On the Front Foot: Clarke talks good game as ECB act to preserve future of Tests

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The Independent Online

In rural Leicestershire tomorrow, English cricket embarks on a noble course. As an initial part of an attempt to ensure that we do not all become slaves to Twenty20, a convention has been organised at which will be plotted a strategy to preserve Test cricket. It has not come a moment too soon but it shows that the England and Wales Cricket Board are taking their moral obligations seriously. Since they were also the organisation who agreed to play a Twenty20 match for$20 million, it may also be thought that this is the least they could do. But no matter. The fact is that nobody else is doing it – though the International Cricket Council have paid some lip service to the idea – and it demonstrates that Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, meant what he said during his opening remarks at the launch of the 2008 season. To wit: "We must ensure that we strive to preserve the future of Test cricket." The ICC are sending several representatives to the seminar including their cricket general manager, David Richardson. Five former England captains – Mike Gatting, Michael Atherton, Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan – will attend. The early session will deal with key issues, from player behaviour (not as bad as some would have you believe) to staging of matches (in one day in India recently, 29 minutes of play were lost while sightscreens were moved). The later session will deal with the business of cricket and player development. They will find that Twenty20 makes all the cash. A report should be written by the end of the week, with recommendations submitted to the ICC immediately. The sooner the better, because it will not be long before those concerned about Tests will have only one thing to say: "Hello, is there anybody out there?"

History lessons for ICC please

In their centenary year, the ICC are having a most unfortunate time in understanding the history of the game. A few days ago, in launching their Hall of Fame, they announced the presence of Ron Headley (two Test caps) when they meant his father George (West Indies pioneer, 10 hundreds in 40 innings). In sending out the all-time individual batting list last week in the wake of Matthew Hayden's retirement they placed Clive Walcott in sixth position before realising they meant Clyde.

Windies tour is a turn-off

The first overseas tour on which it was possible to watch England live on television was in the West Indies in 1990. Famously and unexpectedly, they won the First Test, immediately persuading thousands of fans they should have a Sky dish installed, whereas this year it would be shocking if they lost. The first on this tour is that it will be the first overseas tour to be shown by Sky in high definition. Unfortunately, an England win is unlikely to have quite the same dramatic effect.

KP's timing is out

Ah, the perils of magazine publishing deadlines.The spring edition of 'First Class', glossy production of the Professional Cricketers' Association, carries a cover picture of Kevin Pietersen and an interview inside in which it is said: "He appears... less likely to create controversy by accident or design."

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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