Where cricket is concerned, more does not mean better

May 9, 2009

clarkeBright spring sunshine hit Lord’s on Saturday but with England’s first Test against West Indies having finished inside three days there was no one there to enjoy it.

Instead, the England and Wales Cricket Board were left gloomily counting the lost gate receipts for the final two days of the earliest Test yet staged in England.

The first Tests against both West Indies and Australia this year start on Wednesday instead of the traditional Thursday because the second Tests are scheduled for the following week.

West Indies, beaten by 10 wickets, were not even the first choice team to open a season the marketing men have called the greatest summer of cricket ever staged in England with a Twenty20 World Cup and an Ashes series.

And after regaining the Wisden Trophy in the Caribbean this year in an increasingly torpid series after they shot England out for 51 in the first test, West Indies have shown little appetite for the always fickle and often chilly English spring.

West Indies were not the only ones caught cold. Cricket fans seemed surprised to learn the test season had started and there were 7,500 unsold tickets for Wednesday. Even Saturday, traditionally one of the highlights of the London sporting and social calendar, was not a sell-out.

The West Indies series was squeezed in at the start of May to allow the ECB to fulfil its obligations to Sky television who pay for seven tests a season. The Ashes series will start in July to make room for the 16-day Twenty20 World Cup in between.

In the meantime, the ECB must refund those who bought tickets for the weekend (nearly 20,000 on Saturday) while West Indies leave the comparatively tropical south for Durham in the north-east and the second test.

England, at least, will be good spirits after winning the first test of a series for the first time since 2005. They may have found a number three in Ravi Bopara and may have unearthed a pace bowler in Graham Onions, although their true tests will come against Australia.

What is certain is that they will play an awful lot of cricket this season and by the end of the final day of the final Ashes test at the Oval this week’s Lord’s match, which should be a special occasion for players and spectators, will be a distant memory.

More, as too many sports governing bodies fail to realise, does not necessarily mean better.

PHOTO: ECB Chairman Giles Clarke (L) and England’s coach Andy Flower talk after the first Test against the West Indies at Lord’s, May 8, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown


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