Cardiff pitch may yet pass Test – but bad feelings linger

As two experts gazed earnestly at the Cardiff Test pitch yesterday the doom-mongers anticipated the worst. They knelt down to prod the surface, looked suspiciously at an area around a good length and were rapt, deep in conversation for 30 minutes.

But after all that Chris Wood, the England and Wales Cricket Board's pitches inspector, and Keith Exton, the groundsman here, looked perfectly content. There were no last-minute alarms and the pitch, it is confidently expected, will play much as any other Test pitch. The doom-mongers may have to wait a little longer.

If so, the England and Wales Cricket Board and Glamorgan CCC may be relieved enough for senior officials to dance through the streets of Cardiff with daffodils in their mouths. There is much riding on the first Test of the 2009 Ashes series, not least the reputations of those who decided that such a prestigious match should be staged at the ground, then slightly ramshackle and little more than a park ground on which first-class cricket happened to be played.

The general astonishment engendered by the approval granted by the Major Match Group has barely diminished. It was agreed that the match would be played in Cardiff although it had never before staged a Test and the feeling remains that the main criterion was the £3.2m being offered by Glamorgan, heavily underwritten by the Welsh Assembly.

David Harker, the chief executive of Durham, was especially unhappy. He felt that his county had served its apprenticeship having successfully staged several low-key Tests. "We weren't competing on a level playing field," he said. "We pushed it as far as we could by bidding £1m and no other ground could have competed."

While the MMG acted independently their decision still delighted the ECB chairman at the time, David Morgan, a Welshman who had previously been chairman of Glamorgan and is now president of the International Cricket Council.

The change in ground is staggering to behold although it is reasonable to suppose, looking at the rows of bucket seats and the bland pavilion which would not look entirely out of place in any Moscow suburb, that the temptation to run an architectural design competition was resisted.

There have been pitfalls along the way. The long-serving chief executive, Mike Fatkin and the former groundsman Len Smith both left their posts. Paul Russell, the county club's chairman, who has transformed their fortunes off the field at least, has been purposeful in ensuring that everything will be ready.

The players are on a charm offensive. "It doesn't feel strange," said Kevin Pietersen. "We played against South Africa here last year." Actually they didn't because it rained. "We're looking forward to putting on a really positive performance for the Welsh public. We know how sports mad they are here."

Australia have played here before – in the ramshackle days of 2005 in a one-day match against Bangladesh. Australia lost. Maybe that was the thinking all along.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor