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England's pitch plea

by Haydn Gill

5 March 1998

THE ENGLISH want an ideal cricket pitch once and for all.

Starved of surfaces with good, consistent bounce in the opening phase of the Cable & Wireless series, the England hierarchy came into Barbados yesterday expressing hope for a better pitch for the fifth Test starting next Thursday.

``I'd like to see a good Test match pitch one with good pace and even bounce,'' coach David Lloyd told NATIONSPORT moments after the team touched down at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

After the debacle of the Sabina Park first Test which was abandoned after 10.1 overs, England met slow, low surfaces for back-to-back Tests at Queen's Park Oval and one that cracked up early in the fourth Test at Bourda.

``Personally I think they were poor pitches,'' Lloyd said.

``From time to time, however, poor pitches bring out terrific Test matches, not least the two in Trinidad.

``They were epics. It was wonderful cricket, but everybody understands that the pitches were poor.''

In the 12 completed innings, there was just one total over 300 West Indies' 352 in the first innings of the Bourda Test and England have been dismissed for under 200 in three of their six innings.

After matching the West Indies in Trinidad where the spoils were shared, England were highly disappointing at Bourda where they managed totals of 170 and 137 and lost by a heavy margin of 242 runs in four days.

Captain Mike Atherton, still without a major score in the series, said the pitches he met were ones which suited bowlers.

The cricket has been competitive for the most part, but England were completely outplayed at Bourda.

``The difference between the two sides in the last Test match was Ambrose, Walsh and the crucial toss,'' Lloyd said.

Two of England's main batsmen, Atherton and left-hander Graham Thorpe, have been short of runs, but Lloyd is in no way worried.

``It's not a concern. When you come up against Ambrose and Walsh on what are considered bowler-friendly pitches, you have got a severe examination. Nobody would tell whether your players are in form or not. The same can be said of West Indies batsmen.''

Atherton was a heavy scorer when England visited the Caribbean in 1994. His 510 runs (ave. 56.66) made him his team's leading run-scorer, but to date he's had a modest return of 96 runs from seven innings.

The England captain was, however, not worried about his form.

``I've been disappointed with my return so far but I'm hoping to get some runs in Barbados and Antigua,'' he said.

In preparation for their three-day match against Barbados starting Saturday at Kensington Oval, England will practise today at the Wanderers ground in Dayrells Road, Christ Church.



With pleasant memories of the last occasion they played at Kensington Oval, Mike Atherton's team arrived in Barbados in high spirits yesterday.

The Oval is expected to be packed with thousands of visitors for the crucial fifth Test starting next Thursday, and captain Atherton and team coach David Lloyd are both confident of a victory.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 05 Mar1998 - 18:19