Indians ensure England struggle on and off field
Sunday 03 August 2008
The big message of the week seems to be: don't mess with India. England have been trying, and look where it has got them.
If the team on the field have been up against it in Birmingham, the boys in the backroom, the administrators, have been living the nightmare. For months, India have made it clear that English counties who had players who had appeared in the breakaway Indian Cricket League would be unwelcome in the Champions League. The England and Wales Cricket Board, hoping for a rapprochement, still went ahead and established their own Champions League, in the Middle East, intending to take South Africa and Australia with them.
What a bloody nose that would give the upstart Indians. Yes, well. This week India announced the Champions League with Australia and South Africa alongside them. There was no place at the top table for England.
Middlesex, dramatic T20 domestic winners last week, will be allowed to compete but not runners-up Kent, who have ICL players. At the behest of India, England are playing only two Test matches on tour there this winter and seven one-day internationals at unprepossessing venues. England have been outflanked. It remains to be seen how their all-singing and dancing T20 Premier League (whoever heard of a two-division Premier League?) pans out.
The liaison with Sir Allen Stanford for the five-year series of winner-takes-nearly-all matches in Antigua with a $20 million (£10m) purse begins to look more tacky.
Big test to attract fans
It is the proud and justified boast of England that the country is the true home of Test cricket, the one place where crowds still flock. Here on Wednesday for the first day of the Third Test there were 13,000. True, Wednesday is an odd day to start a Test (necessitated by a combination of TV and a ruling that there must be a three-day break between Tests) but on Thursday there were 14,000, Friday 18,500 and 15,500 yesterday. The capacity is 21,000. A good team would help (it hasn't mattered previously) but maybe T20 is what counts.
Carry on Virender
Virender Sehwag's innings in Galle in which he scored an unbeaten 201 of India's 329 broke records. The 61 per cent of the total which the innings represented was the highest proportion by a player carrying his bat. Glenn Turner's 223 not out for New Zealand against West Indies in Kingston in 1972 is the top score by a bat-carrier.
Extra special record
A record was broken in South Africa's first innings of 314 – unlikely, since no batsman scored more than 72. But the 35 leg byes exceeded the 31 in England's 514 against India in 2002. It should also promote the Campaign for the Abolition of Leg Byes.
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