Cricket: Edgbaston's difficult decision

The Week Ahead
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The Independent Online
THE DISQUIET among nearby residents that persuaded Warwickshire to delay plans to erect permanent floodlights at Edgbaston might yet prove to be a blessing.

Wednesday's day-night AXA League match against Lancashire is the first of four scheduled at Edgbaston through July and August following last summer's successful floodlit fixture against Somerset, which attracted 15,000 spectators and generated a profit of pounds 70,000.

A vigorous promotional campaign during the first Test brought such promising advance ticket sales that a crowd of similar size is anticipated this week. However, if the occasion is blighted by bad weather, as was Lancashire's recent match against Surrey, with a loss-making attendance of below 5,000, then the novelty may begin to wear thin.

Whether there is a place for these matches in the English calender remains open to debate, especially now that the meteorological vision of a globally warmed Britain resembling the South of France has been revised. Future summers may be warmer but wetter, it is now thought, in which case Warwickshire might be advised to invest their money elsewhere.

In the traditional version of the game, otherwise known as the County Championship and in which attendances have been poor, the most intriguing fixture brings together dizzy Durham with stealthily progressive Leicestershire at Darlington.

With David Millns restored to their attack and Darren Maddy overlooked by the England selectors, Leicestershire will test Durham's early-season status as title contenders.

Elsewhere, contenders Kent and Yorkshire meet at Maidstone, champions Glamorgan meet pace-setters Surrey in Cardiff and early front-runners Sussex meet Somerset at Hove in a match that starts at 1pm each day.

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