By Neto Baptiste
Legendary West Indies fast bowler Sir Andy Roberts believes the time has come to employ the services of outside professionals when preparing cricket pitches across the Caribbean.
His statement comes on the heels of public criticism over the quality of pitches used at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here in Antigua, and then at the Kensington Oval in Barbados for the first and second Tests between England and the West Indies in the Apex Series.
Sir Andy said the region is not up to par with the rest of the world regarding the science involved in pitch preparation.
“I have done it here at the Antigua Recreation Grounds for a number of years and I believe it’s a hit and miss thing, but right now, we need to get involved with the science. If we have to bring someone from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia to help us around the region, not just Antigua, we will have to do it because it is getting boring now watching our bowlers toil and the batsmen aren’t even playing shots,” he said.
The Antiguan, who claimed 202 wickets in 47 Tests, however sympathised with local curator and former national cricketer Anthony Merrick, who revealed that grounds staff at the national stadium had faced a daunting challenge of preparing the pitch amidst a heavy schedule.
“Leading up to the Test match, there was too much cricket played at the Sir Viv, hence the time for preparation and the amount of water that was required and at the times it was required, I don’t think that was enough. Even two or three days prior to the Test match, the West Indies team was practicing on the square [so] if the curator wanted to put more water in I don’t know what time he would have to put it in,” Sir Andy said.
In the first two Tests, England racked up 1,352 runs against the West Indies with a highest of 507 for nine declared in the first innings of the Barbados Test. The hosts scored a total 1068 across four innings.
West Indies won the final Test on a lively pitch in Grenada by 10 wickets to take the series.