On the Front Foot: The north is back on the map next year as 'Olympic Tests' can't go south

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The Independent Online

There seems to be some confusion about the lack of a Test match this summer further north than Nottingham. In a country with nine venues it seems odd and probably inexcusable. The north should feel aggrieved.

It is true that Old Trafford and Headingley have vied with each other in recent years to be uninviting cesspools of crass humanity during Test matches, while the Riverside in Durham has been a breath of fresh air. But this is hardly spreading the gospel.

Of the seven Test matches this summer, three are in London, with one each in Southampton, Birmingham, Nottingham and Cardiff.

It seems that there are two explanations. One is connected with the Olympic Games in London next year. The International Olympic Committee prohibit the staging of other sporting events within a certain distance of the host city and for a certain period before, during and after. Therefore, the north will be allowed Test matches next year during the Olympics, which seems doubly insulting since the nation's attention will be elsewhere.

The other explanation for this year's dearth is that Old Trafford is out of commission while it undergoes long-awaited renovation. Headingley, which has already been refurbished after a fashion, is not on the rota for 2011 under the "staging agreement" and Durham has an Ashes Test in 2013.

Too many venues, too many Tests. This schedule should not be repeated or the north-south divide will be all too real.

Laughter Before Winning

Some splendid initial thoughts from two of OTFF's regular readers. The challenge is to make a sentence from the initials of cricketers, inspired jointly by the nickname bestowed on the former England captain, JWHT Douglas (Johnny Won't Hit Today) and the plethora of initials enjoyed by this summer's Sri Lankan tourists.

Although three should be the minimum, Chris Sladen came up with Simply Terrifying for ST Finn. More cruelly, following an innings for Warwickshire, Chris suggests WTS Porterfield might be Won't Trouble Scorers.

Whereas Martyn P Jackson remembers the entertaining batting of MJK Smith as Mike's Jaunty Knocks. He also has SCJ Broad, often grumpy on the field, as Stuart's Cricketing Japes, and who could Inert Jonathan Lingers be but IJL Trott?

Keep them coming to the address below. Tickets for the winner.

Confusion in the counties

Welcome to see that David Morgan, the former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board and president of the International Cricket Council, has been brought back into a key role. He will lead a much-needed review into the business of domestic cricket – which, in too many cases, is in a grim fight for survival.

It is difficult to understand what the brief is, though perhaps the explanation from the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, sheds light. "Key areas for discussion will include the interface between the ECB and the counties and issues relating to procurement, marketing, social networking and new media – all with a view to ensuring there is the maximum amount of synergy between our domestic county game, the recreational game and our international teams."

Or perhaps not.

Early starts needed

After the delayed start on Thursday, time had to be caught up in the First Test. As is usual, an hour was added to Friday's play.

Nobody has satisfactorily explained why time cannot be added at the start of a day. It cannot be for travelling spectators, since there have been so few in Cardiff.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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