Friday, 13 February 2009

A beach of a day for cricket

Having just finished a Test match in Kingston, leaving England red in the face after being bowled out for 51 (England’s third lowest Test score), it was the turn of the West Indies. Not for horrifically bad batting, nor bowling, but providing a pitch not that dissimilar to one of Antigua’s 365 beaches.

After just ten balls of the second Test, the match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium was abandoned due to the dangerous pitch surface. West Indian captain Chris Gayle put England into bat, with the hope of continuing where they left off in Kingston. This certainly didn’t turn out, as the home side’s opening bowlers struggled to run in smoothly across the uneven and sandy based surface.

On an unlucky for some Friday 13th, a large and highly disappointed crowd turned up to witness the farcical scene, which brought back memories of the Sabina Park debacle in January 1998, when the uneven pitch was deemed too dangerous for batsmen.

Before the match started today, selection decisions were made choosing Shah and Anderson over Bell and Harmison. Well, perhaps Graham Gooch, Robin Smith and Allan Lamb should have been considered, as they have had plenty of practice playing for England at beach cricket.

The match referee Alan Hurst said: "No one had bowled on the wicket to test it out. It would have been jumping the gun to say it was unfit before the start of play.”

The weather may have been poor before the start of the match, but for Test Match standards, surely the head groundsman and his team could have seen that the pitch was not fit for cricket at the highest level. Even spectators could see that pitch was diabolical. Why did the match start in the first place?

Gayle said the whole event was “embarrassing” and Strauss remarked that "It's not right that Test cricket matches have to be abandoned like this; lessons definitely need to be learned.”

I could say the same thing to Strauss after his side’s performance in the last Test, but his comments concerning this match are spot on.

Following these words of wisdom saying lessons must be learnt, the match has been rescheduled to be played on Sunday 15th February at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG). This is the place where England has been training, and Chris Gayle says the place has "…a lot of football played there and the field is a bit bumpy, even the wicket has a couple of ridges so you have some uneven bounce."

This sounds like a recipe for utter disaster.

The ARG offers no referrals, because according to Alan Hurst, there will be limited camera angles available. Well, after the confusion during the last Test, and huge debate over the referral system, this perhaps won’t be a bad thing. This is a whole different kettle of fish altogether though.
Watch this space as the saga continues...

1 comment:

  1. Having played something over a 1,000 games of cricket you would think I would be expert at judging a wicket. Not so, an absolute pig or an absolute belter I can spot. The other 90+% I'm generally uncertain about.

    This was unfit for a club game never mind a 5 day test, or maybe 3 days bearing in mind the magnificent 51.

    Our groundsman tells me it takes 5 days of rolling, cutting etc to produce a wicket for a club match. Lucky that test wickets take two????


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