By Neto Baptiste
Despite ongoing upgrades to the playing surface at the Liberta playing field, President of the Liberta Sports Club and former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, is confident the venue will be ready for the start of January’s ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Liiberta has been listed as one of two practice venues for the international event slated to bowl off on January 14 in the Caribbean. Antigua will host semifinals and final of the tournament with the semis contested on February 1 and 2 and the final scheduled for February 5.
“When they [ICC] came the first time, we were doing some upgrades on the field and they said they didn’t mind that because that [the work] is out of where they want because it is only a practice venue so once the run-ups and the square are okay, which are fine, and it is just a matter of once the weather stays okay. The pitches are well grassed and the run-ups are nice and everything. We have cut the practice pitches twice because it is new, so the grass is nice and green. We have our nets and everything with covers and so on, so it’s just a matter of starting to put the posts up and start to get everything in place,” he said.
The Police Recreation Grounds is listed as the other practice venue with work said to be ongoing at that facility as well.
Benjamin said an additional request by the ICC for nets placed the club under additional pressure.
“The ICC put some more pressure on us now because they don’t only want to use our middle block but they want to use our nets as well. We have five pitches on the square and they would want to use three of those and they also want to use the nets which have in three turf pitches as well; so that is a little bit more pressure that they have really put us under. They said they would really like for us to have them ready,” he said.
West Indies will contest Group D of the tournament and will face competition from Australia, Scotland and Sri Lanka. The West Indies Under-19 squad will play a series of warm-up matches against South Africa in December ahead of the tournament.