By Neto Baptiste
The government will partner with Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the Coolidge Cricket Ground, as they seek to roll out the long-talked-about Four Knights Cricket Academy.
This is according to the country’s Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, who said the four knighted cricketers, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Curtly Ambrose and Sir Richie Richardson have all bought into the new concept.
“It was an idea that they were quite pleased with, and Cricket West Indies was also quite pleased, and the board of Coolidge Cricket Ground. We met with Cricket West Indies, the five of us and the management of Cricket West Indies, and I think there was some agreement in terms of how that entire branding of the facility could take place to honour the four knights here in Antigua and Barbuda, how it could work for both parties so that Cricket West Indies could benefit from the reputation and so on of the four knights. The four knights would benefit by having this academy in their honour and continue to operate using the facility up there,” he said.
The touted partnership, Matthew said, also lessens the financial demands on both the academy and the government.
“One of the reasons why it is an attractive prospect to partner with Cricket West Indies and the Coolidge Cricket Ground operations up there is that they already have the facilities in place, they already have the infrastructure in place and so to operate a Four Knights Academy out of that would basically be a tag-on to what is already there. It wouldn’t be new money required to be spent,” he said.
“The four knights though, wanted to have a little bit of autonomy, and I believe there is some concerns that persons may think that Cricket West Indies and four knights are one and the same and I understand that, and agree with that so part of that document that Sir Richie sent me was a budget and we will have a discussion about how funds will be raised,” the minister added.
Matthew revealed also that the knights have made a number of requests, one of which could see a special select team represent the academy in exhibition matches.
“The four knights wanted an opportunity to have a four knights select team that, through them and their resources, they would train and prepare this team of upcoming persons who have the opportunity to go further, but the reason they wanted to have this team is that they felt it could be a good marketing initiative to say, for example, the four knights team vs. West Indies A, and these four knights players would be primarily from Antigua and Barbuda and so they wanted that structured into the whole discussion,” he said.
The academy was the brainchild of former sports minister, EP Chet Greene who first announced the concept back in 2015. The programme has however suffered many delays with reports that those involved were often butting heads regarding the best way forward. Greene, in 2015, had announced that now-West Indies Test player, Rahkeem Cornwall, would have been the academy’s first enrollee.