St. Kitts & Nevis sent ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 on its way in true Caribbean style today with a farewell Group Stage match that typified the term “calypso cricket”.
As Australia and South Africa traded blow for blow on the picture-perfect Warner Park strip in Basseterre, a party with 10,000 in attendance was in full swing beyond the boundary ““ fans dancing to infectious melodies, drinking and eating to their hearts’ content and savouring the world-class sporting spectacle before them.
“This is great. I have thoroughly enjoyed the two matches I attended and I’m proud to see the West Indies on the international stage like this,” declared Mervin Powell who came over from Nevis for the landmark occasion.
His compatriot, Michael Gumbs, was pleased that he made the decision to fly in from the USA to see the action “live and direct” as he put it.
“I wanted to be here. This is fantastic for the people of St. Kitts & Nevis and every citizen of th is country should be proud today. We have the two best teams in the world here playing in the Cricket World Cup. It’s an honour.
“It’s a pity it has to end today. More people should have come out to the earlier matches but I think in time they will appreciate that it’s not just West Indies playing in the tournament,” he said.Concession stands and merchandise stalls, such as Marpo’s Bar under the B Stand, were kept busy from early in the day as scores upon scores of cricket lovers poured into the cosy venue, some ““ including former Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Lester Bird ““ having flown in earlier this morning to catch the riveting shot-making and wicket-taking by the top teams in One-Day cricket.
Fans were treated to excellent value for their money as Aussie opener, Matthew Hayden, set the defending CWC champions on a lightning-fast path with the quickest CWC century in a mere 66 balls; one less than Canada’s John Davison in 2003. Though dismissed in their pursuit of 378 for victory, South Africa’s 294 in reply contributed to a world-record runs aggregate for a Cricket World Cup match. The combined tally of 672 runs eclipsing 652 between Sri Lanka (398-5) and Kenya (254-7) in Sri Lanka in 1996.
The noisy exchanges between supporters of both teams were just as memorable as they engaged in typical cricketing banter.
“We’ve got three World Cups. How many have you got?” shouted one spectator from Down Under, forming his right index finger and thumb into a zero, as he teased a Proteas fan.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Sports & Culture, Ricky Skerritt, beamed at the reality that was once just an ambitious dream as he surveyed the scenic panorama.
“We are happy to have been a part of this tremendous Caribbean effort to host the Best Cricket World Cup Ever,” said the former West Indies team manager who hosted functions for visiting dignitaries and media during the two weeks of top-flight cricket in his homeland.
“It is a priceless opportunity to showcase our country ““ and indeed the rest of the Caribbean ““ to the world and to prove that we have the ability to take on world-class challenges. I believe we are setting new standards for the cricketing world to follow in future World Cup tournaments.”
CWC Board Director, Jennifer Nero, also spoke of the significance of CWC 2007 to her country and its population of 35,000.
“I’m really excited by what this has done for St. Kitts & Nevis. I’m proud to see how we have risen to the occasion and delivered such a huge event. For me, the most important legacy is the impression that is left in the minds of our people; the indelible confidence that we should now have regarding our ability and what we can achieve, especially together as Caribbean people.
“I’m proud to be a Kittitian and a West Indian and to have been a part of this Cricket World Cup experience. It has been an amazing journey.”