Eng v SL live: Cook falls before the rain, 1st ODI, The Oval

Frustrating start to the 50-over series

Score (Rain stopped play): England 35-1 off 7 overs (Kieswetter 13*, Trott 14*) Full scorecard

There can be no complaints about Alastair Cook’s one-day strike-rate then: 5 off 3 balls is positively Sehwag-like.

The manner of his gloved, leg-side dismissal in the third over of Lasith Malinga doesn’t reveal anything about his captaincy or his suitability to open the batting in one-dayers. It was just plain unlucky.

Having lost the toss and then had to wait half an hour for the rain to clear, he had looked perfectly at ease, hitting Malinga for four off his legs in the first over.

Craig Kieswetter, like Cook also returning to the one-day side, played some exquisite off-drives though only one went to the boundary. At the other end Jonathan Trott was busy fetching balls from outside off to punch through mid-wicket.

And that was the entertainment for at least three hours. But soon after 4pm it had stopped raining and the covers started to come off, albeit slowly. Play was due to restart at 5pm with the overs reduced to 32 per side.

The crowd were patient, getting slowly sozzled one imagined. You do wonder sometimes how much venues really need or want play. If they can keep people in the ground for a decent few hours, having sold the tickets, the punters will drink the beer and eat the pies, perhaps in greater quantities when there’s no cricket to watch.

Rain has been a major feature of the first half of this summer. It was a testament to the obvious aesthetic charms of the Rose Bowl that its debut as a Test venue was generally considered a success despite the weather and the limp draw that the match became.

As Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire’s impresario, stood around looking slightly damp and disappointed, the one jibe thrown at him was: “You should have put a roof on it, Rod.” Always one to have the last word, he smiled and said: “We did think about it but it would have cost £100 million.”

What this country needs is not a group of small cricket venues that can barely survive on a Test and a couple of one-dayers every other year.

What we need is a decent-sized stadium with a roof somewhere near Birmingham where you could play short-form cricket all year round – India v Pakistan in November anyone?You would undoubtedly need to be able play other sports there too and it would clearly be a costly exercise. Bransgrove’s estimate might even be conservative.

It’s probably impractical for a number of reasons but it seems insane that in England (and Wales) within the last decade, a host of new sports stadiums have been built at vast expense, all with their specific requirements.

This is clearly an absurdly naive concept but is it not possible that there could be some sort multi-agency, multi-sport approach that prioritised the greater good rather than commercial gain.

John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter  @Cricketer_John

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