As usual, Old Trafford was most unalluring. Asking New Zealand to play a Test match there – or anybody at all to watch it – is like inviting your maiden aunt to Sunday tea at the local refuse tip. But things are looking up (they could not look down). Lancashire are redeveloping the old place. True, they are doing the drainage and a new scoreboard first, which seems to miss the point. (Or does it? Should the pitch come before spectator comfort? Discuss). But a brand- spanking new stadium with – wait for it – some covered seating is not far behind. Stage One of this redevelopment will cost nearly £13 million and will be complete by March 2010. "The decision was triggered by the fact that Lord's, Headingley, Edgbaston, Cardiff and The Rose Bowl already have plans in place to greatly improve their stadiums," Lancashire's chief executive, Jim Cumbes, writesin 'Lancashire Spin'. Otherwise, the inference seems to be, Old Trafford would have remained a ground for the 19th century.
The price is not right
At least Manchester ticket prices are almost appropriate to the surroundings: £33 and £45, £8 for under-16s (no, you pay them). This compares favourably to Lord's last week, where most tickets cost £60, with the cheapest at £40. The majority of tickets for the second Test at Lord's this summer, against South Africa, will be £75. The first three days are already sold out. Test cricket is an expensive and exclusive pastime in this country, the opera of sport. Yet still it is thought acceptable to wander off for bad light. It will come home to roost one day when the last one to leave will have to turn off the lights.
Never a bad Hair day
There are posters around Old Trafford saying: "Questioning your own decision. Bad quality in an umpire. Good in an investment company." One wonders if they were advised by the returning Darrell Hair, never one to question his judgement.
ECB learn a few lessons
The best place to check the first-class averages seemed to be the England and Wales Cricket Board's own website. Impossible to do. The lists there contain only Championship returns, which are not, of course, the only first-class matches. It is possible to infer that the ECB, like any sensible person, actually realise that all those matches involving universities (no fewer than four) are as first-class as the Old Trafford covered seating.
Same old England
England are unchanged for the fourth successive time in this Test match. Only once beforein their history have they fielded the same team in five successive matches, in Australia in 1884-85.Reuse content