The time has come to cultivate beach cricket and the eventual marketing of this version of the sport, in an effort to boost this country’s sport tourism efforts says Baldath Mahabir executive member of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB).
But he did not stop there. He even suggested a name for the championship: T&T’s World Famous Easter Beach Cricket Festival and went on to declare it could be another opportunity to brand T&T as having the World’s First Beach Cricket Facility.
“Our Ministry of Sport has recognised windball cricket and is putting on a big windball show in the Diego Martin area. As we look futuristic and the role of cricket as a contributor to economic diversification, beach cricket comes to mind. Our Caribbean is historically well known for our beaches and now we are the best T20 team in the world. Let’s act now as a people to make T20 our own.
Kenya owns distance running, Jamaica is a sprint sensation, India, owns IPL, now T&T owns T20. We may be struggling in the longer format, but we are undoubtedly the kings and queens of the shortest format,” he said.
Mahabir continued, “What if we combine our beaches with cricket? Say a facility about 250 by 250 with an all weather cricket pitch and the outfield is total beach and sand, ringed with coconut trees and other tropical flora and fauna overlooking Maracas, Mayaro and one of Tobago’s beautiful beaches? Young men and women, engaged in beach cricket entertaining spectators in our beautiful, engaging tropical locations, to the sound of the sea, mixed with the rhythms of pulsating Caribbean music.”
The TTCB official expressed the view that cricketing nations should not let the successes of the U-19 50-over team, as well as the T20 men and women teams be allowed to go by quietly.
He said the Azim Bassarath-led TTCB executive lauded the tremendous performances delivered by the World champions and that plaudits were not reserved for the players, but extended to team officials and technical staff, as well.
Words, said Mahabir, were not enough to describe the feat of the Windies cricketers, citing that winning one title was difficult; two was a dream; and although the third seemed impossible, it was achieved.
He reminded guests of the U-19s success in Bangladesh which set the course for the wave of success that followed. But Mahabir was careful not to undervalue the crucial level of investment from the National Gas Company (NGC), BGTT and PowerGen have and continued to make.
Mahabir hailed NGC for its unswerving partnership with the TTCB as the men and women team sponsor at the Caribbean T20, Champions League and now the Nagico Super50, while BGTT’s role in the inter-zone youth competitions across four age groups since 1995 won company officials kudos.
In the case of PowerGen, its tribute was for ensuring that Secondary Schools cricket was alive and energised, while creating opportunities for students to participate and develop for national, regionally and international duty.
“Let’s go back a bit and trace how all this became possible: Standford T20 into the Caribbean T20 and then the World Champions 2012 and now CPL. T&T is a major force in Caribbean and World T20 at all levels. As (the) Red Force, we qualified for three of four, Champions League: reaching the final once, then (the) semi-final another time, while the weather affected us the third time out in South Africa. At that time, the Red Force was the winningest T20 team in the world with a success rate of over 70 per cent,” he said.
Mahabir added, “It is T&T that gave the world the Bravo brothers, (Kieron) Pollard, (Samuel) Badree, (Denesh) Ramdin, (Sunil) Narine, (Lendl) Simmons, (Ravi) Rampaul and (Evin) Lewis as world champions. And, now we are following suit with the women Merissa (Aguilleira), Britney (Cooper), Stacey-Ann (King) and Anisa (Mohammed) and our youth Jyd (Goolie) and Kirstan (Kallicharan).
None of this would have been possible without a vision, a plan and execution of that plan. The many successes of the TTCB’s development plans are well documented. Every one of our World Cup champions has represented T&T at youth level. Ramdin and Narine were captains.”