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Bourda Pitches A Worry

The Nation

26 Feb 1998

GEORGETOWN – After Sabina and Queen's Park – and, indeed, Jarrett Park and Everest – nothing holds the attention of the teams more intently in this Cable & Wireless series than the pitches.

There were two at Bourda yesterday, adjoining each other, that were of immediate concern and neither met with the approval of the opposing camps.

Both found batting difficult on the practice strip located alongside that being readied for tomorrow's fourth Test as the ball turned and kept varying heights.

In view of what they have encountered so far, it could be argued that it was the ideal preparation. But West Indies' coach Malcolm Marshall, with diplomatic understatement, said he was “disappointed” at the standard and England's attitude was summed up by Alec Stewart who, seen knocking up in front of the pavilion, observed the turf there was at least predictable in bounce.

As was evident in England's match against Guyana at the Everest Club ground last week, the prolonged drought in Guyana has affected cricket groundsmen as much as it has rice farmers and sugar growers.

The focus of those at Bourda must, clearly, be the 22 yards for the Test, rather than that for practice, but that too has prompted much shrugging of shoulders, shaking of heads and furrowing of brows.

While local advice, including that from Guyana Cricket Board president Chetram Singh, is that everything will be alright on the day, the hierarchy of both teams have been especially interested in a bare patch on a spinner's length at the northern end that contrasts with the general grass cover.

Marshall described the surface yesterday as “flaky” and, if El Nino continues to influence the weather, the only brief respite the square will get from the sun over the next week is from today's brief and partial eclipse.

So the expectation is that it will flake some more as the match progresses.

It almost certainly means Dinanath Ramnarine, the Trinidad & Tobago leg-spinner, will make his Test debut and that England are leaning towards the inclusion of both Phil Tufnell and Robert Croft, their spinners who so enjoyed themselves at Everest over the weekend.

The square has been top-dressed, rather than relaid in recent months. If it does play as it did last season, it will please no one – batsmen, fast bowlers or spinners.

Only one day was possible before the rain that most of Guyana now prays for arrived to reduce the rest of the match to a meaningless draw.

India, Sachin Tendulkar to the fore, crawled to 194 for two off the 90 overs and Shivnarine Chanderpaul wheeled away for 18 consecutive overs, pitching outside leg-stump from round the wicket, creating stalemate.

The West Indies practised yesterday short of the two Barbadians, Sherwin Campbell and Roland Holder, and the two Williams, Stuart and David.

Campbell and Holder had to get to Georgetown by a circuitous route, flying north to Antigua in the morning by overbooked LIAT to catch the south-bound BWIA flight. They would have got to Toronto or London quicker.

Stuart Williams is carrying a painful knee, nothing serious according to management, and David Williams had a slight chill.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 26 Feb1998 - 18:23