International events need international cooperation

“Doctor Bacher, I presume?” Dr Ali Bacher, it was indeed. Top professional cricket administrator in South Africa since 1981. For 22 years he was in top-level administration first as Chief Executive Officer of the United Cricket Board of South Africa and then CEO of the organisation that ran the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup 2003 tournament in South Africa, and sub-hosted it in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Dr Bacher. An icon in South African sports administration. Dr Bacher, the subject of the book by Rodney Hartmann: The Story of Ali Bacher. I was curious about his presence on the island. On second thoughts, though, I should not have been. After all, the Caribbean is hosting the 2007 edition of the global cricket showcase and Dr Bacher has been there before- been there and done that. So clearly there was a link! Upon introducing myself to the man and reminding him that we had worked together, well not really worked together as he was there and I was elsewhere but you get what I mean, he told me what had brought him to Saint Lucia. “There are two reasons. The one is that I am consulting for a South African company that makes replay-screens. I am helping them to penetrate the international market. The other is that I was invited here to talk to the Local Organising Committee (LOC) about the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 tournament because of my experience with 2003. I have a very good relationship with the cricket people of South Africa and they decided that this historic occasion was a good background for my trip,” said Dr Bacher. Historic occasion? Well, on Wednesday the Beausejour Cricket Ground was the venue of the fifth Digicel One Day International (ODI) match between the West Indies and the touring Zimbabwe. Now, now, Mr Banda, is that a historic occasion? Well, not really a historic- or, as we say in English as she is written, an historic- occasion, but that is because you interrupt me. Hold it, you mean it would be a historic occasion if we did not interrupt you? Yes and no. Yes, it would be historic because so continuously do you interrupt, my friends, that should you ever stop it would be historic. No, it is not really the historic bit. That historic will only come if you do not interrupt. Now, kindly allow me to proceed. The ODI that the West Indies won by 10 wickets in Saint Lucia on Wednesday allowed the hosts to take the seven match series on a four-nil lead. Four-nil after five matches because one fixture, the third ODI at the Bourda Cricket Ground in Georgetown Guyana last Saturday, was called off due to waterlogging. All that is news we got during the week, Mr Banda. Please get to the historic bit. Alright, alright, my friends. When the West Indies and Zimbabwe played on it on Wednesday, the Beausejour Cricket Ground in the Saint Lucian capital of Castries became the first ground in the Caribbean to host a day-night ODI. The ground, which is also one of the venues for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 tournament, had a state-of-the-art floodlighting system inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Doctor Kenny Anthony, in February this year. They were used successfully for two matches between the West Indies and England “A” teams two months ago. “Lights are also an extraordinary improvement for any stadium and the fact that the Beausejour is the first stadium in the West Indies that went with lights, shows a progressive nature,” the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 Venue Development Officer, Don Lockerbie, told the Saint Lucia media during the past week. For me, the St Lucia LOC also showed its progressive nature by inviting Dr Bacher to exchange notes with them. Folks, when you are hosting an international event you are hosting . . . I cannot find the word . . . well, an international event! There are no two ways about it. You are either hosting an international event or you are hosting something else. And Saint Lucia is one of the several countries in the Caribbean that will host an international event next year. So we have said that when you host an international event that is what you do- host an international event. So your prepare to host an international event. So in your preparations, in your groundwork, you brainstorm with international people. Before you host the world you share notes with the world on how to host the world. You share notes with those who have hosted the world to glean from them how to host the world. Are you listening, South Africa, 2010? I know that there is a lot of human capital eZansi that has experience in world events. You hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995. That was some show. Recently you brought the cricket world to our part of the world. That again was another good show. Now you are preparing to bring the soccer world. And they do not come any bigger than that. Not for a single sporting discipline they do not. Eina! Do not hesitate, comrades, to draw from progressive elements from Japan-Korea 2002, from France 1998, from USA 1994, nay from as back as you need to go to get the information you want. That is the way it is done. And, to buttress that in dialect: ain’t there no two ways about it. So for me Saint Lucia gets the kudos for going about it the way she did. And I say “she” advisedly because the locals pride themselves in their island being “The Helen of the West Indies.” That line is written on all local number plates. “Helen” ‘ you remember your Greek mythology do you not? Helen the Queen of Troy, remember? The daughter of Zeus and the lovely Leda, the Queen of Sparta. Helen of flesh and blood but simultaneously also immortal? Helen so beautiful her face launched a thousand ships, and many a man was glad to lay down his life for her. They say their island embodies that enigma. I dare say it does.

May 2006
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