‘Billy’ Heaven needs to be the man for the moment

Monday, December 23, 2013    

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Jamaica spent in excess of US$100 million in playing its part as the Caribbean hosted the ICC World Cup of cricket in 2007

Well in excess of US$60 million went towards the expansion and modernisation of the historic Sabina Park, the nation's headquarters of cricket, as well as construction of the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, near Falmouth.

The funds came from loans which form part of the heavy debt burden threatening to choke the national economy.

For that reason, as much as anything else, Jamaicans need to pay attention to plans by the new executive of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) to make cricket more appealing and economically sustainable.

Like so many other aspects of Jamaican life, cricket has suffered from chronically poor, unimaginative leadership seemingly without the energy and will to effectively get things done. It's no consolation that at the regional West Indies Cricket Board level the story has been much the same.

It's testament to the inadequacy of leadership that most of the 'initiatives' being considered by the 'Billy' Heaven administration have been repeatedly spoken about by previous executives with next to nothing achieved.

It is mind-boggling that, decades after the need became obvious, there is still no museum at Sabina Park.

Incredibly too, Sabina Park — which dates back to the 1800s as the venue for some of the more enthralling episodes in the history of cricket — is not a scheduled tour stop for visitors from England and other cricket-playing countries.

Just as a reminder, Sabina Park was the venue for Sir Garfield Sobers' then world record of 365 against Pakistan in 1958. Sabina was host to the celebrated timeless Test of 1930 which lasted nine days, with the last two days being rained out. Historians say the game was eventually called off because the England team had to catch their ship to go home. That game underlined the emergence of Mr George Headley as the first of the truly great West Indian batsmen. He made a second innings 223.

Also, the Englishman Mr Andy Sandham scored 325, then the highest individual score in a Test match.

Many other stories have contributed to Sabina being a magical name for cricket lovers the world over.

We contend that there is more than ample opportunity for the JCA, working with the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, and other agencies to tell Sabina's story using old and new technologies, and to make the ground at South Camp Road a "must see" for visitors and locals.

There are other important tasks which must be undertaken immediately. Not least the installation of lights to facilitate night cricket and other after-dark events at Sabina.

Also, cricket administrators must not take their eyes off the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium. That facility, too, needs lights to maximise its potential. Cricket must ensure that whatever happens at the Trelawny Stadium, the game's interests are protected.

Mr Heaven comes to the helm of cricket with a reputation for getting things done. For the good of cricket, all Jamaica and indeed the wider West Indies, he needs to be the right man at the right time.





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