Caribbean rain adds to England's growing woes

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The Independent Online

AS if there were not enough little local difficulties, England were denied proper practice yesterday. First, it rained here in Antigua and second they were prevented from training at the ground where the second Test against the West Indies is due to start tomorrow.

For a side that had been bowled out for 51, are up against it from all directions and are accused of being rudderless, it was perhaps the last thing they wanted. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong. Instead of training in the sunshine at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, the tourists were despatched to the Antigua Recreation Ground, though a proper net session was rendered impossible by the heavy showers.

The ARG is now more frequently used for football matches. Which is precisely what England played there, with Andrew Flintoff scoring a cracking goal, his volley going into the top right corner. As ever, Flintoff was being talked about, though not for his goalscoring. England's management embarked on a damage limitation exercise after it emerged that Flintoff and Stephen Harmison went for dinner on a cruise ship hours after the ignoble innings and 23-run defeat to the West Indies last Saturday. It transpired that they barely drank, had been given permission both to attend and to stay on the boat overnight but nobody in the England camp was quite denying that it looked inappropriate.

The damage limitation on the squad being together continued. It was the turn of Paul Collingwood to wear the sackcloth and ashes which have been the team garb since Saturday's humiliation. Collingwood said that it had been a disaster waiting to happen. "We let ourselves down in a pressure situation," he said. "It's something we haven't just done in the last game and there have been signs of it in the past year or so. It's not something that's happened overnight."

That begs the question that if the players noticed things were on the slide, the selectors might have done likewise and acted. The world waits to see if the status quo is retained when Andrew Strauss names the side today.

Peter Moores, the former England coach, was yesterday confirmed as the new Lancashire coach.

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