England's poor loser

Tony Becca

April 7, 1998

CRICKET: Last week's news that Lord McClaurin, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, will be making a formal report to the International Cricket Council re the pitches and the facilities following the West Indies three-one victory over England in the recently-concluded Test series is disturbing.

According to the news, McClaurin is upset over what he calls sub-standard pitches during the series and sub-standard facilities.

The Sabina Park embarrassment a side, it must be admitted, as West Indies players, present and past, have done, that the pitches at Queen's Park Oval and Bourda were below par, that the one at the Antigua Recreation Ground was too soft for the opening day of a Test match, and that the luck of the toss was too important - especially for the Bourda and the ARG matches.

In condemning the pitches however, there is one thing which McClaurin should remember.

Apart from remembering that sub-standard pitches have been prepared in England - including the one at Edgbaston in 1995 when the Test match lasted for just over two days, McClaurin should remember that after the two back-to-back matches at Queen's Park Oval and with the score tied at one-one, England captain Mike Atherton said he had no complaints about the pitches.

The pitches in the West Indies need to be better than they are now - no question about that. As West Indies Board president, Honourable Pat Rousseau has said however, some of them are new pitches, every effort is being made to make them better, and they should be better by the time the Australians get here next year.

Should McCraulin table a report to the ICC? It is his right so to do, but he should remember that in the history of Test cricket there have been many instances of sub-standard pitches around the world. As chairman of the ECB, he should also be gracious in defeat.

Even if he does have some reason to complain about the pitches around the West Indies, and even if he feels compelled to make a report to the ICC, the ECB chairman should however, forget about the facilities.

The facilities may not be as good as they are at Lord's, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or at the newly-constructed Durham County Cricket Ground, but even without taking into consideration the difference in the financial resources of England and Australia and the West Indian territories, they are good.

The outfields, certainly at Sabina Park, Kensington Oval and the ARG are as good as any in England, the Headley Stand at Sabina Park is as good as any in England, the Sir Gary Sobers players pavilion at Kensington Oval is as good as any in England, many of the stands around the ground are just as comfortable, and but for catering, the new media centres are as good as and in some instances better that those in England.

It was disappointing that at some grounds construction work was still in progress on the eve of a Test match. What is also important however, and again as Rousseau has said in response to McClaurin's criticisms, the West Indian grounds are being improved year after year - so much so that the number of English fans visiting Test matches in the West Indies have been increasing in recent years.

After arriving in the West Indies with expectations of victory, England's disappointment at losing is understandable.

Before complaining about the pitches and the facilities in the West Indies however, McClaurin should remember that it was a close contest - one which, despite the pitches, England could have been two-nil up after Queen's Park Oval, and one which, but for the rain on the final day at Kensington Oval, may well have been two-two going into the final Test.

No one knows what would be McClaurin's reaction, but it is almost a safe bet that had England won at Kensington Oval and made it two-two, had they won the toss at the ARG and won the series, there would be no talk about sub-standard pitches and sub-standard facilities. He would still be celebrating

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 07 Apr1998 - 20:15