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Thursday, January 29, 1998 Published at 17:10 GMT


First Test abandoned
image: [ The umpires discuss the dangerous pitch ]
The umpires discuss the dangerous pitch

The first Test between England and the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, was called off after less than an hour's play after both captains agreed that the pitch was unfit for play.

It is the first time in Test match history that a match has been called off because of the state of the pitch.

England skipper Mike Atherton took his players off the field after England lost three quick wickets and his batsmen were repeatedly hit trying to cope with the unpredictable bounce on the newly-laid Sabina Park wicket.

Jonathan Agnew describes the unprecedented scenes at Sabina Park (5'21")
The pitch was showing eccentric bounce even in the first over. David Williams, behind the stumps for the West Indies, was stretching above his head for some deliveries while other balls were bouncing twice on the way through to the wicket keeper.

[ image: Mike Atherton and Brian Lara leave the field]
Mike Atherton and Brian Lara leave the field
Both Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart were struck repeatedly as they tried to judge the bounce and keep the ball down.

A concerned Atherton said: "The pitch was dangerous. The safety of the players was paramount.

"The senior umpire was in constant touch with the match referee. I was called out and had a chat with Brian Lara, and the officials. Both captains said that conditions were unfit for Test cricket."

Referee Barry Jarman of Australia decided to suspend play after speaking to the umpires and captains.

"I thought it was horrific," he said.

"Both captains thought it was too dangerous and that someone was going to get seriously hurt. Both umpires agreed and I went along with it. It just wasn't up to standard, I would have complained too.

"When the ball goes flying past your ear and the next hits your ankles, that's when it's impossible to play."

There are still hopes that the Test match can be rescheduled on another wicket. England tour manager Bob Bennett said: "We will be talking to the West Indies Board over the next few days and I am optimistic that we will be able to reschedule the Test.

"It is important that we have a five-Test series."

[ image: Ouch: Graham thrope drops his bat as he is hit again]
Ouch: Graham thrope drops his bat as he is hit again
West Indies captain Brian Lara added: "Mike Atherton is very interested in having five Test matches played and I think players on both teams want that."

Former England cricketer Ian Botham branded the Sabina Park pitch "a disgrace".

"The pitch is not worthy of international cricket," he said.

The BBC's Chris Rayner reports from Sabina Park (0'37")
Physiotherpaist Wayne Morton added: "Everyone wants to play on a level playing field. I'm not too keen on losing people with fractured digits."

Graham Thorpe will need an X-ray on his damaged finger.



  • M Atherton c Campbell b Walsh 2
  • A J Stewart not out 9
  • M Butcher c S Williams b Walsh 0
  • N Hussain c Cooper b Ambrose 1
  • G P Thorpe not out 0

    Extras 5

    Fall: 1-4, 2-4, 3-9

    England 17 for 3 (10.1 overs)

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