Cricket: 56-minute Test makes it into record books

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The Independent Online
The statistics from the first Test of England's West Indies tour will officially count in the history books and the series will be extended to six Tests, it was confirmed yesterday.

Despite the fact that Thursday's match was abandoned after 56 minutes because conditions were too dangerous, David Richards, the chief executive of cricket's world governing body, the International Cricket Council, said the result would stand. "What happened did happen," he said.

Matthew Engel, editor of Wisden, added: "The match was abandoned as a draw, and should stand. And the next Test, wherever and whenever it is, will be the second Test of the series."

That Test will now start next Thursday, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and will be followed back-to-back by the third Test, also in Trinidad, which will start on 13 February.

The consequences for the players involved in the Sabina Park debacle, where England reached 17 for 3 in 10.1 overs, are mixed. While Mike Atherton and Mark Butcher's batting averages will be dented by their two runs and golden duck respectively, West Indian fast bowler Nixon McLean will be recorded as having played a Test despite not touching the ball.

A Wisden spokesman said: "Only in the event of all five days of a Test being washed out by rain would it be discounted. In this case 10 overs were bowled and those count in the records.

"It's a difficult situation but unless we indulge in some Stalinesque air-brushing of history then there's not much we can do," he added.

Although the Test will take its place in the statistic books, it does not break the record for the shortest Test in history - a 1926 Test between England and Australia at Trent Bridge was halted after 50 minutes on the first day. That Test did last for 17.2 overs, though, against this week's 10.1.

The bookmakers William Hill acknowledged the result as official when they paid out customers who had backed Alec Stewart to be England's first innings top-scorer. "I think I can safely say that it's the lowest highest score that we have ever paid out on but it was a unique situation," said a spokesman. Stewart scored nine runs.