“[…] It would verge on the immoral for the ICC and/or CWI to repeat the unfortunate 2007 World Cup experience of setting ticket prices that the local fans simply cannot afford.
“Speaking of affordability, CWI also now needs to seriously reconsider the current online pricing of its West Indies team shirts. Whoever it is at CWI’s Antigua Factory Road headquarters who thinks that, given the senior team’s recent embarrassingly shoddy 2021 T20 World Cup performance, even the most loyal WI cricket fan will readily pay around US$75 for a team shirt must surely be suffering from a very severe and chronic case of delusion…”
Veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira and Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt suggest how the CWI and ICC can make the 2022 U19 and 2024 T20 World Cups benefit the Caribbean:
Global cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Conference (ICC), recently announced that the West Indies and the USA will host the 2024 T20 World Cup, the third edition of the tournament in as many years.
The announcement of the 2024 T20 World Cup assignment was very quickly followed by the announcement of the official match schedule for the region’s hosting of the 2022 U19 World Cup between January 14 and February 5 at venues in Antigua, Guyana, St Kitts and Trinidad.
These two undoubtedly wonderful ICC World Cup hosting assignments could not have come at a better time for West Indies cricket. Understandably, following the West Indies team’s calamitous performance in the recently concluded ICC 2021 T20 World Cup, morale among even the staunchest fans must now be at an all-time low.
The forthcoming U19 World Cup will provide the region’s rising stars with numerous opportunities to showcase their talents to a global audience, while playing in home conditions with which they should by now be familiar and comfortable.
Placed in the tournament’s Group D, the West Indies’ preliminary round opponents will be Australia, Scotland and Sri Lanka. Unlike their senior counterparts in the recent T20 World Cup, they will be expected to progress beyond the preliminary round into the tournament’s playoff stage.
Guyana’s exciting batsman Matthew Nandu and promising fast bowler Isaiah Thorne as well as the Barbadian-born trio of batsman Rivaldo Clarke, seamer Johan Layne and wicket-keeper Kevin Wickham are among those expected to feature prominently for the West Indies Rising Stars during the forthcoming U19 World Cup.
With the WI white ball teams now somewhat in a state of flux, in both the T20 and 50-over formats, every member of the WI final U19 World Cup squad should indeed be embracing each actual U19 World Cup playing opportunity with the mindset that consistently outstanding performances on their part could well open the doors to subsequent senior team selection.
The region’s hosting of the 2022 U19 World Cup should also serve as a useful dress rehearsal for the much more prestigious and significant 2024 50-over World Cup.
In that regard, both the ICC and Cricket West Indies can now be justifiably accused of having done the U19 World Cup’s host countries and Caribbean tourism on the whole a major disservice with the very late announcement of the tournament’s playing groups and match schedules.
The announcement of the match schedules actually came on November 17, less than two months before the tournament’s January 14 start.
As such, the rather unfortunate delay might now prove to have not allowed sufficient time for supporters of the participating countries—particularly the thousands of North America-based fans of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, not to mention those of defending champions Bangladesh as well as the family members and friends of Team Canada—to make the necessary arrangements for travel to the Caribbean in support of these teams.
As hugely important as it is to the small island economies of Antigua and St Kitts, if not quite so much to those of Guyana and Trinidad, Caribbean tourism has been significantly devastated by the ongoing Covid-provoked international travel disruptions.
As such, the industry’s overall recovery would have benefited tremendously from the boost that a far more timely announcement of the match schedules would have provided.
The ball having already been dropped on the scheduling announcement for the 2022 U19 World Cup, it is hoped that, as far as 2024 is concerned, both the ICC and CWI won’t make as much of a royal mess as they did during the Caribbean’s hosting of the 2007 World Cup. The colossal mistakes that were made then are easily identifiable and need to be avoided this time around.
At the very top of the list would be the actual timing of the tournament. The 2007 tournament was staged from March 13 to April 28, at a prime time for Caribbean hotels when available rooms were still being filled by the normal sun-seeking tourists. Meeting the added needs of the 16 participating teams, their players, support staff, media and tournament staff severely strained hotel room capacity in the hosting countries.
And we have not even mentioned the needs of travelling spectators and fans.
Rather than a March–April timeframe, the 2024 World Cup should instead ideally be held in July/August. This would be the timeframe that would be most advantageous for the Caribbean’s hotels to accommodate all those visitors associated with the tournament.
Another 2007 fiasco that will need to be corrected is the pricing of entry tickets for the tournament games. Unlike the 2007 experience, ticket prices for the 2024 World Cup must take account of the economic realities of the Caribbean countries doing the hosting.
It would verge on the immoral for the ICC and/or CWI to repeat the unfortunate 2007 World Cup experience of setting ticket prices that the local fans simply cannot afford.
Speaking of affordability, CWI also now needs to seriously reconsider the current online pricing of its West Indies team shirts. Whoever it is at CWI’s Antigua Factory Road headquarters who thinks that, given the senior team’s recent embarrassingly shoddy 2021 T20 World Cup performance, even the most loyal WI cricket fan will readily pay around US$75 for a team shirt must surely be suffering from a very severe and chronic case of delusion!
Said individual must also be totally unaware of the comparative pricing for the now far more valuable team shirts of tournament winners and World Cup Champions Australia as well as the shirts of the other three T20 World Cup semi-finalists England, Pakistan and New Zealand, each of which can be purchased for under US$50!
Rather than its current unscrupulous overpricing, between now and 2024, CWI should seek to produce a highly affordable and attractive WI team shirt that every fan would not only want to purchase but, more importantly, would be easily able to purchase.
Thus, whenever the WI team steps onto the field for its 2024 World Cup matches, it should be in venues filled with a majority of supportive local fans, well decked out in their WI team shirts.
In 2007, local fans were initially prohibited from taking their flags, conch shells, horns, vuvuzelas and other noise-makers into the match venues. Such an abomination must not be repeated in 2024.
A World Cup staged in the Caribbean must be fully reflective of our way of life and with absolutely no unjustified restrictions imposed on the way we express ourselves in support of cricket being played at its highest level.
So what is in the offing is a 2022 U19 World Cup dress rehearsal as hosts and two years thereafter to get things absolutely right for our big 2024 show!
Two most wonderful assignments to look forward to!