15 AUGUST 1958, Page 7

IF IT DOES nothing else, the Wardle affair may wake

up the somnolent MCC into realisation that something is very wrong indeed with county cricket. The decline has been going on for a long time : the kiss of death, I thought, was admin- istered by Mr. R. A. Butler when, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he exempted it from entertain- ments tax—ostensibly as a gesture to the national game, but really because it was no longer enter- taining. In short, it was dying. It would now be dead, in its traditional form, but for money made by the clubs on the side, through pools. But what is the point of twenty-two men playing all-day six-day-a-week cricket if they cannot attract spectators? No wonder they get bored and frus- trated, and in the end turn to the,vicious back- biting of the kind we saw earlier this summer from Compton and now from Wardle. My own belief is that unless county cricket reorganises itself— say, by confining itself to the weekends (if the Lord's Day Observance Society can be circum- vented)—it will soon become extinct; a right and proper, though sad, fate of any institution that fails to adapt itself to changing tastes and con-