An increasingly crowded international programme means that this year will not see the third in the series of matches between a European XI and an MCC side.

The fixture was first played in Rotterdam in 2006, when the MCC had a comfortable win, and saw the Europeans gain their revenge at Lord's last year.

But with the three top European countries involved in no fewer than six four-day Intercontinental Cup matches this summer, plus the European Championships in Dublin followed by the Twenty20 World Cup qualifier in Belfast and the European A team tournament in the Netherlands, there was simply no room for a further representative match.

‘We talked to all the national bodies,' ICC Europe Development Manager Richard Holdsworth said this week, ‘and it was clear that it was unlikely that we would be able to call on many of the leading players.

‘The MCC were very keen to go ahead, but with those players contracted to counties already out of the reckoning, there was no chance of our being able to put together a reasonably representative side.'

Holdsworth says that there had even been initial discussions about expanding the fixture, to include a two-day game as well as the one-day match played in the past two seasons.

With the schedules of the top Associates countries making ever greater demands on amateur cricketers, it is hardly surprising that this attractive but essentially exhibition game comes fairly low on the priority list, and even on the occasions when it has been played the European selection has been adversely affected by players' unavailability.

It is hoped that it may be possible to resume the fixture in 2009, and Holdsworth is optimistic that once the new phase of the High Performance Program comes into effect the leading Associates may have some contracted players who would more likely be available for such matches.

One cannot help feeling that it would be even better if a time-slot could be found for the game(s) – at the very start of the European season, for example – which would persuade the counties to make their European players available.

Imagine a side like the following taking on the MCC: Porterfield, Zuiderent, Ten Doeschate, Morgan, N O'Brien, Haq, Blain, McCallan, Amjad Khan, Schiferli, Rankin.

THAT would be a match to savour!