Kensington Oval on the road to host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup West Indies & USA 2024 Final
It was Thursday morning and a group of workers assembled to set foot on the hallowed turf. In the background, you could hear the loud “bang, bang, bang” of a hammer pounding nails, the distant rumble of a chainsaw cutting through wood, and the wind whistling through the palm trees. Nearby, a member of the crew expertly powered his giant lawnmower as it scythed through the grass on the outfield.
This is the Kensington Oval, on a random Thursday, in preparation mode to host the prestigious ICC Men’s T20 World Cup West Indies & USA 2024. The match schedule has just been announced and everyone is raring to go. The famous ground will host nine matches including the final on Saturday 29 June. Everyone is in “Prepare Barbados” mode, according to the leader of the cheerful crew.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been championing the country’s industry of cricket and spoke of the national effort to ensure the idyllic island is ready to welcome the world to its sun-kissed shores with that warm Bajan hospitality – 21 miles long and one smile wide!
“Barbados, a country that is 166 square miles, is now hosting its third final in international cricket, which is the second most popular sport in the world. As I say to our former cricketers and to the Heads of Governments, cricket is in our DNA. Once again, we will welcome the world to our shores shortly. We must ensure we put our best foot forward,” said Mottley.
She made the rallying call during a national address to the citizens at the start of the year.
Kensington Oval is one of the iconic venues in the world of sports. It hosted the first Test match ever played in the West Indies – against England in January 1930. It also hosted the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final in April 2007 and the ICC Men’s and Women’s T20 World Cup finals in May 2010.
Cricket was first played here in 1882, and for over 120 years was the home of the Pickwick Cricket Club. The stands are named in honour of the country’s cricketing greats – the Garfield Sobers Pavilion, the Three W’s Stand – Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes, and Sir Clyde Walcott – the Greenidge & Haynes Stand – Sir Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes – and the Hall & Griffith Stand – Sir Wes Hall and Sir Charlie Griffith.
The two ends are named in honour of Joel Garner at the north and Malcolm Marshall at the south. At the entrance, statues stand majestically as tributes to icons Sir Garfield and Sir Wes.
It will have a full makeover for the tournament and the refurbishment work has started in earnest. The interior of the pavilion will be retrofitted with new locker rooms, a state-of-the-art gym, and dining facilities to meet the needs of the players.
The stands will be fitted with new amenities for the comfort of the fans and to enhance the spectator experience. Adding to this, the outfield is being re-grassed to bring it into pristine shape and the square is being re-surfaced to ensure the pitches are World Cup ready.
The old floodlights and light towers, which were 80 feet tall have been taken down. These will be replaced by all-new LED lights which will add a spectacular new look to the iconic venue.
Mottley’s sentiments were echoed by Ambassador Noel Lynch. The former Government Minister has been appointed Chair of the Local Organising Committee and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role as a former international sports administrator.
“We are very much in the process of the refurbishment at the Kensington Oval to make it pristine for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 tournament. We are also looking to commence work on the indoor facility at the Kensington Oval, which is an integral part of the venue, for cricket in the future… there are other areas in and around Barbados… we have three other venues (for training) which are being spruced up, as well,” said Lynch.