by Karla Berridge
St. Kitts and Nevis will welcome cricket back to the islands with the hosting of the ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket Tournament from January 15th to 21st.
This, the 14th hosting of the tournament is the first time the event will be held in the West Indies and the WI team will be hoping for a second win.
The tournament will feature 16 teams, playing 64 matches in 21 days. This will mean that there will be up to 4 matches each day in 2 host countries across 21 venues.
St. Kitts and Nevis will host 18 matches; eight warm-up matches and 10 group stage matches.
For the tournament, SKN will host teams such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, England, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Sri Lanka, Scotland and the West Indies.
Teams will arrive in St. Kitts and Nevis by January 3rd 2021, with the first warm-up match being played on January 9th.
Tournament Director Fawaz Baksh at a ceremony held on Monday said “Cricket for us is not just a sport, it is our culture, it’s our identity and it unifies us and whenever there is cricket in the West Indies we feel it.”
According to the cricket official, the strategic objectives of the tournament include attracting young men and women to the game and supporting the strategic plan to develop facilities across the region.
St Kitts and Nevis are providing five of the 21 critical match venues needed for the tournament; Warner Park Cricket Stadium and Conaree Cricket Center as well as St. Pauls Sporting Complex, St. Mary’s Park and Edgar Gilbert Sporting Complex where practice sessions will be held.
President of Cricket West Indies Ricky Skerrit said “It is not often we have the best young players from around the world visiting the West Indies.”
“What makes this tournament special is that it is the first time we are having a tournament of this nature. It’s under 19 but that’s what makes it exciting because it is the future. Along with hosting the tournament, we have to produce a team that will be a winning team.”
Minister of Sport Jonel Powell said St. Kitts and Nevis is pleased to participate and be a host nation. He said “We are not unfamiliar with hosting international matches on a world stage. Up to recently, we have shown that St. Kitts and Nevis has come a very long way and has come to master the skill of properly hosting these types of matches and events.”
“Come January, we are going to welcome the world here to St. Kitts and Nevis to look at top-class cricket across five stunning venues…The government has recognized the importance of not just cricket but sport in general and in particular sports tourism; cricket, particularly because that, is our national sport here in the West Indies. We continue to do what we have to do to develop our own cricketers and I am happy Mr Skerrit would have referred to the five players based on Nevis who have that opportunity to make that final team.”
He said, “ We continue to make investments in our facilities, make investments in our people, to ensure that we maximize in the opportunities for our young developing cricketers and for us to be able to showcase St. Kitts as a true sport tourism destination.”
In light of the ongoing pandemic, the Sports Minister said the aim is to host the matches in a safe healthy efficient manner. “We would have gone through significant protocols in terms of hosting the CPL games recently so we are all aware of what we need to do and we are on top of our game. “
Addressing a question about the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, Minster Powell said the cabinet expects to meet and receive a health briefing from the National Covid19 Taskforce and discuss the national response to the variant.
“There will be certain protocols in place to ensure that we minimize any potential risk coming in. I can tell you that there will be no exceptions made to the ICC cohort coming in for these matches. They have agreed to and will abide by our national protocols and I can tell you that their own internal protocols exceed our minimum protocols. I am fully confident that whatever the final decisions are, that they will be made properly, made with all the necessary considerations in mind.”
Matches in St. Kitts will be played from Jan 15 to 21 with the final match being played on January 22 between Bangladesh & the UAE at Warner Park Cricket Stadium.
West Indies will play the first match in St. Kitts on Jan 17th, 2021.