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Thursday 16 August 2018
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Rave reviews for lively Oval pitch

West Indies captain Jason Holder, centre, congratulates pacer Miguel Cummins, second from left, after he took a wicket on day three of the 1st Test vs Sri Lanka at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair.

AZIM BASSARATH, president of the TT Cricket Board (TTCB), and former TT and West Indies cricket team manager Omar Khan, have spoken highly of the pitch prepared for the First Test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair. The West Indies defeated Sri Lanka by 226 runs just after lunch on the final day on Sunday.

Windies pacers Shannon Gabriel, Miguel Cummins, Kemar Roach and Jason Holder took eight wickets to dismiss Sri Lanka for 185 in the first innings, setting up the match in the home team’s favour. In the second innings, WI spinners Devendra Bishoo and Roston Chase did the damage, sharing seven wickets between them to dismiss the visitors for 226.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) leadership has in the past stressed that pitches in the Caribbean must improve to encourage fast bowling.

Bassarath said yesterday, “I want to congratulate the Queen’s Park Cricket Club for providing a pitch that played excellent during the five days that cricket was played at the venue. It has been a long time that Trinidad and Tobago hosted a Test match.”

The Oval previously staged the fourth Test between the West Indies and India during the 2016 series. But that game would be remembered for the wrong reasons as poor drainage at the venue, after persistent rainfall on the first day, resulted in the match being abandoned.

The last completed Test match at the Oval occurred in 2014, as the hosts defeated New Zealand in the Second Test, of the three-Test series, by 10 wickets.

The TTCB president commented, “We have proven where we host Test matches in Trinidad and Tobago, and Queen’s Park did produce a pitch that really benefited cricket. If the bowlers put in the extra effort, they would have gained from the pitch. The batsmen had to dig in and work hard to make runs, and they were rewarded. All and all, I think (it) was an excellent Test match pitch, and Queen’s Park (Cricket Club) must be congratulated.”

In a telephone interview, Khan pointed out, “I think it was an excellent wicket. Kudos must go to the ground-staff at the Queen’s Park Oval for producing an excellent wicket. It was a good cricketing wicket. The batsmen who applied themselves could have gotten runs, the bowlers had to put in the extra effort.

“Yes, there was some pace and bounce, but they had to bowl the right areas, the right length and line to be able to get success,” continued Khan. “I think it was an excellent wicket.”

Bassarath is hopeful that the rave reviews that the Oval pitch has gotten will encourage the CWI to consider the venue for more international matches, in 2019 and beyond.

“The (regional) board would have heard the comments from the commentators and the experts and I think, definitely, they will take all of that into consideration and, more so, as a victory came to the West Indies, I’m quite sure that serious consideration would be given to have Trinidad and Tobago host more matches in 2019 and beyond,” said Bassarath.

Khan also offered his congratulations to the team for their victory against the touring Sri Lankans.

“It was a fantastic victory,” he said. “Credit must go to the team for playing the cricket that they did.”

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