On This Day in 1998: West Indies vs England Test Called Off Due to Unsafe Pitch After Just 10 Overs

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On This Day in 1998: West Indies vs England Test Called Off Due to Unsafe Pitch After Just 10 Overs
© Provided by News18 On This Day in 1998: West Indies vs England Test Called Off Due to Unsafe Pitch After Just 10 Overs

Over the course of cricket’s long history, there have been many moments that have shown the game in its best light. But there also have been some farcical moments dotting the gentlemen’s game. One such event occurred on this day in 1998, when the Sabina Park Test between West Indies and England had to be abandoned because of an unsafe pitch.

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England’s tour of the West Indies that year was a full-fledged five-match Test series followed by as many ODIs. However, the tour opening Test match at Sabina Park in Jamaica earned the moniker of the original abandonment, as the game lasted just 10.1 overs. The hosts’ bowling attack was famed for running through any opposition but this Test was something entirely different. The surface at Sabina Park was newly laid ahead of the Test, with many taking note of the glassy look of the pitch.

Surprising everyone, England skipper Michael Atherton decided to bat first. The visiting team were 17/3 at the time as they faced some fearful blows from the Windies’ opening bowlers, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose.

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The uneven bounce off the pitch was so variable that some balls would shoot along the venue, while others took dangerous trajectories injuring batters’ knuckles and forearms multiple times. English batters Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe both put on a brave fight, but their team physio had to make close to six trips to the middle in 66 minutes.

But after 62 bone-crushing deliveries, Stewart told on-field umpires Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Steve Bucknor that the match was “a farce”. The umpires called the drinks trolley in and after a long discussion with captains Atherton and Brian Lara and the match referee, they courageously called off play because of the unsafe pitch.

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The Test was officially declared abandoned after a call with ICC in London. It was the first time in the 121 years that a Test match had to be called off due to a dangerous pitch. The crowd at the venue were visibly upset but they were duly refunded their ticket prices. However, there was little consolation for hundreds of English fans who had flown-in for the Test. The visitors eventually lost the Test series 1-3.

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