Cayman Islands Cricket history has a familiar ring to it, which reminds one of any other West Indian island. From 1940, cricket was played in these islands on mud or marl pitches. The little information available reveals that matches were played between the districts of West Bay and George Town.
In those days the West Bay team comprised of mainly Caymanians and the George Town team was mixture of Caymanians and Jamaican teachers and lawyers. Matches were arranged to coincide with visits from Royal Navy ships.
In 1965 past Cayman Islands Cricket Association (CICA) President James Powell installed a concrete pitch in West Bay. Many enjoyable matches were played but unfortunately the pitch was removed by the Government to develop the field for football.
In 1970 the association’s President Cecil Ebanks introduced a competitive league involving five teams. In 1973 the association with assistance from Derek Wight and Mickey Greaves combined with the Government Agricultural Department to develop a ground and pavilion in George Town. This ground, called the Smith Road Oval, is recognized as the Mecca for cricketing excitement in Cayman.
Clay was imported from Jamaica and Cayman had its first clay pitch at the Smith Road Oval. The high cost of maintenance and position of the pitch caused some changes to be implemented as the oval was located in the airport flight path. Cricket was suspended for a year while the authorities resolved the problems and eventually cricket returned with an artificial surface repositioned so as not to interfere with the airport. The fast development of the Cayman Islands economy through the tourism and financial industries brought large numbers of expatriates to the Island.
This led to an increase in the number of cricketers and the league was expanded which increased the profile of the sport, and in turn led to the participation of school teams in the league. Club cricket continued to flourish and many trips were made to various countries including England, Jamaica, Barbados, Canada, Bahamas and the U.S.A. In return, many countries visited.
A wind of change came in the 1990’s as cricket found a friend in Government which saw the introduction of six focus sports including cricket. A Government coach was appointed in 1996 and the CICA reorganized its constitution and implemented a youth development program. CICA sought Affiliate Membership of the International Cricket Council and was accepted in 1997 and gained Associate membership in 2002.
Cayman has been fortunate to have famous cricketers visit and play. These include Clive Lloyd, Desmond Haynes, Charlie Griffith, Lance Gibbs, Jeffrey Dujon, Ian Bishop, Sir Vivian Richards, Jimmy Adams, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dinanath Ramnarine, Robert Samuels, Wes Hall, Trevor Bailey, John Edrich, Alf Valentine, Fred Truman, Frank Hayes, Robin Hobbs, John Hampshire, Brian Close, Farouk Engineer, Richard Hutton, Chris Old, Don Wilson, D.W White, Graeme Fowler, Colin Milburn, John Shepherd, Richie Richardson, Ridley Jacobs, Ramnarace Sarwan, Joel “Big Bird” Garner, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Sir Garfield Sobers, Courtney Browne and Brian Charles Lara.
Many of these cricketers have participated in our hugely successful annual “Weekend of the Stars” with the generous sponsorship of Cable & Wireless “major sponsor” of Cayman Islands Cricket Association. At least three cricket celebrities are hosted for a weekend to participate in a fundraising dinner, coaching sessions for juniors and an exhibition match which draws a lively and enthusiastic crowd.
This event has proved very successful in promoting the awareness of cricket in the Cayman Islands.