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Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
The lone test cricket venue in Kingston, Jamaica, Sabina Park serves as the home of the Kingston Cricket Club. As a Jamaican or a fan of cricket, when you think of Sabina Park the first thing that comes to mind is cricket, right? But did you know that Sabina Park actually has quite an interesting back story too?
Sabina Park was formerly a Pen, which is an urban dwelling and adjacent land of a wealthy merchant, shopkeeper, or professional. The Estate covered 30 acres in total. Rosemount was the name of the Great House in Sabina Park Pen.
It is said that Joseph Gordon, the father of National Hero George William Gordon, owned Sabina Park, who was a slave. She was one of the 17 slaves living on Goat Island, which was also owned by Joseph Gordon, a Scottish planter who received a sizable amount of land in Jamaica from King Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy in England.
In her statement in the Half-Way-Tree court, Sabina Park revealed that she had killed her four-month-old baby and went on to explain why she had done so in her deposition. The Crown witness stated that Sabina's concern was that "she had done enough for 'Backra' (Jamaican term for slave master) before and that she would not be plagued to raise the child...to work for white people."
She was hanged when the court judged her guilty of murder. She was hanged on the Liguanea Plain in the location now known as Sabina Park.
While the story is true, but whether the park was actually named for the enslaved woman, I am not sure.
The Kingston Cricket Club began renting Sabina Park from Mrs Blakely, the property's owner, in 1880 for a yearly price of £27. This arrangement persisted until it was bought for £750 on November 27th, 1890.
When the West Indies hosted the visiting MCC team for the fourth and final Test of their inaugural home series in 1930, Sabina Park was transformed into a Test cricket venue.
With England's Andy Sandham scoring 325 against the West Indies in the 1930 match, the gorgeous venue is possibly one of the most important in Test cricket history. Sir Garfield Sobers' 365 not out, which remained a Test record for more than 36 years, and Lawrence Rowe's world record of 214 and 100 not out on his debut against the visiting New Zealand in 1972 are also praised.
The abandoned test in 1998 that involved the visiting England team was held at Sabina Park. Due to the pitch's unsuitability for play, the test was called off less than an hour into play.
It also served as a venue for the Jamaican national football team before Independence Park opened in 1962.
On the west side, directly across from the wicket, is the members' pavilion.
With Kingston Harbour to the south and the Blue Mountains serving as a backdrop to the George Headley Stand to the north, The Northern Stand, which was constructed as part of the ground's renovation for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, is presently blocking this vista.
With a capacity of slightly over 6,000, the George Headley Stand, which dominates the south end, is currently the only one in the stadium to bear a name. A "Party Stand" has taken the place of the well-liked "Mound" stand in the Eastern Stands.
The erection of the enormous five-level concrete stand, which houses the outdoor broadcast facilities, players facilities, and a fleet of opulent private boxes, is a fitting illustration of Jamaicans' general capacity for excess.
Sabina Park is still a relatively small area. Its perimeter can adequately accommodate a 400-meter running track, but little else, and after renovations, the capacity was raised to 20,000.
The installation of floodlights at Sabina Park in August 2014 made it the last international stadium in the Caribbean to have this feature.
Since the Jamaica Tallawahs play their home games in the Caribbean Premier League, the stadium's ability to hold day and night matches are extremely helpful.
Outside the stadium, a mural depicting 19 notable Jamaican cricketers was built in 2021.
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