PM: Govt in partnership with Mumbai Indians owners – Cricket academy coming to Trinicity

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

This building, once intended to be the headquarters for Pan Trinbago off the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Trincity, near Orange Grove Road, will soon make way for a new cricket academy to be built by Mumbai Indians owners Reliance Industries in partnership with the TT Government.

THE Prime Minister says a parcel of land in Trincity has been identified for a “high-quality” cricket academy, with significant investment from Indian multi-national conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd, local private investors and the Government.

Dr Rowley said Reliance Industries and local interests approached the Cabinet with a proposal that could have lasting positive implications for the regional game.

“What (Reliance Industries) needed from the government was land. The government has made the land available and we’re now waiting for the investment to progress,” he said at the post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday at the Office of the Prime Minister in Port of Spain.

“They sent an architect down to see the site and he’s designing the facility, so we hope to move to an investment stage in the not-too-distant future.”

Reliance is India’s largest private-sector corporation, owned by Mukesh Ambani – reportedly Asia’s richest person. Reliance also owns five-time Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty/20 champions Mumbai Indians through its subsidiary, IndiaWin Sports Private Ltd.

Rowley said it would be a public-private partnership and he believed the introduction of the new academy would fill a void in the local and regional game, as there aren’t many facilities of its nature across the region.

“It’s that parcel of land opposite Trincity Mall where Pan Trinbago’s stalled headquarters is. We did have discussions with Pan Trinbago. They agreed to trade the parcel for accommodation in the city of Port of Spain.”

The PM confirmed Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott) and PanTrinbago were working in tandem to finalise accommodation for the pan body’s headquarters in the capital city.

Newsday reached out to PanTrinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore for comment on the latest developments, but she had not responded up until press time.

The PM said the Ambani family is very familiar with TT through the exploits of its players such as former Windies captain Kieron Pollard, who currently serves as the Mumbai batting coach. He intends to meet with stakeholders to have further discussions soon.

“I’m on my way to the Ashanti Palace (in Ghana) and I’m also going to go to Mumbai on the way from Africa.

“Those two visits will have benefits,” he said, responding to recent criticism from the Opposition on the Government’s spending for official travel.

Rowley, who was appointed as chairman of the Caricom Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on Cricket last July, said the investment was all about laying the foundation to get regional cricket back to its glory days.

“The parcel of land has been identified for a high-quality, high-grade cricket academy. The support of this academy is one of the foundations on the restoration of West Indies cricket as far as we’re concerned.

“If more academies exist in the region, it will encourage more players to take part in the sport to the level required. It can only be to the benefit of West Indies cricket and the nation as a whole.”

CWI supports new academy

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Kishore Shallow, who will be one of the key figures at next week’s Caricom Regional Cricket Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, championed the call for the establishment of more cricket academies in the region.

“West Indies cricket will certainly benefit from more structured programmes at the national level,” Shallow said.

“Cricket academies are one component of the players’ pathway management which is critical. CWI will embrace and support any such developments across the region.”

Last September, at another post-Cabinet meeting, the PM called for the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA), Tarouba to be used for what it was mainly built for – an academy for youngsters to hone their cricketing talents.

“It has been used as a cricket ground, hosting matches, which have been successful, but the concept as an academy has never been operationalised,” the PM said then.

“That is one of the discussions that we will look at going forward. It’s the whole question of operationalising the Brian Lara Academy. The Brian Lara Stadium was meant to be an academy.”

The PM’s remarks on the BLCA facility were “fully endorsed” by TT Cricket Board (TTCB) president and CWI vice-president Asim Bassarath, who described them as music to the cricket organisation’s ears.

“We are willing to work with the Government on this initiative and I am quite sure that when it is completed that it will bring rich rewards to cricket development, not only in TT, but I am quite sure, across the Caribbean.”

When reached for comment on Thursday regarding the TT government’s collaboration with Reliance Industries, the TTCB president said he was not aware of the development.

This week, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) confirmed the BLCA as the host venue for all matches in the 2024 Massy Women’s CPL tournament which will be held from Aug 21-29.

Perhaps, more significantly, the BLCA will serve as this country’s sole host venue for the June 1-29 International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s T20 World Cup which is being jointly hosted by the West Indies and the US.

The BLCA will play host to five matches, starting with the June 12 group C matchup between the West Indies and New Zealand. The venue will also host the tournament’s first semifinal on June 26.

Earlier this month, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the Trinidad leg of the T20 World Cup confirmed the Tarouba venue will undergo an expansion of its seating capacity before the prestigious tournament. The capacity is expected to be increased by 2,400 seats.

(With reporting by Andrew Gioannetti)