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Barbados could test England

By Christopher Martin-Jenkins

6 March 1998

THE England players, their newly arrived wives, children and girlfriends having trebled the size of the overall party, had a day to relax in the soothing atmosphere of Barbados yesterday.

After six weeks of hard cricket in Kingston, Port of Spain and Georgetown, where swimming in the sea is no more a pastime than it is at Kingston-on-Thames, Portsmouth or St George's Hill, the holiday atmosphere, which cricket followers in England fondly imagine to be normal throughout the Caribbean tour, was welcome.

Past experience shows, however, that it is fatal for cricket teams in the West Indies to take their eye off the ball, especially a team one down in the series with two to play. Hard cricket, perhaps even harder, remains.

England delayed naming an eleven to meet Barbados in the three-day game starting tomorrow, which precedes the fifth Test at Bridgetown, but their opponents named six Test players for what is always a mini Test in itself.

No fewer than four men with pretensions to open the batting for the West Indies next Saturday - Sherwin Campbell, Roland Holder, Philo Wallace and Adrian Griffith - will play, with the temporarily eclipsed Floyd Reifer and the former Glamorgan all-rounder Ottis Gibson. There is no place for another of last season's Test team, Patterson Thompson.

Mike Atherton, England's captain, is likely to have his first game off all tour, giving Nasser Hussain a chance to show what he can do as captain. Chris Silverwood and Ashley Cowan will get their last chance of a match to enable Angus Fraser and Dean Headley to rest.

Andrew Caddick is expected to play - in this game as in next week's Test - which makes the spin decision between Phil Tufnell and Robert Croft the hardest one to make tonight. Croft's is the star in the ascendant.

The crowd is expected to be small, which gives a slightly hollow ring to the protests being made in Barbados that too many seats at next week's Test - and the subsequent one-day internationals - will be occupied by foreigners.

Officially the Barbados Cricket Association have limited the tickets available to overseas visitors to 35 per cent of the estimated 'comfortable' overall capacity of 12,000. But 10,000 visitors from Britain are expected to be on Barbados next week, most of them for cricket.

Trouble is possible unless the BCA can persuade the West Indies Board to alter their rule that Tests are not televised in the country in which they are being played.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 06 Mar1998 - 12:14