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

England keen to play at ARG

Cricinfo staff


The outfield at North Sound is unfit, and England are willing to play at the Antigua Recreation Ground © Getty Images
 
England have expressed a willingness to relocate the second Test to Antigua's old venue, the Recreation Ground in St John's, after the first day of the match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound was abandoned after only 10 deliveries because of an unsuitable outfield.

The managing director of England cricket, Hugh Morris, told Sky Sports that the team was willing to agree to a switch of venue at short notice, both for the sake of the thousands of England tourists who have booked holidays on the island, and for the sake of the team itself, which is desperate to bounce back from their 51 all out humiliation in Jamaica last week.

"It's critical that we play this match and we want to do that for ourselves after our defeat in Jamaica," said Morris. "For the fans that have come over here it is really important that we get this game going. Giles Clarke [the ECB chairman] has put that proposal forward to the West Indies Cricket Board and the ICC and we are awaiting the result of that."

Officials from the WICB were understood to be inspecting the ARG, which hosted its last Test match in 2006 but was used by England for net practice in the lead-up to the second Test. The ground has become seriously run-down in the years since it was a prime Test venue, but England's captain, Andrew Strauss, was happy to put up with the situation for the sake of a rescheduling.

"It's not in a great state but in terms of injuries or whatever it is fit to play on," said 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."

Morris revealed that England's concerns about the outfield at North Sound had been raised in a letter to the ICC on the eve of the match. "We only came out here the day before yesterday for practice and to have a look and we were concerned about the pitch.

"I wrote a letter to the ICC match referee and delivered it yesterday evening because we were clearly concerned at what we saw."