By Neto Baptiste
President of the Liberta Sports Club and former West Indies fast bowler Kenneth Benjamin is suggesting that the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) abandon its home and away format for the annual Super 40 tournament slated to start on January 16.
His call comes amidst concerns that participating clubs may not be both financially and structurally able to enforce all of the necessary health and safety protocols stipulated by local health authorities as they endeavour to avoid potential spread of the coronavirus.
“The T10 was in one area [venue] and it was controlled and I am still recommending that the cricket association look at two or three venues. This is different times and it does not have to be a full ‘everybody plays everybody’ so just the fact that we are getting cricket alone is a blessing.
“I think we [association] need to control the venues and don’t leave it up to the clubs because at the end of the day people will not blame the clubs, they are going to blame the cricket association,” he said.
The recent 10 Splash tournament was hosted at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground with the national association having full control of the venue and responsibility for enforcing all protocols.
The body however recently announced that the Super 40 tournament will be played on a home and away basis with teams bearing full responsibility for the installation and provision of all sanitising and hand wash stations.
Benjamin believes this is too much of a risk given that cricket was the first sport since March last year to be given the all-clear for a return to competition.
“If somebody goes to Jennings ground and says they are not wearing any mask then you will have to call police or something?
“So we need to make sure that the environment is conducive to what the health authorities would like to see. I hope that they reconsider but I wouldn’t want us to just spread cricket right across Antigua as yet.
“I don’t think we are ready for that and I don’t think the clubs are ready for that,” he said.
The former player, who sometimes plays the role of coach for the successful PIC Liberta Blackhawks, revealed that the Liberta playing field will not be available for some portion of the competition as they are currently working on spreading soil in an effort to improve the quality of the surface.
“We will start to try and spread it by hand because we can’t get on the heavy machinery because of the rain so we will tell the association that we will monitor it week by week because it is gut sand and once you get it spread it will be a very thin layer and it will be a matter of a week or two before the grass comes.
“We tried to bring on a backhoe and because the field is gut sand-based it is not as hard as other fields, so anything heavy running on it you are going to see the tyre marks,” Benjamin said.
Defending champions Pigotts Crushers, PIC Liberta Blackhawks, CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles, Empire Nation, All Saints Pythons, Jennings, Bolans Rising Sun Spartans, New Winthorpes Lions and Combines Schools are all set to compete in the 40 overs competition.