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MAY 2016
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 25 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 9077-9212)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below 
 
1,816  1,817  1,818   1,819  1,820  1,821  1,822  1,823  1,824  1,825  1,826  1,827  1,828  1,829  1,830  1,831  1,832  1,833  1,834  1,835  1,836  1,837  1,838  1,839  1,840


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,816

  Sunday, 1 May 2016

 

• WICB has agreed to play day-night Test in UAE, says PCB [1816-9077]. 

• Dar denies knowledge of sons’ reported deception [1816-9078]. 

• DPL 'suspect action' count reaches seven [1816-9079]. 

• Somerset opener backs safer helmet directive [1816-9080]. 

• Investigation clears Worcestershire over match abandonment [1816-9081]. 

• ECB tells counties to stop match Twitter broadcasts [1816-9082]. 

• ECB receives tourists’ agreement for series points system [1816-9083]. 

Headline: WICB has agreed to play day-night Test in UAE, says PCB.

Article from: Press Trust of India .

Journalist: PTG Editor.                         

Published: Sunday, 1 May 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9077.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan says the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has agreed to play a day-night Test in the ‘home’ series scheduled for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) September-October.  Earlier this week the PCB said it hoped to host the West Indies in a day-night Test in October ahead of their pink-ball encounter in the same format with Australia in Brisbane two months later (PTG 1812-9060, 27 April 2016).  A report on Friday said the WICB was to consider the PCB’s day-night Test proposal at an executive committee during the current weekend.  Shaharyar told reporters in Lahore on Saturday that he hasn’t ”seen [the WICB’s] letter as yet but they have said yes to playing one day-night Test with the pink ball in the UAE”.

Headline: Dar denies knowledge of sons’ reported deception.

Article from: Media reports.

Journalist: PTG Editor.                         

Published: Saturday, 30 April 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9078.

Aleem Dar, Pakistani’s only current member of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel, has denied any knowledge of the background to a row involving one of Britain's oldest cricket clubs after his sons, but some reports, lied about being Scottish in order to play in league fixtures there.  The Kilmarnock Cricket Club was this week thrown out of the first division of the Western District Cricket Union in Scotland after it emerged that Ali and Hassan Dar, aged 18 and 16, had circumvented eligibility rules by falsely claiming to have been born in Glasgow (PTG 1814-9071, 29 April 2016).

The sons, who were registered under the pseudonyms Umer Mustafa and Saleh Mustafa, competed for Kilmarnock in a number of fixtures during the 2015 season, one of which - against Stenhousemuir in August - was watched by Dar himself.  Dar was quoted by ‘Cricinfo’ as confirming he and his wife watched their sons play in what the umpire thought was “a friendly game”, and he "didn't know [his] sons were playing with different names”.  Dar travelled to Scotland to watch that match after the early finish in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston left him with a free weekend. 

Dar added that his "sons are too young to tamper with their personal details. Both have Pakistani passports and they are proud to be Pakistanis. We have no doubt about that at any level. This entire story seems to be some kind of misunderstanding”.  Dar, who is presently in Lahore, said the fault for the controversy lay with the club officials. "They should enquire as to just what happened”, he said, ”if the club was relegated then that happened for a good reason”.  “[My sons] did play league matches there, but they played many friendly games as well”.

Headline: DPL 'suspect action' count reaches seven.

Article from: Dhaka Tribune.

Journalist: Mazhar Uddin.                         

Published: Saturday, 30 April 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9079.


A total of seven bowlers have now been reported as having suspect actions in the first two rounds of this year’s Dhaka Premier League (DPL) series.  Despite that all of them can continue to bowl in DPL matches as the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s proposed bowling action review committee has still not yet been formed (PTG 1808-9038, 23 April 2016).  Off-spinner Mustafizur Rahman of the Gazi Group side, who was first reported a week ago (PTG 1809-9043, 24 April 2016), was reported for the second time on Thursday.  On the same day in another match, Mohammedan Sporting Club’s left-arm spinners Naeem Islam Jr and Faisal Hossain were also reported for their actions during their game against Victoria Sporting Club.  

Headline: Somerset opener backs safer helmet directive.

Article from: Australian Associated Press.

Journalist: Not stated.                         

Published: Friday, 29 April 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9080.

Former Australian Test opener Chris Rogers, who is currently playing for Somerset, has applauded measures that take helmet choice out of the hands of players.  Last November, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) laid down tougher guidelines in regards to helmet standards and use in the county game (PTG 1698-8377, 28 November 2015), and more recently it stood up to several high-profile players who defied the change by using now non-compliant head gear they had previously worn (PTG 1806-9025, 21 April 2016).

Rogers, now 38, was saved from serious injury when the stem guard on his helmet protected him f during an Ashes Test last year (PTG 1596-7725, 20 July 2015), and is said to be more than helmet fitted with a stem guard whilst playing for Somerset.  He said it took just one or two days of net sessions to get used to the different model and insists safety standards cannot be compromised.  "They do all the testing and I know you can argue that batsmen want to have comfort and be able to see the ball well, but if there's a rule there it's to be followed as all the other rules are.  It's a tough one. Some guys feel comfortable in a certain helmet but I think the need to get the protection right is paramount”.

A report in Melbourne’s ‘Herald Sun’ news paper on Friday said that "after months of speculation over when it would be released”, Cricket Australia (CA) will make public the report they commissioned into the death of Phillip Hughes 18 months ago "within weeks” (PTG 1812-9059, 27 April 2016).  The report was delivered to CA before Christmas and is believed to contain a number of recommendations on safety standards and the compulsory use of helmets by batsmen, fielders and even coaching staff in the nets (PTG 1717-8513, 20 December 2015).  CA introduced new standards for helmets last year, requiring all Australian and State contracted players to wear a helmet compliant with their 'State Equipment and Apparel Regulations’, however, overall it has not gone as far as the ECB in formal directions issued to date.

Headline: Investigation clears Worcestershire over match abandonment.

Article from: BBC.

Journalist: Not stated.                         

Published: Saturday, 30 April 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9081.

Worcestershire have been cleared by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after an investigation into the abandonment of their opening four-day County Championship game against Kent at New Road earlier this month (PTG 1805-9021, 20 April 2016).  Interim chief executive Tom Scott said he was "delighted" with a Cricket Discipline Commission ruling of "no grounds for any further action”, however, commission chairman Gerard Elias QC did offer one note of caution, raising concerns about playing matches so early in April.

Elias has "invited the ECB to consider whether any further actions and/or safeguards were possible to seek to ensure that county grounds staging matches in April were more likely to be able to do so satisfactorily”.  With a history of flooding throughout the year because of its proximity to the River Severn, New Road is more prone to being under water than most grounds.  The tenth of April start date for the four-day meeting with Kent was the second-earliest ever to a Championship season at New Road - the home game against Yorkshire in 2012 having begun two days earlier.

The loss of the Kent game was the first time Worcestershire's opening fixture of the season has been totally washed out in over a century, although the early May meeting with Bill Lawry's 1968 Australian tour team also failed to get under way.  But it also awakened unfortunate memories of a more recent abandonment, coincidentally also against Kent, following the great flood of June 2007.  A further downpour also caused the abandonment of the following month's game against Lancashire before the county rerouted to Chester Road, Kidderminster for the remainder of that season's four-day fixtures.

Elias found there was no evidence that the pitch itself was unfit, or that Worcestershire had, by the action or wilful inaction of its groundstaff, done anything which adversely impacted upon the possibility of play.  He was satisfied that reasonable decisions and actions had been taken by the club in the light of the condition of the playing area in the period leading up to the match and weather conditions that prevailed. In the 24 hours before the commencement of the match, when the home team practised on the whole of the square and playing area, Worcestershire reasonably believed that the ground would be fit for the match the following day.

Scott said "We were as disappointed as anyone that the elements conspired. It was not what we desired from a playing point of view and financially. We also have sympathy with supporters from both sides who may have travelled considerable distances and spent substantial funds and were frustrated by events.  But the fact of the matter is that on the Friday before the game the outfield was perfectly playable and the players were also able to practise on the Saturday. That we then had substantial amounts of rain over two of the next three days is nothing we had no control over".

Headline: ECB tells counties to stop match Twitter broadcasts.

Article from: London Daily Telegraph.

Journalist: Nick Hoult.                         

Published: Saturday, 30 April 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9082.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has told the counties to stop broadcasting championship action on twitter to avoid a clash with 'Sky Sports'.  Several counties have been circulating footage of championship action on their social media pages and Nottinghamshire even streamed a match live on their club website when they played Surrey at the start of the season, although that is permitted under the ECB deal with ‘Sky'.

Many clubs see twitter as a vital way of marketing the county championship which struggles to attract crowds and has proved popular.  But the ECB this week emailed all the counties reminding them they are not allowed to stream “as live” content on-line because it contravenes their exclusive broadcast deal with 'Sky Sports' which is in place until 2019.  Talks are on-going with ‘Sky' to try and hammer out a deal which will allow the counties more freedom to show county action on-line but until then they have asked the clubs to stop breaking the contract.

An email from Rob Calder, the ECB’s head of marketing, was sent to county chief executives this week outlining the rules agreed with ‘Sky', which will show its first county action of the summer next week when it screens live coverage of the match between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire at Trent Bridge from Saturday.  Under the current deal counties are allowed to show highlights lasting five minutes recorded from two fixed cameras at either end of the ground. If ‘Sky' are covering that match counties are not allowed to screen highlights until 12 noon the following day. If ‘Sky' are covering a different match a county is allowed to put highlights of their game up on-line an hour after play.  But sharing on social media is not allowed until Sky and the ECB come to a compromise although counties sources say they will defy the ban.  

Meanwhile, the ECB has formed a working party under vice-chairman Ian Lovatt to help save Durham from financial problems.  The panel will meet to discuss a bail out for Durham who have run up losses of £500,000 ($A960,320) for the last six years.   “Durham is a vital strategic location in the north east and we have to make sure cricket is preserved in the area but at the same time it is a balancing act”, said an ECB source. “We do not want to be seeing clubs not sorting out their affairs and thinking it doesn’t matter because the ECB will sort us out”.

Headline: ECB receives tourists’ agreement for series points system.

Article from: London Daily Telegraph.

Journalist: Nick Hoult.                         

Published: Saturday, 30 April 2016.   

PTG listing: 1816-9083.

England will copy the format of last year's women’s Ashes series with points awarded for winning a Test, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals when they play Sri Lanka and Pakistan this northern summer (PTG 1803-9009, 17 April 2016). In a first for mens’ international series, the points will be added up and the tally will decided the overall winner.  It is the first step in trying to give bilateral tours more relevance and keep interest alive over a long summer.  The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) hope the format will prove popular with supporters and are currently talking to potential sponsors.  Details are still to be decided but teams will could receive three points for a Test match victory and two for a win in white ball cricket. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,817

  Monday, 2 May 2016

 

• PCB ‘will not tolerate’ player indiscipline, claims chairman [1817-9084]. 

• Pakistan’s domestic cricket needs a serious revamp [1817-9085]. 

• Leagues headed to court over exclusion of teams [1817-9086]. 

• Warner shows concern about on-field standards [1817-9087]. 

Headline: PCB ‘will not tolerate’ player indiscipline, claims chairman.

Article from: The Nation.

Journalist: Not stated.                         

Published: Sunday, 1 May 2016.   

PTG listing: 1817-9084.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan has dismissed the impression that the cricket authorities are soft on the players who commit acts of indiscipline or breach their central contracts.  The PCB has come under fire in recent days for its handling of some cases of indiscipline during this year's Pakistan Cricket Cup series in Faisalabad, but its chairman told journalists in Lahore on Saturday that his board "has a clear cut policy on dealing with such cases and no exceptions are made”.  The incident involving former captain Younus Khan has attracted the most criticism of late (PTG 1814-9072, 29 April 2016).

Shaharyar said "Younus Khan is a very senior player and he realised his mistake and apologised to the board.  And when a senior player like Younus apologises in response to a ‘show cause’ notice, you have to handle the case accordingly”.  “The good thing is that if someone like Younus can admit and regret his mistake, it is an example for other players as well”.

The PCB chairman’s comments were made soon after news broke that Zafar Mahmood, a senior member of the PCB’s board of governors, has lashed out at the board for its policies and governance and what he said was their lack of transparency in decision making.  In a letter sent to his chairman, Zafar said that he was disappointed at the manner in which Inzamam-ul-Haq was named chief selector without consulting the board and also took the chairman to task for "extravagant spending by the board".  Shaharyar countered by saying every board member had a right to raise issues and that when the board of governors meet on Tuesday "all the issues would be discussed”.

Headline: Pakistan’s domestic cricket needs a serious revamp.

Article from: The International News.

Journalist: Khalid Hussain.                         

Published: Sunday, 1 May 2016.   

PTG listing: 1817-9085.

Younis Khan’s controversial decision to walk away from the Pakistan Cup in Faisalabad last week drew strong criticism from various quarters and rightly so. Later, Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) erratic behavior as it first snubbed Younis despite his apologetic stance and later embraced the former Test captain after making a u-turn, also drew flak from the critics and not without reason (PTG 1814-9072, 29 April 2016).  But perhaps something more important got lost somewhere between Younis’s trigger-happy nature and the confused minds at the helm of Pakistan cricket. 

Though unfortunate, the Younis Khan incident provided Pakistan’s cricket fraternity an opportunity to carry out close scrutiny of sub-standard umpiring that mars domestic competitions including our premier first-class tournaments.  Younis is not the first player to complain about it and he won’t certainly be the last. Time and again, one gets to hear stories of awful and sometimes biased umpiring at the domestic level. What I have seen and heard about the Younis incident, it is clear that poor umpiring did play its role in triggering the controversy in the first place.

I’m not suggesting that Younis was right in deserting his team after getting a raw deal from the umpires. As a senior player who has been representing Pakistan for years, he should have known that there are other, more acceptable ways to lodge your protest than packing your bags and flying out mid way during a major national tournament. He was captaining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and having made a false start, his team needed their skipper. In the absence of Younis, the team did bounce back under the captaincy of Ahmed Shehzad to qualify for the final but that’s beside the point. The point is that Younis chose to walk away when his team needed him most and that’s something which has only added to his unpredictable personality.

His decision to withdraw from the Pakistan Cup was very much a disservice to his team but Younis has managed to highlight a very disturbing element that has ruined our domestic cricket for too long. You just can’t have a high quality cricket tournament without adding the element of decent umpiring to it. Nobody is asking for flawless umpiring because that’s next to impossible but even decent umpiring would do. That’s where the umpire is mostly right and shows no bias to any particular team or player.

However, more often than not you get to see umpiring howlers even at the leading first-class tournaments. I’m talking about the events which are televised live. Can you imagine what sort of umpiring goes on the numerous domestic tournaments that are not covered on TV?

So who’s going to put a stop to such malpractices? It’s primarily the Board’s job at least for the tournaments that it organises.  It’s important that the PCB starts dealing with the issue of umpiring on a priority basis because you cannot improve the standard of your domestic games without doing that.  The problem is that umpiring is just one of the many ills that dog domestic cricket in Pakistan. The infra-structure needs improvement, the pitches need to be upgraded and the list goes on.

What the Board must do is revamp our domestic structure. It certainly is a sweeping demand. Revamping our domestic cricket is going to be a gigantic exercise that will require time, money and above all the will to do it.  Over the years, one board chairman after another has promised to fix domestic cricket but there was seldom any follow through. Many of them did try but were either incapable or unwilling to go for such a long-term goal.

Sometimes I don’t blame them. After all, we are not a people that think long term. We like to do things that can help us reap instant rewards. Even if a PCB set-up starts taking long-term steps to improve our cricket will many of us have the patience to wait for five or maybe ten years to see full results? Or will a new set-up that will succeed the previous one show any belief in continuity?  But most of the time I do blame them. After all, isn’t that the reason why they are the there in the first place? What do they think is their job, the job of the PCB chiefs? Isn’t it the promotion and development of cricket in the country? You can’t develop cricket in Pakistan unless you develop our domestic structure.

Headline: Leagues headed to court over exclusion of teams.

Article from: The Detroit News.

Journalist: Mike Martindale.                         

Published: Sunday, 1 May 2016.   

PTG listing: 1817-9086.

Two cricket groups in metropolitan Detroit are about to face off in the Oakland Circuit Court over the exclusion of two teams from the Detroit Cricket League’s (DCL) 2016 competition when it begins next month.  The Troy Cricket Association (TCA) has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against the Oakland-based DCL for excluding two of its teams from the league, and TRO’s attorney Jeffery Maynard says unless the reasons for the exclusion are provided they plan to go to court next Wednesday.

The Oakland Circuit complaint says two TCA teams, the Stallions and the Beavers, each paid $US200 ($A265, £UK137) fees to join the DCL, a competition that consists of some 32 teams in southeast Michigan.  But shortly after the payment, the TCA was advised, apparently without any explanation, that the two teams had been dismissed from the DCL.  “There is nothing in the league rules or bylaws that permits this”, said Maynard. “We feel they should be permitted to play this season and if the league decides to rewrite the rules, then they can”.

A.J. Gollpalli, the founder of the Michigan Premiere Cricket League (MPCL) who also operates the two TCA teams, said he believes the conflict “shows cricket is becoming more popular” in metropolitan Detroit.  “For some reason we are seen as a threat, but we aren’t”, said Gollpalli who is "hoping something can be worked out”.  Maynard concurred about the perception of a "threat for playing fields and attention”, but stressed as the MPCL group is "careful not to seek the same time or the same playing fields there is no conflict”.  

Maynard stressed the MPCL series is a different form of the sport in that it uses a normal cricket ball than the softball-type used by the DCL.  Attempts to obtain comment on the matter from DCL officials were unsuccessful.

Headline: Warner shows concern about on-field standards.

Article from: CA web site report.

Journalist: PTG Editor.                         

Published: Sunday, 1 May 2016.   

PTG listing: 1817-9087.

Australian vice captain David Warner, who is currently working as the captain of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise has, according to an article posted on Cricket Australia’s news web site, condemned the celebration performed by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) overseas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi after he dismissed Warner in an IPL match played in Hyderabad on Saturday.  

After Warner was caught at long-off, Shamsi sprinted to deep cover and started performing a dance routine with his captain Virat Kohli.  In a story written by Sam Ferris the Australian, who has not always shown concern about issues related to respecting opponents on the field of play, is said to have told reporters afterwards the kind of behaviour displayed by the RCB players would not be tolerated under his watch as captain. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,818

  Tuesday, 3 May 2016

 

• India to legislate against match-fixing this time? [1818-9088]. 

• Richards speaks in favour of Adelaide day-night Test [1818-9089]. 

• Throw-in strikes fielder, leads to hospital stay [1818-9090]. 

• More work needed on pink ball, says Voges [1818-9091]. 

• Images suggest ’Super Hero’ shield evolving [1818-9092]. 

• Funding boost for Eastern Province umpires [1818-9093]. 

• Jadeja reprimanded for show of dissent [1818-9094]. 

• Team mates engage in ‘unseemly’ on-field incident [1818-9095]. 

• Naming of Kashmiri teams after militants causes concern [1818-9096]. 

• Wedding ceremony stops play [1818-9097]. 

India to legislate against match-fixing this time?

Media reports

PTG Editor.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9088.

Anurag Thakur, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and a politician in India’s lower house of parliament, has lodged a private member’s Bill which proposes a ten-year jail term for any sportsperson who indulges in match-fixing.  The proposed legislation, which is titled the 'National Sports Ethics Commission' bill, a document that has been discussed on and off by Indian politicians over the three years since the Indian Premier League 2013 spot-fixing scandal surfaced, also proposes the setting up of a national sports ethics body.  

Thakur says the Bill aims at “bringing accountability” to sport in India which has seen offences committed by "multiple players” from a range of sports.  In his view: "It is only fair to bring in accountability to sports lovers [for] there is [currently] no law [in India directed at] curbing match-fixing, [and] it is absolutely mandatory [we have one to] combat the menace”.  In addition to ten years jail, the Bill also contains a provision that allows a fine of five times the bribe amount in match-fixing cases levied against anyone found guilty of such offences.

The Bill’s main objective is, says Thakur: "to establish a national sports ethics body to ensure ethical practices in sports as well as strive towards the elimination of doping practices, match fixing and fair play, fraud of age, gender and sexual harassment of women in sports”.  The 'National Sports Ethics Commission', which is proposed by the bill, would consist of judges as well as "eminent sports personalities”.

It is not clear just why Thakur has brought the legislation forward as a private member’s Bill (PMB) and not via one submitted by a government minister. In West Minister-type parliaments, PMB’s generally attract less time for discussion on the floor of parliament and only a small percentage of those actually make it into Law.  Soon after the IPL scandal broke three years ago, the then Indian government, which has since lost a general election, announced plans to enact appropriate legislation that targeted match-fixing issues and appears to have done some work on the matter but with no concrete results. 

The then Indian government’s Law minister Kapil Sibal indicated a few weeks after discrepancies in IPL activities made headlines, that he planned to enact legislation “as soon as possible” to deal with "unfair practices" in sport (PTG 1111-5405, 27 May 2013).  Sibal said at the time the new legislation would deal with "dishonest practices” and would "not apply to cricket alone but to all sports in which unfair practices are being used to change the outcome or course of a game”.   Three months later, former India skipper Rahul Dravid, who that year captained the IPL’s Rajasthan franchise, called for fixing offences to be made a criminal offence in India (PTG 1164-5633, 8 August 2013).

In March 2014, the Indian government was reported to have sought advice from International Olympic Committee (IOC) in order to fine tune its proposed "comprehensive legislation" to prevent "match and spot fixing” (PTG 1303-6295, 3 March 2014), then two months later another report suggested that “along with others” the then BCCI board had been "aggressively opposing that Bill (PTG 1355-6541, 17 May 2014).  By that time the then proposed Bill had been released by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for public perusal, however, that initiative went no where for soon after that the government changed hand in India's 2014 general election.

In mid-2015 Mukul Mudgal, a former chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and the head of the Indian Supreme Court-appointed panel that investigated the IPL scandal, said it was time India’s 'Prevention of Sports Fraud Bill’ was passed by parliament (PTG 1595-7715, 19 July 2015). Just how close Thankur’s draft Bill is to that developed by the previous government is not known at this stage.

Richards speaks in favour of Adelaide day-night Test.

Australian Associated Press.                 

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9089.

Former South African player Barry Richards has called on his country to embrace the proposed Adelaide day-night Test against Australia this summer.  Current South African players are still yet to commit to the match, arguing a lack of experience against the pink ball, and their Australian counterparts also have their own concerns (PTG 1815-9075, 30 April 2016 and 1818-9091 below), but speaking on radio in Melbourne on Sunday Richards said it is imperative they agree to play the Test.

Richards, who was part of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee with countryman Shaun Pollack for a number of years, said he had taken a number of pink balls back to his homeland for authorities to look at.  He was part of World Series Cricket which introduced the white ball in the 1970's, and believes current players must keep an open mind on day-night Tests if they wished to keep the traditional format alive.  “[Test cricket] is important for the country. If you do well, everyone takes notice”, said Richards.  "We've got to preserve it and one of the ways of doing that is getting a lot of people along when they can come”.

In Richard’s assessment the Proteas will eventually come to the table with a little assistance.  "I think if you guys [Cricket Australia] put a million dollars on the table, it might turn the pink ball into a red one”.  "I don't think it's off the table, it's certainly under discussion and, hopefully, they will come to the party in the end” (PTG 1804-9012, 19 April 2016).

Throw-in strikes fielder, leads to hospital stay.

PTG Editor

Media reports.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9090.

Middlesex captain and Australian Test batsman Adam Voges, who suffered a suspected concussion at the Rose Bowl after being hit on back of the head by a throw while fielding against Hampshire on Sunday, was released from hospital on Monday and will not any take further part in the game.  After receiving lengthy treatment on-field, Voges was later taken to hospital after a ball thrown from the outfield by substitute fielder Ollie Rayner was missed by wicketkeeper John Simpson and went on to strike Voges.

The Australian was felled by the blow and got to his feet again very slowly and was clearly still disorientated afterwards.  Angus Fraser, Middlesex's managing director of cricket said Voges "wasn’t feeling very well in the dressing room so we said ‘let’s get him to hospital to be checked over’.  Fraser called it "a freak injury, as such, but when you see a cricket ball thrown around the field as much as you do, you wonder why it doesn’t happen more often. They’re hard things, cricket balls, and you’re not always watching”.

Last year the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) introduced new guidelines for dealing with concussion injuries at the same time as it made the use of helmets mandatory for batsmen and close fielders within eight yards of the bat on the leg side (PTG 1698-8377, 28 November 2015). Also under the new rules any player suffering from concussion is immediately withdrawn from his current match and faces a minimum of six days out of action, but it could be longer depending on how quickly each individual passes the ECB’s staged recovery plan. 

Voges is the third Middlesex batsman to suffer a head injury in less than a year. Last summer Eoin Morgan’s season was ended when he was hit by a bouncer in a One Day International against Australia at Old Trafford (PTG 1649-8070, 22 September 2015), and Chris Rogers collapsed at the crease during a Test match at Lord’s after suffering delayed concussion following a blow in the first innings against England (PTG 1605-7790, 29 July 2015).  Last week Rogers backed the new ECB safety approved helmet with a fixed grille that caused controversy when Alastair Cook refused to wear it in the opening round of the championship season (PYH 1816-9080, 1 May 2016).

More work needed on pink ball, says Voges.

Alison Mitchell.

Fairfax Media.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9091.

Australian Test batsman Adam Voges has again voiced his doubts over the quality of the pink ball as Cricket Australia (CA) continue to push for a second day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval.  A floodlit Test against Pakistan at the ‘Gabba’ in Brisbane is confirmed for December but CA is yet to convince South Africa to play under lights in Adelaide when they tour in November (PTG 1818-9089 above). On Friday the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association Alistair Nicholson released a statement stressing that the voices of the Australian players must also be heard.

While Australian captain Steve Smith has said his team would be happy to play South Africa under lights if their opponents agreed, Voges believes more work needs to be done on the ball before floodlit Tests are taken forward.  The 36-year-old played alongside Smith in the inaugural day-night Test against New Zealand last year, which finished inside three days. He accepts players must take a role in developing the game but he was sceptical about the suitability of the pink ball in the lead-up to the first ever floodlit Test (PTG 1669-8178, 24 October 2015).

Voges outlined his thoughts in a BBC interview aired before he was struck on the head and hospitalised during the current match against Hampshire (PTG 1818-9090 above).  He said: "The [current pink] ball doesn't behave as a red ball does just yet, so I still think there's work to be done there. But we had 120,000 come through the gates of the Adelaide Oval in a three day Test match, which was incredible really.  The appetite is there for day-night Test cricket. As players we have a responsibility to keep help trying to grow the game. Like I said though, I'd still like to see the ball get better”.

Voges pointed to the fact that "they kept a lot of grass on the [pitch]” in Adelaide. "That was purely because they felt they needed to do that so the ball didn't deteriorate too much and become less of a spectacle. Maybe it went too far because the game was over in less than three days. But as a spectacle people loved it.  So it's finding that balance so that we get the ball right and we can have wickets that allow a four or five-day Test match that people still want to come and watch.  If it keeps people coming to Test cricket then it has to be a way forward”.

Last year CA enticed New Zealand to play under lights by offering a $1 million (£UK520,000) prize pot which was split 60-40 between the winner and loser. Further discussions are due to take place between CA and Cricket South Africa regarding the Adelaide Test but nothing is expected to be resolved until after the Indian Premier League has finished (PTG 1804-9012, 19 April 2016).

Images suggest ’Super Hero’ shield evolving.

PTG Editor

Media images.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9092.

A new image available on-line provides a more detailed look at the protective arm guard, that some have dubbed the ’Super Hero’ shield, Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford has introduced into the game over the last two months.  The image below provides a better view of the guard Oxenford debuted in a World Twenty20 Championship (WT20C) warm-up match in Kolkata in mid-March than the one provided in ‘PTG’ at the time (PTG 1781-8895, 14 March 2016), and both it and a photo taken six weeks later suggests modifications have been made to the original device in the intervening period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The WT20C match image above, and the one that accompanied the ‘PTG’ article about Oxenford wearing the guard in an Indian Premier League (IPL) last week (PTG 1810-9048, 25 April 2016), suggest development of the shield may have moved on a little.  The ‘paddle’ section of the guard shown in the mid-April image above does not appear to have segments cut out that are visible in the IPL game photograph.  The IPL image suggests the latest guard is made of a hard translucent fibre-plastic material, while the cut out sections have possibly been introduced in an attempt to reduce weight. 

To date, no in-depth stories about the shield, including just who is behind its development and constructing the device, what it is like to wear on-field, or what the current plans are for it in the future, have made it into the public domain.  When asked about the device last month, the International Cricket Council told ‘PTG’ it had not provided the shield to Oxenford for the WT20C series and he "was trying [it] out on his own [initiative]”, and as such it was “a personal trial” (PTG 1800-8993, 13 April 2016).  

Funding boost for Eastern Province umpires.

Port Elizabeth now.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9093.

South Africa’s Eastern Province Umpires Association (EPUA) has received a “much needed” funding boost that it hopes will help it "grow and sustain” the number of umpires it has available to stand in top level club matches throughout the region around Port Elizabeth.  In announcing the new arrangement Jesse Chellan, the EPUA’s chief executive, who did not mention the amount involved, thanked sponsor Metro Security "for coming on board” to assist with the association’s work.  

Jadeja reprimanded for show of dissent.

PTG Editor.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9094.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, a member of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Gujarat Lions franchise, has been reprimanded by match referee Manu Nayyar for showing dissent at the umpire’s decision during a Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Kings XI Punjab in Rajkot on Sunday.  While the IPL did not say so, it would appear his reaction after being judged by umpire Virender Sharma to have been caught behind was involved, match reports saying Jadeja looked “bewildered” at the decision.  The IPL said in a statement that Jadeja admitted to what was a Level One offence and accepted the sanction.  Under IPL Code of Conduct regulations the match referee’s decision is final and binding in regards to Level One offences.

Team mates engage in ‘unseemly’ on-field incident.

Sportsskeeda.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9095.

Controversy has always been fodder for the popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and the most sensational sort of controversy was seen during Sunday’s IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) – a difference of views between two teammates.  As RPS batted first and raced to a quick start, the pressure in the Mumbai camp was starting to tell, and it resulted in an ugly confrontation between two of their senior players, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu.

The unseemly incident happened in the 11th over, the second being bowled by Harbhajan, when the fourth delivery was hit between deep midwicket and long-on. Tim Southee ran in from long-on and Ambati Rayudu from cow corner. Both fielders and the ball reached the boundary ropes at almost the exact same time, leading to confusion. Rayudu was the more enthusiastic of the two fielders and dived in to stop the four, but the ball bobbed up after touching his hands and went over the boundary.

Harbhajan, who until then had not conceded a single boundary in his spell, was livid. He gestured with his hands to Rayudu, and emitted a loud yell, evidently in uncharitable language. It looked as if he was disgusted with Rayudu’s attempt to stop the ball.  Harbhajan seemed to calm down quickly however, as he realised that he had probably gone too far and that he had the responsibility of being the more senior player. 

But Rayudu charged in from the boundary ropes to have a talk with Harbhajan  clearly of the view that the bowler’s reaction had been unwarranted.  As the two players reached each other, Harbhajan tried to console Rayudu by putting both of his hands in the fielder’s shoulders in an attempt to calm him down. Rayudu was having none of it though for he shrugged off the reconciliatory gesture, extricated himself from the grasp, and told Harbhajan to go back to his job.  There was a reconciliation of soughts in the very next over though when the two team members came together to celebrate a wicket.

Naming of Kashmiri teams after militants causes concern.

State Times.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9096.

Sympathisers of militants operating in the Kashmir Valley of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, have named teams participating in tournaments played in the region after them, a trend security officials say should be nipped in the bud to avoid “huge problems”.  A tournament recently played in the Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama District, had teams named for militants such as the Aabid Khan Qalandars, Khalid Aryans and Burhan Lions.  Burhan has emerged as one of the most wanted commanders of the Hizbul Mujahideen over the past year, while Khalid his brother was killed in a security forces’ operation.

Many sports events in different parts of Kashmir over the last two decades have seen teams named after slain militants and separatist leaders, however, this time the security forces seem to be concerned over the latest move. “If this practice is not stopped now it could create a huge problem in coming months and years. The psyche of impressionable minds could be influenced”, a security official said.  

The official went on to say that before the onset of militancy in the region, a football club was formed in the memory of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat following his hanging in Tihar Jail in 1984.  “This club would take part in tournaments within and outside Kashmir and seemingly there was nothing wrong with it.  However, when militancy erupted several players joined rebel ranks”, said the security officer.

Wedding ceremony stops play.

PTG Editor.                         

Monday, 2 May 2016.   

PTG 1818-9097.

A match being played in the Philadelphia Cricket Festival series at the presitigious and private Germantown Cricket Club (GCC) had to be halted for 25 minutes on Saturday in order that a wedding ceremony could be performed under trees on the sidelines of the ground. Established in 1854, the GCC is these days much more that just a cricket club, having a range of mansion-like buildings for its members, most of whom play tennis, the cricket ground normally being the site of multiple courts for that game, as well as extensive catering facilities for a range of functions. 

Umpires John Moore and Klaus Bondar were advised before Saturday's game began it was likely play in what was a Twenty20 match would have to be stopped during the afternoon.  The first innings had been completed and the second innings was at the 7.2 over mark when GCC operations personnel, concerned that balls hit during play could interrupt the wedding ceremony, ordered a halt to the match.  As a result both players and umpires retired to the sidelines for 25 minutes while the wedding ceremony was underway.  There was some confusion on the restart though as to just how many overs had actually been delivered in the innings, but after some discussion it was agreed that 7.2, not 6.2 overs had been bowled before the wedding intervened.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,819

  Wednesday, 4 May 2016

 

• New helmet doesn’t stop Cook cranking out centuries [1819-9098]. 

• CA Hughes report recommends ‘compulsory’ helmet use [1819-9099]. 

• Umpire used ECB training to assist felled player [1819-9100]. 

• EUP members again playing key role in IPL season [1819-9101]. 

• Windies umpire exchangee given County Championship fixtures [1819-9102]. 

• BCB fines captain for dissent [1819-9103]. 

• Restraining order withdrawn after leagues meet to settle dispute [1819-9104]. 

New helmet doesn’t stop Cook cranking out centuries.

PTG Editor.                         

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9098.

England Test captain Alastair Cook made his third century in four matches this season in Essex’s first class match against Worcestershire, the last two coming after he switched to a helmet that meets the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new guidelines.   Cook and his former England team mate Jonathan Trott at first refused to move to up-graded helmets whose grilles are not adjustable, apparently because they were concerned about their ability to see the ball when wearing them (PTG 1803-9008, 17 April 2016), but were forced to do so by the ECB in a move that didn’t harm Trott’s run making ability either (PTG 1806-9025, 21 April 2016).   

Cook made 105 and 35 not out against Gloucestershire in the opening match of the English season three weeks ago, then failed in the first innings of the game against Sussex when he wore the up-graded helmet for the first time (PTG 1804-9013, 19 April 2016).  However, in the second innings of that fixture he scored 127 not out, again with the new helmet, then in the last week produced scores of 65 against Northamptonshire, and then 142 in the current match against Worcestershire on Monday.  The latter game is his last before the forthcoming Test series against Sri Lanka which is due to start at Headingley the week after next.  

CA Hughes report recommends ‘compulsory’ helmet use.

Peter Lalor.      

The Australian,                  

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9099.

David Curtain QC, the author of the Cricket Australia (CA) commissioned investigation into the Phillip Hughes tragedy, is understood to have made recommendations on mandatory helmet use for batsmen, close fielders and wicketkeepers in matches conducted under CA’s auspices, as well as in the nets.  At the moment it’s up to the players if they wear a helmet or not, however, CA introduced a new standard last year relating to the style and safety rating of any helmet they do choose to use (PTG 1658-8114, 7 October 2015).  The England and Wales Cricket Board made the use of helmets compulsory for batsmen and close fielders five months ago (PTG 1698-8377, 28 November 2015).

Umpire used ECB training to assist felled player.

Ivo Tennant

The Times                       

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9100.

Tim Robinson, along with all his fellow England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) umpires, was given instruction in first aid by the ECB before the start of the current season to enable him to cope with incidents such as Adam Voges being struck by a ball on the back of his head on Sunday (PTG 1818-9090, 3 May 2016). Hence he knew immediately to place the Middlesex captain in the recovery position and to ensure, while medical help was sought, that he did not swallow his tongue.

Voges spent three and a half hours in the accident and emergency department of a Southampton hospital after he was hit, eventually returning to his hotel with a splitting headache.  His length of wait for treatment raised concern over whether professional sportsmen should receive attention in hospital more quickly.  As well as missing the rest of Middlesex’s current game against Hampshire, Voges is unlikely to play against Nottinghamshire starting on Sunday. 

EUP members again playing key role in IPL season.

PTG Editor.                         

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9101.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has utilised the services of 28 match officials to manage games played in this year’s competition to date, Monday's fixture in Bangalore marking the half-way mark of the 60-match 2016 season.  Seven of those officials have been match referees, 16 either on-field or television umpires, and 5 whose role has been limited to fourth umpire duties.  Overall, 21 of the 28 are Indian nationals while the other 7 come from four other countries, Sri Lanka having three, Australia two, and South Africa and New Zealand one each.  Last year out of 26 match officials used across the total season 17 were Indians, 14 being umpires and 3 match referees (PTG 1557-7482, 29 May 2015).

Of the 30 referee spots to date, exactly half have gone to current or former members of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) top referees panel, and the other half to Indian first class match referees.  The ICC referees involved have been Javagal Srinath of India (7 games) and Sri Lankans Ranjan Madugalle (3), plus former ICC member Roshan Mahanama (5), while locals in addition to Srinath have been Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) referees Chinmay Sharma and Manu Nayyar (both 6), Sunil Chaturvedi (2) and Amit Sharma (1).

On-field umpiring spots have been shared between ICC Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) members and BCCI first class officials with the former, most of whom have only recently joined the IPL roster after rest at home following last month’s World Twenty20 Championship series, standing a total of 26 times, and the latter 34.  The EUP members utilised under IPL contracts have been Indian Sundarum Ravi with 8 on-field, 1 television spot and none as a fourth umpire (8-1-0), Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena (6-1-0), Chris Gaffaney from New Zealand (3-1-0), and South African Marais Erasmus and Australians Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker all 3-0-0.  

BCCI members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel taking part are Chettithody Shamshuddin who leads the way with 6-2-0, then comes CK Nandan 6-1-0, Anil Chaudhary 5-1-0 and Vineet Kulkarni 3-1-0.  Of other Indian first class umpires given matches, Virender Sharma has had 5-1-2, Nitin Menon 2-7-0, Anil Dandekar 2-4-0, Ammanabrole Kishore 2-3-0, Krishnamachari Bharatan 2-1-0, and Karumanaseri Ananthapadmanabhan 1-5-0.  Of that groups’ first class colleagues, Krishnamachari Bharatan has had one third umpire appointment in addition to fourth umpire roles (0-1-2), and the others to just fourth umpire spots, Abhijit Deshmukh’s record to date being 0-0-9, Navdeep Singh's 0-0-7, Yeshwant Barde 0-0-6 and Rohan Pandit 0-0-4.

Of the 28 officials, records show that 19 of them played first class cricket before taking up their current role, four of them, Dharmasena, Madugalle, Mahanama and Srinath at Test level, and Ananthapadmanabhan, Barde, Bharatan, Chaturvedi, Erasmus, Gaffaney, Kishore, Nandan, Nayyar, Oxenford, the three Sharmas, who do not appear to be related, Singh and Tucker, in national-level first class competitions.  Of the others Menon made it to List A level, while the playing careers of Chaudhary, Dandekar, Deshmukh, Kulkarni, Pandit, Ravi and Shamshuddin appear to have been at club level.  

While EUP members Dharmasena, Erasmus, Gaffaney, Oxenford, Ravi are plying their trade in the IPL, their English EUP colleagues Ian Gould,  Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong will continue to work at county level this month.  Kettleborough and Llong have three county first class games to look after and Llong and Illingworth each two, one of the latter’s being in the television spot.  Those appointments follow on from county games the English and Wales Cricket Board appointed them to last month (PTG 1797-8980, 10 April 2016).  

The ICC said when it expanded the EUP from 10 to 12 members in 2007, well before the IPL was dreamt of by the BCCI, that one of the aims was to have that panel’s members spend less time away from home and more time mentoring up-and-coming officials and working on their own skills in their own nation's domestic competitions (PTG 126-686, 1 November 2007).  

Windies exchangee given County Championship fixtures.

PTG Editor.                         

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9102.

Umpire appointments released by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the month of May show that Jamaica's Verdayne Smith, this year’s exchangee from the West Indies, is to stand in County Championship first class games during his May-June visit.  Those appointments represent a change in policy for it is the first time a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) umpire on exchange has stood at that level, the WICB’s previous seven umpires being limited to either second-tier first class games involving university sides, or county second XI fixtures (PTG 1556-7478, 27 May 2015). 

Smith, 38, is to start his visit by standing in two Championship games, the initial one a four-day game in Cardiff with ECB Full List member Rob Bailey in Glamorgan’s game against Essex which is due to start three Sundays from now.  The second is listed for Hove the week after when Sussex hosts Derbyshire, his partner then being Martin Saggers who was the ECB exchangee to the West Indies earlier this year (PTG 1749-8714, 29 January 2016).  Smith is expected to go on to stand in further matches in England in June, however, as yet details of his appointments then have not been released. 

Since making his first class debut in February 2013 in Barbados, Smith has gone on to stand in 15 such matches at eight grounds around the Caribbean.  There have also been 7 List A games, 9 Twenty20s and two womens’ One Day Internationals.

The WICB-ECB exchange program got underway in 2009 with Peter Nero of Trinidad and Tobago travelling to England, followed by his countryman Joel Wilson in 2010, Gregory Braithwaite from Barbados in 2011, Nigel Duguid of Guyana in 2012, a second Barbadian Leslie Reifer in 2013, Jamaican Patrick Gustard in 2014, and a third Trinidad and Tobago umpire Zahid Bassarath in 2015.  Those who travelled to the Caribbean from England have been: Richard Kettleborough (2009), Bailey (2010), Richard Illingworth (2011), Michael Gough (2012), Nick Cook (2013), David Millns (2014), and Steve O’Shaughnessy (2015).

BCB fines captain for dissent.

Press release

PTG Editor.                         

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9103.

Brothers Union captain Tushar Imran has been fined after pleading guilty to a Level Two breach of the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) Code of Conduct during a Dhaka Premier League match against Abahani Limited on Saturday.  

The BCB says Imran was reported by on-field umpires Akhteruzzaman and Nadir Shah to have “Shown dissent at an umpire's decision”, however, it gave no further details of the incident involved.  Normally a Level Two charge involves conduct that "contains an element of anger or abuse which is directed at the umpire or the umpire’s decision, where there is excessive delay in resuming play or leaving the wicket or where there is persistent re- reference to the incident over time". 

The player admitted the offence and accepted the 20,000 Taka ($A330, £UK174) fine set by match referee Mir Belayet Hossain and as such there was no need for a formal hearing. 

Restraining order withdrawn after leagues meet to settle dispute.

Mike Martindale

The Detroit News                        

Tuesday, 3 May 2016.  

PTG 1819-9104.

It was a bit of a “sticky wicket,” as they say in cricket circles to describe unfavorable conditions, but it now appears two teams excluded from playing in the Detroit Cricket League (DCL) will now be able to do so.  The Troy Cricket Association (TCA) was prepared to go into Oakland Circuit Court this week for a temporary restraining order against the DCL for excluding two Troy teams from competing this month (PTG 1817-9086, 2 May 2016).

TCA lawyer Jeffrey Maynard said on Monday team captains from the association and the DCL had met to discussed concerns.  “They worked out a gentleman’s agreement and it was written out and signed”, said Maynard, who last week filed a complaint on behalf of the TCA.  A.J. Gollapalli, whose Stallions and the Beavers teams thought they would be idled this season said "a mutual agreement” had been reached and “we are looking forward to playing”. 

Maynard suspects there were hard feelings about Gollapalli founding his own Michigan Premiere League (MPL), which plays a different style of cricket, and concerns the respective leagues might end up competing for use of the Detroit area’s same playing fields.  “I don’t know all the particulars but there were some concerns about the league play and [Gollapalli’s] newly formed league. But there will be no crossover and no conflicts, [so] I’m satisfied enough to withdraw our complaint".

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,820

  Thursday, 5 May 2016

 

• Bengal to use club final as part of day-night Test bid [1820-9105]. 

• IPL skipper fined $A48,000 for slow over-rate offence [1820-9106]. 

• Proposed points system totally devalues Test cricket [1820-9107]. 

• Pakistan reaps $US2.6 m profit from Twenty20 league [1820-9108]. 

• Robo-ump will need his smart phone and new app! [1820-9109]. 

Bengal to use club final as part of day-night Test bid.

Press Trust of India

Wednesday, 4 May 2016 

PTG 1820-9105.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) are to experiment with a pink ball day-night final at Eden Gardens for the final of its first division club championship series, a move it hopes will put it "first among equals” in selection for a potential day-night Test later this year.   Last month the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) unilaterally announced plans for a home day-night Test against New Zealand when they tour in October-November, something that initially caught staff at New Zealand Cricket by surprise (PTG 1812-9061, 27 April 2016)

CAB joint secretary Avishek Dalmiya says and final will be played sometime in June and is CAB president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly’s idea.  He wants to check out how a pink ball day-night game shapes up before he can present his association’s case to the BCCI regarding the New Zealand Test.  Dalmiya described the local final as "a dress rehearsal” for any Tests played at Eden Gardens, as they "want to get feedback from the players during and after such game so that we can address any concerns they might have”.  

Normally the CAB’s top club final is a two-day affair with each team batting once, however, in his bid to improve the performance of Bengal’s first class side, Ganguly has suggested a separate eight-team ‘Super League’ which will involve longer matches to test the temperament of players.   As such the local final would be a four-day affair under floodlights using pink ‘Kookaburra’ balls.  

Dalmiya said it will "be interesting to see how the balance between the bat and the ball is maintained so that there is a proper contest, and we want to see how the pink ball fares under the lights”.  “After all”, he continued, "Eden Gardens is a historic venue, and we need to be fully prepared to take the leap forward and be ready to host such Tests before the commencement of the [2016-17] season”.

IPL skipper fined $A48,000 for slow over-rate offence.

CA web site

Wednesday, 4 May 2016 

PTG 1820-9106.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain Virat Kohli has been fined $A48,000 (£UK24,700) by the Indian Premier League (IPL) for maintaining a slow over rate for a second time.  Kohli's side failed to complete their overs in the allotted time in Monday's match against the Kolkata Knight Riders’  (KKR) franchise side in Bangalore, the second time this IPL season that has occurred, the first last month costing Kohli $A3,000 (£UK1,600) (PTG 1809-9046, 24 April 2016).

While Kohli copped the brunt of the punishment for Monday’s second offence, his teammates were also fined $A12,000 (£UK6,170), or 25 per cent of their match fee.   Should the RCB skipper be involved in a third IPL slow over rate offence this season he will be suspended for one match.  The IPL's regulations regarding slow over rates are different to those enforced in international matches. In the IPL, only a captain is sanctioned for a first offence in a season. A second offence by a captain during the same season results in a doubling of the skipper’s fine and each of his players fined a quarter of their match fee.

While Kohli was embroiled in the over-rate issue, his counterpart in the opposing side on Monday, KKR's Gautam Gambhir also had his troubles, being fined 15 per cent of his match fee for the "abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during a match".

Proposed points system totally devalues Test cricket.

Rob Smyth

The Guardian

Wednesday, 4 May 2016 

PTG 1820-9107.

Plans by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to have the results from Test, One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) matches over a bilateral series not only rewrites history but suggests white-ball victories are equal to winning a Test match, and that is simply not the case.  The ECB, which recently received support for the idea from Sri Lankan and Pakistani cricket authorities for their respective tours over the next three months, hopes the format will prove popular with supporters and are currently reported to be talking to potential sponsors (PTG 1810-9083, 1 May 2016).

The system was first trialled for the women’s Ashes in 2013, and involves merging all three forms of the game to decide one winner.  In that series six points were awarded for a victory in the single Test and two for wins in the game’s other formats (PTG 1104-5381, 16 May 2013), Current indications are that the forthcoming men’s tours will see four points awarded for a Test win and two for victories in One Day Internationals (ODI) or Twenty20 Internationals (T20I).  If that is so it is interesting to look at what would have happened in series in the past.

For example, England’s Ashes wins of 2009 and 2010-11 were among Andrew Strauss’s finest moments as England captain. At the time, anyway. In the future they may be perceived differently though for under the new points system apparently proposed by the ECB for bilateral series, England would have lost on both occasions.   All instinct and logic suggests the points system is an unnecessary evil for two main reasons: it’s a gimmick too far, and it devalues Test cricket.

Under the new system, England lost 16-10 to Australia in 2009 and 16-14 in 2010-11. What actually happened was that they won the Ashes each time and lost the subsequent ODI series by an aggregate of 6-1. England won just a solitary ODI, but nobody really gave a solitary one.  Should those scenarios happen again, both sides could claim victory. One of the charms of Test cricket is that you can play for four days and still not be certain who is winning, but having a 32-day series without a clear result at the end is probably pushing it.

There are other famous series that would have been similarly affected. Australia would not have dethroned West Indies in 1994-95, when they lost 12-10 – but they would have won by the same score four years earlier. Pakistan’s iconic summer of reverse-swing in 1992 would actually have been an England triumph. Oh, and England would have beaten Australia in 1997, when they won the ODI series 3-0 and lost the Tests 3-2: in new money, a 14-12 win and MBEs for everyone from Mark Ealham to Phil DeFreitas. 

The Ashes may not immediately be at stake under the new system – but they were in the women’s game, and it would be naive to think the wedge will not thicken. If they are not at stake, what is the point? If they are, do the winners across all formats lift the little urn, or just the winners of the Test series? Maybe we could modernise things and replace the urn with a gold hashtag.

The system is not even weighted correctly. Whether your metric is blood, sweat, tears, glory or days’ play, a Test victory is worth a lot more than two ODI wins. The original system gave them six points rather than four – but that almost ensures the team that wins the Test series will win the overall series. Which, at least qualitatively, is where we are at the moment.

The proposed system ties in with the rhetoric that ODIs and T20Is now have the same importance as Tests in England. A quick look at when England choose to rest players show that is undeniable hyperbole. Quite right too. It’s good that white-ball cricket is no longer an afterthought, but it should always be a secondary consideration after Test cricket. Having a points system for the two white-ball series is worth trialling, because they have clear common ground. But red- and white-ball cricket go together like bananas and bone-marrow gravy. 

There is a need to tweak Test cricket, and the first day-night Test was an uplifting triumph, but this feels like a try-hard contrivance from a country that has belatedly embraced limited-overs cricket. A couple of years ago, Kevin Pietersen said that talking to now England director of cricket Strauss about the Indian Premier League was like “explaining gangsta rap to a vicar”. Well now the vicar has discovered grime and he don’t care about your isms and schisms, grandad. 

In itself, the system is relatively harmless and will probably go into the actually fairly small bucket of cricket’s bad innovations, along with things like the Supersub and the aluminium bat. But it is another in a worrying list of compromises and, as the examples of 2009 and 2010-11 show, an obvious case of devaluing Test cricket. It is also indicative of a sport that is in danger of following society by catering for an assumed audience with an IQ of 25. Test cricket is supposed to be our sanctuary from the real world.

Let’s be clear on this: Test cricket is the greatest, most soulful sport format ever invented. A world without it is as unthinkable as a world without arthouse cinema or alternative music. The points system is only a minor act of cultural vandalism, but it will beget far greater ones.

Pakistan reaps $US2.6 m profit from Twenty20 league.

The Nation

Wednesday, 4 May 2016 

PTG 1820-9108.

Pakistani cricket officials announced on Tuesday that they made an overall profit of $US2.6 million ($A3,5 m, £UK1,8 m) from the country’s first ever Twenty20 league.  The five-team franchise-based event was held in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year in an attempt to boost Pakistan s cricket standards, which have been badly hit by the suspension of international tournaments due to terror-related issues.

Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman Najam Sethi described the profit as a welcome sign. He told a news conference: "Fortunately we had a $US2.6 million profit but since the franchises incurred some losses we decided to give $US2 million ($A2.7 m, £UK1.4 m) to them and reduced our profit to $US0.6 million ($A850,000, £UK414,000)".  He said around $US6 million ($A8 m, £UK4.1 m) was earned from television rights and gate money.

Sethi said a sixth team was likely to be added next year after negotiations.  He expressed the view that his country’s young cricketers would benefit from the PSL, just as the Indian Premier League had helped India, by allowing them to play alongside experienced international players.

Robo-ump will need his smart phone and new app!

Peter Hayter.

The Cricket Paper

Friday, 29 April 2016

PTG 1820-9109.

Assuming the reports in 'The Times’ last week weren’t part of a late April fool’s gag, if the inventor of 'Hawk-Eye' technology has his way, club cricket could soon be revolutionised by the introduction of “a cheap new sensor that can be attached to bats to detect the tiniest edge” (PTG 1807-9032, 22 April 2016).  For, £25 ($A48) a pop at most (but possibly less), the boffin who brought us the joys of the Umpire Decision Review System now wants to offer to club cricket the gift of certainty when it comes to even the faintest, featheriest of nicks, thus making the curse of non-walking a thing of the past.

The science is certainly not to be sniffed at. The new gizmo, which has produced impressive test results, has been developed by Paul Hawkins, the former county player who invented the ball-tracking system now used widely in world cricket and who says he is close to making it available for public use.

As well as detecting edges, the device can be fixed easily to a bat and linked to an app on the umpire’s smart phone attached to their white coats, with which they can also “record each ball using the phone’s camera, giving them access to instant replays and, in the case of LBW appeals, showing them where the ball had pitched and whether it would have hit the stumps”.  All well and good so long as the umpire in question possesses a smart phone, remembers to switch it on, and actually knows what an app is!  

I can see it now; in club houses all over the nation, the two hapless officials, browbeaten by the champions of progress into taking on the role of Robo-umps, making sure they have everything they need prior to the commencement of play.  Ball? Check. Bails? Check. Pebbles – six? Check. Flashlight to signal for Betty to stick the kettle on at tea-time and for Harry to fire up the boiler for the showers? Check. Smart phone? Check.  Oh, and did you check with the players that all that the sensors really are sensors because we don’t want a repeat of last week’s unpleasantness when that lad came out with a device the size of 1 p coin on his bat that actually was a 1 p coin?

And out in the middle, consider a few of the following scenarios, some, it has to be said, more likely than others; system unavailable due to match being played in poor reception area (Wally says he can get a signal if he stands on Ranjit’s shoulders in the next field but watch out for the randy bull), battery power below ten per cent, unpaid ‘phone bill, phone rings in mid-delivery (umpire’s girlfriend calling to remind him to pick up the chicken massala and onion bhajis on the way home), phone starts picking up short-wave radio from the station mini-cab firm, phone sets off pavilion burglar alarm, phone unintentionally reactivates missile guidance technology Hawkins thought he had deleted from the system which starts pre-emptive nuclear strike from local airbase.

Now I’m no Luddite. I enjoy a good decision review as much as the next man, as long as the next man is a member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but please, enough is enough.  Hawkins explains that his determination to proceed with this deepened following yet another personal experience of batsmen declining to depart the field of play when they know they’ve hit the cover off the ball. “We got him out soon afterwards, but it ruined my day”, he said, and we’ve all been there.  But I have another idea. From now on, everybody walks. Now that would be revolutionary.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,821

  Friday, 6 May 2016

 

• Flood of refugees leads to cricket boom in Germany [1821-9110]. 

• PCB rejects early return of banned umpire [1821-9111]. 

• Bangladesh mulling day-night first-class matches [1821-9112]. 

Flood of refugees leads to cricket boom in Germany.

Agence France Presse

Friday, 6 May 2016

PTG 1821-9110.

The influx of asylum seekers into Germany, especially those from Afghanistan and Pakistan, has created an unexpected boom for the sport in a country where football has long been king.  Of the 476,649 people who applied for asylum in Germany last year, 31,902 came from Afghanistan alone, with a further 8,472 from Pakistan, number that have seen the German Cricket Federation (DCB) flooded with a simple question: “Where can I play?”

The DCB’s chief executive officer, Brian Mantle, says they have been swamped by enquiries through their website to set up new clubs across the country, supply equipment and point new arrivals to their local team.   Mantle, who is based in the western city of Essen, runs the DCB with only a part-timer for assistance.

When the Englishman took over in 2012, there were around 1,500 cricketers in Germany playing in 70 teams. Now there are 4,000 registered cricketers playing in 205 teams and last week the DCB welcomed its 100th new club, from Bautzen near the Czech border. And the numbers keep growing.

Mantle said:  “We’ve been getting up to five enquiries per day from groups wanting to set up new clubs.  Often it’s from social workers, who had never even heard of cricket before groups of refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan started asking where they could play it.  They had been offered volleyball or football, but most just want to play cricket”.

Thanks to donations from existing German clubs of bats, balls and cricket clothing, including 35 boxes sent by the Lord’s Taverners the UK’s leading youth cricket charity, the DCB has recently sent out its 400th box of supplies to help new clubs.  But now there is nothing more to donate.  “That was the last box, we have run out. We’re desperately looking for sponsorship or funding”, added Mantle.

The biggest challenge facing any newly-formed group of cricket-playing refugees is to find a suitable ground, while a standard 22-yard-long artificial pitch costs up to 10,000 Euros ($A15,300, £UK7,870) to install.  As a temporary solution, the DCB has found a German supplier of coconut mats, costing 650 Euros each ($A990, £UK510), which, when laid on wooden boards, behave like a normal pitch.  The International Cricket Council has provided 15,000 Euros ($A22,900, £UK11,800) of extra funding to help the DCB meet the fresh demand over the 177,000 Euros ($A270,400, £UK134,000) in financing they give annually.

Mantle, 44, is excited about the future.  “The biggest problem is getting refugees to speak German, but this is a good way to integrate them through the sport they know”, said Mantle.  “At the moment, our national Under-19 team is half made up of Afghans, who have qualified here through residency and that number will grow.  It can only raise the playing standards here and in years to come, we could follow the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan, who are knocking on the door of Test-level cricket”.

PCB rejects early return of banned umpire.

Press Trust of India.

Thursday, 5 May 2016. 

PTG 1821-9111.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has rejected a proposal to allow former Test umpire Nadeem Ghauri to return six months early from his four-year ban so that he can take part in domestic tournaments next season (PTG 1810-1951, 25 April 2016).  Ghauri, 53, who played a Test and six One Day Internationals for Pakistan before starting his umpiring career, was handed his ban in October 2012 after the PCB's integrity committee found him guilty of being willing to accept money to give favourable umpiring decisions (PTG 1005-4884, 18 October 2012).

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had circulated a letter to all board members before the meeting, asking them whether they approved ending Ghauri's ban immediately.  The majority said that Ghauri should serve his full ban and only be allowed to return to umpiring in domestic cricket from October this year as he brought the image of Pakistan cricket into disrepute.  One member told the meeting: "No leniency should be shown to any umpire if he is found even remotely connected to unethical or corrupt practices”.

The board said that when Ghauri’s ban ends he will have to take part in an "anti-corruption crash course" before a final decision is taken to allow him to return to domestic cricket.  It was also decided that programs should be established to educate all umpires about the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption laws and regulations.

Bangladesh mulling day-night first-class matches.

Mohammad Isam.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016. 

PTG 1821-9112.

Bangladesh will prepare for day-night Test matches during their next domestic season, according to Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) chief executive. As such there are likely to be domestic first-class matches under lights included in the 2016-17 program.  A key driver of the move is a proposal the BCB received last November from New Zealand Cricket (NZC) about playing a day-night Test during Bangladesh’s tour there this December.

Chowdhury said the BCB is taking a similar path to the other cricket boards that are contemplating pink-ball cricket, saying "It is definitely part of our plan to play day-night Test matches.  From the information we have received so far, day-night Tests are more commercially viable. We have good crowd coming in for Test matches, but we believe there can be more if we take it to day-night matches. But we cannot say it with certainty. We will definitely be sitting with our players before anything is decided”.

Chowdhury added that if NZC ultimately decides to host the day-night Test in December, the BCB could start preparing for that game during the home season that usually begins in October.  It has been more than three years since the BCB hosted its first and only day-night first-class match - the final of the inaugural Bangladesh Cricket League (PTG 1065-5178, 23 February 2013).  

Taskin Ahmed, who played for Central Zone in that match, said he found it hard to grip the ball once it got softer.   "The problem which I faced personally was the pink ball gets very soft and it's hard to grip the seam when the ball gets older”, he said. "But I would like to play day-night Test match as it's something very exciting to play longer-version cricket under lights”.

Wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan, Taskin's team-mate in that game, said that he took some time to adjust to the pink ball, although it didn't take too long. "Personally, I was very excited to play with the pink ball”, Hasan said. "I think it's something different for us, playing four-day match under lights, though I had to adjust initially to the pink ball both as a wicket-keeper and also a batsman, but later it was normal”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,822

  Monday, 7 May 2016

 

• Hughes report to be released on Wednesday [1822-9113]. 

• Reifer appointed to IUP for 2016-17 [1822-9114]. 

• Ball throw leads to two weeks suspension [1822-9115]. 

Hughes report to be released on Wednesday.

Ben Horne

Sydney Daily Telegraph

Monday, 9 May 2016

PTG 1822-9113.

The independent report into the death of Phillip Hughes commissioned by Cricket Australia is to be handed down on Wednesday.  One of the key recommendations is expected to be making the wearing of helmets compulsory for batsmen, close-in fielders and net coaches (PTG 1819-9099, 4 May 2016); a common-sense move which would bring Australia into line with standards already adopted by English cricket (PTG 1698-8377, 28 November 2016).

There is expected to be a focus on clip-on stem guards, a relatively new piece of technology that protects the particular part of the neck where Hughes was struck at the Sydney Cricket Ground 18 months ago (PTG 1519-7313, 12 February 2015).  Several Australian batsmen have worn the stem-guards in the nets at training but precious few have been prepared to wear them in matches and then persevere (PTG 1595-7716, 19 July 2015).

Reifer appointed to IUP for 2016-17.

PTG Editor

Monday, 9 May 2016

PTG 1822-9114.

Leslie Reifer Jr, a member of the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) senior panel of umpires since 2013, has been appointed as a third umpire member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) according to Caribbean media reports.  From Barbados, Refer, who at 26 is the youngest ever IUP member, is said to have been notified of his appointment last week.  

Reifer’s elevation to a third umpire spot comes after the departure of Peter Nero from the IUP three months ago (PTG 1760-8777, 11 February 2016).  Joel Wilson is believed to have retained his on-field IUP spot, however, it not not yet clear which of the WICB’s two current IUP third umpire members, Gregory Braithwaite or Nigel Duguid, will step up into the on-field place vacated by Nero.  Appointments over the past year though suggest Braithwaite is the likely appointee.

Ball throw leads to two weeks suspension.

PTG Editor

Monday, 9 May 2016

PTG 1822-9115.

Kent seamer Matt Coles has been suspended for two weeks for throwing throwing a ball "at or near a player, umpire or official in an inappropriate and dangerous manner".  Coles, who was reported by umpires Nick Cook and Rob Bailey during Kent's match against Glamorgan for a Level Two breach of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s code of conduct, had previously accumulated nine penalty points for two previous infringements and is banned until Wednesday week, meaning he will miss games against Gloucestershire and Northants.

Glamorgan's Chris Cooke was also reported during the same match for a Level One breach of "abuse of cricket ground, equipment and/or fixtures and fittings”, and given a reprimand.  Meanwhile, England bowler Stuart Broad has been reprimanded over his behaviour while playing for Nottinghamshire against Yorkshire.  Broad was reported by umpires Richard Kettleborough, Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth for "showing dissent at an umpire's decision by word or action" during the County Championship Division One match at Trent Bridge.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,823

  Tuesday, 10 May 2016

 

• Four appointed to manage England-Lanka Tests [1823-9116]. 

• Lord’s Taverners’ award for Australian umpire [1823-9117]. 

• Players and umpires need to get along better [1823-9118]. 

• Computer to help identify potential World Cup players [1823-9119]. 

Four appointed to manage England-Lanka Tests.

PTG Editor

Monday, 9 May 2016

PTG 1823-9116.

Four match officials have been appointed to managed the three Test series England and Sri Lanka are to play over the next month.  Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe will oversee all three matches as the referee, while Aleem Dar of Pakistan, Sundarum Ravi of India and Rod Tucker of Australia, will share on-field and third umpire roles.

Dar and Tucker will be on-field in the opening game at Headingley starting tomorrow week with Ravi the television official, Dar and Ravi with Tucker the third for the second Test in Durham, and Ravi and Tucker plus Dar for the final match at Lord’s.  The series will take Dar’s Test record to 103 on-field and 17 as the television umpire (103/17), Tucker to 43/16 and Ravi to 12/12, while Pyrcoft’s Test record as a referee will move to 46.  

Over the last eight weeks, Ravi and Tucker have each officiated in a total of 22 Twenty20 format games in India during the World Twenty20 Championship and after that the current Indian Premier League (IPL) series.  They are expected to leave the IPL later this week and head to England for the Tests.

Lord’s Taverners’ award for Australian umpire.

PTG Editor

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

PTG 1823-9117.

Australian umpire Claire Polosak is to be presented with the New South Wales branch of the Lord’s Taverners inaugural ‘Umpire of the Year’ award at the organisation’s first ‘Celebration of Women in Cricket’ fund raising luncheon in Sydney on Friday week.  Polosak, 28, who last year was fast tracked on to Cricket Australia’s second-tier Development Panel and is currently the holder of an Australia sports official scholarship (PTG 1743-8671, 22 January 2016), was one of two females chosen to stand in this year’s women’s World Twenty20 Championship series in India (PTG 1779-8886, 11 March 2016).

Players and umpires need to get along better.

Scott Oliver.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 9 May 2016

PTG 1823-9118.

At least half the spinner's battle in league cricket is getting the umpires onside. Buttering them up, you might say. It's an art form, often starting with polite pre-match chit-chat, perhaps about, oh, I don't know, about the effect of the UDRS on umpiring and how it's showing ever more front-foot LBWs are out, before casually mentioning how "one or two of the weaker umpires" have "seemed to lack the courage" to give those decisions, an observation you allow to hang in the air before offering them a cup of tea. 

I'd like to think this is another way in which I as captain, are leading from the front: by setting a good example to my young charges regarding engagement with the match officials. As it happens, my league has issued a directive this season to clubs, requiring that umpires be paid promptly, that captains talk to them and generally make them feel welcome. 

This comes in the wake of concerns over declining on-field discipline in the recreational game. A handful of matches were abandoned last year due to outbreaks of violence. Behavioural codes have been tightened; categories of transgression and lists of sanctions issued, including red and yellow cards, with some leagues trialling them on a voluntary basis (PTG 1759-8772, 10 February 2016). 

Cricket doesn't take place in a vacuum, of course; it reflects the push and shove of wider social forces and attitudes. Look closely and the social contract is fraying. The reasons for this can be debated - Ken, who umpired us last week, thought it was a lack of corporal punishment at school - although the sense, confirmed by the 'Panama Papers', that the rich and poor are playing different games acts as a steady flame under people's frustrations. They come to vent those at the weekend, to transform them into runs and wickets, yet invariably find only more overheated botheration, frequently taking the form of a man in a white coat. Or so they think. 

Regardless of life's wider frustrations, cricket's “post-UDRS consciousness" has definitively changed clubbies' psychological relationship to the administration of justice, to the acceptance of that great finger from on high. You can sense it in the language, in the new ways of construing the game. A team-mate, recently adjudged LBW, was heard to answer the question, "Were you out? I mean, out out?" with "Probably umpire's call”. 

That was a fairly magnanimous response, yet the soul-piercing sense of injustice felt by the Saturday-to-Saturday cricketer when, to his mind, the innings over which he has daydreamed all week is unfairly sawn off remains as potent as ever. Last year I saw a new way of expressing this disgust: a batsman tossing his helmet, gloves and bat on the square and simply walking off, leaving them there for someone else to collect. The UDRS magnifies the club cricketer's already healthy sense of being trapped in some Kafkaesque judicial system or totalitarian nightmare in which hopes crash hard against a great immovable slab of absolute authority, with no recourse to a court of appeal.

Of course, it stands to both reason and statistical likelihood that sports officialdom will attract one or two pompous, punctilious, strutting umpire sorts who seem hell-bent on cultivating anything but a harmonious atmosphere with the players: "authoritarian personality types", as I was once moved to describe them when defending myself in writing to the league disciplinary committee (in younger, more militant days) having been reported by an umpire with whom I'd had a fair few run-ins, usually over his brazen habit of giving contentious decisions late in games in order to spice things up. A spectator's version of neutrality, not an umpire's. 

The general deterioration of player-umpire relations at grass-roots level cannot really be understood outside the increased antagonism between the teams. Opponents may go through that ritual handshake at stumps, yet rarely discuss the game together in the bar. There's plenty of cordial, little entente cordiale. Tensions traditionally worked through with that miracle lotion called Drink - and the (un)sober realisation that "it's just a game, man" - are increasingly replaced by isotonic rancour and resentment. 

Pyramid systems and semi-professionalisation create an air of hyper-competitiveness, a fear of being left behind, and as money permeates the recreational game - sharks seeking to buy their way to the top, hoovering up other clubs' young talent - the stakes get ramped up, magnifying the apparent significance of umpiring decisions. Bad blood ensues. 

Better relations between opposing teams would undoubtedly create more willingness to accept umpiring decisions - to move on, emotionally, from the moment of grievance. Meanwhile, however, greater trust and empathy are needed between players and officials. But this has to be a two-way street. Players need to understand that without umpires there's no game, that it's a very difficult job, that some decisions simply cannot be got right all that often, and that mistakes are (by and large) made in good faith. Umpires need to be aware of the type of things that rile players (inconsistency in applying laws, 7 p.m. trigger finger, a self-important manner). In short, they need to make better mistakes. 

Back in 2008 our league ran a trial whereby the two captains sat down with the umpires after the game and marked them there and then, to their face. Given the likelihood that they might be umpiring you later in the season, the chances of total honesty in these situations was slim ("Yes, Fred, you were dreadful; see you in a fortnight!"). 

Still, it's a shame these conversations between players and umpires are, for all sorts of reasons, also increasingly rare. Perhaps there might be a way of harnessing the power of the internet to allow all parties to talk issues through in a calm, rational, proportionate manner, once the raw emotion has evaporated. Virtual conversations could be insulated against "keyboard warriors" by not opening until Monday morning and by depriving people of the ability to post anonymously. 

I'm looking to be a pioneer in this regard, having searched all the umpires who currently use Facebook and sent them friend requests. The majority have accepted. I have "liked" their cat videos, self-help slogans and grandkid photos, their calls for donations to deaf and blind societies. I have engaged enthusiastically in their threads. Together we can create bonhomie and goodwill. And who knows: they might give me enough LBWs that a county comes in for me on a short-term T20 deal. 

Computer to help identify potential World Cup players.

Associated Press

Monday, 9 May 2016

PTG 1823-9119.

England is using a computer to unearth "unheralded players" for its one-day team ahead of the next World Cup which is scheduled to be played in that country in 2019.  Cricket authorities there announced on Monday that a three-match 'North versus South' 50-over format series will be played in the United Arab Emirates early next year, featuring players from England's county circuit who are not already playing international cricket.

The players are to be selected by a computer-basesd player-ranking system that is said to provide a more rigorous analysis of performances than traditional averages, taking into account less tangible factors like fielding, venues, conditions and the standard of the opposition.  Andrew Strauss, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s director of cricket called the move "a bit of a step into the unknown ... but the logic behind it is very solid”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,824

  Wednesday, 11 May 2016

 

• Square leg umpire felled by head strike [1824-9120]. 

• ICC expands third-tier panel, includes four females [1824-9121]. 

• ‘Wearable’ bowling action technology seeking commercial investor [1824-9122]. 

• Manohar quits as BCCI president [1824-9123]. 

Square leg umpire felled by head strike.

Mohammad Isam

Cricinfo

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

PTG 1824-9120.

Bangladesh umpire Nadir Shah suffered a blow on his forehead during the Dhaka Premier League match between Mohammedan Sporting Club and Kalabagan Cricket Academy in Fatullah on Tuesday.  The incident comes a few weeks after Shah returned to the game after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) lifted the 10-year ban it gave him in 2013 for alleged corruption (PTG 1808-9035, 23 April 2016).

Shah was at square-leg when Mohammedan’s Ezaz Ahmed played a sweep off a delivery from offspinner Mahmudul Hasan, the powerful shot ricocheting off the hand of fielder Taposh Ghosh, who was fielding at square leg, and on to Shah's forehead.  The umpire fell to the ground immediately and was tended to by a physio before being taken from the field and replaced by reserve umpire Shyful Islam.

A couple of hours later, after he returned to Dhaka, Shah said he felt dizzy and would see a doctor soon.  "I was off the field for the rest of the game”, Shah said. "I am back at home now and will be going to the doctor soon. There's a bump in my forehead and I feel dizzy. The physio put ice on the injured spot and gave me a pain-killer at the ground”.

ICC expands third-tier panel, includes four females.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

PTG 1824-9121.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has increased its third-tier Associate and Affiliate Umpire Panel (AAUP) from 11 to 35 members for the 2016-17 year, the expanded group including four women from ICC top-tier entities: Kathy Cross of New Zealand; Australian Claire Polosak; Sue Redfern from England; and Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies.  All of last year’s panel been retained and ICC regional representation significantly increased in most areas, Europe moving from 3 to 10 members, Asia 2 to 9, East-Asia Pacific 2 to 8, Africa 2 to 5, and the Americas 2 to 3.

Last year’s European members of the panel, Scotsmen Allan Haggo and Ian Ramage plus Mark Hawthorne of Ireland, have been joined by Roland Black and Alan Neill (Ireland), Alex Dowdalls (Scotland), Ashraf Din, Huub Jansen and Pim van Liemt (Netherlands), plus England’s Redfern.  The Americas has seen the smallest increase in numbers, former members Sameer Bandekar (United States) Courtney Young of the Cayman Islands being joined by the West Indies' Williams.

Over in Asia, long-time members Sarika Prasad (Singapore) and Buddha Prahdan (Nepal) will now have as colleagues Iftikhar Ali, Rabiul Chowdury, and Akbar Ali Khan (United Arab Emirates), Ahmad Durrani and Ahmad Shah Pakteen (Afghanistan), and Vinay Kumar Jha and Durga Subedi (Nepal).  Last year’s East-Asia Pacific members Cross and Nigel Morrison (Vanuatu), have been joined by Hong Kong’s Tabarak Dar, Clive Howard and Ian Thomson, Papua New Guinea’s Alu Kapa and Lakani Oala, plus Australia’s Polosak.

In the African region, David Odhiambo (Kenya) and Wynand Louw (Namibia) from last year have been joined by Kenyans Rockie D'Mello and Isaac Oyieko, and Henry Thorburn of Namibia.  

For regional tournaments, AAUP members will be paid $US75 per day ($A102, £UK52) from departing home until return plus flights and accommodation.  In the case of World Cricket League (WCL) divisional tournaments the payment is $US1,500 ($A2,030, £UK1,040) plus a daily allowance of $US50 ($A68, £UK35), WCL championship series $US2,000 a match ($A2,710, £UK1,385) plus the $US50 a day, while Intercontinental Cup fixtures attract a fee of $US2,000 a match and the same daily allowance.

‘Wearable’ bowling action technology seeking commercial investor.

PTG Editor

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

PTG 1824-9122.

Developers of ‘wearable’ technology that aims at identify in near real-time the legality of a bowler’s action, are reported to be awaiting investment from a commercial entity so that they can produce and market their product.  Work on the project at the Centre for Wireless Monitoring and Applications at Griffith University in Queensland, which commenced seven years ago, was funded by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) (PTG 377-2012, 25 February 2009), however, it would appear neither is interested in providing the funds needed to commercialise the product.

Marc Portus, the lead researcher at Griffith University, has in the past talked about the finished product as being "disposable, lightweight and relatively cheap” the size of a cigarette packet, and "available in your local sports store for [around] $A19.95 (£UK10)”.  That way "if it's damaged on the field it can be quickly replaced”.  He indicated then that the equipment involved "would be fitted to a bowler's elbow or the sleeve or held by a couple of sweat bands”.

In January 2014, the ICC's General Manager Cricket Geoff Allardice, told the MCC's World Cricket Committee, which was meeting on that occasion in Abu Dhabi, that "excellent progress" was being made with the project and that barring unforeseen problems, such devices were anticipated as being "widely available" in 2016 (PTG 1270-6126, 16 January 2014).  

Twelve months after Allardice’s comments the end of 2015 time-line target was confirmed by the researchers involved.  They said then that their prototype sensor unit had matured to the extent it could determine exactly when a bowler releases a ball, a factor they state is “a critical element in assessing illegal [bowling] actions” (PTG 1479-7152, 10 December 2014).   Over the past eighteen months though nothing significant has surfaced publicly about the project (PTG 1782-8897, 15 March 2016). 

The ICC has over the past two years clamped down on bowling actions at the international level, developing in that time increasingly sophisticated testing centres in Australia, India, South Africa and the UK that can examine in minute detail the actions of bowlers whose actions are considered suspect (PTG 1440-6969, 3 October 2014).  That may be one reason the ICC has stepped back from the project, however, such testing requires those involved to travel to one of those centres for evaluation, a move that does not help those who play at club level, especially young players coming into the game for the first time.

Reports suggest the the prototype that has been developed meets the basic specifications initially laid down by the ICC-MCC late last decade.  Just how big the Griffith University group see the potential market is for their device, what funding they need to get their product into the shops, whether there is interest in it in the commercial world, and if the ICC-MCC are interested in a return on their investment to date, are not known at this time.

Manohar quits as BCCI president.

India Today.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

PTG 1824-9123.

Shashank Manohar stepped down as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and he is likely to be replaced by Sharad Pawar.  Manohar, who took over as BCCI president last year after the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya, is reported to believe the recommendations made by the RM Lodha panel are impossible to implement.  He is though expected to continue as ICC chairman and will be elected for another term in that spot later this month if reports are to be believed.

Two weeks ago India's Supreme Court came down heavily on the BCCI over its opposition of the Lodha panel's 'one state-one vote' recommendation.  Politician and Mumbai Cricket Association president Sharad Pawar is reportedly set to return as BCCI boss, however, that is yet to be independently verified.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,825

  Thursday, 12 May 2016


• Review leads CA to again call for 'concussion replacements’ [1825-9124]. 

• Windies’ coaches attend ’suspect bowling action' workshop [1825-9125]. 

• ECB hands out £5.4 m to cash-starved counties [1825-9126]. 

• Thakur seen as frontrunner for BCCI president [1825-9127]. 

• Rwandan seeks to break Guinness net batting record [1825-9128]. 

• Cricket: A game for men in white coats [1825-9129]. 

Review leads CA to again call for 'concussion replacements’.

Media reports

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

PTG 1825-9124.

Cricket Australia (CA) has submitted a paper to the International Cricket Council (ICC) outlining its case for player replacements to be allowed in first-class matches without the loss of first-class status (PTG 1140-5526, 5 July 2013), an initiative that was put forward two years ago but rejected.  News of the proposal came on the day CA released the independent Curtain review, dated last November, into the death of Phillip Hughes, a report that has led to CA tightening its rules around helmet use in all games played under its auspices (PTG 1819-9099, 4 May 2016).

The new regulations require that all batsmen facing fast or medium-paced bowling in CA matches and related training sessions must wear an approved helmet.  Wicketkeepers must also wear them when standing up to the stumps; so, too, fielders within seven metres of the bat with the exception of those fielding behind square on the off side.  It is not yet clear what progress has been made regarding development of a specialist wicketkeeper’s helmet, the concern of some being the unsuitability of a batsman’s helmet for the keeper's role (PTG 1673-8208, 28 October 2015).

The Curtain review found though that the current mandated British Standard helmet would not have protected Hughes from the blow that killed him (PTG 1469-7113, 27 November 2014).  It also says there is limited evidence neck-covering stem guards worn by many players after Hughes's death would prevent a similar tragedy and called for more research before making them compulsory (PTG 1595-7716, 19 July 2015).  CA says it is currently working "with various parties to identify design, performance and evaluation criteria for helmet neck guards”.  Curtain also said a defibrillator must be available at all CA sanctioned competitions in the unlikely event a player suffers from a heart condition.  

Reports indicated that CA has the support of several other countries regarding its first class player replacement initiative, which, if introduced, would be a radical change to the game but one in line with progressive attitudes towards concussion in world sport (PTG 1756-8758, 8 February 2016). It could also pave the way for replacement players in international cricket.  The ICC is considering its approach to concussion but there are concerns as to whether all member nations have the resources to implement policies as robust as those of Australia and England. 

Three-and-a-half hears ago CA "aborted a move" to trial a formal substitutes system in its Sheffield Shield competition that austral summer after being told the series would lose its first-class status if such a rule was introduced (PTG 1022-4963, 27 November 2012).  Two years later John Orchard, CA’s then newly appointed chief medical officer, repeated previous calls for the game to allow batting, bowling and wicketkeeping substitutes when players are injured in Test matches (PTG 1465-7099, 23 November 2014), however, that initiative was rejected by the ICC.  

Orchard, plus intensive care specialist Dr Tim Stanley who was at the Sydney Cricket Ground as a spectator, attended to Hughes at the ground before an ambulance arrived at the ground 20 minutes after the incident.  The Curtain report found that lack of medical attention was not a factor in Hughes' death.

Federation of International Cricketers' Associations boss Tony Irish cannot see why the ICC would reject concussion substitutes. "It requires change to ICC classification of first-class cricket but I can't see any reason behind it being knocked back”, Irish said. "It makes sense”.  "These days with the changes at the ICC I'd be surprised if there wasn't a strong movement for that. These types of issues are easier to get done”.

CA chief James Sutherland doesn't believe there was "advanced thinking" in world cricket on concussion substitutes. One issue that would need to be considered would be how substitutes are selected so that it is not open to manipulation for an unfair advantage.  CA is seeking approval from its playing conditions advisory committee to allow replacements for concussed players in all its elite domestic male and female competitions, apart from the Sheffield Shield, which needs ICC approval to retain its first-class status.

Sutherland said CA was looking to strike a balance between player safety and maintaining the traditions of the game.  "You can make the game of cricket a lot safer by playing with a tennis ball, but that's not how Test cricket has been played and it would obviously be a very different game”, Sutherland said.

"We're not wanting to go there, but we do need to find the right balance in the circumstances to not compromise the way the game's played and not compromise the way in which the players are best equipped to show their skills.  I encourage discussion and debate not just limited to concussion but more broadly around substitutes at elite cricket level, even though it's a significant compromise or difference to the way the game's been played”.

The replacement player issue will be discussed at the ICC Cricket Committee’s 2016 which is scheduled to be held over two days at Lord’s in two weeks time.  

Before then the New South Wales Coroner is expected to set the date, possibly in September, for the formal inquest into Hughes’ death.  NSW police are said to have prepared a detailed report for the coroner which examined the speed of the delivery, the helmet, short-pitched bowling, the response times of emergency services and treatment provided at the scene. CA says it will "cooperate fully" with the coronial inquest and that it has had an "ongoing open dialogue" with the NSW Crown Solicitor on the matter.

Windies’ coaches attend ’suspect bowling action' workshop.

Jamaica Observer

Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

PTG 1825-9125.

West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Director of Cricket Richard Pybus says a workshop which attracted some 25 coaches from around the Caribbean last weekend is expected to help them identify players with suspect bowling actions.  The two-day gathering, which were conducted by Richard Done, the International Cricket Council’s high performance manager, was held at the WICB's High Performance Centre at the Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies in Barbados.

 

A number of former West Indies cricketers, including Winston Benjamin, Roberts Samuels and Tony Gray, also attended the training, which Pybus said was also designed to help players to remedy questionable bowling actions.  He said “The aim is to help our coaches firstly identify players with suspect bowling actions and then the remedial work required afterwards”, that the workshop was "very stimulating, very thought-provoking, and very necessary for the region”.

Several West Indies international players have been found to have suspect bowling actions in recent years, including Sunil Narine, Marlon Samuels and Shane Shillingford.

ECB hands out £5.4 m to cash-starved counties.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

PTG 1825-9126.

Counties are to each receive a £UK300,000 ($A588,200) windfall from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to ease their financial problems and they also appear to have blocked any plans to create a city-based Twenty20 tournament (PTG 1630-7960, 29 August 2015).  The payments were agreed at a meeting of the 18 county chairmen and the board at Lord’s on Tuesday in the lead up to the ECB’s annual meeting.

The terms of reference for the ECB’s review into Twenty20 cricket were also set and the counties made it clear they had no interest in a new tournament that did not include all 18 teams (PTG 1606-7800, 30 July 2015).  Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, is now expected to report back at  the next meeting of county chairmen in mid-September with recommendations about the structure of Twenty20 cricket.  This will form a large part of negotiations with broadcasters over a new television deal from 2020, which looks destined to be the first for a decade that will include splitting up the formats. 

In the short term, the ECB has promised to ease the financial strains on the counties, several of which are operating on a shoestring (PTG 1815-9073, 30 April 2016).  The bail-out payment of £UK300,000 will ease cash flow issues for some counties but of longer term significance is the setting up of a review group under the leadership of Ian Lovatt, the deputy chairman of the ECB, which will examine the distribution of wealth (PTG 1625-7930, 22 August 2015). 

The ECB announced on Tuesday that its reserves were now £UK73.1 m ($A143.3 m), which has caused resentment among counties burdened by heavy debt of almost  double that figure in total.  The board will evaluate how much it  realistically needs in its reserves to cover an unforeseen event such as a tour cancellation or acute financial crisis.  The counties hope they will then benefit from a redistribution of ECB reserves.  

The ECB’s annual report revealed spending on the England team rose by £3 m ($A5.9 m) to £30.6 m ($A60 m) last year but despite 2015 being an Ashes  summer the overall turnover of the board fell by more than £40 m ($A78.4 m) to £134 m ($A262.7 m).  The ECB always budgeted for a drop in turnover last year because in 2014 it hosted India, which is the most lucrative series.  The report also stated that 2.3 million people attended cricket matches last year (PTG 1694-8341, 24 November 2015). 

Thakur seen as frontrunner for BCCI president.

Indian media reports

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

PTG 1825-9127.

Current Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur could replace Shashank Manohar as the BCCI President after the latter tendered his resignation on Tuesday (PTG 1824-9123, 11 May 2016). Speculation is rife that Thakur is set to take over for the remainder of Manohar’s tenure, until September 2017, several reports claiming “there is no other strong candidate to run the BCCI”.

As required by BCCI rules, a Special General Meeting has to be convened within 15 days to apprising members of the current situation, and as the current BCCI secretary, the onus lies on Thakur to call that meeting.  Also in the running for the post are Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla and the head of the Maharashtra Cricket Association Ajay Shirke. However, if sources are to be believed, Thakur is the favourite to take over from Manohar. 

A BCCI source indicated Manohar will be in the running to continue his current role as the chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), saying the post at the world body "gives him a stable five-year window and an opportunity to make history as possibly the administrator who brought all member boards of the ICC together”.  "Look how the West Indies and Pakistan boards have already started praising him for what he's done”, said the source.

Other reports claim some BCCI members in the rival camp to Manohar termed his decision as “premeditated and selfish”. They are angry at Manohar’s move to offer funds the BCCI is entitled to under ‘Big Three’ changes back to the ICC.

Rwandan seeks to break Guinness net batting record.

Pontian Kabeera.

The New Times.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

PTG 1825-9128.

Rwandan Eric Dusingizimana on Wednesday started his attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest time spent batting in the nets.  The national team captain is attempting to bat for 51 hours nonstop at the Amahoro Indoor Stadium, facing local bowlers, investors from the UK, and participants of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa.  

The current record is held by Indian Virag Male who over three days in Pune in late December last year batted for 50 hours 4 minutes 51 seconds (PTG 1723-8556, 28 December 2015).  He played against both actual bowlers and a bowling machine during that time.  Speaking before he began his attempt, 29-year old Dusingizimana said he is confident that he will make it without resting, apart that is from the five minutes he is allowed each hour for refreshment and other basics.

Cricket: A game for men in white coats.

Martin Johnson.

The Cricket Paper.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016.

PTG 1825-9129.

It is a well-known fact that one of the more difficult tasks a person can be asked to undertake in life is to try explaining cricket to an American, and never is this more true than if the task is being attempted while pointing out the game’s subtler nuances on one of the village greens of England.  Especially when dealing with that peculiar tradition – in lower club cricket at any rate – of dismissed batsmen returning as umpires.

“So let me get this straight. That batsman guy who was out has now come back again wearing a white coat, and is now called an umpire?”  “You’ve got it”, you reply, whereupon our visitor ponders for a while… “So, if some other batsman guy in the same team is out, but the guy who’s been out himself but is now the umpire says that he’s not out, then he’s not out, right?”

And when you confirm that he has summed up the situation more or less perfectly, the American wanders off in search of a darkened room in which to lie down.  Seriously, what other sport is there in which a decision can be given, possibly determining the entire result of the game, by a member of one of the two teams?  And in what other sport can such a miscarriage of justice – instead of resulting in carnage – be amicably resolved by an apology over a pot of tea and a buttered scone?

There is something uniquely therapeutic about taking the car out for a Sunday afternoon spin, happening across a game of cricket on the village green, and passing a gentle hour or so watching from the boundary edge. Even when the cricket isn’t entertaining, the dialogue usually is, and most of us have had a chuckle when a batsman gets bowled middle stump having an agricultural heave, and arrives back in with some implausible excuse.  “Bad luck, Bert. What happened?”  Bert replies: “Swung both ways and then nipped back at me. Bloody unplayable it was”.

In the world of village cricket, this is followed by him unbuckling one of the team’s two sets of pads, handing them to the next man in, and unzipping his fly to remove the protection from his vital bits. Which in this case is a rolled up copy of the 'Exchange and Mart', because there is only one box in the club’s kit bag. Along with five gloves, four of which are left-handed, and a couple of bats, one without a rubber on the handle, and the other so old it’s got Len Hutton’s endorsement on the front.

And with just one ball for each innings, every time it flies over cow corner and into an adjacent meadow, the game can’t go on until it’s found again. I was at one such match when an impressive cover drive was only prevented from going for four by a superb piece of fielding just in front of the hedge by a spectator’s black Labrador.  Anyway, off went the dog, pursued by its owner, both sets of players and several spectators, and when the ball was finally retrieved, it had been so thoroughly chewed that quite apart from being perfect for a spot of reverse swing, a really skilled practitioner could have made it loop the loop.

This being village, rather than Test, cricket, the game miraculously managed to stagger on without a fourth umpire running out with a box of spare balls to pick from, nor did everyone leave the field when it started raining. And as for light meters being consulted when all 11 fielders are wearing sunglasses, play didn’t stop even when you could see the moths being lit up by the dipped headlights from the cars passing by at the back of the ground.

The old umpire Arthur Jepson must have had his roots in village cricket when, in that famous Gillette Cup semi-final that was still going when the Nine O’Clock News came on, Arthur turned to a player querying whether it was too dark to carry on and said: “You can see the moon. How far do you want to see?”

Village cricket appears oblivious to most of the golden rules applied by its Test match cousin, which means that batsmen who have been at the crease for a long time are totally unaware that this is not possible without being revived at regular intervals by people running on with water bottles and fresh sets of gloves. And they’ll never get the hang of complaining about people moving in front of the sightscreen until they actually go out and buy one.

In short, barring the kind of downpour that would only allow the next man in to reach the crease in a pedalo, the game always goes on in village cricket, hence the fact that many of its heroic deeds are performed in the evening gloaming.  It might involve a local tonking sixes over the pavilion, but more often than not it’s the completely useless number eleven trying to block out the last over for a draw.  Surrounded by fielders, every ball is accompanied by howls of anguish as it zips past the outside edge, but somehow he survives.  After which tradition dictates that it’s off to the pub, where that post-match pint has never tasted so good.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,826

  Friday, 13 May 2016

 

• MCC releases ‘Laws of Cricket’ app [1826-9130].

• Player allegedly beaten to death over ‘no-ball’ argument [1826-9131].

• Warwickshire face possible action over ‘poor’ pitch report [1826-9132]. 

• India-Australia day-night Test on the drawing board [1826-9133]. 

• ICC drops Lankan’s doping case, queries WADA process [1826-9134]. 

• Manohar becomes the ICC’s first ‘independent’ chairman [1826-9135]. 

MCC releases ‘Laws of Cricket’ app.

MCC web site.

Thursday, 12 May 2016.

PTG 1826-9130.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has released the first ever Laws of Cricket app and it is now available to download free on Android and Apple devices.  The MCC says the app contains "easy to understand explanations for each of the 42 Laws, categorised into eight sections explaining everything from how to set up a game, to appeals and modes of dismissals, [plus] new imagery and a Laws quiz”.  Release of the app was originally scheduled for July last year (PTG 1575-7568, 24 June 2015). 

MCC Chief Executive Derek Brewer describes the app as the "perfect introduction to the game for a new supporter”.  He says that "As Guardians of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, it is vital that MCC embraces the new audiences that the sport has gained in recent years and makes the Laws of the game even more accessible”.  The app "is another example of MCC's commitment to investing in digital - an area in which the club strives to remain ahead of the curve within cricket”.

Eighteen months ago the MCC appointed Mark Williams, then a mathematics teacher at Eton and an active umpire at Premier League level in south-east England, to take up its then newly created ‘Laws of Cricket Advisor’ position (PTG 1485-7182, 17 December 2014).  The club indicated that a key part of his work would be to oversee the production and revision of a range of on-line umpire educational materials. The aim was for such output to be made available to match officials from all levels of the game around the world and there was an indication it would be linked to an accompanying accreditation system, however, details of the latter system, if it is still being pursued, have not yet been released.  

  

  

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Part of the new app are the 15 Laws animations developed by the MCC in recent years (PTG 1576-7576, 25 June 2015).  Voiced by writer, broadcaster and actor Stephen Fry, they are all available to view and explain various Laws of the game such as 'Damaging the Pitch' and 'Obstructing the Field'.   Fry is helped in his explanations of the Laws by ‘Tommy', an animated young cricketer who learns the Laws throughout the animations. 

In addition, the app also features 18 separate videos of umpire signals, "helping to simplify the Laws of Cricket for players, officials and fans so they can decipher exactly what an umpire's hand movements mean". 

The Laws quiz section "tests the user on knowledge acquired through the videos and animations contained in the app”.  It caters for a wide range of cricketing experience with 'Beginner, 'Intermediate' and 'Advanced' levels available to select. Scores can then be shared via social media.  To download the app, search for 'Laws of Cricket' in the iTunes store or Google Play.

Player allegedly beaten to death over ‘no-ball’ argument.

Agence France Presse

Thursday, 12 May 2016

PTG 1826-9131.

A player in Dhaka was allegedly killed by a stump-wielding batsman after he taunted the umpire over a no-ball delivery, police said on Thursday.   According to local police chief Bhuiyan Mahboob Hasan, Babul Shikdar, 16, was wicketkeeping during a neighbourhood match on Wednesday when the batsman was given out.

Shikdar suggested that the umpire might again declare the bowler’s delivery a no-ball, and favour the batsman by allowing him to remain at the crease. The umpire had made the same ruling off the previous ball.  Hasan said the comment "enraged the batsman and he picked up a stump and hit Shikdar on the back of his head. The wicketkeeper collapsed on the field and died on the way to a clinic.  Police are now searching for the batsman who fled the scene.

Warwickshire face possible action over ‘poor’ pitch report.

Ali Martin.

The Guardian.

Thursday, 12 May 2016.

PTG 1826-9132.

Warwickshire are facing possible disciplinary action over the pitch prepared for their County Championship fixture with Somerset at Edgbaston, which was described as being “a bit dangerous” by the visiting captain, Chris Rogers, after the washed-out draw.  The surface, on which 30 wickets fell in the first two days last Saturday-Sunday before rain prevented any further play, is understood to have been deemed “poor” by the umpires Ian Gould and Neil Mallender, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to consider their report.

Unpredictable bounce became a feature of the cracked surface on the second day, with 18 wickets falling and batsmen struck six times by fast bowlers. The Somerset tailender Lewis Gregory was forced to change helmet after being hit when ducking into a delivery from Boyd Rankin, while Rogers twice took blows to the body.

Rogers said after the match was abandoned: “There were a few concerns.  I think the cracks were making it a little bit dangerous and that is a bit of a worry. Any time you see the ball take off it’s a surprise. I have played on some excellent wickets here and it was different. I don’t think the groundsman quite got it the way he wanted to but he’ll know better next time and fortunately there were no real incidents”.

Tony Pigott, one of the ECB’s five cricket liaison officers (CLO) (PTG 1754-8749, 4 February 2016), was at the match and is understood to have spoken to members of both clubs as well as Gary Barwell, the Edgbaston head groundsman.  Warwickshire could face a possible points deduction if the matter is passed to the Cricket Discipline Commission, with an ECB spokesperson saying: “We will be considering the umpires’ report overnight before making any further comment”.

Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown said: “It was not the type of pitch we wanted. There was cracks but was it dangerous? No. We all know here that Gary Barwell is the best groundsman in the country by a mile. He was preparing this pitch 14-16 days ahead, as always, and when he started it was in snow and ice.  Then the weather flipped on its head and suddenly it was very hot, so the drying process was accelerated by the weather. When the [CLO] said the pitch had been reported we were incredibly surprised”.

The reporting of the Edgbaston pitch is the first such incident since the ECBchanged the procedure for the toss in the County Championship as part of a season-long trial, with away sides given the option of bowling first to encourage better surfaces.  Last season Glamorgan were fined £UK9,000 ($A17,710) and docked two points for an “unfit” pitch that led to their one-day fixture with Hampshire being abandoned (PTG 1631-7968, 30 August 2015). Warwickshire were docked eight points in 2011 for a “poor” pitch in a 218-run win against Worcestershire in the championship (PTG 767-3762, 28 May 2011).

India-Australia day-night Test on the drawing board.

Dave Middleton.

CA web site.

Thursday, 12 May 2016.

PTG 1826-9133.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has revealed Indian cricket officials are keen on scheduling a day-night Test match during Australia's tour of that country next February-March.  India are looking at hosting their first day-night Test against New Zealand later this year (PTG 1812-9061, 27 April 2016), as the concept continues to gain momentum in the aftermath of the successful inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval last November. 

Speaking on Australian radio on Thursday, Sutherland said "there's certainly some positive signals coming out of India and other parts of the world [regarding day-night Tests]”.  “They've started talking to us about the prospect of playing a day-night Test match next year [which is] a pretty strong indicator of where things are at”.  "When you look at the big picture it's probably not surprising because day-night Test cricket is just a no-brainer really, giving more opportunities for fans to get along to the cricket and watch it on TV”.

Sutherland went on to say he was confident a day-night Test with South Africa at the Adelaide Oval slated for later this year would go ahead despite reluctance from the Proteas’ players (PTG 1818-9089, 3 May 2016). "At our end we're all systems go for Adelaide as a day-night Test match”, he said. "We're still working through a couple of things with our South African colleagues and their players' association, but I'm very optimistic we'll get there. We understand there's some mixed views [and] players [are] still getting their heads around it, [but] lot of our players see the big picture”.

ICC drops Lankan’s doping case, queries WADA process.

ICC press release.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 12 May 2016.

PTG 1826-9134.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has withdrawn a doping case against Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Kusal Perera and expressed regret after admitting that the analysis of his sample was botched.  The ICC said it was seeking an urgent explanation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Qatar laboratory which tested Perera's sample (PTG 1740-8656, 17 January 2016).

Perera, 25, is now free to play again after a provisional suspension which started in December and ruled him out of Sri Lanka's World Twenty20 title defence earlier this year (PTG 1722-8541, 26 January 2015).  "We regret what Mr. Perera has had to endure, and would like to commend him for the manner in which he has conducted himself throughout this period”, said ICC chief executive David Richardson.  "We wish to make it clear that there is no evidence that Mr. Perera has ever used performance-enhancing substances and we wish him well in his future cricketing endeavours”.

The Sri Lankan was suspended during his side's tour of New Zealand late last year but his positive doping result came from out-of-competition testing at a WADA-accredited laboratory in Doha.  Perera tested positive test for a banned anabolic steroid, but his lawyers later raised concerns that the amounts were so low that they could have been produced naturally by the body or formed in the samples after they were submitted.

On Wednesday, the laboratory withdrew its "adverse original finding" and replaced it with an "atypical finding", and said no further investigation was warranted.  "The ICC is troubled in this case by the fact that the Qatar laboratory has issued an adverse analytical finding that has then had to be withdrawn and replaced with an atypical finding”, said Richardson.  "Whilst I am confident that this is an isolated incident in respect of tests commissioned by the ICC, we are seeking an urgent explanation from WADA and the laboratory in an attempt to understand what has transpired and what will be done to ensure it does not happen again”.

Manohar becomes the ICC’s first ‘independent’ chairman.

ICC press release.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 12 May 2016.

PTG 1826-9135.

Now former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Shashank Manohar, has been elected unopposed as the first independent chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC). He will serve a two-year term - an unpaid position - beginning with immediate effect.

Manohar's election has come two days after he quit as BCCI president (PTG 1824-9123, 11 May 2016), a move that made him eligible to contest for the post under the new ICC regulations that its chairman must not hold positions in any national board. Manohar, however, had said his resignation had not been influenced by the upcoming ICC election.

The ICC said on Thursday: "According to the election process, ICC directors were each allowed to nominate one candidate, who had to be either a present or past ICC director”.  "Nominees with the support of two or more Full Member directors would have been eligible to contest the election, which was scheduled to have been concluded by late May”.  "However, given that Mr Manohar was the sole nominee and the Board has now unanimously supported his appointment, the independent Audit Committee Chairman, Mr Adnan Zaidi, who has been overseeing the election process, has declared the process complete, and Mr Manohar the successful candidate”.

Manohar, a prominent Indian lawyer, has served two terms as BCCI president - from 2008-11 and from October last year to the present, when he succeeded Jagmohan Dalimya who died while holding office.  During his second term, Manohar had also served as ICC chairman by virtue of being the Indian board's nominee to the ICC. By resigning as BCCI president on Tuesday, Manohar had given up his ICC chairmanship, only to be re-elected as the first independent chairman two days later.

Manohar said: "It is an honour to be elected as the chairman of the [ICC] and for that I am thankful to all the ICC directors who have put their faith and trust in my abilities”. . "These are exciting times for international cricket as we are presently carrying out a comprehensive review of the 2014 constitutional amendments which is aimed at not only improving governance structures, but cricket structures as well. The ultimate objective is to grow our sport and engage a whole new generation of fans and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to shape the future of cricket”.

In February, Manohar, as ICC chairman while being BCCI president, criticised the imbalance of power within cricket's governing body because of the Big Three's constitutional revamp in 2015, which had given the boards of India, England and Australia greater authority and a larger share of the ICC revenue (PTG 1697-8370, 27 November 2015). Manohar had called the revamp "bullying", and said there were several faults in the ICC that he hoped to rectify.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,827

  Saturday, 14 May 2016

 

• ECB looking at Bangladesh, Windies, day-night Test options [1827-9136].

• Aussie vice-captain speaks against Adelaide day-night Test [1827-9137].

• ‘Duke’ ball needs to pass ‘trial' before Shield plan proceeds [1827-9138].

• ICC Cricket Committee to consider MIT research [1827-9139]. 

• Kettleborough replaces Davis on ICC group [1827-9140].

• Replacements for all injured players - is that cricket? [1827-9141].

• Players’ union fears 'adversarial negotiations' with CA [1827-9142].

ECB looking at Bangladesh, Windies, day-night Test options.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Friday, 13 May 2016.

PTG 1827-9136.

England could play their first day-night Test within the next six months after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) asked its counterpart in Bangladesh to host a pink-ball game as part of the tour this October. In addition, discussions are under way to stage one of the three Tests the West Indian tourists are scheduled to play during the 2017 northern summer under lights, with Lord’s a possible venue.  In the past senior officials in England have suggested a day-night Test wouldn’t happen there because of the good crowds Tests attract and the long evenings in summer.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which has been at the forefront of pink-ball technology for almost a decade, is to discuss “as a priority” the pros and cons of such a contest given climate and operating issues. Momentum for day-night Tests has gathered after the inaugural game between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide last year, which attracted 123,736 spectators over three days.

Australia have announced similar fixtures against Pakistan and South Africa next austral summer, while James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, has described the idea of a day-night component to the 2017-18 Ashes as a “distinct possibility” (PTG 1807-9030, 22 April 2016).  India is also examining the possibility of a home day-night Test against New Zealand in October (PTG 1812-9061, 27 April 2016), and Australia next year (PTG 1826-9133, 13 May 2016), while New Zealand is interested in such a game at home against South Africa.

As well as doing its bit to grow the five-day format, the ECB wants to ensure that England do not suffer from pink-ball inexperience as well as the disadvantage of being the away side down under.  It is understood that an approach was made to the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) on the fringes of International Cricket Council meetings in Dubai last month, and the matter was raised at the gathering of county chairmen at Lord’s this week.

While Bangladesh are keen to play a pink-ball game on home soil (PTG 1821-9112, 6 May 2016), they may struggle to get everything in place for England’s visit in October for the two-match series. An ECB spokesman said that talks with Bangladesh are at a “very early stage” and that while the idea of a day-night game next summer is being explored internally, the West Indies Cricket Board has yet to be approached. Lord’s, Edgbaston and Headingley will host the Tests.

Derek Brewer, the MCC chief executive, described the prospect of a pink-ball Test in England as “innovative and intriguing”. He said: “MCC has been at the forefront of [day-night Test] developments [for it] has always wanted to protect the primacy of the five-day game around the world. Day-night Test cricket in England cannot be looked at in isolation [and the] MCC [wants to take] a good look at the detail and the club’s Cricket Committee and World Cricket Committee will discuss this at their next meetings in June and July”.

Bangladesh agreed as far back as 2009 to play a day-night Test as part of their England tour during the 2010 northern summer (PTG 488-2531, 12 September 2009), but developing an adequate ball has taken longer than expected. 

Aussie vice-captain speaks against Adelaide day-night Test.

Peter Lalor

The Australian

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1827-9137.

The push against a second pink-ball Test this summer went up a notch on Friday with Australian vice-­captain David Warner saying the players back the big picture but do not want it until the ball is ­improved. Warner is the first current player to voice an objection publicly but is supported by the vast majority of the playing group and the players’ association. 

There is a bitter three-way standoff between Cricket Australia (CA), South Africa and the Australian team over the Adelaide fixture. Both groups of players are against it, but CA chief executive James ­Sutherland is determined it will go ahead.  The Australian and Pakistan sides have agreed to a day-night match in Brisbane but the local players are annoyed at having two pressed on them despite no improvement in the pink ball.

Speaking from India where his batting and captaincy have taken the Sunrisers Hyderabad to the top of the Indian Premier League table, Warner says the time is not right to be expanding a concept that is still in its experimental stages.  It takes a brave player to break ranks so publicly with those that control the game in this country.

“The concept is fantastic and it is a great spectacle but for those of us who play it, the most important thing is getting the ball right”, Warner said.  “It’s always going to be an issue because it is not a red ball. You can’t shine it up like you do a red ball and Test cricket has always been about using the red ball properly when you’re in the field. Looking after it to get swing is a key and we can’t do that with a pink ball because it will not shine up”.

Like the majority who played the inaugural match last summer, Warner says visibility is an issue. “It’s still hard to see during the twilight period”, he said. “The guys on the side boundaries have trouble picking it up. You have to get that right.  With the ball they used last year, there was no chance of seeing the seam. If you’re a batsman it is critical to be able to see the seam as it gets closer to you so you can work out which way it is going to swing — if it does” (PTG 1706-8445, 8 December 2015).

Australian captain Steve Smith has had to walk a fine line on the issue, but has basically said the same as the Australian Cricketers Association and Warner: the concept is good but the ball is not.  CA tried further modifications to the ball in a Sheffield Shield round after the inaugural day-night Test but players say it was worse than the previous model.

While its own players are a problem, CA has to first deal with the issue of the South Africans refusing to play the match. Captain AB de Villiers and his men have made it clear they do not want to play using the pink ball in what might be the deciding Test of the three-match series when they believe they will be at a disadvantage.  CA will meet with South Africa again soon in an attempt to force the issue.

Sutherland appears willing to make it happen despite any objections. “If you think about one-day cricket, for example”, he said on radio this week, “as the host country we can decide if we want to play the one-day games starting at 10 am or 2.30 pm. No one else has any say in it, so why can’t we do the same thing with a Test match?” he said.

‘Duke’ ball needs to pass ‘trial' before Shield plan proceeds.

Andrew Faulkner

The Australian

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1827-9138.

The plan to use ‘Dukes' balls in the coming Sheffield Shield season will be abandoned if they fail a trial next month at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field.  The ball used for English Tests and at least two Dukes prototypes tailored for Australian conditions will be tested to see if they can last on harder and drier local pitches, something Cricket Australia (CA) has been trialling in under age tournaments and some Futures League state second XI fixtures in recent years,   If they cannot pass the Brisbane test, CA will scrap its plan to use ‘Dukes' in the second half of the 2016-17 Shield season and go back to ‘Kookaburra’ balls (PTG 1791-8943, 31 March 2016)

The proposal to use Dukes in the Shield is to better prepare players for the 2019 away Ashes after the Australian batsmen ­wilted at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge — where the tourists were all out for 60 — last year.  CA admits if it has to change the Dukes ball significantly to suit Australian conditions then there is not much point in the exercise.  But the second half of the Shield summer will see Dukes in use if either the English Test ball — or a close replica thereof — stands up in the Allan Border Field trials.

If the Dukes Test ball is ruled out then CA wants the English ball-maker to create one that “mirrors the Test ball in look and feel”, said Sean Cary, CA’s head of cricket operations.  “We challenged them to come up with a ball that looks identical to the English Test ball — but that suits our conditions”, Cary said. “If they can’t do that then we won’t go ahead with the trial. The number one is if you don’t have a ball that replicates as close as possible as the one you have in England then there’s no point in doing it”.

And Cary is wary of lumbering the nation’s first-class players with a ball that falls apart, as the Dukes has done in the past in local conditions. “(But) I wouldn’t be surprised if the English Test ball does stand up to our conditions”, Cary said.

Dukes will send out “three or four” balls — including a pink ball — for the upcoming trials and a decision will need to be made soon after that to leave the manufacturer time to make enough balls for five Shield rounds and the final, plus training sessions.  When the Dukes experiment was announced in March, CA’s team performance manager Pat Howard said it would help tackle Australia’s problems against the moving ball in English conditions.  But Cary has revealed Australian batsmen might be up against “a” Dukes ball, not necessarily “the” Dukes ball.

Dukes’ Australian distributor, Eagle Sports, says the ball used in the Shield might have its thick lacquer removed.  “The lacquer will be slightly different”, Eagle Sports consultant Phil O’Meara said. “They put more lacquer on the ball and put a grease on it”.  But the Australian prototype would have the same leather and the same stitching as the Dukes Test ball, so it would behave differently to the Kookaburra, O’Meara said.  

“We’re hand stitched. They’re machine stitched. I would expect it’ll stay harder for longer.  And I would expect it would swing more, especially early in the innings.  I think it will give the bowlers a bit more assistance, a bit more bounce and swing. Which will be good because you’ve got to feel for the poor old bowlers these days.  Just give the ball a chance. We’d just like people to go in with an open mind. We’d just like to be given a chance”.

Dukes will supply a pink ball if, like this past summer, CA schedules a day-night Shield round in the second half of the season.  The day/night juggernaut gathered further momentum yesterday when it was revealed England wanted to play a pink-ball Test in Bangladesh this year.  Discussions are also under way to play one of England’s three home Tests against West Indies next year under lights, possibly at Lord’s (PTG 1827-9136 above).

ICC Cricket Committee to consider MIT research.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 13 May 2016.

PTG 1827-9139.

The results of research into the accuracy of the various technologies that make up the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) conducted by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) over the past year (PTG 1580-7605, 29 June 2015), will be one of the main items on the agenda for this year’s two-day meeting of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee (CC) at Lord’s at the end of this month (PTG 1827-9138 below).  

It is understood MIT staff provided briefings on their work to the ICC’s quarterly meetings held in Dubai late last month, however, no mention was made of the UDRS work in post-meeting media releases (PTG 1811-9054, 26 April 2016).  

Four years ago, well before it engaged MIT, the ICC contracted Dr Edward Rosten, a former Cambridge University lecturer, to obtain "precise evidence" on the degree to which 'Hawk' and 'Virtual' eye data can be trusted to assist decision making in internationals (PTG 902-4385, 17 February 2012).  

A “provisional" report Rosten presented to the CC in May 2012 is reported to have said "very positive results in regard to system accuracy” had been obtained.  A detailed examination of 14 ball-tracking "situations" that occurred in Tests finding 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).  After that no news of that particular set of work surfaced, at least publicly.   

Kettleborough replaces Davis on ICC group.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 13 May 2016.

PTG 1827-9140.

Three-time International Cricket Council (ICC) ‘Umpire of the Year' Richard Kettleborough has been appointed as the umpires’ representative on the ICC’s Cricket Committee, replacing his former Elite Umpire Panel colleague Steve Davis, who retired from the international game last year.  The other match official on the Cricket Committee is Ranjan Madugalle, the ICC's chief match referee and a former Sri Lanka captain. 

The world body's Cricket Committee, which is chaired by former Indian captain Anil Kumble, is representative of all stakeholders in the modern game, including players, umpires and the media. It is empowered to make recommendations on cricket playing issues to the ICC’s Chief Executives’ Committee and, if the matter is a policy issue, the ICC Board, for approval. 

 

Kettleborough is expected to attend his first meeting of the committee at Lord’s late this month, a gathering that will take place three weeks before the ICC's Annual Conference, which this year is to be held in Edinburgh.  Another former India captain Rahul Dravid and ex-Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena have also been appointed to the Cricket Committee, while Kumble has been re-appointed as the chairman for a three-year term.

  

Dravid, along with former Australia off-spinner and ex-Chief Executive of Federation of International Cricketers’ Association or players union, Tim May, have been elected by the current Test captains as current player representatives, replacing former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, who has completed his final three-year term, and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, who has completed his three-year term having replaced May in 2013 in somewhat controversial circumstances (PTG 1788-8923, 28 March 2016). 

Jayawardena has been appointed as a past player representative and takes over from former Australia captain Mark Taylor, who has also completed his final three-year term.

Replacements for all injured players - is that cricket?

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Thursday, 12 May 2016.

PTG 1827-9141.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) paper to the International Cricket Council (ICC) outlining its case for player replacements to be allowed in first-class matches without the loss of first-class status will focus on concussion-related issues (PTG 1825-9124, 12 May 2016), however, CA believes the game should debate whether it has a duty of care for all types of injuries such as broken bones and fractured backs and why they should necessarily be treated differently to cases of concussion.

Allowing injury replacements could tempt teams to roll the dice on injured stars, knowing that they have a fresh reserve sitting on the bench.  Before discussion gets to that though, the concussion substitute should be something that is immediately implemented by the ICC — not just in domestic cricket, but internationals too.  Without such a mechanism, batsmen will continue to feel undue pressure to bat on through a head knock so as not to leave their team short.

Incredibly, the ICC does not have a concussion policy, or a chief medical officer, for that matter, which simply isn’t good enough in 2016.  How can the game’s governing body properly care for player welfare, and make decisions on rules to protect players when they don’t even consider it to be their responsibility? Eighteen months after Hughes’ death and still nothing has changed.  The ICC better get its ducks in a row because there are big decisions to be made.

Head trauma cannot be faked and substitutes ought to be common sense, but replacements for other types of injury?  Many would argue that’s just not Test cricket.

Players’ union fears 'adversarial negotiations' with CA.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 13 May 2016.

PTG 1827-9142.

Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) president Greg Dyer remains miffed with Cricket Australia (CA) and fears there could be a return to "adversarial" pay negotiations in the next year.  Discussions between the ACA and CA over pay and conditions for the women's players were not smooth (PTG 1664-8153, 18 October 2015), and the ACA failed in its bid to introduce a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Despite this, the women's payment pool jumped from $A2.36 million to $4.23 million (£UK1.19-2.1 m) when announced last month (PTG 1795-8965, 8 April 2016).

The ACA felt more should have been achieved for the top-ranked women's nation, something Dyer has made clear in the latest edition of the ACA's members' magazine.  He also hopes this is not a portent of things to come, for the ACA and CA will soon begin negotiations on a new MoU for male cricketers, with the current deal expiring in June next year.

"The ACA has been left disappointed with the way this negotiation [for the women] ceased abruptly. A return to the bad old days of adversarial negotiation – winners and losers – is surely not where we need to go”, Dyer said.  "We have been actively seeking an improvement in the relationship between the ACA and CA, whereby constructive and early stage dialogue would be the norm, heading off the creation of misunderstanding and impasse. We hope that will be more forthcoming in the upcoming MOU negotiations”.

Dyer said he had a "mixture of pride and disappointment" about the deal brokered for the women. This deal meant elite female cricketers who play in the Big Bash League and the national side will pocket more than $A100,000 per year (£UK50,600). Travel and accommodation benefits have also improved (PTG 1760-8781, 11 February 2016). However, there remains a huge disparity between the earnings of women and their male counterparts, some of the latter whom earn millions of dollars every year. 

"Clearly, women's cricket is on an upward trajectory, with some great steps forward at its elite level over the last 12 months. There is no question that better arrangements were overdue and it's important to acknowledge that both the ACA and CA have each played a significant part in achieving them through a constructive process”, Dyer said.  "However, there are some key components still to be discussed, agreed and documented, simply from the perspective of including some basic protections for the women that have always been part of the men's MOU”.

The last men's deal was brokered in 2012, and featured a cut from 25 to between 17 and 20 in the number of national players awarded contracts, at the discretion of the selection panel.  The contracts had a greater reliance on performance, with bonuses for series and tournament wins. Players had received a set 26 per cent share of revenue but that was cut to 24.5 per cent under the five-year deal with the prospect of earning as much as 27 per cent depending on series wins and rankings. The current minimum base for a CA-contracted player is about $A230,000 (£UK116,000).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,828

  Sunday, 15 May 2016

 

• ICC hoping to add extra WT20C tournaments to schedule [1828-9143].

• Ball, not money, key to day-night Test decision, say Proteas [1828-9144].

• BCCI sets date for presidential vote [1828-9145].

• CA acknowledges state scorer, umpire, award winners [1828-9146].

• Lord of the Lord’s grass [1828-9147].

• The MCC is more than just Lord’s [1828-9148].

• Batsman sets new net record [1828-9149].

• 'Travellers’ actions postpones club’s inaugural match [1828-9150].

ICC hoping to add extra WT20C tournaments to schedule. 

Nick Hoult

London Daily Telegraph

Sunday, 15 May 2016

PTG 1828-9143.

The rise of Twenty20 cricket will gather pace with two extra World Twenty20 Championship (WT20C) series to be added to the existing schedule by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as it looks to cash in on the booming popularity of the game’s shortest format.  It is understood the ICC has opened discussions with broadcasters about organising WT20C tournaments in 2018 and 2022, meaning that the event will be played every two years.

Such was the success of this year’s WT20C series in India that the ICC does not want to wait another four years for the next tournament, which is due to be staged in Australia in 2020, and is exploring holding extra editions.   Talks were held in fringe meetings at the ICC's board meeting in Dubai last month about holding a WT20C every two years with West Indies a possibility for the proposed 2018 tournament and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2022. 

An informal sounding out of broadcasters has begun about adding the tournaments to the recent $US2 billion ($A2.75 b, £UK1.4 billion) rights deal signed with Star Sports in 2014 that runs until 2023. That deal included a WT20C series this year and in 2020 after the ICC decided to place its three global tournaments (the World Cup, Champions Trophy and World Twenty20) on a four-year cycle.

But the collapse of the Twenty20 Champions League, which featured domestic teams from around the world, has left a hole in the calendar in September-October, a time which is suitable for cricket in seven of the nine Test playing nations.

Sources have confirmed the ICC has explored the possibility of holding the next men’s WT20C in the West Indies in 2018, possibly as a run in or at the same as the women’s version is due to take place in the Caribbean. But the problem with the Caribbean is the time difference makes it incompatible with the Indian market, where the vast broadcast deals are on offer.

Another possibility is South Africa, although the government there recently banned its cricket board from hosting global tournament because it had failed to meet racial quotas (PTG 1811-9058, 26 April 2016 ). The UAE has the infrastructure to host the tournament and the time difference works well with India. England is a non starter because it is already hosting the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2019 World Cup.

The recent WT20C in India was hailed by the ICC for bringing in record television ratings. The group match between Pakistan and India was watched by 83 million people and in England the pulsating final between England and West Indies brought Sky Sports a peak of 2.45 million viewers, the channel’s highest rating for a cricket match.

Tweets about the WT20C received 5.75 billion impressions and the ICC claimed 46 million people engaged with the tournament on Facebook. “It is a fact that the [2016 WTOC event] engaged with fans, old and new, like never before”, said Dave Richardson, the ICC’s chief executive.

Adding another two WT20Cs would add to fears from traditionalists of a further squeezing of Test cricket but the shortest format also brings in the finances that will enable loss-making Test series to be held by poorer nations.  The WT20C proposal is expected to be added to the agenda for the ICC’s annual general meeting in Edinburgh at the end of June for formal discussion.  The annual meeting will also discuss a new system of promotion and relegation for Test cricket as the game faces its biggest shake up.

Ball, not money, key to day-night Test decision, say Proteas. 

Jon Pierik

Fairfax Media

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1828-9144.

The South African cricketers' refusal so far to agree to a day-night Test in Australia next summer remains a ball issue and is not a financial play (PTG 1804-9012, 19 April 2016).  South Africa Cricketers Association chief Tony Irish said he was still consulting the Proteas' elite players but this had been "difficult right now" while several are taking in the Indian Premier League.

Cricket Australia (CA) wants to again have a day-night Test in Adelaide, where the Proteas have been scheduled to play the deciding match of the planned three-Test series in late November.   Irish said there was still work to be done to convince the Proteas their concerns about the pink ball would be eased ahead of the blue-chip series of the summer.  Proteas' skipper AB de Villiers has said he and his team mates concerns are focussed on the "wear and tear to the pink ball" and how well it holds up for 80 overs.  

CA chief James Sutherland old a Sydney radio station his week the under-lights Test in Adelaide will almost certainly go ahead (PTG 1826-9133, 13 May 2016), however, David Warner his national vice-captain has echoed South African players’ concerns about the pink ball (PTG 1827-9137, 14 May 2016).  New Zealand players agreed, despite some concerns, to play the inaugural day-night Test only after CA offered prize money of $A1 million (£UK521,000) with a 60-40 split between the winners and losers.

BCCI sets date for presidential vote.

PTG Editor.

News agencies.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1828-9145.

Members of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are to convene in Mumbai next Sunday to elect its new president to replace Shashank Manohar stepped down earlier this week, and has since been elected as the International Cricket Council’s first independent chairman (PTG 1826-9135, 13 May 2016).  Reports continue to suggest that BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur remains as the favourite to replace Manohar (PTG 1825-9127, 12 May 2016), but he will have to resign from his current post in order to be eligible to contest the election for president. 

CA acknowledges state scorer, umpire, award winners.

PTG Editor.

News agencies.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

PTG 1828-9146.

In a flurry of activity on Thursday-Friday, Cricket Australia (CA) put up six separate posts on its ‘Community Umpires Australia’ (CUA) web page acknowledging awards won by scorers and umpires from the Australian Capital TerritoryNew South WalesQueenslandTasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia.  The awards were presented at end-of-season dinners conducted in their respective capital cities over the last two months, however, South Australia’s dinner was not held until this Saturday therefore details of their awards are not yet available.

Meanwhile, CA’s Match Officials group is preparing for its annual post-season meeting involving umpire managers from the states and territories which is to be held in Bowral the week after next.  If past practice is any guide it is unlikely any details of that gathering will be provided on the CUA site.  Prior to Bowral, CA Match Officials Manager Sean Easy will be doing the rounds of states to discuss contract issues with those selected for CA’s top 12-man National Umpires Panel (NUP) and 5-person second-tier Development Panels (DP) for the 2016-17 season.

Interest in the NUP will focus on the top and bottom rated individuals, the former on whether CA membership of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel will change (PTG 1785-8911, 22 March 2016), and the latter on which if anyone will be demoted from, or promoted to, the NUP.  Then there is the question of DP membership for the year ahead: will anyone of the current five be promoted to the NUP, will anyone be promoted to the DP, and will anyone no longer have a spot on that panel? 

Lord of the Lord’s grass.

James Glenday.

ABC Radio.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1828-9147.

He regularly worries about sprinkler systems and occasionally finds watching grass grow a stressful experience — but that is the price you pay to become one of the globe's best groundsmen.  At Lord's in London, Mick Hunt is a legend.  "Well, that's maybe a bit over the top”, the humble curator says as we walk to the centre.  I don't think anyone else wanted the job”.

For 47 years he has rolled, resurfaced, watered and watched over the "home of cricket", building up close relationships with some of the world's best players along the way.  "No-one expects a batsman or bowler to be perfect every time, but they do expect that from their groundsmen”, Hunt says as he examines a pitch being prepared for a county game.  "The job is getting harder too. The seasons are longer, the stakes higher and the weather…”.

Cricket is one of the few games where the playing surface can have such an enormous impact on the outcome and every year his work comes under intense scrutiny from bowlers, batsmen and sports journalists.  "They say, 'has your mower broke down?' That means they want more grass off it. Or, 'is there a restriction on water?' because they think it's too dry”, he explains.  Asked if he felt pressure to produce a certain pitch, a pitch that'll be good for the English seam bowlers, for example, Hunt answers with: "We try and stay clear of that. We try and prepare a pitch so it's an even contest”.

The Ashes Test is easily the biggest event on the calendar and Hunt, who says he has "always got on well with the Aussies", finds the first day particularly tense.  "When the old pressure is on … you look out and see a postman going down the road with a sack across his shoulder, you think, 'wouldn't mind being a postman’”, he jokes.

His career highlight is fixing the hallowed turf in 12 days after the Olympic archery was held at Lord's in 2012.  "I called it 'rich man's darts' — which didn't go down too well with the British Archery Association — but basically we had to returf a third of the ground before the South Africa Test match”.  "Then the pitch was marked very good by the match referee”.

Following that feat he was named world groundsman of the year.  So, what is his secret?  "A lot of hard work … A lot of things are about timing”, he says, laughing.  "Of course, I've got quite a good budget as well”.

The MCC is more than just Lord’s.

Michael Henderson.

The Times.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1828-9148.

Everybody in the world of cricket, and quite a few folk beyond it, has a strong opinion of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Custodians of the game’s laws. Cricket’s House of Lords. Gin-swilling dodderers. Men wearing trousers as red as their faces. That tie!

Marylebone Clodpoles Club, Michael Parkinson used to call it in his brilliant essays on cricket, and he had a point. There were some members who behaved as though Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Does he have a point now? There is still the occasional chap in a striped blazer honking away as he drains a whisky and soda, but nobody pays much attention. In any club of 18,000 members there will always be wrong ’uns.

Philippe Auclair, a French journalist resident in London who loves cricket as dearly as any native, was on to something when he described the blazered brigade as “absolute buffoons who have no idea of cricket’s history. They seem to think that men like Grace and Ranji were turning back the clock when in fact they were pioneers. What buffoons!”

WG Grace, the doctor from Gloucester, will remain at Lord’s until the ravens leave the Tower of London because members enter the ground through the gates that bear his name. They may sit in stands on either side of the pavilion named after other famous men of yesteryear, Allen and Warner (the stand is now being rebuilt), and gaze across the meadow towards the Nursery End where there are two more enclosures that honour supreme performers of the past, Compton and Edrich.

On the noticeboards in that magnificent pavilion are the names of those who have served as club president. You will find a prime minister, a field marshal, an admiral of the fleet, an air chief marshal, the Duke of Edinburgh and as many barons, earls and plain knights as you will find in the 'Almanach de Gotha’, a directory of Europe's royalty and higher nobility, from a German perspective.

Over the past three decades, though, the club has changed. Physically Lord’s has altered, if not out of all recognition, then in a way that spectators who loved the place after the Second World War would find remarkable. But the change is not just physical. Lord’s is now the home of one of the sport’s most enlightened clubs, as well as being one of the most beautiful spaces in our capital city.

Yet MCC is so much more than Lord’s. It remains, at heart, a playing club and each summer sends out teams almost every day to all corners of the kingdom, to give a game to any school, club or travelling band who fancies a joust. Last week alone MCC put out 33 teams, from Dover College in England’s south to Carlisle in the north.

No other club in the world, in any sport, does so much to advance the cause of the game. They don’t do it for money, quite clearly. Nor are they in it for glory. They do it because they love cricket, and want to hand something of that spirit on to others, principally schoolboys and girls who may need a helping hand.

“I think we can play a part by showing young players how the game should be played”, said Chris Paget, who captained the MCC side who played at Repton School last week. Paget was himself a Reptonian when he played for Derbyshire 12 summers ago as a 16-year-old off spinner, and he remains the youngest cricketer to have represented the county.

Repton beat the club by five wickets on a lovely day. No great surprise there. “How the game should be played”, Paget said, “not how to play the game”. He wasn’t sitting in judgment, but he was making a point. You hear some odd tales about teachers falling out over how the game should be played. Radley and Marlborough, two of our grandest public schools, fell out so badly some years ago that they suspended all fixtures. Nothing surely is worth that breach.

All over our land MCC brings people together, to play and to love cricket. That is worth a couple of cheers. So if you happen to hear a blazered buffoon fulminating against the world (“Mr Eden has gone much too far this time”), please be merciful. In his youth or childhood even he must have done something good.

Batsman sets new net record.

PTG Editor.

News agencies.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1828-9149.

Rwanda captain Eric Dusingizimana has broken a Guinness World Record, batting for 51 straight hours to set a new mark for the longest individual net session (PTG 1825-9128, 12 May 2016).  Dusingizimana, 29, started batting on Wednesday and completed his marathon effort on Friday, facing the final ball, which ws bowled by his wife, in front of a large crowd in the Rwandan capital Kigali.  Despite batting for more than two days, he still had enough energy left to perform a headstand to celebrate his achievement.

Dusingizimana topped the previous record of just over 50 hours set by Virag Mare in India late last year and says he is hoping to raise around $A30,000 for the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, which was set up to help fund the country's first international cricket ground.  He said he was "so happy to have helped raise awareness for cricket in Rwanda and the work of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation”.  "We need to build the future of cricket in Rwanda, and use the new facilities to help the sport unite our country and raise awareness about the importance of health and education”.

The UK newspaper the ‘Independent' pointed out somewhat cheekily that Dusingizimana batted for more than five hours longer than the entire Australian team managed during the 2015 Ashes series.

'Travellers’ actions postpones club’s inaugural match.

Eleanor Davis.

Get Surrey.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

PTG 1828-9150.

Newly-formed Knaphill Athletic Cricket Club (KACC) have had to postpone their first ever match on Sunday due to damage to their ground.  Club captain Neil Thomas said they had been advised by Woking Borough Council not to play on the pitch, after travellers arrived at Waterers Park on Tuesday shortly before heavy rain which saw many areas in the area flooded.  Travellers is the name given in the UK to a group of Gypsies of Romani origin (PTG 1606-7804, 30 July 2015).  

"Our first match was cancelled because there's a bit of rubbish left over there”, said Thomas, who indicated that were also signs of people had been driving quad bikes and doing handbreak turns across the square.  "With all the rain its quite wet, [the council] asked us not to play”, he said.  "It was going to be our first game, which is really annoying”.

KACC had been due to play their inaugural match against Byfleet but that has now been postponed until the end of July.  “We are a new community club and want to encourage everyone in the area to play, regardless of background”, said Thomas.  "It’s for people who wouldn't necessarily have the chance to play, it's serious but not a league every week.  It's just getting people together and having fun - more of a social team”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,829

  Tuesday, 17 May 2016

 

• No changes to CA's National Umpire Panel for 2016-17 [1829-9151].

• 'Duckworth-Lewis is rubbish’, claims losing coach [1829-9152].

No changes to CA's National Umpire Panel for 2016-17. 

PTG Editor

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1829-9151.

 

Cricket Australia (CA) has announced an unchanged National Umpire Panel (NUP) for the 2016-17 domestic season at home, at the same time adding Queenslander Donovan Koch to an otherwise unchanged second-tier Development Panel (DP).  CA is yet to announce which four members of the coming year’s NUP will make up its contribution to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), however, there is speculation that suggests one change could be in the wind.

The NUP for the year ahead is: Gerard Abood, Greg Davidson and Paul Wilson (New South Wales), Ashley Barrow, Shawn Craig, Phillip Gillespie, Geoff Joshua and John Ward (Victoria), Simon Fry (South Australia), Michael Graham-Smith and Sam Nogajski (Tasmania), Michael Martell (Western Australia); while Koch, in a move that was widely expected (PTG 1775-8867, 5 March 2016), joins his state colleague Damien Mealey, plus Simon Lightbody, Claire Polosak and Anthony Wilds (NSW) and David Shepard (Victoria), as a DP member. 

Fry, who made his debut at Test level last year (PTG 1658-8113, 7 October 2015), Martell, Wilson and Ward are the current IUP members.  Whether Fry is in contention for ICC Elite Umpire Panel membership is not known, however, if he is successful that would leave a NUP vacancy that would be filled by a DP member, thus taking membership of that group back to last year’s five.  

'Duckworth-Lewis is rubbish’, claims losing coach. 

Nagraj Gollapudi 

Cricinfo

Sunday, 15 May 2016

PTG 1829-9152

Stephen Fleming, the coach of the Indian Premier League’s Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) franchise, lashed out at the Duckworth-Lewis method after his side's eight-wicket defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), saying that the game was over for them as soon as the rule came into effect. The match in Kolkata on Saturday was marred by rain and a heavy spell interrupted the RPS innings with the score on 103 for 6 in 17.4 overs. After more than two hours of play were lost, KKR were set 66 to win in nine overs, a target they achieved with four overs to spare. The defeat pushed RPS out of contention for a playoff spot. 

"Duckworth-Lewis is rubbish”, Fleming said after the match. "As soon you get stuck with Duckworth-Lewis the game is over. We could have gone to 135, maybe 140, maybe we could have hit 25 runs in the last three overs. [A total of]135 is good. The track was turning and it was going to be a difficult chase with our spinners, but as soon Duckworth-Lewis and rain [came in] the game was over. Simple as that".  "We thought 135 was a good score”. 

When asked if the International Cricket Council should look into how the Duckworth-Lewis method is applied in Twenty20s, Fleming said the rule was unsuitable to the format and he had brought up this issue in the past.  "I have said it for years. This [D/L method] doesn't suit this game. Others have said it, but it doesn't seem to be addressed. There is no point carrying on about it because there doesn't seem to be a willingness to change. But it is not made for T20 game - it is just ridiculous for the team that fields second. Until it is addressed you have just got to hope the skies don't open, and try and really forecast. We thought it was going to be fine, but obviously it wasn’t”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,830

  Wednesday, 18 May 2016

 

• England, Windies women named for WCL Jersey series [1830-9153].

• Forehead strike sends umpire to hospital [1830-9154].

• Aussie match official managers set for Bowral meeting [1830-9155].

• Botched drug testing leads to compensation discussion [1830-9156].

• Call for revival of Test Championship concept [1830-9157].

• ICC bowlers’ action testing ’not accurate’, claims off-spinner [1830-9158].

• Council retreats on proposed cricket ball ban [1830-9159].

• Vandals target Oklahoma pitch with concrete [1830-9160].

• Committee meeting stops play [1830-9161].

• Lord's pre-eminence leaves other Test venues fighting over scraps [1830-9161].

 

England, Windies women named for WCL Jersey series. 

PTG Editor

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9153.

 

Eight of the 24 new members of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) third-tier Associate and Affiliate Umpire Panel (AAUP), two of them women, have been named to stand in the World Cricket League (WCL) Division 5 series which is to be played on the island of Jersey over eight days starting on Saturday.  The 18 one-day format matches will be overseen by David Jukes of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees’ Panel, while long-time AAUP member Mark Hawthorne of Ireland will mentor his eight colleagues.

The eight AAUP members appointed in addition to Hawthorne are, from Europe, Alan Neil and Alex Dowdalls (Scotland), Sue Redfern (England), Huubert Jensen and Pim Van Liemt (The Netherlands), while Issac Oyieko (Kenya) is being flow in from the ICC’s Africa region, Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies from the Americas region, and Tabarak Dhar of Hong Kong the East-Asia Pacific region (PTG 1824-9121, 11 May 2016). It would appear that each umpire will stand in either four or five games during the week.

On the newcomers, Williams has stood at the highest level to date, having debut at first class and List A level in the Caribbean’s ‘domestic’ competition last year (PTG 1745-8682, 24 January 2016), and being selected by the ICC to two tournaments, one being this year’s World Twenty20 Championship (WT20C) series in India.  Redfern, a former England player (PTG 1696-8359, 26 November 2015), is an England and Wales Cricket Board employee who featured in the same ICC tournaments as Williams.  Data available suggests that to date she has stood in one men’s Premier league level game and is currently taking part in the ECB’s invite-only Level Three course.  

Time-wise, apart from Hawthorne, Dowdalls is the most experience umpire having been at the crease for over 20 years, a time during which he has stood in second-tier nation first class and List A matches as well as in European senior and youth tournaments, including WCL Division 6 in England last year (PTG 1638-8018, 6 September 2015).  Neil, an umpire since early last decade, also stood in WCL-6  last year, and prior to that like Dowdalls in a host of European events.  Records available suggest Oyieko’s experience has to date been limited to ICC Africa region series, while searches for Dhar, Jensen or Van Liemt’s umpiring pedigree have so far produced no results.

Six teams will compete in next week's series: Guernsey and fellow Channel Islanders Jersey, Nigeria, Oman, Tanzania and Vanuatu. The two sides who reach the main final on Saturday week will earn promotion to WCL Division 4, a series that will be staged later in the year.

Forehead strike sends umpire to hospital.

PTG Editor

Tuesday, 17 May 2016.

PTG 1830-9154.

A umpire was struck on the forehead during a Middlesex County Cricket League (MCCL) Division 3 match at Hornsey between North London and Bessborough on Saturday and had to be taken to hospital.  No details of the incident, including whether umpire Tim Langer was standing at the bowlers’ or square leg ends, led to the second innings of the match being “held up for a time”.

Details of Langer’s subsequent stay in hospital or his on-going condition are not available.  A member of the MCCL umpires’ panel  Langer was standing with colleague Tony McSean, who is believed to have managed the rest of the match.  The head strike occurred three days after Bangladesh umpire Nadir Shah was felled when a ball that struck him, also on the forehead, while he was standing at square leg in a Dhaka Premier League match (PTG 1824-9120, 11 May 2016).

Aussie match official managers set for Bowral meeting. 

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

PTG 1830-9155.

Protecting and increasing resources available for the management of match official issues, umpire assessment processes, females as umpires, recruitment and retention, community communications, and pathways, progression and the development of a high performance culture, are some of the issues listed for discussion at Cricket Australia’s (CA) post-season umpire managers’ meeting in Bowral early next week (PTG 1828-9144, 15 May 2016).

Just 14 individuals are employed full-time, and around half-a-dozen others part-time, to manage umpiring across Australia, the largest such jurisdiction in area in the world with “over 5,000 registered” umpires.  Those managers' on-going work is generally coordinated by a three-person group based at CA headquarters in Melbourne, and while resources are acknowledged as tight in some areas with senior CA management having a limited focus on match officials issues, many question just how effective and efficient the officials' group currently works as a whole.  Reports suggest that perhaps a dozen state and territory managers and others will join CA staff in Bowral for the two-and-a-half day meeting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  

Current umpire assessment systems and processes and whether they are appropriate to “get the best [candidates] to the top” of CA's umpiring tree are high on the meeting agenda.  That discussion will also look at current assessment structures and reporting methods and ask if they are adequate to deal with the “risk of unfair dismissal claims” and if there is a "need for more robust assessment criteria” in that regard.  That focus appears to be in relation to CA’s various umpiring panels and groups, and while selection processes are of their nature somewhat brutal for some, there appears a need for CA, its staff and systems, to handle such disappointments in a more professional, informative, manner.

The question asked in regards to females in umpiring is: "Why are only two per cent of [CA’s 5,000 plus] accredited umpires female?”, a statement that suggests some 100 females can be found in umpiring ranks nation-wide, a figure that sounds high to some observers.  CA is currently engaged in a well publicised push to increase the status, reach and standard of the womens' game, a policy that includes some very fast fast-tracking of some female umpires, but numbers are still low and feedback is being sought in Bowral on how the level of “female engagement” in umpiring ranks can be further improved.

On the wider recruitment front a session titled ‘Marketing Plan’ has been scheduled, which appears to be recruitment and retention by a newer name.  The underlying theme here is: “We now have the systems so where are the customers?”, a statement that suggests some believe such systems now existing are appropriate and adequate.  That agenda items refers to “on-boarding”, presumably ’new speak’ for encouraging and welcoming new recruits, and asks just "Who are we targeting and how?”.

Ways to improve overall communications with match officials are listed for discussion, an area where despite limited resources it is clear much more could be done for the wider scoring and umpiring community.   The national body’s re-accreditation process for Level One and Two umpires also gets a mention, a matter that has, despite many years on the table, yet to be addressed effectively. There is also a session titled: ‘Developing a High Performance Culture’ that asks: "What is required for us to have a high performing culture?”

The last hour of the meeting is the first time scorers or scorer issues are specifically mentioned on the agenda, what is simply called an ‘update’ in that area being provided; although news in that area may only take 30 seconds as CA initiatives in that area appear to have ground to a halt.  Three years ago, CA initiated what was described as a ‘national scorer initiative’ (PTG 1126-5470, 20 June 2013), but no news of it has surfaced publicly since.  After that there was the ‘Statsmaster’ computer scoring program initiative which scorers around the country widely condemned.  

During those final 60 minutes, discussion of matters related to umpire "Personal Protective Equipment”, a high-profile issue over the last 18 months, and “Umpire Contracts”, are also listed for discussion.  Last August, CA surveyed umpires around that country to obtain their views about the extent of their vulnerability to ball strikes and to understand the "optimum level of protective gear" they believe they should wear (PTG 1613-7840, 7 August 2015).  As yet no publicity has been given to the findings of that survey, an example of CA’s current inability to talk openly to its match officials clientele around the country.

In addition to CA, state and territory managers, others expected to attend either some or all of the Bowral meeting are former Australian player Joanne Broadbent who is now coach of the NSW womens’ side and CA umpire Development Panel member Claire Polosak, who will be there for what is planned as a one-hour discussion about the female side of the game, plus CA Umpire Coach Ian Lock, and International Cricket Council Umpire Coach David Levens.

Botched drug testing leads to compensation discussion. 

Andrew Fidel Fernando.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 16 May 2016.

PTG 1830-9156.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has denied that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had asked that the costs involved in the Kusal Perera doping case be reimbursed, and it said it had not agreed to compensate the board.  The ICC announced last week that it had withdrawn a doping case against Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Perera, expressed regret that the analysis of his sample had been botched, and said it was seeking an urgent explanation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Qatar laboratory which tested Perera's sample (PTG 1826–9134, 13 May 2016).

The ICC's denial regarding costs came just a few hours after a SLC official claimed the world body had said verbally that it would compensate the board.  It said it "can confirm that it has not received any request for compensation from SLC or Mr Perera and it has not agreed (verbally or otherwise) to any such reimbursement". "Whilst the circumstances of this case are unfortunate, the ICC does not accept that it is responsible for the finding of the WADA-accredited Qatar Laboratory or the consequences that flowed from such a finding, and the ICC will be considering its own position in respect [to] costs incurred”.

The statement contradicted SLC secretary Mohan de Silva, who had said: "The ICC has agreed to compensate us, but there is nothing in writing. In any case we will be making an appeal for that. I'm quite confident that they will oblige us”.  De Silva had said it was SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala who was in direct contact with ICC about the reimbursement. Speaking on the amount SLC had spent on the case, Sumathipala had said on Thursday that SLC "definitely have to get our costs back."

SLC had said it spent over 13 million Sri Lankan rupees ($A121,240, £UK61,285) on clearing Perera's name, though the board did not quite need the 15 million Rupees it had set aside to fight the case.  In addition to fees paid to Perera's UK-based lawyers Morgan Sports Law, SLC also helped fund a polygraph test and separate urine test conducted in London, as well as a hair analysis conducted in a Paris lab. Each of these measures is said to have helped give Perera leverage with the ICC. 

Perera himself suggested he was not dwelling on the suspension's personal cost to him, but board president Sumathipala had said the "indirect cost" to Perera had been "colossal". In addition to missing a full tour of New Zealand, a bilateral series against India, and two major tournaments in the Asia Cup and World Twenty20 Championship, Perera was also ineligible for the Indian Premier League auction. He had been fixture in all three formats for Sri Lanka prior to the suspension.

SLC's executive committee had not made a firm decision on further legal action, but de Silva confirmed discussions were ongoing in the board about "how to compensate Kusal”.  Perera has resumed his training with SLC coaches  after five months of being barred from doing so. He may be in the fray for the limited-overs leg of Sri Lanka's tour of the UK and Ireland in June-July.

Call for revival of Test Championship concept. 

Fox News.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9157.

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor has called for the concept of a World Test Championship (WTC) to be revived.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) scrapped the WTC concept two years ago because of lack interest from television marketers (PTG 1271-6130, 17 January 2014), and subsequently introduced the 'Test Challenge' for the top non Test-playing countries (PTG 1332-6431, 11 April 2014).

Aside from the ongoing Test rankings system, which was brought into effect in 2003, Test cricket has never had a tournament or showpiece match to determine the best side in the world.  Many believe some kind of finals tournament would be crucial to ensuring Test cricket remains relevant in an increasingly competitive sporting landscape.  

Taylor sits firmly within that camp, telling a Melbourne radio station that even a one-off Test ‘final’ would be a good thing.  “Anything you can do along those lines, just for people of every country to feel that every match they’re playing is not just about that game but is also about qualifying for a semi or a final would be terrific”, Taylor said.  “It just means that all Test playing nations are playing towards being the best team in Test match cricket”.

Taylor, 51, retired from international cricket in 1999 but remains heavily involved in the game, and not just through his high-profile role as a television commentator for until just a few days ago he sat on the ICC’s ‘Cricket Committee’ (PTG 1827-9140, 14 May 2016).  These positions have allowed him to see first-hand the powerful politics at play among global cricketing administrators.  He says resistance from certain countries is what ultimately scuppered plans for a Test championship, but it’s not too late to turn things around.

“Countries – I won’t point fingers – I think people have been worried it (would) just mean more and more time put aside for Test matches, and they want to have some of these Twenty20 tournaments which make them and the players money”, Taylor said (PTG 1828-9143, 15 May 2016).  “If we see Test cricket as the ultimate form of the game, we have to be doing everything in our power to make it that.  I think a Test match final over four years can only be a good thing”.

Meanwhile, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting is not open to the idea of an Ashes day-night Test anytime soon (PTG 1807-9030, 22 April 2016).  He told reporters in Mumbai he is "very much a traditionalist as far the Test cricket is concerned [and] have always been very apprehensive about changing the fabric of our Test match game”.  He said last year’s inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide "went of very well [and at the] right time and [in] the right place [day-night Tests] will have a place.  

Ponting doesn’t "think it necessarily there has to be one or two day-night Test matches every summer [and] wouldn't like to see an Ashes Test being played as a day-nighter”.  However, he felt that day-night Tests may help in reviving interest in the five-day game in India, which is set to host at least 12 Tests later this year. "The Test matches in India also need a kick as well and with the amount of the Test cricket coming up we will see what happens there”, he said (PTG 1812-9061, 27 April 2016).

ICC bowlers’ action testing ’not accurate’, claims off-spinner. 

Daily Times.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9158.

Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has criticised the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) testing procedures to check the legality of bowling actions saying that the world body cannot prove the accuracy of the equipment involved.  Ajmal, whose remodelled action was found to be legal after ICC testing in February last year (PTG 1517-7310, 10 February 2015), made similar comments last November, reports at the time suggesting he could face disciplinary action from the Pakistan Cricket Board as a result (PTG 1681-8253, 5 November 2015), however, nothing appears to have happened in that regard.

Ajmal said on Monday that players’ "Careers are at stake and these things need to be tested thoroughly before bowlers are banned. Can the ICC say that their testing procedures are absolutely accurate? No, they cannot. Therefore, the careers of bowlers are being jeopardised by equipment that is not totally accurate”.  He went on to say that “If the ICC can prove to me that their testing procedures and equipment are 100 percent accurate, then I will be satisfied, but as things stand, bowlers are being banned by a testing procedure that is not entirely accurate”.

The off-spinner said modern day cricket was turning spinners away from the game. “Modern day cricket has become a game that has been designed for batsmen. Spinners are penalised for their bowling actions but look at the size of cricket bats these days, they are like tree trunks. Also look at the power-play rules and the relevant field-settings. Fast bowlers have been given two bouncers an over, but what concessions have the spinners been given? I’ll tell you what they’ve been given, nothing apart from more suspicion and scrutiny”.

The 38-year-old also claimed that only some bowlers were being monitored closely while others had been given leeway. “The art of off-spin is dying; the number of off-spinners around the world is dwindling and even some of those have dodgy actions”, he said. "Everyone can see that some bowlers are getting away with their actions, but others are monitored closely and banned. It seems to me that the actions of bowlers from Pakistan and Bangladesh are watched more closely than other countries by the ICC”.

 

Ajmal claimed “There are several bowlers out there whose actions are not clean but they never get reported”, said Ajmal. “I cannot name them of course but it’s obvious who I am referring to. I have video proof that the bowling actions of some bowlers are not legal but they have never been reported. What hurts me is that I was suddenly banned after seven years of playing international cricket and no consideration was given for my unusual action due to an accident I was involved in” earlier in life.

Council retreats on proposed cricket ball ban. 

Kurtis Eichler

Portside Messenger

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9159.

An Adelaide suburban council’s proposal to ban the use of cricket balls on its reserves has been smashed out of the park, after councillors were told public safety could not be guaranteed unless all ball sports were banned.  Port Adelaide's Enfield Council has voted to accept a staff ­report that says there is no need to make casual cricketers use tennis balls on grounds or in nets that have not been booked for formal, organised play.

Under a widely criticised and ridiculed proposal that made world headlines, Enfield Councillor Mark Basham had suggested casual players be banned from using cricket balls at any park or net in the municipality, unless they had a booking, because of the potential risk that the hard balls could harm passers-by (PTG 1806-9026, 21 April 2016).  Under the proposal, signs would have been erected to direct casual players to instead use softer tennis balls.  

Basham asked the council to consider the ban after getting reports of people being hit by flying cricket balls.  However, in a report to council, community development director Deb Richardson said there had been no reports of cricket ball-related injuries.

Vandals target Oklahoma pitch with concrete. 

Steve Shaw.

News9.com.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9160.

A heartless act of vandalism at Oklahoma City’s only cricket field has local players fuming. Members of the Oklahoma City Strikers Cricket Club said the damage was inflicted sometime over the weekend at Douglass East Park where the team plays its home games, the vandals pouring concrete on to the single artificial pitch at the ground.

Karthik Viswanathan, one of several team members who used sledgehammers and other tools to break up the concrete and clean up the mess on Monday evening, said "It’s heartbreaking for all of us, because we love the sport. We love to play cricket, and this something we don’t want to deal with”.  Viswanathan estimates it will probably cost more than $US13,000 ($A17,750, £UK8,980) to fix the pitch.  “It’s appalling. You don’t do this to anybody”, he said.  Oklahoma City police are investigating.

Committee meeting stops play. 

Dhaka Tribune.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9161.

The round of matches of the on-going Dhaka Premier League series scheduled for Friday have been moved to next Tuesday due to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) Umpires' Committee.  Amin Khan, co-ordinator of the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis, said on Monday: “The umpires committee asked the [BCB] to reschedule matches due to the AGM as they will be busy during that time”.  All the other domestic leagues are also being rescheduled for the same reason.

Lord's pre-eminence leaves other Test venues fighting over scraps. 

Andy Bull.

The Guardian.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

PTG 1830-9162.

It’s a short walk uphill from King’s Cross to the corner of Barnsbury Road and Tolpuddle Street on the west edge of Angel in north London. There was a cricket ground here once, White Conduit Fields, named for the stoneworks that carried water from the local spring. The ground is long gone now, buried deep among the many layers of old London that lie beneath the new streets. 

But there are little clues, for those looking. A nearby cul-de-sac still carries the name, a restaurant occupies the old pub that once shared it, too, and across the road by the gravel football pitch in Barnard Park there’s a small plaque with a precis of the spot’s place in history. Because White Conduit, wrote the historian AD Taylor, was “the acorn that blossomed into the gigantic oak”.

That oak still grows. It is five miles further west in St John’s Wood, 30 minutes away through the Camden backstreets on the 274 bus: Lord’s. Thomas Lord, the man who gave it the name, worked at the White Conduit Club as a net bowler and, as Plum Warner put it, “a sort of general attendant”. Lord’s father had land but it was sequestered after the Jacobite uprising of the early 18th century and for a time Lord fetched up working as a labourer on the very farm he used to own. His son, Thomas, travelled to London, thinking he would set himself up in the wine trade but found a better opportunity when the Earl of Winchilsea and the future Duke of Richmond offered to back him in building a new private cricket ground across the city.

First Lord set up in Dorset Square, close by Marylebone. White Conduit moved with him, and soon merged with the newly formed Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The rents at Dorset Square grew too high and Lord relocated to the North Bank of the St John’s Wood estate. Then Parliament decreed that the new Regent’s Canal would run through the venue. So Lord finally arrived at the current site. Lord’s name fitted the ground just fine. It was White Conduit’s rule that “none but gentleman ever to play” and while the new MCC was a little more relaxed, it has always retained an aristocratic air, one which, to be honest, now seems out of keeping with the city around it, and the game as it is played around the country.

Lord’s, wrote Jim Kilburn, “the place where you take your hat off as you go in”. Kilburn, who spent more than 40 years working as the cricket correspondent for the 'Yorkshire Post', loved it there. “Lord’s does command respect”, he wrote. “To sit at Lord’s is to share in substance and so become a man of substance yourself”. Kilburn was not alone in feeling that. And the waiting list to join the MCC is still 27 years long. But the very same qualities Kilburn admired in the old ground rub others the wrong way. John Arlott described it as “a place for authoritarians”. And while Kilburn reckoned that “few other places so happily mingle formality and comfort”, it often seems to me that the one precludes the other.

In London, I’d sooner go to The Oval, an admission that will likely escape censure on the grounds that, as a rule, MCC members don’t tend to be ‘Guardian’ readers. And the one man I did meet who was a member of both constituencies explained that on a busy day a copy of the paper draped over the neighbouring chair was an excellent way to secure himself a little more elbow room because it made so many other members reluctant to sit next to him. Lord’s has too many airs and graces for my taste, too many spectators who have come to be seen rather than to watch.

The MCC had its Annual General Meeting recently. The president, Roger Knight, gave a speech in which he described Test cricket as a “London-centric” game, a statement that seems bound to be received well around the rest of the country and, most especially, you imagine, in Yorkshire and Lancashire! Knight’s numbers stack up. He pointed out that in the past three years, more than 340,000 spectators have come to Lord’s to watch the first Test of the summer. At the same time, the three following Tests, all held at Headingley, have drawn only 110,000, or “32 per cent of the figure for Lord’s”, as Knight put it. “And in 2012, when there were three Tests against West Indies, the crowd here was higher than the other two grounds added together”.

Which is why, Knight suggested, Lord’s should continue to stage two Test matches a summer as it is this year, first Sri Lanka next month then Pakistan in mid-July. “It is by no means certain that from 2020 onwards there will be sufficient Test matches to enable MCC to be awarded two per summer", Knight said, “simply because there may not be sufficient Test matches to distribute among the grounds that would expect to stage them”. He argued that “Test cricket is thriving in London, the time has come to pay attention to that fact”. This time also being the moment in which Lord’s faces losing its second Test. With another match at The Oval, three of each summer’s seven matches are held in London and the seven remaining Test venues, many struggling for money, are competing with each other for four fixtures. 

In this argument, it seems that what matters most to the MCC isn’t the health of Test cricket around the rest of the country but whether or not its members still get to enjoy their 10 days of Test cricket each summer. Warner once described the MCC as “a private club with a public function” (PTG 1828-9148, 15 May 2016). Knight’s words reveal on which side the balance lies.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,831

  Thursday, 19 May 2016

 

• ‘Super Series’ points-based concept has player ‘bonus’ attached [1831-9162].

• Struck umpire given the ‘all clear’ after Brain scan [1831-9163].

• Warwickshire cleared over umpires’ ‘poor’ pitch report [1831-9164].

• Defibrillator stolen from cricket club [1831-9165].

• Sudden closure of nets leaves cricketers scrambling [1831-9166].

‘Super Series’ points-based concept has player ‘bonus’ attached. 

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Thursday, 19 May 2016.

PTG 1831-9162.

 

Andrew Strauss, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) director of cricket, hopes his 'Super Series’ points-based concept will help in the fight to save Test cricket as it comes under increasing pressure from the Twenty20 format (PTG 1816-9083, 1 May 2016).  With the International Cricket Council (ICC) apparently planning to add two more World Twenty20s to the rota in 2018 and 2022, Test cricket faces being squeezed even further (PTG 1828-.9143, 15 May 2016), however, some are concerned the points system devalues the five-day game (PTG 1820-9107, 5 May 2016).

Strauss believes the 'Super Series' against Sri Lanka and Pakistan will help give Test cricket and other forms of the game greater context. A win in Test cricket will be worth four points, a draw two points. In one-day cricket a win will be worth two points and a tie one point. The overall winner from all three formats will win the 'Super Series' and the players will receive a £25,000 ($A50,450) bonus each.

There will be no trophy presentation and the 'Super Series' does not have a title sponsor as the ECB does not want to cut across existing deals with Test, fifty over and Twenty20 sponsors. A report earlier this month suggested the ECB were looking for sponsors for the points system (PTG 1810-9083,  “One thing we don’t want to do is just stick our heads in the sand and just keep things going the way they have always been at a time when the game is evolving and developing very quickly and this is one way of providing more context”, said Strauss.

“The Ashes will always be the Ashes played over five Test matches, that will never change, certainly we have no plans to change that and nor should we, but we want to create more relevance, more context and we want to say we have a responsibility to ensure that international cricket remains relevant in people’s lives and this is one way to do that.

“What I worry about is people just sitting there saying ‘It’s going to be all right’ and not doing anything about it. I think we have to be on the front foot on this and say ‘look, we have a very vibrant Test support in this country – which is a great thing – and we’ve seen some fantastic Test matches over the last 12-18 months, but there are some worrying signs there so let’s act before it’s too late”.

A similar system has been in place in the women’s Ashes for the last three years but men’s cricket is waiting for direction from the ICC on its future plans for Test cricket, which are expected to include promotion and relegation in a two divisional format (PTG 1808-9036, 23 April 2016).

Struck umpire given the ‘all clear’ after Brain scan. 

PTG Editor

Thursday, 19 May 2016.

PTG 1831-9163.

Tim Langer, the Middlesex County Cricket League (MCCL) umpire who was struck on the forehead during a match at Hornsey last Saturday (PTG 1830-9154, 18 May 2016), was discharged from hospital the morning after the incident after a brain scan gave him the all clear, says MCCL umpiring chief Keir Hopley.  Langer, who was at the bowlers’ end when a return shot hit him, was tended to by a doctor and nurse who were both taking part in the match. Just when he will return to the crease is not known at this stage.

Warwickshire cleared over umpires’ ‘poor’ pitch report. 

PTG Editor

Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

PTG 1831-9164.

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) has cleared Warwickshire of any wrong doing after the pitch it provided for its County Championship match against Somerset last week was rated as “poor” by umpires Ian Gould and Neil Mallender (PTG 1826-9132, 13 May 2016).  

The ECB said that in accordance with its regulations, Cricket Liaison Officer Tony Pigott "gathered the views of the umpires, captains and coaches of each team, as well as the head groundsman regarding the preparation and performance of the pitch”.  A report was prepared and submitted to the CDC Chairman, while “the ECB Pitch Consultant also visited Edgbaston and submitted a separate report".

The Chairman of the CDC considered reports submitted reports provided to him against the regulatory requirement that “each county shall actively seek to prepare the best quality cricket pitch that it can for the match that it is staging”.  He concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that Warwickshire County Cricket Club had breached this requirement, and that as a result no further action will be taken on the matter.

Defibrillator stolen from cricket club. 

JenniferScott.

Nottingham Post.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

PTG 1831-9165.

Thieves have snatched a life-saving defibrillator from a cricket club – which had been bought following tireless fundraising by members.  The device cost Long Eaton Cricket Club in Derbyshire more than £1,100 ($A2,220) with members fundraising for months to get the cash.  But last week, members of the West Park club noticed the equipment was gone.

Graham Legg, one of the fundraisers from the club, said: "It had only been on the wall for less than a month”.  We did lots of fundraising last summer, and bought the equipment at Christmas, but waited to put it up in time for the cricket season to start.  We have contacted the police but are fearful the expensive medical device may not be recovered for months, if at all".

Lego said the club has the equipment's the serial number, "but who knows what will happen to it”.  "We had conversations about whether to keep it locked up in the pavillion, but we wanted it to be there for the community so anyone in need could use it.  Who in their right mind steals a defibrillator? I am so upset and angry. All that work we did, with so many people involved and so many generous donations, and some opportunist has just come and taken it. It was great for the club, great for the community and great for West Park. Now it is gone”.

Local ward councillor Caroline Brown has said she wants to give some of her budget to helping the club get a replacement, but was appalled it had been taken in the first place.  "I am absolutely disgusted that some people have taken something that the club paid for themselves for the community”, she said.  

In Australia last week Cricket Australia's independent Curtain investigation into the death of Phillip Hughes in November 2014 recommended be available at all CA sanctioned matches (PTG 1825-9124, 12 May 2016).  Last year a club in Staffordshire acquired a defibrillator after one of its players collapsed during play during the 2014 English season (PTG 1588-7659, 9 July 2015).

Sudden closure of nets leaves cricketers scrambling. 

Douglas Gelevan.

CBC Montreal News.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

PTG 1831-9166.

Sajad Bhatti and his friends are regular players at Montreal's Howard Park cricket nets, but they will have to find somewhere else to play for the next few weeks.  On Tuesday, Bhatti arrived to find the mesh nets fenced off and closed by the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Park-Extension borough, something he says happened without warning or explanation.  "I don't know what to say ... [the borough] didn't write down anything but "fermée" so some people don't even know what "fermée" means," he said.   "Some people will think that it's closed forever”.

The Villeray-Saint-Michel-Park-Extension (VSMPE) borough put up a "closed" sign with no other explanation of why.  Borough official Philippe Lesage sent out an e-mail Monday night saying the nets weren't safe and had to be closed indefinitely for security reasons. But nothing was posted on the fence in the park to explain why it was closed to citizens. 

The Quebec Cricket Federation (QCF) says the news caught them off guard, too.  "When we woke up this morning it was quite a surprise to all of us”, said DeCourcey Bishop, a coach with the QCF's junior program.  "There is nowhere for us to go. We had plans to start practising outdoors this coming Thursday”.  The Howard Park cricket nets are the only outdoor practice facility of its kind in Montreal and Bishop says the junior cricket players were depending on it to prepare for the start of the season.  "You're kind of limited indoor [but] a facility like this really allows the bowlers to have a nice fluent run up and really improve their abilities," he said.

A VSMPA representative said that it's concerned a ball could slip through a hole in the netting at the end of the nets and injure someone.  The facility is two years old and some netting has detached from the metal poles and it could take several weeks to fix.  There are also some bars loose at the back of the nets and holes at the bottom where a ball could roll out. 

Bishop said he supports the borough's decision to close the cages because his players' security is a top priority.  However, he worries a prolonged closure will affect his players' development.  "I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something will happen in a very short while”, he said.  Bhatti, however, is worried that the borough won't move quickly to fix the cages.  The problems appear to have been caused by wear-and-tear and in his opinion they should have been dealt with before the start of the season. "They need a couple of screws — if they bring it to me, I could fix that. You know, it doesn't take three weeks to fix this. If they want to [they could] fix it today or tomorrow”, he said.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,832

  Friday, 20 May 2016

 

• England will hold a day-night Test, says ECB chairman [1832-9167].

• Empty Headingley seats ask tough questions of Test format [1832-9168].

• CSA reiterates commitment to transformation [1832-9169].

• No shortage of money in English cricket, but priorities need changing [1832-9170].

• ‘Wisden' reveals how cricket’s most faithful supporters suffer from collective denial [1832-9171].

England will hold a day-night Test, says ECB chairman.

BBC Radio.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

PTG 1832-9167.

England will host a day-night Test, according to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves, who said on Test Match Special: "You can't turn your back on it, it will happen, we just have to decide when, we're doing a lot of work on it and we'd love to see day-night cricket” (PTG 1827-9136, 14 May 2016).  

In a wide-ranging interview Graves also said: Live Test cricket will never again appear on terrestrial television in the UK; Two or three counties were prevented from going bust in the past year (PTG 1832-9169 below); A revamped ECB T20 competition will not be themed on franchises but could have city-based teams; Test cricket is safe so long as governing bodies move to protect it; and Counties should look to hold day-night first-class matches, only one of which has ever occurred (PTG 834-4075, 16 September 2011).

England have announced plans for this summer's contests against Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be multi-format 'Super Series', with points on offer for Test, One Day International and Twenty20 matches (PTG 1831-9162, 19 May 2016).  Currently, the world Test rankings are the only global form of competition for the five-day game, with plans to hold a World Test Championship in 2013 scrapped in 2011.  

Graves said: "We have to make Test cricket meaningful and we have to put some 'oomph' behind it.  Test cricket is safe if we do something about it, but I don't think it is safe if we do nothing. That is not an option. The International Cricket Council are looking at it and the other countries are looking at it”.  However, while "We'd like to see some live cricket on terrestrial television [in the UK but] Test cricket will not be”.

Live Test match cricket was last seen on terrestrial television in the UK in 2005, with all of England's matches since then being shown by pay TV channel ‘Sky’.  In 2014, some nine years after the move, the ECB's own participation figures showed that the number of people playing recreationally had dropped significantly (PTG        1463-7085, 20 November 2014), however, just what the 2015 survey found has not been made public to date (PTG 1714-8495, 16 December 2015)).  "The younger generation do not watch terrestrial television, they use social media. We have to take that into account. It will be a mix-and-match situation for us to come out with the right formula”.

The domestic Twenty20 competition in England has often been a target for criticism, with some favouring the franchise model used by the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League in Australia.  The current model of 18 counties split into two divisions of nine and looking to reach the quarter-finals will remain in place until 2019, when the existing broadcast deal expires.

Graves said there could be "four or five" options for a new-look competition, potentially including city-based teams, but with a franchise model not under consideration.  "I have never mentioned the word franchise once, but it's all people talk about”, Graves said. "I don't believe it is the right model for English cricket.  We want to keep all 18 counties involved. I'm sure cities could be one option, but we have no preconceived idea of what we want. We don't have a preferred option. We will put them all on the table then decide the right way to go.  I want 18 counties”.

The ECB is aiming to begin talks with broadcasters at the end of the year to agree a rights deal that will guarantee the sport’s survival in this country for the next “10 to  15 years”.  Graves’s executive team at the ECB are working with an external company to devise four or five options for the domestic structure, primarily a new Twenty20 competition, that will underpin talks with broadcasters for a new deal to run from 2020.

From 2017, the domestic first-class structure will be altered to a top flight of eight teams and a second tier of 10 from the current system of two nine-team divisions.  With debate ongoing over how much cricket should be played and how the counties can sustain themselves financially, Graves said he favours an 18-county structure and could even imagine a scenario where that is expanded.  However, he also revealed debt within the game totalling £120m ($A244 m) and that "two or three counties" have been saved from going bust in the past year.

"I've always said I want 18 counties”, he said. "It annoys me that people say we will not sustain 18 counties - we've never said that. We could have even let two or three go bust during the past year. We haven't done that. If we haven't done that in the last year, why would we change?  I could give you a case where the domestic game could sustain more than 18 counties, but we do have £120 m ($A244 m) debt in the game and we have to manage that. We have to get the competitions right. It's about how we use the money”.

Last week the ECB gave each of the counties an extra £300,000 ($A588,200) and Graves defended the board against criticism of rising costs around the England team (PTG 1825-9126, 12 May 2016 and PTG 1832-9170 below).  “What people don’t realise is where that has come from”, he said. “The budget we inherited was for a £1.7 million loss ($A3.5 m) in 2015. We turned it into £1.5 million profit ($A3 m). People say, ‘Well yes but the England costs went up’. They did but in 2015 we played 10 Test matches abroad.  Compare that with the year before when we had no Test matches abroad. That is a massive difference in cost to the ECB”.

Empty Headingley seats ask tough questions of Test format

John Westerby.

The Times.

Friday, 20 May 2016.

PTG 1832-9168.

Half-empty or half-full? With the future of Test cricket an increasingly emotive subject, a scan around the stands at Headingley on Thursday for the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka revealed plenty of the empty seats that are such a pressing concern for the game, as cricket’s longest form struggles for survival against short attention spans and the cannibalistic rise of the Twenty20 game (PTG 11832-9171 below).

The first day of the first Test of summer, an occasion that often restores the feeling that all is well with the world, was played out in front of a crowd that filled a little more than half of Headingley’s 17,000 seats. Those of a pessimistic nature looked at those swathes of empty seats yesterday and saw further blemishes on the fading features of Test cricket.

To give that picture a little more context, though, a crowd of 9,436 yesterday was by no means viewed as a disastrous outcome. For a start, it was an improvement on the gate for England’s Test here two years ago against the same opponents.  Early-season Test matches have become notoriously difficult to sell, away from Lord’s at least (PTG 1830-9161, 18 May 2016). England’s opposition in these matches are, in general, the less marketable of the year’s two touring teams, the undercard before the main event later in the summer. The weather is less reliable, too, particularly in the north, and the skies above Leeds were a familiar grey yesterday.

Bearing these factors in mind, Headingley should perhaps have been considered half-full yesterday. Indeed, the crowds are better than in much of the Test-playing world, with more than 12,000 tickets sold for each of the next two days’ play.  In previous years, the first Test has been held at Lord’s and generated momentum for subsequent matches in the provinces. This season, renovations on the Warner Stand mean that Lord’s will host the third Test against Sri Lanka next month, after the second Test has been played at Chester-leStreet, when crowds are likely to be smaller still.

“Test cricket should not be held in the north of England in May, that’s something we’ve recommended to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)”, Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive, said on Thursday. “It’s a different market to London. So to play the first two Tests in the north in May this year is just nonsense”.

Context has been frequently cited over the past couple of days by Andrew Strauss, the director of England Cricket, as justification for the 'Super Series' scheme allocating points across the different formats in England’s contests with Sri Lanka (PTG 1831-9162, 19 May 2016). On a broader level, the mooted World Championship of Test cricket is designed to provide context and greater meaning to boost flagging five-day crowds.

A sample of spectators yesterday seemed indifferent to the 'Super Series' concept that Strauss has been promoting. “I’m not really bothered until the players are bothered about it”, said one.  But any discussion of waning audiences must always come back to how much spectators are being charged. Host venues would dearly like to offer cheaper tickets, with prices this week from £35 ($A71) for adults and £10 ($A20) for juniors. But counties feel that their hands are tied by the need to recoup the vast staging fees — Durham paid £923,000 ($A1.9 million) for a Sri Lanka Test — demanded by the ECB.

“The way ticket prices are at the moment, we’re ostracising large sections of society”,Arthur said. “We’d like to be able to bring adults in for £30 ($A61) or less and kids for £5 ($A10 ), but we can’t do that until the ECB takes on more of the risk”.

The staging agreement for Test match grounds, which ends in 2019, is in the process of renegotiation, and there was support for change yesterday from Colin Graves, the chairman of the ECB (PTG 1832-9167 above). “From 2020, I want to look at a new process and make sure the risk is not all with the counties”, Graves said.  At Yorkshire, there has been a clear effort to attract more female spectators. Typically, 80 per cent of a crowd for Tests, One Day Internationals or Twenty20 matches will be male.

Taking its cue from baseball in the United States, the great success of the Big Bash League in Australia has been to gear its marketing heavily towards women and children and this should be a salutary lesson for Test cricket to heed from its upstart rival.  Whether through reduced ticket prices or a concerted effort to broaden the social make-up of its crowds, the game cannot afford to thumb its nose at any section of society if the five-day format is to survive.

CSA reiterates commitment to transformation

SABC News.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

PTG 1832-9169.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has reiterated its commitment to meeting transformation targets in terms of players from the country’s black community.  CSA was one of the federations reprimanded by the Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula in April, having had their privilege to host or bid for any major international tournaments revoked (PTG 1811-9058, 26 April 2016).  

The sanctions imposed by Mbalula as per South Africa's Eminent Persons Group on Transformation in sport, caught CSA off-guard, but the governing body, who shares the same ambitions on transformation, is dedicated to engaging and resolving the issues.  To that end, a meeting between senior cricket officials and the ministry is set to take place this Saturday.  CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat, says, "There's no doubt we want to achieve all the goals we have set for ourselves, including that, that is aligned with the minister.  We are committed and we will do what we need to do to achieve transformation”.  

No shortage of money in English cricket, but priorities need changing

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Thursday, 19 May 2016.

PTG 1832-9170.

During my first tour as England captain, to West Indies in 1994, we ran out of medical supplies. We had taken a pounding in Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica, as England teams did in those days, and we had run short of bandages, anti-inflammatories and other staples of the physiotherapist’s kit bag. The next game, in Grenada, offered little hope of either a respite or a chance to stock up.

A friend of mine, a doctor, happened to be coming out to watch, so I asked him to bring a bag of supplies. He did and to compensate him, the tour manager — MJK Smith, the former dual rugby union and cricket international, and a former England captain — signed a cheque from the Test and County Cricket Board, the forerunner of what is now the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). On return to England, my friend went to cash the cheque, which duly bounced.

I tell the story because there has been a revival of late in interest about English cricket in the 1990s. This week on 'Sky Sports', Mark Butcher presented a documentary about the years; Emma John, a journalist on 'The Observer', has written a memoir of her teenage years that were entwined with the fortunes of the team in that decade. I have neither seen the program nor read the book, although I am told that both are excellent. It was a time of drama, more lows than highs, but drama nonetheless. Good copy, as they say.

I also tell the anecdote because, no doubt, the documentary and book focus on personalities, clashes, highs, lows, triumphs (occasionally) and disaster (often), but the underlying theme of the decade, neither dramatic nor sexy enough to recount, was the battle between club and country. Between the counties, who continued to hold sway on the back of an era when English cricket had the only professional system in the world, and an under-resourced England team. When the cheque for a few medical supplies bounces, you can be rest assured that there was not much to spread around.

For those of us involved, the balance seemed skewed. We could see how the fast bowlers were being driven into the ground by county captains, so that they would turn up to a Test match drained, injured or half fit. The England team were the shop window of the game; they reflected, rightly or wrongly, on the strength of English cricket as a whole. They needed to be better resourced and they needed to be the main focus rather than an afterthought. David Lloyd’s starting salary as England coach in 1996 was less than he was being paid at Lancashire. Priorities were out of kilter.

We argued for central contracts, a better funded England team and an academy to better prepare our players. The story of the England team from 2000 onwards, when central contracts came in and the battle between club and country shifted decisively, is one of a gradual reallocation of resources from county cricket to the centre, with far better results for England the consequence.

The recently released annual accounts for the ECB bear this shift out, dramatically. The ECB’s reserves now stand at £73 million ($A148.4 m) (although this is scheduled to come down as it anticipates two more difficult financial years ahead) — up as a percentage of turnover from 21 per cent to 55 per cent in five years; the number of ECB employees, from a skeletal staff in the 1990s stands at a whopping 263, and to help sustain the national team’s success, an astonishing £30.6 million ($A62.2 m) was spent on England teams last year. Coach Trevor Bayliss’s salary? Well, that is undisclosed, but you can bet it has outstretched Lloyd’s after inflation.

All this has been necessary to some degree. The performance of the national team is vital and an under-resourced England team is clearly counterproductive. The question is, though, whether this shift has gone too far. When, during a tour to South Africa some years ago, the team moved from a five-star hotel to a plusher hotel for a few days R&R with families in between Test matches, one is bound to wonder whether too much money is now spent on England and not enough on the counties that produce these players.

On Monday, 'The Times' set out the financial plight enveloping Durham. They will need a cash injection of more than £1 million ($A2.03 m), or must rapidly find alternative sources of income, otherwise they will face a very bleak and uncertain future (PTG 1816-9082, 1 May 2016). It cannot be right that Durham, who have produced as many first-class and England cricketers as most, were forced to bid for international matches on the same basis as other better-resourced clubs that benefit from, say, the London effect (PTG 1830-9161, 18 May 2016). The result has been the financial enfeebling of a club that remains of huge importance in the north-east.

This month, 'The Daily Telegraph' produced an equal tale of woe, not from a Test-match ground, but from smaller counties who are struggling to make ends meet. There was some arresting detail: Northamptonshire have a playing staff of just 15; their chairman refuses to eat lunch on match days at the ground to save £25 ($A50); players were not given lunch on a pre-season visit by the Professional Cricketers’ Association because it was not an official training day. “We are counting every loo roll”, their chairman was quoted as saying. For Northamptonshire, read Kent, Leicestershire and others.

For those pitching up at Headingley on Thursday morning for the Test (PTG 1832-9168 above, there will be a palpable buzz around the ground. Yorkshire are attempting to win a third successive county championship; they are producing England players who are the envy of everyone else, and there is more optimism about their financial state than there has been for years. From 2019, the club expect to be in a far stronger financial position.

Even so, a detached look at the balance sheet does not make pretty reading. Debt at about £25 million ($A50.8 m), outweighs assets of approximately £20 million ($A40.7 m). The club are essentially bankrolled by the Graves family trust (Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, has no involvement). Like Durham, there is no evidence of financial mismanagement or incompetence (the average salary of an employee is just £37,000 - $A75,200) simply that the club do not earn enough revenues on the back of cricket. And yet, because of the need to attract international fixtures, they are embarking on another round of expensive improvements — at a time when the model of bilateral international cricket is creaking.

There is no shortage of money within English cricket, but there should be a shift of priorities again, back towards the counties and away from the England teams. English cricket needs a strong, well resourced England team and strong, well resourced counties. After all, the latter feed the former. A fundamental rebalancing is required — and more than with a bit of sticking plaster the 1990s team were struggling to afford.

Wisden reveals how cricket’s most faithful supporters suffer from collective denial

Peter Wilby.

New Statesman.

Thursday, 19 May 2016.

PTG 1832-9171.

As I write, the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) is entering its final stretch. This seven-week Twenty20 cricket tournament features some of the best players in the world: for example, South Africa’s fast bowler Dale Steyn, the West Indies batsman Chris Gayle, England’s former star Kevin Pietersen, Australia’s Mitchell Johnson. By average crowd, the IPL is the sixth-best-attended sports league in the world. English football’s Premier League is fourth and Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) is ninth.

You would not guess any of this from reading the recently released 2016 edition of ‘Wisden'. In its 1,552 pages, it finds just four for the IPL, three for the BBL. Neither gets as much space as India’s domestic first class ttournament of mostly four-day matches, the Ranji Trophy, which has never had much of a following. Though the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Twenty20 series gets 27 pages, the 126-year-old County Championship of four-day matches, to which some teams draw as few as 12,000 spectators over a whole season, takes up 268 pages.

As you would expect, Wisden India, now in its fourth year of publication, gives more attention to the IPL – 31 out of its 802 pages – but still devotes 55 pages to the Ranji and other Indian four-day competitions. Its comment pages, unlike Wisden’s, give significant attention to T20 cricket but they mostly take a dim view of the upstart. Fans do not view the IPL, writes Sambit Bal, editor-in-chief of the ’Cricinfo' website, “with a moral compass”. It is “a purely consumerist product, with entertainment being its only currency”. Entertainment? Ye gods, whatever next?

The editors may well have their priorities right. I can’t remember the last time I went to a County Championship match yet each summer I obsessively follow online the fortunes of my home team, Leicestershire. I look forward to the arrival of ‘Wisden' each year not so that I can relive Test matches, already lodged in my memory by watching and reading about them as they happened, but because I want to study County Championship scorecards and re-create, in my mind’s eye, matches I never saw. ‘Wisden' does not publish full T20 scorecards, or any scores for the IPL before its final stages. Even if it did, I wouldn’t read them.

Judging by Wisden’s healthy annual sales, there are thousands like me. But cricket’s most faithful supporters – and its officials, players and commentators – suffer from collective denial. They all agree that five-day Test matches and four-day domestic matches represent “proper” cricket, placing the greatest demands on the players’ nerve, concentration and technical skill while ­offering spectators a long-form narrative comparable to a classical symphony. T20 cricket is just brute force and luck, no more worthy of critical attention than a gig at the local pub. Yet T20 attracts the crowds, sponsors and big-money TV contracts.

Particularly outside England and Australia, hardly anybody watches longer forms of cricket. The four-day matches in the County Championship, Ranji Trophy and Australia’s Sheffield Shield are a kind of zombie cricket, for which the newspapers dutifully print daily scorecards even though, for all most of us know, these could have been generated by a computer program. Tests in India are played in vast, empty stadiums. Worse, players are beginning to desert Tests. Many top West Indians devote themselves exclusively to the lucrative T20 domestic leagues that proliferate across the world.

The sport sometimes seems paralysed by the difficulties of resolving its dilemma: that “proper” cricket is dying while a bastardised form flourishes. Attempts to make Tests more appealing to mass audiences – by introducing a regular world championship, for instance – have so far come to nothing. Wisden’s editor, Lawrence Booth, welcomes the first day-night Test, played between Australia and New Zealand late last year. It attracted 123,000 spectators over three days, showing, as Booth says, the merits of playing when ordinary folk are free to attend. 

But cricket’s rulers are fussing over the colour of the ball before they confirm more such matches. Booth advocates another bold solution: an international championship where teams are awarded points for performances in Tests, T20 and one-day matches, giving all varieties a meaning that they lack at present. Suresh Menon, the editor of Wisden India, speaks for tradition, however, when he proposes the abolition of T20 internationals so that players focus on games “that really matter”.

Anybody who watched the recent World T20 Championship series in India, in which the West Indies beat England in the final after hitting four sixes off the last over, will agree that the shorter form makes its own demands on a player’s skill and character and, because every ball matters, arguably greater demands. T20 has developed new techniques in every aspect of the game: batsmen scoop the ball over their head; bowlers vary pace and length; fielders turn sixes into catches by leaping above the boundary edge and palming the ball back to a team-mate. Such skills have enriched the longer forms of cricket.

As Booth observes, “the era of taking pride in Test cricket’s exclusivity is over”. It is not morally or culturally superior to T20, just different. Cricket has to find a way in which the two can coexist and it must do so quickly. 

  

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,833

  Saturday, 21 May 2016

 

• Pink ball will never be the same as the red version: ‘Kookaburra' [1833-9172].

• Documentary reminds us cricket used to be front-page news [1833-9173].

Pink ball will never be the same as the red version: ‘Kookaburra'.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Saturday, 21 May 2016.

PTG 1833-9172.

The pink ball is not going to get much better, administrators aren’t going to get any less enthusiastic and reluctant players might just have to accept that the game of Test cricket has taken its most radical turn despite their best ­efforts to preserve its heritage.  Australian ball manufacturer ‘Kookaburra' said this week that the pink ball would never be the same as a red ball, but it had improved from the one used last season.

‘Kookaburra' managing director Brett Elliot spoke this week about the work the company had done to get a pink ball that would be adequate for a Test match.  “The pink ball is never going to be exactly like the red ball”, Elliot said. “What we are trying to do is find a compromise that would make it as close to the red ball as possible.  In doing that, it sits halfway between a red ball and a white ball in terms of its characteristics.  The feedback from the players we had was they found the visibility was good but they had trouble picking the seam, but it was only one or two [players who thought that]” (PTG 1706-8445, 8 December 2015).

The pink ball used for the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide had green stitching on the outer rows and a black stitch for inner finishing row. A rushed trial later in the 2015-16 summer saw a black seam trialled (PTG 1758-8765, 10 February 2016), but ‘Kookaburra' admits it was caught out by the last-minute demand and it was not happy with the quality of ball used.  Elliot said his company would stick with the black seams but had made a lot of progress since then and is now trialling its pink balls in India where there are plans for a day-night Test later this year (PTG 1807-9031, 22 April 2016). 

“This was always a process of continuous improvement and that was the case with the white ball. There are subtle changes you make taking in the players’ feedback”, said Elliot.  “We’ve tweaked the dye colour of the pink slightly to keep brightness, which was sensational from a television perspective, but one or two New Zealand players felt it glowed too much". 

"That was partially due to the Adelaide lights because they are at the high end of requirements.  We looked at the wear characteristics. It’s easy to make a ball that lasts 160 overs and still has the logos on it, but that is not a cricket ball or the characteristics of the cricket ball we have.  We want it to perform as close to a red ball as we can but at same time is adaptable to the broad range of conditions it will face”.

South Africa are holding out against playing a day-night Test in Adelaide this summer and will not make a decision until after the Indian Premier League, which finishes early next month, has been completed.  Australian players are also reluctant to play two pink-ball Tests, vice-captain David Warner voicing his concerns a week ago, a view that is supported by the majority of his teammates (PTG 1827-9137, 14 May 2016). 

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has speculated that he could force the South Africans to play at night, but this is not yet the path he has ­chosen to tread and the two parties are in discussions (PTG 1828-9144, 15 May 2016).  A number of other countries have expressed enthusiasm for the format in recent times.

South Africa captain AB de Villers said he and his players did not want to play a day-night Test in Australia. This week his team mates Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada ­endorsed their skipper’s view.  “If you are going there, you need to have experimented on the domestic front”, Philander said. “We haven’t done that so it would be a total blind eye going into it. I would like to have experimented before you actually go and do it. We are all professional players and I think sometimes people think we are quick to adapt to everything.  There are a lot of rumours of the ball being OK during the day and then at night being a bit difficult for batters”.

Rabada said he wanted to play in a day-night match some time but at the moment he was also apprehensive. “From what I hear, it’s not a fair contest between bat and ball”, he said.

Documentary reminds us cricket used to be front-page news.

Barney Ronay

The Guardian.

Saturday, 21 May 2016.

PTG 1833-9173.

If you have the right access codes I’d recommend watching the very enjoyable ‘Sky Sports’ documentary ‘England In The 1990s’. Presented by the waspish and witty Mark Butcher the film promises to lift the lid on “that iconic decade”, digging up the skeletons and marching them around, teeth chattering, papery skin still flapping, and generally finding out how an England team crammed with talent became the scowling man-boobed whipping boys of international cricket.

Not that ‘England In The 1990s’ does any of this in really startling detail. This is not a scalding evisceration. Departed selectors aside, the only person who gets mildly singed is Graham Gooch who, as you may have already gathered, liked everyone to do a bit of jogging. Gooch doesn’t work for ‘Sky’. He takes it well.

It is more a gently questing in-house job with plenty of wonderful, heart-rending, trauma-triggering footage, much of it featuring baffled, tired looking men slumped behind press-room desks or sad figures in pre-modern pads and arm guards trudging off, stumps splayed, while men in green hats shout at them.

Not that the film suffers as a result. This is a gripping tale however you slice it. Even when it’s being told through a honeyed glaze, with ‘Sky’ itself always destined to emerge as the real hero, the stability of TV-funded central contracts a natural counterpoint to all that chaos. The gear change duly arrives midway through as production values ramp up and suddenly the players are dressing in branded tracksuits and prototype ‘Team England’ gear.

And why not? There has been obvious progress. Sky’s coverage is thrillingly good. England in the 2010s is a far more successful machine. This week a very likeable, frisky, exciting Test team have kicked off a well-stocked Test match summer in Leeds. Everything’s fine. Better. Different. Fine.

But what do I feel now? Doubt? As Philip Larkin noted, the crowd is young in the M1 cafe. The kids are screaming for more but not, apparently, for more Test cricket. There were 9,346 in the stands at Headingley for the first day of the opening Test against Sri Lanka on Thursday, almost 2,000 down on the same day against the same opponents two years ago (PTG 1832-9168, 20 May 2016). 

Perhaps the most significant part of ‘England In The 1990s’ is what it tells you between the lines. This is a good news story that carries a powerful undertow, chiefly in the startling reminder that our own well-tended minor sport was until very recently a genuine national obsession.

The Butcher doc comes shortly after Emma John’s memoir of 90s cricket obsession, ‘Following On’, which carries a similar vanished sense of scale and weep. Everything mattered then. I remember a newspaper front page centred around a huge split-screen pic of a wonky England bat with an “X” slashed across the front, juxtaposed with a straight Australian one. Wonky bats on the front page. Wild, swirling headline fears about decline and disintegration, ambition and anxiety. Cricket was like the Brexit debate.

Similarly the players themselves – fall guys, burnouts, punchline to the new dawn – were still outsize figures. Graeme Hick may have failed to express the full might of his batting talent but even now he remains a hugely potent, mournful, Kong-like figure, forever wandering off as his stumps explode behind him, manacles dragging, menaced by helicopters, tiny twig-like bat tucked beneath his arm.

Preposterously perhaps, players were national figures. There was a fair chance your average man in the street knew who John Embury was. Mike Gatting could carry a tabloid front page. Contrast this with the recent TV adverts that had England’s biggest stars – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow – turning up to deliver people’s shopping. Nice idea ... Except, the most common reaction among the majority of the population is likely to be something along the lines of, oh, some nice, athletic-looking ginger bloke’s delivering my shopping. Why’s he grinning at me? Should I tip him?

This is not intended as a sour-faced middle-aged anti-neoliberal economics whinge. We know all this already. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the counties are aware of the need to “reach out”. Neither is this the moment to start firing up the free-to-air TV debate, now pointlessly polarised (answer: a bit might be good). Or to dwell on the bigger issue, one that lies beyond cricket, of the disappearance of the sport from schools, the dieback of clubs and pitches, particularly in urban areas.

The point is, there is still hope. All that passion, the visceral pull of ‘England In The 1990s’ is still there, albeit in concentrated form. The coverage of the sport, so well-suited to the internet, has never been so diverse and so full of energy. The ECB’s Twenty20 competition will sell out this summer. County cricket, and the colts levels stretching down into school and age groups, is crammed with talented young players.

The question is, who will watch them? What kind of game are they going to play? The current Headingley Test kicks off 51 days of England cricket this summer, 22 of which will be overshadowed by some larger sporting event elsewhere [the European football championship]. For English cricket the real enemy isn’t emerging markets or the obsession with loss of status to India. It is instead simple domestic irrelevance, the annihilating pull of football, no one giving a damn in 10 years’ time.

It was heartening to hear Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, talking with absolute, even tactless certainty – yes ‘Sky', the T20 competition we sold you for £65m ($A130.7 m) is “mediocre” compared to the Australian and Indian versions – about the need to pluck out a version of the game that can make this work again in England (PTG 1832-9167, 20 May 2016).  And perhaps avoid the lurking prospect that the only film anyone’s going to make in the future about 'England in the 2010s’, is a kind of mystery story, a whodunnit, a tale of disappearance and decline to be enjoyed in an ever-shrinking circle of privacy.

  

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,834

  Monday, 23 May 2016

 

• Helmets set to stay optional in NZ [1834-9174].

• Seven named to manage Caribbean tri-series [1834-9175].

• EUP contract time rolls around [1834-9176].

• Union seeks global contract system as players’ await MCL pay [1834-9177].

• Head strikes, concussion, behind cricket’s first helmet [1834-9178].

Helmets set to stay optional in NZ.

Aaron Goile.

Fairfax New Zealand.

Monday, 23 May 2016.

PTG 1834-9174.

New helmet safety standards are set to be introduced in professional cricket in New Zealand ahead of the next austral summer season, but unlike in Australia and England, the wearing of helmets is set to remain optional.  New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is currently working through a wide-ranging health and safety review into all aspects of the sport. Professional players have been surveyed, while stakeholders in the community game, like clubs and schools, have also been polled about potential changes.

NZC are mulling ideas put forward, chief executive David White saying the discussions had been "very positive", with "really good healthy dialogue, good debate”.  "We haven't come up with our final position yet, but [are] certainly forming our view, and hopefully [will] take our position to the board”.  NZC is expected to announce their stance in regard to the country's domestic and international players, and down the track possibly for those who play at lower levels, in the next few months.

Professional players are surveyed on issues in the game every year by the New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA), and the organisation's chief executive, Heath Mills, said the new helmet policies and concussion protocols were a big topic at their post-season players conference which involved 19 domestic players.  Mills said those present were "very vocal" in their view that all helmets worn in their games should adhere to the new British safety standards.

In January, Black Cap Mitchell McClenaghan was forced into surgery after suffering a fracture above the eye when hit by a delivery from Pakistan's Anwar Ali when wearing an old-style helmet which didn't meet the new standards. At the time NZC had recommended the newer helmets to the players, but nothing was enforced (PTG 1749-8713, 29 January 2016).

However, while upping safety is being met with approval, Mills said the players were by no means keen on seeing the wearing of helmets made compulsory. While it's now uncommon for players to ditch the lid and bat in a cap, even against the spinners, it's still a freedom the players want.  

"They tend to bring up examples of if you're playing in the subcontinent in 45-degree heat, 100 per cent humidity, and you're facing two spinners on a flat track, wearing a helmet actually could, from a heat point of view, danger your health and wellbeing in other areas”, said Mills.  "I think there's going to be ongoing discussions with the players and [NZC] around what additionally we do. I think there's also an element of let's see what happens in England and Australia as well".

NZCPA's other major discussion with NZC will continue to be around concussion, with the want for some stronger regulations.  "This is a big area of discussion for cricket at the moment”, Mills said.  "If you look at other sports, players are immediately removed from the field. That can happen here in cricket, obviously, but if they can no longer participate in the match, you can't replace a player, which is unlike most other sports” (PTG 1825-9124, 12 May 2016).

On the community front, NZC received more than 650 responses from their survey, with the governing body also considering other things at junior levels such as bowling loads, pitch lengths and fielding proximity.  White said introducing new protocols at the non-professional level would require a much lengthier transitional period.

Seven named to manage Caribbean tri-series.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 22 May 2016.

PTG 1834-9175.

Reports from the West Indies indicate that Richard Kettleborough of England and Joel Wilson of the West Indies are to stand in the final of the Australia-South Africa-West Indies One Day International (ODI) format tri-series in Barbados late next month, Jeff Crowe of New Zealand being the match referee.  The appointment of Wilson, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, suggests he remains on track for potential elevation to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), possibly as early as this year (PTG 1834-9176 below).   

Crowe is to oversee all 10 games of the tri-series, and will have in addition to Kettleborough and Wilson, the former’s EUP colleagues Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka plus Englishmen Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong, and Wilson’s fellow member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), Gregory Brathwaite of Barbados.  The latter’s appointment appears to confirm he has been elevated, following the retirement of Peter Nero, to a West Indian IUP on-field spot alongside Wilson (PTG 1822-9114, 9 May 2016).

Llong and Illingworth will work with the two West Indians over the first six matches of the series in Guyana and St Kitts, before Dharmasena and Kettleborough come in for the final four games in Barbados.  Braithwaite and Wilson will each be on-field in 5 games and work as the reserve umpire in the other 5, while Illingworth and Llong each have 3 on-field and 3 as television umpires (3/3), and Dharmasena and Kettleborough 2/2.

Overall the matches will take Crowe’s ODI record as a referee to 239 games, Llong’s to 102 on-field, 54 in the television position, and 23 as the fourth umpire (102/54/23), Dharmasena to 72/37/7, Kettleborough 64/28/13, Illingworth 47/33/16, Wilson 30/12/19 and Braithwaite 18/2/16.

EUP contract time rolls around.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 22 May 2016.

PTG 1834-9176.

By now, as the 2015-16 ‘year’ comes to an end, the International Cricket Council (ICC) will be in the final stages of assessing what, if any, changes it plans to make to its 12-man Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) for 2016-17.  Whether changes are in the wind is unknown as no hard data is available on member performances this year, and none face obvious questions regarding age or a desire to continue wandering the world, however, appointments hint at how each is ranked by the ICC.

The world body appoints, within the constraints of ensuring ’neutral’ officials look after games, “the best available umpires for matches and series”, and says “better performing umpires are used more often”.  Since the start of July current EUP members received a total of 356 match appointments from the ICC: 98 in Tests, 71 on-field, 27 as television umpire and none as fourth umpires (71/27/0), 100 in One Day Internationals (ODI) (58/39/3), and 138 in Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) (72/33/33).  There were also 20 appointments to games in the womens’ section of the WT20C.

Nigel Llong of England attracted the most international appointments across all umpiring roles with 40, followed by countryman Richard Illingworth 39, Australian Rod Tucker 35, another Englishman Ian Gould and Chris Gaffney of New Zealand each 34, Aleem Dar from Pakistan and Sundarum Ravi of India both 30, Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka 29, Richard Kettleborough the ICC’s current ‘Umpire of the Year’ from England 26, South African Marais Eramus 23, Australian Bruce Oxenford 20, and his countryman Paul Reiffel 16.  

A total of 37 Tests were scheduled in 2015-16.  EUP members filled 71 of the 74 on-field places.  Of the other three, one each went to EUP aspirants Simon Fry of Australia, Joel Wilson from the West Indian, and Sri Lankan Ranmore Martinez.  For Fry and Wilson it was their Test debut, while for Martinez it was his eighth Test in three years.  

Actual Test match appointments were led by Dar and Oxenford with 8/1/0 each, while of the others Tucker had 7/3/0, Kettleborough 7/1/0, Llong 6/1/0, Dharmasena 6/0/0, Gaffaney and Ravi, who both joined the EUP last June, both 5/5/0, Erasmus 5/4/0, Reiffel 5/3/0, Gould 5/1/0, and Illingworth 4/2/0.   

Of the Tests played, Gaffney and Ravi were eligible as neutrals for 81 per cent or 30 of those games, Erasmus 73 per cent (27), Dar, Gould, Oxenford, Reiffel and Tucker all 65 (24 matches), and Gould, Kettleborough, Llong and Illingworth 60 per cent (22 games).   

Test television spots were filled by EUP members on 27 occasions, the other 10 going to ICC second-tier umpires: Martinez having two, and one each to Fry and Wilson, Sri Lankans Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Ravindra Wimalasiri, and Indians Anil Chaudhary, Vineet Kulkarni, CK Nandan and Chettithody Shamshuddin.  

In the one-day game, Llong topped ODI appointments with 10/4/0 (14), then came Illingworth 9/8/0 (17), Gould 8/3/2 (13), Dharmasena 7/8/0 (15), Kettleborough 7/2/1 (10), Dar 6/0/0 (6), Gaffaney 5/4/0 (9), Tucker 3/5/0 (8), Ravi 2/3/0 (5) and Oxenford 1/2/0 (3).  Neither Erasmus or Reiffel has stood in an ODI during the 2015-16 year.

Tucker featured most in T20Is with 12/3/2 (17), followed by Llong 8/2/6 (16), Gould 8/3/4 (15), Erasmus 6/5/2 (13), Dar and Ravi both 6/2/4 (12), Illingworth and Gaffney both 5/4/3 (12), Kettleborough 5/2/1 (8), Dharmasena 5/1/1 (7), Oxenford 3/3/2 (8) and Reiffel 3/2/1 (6). In addition, Illingworth with 4, Dar, Gaffaney, Llong and Ravi each 3, Reiffel 2 and Dharmasena and Erasmus both 1, also worked in women’s World Twenty20 Championship matches.

In terms of work as the television umpire across the three formats in the men’s game, a role that is becoming increasingly specialised, Illingworth topped the list with 14 appointments, 2 in Tests, 8 in ODIs and 4 in T20Is (2/8/4), then comes Gaffaney 13 (5/4/4), Tucker 11 (3/5/3), Ravi 9 (5/3/2), Erasmus 9 (4/0/5), Dharmasena 9 (0/8/1), Gould 7 (1/3/3), Llong 6 (1/3/2), Oxenford 6 (1/2/3), Reiffel 5 (3/0/2), Kettleborough 5 (1/2/2), and Dar just 3 (1/0/2).

While those are the basic appointments statistics, more precise assessments will decide how each EUP member is rated by the ICC and in turn feed into decisions about their EUP future.  

Union seeks global contract system as players’ await MCL pay.

Australian Associated Press.

Friday, 20 May 2016.

PTG 1834-9177.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), or players’ union, is supporting the push for tighter global player contract system regulations that cover the world's numerous Twenty20 leagues.  The move comes as the international union, the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), issued a statement claiming a host of former international players have not yet been paid for playing in February's Twenty20- format Masters Champions League (MCL) in the United Arab Emirates.

Only one MCL team, the Gemini Arabians, are said to have paid their players in full and on time and ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said players' rights had to be protected.  "A fundamental right of all players is to be able to play in international competitions in the understanding that their contracts will be honoured.  The ACA is supportive of FICA advocating for a global system in which player contracts are honoured in all countries, and we clearly want the MCL agreements to be paid in full as a matter of priority”.

Former International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Roshan Mahanama, and former ICC Elite Umpire Panel member Steve Davis, along with four members of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Full List of umpires, Billy Taylor, Graham Lloyd, Peter Hartley, and Jeremy Lloyds, managed games in last February’s MCL series (PTG 1748-8701, 28 January 2016).  Whether they are waiting any payments is not known. 

The MCL is not the first Twenty20 league to become engulfed in a pay dispute for a number of players were forced to chase their payments from the Indian Premier League’s Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise in 2012.  The Bangladesh Premier League had similar issues that year when some players had to wait until after the tournament before they received their first pay instalment.  

And with the modern player able to travel the world playing T20 carnivals, FICA - who have a seat on the International Cricket Council’s Cricket Committee - want an arbitrary body to handle pay disputes.  "The dishonouring of player contracts is an issue that the entire global game should address”, FICA executive chairman Tony Irish said.  "The game needs robust player contract systems that work and are respected in all countries.  We also believe there should be fair and independent recourse and contract enforcement mechanisms for players in the event of disputes like this, such as a global arbitration body”.

Head strikes, concussion, behind cricket’s first helmet.

Dipankar Lahiri.  

Sportsskeeda.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

PTG 1834-9178.

Cricket has evolved over the years to reach a form which would perhaps be unrecognisable to those who were the first practitioners of the sport. But when a Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) batsman was seen walking out with the first ever cricket helmet 83 years ago this month to face the West Indies pace attack, the crowd sat up in shock. 

The year was 1933 and this tale is about Patsy Hendren who was an entertaining batsman whose antics ensured that there was never a dull moment in the game if he was present. Perhaps because he wanted to make the dozing spectators sit up, or perhaps he was genuinely being cautious, but when he walked out to bat on that late-May day with the first specially designed protective headgear in cricket, there was an uproar.

Scarves, towels and padded caps had been seen wrapped around heads before, but what Hendren subjected the Lord’s crowd to that day was a huge step in comparison. Abdominal guards and some other forms of protection had already been in vogue by then, but the notion of protecting one’s head as well was something that was still alien to cricket.  

Hendren's ‘helmet’, or a ‘three-peaked cap’ as it was called by contemporaries, had been made by his wife Minnie. What players wore on the field was not as regulated as it is today, and therefore such homely contraptions, though not very welcome or even common, were allowed.  

To the shock of the crowd, what Hendren was wearing on his head had three peaks, as opposed to the one peak of a traditional cricket cap. There was the normal peak in the middle of this ‘helmet’, the peak that bore the emblem of his team. The other two peaks hung towards the sides of his head, the sponge rubber lining on them protecting the sides of his head.

With the blood of the infamous ‘Bodyline' series not yet dried, and a battery of pacy fast bowlers at his door, Hendren’s helmet was a merely logical move. It would also turn out to be a revolutionary move half-a-century later, but the reaction in 1933 was not very flattering.  Perhaps what others said to him about his lack of the erstwhile notion of bravery did not sit right with him, or perhaps it was just too hot a day, but the lifespan of Minnie's helmet was very short. 

During his innings at Lord’s in a game in which Douglas Jardine was his captain, Hendren handed over the ‘helmet’ to one of the umpires, either Joe Hardstaff and Arthur Morton, when he reached the non-striker’s end, but his stay at the crease was very short as he was removed by Learie Constantine for just 6.  

As Hendren explained later, his intention was to protect his head from the pace of Constantine and Manny Martindale. The Englishman was known for his audacious hooks and pulls, but had to be stretchered off unconscious from the Lord’s ground in a 1931 match after having been hit by a bouncer from Harold Larwood. 

Instead of cutting down on his attacking batting, Hendren decided to try out the ‘three-peak cap’.  He said, “The people can say what they like. I have been hit on the head four times, once by a Larwood bouncer in 1931 which caused a wound in which six stitches were inserted. I am still suffering recurrent headaches due to that bashing. Believe me, I’m taking no more risks.  “One of Constantine’s deliveries was like a bullet, and if it had hit me I would have gone to kingdom come”.

"My wife made the cap out of cloth lined with rubber. It is a very fine job, but a little bit heavy on a hot day. Nevertheless it protects the temples. I don’t mind my face altered or my teeth knocked out if my head is protected. I don’t think other players will get similar caps. They wear pads and abdominal and chest protectors, but have not the courage to wear a head protector”.  

The last line can be read as a jibe aimed at players who wanted to wear protection on the field as long as it was out of sight, but would balk at the thought of wearing protection on their heads, in open view.  The 'Daily Mail’ of the day commented critically, “Hendren’s three-peak cap has cracked another glorious cricket tradition. No more excited babble of comment was ever caused by novel headgears as began at the Lord’s when a strangely head-muzzled figure, suggesting baseball or fencing and at some angles reminiscent of a bout wrestler, walked in to the wicket. 

The 'Daily Sketch' called Hendren’s move “ridiculous”, saying it was “a cross between an airman’s helmet and an Eskimo’s headgear”. The note went on, “Patsy would be well advised to leave this ridiculous contraption in the pavilion, or better still, send it to Australia”.  Hendren reacted to the uproar by agreeing to wear the ‘helmet’ for a few selected bowlers like Larwood, Martindale and Constantine. He abandoned it next season.

There were instances of self-made helmets used by players after this, but it was not until the 1970s that helmets began to be accepted as legitimate parts of a batsman’s gear. It took a century after the first Test match to realise that the head is the most vulnerable part of a batsman. 

Test cricket saw the first helmet in 1977.  In the 70s, batsmen like Dennis Amiss, Sunil Gavaskar, Graham Yallop and Mike Brearley consistently wore helmets, they what they wore was a far cry from the helmets seen today – what they resembled more was the kind of helmets worn by racing car drivers.  But Hendren’s genius in devising the first helmet often goes unacknowledged.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,835

  Tuesday, 24 May 2016

 

• PCB establishes biomechanics laboratory [1835-9179].

• Shoulder bump results in fine [1835-9180].

• Gabba day-night Test presents new challenge: Aussie captain [1835-9181].

• Thakur becomes BCCI’s youngest ever president [1835-9182].

• Gayle claims racism drove outrage at his BBL antics [1835-9183].

• Cricket growing in popularity among students in Maryland [1835-9184].

PCB establishes biomechanics laboratory

Daily Times.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016.

PTG 1835-9179.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan inaugurated his organisation's biomechanics laboratory at the Lahore University of Management Sciences campus on Monday.  The PCB chief called the facility a step forward in modern era of the sport, which that would help in raising Pakistan cricket standards by checking faults and suspect bowling action of players at an early stage. 

Shaharyar indicated that efforts would be made to have the lab certified by the International Cricket Council and that experts from the world body would be invited to visit Pakistan to inspect it to check its working and overall standards. “After the ICC certification, it will become 8th such facility worldwide”, said Shaharyar, who added that equipment for the lab was bought eight years ago (PTG 1016-4942, 7 November 2012), "but it could not become functional owing to different reasons”.  

 

Two years ago questions of cost were reported to be the major part of what Shaharyar is now calling "different reasons" (PTG 1421-6867, 29 August 2014).

Shoulder bump results in fine

PTG Editor.

Monday, 23 May 2016.

PTG 1835-9180.

Dwayne Bravo from the Indian Premier League’s Gujarat Lions franchise was fined half of his match fee for "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with [the opposition’s Kieron Pollard] in the course of play” during his team’s match against Mumbai Indians in Kanpur on Saturday.

Bowling to Pollard, Bravo dug a short ball into the pitch, and Pollard blocked it back to him.  Having done this, Pollard stood his ground, with bat held up over his right shoulder, only for Bravo to pick up the ball, walk up to the batsman, and shoulder-bumped him. Pollard didn't break eye contact with Bravo, and continued glaring even as the bowler turned and walked slowly back to his mark.

Bravo admitted a Level Two offence but Pollard later expressed shock via ‘Twitter’ over Bravo's fine, saying he had seen worse incidents on the field and termed the censure “ridiculous”.  According to him "It’s slowly turning into a robotic game.. No emotions no actions nothing ...2020 = entertainment !! Rigorous battles !! Everything is a fine”.  Later on Bravo joined Pollard and said they are “best of friends“ on and off the field and that everybody should “calm down”.  "Pity that normal banter is being shaped to suit agendas. It’s never that serious”, he claimed.

Gabba day-night Test presents new challenge: Aussie captain

Martin Smith.

CA web site.

Monday, 23 May 2016.

PTG 1835-9181.

Australian captain Steve Smith believes conditions will make things difficult for batting in his side's day-night Test against Pakistan at the Gabba in Brisbane later this year.  Smith says the Adelaide Oval is his preferred Australian venue for day-night Test matches and that atmospheric conditions in Brisbane could tilt a pink-ball contest even further in favour of fast bowlers.

Despite the commercial success of the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide last summer, which Smith labelled "absolutely remarkable", the skipper and several of his teammates, including his vice-captain, have expressed their concerns about the visibility and durability of the pink ‘Kookaburra' ball, as well as the thick covering off grass that was left on the pitch to prevent the ball from deteriorating too quickly (PTG 1827-9137, 14 May 2016).

The combination of a swinging pink ball and a greener than normal surface in Adelaide last November resulted in a low-scoring contest against New Zealand, with the match lasting just three days and just two batsmen posting half-centuries.  Smith is concerned the likely combination of a green surface for the day-night match against Pakistan at the Gabba and the traditional Brisbane humidity could provide significant movement for the faster bowlers and result in an even shorter contest than in Adelaide last summer.

That means it "could be very difficult for the batters, particularly if there's going to be grass left on the [pitch]”, said Smith.  "There's only one way to see how it's going to go and we've got a chance to do that against Pakistan this year”.  He’d "be happy to play another day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval” but thinks "we still need plenty of development with the ball to make sure they don't have to prepare a wicket that suits the ball with plenty of grass on it” (PTG 1833-9172, 21 May 2016).

Thakur becomes BCCI’s youngest ever president

Agence France-Presse.

Sunday, 22 May 2016.

PTG 1835-9182.

Anurag Thakur was elected on Sunday as the youngest-ever head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and now has the job of reforming that a body, a task his predecessor Shashank Manohar has suggested is near impossible.  Thakur, 41, a member of the national parliament for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the BCCI’s secretary, was the sole nomination for the top post.

Manohar had, as well as being BCCI president, also been serving as chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), but under reforms he himself supported he can no longer hold both roles simultaneously.  Thakur will have his hands full as the BCCI is under enormous pressure to introduce reforms after being tarnished by scandals including accusations of corruption and match-fixing in the Indian Premier League three years ago.

In the wake of those scandals, India's Supreme Court ordered a retired judge to draw up a report on the BCCI’s governance to try to avoid future conflicts of interest.  Amongst other things, Justice Rajendra Lodha’s report recommended the BCCI introduce age limits for its office-bearers, ban politicians from senior roles, and television adverts between overs during live broadcasts.  When he quit the BCCI presidency, Manohar said the reforms were not in the BCCI’s best interests and he felt he could no longer carry on in his role.

On Saturday, he told reporters that the recommendations on no adverts between overs "would destroy the financial structure" of the BCCI for the board's revenue "would come down drastically to about 15 percent of what it is getting today”.  He went on to say that "The entire ICC constitution is being looked into. An internal committee has been informed and has asked for suggestions from all ICC members, not only about the ICC financial structure, but also with regard to the administrative, cricketing and management structures. That will take about six months’ [to complete] and then everything will be finalised”.  

Thakur, a member of parliament since 2008, has been involved with the BCCI since he was elected president of his state association aged just 25. Last year he won the BCCI's secretary’s post by a single vote.

Gayle claims racism drove outrage at his BBL antics.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016.

PTG 1835-9183.

West Indian Chris Gayle believes Australians are racist and that is what drove the response to his controversial Big Bash League (BBL) interview with a women journalist earlier this year (PTG 1731-8591, 6 January 2016). The high-profile Twenty20 cricketer will not, however, play cricket in Australia this summer with franchises making it clear they do not want his services and Cricket Australia (CA) reiterating its stance.  One franchise said Gayle’s behaviour during recent visits ruled him out of playing here again.

The controversy surrounded a boundary line interview the West Indies cricketer did with presenter Mel McLaughlin where he invited her out and told her not to blush.  CA insisted Gayle be fined by his franchise, although some believed he should have received a ban (PTG 1732-8605, 7 January 2016. There was, however, an outpouring of support from people who believed that the reaction was a politically correct overreach.

Gayle claims there was more to it and accused his critics of racism in an interview with Britain’s 'Sunday Times'.  “If that had been a white footballer saying that nothing would’ve happened. Rugby player, nothing would’ve happened. Hollywood actor? Tsk”, he said “Successful black men are struggling because people do things to put them down. They would cover for other people, but not for a black man”.

The West Indian said that Australia is more racist off the field than on it.  “As a genuine statement, and I would say this anywhere in the world, in any sporting arena, right now in 2016: racism is still the case for a black man”, he said. “Trust me. They just want to get a little sniff of the dirt. They find out some shit and they want to sink you. It’s reality. You have to deal with that as a successful black man — especially if you had a poor man’s lifestyle, coming from nothing to something”.

CA chief executive officer James Sutherland said last month he could not stand in the way of a franchise attempting to hire Gayle this summer. The organisation said on Monday that while this was true it understood no franchise was interested in him.  Gayle’s former team, the Melbourne Renegades, confirmed they would not be hiring him again. “We’ll unveil our international signings soon and Chris isn’t part of those plans", said chief executive Stuart Coventry.

Cricket growing in popularity among students in Maryland.

Brody Logan.

Fox 5.

Sunday, 22 May 2016.

PTG 1835-9184.

It is the second most popular sport in the world and played virtually everywhere but the United States. But the county of Prince George in Maryland is hoping to change all that with the nation's first-ever primary and middle school cricket league.

When you look at it, baseball and cricket are sporting cousins.  “You use a bat, you use a ball”, said cricket coach Maxwell Solomon. “In baseball, you pitch. In cricket, you bowl”.   “You don't have to worry about hitting foul balls or anything”, said one student. “You just hit it wherever you want”.

There are basic similarities, but one big difference between the two bat and ball sports is the opportunity for young players in the United States. Over 400,000 kids have the opportunity to play in 6,500 Little League programs for baseball. But for kids who want to play cricket, there is only one elementary and middle school league in the country and that is in Prince George’s County.

“My kid came and said, 'Dad, there's cricket in school!'” recalled Solomon. “Cricket in school? What are you talking about?”  “It's exciting for me because that is the form of the cricket that I used to play back in India”, said parent Vieyasagar Cheedi.

This league isn't just for families that grew up with the game.  "I knew it was a world sport, so that was intriguing”, said Donna Garland. “I was like, 'Alright, let’s see how this work’. In the first year, we had cheat sheets. All of the parents had cheat sheets and we would all sit on the sidelines looking at the sheet thinking, ‘Was that good?’”

The parents have learned along with their kids and now they know the game – without the help of their cheat sheets.  Now that their kids have experienced the game, they would rather play with flat bats and bare hands than with gloves and pads.  “I think it's really fun, better than baseball”, said Garland’s son, Isiah. “I wouldn't play any other sport. If it came down to a decision, if my parents asked me to play football or cricket, I would play cricket”.

The kids taking part in the first-ever Prince George’s County Cricket Championship are joining a community far bigger than the 22 schools in the league this year. They are joining a community of 2.5 billion cricketers worldwide.  “It is a world sport and they can go to a country far, far away and still understand this sport”, said Donna. “It's so cool”.  “You get enough drama and excitement that you just have to love it “, said Isiah.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,836

  Wednesday, 25 May 2016

 

• BCB continues to ‘dilly dally’ on suspect action issues [1836-9185].

• Drug test ’no shows’ result in 15-month ban [1836-9186].

• Dissent earns Omani a reprimand [1836-9187].

• Queensland dirt part of CA’s plan for Indian tour [1836-9188].

• Post match drink leads to 19-month driving ban [1836-9189].

BCB continues to ‘dilly dally’ on suspect action issues

Atif Azam .

New Age.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016.

PTG 1836-9185.

With half of the Dhaka Premier League (DPL) completed, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is yet to honour its promise to establish a review committee for bowlers who are reported as having suspect bowling actions.  The BCB made a public commitment to take care of the issue after two national cricketers, Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny, were suspended by the International Cricket Council for illegal bowling action during the World Twenty20 Championship series in March (PTG 1795-8968, 8 April 2016).

The suspension created an uproar forcing the BCB to look into the matter as illegal bowling is rampant in their competitions. However, there was no visible move to form the committee which was supposed to deal with the deep-rooted malady.  In the opening three rounds of DPL at least eight bowlers were reported to have suspect bowling actions though many in the cricketing circle dismissed it as a routine matter (PTG 1816-9069, 1 May 2016).

Umpires have always filed reports whenever they suspected a bowler of having illegal action, but no initiative was taken to help the players rectify that. The bowling action review committee was believed to be going to the first step towards that, and the dilly-dally in forming the group has come as surprise to many.

BCB cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan on Monday claimed they could not form the committee because of the absence of "necessary logistic supports”.  "I think we have to consider the requirement of the technical support to run the committee”, said Akram.  

That comes across as a poor excuse however as BCB insiders confirmed that the equipment required is limited to a computer, six HD video cameras and a downloadable software program called 'Silicon Coach'.  In addition, a medical officer who will determine if the player has some in- born elements that causes the extension of their elbow, a computer analyst and a "mini laboratory" to analyse the footage, is all that is required to complete the package.  Officials say funding is not an issue given the financial strength of the BCB.

One official claimed that the BCB sometimes spend more on food refreshments it provides to a single board meeting than what it would cost to set up the review system.  As the BCB already have professional coaches, physicians and computer analysts at its disposal, it came as a surprise, even to some of its directors, why there is such a delay.  

BCB’s game development chairman Khaled Mahmud, who is also the coach of Abahani Limited in the Dhaka Premier League, told 'New Age 'on Monday: ‘We should have formed it by now because the members will have to work with the bowlers who are suspected with their bowling actions”, and “We will certainly raise the issue when we will sit with the working committee on [Thursday]".

With only four rounds left to end the first phase of the league the BCB is running out of time to launch the committee. BCB’s national game development manager Nazmul Abedin said he feels the committee should be formed in an immediate basis. "The sooner we see the committee in action the better”, he said.

Drug test ’no shows’ result in 15-month ban

Howard Walker

Jamaica Observer

Tuesday, 24 May 2016.

PTG 1836-9186.

Jamaican leg-spinner Odean Brown has been suspended for 15 months by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel after committing a ‘whereabouts' violation by missing three consecutive out-of-competition drug tests.  The 34-year-old, who has represented the Jamaica senior team since February 2004, was not served the maximum 24-month ban and can return to competitive action at the end of February next year.  His suspension was backdated and is effective from last November, which in essence is a nine month ban. 

Brown’s lawyer Patrick Foster believes the ban, announced at the Jamaica Conference Centre, should have commenced much sooner.  "I am of the view that the commencement date ought to have been earlier, based on the rules when you look at the delays in the doping control process and the delays generally in having this matter heard”.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules state that athletes must indicate where they will be for at least one hour each day with their local Anti-Doping agency to facilitate being drug- tested.  If an athlete misses three drug tests within an 18-month period, then that counts as a positive drug test. “I would have preferred if no penalty had been imposed. I think that would have been the most appropriate decision”, said Foster, “but I can understand the ruling of the panel in imposing a penalty". 

Dissent earns Omani a reprimand

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016.

PTG 1836-9187.

Oman’s Ajay Lalcheta has been reprimanded for “showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during an international match” during his side’s game against Jersey in the World Cricket League Division 5 series on Monday.  Ajay admitted the offence, the exact nature of which was not detailed by the International Cricket Council, and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee David Jukes, and as such, there was no need for a formal hearing.  The charge was levelled by on-field umpires Mark Hawthorne and Jacqueline Williams and third umpire Alex Dowdalls.

Queensland dirt part of CA’s plan for Indian tour

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016.

PTG 1836-9188.

Soil harvested from a secret location in regional south east Queensland is behind Australia’s bold bid to break its 13-year winning tour drought in India.   The red clay has been used to produce a purpose-built pitch at Cricket Australia’s (CA) Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Brisbane that turns like one in Chennai as Australia prepares its spinners for the coming tour of Sri Lanka, a trip that will lead up to a visit to India.

CA officials spent months engaged in scientific research across the country trying to find a specific type of dirt that could accurately replicate Indian conditions that have so consistently proven such a brutal trap.  It even resorted to door knocking rural properties and communities across the region as they zeroed in on the perfect mix.

Finally somewhere behind a barbed wire fence in the middle of nowhere, they stumbled across a soil that could bake under the hot Queensland sun and play like a turning minefield in Chennai.  And now they’ve found it CA is determined to keep the exact location of their eureka discovery a closely guarded secret.  Aussies players have been spending a lot of time practising on the new surface which is said to mimic the low, slow conditions found in that part of the world. 

Not since 2004 have Australia won in India and even in the past five years they haven’t tasted Test success of any kind in the sub-continent, something the side is determined to change come July when they return for a three-match series in Sri Lanka.  

An artificial pitch at the CoE that was designed a few years ago to imitate Indian conditions wasn’t able to faithfully play like one on the sub-continent.  As a result, CA has pulled out all stops to ensure the Sri Lanka tour is the start of something special — for spinners but particularly batsmen who have been completely embarrassed on recent tours against India and Pakistan.

Post match drink leads to 19-month driving ban

Ben Ireland.

Nottingham Post.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016.

PTG 1836-9189.

A player in Derbyshire has been caught drink driving after a match when he pulled into a petrol station at the same time as a police car.  The officer was getting petrol but smelt alcohol on Jason Woolliscroft, who subsequently failed a breath test.  That led to a 19-month driving ban, a fine of £175 with £85 prosecution costs and a £30 government surcharge, a total of £290 ($A590).

On the day of the offence Woolliscroft's partner had been watching the match and then headed home with the children.  He intended to have a few beers afterwards before going home but needed to get petrol on the way.  Presiding magistrate Colin Wharmby told Woolliscroft: "It is very difficult with this sort of thing when people drive although they have had a drink.  People think they are OK to drive but in this instance you were not. It is a big learning curve for you”.   If Woolliscroft completes a course on drink driving, his ban will be reduced to a year.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,837

  Friday, 27 May 2016

 

• BCCI technical committee to examine day-night Test plans [1837-9190].

• Aussies appointed to PNG-Kenya ODIs [1837-9191].

• Cross ‘overwhelmed’ by NZ regional award [1837-9192].

• Sussex player reprimanded for dissent [1837-9193].

• ICC targeting South Africa for 2018 WT20C [1837-9194].

• Players likely to discuss day-night Tests in Caribbean [1837-9195].

• ‘Monica' joins South African groundsmen [1837-9196].

• Defence, space technology harnessed to protect fast bowlers [1837-9197].

BCCI technical committee to examine day-night Test plans.

Vijay Tagore.

Bangalore Mirror.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1837-9190.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has taken the first step towards hosting a day-night Test this northern winter — it has invited inputs from its technical committee members (PTG 1812-9061, 27 April 2016).  At a meeting with the Sourav Ganguly-led panel that will be held in Bengaluru on Sunday, the board will discuss ways to take forward the proposal for India's first-ever day-night Test sometime in October.  Sunday's meeting will also be attended by BCCI president Anurag Thakur while board secretary Ajay Shirke is the convenor of the committee. 

The board also wants to revisit the Duleep Trophy format which is seen as a precursor to the day-night Test. The five-day inter-zonal matches are proposed to be day-night affairs but the board wants to consult the technical committee before finalising plans. Orders have been placed for a supply of pink balls for the night matches.  One of the bottlenecks is the dew factor and the BCCI wants to select a venue that is weather-proof during nights.

Aussies appointed to PNG-Kenya ODIs

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 26 May 2016.

PTG 1837-9191.

Australians Steve Bernard and Mick Martell are understood to have been appointed to the two World Cricket League (WCL) One Day Internationals (ODI) between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Kenya are to play in Port Moresby this coming weekend.  The two fixtures are the 23rd and 24th games of the two-year long, 8-team, 56-match, WCL Division 1 series, a round-robin tournament that commenced in May last year and will run to mid-2017.

Bernard, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier Regional Referees Panel (RRP), will oversee both Port Moresby matches, while Martell from the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) will stand in both games, his fifth and sixth ODIs.   PNG umpires Alu Kapa and Lakani Oala, the latter a member of the ICC’s third-tier Associate and Affiliate Umpire Panel (AAUP) (PTG 1824-9121, 11 May 2016), are listed to stand with Martell in the first and second matches respectively, games records suggest are their first official senior ODIs.

The ICC has used all four members of the RRP and 17 umpires from 12 entities to manage the 24 WCL-1 games that will have been played up until this coming weekend.  

RRP member David Jukes of England has overseen 12 matches played across England, Namibia, the Netherlands, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bernard 6 across the Netherlands, Hong Kong and now PNG, Devdas Govindjee from South Africa 2 each in Namibia and the UAE, and Graeme Labrooy 2 in Nepal.

Of the umpires, 10 were IUP members and 6 were, or are now, on the AAUP, while PNG’s Alu Kapa is on the ICC’s East-Asia Pacific panel, effectively a fourth-tier group.   The IUP members in addition to Martell have been: Vineet Kulkarni, C. K. Nandan and Chettithody Shamshuddin (India); Shaun George and Adrian Holdstock (South Africa); Gregory Brathwaite and Peter Nero (West Indies); Sharfuddoula (Bangladesh); and Raveendra Wimalasiri (Sri Lanka). In addition to Oala, the AAUP members have been: Wynand Louw (Namibia); Buddhi Pradhan (Nepal); Sarika Prasad (Singapore); David Odhiambo (Kenya) and Ian Ramage (Scotland).

Pradhan and Prasad have so far stood in 6 WCL-1 games each, George, Kulkarni and Louw all 4, and all the others except PNG’s Kapa Oala (PNG), two each.

Cross ‘overwhelmed’ by NZ regional award. 

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

PTG 1837-9192.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) umpire Kathy Cross was so stunned she’d won the Hutt Valley Sports supreme award last week that she could barely stand up to accept it.  Cross, 58, a member of NZC’s Reserve Panel and the International Cricket Council’s third-tier Associates and Affiliates Umpires Panel (AAUP), who earlier in the night was named the region’s official of the year, beat out nine other category winners to claim the night’s top award.

Cross said she was "totally overwhelmed when my name was called out”.  “I just sort of sat in my seat and my son who was sitting next to me said you better go up there Mum because that was your name!?”  “It was surreal and very unexpected, and then on my way up to the stage my boys did a Haka for me and that was very emotional, very emotional indeed”.  Cross said she was humbled to be honoured by her community.  “It’s a community I’ve been a part of for over 40 years and both my children are a part of it as well now, so it’s very special”.

Meanwhile, Claire Polosak, Cross’ Australian colleague on the AAUP, was one of three women acknowledged on Thursday during the Lord’s Taverners New South Wales branch’s inaugural ‘Celebration of Women in Cricket’ lunch (PTG 1823-9117, 10 May 2016).  Her appointment to the AAUP is yet to be publicly acknowledged by Cricket Australia.

Polosak was quoted by a journalist as saying the Taverners’ initiative: "really shows how much women’s sport and women’s cricket has come forward; the exciting times that have happened over the last 12 months and what’s to happen next year”.  “It’s a long time coming but I think now that everybody is seeing the quality of cricket that is being played, it’s enjoyable to watch and it’s great to have crowds watching the Women’s World Cup in India”.

Sussex player reprimanded for dissent.

ECB press release.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

PTG 1837-9193.

Sussex’s Ben Brown has been reprimanded by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Disciplinary Commission for showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during his side’s Twenty20 match against Gloucestershire last Friday.  Details of the precise nature of the offence are not available but Brown was reported by umpires Nick Cook and Rob Bailey for what was a Level One charge.  Under ECB regulations the offence will remain on his record for two years.

ICC targeting South Africa for 2018 WT20C

Tim Wigmore.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

PTG 1837-9194.

The International Cricket Council ICC will take a further step towards ensuring the World Twenty20 Championship (WT20C) returns in 2018, two years earlier than currently scheduled (PTG 1828-9143, 15 May 2016), when senior figures meet with broadcaster Star Sports on Thursday. South Africa is believed to be the preferred option to host the 2018 WT20C, which could place pressure on the South African government to review its recent decision to ban Cricket South Africa (CSA) from bidding to host world events for a year because of failing to meet transformation guidelines (PTG 1832-9169, 20 May 2016).

ICC members are overwhelmingly behind the idea to restore the WT20 to every two years, leaving the main question whether Star Sports agree to buy two extra WT20C series - in 2018 and 2022 - in addition to the 2020 tournament already agreed during the current rights cycle. The ICC is also considering expanding the Super 10s to include two teams, which would go some way towards assuaging second-tier Associate countries who complained of being excluded during this year's WT20C.

It is understood that the ICC is optimistic an agreement will be reached with Star Sports, after the huge success of the last WT20 tournament in India. Over 80 million in India watched India's semi-final and games against Australia and Pakistan, while there were over 750 million views worldwide for online videos of matches, compared to 250 million during the 2015 World Cup. This year’s WT20C generated around $US250 m ($A346 m, £UK170 m) in profits for the ICC, suggesting that two more events during the ICC's eight-year cycle would generate around an additional $US500 m ($A692 m, £UK340 m).

Players likely to discuss day-night Tests in Caribbean

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 26 May 2016.

PTG 1837-9195.

Australia will take on the West Indies and South Africa over the next month in a one-day tri-series in the Caribbean but the dialogue away from the centre wicket could be just as interesting, with November's pink-ball Adelaide Test sure to be on the agenda when the Australians run into the Proteas (PTG 1835-9181, 24 May 2016).  Australia will play the South Africans three times over 12 days, then a fourth time if both teams make the final in Barbados (PTG 1834-9175, 23 May 2016).

Discussions about November's third Test in Adelaide, which Cricket Australia (CA) wants to be the first of two day-night matches for the summer, are likely to be held whether it's at the hotel bar or the change rooms. South Africa captain AB de Villiers has made little secret of his players' opposition to playing the potential series decider under such conditions, and with some of the Australians also against the staging of two pink-ball Tests in the one season there appears still some way to go before CA can confirm the start times for Adelaide.

‘Monica' joins South African groundsmen

Neil Manthorp.

Super Sports.

Thursday, 26 May 2016.

PTG 1837-9196.

They are the game’s hidden men, a secret society of devoted hard-workers without whom there would be no cricket, at all, for anyone.  In Australia they started calling them ‘curators’ a few years ago because it sounded more important but they still call themselves ‘groundsmen’ here in South Africa and it seems appropriate because a more grounded group of men you would find hard to locate. Men of the earth.

I had no idea that they held an annual conference but then why should I? They are a secret society.  Actually, they’re not secretive. Private would be a better word to describe them as would dedicated, selfless, uncomplaining and almost always with a dry wit. When you work as hard as they do with as little recognition and thanks as they do, you need to know how to smile at the world.

Last year, SuperSport Park’s winter outfield was spray-painted green for the August One Day International against New Zealand. It did not work. This year, the entire outfield has been cut back to almost bare earth and reseeded with 1,200 kg of cool-climate grass which is already flourishing.   By August, when New Zealand return for their test match, the outfield will be a lush, green mat of soft winter grass. It was, in typical understatement, “a hellova job”.

By the time spring turns to summer the winter grass will be killed off by the sun and the normal grass will return naturally. “Or, at least we hope so!” said Centurion’s Hilbert Smith. That’s the point about their job – you can never be 100 percent certain about anything.  It’s an organic business, not a factory. As many confirmed to me, even when you prepare a pitch the same way for 10 years you can never be completely certain that it will play the same way each time.

What was especially impressive was the way they discussed costs – treating their individual Association and Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) money  as if it was their own. A recent International Cricket Council edict decreed that every single ground which might host an international match must have its own permanent water-sucking 'Super-Sopper'. The groundsmen sought a quote from Australia for  ten, top-of-the-range models and were appalled to be told they were 500,000 Rand ($A44,490, £UK21,830) before shipping and tax.

Most of those which CSA purchased for the 2003 World Cup were in a sorry state, some deemed beyond repair. But there’s nothing an artisan enjoys more than a challenge.  A mechanical engineer was located in Vanderbijlpark who said he would not just recondition but rebuild all 11, including updated mechanisation of the hydraulic systems – for a fraction of the price of the Aussie machines. And first fruits of his labour have already been delivered to the country's major Test grounds with more to follow.

As the video of the first rebuilt machine in action came to an end, a warm feeling of satisfaction was obvious in the room. “Now we just need to come up with a name for her”, said CSA’s Operations Manager, Mike Gajja. The silence lasted two or three seconds before the voice came from the back of the room.  “Monica, obviously…”

Defence, space technology harnessed to protect fast bowlers

John Ross.

The Australian.

Thursday, 26 May 2016.

PTG 1837-9197.

Defence and space technology is being harnessed to protect fast bowlers from an appalling injury toll, helped by new programs developed by Australian sports ­scientists.  Devices used to guide sub­marines, spacecraft and missiles — including accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes — are enabling cricket coaching staff to keep their speedsters in good shape.

The gadgets are part of the tiny Global Positioning System (GPS) units that elite sportspeople routinely wear between their shoulder blades. But Australian Catholic University (ACU) researchers say the units are under-utilised, with teams having little idea how to get the most out of them.  That is about to change, as workloads amplified by the introduction of Twenty20 cricket give fast bowlers an injury profile more akin to football players.

“No other professional sport has experienced greater changes in competitive workload demands than cricket over the past 10 years”, the scientists wrote in the 'British Journal of Sports Medicine'. “Fast bowlers are at greater risk of injury than their teammates … with a predominance of trunk and lower-limb injuries (that) tend to involve extensive rehabilitation periods”.

Lead author Dean McNam­ara, a doctoral student at ACU’s Brisbane campus, said the units had mainly been used to collect data on distance and speed.  “People don’t understand that within those units there’s technology that’s a lot more powerful than the GPS itself”, he said. “It can give us really good insights into the loads experienced by those athletes”.

McNamara said combinations of measurements, particularly from the accelerometers and gyroscopes, could provide much more detailed pictures of the strains on bowlers’ bodies. The data could be used to judge the athletes’ performance, match fitness, fatigue levels and injury risk.

“You may have a workload of 150 balls, but they all may be low intensity balls that don’t really represent the match you’re going into the next day or the next month”, he said. “How meaningful is each ball being bowled? Was it a white ball? Was it a ball of high intensity? Was it match intensity, or just training intensity?  It allows us to look closely and make more meaningful decisions for the athlete”.

The researchers have developed algorithms, specifically designed for fast bowlers, that accrue data on each bowler. The algorithms work with monitors designed by Catapult Sports, an Australian company whose wearable technology products are widely used by elite athletes.  McNamara said the system had been introduced 12 months ago at all levels of professional cricket.  The researchers consult to Cricket Australia (CA) to ensure that support staff know how to interpret the results.

A CA spokesman said the technology was being used during training sessions as well as matches. Staff were “building up a body of evidence” on their bowlers.  McNamara said the systems would eventually have media applications, streaming live information to broadcasters.  “They’ll give more meaningful data back to the viewer”, he said. “It’s an exciting time for cricket fans”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,838

  Saturday, 28 May 2016

 

• Cricket confronts a mental health crisis [1838-9198].

• Non-Indians to stand in IPL final, says report [1838-9199].

• Two-tier Test system again on the table [1838-9200].

• Lord's and Edgbaston eye 2017 floodlit Test [1838-9201].

• NZ mull 2018 day-night Test against England [1838-9202].

• Bowler joins batting buddies in anti pink ball brigade [1838-9203].

• Another Aussie official on the move this weekend [1838-9204].

• Censure over batsman’s ‘head shake’ termed ‘harsh’ [1838-9205].

Cricket confronts a mental health crisis.

Oliver Brown.

London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9198.

There is little so debilitating as the loneliness of the long-distance cricketer. It is the swathes of solitude, the effects of antiseptic hotel rooms in making struggling players prisoners of their own minds, which floor them in the end.  In the sorrowful case of former England batsman Jonathan Trott, forced prematurely into international retirement after two aborted comebacks from chronic anxiety, the image of the batsman practising in front of bathroom mirrors and sandwich-shop windows - all in the forlorn quest for a revelation that might rescue his disintegrating technique - still lingers.

Obsessiveness alone does not explain cricketers' predisposition to these dark days and nights of the soul. It was argued once by Ed Cowan, the former Australia opener, that colleagues would lapse into self-reproach simply because their failures were so readily quantifiable. One brain-fade, one clumsy dismissal, and their batting averages slip just enough for them to fall victim to the tyranny of the spreadsheet.

But is the same not true of golf, a world where everything from par saves to bunker success is remorselessly scrutinised? Cricket is far from the only goldfish bowl in sport, but it is the one where the black dog is most liable to dwell.

The latest disclosures by former England spinner Monty Panesar are instructive as to why. For over a decade an image has been peddled of Panesar as endearingly zany and effervescent, but the "Sikh of Tweak" shot it to pieces this week by divulging that he had been seeking medical advice for feelings of paranoia and low self-esteem.

What began as a slow drip of confessionals in cricket has become a veritable cascade. From the England camp alone, Trott, Panesar, Marcus Trescothick, Michael Yardy and Andrew Flintoff have all offered searing accounts of mental health issues exacerbated by their experiences in the middle.

Almost without exception, the interminable touring is cited as a major factor in dragging them down. Such is their hamster-wheel of a schedule, international cricketers can spend as much as 44 weeks a year away from home, with just two designated as family time.  The lifestyle might suit an incorrigible narcissist like Chris Gayle, who has put the proceeds of his Twenty20 exploits towards a personal lap-dancing bar at his Jamaican mansion, but for players with even a hint of vulnerability it can be torture. Panesar claims it is a sure sign that players are depressed or isolated on tour when they shirk team meals in favour of ordering room service alone.

Cricketers are cursed, far more than golfers, with the enervating time-lag between failure and the opportunity of atonement. It can be days, even weeks, before a batsman can prove that his golden duck was a mere aberration, and by then the initial seed of self-doubt is likely to be planted deep in his subconscious. For Yardy, these problems combined viciously with a pre-existing propensity to obsessive-compulsive disorder, to the point where he broke down repeatedly.

We are past the point, mercifully, where such issues are stigmatised. Players across a multitude of sports have admitted to apprehension about telling the world of their inner turmoil, but they find the overwhelming public reaction is one of sympathy.  Often, the more vexed question is how they break it to their own teammates. Cricket, in particular, hardly creates the easiest environment for expressing insecurities, when players living in one another's pockets for three months at a time are vying for the psychological edge that might seal their selection ahead of a rival. The ubiquitous sports psychologists do not help, either, focusing on concentration and resilience rather than the far subtler nuances of how to be happy.

It is for this reason that Panesar has been appointed a mental health ambassador for the Professional Cricketers' Association in England.  As a 10-year England veteran, he is able to discern the classic symptoms of a mental unravelling: the introspection, the sudden burst of hostility towards an umpire, the withdrawal from group settings.  Panesar mirrored this behaviour, breaking out of it only when he started taking the anti-anxiety medication to which he had long been opposed because of his upbringing.

Cricket must acknowledge that it confronts a mental health crisis of a different magnitude to other sports. Graeme Fowler, who played in 21 Tests for England, was so crushed by his illness that at one stage he did not leave his house for six weeks and found it almost physically unbearable even to make a cup of coffee.  He believes that cricket is well-advanced in its awareness of the dangers, but the sheer volume of cases suggests that many players do not feel adequately supported at the times they are most incapable of coping.

This is a game stalked by many tragic and desperate tales. Jim Burke, the Australian famous for going 44 innings without a duck, belonged to a '50s era when depression was not even talked about. In 1979, while a member of the ABC's Ashes commentary team, he succumbed.  Cricket is a sport so intrinsically fiendish and frustrating that troubled souls, if not sensitively mentored, can find themselves on the fast track to oblivion. Panesar's candour is a welcome reminder that they no longer need to suffer in silence.

Non-Indians to stand in IPL final, says report.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9199.

Reports from Bangalore indicate Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena and Australian Bruce Oxenford are to stand in the final of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) series on Sunday.  If that report is correct then the next question is whether Oxenford will sport his ‘Super Hero’ shield during the match (PTG 1818-9092, 3 May 2016).

Dharmasena, who this year is officiating in the IPL for the eighth season in a row, will be on-field in his 87th IPL match and fourth-straight final.  For Oxenford this year’s series is his third in five years, Sunday’s game being his 33rd game on-field and second final, his previous one coming in 2014 when his partner was also Dharmasena.  To date Dharmasena has also worked 24 times in IPL television spots and Oxenford 7.  No Indian has ever stood in an IPL final.

Now retired Australian Simon Taufel has stood in five IPL finals, Rudi Koertzen of South Africa three, ‘Billy’ Bowden of New Zealand two, and Asad Rauf of Pakistan and Richard Illingworth of England one each.  Of the third umpire spots Australian Daryl Harper and Indian Sundarum Ravi looked after two each, and Billy Doctrove of the West Indies, Dharmasena, and Indians Vineet Kulkarni and Chettihody Shamshuddin, one each.  Referees for the finals to date have been Ranjan Madugalle of Sri Lanka with three, his countryman Roshan Mahanama and India’s Javagal Srinath both two, and India’s Venkat one.

Two-tier Test system again on the table.

Associated Press.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9200.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering a constitutional change incorporating a two-tier system for Test cricket with promotion and relegation between them.  Under the proposed system, seven nations will be placed into division one and five in division two, with  promotion and relegation decided every two years.

The change will be discussed in ICC’s 2016 Annual General Meeting which starts in Edinburg four weeks from Monday and could come into effect after the 2019 World Cup.  Based on the current rankings, Bangladesh, the West Indies and Zimbabwe would slip into division two and be joined by the two best teams from the 2015-17 Intercontinental Cup, a first class competition, the leading contenders currently being Ireland and Afghanistan.

It is envisaged that all seven nations in Division 1 would play a series against each other, either home or away, over a two-year cycle.  The leading team would win the Test championship, while the bottom side would face relegation and presumably be replaced by Division 2’s top team.  ICC chief executive officer Dave Richardson originally suggested a two-tier system in 2009 as part of ideas put forward to make Test cricket more competitive. 

Lord's and Edgbaston eye 2017 floodlit Test.

George Dobell.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9201.

The northern summer of 2017 could see the first day-night Test staged in England, with Lord's and Edgbaston the most likely venues (PTG 1832-9167, 20 May 2016).  Both venues are keen, in theory, to explore the possibility of staging an August Test against West Indies under lights. The final decision whether and where a floodlit game is played will be made by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Warwickshire chief executive, Neil Snowball, said: "We have talked about it internally and think it is worth considering”.  A key part of the attraction for Warwickshire would be the novelty. Under normal circumstances, they might expect a Test against West Indies to prove a relatively tough sell and feel that staging it under lights could help attract a larger audience.

It is also believed that Birmingham City Council, who have a long-standing relationship with Warwickshire and helped fund the redevelopment of Edgbaston, would be supportive of the initiative in the hope that it brought exposure and revenue to the area.  "There is a lot to be considered”, Snowball said, "such as the pitch, the dew, the ball and many other factors. But if we can work those things out and the ECB agree, it is an attractive possibility”.

The Marylebone Cricket Club, who have an excellent record of selling games at Lord’s against most opposition, also have a history of spearheading the experimentation into day-night cricket and are expected to discuss the issue at up-coming committee meetings in June (PTG 1830-9161, 18 May 2016).

While Lord's is limited to 15 days of floodlight usage a year - any time the floodlights are raised constitutes a usage - to appease local residents, they would expect to allocate 10 of those days to the two Tests they host each season. A spokesman confirmed they were interested in the idea, but stressed that any decision would be made by the ECB.

There is another 2017 Test against West Indies allocated for Headingley, but Yorkshire have not held serious discussions about the possibility of hosting a floodlit Test and would not do so until the exact dates for the series have been announced when a proper assessment of climate issues could be made.  The summer of 2017 also sees England host the ICC Champions Trophy over the first 18 days of June, a four-Test series against South Africa, and then the three Test series against West Indies. 

ECB chairman Colin Graves recently said he would "love to see day-night cricket" and the ECB have raised the idea of playing the second Test on the tour of Bangladesh in October under lights (PTG 1827-9136, 14 May 2016).   While it seems unlikely that such an agreement can be reached in time for that tour, it does seem that the first day-night Test involving England is likely to occur within the next 18 months.

NZ mull 2018 day-night Test against England.

Agence France Presse.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9202.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) unveiled plans on Friday to host a pink ball day-night Test against England at Auckland's Eden Park in 2018 "pending agreement and approval” from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).  NZC did not specify when the proposed Test would take place but the International Cricket Council's Future Tours Program has England's tour scheduled for February-April 2018.

NZC chief executive David White said: "While we can’t confirm it yet, it’s something we’re extremely interested in and working towards”.  But players from a number of countries are concerned about the visibility and movement of the current version of the pink ball, while some conservatives claimed it undermines a Test tradition dating back to 1877.

Former England captain Andrew Strauss joined ECB chairman Colin Graves in backing the concept this month, saying it was a matter of time before such a match was played in the sport's birthplace.  White argued earlier this month that dwindling crowds meant the five-day game could not survive without day-nighters.  The format pushes playing times back into prime-time television viewing hours and allows spectators to attend after finishing work or school.

Under the NZC schedule announced on Friday, during the 2016-17 austral summer New Zealand will host Pakistan (two Tests), Bangladesh (three One Day Internationals, three Twenty20s, two Tests), Australia (three ODIs) and South Africa (one T20, five ODIs, three Tests).  In 2017-18, they will host the West Indies (three Tests, five ODIs, one T20), Pakistan (three T20s, five ODIs), Australia (three ODIs) and England (one T20, five ODIs, two Tests).  That’s a total of 12 Tests, 29 ODIs and 8 T20Is.

Bowler joins batting buddies in anti pink ball brigade.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian,

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9203.

Pink balls, grassy wickets and day-night Tests are a minefield for Australian cricketers who have to tip-toe around the sensibilities of head office, sponsors and the desire to promote the format.  They all agree that it is a great spectacle, they even enjoyed playing it, but to a man they have reservations. It was Mitchell Starc’s turn on Thursday.

The tall quick, like his former teammate Mitchell Johnson, has never been a fan of day-night Tests because he doesn’t like the ball or what is done to preserve it.  At the inaugural game in Adelaide last season extra grass was kept on the wicket to protect the pink ball, which is not as durable as the red version. The pudding was over-egged and batsmen were confounded by the movement off the deck. The Test ended in three days.  You wouldn’t think, then, that a bowler would be complaining.

“The reason we play Test cricket is for the challenge”, Starc said. “If you’re going to keep throwing grass on the wicket just to look after a cricket ball, then I don’t think that’s true Test cricket.  “I think the ball has come a long way, and I think ‘Kookaburra' are doing great things with it, but I think it’s got to come a little bit further so we’re not preparing wickets to protect the ball”.

Starc, who is sponsored by ‘Kookaburra', heads off for a one-day tri-series against the West Indies and South Africa at the end of the week with the first match in Guyana on Monday week against the Proteas.  It is his first time back with the team since breaking down with stress fractures in his foot during the Adelaide Test.  The South Africans are keen to get more feedback from their Australian opposition, but to this point are refusing to agree to a day-night fixture at the same ground this summer.

There is also a day-night Test at the Gabba against Pakistan which is a journey into the unknown that has the home team anxious. The Australians would prefer just one day-night game and they want it in Adelaide.  “I’ve heard a lot about the chats about the Gabba and that sort of thing, and I think obviously the Adelaide Test match was a great spectacle and is probably where it is best suited”, Starc said.  “If they take a little bit of grass off, it will probably last a few more than three days.

“The ball obviously needs a little bit of work, but I think it’s in a good place and as we saw with the amount of people that came along and the viewers at home, it’s obviously here to stay.  I think as cricketers we’re going to have to get used to it and it sounds like we’re hopefully going to play two Test matches with it this year, so it’s another challenge for us to get used to that for the Gabba Test. Obviously that Adelaide Test is still up in the air and we’ll see what they’ve got to say about it”.

Another Aussie official on the move this weekend.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9204.

Steve Bernard and Mick Martell are not the only Australians who have travelled north to officiate in matches this weekend, for while they ply their trade in Papua New Guinea (PTG 1837-9191, 27 May 2016), their colleague Paul Wilson is in Hong Kong standing in a Twenty20 series.  

The four-teams involved feature, in addition to locals, players flown in from Australia, Guyana, India and the United Arab Emirates for what is scheduled as a seven-match event.  Wilson, who like Martell is a member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, stood in Friday evening’s rain effected opening game with Sydney-born local umpire Ian Thomson.

Wilson will be on-field again on Saturday with the tournament’s other umpires and long-time Hong Kong residents Anoop Gidwani, Ghulam Saqlain and Tauseef Bukhari.

Censure over batsman’s ‘head shake’ termed ‘harsh’.

Daily Echo.

Andy Mitchell.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1838-9205.

One of the leading batsmen in Southern Premier League (SPL) history has been given a suspended ban, apparently for shaking his head after being given out.  It is understood Hampshire’s Bashley Rydal Cricket Club's Neil Thurgood was reported despite not voicing his dismay having been trapped in front on the opening day of the season.  

Bashley Rydal chairman John Neal politely declined to comment on the nature of the incident but felt the decision to report Thurgood had been “harsh”.  “We understand and respect the league’s stance on discipline but my worry is how we differentiate between dissent and disappointment.  We felt Neil had been more disappointed with being given out rather than showing dissent towards the umpire.  I know they are just supposed to walk off but we are all human”.

In the same match, Thurgood’s team-mate and fellow long-serving club stalwart Kevin Nash was punished for swearing at an opponent.  He received a two-match ban, with one game suspended until the end of the season.  Neal insisted Nash had been provoked.  “We all accept that what Kevin did was wrong. It was player-to-player and there was no physical violence on his part, it was words.  He has been on the scene for 25 years without being spoken to”.

"We felt there were two parties involved but the umpires did not see the incident and, as far as we know, the other party has not been punished.  The league has a hard job to do but it was an unfortunate incident and our only gripe was that only one person got punished.  In our report [to the SPL] , we said that if you take that kind of competitiveness out of the game, it would be difficult to get hard-nosed league cricket”.

Thurgood and Nash not alone for at the same time the SPL’s disciplinary committee issued Basingstoke’s Chis Jolly with a one match dissent-related ban which was suspended until the end of the 2016 season, and Jimmy Taylor of Totton two matches, with one suspended, for showing dissent and using inappropriate language.  A post on the SPL's web site committee said it wished "to take this opportunity to remind all players of their responsibility under the spirit of cricket and disciplinary code".

  

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,839

  Monday, 30 May 2016

 

• Tiered system needed for Test cricket [1839-9206].

• Women umpires stand together in mens’ international [1839-9207].

• How scoring made me political [1839-9208].

Tiered system needed for Test cricket.

Michael Vaughan.

London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 27 May 2016.

PTG 1839-9206.

Test cricket is a sport that has stood still for generations. In football, they invented the Champions League simply so the best could play the best (and obviously that will drive up revenue). We tinker with 50-over cricket every year and Twenty20 is developing fast. But, in Test cricket, we are scared of change.

The day-night Test in Adelaide was great. But Test cricket needs more change than changing the colour of the ball and playing under lights. It just scratches the surface and does nothing to challenge the fundamental threats to its survival.  The International Cricket Council is looking at ideas to rejuvenate Test cricket and is seriously considering promotion and relegation (PTG 1838-9200, 28 May 2016) .  It is also close to agreeing to add two more World Twenty20s to the rota, which will further increase the pressure on Test cricket (PTG 1837-9194, 27 May 2016).

Personally, I like the idea in Test cricket of three divisions of four teams playing two Tests against each other home and away. That means 12 Tests a year and would leave space for iconic series such as the Ashes. You could decide promotion and relegation by the bottom side in a division playing the top team from the next division at home in a one-off decider.

It should put an end to the one-sided Test series that are really only there to improve players’ statistics. The current format of bilateral tours cannot keep going just because of tradition.  We need to know who are the best team in the world. The rankings are unfathomable to most people, whereas a league is simple to understand.

Imagine if England had just been beaten in Pakistan and had to win the next two Tests to stay in the premier league or draw a match to avoid relegation. It would add so much more to the Test series. It might help to shift a few tickets.  Also, the standard would improve if the best players were playing each other.

I am not just saying this because England are doing well at the moment. They might not qualify for the premier league. So be it. It would give them something to strive towards.  But, at the moment, there is just no context to a bilateral series beyond the matches being played in the here and now. Unless you are a diehard cricket fan, you are not going to be that interested in which teams win or lose the early summer Test series. Cricket needs to aim beyond the diehard fan.

In England, we only ever really get interested in Test cricket when the Ashes are being played. That is not enough.  A top division would also help us to identify the best players. You can have a high average by scoring runs against weaker opposition. It can hide your flaws. But if you are playing the best teams all the time, only the best players will survive.

It is always a great argument with your mates to try to work out which team or player is the best. A system of promotion and relegation would give credence to that debate.

Women umpires stand together in mens’ international.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 28 May 2016.

PTG 1839-9207.

Sue Redfern of England and Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies, became the first women to stand together in a mens’ international when they managed the match to decide fifth place between Nigeria and Tanzania on the last day of the World Cricket League Division 5 series in Jersey on Saturday.  Tabarak Dar of Hong Kong and Alan Neill from Scotland were selected for the main final between Jersey and Oman, and Mark Hawthorne of Ireland and Alan Neill from Scotland the third place decider between Guernsey and Vanuatu.

How scoring made me political.

Elizabeth Ammon.

Cricket Monthly.

May 2016.

PTG 1839-9208.

A friend recently asked me what it was that had made me left-wing. “Cricket”, I replied. "Cricket made you a socialist?" said my friend. "Those aren't words you'll hear too often”.  I suspect they aren't. But it was certainly cricket that awakened my political side and made me realise how important the game at the lower levels was to a sense of community. 

I am not from a political family. I don't think I ever knew who my parents voted for, and politics was certainly not a topic for discussion in my very Middle England family.  My dad and brother played for one of the lower teams at Sheffield Collegiate Cricket Club - a long-established club that has become well-known for having bred Michael Vaughan, Joe Root and Richard Kettleborough. And I, a 15-year-old girl, discovered that you could earn yourself a crisp ten-pound note if you were willing to spend your Saturday afternoon doing the scoring. 

One week at our home ground at Abbeydale Park and every other week away to whichever South Yorkshire town or village we were assigned to play. Sometimes this took us to pretty villages in the Peak District. Mostly it took us to small towns and villages around Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley. Places that invariably had a pithead. Towns with a long and proud history of deep-shaft mining. Towns where every man was employed in the pit, as his father and grandfather had been before him.

But it was ending. There was to be a concerted assault on the mining industry that led to the long and bloody miners' strike of 1984-85, following Margaret Thatcher's decision to adopt a policy of reduced subsidies, pay restraints and pit closures. Decisions made in Westminster ripped the heart out of the towns I was visiting with my pencil case. Arguments about the mining industry are not for these pages, but one thing isn't in doubt: the programme of pit closures devastated entire communities across South Yorkshire and other parts of the UK. 

As a teenager I wasn't equipped to understand the intricacies of the economic arguments - all I knew was that I would sit there with my scorebook in places like Grimethorpe, Maltby, Dinnington, Royton and Treeton, where the pit had either closed or was threatened with closure and there was a palpable sense of anxiety. 

As a scorer in lower-league recreational cricket, you invariably sat at a table outside the changing rooms, alongside the players waiting their turn to bat. One couldn't help but hear or get involved in the conversations. Yorkshiremen aren't known for showing their emotion but listening to the batsmen of varying ages, shapes and ability discussing the present and the future, there was genuine worry, real anguish. I heard gruff voices break as they talked to their brothers, uncles, cousins and mates about what they were going to do for work or how they were going to pay the mortgage or the rent. 

One incident has never left me. I saw a portly offspinner break down in tears when asked for his match subscription. He didn't have it. He couldn't scrape together the five pounds he was being asked for. It made me angry. It made me sad. It made me feel helpless. And it turned me left-wing.  Aside from their own future there was the future of the cricket club to worry about. The National Coal Board subsidised the clubs - they maintained the pitches, looked after the upkeep of the clubhouse or the miners' welfare club where we would have our tea and drink after the match. Without that how could they continue? 

Those visits also showed me just how much cricket was at the heart of the community. It wasn't just for the white middle-class. Cricket provided an escape from the worry the communities were facing. It provided friendship, support, bonding and laughter. It showed me the importance of the wives and girlfriends too. Those weren't enlightened times; I never saw a woman actually playing cricket, but I did see them to be the ones who held the club together by making the teas, running the bar, organising fundraising, selling raffle tickets.

I travelled to these places only for a few years. Soon I went off to university and then moved down to London after graduating. But those few years, listening to the cricketers and seeing the profound effect of the decisions of the Conservative government of the time on them had a lasting effect on me. 

Some of those cricket clubs folded. Thankfully many have survived. They retain the name of the colliery or the miners' welfare, but with the pit long gone, the clubs have to do endless fundraising to survive.  My own relationship with cricket has changed. I made an unexpected move from scorer to journalist and broadcaster. 

Those years serve as a reminder to me that cricket is so much more than press conferences, decisions made by the International Cricket Council in Dubai, and whether England will pick two spinners. It's about community, companionship and hope. It's cricket that made me political and gave me an awareness of those with lives different to my own, and those years as a scorer that poked me to speak up against injustices. And for that I shall always be grateful.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,840

  Tuesday, 31 May 2016

 

• Oxenford to continue using ’Super Hero’ shield [1840-9209].

• Sri Lankan reported for suspect action [1840-9210].

• IPL-9 corruption-free, says chairman [1840-9211].

• ICC Cricket Committee begins 2016 meeting [1840-9212].

Oxenford to continue using ’Super Hero’ shield.

Bipin Dani.

Cricket Badger.

Monday, 30 May 2016.

PTG 1840-9209. 

Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford, who has been using a so-called ‘Super Hero’ shield on his left arm during the Indian Premier League’s  (IPL) 2016 season, plans to continue to use it in Twenty20 Internationals in order to protect himself.  Oxenford indicated he had the shield made in Australia, the prime aim being to "protect the heart which is an important organ in one’s life” (PTG 1818-9092, 3 May 2016).

The Queensland-based umpire, who stood in Sunday’s IPL final (PTG 1838-9199, 28 May 2016), said he’s “not sure whether he would use [the shield] in One Day Internationals or Tests” for that "will depend on the circumstances as there has been no International Cricket Council restriction [set down] regarding its use”.  Despite his concerns Oxenford has not been using helmet.

According to him” “The head is not as important as heart. When the ball comes at you with the speed, immediately your hand reaches at your heart and hence I thought of using this protective gear for my chest. At present, I am the only umpire using this shield.  I have not been using a helmet because it sometimes obstructs vision and [possibly hearing]”.

Krishnamachari Bharatan, one of the umpires who officiated with Oxenford in IPL matches, was “surprised” to see his colleague wearing the shield.  “Yes, it took me a surprise on that day. He has brought this gear from Australia, I am told. It is left to the individuals and if one uses it to protect himself, it is fine”.

Sri Lankan reported for suspect action.

Cricinfo

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

PTG 1840-9210. 

Sri Lanka fast bowler Shaminda Eranga has been reported for a suspect action following the second Test against England in Chester-le-Street.   Eranga will now have to have his action tested at an International Cricket Council accredited centre within 14 days - Loughborough University in England being his closest option - but is permitted to continue bowling till the results of that test are known.  The third and final Test begins at Lord’s on Thursday week.

This is the first time Eranga's action is being called into question. If it is found to be illegal he will be barred from bowling in international cricket till he remodels his action.  The Chester-le-Street Test was umpired by Aleem Dar of Pakistan and Sundarum Ravi from India, Zimbabwean Andy Pycroft being the match referee and Rod Tucker of Australia the third umpire.

IPL-9 corruption-free, says chairman.

Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016.

PTG 1840-9211. 

Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Rajeev Shukla says that this year's edition of the Twenty20 tournament had been free of corruption thanks to a multi-pronged approach to tackling fixing.  Shukla said organisers had engaged the Anti-Corruption units of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India, plus local police and other experts to ward off any problems.

The IPL is the most popular domestic league in the world but has been plagued by controversies since its inception in 2008, with corruption and match-fixing cases often taking centre-stage.  Shukla said an aggressive approach to tackling fixing meant there had been no signs of corruption at the ninth edition of the IPL, which featured 60 matches in 57 days across 11 venues.  According to Shukla: "All precautions were taken in order to curb corruption and we have been successful in that”.

ICC Cricket Committee begins 2016 meeting.

Media reports

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

PTG 1840-9212. 

The International Cricket Council’s Cricket Committee is to hold its 2016 meeting at Lord’s on Tuesday-Wednesday this week.  The group, which is chaired by former Indian captain Anil Kumble, is representative of all stakeholders in the modern game, including players, umpires and the media. It makes recommendations on cricket playing issues to the ICC’s Chief Executives’ Committee and, if the matter is a policy issue, the ICC Board, for approval.  No details of matters that are to be discussed over the next few days have been made public.

 

 

End of May 2016 news.