Jamaica Cricket Association Vice-President Dr Donovan Bennett is accusing the Opposition People's National Party for being "as culpable" as the Government for the country's failure to bid for matches at next year's Twenty20 (T20) World Cup.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently announced seven venues in the Caribbean which are to join the three in the United States to stage matches at the T20 showpiece from June 4-30, 2024.
The matches are set for Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The named US venues are located in Texas, New York and Florida.
Sports Minister Olivia Grange said the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party Government chose not to bid after doing a cost-benefit analysis and deciding the expense to bid and upgrade infrastructure — estimated at over $450 million — was too high.
But while noting Jamaica's prominent role in West Indies cricket, critics have berated the Government for missing the opportunity to boost the economy, upgrade infrastructure, and showcase the country as a leading tourist destination.
Critics also made the case that Jamaica's geographic location in the northern Caribbean offers favourable proximity to joint host United States. In addition, Sabina Park in Kingston is one of the region's most historic cricket venues.
Bennett, who said that Cricket West Indies (CWI) had lobbied for multiple deadline extensions to facilitate a Jamaican bid, was among those frustrated by the Government's decision.
However, he said the Opposition had the chance to make a case but did nothing.
"I'm disappointed with the Government's decision. But I'm not comfortable with the Opposition trying to get political mileage out of this, because they have dropped the ball too," he told the Jamaica Observer.
"I happen to know that members of the Opposition were aware of the problem with this World Cup bid and they said absolutely nothing about it.
"They did not represent as an Opposition until after the time for the bid expired. I happen to know that they knew the Government was wavering on this…so they were not oblivious, and they did absolutely nothing. They never tried to point the Government in the right direction or to apply pressure, so they are as culpable as the Government," Bennett, a medical doctor and a CWI board director, said.
His comments were against the backdrop of recent criticism levelled at the Government by Opposition Leader Mark Golding.
"This is a lost opportunity to inspire talented young cricketers across Jamaica to pursue a career in the sport, and to attract high-spending overseas cricket lovers to visit Jamaica for the matches and to boost the local economy. The Government has dealt a big blow to cricket in Jamaica by this decision," the PNP president had told the Observer.
"It does seem that the Government has no regard for cricket. This is unfortunate, because cricket is dear to the hearts of many Jamaicans," he had added.
Jamaica also missed out when the region last hosted the T20 World Cup in 2010.
The country also failed to bid to host games as West Indies faced visiting India from July to August, and for an England white-ball tour of the region scheduled for December.