Cricket association head denies allegations he promised bubble for local cricket

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association, Leon Rodney.
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By Neto Baptiste

As debate rages on over a recent decision to withdraw permission for the staging of the domestic two-day cricket competition, president of the local association, Leon Rodney, is denying claims he promised Cabinet that the recently ended Super 40 competition would have been played in a bubble.

“You think that I could have gone to Cabinet and express to Cabinet that a local tournament with 10 teams and people coming from different directions and so forth, could be played in a bubble? I would be absolutely crazy to believe we could put up 10 teams maybe in a hotel or something for over six weeks playing in a bubble, so I really don’t know,” he said. 

During last Thursday’s Cabinet press briefing, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said the government was given the impression late last year that local cricket would be played “in a bubble” if given the permission to return to competition.

He also announced that Cabinet had decided it would not grant permission for the cricket association’s two-day tournament which was slated to bowl off this month.

Rodney said his main disappointment is that the association was not given the opportunity to address any concerns the government would have had.

“On my way up to the cricket office, I had a call asking me how true it is that the two-day tournament was cancelled and I told them I had no knowledge of that. When I got to the office I was made to understand, by someone there who was watching the Cabinet briefing, that it came out then,” he said.

“I called the minister [Daryll Matthew] and said to him that I found it very sad that we would learn via the media that the two-day tournament would have been cancelled. Even before the minister got to the Cabinet he could have called and told me that he was going to Cabinet and his recommendation along with the health people, based on what we understand may have happened in Bethesda, we would not be continuing to give cricket the permission to play,” he added. 

Reports are that a video — which showed spectators running onto the field in celebration after CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles won the final against Anderson E Carty Empire Nation last Sunday — was used as one of the determining factors to strip the association of its privilege to host competitions.

Although admitting he was surprised by the numbers at the venue for the final, Rodney said it was a learning experience for all involved.

“I am not very good at being a hindsight person because I do not regret anything at all surrounding my life because I believing it’s about teaching. Sometimes, some things go wrong and you have regrets but at the same time it would have taught you a lesson,” he said.

“Let us agree that the semifinals and those matches had a reasonable turnout and one of my observations, especially down in Jennings, is that persons were very cognizant and I even heard people telling others to pull up their mask. I know about four to five times that the police came around to see what was going on,” the president added.

Ten teams participated in the Super 40 competition with the final staged in Bethesda.

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