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Second West Indies v England Test abandoned
February 14, 2009 08:10 IST
Match referee Alan Hurst told a news conference play would resume, officially as the third test of what will now be a five-Test series, on Sunday at the Antigua Recreation Ground -- the island's old Test venue.
"Following discussions involving the local authorities and the two Boards it was clear we could not proceed with the Test match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium," said Hurst.
"The ground conditions, and especially the bowlers' run-ups, were unfit and potentially dangerous and we decided it would not be possible to rectify those fundamental issues over the course of a day or so.
"The Antigua Recreation Ground gives us the opportunity to stage a Test match on the same island, something that is a prime consideration given the many supporters who have come here to watch the West Indies and England in action."
Play had earlier been called off for the day after West Indies' bowlers struggled to complete their run-ups because of the soft and sandy surface. England were seven for no wicket when play was halted.
About an hour after play was stopped, ground staff began to dig up the run-up at one end of the ground with shovels to try to lay a new surface.
The digging revealed that the foundations of the field, which has not been used in the past year, are based on sand with no grass roots.
While those officials deemed the playing surface acceptable, not all of the spectator areas will be open for safety reasons and the short amount of preparation time for television means the umpire referral system will not be used.
The Viv Richards [Images] Stadium was built for the World Cup two years ago and players complained about the sandy outfield at that time.
The ground was used for a Test against Australia [Images] last year, largely without any problem, but has not been used since.
A regional four-day game that was due to be played at the ground two weeks ago was moved to Nevis.
The first inklings of a problem at the Sir Viv Richards ground came earlier this week when the teams were ordered by local organisers to practise at the Recreation Ground.
They only saw the conditions at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium for the first time on Thursday.
England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Hugh Morris said after viewing the field on Thursday that the ECB had written a letter to the ICC outlining their "serious concerns about the outfield and the run-ups for the bowlers".
The abandonment was acutely embarrassing for local organisers, with West Indies Cricket Board president Julian Hunt left to apologise.
The future of Test cricket in Antigua, and the tourism business it brings to the small island, is now in doubt and the ICC's chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the Sir Viv Richards ground could lose test status.
"The ultimate measure we can adopt is the sanction of the accreditation of a venue and that is what is at risk for this ground," he told reporters.
"This is not a shot in the foot for West Indies cricket, this is an arrow right through the heart," West Indies' great Richards, after whom the ground is named, told the BBC.
"This is a huge pill to swallow, I know there are a lot of folks around these parts who love their cricket."
Hundreds of England fans, many of whom have travelled to the Caribbean island, looked on in confusion as the game was halted with no information from the stadium announcer for nearly an hour.
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