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T20 clash abandoned in run up farce

Heavy afternoon rain at Old Trafford as forced tonight's Natwest Twenty20 International between England and Australia to be abandoned.

The start of the game was delayed by an hour to allow the ground staff to remove the covers and dry the pitch.

Umpires Peter Hartley and Nigel Llong inspected the wicket and run up areas at 19.50 and although they were happy for play to get underway they we were worried about one small area in the bowlers' run-up at the Brian Statham End.

With the covers left on all day the area of concern had become very soggy and was ruled unfit for play. It gave the umpires no choice but to abandoned the game much to the amusement of the capacity crowd.

Both captains supported the umpires decision saying the run up was unfit and it put the bowlers in danger of injury. Australia captain Michael Clarke felt the area in question wasn't very sturdy under foot and fast bowlers like Bret Lee would struggle.

Paul Collingwood supported Lee's view saying "We wanted to get out there and play but you have to be realistic and make a brave decision. There's an area of concern with the run-ups and it's unfit for international cricket."

The abandonment of the game lead to an angry response from Lancashire chief executive Jim Coombes who claimed "It's a disaster which I think could have been avoided"

He added "I think the covers were good enough. If this was a domestic game on a Friday night against Yorkshire we'd have been playing and I don't see what the difference is between this and international cricket."

"If we can't play international Twenty20 cricket in those conditions we shouldn't be playing it at all."

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