Watching cricket in the Caribbean is a “bucket list” item for so many people who follow cricket. Antigua, and many other Caribbean islands, are known for being cricket mad, as well as some of the most incredible places to watch the sport.
As well as watching top-class cricket, spectators can enjoy the sunshine, beautiful food and drink, and a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere.
The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is one of the key locations for cricket in the region, and hosts many internationals, but it has also been a controversial stadium due to issues with the pitch and the fact that it replaced a fan-favourite ground. Antigua Recreation Ground was Antigua’s main venue before, but this ground was restricted in terms of the capacity.
I visited during a recent England tour and was fortunate to experience exactly what the stadium had to offer.
Address: Sir Sydney Walling Highway (Factory Road, North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda)
First International: 2007
Information About Sir Vivian Richards Stadium Antigua
The stadium was originally built as part of infrastructure development for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, where it hosted many of the matches. The stadium’s official capacity is 10,000, but in huge events like the World Cup, there is the potential for the stadium to increase with temporary stands.
The North Stand and the South Stand are the two main places to sit, but either side of this there are other areas where people can relax on the grass verges, or enter the “party stand” which is also a temporary structure, with dancers, plenty of drinks, and other attractions to keep people interested during the breaks.
In 2015, the north and south stands of the ground were renamed in honour of two former West Indies cricketers, Sir Curtly Ambrose and Sir Andy Roberts.
What’s it Like to Watch Cricket at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium?
Cricket is played in many different formats, and is mainly played at an international level when it comes to matches in Antigua.
Of course, the international team plays their home games in different locations around the West Indies. The Kensington Oval in Barbados is an iconic stadium, as is the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada and the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St. Lucia. There are loads of different options for the West Indies, but Antigua is a popular tourist spot and a great place for cricket.
Test Cricket is seen as the pinnacle of the sport by a lot of spectators and players alike, and Antigua is one of the spots where test cricket is played by the West Indies.
The first test match played at the ground was West Indies against Australia on 30 May–3 June 2008. In a massively controversial second match, a test match against England the following year was abandoned due to unsafe conditions. Just 10 balls were bowled before the overly sandy outfield was deemed dangerous, as Alan Hurst, the ICC match referee, said that: “The ground conditions, and especially the bowlers’ run-ups, were unfit and potentially dangerous and we decided it would not be possible to rectify those fundamental issues over the course of a day or so.”
The last test match at the ground was against Bangladesh in 2022.
International One-Day Cricket
Though the pitch has come in for criticism at times by the test purists, it tends to hold up fine for One Day International cricket matches, and has hosted both 50-over and T20 variations of the game. There have been 22 ODIs played at the ground since it first opened.
Domestic cricket is not a major part of the schedule at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, but there have been some games that took place there. The Antigua Hawksbills was a short-lived team that competed in the Caribbean Premier League which is broadcast around the world. They played their home games at the ground. Sadly, the Hawksbills are no longer in operation.
Food and Drink
While our stadium guides for the UK grounds are able to give a consistent list of the food and drink on offer, in Antigua, the food and drink can vary somewhat from one game to the next.
The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium food and drink options are far from lacking, though. In fact, depending on the type of food you enjoy most, you might find that you can enjoy some of the best food you will ever experience at the cricket.
The food suppliers can vary, but the options may include:
- Jerk chicken and jerk pork
- And much more…
It is worth mentioning the fact that the food may not be ideal for vegetarians and vegans.
You can bring your own coolers with food and drink in them.
In terms of drink options, you will find that a lot of the hawker stands selling food also sell drinks from coolers. Options include beer, rum punch, wine, and many different soft drinks.
Getting to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium
Getting to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is something you will definitely need to plan ahead. One of the criticisms people have of the positioning of the stadium is that it is not easy to reach on public transport. When there is a big match, cars surround the stadium dropping people off, and there is plenty of parking too, which means if you have access to a car then you can get there relatively easily.
The roads in Antigua are not really made for huge influxes of 10,000 spectators so leave yourself plenty of time and make sure that you are patient. Share lifts if you can.
We got a taxi to and from the ground, which was a good way of doing things (it avoids stress and means you can enjoy a rum punch) but again, you’ll need to make sure you book ahead. Also, be sure to arrange a meeting place for your pickup, because outside the stadium can be extremely busy.
There were a few taxis that were offering lifts after the game, but I would recommend sorting your transport well in advance.
Walking to the ground is not really an option for the majority of people. It is situated in a spot that is not close to any of the major towns and tourist spots in Antigua, which means that you could end up walking a few miles before you find a hotel.
Where to Sit?
The North Stand and South Stands are great for those who want to sit and enjoy the cricket in a chilled environment. If you buy a ticket in one of the stands you get a specific, allocated spot in which to sit during the match.
The party stand is great for those who want a lively atmosphere, music, dancing, and a lot of fun, but it may not be the best place to actually focus on the game that is happening in front of you. The cricket purists will be better off in one of the main stands.
When we were there, nobody had an issue with us moving around, and most people were doing this at times. The match was not a sell-out, and this meant it wasn’t so important to stay in designated seats. Plus, on the grass verges a lot of people were sitting near the food vendors and choosing to relax in the open air. While it may not always be possible, moving around is also a good way to ensure you get to see multiple views, and stay out of the sun for periods of time, it can be relentless for those who aren’t used to it!
3rd December 2023: West Indies Beat England
The very match where the pictures for this guide were taken took place on 3rd December 2023, and was the start of a memorable series for the West Indies.
England posted a good total of 325 which included scores for Phil Salt and Zak Crawley with a 71 from Harry Brook.
But the man of the match would go to Shai Hope, who scored an astounding century including a late charge to take the West Indies past the total with seven balls to spare. This was the highest chase the West Indies had successfully made at the ground since its opening, and saw some stunning hitting from Hope in particular, as Sam Curran struggled with his line and length.
February 2009: Test Abandoned
It is not often that an abandonment makes a list of the notable matches, and this one won’t be remembered for the cricket itself but for the incredibly embarrassing situation regarding the “sandpit” pitch which led to the match being abandoned. West Indies cricket probably shouldn’t have let the match ever go ahead, but as it was, the score only reached 7-0 before it was decided that the match was a risk to the players.