And so ends nearly six months of cricket between England and New Zealand. As per their respective ICC world rankings, England (ranked third in Test matches and seventh in one-day internationals) won both the home and away Test series and New Zealand (ranked third in ODIs and seventh in Tests) won both the home and away ODI series.
There is a neat symmetry about all of this and four series were well contested and enjoyable. The Barmy Army’s presence resulted in record crowds in New Zealand and good weather produced some fine cricket in England. But there is no doubt that cricket fans worldwide will be delighted that it is all over. Watching two of the world’s more mediocre sides in battle for half a year is not what modern cricket spectators are after.
Lord’s was the venue for the final ODI of the Natwest series and is the home of cricket. The hallowed stadium has the best facilities of any ground in the world and everything about the place is absolutely marvellous. Spectators are allowed to bring a bottle of wine into the ground and MCC ties, pink linen trousers and panama hats give the stands an air of old school sophistication.
On one side of the ground members munched on cucumber sandwiches and quaffed claret on the lawn beneath the stuffy pavilion at the lunch break. In front of the pavilion a one hundred-strong marching band in sombre black tunics trumpeted with military precision.
But at the other end youngsters guzzled beer as they suntanned next to the rock band behind the ultra-modern blimp-like Investec Media Centre. The game of cricket is rapidly changing under the influence of public demand for faster and more exciting cricket and Lord’s faces the difficult task of carefully managing its various identities. Doing business with Allen Stanford and at the same time keeping MCC members happy is not going to be easy.
On another note, security officers from Cricket Australia are in Pakistan assessing player safety in that country ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy, which is scheduled to be held there in September this year. South Africa has been named ahead of Sri Lanka as the reserve host nation and the matter will be discussed at the six-day annual ICC conference that begins on Sunday 29 June. The latest from those in the know is that the event will happen in Pakistan unless a major disaster takes place there between now and then.
The issue at the top of the ICC conference agenda is likely to be more controversial. It is the motion of what to do with Zimbabwe. The England Cricket board this week cancelled a future series with that African cricket team and even South Africa, who have until recently supported Zimbabwe cricket, took a strong stand against them. It comes as no surprise that the cash rich and power hungry BCCI (the Indian cricket board) continues to fully support Zimbabwe cricket.
This article appeared on Cricket365 in June 2008