Kensington Oval was abuzz with cricket fever for the second One Day International between the West Indies and England today. And the electricity outside the Oval intensified when West Indies cricket legends Sir Wes Hall, Sir Charles Griffith, Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge appeared near the statue of cricket icon and National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers to greet fans.
From about 3:30 p.m. these greats congregated by The Legends tent sponsored by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) to take photographs, sign autographs and mingle with fans. Visitors from the United Kingdom and the USA were awestruck and full of smiles as they stood in the presence of the cricket legends.
Fans such as 21-year-old Tom Akeroyd and 22-year-old John Chappel-Gill from London were elated as they conversed with the famed speedster Sir Wes and shook hands with the formidable retired opening duo of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.
“It is really inspiring. Barbados has a really rich cricket history and it is nice you could come to watch cricket but also meet them as well,” said Chappel-Gill, who identified Michael Holding as one of his favourite West Indies bowlers.
Meanwhile, having just interacted with Sir Wes, Akeroyd remainedin shock and excitement.
“Sir Wes Hall is my favourite cricketer, without a shadow of a doubt. He is one of the great quick bowlers of West Indian cricket…,” said the Londoner.
Chief executive officer of the BTPA, Marsha Alleyne, told Barbados TODAY that more than 7, 000 visitors had arrived in Barbados for the cricket series.
“The fact that we are actually watching the West Indies play England in a warm weather setting [and] the fact that we have the beautiful Kensington Oval as our mecca is a serious pulling card for our visitors,” Alleyne explained.
The acting BTPA CEO added: “I think sometimes we undervalue the whole of sports tourism not only in Barbados but globally. People travel far throughout the world for sports activities, whether it is surfing, windsurfing, cycling and of course cricket. Cricket draws thousands and thousands of viewers not just here in the Caribbean, Barbados or the UK, but in India, Pakistan and a lot of other places. You have a lot of places zooming in on Barbados and what an opportunity we have to showcase the legends right now, not just to Barbados but to the world.”
And to cap off the excitement outside the grounds and in the stands, West Indies brought the perfect ending to the day for home fans by beating England to level the five-match series at 1-1.