By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda is ready to host the Super League stage of the ICC Under-29 World Cup slated to bowl off at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Wednesday.
This is the word of ICC operations officer and a member of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Michael Freeland, who said all venues, including both practice venues in Liberta and the Police Recreation Grounds (PRG), are fully prepared and currently hosting teams.
“We are definitely ready. Liberta completed all of their maintenance yesterday [Sunday] and they have since fielded their first team which is Pakistan who are practicing at the venue this morning [Monday]. Police fielded England yesterday [Sunday] who had asked for an earlier day to practice but in terms of the security of the venues, in terms of the pitch, in terms of the outfield and in terms of the nets, those have all been 98 to 99 percent completed,” he said.
There have been concerns over the slow pace of preparatory work at the Liberta venue with president of the Liberta Sports Club and former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin publicly calling on the government to expedite work at the venue.
Freeland said the LOC was never worried that the work would not be completed in time.
“I understand Flipper’s [Kenneth Benjamin] passion and I totally agree with him. We would have liked to completed this work since November 30 and if any minor tweaks were needed then we would have done so during the months of December and January … but the reality is that we have resource issues from a government standpoint or a private standpoint, so in some cases where we even tried to have private hire we just couldn’t get it because the resources just wasn’t there. Machinery was an issue and once you have a process, then everything is bureaucratic, you have to go through that process,” he said.
Matches in the Super League round which includes the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, will be played at both the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and the Coolidge Cricket Ground.
Freeland revealed that access to portions of the Sir Sydney Walling Highway will be off-limits to the public during match days.
“That access route between Paynters and Police Ground will be left to travelling teams so those who are going to the grounds, either to Police or Coolidge, in terms of the public they will utilize the back road or the Old Parham Road from Dee’s gas station going to the stadium. There are no issues coming from the east and if you’re coming from the south then you utilise Herberts road into Sea View Farm and come down by Factory and head up to the stadium,” the operations officer said.
Action in the Super League starts on Wednesday when England take on South Africa at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium while on Thursday, Afghanistan face Sri Lanka Under-19 at the Coolidge Cricket Ground. Action continues on Friday when Australia take on Pakistan at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. All matches start at 9am.