JCBC says sorry

The Gleaner

February 4, 1998

CRICKET: The President's Cup match between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago originally scheduled for Sabina Park from February 19 to 22 has been switched to Chedwin Park.

The decision follows the problem with the Sabina Park pitch and was taken at a special meeting of the Jamaica Cricket Board of Control on Monday evening.

Last Thursday, the first Test between the West Indies and England was abandoned after 55 minutes play when umpires Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Steve Bucknor ruled that the pitch was unfit for play and dangerous, and at Monday's meeting, called specifically to discuss what went wrong with the preparation of the pitch, the Board also decided to call a special general meeting of the Jamaica Cricket Association to look into the implications of the abandoned match.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, February 26, at Sabina Park.

In a press release issued yesterday over the signature of assistant secretary Brian Breese, the Board expressed regret, apologised for the state of the pitch, and offered an explanation.

The following is the text of the release:

``The Jamaica Cricket Board of Control tenders to the England and West Indies teams, the sponsors - Cable and Wireless, the Government and people of Jamaica, the West Indies Cricket Board, and the cricket public throughout the Caribbean, and indeed the world, its deepest regret and unconditional apology for the state of the Test match pitch on Thursday, January 29, 1998.

``We wish to thank the patrons of Sabina Park for their exemplary behaviour on the day.

``The JCBC considers that it is important to offer an explanation.

``For several seasons it has been accepted that the pitch at Sabina Park, while playing true, had become too slow and dead to provide a fair balance between bat and ball. In fact, the West Indies Cricket Board had decried the general condition of pitches throughout the region as being too slow and encouraged the territories to improve their pitches.

``The advice of scientists was sought and it was agreed that the clay used when the square was last re-laid contained a degree of salinity. This, they said, did not allow for the growth of grass which is essential for preparation of a good and fair pitch. In a joint effort therefore, the JCBC and the Kingston Cricket Club, who, incidentally, advanced the required finance, appointed a committee of professionals, of which the WICB was aware, to advise on and implement the relaying of the entire square of four pitches.

``The committee was comprised of persons with expertise in soil, agriculture and surveying (at least one of whom had experience of relaying pitches) together with three retired cricketers, two of whom were former Jamaica captains, all of whom had over 20 years experience of pitch preparation.

``Soil from several parts of the island was tested and that from Appleton Estate in St. Elizabeth was selected. The committee also studied papers on soil and grass selection and preparation, and too, on pitch preparation from Australia and South Africa where pitches are similar to ours, and regular meetings were held as the work progressed over the period August 1997 until pitch preparation actually began at the end of December, 1997, prior to the Jamaica vs Barbados match on January 9, 1998. Every effort was made and a stringent programme followed to ensure that the job was done thoroughly.

``The match against Barbados revealed that there were some aspects of the work that had not gone as envisaged and corrective measures were taken, but events last Thursday showed that more work needs to be done to eliminate the inconsistencies in the pitch.

``A full-scale technical evaluation, which started on Friday, January 30, 1998, has been launched to ascertain the precise reasons for the behaviour of the pitch, and this will form the basis for any necessary modification.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:16