Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), in conjunction with the BBC, has awarded Cricket West Indies with the Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Award.
The Windies received the prize for their courage in sending both their Men’s and Women’s teams to tour England in 2020, a year when the Covid-19 pandemic has caused such major disruption not only to the international cricketing calendar but to everyday life.
The award singles out Cricket West Indies for their efforts, but both MCC and the BBC expressed their admiration for the Pakistan Cricket Board, Cricket Ireland, and Cricket Australia for overcoming logistical challenges to send their Men’s teams to play England.
They also noted that none of the tours would have been possible without the determination of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and everyone involved in the herculean effort to host international cricket in this extraordinary year.
Jason Holder’s West Indies Men’s team faced England in a three-match Test series, which began in early July. The team arrived in the United Kingdom in early June, with lockdown restrictions still in place across the United Kingdom and infection rates remaining prevalent.
The West Indies Women’s team, led by Stafanie Taylor, stepped in at late notice to play England in a five-match T20 International series in September, following the cancellation of the hosts’ previously scheduled matches.
The CMJ Spirit of Cricket award was created in 2013 by MCC and the BBC in memory of former MCC President and BBC Test Match Special commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins (“CMJ”), who was passionate about promoting the spirit of the game.
The award has previously been won by the following: Wayne Madsen of Derbyshire; Sussex’s Luke Wright; Brendon McCullum of New Zealand; Tom Fell of Worcestershire, England’s Anya Shrubsole, and Dan Bowser and Chris Edwards of the England Learning Disability Team.
Last year’s winners were the New Zealand Men’s team, who were recognized for their exemplary display of sporting conduct in the wake of the 2019 ICC Men’s World Cup Final at Lord’s.
MCC President Kumar Sangakkara said, “In a year when cricket has brought us much solace, it is entirely fitting that Cricket West Indies and their Men’s and Women’s teams should be recognized for the courage of their decision to tour England, an act which truly embodies the Spirit of Cricket.”
He further said that cricket was better for the time and effort put in to ensure that the game took place amidst the heights of the COVID-19.
“The whole cricketing world appreciates the lengths that both they and the ECB went to so that cricket could be played at the height of the pandemic, and their contribution should be remembered warmly.
He added that “The Pakistan Cricket Board, Cricket Ireland and Cricket Australia should also be commended for their actions, with each body making an important contribution to ensure England could host a full international summer, which was enjoyed by supporters around the globe.”
In response, Chief Executive of Cricket West Indies Johnny Grave said, “We are delighted that our Men’s and Women’s teams have won the prestigious Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Award. On behalf of everyone at CWI, I’d like to thank MCC and the BBC for recognizing the efforts that our teams made, in close collaboration with ECB, to ensure that international cricket returned safely to the global stage.”
Graves acknowledged that it was a brave and necessary decision made by his team.
“It was a bold but necessary decision made by the CWI Board, supported by those who traveled to the UK, in keeping with our Cricket First philosophy. “I must also thank the ECB, along with Hampshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire, who hosted our teams this summer and ensured that they were kept safe during both tours.”
BBC Test Match Special Producer Adam Mountford also noted the tremendous sacrifice made by the Windies to keep cricket going.
“In this most difficult of years, the Spirit of Cricket has never been more important. The West Indies Men’s and Women’s teams made huge sacrifices and took personal risks to keep international cricket going and provide a crucial distraction for fans across the world.”
Nigel Bell, Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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