On the Front Foot: No doubt cricket is in a mess but it is not a sorry one

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. When 11,000 people went home cricketless from Leeds on Thursday those who had been responsible for organising the game were disappointed. Their drainage system, which cost £600,000, had not been up to the job at the first time of asking, but they were not sorry.

When the England and Wales Cricket Board defended their decision to stage two Test matches in early May, they invoked the empty(ish) stands of 30 years ago and said how successful they had been in marketing Test cricket. They were not sorry.

When the relationship with Sir Allen Stanford, which had made English cricket administrators look like a bunch of money-grabbing sycophants, finished messily, nobody was sorry.

If the first match of the Ashes series at a Cardiff ground, which has never staged a Test, does not go smoothly on or off the field doubtless people will be despondent but not sorry.

There is a mood of quiet despair around the game at present. Perhaps it is caused by the cold of the early season, perhaps by the suspicion that we are being asked to watch cricket which should not really be played. Some of us are really sorry about that.

Will Mongoose stop ducks?

The Mongoose at least promises to add to the gaiety of the nation. The Mongoose is a new bat, as revolutionary in its way as Dennis Lillee's ill-fated aluminium prototype from 30 years ago. All being well it will be with us for longer. One innings would be longer.

There are two Mongeese, so to speak, one a bat of conventional dimensions with the crucial difference that its splice is built into the handle. The other has a longer handle, a shorter blade and it has been designed by Marcus Codrington Fernandez specifically for use in Twenty20.

He might have to be quick because there is a suspicion that the novelty is beginning to wear off the format.

Fernandez was inspired and claims, with some scientific backing, that batsmen will have 20 per cent more power and 15 per cent more bat speed.

"I have averaged 36 every season of my life but last summer when I used the short-blade Mongoose that went up to 60," he said. "But I think bowlers will like it because they will see it and fancy their chances."

There spoke a true former marketing man. Sounds fun, but will the Mongoose kill the golden egg?

Fix not wanted

The original (and best) Twenty20 tournament starts this weekend as the Indian Premier League concludes in South Africa.

What was once a short, sharp, breath of fresh air played over three weeks is now to be played in four batches – the group stages split into two, the quarter finals and then finals day. Among all those books of cricketing quotations did nobody ever include: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."?

Cock-up needs true expert

How comforting it was to be told after the abandonment of the one-day international that the soil expert supporting Yorkshire's chief executive in his attempts to explain what had gone wrong with the drainage system had also worked on the new Wembley. The turf there, of course, has already been replaced three times.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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