Trinidad and Tobago has been given the all-clear to host 24 International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup matches when the tournament bowls off in the Caribbean in January 2022.
The government and TT Cricket Board (TTCB) also await confirmation from Cricket West Indies (CWI) on their bid to host three T20 Internationals and one Test match during England’s tour of the region in February.
This was confirmed by local cricket president Azim Bassarath on Monday after Minister of Finance Colm Imbert expressed the government’s interest in hosting at least three major international competitions here within the next fiscal year.
Imbert said the government has also thrown its support behind the TT Powerboat Association’s international P1 circuit event scheduled for February.
During his budget presentation in Parliament on Monday, Imbert said, “The government has just approved the submission of a bid to host matches in January 2022 of the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup and we are considering the TT Cricket Board’s interest in hosting some games during England’s tour of the West Indies in February 2022.”
Bassarath confirmed that 24 of 64 Under-19 World Cup matches will be played in Trinidad, with the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba serving as the main broadcast venue.
Other matches will be played at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Diego Martin Sporting Complex, UWI Grounds in St Augustine and the National Cricket Centre in Couva.
Bassarath said several International Cricket Council (ICC) and Cricket West Indies (CWI) officials visited Trinidad in September to assess and evaluate its venues for the possibility of hosting some World Cup matches here.
The World Cup will feature 16 teams competing over a one-month period. This is the first time the WI will host the event and it is likely to be staged across three host countries and will include the game’s future stars competing in 64 matches in the 50-over format.
The local cricket president was pleased with Imbert’s budget presentation, which he believes augurs well for the local economy.
“From a cricketing point of view, we are very happy that the government joined the TTCB in seeking to host matches here and we were granted such,” Bassarath said.
Additionally, the government and TTCB await CWI’s decision on whether they will get to host three T20Is and one Test match when England tours the Caribbean, in two phases, early next year.
The first stage of the tour runs from January 26 to February 6 (five T20Is) and resumes from March 1–31 (three Tests).
The TTCB president said the TT government sent in a bid to CWI to the approximate tune of US$1.5 milliion to host these four matches. It is expected to receive confirmation when the CWI board meets next week to make its final decisions on the English tour.
Bassarath said the “Three Lions” usually have a travelling fan base of over 8,000 spectators who would travel the globe to view their nation play.
He thinks, after the Ashes is played in Australia without spectators in December, English fans would be eager and hungry to travel to the Caribbean for the tour.
“If TT is awarded matches for the English tour, we could very well expect that volume (over 8,000 English fans) of people.
“That number of people coming to spend two weeks in Trinidad could see them spend around three to four times the government’s investment during that period,” he added.
Meanwhile powerboat association vice president Roger Bell also commended the government’s decision to support the nation’s first-ever international P1 circuit event.
P1 Offshore is an international body responsible for a series of world-class powerboat racing competitions.
Bell said the goal is to have a major international event here so that TT would become a destination for powerboat racing and not only for the Great Race.
“This is what we’ve been working on for years. Once the government is supporting it, we’re delighted. What we’re trying to do is make the transition of the boats coming in and out of the country as smooth as possible with regards to customs and immigration,” he said.
Bell said there will be several big professional teams who have obligations to their sponsors and other races. Their boats coming to TT may have an estimated ten-day journey here. They may spend a week acclimatising to local waters, then another ten-day journey back up to their home town or their race circuit.
“That is where we have gone to government for support, not necessarily money per se. We just don’t want anyone’s boat sitting in Customs for two and three weeks – because it has happened before.”
He added, “We get to show off our country as a destination, (and) local boats will get recognition by competing against some of the world-renowned boats. It’s going to be sports tourism because they will have their fans coming in here as well. It’s sport tourism: the hotels will be occupied, restaurants, and people would be spending money, probably US dollars.”
Imbert also said, “We expect that these plans will assist in the activation of our potential to build our sport tourism product.”
He also said depending on the success of the nationwide covid19 vaccination drive, fans may be allowed to return to the stands, once domestic sport resumes.
“We will continue to recognise the role sport plays in nation-building. As such we’re expecting that all sporting events, with fans attending, be permitted once again in 2022.
"However, this depends on the success of our vaccination programme,” Imbert said.