Wazim Habib, Providence Curator, is CPL’s best groundsman for 2018

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By Avenash Ramzan

It should come as no surprise really, especially if you’ve been paying close attention to the behavioural pattern of the Providence pitches.

The fact that the Head Curator has been recognised as the best groundsman of the Hero Caribbean Premier League 2018 speaks to the grand transformation at Guyana’s only accredited ICC venue.

Previously described as low and slow, Providence now produces a much more balanced contest between bat and ball, a scenario that must duly be credited to Wazim Habib and his industrious support staff.

Habib, with 21 years experience in the job, copped the coveted award, and his prize is a three-week trip to New Zealand to spend time in Christchurch and Auckland and witness firsthand how pitches are prepared there.

It is just reward for a man who spearheaded the turnaround of the playing surface, and produced the most runs-laden season in the six-year history of CPL at the venue.

“This is an amazing opportunity for professional development and further cements the Hero CPL’s commitment to improve pitches across the region,” CPL said in a statement.

While in New Zealand, Habib, 49, will work along with world renowned pitch expert, Mark Perham.

Speaking about the award, Perham said: “I have been delighted to work with the groundsmen across the region to help improve the pitches in the Caribbean. This opportunity for the groundsman that has made the biggest improvement to the standard of wickets at their venue is just reward for a lot of hard work, but I would also like to extend my thanks to all the ground staff who have also put in a lot of hard graft over the years.”

Damien O’Donohoe, CEO of Hero CPL, said: “As a tournament we are firmly committed to playing our part in the improvement of cricketing infrastructure across the Caribbean and we are very pleased to have been involved in the improvement of pitches. This award is another example of CPL investing in the development of West Indies cricket.”

There have been eight totals over 150 in 14 innings during this season of CPL at Providence (Photo: Avenash Ramzan)

Habib extremely happy

Habib, who has been the Head Curator at Providence for the past four years, said he is “extremely happy” to win the award, especially after the pitches attracted widespread criticism for being too low and slow.

“I feel good man,” he told News Room on Friday morning. “This is a dream come true. This is something I always wanted (to gain international exposure). I’m really looking forward to it, because I want to learn more about this job and also share that knowledge with the other groundsmen in Guyana.”

He added, “People used to always criticise the wicket, so I’m happy that it’s now playing better and the spectators and the players can enjoy a good game.”

Habib is from Enterprise, an East Coast Demerara village with a rich cricket history. It is from the experience of being a long-serving groundsman at the Enterprise Busta Sports Club that he decided to lobby the authorities for remedial work to be done on the Providence pitches.

That request was granted and in August 2016, the pitches were dug up and dirt from Enterprise was transported to the venue. The works were facilitated by the stadium management and the government of Guyana.

“In 2007 when they laid the pitches they put sand underneath, so we try to take it out and put some ‘crush and run’ and new soil. This soil come from Enterprise; it is a very good soil,” Habib told News Room back in 2016.

“Based on the foundation that we put there now, it would be a very good pitch and a very true pitch.”

During the seven CPL games in Guyana this season, there was a significant improvement in the scores, with eight team totals over 150, five of which were 170+, in 14 innings.

(See below a summary of the 2018 CPL scores)

GAME ONE: St. Kitts Patriots (146-5) v Guyana Amazon Warriors (148-4)

GAME TWO: Guyana Amazon Warriors (141-4) v St. Lucia Stars (138-7)

GAME THREE: Barbados Tridents (185-4) v Guyana Amazon Warriors (155-4)

GAME FOUR: Guyana Amazon Warriors (173-6) v Jamaica Tallawahs (177-2)

GAME FIVE: Trinbago Knight Riders (154-7) v Guyana Amazon Warriors (158-4)

QUALIFIER ONE: Trinbago Knight Riders (122-7) v Guyana Amazon Warriors (126-8)

ELIMINATOR: Jamaica Tallawahs (191-5) v St. Kitts Patriots (193-8)

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