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Craig Porter 14th Feb 2009 - 14:34

Life's a beach - and so was the pitch

England play the West Indies in the hastily prepared 3rd Test at the Recreation Ground in Antigua which starts Sunday.

While the popularity of Twenty20 cricket on the rise there have been calls to make Test match cricket a shorter, snappier version of the game. The 10-ball showcase that was the blink-and-you-miss-it second test of England's tour of the West Indies was taking it a little too far.

For those of you that really did miss it, the game started promptly but was interrupted after just eight balls due to a heavy shower. There were two more deliveries on the return before Fidel Edwards pulled up complaining about the underfoot conditions on his run-up. Play was abandoned, initially for the day, then all together.

One man with a stressful weekend ahead of him was suddenly the poor groundsman at the Antigua Recreation Ground, the venue for the brand new fixture - to be known as the 3rd Test - who not only has two days to prepare a pitch that hasn't been used for Test cricket since 2006 and an outfield that has football markings heavily creosoted into it but has the entire cricketing world watching him do it.

Chris Gayle doesn't fancy the new pitch at all. The England team say they're happy to play there. No wonder the tourists therefore are the 11/8 favourites to win the match and level the series after the embarrasment of the first Test.

It's a tough call this match. Who knows what team will turn up? And that applies to both sides. The range of Batsman/bowler match bets amongst the twenty markets available are the bet for me.

Owais Shah (11/10) to score more runs than Alistair Cook, Strauss (6/5) to outscore Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff (10/11) to better Paul Collingwood could have you cheering the England batsmen one moment and the West Indian bowlers the next. You need something to keep you interested if the game makes it past the two-over mark.

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