemonium after Sarwan hammered the ball down to the boundary for 4 runs to cinch the game for the West Indies.
It was a momentous and emotional occasion for all, for many different reasons. It was a first for some to see an international cricket game live; it was a first for all to be our new stadiums and grounds; yet all were left impressed.
At the end of it all, fans walked away worn but happy, tired but satisfied. Wilkin admonished that we should not rest on our morels, as there are 12 other Caribbean countries vying for future ODIs and Test Series. St. Kitts is one of, if not the smallest in terms of capacity , and therefore attendance has to be good so that we can be seen as commercially attractive to the cricket board.