Cricket / Texaco Trophy: Old Trafford plays its own games

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIA'S victory left England cheerful. The manager, Keith Fletcher, and captain, Graham Gooch, clearly saw a four-run defeat as some confirmation of the opinion that while these two teams may be low in the world rankings, in the special context of an Ashes rubber they are well-matched.

Winning the toss and having the best of the batting surfaces may be more important than form or ability, although the fast bowling and express lift of the man of the match, Craig McDermott, is a potent factor.

Gooch summed up the difference between the two as 'one good shot. We would have settled for 255 at lunch; we pegged them back and might have bowled them out for 240. I was happy with Graham Thorpe and Andy Caddick. Both contributed and I see no reason for wholesale changes'.

Neil Fairbrother reported no reaction from his hamstring and Mark Ramprakash will stay with the squad for the second Texaco match at Edgbaston tomorrow.

There was more to yesterday's contest than a one-day international. There is also a race for the 2,000 Olympics between Manchester and Sydney So, anxious that no one present should forget Manchester's candidacy, the 2,000 Games flag was flown from the new pounds 800,000 stand (which seats only 1,350, a frighteningly expensive statistic) and the Olympic mascot, a rather tall lion, walked around the perimeter at lunchtime. Sydney sunshine? Manchester's solar glare was such that Australia's opening bowlers, McDermott and Merv Hughes, wore zinc cream on their noses.

As a further reminder, the throng were warned they could be watching Olympic baseball here under floodlights unless, the balance of income being what it is, this ground is another Manchester United training stadium in seven years' time.

Not that Lancashire are flagging in raising money. Behind what was the Hornby Stand there used to be a cool green haven, rather like the Coronation Garden at Lord's. Yesterday, there was a burger bar, two stalls selling Test and County Cricket Board merchandise, the Lancashire shop - packed almost all day - a refreshment bar and an ice cream van. Never mind, Lancashire exceeded the TCCB target for receipts from this match.

Nor can Lancashire be branded Philistines. After years of tolerating a pavilion that resembled, inside, a tacky four-ale bar, the committee has now banned food, drink and tobacco from the Long Room. However, as older members point out, you might have to talk to a woman.

The new dissolving sightscreens are in fact giant boards carrying two advertisements and a blank white when the bowling is from that end. They were unobtrusive and a welcome source of revenue; what they are not is easy to move. No longer can a passing spectator, pint in one hand, lean on and move the screen as he probably could have done in Ted McDonald's day.

Manchester thoroughly enjoyed this day and is now anticipating the first Cornhill Test on this ground, which starts on 3 June, with relish.