1,493 – 1 January [7211-7214]
• ’Sin bin’ players if they misbehave, suggests former ICC president (1493-7211).
• ACO provides ’sneak preview’ of match officials survey findings (1493-7212).
• Umpire abuse not on, says CA chief executive (1493-7213).
• Alleged ‘illegal fielding’ leads to confrontation (1493-7214).
1,494 - 4 January [7215-7220]
• Another former Aussie player warns on sledging culture (1494-7215).
• Report claims Ashraful involved in 2012 Lankan League ‘fix' (1494-7216).
• Challenge to ECB umpire retirement age proceeding, says report (1494-7217).
• Aussie EUP members in rare domestic appearances (1494-7218).
• South African Paleker for Indian exchange visit (1494-7219).
• Miked-up skipper drops ‘F’ bomb (1494-7220).
1,495 - 5 January [7221-7223]
• Call for maximum thickness to be set for bats (1495-7221).
• Serial offender calls for sledging restraint (1495-7222).
• Hafeez reportedly fails ‘unofficial’ test of bowling action (1495-7223).
1,496 - 7 January [7224-7227]
• NZC queries ‘Kookaburra’ over ball standards (1496-7224).
• CA amends domestic T20 ’Super Over’ rules (1496-7225).
• Indonesian umpire standing in Australian Country series (1496-7226).
• Batsman gets off the mark with a ‘7' (1496-7227).
1,497 - 8 January [7228-7232]
• Long-serving MCC Laws stalwart retires (1497-7228).
• One change to AAIUP for 2015 (1497-7229).
• Four named to manage UAE tri-series (1497-7230).
• Dissent results in one-match ban (1497-7231).
• Mistake results in batsman’s apparent reprieve (1497-7232).
1,498 - 9 January [7233-7236]
• ’Spidercam’ wires blamed for dropped Test catch (1498-7233).
• Starc reprimanded for ‘exaggerated’ send off (1498-7234).
• Gazi confident ahead of remodelled action test (1498-7235).
• Results of ‘misplaced ball’ investigation still awaited (1498-7236).
1,499 - 12 January [7237-7238]
• Australia-England-India tri-series officials named (1499-7237).
• ICC powerbroker facing challenge at home? (1499-7238).
1,500 - 13 January [7239-7242]
• Broadcaster to conduct another pink ball visibility trials (1500-7239).
• Merseyside disciplinary head criticises ‘appalling’ player behaviour (1500-7240).
• Slow over-rate fine for West Indies (1500-7241).
• More bowling action tests for Hafeez (1500-7242).
1,501 - 14 January [7243-7246]
• Aussies ‘honour Hughes’ talk just that, says Agnew (1501-7243).
• PCB chairman concerned about domestic umpiring standards (1501-7244).
• Worries about Pakistani umpiring far from new (1501-7245).
• Concrete slab stops play (1501-7246).
1,502 - 16 January [7247-7250]
• ICC to ‘crack down’ on sledging during World Cup, says report (1502-7247).
• Criticism for Agnew’s Hughes-sledging link (1502-7248).
• Discarding of wicketkeeper’s glove leads to five run penalty (1502-7249).
• Decision awaited on broadcast of umpire review conversations (1502-7250).
1,503 - 19 January [7251-7252]
• ’The Line’ again crossed yet again as on-field spats continue (1503-7251).
• Test players’ match-fixing convictions under review (1503-7252).
1,504 - 20 January [7253-7256]
• CA chief to Warner: ’Stop looking for trouble' (1504-7253).
• Slow over-rate leads to one match suspension (1504-7254).
• Former player suing CA over injury payments (1504-7255).
• Another alleged ‘pitchsider’ evicted from match (1504-7256).
1,505 - 21 January [7257-7263]
• ICC chief stresses player behaviour responsibilities (1505-7257).
• Disparity between over-rate ban, disciplinary outcome, criticised (1505-7258).
• Arrow strike stops play (1505-7259).
• Varsity T20 rules add to scorer challenges (1505-7260).
• ’No place’ for sledging in junior game, says former international (1505-7261).
• Will life imitate art? (1505-7262).
• Alleged ‘pitchsider’ fined for trespass, considers appealing ban (1505-7263).
• Up to umpires, referees to define ’the line’, claims Haddin (1506-7264).
• ’Normal life’ for arrow victim? (1506-7265).
• Early start for World Cup umpire (1506-7266).
• Minor League baseballers being sought for T20 game (1506-7267).
1,507- 23 January [7268-7269]
• Captain censured over early declaration, now 'in legal dispute’ with club (1507-7268).
• Ugandan reprimanded for ‘equipment abuse' (1507-7269).
1,508 - 25 January [7270-7273[
• Srinivasan faces conflict choice; BCCI scrutiny of its ‘practices’ (1508-7270).
• ‘Moral panic' about the game ‘misplaced’, claims ‘Guardian’ journalist (1508-7271).
• Sixth day-night, pink ball County season opener for Abu Dhabi (1508-7272).
• ICC Board to consider Aamer return (1508-7273).
1,509 - 26 January [7274-7278]
• Batsman knocked unconscious in Hughes-like incident (1509-7274).
• First meeting week of the year for ICC (1509-7275).
• World Cup bound umpires reject ‘five-star hotel’ departure party (1509-7276).
• CA umpire ’succession planning’ thoughts again on show (1509-7277).
• Camera ‘cable fault’ results inoperative UDRS in Dunedin ODI (1509-7278).
1,510 - 27 January [7279-7282]
• Chest strike leads to batsman’s death (1510-7279).
• Technical accreditation needed for TV umpires, says expert (1510-7280).
• Dissent leads to fines for two batsmen (1510-7281).
• CA names match officials for domestic T20 finals (1510-7282).
1,511 - 31 January [7283-7286]
• ‘Group’ stage to see several ODI umpiring 'milestones' (1511-7284).
• ICC backs bad behaviour ‘clamp down’ at World Cup (1511-7285).
• Skipper suspended for slow T20 over-rate, fines for team (1511-7286).
PLAYING THE GAME
‘SIN BIN’ PLAYERS IF THEY MISBEHAVE,
SUGGESTS FORMER ICC PRESIDENT
Cricket should look at giving umpires the power to ‘sin bin’ players rugby-style when they behave badly on the field, says former International Cricket Council (ICC) president Malcolm Gray. Speaking to ’The Australian’ newspaper’s Wayne Smith on Monday following verbals between players in the Australia-India Test in Melbourne (PTG 1492-7207, 30 December 2014), Gray said such a move “would certainly be a circuit-breaker”, however, current indications are that such a radical approach at international level is unlikely.
New Zealand’s Northern Districts Cricket Association has a ‘sin bin’ and ‘sent off’ approach to player discipline on its statutes (PTG 1435-6938, 26 September 2014). Under its rules “any player who uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to any player, umpire or spectator during the course of a match”, could be subjected to instant disciplinary action by official umpires controlling a match, a move that would mean their side would be forced to continue play one person short.
Melbourne-born Gray, 74, suggested the ’sin bin’ approach for internationals because players at that level are now being paid “such vast sums” of money that the ICC’s fines-based disciplinary system, in Smith’s words, 'no longer holds any terrors' for what Gray called “serial offenders”. In Gray’s view “Finings means nothing” for “if you are getting a million or two [dollars] a year what’s a fine?” that amounts to a few thousand dollars. There were further exchanges between players on-field during the last day of the Melbourne Test on Tuesday, however, the ICC has not announced the censure of any players for action that clearly appear outside ’Spirit of Cricket’ principles.
The ICC’s 'Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel’ states in its introduction that its aim is to "maintain the public image, popularity and integrity of cricket by providing: (a) an effective means to deter any participant from conducting themselves improperly on and off the ‘field-of-play’ or in a manner that is contrary to the ‘spirit of cricket’; and (b) a robust disciplinary procedure pursuant to which all matters of improper conduct can be dealt with fairly, with certainty and in an expeditious manner”. It goes on to say it is the "personal responsibility” of players to familiarise themselves with what constitutes an offence under the Code.
In an article posted on the news section of Cricket Australia’s web site this morning titled ‘Tensions set to rise” in next week’s final Australia-India Test in Sydney, Australian coach Darren Lehmann is quoted as saying when asked if it was "a mistake to bait in-form batsman” and new Indian captain Virat Kohli: "Oh, no. We haven't started yet”. “It's a case of playing the way we want to play” "in a tough, fair spirit", said Lehmann, and “as long as it stays on the field that's the thing for us”.
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell expressed the view earlier this week that on-field sledging of a personal nature will eventually result in a physical altercation unless administrators urgently clamp down on unsavoury behaviour (PTG 1492-7207, 30 December 2014).
ACO PROVIDES ’SNEAK PREVIEW' OF
MATCH OFFICIALS SURVEY FINDINGS
Forty per cent of scorers who responded to a survey of match officials conducted by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) use the Total Cricket Scorer computer program, but most aren't ready to do away with scorebooks just yet for all but three per cent of scorers who provided feedback still use one. Those details are amongst “a few headline findings” from the survey the ACO has released ahead of the distribution of a more detailed analysis sometime in the next few months (PTG 1492-7209, 30 December 2014).
Insurance cover provided as part of ACO membership is seen by survey respondents as the main benefit of joining the organisation, an incentive that is “closely followed” by the basic pleasure of "belonging to the officiating community”. Both scorers and umpires are said to have indicated they would welcome more on-line training materials and resources from the ACO, for they are reported to “place great importance" on "developing their skills and knowledge”.
Amongst the “headline” findings listed was that players in those Counties and Leagues where umpires have recently attended a form of training are said to be "happier with the standard of officiating”. Overall those match officials who provided feedback classed their satisfaction with their roles as match officials as “high”,
The initial summary of survey findings, which came from nearly 3,500 submissions, was provided to members via the ACO’s new ‘Over and Out’ e-mail service, a parallel service being called ‘E-Shots’. Both initiatives are designed to allow news and other relevant information to be distributed to ACO’s members quickly and efficiently in the period between what have become its thirty-two page quarterly newsletters. The latter are made available to the ACO’s nearly 9,000 members in both electronic and printed format.
UMPIRE ABUSE NOT ON,
SAYS CA CHIEF EXECUTIVE
James Sutherland, Cricket Australia’s (CA) chief executive, has “condemned" the behaviour of Alex Wyatt his general manager of ‘Strategy, government and people’, who has been suspended for three weeks for his actions whilst captaining a suburban side in Melbourne last month (PTG 1491-7203, 28 December 2014).
News reports yesterday quote Sutherland as saying Wyatt had failed to meet the same standards on the field he set in his human resources management area position which deals with such issues as workplace bullying, intimidation and harassment. The CA chief said: “The basic principle for any cricketer is respect for the umpire’s decision, and I reminded [Wyatt] of the need to keep his emotions in check regardless of circumstances".
ALLEGED ‘ILLEGAL FIELDING’
LEADS TO CONFRONTATION
What is claimed to have been the deliberate sideways movement of a fielder to distract a batsman led to an angry on-field confrontation during a Dhaka Premier League match between the Abahani and Prime Doleshwar in Mirpur on Tuesday. Doleshwar batsman Asif Ahmed is reported to have complained of Abahani fielder Nasir Hossain's "illegal movement" in the field and refused to face the ball on a number of occasions, a situation that eventually led to the fielder "charging at the batsman” until he was physically restrained by an umpire.
Hossain is said to by a ‘New Age’ newspaper report to have "ordered Asif to take guard and face the ball instead of complaining” and that led to "a verbal tirade” between the two. As the fielder ran towards the batsman in a menacing fashion, umpire Rafiqul Islam tackled him and assorted him away to prevent "a physical battle” occurring, after which the game had to be stopped “for quite some time”. The on-field confrontation spilled over into the stands where supporters of both sides clashed with each other until police "cooled down both sets of fans".
PLAYING THE GAME
ANOTHER FORMER AUSSIE PLAYER
WARNS ON SLEDGING CULTURE
Former Australia opening batsman Bruce Laird has criticised the sledging culture that has been on display during the on-going Australia-India Test series, and like his former captain Ian Chappell before him claims it’s only a matter of time before it leads to an on-field physical altercation. Last week Chappell expressed the view that on-field sledging of a personal nature will eventually result in a serious on-field incident unless administrators clamp down on unsavoury behaviour (PTG 1492-7207, 30 December 2014).
Laird, 64, who played 21 Tests for Australia from 1979-92, told News Corporation that: "These days they sledge ten times as much as my time in the game and it’s getting out of control”. "It will get to the stage where a fieldsman will get a bat wrapped around his around his head”, and “something has to be done and they have to be pulled into line”.
According to Laird "in the 1970s-80s bowlers like [Australian fast bowler] Jeff Thomson never tried to hurt you, he wasn’t that sort of bloke, in fact he never said a word”. "Everyone seems to think Ian Chappell started [personal sledging], but he was actually very much against it and Rod Marsh the same”. "Chappell was really strong on fieldsmen shutting up and bowlers never getting personal”. "He had no problem with a bowler calling a batsman a lucky so and so, but none of the stuff you see today [for] now it’s very ugly and you will find kids copying it".
Thomson is said to have agreed with Laird that players are better off saying nothing. “If you go off as a bowler then you lose what you are meant to do”. “I did it once to someone and got hit around because the guy knew what I was trying to do”. "I don’t remember abusing batsmen”. "I would rather shut up and keep them guessing so they didn’t know what they were going to cop”.
Despite the concerns Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson is adamant match officials have "got it right” in terms of sledging during the series to date. In his view: "It’s just harmless stuff that’s out there”, something that “has always been part of the game and always will be”. Despite that he admitted that the opening Test in Adelaide "was a little bit different” as "Davey Warner got fired up with a bit of a send-off and it got a bit too in your face”. Indian captain Virat Kohli and his team mate Shikhar Dhawan were, like Warner, fined for their part in on-field incidents in Adelaide (PTG 1483-7178, 14 December 2014).
Johnson went on to say that "when there’s people touching each other, that’s crossing the line”. “I learnt my lesson [in a Test in Perth five] years ago [along with Brad Haddin and West Indies spinner Sulieman Benn]". Benn was suspended for two One Day Internationals and Haddin and Johnson fined twenty-five and ten per cent of their match fees respectively over an on-field confrontation (PTG 535-2739, 19 December 2009). Johnson, who will miss the Sydney Test because of injury, doesn’t expect Kohli to tone down his aggressive approach in this week’s fourth Test in Sydney but believes skipper Kohli’s hot-head "makes him vulnerable” (PTG 1493-7211, 1 January 2015).
REPORT CLAIMS ASHRAFUL INVOLVED
IN 2012 LANKAN LEAGUE ‘FIX'
Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful, who is currently serving what is effectively a three-year ban after admitting his involvement in the 2013 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) match-fixing scandal, is now reported to have admitted doing the same thing in the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) the previous year, according to a report published in Colombo’s 'Daily Mirror' on Thursday. Currently, as the result of an appeal, Ashraful can resume his playing career in August 2016, five years earlier than originally expected (PTG 1437-6952, 30 September 2014).
The ‘Mirror’ story claims that Ashraful told the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Anti Corruption and Security Unit in late May 2013, soon after investigations into BPL corruption got underway, that he had been involved in fixing the SLPL match between Ruhunu Royals and Wayamba United played in late August 2012.
The report goes on to make the claim that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) President Jayantha Dharmadasa agreed at an ICC board meeting in November 2014 "to refrain from taking further action on evidence provided by Ashraful”. According to the ‘Mirror’ the issue "created a storm in Sri Lankan cricket as Dharmadasa kept his SLC colleagues in dark about the entire matter". He is said to have claimed that he agreed to sign the document during the ICC meeting at the request of BCB president Nazmul Hasan.
While Ashraful can at the moment return in August next year, two months ago the ICC and the BCB lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland against the decision by a BCB disciplinary appeals panel to reduced the original eight-year suspension given to Ashraful to five years with two suspended (PTG 1452-7034, 22 October 2014). Just when CAS will hand down a decision on the matter is not yet clear.
CHALLENGE TO ECB UMPIRE RETIREMENT
AGE PROCEEDING, SAYS REPORT
A report from the UK indicates that a court hearing is to be held next month into the challenge by long-serving English umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey into the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) long-standing compulsory umpire retirement age of sixty-five. Neither of the two, who are being supported in their action by a trade union, were amongst the list of twenty-five umpires named by the ECB on its Full List last month for the 2015 northern summer (PTG 1480-7162, 11 December 2014).
Prospect, a UK trade union, which in the past has represented the likes of football referees and their assistants, has made clear its view that the ECB should remove the "least well-performing umpires" from its top panel each year, rather than force those who are performing to a higher standard but reach the age of sixty-five into automatic retirement. In its view an umpires' decision making ability, fitness and mobility should be the deciding factor in keeping the job, not their age.
In 2008 former Barrie Leadbeater, who retired at the end of that year, sought legal advice about the compulsory retirement age and was told that the ECB was legally able to enforce their policy, however, UK employment laws in relation to such matters changed in 2011. Reports say the ECB are expected to tell the forthcoming tribunal that the progression of young umpires should not be blocked by individuals remaining in the game beyond sixty-five.
Six years ago when Leadbeater’s approach was turned down, ECB umpire's manager Chris Kelly was quoted as saying that "we need umpires who are motivated [to stand at first-class level and above] and if people see there are obstructions their motivation takes a knock". "The bottom line is that we have the best interests of the cricketers at heart [and] that has to be our focus [for] we are committed to getting the best umpires available” (PTG 356-1899, 3 December 2008), an approach that on the surface at least appears to coincide with Prospect’s view of the situation.
AUSSIE EUP MEMBERS IN RARE
Two Australian members of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker, are standing in domestic cricket at home for the first time in a few years during Cricket Australia’s (CA) on-going Twenty20 series. The pair, along with all twelve members of CA’s National Umpires Panel, have been named for the thirty-two match T20 round-robin matches ahead of the three match final series in late January.
Tucker, who last stood in a domestic match in Australia in March 2012, will be on-field in three CA Twenty20 games, while Oxenford, whose last CA fixture was two years ago this month, has been named for one. Tucker’s last domestic appearance was in a List A game and Oxenford a T20 fixture.
Oxenford and Tucker are not alone on the EUP in their absence from domestic matches on home soil in 2014, countryman Paul Reiffel, who was last at home two years ago, New Zealander ‘Billy’ Bowden and Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka being in the same boat, while Aleem Dar of Pakistan stood in a single one-day fixture at home last year, according to data available on-line.
The fourth Aussie on the EUP, Steve Davis, stood in five matches in the lower-tier Imparja Cup series last February, and Marais Erasmus of South Africa was on-ground for a total of seven days at home in top-level domestic one-day games. The EUP standouts in terms of domestic games at home were the four Englishmen, Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Nigel Llong, and Richard Kettleborough, who were on-field in that country for 21, 31, 34 and 46 days of county cricket respectively. By far the majority of those games were four-day first class affairs, Kettleborough standing in 10, Llong 8, and Gould and Illingworth each 5.
While Dharmasena was absent at home he was able to spend a total of 25 days working directly in Indian Premier League (IPL) and Champions League (CL) games, while Tucker’s figure was 20 days for the IPL, Bowden 17 across the IPL and CL, Oxenford 12 with the IPL, and Dar, Erasmus and Illingworth all 7 with the IPL.
Data available indicates that all up Illingworth topped the list of match days worked across all cricket in 2014, in either on-field, television and reserve positions, with 130 days, 92 of them in internationals, 31 in domestic matches at home and 7 in either the IPL or CPL (92/31/7). After that came Kettleborough with 124 days (78/46/0), Bowden 98 (81/0/17), Gould 97 (76/21/0), Llong 96 (62/34/9), Erasmus 91 (77/7/7), Tucker 85 (64/1/20), Dharmasena 83 (58/0/25), Oxenford 78 (66/0/12), Dar 76 (68/1/7), Reiffel 72 (72/0/0) and Davis 67 (62/5/0).
Travel and other responsibilities would have meant a significant additional number of cricket related days in addition to their match day presence. The ICC says on its web site that an EUP member’s "potential on-field workload [is around] 75 days plus travel and preparation time per year”.
When it increased the size of the EUP to the current 12 members seven years ago following a review of international umpiring, the ICC said the aim was to have those on the panel spend less time away from home, and more time mentoring up-and-coming officials and working on their own skills in their nation's domestic competitions (PTG 126-686, 1 November 2007).
That review, which is unlikely to have envisaged the use of EUP members in non ICC events such as the IPL and CL, was conducted by an "independent three-person group" chaired by the world body's then General Manager Cricket, David Richardson, who is now the world body’s Chief Executive Officer.
SOUTH AFRICAN PALEKER FOR
INDIAN EXCHANGE VISIT
South Africa umpire Allahuddien Paleker is to officiate in the Ranji Trophy first class match between Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh that is due to get underway at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai tomorrow. Paleker, 36, whose grandfather was from the Indian state of Maharashtra, is in India as part of the on-going umpire exchange agreement between Cricket South Africa and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
For Paleker, a former first class player, the forthcoming match will be his forty-sixth as an umpire at first class level since his debut in October 2009. He stood in two Plunket Shield first class games in New Zealand on exchange in February-March 2012, and two in the Sheffield Shield in Australia in February last year (PTG 1265-6104, 7 January 2014). He is expected to stand in a second Ranji Trophy match this month before he returns home.
DROPS ‘F’ BOMB
Hobart captain George Bailey had to apologise to television viewers during his side’s Cricket Australia Twenty20 match against Brisbane on Friday after an expletive he uttered went to air. Bailey wore a microphone whilst he was in the field in order that conversations with his bowlers and the instructions he gave to the field could he heard by viewers, and presumably his opponents at the ground with access to the broadcast, however, during a tense period of the game he apparently forgot that he was wearing a mike.
CALL FOR MAXIMUM THICKNESS
TO BE SET FOR FOR BATS
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) should include a maximum thickness of bats in the game’s Laws, says UK ‘Daily Telegraph’ journalist Scyld Berry, otherwise he believes more people, either umpires, bowlers in their follow-through or non-strikers backing up, "are going to get killed”. Berry says in an article published yesterday that “the height and width of a bat are restricted by the Laws”, and asks "why not the thickness?” as well.
In Berry’s view the thickness of a bat "should be what it was a generation ago [and that] sixes should be rare not commonplace” as they generally are today. Concerns have been expressed in many quarters for some time that present day bat manufacturing technology has shifted the advantage in the game towards batsmen and away from bowlers (PTG 1026-4984, 7 December 2012).
Almost two years ago in Auckland the MCC's World Cricket Committee (WCC) recommended that the size of bats, particularly the thickness of their edges, be investigated, as the "balance" between bat and ball in the game is an issue of "paramount importance” (PTG 1068-5192, 28 February 2013).
At the conclusion of that meeting the MCC indicated it was to conduct research into the matter "over the coming months”, and five months after that the next WCC meeting, this time at Lord's, heard the views of a "range of cricket bat specialists" about the "size of bats" (PTG 1149-5563, 17 July 2013). The International Cricket Council’s own Cricket Committee said after its 2014 meeting just over a year later that it "will be keeping a close watch on the performance of cricket bats moving forward” (PTG 1371-6631, 7 June 2014).
Berry also made a number of other suggestions for the year ahead in his article, including that “opponents [should] not engage in face-to-face confrontations on the field which force the umpires to step in [as it] looks ugly, is ugly, and sets the worst possible example for all other levels of the game” (PTG 1495-7222 below).
He goes on to call for no one to be able to go on the field whilst play is underway except at a drinks break "unless there is a clear medical need for the batsmen". "Bowlers and fielders can be treated beyond the boundary, and surely batsmen can go one hour between drinks without changing gloves in most climates”, for the emphasis, he says, should be on ensuring fifteen overs an hour are bowled.
The long-time journalist, who was editor of the 'Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack' from 2008-11, also says the International Cricket Council should revert to being an international governing body, "not a club run by three members”. He expresses the view that: "A vastly disproportionate amount of the revenue goes to the three countries that need it least: Australia, England and India with everyone else powerless”.
Lastly, Berry believes the game in Britain needs females to "play in mass numbers if the sport is not going to become a middle-class niche, as it seems otherwise destined to be”. One way of doing that would be to “devise a semi-hard ball for [use by] girls and women”. “[Such a] ball cannot be easily hit to the boundary so there would be lots of running, by batters and fielders: with relay throws and backing up, almost half the fielding side could be involved when the ball is hit for runs”, concludes Berry.
SERIAL OFFENDER CALLS
FOR SLEDGING RESTRAINT
Australian batsman David Warner said yesterday that on-field verbal exchanges have 'crossed the line’ and counselled teammates and rivals alike to show a bit more restraint, says a report posted on the Cricket Australia web site yesterday. While conceding, given his past history in regard to such issues, he is an unlikely source of such advice, journalist Andrew Ramsey says the opening batsman identified "the needless goading of batsmen immediately after they have been dismissed as a potential flash point that needs to be hosed down".
Warner, 28, who was fined after last month's opening Adelaide Test against India for making provocative comments to Indian bowler Varun Aaron (PTG 1483-7178, 14 December 2014), is said to have promised to take his own advice in this week’s fourth Test in Sydney. On-field exchanges continued in Tests two and three in Brisbane and Melbourne late last month, a situation that led some to warn that if such incidents were allowed to continue it could lead to a physical altercation during a game (PTG 1494-7215, 4 January 2015).
Asked yesterday if there were examples of on-field banter in the series to date that had “crossed the line”, Warner said: "Sometimes the way that we celebrate wickets, not just the Indian team but we do it as well [and] we’ve all got to be careful not to get over-excited and get in the batsman’s face”. “I think the best thing you can do is turn your back and give them the silent treatment when you get them out because you have the last laugh doing it that way”.
Meanwhile, former Australian batsman Neil Harvey, 86, wants to see the umpires "booking players for sledging”, according to a report in the India’s ‘Mid-day’ newspaper yesterday. Harvey, who played 79 Tests for his country from 1948-63, called the behaviour of both the Australian and Indian side’s "absolutely disappointing”. Referring to the bad blood between the two sides in 2007-08 which led at one stage to India threatening to abandon the tour (PTG 187-1009, 31 January 2008), Harvey said the tenure of the series has gotten worse, rather than better.
Harvey said he did not like what he saw on television. "They just sledge each other from the start of each day's play". "This is nonsense [and] it's reached a stupid stage and it's time for the red and yellow card system which is used in football to come in”. "They all over do it and this sledging business has just got to stop”. "The umpires are too weak… that's the trouble”, stressed Harvey.
Last week Warner was quoted as saying that in the end “it comes down to the umpires or the ICC [International Cricket Council] fining people when they cross the line you can’t cross”.
HAFEEZ REPORTEDLY FAILS ‘UNOFFICIAL’
TEST OF BOWLING ACTION
Pakistan offspinner Mohammad Hafeez has failed an unofficial test of his bowling action in Chennai after six of his deliveries were found to have elbow extension of over fifteen degrees, according to a number of media reports from the sub-continent yesterday. Hafeez, who was reported for a suspect bowling action during a Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi two-and-a-half months ago (PTG 1459-7071, 14 November 2014).
Tests conducted at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, England, in November found Hafeez had an arm flex in excess of fifteen degrees for all types of deliveries he bowled. The Chennai tests last week, which he underwent after a period of work to modify his action (PTG 1481-7171, 12 December 2014), are said to have found the six deliveries he bowled over the wicket were beyond the fifteen degrees, and his first two around the wicket were measured at seventeen and nineteen degrees.
Saeed Ajmal, another suspended Pakistani bowler, ruled himself out of next month's World Cup last week after the Pakistan Cricket Board determined he needed more time to correct his bowling action (PTG 1491-7204, 28 December 2014).
NZC QUERIES ‘KOOKABURRA’
OVER BALL STANDARDS
Australian company ‘Kookaburra’ has been criticised by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) over the quality of its international-standard cricket balls for there is increasing concern over their ability to withstand the rigours of a Test match, says a report in today’s ’Sydney Morning Herald. NZC is said to be "seeking answers from Kookaburra" over why some of its $A100-plus balls "are struggling to go the distance” in the current Test series against Sri Lanka.
Journalists Mark Geenty and Tom Cowie say the problem "reached farcical levels" on day two of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Sunday when the second new ball was deemed out of shape by the umpires Steve Davis and Richard Illingworth after just seven deliveries. It was the fourth time the ball had to be changed in the first two days of the game, the first in New Zealand's opening innings lasting just twenty-three overs.
NZC head of cricket Lindsay Crocker said the balls are "going [out of shape] so early”, and that his organisation has been in touch with Cricket Australia as it was having "similar problems", as well as Cricket South Africa which also uses the ‘Kookaburra’ brand. ‘Kookaburra’ balls are used in most Test-playing countries, the ‘Dukes’ brand in England and ’SG’ in India (SG) being the notable exceptions.
Genty and Cowie write that the situation could lead to NZC approaching other ball suppliers such as ‘Dukes' when its commercial deal with ‘Kookaburra' expires in two years. Cricket Auckland is trialling the cheaper ‘Dukes' balls in club cricket there this season, after the company looked to push into the southern-hemisphere market last summer. "When that contract comes around it will be an opportunity for us to look at other alternatives”, said Crocker.
Former Australian player Shane Warne has been critical of ‘Kookaburra' balls constantly going out of shape during the Tests between Australia and India. There have been numerous instances during the series of balls being replaced midway through an innings or of bowlers asking the umpire to check if the ball is out of shape. During one stint as commentator on Channel Nine, the ever talkative Warne suggested cricket balls be produced by one manufacturer and standardised across the world to ensure the best possible ball.
The International Cricket Council has sanctioned several different brands and it is up to individual boards to decide who their supplier is. White “Kookaburra' balls will be used for this year's World Cup series in Australia and New Zealand.
CA AMENDS DOMESTIC T20
‘SUPER OVER’ RULES
Cricket Australia (CA) has changed the rules that apply when ‘Super’ or ‘Eliminator’ overs are needed to decided the result of tied matches in its domestic Twenty20 competition. Previously, and as currently applies in Twenty20 Internationals and major domestic series around the world, if a team looses two wickets in such overs their ‘innings’ is complete, however, CA now allows both teams to bat for six fair deliveries regardless of how many wickets they loose.
The change, which is also reported to allow each team to use a new ball for their six deliveries rather than that the one used in the second innings of the main match, came to light in Brisbane on Monday when CA franchise teams from Melbourne and Sydney each finished on 150, Sydney loosing six wickets and Melbourne four. This is the second time Playing Conditions changes have come to light via an incident in a match in the last three months (PTG 1450-7026, 16 October 2014).
In its 'Super Over’ on Monday, Melbourne scored 0/19 off seven deliveries, one of which was a wide, but Sydney could only manage 2/5 off the first five deliveries having lost wickets on balls two and five. While an extraordinary run of no balls or wides would have been needed to overcome Melbourne’s total, the new batsman went to the crease for the last delivery and hit it for four, his side finishing their ’Super Over’ on 2/9.
Reports suggest the change was made because of the way a T20 match between Perth and one of CA’s Sydney franchises ended in January last year. On that occasion Sydney batted first in the ‘Eliminator’ and lost two wickets in four balls for just one run, and when Perth went to the crease a four off the first ball faced produced four runs in what in television terms was somewhat of an anti-climax.
Whether the CA’s change of Playing Conditions will be taken up by the International Cricket Council or other domestic leagues around the world is not yet known.
INDONESIAN UMPIRE STANDING IN
AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY SERIES
Jakarta-based Indonesian umpire Suresh Subramanian is one of fourteen umpires standing in this week’s 2015 Australian Country Cricket Championships (ACCC) series being played in the northern Victorian city of Bendigo. The annual series, which features country teams from all Australian states except Tasmania plus an side picked from the International Cricket Council’s East Asia Pacific (EAP) region, involves a total of fifteen games, six played in two-day and nine in one-day formats.
India-born Subramanian, a member of the EAP’s top umpiring panel, was ranked eighth of the nine members of that group last year (PTG 1455-7058, 26 October 2014). Records available indicate he has in the past taken part in the EAP’s Under-17 championship series in Vanuatu in September 2010, plus its equivalent Under-19 series played in south-east Queensland, the first in February 2011 and second in July 2013.
Subramanian, one of two Indonesians on the EAP’s top group, told the ‘Bendigo Advertiser’ yesterday that “cricket is anything but a major sporting code in Indonesia, but the sport is growing and we are trying to promote the game”. He said that there are sixteen teams and around 500 people playing the game in Indonesia where the season runs for all but three weeks of the year. Matches there are played on synthetic wickets because it rains "almost every day”, something that "makes it too hard to prepare turf wickets”.
Subramanian is the third EAP umpire member to take part in an ACCC series, Papua New Guinea (PNG) umpires Clive Elly and Alu Kapa doing so in 2012 and 2014 respectively. In other EAP news Helen Atai of PNG, the top ranking member of its second-tier Development Umpires Panel, took part in NZC’s women’s Under-21 tournament in Lincoln late last month (PTG 1454-7049, 24 October 2014).
A so far unnamed EAP umpire member is due to stand in New Zealand Cricket’s annual ten-day men’s Under-19 tournament which is due to get underway in Lincoln near Christchurch next Tuesday (PTG 1455-7058, 26 October 2014), and if the practice of the last few years is followed another will take part in next month's Imparja Cup series in Alice Springs.
According to the 2015 ACCC Handbook for what is the sixtieth such event, the other thirteen umpires apart from Subramanian come from the Bendigo District Cricket Umpires Association, they being named as: Paul Abbott; Colin Brayshaw; Alan Clements; Kevin Gunn; John Hewitt; Russell McGibbon ; Steve Patten; Ken Reed; Greg Reeves; Rod Southon; Joe Sarteschi; Larry Wust; and Geoff Young. The Handbook does not provide any details of the scorers who are supporting the tournament.
In his welcome to the event contained in the Handbook, Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland congratulates "the players and umpires who have been selected to represent your respective States and Territories” at the tournament. Wether CA is considering offering so-called ‘grass roots’ umpires from other states the opportunity to be selected for future series is not known.
BATSMAN GETS OFF
THE MARK WITH A ‘7'
West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite got off the mark in the second innings of the Test against South Africa in Cape Town yesterday with an unusual seven runs. Brathwaite drove square off bowler Vernon Philander and ran three, but a strong throw from fielder Jonty de Villiers to the bowler’s end beat the field and quickly ran to the fence for four.
LONG-SERVING MCC LAWS
Former English umpire Sheila Hill, who stood in women's Tests and One Day Internationals (ODI) and played a key role in shaping the Laws of Cricket and training umpires for more than 25 years, has retired from Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) Laws sub-committee. The MCC says that Hill, 86, "had a priceless impact" on the development of the Laws of the game during a lifetime's involvement with cricket which included umpiring in the first ever Women’s World Cup (WWC) final between England and Australia in 1973.
Records available indicate Middlesex-born Hill umpired and scored in the women’s game in England for a period of nearly forty years from 1961-99, a period in which she stood in three Tests and eight ODIs, four of the latter in the WWC of 1973. She was also the scorer in single Test and ODIs.
Off the field Hill played a significant role as a member of the MCC Laws Rewrite Working Party whose efforts culminated in the publication, in 2000, of the first new Code of Laws since 1980. She also worked on MCC's Open Learning Manual and on each new Edition of the Laws produced since 2000. Hill was also joint Editor of Tom Smith's 'Cricket Umpiring and Scoring’ book in the period from 1992-2000, and with her Laws sub-committee colleagues worked on the latest edition that was published in 2011.
MCC Laws Manager Fraser Stewart said in a statement: "It is impossible to exaggerate the contribution that Sheila has made to MCC and to the Laws of Cricket”. "Her encyclopaedic knowledge of the Laws and how they interrelate, her drafting skills and her ability to explain the Laws are second to none”, continued Stewart, while her "tireless work on the re-drafting of the Laws and the production of a range of explanatory materials were hugely appreciated and will be greatly missed by the Club”.
Hill’s service to the game earned her Honorary Life Membership of MCC in 1999, she being one of the first ten women who were given that honour that year, as well as Honorary Membership of England and Wales Cricket Board's Association of Cricket Officials. In 2011 she was appointed MBE for services to Women's Cricket.
ONE CHANGE TO
AAIUP FOR 2015
Scottish umpire Allan Haggo has been appointed to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) third-tier Associate and Affiliate Panel International Umpires Panel (AAIUP) for 2015 replacing Ireland’s Richard Smith. Haggo, 53, joins last year’s members, his countryman Ian Ramage, 56, Sameer Bandekar, 50 (United States), Kathy Cross 57 (New Zealand), Mark Hawthorne 52 (Ireland), Wynand Louw 53 (Namibia), Nigel Morrison 59 (Vanuatu), David Odhiambo 38 (Kenya), Buddhi Pradhan 39 (Nepal), Sarika Siva Prasad 55 (Singapore), and Courtney Young 59 (Cayman Islands).
Haggo officiated in the World Cricket League Division 4 series in Singapore last June and was appointed to the final along with Ahmed Shah Durrani of Afghanistan (PTG 1367-6607, 3 June 2014). England-born Smith, 42, who joined the panel in 2011 and officiated during the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Australia in 2012, has stepped down from the panel, having moved from Ireland. In his four years on the AAIUP he stood in six One Day Internationals and six Twenty20 Internationals, including the Bangladesh-Netherlands tri-series of 2012.
The 2015 panel was selected by a selection group made up of ICC Umpire and Referees Manager Vince Van Der Bijl; ICC Umpire and Referees Administration Manager Adrian Griffith; ICC Regional Match Referee David Jukes; and ICC Development Events Manager Edward Fitzgibbon.
FOUR NAMED TO MANAGE
Match officials from four Asian nations have been appointed to manage the One Day International tri-series between Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the next twelve days. Graeme Labrooy, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier Regional Referees Panel will oversee the playing of the event, with ICC second-tier International Umpires Panel members Vineet Kulkarni (India), Ahmed Shahab (Pakistan) and Sharfuddoula (Bangladesh), the umpires.
Each of the umpires will stand in four matches and be the reserve in another two, games that will take Kulkarni’s ODI record to seventeen on-field and eight as a reserve (17/8) and Sharfuddoula 16/8, however, the series will see Shahab’s ODI debut although he currently has a single Twenty20 International to his credit.
DISSENT RESULTS IN
South African all-rounder Imran Tahir has been banned for one domestic first class game, but not forthcoming internationals, after being found guilty of showing dissent at an umpire’s decision in the four-day match against the Warriors franchise late last month. Tahir, who pleaded guilty to the charge and did not attend the hearing conducted by Cricket South Africa Disciplinary Commissioner Rian Cloete, is to miss the corresponding first class fixture against the Warriors that is to start in East London today.
Cloete said in a statement that “after careful consideration of the facts and the concerns raised, it is held that this disciplinary body has no authority to suspend Mr Tahir from playing in the upcoming Twenty20 international matches against the West Indies [tomorrow and on Sunday), and I am satisfied that the appropriate penalty in respect of this [Level 2] offence is a suspension for one four-day match”.
MISTAKE RESULTS IN BATSMAN’S
The Adelaide Twenty20 franchise’s batsman Craig Simmons walked when he thought he had been stumped during a match at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, only to stop half way when the big screen at the ground flashed ’Not Out’. The matter had been referred to third umpire Mike Graham-Smith for a decision, however, reports say that while he judged Simmons to be out, he accidentally hit the ’NOT OUT’ rather than the ‘OUT’ button that triggers the video screen.
Simmons’ relief and the crowd’s excitement that their home team batsman had been reprieved was quickly turned on its head though, for after Graham-Smith advised on-field umpires Geoff Joshua and Damien Meanley by radio of his mistake, they directed the batsman to the pavilion.
Three years ago what some reports then called a "technical gremlin” led then Australian batsman Mike Hussey to be given ‘OUT’ stumped on the computerised scoreboard at the 'Gabba' in Brisbane after a review in a One Day International against India (PTG 903-4390, 20 February 2012).
Third umpire Bruce Oxenford, then a member of the International Cricket Council's second-tier International Umpires Panel, was said at the time to have "hit the right button but the wrong decision appeared on the big screen”. That reportedly led Cricket Australia to review the breadth of technical systems work third umpires are required to perform (PTG 909-4420, 5 March 2012).
’SPIDERCAM’ WIRES BLAMED
FOR DROPPED TEST CATCH
Australian captain Steve Smith is reported to have been distracted by a wire supporting television broadcaster Channel Nine's ‘Spidercam’ aerial camera as he was trying to take a catch during the fourth Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) yesterday. Batsman Lokesh Rahul top edged a pull shot off the bowling of Shane Watson, the ball ballooned high over Smith's head at first slip, and after it slipped through his hands the captain pointed skywards and was seen to mouth what looked like: "F---ing wire”.
Rahul, who was on forty-six at the time, went on to post his maiden Test century, a score that was important in the context of the match. The German-made aerial cameras, which are suspended over sports venues by a maze of pulleys and cables, were introduced to Nine's overage of Tests in late 2012. Prior to that there had been complications in their use in other sports, including reports of football goalkeepers hitting the them with their punts down field (PTG 1012-4922, 31 October 2012).
Cricket Australia (CA) and the Nine Network issued a joint statement yesterday afternoon that said Smith had been "distracted by one of the wires in his eyeline”, the camera itself being positioned over third man at the time. "We [CA and Nine] have spoken about the matter involving ‘Spidercam' and the dropped catch before lunch and it’s clear the ball did not hit the camera or its supporting wires”. "Both CA and Nine will continue to work together on the use of ‘Spidercam' in the broadcast coverage and will take on board any player feedback as necessary".
The statement went on to point out that: "As it stands, if any player has a concern about the placement of ‘Spidercam' they can ask the umpires for it to be moved”. Players have sometimes found the system a nuisance as it hovered close to them as they walked out to bat. CA and Nine said “the same system has been in use in grounds around Australia for many seasons providing a unique perspective on cricket coverage [and is] used in many other sports, including Australian Rules and Rugby League football codes”. The wires themselves are covered in mesh so they don't glint in the sun.
Despite the spilled catch Australian coach Darren Lehmann defended ‘Spidercam last night saying: "I think it's good for the game [although] it's not ideal where it was positioned for that particular ball”. "It is great vision for the people at home and entertainment throughout the day [but] we've just got to make sure it's positioned right".
Media reports yesterday said third umpires and the broadcast director "negotiate Spidercam's position and whether it is getting too close during play”. The camera system is one of Nine's most valued technological tools and is considered by the broadcaster a key part of its coverage. Under International Cricket Council Playing Conditions umpires are required to call 'dead ball', cancel any runs scored, and have the ball rebowled, if a 'Spydercam' is struck by a batsman's shot (PTG 1011-4916, 30 October 2012).
STARC REPRIMANDED FOR
‘EXAGGERATED’ SEND OFF
Australia player Mitchell Starc has been given an official reprimand for the 'send off’ he gave Indian batsman Murali Vijay late on day two of the current Test in Sydney on Wednesday. The International Cricket Council said in a statement issued early this morning that Starc "engaged in an exaggerated celebration in front of the dismissed batsman”, an action that led to a charge being laid by on-field umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Richard Kettleborough, and third and fourth umpires Simon Fry and Gerard Abood.
Match referee Roshan Mahanama said: “The match officials felt that the player’s behaviour was not appropriate, and he was reminded of his responsibilities to extend respect to his opponent and to play within the spirit of the game at all times”. Starc, who was charged with conduct that is either contrary to the spirit of the game or brings the game into disrepute, is said to have accepted the offence and the proposed sanction of an official reprimand. As such a formal hearing into the matter was not required.
Australia's captain Steven Smith told journalists after play on Wednesday that he did not see Starc's send-off but agreed the practice should be ended. Starc’s team mate David Warner and Indian captain Virat Kohli had stated before this match that the concept of celebrating or gesturing in the face of a departing batsman was an ugly part of the game and should be stopped (PTG 1495-7222, 5 January 2015). Just why on-field confrontations of a similar manner in Tests two and three in Brisbane and Melbourne escaped censure from match officials is not clear.
GAZI CONFIDENT AHEAD OF
REMODELLED ACTION TEST
The bowling action of Bangladesh off-spinner Shohag Gazi is to be reassessed in Chennai in India in two weeks time. Gazi's bowling action had been deemed illegal by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in October after testing at the ICC’s accredited Human Movement Specialists at Cardiff Metropolitan University found he had an elbow had a flex of more than the permitted 15 degrees, a result that saw him suspended from bowling in the international game.
The forthcoming Chennai reassessment was requested by the Bangladesh Cricket Board, its cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan saying yesterday that Gazi, who has recently been playing domestic cricket in Bangladesh (PTG 1475-7135, 5 December 2014), is confident his remodelled action will pass the test. Gazi had originally been reported by match officials following a One Day International against the West Indies in St. George’s in late August (PTG 1419-6857, 25 August 214).
RESULTS OF ‘MISPLACED BALL’
INVESTIGATION STILL AWAITED
A month after the wrong ball was taken on to the field after tea on day three in a first class match between Jamaica and the Leeward Islands, there is no sign of the outcome of a West Indies Cricket Board investigation into the matter. Leewards coach Ridley Jacobs claimed publicly that umpires umpires Danesh Ramdhanie of Trinidad and Tobago and Christopher Taylor of Jamaica “misplaced” the ball during tea, a situation he believed cost his side the game (PTG 1479-7153, 10 December 2014). West Indies Cricket Umpires Association president Cecil Fletcher is reported to have described whatever happened as “unfortunate” (PTG 1482-7175, 13 December 2014).
TRI-SERIES OFFICIALS NAMED
With no Umpire Decision Review System formally in operation all four Australian members of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) will be in action during the One Day International (ODI) series Australia, England and India are to play in Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney over the next two weeks. The four will work with match referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe plus umpires Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka and Marais Erasmus of South Africa across the seven games.
Dharmasena will be on-field for the first three games in Sydney, Melboure and Brisbane with the IUP’s Simon Fry, John Ward and Mick Martell respectively, before Erasmus joins to stand in Hobart, Sydney and Perth, his colleagues on the ground in those fixtures being Fry, the fourth IUP member Paul Wilson, Ward and Fry again. The series will take Pycroft’s ODI tally as a match referee to 112 games, Dharmasena to 57 and Erasmus to 56.
All-up Fry is to work on-field in three games, as the television umpire in two and the reserve in one other (3/2/1), Ward 2/3/1, Martell 1/2/2 and Wilson 1/0/1. Martell and Ward will be working as the television umpire in an ODI for the first time, both having previously served in that capacity internationally in Tests and Twenty20 Internationals. Their colleagues on Cricket Australia’s National Umpires Panel, Gerard Abood and Geoff Joshua, have each been named as reserve umpires in single games, their eighth and fifth in ODIs respectively to date.
For Wilson match five in Sydney two weeks today will be his first senior ODI, the two currently on his record being those played in Townsville last November between second-tier sides Hong Kong and Papua New Guineau, the same month Martell made his senior ODI debut in a match between Australia and South Africa in Sydney (PTG 1465-7096, 23 November 2014).
Twelve scorers have been named to officially record the details of the seven games: Christine Bennison, Adam Morehouse, Toni Lorraine and Robyn Sanday for the two games in Sydney, Ann Ridley and Sandy Wheeler the two in Perth, and Jim Hamilton and Craig Reece in Melbourne, Cliff Howard and Rodd Palmer in Brisbane, and Graeme Hamley and Robert Godfrey in Hobart.
ICC POWERBROKER FACING
CHALLENGE AT HOME?
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke, one of the key power brokers behind last year’s revamp of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) financial and administrative arrangements (PTG 1382-6685, 30 June 2014), is facing opposition to plans to make him the ECB’s first president, claims the London ‘Daily Telegraph”. Under arrangements proposed the president would represent the ECB at ICC meetings and current Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves would move into the chairman’s spot and focus on ECB domestic issues.
Nick Hoult, the Telegraph's deputy cricket correspondent, says Clarke’s eight-years as ECB chairman is likely to end in March and that Graves, who made his fortune via a cut-price supermarket chain, was expected to be elected unopposed at a meeting of County chairman this week. However, according to Hoult, "intense lobbying” by Clarke’s supporters and opponents is continuing over the proposed Clarke-Graves arrangement, and that Clarke's appointment is "far from certain due to opposition from a section of County chairmen who believe it is time for a fresh start”.
Clarke currently chairs the ICC’s finance committee and was instrumental, along with the chairmen of the Australian and Indian boards, in the moves that handed more power to the sport’s three most affluent countries last year. Hoult says that precise details of the role of the new ECB president such as its precise responsibilities and the length of an individual’s tenure in the job will be on the table at this week’s meeting. However, those who fill the President’s role will appointed by the Board rather than elected, says the ’Telegraph'.
BROADCASTER TO CONDUCT ANOTHER
PINK BALL VISIBILITY TRIAL
Australian television broadcaster Channel Nine plans to conduct a series of pink-ball tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday as part of moves to conduct a day-night Test against New Zealand, and possibly also the West Indies, next November-December (PTG 1461-7079, 17 November 2014). Cricket Australia (CA) and Nine have arranged for the trials to take place in conjunction with the Australia-India One Day International (ODI), periods before play, after play and during the innings break being used for the trial, only the post-match tests taking place after sunset.
CA chief executive James Sutherland said yesterday that the trial has been arranged: "To make sure from Nine's perspective that everything shapes up well ... to see how the ball comes up for a TV viewer”. Reports indicate the trial will see a new pink ball, one that is forty overs old, and another of eighty overs, used. "The ball has been the biggest stumbling block for the -day-night Test] concept”, said Sutherland, a move he hopes will "help support and sustain the existence of Test cricket”.
Nine conducted a similar experiment with a pink ball at the MCG five years ago immediately after an Australia-West Indies ODI (PTG 568-2879, 10 February 2010). That saw Premier League level players from the Melbourne Cricket Club playing "a mock game” in order that Nine could test the visibility of coloured ball of various match ages under lights, an event that happened during a season in which CA also trialled pink balls in Futures League state second XI matches (PTG 567-2874, 8 February 2010).
Sutherland said yesterday that CA is continuing to work with ball manufacturer ‘Kookaburra' and is confident the change in ball colour won't affect the integrity of Tests. "I've seen the balls used this season [during trials in Sheffield Shield first class day-night games] and how they've come back after being used”, and “outside the colour, there's no difference to how the ball wears, the hardness and all of that”. Media reports in November suggested players who took part in those Shield games were “positive” about the pink balls used.
Plans call for Australian and New Zealand players to be provided with pink-ball match practice before the Test, which is said to be likely to be preceded by another day-night Shield round, which if it occurs would be the third time in two years CA has arranged such games in its domestic first class series. "We'll be looking to schedule one or more tour games at night, depending on what New Zealand requests”, said Sutherland.
Senior New Zealand Cricket personnel have indicated over the last few months that a day-night pink ball trial would be held in that country during the current austral summer, however, as yet there has been no indication as to just when, and in what format, that might occur. Such suggestions have been made in past seasons but nothing has eventuated.
MERSEYSIDE DISCIPLINARY HEAD CRITICISES
‘APPALLING’ PLAYER BEHAVIOUR
Richard McCullugh, the chairman of the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition’s (LDCC) disciplinary panel, has criticised what he called the “appalling” behaviour of players in the Merseyside series in his 2014 annual report, according to an article in the ‘Liverpool Echo’ yesterday. McCullugh, whose report will be formally tabled at tonight’s LDCC Annual General Meeting, accused cricketers there of copying international players and pointed to the on-field conduct of a number of England team members and some who play the County game.
McCullugh said that his generation’s "heroes [at County and international level] were driven by a pride in personal performance and team loyalty and certainly not by sufficient remuneration”. “They have been replaced by a bunch of mercenaries, wimps, prima-donnas, and downright yobs, interspersed with a few who one hopes will emerge unscathed by the surrounding taint”. He asks: "Surely all that is necessary to be a successful international is to have the necessary cricketing skills”.
The LDCC official went on to draw particular attention to the problems experienced with ‘Twitter’ technology in 2014 when two players were suspended for 'misuse of Twitter’, both of whom contested the bans handed to them. McCullugh said: “Despite my warning of two years ago, abusive tweeting has re-emerged, coupled with the sadly now customary abuse of opponents and umpire dissent”. “Add to these cases of on-field assault and perceived racial abuse and the pattern is clear”, he says.
McCullogh then talks about the "worrying trend of clubs rallying to the support of their players with phrases such as ‘he plays hard but fair’, a euphemism for loud-mouthed yobbery, and ‘it was only playful banter’, the same for appalling abuse of an opponent”. “To this end I intend to see that [future] breaches of the code are dealt with even more rigorously [and] I expect clubs to support umpires and administrators in their difficult and sometimes thankless tasks rather than lending misplaced succour to their miscreants”.
SLOW OVER-RATE FINE
FOR WEST INDIES
The West Indies side has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during the second Twenty 20 International (T20I) against South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday. Match referee Ranjan Madugalle of Sri Lanka imposed the fine after Darren Sammy’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.
International Cricket Council 'Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel' rules that relate to minor over-rate offences, that is those of less than three overs, call for players to be fined ten per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with their captain loosing double that amount.
As such, Sammy was fined twenty per cent of his match fee and his players each ten per cent. Should Sammy be found guilty of one more minor over-rate offence in T20I’s over the next twelve months while acting as captain, he will receive an automatic one-match suspension as per the provisions of the Code.
MORE BOWLING ACTION
TESTS FOR HAFEEZ
Pakistan off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, who failed an unofficial test of his bowling action in Chennai earlier this month (PTG 1495-7223, 5 January 2015), is to undergo further testing of his action in the hope that he may be able to bowl in next month’s World Cup. Hafeez was reported for a suspect bowling action during a Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi two-and-a-half months ago (PTG 1459-7071, 14 November 2014).
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is said to have has confirmed that arrangements have been made with the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the latest round of testing to take place later this month, but it did not indicate just which ICC testing centre will be involved. Hafeez, who was selected for the World Cup as a specialist batsman but could play as an all-rounder if his action is cleared, believes he will pass the official testing, says PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan.
AUSSIES 'HONOUR HUGHES' TALK
JUST THAT, SAYS AGNEW
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew says the Australian team failed to live up to their intentions to pay tribute to Phillip Hughes, who died after being struck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match in November (PTG 1469-7113, 27 November 2014), by continuing their "aggressive sledging" on the field against India; much of which was reciprocated by the visitors (PTG 1494-7215, 4 January 2015). The former England bowler says in an article published in the UK ‘Radio Times' that Australia owes it to Hughes to clean-up their on field behaviour.
Australian captain "Michael Clarke said very clearly at Hughes’ funeral service that his memory would run through the team, and would be in the way they would play their cricket”, says Agnew. He goes on to state that despite that "the [on-field] histrionics, the nonsense, the prancing, the in-your-face nastiness [has] become accepted, and actually it's not acceptable at all” (PTG 1483-7178, 14 December 2014). "I really hoped that out of this tragedy might have come some good, but the players haven't behaved any better, and I think that's a real disappointment”.
Agnew said the sledging that occurred during Australia's recent Test series against India was "reminiscent of the aggressive sledging during Australia's [most recent] Ashes win over England”, both teams again being involved (PTG 1251-6038, 10 December 2013). "It's all you hear on a cricket field: 'Knock his head off, knock his head off”m, and as such “cricket has gone too far””. If Clarke’s comments regarding Hughes is "how you feel”, says the BBC man, "then let's see how you play” and he believes ecent incidents had meant players had missed a chance to take something positive from Hughes death.
An on-line poll conducted by Australia’s Fairfax Media over the last few days as to whether "the sledging by the Australian cricket against India [in the recent Test series] was acceptable?”, has seen sixty-eight per cent, or 8,756, of the 12,882 respondents answer ‘No’, and the remaining 4,000, or thirty-two per cent, ‘Yes’. Fairfax warns that the poll is "not scientific and reflects the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate”.
However, despite that poll, Cricket Australia’s (CA) marketing department will be pointing to the fact that the Australia-India Test series produced significant attendances and television ratings. A total of 470,219 spectators attending the four Tests, 61,692 more than the four played three years ago, the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne setting a new high attendance figure of 194,481 for a Test against India in Australia. Most importantly for CA’s core client television, audiences averaged 1.329 million viewers per day compared to 1.275 million in 2011-12.
CA chief executive James Sutherland thanked Australians for their support, saying “it’s pleasing that the Test series was followed so closely despite the late changes to the program which were unprecedented” due to Hughes death.
PCB CHAIRMAN CONCERNED ABOUT
DOMESTIC UMPIRING STANDARDS
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan told the Press Trust of India (PTI) yesterday that his organisation had "decided to seek the help of Aleem Dar [his] country's most celebrated Test umpire” in improving that country’s umpiring standards. Khan said that the decision to approach Dar comes after complaints from teams in the PCB’s ongoing senior domestic season "about the falling standards of umpiring” in Pakistan, claims that have been made on numerous occasions over the last few years (PTG 1501-7245 below).
The PCB chairman admitted that in addition to teams “some of the [official] observers we appointed for the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy [domestic first class series] have also given negative remarks about some umpires and generally the situation does not look good”. As a result he plans to meet with Dar “soon" and ask him to look into the causes for these negative comments about the umpiring and give us a blueprint to raise umpiring standards”.
"Aleem is Pakistan's sole representative on the International Cricket Council's Elite Umpires Panel and has twice [actually three times] won the [world body’s] ‘Umpire of the Year’ award” (PTG 835-4080, 20 September 2011). "Aleem has been one of our best umpires and I am hopeful he can help us improve our umpiring standards”, said Khan.
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif, who is now coach of the Port Qasim Authority first class team, is said by PTI to be "so disgusted with umpiring howlers that he sent a letter to the PCB making it clear he would not be sending any more reports about the umpires as the board took no action on them”. Three years ago an unnamed PCB official said: “When an umpiring mistake helps a team it is termed human error, and when it goes against them it is labelled as bias” (PTG 845-4132, 12 October 2011).
Khan said he was aware of concerns expressed by teams and he would look into the criteria for giving credentials to an umpire or for his posting in domestic matches. He thinks "we need to have more former Test, international or first class players coming into umpiring and we will also review the match fees and other benefits given to umpires right now to give them more incentive”. There are also accusations, as in the past (PTG 764-3749, 20 May 2011), that PCB officials indulge in nepotism in appointing umpires, and Khan admitted there seemed to be a trend of favouritism and he would take steps to change the system to end such activity.
Apart from Dar no other Pakistan umpire has been chosen by the ICC to officiate in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February-March, a situation the country shares with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (PTG 1474-7138, 6 December 2014). The Bangladesh Cricket Board recently publicly lamented the standard of its own umpires (PTG 1486-7186, 20 December 2014).
WORRIES ABOUT PAKISTANI
UMPIRING FAR FROM NEW
News the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is to approach International Cricket Council (ICC) Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) member Aleem Dar to seek his advice on how umpiring standards can be lifted in that country (PTG 1501-7244 above), is not really news as such matters have been aired frequently over the last three years. It seems a case of, as American author Mark Twain once said: “Everybody complains about the weather but no one actually does something about it”.
In February 2011 the PCB announced that it had, for the first time, offered six-month long "performance-based” contracts worth around 300,000 Rupees ($A3,100) to its then top three domestic umpires (PTG 902-4386, 17 February 2012). The campaign for the contract system was started by Dar (PTG 844-4129, 11 October 2011), while Pakistan scorers too have lamented the pay scales and opportunities available to them (PTG 920-4482, 24 March 2012)
In mid-2012 the number of umpires on the PCB's top domestic panel was reduced from twenty-seven to twenty. A media report then stated that “ten umpires had been demoted” as a result of "complaints laid by teams”, a similar refrain that was heard again this week. The committee that decided on the changes included the then two Pakistan ICC EUP members Dar and Asad Rauf (PTG 948-4613, 12 June 2012).
Those umpires who survived the cut were required to undergo eye and hearing tests for the first time, a move recommended by Dar and Rauf, who had "been handed the task [by the PCB of helping to] improve the standard of umpiring in Pakistan" (PTG 954-4637, 28 June 2012). Soon after “independent observers” whose duties included assessing umpires were introduced to all matches in the PCB’s first class games (PTG 1000-4860, 6 October 2012).
In February last year Dar called publicly on the PCB to improve the pay scales for its match officials and said he had recommended it "review umpire pay structures, establish central contracts, and the facilities provided to umpires (PTG 1283-6181, 4 February 2014). He repeated his previous calls for more former players to "join the [umpiring] profession” and said that "umpires must be accommodated in the best hotels while on duty so they can sleep properly and therefore function at their best on the field”. Last August the PCB set up what was called an “umpire evaluation committee” (PTG 1421-6867, 29 August 2014).
All that has gone on over a period when four Pakistan umpires, including Rauf, have left the scene because they were found guilty of misdemeanours, or potentially implicated in such activities (PTG 1089-5303, 14 April 2013), situations that led the PCB to tighten its umpire Code of Conduct regulations (PTG 1147-5553, 14 July 2013).
CONCRETE SLAB STOPS PLAY
A semi final of the Greater Northern Cup between Tasmanian sides Mowbray and South Launceston was abandoned without a ball being bowled on Sunday after home captain John Le Fevre of Mowbray refused to sign Cricket Tasmanian North’s (CTN) ‘Game Day Safety Checklist' for the playing area. Le Fevre refused to take to the field as he formally deemed the ground unsafe because a concrete base for a unfinished new astro-turf pitch protruded onto the playing area at one end.
The Mowbray captain is quoted in yesterday's ‘Launceston Examiner’ as saying the "slab [ran] about ten metres onto the ground”. “It was meant to have been finished on Thursday which would have been fine but the materials did not come”, continued Le Fevre, "so it was basically a slab with some old astro-turf covering about five metres of it”. "‘As it was our home game the onus was on me to sign off on [safety issues] and I didn’t feel comfortable that there would be no injuries so I didn’t”.
Le Fevre said he was told, presumably by the umpires for the match, that if he didn’t sign off on the ground then Mowbray would be deemed by Cricket North to have forfeited the game. ‘‘I don’t know where that is written in the rules but that is what I was told but I was unfazed by that”. "If we don’t play in the final so be it because I was more interested in the safety of our players and preventing something horrible happening which could have been the case”.
CTN administrator David Fry told the ‘Examiner’ on Monday he was unaware of all the circumstances involved but was disappointed at the outcome. ‘‘I understand Mowbray forfeited the match because they weren’t prepared to play on the ground” their reason being "that there is an artificial wicket that was partly protruding onto the ground which was supposed to be completely finished and usable last week”.
‘‘On Friday we placed some artificial turf over as much of it as we could and some sand around it so there weren’t any trip hazards”, continued Fry”, and ‘‘I instructed the umpires to bring the boundary in as far as where the artificial turf was covering the wicket”. Fry said it was certainly not an ideal scenario but with all other grounds being used on the day, each match had to take place on its allocated ground. “The ground was played on [the day before the Cup match] with no problems”, he said.
An up-date of the story in this morning’s ‘Examiner’ says that the Cup final, which had been scheduled to be played this coming Sunday, had been put back a week as the decision was taken yesterday to play the abandoned Mowbray-South Launceston semi final this weekend.
ICC TO ‘CRACK DOWN’ ON SLEDGING
DURING WORLD CUP, SAYS REPORT
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to encourage umpires and match referees to launch an "unprecedented crackdown" on verbal sparring and aggressive, confrontational behaviour between players during the forthcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, says a report in ’The Times’ of London. The ICC, whose officials took no action against such matters in the second and third Tests of the recent Australia-India Test series, is said to be fearful images of sledging beamed to a global viewing audience during what is one of its major events would amount to “terrible publicity for the game”, according to the ‘Times'.
The ICC’s reported campaign on sledging follows similar purges on illegal bowling actions, and to a lesser extent slow over-rates, this year. The ‘Times’ quotes "an ICC source” as saying: “You play the game hard, absolutely, but there is nothing to be proud of about swearing or abusing another player". “Poor behaviour can never be justified [and] we do not want some repulsive confrontation at the World Cup [as] it would be terrible publicity for the game”. “Umpires and match referees clearly need to feel they will be fully supported if [something] inappropriate [occurs], especially [if its] related to language or threatening behaviour”, said the source.
CRITICISM FOR AGNEW’S
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew has been criticised for linking the death of Australian Phillip Hughes to the on-field sledging tactics of the Australian side in the recent series against India. Agnew told the UK’s ‘Radio Times’ earlier this week Australia had failed to live up to their intentions to pay tribute to Hughes and they owe it to him to clean-up their on field behaviour (PTG 1501-7243, 14 January 2015), and while the Englishman has moved to clarify some of his comments, members of the Australian team and some media outlets there have rejected his point of view regarding sledging.
Acting Australian one-day captain George Bailey told journalists yesterday his team doesn’t agree with Agnew's comments, and when asked whether players had been upset by them, he added: "No. He is entitled to his opinion”. Media reports claim though that many in Australian cricket from players to the administrators were privately “angered" by Agnew’s views. A ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ article this morning said Agnew's comments "showed little appreciation for how raw Hughes' death remains with his former teammates”, and that “there is also bemusement the focus was on Australia's behaviour when [India] had more players reported” during the recent Test series.
Australian opener Chris Rogers told the ‘Cricinfo’ web site on Wednesday his side had remained true to the uncompromising way they played the game best, and while there had been the occasional unsavoury scene during the four Tests, there had also been plenty of mutual respect between the Australian and Indian sides. "Looking from the outside it looks like a few flash points and a bit of spite but that's just the nature of Test cricket [for] everyone goes out there and competes as hard as they can”. "At times the anger does rise to the surface [and while] it was pretty hard fought everybody still gets on [afterwards]".
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting wrote in a ‘Cricinfo’ column that in his view the best way to honour Hughes was to play the game "hard, but fair", to not take a backward step and to continue accompanying bouncers "with an aggressive attitude". He pointed to Clarke’s speech as Hughes’ funeral, saying "Michael talked about the spirit of the game and how important it is, and to me that spirit is a really aggressive nature and attitude, a fierce will to win”; a definition which does not appear to fit the principles outlined in the Preamble to the Laws of Cricket. “It's important [Australia] continue to play the hard-nosed, aggressive Australian way”, concluded Ponting.
A number of columnists have suggested that while they do not completely disagree with Agnew regarding on-field behaviour, their concern is the broadcaster’s link between Australian captain Michael Clarke’s funeral speech and what happened in the series. The opportunity to clean things up has always been there, runs their argument, but it has yet to be grasped and it shouldn’t take a single incident such as Hughe’s death to sharpen the focus. "Unseemly behaviour isn’t the preserve of the Australians or Indians; it’s a game-wide trend and lets not pretend otherwise”, said journalist and former English first class player Alex Swann of the ‘Roar’ web site. “Those with any kind of power have to sit down and come up with a plan to calm the more unruly aspects that come to the fore every now and then”, he says.
Agnew himself has moved to clarify some of his original comments. He emphasised he has "absolute admiration for [Clarke’s] powerful and emotional speech at Phillip Hughes' funeral, both in its presentation and content”, however he insists attitudes towards player behaviour have long needed addressing. He hopes plans by the ICCl to bring what he described as "new, strict anti-sledging regulations in time for the World Cup next month will have the same zero-tolerance as [the world body’s] recent purge on throwing” (PTG 1502-7248 above). Agnew says "it is a shame though that the players have not felt prompted to act for themselves”.
DISCARDING OF WICKETKEEPER’S
GLOVE LEADS TO FIVE RUN PENALTY
Umpires Bruce Oxenford and Chris Cassin awarded the Australian Prime Minister’s XI five penalty runs in Canberra on Wednesday courtesy of England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler’s discarded glove. Buttler whipped off one of his gloves in preparation for a throw to the bowler’s end as the ball came in from the field on the last ball of the first over of home side’s run chase, however, he fumbled it and the ball fell onto the glove lying on the ground.
DECISION AWAITED ON BROADCAST
OF UMPIRE REVIEW CONVERSATIONS
It is not yet clear whether viewers watching the One Day International (ODI) tri-series between Australia, England and India over the next two weeks will be able to hear communications between the on-field and television umpires appointed to those games (PTG 1499-7237, 12 January 2014). Last November, consultations between those parties were aired during the five-match ODI series between Australia and South Africa as a trial (PTG 1464-7090, 21 September 2014), however, reports suggest that the on-going use of that approach is currently being considered by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Sami Ul Hasan, the ICC’s Head of Media and Communications, told an India media outlet this week that a decision regarding the real time broadcast of umpire communications during next month’s World Cup, when the Umpire Decision `Review System will be in full operation, "will be confirmed in due course”.
However, former English Test umpire John Holder says the idea should not be proceeded with. In his view "there is no real benefit to TV viewers in being able to listen to the discussions between the TV umpires and his on field colleagues”. "It is simply that the TV companies pay the respective [national] boards huge sums of money to be able to broadcast matches and they want more and more influence in the running of the game”.
Holder remembers "clearly in the early 1990's asking my boss Alan Smith, who was [the then chief executive] of the England and Wales Cricket Board, about the use of stump microphones in cricket in the UK”. "They had started to be used in Australia and I was assured that they would never be accepted in English cricket”. How very wrong he was!!”, said Holder.
"As time has gone by TV has become increasingly intrusive”, he says. "There are stump cameras, ultra sensitive microphones, hot spot, snicko, cameras on umpires 'helmets and now access to umpires conversations”. "Added to this, umpires have to wait for a signal from the broadcaster before the game can start”. "Gradually TV has taken over the running of the game”. "Some of their innovations are good but not this latest intrusion into umpires' conversations", said Holder.
’THE LINE’ CROSSED YET AGAIN
AS ON-FIELD SPATS CONTINUE
Australian and Indian players David Warner and Rohit Sharma were involved in a heated mid-pitch exchange during their sides' One Day International at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last night. The confrontation, which is reported to have cost Warner half of his match fee, occurred despite his call two weeks ago for such disrespect between player’s to cease (PTG 1495-7222, 5 January 2015, and reports the International Cricket Council plans to clamp down on sledging during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February-March (PTG 1502-7247, 16 January 2015).
The incident involved saw Rohit push a ball from James Faulkner to mid-off where it was fielded by Warner, the batsman taking a few steps out of his crease before placing his bat back behind the line. Warner then threw at the stumps and the ball, which came from behind the batsman and may have flicked the back of his pad, was missed by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who could have been distracted by the batsman's close presence, and the Indians took a single. The Australians’ view was that a run should not have been taken in such a circumstance.
Australian fielder Glenn Maxwell was first on the scene to remonstrate with Rohit before Warner arrived from his fielding position and spoke aggressively, possibly saying “speak English”, as he walked past. A reply from Rohit caused Warner to stop and umpires Kumar Dhamasena and John Ward, along with Rohit’s batting partner Suresh Raina, arrived quickly to separate the pair. The conversation continued into the next over with the new bowler, Shane Watson, also exchanging words.
Warner told Sky Sports Radio later that he "won't back down”, then went on with the familiar: "We [the Australian cricket team] play hard aggressive cricket but we know what comes with it, sometimes you are going to get fined”. He continued with a further, somewhat non-sensical, euphemism: "We've just got to keep trying not to cross that line”. After the match, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni played down the incident, saying “it was an argument between two grown men [and] I hope it was sorted out in the middle”.
Last week BBC commentator Jonathan Agnew chided the Australian team about their on-field behaviour and that despite their stated best intentions they had not honoured the memory of Phillip Hughes with their sledging of opponents (PTG 1501-7243, 14 January 2015), a view that was criticised by some Australian players and others (PTG 1502-7248, 16 January 2015).
TEST PLAYERS’ MATCH-FIXING
CONVICTIONS UNDER REVIEW
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing the convictions of three Pakistan players who were jailed for spot-fixing by bowling ‘no balls’ to order in a Test at Lord’s in 2010, according to a report published in ’The Guardian’ over the weekend. Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt were all convicted mainly on evidence obtained via a ‘sting' operation conducted by then ‘News of the World’ journalist Mazher Mahmood.
'The Guardian’ says the trio's convictions are among twenty-five being reviewed over concerns about facts provided by Mahmood, who gave lengthy evidence for the prosecution at the trial of the three Pakistanis who were, in addition to their prison terms, given five-year bans by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Mahmood’s tactics have come under scrutiny following the recent collapse of a trial involving a separate, non-cricket related, sting. Two months ago the Pakistan Cricket Board asked the ICC to allow Aamer an early return to domestic cricket, something Butt is also seeking (PTG 1464-7091, 21 November 2014),
Meanwhile, former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns' perjury trial looks set for October after he pleaded not guilty on a London court on Friday to a perjury charge relating to his 2012 libel trial against former head of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi who had alleged he was involved in match-fixing in 2008 (PTG 1451-7033, 18 October 2014). Cairns' barrister from the 2012 case, Andrew Fitch-Holland, appeared alongside him and pleaded not guilty to one count of perverting the course of justice.
The ‘New Zealand Herald’ said yesterday that factors for consideration in perjury cases include whether it was planned or spontaneous, whether it was persisted with, whether the lies or fabrications had any impact on the proceedings and whether the activities of the offender drew in others. Cairns has always denied any wrongdoing and described match-fixing claims against him as "despicable lies”. The maximum sentence for persons found guilty of perjury in the UK is seven years.
CA CHIEF TO WARNER: ‘STOP
LOOKING FOR TROUBLE'
Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has “reminded" opening batsman David Warner of "his responsibilities as an Australian cricketer and a role model”, according to a Fairfax Media report published on-line yesterday afternoon. Journalist Chris Barrett says that Warner has been told “in no uncertain terms” by Sutherland "to pull his head in" following his ugly on-field confrontation with India's Rohit Sharma during a One Day International in Melbourne on Sunday, an incident that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has since confirmed led to him being fined half his match fee for the game, a sum of $A3,028 (PTG 1503-7251, 19 January 2015).
Sutherland first spoke to Warner to understand what happened in the incident with Sharma and concluded that while the Australian "has worked very hard on his leadership and behaviour over the past twelve months instances like this only serve to set back the progress he has made”. "Quite simply”, continued Sutherland, "he needs to stop looking for trouble [for] this is the second time he has been before the ICC match referee this season and that's twice too often” (PTG 1483-7178, 14 December 2014). Sutherland is "satisfied [Warner’s] comments to Sharma were not racially motivated”, but “that said, I have reminded him that he needs to carefully reconsider the manner in which he approaches these sorts of situations in the future”.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann is reported by Barrett to have acknowledged that his team's aggressive on-field approach means they were bound to "teeter pretty close" to the famous ‘line' the Australian side keeps talking about beyond which behaviour is not acceptable, and said Warner, who two weeks ago called for a truce on "send-offs" for opposition batsmen (PTG 1495-7222, 5 January 2015), would be spoken to. "David is an aggressive character, and we support that”, said Lehmann, and “we're just making sure he does the right things on the ground”. "He knows that anyway, better than most, so we'll work with him with that”.
Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe has criticised Warner for what he described as his “thuggish” and “juvenile” behaviour on Sunday. "Watching from the luxury of my couch and after hearing numerous accounts from respected cricket people, there is a growing concern Warner [continues to] go too far”, wrote Crowe in a ‘Cricinfo’ web site column. Echoing comments made by former Australian captain Ian Chappell last month (PTG 1492-7207, 30 December 2014), Crowe said his “concern in the immediate future will be that Warner will be in the centre of an ugly on-field fight during the upcoming World Cup”; a general the ICC is also reportedly worried about (PTG 1502-7247, 16 January 2015).
Umpires need to take action continued Crowe, and “before things escalate the [ICC] needs to arm the officials with everything possible to stop the idiots who are ruining our enjoyment of the game”. He called for the introduction of yellow and red cards so repeat offenders would receive lengthy bans. “Warner can play, but he is the most juvenile cricketer I have seen on a cricket field”. "I don’t care how good he is: if he continues to show all those watching that he doesn’t care, he must be removed, either by [CA] or definitely by the world governing body”. “The more he gets away with it the more others will follow his pitiful actions”, concluded Crowe.
Yorkshire's director of cricket Martyn Moxon, who opened the batting for that County and England in the period from 1981-97, told ‘The Yorkshire Post’ late last week that the broad practice of “sledging” is part and parcel of the game, but that tougher action is needed to eradicate the type of in-your-face abuse that occurs today. While he believes "players need to take responsibility for their own actions under the auspices of captains", he also thinks "limp umpiring” exacerbates present day problems. “Umpires have to step in and say, ‘Enough’s enough. Stop it. Cut it out. End of.’ But they don’t”, said Moxon, for “they let it carry on and fester until it becomes a major incident”.
Former New Zealand player John Morrison has joined calls to give umpires more power to curb on-field sledging and abuse. He is quoted in the ’New Zealand Herald’ this morning as agreeing with Crowe that "umpires should have more power and they should introduce something like a yellow card and they should also make any card a suspension”. "The punishment should be a suspension, not fining them, that's a waste of time”, and he says if a player was threatened with the possibility of being suspended for a match like the World Cup final, they would immediately rein in their behaviour.
During the past two months, twelve players have been cited by the ICC for breaches of its Code of Conduct, the punishments largely including fines while some received only a warning. The ICC says that Warner admitted to engaging in conduct that is either contrary to the spirit of the game or brings the game into disrepute in the match in Sunday’s game in Melbourne.
SLOW OVER-RATE RESULTS
IN ONE MATCH SUSPENSION
Australian one-day captain George Bailey has been suspended for a single One Day International (ODI) and fined twenty per cent of his match fee, and his players ten per cent, for maintaining a slow over-rate during the ODI against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. Match referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe imposed the suspension on Bailey after Australia was ruled to be one over short of its target at the end of the match when time allowances were taken into consideration.
Bailey received the suspension as he had previously been found guilty of a minor over-rate offence as captain in an ODI over the last twelve months, that being against South Africa in November (PTG 1461-7080, 17 November 2014). As such he will not play in Australia’s next ODI against England in Hobart, the capital of his home state of Tasmania, this Friday. Then England skipper Alistair Cook received a suspension for the same offence in the series against Sri Lanka last month (PTG 1475-7130, 5 December 2014), around the same time the Australian Test team was fined for a slow over-rate in a Test against India (PTG 1487-7189, 22 December 2014).
Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc was quoted by Fairfax Media after Sunday's game as saying that getting field placements and tactics right in Sunday's ODI was more important than focusing on over-rates, Australia taking twenty-three minutes more than they were allowed to bowl their fifty overs. Starc said there was little discussion among the players about over-rates whilst they were in the field on the basis it was "[more] important to win the game . . . that we knew what we wanted to bowl and the field we wanted to set”.
FORMER PLAYER SUING CA
OVER INJURY PAYMENTS
Former Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill, who retired from the game at short notice in May 2008, is suing Cricket Australia (CA) for more than $A2.5 million over claims the national body failed to provide him with injury-related payments after he left Test cricket. In a writ filed in the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday, MacGill's lawyers say he suffered multiple injuries during his career, including broken bones and had ongoing problems as a result.
MacGill, now 43, claims numbness in his hands, swelling and pain in a knee as well as shoulder pain, ended his Test career and the writ is said to state CA failed to make $A1.6 million of required payments after he retired. He is also suing for more than $A900,000 in interest. CA said yesterday it is aware of media reports about the issue but a spokesman would only say they "aren’t in a position to comment further”.
CA is currently dealing with similar compensation claim by former fast bowler Nathan Bracken which commenced in 2011. Media reports this morning say if MacGill wins this case it could spark any number of retrospective claims being lodged by others.
ANOTHER ALLEGED ‘PITCHSIDER’
EVICTED FROM MATCH
Another spectator has been evicted from a ground in Australia for allegedly being involved in so-called ‘pitchsiding’ betting activities. The man was removed early on in the Australia-England One Day International at the Sydney Cricket Ground last Friday after being suspected of using his phone to transmit ball-by-ball information that reaches those on the outside world ahead of the slightly delayed television broadcast images.
A Fairfax Media report this morning “understands” the man had tickets in his possession for the remaining games of the current Australia-England-India tri-series. The spectator's ejection in Sydney comes less than a month after another another man, British national Rajiv Mulchandani, was evicted from two games and charged with alleged trespass offences in Cricket Australia domestic Twenty20 games played in Sydney. Mulchandani is due to appear in a court in Sydney tomorrow to face the trespass charge (PTG 1492-7210, 30 December 2014).
More than $A600 million is reported to have been wagered with ‘Betfair’ alone on CA's T20 series twelve months ago (PTG 1269-6120, 16 January 2014). CA signed a contract with betting-related data supplier 'Sportradar’ in November 2013 to monitor for signs of corruption and fraudulent activity in its domestic games (PTG 1238-5979, 21 November 2013).
ICC CHIEF STRESSES PLAYER
International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson has "strongly reinforced” his organisation's expectations on player behaviour and maintaining the game’s integrity at all times, both on and off the field of play, in an ICC-produced interview released yesterday as part of the lead-up to the start of the World Cup next month. Richardson believes that “no stone has been left unturned” in preparations for the event, but stressed the need for players to remember their responsibilities to uphold the sport’s integrity.
“Over the last six months, or even going back further to the last Ashes series, there have been too many examples of player behaviour going too far and overstepping the boundaries of acceptabilities”, said Richardson. "The amount of sledging and disrespect shown by players to each other was bad”. “Since then, we have done a lot of work with our umpires and match referees to ensure that they are much more pro-active in terms of policing behaviour on the field and when players do over-step the mark, taking appropriate action”.
Richardson pointed out that “over the last three or four months you have seen twelve Code of Conduct charges laid against people for exactly that; disrespectful behaviour on the field”. "For the World Cup it will be no different and at all pre-event briefings with the teams, the match referees will be making sure that that message is delivered loud and clear”. He did not elaborate on just what that “work” with umpires and referees involved, explain why on-field incidents in the recent second and third Tests between Australia and India did not attract any formal sanction, and what some see as the apparent disparity across the disciplinary sphere (PTG 1505-7258 below).
The ICC chief went on to outline the world body's position on bowling actions during the World Cup. He said “we want to make sure that we don’t lose ground on what I think has been significant progress over the last few months”. “The game realised that we had a significant problem and there were just too many bowlers, from all teams, bowling with suspected actions”. "So, I think we have made very good progress in identifying those bowlers, sending them off to be tested and, where necessary, suspending them until they can remedy their actions".
“There might be one or two [bowlers] who were suspended and who are now coming back into international cricket and the challenge for them will be to make sure that they maintain their remedied action”. Richardson said the instructions to World Cup match officials will be no different and these matches will be treated exactly the same as any other international match and if there are bowlers who are bowling with suspect actions, they might be reported".
Richardson revealed the ICC-accredited bowling action testing centre in Brisbane will be on stand-by so that "if somebody is reported early on in the tournament, he can go straight off to Brisbane, get tested within five or six days, and we can have the report so that he can either continue bowling if he’s found to be legal, or if he’s illegal, then he will be suspended”.
Corruption and match-fixing issues were also mentioned by Richardson and he believes that the ICC is well-equipped to deal with these threats. "Our Anti-Corruption personnel have done a lot of work in entering into agreements, associations and arrangements with the local police and law enforcement agencies in both New Zealand and Australia”.
"We know exactly where [those involved in such practices] are and we have got a list of more than a hundred names that we will be passing on to these law enforcement agencies” (PTG 1505-7263 below). "It will be very difficult for anybody outside of the game to come and even attempt to try and corrupt players, umpires or anybody involved in the World Cup, to try and fix a match". “In addition”, concluded Richardson, "the New Zealand and Australia governments have introduced specific legislation which makes attempting to fix, or fixing matches, a criminal offence".
DISPARITY BETWEEN OVER-RATE BAN,
DISCIPLINARY OUTCOME, CRITICISED
While most journalists have indicated they believe there is a need to deal with slow over-rate issues in the international game, many are querying what they see as the disparity between how the International Cricket Council (ICC) deals with such matters and those involving disciplinary offences. The focus of many reports yesterday involved the banning of Australian one-day captain George Bailey for a single One Day International (ODI) because his side’s over-rate was under par (PTG 1504-7254, 20 January 2015), and the fine handed to his team mate David Warner for an ugly on-field incident in the same game (PTG 1504-7253, 20 January 2015).
Typical of the stories was that of journalist Robert Craddock, who writing in Brisbane’s ‘Courier Mail, said that “cricket continues to make a laughing stock of itself when it comes to cracking down on player behaviour [and] no day proved it more than Monday” when the censures against Bailey and Warner were announced. “Which [of the two issues, slow over-rate or Warner shouting in the face of an opponent] do you think did greater damage to the image of the game?”, asks Craddock.
In Craddock’s view the ICC’s “fines system is a joke [and] it barely had an impact two decades ago even when players were earning peanuts”. "Now we have this ridiculous situation where players who earn $A5-10 million a year are supposed to be rattled by fines of a few thousand dollars”. Warner, who twelve months ago was reported to earn close to $4 million a year (PTG 1320-6364, 26 March 2014), and probably several million dollars more now, is believed to have lost just over $A3,000 of his actions in last Sunday’s ODI.
ARROW STRIKE STOPS PLAY
A sixteen-year-old boy in the Dahisar area of Mumbai is in a critical condition after an arrow fired from a nearby archery range pierced his brain while he was playing cricket last Friday. A doctor treating the young man called his current condition "very dangerous” as "the arrow has pierced from one temporal lobe to the other and it will be difficult to remove [it] as it can harm his sense centres in brain”, a situation that could see him disabled for life.
A local Police Inspector told ‘India Today’ that a formal complaint has been filed against the manager of the sporting area for allowing cricket and archery activities to take place at what is reported to be “such close quarters". The Inspector says he has "ordered and inquiry and our [investigators] have visited the ground where the incident happened”.
‘VARSITY’ T20 RULES ADD
TO SCORER CHALLENGES
Scorers appointed to record the details of Twenty20 matches often face a challenge in keeping up with the fast pace of the game, however, those who are involved in the forthcoming inaugural ‘Varsity' series in South Africa will have additional Playing Conditions issues to deal with in their work. The games between the country’s top eight universities, which are to be played in a week-long tournament format using a pink ball, include a number of innovations organisers say "will encouraging attacking play”, items that include a 'Power Play Plus’ over, a ’Strategy Break’, and ’Targets’ which if hit will attract additional runs.
The 'Power Play Plus’ over may be called by a batting side at any time during their innings. The call for a over to be classified as such can only be made once a bowler is at the top of their mark ready to deliver the new over, all runs scored across the six balls involved will count double, while should wickets be taken the batting side will loose five runs for each that falls. Extras such as wides and no-balls will also doubled during the Power Play Plus Over.
The so-called 'Strategy Break’ is to be taken after the tenth over of an innings and will allow "team management as well as substitute fielders of the bowling team on to the field to discuss their [tactical] approach for the [remaining ten] overs". During that time the batsmen at the crease will also be allowed to receive water from a team-mate. The third “innovation” will see targets erected between the boundary rope and the perimeter fence on the point and square leg boundaries. Should a batsman hit a target they will be awarded ten runs, a move organisers claim "will ensure that the action never stops”.
‘NO PLACE’ FOR SLEDGING IN JUNIOR
GAME, SAYS FORMER INTERNATIONAL
Former Australian bowler Glenn McGrath says he would not want to see children sledging "like Australia and India have" during the current austral summer, says a story written yesterday by Fairfax Media sports writer Andrew Wu (PTG 1505-7257 above). McGrath does not want top-level players to become “robots", but nor does he want to see the type of altercations that have occurred between some players from both teams filter down to ‘grassroots' level, says Wu.
McGrath is quoted as saying that “sometimes I get a bit annoyed with the media focusing on [sledging] and making a massive issue of it”. “Some other teams [claim] Australians are the biggest sledgers out there when every team does it”. However, "we don't want to see underage kids running around sledging” as the game is "not about abuse, it's not about being too much in your face”, he says.
Despite that McGrath wants to see international cricketers "continuing to display their passion on the field by playing aggressive cricket”. "You want to see some aggression and feeling but you don't want to see it getting carried away because then it gets ridiculous”. "That's why we have the umpires and match referees [who] if there's an issue, step in” and sort things out if what he calls “the fine line” is crossed.
WILL LIFE IMITATE ART?
Australian batsman David Warner’s third book in his ‘Kaboom Kid’ children’s series, which is touted by publisher Simon and Schuster as having an anti-sledging and anti-bullying message, has the title 'Davey's in trouble again’. The books centre on a child called 'Little Davey Warner’ and tell the story of him and his schoolmates who are all “mad about cricket”, and while all they want to do is play the game, there’s always something getting in their way.
The series has been designed with a target audience of those aged 8-11 in mind, the publishers having described Warner in their publicity as the “most popular cricketer in Australia” amongst children. Books one and two had the titles ’The Big Switch’ and ‘Keep it Down’, and reports say that after ‘Davey’s in trouble again’ the fourth of the series, which is due to be released in March, sees ‘Davey' banned from playing cricket, although for what has not yet been revealed.
Warner has been involved in a number of ugly on-field incidents in recent months for which he has been fined, but he has not been banned in that time (PTG 1505-72 above).
ALLEGED ‘PITCHSIDER’ FINED FOR
TRESPASS, CONSIDERS APPEALING BAN
Alleged British "pitchsider" Rajeen Mulchandani has been convicted and fined a total of $A1,200 by a Sydney court after pleading guilty to trespassing offences that resulted in his ejection from Cricket Australian (CA) domestic Twenty20 matches last month (PTG 1492-7210, 30 December 2014). CA had banned Mulchandani from entering stadiums in which its matches are being played for six months (PTG 1488-7195, 23 December 2014), and another offence led to him being charged with trespass (PTG 1492-7210, 30 December 2014).
The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ says Mulchandani is suspected by police of placing illegal bets with an unknown overseas betting website on live play during two matches in Sydney, however, he has denied the bets were illegal, saying he had only breached the terms and conditions of his entry into the stadium. The magistrate found he had "blatantly" ignored the CA ban and convicted and fined him $A200 for trespassing and $A1,000 for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of his ticket. A "proprietor is entitled to determine who can be [at their events] and who can’t”, said the magistrate.
Mulchandani has indicated he will consider fighting CA's ban, but should he decide to do so he would have to apply to another court. "If you want to dispute [the ban] there are mechanisms at law that you can do that rather than simply blatantly ignoring [orders that you stay away from CA games]”, said the magistrate. Mulchandani can still attend matches in the forthcoming World Cup as it is an International Cricket Council rather than a CA event. Another spectator was evicted from last Friday’s Australia-India One Day International in Sydney for suspected ‘pitchwiding’ activities (PTG 1504-7256, 20 January 2015).
UP TO UMPIRES, REFEREES TO
DEFINE ’THE LINE’, CLAIMS HADDIN
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin says Australia’s determination to play what one media report described as "a hard-nosed brand of cricket” won’t be affected by the criticism directed at his team mate David Warner over his latest Code-of-Conduct offence. Warner was fined half of his match fee as a result of his verbal clash with Indian batsman Rohit Sharma during last Sunday’s One Day International (ODI) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a situation that led Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland to tell him to “stop looking for trouble” (PTG 1504-7253, 20 January 2015).
Speaking in Hobart yesterday ahead of an ODI against England there tomorrow, Haddin said Australia would not be changing the way they play and that he and his colleagues always respected their opponents and the game [and] "we're pretty comfortable with the way we're playing”. "We have a clear message of where it's all at, we know the brand of cricket we want to play and [Warner is] no different to all of us”. "We're out there to compete and the umpires are there to do their job and they'll adjudicate on anything they see that's unfit and not in the spirit of the game”.
Haddin’s view about umpires and match referees is a repeat of comments Australian players often use about what they call ’the line', however, the Laws of the game, the Preamble and Law 42.1, make clear the general player behaviour standards required and that captains are responsible "at all times" for ensuring play is conducted within the spirit and traditions of the game as well as within the Laws.
England seamer James Anderson is quoted in a number of UK media outlets yesterday as saying sledging is good for the game and can be "quite entertaining when done in the right manner”. Anderson, whose on-field approach has often attracted criticism, has previously admitted he will "upset a batsman in any way he can”, and insists sledging in cricket is no worse in the game now than in previous years. “You don't want to take away the aggression from teams [but] think guys have got to use their heads a little bit and be a bit smart about what is said on the field, if anything is said at all”.
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting says in his latest ‘Cricinfo’ column that Warner’s confrontation with Sharma reminded him "of a few episodes I found myself involved in on the field”. "However it started or whatever was said, it did not look great”, continued Ponting, but "as I came to understand over the years, the way such exchanges are perceived from off the field often turns out to be more important than the actual topic discussed or words used”. "The incidents that got me into trouble often had little to do with what I was saying but how it could appear when I started moving my hands around, pointing fingers or taking on an assertive posture”.
At the same time former England captain Mike Brearley, who chairs the Marylebone Cricket Club's World Cricket Committee, is said to be “incensed” about the current sledging situation. “I hate the sneering and mocking and the curled lip, as much as what is said, or what is done,” he said”, and "It comes down to respect, for the umpires, the opposition, the viewers and one’s own team”.
International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson indicated his organisation plans to crack down on sledging during the World Cup in February-March (PTG 1505-7257, 21 January 2015), but writing in Melbourne’s ‘Herald Sun’ newspaper this morning journalist Greg Buckle claims the “ICC has dropped the ball on sledging leaving aggressive Australians to do as they please”. The “ICC walk isn’t matching its talk” and Andy Pycroft, the match referee in last Sunday’s ODI, "has baulked at a chance to mete out significant punishment to repeat offender Warner”, says Buckle.
’NORMAL LIFE’ FOR ARROW VICTIM?
A Mumbai teenager whose brain was pierced by an arrow whilst playing cricket this week may lead a normal life, say his doctors (PTG 1505-7259, 21 January 2015). The arrow, which was fired from a nearby archery range and was in his head for two hours, entered his left temple and exited through the right and it was thought he may face a disability; however, somewhat miraculously its trajectory did not cause permanent damage, although at the moment he has a temporary speech impairment which may have been caused by shock.
The main cause for concern at the moment is said to be a possible meningitis infection which was caused by the incursion of the metal arrow. Dr Vinod Rambal, the neurosurgeon who has been treating victim Brijesh Sahani, told local media outlets that over more than two decades as a neurosurgeon he had "never seen a case like this where the only complication caused by a metal object piercing the entire brain through and through is just the infection”.
EARLY START FOR WORLD
English umpire Michael Gough, one of twenty-five match officials appointed to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February-March (PTG 1474-7126, 4 December 2014), is already in action in the latter country a month ahead of the event. Gough has to date stood in two New Zealand Cricket (NZC) domestic one-day games, the first in Dunedin last Sunday with fellow World Cup umpire and Otago local Chris Gaffaney, and the second yesterday, a rain abandoned fixture in Rangiora with NZC Elite Umpire Panel member Ash Mehrotra.
Reports from the UK say Gough, the UK Professional Cricketers’ Association ‘Umpire of the Year’ for the last four years (PTG 1449-7023, 15 October 2014), will be working in the last four matches of the current One Day International series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, two on-field in Dunedin and Wellington, and two as the television umpire in Wellington and Napier.
Gough is to fly to Australia in early February to join his fellow World Cup umpires and match referees in a three-day meeting ahead of the World Cup’s start in mid-month. His first involvement in the competition is reported to be as the fourth umpire on day two of the series in Adelaide when Pakistan play India. He is also said to be on-field in Australia and India games but is not expected to go beyond the competition’s Group stage. As yet the International Cricket Council has not released match official appointments for World Cup games.
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALLERS
BEING SOUGHT FOR T20 GAME
Twenty20 cricket could be about to provide an unexpected new career for Minor League baseballers in the United States, claimed a CNN report yesterday. Julien Fountain, who has worked as a fielding coach for Pakistan's national side and also played baseball for Great Britain, is recruiting American players to a scheme he calls 'Switch Hit 20’, a project whose aim is to train ballplayers in the nuances of the Twenty20 game.
Despite the millions some players earn in US Major League Baseball (MBL), the minor leagues there are filled with players whose salaries are usually in the order of $A1,000 a month, says CNN. Fountain, who who had tryouts with the MBL’s Royals, the White Sox and the Mets before becoming involved in training cricketers is skills he learned in the ballpark, says he is "not trying to take players away from a baseball career”. However, "guys who have recently been cut or quit because they simply cannot afford to carry on [in baseball] are perfect for a career in modern [T20] cricket".
Fountain was involved in converting a group of Korean baseball players into a national cricket team for last year's Asian Games Twenty20 series (PTG 1439-6965, 2 October 2014). He told CNN he "was the first to introduce baseball fielding techniques to international cricket, because a major league outfielder will out-throw a professional cricketer every time [for] this is a sport that Americans can do well at”. Fountain’s aim is "to inject enough talent into USA cricket to see it bounce back up the rankings” and “to coach a USA team at a World Cup”.
CAPTAIN CENSURED OVER EARLY DECLARATION,
NOW 'IN LEGAL DISPUTE’ WITH CLUB
Jeff Cook, who was captaining Sydney side Western Suburbs in November when he declared at 0/17 in his team’s first innings against Parramatta in order to give injured Australian captain Michael Clarke a chance to bat before the first Test against India, was banned from the captaincy position for the following two matches by the Sydney Cricket Association (SCA). News of that censure surfaced in an article in this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (’SMH’), along with a suggestion he has recently “retired” from Wests and is "in a legal dispute with the club”, however, it is not clear as to whether that situation is linked to the declaration issue.
Cricket New South Wales (CNSW) chief executive Andrew Jones said at the time that while the gesture to try and have Clarke bat on day two of the match seven days later “was appreciated, we are also conscious of the need to maintain the integrity of the Sydney Grade competition” (PTG 1465-7094, 23 November 2014). Jones announced an “investigation [of] the full facts would be conducted at the conclusion of the round” of games involved, and it was that which presumably led to Cook’s reported captaincy suspension. The death of batsman Phillip Hughes three days later saw the second day of all SCA games declared a draw, no championship points being awarded in any match, including those where a first innings win had been achieved on day one such as in the Parramatta-Wests game.
‘SMH’ journalist Chris Barrett says in his column ’The Tonk’ this morning that a memo "sent around" by Wests president David Gilbert two weeks ago announced Cook's "immediate retirement”. The led some to suggest Cook had been sacked, however, he is said by Barrett to have indicated yesterday that his career with the club was not necessarily over. "There's a few things going on at Wests and myself that I can't really talk about”, said Cook, and "They've got to decide what they want to do and hopefully we can come to some sort of agreement and go from there”.
Cook is quoted as saying he’s "not entirely sure” if his 0/17 declaration in the Parramatta game led directly to the current situation. Parramatta captain Michael Castle was described in one report at the time as “furious” over the declaration, and was quoted as saying Cook indicated "he’d been put under pressure from (CNSW] to bowl first so that Clarke could bat on the second day”, something CNSW “strongly” denied at the time (PTG 1466-7100, 24 November 2014). "I'm waiting to hear from the club and waiting to hear from my people as well”, said Cook yesterday, for “there's been some conflicting stories [and] I don't know if they were happy or not”. "But one thing I do know is that if Michael [Clarke] plays grade cricket it's a great promotion for the competition as well as the club”, concluded Cook.
Barrett said Cook was “one of the [West] club scene's most well-paid players” and that in addition he has been flown by them from and to his home in Tamworth 400 km north of Sydney each week to play, but had indicated he had been "unavailable" for Wests' most recent game. With CNSW denying it asked Cook to facilitate Clarke taking part in day two of the Parramatta match the question remains as to just who did.
UGANDAN REPRIMAND FOR
Uganda’s Abram Mutyagaba has been reprimanded after admitting a Level One offence of “Abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings” during his side’s World Cricket League Division 2 match against Kenya in Windhoek, Namibia on Tuesday. The International Cricket Council (ICC) said in a statement he was reported after being seen to hit the change room door with his bat and also kick it after being dismissed.
Mutyagaba, whose name does not actually appear on the score sheet available on line for the match, acknowledged the offence as reported by on-field umpires Buddhi Pradan of Nepal and Ian Ramage of Scotland, and accepted the proposed sanction. Under ICC regulations Level One breaches carry a penalty that ranges from a warning or reprimand up to a maximum of a fine of half the player's match fee.
SRINIVASAN FACES CONFLICT CHOICE;
BCCI SCRUTINY OF ITS ‘PRACTICES’
India’s Supreme Court has ruled that Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), cannot stand again for the position of president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) if he continues to own the Indian Premier League's (IPL) Chennai franchise, a conflict-of-interest philosophy the Court plans to apply to all BCCI officials. It originally ordered Srinivasan to step aside as BCCI president last year over accusations of involvement in illegal betting and spot fixing in the IPL’s 2013 series, allegations it cleared him of two months ago (PTG 1467-7103, 25 November 2014).
Indian media reports have been all over the Court’s 130 page written decision since it was released on Thursday. A report in the 'New Indian Express' says the ruling forces Srinivasan to "choose quickly" between selling the Chennai franchise and giving up on the BCCI presidency. The 'Asian Age' quotes unnamed sources close to the ICC chairman as saying they are confident he will find a way to contest the next BCCI election, either by selling the team or stepping down from the board of the India Cement company which controls the club. The BCCI introduced a constitutional amendment five years ago that allowed board officials to have commercial interests in the IPL and the Champions League series, a change the Court says was “the true villain of the situation at hand [as] no rule can permit conflict of interest".
The 'Hindustan Times’ and other media outlets believe the most significant result is that the court's decision brings the "world's richest cricket body under the ambit of public scrutiny”. ‘Firstpost’ concurs, saying it "could change everything for Indian cricket [in that] the BCCI can no longer operate like its own little country where it makes whatever laws it wants and acts as its own judge, jury and executioner”. It adds that the question now is whether Srinivasan's BCCI allies will put up an alternate candidate for the presidency at the body’s 2014 Annual General Meeting which the Court has directed must be held by the end of February, the original having been scheduled for September last year.
In addition to its direction to Srinivasan, the Court also made clear his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was involved in the Chennai franchise, and Raj Kundra of the Rajasthan equivalent, were guilty of betting during the 2013 IPL. It appointed three former judges of the Supreme Court to look into their culpability and provide an assessment by the end of July. They will also investigate the "activities" of Sundar Raman the IPL's Chief Operating Officer and why he had remained, "totally inert” in regards to allegations of IPL corruption and did not "take suitable action warranted under the circumstances”.
Most importantly say a number of reports, the three former judges have been asked to "examine and make suitable recommendations to the BCCI for such reforms in its practices and procedures and such amendments in the Memorandum of Association, Rules and Regulations as may be considered necessary and proper”. The Court emphasised that while the BCCI was a private body it performed a public function and was therefore amenable to judicial law and review.
The BCCI said in a statement that it "welcomes the order of the honourable Supreme Court, which has put to rest the uncertainty that has prevailed in the recent past”. "The BCCI will extend its unstinted cooperation to the three-member committee appointed by the honourable Supreme Court”. "The annual general body meeting of the BCCI, which also includes the election of office-bearers, will be held in accordance with the directions and timelines as stipulated by the honourable Supreme Court”.
‘MORAL PANIC’ ABOUT THE GAME 'MISPLACED',
CLAIMS ‘GUARDIAN’ JOURNALIST
Cricket is currently in the "grip of a moral panic that feeds the illusion the sport is descending into barbarity", and "fuel is being added to the imaginary fire” by “condescending, pompous treatises about the state of the game today”, says ‘Guardian’ journalist Chris Stocks. "Cricket’s self-appointed moral arbiters would have you believe” the game is at a long-time low, says Stocks, who names BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, "whose well-intentioned but clumsy attempts to link the death of Phillip Hughes with on-field behaviour sparked the sport’s latest bout of navel gazing”, as chief amongst that group (PTG 1502-7248, 16 January 2015).
To use the "tragic death of Hughes, and the eloquent eulogy of his captain Michael Clarke, to ram home your point, as Agnew did", is according to Stocks “perverse”. That is because in his view cricket has far bigger problems right now than the on-field behaviour of players, two such issues he names in that context being match-fixing and "the shameless power grab at the top of the International Cricket Council by Australia, India and England".
Agnew, New Zealand’s Martin Crowe (PTG 1504-7253, 20 January 2015), "and the rest would be better served directing their moral outrage towards those issues, however, rather than take on a serious problem they choose to take pot shots at an easy target – the players”, writes Stocks. He claims “cricket could do worse than look at other sports such as football where spite and abuse between players and between rival fans is endemic, while in boxing unseemly pre-fight trash talk, and even brawls, are woven into the fabric of the sport”. Given that “It's time for cricket to count its blessings and start addressing far more important issues for only then will we truly be custodians of the game’s spirit".
Stock points to Australian writer Gideon Haigh as having "got to the truth of the matter” when he wrote last week: “Administrators and the media have an ambivalent relationship with on-field aggression”. "They affect to deplore it but in truth they know it sells, and the reason it sells is because it is entertaining, [however], to admit that, is ‘verboten’”, concluded Haigh.
SIXTH DAY-NIGHT, PINK BALL, COUNTY
SEASON OPENER FOR ABU DHABI
The four-day Champion County match, the annual curtain raiser for the English county season between a Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) XI and the County champions from the previous year, is to again be played as a pink ball, day-night fixture in Abu Dhabi in late March. This year’s fixture between the MCC and Yorkshire will be the sixth opener played in that city, John Stephenson the club’s head of cricket saying that the "MCC has played a big part in exploring the possibilities of day-night Test cricket played with a pink ball and we are hoping to see a day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand later this year. He’s "sure the match in March will show, once again, that pink ball cricket can re-invigorate the longer form of the game”.
ICC BOARD TO CONSIDER
Banned Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Aamer could return to higher-level domestic cricket as early as next month after a relaxation of the conditions of his ban for spot-fixing, according to reports from Lahore. Aamer, now 22, was banned for five years along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif in a spot fixing case in England in 2010, and all were jailed by a UK court in 2011, although the latter convictions are now under review (PTG 1503-7252, 19 January 2015).
Reports say Aamer was interviewed in Lahore on Friday by International Cricket Council (ICC) officials, a move that came as a result of the ICC's review of its player Code of Conduct rules last year (PTG 1464-7091, 21 November 2014). That change allowed a player banned at international level to play in domestic games a certain period prior to the end of their international suspension, an amendment that prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to ask the ICC to relax certain conditions of Aamer's ban which currently ends in August.
PCB spokesman Agha Akber yesterday confirmed Aamer's potential return and his chairman Shaharyar Khan indicated the fast bowler "will be monitored" in first-class cricket before returning to the international cricket scene. Reports say a final decision on Aamer's appeal will be taken during the ICC Board meeting in Dubai before the end of this month. The PCB’s 2014-15 first class season has ended and its last one-day series are due to be completed in the next three weeks, so just where Aamer will play should the early return be permitted is not clear as the next first class season there will not commence until September-October.
The PCB also indicated yesterday that as Butt and Asif "took time to plead guilty and have not completed the mandatory rehabilitation required", their cases will "not be taken up" with the ICC to facilitate an early return at this time.
BATSMAN KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS
IN HUGHES-LIKE INCIDENT
Northern Districts batsman Daniel Hughes was knocked unconscious by a bouncer during a Sydney Cricket Association (SCA) first-grade cricket match on Saturday, two months after Phillip Hughes was killed in what reports say were eerily similar circumstances (PTG 1469-7113, 27 November 2014). Hughes, 25, who is not related to Phillip, was batting against Blacktown on Saturday when he attempted to hook a bouncer, however, the delivery struck him just below the ear underneath his helmet, says a report in today’s 'Sydney Morning Herald’.
Hughes, who retired hurt on nought, was taken to hospital and reports suggest he appears to be recovering. Northern District coach Paul Byrom said that while there was an uncanny similiarity between the circumstances in which both batsmen were hit, he does not think there needs to be a review of the design of current helmets. "Do we simply get to a point where batters go out in a full suit of armour?" he said, for “unfortunately in sport there are always going to be accidents”. "Probably we've got to look now at other ways to protect the head, as we are finding out more information on how serious these injuries can be”.
Hughes was set to play in the New South Wales 'Futures League’ or state second XI team in their four-day match against Western Australia which starts in Sydney today, however, Cricket NSW has indicated he will not be ready to play. Cricket NSW state talent manager David Freedman is quoted as saying "He's resting, it's a bit soon after the concussion he received [to play] and we'll just monitor him throughout the week and hopefully he'll be available for [SCA cricket] next week”. "He'll know himself when he's feeling well enough”, said Byrom.
There was another head strike reported in higher-level cricket in Australia over the weekend. Riki Wessels, who opened for the Sydney Sixers franchise in a semi final of Cricket Australia’s domestic Twenty20 series, was struck by a vicious bouncer from Adelaide fast bowler Kane Richardson, an incident that saw the ball trapped between his protective facial grill and the peak of his helmet.
Wessels was playing a shot on the front foot when he appeared to be surprised by the bounce, pace and angle of Richardson's fifth ball of his second over. The batsman turned his head, as if to follow the line of the ball, and the television microphone picked up the thud as the ball came to a sudden stop in his helmet. There was an extended break while he composed himself and waited for a new helmet. He was struck on the replacement helmet for a second time in his innings, this time by a ball from fast bowler Shaun Tait.
Former Australian bowler Nathan Bracken, who is suing Cricket Australia (CA), over what he claims was the mismanagement of his injuries during his playing career, took to ‘Twitter' to write about the Hughes incident, saying: "This is why [CA] needs to have an injury insurance protection scheme like every other workplace”. CA said after the death of Hughes that it was to conduct an investigation into helmet safety issues (PTG 1472-7120, 1 December 2014), an issue the International Cricket Council has been addressing for some time (PTG 1509-7275 below).
FIRST MEETING WEEK OF
THE YEAR FOR ICC
The Board of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board is to hold its first meeting on 2015 at the ICC's Headquarters in Dubai on Wednesday and Thursday this week. That gathering will be proceeded by various other committee meetings, including that of the ICC’s Chief Executives' Committee (CEC) yesterday and today, then on Tuesday committees that look after Human Resources and Remuneration, Governance Review, and Finance and Commercial Affairs, will meet.
The ICC said in a media release yesterday that among other key issues likely to be discussed by the Board this week are outcomes from the CEC on matters relating to the Future Tours Program, the “composition" of the ICC's Cricket Committee, the application of the world body's Code of Conduct at the World Cup (PTG 1505-7257, 21 January 2015), and player safety, “helmets" and "minimum medical standards” being specifically mentioned but without any elaboration (PTG 1509-7274 above). Also listed for discussion are "updates on illegal bowling actions, anti-corruption and anti-doping matters, final preparations for the forthcoming World Cup, and [what are called] various Member issues".
The ICC Board consists of the nominated representatives of each of its ten Full Members plus three elected Associate Member representatives. ICC chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan, who is currently embroiled in on-going domestic cricket issues (PTG 1508-7270, 25 January 2015), is to chair the Board meeting at which ICC President Mustafa Kamal and the ICC Chief Executive David Richardson will also be present. The CEC comprises the chief executives of the 10 Full Member organisations as well as three Associate Member representatives, plus Richardson who chairs the meeting, and "by invitation" ICC chairman Srinivasan, the chair of the ICC Cricket Committee Anil Kumble, and the chair of the ICC Women's Committee Clare Connor. She has however sent her apologies for not attending on this occasion.
WORLD CUP BOUND UMPIRES REJECT
‘FIVE-STAR HOTEL’ DEPARTURE PARTY
Sri Lankan World Cup umpires Kumara Dharmasena, Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Ranmore Martinesz, are said to have rejected a proposal for "a five-star hotel party" to congratulate them on their selection and send them on their way to Australia and New Zealand. Instead they asked that the event, which was to be paid for by what Colombo’s ’The Nation’ newspaper yesterday called “sponsors”, be down sized and the monies saved diverted to help "a little known [umpiring] colleague" Gamini Wattewe, 53, who was incapacitated by a stroke last month and "now lies paralysed and immobile”.
Journalist Callistus Davy says the amount of money saved, which is yet to be announced, will be donated to Wattewe's family. Palliyaguruge told Davy that he, Dharmasena and Martinesz had no hesitation, when told about Wattewe’s plight, in taking the course of action they did; Sri Lanka Umpires Association head Shirosha Gunatilleke calling their move "a great and worthy gesture”. ‘The Nation’ says that last Friday’s "scaled down ceremony”, which saw a large number of umpires in attendance, was held in "the confines of a small room” at Sri Lanka Cricket’s headquarters in Colombo.
Half way around the world two days before, West Indian umpire Joel Wilson from Trinidad and Tobago, who is also bound for the World Cup, was recognised for his achievement at a cocktail reception held at Port-of-Spain’s Queen’s Park Oval. It was organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Umpires and Scorers Association and attended by the twelve match officials taking part in the West Indies Cricket Board’s ‘domestic’ fifty over format series, all games of which have been played in that country over the last ten days.
Wilson, 48, the first match official from his nation to stand in a World Cup, told the ’Trinidad and Tobago Guardian' he has been preparing for the event by participating in a series of pre-tournament exercises organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC). One of those was "a specialist 'Eye-Gym’ program”, which has long been favoured by now International Cricket Council Umpire Performance and Training Manager Simon Taufel (PTG 318-1659, 24 September 2008), and other exercises that are designed to "improve his reflex time”, plus "brushing up on his knowledge of the laws and regulations of the game, as well as familiarising himself with ‘Hot Spot' and ‘Snicko’ technology and the Umpire Decision Review System as a whole".
Wilson is due to leave home for Australia a week from today and will attend an ICC workshop on Thursday-Friday of that week and also participate in what he called "a camp" which starts in two weeks time. He indicated he will be based in Melbourne for three World Cup matches as the fourth umpire, the first Australia versus England, the second South Africa and India, and the third Sri Lanka versus Bangladesh. Details of other matches he will be assigned to have not yet been released. “My intention is to do my best and try and learn all I can from the very knowledgeable bunch of officials I will be among at the World Cup”, said Wilson.
Dharmasena, Palliyaguruge, Martinesz and Wilson’s World Cup colleague Michael Gough of England is already standing in matches in New Zealand as part of his preparations for the event (PTG 1506-7266, 22 January 2015).
CA UMPIRE ‘SUCCESSION PLANNING’
THOUGHTS AGAIN ON SHOW
Cricket Australia’s (CA) current general thoughts on umpire ‘succession planning' are again on show in a range of appointments it announced on Friday for higher-profile games either played over the weekend or scheduled for the near future, selections that are generally consistent with past trends. With three of the top four members of CA's National Umpire Panel (NUP), Simon Fry, John Ward and Paul Wilson, involved this week in the on-going Australia-England-India One Day International tri-series, the fourth member Mick Martell, plus five, six and seven on the list, Gerard Abood, Geoff Joshua and Sam Nogajski, were allocated on-field spots in the weekend’s semi final games of the national domestic Twenty20 series.
Match officials for the final of that competition in Canberra on Wednesday have not yet been named, but Fry is conspicuously free of tri-series duties either side of the T20 final and ranking at least suggests his on-field partner is likely to be Martell, with the television official to come from either Wilson or the other semi final on-field umpires.
The prime candidates for any position that falls vacant on the NUP later this year, Tony Wilds of New South Wales and Phillip Gillespie of Victoria, each stood in a semi final of CA’s Womens’ National Cricket League (WNCL) series in Sydney on Friday with NUP members Damien Mealey and Greg Davidson respectively, the latter pair going on to look after yesterday’s final. Gillespie and Wilds stood together in a Sydney Cricket Association one-day game on Saturday and will be on-field together over the next four days in a Second XI or ‘Futures League’ match between NSW and Western Australia, their fourth and second respectively in that competition.
The remaining five Futures games of the season up until early March will see Donovan Koch of Queensland and Ben Treloar of NSW then local Craig Thomas and Yohan Ramasundara from Canberra, looking after separate games in Adelaide, CA Project Panel member David Shepard and a yet-to-be-appointed second umpire and then Stephen Brne and Dale Ireland in two games in Melbourne, and Simon Lighbody and David Taylor in a second match in Sydney. Records available indicate Ramasundara's game will be the 23rd in either four, three-day or Twenty20 Second XI fixtures, Lightbody 16th, Thomas seventh, Koch and Taylor each second, while for Brne, Ireland, Shepard and Treloar it will be their first.
Shepard played first class cricket (PTG 1294-6241, 18 February 2014), as did Koch, 38, who hails from South Africa and featured in 21 first class and 20 List A games there in the period from 1997-2002, after that playing several matches in County Second XI competitions in England. From 2009-12 he stood in the Yorkshire Premier League and in the last two northern summers of that period in a range of Minor County and County Second XI three-day, one-day and Twenty20 fixtures. During the current season in Australia he has been appointed to WNCL one-day and Twenty20 games, and CA’s men’s Under-17 national championship series, along with Brne and Ireland; while Lightbody, Shepard, Taylor and Treloar all took part in its Under-19 equivalent (PTG 1455-7057, 26 October 2014).
Tasmanians Jamie Mitchell and Darren Close standing in an official Second XI game between the home side and South Australia which starts in Hobart this morning. Mitchell, who was also at this season’s CA U-19 series, is no stranger to such matches, while aunceston-born Close was just 18 when he made his umpiring debut at first class level in October 1986 and went on to stand in twenty such games over the next six years, a time when each state was responsible for appointing its own officials to matches.
In that period he was also on-field in two interstate one-day fixtures, the first being in the 1987 national final of that competition when he was still two weeks short of his nineteenth birthday, his colleague that day being then Australian Test umpire Steve Randell. The year after that he was on-field in four games in the Youth World Cup in South Australia, an event in which he was around the same age as the players. Close returned to Tasmania last year after a twenty year stint in the UK. Now 46, he joined Cricket North West in that state as its umpires advisor before the start of the current 2014-15 season, a role he is sharing with long-serving adviser David Hudson.
CAMERA ‘CABLE FAULT’ LEADS TO
INOPERATIVE UDRS IN DUNEDIN ODI
The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) was not available at a critical time during the sixth One Day International (ODI) of the series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Dunedin yesterday. Kiwi batsman Martin Guptill was struck on the pads in the fourth over of his side’s innings by a Dhammika Prasad and the Sri Lankans asked for a review after umpire Derek Walker said ‘not out’, only to be told they couldn't use the technology as one camera that forms part of the system was inoperative "because of cabling issues”.
CHEST STRIKE LEADS
TO BATSMAN’S DEATH
A batsman collapsed on the pitch and died almost immediately during a game being played in the Karachi suburb of Orangi Town on the weekend after a ball delivered by a fast bowler struck him in the chest, Zeeshan Mohammed, 18, was rushed to hospital but doctors there declared him dead because of what media reports from Pakistan overnight called a “heart seizure”.
The death follows head strikes to several batsmen in Australia over the last few days, one of whom was taken to hospital (PTG 1509-7274, 26 January 2015), and a range of chest-strike related deaths over the last decade. In 2005 Tim Melville, 18, a player with the Wallasey Cricket Club in Merseyside, died after being struck on the chest, and in 2010 in Lydenburg, South Africa, grade seven student Matthew Prior, 13, when hit on the chest by a full toss while batting in a school match.
Similar chest strikes saw Mudasir Ahmad Matoo, 20, killed in 2013 whilst batting in a game in Kashmir, and Zulfiqar Bhatti, 22, in Pakistan around the same time when he attempted to pull a rising ball and missed (PTG 1258-6070, 21 December 2013).
TECHNICAL ACCREDITATION NEEDED FOR TV
TV UMPIRES, SAYS EXPERT
The non-availability of the ‘Virtual Eye’ ball-tracking part of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) during the first thirteen overs of the One Day International (ODI) in Dunedin on Sunday was caused by the “lack of pictures” not the failure of the technology itself, according to Ian Taylor the chief executive of ball-tracking specialists Animated Research Limited. Sri Lanka was unable to call for a review early in the game when their LBW appeal was turned down by on-field umpire Derek Walker because of what reports said was the unavailability of one camera due to “cabling issues” (PTG 1509-7278, 26 January 2015).
Taylor, whose company provides UDRS 'Virtual Eye’ software, told the ’New Zealand Herald’ yesterday that Sri Lanka's appeal for a review of that LBW decision would have been upheld and the on-field decision overturned, meaning batsman Martin Guptill would have made six, not twenty-eight. Pictures weren't available but Taylor said the graphics could have been used independently for “its actually how the system worked in the early days”.
According to Taylor the faulty camera was not part of the tracking system and does not affect the validity of the tracking. "The problem was that the [International Cricket Council’s] current UDRS protocol does not specifically deal with this issue and there was no one at the [Dunedin] venue authorised to go with the 'graphics only’ solution”. "The trouble is the rules [in that circumstance] are not written down anywhere and, in the panic of the moment, the knowledge got lost”. “It would have been terrible if it had changed the [match] result”, he said, which it did not on this occasion, and “discussions are under way at International Cricket Council level on how to solve it”.
Taylor's solution is said to be that television umpires need to be accredited to use the technology, rather than just relying on umpiring knowledge. "It's a specialist job and for every LBW our staff know within about ten seconds whether it is in or out”. "If the umpires were part of the team they could authorise optimum camera placements too”.
The producer of Sky Television's cricket coverage, Alan Henderson, is reported to have informed the television umpire for Sunday’s ODI, Rod Tucker of Australia, and match referee Javagal Srinath from India, of the problem prior to the players taking the field. "It's the first time I can remember that happening, so it's uncommon”, said Henderson.
DISSENT LEADS TO FINES
FOR TWO BATSMEN
Trinidad and Tobago’s Dwayne Bravo has been fined half of his match fee for “Showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision during a Regional Match”, a Level Two breach, during a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) ‘domestic’ one-day match against the Leeward Islands at Queen’s Park Oval last Tuesday. The WICB also announced yesterday that Jamaica’s Nkrumah Bonner had been fined a quarter of his match fee for the same basic offence, but this time a Level One breach, in a one-day game against Trinidad and Tobago two Sundays ago.
The charge against Bravo was brought by on-field umpires Gregory Brathwaite and Nigel Duguid, the latter and Leslie Reifer citing Bonner for his indiscretion. Bravo admitted "making a gesture with his hands in an aggressive manner after a decision of 'not-out' was given during the Leeward's innings and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Michael Ragoonath. Bonner also admitted "throwing his bat to the ground" after he was adjudged LBW by Duguid and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Hayden Bruce.
Under WICB regulations Level Two breaches carry penalties that range from a fine from between 50 and 100 per cent of a player’s match fee and/or up to two suspension points.
CA NAMES MATCH OFFICIALS
FOR DOMESTIC T20 FINALS
Mick Martell and Paul Wilson, the third and fourth ranked umpires on Cricket Australia’s National Umpires Panel (NUP) have been named as the on-field officials for the final of CA’s domestic Twenty20 competition in Canberra tomorrow, NUP members Sam Nogajski and Shawn Craig being the third and fourth umpires respectively, and CA Umpire High Performance Panel member Bob Stratford the match referee (PTG 1509-7277, 26 January 2015).
It will be the fifth-straight year Martell has featured in the T20 final, having served as the third umpire in 2011 and 2012, and on-field in 2013 and 2014, while Wilson was the third umpire in 2013 and 2014, and Stratford the referee in the 2014 decider. Nogajski and Craig are featuring in a CA T20 final for the first time. Stratford will also be the match referee for the women’s final that will be played as a curtain raiser to the men’s game tomorrow. Craig will also be involved as the third umpire, NUP members Gerard Abood and Ash Barrow being on-field. Abood previously stood in the women’s final in 2014 and Barrow in 2012
CA have named Canberra-based Test scorer Adam Morehouse and Liam Baker to record the details of both the women’s and men’s matches.
MATCH OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENTS FOR
WORLD CUP ‘GROUP’ STAGE ANNOUNCED
World Cup (WC) appointments released yesterday show that the planet's top-twenty rated umpires and five match referees are to criss-cross Australia and New Zealand as part of the complex set of logistics arrangements that will support the opening forty-two match ‘Group’ stage of the series, selections for the seven-match ‘knock out’ section of the tournament being announced at a later date. Australia and England each have six individuals on the event’s match officials panel, five are from Sri Lanka, three New Zealand, two South Africa and one each from India, Pakistan and the West Indies; however, no one from either Bangladesh or Zimbabwe was appointed to the series (PTG 1474-7126, 4 December 2014).
Overseeing each of the games across seven cities in each country, all of which will have neutral officials and see the Umpire Decision Review System in operation, will be one of the match referees involved, either: David Boon (Australia); Chris Broad (England); Jeff Crowe (New Zealand); or Ranjan Madugalle and Roshan Mahanama (both Sri Lanka). Boon has been allocated ten ‘Group’ games as match referee, Mahanama nine, Broad and Crowe both eight, and Madugalle seven. All of Crowe and Madugalle's matches are in Australia and Broad’s all in New Zealand, while all but one of Boon’s are in New Zealand, Mahanama starting off there before moving to Australia then back again for the last few fixtures.
All twelve members of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) have been named for the event, they being: Australians Steve Davis, Bruce Oxenford, Paul Reiffel and Rod Tucker; Englishmen Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong; Pakistan’s Aleem Dar; Marais Erasmus of South Africa; Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka; and ‘Billy’ Bowden of New Zealand. Working with them will be eight members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP): Johannes Cloete (South Africa); Simon Fry (Australia); Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand); Michael Gough (England); Sundarum Ravi (India); Ranmore Martinecz and Ruchira Palliyaguru (both Sri Lanka); and Joel Wilson (West Indies).
Of the twelve EUP members most will be on-field in either five or six games in ‘Group’ matches, the exceptions being Bowden and Reiffel who each have three. Kettleborough leads those appointments with six on-field, two as the television umpire and three as the fourth for a total of eleven (6/2/3-11), while Tucker has 6/3/1-10, Dharmasena 6/1/2-9, Davis 5/3/1-9, Llong 5/2/2-9, Dar 5/1/3-9, Illingworth 5/3/0-8, and Gould, Erasmus and Oxenford all 5/2/1-8. Bowden and Reiffel’s appointments both total 3/3/1-7. While the general complexities of logistics and neutral appointments can distort the number of games allocated to each umpire, the ICC has long said that as a general rule it gives priority in its appointments to “better performing umpires”.
The eight IUP members have been assigned spots in either seven, eight or nine games, Martinecz leading the way with four on field appointments and the others all three each. Overall Martinecz’s appointments total the four on-field, three as the television umpire and two as the fourth official for a total on nine games (4/3/2-9), Gough has 3/1/5-9, Gaffaney and Ravi each 3/3/2-8, Cloete and Wilson both 3/2/3-8, Palliyaguru 3/0/5-8 and Fry 3/1/3-7. All of the games IUP members will be on-field for feature at least one of the lower six rated World Cup sides, either Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ireland, Scotland, the United Arab Emirates or Zimbabwe.
‘Group’ matches allocated to Cloete, Gaffaney, Oxenford and Tucker are all to be played in New Zealand, while Bowden Gough, Gould and Wilson will be in Australia for theirs. The other twelve umpires have games either side of the Tasman Sea, Llong traversing that stretch of water twice during the Group stage. All-up Erasmus and Tucker will work in eight separate cities, some more than once, Martinecz, Palliyaguru and Reiffel each seven, Dharmasena, Erasmus and Illingworth all six, and the rest all five except Wilson who will be visiting four separate cities for his games. Gould, Kettleborough and Cloete are expected to reach ODI milestones during the series (PTG 1511-7284 below).
New Zealand Cricket announced the names of the twenty-six scorers who will record the details of the twenty-three World Cup games scheduled for that country almost two months ago (PTG 1476-7138, 6 December 2014), but as yet no details of who will perform those tasks in the twenty-six matches list in Australia have been released by Cricket Australia.
‘GROUP’ STAGE TO SEE SEVERAL
ODI UMPIRING ‘MILESTONES'
The opening twenty-one match ‘Group’ stage of the World Cup will see three umpires chalk up career milestones, Englishman Ian Gould standing in his 100th One Day International (ODI), and his countryman Richard Kettleborough and South Africa’s Johannes Cloete their 50th. Provided weather does not intervene, Gould will become the fifteenth person to reach the Century mark in ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground in a game between Australia and Sri Lanka in early March, while Cloete’s fiftieth will come in Napier on the same day when New Zealand plays Afghanistan, and Kettleborough’s at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a India-South Africa fixture the week before.
Gould, who featured in ODIs for England during his playing career, including some in the 1983 World Cup in England, will reach the 100 mark not quite nine years since his debut as an umpire at that level in June 2006. Apart from a range of bi- and trilateral series in the time since, he has also officiated in the Asia Cup series of 2008 and 2012, the Champions Trophy of 2010 and 2013, and the World Cup of 2011. Kettleborough, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) current ‘Umpire of the Year’, and like Gould a member of the ICC’s top Elite Umpires Panel, stood in his first ODI in September 2009 and went on to officiate in the World Cup of 2011 and the 2013 Champions Trophy series.
Kettleborough will become the forty-first umpire to reach the fifth ODI mark and Cloete, a member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, the forty-second. The South African, who unlike the two Englishmen did not play first class cricket, debuted in an ODI two months after Kettleborough in 2009.
The game in Sydney will see Gould join the group of ODI centurions that is headed by Rudi Koertzen of South Africa who finished his career on 209 such games. The current 100 plus list also includes 'Billy' Bowden of New Zealand who is currently on 192, Steve Bucknor of the West Indies 181, Daryl Harper and Simon Taufel of Australia both 174, David Shepherd of England 172, Aleem Dar from Pakistan 165, Darrell Hair of Australia 139, Russell Tiffin of Zimbabwe 136, Australian Steve Davis 130, Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka 122, Billy Doctrove from the West Indies 112, David Orchard of South Africa 107, and New Zealander Steve Dunn 100.
Of those fourteen only Bowden, Dar, Davis, and Tiffin are still active in ODIs. All except Tiffin will add to their tally at the forthcoming World Cup, Bowden standing at least three games and Dar and Davis at least five (PTG 1511-7283 above).
ICC BACKS BAD BEHAVIOUR
‘CLAMP DOWN’ AT WORLD CUP
The Board of the International Cricket Council (ICC) reiterated its support for the "umpires clamping down on poor player behaviour, particularly leading into and during the [forthcoming] World Cup”, during its first meeting of the year which was held in Dubai on Wednesday-Thursday, an approach that was flagged by its chief executive last week (PTG 1505-7257, 21 January 2015). The Board has also retreated on its initial decision last year to have joint World Cup winners should there be a tie in March’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and that “weather permitting” a 'Super Over' will be used to split the sides should the match be deadlock at the end of each side’s allotted overs.
The ICC said in a statement on Thursday the Board had "reinstated the use of a Super Over” in the final and that as such it “replicates arrangements” that applied to the 2011 decider. However, the 'Super Over' will only be used if the final and should there be a tie in one of the quarter or semi-finals, the side finishing in the higher position in the ‘Pool' stage will progress. There will be reserve days for all knockout matches in the case of rain, but if there is no result after the final is played on the reserve day, the trophy will then be shared.
In another change agreed to by the Board this week, slow over-rate penalties for the World Cup have also been changed such that captains who go into the tournament having one slow over-rate offence against their name, will only be suspended from one of the forthcoming matches if a two-match offence is committed during the event. Normally under ICC rule a side’s second over-rate offence under the same captain in a twelve-month period sees the captain suspended for one game (PTG 1504-7254, 20 January 2015), however, those with existing ‘strikes' will on this occasion instead carry them into their side’s first bilateral series after the World Cup.
SKIPPER SUSPENDED FOR SLOW
T20 OVER-RATE, FINES FOR TEAM
Moises Henriques, the captain of the Sydney Sixers franchise side in Cricket Australia's (CA) domestic Twenty20 competition, will miss the opening game of next year's series after being penalised for the slow over rate his team maintained the the final of the 2014-15 event in Canberra on Wednesday. CA said the Henriques’ side was one over behind the required rate and that in addition to his ban such each member of the side was fined $A500, an amount that will be reduced to $A250 "if the franchise does not appeal the decision". While he cannot take part in the Sixers’ first game on 2015-16, Henriques will be eligible to play during this year's Champions League in India.
End of January 2015 news file.