VRCG may host relocated matches

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The Vivian Richards Cricket Ground may get a chance to host matches during South Africa’s tour of the Caribbean, which starts next month.

The Antigua & Barbuda Sports website has reported the VRCG may host the two Twenty20 and two One-day Internationals between West Indies and South Africa, which were scheduled for Trinidad & Tobago.

“It is a better than 90 per cent chance that the [matches] will be played in Antigua,” said a well-placed source.

The West Indies Cricket Board is considering its hosting options, after Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning called elections in the two-island republic 2-1/2 years ahead of schedule on May 24.

T&T’s Queen’s Park Oval were set to host the two T20Is on May 19 and 20, and the two ODIs on May 23 and 25.

Before the VRCG can be cleared for the matches, it will undergo an inspection from ICC and WICB officials on Sunday, the source added.

The VRCG was black-listed last year, following the second Test between West Indies and England, which was abandoned after just 10 balls because of a sandy outfield.

The US$50 million facility was constructed three years ago in time for Antigua & Barbuda to host matches in the World Cup.

The outfield has however, proven to be a challenge. There were drainage problems during the World Cup, and the following year’s tour of the Caribbean by Australia. This forced the Antiguan government to relay the outfield and replace the entire drainage system, which led to the problems with the sandy outfield.

As a consequence of the abandoned Test, the International Cricket Council, the sport’s World governing body, imposed a one-year ban, which expired in February.

Since then, the rehabilitation work on the outfield has been fully completed, and the ground has hosted local club matches, as well as Leeward Islands Cricket Association’s senior and junior matches.

The VRCG also staged the first-ever, day/night match during the regional first-class championship between Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana in February this year – and there were no problems.

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