West Indies hopeful of reinforcements
West Indies 46 for 2 v Sussex
It was surely fitting that the West Indies tour should start with a depleted day's play and under a cloud. In bitterly cold and damp conditions, the tourists' batsmen enjoyed - or experienced, anyway - a brief snatch of cricket before rain returned and, for the second day in succession, play was abandoned mercifully early. It means the West Indies now have only five days cricket in which to acclimatise to English conditions ahead of the Test series.
That is for those of the squad that are here. Three of them - Assad Fudadin, Narsingh Deonarine and Marlon Samuels - have still not arrived in the country, with the first two held up by "visa problems" and Samuels delayed by "a travel problem". The West Indies tour management insist they are not concerned by the delays, but this is hardly ideal preparation. With poor weather in the UK expected to continue well into next week, some of the squad will have very little chance to adjust to the unique conditions ahead of the Test series.
"We are not concerned about the late arrival of the three players and we are extremely hopeful that they will all be here ahead of the game against England Lions," a spokesman for the West Indies team said. But the use of the word "hopeful" is just a little unsettling.
It would be easy to criticise the WICB - it pretty much always is - but there may some be some mitigating factors. For a start, the West Indies squad was only named a few days ago and, bearing in mind that the Border Agency in the UK has recently undergone a significant - and somewhat controversial - restructuring, it is entirely possible there is a backlog at their end.
In the 18 overs of play that were possible, the West Indies scored 46 runs but lost two wickets. With the damp outfield soon preventing the ball from swinging and bowlers struggling to retain their footing on a surface that quickly became skiddy, the lack of pace was the main problem for the batsmen.
Adrian Barath, leaving the ball well and appearing compact and tidy, looked comfortable until he missed one that hit his thigh pad and dribbled on to his leg stump, while Kieran Powell looked less at ease but battled through and will have benefited from the experience.
Kirk Edwards was even less comfortable. He survived a simple chance to Luke Wells at slip from the second delivery he faced - hanging his bat out at one he should have left - and, though he punched one pleasing drive through mid-on for four, soon felt for another one he should have had no business with and gifted a catch to slip.
Since making a century on debut at the Gabba, Barath's career has stalled, as a Test average of 23.60 underlines. He knows this is an important tour for him.
"Over the past year or so, I haven't really had the sort of performances I'd like," Barath said afterwards. "But I'm going to have to put that behind me. It's all about learning from my mistakes in the past, and building from it, and learning from team-mates like Shivnarine Chanderpaul about these conditions. He's played a lot of cricket here, scored a lot of runs and has a lot to offer.
"I'm working on playing the ball a bit later and leaving a lot more balls. It's about learning fast, and I have a lot of responsibility. I was a bit unlucky, but the time I was out there I felt really good."
The weather has also been far from ideal from a Sussex perspective. The club worked hard to market this fixture and were expecting 10,000 spectators over the three days. With a beer festival and steel band inside the ground, the atmosphere could have been excellent had the weather been a little kinder. As it was, when the Barmy Army's trumpeter, Billy Cooper, blasted out Jerusalem it seemed tinged with irony. The land may be green; it certainly doesn't feel very pleasant.
Meanwhile Sussex are waiting to hear news on Luke Wright who is undergoing tests in India to ascertain whether he has contracted Dengue Fever. Wright has been playing for Pune Warriors in the IPL. The club are also currently talking to Ajmal Shahzad, the unsettled seamer released by Yorkshire, with a view to bringing him to Hove.