Boost for Regional Super50
The region's premier limited-overs competition has undergone an interesting facelift that organisers hope will provide an aesthetic boost and also provide much-needed impetus for the format in the Caribbean.
Engaging fans on and off the field, highlighting the culture and spirit of a region and people, known across the globe for their fare and flair, are at the centre of Cricket West Indies' (CWI) latest stroke around the Regional Super50 Cricket Festival.
Set to be staged at a combined five venues in Barbados and Antigua - the hosts for the finale, the competition will see the playing of 43 matches over a three-week period; January 30 - February 24, and is expected to not only raise the profile of regional One Day cricket, but also serve as a vital opportunity and preparatory tool for West Indies players ahead of their crucial Cricket World Cup qualifiers a few days later.
Carole Beckford, marketing and communications manager at CWI underlined the value of the new concept both as a tool for reenergising the format regionally, but also as a means of helping to prepare the international team for their important assignment.
"The Super50 Cricket Festival is a new concept which we think; in keeping with Caribbean spirit and pride and excitement about food, fun and culture; is that we presented this as part of our cricketing activities going forward," Beckford told The Gleaner.
"Ideally, we would like to re-engage our fans and in a way that communities, families and so on can actually come out, enjoy the cricket - come for the action and stay for the vibes and get some real entertainment, while they enjoy the cricket," added Beckford.
The Windies missed out on an automatic spot for the 2019 Cricket World Cup and will seek to secure their spot through a qualifying tournament, which takes place in Zimbabwe from March 4 - 24.
"It's an important turning point for West Indies Cricket and the One-Day format and I think the Super50 is so well-timed to give them an opportunity to perform on the field," said Beckford.
The tournament will feature three invited teams - the United States as well as English County teams Kent and Hampshire along with defending champions Barbados, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Guyana, Windward Islands, Combined Colleges and Campuses and Trinidad and Tobago.
Key to the rebranding is the action that will be taking place beyond the boundary ropes with the organisers promising a TV-friendly, family-oriented package that includes food and entertainment.
"The final night will feature a DJ, pan and live performances by two of Antigua's best - Tian Winter and Claudette Peters, and we think that this year the format will really re-engage fans and we hope that the cricket will be successful on and off the field," Beckford shared.
All matches will be streamed live on cricketwestindies.org, while ESPN has secured a package that starts on February 7 that will see them airing nine live matches plus highlights after each game.