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West Indies v England 2nd Test

Second Test, Antigua (day one, abandoned):
England 7-0 v West Indies

Groundstaff treat the pitch
Ground staff at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium reveal the true extent of the outfield, digging up the bowlers' run-ups to unveil layers of sand

The second Test between West Indies and England was abandoned after 10 balls because of an unfit outfield at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

The West Indies bowlers were struggling to keep their footing on turf covered in sand following recent rain.

After talks between the players, umpires and the match referee, day one was called off with England 7-0.

A third Test will now take place at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Sunday and the series extended to five matches.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) submitted a proposal to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and International Cricket Council (ICC) to relocate the match to the ARG rather than move it to another island.


Meanwhile, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has warned Test status could be removed from the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We've got 8,000 spectators on this island from England and they've paid a great deal of their hard-earned money to come here. They deserve to watch cricket.

"All tickets purchased for the second Test will hold for the third.

"The pitch is a significant improvement on where we've just been. I held a meeting with Andrew Strauss, who had been talking to his side, and he made it very clear they were willing to play at the ARG."

On the possible removal of Test match status from the ill-fated Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Lorgat said: "It's clearly the West Indies Cricket Board's responsibility to ensure the ground is fit for play, that it meets the minimum standards for Test match cricket.

"[Head match referee] Ranjan Madugalle and ICC general manager [David Richardson] will sit down and determine what sanction will have to be meted out.

"The ultimate, of course, is that you take away the status of the venue as a Test match venue."

Heavy rain in the build-up to the match caused flooding in the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium nets, meaning England conducted most of their preparations at the ARG.

Its last Test match, between West Indies and India, took place in June 2006 and BBC Sport understands that one of the stadium's top tiers will be out of use.

With only 14 minutes and 1.4 overs of play possible, the second Test will be recorded as the shortest in history.

"The bowlers were having trouble getting their footing - they were digging down in the sand and the turf was giving way," match referee Alan Hurst told BBC Test Match Special.

I had a go at some members of the Antiguan Cricket Association because it is alleged that they were given ample time to get the ground ready

Sir Vivian Richards

"The umpires decided it was very dangerous and, after talking to the captains, decided it was unfit for play."

Hurst rejected suggestions that with the outfield in its current state for several days leading up to the match, this scenario could have been avoided by switching the venue in advance.

"There was no evidence [before play] that this would happen," he said. "We knew of the problems yet there was no evidence - but after two overs it became clear."

Reports suggested that the outfield and bowlers' run-ups had not once been tested since the stadium's only previous Test, which was a drawn match between West Indies and Australia in June 2008.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle said that following a fielding session at the ground, which was built for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, he was concerned for his team's safety.

Daren Powell and groundstaff
Daren Powell shows the ground staff a foothole

Hugh Morris, the ECB's managing director, revealed that he wrote a letter to Hurst on Thursday evening expressing England's concerns with the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium outfield.

And an angry Sir Viv Richards said: "This is the game at the highest level - and this is not on.

"I had a go at some members of the Antiguan Cricket Association because it is alleged that they were given ample time to get the ground ready and do all the necessary supervising to make sure it was ready.

"They dropped a ball somewhere and I'm appalled at some of these guys who say they are making decisions."

Former England opener and Test Match Special summariser Geoffrey Boycott said: "This should be a huge embarrassment to the WICB and they should be moving fast to sort it out."

Before play was abandoned, the players and umpires had already left the field for a rain delay.

They soon returned but just two balls were bowled, with Fidel Edwards kicking up sand at every stride, before lengthy discussions ensued between the umpires, captains and Hurst.

"It has been an absolute farce," said BBC Sport's Mark Mitchener at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. "We were not told anything, I only found out play had been abandoned from a text from someone back in London.

"We only had a garbled message saying play had been abandoned about half an hour later.

"Some people I know went to see the old Antigua Recreation ground yesterday, and the outfield there is clearly not playable."

The outfield was not the only problem, with scores of spectators queuing to enter the stadium long after the 1400 GMT start.

Lorgat said the travelling supporters, most of whom have paid significant sums to attend the match, were among the ICC's top priorities.

Given the short period of time the host broadcaster will have to de-rig its equipment at one venue and rig it up at another, meaning the third Test will take place without the umpire decision review system.

That trial will resume in the fourth Test in Barbados, which starts on 26 February.

The ICC's pitch and outfield monitoring process will not necessarily lead to the removal of Test match status, but could lead to a warning or a fine instead.

In 1998, 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.

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see also
England crash to innings defeat
07 Feb 09 |  England
First Test abandoned
30 Jan 98 |  Sport

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