A warm and wonderful good evening to you, and welcome to our beautiful twin-island nation, Antigua and Barbuda.
I am delighted to be here this evening to welcome both the West Indies Cricket team and the England Cricket Team to Antigua and Barbuda. It is an absolute pleasure and honour to have both of these prestigious teams here, playing against each other in one of the most beautiful cricketing nations on earth.
This English touring team is the first visit of the team to Antigua and Barbuda since 2014 – to play two ODIs.
A special welcome is also extended to the Captain and members of our own West Indies Cricket team who are on home turf and can be assured of the support of the thousands of fans who are looking forward to a thrilling weekend of cricket.
For the English team it is, of course, part of your build-up to the Champions Trophy later this year in England and Wales for which we wish you the best of luck.
I cannot truly express how excited we are to have you here. Not only because we have had a long, and storied relationship with the Brits – we love you, and Antigua and Barbuda has long been a popular destination for your country – We are a nation of cricket enthusiasts and so we welcome the “Barmy Army” that normally accompanies you and look forward to a weekend of cricket lovely cricket!
Cricket has become part of our culture and is one of the major passions in life for most that live here. If we were not a religious nation, it would surely be our religion. As British poet Edmund Blunden who said, ‘Cricket to us was more than play, it was worship in the summer sun.’
From friendlies on the beach or a village field or local tournaments, there are countless opportunities to come across an excellent game. Being blessed with sunny skies and perfect weather throughout the year, we can happily play cricket 365 days out of the year. And truth be told we can happily do so on each of our 365 white and pink sandy beaches!
We are lucky that we are home to some of the greatest cricketing legends ever to play the game – from Sir Viv Richards, a National Hero and one of the world’s cricketing greats for whom of course we have named our national stadium. We are also the home of Sir Andy Roberts the first Antiguan and Barbudan to play for the West Indies team, as well as legendary pace bowler Sir Curtley Ambrose and Sir Richie Richardson another West Indian batsman of class and accomplishments.
So you can see – Antigua and Barbuda is inextricably intertwined with Cricket. As the games is indeed part of our DNA and our way of life. So that is why we are all excited. It isn’t just us either. There has been plenty of activity around the island, and a buzz building in the cricket community. It is my understanding that this week all of our hotel rooms are filled with several thousand cricket fans from the UK and the rest of the region for this Friday and Sunday’s One Day Internationals. This is excellent news for our country’s tourism.
We are all looking forward to two days of fun and excitement, and though, we look forward to a challenging encounter with you over the next few days, I must confess that we look forward to winning as well!
I wish you only the best in your training over the coming days at Sir Vivian Richards stadium –– and we hope that you enjoy the stadium and are able to appreciate our wonderful weather.
We are proud to partner with the West Indies Cricket Board to organize these two exciting days of ODI’s – both for the West Indies team, as well as fans of the sport. Hosting this premiere event is a real honor for our nation. Expect the stadium to be filled with thousands upon thousands of fans. Win or lose, we are all set to be watching teams with the best players in the world, competing at extraordinary levels.
Once again, please accept our warmest welcome on behalf of the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.
We hope that you truly enjoy your stay, and that you take time out to enjoy our beaches, our natural attractions, our music, and food but most importantly that you experience the warmth and hospitality of the Antiguan and Barbudan people.
We hope you are inspired to return for a personal holiday so you can spend some more time with us and truly experience everything that our wonderful twin-island nation has to offer.
I wish both teams the best of luck and look forward to seeing you play on Friday and Sunday.
I will finish with a quote from Amit Ray, ‘Champions never sleep, the eternal spirit keeps them awake. Everyone has the fire, but the champions know when to ignite the spark.’
So go be the champions you are on Friday and Sunday.
Do enjoy the rest of your evening!