Rain pulls plug on Oval floodlights

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The Independent Online
Floodlit cricket certainly came to The Oval last night. Around the flooded outfield, pools of water, which had formed following a day of torrential rain, glistened under pounds 40,000-worth of lighting which was to have brought one-day cricket in England out of the dark ages.

The weather deterred the hoped for thousands of fans from attending what was to have been the first AXA Life Sunday League match staged under lights in this country.

As the Surrey and Nottinghamshire players kicked their heels in the dressing- room the match was abandoned, and officials were left counting the cost of trying to put on so ambitious a show, given the fickle nature of the weather in this country.

"We never set out for this to be a financial bonanza," Paul Sheldon, the Surrey chief executive, said, "we merely wanted to pioneer something new. It was always intended to be a break-even operation."

The costs of between pounds 80,000-pounds 100,000 were covered either by sponsorship for the lights, or through the club's insurance scheme.

"So much effort has gone into this from the behind-the-scenes people and it's not fair that we couldn't be given a chance even to get started," the Surrey manager, David Gilbert, said:

With forecasts of further rain overnight the club feared that The Oval outfield would be damaged when the mobile cranes used to erect the lights moved off the waterlogged turf.

n Australia's hopes of match practice before next week's third Test against England were thwarted for a second successive day at The Parks as play against British Universities was again washed out.

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