1,512 – 1 February [7287-7293]
• Players moving to helmets that meet new safety standard, says ICC (1512-7287).
• Aussie pair for first class debuts, Indian for exchange (1512-7288).
• Dar looking to June 2018 retirement? (1512-7289).
• Tree removal for stadium project leads to fine, replanting order (1512-7290).
• Contribution to Vanuatu social issues wins ’Spirit’ award (1512-7291).
• Slow ODI over-rate fine for Windies (1512-7292).
• ‘Aggressive’ approach to dismissed batsman leads to reprimand (1512-7293).
1,513 - 3 February [7294-7297]
• Umpires’ 'age discrimination' case gets underway (1513-7294).
• CA umpiring trio awarded National Officiating Scholarships (1513-7295).
• Call for less ‘finger licking' viewing (1513-7296).
• Court petitioned for 'life time’ Aamer ban (1513-7297).
1,514 - 4 February 
1,515 - 5 February [7299-7301]
• Modern bats have shifted game’s ‘balance, says ICC chief (1515-7299).
• Sharp, Willey seeking two-year umpire contract extension (1515-7300).
• WC match officials start two-day Workshop (1515-7301).
1,516 - 6 February [7302-7305]
• Players’ views differ widely on bat size issues (1516-7302).
• English, Sri Lankan umpires for Windies exchange visits (1516-7303).
• Illegal action rumours ‘put to bed’ by Brisbane tests (1516-7304).
• New association targeting improved umpire, scorer training (1516-7305).
• Another alleged ‘pitchsider’ ejected from match (1516-7305).
1,517 - 10 February [7306-7310]
• Ball seam size enters debate about modern bats (1517-7306).
• Three suspended after ‘heated’ T20 final (1517-7307).
• Mystery of ‘wrong ball’ claim remains (1517-7308).
• Shepherd tops World Cup umpires list (1517-7309).
• Ajmal, Gazi remodelled actions cleared (1517-7310).
1,518 - 11 February [7311-7312]
• WC sledging offences to attract ‘heavier fines’, suspensions (1518-7311).
• Outburst in club match leads to first class ban (1518-7312).
1,519 - 12 February [7313-7317]
• New helmet prototype offers better neck protection, says manufacturer (1519-7313).
• ’The Line’ hard to define, claim WC umpiring pair (1519-7314).
• Statistics show desire for ODI batting milestones override team needs (1519-7315).
• Half of WC prize money to go to two finalists (1519-7316).
• Alleged kidnapping halts cricket practice (1519-7317).
1,520 - 14 February [7318-7321]
• Ball-tracking technology study underway at ‘American University’ (1520-7318).
• Football officials discrimination case a precedent for Sharp, Willey? (1520-7319).
• Tasmanian opener cleared of misconduct charge (1520-73120).
• Spinner’s action declared ‘legal' after remodelling work, retest (1520-7321).
1,521 - 15 February [7322-7325]
• Square leg umpire felled by throw from behind (1521-7322).
• Confusion, umpire error, as UDRS complexities clash with game’s Laws (1521-7323).
• ICC EUP members donate to Australian, NZ charities (1521-7324).
• Alleged ‘pitchsiders’ evicted from opening World Cup game (1521-7325).
1,522 - 16 February [7236-7239]
• Call for Playing Conditions error officials to be stood down (1522-7326).
• ECB amalgamates pitch liaison, umpire coach, roles (1522-7327).
• 'Who wants to be an umpire?' now a sideshow (1522-7328).
• Close to 4,000 volunteers supporting World Cup activities (1522-7329).
1,523 - 17 February [7330-7334]
• World Cup ‘language’ offences result in ‘enhanced' fines (1523-7330).
• Youth collapses, dies, during Indian village match (1523-7331).
• Unexpected first class run for club umpire (1523-7332).
• South African completing NZ exchange visit (1523-7333).
• Cost means no ‘souvenir' bails for Indian skipper (1523-7334).
1,524 - 18 February [7335-7338]
• No stand down for World Cup match officials (1524-7335).
• Former Aussie ‘grass roots’ players doing quite well (1524-7336).
• Attempt on ’Shepherd’ world record planned (1524-7337).
• Umpire 'testing centre' dates, locations, released (1524-7338).
1,525 - 19 February [7339-7343]
• Umpire warning signals now under World Cup spotlight (1525-7339).
• ’New generation’ lacks respect for umpires, suggests EUP member (1525-7340).
• Legalise ball tampering, says former batsman (1525-7341).
• ICC sub-committee to consider future ODI tournament structure (1525-7342).
• Five years on banned player ‘confesses’ to spot fixing (1525-7343).
1,526 - 21 February [7344-7348]
• High scores in ODI fixtures what public wants, says Hussey (1526-7344).
• Wellington ground looses first class status (1526-7345).
• Age discrimination decision likely before County season starts (1526-7346).
• Fifth man ejected for WC ‘pitchsiding' (1526-7347).
• Gambir raises bat during on-field confrontation (1526-7348).
1,527 - 27 February [7349-7352]
• Dissent over ‘wide’ call results in fine for bowler (1527-7350).
• Zimbabwe bowler reprimanded for twin ‘beamers' (1527-7351).
• Slow over-rate fine for Scotland (1527-7352).
1,528 - 28 February [7353-7357]
• CA points clubs to ’Spirit of Cricket’ responsibilities (1528-7353).
• Still no scorers, umpires on ICC ‘Hall of Fame’ list (1528-7354).
• ‘Blue sky’ paper suggests Tests cut, revamped ECB T20 series (1528-7355).
• Auckland umpire shows the way in Melbourne (1528-7356).
• ‘Pitch-siding’ ticket ‘contractual breach’, but ’not illegal’, says NZ lawyer (1528-7357).
PLAYING THE GAME
PLAYERS MOVING TO HELMETS THAT MEET
NEW SAFETY STANDARD, SAYS ICC
The Board of the International Cricket Council (ICC) says it is “pleased” an "increasing number of international players" have been choosing to wear helmet models that comply with a new British safety standard that came about in part because of research it “supported”. Past reports suggest that research was underway well prior to the death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes, who was not wearing a helmet that met the latest safety standards, during a first-class match in Sydney in November (PTG 1468-7111, 26 November 2014), although whether he would have survived had he been appears unlikely.
During the Board's two-day meeting in Dubai last Wednesday-Thursday, it also considered a report on annual anti-doping activities in cricket in 2014 and was "pleased to note" a seventeen per cent increase in drug tests conducted over that of 2013. Of the 1,210 drug tests taken across domestic and international cricket during the last twelve months, none resulted in any violation, according to the ICC (PTG 1373-6640, 10 June 2014). While two violations were reported in 2014, they resulted from domestic tests conducted in late 2013, said the ICC without providing any details.
In another move the chairman of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), Ronnie Flanagan, reported that he "has exercised his discretion" to allow banned match spot-fixer Mohammad Aamer to return to domestic cricket played under the auspices of the Pakistan Cricket Board "with immediate effect" (PTG 1508-7273, 25 January 2015). Aamer’s five-year ban in internationals is scheduled to expire early next September.
Flanagan is said to have told the Board he was satisfied that Aamer had cooperated with the ACSU by fully disclosing his part in the matters that led to his disqualification, admitting his guilt, showing remorse, assisting with the ACSU's ongoing investigations, and by recording messages for the unit's player educational material. Aamer played his first club match in over four years yesterday, picking up 3/27 and scoring 33 while playing for Lahore University of Engineering and Technology's side.
In an unrelated move Aamer’s UK criminal convictions for his spot-fixing actions in 2010 are currently being reviewed by a British court (PTG 1503-7252, 19 January 2015).
AUSSIE PAIR FOR FIRST CLASS
DEBUTS, INDIAN FOR EXCHANGE
Two members of Cricket Australia’s (CA) emerging umpires group, Phillip Gillespie from Victoria and Tony Wilds from New South Wales, have been named to make their first class debuts in Sheffield Shield matches later this month. The pair are amongst thirteen umpires who have been appointed to the nine Shield games scheduled for February, ten of them being members of CA’s National Umpires Panel (NUP), and the other Indian exchange umpire Chettihody Shamshuddin.
NUP members Greg Davidson, Mike Graham-Smith, Mick Martell and Paul Wilson, plus Shamshuddin, have been allocated two matches on-field each, and the two debutants plus Gerard Abood, Shawn Craig, Geoff Joshua, Damien Mealey, Sam Nogajski and John Ward each one. Abood and Nogajski will be away in South Africa and New Zealand respectively on exchange during the month (PTG 1484-7181, 15 December 2014), while Simon Fry is involved in the World Cup (PTG 1511-7283, 31 January 2015). The reason for the other NUP member Ash Barrow's non-selection is not entirely clear, although one possibility is that Gillespie and Wilds are competing for his NUP spot in 2015-16.
Gillespie will debut with NUP member Martell in the first ever first class match played in the NSW regional city of Wagga Wagga starting today fortnight, CA Umpire High Performance Panel (UHPP) member Steve Bernard being the match referee; and Wilds ten days later in Newcastle with Wilson and the UHPP’s Bob Stratford the referee. Like Wagga, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory will also host its inaugural first class fixture, NUP members Davison and Nogajksi being on-field and the UHPP’s David Tallala the referee.
Shamshuddin, the third umpire from his country to visit Australia on exchange since late 2012 (PTG 1284-6187, 5 February 2014), and India’s current ‘Umpire of the Year’ (PTG 1268-6117, 13 January 2014), is to stand with Joshua in Brisbane when Queensland plays Victoria starting next Saturday. He will then move on to Hobart where his colleague will be Ward for Tasmania’s match against visitors Queensland. The two fixtures will be his twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth at first class level since his debut in October 2012, two of those being in County cricket on exchange in July 2013, and another two in South African domestic games last February (PTG 1292-6229, 15 February 2014).
All five UHPP members will again work as Shield referees, Bernard, Stratford, Tallala and Peter Marshall each looking after two games, and Daryl Harper one. Scorers for those games include Cliff Howard and Rodd Palmer in Brisbane, Nathan Bester, David Gainsford and Graeme Hamley in Hobart, Christine Bennison and Ian Wright in Wagga, Robyn Sanday and Kay Wilcoxon in Newcastle, and Rita Artis and Neil Ricketts for the two matches scheduled for Glenelg in suburban Adelaide. Scorers are yet to be named for the games in Alice Springs and Perth.
DAR LOOKING TO JUNE
Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar is to stand in his "fourth and last" World Cup over the next two months as he is looking to end his career after he reaches the 200 One Day International (ODI) match mark, according to media reports from Lahore yesterday. Dar, who won the International Cricket Council’s ‘Umpire of the Year’ award in 2009, 2010 and 2011 (PTG 831-4058, 13 September 2011), has indicated previously he planned to retire at the age of fifty, that birthday coming in June 2018 (PTG 123-667, 26 October 2007).
Dar has currently stood in 165 ODIs and worked as the television umpire in another 41 (165/41), and has been selected for at least five on-field, and possibly several more in the knock out stage, in the forthcoming World Cup (PTG 1511-7283, 31 January 2015). By the end of March therefore his tally should have moved on to the low 170s, and with just over three years after that to go until June 2018 he will need to average around nine ODIs a year if he is to attain the 200 ODI mark by that time. His average over each of the last four years has been just seven after it was sixteen a year in the five years prior to that.
On the other hand Dar’s Test tally is currently 94/15 and his annual average of such games in recent years means he should become the third umpire to reach the 100 Test mark, after now retired Rudi Koertzen of South Africa and Steve Bucknor of the West Indies, sometime before the end of this year. Koertzen reached that mark at Lord’s in July 2009 and Bucknor in April 2005 in Wellington.
Dar currently holds the umpiring record in Twenty20 Internationals with 35/7 (PTG 1481-7168, 12 December 2014), but should he retire at fifty he is unlikely to pass Koertzen’s ODI high of 209 or Bucknor’s record 128 Tests.
TREE REMOVAL FOR STADIUM PROJECT
LEADS TO FINE, REPLANTING ORDER
India's National Green Tribunal has directed the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) to pay compensation of 9,400,000 Rupees ($A195,000) within three months for felling trees in the Tirupati Hills to enable the construction of a cricket stadium. The ACA, whose aim is to build a stadium capable of hosting international matches, has also been required to plant 4,000 saplings of different species of trees, four times the number it cut down, within six months. The ’Times of India’ said yesterday the ACA has to obtain environmental clearance for the project from the state’s environmental ministry and the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
CONTRIBUTION TO VANUATU SOCIAL
ISSUES WINS ‘SPIRIT’ AWARD
Graeme Lele from the Vanuatu Cricket Association has been selected as the recipient of the International Cricket Council's East Asia-Pacific Region 2014 “Spirit of Cricket Award”. Lele formed a partnership between the game, the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and the Department of Health on the Island of Santo, cricket sessions there being combined with a crime prevention awareness program run by the VPF’s Vanuatu Crime Prevention Unit and presentations on healthy living and nutrition conducted by Health officials.
SLOW ODI OVER-RATE
FINE FOR WINDIES
The West Indies has been fined for a slow over-rate in final One Day International of its series against South Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Match referee Chris Broad ruled that the side was two overs short of the required number of overs after time allowances were taken into consideration, and as a result its captain Jason Holder lost forty per cent of his match fee and his players each twenty per cent.
Should he be in charged of the West Indies in an ODI in the next twelve months when the same thing happens, Holder will receive an automatic one-match ban, although under arrangements announced on Thursday that will not apply in the forthcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, rather the Windies first bilateral series after that (PTG 1511-7285, 31 January 2015).
‘AGGRESSIVE’ APPROACH TO DISMISSED
BATSMAN LEADS TO REPRIMAND
UMPIRES’ 'AGE DISCRIMINATION'
CASE GETS UNDERWAY
An employment tribunal in London yesterday commenced what is expected to be a four-day hearing into the unfair dismissal case lodged by long-serving English umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey against the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) long-standing compulsory umpire retirement age of 65 (PTG 1494-7217, 4 January 2015). Neither Willey, who turned 65 in December and Sharp who will reach that milestone next month, were amongst the list of 25 umpires named by the ECB on its Full List for the 2015 northern summer (PTG 1480-7162, 11 December 2014).
Sharp and Willey are being represented at the tribunal by the Prospect Union which in the past has represented the likes of football referees and their assistants. It 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. The Union’s view is that an umpires' decision making ability, fitness and mobility should be the deciding factor in keeping the job, not their age.
UK government legislation introduced in 2011 stops employers from compulsorily retiring members of their workforce at the age of 65 unless an appropriate case can be made to show that such a bar is warranted.
ECB umpires manager Chris Kelly is reported to have given evidence on behalf of his employer on day one of the hearing yesterday. Comments made by him in the past have indicated the ECB’s view is that they "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”, an approach that on the surface at least appears to coincide with Prospect’s view of the situation.
CA UMPIRING TRIO AWARDED NATIONAL
Cricket Australia (CA) National Umpiring Panel (NUP) candidate Phillip Gillespie and current CA Project Panel (PP) members Claire Polosak and David Shepard, have been awarded year-long National Officiating Scholarships (NOS) by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). Gillespie, who is to make his debut at first class level later this month (PTG 1512-7288, 1 February 2015), and Polosak and Shepard who were selected for CA’s fast-track PP late last year, are the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth cricket umpires to be granted one of the ASC’s $A20,000 scholarships over the last seven years.
The aim of the ASC program, which is now in its thirteenth year and encompasses all sports, is to support and encourage the professional development of emerging "high performance" match officials by helping them progress through recognised pathways to the highest levels of their chosen sport in national and international competitions. As the governing body for cricket in Australia, CA would have had to given their support the trio's scholarship applications.
The scholarships will provide support to the three in a variety of areas such as high level practical officiating experience, accreditation advancement, sports psychology services, sports recovery support services and further development opportunities. Each will work with a mentor who is considered by the ASC a key component of the twelve-month program. 2015 NOS recipients from all sports, including Melbourne-based Gillespie and Shepard, Sydney’s Polosak and their mentors, are to start the year-long program by attending a five-day ASC workshop in south-east Queensland late this month.
Current NUP and International Cricket Council (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) member Mick Martell became cricket’s first NOS recipient in 2008 (PTG 200-1098, 22 February 2008). Early in 2009 now ICC Elite Umpire Panel member Paul Reiffel, who was fast-tracked into umpiring via the PP system, received the scholarship along with then emerging umpire Steven John (PTG 369-1963, 9 February 2009); however, John quit umpiring altogether at the end of the scholarship program after missing out on NUP selection (PTG 639-3183, 26 July 2010).
In the time since then now former long-serving NUP member Ian Lock and current members Simon Fry and Sam Nogajski, were awarded scholarships in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively, their colleagues Damien Mealey and Shawn Craig both in 2013 (PTG 1070-5203, 2 March 2013), the 2014 recipients being the NUP’s Greg Davidson and Gillespie's CA emerging umpire colleague Tony Wilds, who will also make his first class debut this month (PTG 1308-6310, 8 March 2014).
Craig, Davidson, Martell and Nogajski were given their scholarships the year prior to their appointment to the NUP, but on the other hand Mealey, Reiffel, Fry and Lock were one, four, six and seven years into their time on CA’s top domestic panel respectively when they came to be selected; Reiffel and Fry in fact already being members of the IUP at the time their scholarships were announced.
This year’s scholarships mean that exactly half of the twelve current members of the NUP have taken part in the ASC program, those who have not to date being Gerard Abood, Ash Barrow, Mike Graham-Smith, Geoff Joshua plus NUP/IUP members John Ward and Paul Wilson.
CALL FOR LESS ‘FINGER
A study by Australia’s Wollongong University has found fast food advertising was shown more than 3,000 times during television broadcasts of cricket over the 2013-14 austral summer in that country, says a ’Sydney Morning Herald’ report. Researchers who examined advertising at grounds and during commercial breaks throughout three One Day Internationals (ODI), two Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) and the first three days of the Ashes Test series last year, found that all except 0.3 per cent of the fast food branding aired was from a company that specialises in chicken products.
The ‘SMH’ says the study found there were 1,910 “appearances" of fast food branding during the T20Is, 758 during the Test and 704 during the ODIs for a total of more than six and a half hours viewing time throughout those matches. Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) executive manager Jane Martin told the newspaper the study showed "junk food advertising during cricket had reached saturation point with brands like [the purveyor of chicken] becoming "an integral part of the match”. "Cricket fans, many of whom are children, are bombarded by these messages every few seconds, sending the misleading message to children that consuming these products is consistent with a sporting career and healthy lifestyle”, said Martin
OPC partners, including the Cancer Council of Victoria and Diabetes Australia's Victorian branch, are said to be calling for Cricket Australia (CA) to phase out sponsorship arrangements with unhealthy brands. Martin said an association with a healthy, family-oriented sport such as cricket gave major sponsors like the chicken company a "healthy halo" which led people to regard junk food in a more positive light. A CA spokesman is quoted by the ‘SMH’ as saying the banning fast food sponsorship in sport was "a simplistic approach to a complex societal issue [and that it] is better to accept the reality that many people enjoy an occasional fast food meal”.
COURT PETITIONED FOR
‘LIFETIME’ AAMER BAN
A petition was filed in a Pakistan court in Karachi yesterday demanding a "lifetime ban" for fast bowler Mohammad Aamer after he was cleared last week to return to domestic cricket ahead of his International Cricket Council ban ending in September (PTG 1512-7287, 1 February 2015). Aamer, 22, played club cricket in Lahore for the first time in four years on Saturday, and the petition filed with the Sindh High Court by lawyer Rana Faizul Hasan, aims to stop Aamer "damaging the image of Pakistan and cricket”.
Aamer was one of three Pakistani players banned from the game for at least five years for arranging to deliver no-balls to order in a Test against England at Lord's in 2010. He was also jailed in Britain in 2011 along with the other two, former captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif. Petitioner Hasan told reporters that "Aamer stained the image of the country” for “he is a proven fixer and will do it again if he is allowed to play again”.
The High Court agreed to hear the case and advised the Pakistan Cricket Board and other legal entities that it will hold a hearing into the matter on Monday week.
Meanwhile, Butt has said that players who have been banned for spot fixing have a right to try and make a comeback to international cricket once they complete their suspension period. "I know some people, including former players, have said [Aamer] shouldn't be allowed to play cricket again, but I disagree because he has got the clearance from the ICC to play domestic cricket and is close to completing his five-year ban”.
UMPIRES ‘TOO SLOW’ FOR THE PROFESSIONAL
GAME AT 65, SAYS ECB
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) believes its top domestic umpires should retire at 65 because their reactions become too slow for the game at that age, and is also concerned about succession issues, says a report published in today's London ‘Daily Telegraph’. ECB umpires manager Chris Kelly outlined his employer’s views whilst addressing the Central London Employment Tribunal yesterday during an unfair dismissal case brought by long-serving ECB Full List umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey against their enforced retirement at the end of the 2014 northern summer (PTG 1513-7294, 3 February 2015).
Kelly, 57, a former ECB second-tier Reserve List member, is quoted by ’Telegraph’ journalist Patrick Sawer as telling the tribunal: “There’s a need [for umpires] to react speedily at times and we wouldn’t want to put anyone at risk unnecessarily”. Also “at  it’s not easy to stand for long games [and] a lot of older umpires have told me they feel the days are getting longer [and] the physical and mental pressures are greater”. Kelly told the tribunal though the ECB had no concerns about Sharp and Willey's officiating standards, and confirmed annual eye checks all Full List members are required to undertake showed no deterioration in either man's vision.
Declan O’Dempsey, Sharp and Willey’s Barrister, told Kelly he "should be able to show evidence" rather than just making an assumption or relying on his own personal experience, and asked that “if you are right [and] there is a decline, do you not think there would be some indication of that in the run-up to age 65?”. “You in essence stopped yourself from considering the specific cases [of Sharp and Willey] because you thought 'we’ve got a policy, that’s it’, [and] decided that no reasons were good enough to overcome the retirement policy”, said O’Dempsey.
ECB managing director Gordon Hollins is quoted as saying, in an approach taken publicly by Kelly in the past, that any decision to allow umpires to carry on beyond 65 would have "huge implications" for the sport. "When players are on the [ECB Reserve List], and they're on a minimal income (PTG 1327-6401, 4 April 2014), they will move on elsewhere [and take other jobs] if they don't see an opening [on the Full List and] that will mean we lose vitally important people”. "We have to look after the overall good of the sport, rather than the personal interests of individual people”, said Hollis. Over 95 per cent of umpires chosen for the ECB’s Full List are former professional players and an umpiring career is well-paying post-retirement employment for those chosen.
Former ECB Full List umpire John Holder, 69, who retired at 64 in September 2009, told the tribunal Sharp and Willey should be able to continue their careers as long as they perform to a high standard. “Peter and George are very good umpires and highly respected by other umpires and the players [and] I believe 65 is an arbitrary age and umpires should be able to go beyond this”. "I honestly believe that however young or old umpires are, if your decision making is good, I don't see why you should be made to retire".
The ECB’s definition of retirement at age 65 is not as precise as could normally be expected. Sharp and Willey’s birthdays occur before the 2015 season starts in early April, however, the Full List's Martin Bodenham will celebrate his 65th birthday in late April three weeks after the County season starts. That is not enough to stop him continuing on the Full List beyond April though, for he is not currently scheduled to retire until the end of the 2015 northern summer in September (PTG 1434-6937, 25 September 2014).
In recent years, now former Full List member Trevor Jesty retired in September 2013 three months after reaching 65 (PTG 1196-5759, 28 September 2013), while in 2011 John Steele continued on two months past his birthday, as did Barry Dudleston in 2010, and there are other similar cases in the decades before that.
MODERN BATS HAVE SHIFTED GAME’S
‘BALANCE’, SAYS ICC CHIEF
David Richardson, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief executive, says modern bats have "shifted the balance” of the game in favour of batsmen, especially in limited-overs cricket. Citing examples such as South African One Day International (ODI) captain AB de Villiers' century off 31 balls in 40 minutes in an ODI against the West Indies last month, Richardson told ‘Cricinfo’ there is growing concern about bats and the ICC has begun to consider remedial steps, the first of which will come during the forthcoming World Cup where boundary ropes are to be pulled as far back as ninety metres.
Last July the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC), of which Richardson is a member, said modern bat design has not “for now" tipped the balance between bat and ball sufficiently far in favour of the batsman as to warrant a change to bat-related sections of the Laws of Cricket (PTG 1392-6734, 17 July 2014). However, those present at that meeting were unable to reach consensus on the issue and the MCC said at the time it would continue to "closely monitor this aspect of the game”. The Laws currently limit bat lengths to 96.5 cm and width to 10.8 cm, but there is no limit in regard to their thickness.
The MCC posted a statement on the issue on its web site yesterday after Richardson’s interview was released. In it the Club's Head of Cricket John Stephenson says: "umpire and player safety as a major consideration for the Club, as is the sight of mis-hit shots easily clearing the boundary”. However, he also offered the MCC's view that bat technology is not the only factor behind the recent trend for bigger and faster scoring in the game. "It is worth noting that it is not simply the style of bats that bring these higher scores; some of the pitches they are scored on are very flat, boundaries are sometimes shortened and in some cases players are a lot stronger than in previous years.
Stephenson went on to indicate the Club plans "to closely monitor the performance of bats during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand”, and "analyse the changing technology behind cricket bats and its effect on the balance between bat and ball in all formats of the game and at all levels”. “The WCC, [the MCC] Laws sub-commitee and [the ICC’s] Cricket committee [are] all working together on the subject”, says the statement.
Greg Eime, the brand manager at bat manufacturer Gunn and Moore, is quoted in this morning’s ’Sydney Morning Herald’ (SMH) as saying smaller grounds rather than bat sizes was one of the factors in the current situation. "Effectively the game has changed and the way the batsmen play has changed and it's a combination of a lot of things, even down to the players' physical fitness and strength". "To go finger pointing at the bats [is not] quite fair”, he said.
The ’SMH’ story points to the ICC’s intention to improve umpire safety, particularly following the death of an umpire in Israel in November when he was struck by a ball that ricocheted off the stumps (PTG 1471-7117, 30 November 2014). Journalist Chris Barratt interviewed Sydney umpire Karl Wentzel, who wears a helmet officiating in first grade games there after having five teeth knocked out when he was hit while umpiring at the bowler's end in 2001.
Wentzel said “the power of the bats today are so strong that the speed in which the ball leaves the bat is just phenomenal”. "I've umpired a number of games with [Australian batsman] David Warner playing and said to myself, 'I'm very pleased that I'm wearing a helmet'. "The blokes are hitting the ball so hard these days, you barely have any time to react [and] there is bound to be a freak accident at some point”.
SHARP, WILLEY SEEKING TWO-YEAR
UMPIRE CONTRACT EXTENSION
English umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey told a Central London Employment hearing in London yesterday they would want to quit the £51,270 ($A100,500) job as senior England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) umpires if they were not good enough. The pair, who have 45 years of umpiring experience between them, are claiming they have been unfairly dismissal and discriminated against because of the ECB's compulsory retirement age of 65 for umpires (PTG 1514-7298, 4 February 2015).
Willey, a former chairman of ECB umpires who officiated in 25 Test matches during a cricket career that spans 49 years, told the tribunal he: "personally wouldn't want to see umpires carry on until their standards drop just for the sake of it”. "When I finished my [playing] career at Leicestershire after 25 years I was asked to take the money and leave the club”. "For the last year and a half I was not a very good cricketer and I don't want that to happen as an umpire”.
Responding to comments from ECB Umpires Manager Chris Kelly about umpires at 65, Willey said: "When you walk onto the field as a 25-year-old or a 65-year-old you can make a mistake”. "No one is perfect, unless you are a genius you are going to make mistakes”. However, "If you are an honest person and your sole interest is the game of cricket you will have a fair idea of when your standards are dropping”. "The ECB should be strong enough to say ... we don't think you have kept your standards up”.
Sharp, who is currently unemployed but is said in one report to be taking a scorer's course, told the tribunal he would not want to still be umpiring when he was 70. "At the moment my standards have not dropped, and at the end of the 2015 season I would know if my standards had dropped and I would go back to the [ECB] and discuss it”. "If they said 'George, your standards have dropped, you have got to go' I would say 'thank you very much’”.
"During my playing career at the age of 35 I was offered a two-year contract by Northamptonshire [but] I turned it down because I knew that my standards were dropping and I went to work in the big wide world”, said Sharp. Seven years after that Sharp stood in the first of his 327 first class matches to date, 15 of which were Tests.
Both men told the tribunal they want a two-year extension to their contracts, which could be reviewed after a year. Willey said if he was performing at the highest level and helping other umpires as he says he was in 2014, “I would be a benefit to the game of cricket”.
WC MATCH OFFICIALS START
The twenty-five strong match referee and umpire group that is to manage games in the forthcoming fourteen nation, forty-nine game World Cup in Australia and New Zealand are to commence a two-day, pre-tournament workshop in Sydney today, say reports. While no details of that meeting have been released the officials, who come from eight nations, are expected to go through a range of issues over the two days, including playing conditions, disciplinary matters, security and Umpire Decision Review System policies and arrangements.
PLAYERS’ VIEWS DIFFER
WIDELY ON BAT SIZE ISSUES
Players canvassed by Fairfax Media yesterday have differing views about International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson’s concerns that modern bats have shifted the balance of the game. Both the ICC and the Marylebone Cricket Club, who have been looking at bat versus ball issues for some years now, indicated this week that they planned to monitor the performance of bats during the forthcoming World Cup, a competition in which boundaries will be pulled back as far as ninety metres (PTG 1515-7299, 5 February 2015).
West Indian Chris Gayle, a well recognised “big hitter’, told Fairfax journalist Eryk Bagshaw that he is against the ICC’s World Cup plans regarding boundaries. He said yesterday: "A big boy needs a big bat” and while “people keep saying it has become a batsman's game, bowlers are becoming more skilful too”. One of those bowlers, recently retired Australian Brett Lee, supported Gayle and Australian opener David Warner, saying: "I think that if players like Gayle and Warner are strong enough to lift a [heavy] bat then good for them, it makes the game a hell of a lot more exciting”.
However others, such as former Australian one-day batsman, Michael Bevan, agreed with Richardson as he is of the view that bats have "improved at a far greater rate than balls” and "there has to be an even balance as if [a match] becomes too lopsided and becomes a six-fest then no one wants to watch that either". Former Australian spinner, Jason Krejza, told Bagshaw one answer could be to use the ‘Duke' balls used in England rather than the ‘Kookaburra’ brand that features in Australia. “[Dukes] don't ping right off the bat like the Kookaburra”, he said.
Dean Jones, another former Australian player, took a different approach, saying while the game was more entertaining than it had ever been, the blame for excessive boundaries lay squarely at the feet of bowlers. "The bowlers' defensive game has fallen away, they get smashed because they can't bowl yorkers properly anymore”, said Jones.
While those contacted by Bagshaw had differing views, as did the MCC’s World Cricket Committee at its last meeting seven months ago (PTG 1392-6734, 17 July 2014), they were unanimous in agreeing that the ICC’s plan to push boundaries out during the World Cup is a good move. "They have got to stop bringing in the boundary rope”, said Lee, for “people want a tight, fast contest, but that's a hard ask [when boundaries are only] sixty metres” from the bat. Bevan agreed saying: "Too many poor shots get rewarded with a six [when boundaries] are that short”, he said.
ENGLISH, SRI LANKAN UMPIRES FOR
WINDIES EXCHANGE VISITS
English umpire Steve O’Shaughnessy and Sri Lankan RavIndra Wimalasiri are to each stand in three first class matches in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) ‘domestic’ series over the next two months as part of exchange programs between their home boards and the WICB. O’Shaughnessy’s first match starts in Bridgetown today, his second on the island of St Vincent next Friday, and third back in Bridgetown a week after that, while Wimalasiri’s games are primarily in Trinidad over three weeks in March.
O'Shaughnessy will be standing with Leslie Reifer Jnr today in Barbados’ game against the Leeward Islands, with Zahid Bassarath on St Vincent when the Windward Islands host Jamaica, and Gregory Brathwaite for a Barbados-Guyana match. Wimalasiri’s first game will be with Peter Nero when Trinidad and Tobago (TT) play the Windwards, Reifer when the Leewards play Jamaica, and Danesh Ramdhanie in the game between TT and the Leewards.
O'Shaughnessy, 53, played a total of 112 first-class matches for Lancashire and Worcestershire from 1980-1989 plus 177 List A games from 1980-2003, and has been umpiring since 2007. He made his debut at first class level in 2009 and was promoted to the ECB’s Full List ahead of the 2011 northern summer (PTG 701-3438, 15 December 2010), and currently has 67 first class, 52 List A and 34 Twenty20 matches to his credit, plus womens’ One Day Internationals (ODI) and Under-19 Tests and ODIs.
Wimalasiri, 45, is also a former first class player having featured in 86 such games and 26 List A fixtures for several teams in Sri Lanka in the period from 1990-2006. His umpiring debut in first class cricket came in January 2008 and his record currently stands at 55 such games, two of them being in Auckland and Dunedin during an exchange visit to New Zealand in January 2013. Promoted to Sri Lanka's third umpire position on the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel in September 2013 (PTG 1187-5726, 14 September 2013), he and has since gone on to stand in three senior ODIs as well as those at Under-19 level.
O'Shaughnessy is the seventh England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) umpire to travel to the West Indies as part of an exchange program the ECB and WICB established just over six years ago (PTG 344-1822, 6 November 2008). Just which West Indian will travel to England in May-June in the other half of this year’s exchange is not known at this time.
On the other hand Wimalasiri appears to be the first umpire from his country to undertake an exchange to the West Indies. An as yet unnamed WICB Senior Umpires Panel member is expected to travel to Sri Lanka to stand in first class cricket there before the season ends in early April.
ILLEGAL ACTION RUMOURS ‘PUT
TO BED’ BY BRISBANE TESTS
Canterbury all-rounder Andrew Ellis' bowling action has has been cleared by tests conducted recently at the International Cricket Council’s accredited testing laboratory at Cricket Australia's National Cricket Centre in Brisbane. Christchurch newspaper ’The Press’ says Ellis, 32, has suffered, since before his first-class career began, "from rumours, questions and abuse over his unusual action", and after receiving an official "mention" by an umpire in a Twenty20 match in November, he and Canterbury coach Gary Stead voluntarily flew to Brisbane for the tests.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) says that a "fixed flexion deformity" in Ellis' bowling arm means he is unable to straighten the arm while resting. It does straighten during the delivery action, as studies have shown happens to all bowlers, but the tests indicate it is within the fifteen degrees allowed. Rather than being upset with NZC at having to go through the process twelve years into his first class career, Ellis is applauding them for acting and taking a more front-foot approach. “[NZC] and the players' association have been really good right through this”, he said.
Ellis described the biomechanical testing "and the whole process I've been through” as "really thorough and I hope that by looking more closely at this now, it might educate a few people out there”. " Educate them that things aren't always as they seem [for] just because your action looks potentially suspect on the television or with the naked eye, it doesn't mean it's illegal".
NZC have asked umpires and umpire observers to identify young players with potentially troubled actions so problems can be dealt with earlier. Its operations head Lindsay Crocker said “there has been greater scrutiny, world-wide, of doubtful actions [but] there's been a drive to highlight potentially illegal action or doubtful action to clean that part of the game up”. He described Ellis’ situation as "a unique case”.
NEW ASSOCIATION TARGETING IMPROVED
UMPIRE, SCORER TRAINING
New Jersey based United States of America Association of Cricket Officials (USAACO), which was previously known as the New Jersey State Cricket Umpire's Association, has become affiliated with England and Wales Cricket Board’s Association of Cricket Officials (ACO). USAACO president Deepak Katte says his organisation has been created to service the increasing need for well-qualified umpires and scorers across the United States, where the game has been growing rapidly in recent years.
Katte told the ‘Dream Cricket’ web site: "Our new association is uniquely positioned to play a significant supporting role in the development of top quality umpires and scorers in the USA”. The USAACO plans to deliver high-quality online training to members pursuing umpires’ and scorers’ certification plus other experiences such as coaching and mentoring. "One of the main objectives this year is to increase the number of certified umpires and scorers throughout the USA”, said Katte, and to that end USAACO having “acquired”, and will offer, ACO Level 1 training materials for both umpires and scorers in 2015.
ANOTHER ALLEGED ‘PITCHSIDER’
EJECTED FROM MATCH
Cricket officials in New Zealand ejected a fan suspected of ‘pitchsiding' last weekend during the first One Day International (ODI) between New Zealand and Pakistan, says a Fairfax Media report this morning. Pitchsiding is the term given to those who attend matches and attempt to take advantage of the slight delay in television broadcasts reaching the outside world, a time that can be as long as fifteen seconds, in order to place bets or pass on information to bookmakers, usually illegal and based on the subcontinent.
BALL SEAM SIZE ENTERS DEBATE
ABOUT MODERN BATS
Former Australian bowler Mike Whitney and retired West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons have called for the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) focus on batting technology to be accompanied by an investigation into the "virtual disappearance" of the seam on the ‘Kookaburra' balls that are to be used during the forthcoming World Cup. The pair, who were reacting to concerns about modern bat sizes (PTG 1516-7302, 6 February 2015), claimed on the weekend that modern-day bowlers were being disadvantaged because the seams on the Australian-manufactured balls have become flat to non-existent.
Whitney is quoted by 'The Australian’ as saying: "there’s not much of a seam on ‘Kookaburra’ balls at all anymore”, and referred to what appear to be unrelated problems experienced with them during the recent New Zealand-Sri Lanka Test series (PTG 1496-7224, 7 January 2015). “The seam’s not proud enough whereas English ‘Dukes' and ‘Readers’ [balls] have a much more [prominent] seam, [something] bowlers need to be [able] to get it going off the deck”.
Now Ireland coach Simmons agreed with Whitney saying: “the thing people don’t realise is that they’ve cut down the size of the seam on the ball”. “The ‘Kookaburra' doesn’t really have a prominent seam now, or the seam goes away very early”. "If they don’t do anything about the bats, they have to let the ball go back to the way it was”. "Bats have changed, cricket has changed, people want to see the ball going out of the ground”.
While expressing concern, Whitney said he doesn’t "want to see the game lose what it’s got with these bats [but] most bowlers and ex-bowlers want something to be done”. He welcomed the ICC's plan to increase boundaries to around ninety metres, saying such a move is overdue, and he also advocated what ’The Australian’ called a "subtle tweaking" of batting technology rather than a complete overhaul.
“I’m for the fresh and pure side of cricket”, said Whitney, but "I’d like something done to these bats just to bring it back a notch or two”. "Just enough so a bloke can’t get a top edge that goes fifteen rows back”.
Meanwhile, England World Cup captain Eoin Morgan criticised the ICC’s approach on the weekend saying: "The fact that you can concentrate on the bat size” when Playing Conditions have been altered "so that you bowl with two new balls [and] a ball is never any older than twenty-five overs old, [plus] you have an extra man in the circle is absolutely ridiculous”.
THREE SUSPENDED AFTER
‘HEATED’ T20 SEMI FINAL
A captain and two of his players have been banned for a number of matches as a result of incidents that occurred during a tied semi-final of the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association's (ATCA) Division one Twenty20 competition against Walkerville late last month. The Pooraka side’s Rocco Illuminato received a four-match ban for clashing with a spectator, Paul Cree three games for abusing an umpire, and their captain Matt Rogers three with one suspended for failing to control his players, says an ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ report.
Umpires Malcolm Green and David Midwinter, who oversaw a ’Super Over’ to decide the winner of the game, are said to have originally reported Illuminato for head butting a spectator, however, the charge was downgraded on appeal. Pooraka chairman Sam Kelly, who said the match was "tight and became heated in the closing stages”, indicated Illuminato "collided with a spectator" while making his way off the ground after the crowd had moved onto the oval. “It wasn’t really a head butt, just a bit of incidental contact”, said Kelly.
ATCA chief executive David Heyzer was at the game but would not comment specifically on the bans when contacted by the ‘Advertiser’. He did say though: “The behaviour of some of the Pooraka players was not up to the standard we would expect from any club, let alone a [Division one] club”. Kelly conceded the events weren't: “a good look for the game so we’re accepting our penalties and the boys will serve their suspensions”. Walkerville declined to comment on the incident.
In addition to the three suspensions the ATCA also decided that Pooraka will start its 2015-16 campaign for the Twenty20 championship on minus fifteen points.
MYSTERY OF ‘WRONG
BALL’ CLAIM REMAINS
West Indian umpires Danesh Ramdhanie and Christopher Taylor, who allegedly “misplaced” the match ball during a first class game between Jamaica and the Leewards Islands in December (PTG 1482-7175, 13 December 2014), have been allocated further games in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) ‘domestic’ four-day competition. Leeward's coach Ridley Jacobs claimed use of the “wrong ball” cost his side the match, and the WICB indicated it planned to investigate the matter, however, no one in the Caribbean wants to talk about whether that was done, and if so just what the result was.
Needing 194 to win outright on what was the last innings of the match, which was Ramdhanie’s eighth first class game and Taylor’s fourth, Jamaica were in difficulties at 3/42 at the third day tea break, the ball being sixteen overs old at that point. Jacobs told the media his side was handed a ball that was thirty-four overs old after the interval, Jamaica recovered and did not loose its next wicket until its score was 184, eventually winning the match by four wickets. Jacobs claimed the umpires later "showed us the right ball and said [had been] lost [at tea] and was replaced”.
Cecil Fletcher, a former Jamaican first class umpire, who is also a member of the WICB's Umpires and Match Referees Committee which evaluates match officials in the Caribbean, told the ‘Jamaican Gleaner’ after the game: "The fact that it is alleged that there may have been a mishap is cause for concern and we await the reports from the various stakeholders”. No announcement has been made as to just what if anything was found or whether Jacobs’ comments were justified, but Jamaica’s outright win still stands on score sheets available on line, and the championship points it earned from the match remain unchanged.
Both Ramdhanie and Taylor, along with a number of other members of the WICB’s Senior Umpires Panel, were not allocated games in the Caribbean’s domestic fifty over series which was played tournament-style in Ramdhanie’s home country of Trinidad and Tobago last month. However, Taylor stood at home in Jamaica’s first class game against Guyana at Sabina Park earlier this week and Ramdhanie has been appointed to a Trinidad and Tobago home fixture next month.
SHEPHERD TOPS WORLD
CUP UMPIRE LIST
The late English umpire David Shepherd holds the record for umpiring in the most number of World Cup matches, standing in 46 games across six World Cups from 1983-2003, including three successive finals of the competition from 1996- 2003.
Following Shepherd in second place is West Indian Steve Bucknor with 45 games, a record five of them the finals from 1992-2007, while the third is another retiree Rudi Koertzen of South Africa with 25.
Equal fourth on the list are two other retired umpires, Australian Simon Taufel and Srinivas Venkatraghavan of India with 23, one of Taufel’s being the 2011 final, while Venkat officiated in two semi-finals in the 1996 and 1999 series. Pakistan’s Aleem Dar, who is to add to his tally in the 2015 World Cup (PTG 1511-7283, 31 January 2015), and Australian Daryl Harper, are at the moment equal fifth with 22 matches, Dar having the 2007 final to his credit and Harper a semi final in 2003.
There is also a tie for sixth place with New Zealand’s ‘Billy’ Bowden, who like Dar is to feature in the 2015 series, and the retired ‘Dickie' Bird of England and Khizer Hyat of Pakistan, who are all currently on 18 each.
AJMAL, GAZI REMODELLED
The remodelled bowling actions Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal and Sohag Gazi of Bangladesh have been found to be legal as a result of tests carried out at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennaii late last month and both men can now resume bowling in international cricket. Ajmal was reported after the first Test match against Sri Lanka in Galle in August, and Gazi in the same month after the second One-Day International against West Indies in Grenada.
The International Cricket Council says the tests showed the elbow extensions in both the off-spinners’ bowling actions for all their deliveries was within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under its rules. However, umpires are still at liberty to report either of them in the future if they believe they are displaying a suspect action and not reproducing the legal actions recorded in their recent tests. ICC umpires have been provided with images and video footage of the two bowlers’ significantly remodeled legal bowling actions.
WC SLEDGING OFFENCES TO ATTRACT
‘HEAVIER FINES’, SUSPENSIONS,
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has again indicated it will crack down on excessive sledging between players during the World Cup (WC), its chief executive David Richardson saying yesterday first offenders will be given "heavier fines" while repeat offenders will face the prospect of match suspensions. Richardson outlined his organisation's expectations regarding player behaviour and maintaining the game’s integrity three weeks ago (PTG 1505-7257, 21 January 2015), the ICC’s Board following that up by agreeing on the need to a “clamp down” on poor player behaviour (PTG 1511-7285, 31 January 2015).
Richardson told reporters in Melbourne that the issue of player behaviour "has been addressed at all the pre-World Cup team briefings”. "I suppose it started a few months back [given] the behaviour in some matches by some players was deemed to be unacceptable and not a good example to young fans watching the game”. "I think there's been something like 12-13 Code of Conduct charges laid in the last few months in bilateral series”, he said.
“The penalties handed out by the match referees [during the WC] will be perhaps a little bit more serious or higher than before but hopefully everyone will be treated equally and fairly”. "For a first offence you'll likely end up with a fine which no players likes, handing back most of his match fee”; a comment that comes despite criticism that player’s overall pay packets are now so significant current match-feee related fine levels offer little deterrence. On the other hand said Richardson, "a repeat offence, not only in this tournament but [in regards to] some players already sitting with offences behind their name, will be punished with a suspension”.
Some media reports of late have again raised the use of a soccer-style yellow and red card system to better stamp out poor on-field behaviour but Richardson said cricket would continue to rely on post-match reviews by on-field umpires and off-field referees to analyse incidents and lay charges where necessary.
“The [card] idea has been debated at a number of previous [ICC] Cricket Committee meetings that I've attended and probably will be debated again”, he said. However, we don't necessarily want to follow the way that football goes [and prefer] a measured response by match officials reviewing footage of the match afterwards”. "That obviously cannot happen when you are brandishing a red or a yellow card on the spur of the moment”, he said.
OUTBURST IN CLUB MATCH
LEADS TO FIRST CLASS BAN
South Australia fast bowler Kane Richardson has been suspended from that side's next Sheffield Shield match for using foul language in a club game in Adelaide two Sunday’s ago. Richardson was banned from playing three A-Grade club matches in the South Australian Cricket Association’s (SACA) top club competition, two of which were suspended pending good behaviour, plus one match from the one-day competition.
Media reports say the severity of the SACA suspension was noted by Cricket Australia's Code of Behaviour Commission, its Commissioner Anthony Crocker determining that the severity of the club ban warranted a higher punishment. As a result it decreed that Richardson be suspension from South Australia's next Shield match against Western Australia which starts next Monday.
NEW HELMET PROTOTYPE OFFERS BETTER
NECK PROTECTION, SAYS MANUFACTURER
Hampshire-based company ‘Masuri’ has manufactured a prototype helmet which features extra protection around the back of the neck which it believes could better protect batsmen who are struck by balls in that region. Australian batsman Phillip Hughes was wearing a pre-2013 design ‘Original Test’ model ‘Masuri’ helmet when he was struck on the side of the neck by a ball last November, his subsequent death being the trigger that led to the company to begin investigating what it is calling a "stemguard", a device made of foam and a rubber-like compound that clips onto the back of a helmet.
Following questions asked of manufacturers in 2012 about the suitability of the then current safety standards for batting helmets by the International Cricket Council and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, or player’s union, ‘Masuri’ raised funds and undertook work to improve its helmet decision (PTG 1023-4973, 27 November 2012). The company subsequently launched a new model of helmet that covers the back of the wearer's head in August 2013 but Hughes was not wearing that version when he was struck.
Design consultant Alan Meeks told Joe Wilson of BBC Sport yesterday that the new feature, which has been developed in the time since Hughes’ death, will be both light and robust enough to prevent serious injury. According to him the foam and honeycomb fitting around the neck "gives as much protection as a hard helmet for even though it moves around and will touch a batsman when the ball hits them there, it will absorb a significant amount of energy”.
Masuri's managing director Sam Miller told the BBC that he “doesn't think there was a helmet on the market [at the time of Hughes’ death] which would have protected Phillip” (PTG 1469-7114, 27 November 2014). "There had been some talk of protection to [the neck] area in the past, but it had been a footnote”. He says his company has consulted international cricket boards throughout the design process and the "stemguard" has been tested extensively in a laboratory while it awaits production. A patent for the product is pending but its introduction in matches will depend on players' desire to wear the redesigned helmets.
Shortly after Hughes’ death Steve Remfry, an Adelaide-based designer of protective gear, said he had “blueprints" for a padded helmet flap he believes would protect players from receiving fatal blows to the neck (PTG 1480-7159, 11 December 2014). Remfry, who has been designing made-to-measure arm guards, thigh, chest and shin protectors since 1987, said at the time “every part of the body can be protected somehow and the helmet I’ve come up with [provides] a solution that I think can fix that problem”.
His proposal involved a thirteen millimetre thick contoured flap of foam fitted with breathable air holes or divided into movable strips to ensure maximum mobility. A player wearing such an arrangement “would still feel it if they got hit [as] it’s no different to getting hit in a thigh guard by a ball going at 150 clicks [km/hr], but it would absorb the impact and protect them, rather than thumping straight into their neck”. “There’s no rocket science involved here”, he said. Jut where his proposal is at at the present time is not known.
‘THE LINE’ HARD TO DEFINE,
CLAIM WC UMPIRING PAIR
New Zealand umpire ‘Billy' Bowden a member of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) believes the game shouldn’t turn what journalist Ben Horne calls "emotional stars" like Australian player David Warner into “choir boys”, according to a 'Fox News' report. Horne says that Bowden confirmed, as outlined by ICC chief executive David Richardson on Tuesday (PTG 1518-7311, 11 February 2015), there will be zero tolerance shown to "aggressive, personal attacks" which cross 'the line' during the World Cup, but overall he believes the art of sledging and allowing individuals to express themselves is a good thing as long as things don't get personal.
Bowden’s assessment is said to be that modern-day players are more tactful with their mind games than the previous generation. “They’re probably a bit wiser and smarter now because there’s 32 cameras around [a ground] and stump mics, so there’s so much scrutiny on the players now”. He doesn’t believe the Australia team have a problem in regards to sledging that is any worse than other countries or that they’re victimised by match officials. Instead he pointed to 'Australian sporting culture' as being "up-front and confrontational" and different to some other cricketing cultures.
For his part Bowden’s EUP and World Cup colleague, Australian Paul Reiffel, also mentioned what he sees as the difficulties involved in defining ‘the line’. According to him “it’s impossible to draw a definitive line in the sand because you’ve got so many people, different cultures, different personalities [and] for some the line is a lot higher than others”.
Reiffel also pointed to World Cup match officials being under "strict instructions" to crackdown on bad player behaviour. “[The ICC] see the [WC] as a massive event where everyone is going to be watching”. "We are the representatives of the ICC at the ground and in charge of the game and they expect us to showcase the skills of the game and let that happen, but anything else we have to step in and stop it”. “The game is better if everyone gets on with it and the art of umpiring is man managing and not letting behaviour get anywhere near the line, whatever that line might be”, he says, and “there is a need to “find the middle ground with it all”.
STATISTICS SHOW DESIRE FOR ODI BATTING
MILESTONES OVERRIDE TEAM NEEDS
It may be obvious, but a detailed study of over 3,500 One Day Internationals (ODI) played between 1971 and 2014 has shown that batsmen in such games are likely to bat more conservatively as they approached their half-century or century in order to maximise their chances of reaching those milestones rather than look after the needs of their team. In a scientific paper that is to be published in the 'American Economic Review’ (AER), Professor Lionel Page and PhD researcher Romain Gauriot of Queensland University of Technology’s Business School, found "clear statistical evidence that the behaviour of batsmen is affected by their personal rewards in the game” at such times as opposed to the needs of their team.
The ‘AER’ paper points out that the nature of ODIs means batsmen need to adopt a relatively high strike rate, and as a result they must take additional risk of losing their wicket in order to score more quickly. However, if a batsman is close to making 50 or 100 he will play more conservatively and hence score at a slower rate in order to increase his chances of reaching the landmark score, but at the cost of the team's winning chances.
However, Page said the data shows “that while batsmen are conservative on their way to a milestone, they switch to a more aggressive strategy straight after reaching it, possibly to catch up with lost time”. "Our study showed a batsmen's strike rate jumped more than 40 per cent after reaching a century compared to the period leading up to it [and that] leads to a sharp increase in the rate of dismissals”.
Similar analysis of more than 2,000 Tests played from 1880-2014 conducted by Page and Gauriot found captains are far more likely to declare an innings when a batsman has reached a landmark rather than when he is just below one. "One of the most interesting findings from this study shows that team captains, like batsmen in ODIs, also react to individual-specific incentives by accommodating them”, says Page.
"Our evidence suggests that captains are willing to trade a cost to the team in favour of a substantial reward to a particular player, for example eating up valuable time and delaying a declaration so a batsman can reach his individual milestone”. But Page said it could be worth the risk to a captain waiting for one of his players to reach a personal milestone as “for the captain it's about trying to balance the individuals' incentives with the team's collective goal”, he said. "The captain hopes the risk in allowing a player to reach a strictly personal goal is repaid by a higher level of overall performance by not only that player, but other players in the team who appreciate the captain's gesture”.
HALF OF WC PRIZE MONEY
TO GO TO TWO FINALISTS
Prize money totalling $A13,000,000 is available to teams competing in the World Cup, an increase of 25 per cent over the figure for the 2011 event, just over half of that money going to the two teams that make the final in Melbourne in late March. $A10.2 million or almost three-quarters of the total is spread across the seven finals matches that make up knock-out stage of the tournament: four quarter finals, two semi finals and the final itself.
The International Cricket Council says that the winner of the event will receive $A4.9 million and the runner-up $A2.3 million for a total of $A7.2 million for the final, with the two losing semi-finalists each getting $A780,000 and the four losing quarter-finalists all $A389,000. Should a team win the tournament without losing a match, it would receive monies totalling $A5.2 million, or 40 per cent of prize money, while a side that loses one game on the way to winning the tournament would take away $A5 million.
Of the remaining monies on offer almost a quarter, or $A2.7 million, has been allocated across the 42 matches that lead up to the knock-out phase. Each time a side wins one of the Group matches it will earn $A58,400 for its home board, while the six teams that are eliminated after the Group stage will each return home with $A45,400.
In contrast the last Indian Premier League (IPL) season saw total prize money of $A8.2 million on offer, the winning team taking home $A3.1 million, half of which under IPL rules must be distributed amongst the players involved.
ALLEGED KIDNAPPING HALTS
A 14-year-old boy was allegedly kidnapped during school cricket practice in Durban last week after he went on to a property adjoining his school to retrieve a ball, says a report in that city’s ‘Daily News'. The Kloof High School teenager, who claimed his abductor threatened to shoot him, was forced into a car by the property owner and driven around for an hour before being dropped off in a nearby suburb.
BALL-TRACKING TECHNOLOGY STUDY
UNDERWAY AT ‘AMERICAN UNIVERSITY'
What International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson this week called “further tests” have recently been conducted into the accuracy of ball-tracking systems at "an American university”. Following controversies during the 2013 Ashes series in England, the ICC established a Working Group to took at Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) technology, and it recommended to the world body’s Cricket Committee last June that all such systems should be independently evaluated, the aim being provide a consistent system that can be accepted and used in all high-profile matches around the world (PTG 1460-7074, 15 November 2014).
ICC General Manager Cricket Geoff Allardice indicated last November that such work was to begin before the end of 2014, however, just which university is conducting the research involved, and whether the study includes all other current UDRS technologies besides ball-tracking, has not been made public. Richardson, who was speaking on Thursday to journalist Andrew Alderson of ‘The New Zealand Herald’, said that one aspect of the work was that “we want to keep the discussion on the table so India [which opposes UDRS use] comes on board willingly without [us] forcing it down their throats”.
‘Hot Spot’ technology will not be part of the Umpire Decision Review System package that is to be used during the World Cup starting today because of what some reports say is an insufficient number of the specialised military-rated infrared cameras available for use across the fourteen venues involved. Indications are that consideration was given to bringing ‘Hot Spot’ in for the seven-match knockout finals part of the event, however, organisers opted not to use then in order to ensure consistency across all of the tournaments’ 49 matches.
Richardson also said that ball-tracking had been improved over the last few years. "You can't compare the standards we've established [now] with what was trialled [for the first time in the 2008 Test series] between India and Sri Lanka”, he said. During those games seven years ago "India were upset with the predictive path and harboured doubt about the system's accuracy” (PTG 288-1526, 1 August 2008). "It's taken time to rebuild [their] trust but Anil Kumble [India's captain in 2008, now] chairs our Cricket Committee and he's committed to reaching a solution”.
The 'American University’ study is the latest round of work on evaluating technology that has been mentioned by the ICC over the last three-and-a-half years. In July 2011 then ICC chief executive officer Haroon Lorgat said his organisation planned to carry out, "over the next few months", an independent assessment of infra-red cameras, audio tracking devices, and ball-tracking technology (PTG 790-3868, 6 July 2011).
Six months later in February 2012, the ICC indicated publicly that a "detailed independent study" of UDRS ball tracking technology would be conducted by "a Cambridge University group" later that year to "help persuade Indian cricket authorities" that the system's use in matches can be beneficial rather than detrimental to the game (PTG 898-4370, 6 February 2012). That review, which was conducted by Dr Edward Rosten a former Cambridge University expert, focussed on obtaining "precise evidence" on the degree to which 'Hawk' and 'Virtual' eye tracking data can be trusted to assist decision making in international matches (PTG 902-4385, 17 February 2012).
A “provisional" report presented to the ICC’s Cricket Committee in May 2012 said "very positive results in regard to system accuracy” had been obtained by Rosten, a detailed examination of fourteen "situations" that occurred in Test matches showing results obtained were in "100 per cent agreement" with the data provided by the ball tracking system in real-time. (PTG 943-4584, 2 June 2012). As far as can be ascertained the ICC has not made any public reference to Rosten’s work in the time since.
Moving on to the question of day-night Tests, Richardson described them in his interview with the ‘Herald’ as "not necessarily the way of the future" but that "in some markets it makes sense commercially”. "More people might come and watch after work and from a time zone perspective there's potentially a greater TV audience”, he said, but “factors like dew and lighting need to be considered but I'm confident the [pink] ball is ready”.
The ICC chief executive admitted criticism of why his organisation took so long to tackle the issue of illegal actions was “probably justified”. According to him the initiative in that area started with the ICC’s Cricket Committee for “we realised virtually every team had one bowler with a suspicious action”. "Once the umpires realised they had our support they were more prepared to enforce the law”, he said, but “we also wanted to ensure there were a suitable number of accredited labs to test remedied actions".
Asked whether moves are in place to offer amnesty to those who come forward in regard to corruption, Richardson said he’s "not sure we've given enough thought to amnesty”. "On the evidence of the players who have been banned, like Mohammad Amir and Lou Vincent, it seems if they work with authorities they can expect to be dealt with more favourably, but bear in mind, players don't necessarily want soft punishments because the vast majority feel so let down when teammates cheat”.
FOOTBALL OFFICIALS DISCRIMINATION CASE
A PRECEDENT FOR SHARP, WILLEY?
The findings of the Central London Employment Tribunal into the age discrimination case brought against the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) by umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey are still awaited, however, a not dissimilar matter brought before another UK tribunal might provide some insight into what could be the result. The pair, who have both stood at Test level, recently told the London tribunal they lost their jobs because of the ECB's compulsory umpire retirement age of 65, and that their ability to perform, not the number of birthdays theyv’e had, should be the deciding factor involved (PTG 1515-7300, 5 February 2015).
Five years ago four assistant football referees in England were found to have been unlawfully discriminated against when they were barred from officiating in top-level games in that sport as they had reached what was then the mandatory retirement age of 48. On that occasion the Sheffield Employment Tribunal found the organisation that appoints referees and assistant referees to Premier League and League football matches, the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) group, firstly was not able to formally justify why it had set any retirement age for match officials, and secondly that it had not provided any justification for the age that it had established.
Alan Leighton, National Secretary of Prospect, a trade union, said immediately after the tribunal’s findings were handed down in that case, and which echo comments made at Sharp and Willey’s hearing: “This is a significant judgement and we look forward to negotiating new arrangements that ensure the best and fittest officials, regardless of age, are able to officiate at the highest levels, while still providing career opportunities for younger officials”. Prospect were behind Sharp and Willey’s case and its representative at this month's hearing was Declan O’Dempsey, the same Barrister who looked after the four football referees.
While media reports on what went on on Sharp and Willey’s hearing were limited, O’Dempsey specifically criticised the ECB for not having, as was found to be the situation with PGMO five years ago, a formally set out case as to why it set 65 as its retirement age. The ECB contended during the hearing, however, that umpires’ reactions slow down at 65 and as a result they are unable to reacted quickly enough, and their staying on beyond that age impacts on career opportunities for those, mainly former players, who want to come into its umpiring system (PTG 1514-7298, 4 February 2015).
TASMANIAN OPENER CLEARED
OF MISCONDUCT CHARGE
Tasmanian opener Ed Cowan was found not guilty of “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” late on third day of the Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales in Hobart on Monday. The report, by umpires Gerard Abood and Mike Graham-Smith, related to Cowan’s conduct after his dismissal in Tasmania’s second innings when he was, for the second time in the match, given out caught by Kurtis Patterson off the bowling of Sean Abbott.
Cricket Australia (CA) says Cowan denied breaching its Code of Behaviour and therefore a hearing was convened before match referee Bob Stratford after the game ended the next day. After considering the evidence from both Abood and Graham-Smith and Cowan, and consulting video footage of the dismissal, Stratford found the former Test batsman not guilty of any offence, says CA.
It was the second time during the current southern summer that Graham-Smith and Stratford have been involved in the overturning of a charge laid against a player in a Shield match. In November, Victorian opener Rob Quiney was found not guilty after being reported for "Abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings” after he was dismissed caught and bowled during a match against South Australia. He disputed the charge and after a hearing Stratford cleared him of any wrong doing (PTG 1464-7092, 21 November 2014).
SPINNER’S ACTION DECLARED ‘LEGAL'
AFTER REMODELLING WORK, RETEST
Former Indian spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was banned from bowling in domestic games there in December after his action was declared “illegal” by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (PTG 1491-7204, 28 December 2014), has now been cleared following second series of tests conducted at the International Cricket Council accredited facility in Chennai. Ojha underwent was reports say was an "extensive corrective program” on his action conducted over a period of six weeks leading up to the latest examination in Chennai.
SQUARE LEG UMPIRE FELLED
BY THROW FROM BEHIND
An umpire spent five hours in hospital in Grafton in northern New South Wales on Wednesday evening after he was struck between the shoulder blades centimetres below his neck, and felled by a sharp throw from the outfield during a day-night Clarence Valley Cricket Association fixture. A report in the 'Clarence Valley Daily Examiner’ yesterday indicates that Jeff Hackett, who is in his thirteenth season as an umpire, was standing at square leg when he was hit by a ball that came from behind him.
Hackett told the ‘Examiner’: "It was a fast, flat throw from a fielder” and when it struck "it sounded like a .303 [rifle bullet] going off in my head”. "As I went down I remember one of the players calling out 'I wonder if he called dead ball’”. However, that levity soon evaporated when Hackett reported feeling tingling in his spine and numbness in his legs. Fellow umpire David Whitby halted play while an ambulance was called to take his colleague to Grafton Base Hospital. Once there staff, in Hackett’s words: "X-rayed me and checked me out” and while nothing serious was found he "was a bit tender when they sent me home [and] luckily it all turned out for the best”.
Despite the scare Hackett was said to be adamant he would not be "gun shy" when taking up his umpiring appointment. "When you reach the level umpires like me and Bruce Baxter [a current member of the NSW Supplementary Country Panel] reach, they drill it into you to get into the best position when a run out is happening”, said Hackett, who was appointed to a number of NSW country representative matches late last year. The best position according to a quote attributed to him is "pretty much being on the same side of the stumps the throw is coming from”.
In 2009, Welsh umpire Alcwyn Jenkins, 72, collapsed and died after being hit on the head by a ball. He was at the bowler's end and moved to the same side of the pitch as the ball and the mid-off fielder's attempted throw at the bowler's stumps hit him what was called a "fearsome" blow on the back of the head while he was watching the crease. A coroner later formally calling that tragedy an "unfortunate accident” (PTG 601-3017, 5 May 2010).
The following year John Whittaker, an umpire in West Yorkshire, was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull after he was hit on the head whilst at square leg by a throw from the boundary in an Airedale and Wharfedale League fixture (PTG 602-3025, 6 May 2010). He later recovered but reports at the time said he had his back to the fielder. Last November, in a less preventable incident, Israeli umpire Hillel Awasker died of a "catastrophic head wound” after being struck by a ball after it ricocheted off the stumps from a shot hit straight down the pitch (PTG 1472-7119, 1 December 2014).
CONFUSION, UMPIRE ERROR, AS UDRS
COMPLEXITIES CLASH WITH GAME’S LAWS
There was confusion in many quarters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last night when England batsman James Taylor was given out LBW and became what appeared to be the last of his side’s wickets to fall. Eventually, however, it was his batting partner James Anderson who ended up the last dismissal thanks to the Playing Condition quirks associated with the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), and errors in applying them made by the umpires involved.
With England on 231, well short of Australia’s total, only one wicket left and Taylor just two runs short of his maiden One Day International century, Taylor was given out LBW by umpire Aleem Dar of Pakistan, as he and Anderson rushed through for a quick single. As Dar raised his finger to send Taylor back to the pavilion, Anderson was run out but by that time under the Laws of the game the ball was dead because Taylor had been ‘dismissed'.
It didn’t end there though as Taylor asked for a review of the LBW decision given against him and third umpire ‘Billy’ Bowden overturned Dar’s assessment as the ball was going down leg. Once that happened square leg umpire Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka asked Bowden to check the run out and Anderson was subsequently dismissed instead, leaving Taylor not out and handing England a loss by 111 runs.
However, under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules for UDRS operations Anderson should not have been given out as they say in part: "if following a Player Review request, an original decision of ‘Out’ is changed to ‘Not Out’, then the ball is still deemed to have become dead when the original decision was made (as per Law 23.1(a)(iii))”. That statute goes on to say: "The batting side, while benefiting from the reversal of the dismissal, will not benefit from any runs that may subsequently have accrued from the delivery had the on-field umpire originally made a ‘Not Out’ decision, other than any No Balls penalty that could arise [as outlined by the previous sentence]”.
The ICC said in a statement after the game that: "Following Australia's 111-run victory over England . . . the Playing Control Team (PCT) met and reviewed the final ball of the game which resulted in James Anderson being given run out”. It acknowledged "the ball should have been deemed dead when [Taylor] was given out leg before wicket [and that] no further runs or dismissals were possible”. "The PCT [which was led by New Zealand match referee Jeff Crowe] spoke to the England team management and acknowledges that the game ended incorrectly and an error was made”.
ICC EUP MEMBERS DONATE TO
AUSTRALIAN, NZ CHARITIES
Umpires from the International Cricket Council’s top panel, all twelve of whom are standing in the World Cup (PTG 1474-7126, 4 December 2014), have donated a total of $US20,000 ($A26,000) to charities in Australia and New Zealand in a continuation of similar initiatives they have supported over recent major international tournaments. Of that money half has been given to the Fred Hollows Foundation to fight blindness in indigenous children in Australia, and the other half to Ronald McDonald House Charities in New Zealand who take care of families whose children require long-term medical treatment away from their home bases.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is an eye health organisation that is dedicated to ending avoidable blindness. The money provided by Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) members is to go towards the Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program which restores and saves the sight of those in that country's original inhabitant community who live in some of the most remote parts of the country. The Ronald McDonald House programs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch provide free accommodation right next door to hospitals there thus ensuring families can remain together and are better placed to cope and help their children heal. The EUP donation there will be used to support the ongoing operations of those Houses.
Commenting on the initiative EUP member Steve Davis said he and his colleagues, who come from six countries: "are delighted to support the Fred Hollows Foundation, which does so much outstanding work nationally in Australia, especially with indigenous children and around the world, [while the] Ronald McDonald House Charities does an enormous amount of good across New Zealand and globally to alleviate the plight of families at what can be a challenging time [when their] children are undergoing treatment in hospitals and medical centres”. EUP members are: "conscious of its role to help promote the game and act as positive role models within the cricketing community”, said Davis.
Separate cheques were presented to each of the charities, one to representatives of the Hollows’ group in Melbourne and the other in Christchurch to those from the McDonald Houses. Hollows Foundation chief executive Brian Doolan said the EUP's "generous donation” will greatly assist the "important work we do with indigenous Australians”, while McDonald’s House head Wayne Howett, said the match officials' "generosity will help [his organisation] continue to ensure that Kiwi families who have needed to relocate for their child’s treatment can remain together and strong at one of our home away from homes”.
ALLEGED ‘PITCHSIDERS’ EVICTED
FROM OPENING WORLD CUP GAME
New Zealand police ejected several men from the opening match of the World Cup between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Christchurch yesterday for what they suspect were prohibited betting activities, says a Fairfax Media report. At least one man was evicted from Hagley Oval because he was “using his communication devices to provide match information to people outside this country”, an activity known as ‘pitchsiding’ which has been detected at games in both Australia and New Zealand over the past month (PTG 1516-7306, 6 February 2015).
Police said plain clothes officers mingled with the 17,000 crowd on the lookout for “betting cheats” who were making excessive use of laptops or mobile phones. The operation was part of a crackdown on ‘pitchsiding’ in which gamblers take advantage of broadcasting delays to gain an advantage over sports bookmakers. Fairfax said police observed a group for about ten minutes near the end of New Zealand’s innings, before detectives led the men away for questioning. They were taken to a police tent at the ground where they were interviewed before being ejected.
CALL FOR PLAYING CONDITIONS ERROR
OFFICIALS TO BE STOOD DOWN
Whoever was at fault in the mismanagement of Playing Conditions in Saturday’s Australia-England World Cup match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground should be stood down for “one or two matches”, says ‘Cricinfo’ journalist Brydon Coverdale. In that game England batsman James Taylor was given out LBW thus becominge what appeared to be the last of his side’s wickets to fall, however, it was eventually his batting partner James Anderson who ended up being given out in error because the Playing Control Team (PCT) did not know the rules that applied in the circumstances involved (PTG 1521-7323, 15 February 2015).
The PCT for Saturday's game consisted of match referee Jeff Crowe of New Zealand, on-field umpires Aleem Dar of Pakistan and Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka, Crowe’s countryman ‘Billy' Bowden as the third umpire, and Joel Wilson from the West Indies the fourth. Bowden, Crowe and Dar were members of the PCT for the 2007 World Cup final, a very high-profile match where a lack of understanding of the Playing Conditions resulted in the game ending in what then International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive, Malcolm Speed, called “"disarray and confusion”. Bowden, Crowe, Dar and their two PCT colleagues were excluded from the ICC’s next major tournament later that year as a result (PTG 59-324, 24 June 2007).
Coverdale describes that 2007 final "a low point for the ICC's match officials as four umpires and a match referee turned the sport's showpiece into a laughing stock by making the most fundamental of errors”. In his assessment the "shambolic ending at the MCG [two days ago] is not in the same league, but neither is it something to be ignored as it is another humiliation for the ICC at the sport's premier global event”. It is, he says "another case of match officials not knowing the rules, is an embarrassment to the game, and there must be consequences".
The ‘Cricinfo’ journalist says the ICC must find out where the mistake on Saturday originated and why it was not prevented. He asks: “why did [Crowe] not step in and radio through a clarification to the umpires?” "What exactly is a match referee's role during a game if not to ensure that such preventable mistakes are not made?” Coverdale says a referee: "should not meddle with subjective umpiring decisions, but when there is obvious confusion as to what the rules are, he is surely the highest authority”.
"It would be easy to do nothing but admit the error, then carry on” as England were not going to win anyway”, Coverdale continues, but it does "matter a great deal to Taylor, who was denied the chance to score his first hundred for his country, on his World Cup debut, and it could yet matter to England if the qualification for the quarter-finals comes down to net run rate”.
Most of all says Coverdale "it matters to anyone who wants to see the game played properly”. In his assessment “the integrity of the umpiring process disappears when it becomes clear the umpires do not know the rules”. "You can accept as human error, a bad call, such as the LBW clearly missing leg that Dar gave against Taylor [as] such decisions are subjective [and] mistakes happen, [but] if umpires, or match referees, don't know the rules, are they really worthy of being on the Elite Panel?”
ECB AMALGAMATES PITCH LIAISON,
UMPIRE COACH, ROLES
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has replaced its previously separate positions of pitch liaison officers and umpire coaches with what it is calling ‘Cricket Liaison Officers’ (CLO). Plans call for one member of what is initially a four-man CLO group to be present across all four days of four of the xxxxxx County Championship first class matches played in each round of that competition in 2015, but there are hopes future seasons will see the group expand in number so first team County fixtures in all competitions from first class to one-day and Twenty20 formats, can be covered.
ECB Umpires Manager Chris Kelly, told ‘Cricinfo’ recently: "The CLOs will be there to support all stakeholders including the groundsmen and the umpires, and having them there for all four days of a County Championship match will allow us to receive more detailed and live information back from the grounds”. "The umpires will [rate] all pitches as they see it but if there was a concern [about a pitch in a game where a CLO was not present] we would still have the flexibility to move the guys on the panel around to cover any incident”.
Previously, ECB pitch inspectors would either be appointed to a day of a Championship game or rush to grounds at the first sign of a significant fall of wickets to decide whether points deductions should be levied against home sides (PTG 1342-6849, 1 May 2014).
Reports say the inaugural set of CLOs are: Tony Pigott a former ECB pitch liaison officer who played one Test for England; Phil Whitticase a player with Leicestershire from 1984-95, who ‘Cricinfo’ says "was sacked as Leicester director of cricket at the end of last season”; Graham Cowdrey, son of the late Colin, who played fourteen seasons for Kent from 1984-88 before taking up a career in finance; and Stuart Cummings, who played two season of Minor Counties cricket in 1986-87 and was head of England Rugby League’s match official department. Records available on-line do not indicated that any of them have umpired cricket at any level.
Kelly says his organisation "see our CLOs building positive relationships with the groundsmen, as well as the umpires and other key figures at the match - relieving some of the anxiety from what was there before” when pitch liaison officers "might have been viewed a bit like policemen”. He sees the new arrangement as being able to provide Groundsmen greater assistance in producing better quality pitches.
The move to create the CLO structure could be construed by some as an administrative down-sizing of staff brought about by reduced funding, however, Kelly appears to have scotched that in saying: "We're in this for the long haul, and at some time in the future we expect to see us able to cover every first team county fixture in all competitions”, said Kelly.
'WHO WANTS TO BE AN
UMPIRE?’ NOW A SIDESHOW
Spectators attending some World Cup matches over the next six weeks will be able to “experience what its like to step on to the field” and "make the tough calls” required of the twenty umpires who are supporting the event. Those taking part in the ‘Who wants to be an umpire’ sideshow, are being shown what are described as “ten classic umpiring [video] clips” selected at random from a total of 110 that have been put together by the system’s organisers, and then questioned on what they see and what their decision is.
All up the 'Testing Centre’, which is sponsored by a prominent airline that has naming rights to the International Cricket Council’s top referee and umpire panels, is to visit a total of eight grounds across Australia and New Zealand during the World Cup. The ‘Centre’ was located at Hagley Oval in Christchurch for the first game of the competition on Saturday and is to move to Auckland in the near future.
CLOSE TO 4,000 VOLUNTEERS
SUPPORTING WORLD CUP ACTIVITIES
WORLD CUP ‘LANGUAGE’ OFFENCES
RESULT IN ‘ENHANCED’ FINES
West Indies batsman Darren Sammy and Ireland bowler John Mooney were yesterday each fined thirty per cent of their match fees for using “language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting" during their teams’ opening match in the World Cup in Nelson, New Zealand. The two Level One offences, which were not related, attracted fines double that similar behaviour has attracted in internationals over the past year, and could therefore be the first visible sign of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) stated intention to "clamp down" on bad player behaviour (PTG 1511-7285, 31 January 2015).
The ICC says that during the first innings of the Nelson game when the West Indies were batting, Sammy was heard on television screens using what it called "inappropriate words" after playing a shot in the thirty-fourth over, while Mooney swore several times when a fielder dropped a catch on the boundary off his bowling in the forty-fifth. Both players admitted the offences and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Chris Broad of England and as such there was no need for a formal hearing.
Sammy began his post-match press conference by apologising for the incident saying: "I've been handed a breach of the [ICC] Code of Conduct for a swear word, so I'd like to apologise to the viewers for that, especially the young kids listening”. In a monetary sense though the fine of a few thousand dollars is likely to be of little concern to the West Indian as yesterday he was “bought” for close to $A500,000 by the Indian Premier League’s Bangalore franchise at the event’s annual “Playing Auction”.
Apart from Broad the other match officials who looked after the game were on-field umpires Richard Illingworth from England and Bruce Oxenford of Australia, New Zealander Chris Gaffaney being the third umpire and Johan Cloete of South Africa the fourth. Under ICC regulations Level One breaches carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand and a maximum penalty of fifty per cent of a player’s match fee. The pair are the first to be fined for on-field offences since the World Cup got underway last Saturday.
YOUTH COLLAPSES, DIES DURING
INDIAN VILLAGE MATCH
A fifteen year old boy died while batting in a village match in Andhra Pradesh yesterday. The ‘Deccan Herald’ says that Velugodu Subrahmanyam, an only son, had played the ball into the field and was taking a run when he collapsed, and that despite being rushed to hospital he was declared dead on arrival, "possibly of a sudden cardiac arrest”.
Last month, Zeeshan Mohammed, 18, died of a reported “heart seizure” during a game in Karachi after a ball delivered by a fast bowler struck him in the chest (PTG 1510-7279, 27 January 2015). Other chest strike deaths reported in recent years include those of 2013, Mudasir Ahmad Matoo, 20, in Kashmir, and Zulfiqar Bhatti, 22, in Pakistan, and prior to that Matthew Prior, 13, in 2010 in a school match in South Africa and Tim Melville, 18, on Merseyside in 2005.
UNEXPECTED FIRST CLASS
RUN FOR CLUB UMPIRE
Cricket Tasmania Premier League umpire Harvey Wolff had an unexpected run at first class level yesterday when Indian exchange umpire Chettihody Shamshuddin. became ill on the opening day of the Tasmania-Queensland Sheffield Shield match at Bellerive (PTG 1512-7288, 1 February 2015). Wolff, who is in just his third season of umpiring, was called in at short notice to stand at square leg from early in the afternoon until stumps while Cricket Australia (CA) National Umpire Panel (NUP) member John Ward, who was on-field with Shamshuddin, looked after duties from both bowling ends.
Reports indicate that doctors who examined Shamshuddin, 44, who had limited his on-field presence to square leg until Wolff arrived, were unable to determine just what his illness is, and as a result CA is said to have arranged for NUP member Ash Barrow to fly from Melbourne to stand with Ward today. With the Indian likely to have to rest for several days before flying home, Barrow seems likely to stay there for the remainder of the match.
Wolff, who returned two weeks ago from a Tasmania-New South Wales exchange visit to Sydney where he stood in a first grade two-day game, raised his finger once whilst on field yesterday to an appeal for a stumping that ended the home side’s first innings.
SOUTH AFRICAN COMPLETING
NZ EXCHANGE VISIT
South African umpire ‘Babs’ Gcuma is currently standing in the second of the two domestic first class matches he has been appointed to in New Zealand as part of the now long-standing exchange program between the two national boards. Gcuma, 38, from Durban, stood with Tony Gillies last week in Wellington when the home side played Canterbury, and he is currently in New Plymouth for the match between Central and Northern Districts, his partner there being Tim Parlane.
Gcuma made his first class debut in a match in Pietermaritzburg eight years ago last month, the game in New Plymouth being his forty-ninth at that level, forty-five being in Cricket South Africa’s Provinicial three-day first class series, and another two in its four-day franchise competition. He has also stood in sixty-three List A games in South Africa, fifty-two at Provincial level, as well as three women’s One Day Internationals in 2011.
COST MEANS NO ‘SOUVENIR’
BAILS FOR INDIAN SKIPPER
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's is known for a penchant for collecting stumps as souvenirs every time his side wins a game, but he won't be able to collect any during the ongoing World Cup irrespective of his team's victories, says a Press Trust of India (PTI) report. Following India’s World Cup win over Pakistan on Sunday at the Adelaide Oval, Dhoni took one of the bails only for square leg umpire Ian Gould to engage him in a friendly chat after which the bail was returned to the top of there stumps.
NO STAND DOWN FOR WORLD
CUP MATCH OFFICIALS
None of the match officials involved in a Playing Conditions error in last Saturday’s Australia-England World Cup match has been stood down, says a report in the Melbourne newspaper ’The Age’ this morning. The mistake, which media reports available suggest was not picked by match referee Jeff Crowe and his four umpires, Aleem Dar, Kumar Dharmasena, ‘Billy’ Bowden and Joel Wilson (PTG 1521-7323, 15 February 2015), saw calls for just what happened to be determined and whoever was responsible to be “stood down for one or two matches” (PTG 1522-7326, 16 February 2015).
After the match the International Cricket Council (ICC) acknowledged the decision involved was made in error, however, it is yet to explain just how it occurred and which of the five officials was involved in the processes involved. ‘Age’ journalist Jess Hogan says that the ICC has indicated that as previously planned, three of the five officials, Crowe as match referee Wilson on-field and Dar as the third umpire, will be involved in the management of the Bangladesh-Afghanistan match in Canberra today. The other two, Dharmasena and Bowden, are to stand in Australia's match against Bangladesh in Brisbane on Saturday.
If the ICC did actually consider a stand down as has been suggested by some reports, the logistics complexities involved in making appointments changes at such relatively short notice is likely to have been a factor that weighed against such a move (PTG 1511-7283, 31 January 2015).
Where the world body has, if it chooses, the opportunity to factor in the Melbourne ‘error' into its appointments is the seven-match finals stage of the tournament next month. Only four of the five referees currently on duty are needed for the quarter finals, two of them for the semi finals and one for the final itself. On the other hand only sixteen of the twenty World Cup umpires will be selected for the quarter finals, eight for the two semis and four for the decider itself.
FORMER AUSSIE ‘GRASS ROOTS’
PLAYERS DOING QUITE WELL
Thirteen cricketers have been included in a list of Australia’s top fifty earners in sport for the 2014 calendar year put together by that country’s ‘Business Review Weekly’ (BRW) magazine, their overall remuneration increasing by some $A7 million on the figures for 2013. Estimates of monies paid to the thirteen, who between them received a total of $A 35.9 million during the year, includes salaries from Cricket Australia (CA) and in some cases also from the Indian Premier League, prize money won in internationals and other games, and personal commercial endorsements.
Leading the cricketers again this year at number eight on the top fifty list is Shane Watson with $A4.5m, then comes Mitchell Johnson (10-$4.1m), Michael Clarke (11-$A4m), David Warner (12-$A3.8m), Steve Smith (14-$3.1m), James Faulkner (18-$2.8m), Brad Haddin (24-$2.5m), Glenn Maxwell (25-$A2.4m), Mitchell Starc (27-$A2.2m), George Bailey (36-$A1.8m), Aaron Finch (37-$A1.8m), Brett Lee (45-$A1.5m), and Michael Hussey (49-$A1.4m). Six of the thirteen, Bailey, Faulkner, Finch, Johnson, Smith and Starc, are new to the list this year.
Total earnings for the BRW’s top fifty earners was $A164 m in 2014, up from the $A158 m recorded in 2013. Data for the latter year released twelve months ago had eleven cricketers amongst the fifty who were estimated to have earned a total of $A29 million for their work (PTG 1283-6182, 4 February 2014). Watson was then in sixth place with $A6 million in gross earnings, Clarke came in at seven with $A5.5m, after which were Warner (12-$A3.8m), David Hussey (23-$A2m), Ricky Ponting (24-$A2m), Haddin (30-$1.8m), Maxwell (31-$A1.8), Cameron White (40-$1.5m), Lee (41-$1.5m), Adam Gilchrist (42-$1.5m), and Ryan Harris (47-$1.3m). Gilchrist, Harris, Hussey, Ponting and White are missing from the 2014 list.
With CA forecasting income in excess of $A1 billion from 2014-18 (PTG 1221-5882, 30 October 2014), and players entitled to just over a quarter of that, or around $A60 m a year, the thirteen cricketers on the 2014 fifty-list may well grow in number when BRW collated figures for 2015 are announced early next year. While that may be the case, questions remain about the resources CA is likely to make available over the next four years to support umpiring and scoring in competitions below first class and senior representative level in that country, most particularly in the training materials area where little to nothing has been done by the central body for many years now.
ATTEMPT ON ’SHEPHERD’
WORLD RECORD PLANNED
John Armstrong, a school principal in Nelson, New Zealand, one of the host cities for the World Cup, has taken on the challenge of trying the beat the 'Guinness Book of Records’ official world record of 2,276 people standing one-leg ‘Nelson’ fashion at the same time, said the ’Nelson Mail’ yesterday. The one-leg stance, known as a "Nelson", relates to a cricketing superstition, much favoured by the late English umpire David Shepherd, and refers to British Admiral Lord Nelson of Trafalgar fame who lost one eye, one arm and one leg.
The current record was set in October 2012 in London, UK, as part of a charity campaign called 'Stand Up to Cancer’. Last Sunday a Nelson City Council organised attempt to break the record fell badly short with only 270 people turning up. Armstrong told the ‘Mail’ yesterday planning for the new attempt is underway and involves students from three schools in the area, their staff, a neighbouring kindergarten, and the general public, numbers that if harnessed he thinks will easily pass the record. The plan is to conduct the attempt before the last of the three World Cup scheduled for Nelson in two weeks time is played.
UMPIRE ‘TESTING CENTRE’ DATES,
UMPIRE WARNING SIGNALS NOW
UNDER WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT
The correct protocol was used in the removal of Afghanistan leg break bowler Samiullah Shenwari from the attack for running into the Protected Area for a third time during his side’s opening World Cup match against Bangladesh in Canberra yesterday, says the International Cricket Council (ICC). A ‘Cricinfo’ report of the match claims that Shenwari's punishment, after he delivered just his seventh ball of the game, came “amid unclear umpiring signals”, thus catching "commentators and many millions of viewers by surprise and that for the second time in a matter of days umpiring standards were under scrutiny".
Shenwari was brought on to bowl the thirty-first over of Bangladesh’s innings and after delivering it returned for the thirty-third only to be taken off after the first ball of his second over at the crease. Cricinfo’s on-line commentary said at the end of his first over that "Shenwari has been warned for running [into the Protected Area]”, and that "Two more such indiscretions and he will have to be taken off”, however, it would appear those watching missed him being given two warnings during that first over.
The ICC says that Australian umpire Steve Davis twice warned Shenwari for running on the pitch in his first over and that the requirement of Law 42.12 had been followed. That did not satisfy an unnamed ‘Cricinfo’ reporter though for he wrote that "the ICC's assurances could not hide the fact that the visible protocol employed by umpire Ian Gould when Mohammad Irfan was removed from the attack in Pakistan's opening match against India was markedly different to that displayed by Davis, who was less clear”.
In Irfan's case says the ‘Cricinfo’ report, "Gould was clearly seen to warn Irfan and his captain on two occasions”. For the first "he was seen raising one finger” and after the second "two fingers to suggest it was the second warning”. “As such “nobody could be in any doubt” about what was going on, but “by contrast, Shenwari's fate took onlookers by surprise”. “What occurred therefore was inconsistency in protocols at best and ordinary umpiring at worst”, claims the report. An examination of match video is said to show Davis issuing a single clear warning, with the raising of one finger, at the end of the first over.
"Umpires have their own variations of signals and gestures for various decisions, but they rarely differ as wildly as Gould and Davis have in this scenario”, "a fact the ICC might now have to consider tightening up to be more accessible in an age of mass TV”, concludes the report.
‘NEW GENERATION’ LACKS RESPECT
FOR UMPIRES, SUGGESTS EUP MEMBER
Umpires today are “challenged” on everything they do and its "getting to the point where the new generation of cricketers have a lack of respect” for them, runs a quote attributed to an unnamed member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) in a 'Guardian’ newspaper article yesterday. The individual, who journalist Mike Selvey says "would prefer not to be named", described the game of the current era as "a world away from the days when the umpire’s decision was final”, and the approach taken by modern players has become a particular challenge for match officials.
That umpire’s view was contained in a Selvey story that focused on last Saturday’s Playing Conditions mistake by match officials in the Australia-England World Cup game, a situation that led some to call for those responsible to be stood down (PTG 1524-7335, 18 February 2015). Selvey, 66, who has been writing on cricket for ‘The Guardian’ for over thirty years after a playing career that included three Tests for England in the mid-1970s and saw now EUP member Ian Gould as a Middlesex team mate, queries why some of the world’s top match officials could have "got a decision so utterly wrong” in the “four minutes it took to [mistakenly] declare [England batsman James] Anderson run out?” (PTG 1521-7323, 15 February 2015).
’The Guardian’ article points out, as have many others, that the repercussions of the mistake as far as the result of the game was concerned "were minor" beyond a possible hundred for England batsman James Taylor, and the "further small chance" of it adversely affecting England’s net run-rate should qualification for the finals stage of the competition come down to that. "But imagine if it had been a tight match, imagine if it had been the final”, asks Selvey. According to him only one of the match officials, on-field umpire Kumar Dharmasena, "went to the England dressing room after the game to apologise” for what happened.
“With so much happening all at once the umpires’ collective lost the ability to think clearly”, writes Selvey, a state of affairs that appears to mirror something of what happened in the World Cup final of 2007 (PTG 59-324, 24 June 2007). In that context he goes on to mention "a special seminar" conducted by behavioural strategist Warren Kennaugh for World Cup match officials during a pre-tournament two-day workshop in Sydney two weeks ago (PTG 1515-7301, 5 February 2015).
Kennaugh, who has worked within a range of businesses including Cricket Australia, is said to have focussed in his presentation on ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states of mind and “understanding team dynamics [and] game momentum shifts”. Such things "can appear simple but getting the right action at the right time separates the elite from others”, he says on his web site.
Selvey’s unnamed EUP member said that what Kennaugh "gave me was a different perspective on how I control a game and myself”. "I understood how I could slip from the ‘blue’ [or being in the ‘zone'] into the ‘red’ [where one is ‘less aware’], but importantly it gave me a strategy for getting back into the blue [from the red]”. Asked if “suppose the Anderson decision had not ended the game and another LBW decision had to be made next ball?” what would have been his approach, the unnamed umpire said: "With Warren’s help I think I would have been able to clear my mind”.
What Selvey calls “the fiasco" that concluded England’s opening World Cup match could have been avoided if the officials had not let their minds wander from the blue zone to red”, and that as such: "The ICC should be concerned”. Whether any of them actually knew what the applicable Playing Condition was in the circumstances that prevailed is not questioned or discussed. Between them the five Playing Control Team members looking after the match have directly looked after in excess of 1,300 senior international matches, plus many more at other levels, two of them also having played at Test level.
LEGALISE BALL TAMPERING,
SAYS FORMER BATSMAN
Former South African batsman Barry Richards is concerned about the game's future unless dramatic rule changes, including some legalised ball tampering, are introduced to curb the dominance of batsmen. International Cricket Council chief executive chief executive David Richardson recently expressed the view that the size of modern bats had “shifted the balance” in favour of batsmen and the game’s law makers would have to think about making changes (PTG 1515-7299, 5 February 2015), however, not everybody agrees with that point of view (PTG 1517-7306, 10 February 2015). .
Richards told News Corporation he has been worried for some time about how batsmen "rule the cricket world" with ever-increasing large scores as bowlers become "cannon fodder”, a trend that has been on show in the World Cup to date. “All I want is a 50-50 contest, which it is not now”, and "If it continues the way it is, kids will only want to bat, there will be no bowlers, and the game will decline”, he says.
Amongst the measures Richards thinks should be considered to swing the game back to being an even contest between bat and ball is, in the one-day game, to "let the better bowlers bowl 25 of the 50 overs, only two bowlers being nominated before the start [of play] to deliver those overs”. “You could also relax cricket’s legside rules a bit”, and “the pressing of cricket bats also has to be controlled and the thickness in their edges”. "Maybe there can also be a designated sweet spot area for bats, ours used to be about the size of a fifty cent piece, but now [it is] much bigger”, he says.
His most controversial suggestion though is to let bowlers have a limited ability to change the condition of the ball. “Reverse swing is an art”, said Richards, so "Let the bowlers rub the ball in the dirt if they want because not all bowlers can produce reverse swing” and "batsmen have it too easy these days”.
Fifteen months ago former England captain Michael Vaughan suggested two changes to the Laws and Playing Conditions to deal with ball tampering issues. One was to make sure that players are warned off tampering through much harsher penalties and that a ten-match suspension should be involved for those found guilty, the other being that the ball "should not be sacrosanct" and "players should be allowed to do what they want to it, as long as they only use their fingernails and not any external objects” (PTG 1222-5887, 31 October 2013).
ICC SUB-COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER
FUTURE ODI TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE
A plan to revamp the organisation of the international one-day game is to be discussed at a meeting of an International Cricket Council (ICC) executives sub-committee meeting in Melbourne on Monday, says the ’Sydney Morning Herald’ (SMH). Journalist Chris Barrett says Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards, who heads the ICC's executive committee, is behind a push to bring all One Day International (ODI) matches under the World Cup banner in a bid to further distinguish it from the Test and Twenty20 formats.
Under the proposal all ODIs could be linked into a points system which would govern qualification for the World Cup itself and potentially leading into end-of-year series for what Barrett calls "large pots of money" for the top-two ranked teams in non-World Cup years. Edwards and CA are said to want to add more relevance to one-day cricket, which between the World Cup each four years is often criticised for what the ’SMH’ calls the "succession of comparatively meaningless standalone bilateral series".
Edwards told Barrett he’d: "like to see a lot more context for fifty-over cricket” a concept he refers to as 'World Cup Cricket”. He thinks the issue is one of the big strategy items on the table for discussion next Monday which is "focused on making the world of cricket better”. Edwards is "not hung up" on the name but simply believes there must be a serious rethink about the place of the fifty-over format on the international scene.
FIVE YEARS ON BANNED PLAYER
‘CONFESSES TO SPOT FIXING
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, who is currently serving a ban from the game for spot fixing offences in a Test at Lord’s in 2010, is reported to have recently made his first full confession of guilt about the matter to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Butt and team mates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned and served a prison sentence in the UK for their offences, and reports say he has made the confession to PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan as part of attempts to be able to return to play the game.
A PCB “source” is quoted as saying that "Butt's full fledged confession" came after the International Cricket Council (ICC) informed the PCB that it was not satisfied with the earlier statements made by Butt and Asif and the two needed to admit their proper involvement and guilt in the scandal. "Butt has had a change of heart after he approached the PCB and asked them to plead his case with the ICC anti-corruption unit to review his ban under the [world body’s] revised anti-corruption laws”, who pointed out Aamer "got a relaxation to play domestic cricket before his five year ban ends in September this year” (PTG 1513-7297, 3 February 2015).
HIGH SCORES IN ODI FIXTURES WHAT
PUBLIC WANTS, SAYS HUSSEY
Former Australian batsman Mike Hussey has told Cricket Australia’s web site that the increasingly high scores in One Day Internationals are a direct result of a demand for entertainment from “fans, broadcasters and administrators” who "want to see excitement”. Hussey was speaking in response to concerns in some quarters that ODI cricket is too heavily dominated by batsmen and that something needs to be done to return the game to a more even contest between bat and ball.
Hussey said that when he "was playing the [ODI] benchmark was 250 or 260 and it seems to have increased again, [with] maybe 280 to 300 a par score these days, which is amazing”. He thinks those watching games, whether at the ground or on television, “want to see fours and sixes being hit”. “They don’t want to see batsmen struggling and dot balls, plays and misses and things like that”. He’s "sure they’d love to see the wickets” as well but “maybe that’s the challenge for the bowlers”.
Former England captain Andrew Strauss, a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club's World Cricket Committee said that during that group's deliberations at it last meeting in July, discussions centred around "has the balance of the game swung too far in the direction of the batsman, and also, what does the crowd want to see, what does entertaining cricket look like?” “For the time being we feel there's a decent balance there still, that balance still exists, but clearly it needs monitoring to make sure it doesn't slip too far in one direction in the future” (PTG 1392-6734, 17 July 2014).
David Richardson, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief executive who took part in that WCC meeting, expressed the view earlier this month that modern bats have "shifted the balance” of the game in favour of batsmen, especially in limited-overs cricket. He indicated the ICC has begun to consider remedial steps, the first of them being in the on-going World Cup where boundary ropes have been pulled as far back as ninety metres (PTG 1515-7299, 5 February 2015).
WELLINGTON GROUND LOOSES
FIRST CLASS STATUS
Karori Park in Wellington has had its first-class status revoked by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the home side’s next Plunket Shield first class game, which was due to be played there early next month, will now be played in New Plymouth. That move came as a result of problems experienced in Wellington’s game against Otago earlier this week, it starting a day later than scheduled because the ground was not prepared appropriately in time, a situation that left Cricket Wellington chief executive Peter Clinton "disappointed" and “embarrassed".
NZC general manager of domestic cricket David Cooper says the ground, which only achieved first-class status three years ago, the Otago match being just the fifth such game played there, will now have to earn that level of accreditation all over again. "What [Karori Park] needs to do is decide if it wants to get the warrant of fitness back and it would need to go through a process with NZC's turf manager and host games of a lower level games than first-class and gradually step up and show the ground and facilities are worthy of hosting first-class cricket again”.
AGE DISCRIMINATION DECISION LIKELY
BEFORE COUNTY SEASON STARTS
A decision on the age discrimination case brought by English umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey may be handed down next month, say reports. Their case that they be allowed to work on as members of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) top umpiring panel past the ECB’s compulsory retirement age of sixty-five provided they met fitness standards, was heard by a Central London Employment Tribunal three weeks ago (PTG 1520-7319, 14 February 2015), and there have been indications it wants to hand down its decision prior to the start of the 2015 County season in early April.
It has also been reported that Willey, along with his former ECB Full List colleagues Barrie Leadbeater and John Steele, plus David Byas a former Yorkshire and Lancashire player who in 2007 was appointed to an ECB umpire training role, all applied unsuccessfully for a spot on the ECB’s new Cricket Liaison Officer (CLO) group. Willey, who is reported to have been interviewed for the job the day after the Employment Tribunal hearing, turned 65 last December, an age Sharp will reach in three weeks time, while Steele is 68 and Leadbeater 71.
In contrast the four chosen by the ECB for the CLO group all are well under 65. Tony Pigott is the oldest at 56, Stuart Cummings is 54, and Graham Cowdrey and Phil Whitticase both 50. All except Cummings have played first class cricket, Pigott 260 such games, one a Test match, Cowdrey 179 and Whitticase 132, but none apparently have direct hands on experience of the craft of umpiring cricket.
The role of CLOs is wider then umpires though, being to support "all stakeholders including the groundsmen and umpires” at County games they are assigned to. Alan Fordham, the ECB’s Head of Cricket Operations described the primary aims of the new system is "to empower counties and their groundsmen to produce the best pitches possible at their venues and to support them in doing so, and to provide opportunities for umpires to develop with the necessary support at the right time”.
ECB Umpires Manager Chris Kelly said recently: “We had a large number of strong applicants [for the CLO positions], and we’re delighted with the four we’ve appointed". “Pitches will be Tony Pigott’s obvious area of specialism, as will his vast experience in the game”. “Phil Whitticase has in-depth knowledge of the game at a professional level in its current form, and we see that as being very valuable”. “Graham Cowdrey has a wealth of cricket knowledge and as a very collaborative and supportive personality, a very good fit for these new roles”, while Cummings "has considerable experience in professional officiating worldwide which he has been able to translate across several other sports, with the added benefit of a good working knowledge of cricket from his own experience”.
Counties are being introduced to the new system at a series of pre-season “roadshows" over the next few weeks, and Kelly believes they will be supportive of this initiative.
GAMBIR RAISES BAT DURING
Delhi opening batsman Gautam Gambhir could be facing a disciplinary charge following an incident on the last day of his side’s Ranji Trophy quarter final against Mumbai on Thursday. Gambhir played down the wrong line and was given out LBW to a ball from Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur and is reported to have clearly been unhappy with the decision, a situation that was made worse by Thakur’s verbal 'send off’.
On hearing the remarks Gambhir is said to have turned around and, with his "bat semi-raised”, walked towards the huddle of Mumbai players looking for Thakur, before withdrawing. He then resumed his approach towards Thakur, "this time a bit more hurriedly”, however, umpires A Nanda Kishore and Krishna Srinath, plus batting partner Suryakumar Yadav, stepped in to prevent anything further happening.
After the game ended match referee Daniel Manohar told journalists that any decision to censure either Gambhir or Thakur would be taken by Sanjay Patel, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
FIFTH MAN EJECTED FOR
WORLD CUP ‘PITCHSIDING’
A man was caught pitchsiding, or using a communication device to transmit match information to the outside world, during the World Cup match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Canberra on Wednesday and ejected from the ground, the third such incident in the first seven days of the competition. The person concerned, who reports say was an Australian, was issued with a ban notice by the International Cricket Council (ICC) because he breached the terms and conditions of ground entry that are part of his ticket. Three men were evicted from the New Zealand-Sri Lanka match at Christchurch's Hagley Oval on the opening day of the cup last Saturday (PTG 1521-7325, 15 February 2015), and another from the Ireland-West Indies match in Nelson on Monday.
AUSSIES TO TRY OUT NEW
Australian players will be given the chance to try out the latest honeycomb helmet designed in the wake of Phillip Hughes' death, according to Cricket Australia's (CA) high performance chief Pat Howard. A prototype of the up-graded helmet unveiled by British manufacturer 'Masuri earlier this month featured a clip-on guard made of plastic and foam that protected the back of the neck, the spot where Hughes was hit in November (PTG 1519-7313, 12 February 2015).
Howard is quoted by the ’Sydney Morning Herald’ as saying: "It's really quite innovative and some players have seen [media reports of the new design] and are very receptive to trying it at different times”, something they will do "in a game outside an international”. He said nearly all players in the Australian team were already using updated models, Masuri's being called the Vision Series. "We're going through a process of making sure everybody is in really safe hands [and] everyone has been really good in that process in terms of being proactive".
CA is said to be working with the International Cricket Council to ensure the helmet standards set by the British Standards Institute were adopted internationally.
DISSENT OVER ‘WIDE’ CALL
RESULTS IN FINE FOR BOWLER
Ireland all-rounder Kevin O'Brien has been fined thirty per cent of his match fee after questioning an umpire's decision in Wednesday's World Cup match against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Brisbane. O'Brien questioned umpire Michael Gough after one of his deliveries in the forty-eighth over of the UAE’s innings was adjudged a ‘wide’, the bowler continuing his remonstrations with Gough until he bowled the next ball.
The Irishman, who subsequently admitted to "showing dissent at an umpire's decision during an international match”, was reported by on-field umpires Gough and Nigel Llong, third umpire Kumar Dharmasena and fourth umpire ‘Billy' Bowden after the match, match referee Ranjan Madugalle subsequently issuing the fine.
ZIMBABWE BOWLER REPRIMANDED
FOR TWIN ‘BEAMERS'
Zimbabwe fast bowler Tendai Chatara has been reprimanded for bowling two ’beamers’ during his side’s World Cup match against the West Indies in Canberra on Tuesday. Chatara, who was taken out of the attack by umpire Ian Gould after the second beamer, was says the International Cricket Council (ICC) charged with conduct that is "contrary to the spirit of the game".
The Zimbabwean was bowling the fiftieth and last over of the West Indies innings and received a first and final warning from Gould after his fifth delivery, however, in rebowling that ball he transgressed again and that led to his removal. Gould and his on-field colleague Steve Davis, plus third umpire Ranmore Martinesz and fourth umpire Richard Kettleborough, reported the incident to match referee Roshan Mahanama.
The ICC says Mahanama took into account "the mitigating factor” that the ball Chatara was bowling with was wet "which could have resulted in the bowler not being able to have complete control of the deliveries”.
West Indies batsman Darren Bravo has been also been reprimanded by the ICC, his offence being the use of “language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting” during his side’s World Cup match against Pakistan in Christchurch. Bravo, who the ICC says used "an audible obscenity whilst batting”, admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee David Boon.
Under ICC regulations all Level One offences carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand up to a maximum penalty of fifty per cent of a player’s match fee.
SLOW OVER-RATE FINE
Scotland has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during its World Cup match against Afghanistan in Dunedin yesterday. Match referee David Boon imposed the fine after captain Preston Mommsen’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration, an offence to which the Scottish skipper pleaded guilty.
International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations for ‘minor’ over rate offences, those involving less than three overs, require that players be fined ten per cent of their match fee for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount. As such, Mommsen lost twenty per cent of his match fee and his players all ten per cent.
For a captain to be suspended during an ICC tournament such as the World Cup he must commit two minor over-rate offences or one “serious" over rate offence during the event. Should Mommsen be found guilty of one more minor over-rate offence during Scotland’s next three matches in the World Cup while acting as captain he will receive an automatic one-match suspension.
CA POINTS CLUBS TO ‘SPIRIT OF
Cricket Australia (CA) has encouraged "everyone involved” in the knock-out finals matches of the current season’s club competitions scheduled around that country over the next month "to be aware of the obligation we have to one another and cricket [in general] to play the game in the right spirit”. Andrew Ingleton, CA’s Executive General Manager for Game and Market Development, emphasised ’Spirit of Cricket’ issues in an e-mail sent to clubs on Thursday that wished players, coaches, umpires and volunteers "the best of luck" as they “chase those elusive Premierships”.
Unlike many countries, a club in Australia does not win a league championship simply on the basis of topping a competition table at the end of the home-and-away season. Rather, the top four teams, first versus fourth and second versus third, play semi finals with the winner of those games meeting in the ‘Grand Final’ to decide who wins the ‘Premiership’ for that season, it being quite possible for a side that finishes fourth to win the competition overall. It is those ‘finals’ matches during March, in which a team’s whole season is 'on the line’, to which Ingleton’s message refers.
Featured in Ingleton’s message is a quote from former Australian captain Don Bradman who suggested that "it is the responsibility of all those that play the game to leave [it] in a better state than when they first became involved". An obligation to behave well and treat the game with respect is central to the cricket experience and sets it apart from other sports, says Ingleton, who goes on to suggest a number of “initiatives” teams could consider for this year’s finals.
The Ingleton list includes: placing a ‘Welcome' sign on the opposition change rooms greeting them to your venue; providing a 'Spirit of Cricket' acknowledgement award for the player in each competing team that demonstrates excellent values during the match, something “the umpires can present at the conclusion of the game”; briefing "your spectators as to the preferred conduct in the best interest of cricket”; encouraging junior players to "enjoy the finals experience" and resist placing extra pressure on them; applauding "all good play, both by your team and the opposition”, and also "assisting the umpires” and somewhat pointedly in that regard, "remembering none of us are perfect”.
CA’s Game and Market Development manager says that cricket "has been a symbol of good manners, fair play and fierce competition for hundreds of years”, and lists just what the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ concept means in terms of the “unique” way players, captains, and umpires should aspire to behave during a match. "As participants, fans and viewers, we are all part of the ongoing ‘Spirit of Cricket’ philosophy”, he says.
STILL NO SCORERS, UMPIRES,
ON ICC ‘HALL OF FAME’ LIST
The inclusion of three new members on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) ‘Hall of Fame’ list over the past week again highlights the absence of umpires and scorers who have served the game with distinction at the highest level on that honour role. Last week in Melbourne, former India captain Anil Kumble and Australia’s Betty Wilson were inducted in as Hall of Fame members, and today during the innings break in the New Zealand-Australia World Cup game in Auckland, former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe will join them and their predecessors as number seventy-nine on the list.
The ICC says that the selection process to decide who should be added to its Hall of Fame list started last year when all of the current living members of the group were asked to nominate those they thought deserved such recognition. The ICC Nominations Committee then reduced what was a "long-list [of initial nominees] to ten men and three women cricketers”, a short-list was then sent to a "Voting Academy”.
The ‘Academy' was made up of representatives, and media members from all of the ICC’s ten Full Members, as well as those from the ICC Associate an Affiliate member group, women’s cricket, the international player’s union, plus current "Hall of Famers". The ICC then collated the nominations and forwarded the ballot papers to “auditors" who provided the final results. There are indications a fourth new ‘Hall of Fame’ member could be announced prior to the end of the World Cup in four weeks.
‘BLUE SKY’ PAPER SUGGESTS TESTS
CUT, REVAMPED ECB T20 SERIES
A reduction in the number of Tests played in England each northern summer, limiting their length to four instead of five days and County first class matches to three, plus a new domestic Twenty20 competition, are amongst a range of possibilities currently being considered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). A document prepared by new ECB chief executive Tom Harrison is aimed at making cricket the undisputed second sport in the UK behind football and increasing the sport’s annual revenue by £50m ($A98m), however, new ECB chairman Colin Graves has cautioned against reading too much into the ideas currently being canvassed.
What has been described as a “blue sky thinking” document has been circulated amongst the chairmen of the eighteen Counties and the ECB board. It is reported to suggest the possibility of lobbying the International Cricket Council (ICC) to make Test cricket into a four-day game and that the number of such matches played each English summer be cut from the current seven to five. The specific aim of that move is reported to be to ensure England players are available for a revamped domestic Twenty20 competition. Another ICC-related item mentioned is for the 2019 World Cup, which is to be played in England, to be a forty-over format event.
Central to the changes that have been floated is for the ECB's Twenty20 competition to feature between eight and ten franchise-based teams, an arrangement like that which exists on Australia, rather than the current eighteen team County-based structure. 'The Guardian’ newspaper said on Thursday it had spoken a number of County chief executives who, while welcoming the fresh impetus, were "particularly hesitant" about the prospect of a "regional Twenty20 competition" made up of "newly created teams".
One chief executive whose County plays at a "non-international ground” and who would therefore miss out on hosting games under the proposed new Twenty20 format, likened the idea to the Super 15 rugby tournament in the southern hemisphere, citing the marginalisation of the traditional domestic game in those countries as a reason for caution.
The ideas floated also include giving the ECB the new title 'Cricket England and Wales’, but how many of the recommendations in the new five-year plan for 2016-20 will be adopted is far from clear as the package is not likely to be formally presented to the counties until after the 2015 season ends in October. An ECB spokesperson is quoted as saying: “We are currently in the early stages of formulating a long-term strategy for the game in England and Wales which we anticipate will take a year to complete”. “This strategy will involve an extensive game-wide consultation and reflect the views of all our key stakeholders and major partners”.
Graves, who was elected unopposed this week as the ECB’s new chairman, a role he will formally take up in May, told Sky Sports of his "personal disappointment and sadness" that Harrison's document had been leaked. In a separate interview with ‘The Guardian’ he emphasised the ECB was at the beginning of an important process and the ‘blue-sky’ list of ideas "was just something where everyone has thrown into the pot and there’s nothing to read into it”. "We’re trying to do the right thing for what spectators want and the right thing for cricket [and] I’m prepared to put my head on the chopping block [for] we’ve got a massive opportunity to make a difference”, said Graves.
AUCKLAND UMPIRE SHOWS
THE WAY IN MELBOURNE
Auckland-based umpire Diana Venter became the first female to stand in a top-level Victorian Premier League match in Melbourne earlier this month, according to media reports from Melbourne several days ago. The South African-born, New Zealand resident visited Melbourne last month as part of the long-running umpire exchange program between Cricket Victoria and the Auckland Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, an arrangement that saw now International Cricket Council Elite Umpire Panel member ‘Billy’ Bowden the first exchangee in the 1990s.
Venter, 48, stood in three 'Country Week' matches featuring association representative teams from around Victoria, and a Monash-Greenvale Premier League fixture during her visit to Australia. She told a suburban newspaper that “in the beginning I didn’t realise how big a deal [standing at Premier League level] was” as “where I’m from, I’ve been doing the equivalent of Premier Cricket in Auckland for ten years”. She described herself as "very blessed, I had an amazing game and great players who played the game in good spirit”. “They were two great days and a highlight for me”.
Venter grew up playing cricket in the backyard with her brothers and cousins, and went on to be a national powerlifting champion in her weight category. As a young woman, if a player was late to the game, they’d “stick me down at fine leg and I’d cover the boundary”. She then went on to play, coach, then umpire the game in Finland, before moving to New Zealand in 2004. "I’m just another umpire on the field”. "I find I’m not treated better or worse than my male counterpart”, she says.
“Ninety-eight per cent of players behave slightly better and you get the small per cent who are ‘Mr Macho’ and feel they need to prove something”, said Venter. “Outside the boundary, there can still be old-school thinking [but] hopefully, one day, people are seen for the job they do, not the person they are". "The only difference between my male umpiring counterpart [and me] is that I sit to piddle”. The best thing about being an umpire she says is “I have one of the two best seats in the house, I’m right there with all the action going on around me”. "I get to see the best players, amazing talent and meet great characters I wouldn’t get the opportunity to meet otherwise”.
The mother of two teenage boys works in project management and has ambitions to one day join the official New Zealand and International Cricket Council panels. “If I could choose between that and the lottery, I’d choose umpiring”, she says, as “it would mean so much and be an achievement and a groundbreaking milestone for female umpires”.
‘PITCH-SIDING’ TICKET ‘CONTRACTUAL BREACH’,
BUT ‘NOT ILLEGAL’, SAYS NZ LAWYER
A university law expert has told the ’New Zealand Herald’ that police should not be leading the removal of ‘pitch-siders' from World Cup matches as the practice they are involved in is a contractual breach of their entry into games and not an illegal action. ‘Pitch-siding' involves people at matches relaying information about what is happening on the field to those outside the venue so they can take advantage of broadcasting time delays for betting purposes, an alleged activity that has led to a number of individuals removed from World Cup games overs the last few weeks (PTG 1526-7347, 21 February 2015).
Auckland University of Technology senior law lecturer Craig Dickson told the ‘Herald’ that while ‘pitch-siding' was a breach of the terms and conditions of World Cup tickets, it was not breaking New Zealand laws. "I'm not sure whether police should have a front foot role in this [for] they really shouldn't be the first line of enforcement for what is actually a civil, contractual breach”.
Dickson said the terms and conditions of the ticket clearly forbade pitch-siding, but it was not clear where police fitted into the situation as the International Cricket Council had engaged their own security staff for the tournament. He indicated that if security guards asked alleged pitch-siders to leave and they refused they would be trespassing, but this didn't appear to have been the case. If alleged pitch-siders had been taken for questioning by police it raised the question of what provision they were being questioned under and what law had been broken, he says.