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Two-way contest for presidency

Kingstown (St Vincent): The build up to the 2007 World Cup is expected to be the focal point of campaigns as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) announced nominations for its two top posts Saturday.

William Rodriguez, of Trinidad & Tobago, will contest the WICB presidency with Guyana’s Chetram Singh, while current vice-president Val Branks, of the Leeward Islands, will face a challenge from the Windward Islands’ Lennox John.

The ballots are being held in the wake of Wes Hall’s decision on Wednesday not to seek re-election as president.

Apart from the usual range of proposals for restoring the region’s lost dominance, preparations for the 2007 World Cup have already given the WICB election a special flavour.

Recent tours by Australia and now Sri Lanka have highlighted the logistical challenges of staging a World Cup in an extensive region of independent island states, most of whom lack financial resources, and raised concerns about the West Indies’ ability to solve these problems in time.

Trinidad’s Piarco Airport earned unwelcome publicity when Australia suffered significant baggage theft there last month.

The current Sri Lankan touring side have also complained bitterly about the late arrival of team equipment on several different flights, causing the team to miss practice time.

“What we have gone through so far at Barbados and at St Vincent is not a healthy sign for West Indies cricket if they are to successfully host the 2007 cricket World Cup,” said Sri Lanka team manager Ajith Jayasekera earlier this week.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that the island-hopping flights connecting much of the Caribbean offer limited space for passengers and baggage.

“The logistics of moving things around the Caribbean is something that has to be addressed right away,” vice-presidential candidate Lennox John said.

“We will have to think of some form of transportation either by sea of special charter flights for players and their luggage, especially between the smaller islands.”

The state of repair of some of the regions’ most important cricket stadiums is another cause for concern.

Venue concerns

WICB chief executive and world cup organiser Chris Dehring has warned that time is running short for reforms on hallowed but ageing arenas such as Barbados’ Kensington Oval and Jamaica’s Sabina Park.

During a news conference before a recent one-day game with Australia in his native Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies skipper Brian Lara complained bitterly about the “pathetic” state of the practice facilities at the Queen’s Park Oval.

However, all is not doom and gloom for the West Indies.

Leeward Island cricket administrators have led the way by investing heavily in the idea of sports tourism and new facilities there won praise from the Australian team.

Grenada was rewarded with its first Test match last year, in a drawn encounter with New Zealand, while St Lucia’s Beausejour Stadium will obtain Test status when the West Indies take on Sri Lanka next week.

The WICB elections will take place at an annual general meeting in Roseau, Dominica, slated for July 12-13.

Wes Hall, a 65-year old Barbadian whose fast bowling terrorised batsmen in the 1960s, said a pre-existing medical condition had persuaded him to stand down.

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