Kaieteur News – When the National Stadium at Providence was built, it was considered the fastest draining ground in the Caribbean. That reputation is now facing its sternest test following the waterlogged field after a torrential downpour yesterday.
The rainfall resulted in the match being abandoned in the second over. And a huge question mark now hangs over Guyana as a venue for hosting international cricket.
The National Stadium at Providence was built under the Jagdeo administration. There were lots of unfounded criticisms about the decision, including how it would exacerbate Guyana’s debt crisis.
At the time, Guyana did not have a debt crisis. And it was absolutely necessary for Guyana to have constructed that Stadium. Unless it did, Guyana would never have seen international cricket again because the standards demanded by the ICC would not qualify Bourda even for net practice for international teams.
During the hosting of the 2007 World Cup tournament, there were torrential downpours. But this did not result in the abandonment of any matches. Everyone present was in total amazement at the rate at which the ground dried after the showers. The stadium acquired the reputation of being the fastest drying outfield in the Caribbean.
It would appear that the secret to the rapid drying of the field had to do with its solid sand base soil. This allowed it to dry fast but it was said that this also affected the pace of the pitch.
The square (where the batting pitches are located) was dug up in 2016. This decision was effected. One of the reasons given for this was because sand had penetrated into the mud soil of the pitches and affected its evenness of bounce and pace.
But what seemed to have been overlooked was the fact that this stadium, built for Cricket World Cup, also hosted other events and the damage done to the outfield by those events, including football, led to a deterioration of the facility.
Just last year, controversy was raised when football was hosted on the soggy outfield leading to much damage, a charge which was denied by the government but which was evident from photographs of the outfield.
Just a few days there was the usual ‘blow-blow’ talk about how much money was spent in readying the facility for the present Pakistan tour. Well, the state of the ground has left no doubt that all the money which was spent could not allow for the holding of cricket yesterday.
An inquiry should be held into the state of drainage out of the outfield. The source of the problems needs to be identified because even if showers would not have allowed play, the water-logged nature of the outfield was frightening considering how excellently the ground drained before.
There is a bigger problem though. There is stiff competition for international cricket. No less than 13 countries now compete for hosting matches. Guyana therefore was fortunate to have acquired the rights to host three of the present matches.
In the Caribbean, this decision was met with criticism. But the main reason had to do with the fact that facilities in Guyana are known to be friendly to teams from the Asian continent and therefore it was felt that hosting matches in Guyana would give Pakistan an advantage.
As it stands, Pakistan won the match which was hosted on Saturday. They go into Tuesday’s final T 20 match with one- nil lead in the series and if rain washes that out then West Indies would not have been given a chance to level the series.
Yesterday’s washout would have been carefully observed by the West Indies Cricket Board. And they could be disinclined to bring any more matches to Guyana given the ease with which the field was water-logged.
Guyana is not listed among the best grounds to host cricket in the Caribbean. In fact, persons prefer to go to Kensington Oval in Barbados or the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia than come to Guyana.
Guyana’s hosting of international cricket is therefore threatened. This is all the more reason why there should be an investigation into why the ground became water-soaked so easily given the fact that the surface is atop layers of sand.
If Guyana hopes to continue to attract international cricket, it will have to restrict events at the Stadium only to cricket. Given the competition for hosting matches, Guyana cannot afford to be allowing football and athletics on the turf at the National Stadium. This will be a licence for the denial of rights to host matches.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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