By Demion McTair. Updated 4:19 a.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – The Vincy Premier League (VPL), started on Friday (May 22), at the Arnos Vale playing field with three 10-over matches.
No spectators were allowed at the venue on day one but a maximum of 150 spectators will be allowed from day two to day seven.
There were some noticeable glitches in the streaming of the matches on Friday.
One News SVG contacted President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association, Dr. Kishore Shallow on Friday for comment on the issue of the glitches.
Dr. Shallow said there were “some glitches with production” but they “will improve throughout the tournament”.
He said the first day was “a fair effort. Some brilliant and exciting cricket were played”.
Dr. Shallow said the reception is all positive throughout and outside the region.
ESPN Cricinfo said that the Vincy Premiere League which runs from May 22 to 31, will be the first instance when cricket will resume in a Full Member region comprising international players.
The Pacific nation of Vanuatu became the first country to resume cricket since the COVID-19 pandemic halted all sport in March 2020, ESPN Cricinfo reported.
The Vincy Premiere League comprises 30 matches, which will be streamed live, with three games scheduled per day, ESPN Cricinfo added.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association (SVGCA) is hosting the league.
Dr. Shallow, the president of the association is also president of the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control (WICBC), and Vice President of Cricket West Indies.
The SVGCA said six teams are in the league.
The six (6) teams are Botanical Gardens Rangers, Dark View Explorers, Fort Charlotte Strikers, Grenadines Divers, La Soufriere Hikers, and Salt Pond Breakers.
The first match in the league was played between Grenadines Divers and Salt Pond Breakers. The Breakers defeated the Drivers by 3 wickets.
A TOURNAMENT DURING A PANDEMIC
A list of 20 protocols for players and 15 for spectators must be adhered to throughout the tournament to ensure the safety of everyone.
These protocols are aided by mass cleaning of the venue each day.
On the first day of the tournament (May 22), there were no spectators physically at the match but it was viewed by thousands within and outside of the country.
According to the Protocols agreed upon between the country’s Health Ministry and the SVG Cricket Association, the organizers of the tournament, a maximum of 150 spectators will be allowed from Day 2 – 7, using only two stands. Spectators must be seated 5 seats apart.
On Day 8, a maximum of 250 spectators will be allowed at the venue using only two stands and seated 5 seats apart.
On day 9 and 10, a maximum of 300 spectators will be allowed at the venue using only
three stands and seated 5 seats apart.
Hand sanitation for all spectators is also mandatory upon entry into the venue as well as temperature checks.
SOME OF THE STRINGENT PROTOCOLS FOR OFFICIALS AND PLAYERS
Stringent protocols for players and officials were put in place, including daily, temperature checks on arrival at the venue, and spacing out of players in physical spaces (including stands and change rooms) to adhere to social and physical distancing.
Players will also be transported to and from the venue in designated vehicles and must wear masks while travelling.
Players will also not be allowed to share cricket gears or consumables, the use of liquid in any form on the cricket balls will NOT be permitted. During match time, the ball must be returned to the bowler in a manner that minimizes handling of the ball.
Players and officials will be advised to avoid touching their face with unwashed hands and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette at all times. Sophisticated hand sanitizing stations will be set up around the boundaries of the ground.
Players must sanitize hands before going onto the field and when coming off the field. The standing umpires will have a hand sanitizer tube available at all times in the middle for any player wishing to sanitize hands at any point in the match.
THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY
Since its first recorded COVID-19 case in March, 2020, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has only recorded 18 cases of the disease.
The country has taken a liberal approach to dealing with the virus, favoring advanced measures over complete lock-downs.
The country has also refused to close its borders.
Chief Medical Officer of the country, Simone Keizer-Beache was asked by a Journalist if she advised the government of the country to close the country’s borders.
Beache responded saying “Unless we are going to stay closed until there is a vaccine, and that might be 18 months and then once there’s a vaccine, the entire country… We have a massive vaccination program, unless you are going do that, the belief that you can close and forever protect your population I think is an error”.
The country’s public health response mechanism to the Covid-19 pandemic is being aided by Taiwan and Cuba.
Three matches were played on the first day of the tournament and three more are expected to be played in the second day of the tournament.