England Test re-scheduled amid pitch farce

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The second Test between England and the West Indies will restart on Sunday, relocating to the Antigua Recreation Ground.

The first day's play of the second Test between West Indies and England was abandoned after only 10 deliveries because of the poor state of the playing surface.

Match referee Alan Hurst was called into the middle at 10.40am by umpires Rudi Koertzen and Tony Hill after the West Indies bowlers Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards struggled to run to the crease.

The heavily-sanded outfield at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium caused plenty of controversy in the build-up to the match but captains Andrew Strauss and Chris Gayle both agreed to play yesterday.

Only 10 deliveries were possible in 14 minutes on the field either side of an early-morning shower.

Hurst told Sky Sports: "The bowlers are having problems with their footings. They were having trouble getting any traction at all.

"The umpires have agreed with that. It is a health hazard for the players. Play has been abandoned for the day as the ground is unfit."

Hurst dismissed suggestions the ICC should have done more to address the issue before the match got under way.

"I don't think there was any doubt there was a problem before we came here with the sand on the ground but everyone thought it was okay.

"No-one had bowled on the wicket to test it out.

"It would have been jumping the gun to say it was unfit before the start of play. In the long run we have to look at the health and safety of the players."

The match descended into farce when, after a 23-minute delay for rain, Edwards aborted three times out of five upon the resumption.

Hurst made his way to the middle at 10.40am, to discuss the issue with the West Indians clearly not happy with their lot.

The surface at the ground was re-laid last autumn and the grass has not grown back sufficiently since, which led to huge volumes of sand being spread on to the outfield.

In a chaotic start to the opening day, which included hundreds of fans queuing outside the ground due to the archaic entry procedure, England were first forced from the field by a shower at 10.09am.

Only eight deliveries were possible in that opening nine minutes, as stewards wandered behind the bowlers' arm regularly and the bowlers lost their run-ups.

The heavily-sanded outfield was always going to take its toll on the players' legs, particularly for the bowlers and Jerome Taylor struggled to charge in during his opening over.

England captain Andrew Strauss took advantage of a couple of loose deliveries to tuck into the gaps before the early morning shower arrived.

England dropped Ian Bell and Steve Harmison in their bid to level things - replaced by Owais Shah and James Anderson.

Bell's omission was widely anticipated after he failed to arrest a poor trot at Sabina Park, where England were dismissed for a paltry 51 in the second innings.

Fast bowler Harmison, meanwhile, had only just returned to the XI in Jamaica after pre-Christmas omission in India.

West Indies, meanwhile, drafted Ryan Hinds into their middle order in place of the axed Xavier Marshall.