ABU DHABI // Never mind the colour of the ball or the inconvenient playing hours. A growing number of people claim it is the notorious "chief executive's wicket" which is most to blame for putting Test cricket in peril. The term was first minted to describe the type of docile playing strip that guarantees enough assistance for the batting side to ensure the match lasts the full scheduled duration.
As Durham marched remorselessly passed 400 with only four wickets lost on day two at the Zayed Stadium yesterday, even Dilawar Mani, chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, voiced doubts about this one. Ahead of a Test match involving Pakistan and South Africa later this year, the first to be staged in the capital, Mani predicted the pitch would be fit to use for 10 days of cricket on this evidence, let alone five.
It took Steve Harmison, who is credited by some as being the first person to have coined the phrase, in relation to last summer's opening Ashes Test at Cardiff, to dispel those fears. He was the only batsman not to get in, as Durham declared their innings on 459 for nine, after MCC's bowlers had toiled for 138 overs. The England fast bowler then made the initial burst for the county champions, as MCC were reduced to six for three, then to 41 for four not long after.
He took two wickets, and where he led, his pink ball partner Callum Thorp followed, as he took three for 25. Even the 19-year-old leg-spinner, Scott Borthwick, got in on the act. He took four quick wickets as the end of the MCC innings arrived in a hurry, as they finished on 162 all out. Durham opted not to enforce the follow-on, with Will Smith and Dale Berkenstein falling in the four overs that were played in return for just seven runs. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org