The AXA League match with Surrey at Old Trafford last night - which Lancashire won by four wickets to move to the top of the table - cost pounds 40,000 to stage, of which the four hydraulic floodlight pylons accounted for pounds 30,000. Only 1,500 tickets were sold in advance and after a cool, showery day in the North-west it was soon clear that the break-even target of 5,000 was not going to be realised.
No amount of fireworks, rock music and bucking broncos (simulated) could compete with the damp chill in the Manchester air, nor the counter-attraction of World Cup football viewed from a warm living room.
Inasmuch as there was a positive result, the cricket did emerge the winner, even though rain drove the players off after 39 overs after Surrey chose to bat first and reduced Lancashire's reply to 22. This had the benefit, of course, of introducing spectators witnessing their first match to the baffling complexities of Duckworth-Lewis.
Their formula required Lancashire to score 132 to beat a below-strength Surrey's 182, the main substance of which was provided by a 24-over partnership of 122 between Ian Ward and skipper Adam Hollioake, which compensated for a shaky start in which Peter Martin and Ian Austin had moved the ball off the seam to reduce Surrey to 27 for 3.Reuse content