Old Trafford Farce

Old Trafford took another backwards step in it’s bid to get test cricket back with farcical scenes leading to the abandonment of the 2nd Twenty20 between England and Australia on Tuesday evening. In scenes reminiscent to that of the Sir Viv Richards stadium earlier this year the game had to be abandoned due to an unsafe patch in the bowlers run ups.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the umpire’s decision – thats another argument, or whether or not the players should have played whatever the conditions – I was amazed to hear Jim Cumbes views afterwards in his interview with Sky Sports pundit Paul Allott when he seemed totally oblivious to the fact that to the viewing cricket world Lancashire CCC would appear to look totally to blame and totally incompetant in being able to put on a game of international cricket.

I was also very surprised to hear him claim it wasn’t damaging to Lancashire CCC! Just who is he suggesting the outcome did look bad on then? Would it be the umpire’s? The ECB? The Weathermen? He didn’t name names but he certainly didn’t seem to be blaming the host county for the problem.

His excuses that the ground had been sweating too much under the covers was a joke, he also went on to claim that the drainage and the covers had worked fine in his opinion, a view to which the watching majority would strongly disagree! Agreed the drainage is a lot better than it was as they until recently had none, but to suggest it was adequate is insulting peoples intelligence.

He also claimed that – basically – Twenty20 cricket should be played in any old condiditions, another limp argument. Is he suggesting now that the standard of international cricket should be lowered to club cricket or ‘Its a knockout’ level?

Twenty20 cricket is big business these days, IPL contracts are worth millions. Is Cumbes now claiming that T20 is a just a big laugh not to be taken seriously?

Maybe the players should have gone out and played, I don’t know as I’m not a professional athlete. But the point is – and seems lost on Jim Cumbes – that Lancashire CCC had a responsibility to provide playable conditions to host an international cricket match.

Sky Sports also pay a lot of money for the privilage of covering these games, not to mention the amount they pay to set up the outside broadcast facilities – a point which I’m sure won’t be lost on the ECB penny counters when it comes to awarding test matches in future.

I heard Cumbes on Test Match Special last year bemoaning the fact that Old Trafford had no Ashes test match, blaming the ECB’s bidding process. He was also pointing out that it was hard to generate funding for ground renovations – or justify spending it – if there was no gaurantee of test cricket in the future. A fair argument perhaps, if not a very negative one. I don’t think the Chief Executive’s of Durham, Cardiff and Hampshire got their ground redeveloped with that attitude.

He sounded (to me anyway) to be suggesting that Lancashire had a divine right to host test cricket based on the fact it always had done. His views seemed to smack of ‘it’s not our fault the ECB have gone elsewhere’, seeming not to be able to take the initiative and ensure the ECB keep coming back to Manchester, almost like he couldn’t understand why Old Trafford was getting left behind.

It was a very amateur and negative sounding attitide, and after the scenes on Tuesday evening and hearing Jim Cumbes excuses he didn’t just sound amateur any more! Lancashire would seem to have a lot of work to do to repair their damaged reputation, if I where a member of the club I would be wondering if I would trust Jim Cumbes with that responsibility?