Disappointed cricket fans cry foul

Trinidad Express

Saturday, January 31, 1998

``WE SHOULD be banned from Test cricket for the next 20 years!''

Temperatures, like the midday Kingston sun, were soaring at Sabina Park on Thursday. It was not the ``lunch break''.

But the crowd on the pitch was huge. In truth the spectators had nothing else to do, except stare at a piece of earth that, instead of the players, had become the star attraction.

The West Indies/England Test match had been abandoned after just 55 minutes because groundsman Charlie Joseph's creation had been declared too dangerous: But many could care not one whit about that.

They had come to see cricket, Courtney Walsh and, even if only to scrutinise, the new captain Brian Lara. But now Jamaica cricket fans and their friends from the wider Caribbean could not think about ``boo''.

As many milled around the square, along with a curious Prime Minister PJ Patterson and his entourage, it was a time for venting frustration.

``This is a sad day for us,'' declared a distraught man. His shame was perhaps being shared from Bourda to Belmont.

But Caribbean embarrassment was also mixed with anger. For many were not convinced the right decision was made.

``I don't think they had enough time to see how the wicket played to make that decision,'' reasoned a less heated soul.

It was dangerous, he admitted. ``But it was not more dangerous than other pitches I had seen.'' Bruised Englishmen Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart may not agree, however.

``I did not see the ball doing anything extraordinary,'' offered a bespectacled Guyanese observer. ``A few were rising. But the men were getting hit in the batting zone!''

I'm not sure where he was when ``Walshie'' almost beheaded poor Mark Butcher first ball. But Mr Guyana was certain that a bad precedent had been set.

``What happens in the next Test match when batsmen get lick two time on dey finger? Could they resort to say the pitch unfit for play? Both sides had to bat on this pitch. Let the match continue and see how it would pan out!''

Then he offered this suggestion.

``If West Indies had taken first strike we in the crowd and everybody would have been saying West Indies batting poorly. The match would have continued and we would have blamed our batsmen.'' It was a point that was popular with many of the other ``sufferers''.

But there were some who took a different view. ``The Jamaica Cricket Board should take full responsibility for what happened here, one man said. ``Is only two weeks ago a match (England v Jamaica) being played at Jarrett Park finished under questionable circumstances.''

But he too came back with, ``That was no justification for this match to have stopped.'' High debate was not the concern of everyone. People got grouchy because of what some men in white coats had done to their best laid plans.

``I came here wanting to spend the day and then go off to me football match at the stadium (Jamaica vs Sweden) and now I have four or five hours on me hand! I don't know what to do wih this time.'' If he wanted to, the brother could have begged for a Red Stripe and joined the lime on The Mound where the Trini and Jamaica posses were not letting the stalemate spoil their fun.

But there is no doubting they would have preferred to see Courtney and Ambi socking it to the English.

And whatever the pros or cons, the pluses or minuses, West Indies cricket was a big loser on Thursday.

It's as Charles Quinn from the Cayman Islands said: ``It's just a great shame.''

Source: The Express (Trinidad)

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission
Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:11