West Indies captain, Chris Gayle, is confident that all the fuss over the abandoned second Digicel Test and the subsequent shift to the Antigua Recreation Ground for a hastily-arranged third Digicel Test will not affect his team.
The West Indies team ironically practiced at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday, at the adjoining nets, where Gayle said his players were keen to get going again: “We gathered [Saturday] and had a discussion about it. Our main focus is now playing a Test match at the ARG.
“It was not too difficult because we are here to play cricket. It’s the same game plan we had before. It’s a new venue but we have to be ready for it and hopefully we can get things right again.
“There are some small things that come into play but our guys have been around long enough to experience and expect these sort of things and rebound as quickly as possible,” the 29-year-old said.
The ARG, which hosted 21 Tests between 1981 and 2006, was a hive of activity on the eve of the match as ground staff, TV crew and others readied the venue for its unexpected resurrection. The biggest concerns surrounded the outfield and specifically the areas where football markings had eroded away the grass and left slight hollows.
But England captain Andrew Strauss said he was confident that it would not affect the test match: “No one wants to see a career-threatening injury just for the sake of trying to put a test match on. The Recreation Ground outfield is not ideal but I don’t think it’s dangerous. You might misfield a few or you might get a few that bauble and hit you in the chest or something but in terms of bad, career-threatening injuries, I think it should be OK.”
The pitch, used for practise by both teams in the past week, is expected to be a far cry from the bowlers’ graveyard that Brian Lara’s test record scores of 375 and 400 not out among others.
“There was a bit of pace and bounce in it to be honest,” Strauss said about his team’s net experience at the ARG. “Whether that will be the case come (Sunday) morning remains to be seen.”
Strauss admitted such conditions could work in his teams’ favour: “Any wicket that offers the chance of a result is good for us at this stage, being 1-0 down in the series. And if there’s a bit of pace and bounce, we have bowlers who can exploit that.”