When England commence their third Test against West Indies, it will be at the most bucolic venue where they have ever played a Test match. The Daren Sammy stadium will be England’s eighth venue in the West Indies, starting in 1930, and their 74th in all since 1877.
Only the University Oval in Dunedin and the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua, where England were demolished in the second Test by 10 wickets, are comparable – but they are essentially out-of-town-grounds, like the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. England’s latest venue is secluded in a valley a mile or two inland from the north-west coast of St Lucia, surrounded by hills of original, tropical, rain-forest.
A country lane, which is rather Devonian, is the main access to the stadium; some of the potholes were being filled in a day before the game. Not even roadside stall-holders selling fresh coconuts line this lane, as they do on the main drag through the beach-resort of Rodney Bay.
When the rickety old wooden ground in Castries, where England played the Windward Islands in the 1980s, had to be abandoned, a valley in Beausejour was chosen for being the driest area of this volcanic island – and one of the few flat places. If England suit their batting to this venue, however, and bat bucolically as they did against Roston Chase in Barbados, they are going to follow their 3-0 victory in Sri Lanka with a 3-0 defeat.