West Indies v England, 2nd Test, Antigua, 1st day February 13, 2009

Test abandoned after sandpit farce


1.4 overs England 7 for 0 (Strauss 6*, Cook 1*) v West Indies - match abandoned
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook discuss the situation with the umpires, as play is abandoned after ten deliveries © Getty Images

The second Test between England and West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua has been abandoned after just ten deliveries, after the sand-based outfield was deemed a safety risk to the bowlers. The day's play was halted midway through the second over, only two balls after a 20-minute delay for rain, as Fidel Edwards flung the ball away in disgust, after failing three times in a row to enter his delivery stride.

After a lengthy discussion between the captains, Chris Gayle and Andrew Strauss, and the onfield umpires, Daryl Harper and Tony Hill, the ICC match referee, Alan Hurst was left to make the difficult decision. The run-ups were hastily dug up straight after the close, but it was a futile gesture. The only option available to the authorities was an outright abandonment, a situation eerily reminiscent of the Sabina Park farce in 1997-98, when batsman safety was the issue on a dangerously uneven pitch.

To the huge embarrassment of the West Indies Cricket Board, this was a situation that had been telegraphed in the days leading up to the match. England were unable to train at the stadium on either of the two days leading up to the match, decamping instead to the island's original Test venue, the near-derelict Antigua Recreation Ground in St John's, which has been drafted back into service at short notice for the start of the hastily arranged third Test on Sunday. WICB officials recce-ed the ground straight after the abandonment, although Andy Roberts, the top groundsman in the island, was doubtful whether it could be made ready at such short notice.

Another option could have been to shift the match to Sir Allen Stanford's private ground near the airport, the venue of the 20/20 for 20 in November, although such is the relationship between Stanford and the WICB that that was never realistically considered. For the moment, however, all attention centres on a farce, like the Sabina Park abandonment 11 years ago, that could and should have been avoided. That match lasted for 10.1 overs, the shortest in Test history, but this one could have just set an unbeatable record.

The outfield, which was relaid in October after high-profile issues with the drainage during the 2007 World Cup, was declared by Hurst on the eve of the match to be "unsatisfactory" but he added that it would be impossible to know how bad the situation was until play actually got underway. It took less than a delivery for the doubts to begin to surface. Chris Gayle won the toss and bowled, hoping to inflict further scars on England after their 51 all out at Kingston last week, but Jerome Taylor failed to deliver his first ball at the first attempt, and then ended up sending it down from parallel with the stumps, after completely losing his run-up.

Edwards at the other end had an even tougher time of it. He bowled two balls before a light shower caused the players to leave the field, but upon the resumption, his frustration grew with every delivery. With sand visibly being kicked up as he pounded to the crease, he managed to bowl two half-cocked deliveries before hurling the ball to the keeper in disgust and precipitating the inquest.

"The bowlers have deemed the run-ups to be a safety hazard," said Hurst while the situation remained up in the air. "Rather than saying the game is abandoned we are saying it is abandoned for the day. I am not sure what the options are, maybe extend the time for the Test and play it at another venue. That will have to be a decision made by the boards and the ICC."

Prior to the start of play, the real concerns had revolved around the fielders in the outfield. At Brisbane in 2002-03, Simon Jones wrecked his knee while attempting a slide on a similarly sand-based outfield, and Brendan Nash was noticeably reluctant to slide while fielding at square leg. But it was the lack of firmness under foot that was the real issue. From the moment the doubts were raised, an abandonment was the only feasible outcome.

West Indies 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Devon Smith, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Brendan Nash, 6 Ryan Hinds, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Jerome Taylor, 9 Daren Powell, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Fidel Edwards

England 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Owais Shah, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Andrew Flintoff, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Ryan Sidebottom, 10, James Anderson, 11 Monty Panesar

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sachit on February 14, 2009, 8:11 GMT

    Whatever has happened is not good for Cricket. If reason behind this lack of proper arrangements was prolonged fund crisis that WICB has been facing then ICC should come forward to rescue the board and Cricket in Carribean islands.

  • Subramaniam on February 14, 2009, 7:20 GMT


  • Rajarshi on February 14, 2009, 6:19 GMT

    That's the best example of a 'U LAL LA LA LU LE O " Cricket... no body seems to be accountable.... no wonder why WI cricket has gone down so badly over the last few years....

  • Ross on February 14, 2009, 2:17 GMT

    A very dark day for cricket. The game is suffering a crisis of leadership, both at national board and ICC level as today's incompetence bordering on negligence illustrates. We now move into the 'Not my fault, guv' phase: Julian Hunte says it is not a resignation matter (which begs the question: then what the hell is?) and Haroon Lorgat snapped into action by pushing all the blame back on the WICB. How strange then that on the Windies site I just read "In terms of the immediate future for the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, the venue will now be subject to the start of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process." So now they are gong to inspect the pitch - after the game has been abandoned? I would have thought that before the game would have been more useful! re dodgy outfields: you might want to keep an eye on developments at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff, where the first Ashes Test is supposed to take place in a few months (another inexplicable ECB decision!) Strewth, I need a drink.

  • Satvir on February 14, 2009, 1:42 GMT

    Utter non-sense. That kind of thing is unacceptable at highest level of cricket.

  • Keith on February 13, 2009, 22:19 GMT

    There are idiots everywhere in the world, but surely the WICB and ICC have a monopoly on most of them?

  • audley on February 13, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    The entire West Indies Cricket Board and members of the local Cricket Board should tender their resignation. This is an utter disgrace! Members of the local cricket board was on national radio all last week and this week touting the readiness of the grounds. It is a shame if no one is held responsible for this debicle - a black eye for Antigua.

  • William on February 13, 2009, 20:08 GMT

    It's an absolute disgrace that even one ball could have been bowled. Hang your heads in shame, West Indies cricket.

  • omesh on February 13, 2009, 20:05 GMT

    It is a shame. The West Indies cricket board need to dismantle. All West Indian needs to call for all the board members to resign. The incompetence are unbearable. Enough is enough West Indian should stand for this anymore. This is an embarrassment to all the West Indian. As a West Indian I am just sick and tired WICB. They can't seem to do anything right. If the current board get dismantle, the new WICB should be made up with one member from each Nation that respent the West Indies Cricket. The West Indies Cricket Board needs to apology to all it fans, to it player, to the England Cricket team and to the Enlish cricket fans. This is not the 1st time some thing like that had happen. The West Indies cricket site for Audio Commentary don't even work and also even the West Indies sponsor site don't even have any audio link. There was suppose to free Audio Commentary on both the West Indies and it sponsor site.

  • Ashok on February 13, 2009, 19:40 GMT

    Why not shift the venue to Sabina Park where the first test was played? Surely that ground would still be match ready after the last test.Alternately shift the venue to Barbados & play 2 tests back to back. England would be well within their rights to walk out of the series and ICI declare the series null and void. WCB have made a mockery of International Test Cricket and deserve suspension from the international cricket for a couple of years until they show they are capable of meeting their Cricket commitments.

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