Just when the members of the British Virgin Islands Cricket Association were beginning to wonder where they would get funding to sustain its programmes, along came Allen Stanford and the Stanford 20/20 Tournament. They brought a US$280,000 injection of faith into a country whose most avid cricket fans admit that interest in the sport by the younger generation is slowly deteriorating.
Nonetheless, the diehard lovers of the game are now singing the praises of the Stanford 20/20, which in their opinion has thrown out a much-needed lifeline to a tradition that is being pulled underwater by the waves of progress and disinterest. Everton Knight, President of the BVI Cricket Association and the man charged with developing the game in the small territories, says that when he first heard of the project to give each of the 19 competing teams US$280,000, he thought he was dreaming.
‘I couldn’t believe it. It was like magic, too good to be true, but we wasted no time in signing up. We were not going to let this golden opportunity pass us by,’ Knight explained. ‘I thought about it and I realized that once Mr. Stanford was behind the initiative it was something that would get done, plain and simple.’
Knight says Stanford’s funds come at a time when his Association is struggling greatly. Added to his financial woes is the fact that the BVI team does not even have an official ground on which to train for the Tournament, a situation that needs to be resolved if the country is to do well in July.
The A.O. Shirley Recreation Ground, which has been the home for cricket in BVI for over 36 years, is now being transformed into a track facility. However, Knight says the BVI Government has assured the Association that it will have a new facility and he sees the funding from the Stanford 20/20 as a significant jumpstart to making that promise a reality.
The Government has also publicly pledged its commitment to keeping the sport alive.
‘The BVI is a microcosm of cricket in the West Indies,’ Robert Chalwell, BVI’s Director of Sports said in remarks made at BVI and USVI’s cheque presentation ceremony.