From the Times’ Ashling O’Connor.

Major League baseball is set to come to the Oval in the summer of 2008. Senior administrators from Surrey County Cricket Club and Major League Baseball (MLB) have been in discussions about the feasibility of bringing America’s national pastime to England’s oldest Test-match venue.

A study conducted by MLB officials has concluded that the pitch is large enough to accommodate a baseball diamond, while the completion of the OCS Stand to increase the ground’s capacity to 23,000 has made the Oval a more attractive venue to host the first Major League game to be played in Europe.

Discussions had initially centred on an exhibition game and two regular-season games in the spring of 2007. But the inclement British weather prompted a rethink and the plan is now for a three-match series to be held around the Independence Day weekend in July 2008.

The games will count as part of the regular season and are likely to feature East Coast teams such as the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox, the 2004 World Series champions. Further discussions will confirm the dates, the teams and the logistics of building a pitcher’s mound in the middle of a busy summer for cricket.

There are almost unlimited opportunities for a rich cultural exchange. Cricket afficiandos can earn grudging respect for American attention-spans after they get a load of Steve Trachsel. MSG executives might offer a contract to Ch. 5’s Jonathan Gould, hailing the broadcaster as “every bit as articulate as a young Fran Healy”.

OK, the opportunites are very limited.

Slightly closer to home, the Seattle Mariners have signed germ-phobic P Kevin Appier and 2B Fernando Vina to minor league contracts.