KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (CMC):
THOUGH MANY venues hosting matches in the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean have not reached 100 per cent readiness, venue development director Don Lockerbie said he believed they would still be excellent showcases for the tournament.
Several stadiums have been involved in races against time to be ready for the event and Lockerbie admitted that while the last-minute finishing touches were not ideal, it wouldnot prevent the successful hosting of matches during the March 13 to April 28 event.
"I think a lot of the venues have waited to the very last bit to get some of the final bits of construction in and as a perfectionist, I'm a little disappointed that I don't see all the landscaping full out and the roads all paved and things around the stadiums (finished)," Lockerbie told CMC Sports.
"But construction as you know is very, very difficult in this part of the world sometimes, but I will say we are ready. I will say we can put on a fabulous World Cup in these venues and I look for them maybe to mature in the future.
"I would have liked to believe we could have had them mature now but they are brand new and I almost feel like they are babies that have been pushed out of the nest. But they are all flying so that's good for us."
The Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, erected in Jamaica's north-west, will play host to the official opening cere-mony today after being the venue for warm-up matches earlier this week.
It is one of two venues developed in Jamaica for the tournament, with the historic Sabina Park upgraded to meet its commitments of hosting Group D preliminary-round matches.
First-round matches, which bowl off next week, will also be played at Warner Park in St. Kitts, Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad and the Beausejour Cricket Ground in St Lucia, all of which were renovated.
The Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in Antigua and the Guyana National Stadium were built from scratch to host Super Eight, second matches.
Kensington Oval in Barbados and Grenada's National Stadium received major upgrades to host similar commitments.
Lockerbie, also the tournament's chief operating officer, said the stadiums represented huge improvements over what existed before.
"I'm pleased that the effort that has been made is probably greatly appreciated by the fans because they all know what the venues used to be and many people are seeing them for the very first time (now)," Lockerbie pointed out.
"I think we've come a long way to getting them as clean and polished and ready (as we can). Certainly we have a few weeks for places like Kensington Oval and Grenada, Antigua, Guyana (to get ready) but we'll really see the tournament venues starting next Tuesday with Sabina Park.
"We are close to getting all of the goals we set for ourselves and we'll let those who bought tickets and who are sitting in the press box judge."
The West Indies and Pakistan raise the curtain on the tournament aspect when they clash on Tuesday at Sabina Park.