A private company employed by the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) to maintain the outfield at Kensington Oval has recommended there be no further non-cricket activities staged on the grounds, in the weeks leading up to the first Test between the West Indies and England next month.
This is in an effort to safeguard the outfield in preparation for the high-profile match set to bowl off January 23.
In recent years, there have been concerns raised about the impact the various shows have had on the outfield of the historic venue, long regarded as “the Mecca of cricket” in the region.
A year ago, BCA president Conde Riley described the outfield as a “potato field” after it sustained major damage by heavy equipment following the hosting of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA).
And earlier this month, the Mitsubishi Electric Rugby Barbados World 7s tournament was held at the Oval, resulting in Barbados Pride’s first two matches in the Regional first class championship being shifted to the 3W’s Oval at UWI Cave Hill.
While BCA’s director of cricket, Steven Leslie, did not reveal the name of the company, he said that for sometime now, the BCA has engaged an outside entity to deal with the maintenance of the outfield.
“We would ideally want a larger window but as it stands right now, we are progressing very well in terms of how we should be for the first Test,” Leslie told Barbados Today.
“The experts are very clear in their mind they should be no more non-cricket activity at the venue before the first Test against England. I think everyone would appreciate that once cricket is played at the venue there would be minimal or no damage because it is a cricket field in a multi-purpose facility.
“We are hoping that the pitches and the outfield will remain in immaculate conditions for the Test match.”
Barbados will host the opening Test of the three-match series, and will also be the venue for the opening two One-Day Internationals on February 20 and 22.
And officials had also expressed worry with the rugby tournament being staged so close to the hosting of these matches but Leslie said only minimal damage was done to the outfield.
“All reports are that the damage to the outfield at Kensington Oval outfield was minimal,” Leslie explained.
“We are very pleased to note that the work which began at the conclusion of the Regional Super50 at the end of October would have brought the field up to a state that when the Rugby Sevens was held, the damage was minor.
“Ideally we would have hoped that there would not have been significant activity at Kensington Oval just five to six weeks before the start of the England visit. However, the rugby tournament was a previous commitment made some 12 months ago.”
He continued: “Our understanding is that there were no heavy equipment on the field. There were the normal scud marks that you would have had from players tackling each other and who were actually running around on the field in a much more concentrated area.
“It was not the kind of major damage that occurs during events like the Hennessy Artistry Show, soca shows or any Crop Over actively. We did not have that kind of damage.”
Leslie said the BCA had been assured by the experts that the minor damage to the outfield could be resolved in a short period.
“They have suggested that within two weeks, with the relevant sand and repair work, the damage will be repaired. We don’t foresee any challenges with those minimal marks that were placed on field,” he pointed out.
Barbados host Guyana Jaguars in the third round of the Regional first class championship starting January 4 next year, the only activity scheduled for the Oval prior to the England Test.