West Indies count cost of inactivity as rain swamps series

In one respect, this past, saturated week may have taught the present generation of England cricketers an important lesson. If there is one thing worse, much worse and much more debilitating, than playing too many games, it is not playing at all.

Before the series of seven one-day matches in the Caribbean began, concerns were openly expressed about burn-out and the need to nurture players carefully. This bowler here (usually Steve Harmison) and that all-rounder there (definitely Andrew Flintoff) were to be monitored. The batsmen probably had to get on with it, and quite right too.

In the event, nobody has got on the park and what a forlorn state it has been. This has gone beyond players to the whole caravan that accompanies modern tours, but the plain truth is that the performers, both from England and the West Indies, have felt at a loose end. Without exception, they all feel tired because they have had few channels through which to direct their energies.

This series, it is generally agreed, has been unparalleled for the chaos caused by the persistent rain. True, the odd whole Test match has been abandoned before, but this Cable & Wireless series has yet to witness a full one-day game.

"Are you ready for home yet?" the England coach, Duncan Fletcher, was asked after the third game in Grenada was called off without there having been a realistic chance of a ball being bowled for a week.

Fletcher, not a man habitually given to public jocularity, had a rejoinder: "How am I meant to reply to that?" You knew what he meant.

Frustration has been the most oft-used word and it was intriguing to hear how Fletcher embodied that. At the launch of the series he denied quite righteously that there was any intention for England to rotate their 15 players. The story is different now. "There are two concerns," he said. "We wanted to have a look at everyone and give them a good run. With seven one-day internationals we were planning to have a look at a couple of players. The other one is that with the rain like this we could be called upon within an hour for a 25-over game and we haven't really fielded a ball."

This is good coach-speak but it was refreshing to hear Fletcher concede that he really planned to have a look at a couple of players all along. He had to. England have largely been denied competitive one-day cricket since their overwhelming triumph in the NatWest Series last July.

Three wins in Bangladesh were jolly training runs but they have been followed by an abject defeat (87 all out) and two wash-outs in Sri Lanka, and in the Caribbean an unsatisfactory 30-over match, a game which lasted 16 overs, and two outright cancellations. They have visited Guyana, Trinidad and Grenada since 15 April and it has rained every day. Anthony McGrath, potentially a key member of the one-day squad, has not appeared in a single game all winter.

To console themselves, cricket followers throughout the region are revelling in the blackly humorous improbability that the only game finished, albeit reduced, was in Guyana. There is precious little solace otherwise. The West Indian Cricket Board is reluctant to be downbeat but they could lose around US$1m (£560,000) as a result of the lack of action. It depends on how many purchasers of tickets claim refunds and on negotiations with their insurance underwriters, but whatever happens the premium will go up next time.

Cricket's main, virtually only, source of income here derives from gate receipts. There are no television rights to speak of because there are only a range of small, individually owned, impecunious stations in this bunch of island nations. The WICB was widely condemned for charging English fans a massive premium on tickets for the Test matches (foreigners had to pay more than £260 for a five-day ticket) and are now thanking their lucky stars they did so.

Darren Millien, who, no matter the spelling, must wish he could simply hand over his name to cover the possible losses, is the board's chief commercial officer. "It is a hard job at the best of times," he said. "We can never compete for money with the likes of England who negotiated a television deal of £147m last time. We don't know what is to happen yet but this is a huge missed opportunity because England is easily our biggest tour."

There are dozens rather than hundreds of English fans here for this series, but locals, as they do everywhere, love to go to watch England play and preferably beaten. In a department store the other day, a smiling assistant called Evelyn Whatmore gleefully brandished her precious ticket for St George's and said how much she was looking forward to her great day off. Occasions like this in Grenada are rare: there have been only eight one-day internationals there before, none involving England. In St Lucia there have been only five and ditto.

There is one other huge worry, which was not lost on Millien. This rain which has followed the teams around since the final Test is said to be unseasonal. So it may be, but in April and May 2007 the World Cup, easily the game's biggest tournament, is due to be held in the West Indies.

"It won't rain then but I'd like to move it forward to February and then we can be sure," said Millien. It is too late for that. At least three Test match series due to be played in the early months of 2007 are set in stone. Three years is a long time to be holding your breath.

The frustrated players may well like to reflect on what happened in early January 1971. The Melbourne Test was abandoned without a ball being bowled, so immediately afterwards a 60-over match was arranged. One-day cricket was born because an entire, five-day Test match was rained off.


Forecast for England's remaining three one-day internationals against West Indies


St Lucia: Sunny. Max 28C. Wind: 18mph easterly.


St Lucia: Sunny. Max 29C. Wind: 17mph easterly.


Bridgetown, Barbados: Thunderstorms. Max: 27C. Wind 15mph easterly.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice