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Kensington Oval – the home of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 Final – is back in business!
More than 12, 000 people, including a host of international media, turned out last Saturday for the venue’s grand reopening which says ICC CWC 2007 Commercial Director Stephen Price was “a good signal” ahead of the tournament which starts in less than three weeks.
Noting that the sizeable turn-out by locals augurs well for the Event, he complimented the Barbados Local Organising Committee (LOC) for its well-oiled machinery and the “spectacular ambience” at the picturesque stadium.
“There were issues which were managed in the background by good contingency planning. Caterers sold all their food. I think they underestimated the demand that would be created by the regulations regarding what persons can bring to the venue. They will be better prepared come tournament time,” noted Price.
“Overall this was a good test for the Event and spectators enjoyed every minute of it. Last Saturday should help the LOC in its planning for the Best Cricket World Cup Ever.”
ICC CWC 2007 Venue Development Director, Donald Lockerbie, also praised the reopening, congratulating the LOC and its Match Day officials for a successful debut.
“I felt very proud of the entire team responsible for the development of the venue and management of this event.”
Margaret Gibson of Cricket Logistics, CWC’s Official Tour & Travel Operator, noted that is was “extremely worthwhile for all of us to see the whole ground and get a really good idea of what our clients will experience on match days”.
Media & Communications Manager of the Barbados LOC, Terry Mayers, acknowledged there were some early ingress challenges with some patrons complaining about the length of time it took to enter the stadium; in addition to food being sold out.
The day’s proceedings began with an official opening ceremony, which included a blessing by the head of the Barbados Christian Council, remarks by Prime Minister Owen Arthur, the presentation of eight Barbadian cricketing icons led by National Hero, The Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers. Some of the stands and other major facilities at the redeveloped 27,000-seat stadium were renamed. The main VIP/members stand, formerly the George Challenor Stand, is now the Worrell, Weekes and Walcott Stand. The old Kensington and Eric Inniss Stands have been rechristened the Greenidge & Haynes Stand. The Mitchie Hewitt Stand is the Hewitt & Inniss Stand and the media centre is the Coppin, Cozier & Short Media Centre.
A Twenty20 All Star cricket match, featuring a West Indies XI versus a World XI, highlighted the day. Former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards led the home team against a squad captained by former England skipper Alec Stewart.
Chasing 180 runs to win and needing 30 runs off the final over, the West Indies XI fell short by six runs. However, this was not before the home crowd witnessed some scintillating strokes from Sir Viv as well as from another former Windies captain, Carl Hooper – who top-scored with 46 not out – and Collis King who struck three consecutive sixes in the final over.