Mon | Aug 2, 2021

Home sweet home?

JCA cautiously optimistic of hosting CPL fans in 2022

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2021 | 12:23 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Fans watch the Jamaica Tallawahs take on St Kitts and Nevis Patriots from the North Stand at Sabina Park during the 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League tournament.
Fans watch the Jamaica Tallawahs take on St Kitts and Nevis Patriots from the North Stand at Sabina Park during the 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League tournament.
Francis
Francis
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Although still wary of the current health situation, Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Chief Executive Officer Courtney Francis says that he is encouraged by the prospect of Jamaica resuming hosting duties for the next Caribbean Premier League (CPL...

Although still wary of the current health situation, Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Chief Executive Officer Courtney Francis says that he is encouraged by the prospect of Jamaica resuming hosting duties for the next Caribbean Premier League (CPL) season.

His comments come as CPL Chief Operating Officer Pete Russell, in a virtual press conference yesterday, indicated that they are looking for all participating teams to resume hosting duties for the 2022 campaign.

Additionally, the CPL announced that St Kitts and Nevis will host this year’s tournament, which will be the first regional tournament to have fans in attendance since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the temporary hiatus of sports last year.

Last year’s tournament was played in a biosecure bubble in Trinidad, with no fans in attendance, but this year, fully vaccinated fans will be allowed at the Warner Park Stadium in St Kitts, which will be open at a limited capacity.

MONITORING THE SITUATION

While the vaccination programmes in various territories have started, Francis says that they still have to monitor the situation to ensure that they can resume their hosting duties for the Jamaica Tallawahs by the time the 2022 tournament begins.

“I have no challenge as it relates to us hosting, provided that we can. We have to watch and see and make a determination for future tournaments. I do not believe that anyone now has a handle as to how long the pandemic will last,” Francis told The Gleaner. “We have to wait and see how it works out.”

Currently, St Kitts has not registered a COVID-19 case since March 18, but the tournament will still be played in a biosecure environment.

Russell says that he is excited at the prospect of the tournament returning to its local territories, with local fans being able to enjoy the competition after not being able to watch from the stands last year.

“We all want to be back in all the countries across the Caribbean with fans enjoying the cricket. And it’s going to be like one hell of a rebirth when it finally happens, when we can get obviously all of the local fans in,” Russell said. “The fans that we get at CPL are unique and that’s why I’m so delighted that we are going to be able to have fans this year, because I think it will make such a difference. But next year is when we’ll be back across the region.”

Over 100,000 persons have at least been given their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Jamaica, and Francis says that he is heartened by the CPL’s commitment to resume matches in Jamaica next year, and believes that the other territories will stand to gain as the sport moves to have fans return in the stands.

“It is encouraging because seeing what is happening, it is likely that the region will take a position as to how we move forward. So even with hosting other international games, not just CPL, but hosting cricket in general, other territories can benefit from what is happening here,” Francis said.

The 2021 CPL season is expected to begin on August 28.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com