West Indies and England try again in Antigua

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/cricgen3.jpg' class='caption'> West Indies and England will hope the conditions are far more favourable when they begin the third Test on Sunday at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

Updated: February 14, 2009 15:28 IST
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St John's, Antigua:

West Indies and England will hope the conditions are far more favourable, and seek to make the aborted second Test a bad memory, when they begin the third Test on Sunday at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

After unsuccessful attempts to salvage the second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, a new Test was hurriedly arranged for the ARG in a last-ditch bid to save the West Indies Cricket Board and the two-island state of Antigua & Barbuda from complete embarrassment.

But there is still a danger that the new Test could be undermined by the conditions and the state of the facilities at the ramshackle, quaint, little ground nestled in the heart of the Antigua & Barbuda capital.

Local authorities have been given a little more than 36 hours to get a decent pitch rolled out, a suitable outfield mown and levelled, as well as player and spectator amenities condemned by FIFA, football's World governing body, up to speed.

The ARG hosted the last of its 21 Tests three years ago when West Indies drew a thrilling match with India before the VRCG replaced it as the island's main venue ahead of the World Cup in the Caribbean a year later.

Cricket's 52nd Test venue was inaugurated in 1981 and Sir Viv himself celebrated with the fastest hundred in a Test against the old foe, England.

The pitch was a notorious featherbed on which Brian Lara twice broke the World record for the highest individual innings in Tests.

The West Indies also successfully chased 418 in the fourth innings of a Test and won by three wickets against Australia three years ago.

West Indies have only lost three times at the ground - by 157 runs against Australia in 1991, by 176 runs against the same opponents eight years later, and by 82 runs against South Africa two years later.

The home team has won here seven times - including three matches against England in 1986 by 240 runs, 1990 by an innings and 32 runs, and 1998 by an innings and 52 runs - but the other 11 matches have all been drawn.

It's the ARG - and in particular the West Indies Oil Company Stand, also known as the Double Decker Stand to locals - that gave birth to the phenomenon of the loud, pounding music and Carnival atmosphere that has become a feature at most cricket grounds in the Caribbean.

For obvious reasons, both teams are eager to play the Test, and more than likely would have to wing it through the malaise.

West Indies lead the series 1-0, after their thrilling innings and 23-run victory at Kingston, and will be looking to make things safe with another victory.

England would be hoping to pick themselves up from the ruins of Sabina Park and draw level in the series.

But it will be difficult for both sides to make the mental adjustment necessary, and formulate new plans in conditions about which little would be known.

From the 11 that was pick for the aborted second Test, England may choose to decommission James Anderson for the moment, particularly if there is a hint that the pitch would favour someone like Steve Harmison, who may be able to extract a bit more pace and bounce.

West Indies are unlikely to change their line-up which they chose for the aborted Test.

West Indies: Chris Gayle (captain), Lionel Baker, Sulieman Benn, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Ryan Hinds, Brendan Nash, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.

England: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook (vice captain), Tim Ambrose, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann.

Umpires: Daryl Harper, Tony Hill, TV Replays: Rudi Koertzen, Reserve: Clancy Mack.

Match referee: Alan Hurst.

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