Local cricket fans eager to witness West Indies/Pakistan showdown at Providence
After nearly two years without international cricket being played in Guyana, local cricket fans will be able to witness the T20 faceoff between World champions West Indies and the Babar Azam-led Pakistan from this weekend.
On Wednesday morning, tickets for the three matches went on sale and cricket fans, with their COVID-19 vaccination cards, braved the rain to get those tickets so that they would witness the showdown live and direct.
Shivanand Willie stood in the light rain, even before the ticket booth at the Guyana Cricket Board’s office on Regent street opened to sell tickets.
When asked what he was expecting come Saturday, when the first match bowls off at the Stadium, Willie answered, in one breath, “A great game of cricket- absolute competition- a nailbiter- double super overs.”
For the last 16 months or so, fans could not attend the few sporting events that were held.
This was because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautionary measures instituted to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
And so, fans cheered from behind electronic screens.
Bertie Williams, another local fan who purchased tickets on Wednesday morning, explained that the Virtual viewing of sporting events is just not the same.
“When you’re at the ground you enjoy it more… but it is only because of the (pandemic) you have to stay safe but you gotta try with it,” Williams said.
More recently, however, some sporting events have been permitting a small number of fans to attend these games.
At these cricket matches, only 40 per cent of the 15,000 capacity will be allowed; that means only about 6,000 fans can attend these games.
And, no fan will be allowed in the usual party section- the Grass Mound.
Importantly, too, only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to attend the games.
Fully vaccinated fans are those who have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine two weeks before the date of the specific match they wish to attend.
“I think it is a good motivation for us to go out and get the vaccines. It is imperative for us to get the vaccines and cricket is just an added bonus,” Willie reasoned.
This added bonus for him will be seeing Guyanese batting sensation Shimron Hetmyer go up against Pakistan’s Babar Azam.
Williams, on the other hand, was quick to highlight that he is ready to attend at least two of the matches and rally behind the West Indies, win or lose.
And, though he hoped that good weather would prevail, he absolutely would not mind if there was a ‘Gayle storm’ at Providence, making direct reference to T20 cricket most prolific batsman Chris Gayle.
According to the other COVID-19 measures for the games, spectators would be required to wear facemasks at all times, and must present their national identification card and vaccination documentation for admission to the venue.
Officials of the Ministry of Health and the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) would be present to verify vaccination documentation.
Importantly, too, there is a No Re-Entry policy.