Guyana - World Cup Cricket (Freddie Kissoon)

The Freddie Kissoon column
(Kaiteur News 03/18/06)
World Cup cricket and a phone that the police are not permitted to use

Try as hard as I may want World Cup cricket to come to Guyana , I don't think it will materialise. A reliable source told me that the ICC has discussed alternative arrangements for the Guyana matches in Florida , but visa problems may arise with the American Government for visitors from the sub-continent. (I hope dis man doan have a stink mouth. Guyana had to meet certain requirements before given a chance to bid for hosting World Cup matches. In other words Guyana pre-qualified and was given an opportunity to bid by the ICC. Why would the ICC now be looking elsewhere to host the Guyana leg? Having said that, why in the world would they be approaching USA/Florida to host the Guyana leg - last time I heard there is no cricket stadium there. Isn't Bermuda or some other country an alternative?)

Which Guyanese wouldn't want World Cup cricket to be staged here? Love of cricket is an inherent characteristic of the cultural personality of Guyana . The analyst wears two hats – an objective assessor and a nationalist. The latter must never, I repeat, must never impinge on the former. An academic or a scholar has to tell readers what objectively lies out there. As a person who loves this country that has given me birth, I welcome World Cup cricket. As my fingers move on the keyboard at this moment that I am typing, I am writing as an analyst. (Or a pissed off University of Guyana professor?)

Given the history of political bad blood and the dwindling human resource index in Guyana, I believe World Cup cricket in Guyana is becoming less and less of a possibility. Let's examine three fundamental reasons why this is so. First, poor small countries can yearn to be big players on the world stage, but their small populations and economies do not allow for that. Ireland , Singapore and New Zealand have brilliant economies, but that is not sufficient for them to host either World Cup Cricket, World Cup Football, the Commonwealth Games or the Olympic Games by themselves. Holland , a robust county in Europe, wouldn't even think of asking for the Olympic Games to come to Amsterdam .

Cricket is part of Guyana 's cultural heritage. It was unbearable for the Guyana Government to say we cannot afford to host our leg of the tournament. We couldn't say no, also, because the government wants the political capital that would accrue from a successful tournament. This brings us to the second reason – our economy and infrastructure. World Cup cricket is a huge international commitment; Guyana does not have the resources, the human resource base and the infrastructure to sustain such a prodigious event. This is not a normative conclusion. This is based on a factual assessment. For example, we produce perhaps the best granite in the world. But where is it at the moment? Hotel construction is now in abeyance. (Abeyance??? what about using a simple word for us who are too lazy to open a dictionary.)

World Cup cricket requires a certain number of ambulances and hospital beds. Where are they? Even if the Guyana Government uses its scarce funds to buy the required ambulances (which I believe the ICC says must be at least 12), what is a small country like this going to do with 12 ambulances after March 2007? If the government meets the required numbers of hospital beds, then do we have that number of sick people to keep those beds occupied? Now to crime. The least said about that the better. Last Wednesday, I dropped my kid off at the Phagwah melee in Prashad Nagar. I couldn't get back to her in the vehicular jungle. I went to the police outpost in Prashad Nagar to use the phone to call her on her cell. Brace yourself for this! The police personnel there are not permitted to make calls on the phone. It has been fixed so as to prevent them from doing so. They can only make calls if they buy their own phone cards. I ask readers in all sincerity, how can we allow this backwardness to continue in our country, a country that has one of the worst crime rates in the world? (By voting the incompetent bastards back in power over the past 44+ years.)

Thirdly, our skills bank. Things are going to fall apart badly if and when World Cup cricket arrives. No one will know what to tell the visitors where to go. No one will know who is manning which desk. Telephones will ring out. Policemen will take ages to come. Calls to the Georgetown Public Hospital will frustrate visitors. GPL and GT&T will exasperate visitors to the extent that they may shorten their stay. Trust me! BWIA is going to mess up big time. Of course, BWIA will be courteous to the foreigners not the overseas Guyanese. Few persons at BWIA want to hear the word ‘Guyanese'. (Ow man, there has to be a starting point for everything, give them a chance to find out the weak points. Consider this a test run to the potential booming tourism industry which will emerge -tongue in cheek comment.)

Fourthly and most importantly, World Cup Cricket isn't going to come because of the practice of realpolitik in this country since the fifties. The PPP is banking on the notion that the opposition wants to have cricket, like everyone else in Guyana . But the PPP doesn't understand the psychology of other people, only their own leaders. Just as the PPP will have its image enhanced because of the success of World Cup cricket, the opposition will use World Cup cricket to highlight fundamental structural faults in the political system in Guyana .

The inescapable truth is that the opposition will play realpolitik at the level of oppositional politics to get their agenda out to the international community. This is indeed practical politics. It happens all over the world. Of course, the PPP is basking in the fiction that World Cup cricket is too precious to Guyana and the West Indies for the PNC to be seen as the one that destroyed it in Guyana . But political power comes before anything else in Guyana . The PPP practises the same realpolitik that the opposition will use to disrupt World Cup cricket.

Which of the two major political parties in this country ever put country before politics? The prospects of World Cup cricket is intrinsically tied up with the 2006 election. The 2006 election is in serious jeopardy. GECOM has a long way to go. The slower GECOM goes, the more harm is likely to occur to World Cup cricket.

I would suggest that a sub-committee of the CARICOM Heads of State immediately make contact with the Guyana Government to work out a modus vivendi between all the opposition parties so as to allow the smooth running and success of World Cup cricket. CARICOM has let down Guyana badly in the past. The Herdmanston Accord is still to be implemented by the ruling party. CARICOM is silent about this. It is the shameless abandonment of this agreement by the ruling party that will send Guyana down, and World Cup cricket is going down with it.

Time for CARICOM to act.

Guyana Stadium - Grass "No Not Marijuana!"

Sports Letter
Can the cricket pitch for the Stadium be ready in time?
Friday, March 17th 2006
Stabroek News

Dear Editor,

The national sport in Guyana is cricket. People are crazy about it and it is the same pretty well throughout the West Indies. Many people however will not quite understand that the national sport in the UK is soccer. The big scandal in the UK at present concerns the delays and costs associated with the new Wembley Stadium. This showpiece was supposed to hold the final of the FA cup in May. Not so. It will be a year late. The costs have been astronomical and the delays unbelievable in spite of the money being spent. Someone of course is making a packet out of it all.

Last week I went to look at the new cricket stadium at Providence on the East Bank, and had a premonition that the same thing might just happen next year, the way things are shaping up. The structure of the stadium will no doubt be finished, but in view of the chronic shortage of concrete/cement I hope and pray that no short cuts will be taken by contractors in the construction. There doesn't seem to be much if any development for parking, which will be particularly important in the event of wet weather.

Facilities at the airport are improving but Immigration and Customs need to get their act together perfectly to handle the massive influx of visitors for the games. The blue forms which seem so important to the Customs (and so unnecessary to the visitor) should be abolished, especially for users of the green lane where the ponderous inspectors make a virtue of taking their time before giving the nod.

The road into Georgetown is a pleasure to what it was two or three years ago. And there may be just enough hotels for the visitors. However, having said all that there remains the most important thing of all. For what is the purpose of all this activity? So that cricket, the most beautiful of all games can be played at the international level on grass. And for this we will need a superb playing surface of grass. The question is, is it being established at this minute and not just being talked about? No it is not.

I lived for a number of years in Zambia, and for a time in what was then Rhodesia. And also in Barbados. In all those places the rain intensity was such that sowing grass from seed was never done. Grass areas had to be established by planting them, and firms were established whose only task was to produce grass plants by the million ready to plant out. I am getting no information that this is being done for the stadium. Of course no one would be crazy enough to think it could be done by sowing seed would they? Or would they?

And not when the reputation of the country, its President and minister are at stake. Not when there is a definite risk of the games being cancelled, and our reputation being shattered for evermore. Would they risk it? Well team, all I can say is don't hold your breath. Not only has the grass to be planted but it has to be cut many times to thicken it, rolled and watered in the 'dry.' And all this before a ball is bowled on it. Like from now.

Think carefully about this as you munch your toast. If it worries you then make a call to your minister (political or religious), your paper and your friends. Talk about it. We cannot afford a national disgrace on the scale that this would cause if we fail. And don't forget people have given us the money to do all the work and they do not deserve to see their efforts wasted.
If Guyana can't manage it then we should not be ashamed to ask for assistance. From anyone.

Yours faithfully,

John Warrington

I believe TerraForma will be using Bermuda Grass for the Pitch & Outfield.

Guyana Stadium - Bermuda Grass

"It is expected that cricket will be played at Providence Stadium by March 2006. This is the assurance given by Managing Director of Terra Forma construction."

Unfortunately assurances such as this does not carry much weight since Terra Forma is just a Sub Contractor hired to construct the playing area (pitch & grass). Planting grass and constructing the pitch are not critical activities at this time, building the stadium is. Terra Forma from Trinidad will use Bermuda grass for the outfield imported from Trinidad. The playing filed will consist of a layer of clay, a layer of gravel, a layer of sand and grass planted on the sand. Drainage pipes will be laid in the layer of sand.

Above is the snapshot from Stabroek News and my comments back in May 2005. As you can see my comments were spot on regarding activities.

Bermuda Grass

Soil Testing Equipment for Playing Surfaces

Clegg Impact Soil Tester

For sports surfaces, the Clegg is the "instrument of choice" for both natural and artificial turf (ASTM # F1702-96). Use it for horse racing, football, soccer, golf or wherever soil hardness needs to be controlled for safety or playability.

Dynamic TestThe basic principle behind the Clegg Impact Soil Tester is to obtain a measurement of the deceleration of a free falling mass (hammer) from a set height onto a surface under the device. The impact of the hammer produces an electrical pulse, which is converted into a Clegg Impact Value (CIV). Four successive blows of the hammer on the same spot constitutes one test with the peak CIV output to the digital display. The CIV is displayed in units of tens of gravities. This value correlates to the California Bearing Ratio, Texas Class Number, Elastic Modulus, and PSI. Reference ASTM test methods D5874 and F1702.

The Clegg offers the convenience of rapidly scanning compaction variation over large areas. In research studies, 250 tests were performed with the Clegg in a half-day.

Principally regarding CIV obtained using the Standard 4.5 kg Clegg Hammer:

For Pavement Design- CIV is similar in concept to the California Bearing Ratio (CBR). CIV may be used as an alternative to CBR in both laboratory and field on unsoaked samples. CIV may be converted to a Clegg Hammer Modulus (CHM), analogous to an elastic modulus.

For Construction- CIV provides a means of process control by monitoring the effect of roller passes and checking variability. Percent compaction may be estimated by determining the CIV (termed an "As Compact Target CIV") needed to achieve the desired density level for the given material and field moisture content.

For Evaluation- CIV may be used to ensure adequate basecourse strength before sealing or proceeding with subsequent layers. It may also be used to monitor the effect of environmental changes and to investigate pavement failures.

Low Cost- An Impact Test requires only one person and less than half a minute to perform using portable apparatus. The Impact Value is displayed directly and instantaneously on the Hammer’s meter upon completion of the test. The Clegg Impact Test can be performed by the supervisor himself or by the man on the job. Sensible application at the time of construction can reduce the risk of costly overworking or reworking.

Information- Information in the form of Papers, Reports,Technical Notes, Newsletters, etc. covering the theoretical basis, applications and correlation with other soil property tests such as "Proctor Density", Texas Class Number (TCN), Benkelman Beam, California Bearing Ratio (CBR), Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) and Modulus (Youngs or elastic Modulus) are available.

Guyana stadium - Site

Providence stadium site
50% of work on pitch completed - source
By Michael DaSilva
Wednesday, March 15th 2006

March 7th 2006 Site Photos
Terra Firma, the Trinidadian company contracted to lay the wickets and prepare the outfield at the Providence stadium site, is working feverishly to complete their task by May 31. (May / June rains coming)

A source close to the Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 Local Organising Committee (LOC) said 50 percent of the work on the pitch has been completed and Construction Supervisor of Terra Firma Sheldon Weeks is confident that the firm will meet the May 31 deadline. (They were confident that the first match would be played this month.)

Contacted for a comment on the progress to date, Terra Firma's construction supervisor said he is not at liberty to give those details to the press and referred Stabroek Sport to site engineer Walter Willis who could not be reached. (Information has to be spun and sanitized first for the press, generally called a press release.)

However, last week, while on a media tour of the site, Terra Firma's General Manager Jose Heredia had said the pitch and outfield must be completed by the due date so that by July month- end, one international or two local matches could be played on the wicket to test its bounce and other factors. He had said the international match could be a regional one.
Heredia had reminded the media of the problems the company experienced owing to rain "but right now we are working right through, everyday of the week." (Match should have been in March 2006)

He had said during the period of the rainy season that the company was able to ship all the materials needed on site for the completion of the wickets and outfield. "So we have everything that's needed and when it's completed, you won't have problems in Guyana anymore, at least not at this venue."

Asked if there is a specific time frame between the completion of the wicket and outfield and the time before a match is played, Heredia said: "The only specification the ICC asked for is that they must play and test the wicket by the end of July. We must be able to play two local games or one international game and international can mean regional." (According to the Cric Info website on pitch construction, it takes a minimum of six months before matches can be played.)

According to the general manager, the grass that would be planted on the outfield is similar to the grass found on golf course fairways. "It's a very short grass that can manicure very good and we also have the latest equipment to mow the grass."

Meanwhile, Willis last week informed that there is an adequate stock of cement and reinforcing steel and supplies are still coming in.

Asked if an electronic scoreboard will be installed at the facility, Willis had answered in the negative, but said a manual one, similar to the one in St. Lucia is being constructed. "But if the government or the LOC decides that they can get an electrical scoreboard rented reasonably cheap, we have provision for putting in an electronic scoreboard, we have provision for the replay screen. Adequate provision is being made for those." (I thought this is supposed to be a modern stadium? I guess I was right to question the seating, it was not such a stupid question afterall.)

With regard to arrangements for medical attention, Willis said the Medical Committee headed by Dr. Rudolph Cummings is well on top of what they require. He said that committee has already made three visits to the site and has gone through the medical areas.

"They have advised me what is required, the electrical connections, the provision for oxygen in case of heart attacks, the widening of doors to cater for the mobile stretchers. I must say the medical team is on top of what they require." (What about toilet facilities, will they have water and be flushable?...just another stupid question.)

Willis informed that at the last Summit he attended in Jamaica, he was told about separate parking for ambulances, fire tenders and security. "We must have adequate space for them." (I would like to send Mr. Willis a construction hard hat, we don't want him to get injured by falling debris or fast bouncers whereby requiring medical attention)

Guyana Stadium - Pitch & Progress Update

By Michael DaSilva
Sunday, March 12th 2006
Stabroek News

Photographer Lawrence Fanfair was on hand at the Providence Stadium site yesterday and got a photo of workers from Trinidad firm Tera Forma working on the interceptive drainage system bordering the wicket and the outfield.

Works at the Providence stadium site are moving apace and site engineer Walter Willis is optimistic that the facility will be completed by the scheduled deadline at October month-end. Addressing members of the media yesterday at the site, Willis said preparations on the six pitches and outfield will be completed by May month-end and the work on the stands and other structures are five percent ahead of schedule.

Willis pointed out, and it was observed, that clay is being dumped and spread over the area of the six wickets and an interceptive drainage is being constructed between the outfield and the pitch square. Asked how soon grass will be noticeable on the outfield, Willis said in another five weeks, sections of the outfield will have grass. He explained that "they are now trying to lay the interceptive drainage between the outfield and the pitch square as soon as we get the pitch, which I hope in another two weeks.

They are also doing the laser grading to bring the sand/clay to the levels they want it. We will then start putting on the over layer with the graded aggregate and then after that we come with sand. I would say we would have sections of this ready for grassing within another five weeks." He pointed out that the grassing would be in sections of the outfield and not the whole thing. "We are going to take it in various sections. At the state we are at right now, we have placed the aggregate or stone base core, we have covered that with the four inches of sand compacted to requirement and we are now placing clay in order to have eight inches of clay which will form the playing surface."

According to Willis, the clay being used on the pitch was taken from the Mahaicony Branch Road and it was selected by the soil scientist attached to Tera Forma, Professor Ahmad, a Guyanese who was also a former soil scientist with NARI. He noted that questions which will arise about the clay being used and whether it is adequate and whether it has the right bounce will be answered by Professor Ahmad at another forum.

Asked why the use of soil from that area of Guyana (Mahaicony) and not anywhere else, Willis pointed out that Professor Ahmad felt that area has some of the reasonably best clay, having himself done some work with this soil nature. (Because area always flooding and water makes good mud??)

Willis said when the ICC team visited Guyana late last month, the Chief Venue Development Officer Don Lockerbie was very happy with the progress of the civil works such as the stands and other structures, but he was very disappointed at the state at which the field and pitch preparations were, and the Guyana Government gave the assurance to the ICC's visiting team that all steps will be taken to bring the field and pitch preparations well in advance of the next Venue Development Summit in May.

Field and pitch preparation was stopped between Decem-ber 2005 and February 2006 because of the weather conditions then. Troy Peters, Public Rela-tions and Marketing Consul-tant with the Local Organis-ing Committee (LOC) noted that yesterday marked the 365th day before the CWC 2007 opening ceremony. However, Willis said while the LOC has 365 days remaining for the opening, there is only 203 days remaining for construction to be completed.

Willis said the Jamaica meeting reflected on the comments that were made by Lockerbie and his team when they were in Guyana and they were all very surprised that work has progressed so far, bearing in mind the weather conditions that Guyana experienced from December to February. "The foundations work which we did prior to the rain, allowed us to reach where we are right now," Willis stated and publicly thanked the Guyanese workers as well as those from India for bringing the work as far as it is now.

Ok enough of the Fanfair lets finish it!

Grenada - Queens Park Stadium

Poor workmanship and not high winds of Hurricane Ivan should be blamed for the collapse of the multi-million dollar sporting stadium at Queen's Park, St. George.

That's the assessment of Arup Associates, a group of British engineers that were commissioned to provide a structural report of the remains of the stadium that was built by Trinidad's Imbert Construction Group Limited for the Government of Grenada in 1999.

The group visited the Queen's Park site from October 3-5, 2004 and handed in its report to the Grenada Local Organizing Committee for the hosting of the Cricket World Cup for the West Indies in 2007.

A copy of the report was obtained by Grenada Today and the independent engineers pointed to "a lack of workmanship supervision" in the more at above link.

This brings me back to the original question I have been harping on since inception. Who has been hired to provide fulltime construction oversight and quality control for the Providence Stadium? There was an ad in the newspaper asking for such an entity at one time.

April 9, 2005 Stabroek News

Advertisement in Stabroek News from Ministry of Public works and Communications, request for Proposals - Supervision Consultancy:

The Ministry is inviting Technical and Financial Proposals from Guyanese registered engineering consultancy firms for the provision of the following services:

1. Provide supervision and contract administration for the construction of the Providence Cricket Stadium to ICC and CWC 2007 standards to be executed under a Design Build Contract (FIDIC conditions)

2. Review Design submissions of the Design Build Contractor for employer's approval.

The Proposals are to be sent to the Chairman of the National Board of Procurement and Tender Administration, Ministry of Finance to be delivered on May 3, 2005 at 9:00am.

The Project Information Dossier may be obtained from Walter Willis (Employer's representative)

On 8/15/2005 It was mentioned in Guyana Chronicle that one consultant (person) from a St. Lucian company has been recruited to ensure the construction of the stadium meets all requirements of international standards. It was also mentioned that Government is in the process of contracting a local company equipped to oversee that construction is carried out according to international standards. No other details are known at this point

Guyana Stadium - By Tony Vieira

Bridges, Stadiums and other things
(Aired 9 March 2006)

Now I come to the stadium, the story is very simple this stadium will probably not be completed in the period March to October 2006 as was planned. Furthermore any Guyanese who thinks that they are going into that stadium to see world cup cricket for less than $50 to $150 US depending on where you are sitting, can think again. So anyone who is not prepared to fork out at least 10,000 Guyana dollars for a seat to see a match may as well forget it.

Now we come to the facts that leave the engineers of the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers GAPE concerned, since September last year members of GAPE had requested that they be allowed to visit the stadium site, since what they were seeing from the road as far as progress was concerned did not agree with what the government's official releases were regarding the progress in the construction of this stadium, they received a response in January 2006 that the heavy rains would not allow a site visit but that they can ask for a visit again when the rains ceased. The information that the engineers at GAPE have is that a total of 11 million US has been spent to date and that US$14 million is still to be spent to complete the project which is expected to cost a total of 25 million US dollars. no project according to the engineers at Gape can expect to construct at the rate of 0.5 million US a month and at this rate the stadium would require 28 months to complete [14 million /.5 million] but the PPP are expecting to hand it over by October this year.

Based on these figures, for the stadium to be completed there would have to be round the clock construction 24/7 between now and October compressing 28 months of construction into 7 months for the government to finish this stadium by October 2006 for this stadium to be completed on time, and what is of concern is public safety, if the rest of the stadium is to be completed at breakneck speed the public's safety will be compromised.

One stadium in the Caribbean has already collapsed in a category 3 hurricane; an investigation carried out by a well known structural engineering firm from the UK indicated that it was a blessing that it collapsed during the hurricane, since it would have collapsed anyway if loaded with enough people.

So the editorial in the GAPE newsletter recommends that a review of the structural engineering drawings and calculations for the stadium be done so that its members and the general public could be satisfied that the stadium is safe to accommodate the public.

I want to add the following; this is probably going to be a rainy year as last year was and the may June rainy season is coming which will certainly cause further delays in the completion of this project. But the most revealing part of the equation has to be the promise of casino gambling license to anyone who builds a hotel for this world cup event, surely it is an indication that the widely touted tourist industry this Government has been telling us about, is, as I have said many times, a complete failure as is its minister Nadir and this is a public acknowledgment of that fact by the PPP.
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