Chedwin Park flowing with fans
The spectator turnout during the ongoing WICB Regional Four-day clash between Jamaica and the Windward Islands at Chedwin Park has been the talking point among cricket enthusiasts over the first three days of the game.
The picturesque venue, located on lands owned by the Government of Jamaica's Bernard Lodge Sugar Estates, has attracted close to 6,000 spectators daily - a far cry from the hundreds that have been attending first-class matches in recent years. It has had most, if not all cricket fans smiling at the prospect of four-day cricket in modern times.
"Compared to the crowds we are used to seeing at Chedwin Park in either local or regional cricket, I think we have a lot to be proud of and be encouraged," said chief operations officer of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), Courtney Francis.
"It's difficult to know now what the exact numbers have been, as people have been coming and going, so when it's all over and we sit down and begin to look at ticket sales, we will know the exact numbers. But in general, it has been encouraging and demonstrates that if organised and marketed properly, cricket can still attract spectators," he added.
Francis was not alone in his observation. Former Jamaica batsman, Renford Pinnock Sr, said the atmosphere at the ground reminded him of the old days.
"It has been very encouraging. There has been good cricket, albeit the contest is not high-scoring. On the first day Nikita Miller bowled well and on Sunday Wavell Hinds' batting was good to watch. The pitch is also one of the best I have ever seen at Chedwin Park in a long while. It reminds me of the days when I used to play," said Pinnock Sr, who used to represent St Catherine Cricket Club, the venue's home club in local cricket competitions.
Francis believes some of the things contributing to the turnout is the high standard of play from the first day, the venue's location and setting, and a number of gameday attractions, including live music, games, contests and giveaways.
"One of the reasons I think persons have been returning from the first day is that the general standard of play has been good and the venue conditions have been cool and inviting, especially to persons from Kingston who want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city in a suburban and not a deep rural setting," he reasoned.
"I also believe that with adequate roofed stands and comfortable seating and amenities for adults being good; and some of the attractions such as a lunch-time bowl-off among spectators, have created a family-friendly atmosphere," he added.
JCA and St Catherine CC director, Ephraim McLeod, who is one of the chief persons responsible for preparing the venue, said that a lot of credit should also go to Highway 2000.
"What I notice is that since Highway 2000 has been built, it has helped out the location as persons can now travel from Clarendon, Manchester or Kingston to the venue with more ease," said McLeod.
- Jermaine Lannaman