MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Sports enthusiasts in western Jamaica, particularly cricket fans, are in for a treat on Tuesday, May 16, as international cricket returns to Jarrett Park, after a three year absence.
On that day, the touring Indian cricket team will play a one-day match in that sporting complex, against the Jamaica national team, which will be the opening fixture for the Indian team’s tour of the Caribbean, and will serve as a warm-up for the two one-day internationals between the West Indies and the Indians, to be played at Sabina Park later in the week.
At a press conference held Tuesday, May 9 in the Montego Bay Cricket Club complex, which adjoins Jarrett Park, both the Jamaica and St. James Cricket Associations representatives outlined plans for the upcoming game, describing it as a “dry run” for the use of Jarrett Park during Cricket World Cup 2007, for practice games.
Secretary of the St. James Cricket Association, Michael Ellis, said it was his organization’s hope that as a result of staging the game, certain objectives regarding the future of the game of cricket in Montego Bay would be achieved.
These include: a resurgence of support and renewed interest in cricket in Montego Bay; the restart of domestic cricket in the area at both the senior and junior levels; that the game would generate enough cash injection to assist in the upgrading and development of Barnett Oval in Montego Bay, as a dedicated cricket ground in that city; and should mark the return of more frequent international cricket games to Montego Bay, which would benefit the economy of the area.
He stressed that Jarrett Park still held the record for the largest crowd at a regional cricket game in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Adrian Grant, Chairman of the Jarrett Park Development Committee, the organization that manages the operation of the sporting facility, pointed out that the cricket pitch was about 75 per cent ready for the staging of the game. He said that the present drought situation in the area was effecting the preparation of the pitch, but he was receiving help from the National Water Commission, the Fire Brigade and the Rapid Response unit in the area, to counter the effects of the drought.
He pointed out that all the other areas at the complex were about 90 per cent ready, adding that about $600,000 was being spent on the facility in preparation for the game.
President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Pauline Reid, was very enthusiastic about the staging of the game in Montego Bay, highlighting the positive effects it should have on Tourism and the economy of the area.
In relation to Cricket World Cup 2007, she emphasized that the benefits to be gained by Montego Bay and Jamaica as a whole were immeasurable, adding that her organization was willing to assist, especially in the Montego Bay leg of the planned practice games.
She argued that the Cricket World Cup 2007 practice matches to be held at Jarrett Park would provide an opportunity for the event to be used for the re-branding and selling of the Jamaican product.
“Sport on a whole is such a vital part of our culture, and it can be used to market Jamaica, for other benefits such as tourism. So, I would love us to look at that to see how we can use it as an opportunity to re-brand and sell Montego Bay and Jamaica overall,” Miss Reid said.
She called on all Jamaicans to make sure that the country capitalized on the opportunities that would become available as a result of Cricket World Cup 2007.