London: British newspapers heaped criticism on the West Indies cricket authorities on Saturday after a sand-logged pitch caused one of most bizarre days in the history of Test cricket.
The West Indies' second Test with England had to be abandoned after just 10 balls and 14 minutes of play on Friday after the outfield at the newly built Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua was deemed too dangerous.
The match will resume at a different ground on Sunday. Former England captain Mike Atherton said the fiasco was indicative of the West Indies' fall from cricketing grace.
"Embarrassment and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have been close companions over the past few years and nothing that happened Friday... dispelled the notion that cricket is badly served in the Caribbean by the people who run it," he wrote in The Times.
Atherton said the sandy pitch debacle was the latest in a series of embarrassments which also included the loss of sponsors for the one-day and first-class regional tournaments and disputes between key personnel.
In a piece entitled "While we're at it, dig up the fools who run cricket", Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel also hit the authorities for six, although he took a wider aim, at both the WICB and the International Cricket Council (ICC).
It was, Samuel wrote, "the wrong match in the wrong venue, poorly conceived from beginning to end."
"It was an inescapable thought that it was more than a day's play that had been abandoned here, it was the integrity of a sport and the love of the people who watch it," he wrote.
While the cricket authorities struggled to keep up with the riches on offer in India, "essentials go ignored," he added.
Another ex-England captain, Nasser Hussain, dismissed the stadium as a "soulless dump" and asked why the ICC had failed to send officials ahead of the match to assess the pitch.
"The ICC, the people who obsess about things like logo sizes on bats and ignore big issues like Zimbabwe, again took their eye off the ball," Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail.
Many reports focused on the disappointment felt by the travelling England supporters who had spent thousands of pounds to fly out to the Caribbean, only to see England bowled out for 51 in their second innings of the first test before Friday's chaos.
Paul Winslow, the spokesman for the die-hard England supporters known as the Barmy Army, told the Daily Telegraph: "You've never seen so many people sat around in Antigua, with blue skies and sunshine, as miserable as sin."
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