By Neto Baptiste
The Liberta Sports Club, which manages one of two facilities identified by government as two possible match venues for next year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup, is still awaiting government’s input into the preparation of the facility.
This is according to president of the club and former West Indies fast bowler Kenneth Benjamin, who said government has committed to funding repairs to some aspects of the venue ahead of the tournament but are yet to make good on their pledge.
“Posts are going to rot because you have them in concrete at the base and so on, so some of the fence were leaning down and we were doing them little by little when we get funds. Also, because we will be a bio-secure facility and even at practice you really don’t want anybody just walking into the venue, so there are some parts of the fence that need repairing; that is very important and ICC says it needs to be repaired. We got some poor work when we were doing the building in the bathroom where some of the tiles were falling off the walls and they [ICC] were concerned that someone may be in the bathroom and tiles may fall and cut them, so those have to come down and do over as well,” he said.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports show, Benjamin said that despite the current uncertainty as to when or if government will make good on their promise, the club continues to make efforts in preparing the venue for the country’s historic hosting of the semifinals and final of the international event.
“Even before the Under-19 thing came up, we decided we were going to do some upgrades in terms of completing the nets and so forth, and we are still doing that. When the ICC came and required certain things, we didn’t have the funding to do it quickly and that is where the government was going to come in but still, we haven’t received anything so we are still taking our time and see where we can get,” the former national player said.
Asked if he thinks the venue would be ready in time, Benjamin said he is uncertain as to when the ICC would request control of the facility as they seek to create a bio secure bubble for the teams that will be using it as a training facility during the tournament.
“I know that the broadcast venues like Sir Viv and Coolidge, I think, have been turned over already but nobody has said anything to us, so I believe it may be a week or two before, but we haven’t had any official word. I had heard that it was November 1st they were going to ask for the venues to be turned over but we haven’t received any official word,” he said.
The ICC tournament will bowl off on January 14 in the Caribbean. Antigua will host the semifinals and final of the tournament with the semis contested on February 1 and 2 and the final scheduled for February 5.
The Police Recreation Grounds is listed as the other practice venue with work said to be ongoing at that facility as well.
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.