Slowly Learning the Offside Rule has moved to a new location!

Check out www.sarahchristinerobinson.com for all of my writing.

Mervyn Westfield has been jailed for his involvement in spot fixing in a Pro40 game in September 2009. Danish Kaneria has been named as the main ‘corrupter’ in the Essex dressing room.

It is sad that in the past few months we have had to see some very young cricketers to go jail for their involvement in spot fixing. Nonetheless, there is a strong message in the jail sentences that have been handed out.

What is most worrying, however, is the comments of Westfield’s lawyer. He claims that members of the Essex dressing room frequently ‘turned a blind eye’ to Kaneria’s approaches, and never reported them until 2010 under instructions from the Professional Cricketers’ Association.

The list of names who had been approached or had heard Kaneria talking openly about fixing is astonishing: Mark Pettini (Essex captain), Paul Grayson (Essex coach), James Foster (29 at time of Westfield’s spot fixing), David Masters (31 at the time), Varun Chopra (22) and Tony Palladino (26) who finally reported him.

The list above contains some very experienced players. Pettini and Grayson certainly should have talked to anybody of some importance about Kaneria’s comments. Pettini says he had not taken the claims seriously, but surely any any claims should be worth investigating? Certainly Foster and Masters should have had enough experience between them to know that it is important to warn authorities about any spot or match fixing comments.

There are some possible reasons why Pettini, Grayson, Foster and Masters all seem to have failed in their duty to make authorities aware of Kaneria’s comments.

Maybe in 2009 the ECB were failing to provide adequate information onto cricketers and clubs on dealing with corruption.

Alternatively, Kaneria, with over 1000 First Class wickets was too good for Essex to lose.

I hope it’s not the second option. It somehow implies that experienced and important players in a team are somehow above the rest. It implies they can somehow get away with anything as long as it is kept quiet and the police and cricketing authorities do not know about it. It suggests that even the senior players in a dressing room will pretend that spot fixing is not likely to occur within their team, when the player making the comments is important to their results.

Thankfully, Palladino did do the right thing in reporting Westfield, and it has opened the door to possible, deeper corruption involving Kaneria.

The question is, why did it take so long for anyone to speak up about fixing? If somebody had got there sooner, could something have been done about Kaneria (assuming his guilt) before he ever approached the young Westfield, who was only 21 at the time?

As it is, another young cricketer with great potential is going to prison. Questions though must surely linger over why players in the Essex dressing room failed to act.

Over the last few weekends, I’ve been ridiculously excited for reasons my friends cannot comprehend – live athletics has been on the television.

Okay, so it’s the Aviva Indoor Athletics which aren’t the most important events in the world, even if they are used to get qualifying times for the World Indoors next month. And granted, the Indoors aren’t vitally important, and many great athletes won’t be there. But it’s very good preparation for London 2012 and I enjoy watching athletics. I don’t care who’s competing or where it is, as long as it’s on the TV.

Both the BBC and Channel 4 have been covering these qualifying events. The BBC covered Glasgow’s event and Channel 4 broadcast from Sheffield where Jessica Ennis got her season off to a brilliant start. This Saturday, the BBC is moving to Birmingham.

Those that read my blog will know I have been very critical of Channel 4’s athletics coverage previously. They were, and will be next time around, the broadcasters for the Athletics World Championships. There was one occasion where I was sitting watching the 2011 Worlds, when Channel 4’s coverage ended before the pole vault final had concluded because they felt they had to show Three In A Bed instead.

Channel 4 will be the broadcasters for the Paralympic Games and their promotional programmes have been nothing short of excellent. One fine programme made use of sport science technology to show how these incredible athletes use their bodies and disabilities to excel in their sports. The Paralympic Show has provided insightful interviews. The other day, I watched a ten-minute segment on Eleanor Simmonds.

Channel 4’s actual live coverage, however, is still lagging behind the BBC’s.

First, is the issue of the presenter. Channel 4 opened the Worlds with Ortis Deley, who proved to know very little about athletics and struggled with the live presenting. He was eventually dropped and exchanged for Rick Edwards.

Edwards is better than Deley. He copes with questioning his very knowledgeable guests, including Dean Macey and Kelly Sutherton and is much better at providing segways between interviews and live action. But something still feels amiss. He simply is not as natural as John Inverdale. I haven’t yet put my finger on what’s missing, but something is.

Channel 4’s coverage also struggles because of its adverts. The BBC’s programming excels because of its expert analysis from Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson between events. Channel 4 does not have time to do this because it cuts to adverts between events. Indeed, Channel 4 leaves very little time for interviews with the athletes unless they are particularly famous. They chose to interview Jessica Ennis and Dwain Chambers, but seemed to feel others were unworthy of screen time.

Channel 4’s coverage last Sunday involved the finals from a two-day event. It attempted to highlight the main action from Saturday and from Sunday morning, but actually showed very little of it. At one point, it seemed to cut suddenly from its highlights to live action because the highlights were almost shown over a race. The BBC’s programming tends to last longer than the athletics itself, allowing time for an interesting interviews and conversations between the presenters before the live actions starts, and some time at the end to sum-up.

Some of these problems will be hard for C4 to rectify. It will have adverts during the Paralympics and this may still leave insufficient time for analysis. Analysis is something athletics watchers enjoy. It’s amazing to watch in slow motion the moment in a race where Mo Farah suddenly accelerates, where you see a hurdler knock one hurdle and lose the race on the line, where you can see the 100m again, because its too fast to fully appreciate the first time around.

There is still time for Channel 4 to improve. It will be hosting the Indoor Worlds in Istanbul next month and promises over 20 hours of coverage screen across Channel 4 and More 4. It will definitely have learnt from Daegu last year, where it struggled with poor presenting. Hopefully it won’t cut out any live action to make room for repeats this time.

Ultimately though, Channel 4 has a long way to go if it wants sport coverage to rival the BBC’s. But there is still time.

I’ve written on Transfer Deadline Day before, and spoken at length about how disgusting it is. To me, it’s a weird day where footballers are paraded like pigs and cows in a ring while men dressed in tweed shout ever increasing numbers at an auctioneer until finally, down goes the gavel and the pig or cow is sent to the highest bidder.

Really, I just loved the above photograph and wanted an excuse to post about it.

This post is slightly delayed, since I was out of the house when the Aviva Indoor Athletics was on in Glasgow on Saturday.

– – – – – –

It was the final hurrah for Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, which would be making way for the new stadium being built for the Commonwealth Games. It was also one of the first athletics meetings of the season, with Great Britain taking on Russia, Germany, the USA and a Commonwealth elect  to win the indoor trophy.

Andy Turner’s hurdles did not get the GB team off with the start they would have hoped for, and he is suffering with an Achilles injury. He hit a number of the hurdles, and limped off the track at the end of the race after finishing last.

Fortunately, that moment was one of very few low points for British team, who secured the overall team award, as well as coming away with a huge number of wins.

Jeannette Kwakye ran an incredible 60m, beating the rest of the field by two fractions of a second, and Mark Lewis-Francis edged out the ever popular Kim Collins to win his own 60m race.

There were some surprises on the day too.

Danny Talbot also left Kim Collins tailing in second to win the 200m and Margaret Adeoye set a personal best to win her own 200m race. Joe Thomas won the 800m, and it is hoped that he can now turn his successful indoor form to better times outside.

Hannah England and Helen Clitheroe finished second in the 1,500m and 3,000m respectively.

The highlight of the meet was Mo Farah’s 1,500m. He fought a close battle with Kenya’s Agustine Choge, overtaking him on the last lap to secure a personal best and stadium record.

– – – – – –

Overall, the British team showed a lot of promise. The surprise victories from some of Britain’s lesser-known athletes proved that the talent in the British team runs deep.

It also appears that the training in Kenya is proving incredibly useful for Farah, England and Clitheroe, all of whom are benefiting from running at high altitude. It is hoped that Paula Radcliffe, who is also training at the ‘Home of Champions’, will be fighting fit ready for London.

It is early days, but success in January gives the athletes a great push going forward into the rest of the season. A number of them will be competing for the Indoor World Championships at Istanbul on the 12-14th March, and will be hoping to turn their success in Glasgow to world success.

A number of years ago, I remember hearing a debate on the radio. The question was whether they should have two separate Olympics: one for ‘clean’ athletes and one for those who openly took drugs.

Even as young as I was (this may have been ten years ago), I thought it was appalling that this was even considered. The drug-filled tournament would not be about breaking records. It would instead be a competition between drug companies on who could make Athlete A run faster, jump higher, throw further. And this assumes that every single drug an ‘athlete’ put into their body wouldn’t be damaging them for the rest of their lives. Drugs always have a price.

I have always had an anti-drug policy in sport, as, I hope, the majority of people have. Nonetheless, you can never completely keep drugs  away from competition. It has been present for as long as drugs were available, and I’m sure there have been one or two fortunate enough to never get caught.

Even the IOC (International Olympic Committee) President, Jacques Rogge, believes London 2012 will not be free of drug cheats. Certainly, a clean games is probably something we can only ever dream of. Rogge says “To say there will be no positive cases would be naive and misleading. I hope it’s the case, but reality tells me that there may be positive cases.” This implies that although there will be cheats, they will be caught. Rogge seems to believe there is enough testing. And so there may will be.

In April, the British Olympic Assocation (BOA) will challenge the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA says that the BOA should not indefinitely ban all of its drug cheats from the Olympics after they have already served a ban, since this would be punishing the athlete twice. The BOA says it is a selection policy rather than a second punishment.

I don’t actually care if it is a second punishment. They deserve it. Let me make it clear, I’m not talking about athletes who take drugs  innocently from their food or without realising the ingredients of Aspirin had changed. I’m talking about those who knowingly and willingly took drugs to enhance their performance.

They should be indefinitely banned from the Olympics. I don’t care if it’s their livelihood and if they’ve already served a five year ban. The Olympic medal is the highest honour an athlete can hope to achieve. Drug cheats do not deserve an opportunity to win one.

The BOA’s policy is a good one. It means that the athletes that represent Great Britain in the Olympics are clean, have always been clean and therefore deserve all the accolades that come their way. I don’t want to see Dwain Chambers win a medal. I don’t even want to see him run at Commonwealth or European or World level, but unfortunately, the BOA don’t see that as a selection issue in these events.

Drug cheats keep rising youngsters off the track. Every time Dwain Chambers has an opportunity to run for a place in the Europeans, a drug-free British youngster is losing out on that chance.

They broke the rules and should face the consequences.

No drug cheats in the Olympics. It’s just not right.

Therefore, I am standing alongside the BOA and hoping that the Court of Arbitration in Sport will agree with them too.

London is already hosting the Olympics in 2012, and so for some, the bidding for the Athletics World Championships in 2017 is unnecessary. After all, one of the biggest events in world sport is already coming to the UK.

The key word is ‘legacy’. It has been branded about ever since it was revealed London would bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, and the World Championships is a way of ensuring that legacy. If nothing else, it will mean the track will be maintained for at least the next six years. Maintaining the track is incredibly important. Next year, the Olympics 2012 will become part of Great Britain’s history. Keeping that track is an important reminder of the (hopefully) spectacular tournament London will host next year.

Having already watched the Football World Cup disappear off to Qatar, it is difficult to watch London battling them  to host another important tournament. Losing out to Russia was hard enough. Indeed, today, I told someone that the winner of the bid was going to be revealed today. They couldn’t care less. Then I told them Britain was going against Qatar. Then he cared.

For the IAAF, it has appeared as though they have been desperate to take athletics to as many parts of the globe as possible. The last tournament was in Daegu in South Korea and the next two will be Moscow and Bejing. The chairman of UK athletics, Ed Warner says, ““If this does not go to London, a number of other cities in western Europe that might have contemplated bidding for the championships will look at it and say ’What do I have to do to win? Is it impossible?’”

It is, of course, important that sport does go to different parts of the world, but it is also important that it goes to places where sport is already well-supported, and where crowds are guaranteed. The UK has a magnificent history of hosting world sporting events, and should not be prevented from hosting an event because it won’t be somewhere new.

Qatar have already put their money where their mouth is, and have offered to pay the IAAF £5 million to spend as they see fit. For Qatar, financial incentives are clearly their way of winning the tournaments they desire. In this respect, they are able to punch well above their weight. For many, the disappointing Football World Cup decision was indicative of Qatar’s desire to pay whatever it takes.

London, though, has a few important things in its favour.

Firstly, its temperatures aren’t 40 degrees, and conditions are very favourable for marathon runners and other athletes.

Secondly, it will attract the crowds. Qatar has a population of only 1.7 million people, compared to the UK’s 62.2 million. In theory, those that missed out on athletics tickets for the Olympics will be inspired to buy tickets for the World Championships instead. London also has a huge tourist-appeal.

Thirdly, the infrastructure is already in place. While Doha discusses where they will be building, the London bid can show what is already in place – a spectacular stadium which will already have a great history of its own by the time 2017 comes around.

London winning the 2017 games is vitally important if the Olympic committee wish to seal their legacy ideal.

A win also has repercussions for future tournaments, and indeed, other sports such as football. If sporting bodies such as the IAAF decide that sending tournaments to new parts of the world is the ideal, then they are going to begin to lose key support in Europe, North America and Australasia. By looking to attract new supporters for their events, they may actually ostracise the countries that can always guarantee their finances, magnificent stadiums, good human rights records and sold-out venues.

I feel so sorry for Sebastian Coe.

On 6th July 2005, I remember going to school with a portable radio so I could listen to the International Olympic Committee’s announcement on who would host the 2012 Olympics. In the cafeteria, the school had filled the room with British flags and put the TV on so the students could watch the announcement. It took a long time for the envelope to be opened, but when it finally was, we all celebrated. Winning the Olympics was a really, really big deal and excitement gripped the country (at least for 24 hours, because the London bombings brought everyone back down to earth the following day).

Since that announcement, the Games have received nothing but negativity. Led, it seems, by journalists who only want to present everything in a bad light, people have found themselves with many reasons to complain.

Too expensive, too much traffic, disruptive, pointless, mayhem on public transport, poor ticketing system, the Stadium will be a white elephant… The complaints are seemingly endless.

Supporting the Olympics in Trafalgar Square

Seb Coe and Boris Johnson are doing their best to deflect the complaints, and have been getting visibly annoyed with the persistent criticism.

In truth, since that day in 2005, I have been nothing but an Olympic supporter. As Boris likes to say, it is on budget, it is on time and it is going to show the best of British.

The fact is that the Olympics are going to cause disruption for a very short period of time. It will be annoying for commuters, and yes, if you’re not a sport fan, the BBC is going to drive you insane for a few weeks. But people need to stop complaining and start looking at what an amazing spectacle is going to be taking place in their country in under a year’s time. After all, it will probably never happen again in our lifetime.

A few weeks ago, I was able to interview Greg Whyte, sports scientist, and ask him a few questions about his work with David Walliams on the Thames swim, his other Comic and Sport Relief challenges, as well as his feelings on both our home town of Luton. Photos are credited to Greg Whyte.

David and Greg emerge from the water

– – – –

While Little Britain’s David Walliams fought tirelessly against the cold and sewerage in 140 miles of the Thames, swimming alongside him for 100 miles and carefully monitoring his progress was Greg Whyte, an expert in science behind sport.

Greg has had an eclectic career, having represented Great Britain in the Modern Pentathlon in the Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996, and won a Silver and Bronze medal in the World Championships in 1994 and 1999. Alongside training and preparing celebrities for some awe-inspiring challenges for Comic and Sport Relief, he is also a Professor of Applied Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University where he runs an MSc course, and is a specialist at the Harley Street Clinic that aims to improve sport performance.

It was in 2005, when David Walliams was first considering Comic Relief projects that Greg Whyte first got involved with the BBC’s annual fundraising projects. It all started with a tongue-in-cheek comment made by Walliams that he would swim the English Channel. It proved eventually to be the challenge he undertook, with Whyte at his side, coaching and mentoring him. Since then, Greg Whyte has been involved in nine Comic and Sports Relief projects and has helped his respective celebrities raise an amazing £13 million for charity.

When asked if any of these fundraisers, including Walliams’ recent Thames Swim, Eddie Izzard’s 43 marathons in 51 days and the trek up Kilimanjaro, have been the most challenging, he says, “a challenge is about the journey, not the end point.” He cites Bleakley’s attempt to water ski across the Channel as being an amazing achievement, considering the fact that “she was weak, had no endurance and was afraid of water.” But he does concede that Eddie’s marathons and Walliams’ Thames swim were “standout performances.” Indeed, Izzard was given a special award at the 2009 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards to mark his incredible achievement.

David’s Thames swim, compared to the Channel swim, was “different, though similar up to a point. The Channel was tough but was only one day. The Thames was over multiple days. We went to France for three days for up to eight-hour swims and we had four months training. But David had already swum the Gibraltar Straits, and done the non-stop cycle, so he was in much better physical condition this time.”

Greg helps David Walliams get ready to return to the water

Greg Whyte says “I am effectively anonymous; it is ultimately about the performer, but my job as coach is to bring about success.” He is responsible for the logistics of each challenge, arranging food, scheduling, training, support and how long each stage will be. Underpinning his coaching and research is his experiences in sport, including Olympics games and World Championships and he says “I was fortunate to be talented to take part in sport and joined academia with sport. I could use the science in training.”

He is grateful to his parents and believes “success in life is built around family. My parents were interested and committed to give me opportunity.” But he also believes the facilities in his hometown of Luton were as important. He was a member of the Luton and Vauxhall Swimming Club, Luton Sword Club, Luton Athletics Club and he used to ride horses in Harpenden, all of which gave him a terrific grounding in sport that helped pave the way for the rest of his career.

The town of Luton often receives a bad reputation in the media, but Greg says that a lot is being done in Luton to help young people get involved in sport. “It is an extremely challenging time with the obesity epidemic conspiring to make it very difficult. But there is still commitment, drive and excellence in Luton with very good facilities.”

His advice to anyone trying to get into sports science, and applicable to any profession, is “to work hard, take opportunities and put yourself out there. My Comic Relief work was done for nothing, like much of my early career. I did unpaid work in football, and Formula 1. We live tragically in an X Factor driven society, as though ‘sexy’ jobs fall through the door. But you have to work for it.”

He maintains links with his home town, is still a Luton Town Football Club season ticket holder, and attends matches regularly with his dad. He describes last season’s play-off final against AFC Wimbledon as “gutting” and says “Luton deserves to be playing in a better league. The support is amazing, both home and away. They are playing good football and I hope they do get promoted this year.”

In December 2009, I was fortunate to visit the island of Antigua and visit the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, the Allan Stanford ground, Sticky Wicket, and the Antigua Recreation Ground – the ARG. I wrote an article that was published on cricinfo, but I was never able to post it alongside the photographs to demonstrate exactly what I saw. Here, for the first time, is my account with photographs of those three grounds. (When it was written, Allan Stanford had been exposed as a crook and was in jail and the England Test had been moved from the Viv Richards Stadium to the ARG after a poorly prepared pitch).

– – – –

7th January 2010

Unsurprisingly, it is a warm day in Antigua, and the West Indies’ cricket season is slowly beginning to build up. In the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, a structure that cost approximately $60 million to build, and held the shambolic ten-ball game between England and the West Indies last year, the Leeward Islands are playing a warm-up game. The groundsman at the Antigua Recreation Ground, Keith Fredericks, describes them as the “future of West Indies cricket” with a sense of pride in his voice. Watching a few of the shots played, the signs of potential are out clearly visible, though a near run-out suggests there are still problems in running between the wickets.

The Viv Richards Stadium, “the one so much money was poured into”, is nice, as far as large stadiums go. Cricketers will enjoy playing here in the future in front of what is hopefully a large crowd. However, the ground also strikes me as unfinished and soulless. The linoleum flooring is not cut properly at the top of the stairs in the stand, and bits overhang the edge. Inside, only a quarter of the framed photos are hanging above the captions, which are almost too small to read properly. Those that do hang are hanging askew and are carelessly positioned. On the wall, a wire for the television is sticking out. Pride, clearly, was not put into the finishing touches.

The photos of West Indies heroes hang askew

One of the first games of the season

Maybe, and hopefully, once this stadium starts hosting matches again, after a year-long hiatus, the income will help create some atmosphere into this characterless ground. For the cricketers that come here, inspiration of the achievements of former players is severely lacking. As I look around, I’m glad for the youth of the Caribbean cricket injecting some energy with their exuberant appeals and desperate dives at the boundary edge. There is some hope for this ground yet.

Walking into the Sticky Wicket, the Allen Stanford answer to cricket stadiums, there is a clear difference between the sharp, empty white walls of the Viv Richards ground and the cream and pale green walls of this pavilion and restaurant. The ceiling is red, reflecting the West Indies colours, a very patriotic symbol. Why does the Viv Richards ground have yellow and blue seats? The walls at the Sticky Wicket are littered with photos of West Indies greats. Photographs of achievement, pride and success. West Indies success. Caribbean success, and the feelings of national patriotism that goes along with it. These photos are lined up perfectly with the ceiling, positioned with care. In the cupboards too, there is cricketing memorabilia. Some West Indies based; caps and shirts. Other bits are clearly bought with Stanford money; bats from previous World Cups, signed by all of the players from South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand. The acquisition of these bats stinks of private auction and e-bay, for Stanford was never known to be a great cricket fan.

Nonetheless, the mementos are clearly lacking in the multi-million dollar stadium down the road. This building has created a bit of cricketing history, however distasteful that history is. In one of the cupboards are the programmes and posters of Stanford’s disastrous Twenty20 for $20 million tournament, in which England lost and the ECB lost all credibility. On the wall, there is still a photograph of Stanford surrounded by West Indies cricketing legends. The building feels as though it hasn’t changed since Stanford last stood here. The restaurant is running smoothly, with two waitresses and three chefs working in what appears a relatively busy lunchtime, considering it is a Tuesday afternoon. The vibrant flowers in the driveway are in full bloom, and the staff are clearly happy to be working here. Someone is still paying the staff, and the building hasn’t fallen to ruin.

The outfield is another story. It appears watered and mowed, but it is sandy, the grass is coarse and uncomfortable underfoot and ants’ nests litter the grass. This may as well not be a cricket pitch; you certainly would not want to dive for a ball here lest your foot get caught in the sand. Nowadays, the ground feels more like a resort with a big field of grass in the middle which you could perhaps play sport on if you felt like it. The large stumps by the door remind you that this ground’s main purpose was cricket, albeit cricket at its most un-cricket. The big screens stand still, as do the lights, which caused many fielders problems (they are lower than usual due to the airport runway nearby). The buildings are attractive, the staff attentive and the pavilion does feel like a building dedicated to cricket. What this place will be used for in the future is hard to say. It would make an attractive exclusive resort or hotel. It could be taken over by the WICB and used as a practice ground. Maybe local school teams could play here.

The magnificent entrance to the Sticky Wicket

Neatly lined-up tributes to a great West Indies past

The outfield, believe it or not.

The WICB would in no way encourage it to become a top ground like the Viv Richards Stadium, after all. I would rather it became a resort, as not far from the city stands the ARG – the Antigua Recreation Ground. This ground was used as a practice ground by both the West Indies and England teams in 2009 and hosted the moved Test match in that same series at very short notice. It is not the prettiest ground in the world, nor is it the most comfortable – a chair made the most concerning noise as I sat down – but of all three grounds, it feels like a proper, traditional cricket ground.

It is full of character, soul and history (Sir Vivian Richards scored the fastest ever Test century here, and this is the home of Brian Lara’s record-breaking 400 runs). This is also the home of Keith Fredericks, an incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated groundsman. It is the home of the legendary entertainers Gravy and Chickie, the DJs who have entertained countless crowds and maintained the party atmosphere. It is a favourite of many; Sir Ian Botham was delighted when the Test match was moved here, and Curtly Ambrose describes it as his favourite ground. Many ex-players are both secretly and publicly unhappy with the new Viv Richards stadium.

Standing on the square, on the spot where Brian Lara kissed the ground as he brought up his 400 runs, I can see why this ground is such a favourite. It may not have the biggest capacity (a temporary stand was rented from Miami to accommodate the Barmy Army one year), it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing (though the hills in the distance are spectacular) and it is clearly not the WICB’s favourite cricket ground on the island of Antigua, but it is easily my favourite of the three I have visited today. I’d go as far as to say it is among the best grounds I have visited in the world, and I would have loved to have seen a game here. It would be a shame to see this ground with its record-breaking achievements being dedicated purely to football, or even worse, left to fall to pieces.

For the sake of Keith Fredericks, if no one else, I desperately hope it can be saved for the use of international cricket once more. No one would benefit more than cricket fans around the world, who could come here and visit and say that they have seen the same spot where the best in West Indies cricket created history. Inside the pavilion is the honours board, filled with impressive names from the cricketing world. Can the WICB not honour this outstanding piece of cricketing legend by allowing it the right to games, both international and domestic? Or has the WICB truly put all its eggs in one basket with the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground? The answer appears clear; the ARG will probably be ignored in the near future. This is a very, very sad state of events indeed.

Some of the ARG records. Brian Lara's 400 is visible here.

Me walking along the ARG outfield. So green compared to the disregarded Sticky Wicket

The ARG - On par with Lord's as one of the best grounds I have visited.