The Barbados Nation Cricket news from Barbados on the Internet.

Fever Pitch

by Haydn Gill

March 12 1998

EXCITEMENT is boiling over as Barbados gets ready to stage its most anticipated Test match in recent years.

Kensington Oval looks in tip-top condition for the crucial fifth Cable & Wireless Test against England starting this morning with West Indies leading 2-1.

The pitch is expected to be the best of the series and the outfield, specially worked on by experts from the Sandy Lane Golf Club, is a sight to behold.

The presence of two reinstated openers in the West Indies team, a music stand, the opening of a new high-quality stand and media centre with executive suites, and a massive invasion of English spectators have all added to the excitement.

It is estimated that 6 000 extra British visitors will be here as well as 1 000 from Canada and the United States, while another 1 000 Bermudians are also expected.

A further 1 000 or so are due in from other cricket-crazy islands in the region.

Not all of the vistors, however, are expected to be among the 12 000 who will pack the Oval.

Up to late last night, workmen were busy trying to set up a temporary wooden structure for the electronic media, but Barbados Cricket Association business manager Rollins Howard was optimistic that all would be in place by the 10:05 a.m. start.

``We have had a lot of changes. We are trying our best to get everything ready, and I'm pretty confident that all will go well,'' he said.

The matter at hand, however, is the action in the middle between two sides who have produced gripping, absorbing cricket during the first four Tests.

Though Brian Lara's West Indies lead Mike Atherton's England 2-1 following an emphatic triumph by 242 runs in the fourth Test at Bourda, both captains said the Kensington contest was really the main event.

``This Test match is very crucial. The last one set the tone for who leads the series, and this one is for us to confirm that we are not going to lose the series,'' Lara told the DAILY NATION.

``I'm expecting tough opposition. In taking that into regard we know that it is going to be a big fight. If we can win in Barbados, I think it will be a fantastic achievement,'' he said.

Atherton, captaining England for the 51st time in a Test match, said his boys had no choice but to repeat their amazing win of four years ago, when the ground was jam-packed with thousands of visitors from the United Kingdom.

``To win the series, we've got to win the match. That's how we are looking at it,'' he said.

``We're in a very positive frame of mind and, hopefully, we'll have a lot of home support that'll spur the boys on, `` Atherton said.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 13 Mar1998 - 14:42