Inflation and the rising operational costs of the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships have forced the school sports governing body to increase the cost of tickets for this year’s event.”The operational cost for Champs has increased many times. If you are to be practical it (ticket price) has to be increased,” Champs committee chairman Colleen Montague told The Gleaner at yesterday’s official opening of the McKenley/Wint track at Calabar High School in Kingston.Ticket prices for all categories of seating for the Champs, which will be held at the National Stadium from March 15-19, have gone up by $500.Season tickets for the grandstand moved to $8,500 and $9,000, while bleachers tickets for Saturday now cost $1,500 up from $1,000. Grandstand tickets for Tuesday through Thursday still cost $500.NOCHOICEMontague said that the rising costs of goods and services left the association with no choice.”The minimum wage has gone up and there is an increase for private security and inflation in every single area has been increased and, therefore, we can’t hold it for any longer. We have to push up the prices in all the categories if we are to host it at the same standards that we have in the past,” the Wolmer’s Girls’ School principal said.Montague also pointed out that ticket prices for the bleachers had not been increased in some time.”We have not increased the bleachers tickets for Saturday for the last seven years,” she said.While some have queried whether ticket prices would be prohibitive to students, Montague noted that the students were a primary consideration in arriving at ticket prices.”We have always been considering the students and their cost and making sure it’s affordable for students. There are systems that we put in place for the students. If they purchase through their schools, it’s $1,200 for students for Saturday bleachers,” Montague said.”The cost for bleachers on Saturday, there are special arrangements for our students and so it’s not priced for our students it’s priced for the adults who will be attending,” she added.Addressing the ever-controversial matter of availability of tickets, Montague said only 5,000 tickets were available for Saturday, which always proves to be the problematic day.”The demand has increased but the supply has remained the same because the Stadium is the same stadium last year and the year before. Those who are trying to get tickets have increased. The number of tickets remain the same. It’s only Saturday tickets that are an issue because the tickets are available every other day.
It might sound paradoxical, but in a strange way, Twenty20 cricket has emerged as destroyer and saviour of West Indies cricket.Destroyer in the sense that it has effectively captured the hearts and passion of an entire generation of regional players, who could not care less about playing traditional Test cricket, saviour in the sense that the very same heart and passion for Twenty20 cricket by the modern players have led to us producing some of the best Twenty20 players in the world, which has resulted in the West Indies now having one of, if not the best, Twenty20 teams in the world.It is absolutely refreshing to see the West Indies entering an international tournament as genuine contenders. I will go even further by stating that the West Indies should win the World T20. The 15-man squad heading to India is full of tried and proven matchwinners.I have counted at least 10 individuals in that squad who, on any given day, can single-handedly win a game against any opposition. I venture to say there are more potential and proven matchwinners in this West Indies squad than in any other squad, including India, playing at home, and the powerful Australians.CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERSThe objective must be for the entire team to click on all cylinders and produce overall matchwinning performances game after game but, realistically, that is not going to happen. The more realistic ask is for at least one of our stars to put their hand up and produce one match-winning performance in every single game.It should be an understanding in that West Indies dressing room that at least one of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree, Jerome Taylor, Sunil Narine and Kierron Pollard, pending availability, be obligated, by professional responsibility, to produce at least one big performance per game.The eligibility of Narine will be the key. The psychological impact of having our mystery bowler in the team will be immeasurable, even if the adjustments to his bowling action affect his execution even at 60 or 70 per cent Narine will still be a real threat.Pollard has been out of cricket for a while, but he is such a physical specimen and natural athlete, a perfect fit for this explosive format of the game, his reintroduction could very well be seamless. Worst case scenario should these two are unavailable, there is the emerging Carlos Brathwaite and Johnson Charles, a member of the 2012 winning team, both waiting in the wings.I have said and written some mean things about West Indies cricket in recent times, all justified and fair, in a context where the Windies continue to embarrass the people of the region in the longer versions of the game. I am now a full convert from traditional Test and ODI cricket to T20, as far as the West Indies team in concerned.The importance of winning this particular title, at this point in time, is crucial for the West Indies cricket brand. The sooner we realise and admit that we are a hopeless and pathetic embarrassment in Test and ODIs, it should be clearer to all that winning the World T20 would mean so much more to the region and its people, as they yearn to stand tall and proud again. GO WINDIES!