On the Front Foot: Lie detectors are a red herring. The MCC want pink balls and Tests at night

Amid all the fuss about lie detectors, the dear old pink ball was forgotten. But the MCC, determined to show their credentials as leaders of the game, will clearly stop at nothing to save it. The World Cricket Committee, now five years old and comprising 20 members of the great, good and plain legendary, ran through the whole gamut of possible technological innovations this week in Perth. The Lord's switchboard was virtually jammed by polygraph manufacturers after the committee suggested their machines might be used in stamping out match-fixing. It would have been fascinating to see how their claims stood up to examination by their own product. Lie-detector tests are the idea of Steve Waugh, who spoke eloquently about the need to stamp out corruption and will lead an MCC-WCC working party. But lie detecting deflected attention from the issue of the pink ball. MCC are on a crusade to develop pink-ball cricket with a view to having floodlit Tests. The pre-season match between MCC and Nottinghamshire will again be played in Dubai with a pink ball, this year with a white rather than a green seam. The WCC has also jumped on the Test championship bandwagon. Indeed, it would claim to have started it and hopes it will "ensure the supreme format of the game can thrive worldwide". To be in Australia right now is not to fear for the future of Test cricket. Rather the reverse. But another series is taking place in South Africa between the host nation and India, ranked at No 1 and No 2. In assessing the crowds it would be kind only to say that touts and scalpers did not bother turning up.

Scouse touts are just the ticket

Talking of touts and scalpers, they have been out in force at the Waca. They litter the sidewalks and the entrance to the gardens leading to the ground, muttering from the corner of their mouths. Authorities frown on them, of course but the fact that they are conducting the trade is the sign of a healthy sport, notwithstanding fags hanging from the corners of their mouths, opposite the ones from which they are speaking. The most surprising thing is that they all appear to come from Liverpool.

Press gang given a kicking

In 1902, long before there were Tests in Western Australia, the touring England cricketers played football in the state. They were on their way home via Perth after losing the Ashes when they agreed to play a challenge match at Fremantle Oval against the WA state soccer XI. A crowd of 5,000 watched a side including Gilbert Jessop win 4-0. In 1907-08 Jack Hobbs played in a 3-2 English win. Running the line, as he had in the first match, was the fast bowler Sidney Barnes. The match died out but it was revived eight years ago as a match between the Western Australia media and reporters from England. England lost this year's match 5-3.

A different spin on things

Australia's search for a spinner knows no bounds. The Mighty Mollygrubber Malone may be the answer. That he is a fictional 12-year-old leg-spinner who has mastered the art of the one that goes along the ground and is eventually picked for the deciding Test in Sydney, in the Aussie journalist Will Swanton's endearingly jaunty fictional tale, does not mean the selectors will overlook him. They have picked everybody else.


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