Cricket: All eyes on Trinidad pitch

With the second Test against England due to start here in Trinidad today, the pitch debate in the Caribbean refuses to die down. Pat Rousseau, the president of the West Indies Cricket Board, has called for a change in the rules to prevent the premature abandonment of Test matches in the future.

Following the swift curtailment of the first Test because of the dangerous pitch in Kingston, Rousseau, a Jamaican lawyer, is insistent that such decisions should not be made by the umpires alone. "We have to go to the ICC [International Cricket Council] and set up procedures," he said, no doubt fearing for the pitch in Antigua, which is currently being relaid despite the fact that the final Test is less than seven weeks away.

"We need some kind of consultation process that allows input from others involved in the game. After all, the effects of an abandoned game are far- reaching."

It is a valid point, but if the WICB were hoping for the whole episode to die down, the well-grassed pitch scheduled for the second Test here has merely refocused the cricket media's attention.

However, while pundits were pontificating and predicting another shortened Test match, the opposing captains, Brian Lara and Michael Atherton, were playing a game of wait and see. With the pitch due to be cut again this morning, neither would commit themselves to naming an XI.

"It looks fairly well grassed and an even surface," Atherton said. "Sabina Park was a one-off. I've played in the Caribbean before and the pitches have been absolutely fine. Of course I'm considering putting them in if I do win the toss, but much will depend on what the pitch looks like in the morning."

Lara, perhaps mindful of the dreadful pitch Australia had to play on here three years ago, was rather more forthright about his home ground's pitch.

"I don't think it will be a good idea to bat on it," he said after yesterday's team practice. "Both teams will have to be very cautious for the first session or two. There has been less time to prepare than normal, but I know the groundstaff will have done their best to produce a good wicket."

Just how good will be revealed over the next few days.

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