Cricket: Frogs not ducks as England wait: Bourda Oval wash-out but good news on Malcolm

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GEORGETOWN'S reputation for getting batsmen caught fishing outside the off stump - but only if they are in a rowing boat at the time - struck again yesterday, not only washing out the second day's play between England and a West Indian Board President's XI, but leaving the Bourda Oval looking like one of the larger tributaries of the mud-brown Demerara River.

However, if this was bad news for England's Test match preparation (always assuming that, unlike their last visit in 1990, there is any visible grass left to play the game on) there was better news from Derbyshire on the prospect of Devon Malcolm rejoining the tour in around 10 days' time.

Malcolm, who flew home two weeks ago for an operation on his right knee, has had the all-clear from his orthopaedic surgeon to resume light training and, if there is no adverse reaction, Malcolm will fly back to the Caribbean with a view to being available for the final two Tests in Barbados and Antigua.

On the other hand, the surgeon has also recommended that if Malcolm gets any pain or swelling over the next 10 days, he forgets all about playing until the county season

resumes in April.

As swimming is part of Malcolm's rehabilitation programme, the Test and County Cricket Board might decide to fly him straight to Guyana. Something closer to lakes than pools were covering the outfield yesterday and contained several species of aquatic life, including frogs and a large unidentifiable creature now known as the Loch Bourda monster.

The adult male-only regulations in the pavilion (which sports a high-water tide mark halfway up the bar) pre- empted cries of 'women and children first' yesterday, although a dress code based on the Lord's Long Room was waived - presumably on the grounds that people would look pretty silly wearing jacket, tie and flippers.

A quiz in the local paper, offering tickets to the Test as a prize, contained the question, 'Who won the 1990 Test between the West Indies and England here', which was pretty silly as not a ball was bowled. This has happened twice because of rain in Georgetown, and it is not without precedent for a Test to be moved to a different venue.

The ground was in such a state before the West Indies Test against India in 1976 that the teams upped and left for Trinidad and the same thing happened in 1992, also involving India, but this time for

political reasons.

In Georgetown, the politics can be as stormy as the weather, which is partly why England have not bowled a ball in a Test here for 20 years. In 1981, they left the country at gunpoint after Robin Jackman was deported and did not, for obvious reasons, bother to

include Guyana on the itinerary in 1986. Then, although the political climate had improved by 1990, the meteorological climate had not.

In that year, all three of Guyana's Red Stripe matches were washed out, which meant that the Bourda members did not get to see a single first-class ball bowled during their entire season, and if the weather has not improved by Monday, three days before the Test, there is apparently an option to move it to either Trinidad or Barbados.

Meanwhile, the West Indian selectors were meeting today to pick their Test team, which is not likely to involve too much wear and tear on the cerebral circuits. Carl Hooper will be added to the first Test squad and the only real decision will be whether to play either Jimmy Adams or Phil Simmons, or give the wicketkeeping gloves to Adams and play both of them.

TOUR MATCH (Georgetown, Guyana): England 308 for 2 (M R Ramprakash 154 no, G P Thorpe 84, M P Maynard 40 no) v West Indies Board President's XI. No play yesterday.