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The Path to Hell …

In my last post I mentioned the giving of my Friday test ticket to my neighbour – which you might have thought a simple exercise – but no. He insisted on repaying me and told me that he had left the money (at the reception of the hotel I was staying in) upon collecting the ticket but of this there was no sign. He confirmed the depositing of cash but then admitted to me on Saturday at the Test that he or his agent had failed to do so so I called off the search. His colleague and my friend then insisted on settling up with me and over-paid me so I must now repay him. It would have so much easier if – as I intended – he had taken the ticket as a gift.

The Test only lasted two and half days. Refunds will now be made for the ticket for the fourth and fifth day and prepaid lunches. How the MCC must rue the fact that play went on until nearly 7pm in the gloaming on Friday. The second new ball – and batters occupying the crease for six to seven hours like Barrington, Boycott, Tavare and Atherton – these have become the stuff of yore. Counties competing for a Test match have hocked themselves to the hilt to construct Test-quality arenas fit for purpose so imagine their concern, when after only 3 days, they then have to return and refund monies. Yet the ECB has apparently £35 million cash reserves.  MCC too is flushed, but to be fair does apply most of this to the game or for the continual improvements to Lords. The whole dynamic of cricket has changed as it’s now venue-driven to pay for itself. A Test alone requires payment to the ECB of just short of £1 million. Lords normally sell out even against the Windies, a side ranked eighth, who did not make the ICC Champions competition and these days there are noticeably far less West Indian supporters there than when Clive Lloyd’s side ruled the world.

When I had the privilege of meeting Ted Dexter I was impressed by his comment that the Australian and English Boards had selfishly entered into an arrangements grossly weighted financially in their favour by which the home and host country keeps all the receipts. Again you end up with a ludicrous position of one country stuffed with cash and another virtually penniless.

What needs to happen surely is a two division Test competition so that the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan get a fair shake. I suspect the Aussie and English boards will not vote in favour as, if they were to be in different divisions, could the Ashes be contested? A further unsatisfactory effect of penury is the preparation of slow pitches in the Caribbean to ensure a match of 5 days which thereby nullifies their greatest asset, pace bowling, and contributes further to their decline.

With no money and no success little wonder that Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo choose the career path of T20.

About Douglas Heath

Douglas Heath began his lifelong love affair with cricket as an 8 year-old schoolboy playing OWZAT? Whilst listening to a 160s Ashes series on the radio. He later became half-decent at doing John Arlott impressions and is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club. He holds no truck at all with the T20 version on the game. More Posts