Barbados officials welcome staging of English festival

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Cricket and tourism officials in Barbados have hailed the decision of English authorities to stage the ceremonial start of their season in March next year in the island.
The England & Wales Cricket Board announced on Thursday that Barbados will host the North-South Series and the MCC’s Champion County Match against Essex which have now become the curtain-raisers for the opening of the English professional season.
Conde Riley, president of the Barbados Cricket Association and a director of Cricket West Indies, said this would be a major boost for the sport and tourism in the island.
“Barbados has very good cricketing infrastructure and competitiveness as a destination for initiatives such as this,” Riley told the Barbados Today newspaper.
The North-South Series, which was launched in Dubai and Abu Dhabi earlier this year as part of England’s preparations for hosting the 2019 World Cup, will feature two matches on March 18 and 21 at Kensington Oval, followed by a third on March 23 at the Three Ws Oval.
Attention then returns to Kensington Oval for the first-class, four-day fixture between an MCC XI and Essex, the 2017 English County champions, from March 27 to 30 — which will be a day/night fixture played with pink Dukes balls.
Barbadian legend Sir Garfield Sobers said Barbados was honoured to have been chosen to stage the matches for the very first time.
“We have been home to numerous prestigious cricket events and this will once again be the case as we welcome the players to our lovely shores,” he said. “We look forward to hosting them, and trust that it will be an intense and high-quality showing of the game.”
The world-famous Marylebone Cricket Club, one of the principal organisers of the matches, said it has been their long-stated aim to help reinvigorate Test cricket in areas of the world where attendances are dwindling and they believe playing a four-day, pink-ball, first-class match in Barbados can help with the revival of the game in the Caribbean.
They also hope it provides a platform for Kensington Oval to go on to potentially host a day/night Test in the near future.

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