Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley today sought to make it clear that Government did not drop the ball on this country’s hosting a major international women’s cricket tournament.
While responding to accusations levelled by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, as well as President of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Conde Riley, Lashley also warned that the matter was “not a political issue and ought not to be politicized”.
However, he said the level of financial commitment Barbados was being asked to bear – including absorbing the full cost of the Kensington Oval venue – made it impossible for the country to take forward its bid for next year’s International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Women’s T20 Cup final.
“Barbados would have been required to make preparations, including ensuring visitors are facilitated on entry, national security, disaster management, cleanup, beautification and general hospitality support,” Lashley said, while pointing out that medical services and a stadium licence also had to be provided by the host country.
“In other words Barbados was being asked to provide Kensington Oval free of cost to Cricket West Indies and the BCA for the hosting of this tournament,” he said, adding that this was “totally unacceptable”.
He said both Mottley and Riley had sought to give the wrong impression that all that was required from Government was a pledge of US$75, 000, along with US$200, 000 in visa waivers.
While terming those suggestions as “grossly inaccurate, misleading and very irresponsible”, the Minister of Sports make it clear that his ministry was “very much aware of its responsibilities in these matters.
“And for the record I could safely say that we have always acted responsibly and we will continue to act responsibly in relation to any matters that are brought before it,” he said during a press conference at his Haggatt Hall, St Michael office.
He went further to accuse the Opposition Leader of engaging in irresponsible and reckless behaviour, while suggesting that “we saw similar approach taken by Ms Mottley in relation to [Barbados’ staging last August of] CARIFESTA.
“Of course I had to have my say on that . . . [but] I find it passing strange that the Opposition has been criticizing the Government for granting waivers and concessions, but now, all of a sudden, is purporting to try and make a case for the Government to grant concessions.
“I think it is tantamount to asking the Government to engage in reckless behaviour, which of course we will not do,” he said.
Lashley also pointed out that it would take in excess of $1.3 million to repair Kensington.
However, he said “Government’s position remains that it will not sign a blank cheque but it will certainly entertain a proper and full discussion before it commits taxpayers’ hard earned money to any project of that kind.
“And that is the issue that I want to zoom in on because I would have felt coming from the Leader of the Opposition, that they would want to ensure that Government spends taxpayers’ money wisely and not to immediately sign off on a document because it seem to be somehow the in thing to do,” he said while pointing out that Cricket World Cup 2007, which was undertaken by the last Government, “did not bring the kind of return that we expected”.
Lashley also spared no insult for the BCA in terms of its handling of the latest ICC bid.
In fact, he said contrary to what was published in the media, his ministry had requested a letter from the BCA outlining what they wanted the Government of Barbados to consider in relation to the tournament.
However, he said the BCA was yet to provide the requested information.
“What was received from the ministry is basically an attachment containing bidding information and a letter of intent in relation to the process by which the BCA wanted to be involved with West Indies Cricket (CWI) in the hosting of women’s T20,” Lashley said.
He also pointed out that before the tournament deadline expired, emails were dispatched to Chief Executive Officer of CWI Johnny Grave, which were copied to BCA’s CEO Noel Lynch and to the CWI project team of T20 2018, in response the number of commitments that were required of Barbados.
In the circumstances, he said it was inaccurate to say that Government had not given its support to this particular venture.
“Not only did I give support, but I give support based on receiving from Cricket West Indies and the BCA, reasonable terms upon which the Government can give guarantees of any kind and I think that is reasonable for the Government to do.
“I would have signalled the Government’s interest in the tournament and I did that even before the third deadline which I read for the first time in the newspaper, and certainly the last deadline of December the second,” he said, adding that “there was a clear position from the Government of Barbados, that it remained interested in the tournament but on the terms and conditions that were considered reasonable to Barbados”.