Plans are at an advanced stage for a prime time cricket-themed television show, involving some of the world’s elite players. Investment company Ingenious Media are funding the Titans of Cricket, scheduled to take place in three city arenas over one week in October.
Their previous ventures include box office smashes such as Avatar and X Men. Negotiations with both A-list players over contracts and TV companies over the UK rights have already begun. The shows are expected to feature four teams – one English, the others from overseas – and will pit individuals against each other in cricket-specific challenges such as fast bowling, power hitting and fielding drills.
The draw of India’s superstar cricketers has made a mockery of the wave of austerity that has hit the corporate sports market in recent years. A dinner hosted by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in central London on July 18 is over-subscribed for its 800-strong capacity, and has proved a magnet for Bollywood stars and prominent Indian businessmen.
The entire India Test squad will be present for the event, which is a fundraiser for the launch of Dhoni’s foundation, the plans of which include a cricket academy in his home state of Bihar.
Dual 20-over international Dirk Nannes is in demand with English counties, with Somerset leading the chase for his signature for this summer’s Friends Life t20 campaign. The 2010 runners-up are without Kieron Pollard for their first eight games of this summer’s competition, as he has one-day commitments with West Indies.
Nannes, 35 this week, has previously appeared for Nottinghamshire and Middlesex, and recently set up home in the Cotswolds. He built his reputation in the shortest form of the game with his displays for Victoria and in the Indian Premier League while he has represented both the Netherlands and Australia in ICC World Twenty20 tournaments.
The International Cricket Council are expected to endorse the new-look pink ball for their trial matches ahead of an inaugural day-night Test. MCC, who have funded extensive research into alternative coloured balls over the past few years, believe a switch from black stitching to white has increased the visibility of the pink ball under floodlights and deemed its use in the English domestic season opener against reigning champions Nottinghamshire a resounding success.
MCC’s head of cricket John Stephenson wrote to the ICC’s cricket committee to offer the opinion that floodlit Test cricket was now a viable proposition but recommended that any subsequent testing of the ball’s durability be done at venues with high lux levels and against black sightscreens. Oh, and for those concerned about the effects of dew on the ball, there is the simplest of solutions – don’t schedule night cricket at grounds where dew is an habitual issue.
An odd compromise has been reached between traditionalists and those wanting to see first-class status for University matches against the counties scrapped. Only the first two matches played by any of the six MCC-backed centres of excellence will retain their prestige from 2012 onwards.
Although there is some logic to the limitation – the student teams are at their strongest in April and early May before the exam period kicks in – it opens the possibility that in future years complete wash-outs go down in the annals but matches such as Kevin Pietersen’s comeback from injury for Surrey do not. Cambridge MCCU had already featured in two first-class fixtures prior to KP captaining his county at Fenner’s.
Follow me on Twitter: @richardgibson74