The Sun was out in all its brilliance when the Barbados cricket team touched down at the VC Bird International Airport yesterday morning.

But, by late evening, the Antigua Recreation Ground still needed a massive clean-up operation to facilitate a prompt start for todays Red Stripe Bowl match against the Leeward Islands.

As the sun began to set, there were about 20 hard-working groundsmen desperately trying to rake off plenty of grass from the outfield.

In spite of the seemingly terrible state of the outfield, Antigua Cricket Association president Andy Roberts said it was a miracle that the preparations had reached this point following the passage of Hurricane José last week.

This field was completely under water last week Friday. If you were here, you would be like the other pundits and say no play. I think we are fortunate.

Preparations were delayed because of further intervention of the elements on Monday that lasted for two hours and dumped three inches of rain in the capital.

Roberts said there was even more rain after the hurricane which hit Antigua on October 20.

It meant that the groundstaff had to wait until midday on Wednesday before they could start cutting grass that was estimated to be about three inches high.

In recent years, the ARGs outfield has been lush green following the importation of a special grass from Georgia in the United States. The field, however, was brownish yesterday, but Roberts said that the green should return by weekend.

Neither Barbados nor the Leewards Islands was able to get in any batting practice yesterday because of the unavailability of grounds with suitable pitches.

Barbados will take some comfort with the news that ace West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has been ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury, his place taken by young Antiguan Kerry Jeremy.

Barbados omitted Hattian Graham, Horace Waldron and Ryan Hurley from their 14 which means that allrounder Antonio Mayers will be used as third seamer.

Teams:

Barbados: Philo Wallace (captain), Sherwin Campbell, Adrian Griffith, Roland Holder, Floyd Reifer, Ryan Hinds, Courtney Browne, Hendy Bryan, Winston Reid, Pedro Collins, Antonio Mayers. Manager: Tony Howard. Coach: William Bourne.

Leeward Islands (from): Stuart Williams (captain), Wilden Cornwall, Keith Arthurton, Dave Joseph, Sylvester Joseph, Runako Morton, Ridley Jacobs, Colin Cannonier, Carl Tuckett, Hamesh Anthony, Anthony Lake, Alex Adams, Goldwyn Prince, Kerry Jeremy. Manager: Carlisle Powell. Coach: John Archibald.

Umpires: Clancy Mack (Antigua), Clive Duncan (Guyana)

Start: 9:30 a.m.