The Caribbean Premier League is definitely going to play at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica despite some unforeseen challenges and organisers are confident that local fans will get their money’s worth and enjoy the experience.
Sabina Park and Jamaica Cricket Association officials announced last week that the lights at the stadium that are being installed and which would allow for night matches to be played, will not be ready in time for the inaugural tournament next month.
The revelation caused Caribbean Premier League officials to tweak the tournament schedule to accommodate the Jamaica matches. Players Jamaicans can see at the historic ground include local hero Chris Gayle, Muttiah Muralitharan, Andre Russell, Ravi Rampaul, Danza Hyatt, Carlton Baugh and Nikita Miller.
“It is unfortunate that Sabina Park was unable to secure its lights in time for the CPL but we have done what we can to ensure that Team Jamaica fans will not miss out on home matches or be excluded from the CPL excitement,” said Caribbean Premier League CEO Damien O’Donohoe.
“Sabina Park is an important ground in the history of West Indies cricket and a popular venue for fans so we felt it was vital to keep the matches there.”
The Jamaica matches will now take place on Thursday 15 August at 2pm (Jamaica v Guyana); Saturday 17 August featuring a doubleheader at 10am (St Lucia v Trinidad and Tobago) and 2pm (Jamaica v Barbados); and Sunday 18 August at 2pm (Jamaica v Trinidad & Tobago).
O’Donohoe also noted another change in the schedule, saying that as a result of feedback from fans, all matches in the other five franchise countries – Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St Lucia and Trinidad – will start at 7.30pm. On days where there are two matches, the first match starts at 3pm.
CPL event organisers are working tirelessly to get fans to Sabina Park.
“These four matches will be filled with lots of entertainment. Fans will not feel left out of the CPL party experience or disappointed with what we have planned for them,” said CPL event director Rhonda Kelly.
“Each match will open with live performances by popular local artistes, and there will also be a performance during the match break.
“Of course we’ll have a DJ and iron band and all the elements of a cricket match that Sabina is known for.
“We’ll also have stilt walkers and face painting for fans to show their team pride and lots of giveaways and promotions courtesy of Digicel, CPL’s major sponsor.
“As it is summer and the kids are out of school, there is a lot that we can do in terms of family entertainment and we hope that families will take advantage of these safe, fun and affordable events.”
“The Digicel Play Your Part promotion on Facebook where fans can win the chance to present the Man of the Match award or participate in the coin toss is already generating much interest but we’re going to do more to target the Jamaica fan base,” said James Wynne of Digicel.
“We’re going to do some text promotions, give away some tickets, special access passes, smart phones and other cricket memorabilia, all with the intent of ensuring that everyone comes out to play at Sabina in August.”
The first ever Caribbean Premier League begins on Tuesday 30 July in Barbados and concludes with semi-final and final matches played in Trinidad.