Cricket: Atherton angered by Lara pitching a different line

There was a second day's play of sorts in the first Test with verbal bouncers between the England and West Indies captains and the announcement of an inquiry into the Sabina shambles. Derick Pringle, reports from Kingston, Jamaica.

The morning after was warm, as Kingston invariably is at this time of year, but it was not as hot as the underside of Michael Atherton's collar. A day after the first Test had been abandoned, the England captain was smarting at suggestions made on television by Brian Lara, that the game would still be going on, had the West Indies been batting first.

The point of whether England's bowlers would have been quite as lethal as Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose - they did not get to the pacier Nixon McLean - has been the topic of discussion ever since the match was called off. Lara seems not to think so, though Atherton is adamant that the West Indies captain agreed the pitch was not playable when they and the umpires discussed the matter out in the middle.

According to Atherton, Lara's only concern as a new captain on hostile territory - he ousted the Jamaican Walsh as skipper - was that he did not want to start a riot. Perhaps his subsequent claims were made wearing his diplomat's hat and not the one he had worn on Thursday when England's batsmen were being battered about the gloves and chest.

"It was the sort of situation where you have got to fight it out as cricketers," Lara said yesterday. "I thought it was dangerous, but a lot of our guys stated that if we had been batting out there it would have been a tough decision to call off the match. We have experienced pitches such as this before and I think the match might still have been going on."

Lara's contentions were backed up by the former West Indies captain, Richie Richardson, who watched the match from the stands. Richardson said he had seen Sabina begin as frisky as that before, and reckoned that it would have quietened down after lunch.

In fact, although Richardson felt that the pitch was unacceptable, he believed it was not as dangerous for batsmen as the one here that England lost on in 1986, a match that failed to last three days.

On that occasion, on a quick uneven pitch, Patrick Patterson produced what many believe to be the fastest bowling ever seen. Graham Gooch remembers it being the only time he felt that his reflexes may not have been quick enough to avoid serious injury.

When these points were put to Atherton, who spent yesterday relaxing and reading, he was not for moving. "The pitch we played on was going through the top," he said. "For the first day of a Test match that is totally unacceptable. If it had been playing like that on the fourth or fifth days, we would have accepted it."

There is no doubt that although attempts are being made to soften the blow for those supporters who have travelled here for the match - P J Patterson, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, has even opened his residence to all overseas visitors - most still feel upset at what they see as the general slapdash approach to the problem by the West Indies Cricket Board.

With claims for compensation and lost revenue mounting daily, the cost to West Indies cricket is thought to be $1m (pounds 600,000), a sum no Board can afford to lose. However, some of that will be offset by extending the series to six Tests instead of five.

In response to the fiasco, the International Cricket Council have set up an inquiry to be chaired by Sir Clyde Walcott. David Richards, the ICC's chief executive, said that Walcott's committee will be convened at the earliest possible date. The meeting, which will feature representatives of all nine Test-playing nations, will be by conference telephone.

Two key issues have to be debated by the ICC. The first is whether the Jamaica Cricket Association is culpable in the preparation of such a substandard pitch, and second, what needs to be done to ensure there is no repeat of such a farce.

Ironically, the ICC are already gathering evidence concerning the abandonment of the Christmas Day international between India and Sri Lanka at Indore - again because of a dangerous pitch - and the two incidents are now likely to be viewed together.

One matter which the ICC hierarchy must consider is whether two Test strips now need to be prepared at every world venue - as is the case in England - so that a stand-by strip is readily available.

Quite what Walcott and Co will find, apart from a distraught and largely blameless groundsman, and a relaid strip that has not yet had time to settle, is not known, but for the sake of cricket's image, they must be seen to do something.

Once they convene, they may be together for some time, as Sabina Park is not the only pitch in the Caribbean to cause concern. Indeed, the surface at Trinidad's Port of Spain, the venue for the next two Tests, has been reported for being substandard. Trinidad and Tobago's game there lasted less than two days. With Test pitches having been relaid in Guyana (venue for the third Test) as well as Antigua (final Test), this could be a series that is forever postponed.

However, if this farcical episode has taught the authorities here anything, it is that their priorities must be towards investing in the nuts and bolts of the game, i.e. the grounds and groundstaff, rather than the glossy sponsors' boxes. As Sabina has shown, without a suitable pitch there is no game to watch.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

English Teacher

£22000 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

English Teacher Urgently Required - Secure Unit - Nottingham

£100 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Are you a fully qualified ...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on