Cricket: Row over funding for Test grounds

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THE OWNERS of England's Test grounds are on a collision course with the game's governing body over a struggle to fund much-needed improvements.

They fear that unless the England and Wales Cricket Board divert some of the money from lucrative television contracts, the top grounds in the country will start to crumble.

The ECB have refused to respond to the Test Match Grounds Consortium, who are desperate to update their grounds. There has even been discussion among the TMGC about the possibility of withdrawing the availability of their grounds for Tests.

"We are talking about the need to provide the best facilities for crowds in the region of 20,000, including state-of-the-art corporate and media facilities," Yorkshire chief executive Chris Hassell, said, adding that the money TMGC received, above the pounds 1m allocated to each county, was just enough to pay for the increased staff required to sell Test match tickets.

"In 2000 there will be seven Tests and around 11 one-day internationals and the ECB will want to use our grounds for most of those matches," Hassell said. "Yet they are not prepared to provide the money to help keep the grounds up to date."

Hampshire vice-captain Shaun Udal has broken his ankle after being startled by a car's horn while he was out on a pre-season training run.