Cricket: Igglesden injury scare for tourists: Kent bowler has elbow X-ray after batting mishap on eve of first one-day international against West Indies

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ALAN IGGLESDEN, who only has to get a sniff of playing cricket for England for the physiotherapist to start unlocking the medical cabinet, was struck down again yesterday half an hour after being named in the team for the first one-day international against the West Indies.

The 29-year-old Kent player was hit on the point of the left elbow while batting in a practice net against a local quick bowler, and was immediately taken off to hospital. The X-rays revealed no fracture beneath the swelling, but Igglesden must be a likely non-starter for today's match at the Kensington Oval.

Igglesden, whose one and only Test was against Australia in 1989, was inked in for last summer's Ashes series before a groin strain kept him out of the first two Tests, and after being picked for the third, he injured his back on the morning of the match. This eventually ruled him out of the whole series, and when he went to England's pre-tour training camp in Portugal in December, he was invalided out of the country with a strained rib muscle.

Before Igglesden's injury, England had been pondering on an either-or selection between Devon Malcolm and Mark Ramprakash - the doubts about Malcolm centering around the damage to his confidence before the Test match that might accrue from getting clattered around in a game not suited to his bowling style. With Igglesden unlikely to play, and

Angus Fraser and Andrew Caddick definite non-starters, England may now feel they have no option.

Since leaving home a month ago, England have now had enough X-rays taken for the dressing-room to be radioactive. This is a normal fact of life in the Caribbean, but the unusual aspect on this tour is that all three players involved - Igglesden, Caddick and Fraser - have been bowlers, and England have yet to catch as much as a glimpse of the front line West Indian pace attack.

Neither was there much of a glimpse of it at yesterday's net practice, which, to general surprise, went unattended by Curtly Ambrose and the two Benjamins, Winston and Kenneth.

The circumstances may turn out to be curious enough to result in disciplinary action (although England should be so lucky) as the three players refused to leave the plane carrying them from Guyana when it landed at Barbados airport the previous evening, and flew on to Antigua (where they all live) instead.

All five West Indian players on the flight - Roger Harper and Keith Arthurton were the others - were apparently ticketed to Antigua by mistake, but although Harper and Arthurton got off in Barbados, the other three stayed on. One story has it that they were raising a metaphorical two fingers to an inefficient West Indian Cricket Board, the other that they wanted to go home and get some extra kit. Either way, it does not suggest that the West Indies have suddenly sprouted some discipline to go with their undoubted talent.

It certainly comes as less of a surprise (if no consolation to all those clambering into the thermal underwear this morning) than the fact that it has rained every day since England arrived in Barbados over a week ago. However, it is the sort of rain that turns into steam as soon as it hits the pavement, rarely hangs around for longer than 10 minutes at a time and should not greatly affect today's match.

An England victory today would hardly warm a shivering nation as much as a similar result in the first Test in Jamaica, but the appetiser to the main course - the Slogasbord as it might be called - none the less provides England with their first serious business of the tour, and victory would not harm morale before they get to Sabina Park.

Mostly, the one-dayers are about picking up the swag, although at pounds 550 per match, this barely amounts to small change even before it is divided by 12. There is certainly no lasting glory, or memory, and not many of the players would know that England have only won one of these contests (in 12 starts) in the Caribbean since the first one in 1981.

That single victory, however, did at least confirm that they can occasionally provide rattling good entertainment. In a match reduced to 37 overs a side (a further reminder that the sunhat can sometimes be less handy than a sou'wester in the Caribbean) Vivian Richards' 39-ball 82 was later eclipsed by Graham Gooch's 129 not out, and the finish (England scrambling home off a last ball leg-bye) was sufficiently breathless for the BBC to give out the wrong result on the Nine O'Clock News.

This match is also significant in that it gives England their first decent look at the opposition after 90 hours of cricket so far on tour. In that time, they have had a first-hand look at only one international player - Desmond Haynes - and as Haynes batted for all of 26 minutes for Barbados, it counts as more of a squint than a look.

Haynes has batted for rather longer in his one-day international career, which now totals 235 appearances and 8,381 runs. It is an example both of Haynes's longevity, and of the fact that the West Indies play one-dayers more often than most people change their socks, that Robin Smith, England's most experienced player in this form of combat, will equal Haynes's current total when he has played another 177 times.

This, however, represents a marginal disparity when it comes to the overall records of the two squads. Collectively, England's 13 have taken 103 wickets and scored 5,439 runs, while the opposition's have taken 606 and scored, wait for it, 23,527.

One English player who will be particularly keen to make an impression in the one-dayers is the captain himself. Mike Atherton has not been selected for any of England's last 29 one-day internationals, a statistic that miffs him even more for the fact that he has not been picked since being voted England's man of the series during the 1990 Texaco Trophy against the West Indies.

The various injuries mean that Chris Lewis gets an early chance to reassure Atherton that the off-duty male modelling he went in for last summer does not also apply when he takes to a cricket field. However, England's fielding was so palsied in the Barbados match, that Lewis would almost certainly have been in the side anyway.

ENGLAND 12: M A Atherton (capt), A J Stewart (wkt), G P Thorpe, R A Smith, G A Hick, M P Maynard, C C Lewis, A P Igglesden, S L Watkin, P C R Tufnell, D E Malcolm, M R Ramprakash.

ICC Trophy, page 37

(Photographs omitted)