Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Twenty20 cricket has become the most popular form of the sport worldwide. But West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) vice-president, Whycliffe 'Dave' Cameron, believes Jamaica has been lingering in the shadows where international cricket is concerned due to the absence of lights to facilitate the hosting of night matches at Sabina Park.
"The truth is Jamaica is behind. Next year will be the fourth year of the Caribbean T20 and we have not been able to host it," Cameron told The Gleaner, following a press conference on Wednesday at the Norman Manley International Airport's Pineapple Lounge, to welcome home Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.
"Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua and St Lucia have been the hosts of the tournament, and if we don't get our act together, then we are just not going to host it. Being the biggest territory in the region, we are missing out and I think West Indies cricket, on a whole, is missing out from being able to have the biggest population through its doors in T20," he added.
NEED LIGHTS AT SABINA
Cameron, who is former treasurer of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), believes that with the new composition of series between nations predominantly comprising two Test matches and T20s, there are going to be less days of cricket and, therefore, not all the venues are going to be able to host matches each year.
"We have to find new, innovative ways to have more events, different types of events - maybe triangular, quadrangular T20 between Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica - and for that to happen and be viable, we are going to need lights at Sabina Park," Cameron reasoned.
"When the stadium (Sabina Park) was being redone for the World Cup in 2007, we asked the Government to install lights, but the budget wasn't able to accommodate it, because we had to do Trelawny as well," he pointed out.
President of the JCA, Lyndel Wright, concurs and is of the opinion that over time all forms of cricket will be played at night and, as a region, we have to adapt to what is being done at the international level so that our players can become acclimatised.
"When you look at the cricket landscape today, most T20 and 50-over games are played at nights and, even from a territorial perspective, the regional tournaments are played at nights, so if we are not a part of that by providing lights at Sabina Park then we will be left behind," Wright expressed.
"We have made approaches to the Government, to the minister without portfolio in the prime minister's office and we have submitted a proposal to her in terms of possibly providing lights at Sabina Park," he added.
The minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, is cognisant of the need for lights at Sabina Park, but believes it will take a collaborative effort for it to become a reality.
"It is going to cost about US$1.7m to put the lights at Sabina Park, so it is going to take much more than a government initiative," Neita-Headley said.
"It is going to take quite a bit of marketing, quite a bit of sponsorship, and quite a bit of public-sector partnership to be able to get those lights," she added.