1,459 – 14 November [7069-7071]
• Umpire review situation discussions to go to air (1459-7069).
• All twelve EUP members again on David Shepherd short list (1459-7070).
• Hafeez, Waller join long list of reported off-spinners (1459-7071).
1,460 - 15 November [7072-7078]
• Second world ‘Umpire of the Year’ award to Kettleborough (1460-7072).
• Court asks four to respond to Mudgal IPL findings (1460-7073).
• ‘Independent’ study of UDRS technology accuracy planned (1460-7074).
• CA adopts ICC approach to ’significant’ movement of close fielders (1460-7075).
• Umpire, equipment abuse, leads to fine, suspension (1460-7076).
• Player behaviour impacting on NZ capital’s umpiring numbers (1460-7077).
• Chennai testing shows bowler’s action ‘legal' (1460-7078).
1,461 - 17 November [7079-7080]
• CA reportedly eyeing second day-night Test in late 2015 (1461-7079).
• Both sides fined for slow ODI over-rate (1461-7080).
1,462 - 18 November [7081-7084]
• Report clears ICC chairman of IPL-related corruption (1462-7081).
• MCC pleased with pink ball feedback (1462-7082).
• First senior ODI neutral spot for Windies’ Wilson (1462-7083).
• ‘Unofficial’ test shows Ajmal’s action closer to ‘legal' (1462-7084).
1,463 - 20 November [7085-7089]
• Survey indicates ECB ‘grass roots’ playing numbers fell sharply in 2014 (1463-7085).
• Five Aussies named for Lanka-England ODI series (1463-7086).
• ECB to target female umpire development (1463-7087).
• Loughborough to test Hafeez bowling action (1463-7088).
• NZ arthritis award for Bowden (1463-7089).
1,464 - 21 November [7090-7093]
• Broadcaster wants umpires to talk more during reviews (1464-7090).
• PCB seeking early domestic return for convicted fixer (1464-7091).
• Hearing clears batsman of materials abuse charge (1464-7092).
• Second banned bowler returns to domestic level game (1464-7093).
1,465 - 23 November [7094-7099]
• Investigation opened into early declaration (1465-7094).
• Srinivasan seeks return to BCCI Presidency (1465-7095).
• Senior ODI debut today for Australian (1465-7096).
• Chaudhary named India’s 2014 ‘Umpire of the Year' (1463-7097).
• Player suspended for six months following spectator incident (1463-7098).
• Allow substitutes in Tests, says new CA CMO (1463-7099).
1,466 - 24 November [7100-7101]
• Declaration ‘disrespectful to club cricket’, says opposition skipper (1466-7100).
• Police asked to investigate after flooding stops play (1466-7101).
1,467 - 25 November [7102-7108]
• Supreme Court questions appropriateness of Srinivasan’s BCCI return (1467-7103).
• Aussie off-spinner suspended from bowling after action found to be ‘illegal' (1467-7104).
• 'Vintage umpire’ award for NSW stalwart (1467-7105).
• Senanayake undergoes official retest of his action (1467-7106).
• ’Threatened’ umpire opts out of day two of Mumbai game (1467-7107).
• ‘FA Cup-style’ T20 series could lift game, suggests former England captain (1467-7108).
1,468 - 26 November [7109-7112]
• Batsman in critical condition after bouncer strikes neck (1468-7109).
• Impractical for helmets to cover entire head-neck, area, says retailer (1468-7110).
• Helmet safety issues included in ICC Medical Committee’s research (1468-7111).
• Strikes to batsmen’s chests, close-in fielders, umpires, also issues (1468-7112).
1,469 - 27 November [7113-7115]
• Entire Shield round abandoned after Hughes accident (1469-7113).
• Helmets ‘cannot fully protect batsman’, says manufacturer (1469-7114).
• Match officials for Australia-India Tests announced (1469-7115).
1,470 - 29 November 
• High-profile match death puts game into perspective (1470-7116).
1,471 - 30 November [7117-7118]
• Umpire’s death adds to game's gloom (1471-7117).
• Misbehaviour in two ODI series sees players sanctioned (1471-7118).
PLAYING THE GAME
Friday, 14 November 2014
UMPIRE REVIEW SITUATION
DISCUSSIONS TO GO TO AIR
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to make available the conversations the on-field and television umpires have during review of decisions requested whilst play is in progress during the One Day International series between Australia and South Africa, the first match of which is due to get underway in Perth today. The initiative, which the ICC has labelled a trial, is part of world body's "efforts to make umpiring more understandable to viewers and spectators, and if it is successful it could also feature in "select matches" during the forthcoming World Cup.
The ICC’s General Manager Cricket, Geoff Allardice, said via a press release that: “For years viewers have enjoyed seeing the same pictures as the TV umpire and making their own decisions during a referral or review. Now they will be even closer to the game, hearing what the umpire is saying when making those decisions”. Whether the viewers, or the television commentators who will interpret what is being said will understand all the nuances involved remains to be seen.
ALL TWELVE EUP MEMBERS AGAIN ON
DAVID SHEPHERD SHORT LIST
All twelve members of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel have once again been shortlisted for this year’s David Shepherd trophy as the world’s top umpire for 2014, the winner of which is to be announced this weekend. Amongst the twelve are last year’s winner Richard Kettleborough of England (PTG 1253-6049, 14 December 2013), the 2012 recipient Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka (PTG 991-4812, 16 September 2012), and the winner in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Aleem Dar of Pakistan (PTG 831-4058, 13 September 2011).
The winner of the ICC’s 2014 ‘Spirit of Cricket’ award will also be announced at the same time, however, unlike previous years when details of the finalists were released ahead of time (PTG 1247-6020, 7 December 2013), this year the ICC simply says this year’s winner will be “announced via media release” tomorrow.
HAFEEZ, WALLER JOIN LONG LIST OF
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has been reported with a suspected illegal bowling action following the first cricket Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi this week. The match officials’ report, which was provided to Pakistan team manager Moin Khan, cited concerns about the legality of the 34-year-old off-break bowler's action, however, no details of just what the problem or problems were have not been released.
Hafeez, whose bowling was reported in a Champions League match earlier this year (PTG 1436-6947, 29 September 2014), told reporters then that he had “been bowling like this for the last eleven years” and that he had no plans to modify his action. “I have played several major world events, two World Cups and three World Twenty20s, and nobody had ever questioned my action, [so] this is a big surprise for me”, he said. However, several other media reports indicated that some Pakistan Cricket Board officials weren't as confident as the bowler himself (PTG 1429-6908, 16 September 2014).
Under International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations, Hafeez’s bowling action will now be scrutinised by laboratory testing which has to be conducted within the next twenty-one days. In the mean time will be able to continue bowling in international cricket until the results of the testing are known.
In other recent news, Zimbabwe off-spinner Malcolm Waller was reported with a suspected illegal bowling action during his side’s second Test against Bangladesh in Khulna. The ICC used similar terms to those it used in announcing Hafeez’s report in that Zimbabwe team manager Mufaro Chiturumani was provided with a match officials’ report that "cited concerns about the legality of the thirty-year-old’s bowling action”. Like Hafeez, Waller must now undergo laboratory tests within the next three weeks but can continue bowling in international cricket until the results of that testing is known.
PLAYING THE GAME
Saturday, 15 November 2014
SECOND WORLD ‘UMPIRE OF THE YEAR'
AWARD FOR KETTLEBOROUGH
English umpire Richard Kettleborough was yesterday named as the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) 2014 'Umpire of the Year’, the second year in a row that he has won that award (PTG 1253-6049, 13 December 2013). Kettleborough is the fourth umpire, and only Englishman, in the eleven years the ICC trophy that is now named after his countryman the late David Shepherd has existed, his second win coming after just three years on the ICC's Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) (PTG 766-3758, 26 May 2011).
Aged 41, Yorkshire-born Kettleborough is the youngest umpire currently on the EUP. Prior to taking up umpiring he played 33 first-class matches for Middlesex and Yorkshire in the period from 1994-99. After retirement as a player he made his first class debut as an umpire in 2002, joined the England and Wales Cricket Board's Full List in 2006, stood in his first senior Twenty20 (T20I) and One Day Internationals (ODI) in 2009, and made his debut at Test level in 2010 (E-News 697-3418, 15 November 2010).
Currently he has 24 Tests, 44 ODIs and 17 T20Is to his credit. During the period covered by the 2014 award, 26 August 2013 to 17 September this year, Kettleborough worked in a total of 30 internationals, ten Tests, eight on-field and two in the television suite (8/2), eleven ODIs (10/1), and nine T20Is (8/1). It is believed that as in previous years the award was decided on a combination of votes cast by the ten current Test captains and ICC match referees for games played in that August-September period, plus ICC umpires’ performance statistics gathered over that time. No details of the latter data have been released by the ICC.
This is the eleventh year the ICC has named an 'Umpire of the Year'. The first five from 2004-08 were won by now retired Australian Simon Taufel (E-News 310-1619, 11 September 2008), the next three from 2009-11 by Aleem Dar of Pakistan (E-News 831-4058, 13 September 2011), that for 2012 by Sri Lanka's Kumar Dharmasena (PTG 991-4812, 16 September 2012), before Kettleborough’s wins in 2013 and 2014.
In another of the ICC’s 2014 awards, England seamer Katherine Brunt won the 'Spirit of Cricket’ trophy for asking for a referral when a South Africa batswomen was adjudged to have been caught in a Twenty20 International during the northern summer. The referral showed that the original decision was incorrect and as a result it was reversed and the South African continued her innings. Just how many candidates there were for this years award is not known.
COURT ASKS FOUR TO RESPOND
TO MUDGAL IPL FINDINGS
Four of the thirteen names mentioned in the final Mudgal report into 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing and betting allegations were made public yesterday, but the identities of the other nine are still under wraps on the orders of India’s Supreme Court. The four named were suspended Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Narayanaswami Srinivasan, who is the current chairman of the International Cricket Council, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, BCCI official Sundar Raman, and the co-owner of the IPL’s Rajasthan franchise Raj Kundra.
Reports quote the bench of the Court involved, which comprised Justices TS Thakur and FM Kaleemullah, as saying: “We have seen the report and it did suggest some misdemeanour on part of certain individuals”, but so far they have not specifically publicly linked those named with any dishonesty. Mudgal’s report is said to have been submitted in two parts, one discussing the players involved and the others who were referred to by Justice Thakur as "non-playing actors in the drama”, a category which the four named would fall into.
All four named are amongst those who are now being given access to the probe’s findings so they have the opportunity to file any objections they may have to its contents prior to the next Court sitting into IPL matters on Monday week. That situation resulted in the Court ordering that the BCCI’s already delayed 2014 Annual General Meeting (PTG 1430-6914, 18 September 2014), which was to have been held next week, to be postponed until around mid-December.
‘INDEPENDENT’ STUDY OF UDRS
TECHNOLOGY ACCURACY PLANNED
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to launch an independent study into the accuracy of the technology used in the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), according to a report in the Fairfax Press in Australia earlier this week. Testing is expected to cover all the tools that make up the UDRS at the moment, including ball-tracking technology, 'Hot Spot' and ‘Snicko', the ultimate goal of the study envisaged being obtaining "a consistent system that is used in all [high-profile] matches” around the world, says journalist Cloe Saltau.
Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s General Manager Cricket, is quoted as saying: "We have a Working Group that is looking at the use of technology in umpiring and its aim is to get the best system using technology that we can [and] the first step in that process is to understand how accurate the technology is that we're using today”. That group is believed to have been established fourteen months ago as a result of controversies that occurred during the last Ashes series in England (PTG 1191-5741, 19 September 2013).
This year’s ICC Cricket Committee looked at advice provided to it by the Working Group's and supported one of its "strong recommendations" that all technology used in decision-making should be independently evaluated prior to being included on a revised list of technologies approved for use in UDRS matches. Such testing was said then to be likely to commence by the end of this year, a time-line that fits well with Saltau’s report. She says the project is expected to be undertaken at "a university in the United States”, and that its results "are expected to influence key decisions about the future of the [system]”. As yet though no agreement has been signed with any potential provider who might conduct such an investigation.
In July 2011, then ICC chief executive officer Haroon Lorgat said his organisation planned to carry out, "over the next few months", an independent assessment of infra-red cameras, audio tracking devices, and ball-tracking technology (PTG 790-3868, 6 July 2011). Six months later in February 2012, the ICC indicated publicly that a "detailed independent study" of UDRS ball tracking technology would be conducted by "a Cambridge University group" later that year to "help persuade Indian cricket authorities" that the system's use in matches can be beneficial rather than detrimental to the game (PTG 898-4370, 6 February 2012).
That review, which was conducted by Dr Edward Rosten a former Cambridge University lecturer and an expert in such matters, focussed on obtaining "precise evidence" on the degree to which 'Hawk' and 'Virtual' eye data can be trusted to assist decision making in international matches (PTG 902-4385, 17 February 2012). A “provisional" report presented to the ICC’s Cricket Committee in May of that year said "very positive results in regard to system accuracy” had been obtained, a detailed examination of fourteen "situations" that occurred in Tests indicate that results obtained were in "100 per cent agreement" with the data provided by the ball tracking system in real-time. (PTG 943-4584, 2 June 2012).
Whether that work has continued in the two-and-a-half years since is not known, however, as far as can be ascertained the ICC has not made any public reference to it in that time span.
CA ADOPTS ICC APPROACH TO ‘SIGNIFICANT’
MOVEMENT OF CLOSE FIELDERS
Cricket Australia (CA) has adopted the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) recently announced Playing Conditions change that allows a close in fielder to move in anticipation of a batsman’s shot, and the arrangement will now apply in all competitions run by the Australian body, including its national underage series. News of the ICC’s change surfaced unexpectedly last month as a result of a dismissal in a Pakistan-Australia One Day International in Abu Dhabi (PTG 1448-7014, 14 October 2014).
The ICC's move had been approved by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) which is looking to eventually to amend Law 41 to reflect the philosophy involved (PTG 1450-7026, 16 October 2014). A CA Technical Bulletin says that the change has been accepted “to keep pace with the evolving game and allow the fielding side to respond to the innovation being employed by batsmen”. However, if the umpire’s consider “any form of significant movement is unfair” then the full extent of current Laws 41.7 and 41.8 will apply.
Currently there has been no indication from individual states and territory cricket associations in Australia as to whether any of them plan to adopt the change for their club-level competitions. ICC generated Playing Conditions changes are often applied by national boards to senior representative cricket played under their jurisdictions, however, in many cases such moves do not filter down to club level. That often results in club players who, seeing what happens on television in broadcast matches, becoming confused by rulings made by their match officials who are required to make their judgements using different criteria.
UMPIRE, EQUIPMENT ABUSE,
LEADS TO FINE, SUSPENSION
Former New Zealand player Hamish Bennett has been suspended and fined $NZ200 for using "crude and abusive language” in a verbal attack on an umpire and "abuse of cricket equipment” during a Christchurch Metropolitan Cricket Association (CMCA) match played last weekend. Media reports yesterday suggested fast bowler Bennett "took exception" at being given out during his Riccarton side's ten-wicket loss to opponents Lancaster Park Woolston.
A CMCA hearing found that Bennett was had breached the association's code of behaviour by bringing the game into disrepute and suspended him from this weekend’s round of Twenty20 fixtures that are be played today and tomorrow, however, he will be available to play for Canterbury A in their two T20 matches against Otago A on Monday.
Bennett is said to have "acknowledged that his behaviour was unacceptable and offered the hearing and umpires an apology”. It was his second suspension from Christchurch club cricket for in 2007 he was stopped from playing for two days for "crude, obscene or offensive language" and "showing dissent with an umpire's decision”.
PLAYER BEHAVIOUR REPORTED IMPACTING
ON NZ CAPITAL’S UMPIRE NUMBERS
A media report from New Zealand’s capital Wellington earlier this month said that Cricket Wellington (CW), one of the country's six major regional bodies, is considering introducing "rugby-style red and yellow cards as it has become concerned about players' abuse of umpires”. According to the report “there is a critical shortage of umpires in the city's premier men's club competition”, “player behaviour” being "cited as a major factor, as umpires choose to officiate at school first XI level, rather than face abuse in the men's grades”.
Twelve umpires are needed for Premier League matches each Saturday but the report says an average of only nine have been available, according to quotes attributed to the chairman of the Cricket Wellington Umpires and Scorers Association, Grant McAlister. Rather than appoint a single umpire to a match where they would face player pressure alone, the association has opted to appoint none to "certain fixtures”, a situation that leaves players to "try to keep order and make decisions".
CW community cricket manager Chris Nevin said that captains haven't been happy when no umpires are made available for their games, but that it has been made clear to clubs that things cannot continue as they are. Player behaviour has to improve if CW is to see an improvement in umpire numbers, said Nevin, otherwise his organisation could look at a card system, which has already been tried in a handful of other club competitions around the country (PTG 1435-6938, 26 September 2014).
CHENNAI TESTING SHOWS
BOWLER’S ACTION ‘LEGAL'
Bangladesh medium pacer Al-Amin Hossain’s action has been found to be legal following an independent test and as a result he can continue to bowl in international cricket. Al-Amin, 24, was cited for a suspect bowling action after a Test against the West Indies in September (PTG 1428-6901, 11 September 2014).
CA REPORTEDLY EYEING SECOND
DAY-NIGHT TEST IN LATE 2015
A number of media reports in Australia are suggesting that initial feedback from players who took part in Cricket Australia’s (CA) latest round of day-night first class matches last week has been "surprisingly positive” about the latest version of the ‘Kookaburra’ pink balls used in those games. If correct, such news indicates progress has been made with ball development as the majority of players surveyed following CA’s initial day-night trial last March thought the balls used then were not suitable for use in hoped for day-night Tests in either Adelaide or Hobart late next year (PTG 1383-6689, 1 July 2014).
CA cricket operations manager Sean Cary is quoted as saying after the latest trial he’d "been pleasantly surprised to see the progress [made] from the round [of day-night first class games] played last [March]”. “One of the genuine differences was there was genuine swing at all three venues [where the latest games were played, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth], and the ball retained its hardness and natural sheen for a lot longer”.
Such balls, which have green stitching on the seam, are said to have made for an even contest between batsmen and bowlers at all three grounds, and while there were a number of collapses in the three matches, Cary argues they weren’t limited to what some believe is the more difficult twilight period between full day and full night. However, while the new ball is said to be brighter than those used in the past, one concern is reported to be "the difficulty spectators had in sighting it during the transition period when the lights start to take effect around dusk”.
Cary acknowledged there were still issues to be worked on but believes “we’re getting close” to an appropriate solution and appears confident "at least" one day-night Test will be played during the 2015-16 austral summer. Reports in the past have focussed on the first ever day-night Test being played between Australia and New Zealand next November, but Cary is now said to have “revealed" CA is also “in talks with the West Indies Cricket Board” (WICB) about such a game in December 2015.
The West Indies is currently scheduled to play three Tests against Australia in December-January 2015-16 and Cary’s reported comment indicates talks with the WICB have centred on that series being “kick[ed] off under lights just before Christmas”. Such a move would presumably leave the traditional Boxing Day and New Years Tests in Melbourne and Sydney respectively as normal day-time affairs, with Adelaide and Hobart possibly the venues for day-night Tests against New Zealand in November and the West Indies in December.
BOTH SIDES FINED FOR
SLOW ODI OVER-RATE
Both Australia and South Africa have been fined for maintaining slow over-rates during the first match in their current One-Day International (ODI) in Perth on Friday. Match referee Javagal Srinath of India imposed the fines after each side was ruled to be two overs short of its over-rate target, the two teams taking an average of five minutes to complete an over when they were in the field, more than a minute more than is allowed in most club cricket.
International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations require that for "minor over-rate offences”, which are defined as three overs or less, players be fined ten per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount. As such, Australian George Bailey, who led the side after Michael Clarke suffered a hamstring injury while batting and took no further part in the match, and his counterpart AB de Villiers, were each fined forty per cent each of their match fees, their players loosing twenty per cent.
REPORT CLEARS ICC CHAIRMAN
OF IPL-RELATED CORRUPTION
Current International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan has been cleared of Indian Premier League (IPL) betting or corruption by the Indian Supreme Court’s Mudugal committee, a finding that appears to pave the way for him to return as head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Court suspended Srinivasan from BCCI duties last March after he was one of thirteen people of interest named in Mudgal’s initial report into 2013 IPL match-fixing and betting scandals, however, it did not prevent him from taking up the ICC chairman’s position in July (PTG 1375-6647, 13 June 2014).
Media reports from Delhi overnight quote Mudgal’s latest report as saying in reference to Srinivasan, whose company owns the IPL’s Chennai franchise: “This individual was not involved in match-fixing activities [and] this individual was not involved in scuttling investigations into match-fixing”. However, the report is also said to state that Srinivasan and four other BCCI officials knew about a so-far unnamed IPL player violating the event's code of conduct, but took no action. Just what that violation involved has not been made public.
Of the three other person’s named by the Court late last week (PTG 1460-7073, 15 November 2014), Sundar Raman the IPL’s chief operating officer was found to have known "a contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in [the 2013 IPL] season". Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan's son-in-law, a senior official with the Chennai franchise, was found to have indulged in illegal betting, while Raj Kundra, a co-owner of the Rajasthan franchise, has been accused and charged with being in touch with bookies about betting and of placing bets on IPL games.
MCC PLEASED WITH PINK
John Stephenson, the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) Head of Cricket, is reported to be pleased by what the MCC says is "the strong feedback” received following the latest round of day-night first-class matches in Australia last week. Australian media reports over the weekend indicated that initial feedback about the latest version of the ‘Kookaburra’ pink balls used in those games has been "surprisingly positive” (PTG 1461-7079, 17 November 2014).
Speaking to Lords.org, Stephenson said: "We are very pleased with the latest round of Sheffield Shield matches played with the pink ball and there have been some encouraging words from Cricket Australia about the trials". "MCC believes day-night Test cricket played with a pink cricket ball can be very popular and revitalise the longest from of the game, so it is great to see the idea developed in Australia”.
The MCC has used the ‘Kookaburra' pink balls in the season-opening Champion County match which has been played in a day-night format in the United Arab Emirates over the last five years, and will do so again next March when an MCC sides takes on Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi.
FIRST SENIOR ODI NEUTRAL
SPOT FOR WINDIES’ WILSON
West Indies umpire Joel Wilson, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel, has been selected by the ICC as a neutral in a senior One Day International (ODI) series for the first time. Wilson will be on-field in three of the five ODIs Pakistan and New Zealand are to play in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next month, his ICC neutral colleagues for those games being Richard Illingworth of England from the world body’s Elite Umpires Panel, and Rosham Mahanama from Sri Lanka as the match referee.
Wilson, from Trinidad and Tobago, has stood in fifteen ODIs to date, his nomination for selection in those coming from the West Indies Cricket Board for games played in the Caribbean, although the ICC has appointed him to lower-level internationals over the past few years. The forthcoming fixtures in the UAE suggest he may be under consideration by the world body for potential elevation to more senior umpiring ranks. The ’Trinidad Express’ reported last week that Wilson “has been selected to officiate at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand”, however, that has yet to be confirmed and current evidence available publicly suggests otherwise (PTG 1435-6942, 26 September 2014).
‘UNOFFICIAL’ TEST SHOWS AJMAL’S
ACTION CLOSER TO ‘LEGAL'
Suspended Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has substantially improved his bowling action but he still needs further work to return to being within the International Cricket Council’s legal arm flex limit, says the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Ajmal was reported during a Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in August, and after a biomechanical analysis the spinner was suspended until he changes his action and passes another detailed assessment conducted by an International Cricket Council (ICC) approved laboratory (PTG 1427-6896, 10 September 2014) .
Following extensive remedial work, the PCB sent Ajmal to Loughborough, England, for an “unofficial” biomechanical assessment and it is said to have found he has modified his "bowling action substantially”, however, his arm flex continues to be above the ICC’s fifteen degree limit. "While there is clearly a substantial improvement from the previous official test it is likely that with additional work the bowler can bowl within the fifteen-degree limit”, said a Loughborough laboratory report.
PLAYING THE GAME
Thursday, 20 November 2014
SURVEY INDICATES ECB 'GRASS ROOTS’
PLAYING NUMBERS FELL SHARPLY IN 2014
A "major shake-up" of the way the game is played at club level in England and Wales could be on the way after a survey conducted by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) indicated that the number of people playing the sport there dropped from 908,000 in 2013 to 844,000 in 2014, according to a London ‘Daily Telegraph’ article published overnight. Journalist Nick Hoult says the second National Cricket Survey (PTG 1377-6664, 19 June 2014), which received responses from some 37,500 players, has left the ECB "promising an increase in funding for grassroots cricket” and there are plans to encourage county boards to consider new start times and shorter matches to fit in with modern lifestyles and help those employed in shift work.
Hoult says that a recurring theme from the ECB’s research and from cricket players who have contacted his newspaper, is that league matches on a Saturday take up too much time. He quotes Munir Ali, who is "heavily involved in grassroots cricket in Birmingham”, as saying: “For south Asian cricketers a lack of opportunity [to play cricket] is not the problem”. “A lot of guys who are good enough to play in the Birmingham League on a Saturday are opting instead to play parks cricket which lasts for just twenty overs". The Birmingham League plays fifty-five overs a side games that start at noon and are not normally completed until after six o’clock.
The ECB is said to be planning a new drive to engage with local Asian communities and has targeted five urban areas London, Leeds, Leicester, Bradford and Manchester for growth. A new Twenty20 Under-19 competition is also to be introduced which is designed to help teenagers bridge the gap between youth and adult cricket. Another ambition for the ECB is said to be to reduce the amount of club cricket that is lost due to weather by trying to improve drainage facilities and encourage players to play when "rainfall has been minimal". Only fifteen Saturdays, when "amateur cricket" is normally played, were rated 'dry’ in 2014 compared with twenty in 2013.
Gordon Hollins, the ECB's chief operating officer, is quoted by Hoult as saying: “We are already working in partnership with our thirty-nine County Cricket Boards as part of a detailed participation review”. “We will join them in working with their respective cricket leagues to tackle key factors which affect participation such as match end time, travel distance to matches, playing format, length of game and club-school links”.
Eight months ago the ECB was put on notice by Sport England, the body charged with investing UK government monies into 'grass roots' sport, that it risks losing its funding if its participation levels do not increase (PTG 1323-6380, 29 March 2014). The cricket body, which has made clear the significant additional revenues it expects to receive from the international game as a result of a revamp of International Cricket Council operations, will receive £27.5 million ($A50 million) from Sport England over a four-year period between 2013 and 2017, money which is designed to be used to help improve facilities at cricket clubs.
FIVE AUSSIES NAMED FOR
LANKA-ENGLAND ODI SERIES
Five Australians, Steve Davis, David Boon, Simon Fry, Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker, have been named as the neutral match officials for the forthcoming seven-game One Day International (ODI) series Sri Lanka and England are to play over the next month. For Fry, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), it will be the first time the world body has selected him as a neutral umpire in a senior international, his previous appointments in such games coming via Cricket Australia.
Three Sri Lankan IUP members, Ranmore Martinesz, Ruchira Palliyaguru and Ravindra Wimalasiri, will work with the Australians in managing the series, Martinesz and Palliyaguru each being on-field in three of the fixtures and Wimalasiri one. Boon will oversee all seven games, while Davis, Fry and Tucker are to each stand in two matches each and Oxenford one, with Davis, Oxenford and Tucker working in the television position twice each and Fry once. The three Sri Lankans will also fill fourth umpire spots, Wimalasiri on five occasions and his colleagues one each.
ECB TO TARGET FEMALE
A “new female officiating project” designed to encourage more “women and girls” to become active in umpiring and scoring is to be launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) “by the end of 2014”. The new campaign will set out targets for "the recruitment, development and deployment of female officials across all levels of the game", however, a specific aim is said to be to identify and support “talented umpires” who have the potential for eventual appointments to womens’ international matches.
The ECB’s Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships, former England captain Mike Gatting, said recently that “over the last ten years, tremendous progress has been made at all levels of the women’s game in England, from record numbers participating at the grassroots level to England women’s team now operating as full-time professional cricketers”. “However, there is a big gap when it comes to the number of women and girls taking on officiating roles, particularly as umpires out in the middle”. According to him the ACO “is working hard to address this gap through a range of local and national initiatives that will be launched over the next year”.
Currently just six per cent of the ACO’s 7,800 current members, or around 450 individuals, are female. How many of them are umpires is not known, however, anecdotal evidence suggests by far the majority of those 450 are currently serving the game as scorers.
LOUGHBOROUGH TO TEST
HAFEEZ BOWLING ACTION
Pakistan off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, who was reported for a suspect bowling action during the first Test match against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi last week (PTG 1459-7071, 14 November 2014), is to travel to Loughborough in England for tests of his bowling action next Monday. Hafeez, whose action was also reported during a Champions League Twenty20 game two months ago (PTG 1436-6947, 29 September 2014), could be suspended from bowling in international matches if the forthcoming biomechanics tests show his arm flex exceeds the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) fifteen degrees limit.
Pakistan team manager Moin Khan said Hafeez, who was ruled out of the second Test against New Zealand which is currently underway in Dubai because of a hamstring injury, will fly back to Dubai on Tuesday if the Loughborough tests clear him. Khan said that "If physically fit, [Hafeez] will be in contention to regain his spot for the third Test against New Zealand at Sharjah” which starts on Wednesday.
Last month the England and Wales Cricket Board's National Performance Centre in Loughborough became the fourth laboratory to be accredited by the ICC as an accredited testing centre for illegal bowling actions (PTG 1453-7043, 23 October 2014). Hafeez’s countryman Saeed Ajmal, who is currently suspended from the international game, had his bowling action examined during an “unofficial” test at Loughborough recently, but it found he has more work to do before it meets ICC arm flex limits (PTG 1462-7084, 18 November 2014).
NZ ARTHRITIS AWARD FOR BOWDEN
BROADCASTER WANTS UMPIRES TO
TALK MORE DURING REVIEWS
Australian broadcaster Channel Nine thinks that the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) move to make available the two-way umpire conversations conducted during reviews is a positive development, however, it wants those involved to talk more during such periods, according to Fairfax Media journalist Andrew Wu. The initiative, which the ICC has labelled a trial, is part of world body's efforts to make umpiring more understandable to viewers and spectators, and if it is successful it could also feature in "select matches" during the forthcoming World Cup (PTG 1459-7069, 14 November 2014).
Channel Nine executive producer of cricket Brad McNamara, a former first class player for New South Wales, told Wu the only issue that has arisen so far in the three One Day Internationals played to date in the Australia-South Africa series, has been the amount of "dead air", or silence, during the telecast. McNamara, whose business is entertainment and bolstering viewer numbers, is said to have stated: “while it's a trial for [the ICC], we're on air [and] it's not a trial for us”, so" it's something [the umpires involved] have to be aware of”.
According to McNamara: "Our feedback has been positive, the viewers have liked it, it's worked fairly well, from our point of view”, but “the third umpire needs to keep talking and communicating”. "With all trials there's been a few little things we've discovered that needs tinkering with but I think it's got genuine opportunities to become part of cricket broadcasts in the future”.
During the three ODIs played to date there have been a total of eight referrals, seven of which saw the umpire’s original decision overturned. Australian umpire Simon Fry had three reversed and one struck down, his countryman John Ward had three reversed, while English umpire Nigel Llong's one referral was also reversed.
PCB SEEKING EARLY DOMESTIC
RETURN FOR CONVICTED FIXER
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has written a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) asking it to review the ban on now twenty-two-year-old Mohammad Aamer. The fast bowler is currently serving a five-year ban from all forms of the game after admitting he was involved in spot-fixing during Pakistan's tour of England in 2010, his then captain, Salman Butt and fellow bowler Mohammad Asif also receiving bans for their role in corrupt activities; all three also being jailed in England in 2011 for breaking that country's gambling act.
Earlier his month the ICC’s Board agreed to amendments to its anti-corruption code that allow players banned from its games for match-fixing related activities to play domestic cricket for a period leading up to the completion date of their international-level suspensions. Aamer’s ban is due to end in August next year and a PCB official told reporters this week his organisation had asked the ICC how it would be possible for the fast bowler to make a return to domestic cricket prior to then.
"There is a possibility that Aamer could return to domestic cricket this season as it runs [from September] until April-May 2015”, added the official, who indicated the bowler is "mentally and physically ready" to make a comeback into the game. According to him the PCB expects the entire process involved to last for at least two months.
The PCB is also said to be planning to take up Butt's case with the ICC but only after the rehabilitation for Aamer is complete as "there's a vast difference between the cases of Aamer and Butt". "Butt came and met the [PCB] chairman recently and he has been in touch with us and he is insisting we plead his case, but we are still not convinced he has told us the whole truth about the spot-fixing issue”, said the unnamed official.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said recently that the threat of match-fixing "is not diminishing and you get the impression you have these fixers all around the world and looking for every opportunity trying to find new ways of reaching out to players through social media”. "What has been very encouraging is the level of support the players are giving the [anti-corruption] process”, continued Richardson, and “the old tactic of [fixers] inviting them to dinner and giving them a cell phone isn’t going to work these days”. However, “they will try and stay a step ahead of us and we will have try and stay a step ahead in turn”, he said.
HEARING CLEARS BATSMAN OF
MATERIALS ABUSE CHARGE
Cricket Australia (CA) says in a press release that Victorian Rob Quiney was found not guilty after being reported by umpires in his side's Sheffield Shield match against South Australia on Monday. Quiney was reported by umpires Greg Davidson and Mike Graham-Smith for "Abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during a match” for an alleged incident after Quiney was dismissed caught and bowled in Victoria’s first innings.
As required by CA’s Code of Behaviour procedure, match referee Bob Stratford considered Davidson and Graham-Smith’s’ written report and is said to have offered Quiney a proposed penalty of a reprimand. However, the opening batsman disputed the charge laid against him and following a hearing Stratford convened on Tuesday evening, during which he considered the evidence from both the umpires and the player, Quiney was found not guilty and subsequently cleared. No details of the alleged incident have been released.
SECOND BANNED BOWLER RETURNS
TO DOMESTIC LEVEL GAME
Bangladesh off-spinner Sohag Gazi, who was banned from bowling in international cricket last month after his bowling action was found to be illegal (PTG 1445-6998, 9 October 2014), has played his first competitive match. According to Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s chief executive officer, Gazi played in the Dhaka Premier League match between Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi and Abahani clubs as part of the process to remedy his bowling action.
Nizamuddin told reporters that it was his board's decision to let Gazi play. "He is still working with the coaches but I am not sure if they went to see him, however, we will have footage of his bowling” as two cameras were set up at both ends on the ground for the club match especially for Gazi.
Like the Bangladeshi, banned Sri Lankan off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake has been permitted by the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to play domestic cricket, although he undertook remedial work in Perth prior to that (PTG 1427-6896, 10 September 2014). Reports earlier this month said that SLC hope to send Senanayake to the newly-accredited International Cricket Council testing centre at Chennai’s Sri Ramachandra University soon for “unofficial” retesting.
PLAYING THE GAME
Sunday, 23 November 2014
INVESTIGATION OPENED INTO
Injured Australian captain Michael Clarke's attempts to be fit for the first Test against India in ten days time appears to have been behind an unusual declaration in Sydney grade cricket yesterday, his club Western Suburbs electing to end their opening innings of a two-day Saturday-Saturday game at 0/17. Media reports say Wests, having named Clarke as a substitute for the second day of the match, were sent in by hosts Paramatta before declaring after 9.5 overs, their opponents then declared at 2/140, before Wests returned to bat for the rest of the day to reach 1/230 at stumps, a lead of 103.
Fairfax Media journalist Chloe Saltau says in a story this morning that if Clarke's hamstring improves rapidly he will be allowed to bat on day two of the game next Saturday, five days before the Test is due to start. She says the clubs' tactics demonstrate that Clarke hasn't given up on being fit for that game. Western Suburbs coaching coordinator Russel Grimson is quoted by Saltau as saying: "I wouldn't say [the early declaration is] skullduggery”, rather "I would say Paramatta are trying to win a cricket game and their role is to get six points for their team”. "We would obviously like to see one of our players playing for Australia and are doing our utmost to help him get there”.
Wests captain Jeff Cook is quoted in today's Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ as saying: “All I wanted to do was the best for Michael Clarke and Australia”. The ‘Telegraph’ says Cook indicated he had told Parramatta of his plans before the toss in the hope they would "come to the party and give Clarke an opportunity to push his Test claims on the second day". “I stand by what I wanted to do”, said Cook. “I might have sacrificed six first-innings [championship] points, but it would be fantastic for cricket if 2,000 kids turned up to watch Michael try to prove a point to the Australian selectors”. Parramatta president Ron Wright is quoted as saying there was never any agreement between the clubs to let Clarke bat next week and added that it wouldn’t have been within the ‘Spirit of Cricket' if there was.
Cricket New South Wales chief executive Andrew Jones said In a statement issued last night: “We understand Wests may have taken this action to increase the probability of Australian captain Michael Clarke batting in the second week of the game”. “While Cricket NSW and the Sydney Cricket Association are conscious of the broader interest of Australian cricket, and appreciate the thinking behind this gesture, we are also conscious of the need to maintain the integrity of the Sydney Grade competition”. “Consequently we will investigate the full facts and evaluate Wests’ actions at the conclusion of the round”. The ‘Telegraph’ reports says that at this stage Cricket Australia have "no intention of getting involved in the dispute".
SRINIVASAN SEEKS RETURN
TO BCCI PRESIDENCY
A lawyer for Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the suspended president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), filed an affidavit with India’s Supreme Court on Friday that asks he be reinstated to that position after an eight-month absence (PTG 1320-6365, 26 March 2014). Earlier in the week the Court’s Mudugal committee cleared Srinivasan of Indian Premier League (IPL) betting or corruption, however, it also found he and four other BCCI officials knew about a so-far unnamed IPL player violating the event's code of conduct but took no action, but no details have been released who or what was involved (PTG 1462-7081, 18 November 2014).
On Thursday the BCCI said that the incident “dated back to 2010”, the player in question had been "orally reprimanded”, the "incident was a minor one" and then BCCI president Shashank Manohar "was satisfied with the explanation given by the player”.
In a related development, Srinivasan’s counsel also asked that the Court not order the removal of Srinivasan’s Chennai franchise from the IPL, saying that allegations that a 2013 match between it and Rajasthan was tainted have been disproved, the Mudgal report having not provided any findings to substantiate that claim. According to reports, the BCCI’s legal paperwork says: “The cancellation of the [Chennai] franchise will result in serious consequences as Chennai is the most popular team in IPL and its players enjoy huge popularity”.
In regard to Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s son-in-law and the so-called "team principal" of Chennai who has been charged with IPL-related betting by the Mudgal panel, the lawyers argued that Gurunath wasn’t a shareholder, a director or an employee of India Cements, the company that owns the Chennai franchise. They claim that as such he hadn’t drawn any salary or compensation from Chennai.
Following the announcement of Mudgal’s findings on Monday the BCCI's working committee held an “emergency meeting" in Chennai on Tuesday at which the body’s 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM), which had originally been rescheduled for last Thursday, has now been moved to mid-December. According to numerous media reports from the sub-continent the BCCI’s constitution requires it to hold its AGM before the end of September each year (PTG 1430-6914, 18 September 2014), however, the repeated delay is said to be an attempt to ensure Srinivasan will be cleared by the Court and thus eligible to stand for the presidency.
SENIOR ODI DEBUT TODAY
Australian umpire Mick Martell will make his debut at senior One Day International (ODI) level in today’s match between Australia and South Africa in Sydney. Martell, was appointed as a third umpire member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) fourteen months ago (PTG 1193-5748, 23 September 2013), and stood in his first two Twenty20 Internationals two weeks ago.
Perth-based Martell, 48, made his first class debut in 2008 and was elevated the IUP after five years on Cricket Australia’s National Umpires Panel (NUP) (PTG 306-1602, 5 September 2008). Over the last six years to date he has chalked up a total of thirty-nine first class games, including some in India, New Zealand and South Africa, thirty-nine List A and thirty-two Twenty20 fixtures, the latter including the 2013 and 2014 domestic finals. Today’s game will actually be his second ODI, the first accredited to him being between two second-tier nations in a World Cup Qualifier event in New Zealand last February (PTG 1264-6098, 6 January 2014).
CA has not publicised it but Martell went on exchange to India last month to stand in two first class games, his thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth. The first was a quarter final of the Duleep Trophy in Rohtak near New Delhi where he stood with Krishnamachari Bharatan, and the second a semi final of that competition played in Mohali further to the north, his on-field colleague then being Krishnamachari Srinivasan.
Martell's visit is the second conducted in the exchange agreement between CA and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the first being Simon Fry during the 2012-13 season (PTG 1023-4971, 27 November 2012). No one travelled to India from Australia in 2013-14 (PTG 1264-6099, 6 January 2014), but there are suggestions in some quarters that a second Australian, Paul Wilson, will follow Martell to the sub-continent over the next month or so in a catch up. As yet just which BCCI umpire will visit Australia on exchange during the current season has not been made public.
Wilson, who like Martell is an IUP third umpire member, made his ODI debut in two second level internationals between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Hong Kong played in Townsville two weeks ago; the games being PNG’s first ever ODIs (PTG 1454-7053, 24 October 2014). His partner in that game was New Zealand IUP third umpire Phil Jones for whom the games were also his first ODIs.
CHAUDHARY NAMED INDIA’S
2014 ‘UMPIRE OF THE YEAR'
Anil Chaudhary was named as India's best umpire in 2014 at the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCC) eighth annual awards ceremony held in New Delhi on Friday. Chaudhary, 49, who joined the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel last year (PTG 1166-5642, 10 August 2013), has over the last twelve months made his One Day International and Twenty20 International debuts, been on exchange to both Australia and England, and stood in the final’s of India’s Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy first class competitions.
Chaudhary made his first class debut in Mumbai in January 2000 and has since gone on to stand in forty-six such matches, six of them overseas in Australia, England and South Africa over the last twenty months (PTG 1290-6220, 12 February 2014). Friday’s umpiring award comes with a 50,000 Rupee cheque ($A935), a figure well below the 250,000 Rupees ($A4,700) given to players who won first class level awards, and equal to the winners of Under-23, Under-19, Under-16 and women’s awards.
PLAYER SUSPENDED FOR SIX MONTHS
FOLLOWING SPECTATOR INCIDENT
A player in the Bradford League has been suspended for six months after an incident with a spectator led to the abandonment of a second-team match in mid-September. Rowland Thompson of the Spen Victoria club has been banned from all forms of cricket for that time starting in mid-April next year, effectively a ban from playing at all in 2015, and he will also have an eight-week suspended sentence hanging over him during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
No details are available to to just what happened, however, the score sheet for the match indicates that Thompson’s run out for two, when his side had reached 7/240 after forty-eight overs in the first innings of the fifty overs a side match, was the last playing act of the fixture against Hartshead Moor. Information available suggests he may have had a clash with the unnamed spectator when he was leaving the field. The Bradford League web site indicates that despite the abandonment Spen Victoria were awarded eight championship points for the game and Hartshead Moor six.
A three man Bradford League disciplinary panel last week found Thompson guilty of a Level Four offence under the Yorkshire Cricket Board's disciplinary code which covers "physical assault of another player, umpire, official or spectator", plus a second Level Four offence of committing "an act of violence on the field of play". Suspensions for both offences could have ranged from a minimum of twelve weeks to two years or, if severe enough, for an indefinite period.
The additional eight weeks suspended for two years finding was handed down for a Level Two code violation of "using language or gesture that is obscene or of a seriously insulting nature to another player, umpire, team official or spectator”.
ALLOW SUBSTITUTES IN TESTS,
SAYS NEW CA CMO
Cricket Australia's (CA) newly appointed chief medical officer (CMO) has repeated his calls of two years ago for the game to allow batting, bowling and wicketkeeping substitutes when players are injured in Test matches, says a Fairfax Media report. John Orchard, and experienced sports physician who has held similar jobs with Cricket New South Wales, high-profile football clubs, basketball and baseball in Australia, is in addition to his new CA role also the chief medical officer for next year's World Cup, says journalist Daniel Chemy.
CA tabled a plan to initiate substitutes in its first class Sheffield Shield games two years ago, but the the proposal was shelved after the International Cricket Council indicated that competition would lose its first-class status if such a move was made (PTG 1022-4963, 27 November 2012). Orchard, then with Cricket NSW, said at that time: ''Cricket has got to debate that question because it used to be a low-injury sport where the schedule was a lot more benign, but now that they're playing a lot more cricket". "Are we doing the right thing by telling players to either play through an injury and worsen it, or leave the team a player short?’’, he asked.
Speaking earlier this month after Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was forced from the field in a Test against Pakistan, Orchard made similar comments about the need for substitutes, acknowledging at the same time any such move "would have the traditionalists up in arms”. "From a medical point of view, the obvious negative is that you can have players with fairly significant injuries insist on trying to push through because there's no replacement available”, he said. "The vision of someone playing on through obvious injury is something people like to watch, but we're not opting to maintain that as something that should be there for our entertainment”.
DECLARATION ‘DISRESPECTFUL TO CLUB
CRICKET', SAYS OPPOSITION SKIPPER
Sydney grade club Western Suburbs’ decision to declare at 0/17 on Saturday in order to give Australian Test captain Michael Clarke an opportunity to bat in that match next Saturday ahead of Thursday week’s first Test against India has left his opponent Parramatta's captain Michael Castle “furious”, says an article in today’s Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ (PTG 1465-7094, 23 November 2014). Clarke was named in the Australian twelve for the Test this morning subject to match fitness, but in a twist, he was also selected to play in a two-day game against the touring Indians in Adelaide next Friday-Saturday, a move that rules him out of the second day of the Sydney grade fixture kept open for him.
Castle is said by journalist Jamie Pandarm to have been “stunned" when Wests captain Jeff Cook asked him at the toss to let his side bowl first last Saturday in order for Clarke to bat on the second day of the game this weekend. "He told me if I sent his side into bat, they would declare after one ball”, runs the quote attributed to Castle. “He said he’d been put under pressure from Cricket New South Wales to bowl first so that Michael Clarke could bat on the second day”. “I have never been in a situation like this before, I was shocked [as] I was always going to send them in on that wicket”. Pandarm says he “understands" Cricket NSW "will strongly deny the implication that they tried to influence the toss call”.
“When they got to 0/12 we thought it was all a bluff”, continued Castle, "but then when he declared at 0/17 we were very annoyed”. “In my opinion it should not exist at any level”. “They manipulated the situation of the game to accommodate one person”. “It has opened up a precedence, what happens when a state player wants to have a hit in grade before a big game now?” “It is disrespectful to club cricket”. “All these blokes [in club cricket] are giving up their weekends, we were pretty peeved, we actually considered getting to 0/18 and declaring”.
Pandarm writes that "Parramatta players were fuming after the decision [to declare at 0/17], and seriously discussed the prospect [of declaring at 0/18], which would have created an even bigger farce”. “Michael Clarke is a big drawcard, I would love to play against him, I’d love for the Australian captain to play the first Test, but not to the detriment of an entire competition”, said Castle.
Cricket NSW has indicated it will investigate the incident next week, although Clarke is likely to provide only a written submission given his schedule. Both captains will be asked to give their version of events as will presumably umpires Ken Buckland and Alan Monaghan. Wests captain Cook has already said he made his decision because he felt it was in the best interests of Australian cricket that Clarke can have a bat before the first Test.
The ’Telegraph’ says the situation has consequences for the Sydney grade competition as Parramatta "was bottom of the table prior to last weekend”, although current web postings indicate it is eighteenth in a twenty team competition. However, because of Wests’ early declaration, Parramatta picked up six points for winning the first innings and Pandarm makes the claim they have "climbed to near mid-table as a result, overtaking rivals who competed in more traditional contests last weekend".
Under Sydney Cricket Association (SCA) Playing Conditions the association has the power to investigate the circumstances of any match in such manner as in it thinks fit. If after any investigation it is determined any move could have influenced the outcome of the match such that it was “unfair" to any teams in the competition or the context of the Club Championship, the SCA can act in a range of ways up to a fine or the suspension of a player or club.
POLICE ASKED TO INVESTIGATE
AFTER FLOODING PREVENTS PLAY
The Plenty Valley club in Victoria’s Sub-District competition has asked police to investigate an incident that left the club’s home ground unplayable for its top-three two-day match against Roxburgh Park-Broadmeadows on Saturday. The Saturday-Saturday fixture has now reverted to a one-day match after vandals allegedly soaked sections of the ground on Friday night.
Valley captain Michael Sheedy confirmed the club had reported the incident to police, telling Melbourne’s ‘Herald Sun’ newspaper: “They’d flooded the whole west and northern front, which meant there was a river about three metres wide the whole way down [the ground]”. “The drain had overflowed, it couldn’t cope” and “we found out [about it on Saturday] morning”.
DECLARATION AT 0/17 AKIN TO ‘MATCH
FIXING’, QUIPS NATIONAL VICE CAPTAIN
Australia vice-captain Brad Haddin has described the decision by Sydney side Western Suburbs to declare at 0/17 last Saturday so Test skipper Michael Clarke could bat on the second day of that game as akin to “match-fixing”, according to media reports (PTG 1465-7094, 23 November 2014). Haddin made what one report described as a "tongue-in-cheek statement" at a press conference yesterday morning after Clarke had been named in the Australian squad, pending a fitness test, for the first Test against India which starts in Brisbane on Thursday week.
Haddin said to the reported laughter of reporters: “I don’t really know the full extent of where that’s at and how that happened, all I know is that the captain there better be careful, that looks like match-fixing to me”. Sydney’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ described Haddin’s comments as “technically correct [for] Wests manipulated the situation of the game for a specific outcome: the ability of a player to bat in their line-up on the second day”, something in journalist Jamie Pandaram’s view, "is fixing the state of play”. NSW Cricket has launched an investigation into the matter so as yet the true facts of what happened have not been ascertained.
While the focus is on Wests captain Jeff Cook over the declaration (PTG 1466-7100, 24 November 2014), reports received by ‘PTG’ describe him in the words of one "a fine gentleman" who has a "very distinguished record in the game”. Cook lives in Tamworth some 400 km north of Sydney and commutes every weekend to play with Western Suburbs, takes the NSW indigenous player Imparja Cup team to Alice Springs each year, and is also said to be involved in developing cricket in the Northern Territory in various mentoring roles.
The move to allow Clarke the opportunity to play next Saturday backfired significantly yesterday after he was named to play in a Cricket Australia XI that is to play the Indian tourists in Adelaide this Friday and Saturday, a situation that means that Cook’s decision to declare at 0/17 cost his team first innings points for nothing. However, considerable confusion abounds this morning as Clarke indicated publicly yesterday that his next game will be in Sydney grade cricket on Saturday, even though CA wants him to prove his fitness in Adelaide.
SUPREME COURT QUERIES APPROPRIATENESS
OF SRINIVASAN'S BCCI RETURN
India's Supreme Court yesterday questioned the appropriateness of Narayanaswami Srinivasan’s return as head of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), suggesting his links with the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Chennai franchise represents a conflict of interest. Following Srinivasan’s clearance of IPL betting or match-fixing activities by the Mudgal panel a week ago, a lawyer for the suspended BCCI filed an affidavit with the Court last Friday that asks he be reinstated to the presidency of the Board after an eight-month absence (PTG 1465-7095, 23 November 2014).
Reports from New Delhi overnight say judges dealing with the case indicated it is not possible to "make a distinction between the BCCI and IPL”, and that "IPL is a by product of BCCI”. “Some people in the BCCI now own a team [such that] it has become a mutual benefit society”, runs one quote. Questions were also asked as to whether “the BCCI president can own [an IPL] team and is that fair?”. The BCCI has, however, reportedly dismissed conflict of interest suggestions.
Srinivasan was also indicted by the Mudgal panel for not acting against an unnamed cricketer accused of misconduct but he has since said "the player had been reprimanded and that was not during my tenure”. Sundar Raman the IPL’s chief operating officer was found to have had contact with a bookie via an intermediary but he has since publicly denied that is an issue.
The Court hearing of the IPL spot-fixing inquiry is yet to decide the fate of the Chennai franchise. Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was found to have strong links to Chennai, and Rajasthan franchise co-owner Raj Kundra, were both found guilty of betting, a situation that media reports say could leave their respective organisations "in trouble".
The on-going BCCI board stood behind Srinivasan and Raman at an emergency working committee meeting held last Tuesday, a gathering that also further delayed the BCCI’s 2014 Annual General Meeting until the middle of next month
AUSSIE OFF-SPINNER SUSPENDED FROM
BOWLING AFTER ACTION FOUND TO BE ‘ILLEGAL'
Western Australian (WA) off-spinner Will Bosisto has been suspended from bowling in Cricket Australia (CA) run competitions after he was found to have an illegal bowling action. CA said yesterday that Bosisto, 21, had been suspended after a biomechanical analysis conducted two weeks ago at the National Cricket Centre (NCC) in Brisbane, found all of his off-spin deliveries exceeded the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) fifteen degree arm flex limit.
Bosisto was reported after WA's Futures League second XI match against Victoria in late October, the umpires then being James Hewitt and Jamie Mitchell. Under CA rule's Bosisto cannot apply to have his action re-tested for ninety days, a restriction that will expire in mid-February, but he is still eligible to play as a batsman during that period. He will have to pass another biomechanical analysis of his action before he can bowl again in a CA match.
WA General Manager High Performance Ben Oliver said Bosisto had the state's full support. "We support Will fully and will work together with [CA] on his bowling action over the coming months”. Bosisto played three first-class matches for WA in November last year, was part of Australia's Under-19 World Cup squad in 2012, has toured with the National Performance Squad, and recently captained a WA XI against a touring Afghanistan side. He was also part of the select group of spinners CA sent to Colombo this year to work alongside former Sri Lankan spinner Muthiah Muralidaran
For the 2014-15 domestic season onwards, CA has adopted the ICC's protocols for the testing and analysis of a doubtful bowling actions to ensure a fair and consistent global approach. In NCC was recently accredited as one of four official ICC biomechanical testing centres for suspected illegal bowling actions (PTG 1453-7043, 23 October 2014).
‘VINTAGE UMPIRE’ AWARD
FOR NSW STALWART
Long-serving umpire and match referee Graham Reed, who retired from active umpiring this year after fifty years with the New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (NSWCUSA), has been honoured by the NSW branch of Lord’s Taverners Australia for his "phenomenal and positive contribution to umpiring in NSW”. Reed, a NSWCUSA Life Member who turned eighty last month, has been named as the Taverners’ 2014 'Vintage Umpire of the Year”, thus joining former Test umpire Dick French the inaugural recipient twelve months ago.
While he started umpiring in 1964, Reed continued playing the game up until 1980, before going on to stand in thirteen first class games, List A fixtures, both women’s and Under-19 Tests, as well as hundreds of games in the Sydney Cricket Association (SCA). In more recent years he has worked as a Cricket Australia match referee in first class, List A, state second XI, women’s domestic, and women’s One day International and Twenty20 International games. He has also been a SCA Observer for the past quarter-of-a-century, has served on the NSWCUSA Coaching Panel since 2008, and been a member of the NSWCUSA Executive Committee.
SENANAYAKE UNDERGOES OFFICIAL
RETEST OF HIS ACTION
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said yesterday that banned off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake had undergone an official retest of his action at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai on Sunday and that the results are expected within the next two weeks. Senanayake was reported by umpires during a One Day International against England at Lord’s in late May (PTG 1367-6608, 3 June 2014).
“Comprehensive" laboratory testing at Cardiff Metropolitan University later showed “all of his deliveries" transgress the fifteen-degree elbow extension permitted by the International Cricket Council by over thirty degrees (PTG 1390-6724, 14 July 2014). Over the intervening period the spinner has undertaken significant work to remodel his action, including a period at the University of Western Australia in Perth.
‘THREATENED’ UMPIRE OPTS OUT
OF DAY TWO OF MUMBAI GAME
The two-day ‘A’ Division Police Shield match between hosts Parsee Gymkhana and Mumbai Police Sports Club last weekend was marred by controversy that led to one of the two on-field umpires failing to turn up on Sunday for “personal reasons”. Media reports from the sub-continent yesterday though say that Chandrashekhar Mase, who is described as a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) panel umpire, pulled out after being "threatened" by unknown persons on the way to the ground for Sunday’s play.
A Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) official told local news outlets that two men on a motorbike threatened Mhase, however, just who they were is unknown as “they had helmets on and the number plate was covered". They are said to have told Mhase that they would harm him and his family if he ever umpired a Police Sports Club match again.
The situation reportedly arose after Saturday's play when the Police Sports Club players got into a heated argument with Mhase who had warned one of their bowlers about his delivery action. Police player Rajesh Tandelis is alleged to have confronted the umpire and that he "will see to it that you don't get to stand in any MCA matches”. Parsee Gymkhana vice-president Khodadad Yazdegardi said “if our policemen behave like this, then how will we feel safe as citizens”. "There were league observers at the ground and the Police players could have gone to them instead of confronting the umpire”, he said.
An MCA official told reporters that in his assessment the situation could have been handled better by the umpire. "Being a BCCI panel umpire, he should have handled the matter in a better way”, however, "his was a club-level match and therefore it is not a serious matter”, runs the quote attributed to the official.
‘FA CUP-STYLE’ T20 SERIES COULD LIFT GAME,
SUGGESTS FORMER ENGLAND CAPTAIN
Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes an "FA Cup-style" Twenty20 (T20) knockout competition which includes county sides, teams from the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) twenty-six Premier Leagues and the Minor Counties, would be one way to lift the game in England and Wales. Last week the ECB released details of a survey of the club game that points to the number of players aged 14-65 there having slumped around seven per cent over the past year, a situation that has left the ECB "promising an increase in funding for grassroots cricket” (PTG 1463-7085, 20 November 2014).
Writing in the London ‘Daily Telegraph’, Vaughan, says "The drop in the number of people picking up a cricket bat at the weekend and the sense of a widening gap between the professional game and club cricket are major challenges for the ECB”. In his assessment “ultimately cricket is just not talked about as much as it used to be and at the amateur level it needs a lift”.
Vaughan goes on to suggest an FA Cup-like series would give league teams the chance to enter the competition in preliminary rounds with the dream of reaching the first round of the competition proper where they could meet a county side and pull off a giant killing. "All sports fans love a giant killing and back the underdog”, he says. "You do not see many shocks in the FA Cup but when there is the odd one it is great for football, cricket needs to be seen in that light, the county game needs a new audience, and we have to bridge the gap between the pros and the amateurs".
Vaughan says a tie where "Yorkshire have to go and play Pudsey St Lawrence away with 2,000 people crammed into a tiny ground and a cracking atmosphere” would lift the sport. "There would only be a five per cent chance of a shock, but if that one amateur player has the game of his life and the county lads struggle, you could get a giant killing and that would bring the tournament to life”. "There is a big gap between club cricketers and the pros and at the fifty‑over level it would not be sustainable to put them together, but the Twenty20 format cuts that gulf”. "We could also see a young player take his chance on the big stage and get a county contract”.
He says a lot of good club players are lost to the game when they hit the age of thirty because they have families and lose interest, but they might be persuaded to stay on longer if there was this little goal of playing against the likes of Yorkshire, Lancashire or Middlesex on television. Such a tournament would "not be about money" and its aim would be “to spread the love of cricket across the community”. "We all came through the club system but we neglect it [and] as players for when we reach county level we forget the amateur game”. However, “we need to bring the game back to its roots".
BATSMAN IN CRITICAL CONDITION
AFTER BOUNCER STRIKES NECK
Australia batsman Phil Hughes is in a critical condition after being hit by a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground whilst playing for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match yesterday. The left-hander, 25, collapsed after a delivery from New South Wales fast bowler Sean Abbott struck him in an area of his neck not covered by his helmet, and after initial treatment on the ground he was taken to hospital where he was put in an induced coma following surgery.
Players and officials rushed to help Hughes as he fell to the ground, media reports stating that he stopped breathing at one point and needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the side of the pitch. Cricket Australia (CA) says on its official website that Hughes had been "struck on the back, lower left side of the head” as he tried to turn away from a short ball from Abbott.
Hughes is said to have “looked stunned” for a moment before crumpling face first on to the pitch. He was immediately surrounded by opposition players and umpires Mike Graham-Smith and Ash Barrow, who all called for help. A helicopter subsequently arrived, but Hughes, who had scored 63, was eventually taken to Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital by road ambulance, NSW team doctor John Orchard, who administered aid on the ground travelling with him.
CA team doctor Peter Brukner later said in a statement that Hughes had "sustained a severe head injury" and "remains in a critical condition" after surgery at St Vincents. "Phillip is receiving the best possible medical care and the thoughts of his team-mates and the wider cricket community are with Phillip and his family and friends at this difficult time”. Brukner indicated that the outcome of the surgery was not expected to be known for several days. Players from both South Australia and New South Wales have been offered counselling.
IMPRACTICAL FOR HELMETS TO COVER
ENTIRE HEAD-NECK AREA, SAYS RETAILER
Cricket helmet manufacturers are doing all they can to prevent head injuries in the sport, according to Chris Taylor a former Yorkshire batsman who now works as an equipment retailer, but in his assessment little can be done to protect the particular area of the head that appears to have been involved in the Phillip Hughes incident yesterday (PTG 1468-7109 above). Taylor says he has worked closely with some of the companies who produce helmets and in his view they are always striving for the highest practical standards of safety, but “there comes a stage when you can’t protect any more of the body without being unable to move”.
Taylor, a former England Under-19 international told a journalist: “I know helmet manufacturers are working all the time to improve the safety of [their product] and I know a new British safety standard has been launched in the UK for the 2015 season where helmets have to have fixed grills”. Its inevitable though that from time-to-time "somebody is going to hit on the head”, said Taylor, emphasising that with the best will in the world helmets can’t protect everything above the shoulders for "extending [them] so they cover the neck is impractical”.
“Once the helmet starts trying to cover the neck it’s going to restrict your movement as a batsman”, continued Taylor. “You need to be able to move quickly so if it’s restricting your head and your neck, we could get to the stage where you just wear full body armour because at the end of the day you can get a blow on your chest that can also cause you serious problems” (PTG 1468-7112 below). “My understanding [the ball’s] hit [Hughes] at the worst possible place at the wrong angle and it is extremely unlucky”, he said.
HELMET SAFETY ISSUES INCLUDED IN ICC
MEDICAL COMMITTEE’S RESEARCH
The widespread use of the batting helmets in recent decades has not eliminate injury, but there has been an increase in concussion and facial damage being recored in recent years, according to information released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) several years ago. However, a track of media reports available suggest particularly serious direct life-threatening head injuries such as that of South Australia’s Phil Hughes yesterday (PTG 1468-7109 above), have been relatively rare over the last ten years.
The reported death of a batsman was in South Africa late last year when Darryn Randall, 32, a former first class player with Border who, despite wearing a hemet, was hit below the ear when he turned his head whilst attempting a pull shot in a Premier League game for Old Selbornians on the Eastern Cape (PTG 1220-5868, 29 October 2013). A month after that, headaches, blurred vision and unsteadiness suffered by then South African captain Graeme Smith after he was hit in the head by a bouncer in a Test against Pakistan (PTG 1244-6010, 29 November 2013).
Around the same time Allen Johnson, 32, was killed in a car crash in central Queensland and there were suggestions the accident may have been connected with concussion he suffered after being struck by a ball above an eye earlier that day. Three months later South African all-rounder Ryan McLaren suffered serious concussion when hit in the head by a ball from fast bowler Mitchell Johnston during a Test against Australia, a situation that led to a renewed call for tighter rules regarding the management of concussion (PTG 1296-6253, 22 February 2014).
In July 2012, South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher, who was standing up to a spinner without a helmet, was hit in the face and his eyeball ruptured when a bail ricocheted off the stumps during a tour match in Taunton (PTG 976-4734, 13 August 2012). The injury later resulted in his retirement from the game and it led some cricket associations to require young wicketkeepers standing up to wear a helmet regardless (PTG 984-4778, 25 August 2012).
Publicity from the International Cricket Council (ICC) indicates it has been looking into the helmet issue over at least the last few years. In September 2011 its Chief Executives Committee was reported to have been given a presentation by the ICC Medical Committee on their research work, activities that included injury preventative programs and the safety of helmets which "at times fail to prevent serious injury to batsmen”.
An ICC press release at that time said the Medical Committee was to work with helmet manufacturers to prevent the incidence of serious injury to the face and head, the three main areas of concern being that: the ball can penetrate the face guard; the face guard breaks and causes facial injuries; or the ball hits a part of the head not adequately protected by the helmet (PTG 831-4061, 13 September 2011).
June 2012 saw the ICC’s Cricket Committee also receive reports from the Medical Committee that covered a range of issues including helmet research, but other than a basic mention no details of that work were released at the time (PTG 944-4596, 4 June 2012). Other ICC meetings are likely to have considered the issue over the last few years but no publicity ensued. Four months after the 2012 Cricket Committee meeting the manufacturer of the 'Masuri' helmet brand, which Hughes is reported to have been wearing yesterday, announced it had raised funding for research into, and development of, a safer cricket helmet design.
Masuri's move was said to have resulted from questions about the suitability of then current safety standards for batting helmets that were sent to manufacturers around the world in the first half of 2012 by the ICC and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), or player’s union (PTG 1023-4973, 27 November 2012). That ICC-FICA initiative was said to have "followed an increased number of recorded facial injuries, mainly caused by the ball contacting the head through the gap between a helmet's peak and grill". 'Masuri' subsequently stated that the 2013 edition of its helmet would have "more protection afforded to the ear, chin and face whilst maintaining visibility”.
STRIKES TO BATSMEN’S CHESTS, CLOSE-IN
FIELDERS, UMPIRES, ALSO ISSUES
While concerns about head injuries to batsmen are currently to the fore as a result of the serious injury suffered yesterday by Australian Phil Hughes (PTG 1468-7109 above), hits to a batsman’s chest, strikes to close-in fieldsmen, and also umpires, have resulted in deaths and serious injuries over the last decade. There have even been suggestions by some that umpires may have to resort to using face protection given the power of the shots players using modern-day bats can hit back down the pitch towards the bowler’s end.
In 2005 Tim Melville, 18, a player with the Wallasey Cricket Club in Merseyside, was struck on the chest near his heart whilst batting in an Under-21 game. He collapsed at the crease and despite first aid administered on the pitch was pronounced dead on arrival in hospital. A similar incident late last year killed Mudasir Ahmad Matoo, 20, while batting in a game in Kashmir. Around the same time in Pakistan, Zulfiqar Bhatti, 22, also died after being hit on the chest when he attempted to pull a rising ball (PTG 1258-6070, 21 December 2013). In 2010 in Lydenburg, South Africa, grade seven student Matthew Prior, 13, was hit on the chest by a full toss while batting in a school match. In his case a broken rib is believed to have caused internal damage and he died shortly after admission to hospital.
Fielders and bowlers are obviously not immune either. Many a short-leg fielder has been struck on the head or body, but since the death of Raman Lamba in 1998 few incidents of serious injury of close-in fielders have made the news. Lamba, a former India Test player, 38, took a full-blooded shot on the head at short-leg during a local game in Bangladesh. After calling for a helmet he decided to field unprotected for one ball, the one that killed him, to avoid any delay to play. Nine years later in Cornwall Derek Newman, 45, died after being struck in the chest by the ball while attempting a catch near the boundary. 2012 saw David Wilcockson, 71, hit on the head by a fierce drive while bowling for Surrey club Old Dorkinians. He later died in hospital as a result.
Umpires are not immune either. In 2009, Welsh umpire Alcwyn Jenkins, 72, collapsed and died after being hit on the head by a ball that had been thrown in a run out attempt, a coroner later formally calling that tragedy an "unfortunate accident” (E-News 601-3017, 5 May 2010). The following year John Whittaker an umpire in West Yorkshire was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull after he was hit on the head by a throw from the boundary in an Airedale and Wharfedale League fixture (PTG 602-3025, 6 May 2010). He later recovered but reports at the time said he had his back to the fielder.
The nature of the modern game with its more powerful bats has led some to suggest umpires may need helmets for protection. Five-and-a-half-years ago then Australian umpire Daryl Harper said that he believed that "its just a matter of time before umpires in higher-level Twenty20 matches wear baseball helmets which cover the face with a grill for protection". "The bats are getting heavier, and the shots are hit with more ferocity" and "it's becoming really dangerous for us", said Harper at the time (PTG 423-2233, 14 May 2009).
ENTIRE SHIELD ROUND ABANDONED
AFTER HUGHES ACCIDENT
Cricket Australia (CA) abandoned the entire current round of Sheffield Shield first class matches yesterday following the horrific head strike at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Tuesday that has left South Australian batsman Phillip Hughes in a critical condition in hospital in an induced coma (PTG 1468-7109, 26 November 2014). The SCG fixture was abandoned straight after Hughes was felled, and the corresponding fixtures between Victoria and Western Australia in Melbourne or Tasmania and Queensland in Brisbane by CA yesterday morning.
Pat Howard, CA's Executive General Manager of Team Performance, said after the abandonment decision was announced that the thoughts of the cricket family were with Hughes ."We've spoken to players and the ACA [Australian Cricketer’s Association], and given how players across the country are feeling right now, it's just not the day to be playing cricket and we understand that”. "We are continuing to offer all players and match officials counselling and support at this difficult time”, said Howard.
ACA Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson said in the afternoon that "In conjunction with [CA] ... it was decided not to play and we think that was the right decision [as] there were a number of players that were shocked and very devastated by what had happened”. Nicholson said there have been no discussions as yet about the status of the upcoming fixtures on the Australian calendar, most pressingly India’s tour match against a Cricket Australia XI, which begins on Friday in Adelaide, and the first Test against India that is due to start today week (PTG 1469-7115 below).
New South Wales batsman Ben Rohrer was hit in the head in a Sheffield Shield match nearly four weeks ago in a fashion similar to, but not as devastating as, that of Hughes. Rohhrer was unable to play at the SCG with Hughes this week as he was "still struggling” and "it hasn't been a good couple of weeks”. "Hopefully I've turned the corner, I'm starting to feel a bit better and the doctor thinks it'll resolve itself soon”. Rohrer said he'd probably "lean towards" the idea to immediately rule players who suffered a knock like his out of the match” and "while I'm still undecided I'm starting to lean towards [CA’s existing] concussion protocols”.
A year ago NSW team doctor John Orchard, who cared for Hughes immediately after he was hit, called for a tightening of then current concussion protocols (PTG 1244-6010, 29 November 2014). Orchard has also spoken about allowing players to be substituted and take a full role in Tests when a person on a team list suffers a substantive injury during a game (PTG 1465-7099, 23 November 2014).
HELMETS 'CANNOT FULLY PROTECT
BATSMAN', SAYS MANUFACTURER
South Australian batsman Phillip Hughes was not wearing the most up-to-date helmet when he was struck by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday, according to media reports yesterday (PTG 1468-7109, 26 November 2014). Hughes was wearing a pre-2013 design ‘Original Test' model made by British company ‘Masuri' when he was hit behind his left ear below the helmet, but the manufacturer has refused to say whether its newer model would have protected him in the situation involved, however, what information is available suggests it may not have.
Following questions asked of manufacturers in 2012 about the suitability of the then current safety standards for batting helmets by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, or player’s union, ‘Masuri’ raised funds and undertook work to improve its helmet decision (PTG 1023-4973, 27 November 2012). The company subsequently launched a new model of helmet that covers the back of the wearer's head in August last year but Hughes was not wearing that version on Tuesday.
‘Masuri’ has told media outlets that they were studying video footage of the Hughes incident and that “"it appears that [he] was struck by the ball to the rear of the grille and below the back of the shell, missing his Masuri Original Test model helmet”. "This is a vulnerable area of the head and neck that helmets cannot fully protect [a batsman if they are] to have full and proper movement”, continued the media spokesman (PTG 1468-7110, 26 November 2014).
Brendan Denning, the managing director of sporting goods company ‘Albion' who also manufacture helmets, is quoted in this morning’s ’Sydney Morning Herald’ (‘SMH’) as saying that he hoped the life-threatening injury to Hughes means "cricketers will be persuaded to embrace a back-to-the-future design that better protects the base of their skull”.
In an apparent contradiction, Denning also said the newer designs from ‘Ayrtek' and ‘Masuri' provided "good coverage”, but that the latest standards introduced in the UK only address two of the three safety concerns identified in an ICC study of head injuries in cricket. Those concerns have been reported in the past as: penetration of the face guard by the ball; the face guard breaks and causes facial injuries; or as applied in the Hughes case, the ball hits a part of the head not adequately protected by the helmet (PTG 831-4061, 13 September 2011).
‘SMH’ journalist Chloe Saltau says Cricket Australia (CA) supports the higher British safety standards ratified last year and has indicated the Masuri ‘Vision' series provided to Australian players meets these standards, but players can choose which brand of helmet to wear. "We'll continue to look at ways of improving safety standards for all players at all levels”, said CA said in a statement, but Denning expressed frustration about what he says is a lack of enforcement from authorities. He also says he has encountered resistance among players when it comes to wearing the most up-to-date model of helmet as most cricketers prefer ones with a more traditional "look and feel”.
Former West Indies batsman Brian Lara is reported to have said said Hughes injury would have a significant effect on the psyche of bowlers around the world, but didn't believe the bouncer should be eradicated from the sport. He described the incident as "very unfortunate", and said he believes the ICC, which has yet to comment publicly on the Hughes incident, had always had the safety of players in the forefront of their decisions.
Lara's view that the shocking incident shouldn't spell the end for the bouncer was supported by ex-Australian opener Matthew Hayden. "If you take that away from the game, it takes away that combative nature of cricket”, and in his view "professional [and presumably all] players had to resign themselves to the inherent dangers of sport”. Hayden’s former team mate Shane Warne, said the critical injury had rocked the wider cricket family. "It's a tough situation for everyone” but “one of those terrible freak accidents”, said Warne, and in his assessment Hughes' injury was "not the result of poorly designed helmets”.
The ‘New Zealand Herald’ is reporting this morning that New Zealand Cricket head of cricket Lindsay Crocker has indicted that the "horrible” Hughes incident could lead to a rule change requiring young players there to wear helmets as soon as they start playing against a hard, leather ball. Like many other countries, children in competitive games start in that country start playing in games that use a soft, plastic ball before graduating to the hard, leather ball. Compulsory helmets will "certainly be one area of discussion", said Crocker, a former Northern Districts opening batsman. "If there's anything good to come out of something like this, is it kind of puts focus on things like that”.
In Australia, where the Hughes situation has resulted in saturation coverage in sports reports, numerous junior cricket associations there being said to have reminded their clubs that they have compulsory helmet rules for players when batting and keeping or fielding close to the bat (PTG 984-4778, 25 August 2012). A Fairfax Media story raises the more general concussion issue, saying “although there was only one chance in a million that an accident like this would occur”, it quotes Jeff Bolt, a former convenor of Lindfield District's junior cricket club on Sydney's north shore, believes new rules should be introduced regarding head strikes. "I think there should be a rule that if you are hit, you have to leave the field of play for a period of time, say twenty minutes”, said Bolt (PTG 1469-7113 above).
According to a report on Australian sports injuries, cricket is safer than most sports there, only racquet sports and golf having fewer hospitalisations. In 2011-2012 there were 913 hospitalisations of cricket players, about five for every 100,000 players, a figure that compare to the eighteen for every 100,000 for Australian Rules Football. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare the most common cause of hospitalisation of cricket players was fractured wrists or hands.
MATCH OFFICIALS FOR AUSTRALIA-INDIA
Four neutral umpires and two match referees have been named by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to managed the four Test series Australia and India are to play over the next five weeks. Those appointed to the series are Englishmen Ian Gould and Richard Kettleborough the current world ‘Umpire of the Year’, Sri Lankans Kumar Dharmasena and Roshan Mahanama, New Zealand’s Jeff Crowe, and Marais Erasmus from South Africa, plus twelve Australians, four of them umpires and eight scorers.
Erasmus and Gould are to stand in the first and second Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide with Crowe the match referee, with Dharmasena and Kettleborough plus match referee Mahanama coming in for the last two games, the Boxing Day fixture in Melbourne and the New Year match in Sydney. The series will take Crowe's record as a match referee in Tests to sixty-nine, Mahanama to fifty-six, Gould to forty-three Tests, Erasmus and Dharmasena to twenty-nine each, and Kettleborough to twenty-six.
Given India’s opposition the Umpire Decision Review System will not be operational for the series and as a result three of Australia's four members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Simon Fry, Mick Martell and John Ward, will occupy the television umpire positions; Fry for the second and third time in a Test in his career to date, and the latter two each for the first time at Test level. Prior to his debut in that role, Ward will serve as the fourth umpire in Adelaide, his seventh such appointment, his colleagues on Cricket Australia’s National Umpires Panel, Gerard Abood, Geoff Joshua and Sam Nogajski also being named in the reserve position across the series; Abood for the third time and the other two for the first time.
HIGH-PROFILE MATCH DEATH
PUTS GAME INTO PERSPECTIVE
The death of South Australian batsman Phillip Hughes after being struck on the neck by a ball in a Sheffield Shield match has seen those involved in the game around the world look at the sport with a wider perspective and reminded about the value and fragility of human life (PTG 1468-7109, 26 November 2014). Hughes died at the age of just 25 in what many reports describe as a “freak accident” as he was struck close to a major artery just millimetres from where others have been hit and survived to live on.
Reaction to Hughes death has amongst other things seen an entire round of Sheffield Shield games abandoned, the second day of the Test match between Pakistan and New Zealand in Sharjah made a rest day, the scheduled start next Thursday of the opening Australia-India Test in Brisbane under review, a New South Wales State Memorial Service announced, flags lowered to half-mast at major cricket stadiums around the world, and Premier League-level matches listed in some associations today unplayed.
Interstate women’s matches around Australia yesterday stopped to acknowledge Hughes, as did some games in India around the same time with a minutes silence, while flowers were left outside Lord’s and other famous grounds.
In those competitions in Australia where games will proceed today, black arm bands will be worn, a minutes silence observed, and those involved have been encouraged by Cricket Australia (CA) to “get creative" with the number 408, Hughes Test cap number. CA has prepared an information sheet for coaches and team managers involved in young children's games to assist them in responding to questions which may arise from players and parents.
Elsewhere in youth leagues in some states where Playing Conditions require a batsman to retire at 50, that limit will be extended to 63, the number Hughes was on when he was struck. The suggestion has also been made by CA that two-day games that require a minimum of between 80 and 96 overs to be bowled during a day’s play be reduced to 63 overs each. Teams involved in such fixtures are encouraged by CA to "spend a bit of extra time together reflecting on Hughes’ achievements”.
Hughes’ passing joins those of at least eight others who are known to have succumbed as a result of ball strikes across six Test playing nations over the past decade (PTG 1469-7114/5, 27 November 2014). However, those tragedies occurred in lower-level club games and news of them circulated only briefly mostly inside their countries before being forgotten by all except their families and playing colleagues.
UMPIRE'S DEATH ADDS
TO GAME’S GLOOM
An umpire standing at the bowler’s end in a match in the Israeli city of Ashdod died after being hit by a ball yesterday, just two days after the death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes who was struck on the neck in a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney (PTG 1470-7116, 29 November 2014). Hillel Oscar, 55, a former captain of the Israeli nation side, was taken to hospital in a critical condition but he died later of his injuries.
Witnesses to the incident told the journalists that the Oscar was struck in the face by the ball after it ricocheted off the stumps from a shot hit straight down the pitch. Paramedics provided initial treatment to him as he was "unconscious and without a pulse" before transporting him to the hospital. His death is the second of an umpire in the last five years and follows that of Welsh umpire Alcwyn Jenkins, who in 2009 was hit on the head by a ball that had been thrown in a run out attempt (PTG 601-3017, 5 May 2010).
Naor Gudker, the head of Israel Cricket Association (ICA) told a media outlet that Police are investigating the death and that he and members of the cricket fraternity there "bow their heads in his memory” and are “simply in shock” for “he was a wonderful man, cricketer, and umpire”. Gudker called it a "one-in-a-million’ accident "like the one that happened a few days ago in Australia and I don’t know how it has now arrived at our doorstep". "I’m sure world cricket will look into what happened last week and we will also investigate [the Ashdod] incident, but I’m not sure there was anything we could have done as we act according to all the rules and regulations”.
Five-and-a-half-years ago then Australian umpire Daryl Harper said that he believed that "its just a matter of time before umpires in higher-level Twenty20 matches wear baseball helmets which cover the face with a grill for protection” (PTG 423-2233, 14 May 2009). Former West Indian captain Chris Gayle expressed a similar view two years after that (PTG 932-4532, 26 April 2012), English journalist Scyld Berry also expressing concern that "increasingly powerful batsmen with increasingly powerful bats" who consistently hit the ball harder than ever before, could seriously injure or even kill someone on the field of play (PTG 930-4523, 19 April 2012).
Cricket is not a major sport in Israel but the Ashdod region, where a large number of immigrants from India live, is one of its main centres. The ICA is one of the International Cricket Council’s thirty-eight second-tier Associate Members.
MISBEHAVIOUR IN TWO ODI SERIES
SEES PLAYERS SANCTIONED
Sri Lanka players Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thisara Perera have been found guilty of a Level One breaches of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Code of Conduct during the first One Day International (ODI) against England in Colombo on Wednesday. Over in Bangladesh on the same day the home sides' Tamim Iqbal was fined fifteen per cent of his match fee and Zimbabwe’s Hamilton Masakadza reprimanded for Level One breaches in an ODI played in Mirpur.
Dilshan was reprimanded and a fined twenty-five per cent of his match fee for "Excessive appealing during an International match”, and Perera reprimanded and fined twenty per cent of his fee after admitting to a charge that relates to conduct that is either contrary to the spirit of the game or brings the game into disrepute. Both players admitted the charges levelled against them by on-field umpires Simon Fry and Ruchira Palliyaguruge, third umpire Steve Davis and fourth umpire Raveendra Wimalasiri. They accepted the sanctions imposed by match referee David Boon without the need to convene a disciplinary hearing.
Batsman Tamim admitted using “language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting during an International match” and Masakadza an action that is either contrary to the spirit of the game or brings the game into disrepute. The charges were leveled by on-field umpires Anisur Rahman and Chris Gaffaney, and third umpire Sharfuddoula.
Under ICC regulations all Level One breaches carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand and a maximum penalty of fifty per cent of a player’s match fee.