England v South Africa 2008

England v South Africa, 1st Test, Lord's

Botham slams London scheduling domination

Cricinfo staff

July 16, 2008

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Sir Ian Botham: 'Lets put cricket before the coffers' © Getty Images
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Sir Ian Botham has lashed out at pitches at Lord's and The Oval in the light of the drawn first Test.

In his column in the Daily Mirror Botham was highly critical of the domination of London, which has two Test venues, on touring itineraries. "Out of 25 Test matches since 2005, London has played host to 11 and the rest of the country has had 14. Of those 11 we have won just once, drawing nine and losing the other. Of the 14 games that have been allowed to be played elsewhere in the country, we have actually won 11 of those, drawn one and lost two. What is better for English cricket?"

He accused the authorities of preparing pluperfect surfaces so the games go the distance, with the commercial benefits that brings.

"For me English cricket is about winning matches. If you continue to play on surfaces like this that are designed to last five days then you are going to kill the enthusiasm that exciting and result driven cricket creates.

"Lets put cricket before the coffers and if the powers that be haven't got the vision to see that an England winning side is going bring in more attention and more revenue than a side drawing matches and slipping down the rankings then we're in big trouble."

Botham's tirade is about scheduling, however, likely to fall on deaf ears, even if there will be behind-the-scenes discussions about the pitch.

Lord's and The Oval, with capacities of 28,000 and 23,000, are the biggest grounds in the country and are usually sold out, or close to being so, for the first four days. The income they generate for the ECB dwarfs that from other grounds.

Cardiff, which has a capacity of only 15,000, was controversially awarded the first Test of the 2009 Ashes series, but that was because of financial guarantees received by the ECB which meant that it was able to outbid more established venues. That highlighted that cash is king.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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