Being a country of just around 2,70,000, Barbados has given the world some of the finest cricketers ever seen but now it is time for this island to see some cricket that, on paper, has little potential to produce contests of the highest order.
Irrespective of how well Bangladesh or Ireland might have done so far, they are still to come anywhere near being known as crowd-pullers, and with the Barbados leg of the Super Eight set to witness many matches featuring these teams, the Bajans are still to warm up to the World Cup.
It was cold on Monday morning amid a slight drizzle at the refurbished Kensington Oval where the Barbadian government and the local organising committee convened a ‘prayer service’ hoping for a happy and entertaining sequence of matches starting with the one between England and Bangladesh on Wednesday. The occasion was also supposed to serve as a trial run for various things like crowd control, security arrangements and public address systems and to check how preparations had been. The entry to the venue, looking majestic, was free. Considering that there was no cricket to be played, the turnout of over 2,000 was surprising and heartening.
Minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Joseph Atherley, addressed the gathering for a long time urging them to pack the stadium on match days, emphasising the importance of appreciating cricket regardless of who plays and who does not. Not all were moved by his words however.
“We would rather watch it on TV,” said Emma Short, an old lady who was there with her grandchildren. The reason? Not any different from what it was in Jamaica and Antigua. “It’s the ICC’s cricket, not ours. We wouldn’t enjoy it with so many restrictions. “Food, drinks, drums, bugles, conch shells, flag poles many essential objects these people flock the stands with are prohibited.
But why was she there then? “As Barbadians, it is our duty to be present at the ground on the first day it has been thrown open to the public and pray that everything goes off smoothly, without trouble or accidents.” Some commitment to national pride, yes, but hardly encouraging for teams like Bangladesh, England or Australia who are here.
Having learnt from what was seen in the previous venues, authorities here have slashed the price of tickets. Going by the experience in other places, there is reason to be apprehensive still. These people do not care as much about almost anything as they do for cricket, but they are yet to be enthused by what is on