On the Front Foot: Day-night games have merit but Test cricket still not in the pink

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The Independent Online

There is an obvious will to play Test matches under floodlights. It has the support of the ICC, MCC and just about any other organisation with an initial which stands for the word cricket. If these august bodies have anything to do with it, the inaugural day-night Test will be at Lord's next summer between England and Bangladesh. It depends on the satisfactory outcome of trials in proper matches with the pink ball which the MCC hope to start in the next fortnight and continue throughout the winter. Pink is deemed to be the appropriate colour because red could not be seen in the dark and the white ball in one-day cricket has to be changed because it becomes discoloured. The objective, while obviously possessing an element of gimmickry, is to help to preserve Test cricket. Ironical, is it not, that the experiments are being led in England, the one place where the best form of the game continues to thrive? The ICC, whose cricket committee have already endorsed the idea, are anxious to point out that they must promote and preserve the game. In its way it is admirable and if it gets a few thousand more people through the gates, first at Lord's, and then in Dhaka, Napier, Durban, Brisbane, Nagpur, Colombo, Kingston and, one day, Lahore and Harare again, then maybe it will be for the good. But the major component of this initiative is that something must be done. Nobody should be fooled either. If it was a real goer, if the integrity of Test cricket was paramount as everybody insists, Bangladesh would not be involved. All the time, the suspicion that "it's only Bangladesh, so it doesn't matter if it flops" will lurk.

Warren Lord's it at double

So Lord's will be the scene of three Test matches next summer. There is a school of thought, of course, which promulgates the belief that Lord's should stage every Test match each year (one that Lord's does not seem to discourage as it performs its version of world domination) except perhaps for one to be held in Durham in mid-July. It is not the first time that three Test matches have been staged there in a single season. In 2010 they will be England v Bangladesh, England v Pakistan and Australia v Pakistan. In 1912 the year of the first triangular Test tournament (and the last so far, an idea ahead of its time if ever there was one) England drew with Australia and beat South Africa by nine wickets. In the neutral match, the Australians beat the South Africans by 10 wickets with Warren Bardsley scoring 164, the highest innings by an overseas player at the ground until Bardsley himself hit 193 not out 14 years later at the age of 43.

No ambrosia for Ambrose

Much understandably has been made of the central contracts, the ECB's game of who's hot and who's not. But spare a thought (few have) for Tim Ambrose. He was an impeccable tourist last winter, played one Test during the year of his contract, made 76 not out and is still deemed surplus to requirements. It can be a hard game.

Radio coverage a turn-off

Notwithstanding the inestimable 'Test Match Special' (don't believe what you hear about dumbing down), BBC Radio's coverage can make you wonder. Even as rights holders, they can be forgiven for saying Paul Collingwood is England's captain on Radio 4 yesterday morning but on Friday at Lord's, preview day for the fourth one-day international and with central contracts announced, there was not a radio reporter in sight. Priorities, presumably.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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