Cricket: Excuses fail to hide wretched truth

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The West Indies Cricket Board and the Jamaican Cricket Association have one of cricket's most unenviable and unbelievable records. They have become the first two Boards to be convicted of producing a pitch which, after 10 overs and one ball, was rightly declared to be unfit for Test cricket.

There will be specious arguments and hastily concocted excuses for what has happened but none must be allowed to hide the wretched truth: it was a disgrace.

The former West Indian wicketkeeper Jackie Hendricks is the president of the Jamaica Cricket Association. Did he ever look seriously at it? Did he look and keep his fingers crossed? Or did he hope for a pitch which would give his Jamaica captain, Courtney Walsh, good figures?

And what about Pat Rousseau, president of the West Indies Board who lives in Kingston? True, he knows more about politics than cricket, but was he even not the tiniest bit concerned that the relaid Sabina pitch was not up to scratch?

Even so there were some West Indian optimists to be found after the match had been abandoned. One elderly and rotund doctor strode round the outfield saying that there was nothing wrong with the pitch and "that the empire has gone soft".

- Henry Blofeld, Kingston