Northern Test matches just not cricket - in May
Howzat for a waste of time and, in some cases, a waste of money!
England’s Test series against Sri Lanka over three matches in late spring and early summer was never likely to capture the imagination - and so attendances and media coverage for the all-important sponsors - and it got off to a dismal start in the opening clash at Headingley in Leeds.
That was all despite the thrilling Twenty20 World Cup final in the winter and last summer’s Ashes triumph all leaving England’s cricket fans begging for more.
Who in their right minds thought that an under-cooked Sri Lanka - with just two first-class matches in preparation - would be a match for typical Leeds conditions in the middle of May?
Overcast and, at times, damp weather meant it was a swingers’ paradise for the likes of Jimmy Anderson. There was only ever going to be one outcome, despite England’s inevitable batting wobble, and I feel sorry for all those people who bought their tickets, made travel plans and were eagerly anticipating play on what is usually the best day of a Test match - the fourth day.
As we all know, Sri Lanka were shot out twice - for 91 and 119 - after England’s moderate first innings’ score of 298. The match was over by the end of the third day - even allowing for long rain interruptions.
Surely the tourists would have fared far better in the south of England - say at Lords or the Oval - where the weather is traditionally better at this time of the year.
The chances of less swing and conditions not so one-sided in favour of the home side - bearing in mind the standard and location of the opposition - might not be to everyone’s cup of tea, but surely we want to see a contest and not a mis-match?
Fans want the best possible spectacle and cricket administrators must strive to ensure matches are a contest, giving value to those who have tickets.
Otherwise they will be fans no longer and won’t want to fork out the costly sums to pay to watch international cricket.
In future the opening Test matches of an England season must be in the south of the country to make for a more-even contest - and a greater chance of rain not intervening.
Before the first Test Former England captain Michael Vaughan dismissed what was, for me, a bright idea by the ECB to make the series points based with all matches - Tests, one-day internationals and twenty20 clashes - counting towards an overall points score.
However, he has since called for a three-tier Test structure with promotion and relegation to make the game more competitive.
It would get the best players competing against better players more often - and in matches that really mean something.
I’m bowled over by that suggestion!