Tuesday, April 13, 1999 Published at 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Phoenix and Lightning: Cricket's bid to rise from the ashes
Crusaders will battle the Outlaws at Lord's this week
When the Foxes square up against the Hawks later this week to do battle who will be watching?
Of course, it's the old chaps. But however hard they might claim it's just not cricket, they are wrong. With the start of the cricket season, this is the face of the modern game. It's just a face that's had some surgical enhancement.
And where once cricket's great rivals, Lancashire and Yorkshire, faced each other, from this season on it will be Lightning taking on Phoenix.
Eagles will play Royals, Bears will face up to Gladiators, Dynamos are to be pitted against Sabres. And there probably won't be a cucumber sandwich in sight
It's a very different matter sitting in a vibrant stand with thousands of others on a sunny day watching the world's best cricketers do battle than parking yourself in a deserted, windy ground to cheer on an unenthusiastic second XI.
How different things could be, the game's administrators mused. Premier League football draws tens of thousands, as does that quintessentially un-English game ice-hockey. Why should cricket be so unfashionable?
Kent County Cricket Club was the one team to hold back, but it too has bowed to peer pressure and has announced that henceforth its one-day team shall be known as the Kent Spitfires.
Or course many people are not too happy. Yorkshire firebrand (though obviously not a phoenix) Fred Trueman didn't mince his words, saying it was Americanising the game. "Absolutely stupid," he said, as if unleashing an unplayable delivery.
Tim de Lisle, editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly, however, plays a textbook forward defensive, saying: "I think these are steps in the right direction, but that's as far as I'm prepared to go.
He said when Surrey called their one-day team the Surrey Lions a couple of seasons ago, it had added about 10% to their attendance.
"If this pulls in 10% more young people, then who cares if a few of the older viewers don't like it."
And Yorkshire Phoenix supporters can at least console themselves that their name seizes the zeitgeist - Leeds-born Spice Girl Melanie Gulzar named her daughter Phoenix Chi two months ago. How many other sides can honour their own native Spice Girl like this?
(Minor Counties watch out - Posh Spice was born in Hertfordshire.)
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