While Antigua and Barbados are familiar to players and spectators alike, the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada has hosted just three Tests since making its five-day debut in 2002.
As England and West Indies head into the third and final Test after the first two ended in stalemate, Richard Spiller looks back on the fortunes of Surrey players in Grenada’s short Test match history.
West Indies have been playing Test cricket for just under a century – they made their entry in 1928 – and for much of that time, four major grounds dominated the hosting of home matches. Sabina Park in Jamaica, the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, Guyana’s Bourda – now replaced by a newer venue – and Kensington Oval in Barbados were the acknowledged big four but only the latter has been among the hosts for the current series.
Antigua – first the Recreation Ground and now the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium – and St Lucia’s Daren Sammy Stadium have since joined the fray, as has the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada, which first staged a Test when New Zealand were the visitors in June 2002. The home side’s bowling was opened by Surrey seamers past and future as Pedro Collins, who would later spend two years on Kolpak terms at The Oval, claimed 4-68 in helping to dismiss the tourists for 373.
The left-armer’s new ball partner was Cameron Cuffy, who spent a year at Surrey in 1994, chipping in with 2-76 in New Zealand’s 373 all out. They were able to put their feet up while watching Chris Gayle crash a double-century to gain a lead of 97 but both finished wicketless in the second innings as the Kiwis played out a draw.
It took another seven years for Test cricket to return to the Spice Isle and it proved a historic match. Bangladesh had taken a series lead a week earlier in Jamaica and now completed their first victory in an away series, despite the best efforts of Kemar Roach. In just his second Test outing, Roach – due back at the Kia Oval next month for the start of the new season – claimed 6-48 from 23.5 overs. That limited Bangladesh to 232 all out in their first innings, falling five runs short of the hosts but he could only add one more victim in the second innings as his side went down by four wickets.
England can take heart from their last appearance at the ground, the last of Grenada’s three Tests coming in April 2015. Following a draw in Antigua, Sir Alastair Cook’s side dismissed West Indies for 299 with two wickets for Chris Jordan, who will soon be embarking on his first season as Surrey’s T20 captain.
Then Cook (76), Jonathan Trott (59) and Gary Ballance (77) saw off Roach (0-100) for Joe Root to dominate the innings by stroking a magnificent unbeaten 182 out of 464. As he has done during the current series, Kraigg Brathwaite resisted nobly in making 116, but England still wrapped up the second innings for 307 to set up a nine-wicket victory.
With both Roach and Surrey and England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes likely to feature in this Test, more chapters will doubtless be written.