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Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009
West Indies v England 2nd Test


Strauss angry at Antigua conditions

England captain Andrew Strauss hit out at the authorities after day one of the second Test against West Indies was abandoned because of an unfit outfield.

"It's not right that Test cricket matches have to be abandoned like this. Lessons definitely need to be learned.

"The game of cricket doesn't need this," said Strauss.

England had written a letter to the West Indies Cricket Board on Thursday expressing concern about the outfield, which was covered with sand after rain.

Both captains wanted to play cricket, but our bowlers weren't comfortable and it was bad at both ends

West Indies skipper Chris Gayle
"No-one feels more than we do for the spectators, we're trying everything we can to mingle with them and make them feel better," Strauss insisted.

England, sent in to bat, had reached 7-0 in 1.4 overs before play was stopped, with bowlers complaining they could not keep their footing on the outfield, which is made up of a thick layer of sand in parts.

"I don't think there was any doubt there was a problem before we came here with the sand on the ground but everyone thought it was OK," said match referee Alan Hurst.

"No one had bowled on the wicket to test it out. It would have been jumping the gun to say it was unfit before the start of play.

"The bowlers were struggling to get any sort of grip at all and were going through the sand. In the long run we have to look at the health and safety of the players."

A groundstaff member
A groundstaff member digs up run-ups at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium
A third Test will now start at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Sunday, making the series effectively a five-Test one.

"It [the Antigua Recreation Ground] is not in a great state but in terms of injuries or whatever it is fit to play on," explained Strauss.

"We don't know what state the wicket is in. It might not have been covered all night but I think it's fit for bowlers to bowl on and batsmen to play on."

West Indies skipper Chris Gayle called the situation "embarrassing".

"Both captains wanted to play cricket, but our bowlers weren't comfortable and it was bad at both ends," said Gayle.

"And even in the outfield someone could have made a big effort and anything could have happened. We don't want to risk any injuries.

"It's very disappointing and embarrassing. It wasn't up to standard and I have to apologise to the spectators. There was a huge turnout and everyone wanted to see us play England."

Asked about the move to the Antigua Recreation Ground, which last staged a Test in 2006, Gayle said: "We practised there but the field wasn't up to standard there as well.

"I gather there's a lot of football played there and the field is a bit bumpy, even the wicket has a couple of ridges so you have some uneven bounce."

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat blamed the West Indies Cricket Board for the debacle, saying it was "clearly their responsibility to make sure it is fit to play".

"They must take responsibility for it and we will have to follow the process now. It is not good enough."

The debacle had brought back memories of England's first Test against the West Indies in January 1998, which was abandoned after less than an hour's play and became the first Test in history to be called off because of the state of the pitch.

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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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