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McWatt and ‘Reds’ slam ‘Commess West Indies’ report on attendances at WI-Eng T20I Series

“[…] Over the five matches played at Kensington Oval, long regarded as the mecca of West Indies cricket, the total local attendance was only 45% of the reduced capacity. And this after the ticket prices for local, Barbadian fans attending the matches had been reduced by 50%.

“By whose interpretation other than the jokers now obviously in office at CWI’s Headquarters at Factory Road in Antigua could that ever be deemed ‘successful’?

“The reality is that in its overly greedy attempt to cash in on the attractiveness of the West Indies versus England T20 series, CWI established completely outlandish ticket prices ranging from US$40 to US$200 per match…”

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (right) and his teammates salute the crowd after their thrilling win over England in the fifth and final T20I of the Betway Series at Kensington Oval, Barbados on 30 January 2022.
(Copyright Randy Brooks/ AFP/ Getty Images)

The following guest column on the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Report into the recently concluded Betway T20I Series between England and the West Indies was submitted to Wired868 by Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt and veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira:

There was much that we were intending to cover in this our sixth article for 2022. The West Indies’ exciting T20 series win against England, the scheduled return of regional four-day cricket, the forthcoming tour to India with its ODI and T20 matches as well as the lead selector Desmond Haynes’ recent statement about his panel’s intention to consider players across all formats as regards team selections.

All such matters would have been well worthy of our attention in this week’s article.

They must all, however, be cast aside in deference to our now mandatory reaction to Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) just released report on its ‘successful’ England T20 series. In our very humble opinions, the report is not only completely deceitful but it also amounts to a most unacceptable insult of the intelligence of all Caribbean cricket fans and followers.

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt is as pleased as Punch.

According to the February 4 Report released on the Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) website: ‘CWI, in a wide-ranging collaboration with the Government of Barbados, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and Kensington Oval Management Inc (KOMI), safely hosted the Betway T20I Series with thousands of fully vaccinated local and travelling fans within the stadium carefully managed to 50% of its capacity!’

 The report further states:

‘The Betway T20I Series signaled a successful return of spectators in large numbers to watch cricket, with Barbados hosting an average of 4,300 fans attending each of the matches. With capacity restricted to a maximum of just under 5,500 fans to allow for the safe hosting of the event with distancing between groups of fans!’

An aggregate of just over 22,500 persons attended the five matches. As the excitement built, home fans returned in greater numbers to watch the West Indies making up over 51% of all fans for the fifth and final Betway T20I. The longstanding appeal of watching England away games in the Caribbean led to an average of 2,500 travelling England fans attending each game!’

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (right) takes the toss with England captain Moeen Ali during the 2022 Betway T20I Series.
(Copyright Getty Images)

The CWI powers-that-be who issued and signed off on that report must now hold Caribbean cricket fans in the lowest possible regard in terms of their individual and collective intelligence. For starters, the Report is blatantly dishonest in its suggestion that Kensington Oval’s current spectator seating capacity is only 11,000.

That figure follows from CWI’s indication that the total number of fans allowed in to watch any of the five matches played was 5,500 at ‘50% of the capacity’!

According to the CWI website, Kensington Oval’s listed capacity is actually a whopping 28,000, which is 17,000 more than the Report’s obviously fabricated 11,000.

What is also now blatantly obvious is that, in their haste to make the actual figures look as attractive as possible, whoever actually wrote the report neglected to double-check Kensington’s listed capacity!

Photo: Rovman Powell acknowledges the cheers of spectators at Kensington Oval after he became the third West Indies player to score a century in T20I cricket on 26 January 2022.
Powell scored 107 runs.
(Copyright CWI Media)

Indeed, if memory serves us correctly, the capacity of the old Kensington Oval, prior to its 2007 ICC ODI World Cup-inspired refurbishment, was 14,000. Based on the CWI Report, however, the 2007 transformation of Kensington into its current iteration as a world-class, state-of-the-art facility also somehow resulted in a reduction of its seating capacity by thousands of seats!

That serves to emphasise just how insulting CWI’s suggested 11,000-seat capacity is to our intelligence. But having engaged in the most blatant dishonesty, the Report delves even deeper in its relentless assault on our intelligence with its suggestion that the series was, from an attendance standpoint, worthy of being deemed ‘successful’.

In that context, success must have an entirely different meaning for the Report’s author(s) than it does for us. A total of 5,500 fans per game over a five-match series equates to a total attendance of 27,500 persons. Yet, CWI’s figure for total attendance at the five matches was only 22,500.

That’s a full 5,000 spectators less than the 27,500 five-match total possible under CWI’s drummed up, deceitful, 50% limits of 5,500 per match. How can that be labelled a ‘success’ even using the broadest acceptable definition of the word?

Photo: West Indies allrounder Romario Shepherd (right) has a go at it in action against England during the 2022 Betway T20I Series.
(Copyright Getty Images)

From the local Bajan or Caribbean attendance perspective, the reality based on CWI’s provided numbers is even worse. According to the Report, an average of 2,500 travelling English fans attended each match. Over the five matches, the average total English fan attendance would, therefore, have been 12,500. As a percentage of the reported actual total attendance of 22,500, that equates to approximately 55%.

That, in turn, means that, over the five matches played at Kensington Oval, long regarded as the mecca of West Indies cricket, the total local attendance was only 45% of the reduced capacity. And this after the ticket prices for local, Barbadian fans attending the matches had been reduced by 50%.

By whose interpretation other than the jokers now obviously in office at CWI’s Headquarters at Factory Road in Antigua could that ever be deemed ‘successful’?

The reality is that in its overly greedy attempt to cash in on the attractiveness of the West Indies versus England T20 series, CWI established completely outlandish ticket prices ranging from US$40 to US$200 per match. These prices, being totally inconsiderate of the severity of the ongoing devastating effects of Covid on both Barbados’ overall national economy and the financial welfare of that country’s citizens, were summarily rejected by thousands of local cricket fans.

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (far right) leads out his troops at Kensington Oval during the 2022 Betway T20I Series.
(via CWI Media)

This Report is just the latest example of CWI’s obvious disdain for the level of intelligence among Caribbean cricket fans and followers. It follows immediately on these fans having had to endure, during an extended period of almost six months, recurring embarrassing images of West Indies players appearing on globally televised international matches in team shirts bearing a former sponsor’s logo covered by masking tape.

‘Tapegate’, as we have appropriately dubbed this issue, was first brought to CWI vice-president Dr Kishore Shallow’s attention as far back as last December. Since then, it has been explained by Dr Shallow as an unfortunate yet completely understandable consequence of Covid-related shipping delays.

Despite Dr Shallow’s public promises that the matter would be addressed, Tapegate was still with us during the recently concluded England T20 Series. During the series, at least two West Indies players appeared in team shirts bearing the offensive tape.

Against this backdrop of blatantly dishonest claims about the Kensington Oval capacity, disingenuous descriptions of less-than-allowable full house match attendances as successful, and the continuation of the wholly embarrassing and unsavoury images of team shirts logos covered with masking tape, it was impossible for us to comment on the other aforementioned topics which should rightfully have got our attention.

Photo: West Indies batsmen Odean Smith (left) and Romario Shepherd give each other a ‘low’ five during ODI action against Ireland in January 2022.
(via CWI Media)

For that we now humbly apologise to our readers. In doing so we must also, however, make note of the fact that we have not in any way mentioned the other brewing West Indies team personnel interactions fiasco that has resulted in a meeting being scheduled between CWI and WIPA, the players’ representative body.

Maybe the time has now come for the ‘Cricket’ in CWI to be replaced by the Trinidad and Tobago word ‘commesse’, which speaks to utter confusion.

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