BASSETERRE, St Kitts – A decade ago, the proud people of this fair nation hosted their first international match and they are ready to celebrate this anniversary in style.
Luther Kelly, the former St. Kitts captain, plans to be part of the celebration at the scenic venue during the upcoming matches in the Ballr Cup Tri-Nations One-day International Series presented by Cycle Pure Agarbathies.
The 61-year-old Kelly, a former Leeward Islands batsman, whose contemporaries included the legendary Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose, is calling on his fellow countrymen to come out and support the grand occasion as West Indies host Australia and South Africa in the second leg of the Ballr Cup.
“It is a very good thing for the administrators in the West Indies to give us a chance to host international matches and especially matches featuring top teams in world cricket,” said Kelly.
“It is good to see so much great cricketers at the same time. I want to urge the coaches and people involved in the game on the island to turn out and watch, so we can see some really great cricket.”
He continued: “The ground at Warner Park has been a batsman’s paradise for a long time. I am happy to see where we have come from and how the venue has grown on the international stage.
“We are a small island, but we are big on our cricket, and this is a great tribute to the game on the island that we can have a venue that is so well-respected around the World.
“The game has put us on the map. It is very nice to see the game being played on my island. You get a good feeling. The game has done so much for St. Kitts and now we have the marriage of sports and tourism…we have much about which we can be proud.”
Kelly played for Combined Islands and Leeward Islands from 1976 to 1990, where he was a hard-hitting opening batsman. He has turned his energies to umpiring and was a member of the WICB Regional Umpires Panel for close to a decade after hanging up his boots.
The first match at Warner Park featured West Indies beating India by two wickets with a ball to spare back on May 23, 2006 – just under a year before it hosted matches in the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. Ramnaresh Sarwan made a famous 115 not out and celebrated with members of the excited crowd.
The most famous performance came from South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs who smashed six sixes in an over off Dutch bowler Dan van Bunge. It was the only time the feat was performed in an international match.
“I expect the crowd to come out in their numbers,” he said. “The South Africans and the Australians have been doing very well on the international stage for a while now and the West Indies are the World T20 champions, so I’m sure the fans will want to come out and see the stars perform.”