Gayle dreams of lush-green Lucas
CHRISTOPHER Gayle, the Jamaica and West Indies batsman, is dreaming of a prosperous future for his boyhood team Lucas Cricket Club.
Despite a glorious history, Lucas CC has fallen on hard times and last won the national club title well over a decade ago.
Like so many other local clubs, the upkeep of the playing field and batting pitch have been undermined by lack of funding.
However, recent initiatives have seen Lucas embark on numerous restoration and upgrade programmes. The Chris Gayle Foundation, corporate sponsors, club members and others have all pulled together to help in the process.
In 2012, the big left-hander unveiled a nursery in his name at Lucas, and over a week ago, he launched the Chris Gayle Academy at the club's Preston Road base.
Speaking at the launch, Gayle, who boasted that he has been a Lucas member "since birth" said more development, including upgrading to a lush-green playing field, is in the pipeline.
"There are a lot more things to tweak. Firstly, you want to get a nice, lush outfield. That would be a brilliant start... get some grass and set the foundation," he told the Sunday Observer.
"I want the club to look more beautiful, have better facilities and those sort of things. We want to have people feeling more comfortable and have the members come in and have a drink. We want to bring back that vibe because we used to have fried dumpling and salt fish on Thursdays and things like that."
The 34-year-old cricketer said all stakeholders will have to come together if his dream is to become reality.
"We want to get sponsorship from all around the world, and it can happen. It will take a bit of time. We just have to do it slowly, but we need people on board to help," the powerfully-built opening batsman said.
The Chris Gayle Academy, in association with the England-based charity organisation Cricket For Change (C4C), was launched through a scholarship from the British Airways Community and Conservation Bursary Programme, and additional support from bat-maker Spartan.
The resources will be used to train at-risk young people, using sport as a development tool in communication and leadership skills, and aiding them to become employment prospects.
The first phase of the Gayle Academy rolled out in London in 2013 in partnership with charity entity Comic Relief, British Airways and Spartan.
Lucas, in existence for over a century, has a rich tradition of producing first-rate cricketers and is believed to be the first in Jamaica to admit black cricketers as members.
It is said that legendary West Indian batsman George Headley, who scored 2,190 runs and averaged 60.83 in 22 Tests, joined the club in 1929.