Intermittently during the past couple of days at Sabina Park, the public address system has blared out a baffling, if unequivocal message.
It was to the effect that no pass-outs would be issued to spectators during the first Digicel Test. Sabina, like Kensington and the Queen’s Park Oval, is near enough to the capital’s business areas that it’s possible to take in some play during the company’s lunch break and return later for the final session at no additional cost on a pass-out ticket. That’s what used to happen. No longer, nor can anyone leave to attend a meeting, to pick the children up from school or, even more importantly, to drop the wife at the hairdresser and return without paying all over again to get back in.
In other words, once spectators have purchased their tickets, taken their seats and are there for the first ball, they are virtual prisoners for the seven hours, or more, a day’s Test cricket occupies.
It is, according to West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) cricket operations officer, Tony Howard, a local board decision, in this instance, the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA). Even so, the match is under the WICB auspices.
It might simply be a legacy of the 2007 World Cup when, under International Cricket Council (ICC) direction, the regulation was also in place. It was one of the several irritations of that ill-starred event.
It is not apparent why it should still obtain.
At a time when crowds at Test matches are dwindling, the organisers should, surely, be trying to lure as many fans as possible through the turnstiles and not to upset them with such unreasonable measures.