England call for venue change

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The Independent Online

England have asked for their second Test with the West Indies to be moved to the Antigua Recreation Ground after the first day's play at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium had to be abandoned after only 10 deliveries due to the poor state of the playing surface.

Managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Hugh Morris, said the ECB had submitted a proposal to the West Indies Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council to move the game to the nearby stadium, where England have been practising for the match.

England were seven without loss when play was abandoned and Morris said they hoped to change the venue of the match to avoid injury to their players.

Morris said that ECB chairman Giles Clarke had issued the request to the two bodies after play was abandoned after 14 minutes of play.

He told Sky Sports 1: "We are prepared to move the match to the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG).

"It's critical that we play this match and we want to do that for ourselves after our defeat in Jamaica. For the fans that have come over here it is really important that we get this game going."

"Giles Clarke has put that proposal forward to the West Indies Cricket Board and the ICC and we are awaiting the result of that."

England captain Andrew Strauss, who was on six when play was abandoned, believes his players would stand less chance of getting injured at the ARG, but admitted conditions at the proposed alternative venue were far from ideal.

"It's not in a great state but in terms of injuries or whatever it is fit to play on," explained Strauss.

"We don't know what state the wicket is in. It might not have been covered all night but I think it's fit for bowlers to bowl on and batsmen to play on."

Morris revealed that he and the rest of the England camp had concerns about the state of the outfield at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium before play began and raised his concerns with the ICC last night.

He explained: "We only came out here the day before yesterday for practice and to have a look and we were concerned about the pitch.

"I wrote a letter to the ICC match referee and delivered it yesterday evening because we were clearly concerned at what we saw."

Strauss added: "We didn't practice at this ground that much. Some of the bowlers had run-throughs and said it was hard going."

Both men agreed it was a sad day for Test cricket and declared they felt sorry for the England fans who had travelled to Antigua for the match.

"It's absolutely not good enough," said Morris.

"It's desperately disappointing for everybody, particularly the people who have paid so much money to come over here. We really are thinking about them.

"We are keen to get the game on and get playing Test match cricket anyway but we are really keen to get a solution to this for the people who have come all the way over here.

"To have a day of Test match cricket abandoned is clearly not good enough and everyone must recognise that because it doesn't do the image of cricket any good around the world."

Strauss added: "Nobody wants to stand here in this position. It's terrible for us and the fans. Us as players feel awful."