On the Front Foot: Crowds falling and day-night Tests on way so ICC vow to take action

As we know, because we are constantly told and they constantly flaunt it, India are the powerhouse of the modern game. Two things happened this week to give any rational observer pause to doubt this. In Cardiff, tickets for the First Test of the Ashes series next summer at Sophia Gardens went on sale. By lunchtime all 6,000 had been sold. If there were 10 more batches of 6,000, instead of one, it would keep happening. In Nagpur, the Fourth Test of the supposed marquee series between India and Australia is being played. On the first day, in a brand spanking new stadium which holds 40,000, around 4,000 turned up. It hardly improved in the following days. There would have been more atmosphere at Derby, if not as much comfort, on a wet Tuesday. Only in England (and now Wales) are there crowds worthy of the name. Last week, Australia said they intend to play day-night Tests, but that is not progress, it is an admission of defeat, eroding the aesthetics of the form. David Morgan, the International Cricket Council president, promises action. "The board will discuss this in Perth next January, but this is an issue that must be addressed. I want to protect Test cricket and give it a context in countries where it does not have it." He knows he has to be quick.

It's a bit rich of Australia

James Sutherland, head of Cricket Australia, issued a warning to India on Friday that they must not abuse their power. This was a bit, er, rich. Australia could hardly wait to climb into bed with India, ensuring a slice of the financial action, in becoming a founder member of the T20 Champions League. England were left isolated and friendless. Sutherland is hardly in a position to deliver homilies on moral probity.

Lest we forget Charlie's heroics

It is 90 years on Tuesday since the end of the First World War, 91 yesterday since Colin Blythe died. He was killed by shrapnel at Passchendaele during the third Ypres campaign while helping to build a railway line. Blythe took 2,506 first-class wickets, 41 more than Kent's other great left-arm spin bowler, Derek Underwood. Known as Charlie to all in cricket, Blythe had a distinguished career despite suffering from epilepsy, which today would afford him a different kind of celebrity. A memorial at the St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury forms a lasting tribute, but these are particularly poignant times for all cricket lovers to recall his feats.

Sport tells us life is unfair

These are uncertain times for Ed Smith. He began the cricket season as Middlesex captain, having not missed a Championship match for seven years and having just had published his exceptional book 'What Sport Tells Us About Life'. He played only five matches before an ankle injury ended his season, was stripped – amid rumour of dressing-room discontent – of the captaincy and probably his place as a player at the club. Nor, startlingly, has the book been shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. None of this seems fair, and perhaps Smith will need toreread his book for answers.


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