Cricket: Officials ignored the warnings

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Jamaican cricket officials were warned the Sabina Park pitch was potentially life-threatening nearly three weeks before Thursday's abandoned Test, says the Barbados manager, Tony Howard.

He spoke out as Sir Clyde Walcott arrived to head an inquiry into the first Test debacle.

Howard said he had been alarmed by the strip for the President's Cup match between his Barbados side and Jamaica from 9 to 12 January.

"I predicted the pitch would not be ready in time for the test. I cautioned Jamaican manager George Sterling, the umpires, the press and the groundsmen,'' he said.

Walcott, who is representing the International Cricket Conference, ruled out drastic action. "I have not come here with the intention of banning Sabina as a Test ground," he said.

"There is a problem with pitches around the world. We must address the whole problem and not just concentrate on what happened at Sabina Park."

Brian Lara, the West Indies captain, said yesterday there would be a "green'' strip for the next two Tests, which suits seam bowling. "We do not want as much grass on the test pitch but we do not want a flat wicket," he said.

Peter Marron, Lancashire's groundsman, has called for a world-wide cricket pitch monitoring system to prevent a repeat of the Jamaica fiasco.