Cricket: Walsh's reign in doubt as England contend with rain

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The Independent Online
Had any England player cared to put an ear to a glass on the wall, he might have been given a clue as to the future of the West Indies captaincy. While Mike Atherton's squad ate breakfast yesterday, the West Indies selectors were locked in deep discussion in an adjoining room, complete with a security man guarding the door.

That strict "no entry" message highlighted just how important they regard their deliberations on whether Courtney Walsh should keep his job, or whether Brian Lara should be given the armband for the coming series against England.

It is, indeed, extremely unusual for any England team to arrive in the Caribbean with the hosts in disarray. In past years, the firm leadership provided by the likes of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards has not required the West Indies Board venture into such serious debate over the captaincy.

Brian Lara has emerged as the favourite to lead the side, but his appointment could be viewed as something of a gamble. Since the prolific left-hander set a world record of 375 against England in Antigua in 1994, he has been reprimanded more than once. There were reports that the West Indies squad was divided between Lara and Walsh in Pakistan.

While the clouds of doubt hovered over the West Indies camp, the only clouds bothering England were the ones still rolling over Antigua and, from time to time, dropping huge doses of rain on the nets.

The new Caribbean Cricket Centre of Excellence was again out of use yesterday. The central wicket has been continually covered and is rock hard, but Wellington boots would be required to splash over the outfield.

England got on with training yesterday on drier areas on the Club Antigua complex while waiting for more seasonal weather to arrive. These clouds can blow away, but will those hanging over the West Indies?