BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Caribbean Premier League chief operations officer, Pete Russell, has sought to allay concerns over the decision by organisers to play this year’s tournament entirely at Warner Park.
St Kitts and Nevis, which will host the ninth edition of the regional Twenty20 tournament this August, boast only one first class venue which will host all 33 matches on five different strips.
Russell said the league had gone to great lengths to ensure the best possible pitch preparation so the standard of cricket remained at a high level throughout the course of the tournament.
“That requires a great deal of management because any agronomist will know, playing 33 games in one venue is going to be challenging,” Russell said during a recent online media conference.
“What we’re blessed with in St Kitts is there are six grounds around the island, all of which can host the training so we will be making use of the training facilities which are away from Warner Park.
“So effectively, Warner Park will just host the games and actually one of the largest wear and tears of any ground is when they’re practice sessions on, and people play on the outfield before games. So we’re totally aware of the challenges.”
This year’s tournament marks the first time games will be staged at only one venue, as organisers have once again moved to create a bio-secure bubble in one territory amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Trinidad and Tobago hosted last year’s tournament but matches were split between Queen’s Park Oval in the capital Port of Spain, and the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.
Russell said CPL had secured the services of a New Zealand pitch consultant with International Cricket Council experience, to work with the local authorities.
“He will be coming into St Kitts probably ten weeks before the tournament to assist and make sure that everything, from the grass right through to the preparation, is on track,” Russell explained.
“They’ve obviously worked very closely with the grounds-people in St Kitts before and are very comfortable and confident that we’ll be preparing some great wickets.”
He added: “The soil in the wickets in St Kitts is some of the best in the region so we’re very comfortable that we’ll be able to prepare some incredibly good decks for the players, as we always have done.”
In awarding St Kitts the tournament, Russell said there had been extensive deliberations over both the quality of training facilities and the main venue’s capability in managing the workload.
But he said organisers were convinced the grounds would withstand the rigour without compromising the quality of cricket for which the tournament had become known.
“We do have to have good training facilities and they are very good facilities around the island so we’re comfortable in terms of the training,” he pointed out.
“The beauty of course in St Kitts is that you’re pretty close to everything so people are not having to travel for hours on end to get to them. But I know there’s been a lot of investment gone into these training grounds so that’s not an issue for us.
“Our main concern is to make sure the wickets themselves can stand the test of time. We know exactly the process, we have a bloc of five wickets to work with then we’ve got to make sure they’re kept refreshed so that we can play some great cricket on them.
“This again has been part of the process of looking at it and one of the considerations is: can you play all 33 games with the standard of the cricketers that we have at one ground and the answer is, yes we can.”