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February 14, 2009
A crucial inspection of the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium prior to West Indies' Test against Australia in June 2008, and again before the abandoned Test on Friday against England, never took place according to a WICB source.
In an email to Cricinfo the source said that the WICB wrote to the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, saying "they wanted assurances and would want to do a thorough inspection in sufficient time to shift the venue if they had to". The health minister, John Maginley, reportedly gave a verbal assurance but "the WICB did not press the issue and the game took place". Only a single session was played on the third day in the drawn Test against Australia owing to a sodden outfield and poor drainage - two factors which also blighted the ground during the 2007 World Cup.
The abandonment of Friday's second Test against England was for altogether different reasons. However, grounds in the West Indies are supposed to host a regional game prior to a Test match, in order to ready the pitch and playing areas - or in Friday's case, simply ascertain the ground's viability in staging any form of match. This also never happened. "The WICB never insisted strongly," wrote the source.
Spencer, meanwhile, has announced a probe into the second Test fiasco. "It is my intention to commission an investigation into the unacceptable condition of the outfield at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground," Spencer said. "There can be lessons in today's aborted Test match that may pre-empt any such occurrence in cricket in the future.
"The Government will mobilise all resources necessary to ensure that the Antigua Recreation Ground is prepared to the standards required to guarantee the safety of players and the convenience of spectators for the start of the rescheduled second Test on Sunday."
"I apologise to the players and spectators for today's unfortunate development. I extend particular apologies to the thousands of cricketing fans from the United Kingdom whose presence richly enhances the contest between the home team and England," Spencer said.
"Antigua and Barbuda owes them a stay with us that will be memorable not for today's debacle, but for the warmth of our hospitality and for the excitement of the Test match that will commence on Sunday."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG