For an individual outside the British Commonwealth, the word “cricket” awakens thought of a not always very appealing critter. Once you are in an area where the Queen’s English is still spoken or the Embassy is referred to The High Commission, the word “cricket” usually initiates an instant discussion about the merits of a game involving 11 men or of recent years also women, traditionally clad all in white, a very hard ball and 2 bats keeping at the game of cricket for hours. Did you know an official cricket test match can last up to five full days, and involves tea and lunch breaks?
Cricket is an important part of cultural life in Saint Lucia. With its roots dating back to the colonial era, it is a sport that is embraced by all. You’ll find that when an international cricket match is played on the island, business in both the public and private sectors comes to a complete standstill.
Although Saint Lucia is too small to put forward its own national team, it has some acclaimed players in the joint West Indies Cricket Team, which plays at an international level, and the Windward Island Volcanoes which is part of the local West Indies Professional Cricket League.
History of Cricket in Saint Lucia
Cricket was one of the colonial imports that arrived on the island with the British in the early 19th century. At that time it was a sport for the elite and in 1900 the official West Indies cricket team ironically had no black players. Nonetheless, cricket was played all over the island by Saint Lucians, on the beach or on spare patches of flat land.
Despite little formal coaching and most players being self-taught, cricket has always been a popular spectator sport in Saint Lucia, often with large bets being made on the outcome of the match.
Cricket training has more recently been concentrated around Gros Inlet and Castries. The early multipurpose stadium used as the home venue for the Windward Islands Cricket Team was the Mindoo Phillip Park Stadium in Castries. It hosted two one-day Internationals in 1978 and 1984 against Australia. It is still used for football, rugby and track field events, but has been superseded for cricket matches with the construction of the newer stadium nearby.
The island now boasts a first-class cricket training facility and stadium seating for 20,000 at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in Castries. This has allowed Saint Lucia to host some of the international matches on behalf of the West Indies such as the International Cricket World Cup in 2007, including the semi-final match.
Facts about Saint Lucian Cricket
Cricket is by far the most popular leading sport in Saint Lucia, and along with basketball it is one of the most frequently played sports on the island. The standards of training for would-be cricketers have improved greatly with the building of the Beausejour Stadium, which West Indian international cricketer Brian Lara describes as “possibly the best in the Caribbean”. The cricket ground often hosts test matches and four-day cricket competitions and is well-used by local women’s cricket teams.
Local cricket players with promise are intensively coached at the facility after school with the hope of reaching international standard and representing Saint Lucia under the West Indies banner or as part of the Windward Island Volcanoes, a cricket team that plays in the West Indies Professional Cricket League. Other cricket competitions that Saint Lucia cricket players participate in are the Carib Beer Cup, the Red Stripe Bowl and the KFC Cup.
Famous Saint Lucia Cricket Players
Famous West Indies cricket players from Saint Lucia include Darren Sammy who captained the West Indies international cricket T20 team. Other players with international caps for cricket include Craig Emmanuel, Keddy Lesporis, Dalton Polius, Johnson Charles and Garey Mathurin. Perhaps the most famous Saint Lucia cricketer is Francis Mindoo Phillip, who was a key batsman for the Windward Islands team but was never selected for the international West Indies team.
Cricket fans planning a visit to Saint Lucia will find that Calabash Cove is conveniently close to the Beausejour Cricket Ground, so they can attend some local or international cricket matches during their stay.
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