The North West Stand of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium will be named after Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. But the move is not sitting well with the president of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) Azim Bassarath, who is asking what Tendulkar has ever done for T&T or West Indies cricket.
Chairman of the Sports Company of T&T Michael Phillips confirmed to Guardian Media Limited that the stand would be named after Tendulkar when the facility is officially opened next month and insisted that the decision was one that was made after consultation with Brian Lara.
“Our decision to name the stand after Mr Tendulkar was done on the advice of Mr Brian Lara. We have included Mr Lara in our decision making process in terms of how we roll out the launch and management of both the stadium and the academy,” Phillips said.
Phillips said it was also one of the reasons that they were able to convince Tendulkar to attend the opening and play in the match carded for the opening.
But Bassarath said he felt it would have been more appropriate to name the stands after T&T players who have excelled for the West Indies or T&T.
He said, “India has so many stadiums and I don’t know any of them have stands named after any of our West Indian greats so why must we name a stand after Tendulkar. I thought there would be stands named after Ian Bishop, or Larry Gomes or Gus Logie or even the late Rangie Nanan. Not Tendulkar.”
Tendulkar is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game. He played 200 Test matches, the most by any player in the history of the game, he scored 15,921 Test runs, at an average of 53.78. He holds the record for the most number of runs in Test cricket and the most number of centuries. For most of his career he was in competition with Lara for the accolade of the best batsman in the world. Lara is the holder for the most runs in a single Test Innings 400 not out and the highest individual score in cricket of 501 not out.
Bassarath said he was concerned that the TTCB had not been consulted on the operations of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium and said it was “passing strange” since the racket centre, the cycling and aquatic centres were all opened in the last 12 months and all with input from the representative governing bodies.
He was also surprised to learn that a separate board would be established to run the Brian Lara Cricket Academy and not the TTCB.
Phillips said the decision was in no way political interference in the operations of cricket in T&T but SPORTT had a responsibility to ensure that it encouraged the development of talent throughout the country.
He said, “We have no intentions of running cricket. The fact is any organisation can set up a cricket academy or provide training for cricketers so we are not usurping the functions of the TTCB.
“What I will also say is if you look at many of the sporting bodies in T&T you realise there is a need for greater balance and there are times when they are accused of having a vested interest in certain athletes and not others. We want to ensure all talent rises to the top.”
Phillips also told GML that consideration is being given to the construction of living quarters in the vicinity of the stadium.
He said, “The idea is being considered. It will not be as grand as say the hotel at the National Academy for the performing arts but it will be more like dorms.”
He said the academy will be marketed both locally and internationally with both academic and cricketing programmes.