Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Big-hitting opener Chris Gayle and fast bowler Curtly Ambrose head a list of present and past West Indies players who are set to compete in the inaugural Melbourne/Cricket Clubs and Associations Committee (CCAC) Cricket Festival next weekend.
The event, which is scheduled for Manley Horne Park, St Elizabeth, and Melbourne Oval next Saturday and Sunday, respectively, will see Gayle and Ambrose participating in two Twenty20 matches.
Other well-known stars who are down to participate include Kieron Pollard, the Bravo brothers Dwayne and Darren, Corey Collymore, Jerome Taylor, Andre Russell, Danza Hyatt, Carlton Baugh Jr and Krishmar Santokie.
The matches will be the second of double-headers at each venue with two celebrity Fifteen15 matches acting as openers.
The celebrity fixtures are set to feature track and field stars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, football star Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardner, and musician Tony Rebel.
"Things are progressing well so far," said Wavell Hinds, co-chair of the festival's organising committee.
Former Jamaica and West Indies representative Mark Neita is the other co-chair.
"Most of the players and celebrities have committed themselves, and the venues are well in order.
"We now look forward to a bumper crowd, and loads of entertainment for the entire family, and cricket lovers," added Hinds.
The festival, which is being held jointly for the first time by the two organisations, is geared towards helping to rejuvenate club culture in the country.
For Melbourne, the move represents a rebirth of the once famous Melbourne Cricket Festival, which used to attract top-class regional and international players.
CCAC, in the meanwhile, which was formed in 2011, has been trying to address the lack of social life at various clubs and parish associations across the island.
"We are happy to be joining up with Melbourne in our bid to help clubs and parish associations in rebuilding their social life," Hinds explained.
"Since 2011, the CCAC has been staging matches and activities to try to achieve a similar effect, and we are gradually seeing the benefits."
The festival is being sponsored by Digicel, Caribbean Airlines Limited, Wysynco, through their non-alcoholic beverage brand, WATA, Avis Rent-A-Car and CVM TV.