Opposition Leader Mark Golding has berated the Jamaican Government for inflicting "a big blow" to cricket in the country by its failure to submit a bid to host matches at next year's Twenty20 (T20) World Cup.
On Thursday, International Cricket Council (ICC) announced seven venues in the Caribbean which are to join the three in the United States to stage matches at the T20 showpiece June 4-30, 2024.
As first reported in the Jamaica Observer on September 6, 2023, no Jamaican venue is on the ICC's list, with matches 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.
"It is hard to accept that an international tournament of this stature is being played in the Caribbean, and not a single match is being held here at our iconic Sabina Park," Golding told the Observer when contacted on Thursday.
"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," he said.
Earlier this month, the sports ministry issued a statement subsequent to the Observer's story, saying the Andrew Holness-led Government was "considering a bid" but was contemplating "the tremendous cost" of over $450 million to bid for and host matches, and for infrastructural upgrade.
With the ICC confirming the venues, the Observer tried to contact Sport Minister Olivia Grange via telephone on Thursday but was unsuccessful.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) Chief Executive Officer Johnny Grave told the Observer last week via text message there had been "no bid from Jamaica".
Since 2021 when CWI and USA Cricket were named co-hosts of the 2024 T20 tournament there had been high anticipation across the region.
Jamaica, a leading tourist destination with world-renowned hotel infrastructure, was seen as an attractive host. Its geographic location in the northern Caribbean offers favourable proximity to the United States. Additionally, Sabina Park is one of the region's most historic sporting venues.
And as global economies emerged from the financial depths of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Jamaican Government had boasted of the country's extraordinary recovery.
That frequently stated position had led some cricket stakeholders in Jamaica to believe the Government would have done its part to host matches.
Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Vice-President Dr Donovan Bennett, who said that CWI had lobbied for multiple deadline extensions to facilitate a Jamaican bid, says he believes the Government had no intention to throw its hat into the ring despite its statements to the contrary.
"It's quite obvious that the Government had no intention of bidding because this thing has been going on for about 10 or 12 weeks," Bennett, a CWI board director, told the Observer last week.
He added: "We're very disappointed, and the question is where does cricket go in Jamaica now?"
Dr Akshai Mansingh, the dean of the Faculty of Sport at The University of the West Indies, recently said that by not bidding, the Jamaican Government spurned the chance to not only boost the economy and the tourism sector but also to upgrade infrastructure.
"We've turned our back to all of that, either because we don't have the foresight for planning, or we don't see this as a priority, or it's the anti-cricket direction we seem to be taking in Jamaica, whereby Jamaican cricket is being ignored, by and large," Mansingh told the Observer.
Golding said the Government's position was "unfortunate" given Jamaica's rich cricketing history.
"It does seem that the Government has no regard for cricket. This is unfortunate, because cricket is dear to the hearts of many Jamaicans.
"Cricket is an important part of our great sports and cultural heritage, and is one of the most widely watched sports across the world," he said.
Jamaica also missed out when the region last hosted the T20 World Cup in 2010.
The country recently failed to bid to host games as West Indies faced visiting India from July to August, and for the England white-ball tour to the region scheduled for December.