Cricket: Warnings from Lara and Walsh

THE two central figures in the soap opera that has been West Indies cricket over the past month proved that on the pitch at least they are likely to pose plenty of problems for Michael Atherton's men in the immediate future.

For while Courtney Walsh was whistling through Barbados's batting line- up, taking 6 for 46 on the first day of a President's Cup match, Brian Lara, the man who replaced Walsh as national captain last week, returned to form with a vengeance, scoring an effortless double-century. Lara, playing in the annual Gerry Gomez Classic match, scored 206 - the highest score in the match's 73-year history - for the North, who declared on 450 for 5 at the end of the second day against the South.

Walsh, who has yet to make a decision on his international future after his demotion, was the chief instrument in Barbados's destruction as they were skittled for just 135 on the relaid pitch at Sabina Park which will be used for the First Test against England, starting on 29 January.

The tourists were able to watch Walsh's efforts first-hand, as the late arrival of their kit from Antigua prevented them from practising. As well as Walsh's impressive spell, they cast an eye over Franklyn Rose, who looked quick but found the surface not to his liking and delivered a spate of no-balls.

Afterwards Alec Stewart said: "The pitch was damp; the texture is different from the other pitches I've played on here. It's not a true reflection on what it will be like come the Test match."

It has been far from a perfect start to the tour for England, whose nine days' preparation in Antigua was hit by tropical storms, which then followed them to Jamaica, wiping out the first day of planned practice there. At least and at last the weather relented enough yesterday for the touring party to complete their first full day of proper training.

And life is little better for the England A party, who saw their one- day match against Kenya in Nairobi abandoned without a ball bowled yesterday because of a saturated outfield.

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