Caribbean cricket is now being graced with the involvement of two Presidents each with the common background of getting served as Tourism Ministers for his or her respective countries, President Dr Irfaan Ali of Guyana and Cricket West Indies Ricky Skerritt of St. Kitts. By way of the applying of their respective previous ministerial experience to the further promotion of Caribbean tourism, nonetheless, President Ali has of late been providing Mr. Skerritt with master to novice-like education to such a level that it has change into one more source of embarrassment to the latter’s CWI presidency.
One in every of the numerous refreshingly progressive approaches President Ali has dropped at his performance of duties as Guyana’s head-of-state has been the popularity and invigorating pursuit of the complete realization of Caribbean cricket’s immense tourism-generating potential. By comparison, Ricky Skerritt’s CWI presidential tenure has been most disappointingly that of the spearhead of an administration that may now justifiably be accused of getting hindered, if not totally undermined, the achievement of any such similar objective. That of West Indies cricket to be a big contributor to further improving and increasing the tourism economy welfare of its Caribbean member territories.
Irrefutable evidence of the disparities between the positive impacts on Caribbean tourism of the respective accomplishments of Dr Ali and President Skerrit has change into glaringly obvious for all to see.
One in every of the very first highly strategic initiatives President Ali sought to pursue soon after he had assumed Guyana’s presidential reins was the acquisition of hosting rights for matches within the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), now internationally recognized as “the most important party in sport!” Because of this of President Ali’s vision, Guyana subsequently secured hosting rights for matches within the CPL preliminary round, playoffs, semi-finals and final on a three-year 2022-2024 contract.
Not content with just the mere acquisition of the distinguished CPL rights, President Ali then went a step further by announcing his government’s intended establishment of an annual Cricket Carnival to be held at the side of Guyana’s annual hosting of its scheduled matches. President Ali’s conceptual vision for the Cricket Carnival’s establishment featuring the perfect of culture, cuisine and music from not only Guyana mind you, but slightly also CPL’s other participating Caribbean territories: Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, in addition to Trinidad & Tobago, was a masterstroke of breathtaking brilliance.
The immediate most positive results of Dr. Ali’s progressive CPL strategy have been each quite a few and overly impressive. Guyana’s hosted daytime CPL matches, typically involving two of the opposite competing teams, have been graced by the presence of tons of of schoolchildren. Their gleeful attendance has provided a measurable degree of most welcomed joyous atmosphere to the on-field proceedings, which otherwise would have played out against a morgue-like sterile backdrop of otherwise empty stands.
Hero CPL 2022 Guyana-hosted evening matches involving the ever-surging local Amazon Warriors have against this been characterised by stands jam-packed with 1000’s of spectators proudly clad in team shirts, joyously waving purchased national and franchise flags. Noticeably, President Ali himself, has been most admirably seated within the stands next to and amongst his people. Not up in some corporate hospitality suite as televised photos of CWI President Ricky Skerritt have against this invariably shown. An object lesson in demonstrated humility to go together with those of the administered tourism-related education!
No sooner had Guyana’s 2022 hosting been announced, the country’s admittedly currently small hotel occupancy was just as quickly filled through expressions of interest particularly from overseas, Canada and US-based Guyanese searching for to go home to witness the matches in person. One more provided tourism educational lesson, on the advantages of embracing slightly than ignoring the immense energetic spectator interest of overseas-based fans.
While President Ali has together with his refreshingly progressive initiatives been providing an ever-increasing stimulation of cricket-generated tourism, President Skerritt’s CWI has seemingly been hell bent on travelling in an other way. Unconscionable ticket prices for Caribbean-hosted matches, against a backdrop of their nonexistent promotion, in addition to entirely missed further marketing opportunities have as an alternative been the characteristics of the Skerritt-led CWI through the past three years. Essentially the most recent poignant example of which has been CWI’s abysmally shoddy planning of this 12 months’s 2022 edition of its annual CG Insurance Super50 tournament.
As indicated by CWI’s Operations Manager, Roland Holder, during his guest appearance on last Tuesday’s September 20 Mason & Guest Radio Show, the tournament dates, venues, and participating teams for this 12 months’s 2022 Annual Super50 tournament will probably be announced shortly. Roughly, only one month before the tournament’s typically November scheduled staging.
Holder’s pathetic explanation for the protracted delay within the announcement of the tournament information was that of it having been attributable to the encountered logistical issues concerning organising the movement of players and associated personnel due to various flight schedules. Whereas CPL could have someway managed to successfully organise the movement of players of six participating teams, officials, commentators, and never to say television crews and equipment to and from 4 hosting venues inside a month, it has apparently taken CWI almost a complete 12 months to work out easy methods to accomplish that!
The concept of striking an agreement with Caribbean Airlines as a regional carrier, owned because it is by the Government Trinidad & Tobago Government the Prime Ministerial head of which Keith Rowley is as staunch a supporter of West Indies cricket as you could possibly ever find, for the related annual transportation of Super50 related personnel, appears to have been rocket science for Holder and the opposite Skerritt-led CWI administrators. Against this, CPL and Caribbean Airlines seemingly long since brokered exactly such a deal, as evidenced by the airline’s continued annual involvement as considered one of the tournament’s major sponsors.
In further, very stark contrast to the globally televised images of stands full of team-shirt-wearing, flag-waving fans of CPL’s Guyana Amazon Warriors, St Kitts Patriots, St Lucia Kings and T&T Knight Riders, CWI’s Super5o matches have been invariably played in front of empty stands occupied by mere handfuls of spectators. More importantly, the corresponding participating six CWI Super50 franchises haven’t even been scratching the surface of their respective revenue-generating potential.
In keeping with its FaceBook Page, CWI currently has well over 2.25 million fans worldwide. Yet there has never been evidence provided of any marketing efforts towards the respective loyalties of such fans by the use of encouraging them to buy team shirts representative of their national franchises.
Announcing the main points of an “annual” annual tournament mere weeks before its scheduled commencement can be obviously not the most effective technique of encouraging visits from overseas-based fans of the respective participating Super50 franchises. That, unfortunately, has not only been the hallmark of CWI’s annual planning, or lack thereof, but additionally further evidence of its apparent oblivion to the tourism-generating potential of properly promoted tournaments.
Even worse, this 12 months’s Super50 will reportedly only feature eight Caribbean-based teams, the six participating franchises from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, the Leeward and Windwards Islands, in addition to squads representative of CWI’s U23 and Combined Campuses players. In contrast to the tournament’s 2019 Pre-Covid edition, for this 12 months there’ll inexplicably be no participation by either Canada or the USA. The respective resident populations of which now include tons of of 1000’s of ardent Caribbean cricket-oriented fans, not to say the thousands and thousands of others of much more fervent followers who hail from South Asian countries similar to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
CWI has this 12 months completely ignored the very tangible significantly sizeable goal market of just the family, friends and followers of the Canadian and US teams, who with proper advanced planning could just as easily have been encouraged to travel to the Caribbean to attend Super50 matches in support of their respective national teams, because the tons of who’ve attended Guyana’s hosted CPL matches. An oversight of monumental proportions.
Not in the least unexpected though from the Skerritt-led CWI. The Caribbean-tourism generating shortcomings of which have been as contrastingly dark to the shining brilliance of Guyana President Ali’s stimulating initiatives as night is to day!
About The Author: Guyana-born, Toronto-based, Tony McWatt is the Publisher of each the WI Wickets and Wickets/monthly online cricket magazines which can be respectively targeted toward Caribbean and Canadian readers. He can be the one son of the previous Guyana and West Indies wicket-keeper batsman the late Clifford “Baby Boy” McWatt.