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Frustration over 2nd test farce in Antigua

PLAYERS, officials and fans were left bemused and angered by the abandonment of the second test between the West Indies and England on Friday after the pitch at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium proved unplayable.

Sandy and loose run-ups were judged too dangerous for the bowlers and the match was abandoned after just 10 balls in St. John's, Antigua.

Officials later decided to host the third test at the Antigua Recreation Ground ?? the island's old test venue ?? starting today with the series extended to five matches.

While the meetings got under way to make that decision, England fans, some of whom had spent as much as 6,000 pounds (US$8,670) on the journey to the Caribbean island for the game and a vacation, trudged out of the ground despondently.

"It should have been inspected last week, shouldn't it? It is a disaster for Antigua because people won't come back ?? people aren't going to come if there isn't going to be cricket. I don't know what the problem is," said England fan Anthony Goldsmid.

"In the crowd we weren't given any information - just loud music. People only found out by ringing home and being told what was going on by people watching television. I wouldn't come back here - not for the cricket anyway."

Feel disappointed

England captain Andrew Strauss, who had a brief bat in the middle, said the players were spending time chatting with the fans and that they sympathized with their situation. "It's terrible, and no one feels worse for the spectators than we do and they have every right to feel disappointed just as we do. We are trying to do everything we can to mingle with them but the game of cricket doesn't need this," he said.

England was keen to play after suffering a humiliating defeat in the first test in Jamaica last week when it lost by an innings and 23 runs after being skittled out for 51.

Former England captain Ian Botham was scathing in his assessment of the conditions at the ground.

"This is shambolic, it's a joke and it is a beach. Why the players agreed to play here is beyond me," he said.

"It is beyond a joke. They've got a real problem here as the only supporters here are from England," he said referring to the low turnout of Antiguan fans at the ground which was opened two years ago.


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