The Dukes pink ball during the MCC XI v Scotland at Lords Cricket Ground on April 21, 2008 in London, England. The pink cricket ball is being trialled for the first time in a match in England. Tom Shaw/ Getty Images
The Dukes pink ball during the MCC XI v Scotland at Lords Cricket Ground on April 21, 2008 in London, England. The pink cricket ball is being trialled for the first time in a match in England. Tom Sha

Expanding Test privileges to likes of Ireland and Afghanistan could be boon the five-day format needs



Is any sport quite as fatalistic as cricket? Seldom does a match pass without a lament for the fact one format or other, is dying, and that we are all powerless to stop it.

Whenever a Test is played somewhere in the world in front of a swath of empty seats, the response is always the same. Something Needs To Be Done.

Among the latest remedial measures proposed to save the five-day format are to make it four days instead, use a pink ball, play at night, and to have two divisions, with promotion and relegation. All while being part of a larger, convoluted, multi-format Super Series. Not necessarily all at once, but possibly.

Giving the fixtures a semblance of context, rather than just playing the reams and reams of bilateral “friendlies”, as is currently the case, and building towards a tangible goal, seems an eminently sensible thing to do.

The fact the initial plan is apparently to have a top division of seven and second tier of five shows the ICC's thinking has finally, after years of their compelling argument being largely ignored, been forced by the rise of Ireland and Afghanistan.

See also:

• Osman Samiuddin: ICC to review independent study to see if there is a fine-edge advance to be made in DRS

• Video: An explainer video of the technology the ICC are reviewing

• Osman Samiuddin: Inside the International Cricket Council's corridors of power: Different, but same same

• Osman Samiuddin: Are we back in 2008? ICC's attempts at new cricket calendar strangely similar to eight years ago

For some while now, they have been in a tier of their own. Too good for the level of competition they play in, but with no access to the level above, their tier has been more an ether than a league.

Both sides have proved themselves in the Intercontinental Cup, the first-class competition for the nations just below the Test game. Having them as regulars on the Test circuit would have great merit.

Home internationals between England and Ireland, were they ever to meet, would immediately have the sort of rivalry that sustains sport.

And seeing the former refugee turned cricketers of Afghanistan walking through the Long Room at Lord’s to play a Test match would be the perfect finale to the game’s greatest real life fairy tale.

Two divisions might also go some way to arresting, or at least challenging, dwindling standards in historically established nations.

Not everyone agrees relegation is a good thing. It is a concept alien to North American sport, for example, and they do all right.

But for the likes of Zimbabwe and, to a lesser extent, the West Indies in the Test game, might be forced into greater introspection if they were demoted to the ranks of a new second tier.

Is two divisions a cure-all, though? Will going to the game itself be so much more appealing because it is part of a championship, with an actual winner at the end, and actual punishment for underperformance?

Seven hours of watching a team bowl 13 overs per hour, with six wickets falling, 260 runs scored, and the promise of no result for some days yet, can be a chore for those not in tune with the finer points of the game. That sort of a day at the cricket might sound like heaven for aficionados, but there are not enough of those around.

Bloating attendances will need more than just the promise of three points towards promotion or avoiding relegation at the end of five days.

A day at the Test needs to be an event. Lord’s does it perfectly. That is part of the reason 100,000 are reportedly heading through the gates for the ongoing match between England and a Sri Lanka side shorn of the star names of its recent past. There is more to a day at Lord’s than just the play in the middle.

The pink-ball Test in Adelaide between Australia and New Zealand, too, was well received. It was an event, and, vitally, was played at a time when more people can get to the ground to watch.

Foisting an old format on new arrivistes has its own problems, too. International competition in the long game was invented 139 years ago, to suit people who were already playing it. It was of the day.

Twenty20 better suits the present. Take the Afghans, who can beat the world champions in it. Their fans adore it, less so the long format.

Countries such as Afghanistan and Nepal, where cricket’s future is germinating, might be less appreciative of the actual process of playing multi-day cricket than they would the opportunities provided by being inside the elite.

So expanding the privileges enjoyed by the few who do play Tests to the many who do not could be the biggest gift the game’s organisers could provide.

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There are various ways of getting to the southern Serengeti in Tanzania from the UAE. The exact route and airstrip depends on your overall trip itinerary and which camp you’re staying at. 
Flydubai flies direct from Dubai to Kilimanjaro International Airport from Dh1,350 return, including taxes; this can be followed by a short flight from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti with Coastal Aviation from about US$700 (Dh2,500) return, including taxes. Kenya Airways, Emirates and Etihad offer flights via Nairobi or Dar es Salaam.   

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'Of Love & War'
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Milestones on the road to union

1970

October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.

1971

March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

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Investors: Self, family and friends

Primera Liga fixtures (all times UAE: +4 GMT)

Friday
Real Sociedad v Villarreal (10.15pm)
Real Betis v Celta Vigo (midnight)
Saturday
Alaves v Barcelona (8.15pm)
Levante v Deportivo La Coruna (10.15pm)
Girona v Malaga (10.15pm)
Las Palmas v Atletico Madrid (12.15am)
Sunday
Espanyol v Leganes (8.15pm)
Eibar v Athletic Bilbao (8.15pm)
Getafe v Sevilla (10.15pm)
Real Madrid v Valencia (10.15pm)

How Beautiful this world is!
Grand slam winners since July 2003

Who has won major titles since Wimbledon 2003 when Roger Federer won his first grand slam

Roger Federer 19 (8 Wimbledon, 5 Australian Open, 5 US Open, 1 French Open)

Rafael Nadal 16 (10 French Open, 3 US Open, 2 Wimbledon, 1 Australian Open)

Novak Djokovic 12 (6 Australian Open, 3 Wimbledon, 2 US Open, 1 French Open)

Andy Murray 3 (2 Wimbledon, 1 US Open)

Stan Wawrinka 3 (1 Australian Open, 1 French Open, 1 US Open)

Andy Roddick 1 (1 US Open)

Gaston Gaudio 1 (1 French Open)

Marat Safin 1 (1 Australian Open)

Juan Martin del Potro 1 (1 US Open)

Marin Cilic 1 (1 US Open)

RESULT

Valencia 3

Kevin Gameiro 21', 51'

Ferran Torres 67'

Atlanta 4

Josip Llicic 3' (P), 43' (P), 71', 82'

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Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
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A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The specs: 2019 Audi A8

Price From Dh390,000

Engine 3.0L V6 turbo

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Power 345hp @ 5,000rpm

Torque 500Nm @ 1,370rpm

Fuel economy, combined 7.5L / 100km

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ODI FIXTURE SCHEDULE

First ODI, October 22
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Second ODI, October 25
Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Third ODI, October 29
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Maestro

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Brief scoreline:

Burnley 3

Barnes 63', 70', Berg Gudmundsson 75'

Southampton 3

Man of the match

Ashley Barnes (Burnley)

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

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1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

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2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
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.

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