Stop me if you've heard this one...
...the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba is set to host opening round matches in the West Indies Premier Cricket League Four-Day Tournament in the 2016-2017 season which gets underway in November-December.
This is the optimistic expectation of president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board Azim Bassarath as he spoke on Thursday at a function to honour Jyd Goolie and Kirstan Kallicharan, members of the ICC Under-19 World Cup winning West Indies team in Bangladesh.
It was organised jointly by the TTCB and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
Bassarath made the declaration just 24 hours after the TTCB executive heard an encouraging presentation from the ministry’s team tasked with having the facility ready, close to a decade after it was started and originally intended to host matches in the 2007 World Cup, staged for the first time in the Caribbean.
The TTCB boss told guests and officials at the function, hosted at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, which included Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith, that he intended to inform the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) of this development at their annual general meeting in a fortnight’s time in Antigua/Barbuda.
Bassarath said he applauded the efforts of Smith to complete the stadium and for his integrated and consultative approach taken to rejuvenate sports in Trinidad and Tobago, and despite the challenges, the TTCB is confident that the plan is in good hands.
The possibility of staging the top class day-night encounters at the end of the year at the Brian Lara Stadium was welcomed by Smith who, in an immediate reaction, said he was excited at having a time-line to work with.
In celebrating the achievements of Goolie and Kallicharan, the local cricket boss also delivered a stinging riposte to a former cricketer and member of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club who in a recent newspaper article pronounced, “West Indies cricket is doomed.”
Bassarath said that the writer unfairly lambasted the national cricket development programmes which were described in a letter to the editor as, “a waste, another recipe for nepotism and corruption.”
He said that both Goolie and Kallicharan are living and vibrant refutation of the criticism of the TTCB propagated by “uninformed and elitist persons who continue to contribute to the construction of a deadly cricket cocktail.”
Bassarath said that the TTCB’s development programmes reach far and wide into the national communities, “too far perhaps for the favoured and well-heeled to even understand that our sport of cricket, since 1981, has changed from being under club control to an elected national administration.”
He said the remit of the TTCB is to serve cricket and develop the game throughout the nation and they will do so undeterred, utilising the resources at the organisation’s disposal until their objectives are achieved.
“We are proud of our record of spreading the game throughout Trinidad and Tobago, with clubs in communities from Carenage to Cedros, from Moruga to Toco and of course in the sister isle of Tobago.
Also in attendance at the function was Kerwin John, the newly elected Tobago official to the executive of the TTBC.
Bassarath also highlighted the significant role being played by the TTCB affiliates including the primary and secondary schools cricket leagues, the women’s, and Tobago cricket associations.
“We are partners in sport, making the game stronger and better from schools, through clubs and communities, and then to the national and regional levels,” said Bassarath.
He said there was a recognition that West Indies cricket is not at its best and that the Red Force national team is under-performing in the longer formats of the game.
“However not each and every time will our stars align to bring total success. Working for success is the life-time goal of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board,” he said. “It is what drives us and today is a reason to celebrate one such success.”
Bassarath said that the TTCB will not lie back and bask in the success of the national team which retained their regional Nagico Super50 crown in late last month, but instead will continue to work with dedication and diligence to properly plan and implement winning strategies at all levels.
He praised the bright and rousing start to the TTCB Under-15 Inter-Zone competition where administrators and officials have worked together to craft a higher quality competition.
“All of our efforts are linked, from schools through to our grassroots programmes, club and community cricket, right up to the elite level. We are thankful to all those who assist in our efforts,” said Bassarath.
And he named among the game’s generous benefactors, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, the National Gas Company, BG Trinidad and Tobago, Atlantic LNG, PowerGen, Courts, and Vasha Foods Limited.
Bassarath also paid tribute to the legions of volunteers at the National League, and the zone and affiliate levels, who he said continues to contribute zealously towards the administration of the game without whose contribution, success would be impossible.