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The Vote

A ‘dangerous’ puddle disappoints 25,000 at Old Trafford: have sports heroes forgotten their audience?

Published on September 2nd 2009.

The Vote
Yes: - 86%
No: - 14%

Tuesday 1 September and there are 25,000 fans in Old Trafford cricket ground to watch England play Australia in Twenty20. This is the fun version for kids with lights, fireworks and everything done and dusted in three hours.

In the afternoon the rain falls with the match due to start at 7pm. The rain stops at 5.30pm and the ground fills with fans. Some have driven with families for more than two hours – with ticket prices for adults at £40. Play seems likely until the umpires find a couple of soggy metres in an area a bowler may run through - 99% of the rest of the pitch is playable.

They talk to the team captains. They recommend the game is called off because this is ‘international cricket’ and international cricket needs perfect conditions for the precious players who adorn that pinnacle of the sport. The captains agree.

Uproar. Uproar in a polite non-violent cricketing way.

Shane Warne, the ex-top Aussie spin bowler, plus other commentators, come up with ways by which the game could still be played. Nick Knight, the ex-England player, says that the teams owe the public a game, that if they don't play this is terrble for them and a case of cricket shooting itself in the foot.

Jim Cumbes, chief executive of the hosts Lancashire, says: “If this were a domestic game we would have been playing. I don’t see what the difference is between that and international cricket.”

None of the officials or captains listen. The match is abandoned.

Is this is where we’ve got with ‘professionals’ or rather ‘professionals with agents and managers’: cowardice. Players are cowards when they walk away from the only obligation they have which is to entertain - even when there is a small chance that they may get injured. Afterall they may get injured in perfect conditions. Or maybe this is pure self-indulgence, where a player puts his own interests before the age-old principle of the entertainer that the show must go on.

On Tuesday night the cricket teams of England and Australia could have put on some sort of show for the thousands who'd turned up. This was only an exhibition game anyway. They let down their audience, their paying public, when they should have been doing everything in their power to keep them happy. This should have been their instinct, their first thought.

Not that such arrogance is exclusive to cricket, it’s becoming common to all sporting elites. It’s a reversal of what’s right. It’s the sporting world turned upside-down: the dog being wagged by the tail.

The Australian and England players were jeered as they got back into their luxury coaches. Damned right.

Do you agree the cricketers were cowards and representative of a new spirit of self-indulgence in sport?

Vote on the homepage.

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johnthebriefSeptember 2nd 2009.

I was at Old Trafford on Tuesday. No communication from the authorities to let people know what was happening, no effort from the players. Not a good advert for Manchester - I thought OT was fighting for its test status? Doesn't deserve it on this showing.

Jim of HarwoodSeptember 2nd 2009.

I was at the 20/20 game on Tuesday and from the first inspection at 6.30ish to the revised start/inspection at 7.45 I never felt at any stage that the autorities intended to play. Take the floodlights for example-which would take at least 10mins to raise from their 'half-cocked' positions behind the stand and then have to be aimed and then warmed up (that takes at least another 10minutes to reach full brightness- these floodlights never moved. If the umpires were confident that 7.45 was a realistic start time, then surely these floodlights would have moved into position at 7.00 to be ready for the revised start. call me a cynic but as gazed over the stand at 8.00 (still waitng for the announcement) and watched the 20deep queues at the Bar and foos serverys, I could not help noticing that this extra 90mins of revenue would have been lost if the umpires had called off the game straight away.One final point...as the water hoggs and ground staff toiled on the outfield, if the real problem all along was the runups, why was this area not concentrated on because i would not be only on to notice that the water hogg never went near to the runups????

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