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2nd Test, North Sound, February 13 - 17, 2009, England tour of West Indies

Match drawn

Showing Newest
ENG 1st Innings
Full commentary

11.50am The groundsmen have their buckets and spades out and are digging out huge quantities of sand. We don't know why they are doing this, but that's what's happening. It's an unmitigated shambles out there, and there's isn't much more we can tell you for the time being. For now, we'll say goodbye, and we may or may not see you tomorrow for the second day's play. In the meantime, keep abreast of all developments at our breaking news blog.

11.20am Nearly half-an-hour after it was abandoned, the ground authorities finally announce it on the PA for the crowd. It is met with boos. Understandably so too

Literally hundreds of emails flying in - we just cannot keep up or read them all, though many thanks for airing your views (and anger). You can submit all your comments and emails at the match bulletin. Keep them spirited but clean, and they'll appear on the page in due course.

Laughably, there hasn't yet been a public announcement at the ground. The spectators are milling around, hoping and expecting for an update. If any of you are reading...go back to your hotels.

Cricinfo's favourite Caribbean writer, Vaneisa Baksh, is hugely embarrassed and angry. "How could a ground that had already made its debut as a water-logging hog, become a sand trap?" she asks. "How could it have been transformed and presented for an international match without at least having been tested with some matches? It is the most appalling display of ineptitude."

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed over today and tomorrow in particular. We'll keep you abreast of what's happening.

A die-hard West Indies fan, going by the name of DieHardWindiesFan, is beyond angry. "This is a really distasteful and disgraceful situation. I can't believe this has happened again to us in the Caribbean; the WICB must take the full blame for this huge embarrassment."

Here's a thought. What about Mr Stanford? I hear he has a ground somewhere. The most logical decision would be to delay the Test by three days and stage it at the old "rec" - Antigua Recreation Ground. But can they get a suitable pitch ready in time? That's the issue.

"What on earth are the ICC and WICB doing in allowing this to take place?" asks Justin. "All those travelling fans and locals buoyed by the Taylor heroics have been so badly let down. Surely they could have tested the run-ups yesterday or previously to see what was likely to happen? Those organisations are being run worse than a Swiss Bank."

Ian Botham is furious, kicking at the sand on the outfield in disgust. Mikey Holding says he doesn't think the Test can go on, and it does seem implausible that the rest of the Test will continue.

Deary me. This is a galloping farce. "A nice easy day on the commentary then what does the rest of the day hold now?" asks the confusingly named Dogva. Well...dissecting this mess, one presumes. "The WICB should be embarrassed," spits Andrew from Jamaica.

"At least there won't be an English collapse today," Tom quips. "It really is just an embarrassment to call this the highest level of the game and not have at least a decent ground to play on," slams Randy from the USA. "This is injustice to the great Sir Viv," says Russell from the West Indies.

10.55am So, that, I'm afraid, is that. There will be no more play on the first day in Antigua, and conceivably no more play in this match at all. What on earth do you make of this farce? Send us your feedback.

10.49am This is a sensation. Hurst has said that they will look into all options, maybe even the relocation of the match to another venue ... conceivably the venerable ARG in St John's. "I'm not sure what those options are, maybe extending the time for the Test and looking at another venue, maybe back-to-back Tests in Barbados. But for today, this ground is unfit for play."

10.48am Alan Hurst, the match referee, confirms that play has been abandoned for the day. "The bowlers have deemed the run-ups to be a safety hazard," says Hurst. "Everyone felt, including the umpires that it would be okay. It would have been jumping the gun to call it off before play."

10.47am For a moment it looked as those the batsmen were leaving the field ... and now, after stopping for a chat, the West Indians are joining them.

10.45am Andrew McGlashan in the press box confirms the suspicion we are getting from the TV pictures. "The feeling is growing that this could be called off," he says. "Extraordinary scenes as a mid-pitch discussion decides the future of this match." Meanwhile, up in the commentary booth, Sir Viv himself is talking animatedly about the farcical scenes. This ground does not deserve to bear his great name.

10.42am I am beginning to fear that we are about to have our second aborted Test match. Sabina Park lasted 10.1 overs before the game was called off. This one is in serious danger of setting a new record.

10.40am Slow hand-clapping now, as this delay extends into its fifth minute. Strauss and Gayle are in deep discussion, just as Atherton and Lara were in 1997-98, and now the match referee, Alan Hurst, is on his way to the middle to join the deliberations.

Yet another aborted run-up, and Edwards flings the ball away in disgust. This is becoming a very serious issue indeed ... Edwards and Gayle are now in discussion with the umpires.

Shades of Sabina Park 1997-98 are in the air here. That was dangerous to batsmen, this is just hopeless for bowlers. There's nothing that Edwards can do about it. He is an elite athlete, who expects, at the very least, to be able to sprint to the crease without fearing that the ground beneath his ankle is going to give way beneath him

Edwards to Strauss, no run

pinged down, well wide of off stump. This is unsatisfactory, to be frank. There's nothing Edwards can do about it, but bundle to the crease and hope for the best

Another aborted run-up. Edwards grimaces as he gives up three yards short of the crease. He just can't get any balance

Edwards to Cook, 1 run

tucked away off the hip, and Cook is underway

Another aborted attempt at a run-up. Edwards finds his boots are sinking into the quicksand, and he pulls up short of the crease

10.32am We're back! The sun is shining, and the players are out. Here we go ...Edwards to resume to Strauss ...

10.31am Drama in the press-box! Over to Gnasher ... "There's an alarm going off in the press-box but no one can turn it off because the instructions are all in Chinese! You couldn't make it up..."

10.30am That restart could be even sooner than anticipated. Watch this space. Meanwhile the last (for the moment) word on the outfield. "As far as the pitch is concerned I did a recce in December and there was no outfield at all so they're lucky to have a beach," says George Calvocoressi. "Sadly no photographic proof as I was shooed away by security..." Quite right too, you snooping interloper

10.25am Meanwhile, back at the cricket, the umpires have taken a look, the covers are coming off and a rope is being taken round the outfield. We could have a restart at 10.40am, with any luck ...

"Given that Antigua boasts 365 beaches - is the Viv Richards arena now classified as beach No. 366 ?" asks Phil MacMurdie. Yeah, thanks Phil. That line was already groan-worthy when Gnasher used it in his preview yesterday, and when Jonathan Agnew used it on his BBC column, and when Sir Ian Botham used it in his Sky pre-amble this morning ...

"Was amused to see Clyde Johnston's comment about "non-plussed"," emails Dave Hart. "Clyde is my best mate from school and we had a heated debate about its definition over twenty years ago. If I were you I'd stand by your original usage and don't let him get one up on you. He's short and cries if you threaten him anyway."

"Hells bells guys, you complain all the time during your commentary! It's the state of the pitch, the umpires and their decision..." whinges Elizabeth from Cape Town. "Come on, other teams have played on similar pitches on trips to the Carribean and have got on with it. No wonder they call you guys 'The Nanny Nation'!"

Never heard that nickname before, Elizabeth, but point taken. Nevertheless, it was Jerome Taylor's body language that was the most downbeat in that early spell. Believe me, if you could see the state of those run-ups, you'd also agree they are a disgrace.

10.15am The rain has all but stopped, apparently, so we should have a resumption sooner rather than later

Rain stops play Oh dear, that's unfortunate. The shower is sweeping in, and we have a delay. Hopefully it is only a brief interlude. Gnasher, our man on the ground, claims he can see a kid building a sand-castle at fine leg. That's not a kid, it's Ian Bell, who's suddenly got a lot of time on his hands on this trip

Edwards to Strauss, 1 run

full and outside off stump, and worked into the leg side

Unfortunately, the groundstaff are hovering ... rain in the air

Edwards to Strauss, no run

good ball but poor shot. Full and just outside off stump. Strauss picks the wrong line, and the ball seems to pass the inside edge. That could have been a calamitous play-on

end of over 15 runs
ENG: 5/0CRR: 5.00 
Alastair Cook0 (1b)
Andrew Strauss5 (5b)
Jerome Taylor 1-0-5-0

Interesting that Harper is the man in the middle alongside Hill for this Test. The senior umpire, Rudi Koertzen, is on third umpire duty, presumably to prevent more referral farces ... we shall see. Here's Fidel Edwards

Taylor to Cook, no run

down the leg side and half an appeal as Ramdin gathers, but umpire Harper gives that not out

Taylor to Strauss, 1 run

overpitched outside off stump, and that's a handsome checked drive into the covers. Nash opts not to slide to field, which is very wise of him

Taylor to Strauss, no run

decent length, pushing Strauss back into the crease, and fended to gully

Round the wicket for Taylor, but Strauss pulls out of his stance, which won't improve his early mood

Which, on balance, possibly gives West Indies the advantage ...

Taylor to Strauss, 2 runs

a firm push down the ground, no give in the outfield for the runs either. This really is beach cricket

Taylor is kicking up sand with every step to the crease. This is not good at all

Taylor to Strauss, no run

full length, outside off stump this time, and met with a full face of the blade

Taylor is already having problems with the run-ups. One aborted attempt, and then that delivery was bowled from in line with the stumps!

Taylor to Strauss, 2 runs

swinging onto the pads and tucked safely off the hip.

We're nearly under way here. Andrew Miller is going to take you through the first hour - over to you, Andrew. Why thank you Will, good morning everyone. A big call to bowl first from Chris Gayle, but with Jerome Taylor utterly high on confidence, it's very reasonable.

9.50am The pitch itself's flat and batsman-friendly, though is reported as being "tacky" by several people. It's got something for the bowlers, certainly, and there are plenty of clouds above. Breezy, changeable conditions. But with England batting first mere days after being bowled out for 51, the first session really is going to be enthralling (and nerve-wracking for England fans) viewing.

9.45am Fifteen minutes until the first ball. In the meantime, we'll be updating our Twitter sporadically and Andrew Miller is cobbling together another masterpiece of a bulletin. UK office workers unite: only three hours until you can go home, and in the meantime you can waste it by reading our commentary. It does get better than that, but only marginally.

The marvellously named Clyde Johnston emails us with a point of pedantry. "Just to let you know - 'nonplussed' actually means surprised. A weird one I know. Bit like flammable and inflammable." Pedantic points always appreciated. And, yes, thanks for the scores of emails about the unfortunate typo in calling Ryan Hinds Wavell. A thousand slaps for us, and apologies.

9.40am All sorts of concerns about the outfield. It was relaid after the 2007 World Cup (in which it caused plenty of controversy) and both teams' physios are concerned it's going to affect both fielders (diving in the outfield) and bowlers' run-ups. It's basically a beach; there's vast amounts of sand.

9.30am West Indies have won the toss and will bowl. Andrew Strauss says he'll have batted anyway, so he's non-plussed but the decision. He's hailing his team and saying how fantastic they've been since the 51-all-out debacle, as you'd expect, and looks a very, very determined man indeed.

9.25am Owais Shah replaces Ian Bell and James Anderson is in for Steve Harmison. Changes are utterly afoot. Ryan Hinds replaces Xavier Marshall but there are no other changes (other than a shift in the batting order) for West Indies

With sprightly timing and a spring in his step, Andrew McGlashan waves hello. "Good morning from the Sir Vivian Richards Beach (sorry, Stadium). It's a bright day, but a few clouds are around. There have been showers in the days leading up to this Test. England are beginning their warm-up routine as we await news of their team while West Indies are doing their fielding drills. There has been plenty of talk about the outfield and certain parts are very sandy. But both teams have said they will just have to get on with it. A few England fans have begun filtering and we expect plenty more before play starts. They have been arriving in Antigua by the boat and plane load in recent days."

9.20am Hello everyone, and a thoroughly warm welcome to you all, wherever you might be. Will Luke here, shortly to be joined by Andrew Miller, and we're both unsurprisingly up for this contest. I use that word contest in the broadest sense of the term for obvious reasons. We have 40 minutes until kick-off, and about 15 minutes until news of the toss and whether or not Owais Shah will be playing. "The smart money's on no changes," roars a colleague with a shameless grin on his face. Who honestly knows what England will do. News from the ground very shortly.