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February 14, 2009
Donald Peters, the chief executive of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), has said that his board are not prepared to "take the risk" of ever playing at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium again, 24 hours after the second Test between West Indies and England was abandoned due to a sandy outfield.
The match only lasted 10 balls, as both Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards struggled to gain traction on a bedding made largely of soft sand, and it was soon consigned to history after the match referee, Alan Hurst, deemed it too dangerous for play.
"I would recommend they play soccer there from now on," Peters told BBC's Test Match Special. "The amount of funding it would take to make that into a Test venue again will be significant. I would advise the government and local cricket association to put their resources into restoring the Recreation Ground. The West Indies Cricket Board will not go back to the Viv Richards Stadium. We are not prepared to take the risk."
The newly built stadium at North Sound has attracted criticism and complaint ever since its erection for the 2007 World Cup. Much as the tournament was slammed for its lack of atmosphere, so has the stadium been condemned for its location out of town, but attempts were made by the architects to inject more of a Caribbean feel by introducing grassy banks, contrasting starkly against the concrete stands.
Judging by the poor attendances, however, the ground has not been a favourite among the locals. With the hasty rebirth of the Antigua Recreation Ground today - which generated a cacophonous, deafening noise by home fans in its pomp - one local official told Cricinfo that he was confident the fans will return in numbers for Sunday's Test, providing further concern that North Sound could be consigned to the rubbish heap.
Peters' forthright comments about the future of the Sir Viv Richards ground will not douse the fiery criticism of his board, however. Both England and West Indies voiced their concerns at the pitch prior to the second Test, and an insider close to the construction of the ground said the game "should never have been allowed to start."
Dr Julian Hunte, the WICB's chairman, may not publicly share Peters' views, but instead offered an unreserved apology. "Let me apologise to everyone on behalf of the board for what is quite rightly called an 'embarrassment'," he said. "The ultimate responsibility lies with the board and we are not shirking it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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