A blessing in disguise?

Tony Becca

February 4, 1998

CRICKET: The debate over last Thursday's abandoned Test match because of what the umpires ruled an unfit and dangerous pitch at Sabina Park continues non stop with some Jamaicans attempting to solve the riddle of whose fault it was, some insisting that the game should not have been abandoned, and some calling for the resignation of both the Jamaica Cricket Board of Control and the West Indies Cricket Board.

The riddle will be difficult to solve, and because of the West Indian situation, the call for the resignation of the boards appears emotional and unjustified.

The riddle will be difficult to solve because of two reasons: there are those who believe that things went wrong from the beginning and that Kingston Club and the experts who were brought in to lay the pitch, including the soil engineer, must take the blame for the embarrassment. And there are those who believe that things went wrong in the final weeks of preparation and that the JCBC and its experts must take the blame.

To solve the riddle, either Kingston Club would have to condemn the JCBC for the finished surface or the JCBC would have to condemn Kingston Club for a foundation which led to the uneven surface. Based on experience, that is unlikely to happen certainly not officially.

The call for the resignation of the WICB members appears emotional and unjustified for two reasons: the pitches around the West Indies belong not to the territorial boards or the WICB, but to private clubs, and it is the responsibility of the board in each territory to prepare for a Test match.

While the call for the JCBC members to go is more realistic, even that may not be justified - not when it is remembered that the pitch belongs to a private club which usually looks after the initial preparation before handing it over to the JCBC for the final preparation.

The only way the JCBC can be held responsible is if the problem occurred during the final preparation of the pitch or as its release stated yesterday stated, if it was involved from start to finish. If that is so, then as the body responsible to the WICB, it must take the blame.

As far as the decision to abandon the game is concerned, there are those who believe that the pitch was not that bad, and there are those who believe that regardless of the state of the pitch, the financial losses and the damage to the reputation of Jamaica and West Indies cricket should have been taken into account.

The truth however, is that the pitch was terrible, no one can deny that, and although so much money was lost, and regardless of whose image and reputation were tarnished, if the embarrassment will ensure that better pitches are prepared at Sabina Park in the future, it may well be a blessing in disguise.

Almost every year in recent times, work has had to be done on the Sabina Park pitch. Almost every year there is a mad rush to get it ready on time for first-class or Test matches. Not once has it been ready early enough for a local match to be played on it so that it can be assessed.

Whoever wants to bet can do so now. Regardless of what it takes, even if it means going back to basics and forgetting the experts, even if it means drawing on the knowledge of the groundsmen who prepare good pitches at Chedwin Park, Kaiser, Alpart, Melbourne, Kensington and the Jamaica Defence Force, next year, the Sabina Park pitch will be a beauty

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission
Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:08