Richard Gibson: Morgan, Old Trafford and Attitude

Old Trafford is not the only county venue to be undergoing a makeover in partnership with Tesco. The supermarket giants will open a new flagship store in Stretford as part of the £70million council-backed redevelopment which it is hoped will contribute to Lancashire hosting an Ashes Test in 2013. But they have also masterminded a much smaller but equally worthy project – a 12-week renovation of the North Marine Road ground in Scarborough. Tesco chose Yorkshire’s festival outground – which is guaranteed 10 days of top-level cricket a summer – as the region’s community project for 2011 and persuaded half-a-dozen other businesses to club together to fund the £3million project. Work – which includes the demolition and rebuild of the much-maligned toilet block, the gutting and refurbishment of the pavilion and bar in keeping with its Victorian character, the insertion of lifts at its rear, and like-for-like replacement of the wooden benches on the popular bank at the 10,500-capacity ground – is due for completition by the end of March. Scarborough’s cosmetic surgery follows a spruce-up last spring when NatWest identified them as one of three national showcase clubs in their own Cricket Force project.

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Austerity measures are the order of the day around the shires given the raft of annual losses announced by counties since the turn of the year. And even Somerset, one of those in relatively rude health, are cutting their cloth differently for the 2011 season. An email circulated to the 17 other clubs this week warns that visiting teams will no longer be provided with a dressing room attendant, players will have to make one towel last for all four days of a Championship contest, and that food will no longer be delivered from the pavilion to the changing areas as per previous seasons. Who said professional cricketers are pampered?

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Steven Davies’ revelation that he is gay has sparked a flurry of interest from publishers keen to sign him to a book deal. Numerous approaches have been made but the England wicketkeeper’s story is not likely to be told for a couple of years, so that his experiences after coming out are chronicled. Davies, 24, has been heartened by the level of support he has received from his international colleagues since telling them last autumn. However, James Anderson, who shares the same management company as Davies, did not strip for gay magazine Attitude as a direct show of support. It was merely coincidence that father-of-two Anderson agreed to get his kit off for the lads a fortnight earlier.

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England have added the best one-day player on the planet to their attempts to add another global crown to their inaugural Twenty20 win last year, according to one of his team-mates. When asked to name the best 50-over player in the world in his interview with The Wisden Cricketer magazine, Graeme Swann plumped for the Dublin-born Eoin Morgan over more established stars, for his Heineken-like ability to hit the ball to parts others can’t reach.

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