Batting practice at one of the new practice nets.
ANGUILLA--The Ronald Webster Park has always been considered holy ground for the game of cricket in Anguilla, and recent improvements are returning it to its glory days. On Saturday afternoon, March 14, a small contingent of cricket supporters, enthusiasts and cricket administrators held an acceptance ceremony at the park to commemorate the installation of four practice net structures as well as an accompanying Bola hard ball machine and a one-ton cricket pitch roller. Master of Ceremonies Ralph Hodge, who is a past President of the Anguilla Cricket Association, said this new addition will change the look of the park.
All four practice areas are surrounded by nets on both sides, in the back, and the roof. The bowling end is left open. The nets facilitate batting and bowling practice inside an encased space which contains the balls and increases safety by reducing the threat of injury to players being hit by the balls.
Funding for the four cricket practice areas, consisting of pitches measuring 22 yards long, two of which are outfitted with AstroTurf/artificial grass and the other two of compacted dirt, resulted from proceeds raised during the May 31, 2018, Hurricane Relief Match held at Lords, England. Funds raised were used to repair five Caribbean cricketing venues damaged by the 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria, with Anguilla being one of the five.
Parliamentary Secretary of Sport and legendary cricketer Cardigan Connor said cricket is the number one unifier in the Caribbean, and he looks forward to seeing Anguilla cricket progress beyond where it is today. He said, “Anguilla’s youngsters need this opportunity to both practise and have fun. It will make them better.” He thanked Anne Parles, current President of the Anguilla Cricket Association for carrying this project through to completion.
Parles, an American citizen living in Anguilla whose involvement in cricket stemmed from her son’s love of the game, thanked Neal Radford of Radford Ezynet Limited for travelling to Anguilla to oversee the equipment installation and construction of the netted practice area. She noted that the successful and timely construction of the practice area was a joint effort of many Anguillian governmental and private industry entities with many donating their time and services free of charge. Parles said there is still work to be done. A donation effort to raise funds for the construction of a combined classroom and locker-room building adjacent to the practice nets is being formulated.