Unfit Antigua ground not to host international cricket for at least 12 months

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The International Cricket Council (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.

In February the ground was the scene of a Test match between the West Indies and England that lasted just 10 balls before being abandoned because of an outfield that has been described in the ICC’s report as unfit.

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, the day the ICC informed the WICB of its decision.

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 in question on 13 February. 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.

Also in accordance with the process, the ICC’s General Manager – Cricket David 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, Mr 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.

“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 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.

“The responsibility for delivering a venue fit for international cricket rests with the Member Board. This requirement has been agreed by all the Members and was reaffirmed by the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee meeting in Johannesburg last month,” said Mr Richardson.

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.