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Chaos in the Caribbean

written by William Turrell (william@cricinfo.com)

Following months of anticipation and expectancy, it has taken less than 3 days and a mere 10 overs of play for a Test series to become thrown into confusion. 10.05am on Thursday marked the beginning of a real-life nightmare for England's batsmen; a recently re-laid, highly uneven pitch proved totally unfit for First Class cricket.

120 years of Test cricket was rewritten, following the first Test match to be abandoned on Day 1 due to the state of the pitch.

Since the Sabina Park press conference, several problems at the other venues have also come to light. The Jamaican government including the Prime Minister, have done their best to make the English supporters as welcome as possible.

TRINIDAD

Currently, it appears there is most concern for the venue that will shortly stage two back to back Test matches.

The last game at the Queen's Park Oval, between Trinidad and Leeward Islands, finished in just two days; a large amount of grass was left on the pitch.

The Test series is being televised in many countries and as is the case in many professional sports, broadcasting organisations now often have the final say on various match arrangements. In Trinidad there has been a demand by TV companies for both Test pitches to be positioned right next to each other. Therefore it is quite possible that by the start of the latter match the pitch will have been damaged by bowlers, batsmen and fielders running up and down on it.

Meanwhile, it looks highly unlikely the ground will have an electronic scoreboard ready in time for the start of the second Test which begins this Thursday. Some of the major parts required to complete it are still in Miami. In addition, one of the stands is yet to have seats installed in it.

GUYANA

The pitch at Guyana (a venue which often suffers problems due to heavy rain anyway) was laid late - consequently no one really knows what to expect. The country has also been suffering from political problems recently.

BARBADOS

Barbados probably has the best pitch in the Caribbean, and also the ground with the most facilities. If Antigua, as described below, is not ready in time for the final Test, it would seem to be the ideal choice for holding two back to back matches.

I had previously reported that there were ticketing problems in Barbados; several people have point out this is incorrect; apologies for the error. We will bring you more information about the ticketing arrangements as soon as we have it.

ANTIGUA

St.John's is due to stage the last Test in the series, and it is probably the biggest worry of all for the authorities and the players. The sports pages in the UK have been filled with pictures of what has been described as a building site.

The worry is not so much the pitch, but simply that the whole ground has been dug up. At the moment it resembles a ploughed field; the Antiguan government are funding the purchase of over 700,000 of turf. The local sports minister says the ground will be ready, "much in advance" of the final Test.

ENGLISH SPECTATORS

Hundreds of tourists, some of whom have been saving up to 20 years to go and see a Jamaican Test match, are now considering whether to sue to the West Indies Cricket Board. There is still no news as to whether the board will offer the supporters compensation, although the situation was eased earlier in the week when the Jamaican Prime Minister held a party on the lawns of his house to which all the English tourists were openly invited.


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Date-stamped : 02 Feb1998 - 17:49