By Paul Edwards

The knives are sharpened and no one should blame their owners. When Jack Leach lost his leg stump to Josh Hazlewood yesterday it felt like a dam had burst, not only in the Media Centre but also in other parts of Emerald Headingley. Hardly anyone was prepared to watch an England team get bowled out for 67 in an Ashes Test and let the humiliation pass. Only the Australian supporters appeared curiously unwilling to embark on a sustained bout of condemnation and analysis. Friday was not a good day for some of those in power at the ECB; this morning’s papers may be equally uncomfortable for them. And there is still England’s second innings to come.

By the time I left the press box at half past eight last evening many journalists were still working. But so were the temporary staff hired by Yorkshire to collect the litter discarded on the Western Terrace. And so were the caterers over in the spanking new stand as they prepared the tables for the next batch of corporate guests this morning, when the hospitality suites will, like the rest of the ground, be a sell-out. Yet again one was reminded how big Ashes Tests are and how precious they remain to spectators young and old, who are keen to see cricket’s greatest contest flourish. The problem, as many of the papers and websites will make clear, is that unless Test cricket is viewed as precious by those in charge of the English game, it will wither due to neglect. If you sell out red-ball cricket, do not be surprised if you cannot sell out Test match venues. And please do not kid yourself that winning the World Cup will be a substitute. Nor will any other white-ball tournament, new or old, however much advertising money is thrown at it.

An image of Lauren Winfield-Hill and Adil Rashid, with the Yorkshire logo and Northern Diamonds logo in the middle

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