Sir Vivian Richards Ground suspended for 12 months

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, CMC – The International Cricket Council (ICC) has suspended international cricket at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and lashed the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), following the second Test debacle last month.

The world’s governing body for the sport announced yesterday that no cricket can be played there for the next 12 months, a decision which follows the abandoned second Test between West Indies and England on February 13 when the match lasted just 10 balls because of an unfit outfield.

“The abandoned Test match was an embarrassment to the local authorities in Antigua, to West Indies cricket in general and to the international game as a whole,” the ICC’s General Manager – Cricket David Richardson said.

“The image of the game and the integrity of our sport cannot afford to have such farcical scenes play out as they did on the first morning of the match. Steps must be taken to ensure that it never happens again,” Richardson added.

The ICC has informed the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that no more international cricket can take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua until extensive remedial work is carried out and it passes an inspection by the ICC.

The Test was aborted because of an excessively sandy outfield which made it difficult for the bowlers to negotiate.

It proved dangerous for opening West Indies bowlers Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards, who struggled to gain traction in their run-ups and forced match officials – after consultation with the captains — to abandon the match within the first two overs.

The ICC had the power to impose a sanction ranging from a warning or a fine up to a suspension of international status for the venue in question in the case of repeated offences.

The ICC has also given the WICB an official warning for not preparing the ground effectively for the match.

“Appropriate work must now be carried out and monitored by the WICB before the inspection can take place. Such inspection will be conducted no earlier than 12 months from yesterday (Monday March 16), the day the ICC informed the WICB of its decision,” the ICC said in its press release on Tuesday.

The decision is in accordance with the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, which was introduced in 2006 to ensure international cricket was played in conditions of a suitably high standard.

The first stage of that process followed the match.

Alan Hurst of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees submitted a report to the ICC expressing his concern over the quality of the playing surface.

“Under clause 3.3 of the regulations governing the process and following receipt of the match referee’s report, the ICC wrote to the WICB enclosing a copy of Mr. Hurst’s report. In accordance with clause 3.4 of the regulation the WICB provided a reply to the ICC’s request for information on the reasons behind the condition of the outfield,” the ICC stated.

Also in accordance with the process, Richardson and the ICC’s chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle then considered all the evidence, including studying video footage of the match, before passing judgment.

Detailing the decision, Richardson said: “We have come to the decision that the outfield was, in fact, unfit for play and of an unacceptable standard for international cricket.

During an ICC Chief Executives’ Committee meeting in Johannesburg last month, Richardson had heaped blame on the WICB over the fiasco.

“The responsibility for delivering a venue fit for international cricket rests with the Member Board. This requirement has been agreed by all the Members,” he said then.

Local officials provided some redemption for the fans when they successfully got the nearby Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG) ready in a day and a half to stage a new match, the first Test at the ARG for three years.

West Indies held on for a draw with nine wickets down in their second innings and protected the 1-0 lead they earned in Kingston and eventually kept to the end to regain the Wisden Trophy.

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