Eighteen overs were possible at Hove yesterday. On balance, it was probably not enough for West Indies. They desperately need as much experience of unfamiliar terrain as they can get but, on the other hand, they will have been extremely grateful to seek the sanctuary of the dressing room after reaching 46 for 2.
Play on the second day on the first of two practice matches did not start until mid-afternoon, having been abandoned entirely on the first, and it was barely in its stride when bad light and drizzle intervened. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect was that 3,000 spectators were still in the ground.
The first tourists of the summer appear to be in good spirits although the perfunctory nature of their pre-match training session did not provide telling evidence of that. Hands were in pockets, minds perhaps in the Caribbean. For a professional cricketer there really is nothing worse than a miserable May in England. But there is an impression of togetherness which those who saw the team at close quarters have suggested was not present on their tour three years ago.
However, there is one worrying aspect to their party: three of their 15 players have yet to arrive. Two, Narsingh Deonarine and Assad Fudadin, have been held up in Jamaica awaiting a visa. A third, Marlon Samuels, is still playing in the Indian Premier League.
The visa delays were partly caused because the squad could not be named until the home Test series against Australia finished. The security checks necessary these days create delays in the processing of applications but it seems bizarre that a professional sporting team should be so held up. Between them the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office might have helped.
The tourists maintain they are not concerned about the latecomers and are optimistic they will be here in time for the match against England Lions which starts in Northampton on Thursday. If the weather does not change it is difficult to think they will be acclimatised in time for the first Test a week later.
In the event they looked in reasonable order, but it was too cold for the fielders as well. As the Sussex and England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior, put it: "Bring back Colombo, all is forgiven." It was above 40C when England played Sri Lanka in the second Test a month ago – about 30C colder yesterday.
For the brief period in which he batted, Adrian Barath, the smaller half of the West Indies opening partnership, looked well-ordered and correct. He was unlucky that a ball from Kirk Wernars thudded into his thigh pad and went on to clip the stumps.
The dismissal of Kirk Edwards was more conventional. He pushed at one on off-stump and was caught at slip. The taller half of the openers, Kieron Powell, was unbeaten when they went off just before tea.
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