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             NOVEMBER 2016
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 27 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 9889-10040)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below 
 
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,964

 Tuesday, 1 November 2016


• Dar not withdrawn from India-England series, says ICC [1964-9889].

• UDRS betrays ‘Spirit of Cricket', undermines the art of umpiring [1964-9890].

• Skipper suspended for reaction to ‘Handled the Ball’ decision [1964-9891].

• We’ll ‘headbutt’ the line, not go over it: Lyon [1964-9892].

• Day-night Tests should be badged as game’s fourth format: Khawaja [1964-9893].

• Dar's withdrawal from India-England series a worrying development [1964-9894].

• Why the need for so much water? [1964-9895].

Dar not withdrawn from India-England series, says ICC.

Vibrant Gupta.

India Today.

Monday, 31 October 2016.

PTG 1964-9889.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has denied media reports that Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar has been withdrawn from the India-England series due to security concerns (PTG 1963-9883, 31 October 2016). An ICC spokesman said Dar was "not appointed" for India series as he has already been nominated for the Australia-South Africa Test series which starts on Thursday (PTG 1957-9850, 24 October 2016).

The ICC spokesman said: "Two things - a person can only be withdrawn if he had been appointed first and officials for the India-England series never [included] Dar.  So how can someone say he has been withdrawn? Secondly, and more importantly, Dar had already been named for the Australia-South Africa series and he is already in Perth for the first Test. [Therefore] it is very wrong to assume he has been withdrawn by ICC for the India series” (PTG 1964-9894 below).

UDRS betrays ‘Spirit of Cricket', undermines the art of umpiring.

Simon Heffer.

London Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1964-9890.

What does international cricket do about the authority of umpires, as demonstrated – and indeed undermined – by the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) being invoked no fewer than 41 times during the recently concluded two Test Bangladesh-England series.  Cricket seems to reject change unless commercially motivated – and therefore usually for the worse – but it will have to confront the issue eventually.

The effects of UDRS on Test cricket should concern the International Cricket Council and all its members. There is much rhetoric about the ‘Spirit of Cricket': but few things have betrayed that spirit more than the introduction in 2009, after an experiment in India the previous year, of UDRS. India then regarded the technology and its application as insufficiently sound, and for the last five years have not used it. Sadly for the game, they have relented for the forthcoming series with England (PTG 1956-9841, 23 October 2016).

All sport relies on some degree of morality for its successful conduct, and on human error to provide its tensions and outcomes. Both considerations existed in the primeval, but sound, idea that the umpire’s decision was final. The higher the financial stakes in cricket (and I do not just refer to the remuneration of players, which they richly merit and which should be handsome, but to the vast international betting industry that now exists on the back of the game), the less has become the acceptance of human error.

Umpires do make mistakes, not because they are corrupt or incapable but because they are human. In the days before UDRS, players disobliged by bad umpiring decisions had to accept that decision as part of the warp and woof of the game, and to get on with it. Part of the consolation for a batsman given out LBW when he knew he had edged the ball into his pads, or when he knew the ball was missing the stumps by a mile, was recalling the times he had not been given out, but had deserved to be. Now, though, UDRS has initiated the beginning of the elimination of human error, and human nature, from the regulation of the most important cricket matches.

On a difficult, turning wicket in Chittagong one felt the greatest sympathy for umpire Kumar Dharmasena, 16 of whose decisions were reviewed and eight of which were overturned (PTG 1958-9856, 25 October 2016). He, plainly, was neither corrupt nor incompetent, but was trying to do an intensely difficult job under intensely close scrutiny. It was a close match; and who can say whether the result would have been different had it been played without UDRS? We can never know. What we do know is not just that Dharmasena has been undermined, but that the whole craft of umpiring in Test cricket has been undermined too, because the human brain cannot compete with the latest technology.

There is also the question of the endless interruptions. Even if one is effectively playing a sort of injury time, with a minimum number of overs demanded in a day, the public are being short-changed by sitting in a stadium, having usually paid handsomely for the privilege, and being repeatedly compelled not to watch cricket. Administrators bang on about poor over rates, and possibly cutting Tests to four days, but little progress can be made on either while this frequent intrusion exists. The real measure must be gauged by answering this question: has it improved Test cricket? It has not.

Some will argue that the clock cannot be turned back: that the technology exists and therefore must be used. If you prefer vinyl to a CD or a download, you will know this is not the cut-and-dried case it might seem. 

The logical conclusion, I am afraid, is to stop having umpires altogether, and to put robots at the bowler’s end and at square leg (I am not joking, for the avoidance of doubt). In an instant the robot, or rather the technology inside it, could tell whether a no ball or a wide had been bowled; whether a catch had been off the pad, an edge or the glove; whether a ball provoking an LBW appeal would have hit the stumps; whether a batsman was out of his ground when stumped or run out; whether a ball had gone out of shape or been tampered with; and a drone could feed it information about boundaries or catches in the deep, in response to which a green light would flash for a four, or a red light for a six.

There is no reason why such decisions could not be made in an instant, rather than taking several minutes, by eliminating conversations between on and off-field umpires. The right decision would always pertain, because the technology would be infallible; everyone would be happy. And if it made traditionalists feel better, the robot could have pegs on the back where jumpers and caps could be hung. Human error, and human nature, would have been eliminated from the umpiring process; bookmakers and punters could sleep soundly, knowing justice had been done; the game would be truly modern, and truly depressing.

Or, we could go back to a game where the judgment of umpires, and the emotional continence of players, played vital roles in its conduct, culture and outcome. In other words, it would be a sport played by human beings, as on humbler cricket fields all over the world. And it would be none the worse for it.

Skipper suspended for reaction to ‘Handled the Ball’ decision.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 31 October 2016.

PTG 1964-9891.

Cape Cobras captain Omphile Ramela has been suspended from his side's next Cricket South Africa (CSA) first class match, which is against Dolphins starting on Thursday.  He was found guilty of breaching CSA's code of conduct during a match against the Knights in Bloemfontein three weeks ago after team-mate Zubayr Hamza was given out Handled the Ball.

What was a Level Two charge against Ramela was for "using language or gesture that is seriously obscene, offensive or insulting to another participant or a spectator”, presumably either umpire Dennis Smith or Bengali Jele.  CSA Disciplinary Commissioner Professor Rian Cloete, who suspended the captain for two matches, one of which was suspended for a year, said: "I have taken into account the fact that Mr Ramela admitted the offence and has accepted that his behaviour was inappropriate.  Should he repeat the offence over the next year, he will be suspended for another game”.

We’ll ‘headbutt’ the line, not go over it: Lyon.

Australian Associated Press.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1964-9892.

Australian spinner Nathan Lyon insists his team are ready to go toe-to-toe with South Africa in the sledging department during the upcoming three-Test series.   Australia are considered to be the masters of sledging in world cricket. Injured South African player AB de Villiers even described the 2014 Test series against Australia as featuring some of the worst sledging he had ever encountered.

Australia have toned down their approach somewhat since Steve Smith took over as captain last year.  But Lyon has warned there’ll be plenty of fire if the situation warrants it during the upcoming series against South Africa which starts at the WACA Ground in Perth on Thursday.  “We’re going to play the Australian way. We’re going to compete hard. We’re not going to roll over”, Lyon said.  “If one of our players is getting a hard time, we’re going to stick up for him.  We know where the line is. We headbutt it, but we don’t go over it” (PTG 1962-9882, 30 October 2016).

South Africa started the mind games over the weekend when fast bowler Dale Steyn declared his team would be targeting Australian captain Steve Smith during the series. As Steyn put it: “If you can cut off the head of a snake, the rest of the body tends to fail”.  But Lyon said: “They can talk about whatever they want. We’ll come out here and play hard”.

Day-night Tests should be badged as game’s fourth format: Khawaja.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 31 October 2016.

PTG 1964-9893.

Cricket’s new pink ball has improved but players are still not happy after the latest prototype was tested in last week's opening round of Sheffield Shield matches.   While several agree the ball has improved, Australian player Usman Khawaja believes the day-night Test concept should be badged as cricket's fourth format and not be included as a regular Test match

Players are about to complete a survey from the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) on the revamped ball which now has a black seam and an extra coating of lacquer.  Australia will have two pink-ball Tests this summer, against South Africa in Adelaide in November and the opening Test against Pakistan at the Gabba in December.

Khawaja led Queensland in their day-night Sheffield Shield match against NSW at the Gabba in Brisbane last week, and has questioned whether the ‘Kookaburra' pink ball will ever replicate the traditional red variety.  NSW player David Warner indicated last week there were still problems with the balls used in that game (PTG 1962-9873, 30 October 2016).

"The pink ball has changed a lot from the first time we played it – it swung around corners, swung everywhere. Maybe it's that extra lacquer they have put on it, it doesn't seem to go as much early”, said Khawaja.  "There was a big difference between day time and night time. It definitely swung and did a lot more at night.  It's not the same as red-ball cricket yet. I am not sure, at this moment, the pink ball will ever be the same as the red ball. I am not sure that is possible. That's not saying pink-ball cricket isn't good cricket – I really enjoy it”.

But Khawaja said pink-ball matches should have their own classification, which would also help players warm to the concept.  "I have got a notion that's dramatic. I know we have a gazillion different formats and a gazillion different balls in cricket anyway but ... pink balls are a different format to Test cricket at the moment”, he said.

"I would almost like to make pink-ball, day-night cricket a different sort of format on its own. That way the players will start accepting it a bit more too, but right now we mix them together. It sort of blurs the lines for bowlers and batsmen because we really haven't worked it out yet. But it's a concept that I believe is really good for the game."

NSW and Australian opening bowler Mitchell Starc said the pink ball was "improving but I think it's still got a long way to go”.  "It's still losing its hardness way too early – in 20 overs it starts to go soft. ‘Kookaburra' are improving it a lot. They have changed the colour of the seam and have put another coat of lacquer on it which is helping the ball but I think we just want to see that ball stay hard for a lot longer than it does at the minute" he said.

NSW wicketkeeper Peter Nevill said the black seam was an improvement but the added coating of lacquer was an issue.  "It has an extra coating of lacquer on it. I think early on it can be difficult to see the seam – just purely under lights, [with] the reflection coming off it – but I suppose when that starts to wear off a bit, the black seam is a lot better than the dark green, and there was some white in there as well”, he said.

Dar's withdrawal from India-England series a worrying development.

Boria Majumdar.

India Today.

Monday, 31 October 2016.

PTG 1964-9894.

Editor’s note:  This article was published prior to the ICC’s denial that Dar had 

been withdrawn from the India-England series (PTG 1964-9889 above).

In what is a very disturbing development if you are an Indian, Aleem Dar, the Pakistani umpire on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel, has been withdrawn from the forthcoming series between India and England over fears he might be attack by radical nationalist elements. Dar, originally appointed to officiate in the series, is being replaced by Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena (PTG 1963-9883, 31 October 2016). 

Does this then mean we are incapable of providing security to Pakistani nationals in India who come here for work? Dar wasn't invited by an Indian institution. He was coming to India on an international assignment as a representative of the ICC.  Why can't we let him come and do his job? What signal does his withdrawal send to the larger world about who we are and what we aim to do in our country?

As a proud Indian who takes pride in the robust nature of our democracy this is a rather worrying development. I am proud of the fact that anyone who is a responsible and respected professional can come visit India without having to fear any sort of bodily harm. However, the Dar development seems to suggest otherwise. It seems that because of pressure from fa fringe of our society, the Indian democracy is losing out in front of the world and our core beliefs are being challenged.

Also, by allowing this to happen we may well have opened a pandoras box. For example, come the Indian Premier League in April will Wasim Akram not continue to be the bowling coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders? Will they be forced to sacrifice the Pakistani legend fearing a backlash by rogue nationalist elements?

Frankly, where do we draw the line? Is there a line to be drawn in the first place? It is time we as a society stand up for what we believe in. While condemning the barbarities across the border in Pakistan in the strongest possible terms and retaliate whenever needed, it is necessary we also show the world why and how we are different.  

We in India are strong enough to accord security to any and everyone. We may sure have our differences but that doesn't mean international citizens cannot come to India for work. If we can play Pakistan in hockey in Kuantan and celebrate the diwali gift given by our hockey team, we can also allow Aleem Dar to come to India. For that's how we are different and that's why we are Indian. Anything to the contrary isn't good enough and goes against the very ideals of our democracy which celebrates plurality and openness.

Why the need for so much water?

Sunil Gavankar.

Sports Star Live.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1964-9895.

If you watch a Test match or a one-day game, you will wonder why there is water, or energy replenishment drink waiting for a bowler at the boundary where he goes to field.  Every time there is a referral with the TV umpire, the twelfth man runs in with bottles of water for the players, as the third umpire examines replays and arrives at a decision. When gloves are to be changed, there is water again for the batsmen.

Cricket is also about stamina, and if drinks and refreshments are available so often then the testing of a player’s stamina goes out of the window. The argument that as long as no time is wasted it is okay to have drinks is facetious, to say the least, for if you just time the interruptions, you will find that there actually is a delay of sorts before the next ball is bowled.’

India’s Virat Kohli is the one exception, as was seen during his recent One Day International innings in Mohali. The drinks that came out for skipper Dhoni, as he alternated between wearing a helmet when the seamer was bowling and taking it off and sending it back when a spinner came on, was interesting. Kohli didn’t take a sip and that tells you something about his stamina and work ethic. By the way, the really fit players seem to be the reserve players, who run on to the field at every interruption with drinks and towels for the players on the field and then run back to the pavilion.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,965

 Wednesday, 2 November 2016

 

• BCCI reported ‘struggling' with its on-going operations [1965-9896].

• Day-night Test in England ‘ridiculous’, ‘appalling': Botham [1965-9897].

• Local MP demands answers over Durham saga [1965-9898].

• SACA club merger report expected to slip to next year [1965-9899].

• Awards galore, but none for match officials [1965-9900].

• 'No suspects, no leads, no video’ over pitch damage [1965-9901].

BCCI reported ‘struggling' with its on-going operations.

Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1965-9896.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in a fix as its daily operations are slowing down as they await instructions from the Indian Supreme Court-appointed Lodha committee as to how they should move forward on a number of key issues.  In interim orders handed down two weeks ago, the Court banned state associations from using funds allocated to them by the BCCI unless they submit an affidavit stating that they would adopt all the recommendations of the Lodha committee (PTG 1959-9864, 26 October 2016).

Amongst matters that need to be resolved soon are said to the Memorandum of Understanding with the England and Wales Cricket Board for the bilateral series which starts next week, something that is rather surprising, setting a new date for the India Premier League media rights tender (PTG 1958-9859, 25 October 2016), and determining the limit for financial transactions to be allowed by the board without the Lodha’s panel consent.  BCCI Secretary Ajay Shirke has indicated that he sent an e-mail to the Lodha committee last week seeking directions on how to proceed on those and other matters.

Day-night Test in England ‘ridiculous’, ‘appalling': Botham.

Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1965-9897.

Former England player Ian Botham has hit out at the “appalling” prospect of a first day-night Test in England, saying on Tuesday that the “ridiculous” plan risks damaging cricket’s flagship format.  The England and Wales Cricket Board announced last month that Edgbaston will host the first day-night Test ever in Britain when England face the West Indies in August next year (PTG 1957-9849, 24 October 2016).

But Test matches in England are generally well-supported in comparison to many other countries and there are concerns the English climate may not be conducive to spectators sitting out to watch late in the day.  “I am amazed we are going ahead with it”, said the former England captain. “We do well [with crowds] in Tests in England. The first three days are certainly usually sold out. They are going to do it, so we will all sit back and watch”.

Two years ago, John Stephenson the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) Head of Cricket, said while the club is keen to see day-night format Test fixtures introduced, he did not believe an Ashes Test under lights either "necessary or imminent” (PTG 1353-6536, 15 May 2014).  Stephenson doubted then there is a need for England to be involved in such matches as attracting spectators to watch their games, whether at home or abroad, is "rarely a problem"; rather the concept is for countries where attendance at Tests needs a boost.  Last month though Stephenson said the MCC was “delighted” at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to play a day-night Test next August (PTG 1943-9773, 11 October 2016). 

Far from being against all innovation in the game, however, Botham declared himself a strong supporter of the Umpire Decision Review System.  It featured prominently during England’s recent drawn Test series in Bangladesh.  Botham sympathised with the Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena who had 27 decisions referred, and 13 overturned, over the two Tests, saying umpiring on pitches where the ball spun sharply right from the start was no easy task (PTG 1963-9883, 31 October 2016).

India, who have been longstanding critics of the system, have agreed to the use of UDRS in their forthcoming five-Test series at home to England (PTG 1956-9841, 23 October 2016).  “[UDRS] is not going to go away”, said Botham. “It’s very difficult for umpires on those surfaces. There’s been a lot turned over, but it’s very difficult when you start on turning wickets and there’s uneven bounce.  One thing it does do is that it gets rid of the howlers for no umpire deliberately gets it wrong”.

Local MP demands answers over Durham saga.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1965-9898.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has been accused of showing a “total lack of regard for members and fans” and imposing an “unnecessarily harsh” punishment on Durham (PTG 1593-9828, 20 October 2016).   In a letter to ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, the MP for North Durham, Kevan Jones  criticises the process that led to sanctions being imposed.  After acceptance of a £UK3.8 million ($A6.1 m) financial bailout by the ECB, Durham were relegated from the first division of the County Championship, will start next season on minus 48 points and have been stripped of Test status (PTG 1938-9747, 5 October 2016).

In his letter, Jones writes: “I understand the club were essentially offered a ‘take it or leave it’ option by the ECB, with no proper negotiation or discussion. I would ask why all other options were not explored before these incredibly harsh measures were imposed?”  He also asks the ECB to set out the process for deciding what sanctions would be imposed and requesting a copy of “any ECB regulations governing points deductions as a penalty for clubs who fall into financial difficulties.  I would therefore welcome your explanation of the formula applied to work this out”.

The letter also questions the ECB’s decision to strip Durham of Test status, suggesting the move signalled a “lack of interest on the part of the ECB in promoting the game in the north east”.  Jones has also tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons asking for a debate on the future of cricket at Riverside. The motion has been signed by twelve other local MPs.  A spokesman for the ECB said: “We offered [Jones] in recent weeks to discuss the financial situation with Durham. Since then we have received his letter and will reply in the appropriate way”.

SACA club merger report expected to slip to next year.  

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1965-9899.

The South Australian Parliament’s Select Committee inquiry into the ’SACA Premier Cricket Merger Decision’ is scheduled to hold a third and final hearing on 21 November, just over a week before its currently scheduled reporting date to Parliament.   The inquiry was convened after the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) tried to force two of the state’s oldest clubs, Port Adelaide and West Torrens, to amalgamate, saying that if they didn't one would be axed (PTG 1801-9001, 15 April 2016).

Lauren Williams, the committee’s secretary, currently anticipates that the same staff members from the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) who attended the committee’s second hearing last month will appear again (PTG 1948-9801, 16 October 2016).  Given the need for what is thought to have been an unexpected third hearing, Williams also says she expects the Parliament to agree to the committee not formally tabling its findings on the merger decision until early next year.    

Awards galore, but none for match officials.  

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016.

PTG 1965-9900.

'The Cricketer’, a London-based magazine founded in 1921 by Sir Pelham Warner, is for the first time in its 95 years introducing annual awards for performances and achievements in England and Wales Cricket Board domestic competitions and its international players.  The magazine has announced that a total of 18 seperate awards will be involved, twelve domestic and six international, and its readers are being asked to cast their votes on a range of options provided by the publication for each of the categories, none of which include match officials.  

On the domestic front the awards cover: batsman and bowler of the year in each of the two County divisions; the championship and white-ball innings and bowlers of the year; wicketkeeper of the year; emerging player of the year; overseas player of the year; match of the year; and coach of the year.  On the international front there are: England Test and limited-overs players of the year; international player of the year; international emerging player of the year; female player of the year; and disability player of the year.

Queried as to why no match officials awards have been included, ‘Cricketer’ chief executive Guy Evans-Tipping said “it is certainly something we will consider including for next year”.  The magazine says details of the 2016 awards will be contained in its December issue.

'No suspects, no leads, no video’ over pitch damage.  

Kristin Myllenbeck.

The Mercury News.

Monday, 31 October 2016.

PTG 1965-9901.

The California Cricket Academy (CCA) in Cupertino, a city of around 60,000 south of San Francisco, says its cricket pitch on a playing area near the civic center and library was damaged recently.  CCA co-founder Hemant Buch said he discovered the damage to the carpet-like mat in the middle of the field two Friday mornings ago.

Buch said: “They have basically cut the mat in two pieces.  We have joined it with duct tape, but unfortunately the tape changes the leveling and causes an uneven bounce of the ball, which may be a safety concern as the damage is exactly where ball is usually pitched by the bowler”.

Rich Urena from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s West Valley Patrol Division said it is not known what happened to the pitch. A report was taken on the Monday after the discovery, and deputies are still investigating to “determine whether or not it was indeed vandalism”. As of last Friday there were no suspects, no leads and no known video of an incident causing damage.

The Cupertino City owns and maintains the field where the pitch is located. Brian Babcock its public information officer said although public works staff were dispatched to the pitch, it appeared to have already been repaired.

The CCA’s Buch said his group attempted to temporarily repair the pitch as there is an ongoing youth cricket tournament at the ground every weekend, but the tape will not last long. He said the pitch, which was only replaced in August at a cost of some $US3,000 ($A3,910, £UK2,450), will have to be completely replaced again.  It was first installed nearly a decade ago and according to him more than $US50,000 ($A65,2100, £40,830) has gone into its on-going maintenance in that time.

Buch said Sand Hill Property, a Silicon Valley real estate company had offered to foot the bill but he had declined the offer.  He did not say why.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,966

 Thursday, 3 November 2016

 

• Umpire suspended ‘indefinitely’ over conduct in match [1966-9902].

• Tasmanian reprimanded for show of dissent [1966-9903]

Umpire suspended ‘indefinitely’ over conduct in match.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016.

PTG 1966-9902.

An umpire, whose approach to managing a match in north-west Tasmania's Burnie Cricket League (BCL) is alleged to have been somewhat confrontational, has been suspended “indefinitely” by the league.  The unnamed official, who was working on his own in a BCL ‘B’ Grade fixture between Myalla and Ridgley two Saturday’s ago, is alleged to have called Myalla “•••••• cheats” before play began over the composition of their team.

The reported ‘cheat' comment came because Myalla named several of its A team members in their B Grade side, presumably to counter the fact a number of former Ridgley A grade players were in their B side.  The latter were there because Ridgley recently withdrew its A side from the BCL’s top competition due to lack of appropriate numbers.  Those Myalla A players in B Grade that day were available for selection as they had been scheduled to play the now defunct Ridgley A side whose departure has resulted in a bye.  Myalla’s move is said to have "upset the umpire" who reports allege "launched into a foul mouthed tirade” as a result.

 

Despite the umpire’s reported displeasure, the toss was taken and on winning it Myalla elected to bat.  Twenty overs into Myalla's innings a batsmen, who was one of the A Grade players who had dropped down for the match, was given out LBW by the umpire.  The batsman is said to have shown open dissent, the suggestion apparently being the umpire’s attitude to Myall influenced the decision he made.  The dissent is said to have been met with "another mouthful of coarse abuse from the umpire". Despite that the match continued, Myalla batting out their 50 overs after which Ridgely were all out in their 43rd over, Myalla winning the game easily.

 

What happened from there is not clear, but the most consistent version is that after the game ended the umpire went looking for the dissenting batsman in Myalla's change rooms, although his motivation for doing so is not known.  However, an unidentified person is said to have asked the umpire to leave the rooms but he allegedly responded by "threatening physical violence against at least one Myalla player”.  BCL President Anthony Hanevkeer was at the ground at the time, saw the tail end of that confrontation and talked to the umpire in an attempt to defuse the situation. 

Just when the BCL met to consider what happened in the game and handed down its decision regarding the umpire is not known.  At the same time the Myalla batsman was reprimanded for dissent, the league apparently taking into account in its deliberations it was his first offence in 25 years of playing in the league.  Whether the umpire plans to appeal his suspension is not known.

Tasmanian reprimanded for show of dissent.

PTG Editor.

CA press release.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016.

PTG 1966-9903.

The Tasmanian women side's Sasha Moloney has been reprimanded for showing dissent to an umpire’s decision during her side’s Cricket Australia (CA) Women’s National Cricket League match against Victoria in Hobart last Saturday.  Moloney’s Level One offence occurred when she was given out LBW.  She accepted the proposed sanction offered by match referee Roy Loh.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,967

 Friday, 4 November 2016

 

• Hughes’ death ruled ‘accidental’, but sledging denials questioned [1967-9904].

• Team refuses to play after umpire reverses decision [1967-9905].

• Player strike looms as Cobras franchise crises deepens [1967-9906].

• Kumble pivotal in India embracing UDRS: Allardice [1967-9907].

• No rough edges, they just played actual cricket [1967-9908].

• Sometimes bowlers just need to bowl, says Johnson [1967-9909]. 

• Black settling into NZ scene [1967-9910].

Hughes’ death ruled ‘accidental’, but sledging denials questioned.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9904.

The death of batsman Phillip Hughes almost two years ago was caused by a "minuscule misjudgment” on his part and the ball that hit him was not bowled with any malicious intent, said New South Wales (NSW) Coroner Michael Barnes when handing down his findings in Sydney on Friday.  Barnes indicated though that claims by NSW fielders there was no sledging in the lead up to the tragedy that day “were difficult to accept”, something he described as an “unsavoury aspect" of the tragic incident.

Hughes was fatally struck on the neck at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) such that his vertebral artery was severed and he died two days later (PTG 1943-9767, 11 October 2016).  Barnes’ makes four recommendations as a result of the hearing he conducted last month, that Cricket Australia (CA): review dangerous and unfair bowling rules; provide guidance be available to umpires in regards to dangerous and unfair bowling; better train umpires in how to best summon medical assistance to injured players; and continue the work it is conducting with sports manufacturers aimed at producing devices for helmets that appropriately protect the neck area. 

Despite concern that Hughes had been subjected to excessive short pitched balls, the Coroner found "no failure to enforce the Laws of the game contributed to his death” (PTG 1944-9774, 12 October 2016).  In his assessment Hughes "could have avoided the ball by ducking under it, but such was his competitiveness he sought to make runs from it”.  However, “a minuscule misjudgment or a slight error of execution caused him to miss the ball, which crashed into his neck with fatal consequences”.

Barnes also said though: "In view of apparent inconsistencies in the drafting of Sheffield Shield Playing Conditions Laws 42.2.1 and 42.3.1 [regarding short-pitched bowling] and the uncertainty even among senior umpires as to how those laws interrelate, it is recommended that [CA] review them with a view to eliminating any anomalies and that umpires be provided with more guidance as to how the laws should be applied”.  “The umpires who gave evidence acknowledged that [additional] guidance of how the Laws should be interpreted and applied would be of assistance”, said the Coroner.  

Referring to Hughes’ family, Barnes said: “Their grief at losing a much loved son and brother was exacerbated by their belief that unfair play had contributed to his death.  It is hoped that they accept the compelling evidence that the rules were complied with, that Phillip was excelling at the crease as he so often did, and that his death was a tragic accident” (PTG 1949-9806, 17 October 2016).

However, the Coroner also called "repeated denials" by players of any sledging having occurred in the game in which Phillip Hughes was injured "difficult to accept” (PTG 1943-9767, 11 October 2016).  He hoped "the focus on this unsavoury aspect of the incident may cause those who claim to love the game to reflect upon whether the practice of sledging is worthy of its participants.  It is against the spirit of the game to direct abusive language towards an opponent, [but] with increased commercialisation and very lucrative contracts dependent upon individual performances, it is perhaps inevitable that these honourable qualities would fray”.  However, "An outsider is left to wonder why such a beautiful game would need such an ugly underside” (PTG 1945-9780, 13 October 2016).  

Turning to helmets, the Coroner said: "Phillip wasn't wearing the most up-to-date safety helmet when he was struck and the rules that then applied didn't require him to do so.  However, had he even been wearing the most modern equipment then available, it would not have protected the area of his body where the fatal blow landed”.  As such he recommended CA continue its on-going work with sports equipment companies to develop a neck protector that can be mandated for wearing in all first-class matches (PTG 1946-9788, 14 October 2016).

The Coroner praised CA, Cricket NSW and the SCG Trust for their work over the two years since Hughes' death to improve policies, procedures and availability of medical personnel and equipment at grounds.  He recommended though that the latter two implement a daily medical briefing at the start of a day's play to ensure that everyone was aware of what they would do in the case of an emergency.  In addition, it was recommended umpires' training be reviewed to ensure they are able to call for medical assistance was "effectively and expeditiously”.

Team refuses to play after umpire reverses decision.

PTG Editor.

St Vincent Searchlight.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9905.

The final of the Caribbean’s St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association’s (SVGCA) 'Super-40’ competition between the 'Team Rivals’ and 'Victor One’ clubs ended prematurely last Sunday when the latter side refused to continue to play.  The SVGCA executive is to make a decision on the outcome of the match after they receive a report from umpires Roger Davis and Cornelius Edwards.

After Victor One was all out for 86 in just 25.1 overs, Team Rivals were 6/58 in the 15th over of their innings when a melee developed.  It came after Davis upheld an appeal for LBW against batsman Roneil Jeffrey, but after consultation with Edwards at square leg, reversed his decision to ‘Not Out’.  Edwards advised his colleague that the ball hit Jeffrey’s bat on the way to his pads.  Davis’ reversal angered the Victors One players, who chose not to continue playing in the match.

Players and other close associates of the Victors One club who were present could be heard accusing Davis of disliking their team, his decision adding to the long-standing bad blood that exists between him and the club.  In the past several Victor One players, including current captain Donwell Hector, have had on-field verbal spats with Davis.  On another occasion Hector, in a match in which Davis was umpiring, kicked down the stumps to show his dissatisfaction with a decision, and before that another of their players was involved in a mid-match fight with an opponent.

Among other fall-outs in the past was Davis’ calling of Victors One’s fast bowler Ray Jordan on at least three occasions for “illegal deliveries”.  However, Davis has been vindicated, as Jordan, who played for the West Indies in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup, was later that year found, following biomechanical tests at the University of Western Australia in Perth, to have deliveries in which his arm-flex was above the International Cricket Council’s 15 degree limit.  Such tensions had led to Victors One asking the SVGCA not to appoint Davis to its matches.

Prior to Sunday’s final the SVGCA were heavily marketing the match and encouraging locals to attend what they said would be a “fun filled and entertaining match”.

Player strike looms as Cobras franchise crises deepens.

Telford Vice.

First Sport.

Thursday, 3 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9906.

South African cricket moved closer to its first player strike on Thursday when it emerged that Western Cape Cricket (WCC) had rejected the South African Cricketers’ Association’s (SACA) proposal for resolving the dispute between players from its Cobras’ franchise and their coach Paul Adams.  Two weeks ago at a meeting with the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)‚ WCC and the players agreed to try and find a solution by sometime this week.

SACA chief executive Tony Irish was quoted as saying in a media release: “We had proposed a process for an independent cricket person to monitor and assess the coach’s situation on the ground within the team over a three-week period and thereafter to make a recommendation as to what should happen with the coaching situation.  That independent recommendation would be accepted by all‚ and binding on the players‚ SACA and the franchise‚ and it would dispose of the current dispute.  The franchise has however rejected the proposal out of hand without proposing any alternative‚ despite having indicated to us that they were in favour of some form of monitoring”.  

The impasse is taking its toll on the field‚ where the Cobras have lost three of their four first-class matches so far this season and are at the bottom of the table.  Alan Dawson‚ who was appointed the Cobras’ convenor of selectors in September‚ has resigned because, the SACA release said, “he believes it is impossible to work in an environment in which there is a fundamental problem between players and coach”.

Irish indicated that: WCC’s behaviour would lead to SACA approaching the CCMA to “seek a certificate of outcome from the CCMA confirming that the dispute has not been resolved”. “The issuing of this certificate will enable players to embark on lawful and protected industrial action [such as a strike]‚ following proper notice being given‚ should the players elect to go this route.  Any kind of industrial action is always a very last resort for players and we hope it doesn’t come to that.  However the players have been asking the franchise to properly address this issue for many months‚ but to no avail‚ and have exhausted every constructive process available to them with the franchise”.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) will now be given the chance to rescue the situation, Irish being quoted as saying: “We will now seek CSA’s assistance and intervention before considering what further steps to take”, 

Kumble pivotal in India embracing UDRS: Allardice.

Wisden India.

Thursday, 3 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9907.

Improvements in technologies, independent testing, and Anil Kumble – these are the key factors that helped change the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s stance on the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), according to Geoff Allardice, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) general manager of cricket.  India have often opposed the UDRS strongly in the past, but have decided to use the system on a ‘trial’ basis for their upcoming five-Test home series against England (PTG 1956-9841, 23 October 2016).

Allardice said on Thursday: “I don’t know which one factor would have been the thing that had swayed them.  I think there was a number of things that had happened. One was the testing – having reputable, independent people saying that different types of technology are fit for purpose, provides some reassurance to all people involved” (PTG 1847-9260, 7 June 2016).

“There have also been some developments in the technologies that have been used day-to-day in UDRS over the last few years, particularly in the area of ball-tracking. The two of note are the increased frame rate of the cameras which obviously puts more information into each calculation of a predicted path and produces a more accurate result. Also, the location of the point of impact now has the ‘Ultraedge' or the sound-based system helping them getting the right frame of impact”.

Talking about Kumble’s role, Allardice said the Indian coach, who is also chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee (CC), was instrumental in ensuring the technologies involved were tested separately.  “One of the things that he was keen to do when he came on as chairman was to make sure that the technologies that were used as part of UDRS were assessed independently.  He’s driven a lot of that project – he has been very supportive of the project. He was also in the [CC] meeting in May last year when the results when the majority of the tests were presented.  The fact that he was subsequently appointed as Indian coach also helped”.

With perhaps the biggest roadblock to UDRS out of the way, at least temporarily, the ICC are now looking to standardise the use of technology across different countries.  Alladice said the ICC’s “aim for a long time has been to make the UDRS technology perform better with an end result of getting it used more consistently in international cricket”.

"That’s the next thing that we are working on at the moment”, he said.  "I look at matches in different parts of the world and I see the different levels of technology, and you see sometimes umpires are left without conclusive evidence in one series, where in another series, they might have that conclusive evidence with more tools available.  There are some logistical challenges as well, about having every type of technology at every match, but overall, I think we should be striving for a more consistent delivery of technology across all international matches”.

While UDRS helps in ensuring more correct decisions, one issue with the use of technology is that the on-field umpire’s confidence could take a beating. In the recent two-Test series between Bangladesh and England, Kumar Dharmasena came under fire, with 13 of his decisions overturned by the third umpire (PTG 1963-9883, 31 October 2016).  Allardice defended Dharmasena, pointing out that "umpiring in ‘turning or seaming’ conditions is the most difficult”.

"Often UDRS delivers its best result when the pitch is turning or seaming and umpiring is difficult.  Generally in a UDRS series, we deliver 97-98 per cent correct decisions, and what that does is provide a consistency of correct decisions, whether the conditions are difficult for umpiring, or whether the umpire is having a good day or a bad day.  It’s quite a test for an umpire in those conditions, because you can often be making good umpiring decisions that are later proven to be incorrect – getting a glove on a sweep shot that then lends to an LBW is overturned or something like that. That’s where the UDRS supports the umpires”.

But despite their on-field decisions coming under scrutiny, Allardice explained that all umpires are "very supportive of UDRS".  “One of the skills of an umpire at all levels, whether there is UDRS or not, is his resilience to mistakes”, he said. “In the old days, you used to find out when you came off the field whether you had made a mistake or not. Now that feedback is a little bit more immediate. And being able to process that feedback about your decisions, and then try to either use it to improve your decision making or to not let it affect your decision making is the thing that determines an elite umpire from the next level down.  You could even see during the two [Bangladesh-India] Test matches that Kumar was reacting in a positive way, even though he had a number of decisions overturned”.

“Generally umpires are like players – they have very good matches, and they have an odd match where they don’t perform up to their normal standards. Overall, the umpires are very supportive of UDRS, and they have been as keen as anyone to know and get the independent assessment of the technology. But overall, they don’t want to have an impact on results of games, and they certainly like getting as many right as possible”.

No rough edges, they just played actual cricket.

 

Patrick Smith.

The Australian.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9908.

 

Oh, those outrageous, crazy bastards.  They went and played cricket.  Like actual cricket, not the huff and puff stuff where you glare, swear and sledge twice as many times as you can place a ball on a good length.  The was Australian cricket, during the opening Test against South Africa in Perth on Thursday, without the contrived frenzy that scarred previous sides and blurred their performances.  This side has taken some time to come back under captain Steve Smith, the way a headstrong horse does under a strong and experienced jockey.

Previously Australian bowlers and tacticians would attempt to shred the dignity of the opposition rather than dismantle their stumps. The first session of the first Test against South Africa at the WACA on Thursday was incisive cricket with no rough edges.  By the end of the day a commanding position was achieved by temperate captaincy, measured bowling and sharp catching. Two chances went down, but miracles are uncommon in Test cricket.

Before Thursday’s performance Australia had been forcing their cricket. Field placings were overly aggressive, sledging boorish and bowlers and batsmen attempting to outplay their limitations.  It was the most sophisticated Australia have been managed and the team has played for some time. The test will come as South Africa try to rally a fightback.  However, Australia proved they can reinvent their cricket philosophy when the going is easy. It’s when the opposition match you thought for thought, run for run, ball for ball, that men can lose their marbles.

Sometimes bowlers just need to bowl, says Johnson.

 

Andrew Faulkner and Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9909.

Former Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson has spoken out on behalf of a nation of cosseted fast bowlers while telling the sad story of an up-and-coming quick who asked the champion: "Why won’t they let me bowl?"  As cricket’s perennial issue — rest, rotation, informed player management, whatever you call it — flared again, Johnson said the pendulum had swung too far in favour of the sports scientists.

Johnson said on Wednesday: “You have to be very careful you don’t go too far with this sports science stuff and I think we are.  You have to pick blokes on performance and not on science.  Bowlers need to bowl to get rhythm and the miles in their legs.  I was talking to a 17-year-old the other day who got injured and is struggling to come back because of the limits on how much he can bowl during the week. He said to me ‘I just want to bowl’.”

That youngster defied orders from above not to bowl until further ­notice. “He was going off and bowling and not entering the work into his Athlete Management System (AMS) record because he is so ­frustrated”.  AMS an online dossier developed by IT consultants 'Fair Play' for Cricket Australia (CA) and other sports. Johnson admitted he had fudged the figures at times himself. Because sometimes you just need to bowl.

“Late in my career I was doing the same because I knew my body and if I wanted to bowl more than I was supposed to I did and just ­entered the figures in the AMS they wanted to see. I think they knew that but they trusted me. It’s silly. Fast bowlers are going to get injuries, it’s the nature of the game”.

The bowler workloads issue erupts every year but this Australian season it has come early after being propelled by a series of events.  On the eve of the first Australia-South Africa Test in Perth, Australian captain Steve Smith said his bowlers were “quite fresh and may be able to sustain things a bit longer than the medical staff would like them to’’.  Mitchell Starc, one his fast bowlers, was pulled out part way through a Sheffield Shield match last week — to be replaced by a fresh and firing Doug ­Bollinger — raising questions about the integrity of the domestic competition.

Johnson said: “If I was Starcy I would have been desperate to bowl in the ­second innings of that Shield match.  He didn’t have to bowl a lot of overs, but backing up is important. I guess it’s turned out all right for him so far, but it doesn’t mean it is right.  You can’t look too far forward in cricket and I think that is what they are starting to do. You are going to be sore sometimes, you have to learn you won’t always feel good, but the most important game is the one you are playing”.

The most important game some bowlers are playing are the ones they are playing as batsmen only — because they have been deemed to be in the forbidden red zone of too much bowling. One up-and-coming Australian paceman is batting in his club’s second XI. Another strapping quick is playing in the firsts — as a specialist lower-order batsman.  Those on the edge of the red zone are rationed a certain ­number of deliveries and in many cases are required to keep their own tally. The cotton wool treatment is designed to keep our pacemen on the park.

Yet the toll continues to tick over. Whatever the ball-counting boffins are doing, it doesn’t appear to be working. Presently the sick roll call reads: James Pattinson (back), Nathan Coulter-Nile (back stress fractures, season), Joel Paris (quad) and Billy Stanlake (stress fractures).  Pat Cummins bowled some slippery spells in CA’s one-day competition but was rested from New South Wale’s opening Shield match and appears unlikely to be dusting off his baggy green this summer. Starc missed five Tests last summer with a foot injury, while Peter Siddle has only recently returned from a long spell on the sidelines.

At the risk of hexing Josh ­Hazlewood, who is currently playing in the Test in Perth, he almost stands alone for durability. Yet the issue was fuelled when Hazlewood was rested from Australia’s one-day tour of South Africa and also parts of NSW’s winning domestic one-day campaign. With apologies to Siddle and Nathan Lyon, cricket fans’ hope of seeing Starc, Pattinson, Cummins and Hazlewood charging in any time soon will remain the stuff of dreams.

Black settling into NZ scene.

Dominion Post.

Thursday, 3 November 2016.

PTG 1967-9910.

Former South Australian umpire Cory Black has moved to Wellington and been appointed to New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) national Reserve Panel (PTG 1882-9430, 21 July 2016).  From Monday to Friday, the 36-year-old with a PhD in chemistry is an organic chemist for Wellington outfit BDG Synthesis. He wears a white coat in the weekend too, while working his way up the umpiring ladder.

Originally from Southland, New Zealand’s southern-most region, Black began umpiring in Adelaide while working at the Australian Wine Research Institute. He eventually progressed to the South Australia state umpire panel, standing in national age-group tournaments and a match between Papua New Guinea and the Australian Indigenous team.  

Black's move back to New Zealand saw him immediately installed on NZC’s Reserve Panel, Kathy Cross and Garth Stirrat being the only other Wellington umpires at that level, but there are none from that region on either the International Cricket Council’s second tier or top Elite Umpires Panel, although Cross is on the third-tier panel.  They're the echelons Black aspires to, but what umpire doesn’t?  "I just do my best each day and hopefully the reports are good and you go from there”, said Black.

Since arriving in Wellington Black's stood in club games on Linden, Nairnville and Kilbirnie Parks. They're not quite the famed Adelaide Oval - where he once had the pleasure of umpiring - but the satisfaction gained from getting your decisions right is the same whatever the venue, he said.

Whether a batsman is out or not out tends to be the thing players and fans fixate on. But managing a game - and the relations between the two teams - can often be an umpire's greatest challenge.  "I found that aspect of umpiring was probably the most challenging for me, because I'm not a confrontational guy. You really need to know when to step in, otherwise it gets elevated and suddenly the whole team's involved”, Black said.

If you like cricket, chances are you might be fond of statistics too. So here's a good one, courtesy of emerging umpire Black: "There have been fewer Test umpires than there have been astronauts”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,968

 Saturday, 5 November 2016

 

• Up to umpires to police sledging, says CA chief executive [1968-9911].

• BCCI to ECB: Please pay for your tour expenses [1968-9912].

• Teams silent on umpires’ approach to captain [1968-9913].

• Umpire and technology get Smith LBW decision correct [1968-9914].

• Sydney workshop aims at recruiting female umpires [1968-9915].

• County trio deported by Australian authorities [1968-9916].

• Broadcaster’s new technology endures hostile first reception [1968-9917].

Up to umpires to police sledging, says CA chief executive.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9911.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive officer James Sutherland says sledging remains part of the game and it's up to umpires to police the verbal barbs between players and ensure "the line" is not crossed.  Sutherland was speaking on Friday after the New South Wales Coroner Michael Barnes found the death of Phillip Hughes nearly two years ago was “accidental” and caused by a "minuscule misjudgment” on his part when playing the ball that struck him (PTG 1967-9904, 4 November 2016).

Sutherland said that if sledging becomes a problem during a match "then I would say the umpires are not doing their job. It's very clear in the relevant codes of behaviour as to what constitutes behaviour that crosses the line.  That's audible obscenities, whether it be verbal abuse or threatening behaviour. Whatever it might be it's very clear as to what crosses the line and what doesn’t”.  However, he doesn’t "believe it has crossed the line because the umpires are out there doing a job. They're professionals, they think about it a lot, they're briefed about it a lot and we don't see a lot of reports for that sort of behaviour”.

Amongst Barne's findings, was the recommendation that dangerous and unfair bowling laws, meaning bouncers, be reviewed, declaring there was ambiguity in their wording.  Sutherland said: "We need to look very closely the perceived anomalies or ambiguity perhaps between the laws of the game and our playing regulations for Sheffield Shield cricket.  But our Sheffield Shield playing regulations broadly mirror those of Test cricket. There may well be some ambiguities there. If there are we'll refer those up to the International Cricket Council”.

Sutherland said he was a strong believer in the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ but that the reality of the game at the highest level is that it’s a highly competitive arena.  He did not have any "specific reflections or comments" on Barnes indicating he had found it "difficult to accept" that Hughes had not been sledged, or his reference to such activity being "such an angry underside”.  Nor did Sutherland "have any anticipation or otherwise" that the Hughes family would launch legal action against CA.  He has been in close contact with the family and hopes at some point they will allow the governing body to honour the former batsman through a "lasting tribute".

The chief executive also indicated CA, which is researching helmet issues (PTG 1958-9855, 25 October 2016), would continue to work with helmet companies to develop a suitable neck protector, and that the Coroner’s recommendation a medical briefing be held before each day’s play to ensure that all parties were aware of what they would do in case of an emergency, would be implemented at all first-class matches around Australia.  However, he indicated it was too early to make the use of neck guards compulsory.  "We currently recommend their use, but I guess, in terms of the scientific evidence that actually supports the fact that they actually make a difference, it's not actually there yet”, concluded Sutherland (PTG 1954-9835, 21 October 2016). 

BCCI to ECB: Please pay for your tour expenses.

PTG Editor.

Indian media reports.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9912.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has written a letter to Phil Neale, the operations manager of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), informing him of the restrictions placed on it by the Supreme Court of India with regard to the execution of contracts and that until a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is in place, the visitors will not be granted the preset courtesies of a tour.

BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke sent the letter to Neale late on Thursday evening welcoming England for the upcoming series, but adding that "I am at great pains to inform you that the BCCI is at present not in a position to execute the [MoU] between the Indian Cricket Board and the ECB” that covers tour arrangements.  Shrike said the Court’s Lodha Committee "has not yet granted us this permission” to move on tour arrangements.  He added that while certain courtesies such as hotel, travel and various other arrangements have been extended to the England team upon arrival in India, the BCCI is not in a position to commit paying for such items until the MoU is executed.

For itself the Lodha Committee says that the BCCI needs to give an undertaking that they will file the compliance report required by the Supreme Court.  The Committee maintains it is the BCCI that is putting the tour in jeopardy. A spokesman said: "We just hope cricket doesn't become a victim of egos. That's all I can say”.

Teams silent on umpires’ approach to captain.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9913. 

South Africa and Australia have remained silent on the reason why the umpires approached Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis in the field during their opening Test of the series in Perth on Friday.  While fielding in the slips cordon, du Plessis was bailed up by umpires Nigel Llong and Aleem Dar in the 49th over while Australians Mitch Marsh and Adam Voges were at the crease.

Paceman Vernon Philander, who was bowling at the time, insisted on Friday evening he did not know what the issue was, but Australian vice-captain David Warner said he had his suspicions - but would not publicly comment.  "I am not too sure. I might know why but I am not going to give that at the moment”, said Warner.  

There have been suggestions the umpires had concerns over the management of the ball, with close observers noting many of the Proteas' return throws from the deep had bounced on the rough centre wicket area before being pouched on by the wicketkeeper in order to help produce reverse swing.  Australia was warned for the same tactic during a Test in New Zealand nine months ago (PTG 1769-8826, 23 February 2016).

Umpire and technology get Smith LBW decision correct.

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9914.

For all of Australian captain Steve Smith's disappointment at the WACA Ground on Friday during the first Test against South Africa, his much-discussed LBW dismissal was a win for the laws of cricket and a belated payback for bowlers.  Smith's downfall, one of many turning points in this Test, was only unusual because cricket has been unfair for so long. Facing his fourth delivery Smith went some 2.8 metres down the wicket to South African finger-spinner Keshav Maharaj and made a batting error, missing the ball.

In olden times, when a batsman missed the ball inside the line he was a near-certainty to be stumped, but when he made the same error outside the line of the ball he got off scot-free, as long as his pads got in the way. The so-called benefit of the doubt, which is not actually part of the game’s Laws, went to the batsman because umpires declined to speculate on what would happen between the pad and the stumps. Even if it looked like it was on line, the ball might have been thrown off course by a sudden hurricane, swallowed by a diving plover or struck by a passing drinks cart.

Enter technology, the bowlers' white knight. Umpire Aleem Dar gave Smith out, knowing that if he had made a bad error the ball-tracking thingie would correct him and reprieve the Australian captain. It didn't; Dar's eyesight was good enough. Smith’s immediate response was to thrust his arms out in a demonstrative “what the?” gesture directed at Dar before leaving the field holding his bat by the wrong end, engaging in animated words with fielders, and shaking his head as if to say this was not the game he grew up playing. Indeed it wasn't, and we can only wonder how much of the game's history would be different if forward-plunging batsmen hadn't been so often saved by their pads.

Smith’s gesture at Dar will be closely scrutinised by match officials as to whether it constitutes dissent.  After he was fined 30 per cent of his match fee for blowing up at an umpire in Christchurch earlier this year (PTG 1771-8839, 25 February 2016), he could face a fine, or as a worst case scenario a one-match Test suspension, if found guilty.

‘Twitter' was full of rubbish after the dismissal claiming it was one of the worst decisions of all time.  No it wasn’t. The worst decisions are ones with are proved palpably wrong like a batsman being given out caught behind to a ball he missed by three centimetres.  The technology actually said Smith was out - just - so why should Dar have to hang his head in shame?

Sydney workshop aims at recruiting female umpires.

Melissa Mitchell.

Wentworth Courier.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9915.

As Sydney’s only female cricket umpire, Claire Polosak is used to attracting plenty of attention behind the stumps, but is now challenging more women to take to the pitch and raise their fingers.  Since taking on Cricket NSW’s umpire education female engagement role in August, Polosak has been planning the first workshop designed specifically for women who want to become umpires.

Polosak never played when she was growing up because there was no junior female cricket and she "didn’t want to play with the boys” but "I really love the sport”.  She has now been umpiring for eleven years, having completed her umpires entrance exam in 2005, and is currently in her second umpiring at the highest level of club cricket in New South Wales.  She said those who think they can’t umpire if they haven’t played the game should know that she also never played it growing up.  

In the early years of her career when male players first notice her, they usually apologise for swearing before stumbling over how to address her.  “They’ll say ‘Sorry for swearing miss, ma’am, what do I call you?”, she said. “But it’s a different generation of cricketers now than what it was 10 to 15 years ago, so I don’t get much of that sort of behaviour — the game and players have evolved”.

However, what hasn’t evolved is the take up of umpiring of the sport by women, and Polosak is all about redressing that imbalance.  Since taking up the challenge to encourage more female umpires, Polosak has been busy emailing primary and secondary schools and using social media and local councils to help spread the word.

So far the push for a women umpires' workshop’s paying off, with 14 females from throughout NSW signing up for the first such event in Sydney on Monday week.  To date “the youngest to enrol is 12 and the oldest is around 58”, said Polosak. "The target audience is mums interested in getting more involved in their child’s cricket but I’ve had interest from teachers and those who just love the game”, she said.

The workshop has a one-hour online component before participants spend three hours learning about the rules, getting tips on the management of matches, how to run a toss and dealing with players of all genders on the pitch, an umpiring Level One Cricket Australia program.

County trio deported by Australian authorities.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9916.

Three English cricketers have been refused entry into Australia and deported without getting past airport immigration. Durham bowler Chris Rushworth, Worcestershire wicketkeeper Ben Cox and Gloucestershire batsman Ian Cockbain have been held in separate incidents by Australian immigration for attempting to enter the country without the correct visas.

Many English cricketers spend the winter playing club or grade cricket in Australia and receive wages for playing. They are also given accommodation and expenses by their host club. However, it is understood that the trio had tourist visas rather than working visas.  It is notoriously difficult to obtain a working visa for Australia because of their skills-based points system and, despite being sponsored by their prospective clubs, players are not always able to get the right documentation. There is no suggestion of any deliberate wrongdoing by the players.

Cox, who was due to spend much of the winter playing in Adelaide, flew to Australia this week but was held and questioned by border officials before being deported and cannot return to the country for three years. Rushworth was due to play for Brighton Cricket Club (BCC), also in Adelaide, but did not make it past immigration before being put back on a plane to England.  The BCC are considering appealing the ban.

If an individual is spotted with a cricket bag, immigration authorities will investigate the nature of their visit and whether they are being paid. If a visa is cancelled, it could prohibit a return to the country for three years.  The UK Professional Cricketers’ Association gives guidance to its members about applying for visas but it is down to the individual to apply and complete the application in conjunction with their Australian host cricket club.  The long-established cultural exchange of players, both amateur and professional, has never looked rockier as countries enter an era of stiffer border controls and cricket's governing bodies need to find solutions.

Broadcaster’s new technology endures hostile first reception.

Tyson Otto.

New Zealand Herald.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1968-9917.

Australian broadcaster Channel 9 has unveiled its fancy new cricket technology for the summer - and fans have already dismissed it as a blight on cricket.  Moments before captains Steve Smith and Faf du Plessis met in the middle for the toss of the coin in the first Australia-South Africa Test in Perth, the broadcaster unveiled its new toy - Pitch Scan technology.  The imaging system was described by Nine commentator Mark Taylor as a sonar imaging system that can display moisture levels in a cricket pitch and shows the health of grass on top of the wicket.

Exactly how significant that is to a game of cricket was left to commentators Taylor and Shane Warne to explain.  Taylor said Pitch Scan involves the use of calibration devices placed near the pitch, then a drone is launched that takes sonar images of the pitch. "It gives us an idea of what the turf figure is. The health of the grass and obviously it will give us like a map of the pitch”.

"The greener stuff, the greener images is more moist and obviously the darker areas, which you can see in the footmarks there, are darker”, continued Taylor.  "I reckon at the moment by the end of the Test match they may well be black. So it shows you where the quick bowlers will be banging it in. You can see it's really dry. The green patches are where it's really moist. Where there is a lot of water in the pitch. The darker patches are where it is dry and there is a lot of dark patches on this pitch. We can keep an eye on that during the Test match. We can keep on eye on any cracks that form".

Taylor called it “fantastic” in that its “lets the viewers know how much moisture is in the pitch.  "The other thing we can do with our pitch scan is we can model it in 3D so we can see any undulations in the pitch and we can also have a look and keep our eye on those cracks and see how much they open up during a Test match and also compare the WACA wicket with say the Sydney or Melbourne Cricket Grounds”.  What that means to the casual cricket viewer was left unsaid.

Warne did say, based off the Pitch Scan technology, that he was disappointed with the WACA deck.  Unfortunately the nuances of pitch moisture went largely unappreciated with viewers.  Fans flocked to social media to ridicule the technology and the constant mentions of the system from Channel 9 commentators.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,969

 Sunday, 6 November 2016

 

• Umpire pleads responsibility for abandonment, Association draws raffle [1969-9918].

• Batsman declared ‘retired out’ after leaving ground to change bat [1969-9919].

• UAE, Windies umpires stand in main WCL-4 final [1969-9920].

• CA has paid Hughes family $A4m in compensation [1969-9921].

• MP now questions Botham’s Durham role [1969-9922].

• Seven-year-old applies for Yorkshire head coach job [1969-9923].

Umpire pleads responsibility for abandonment, Association draws raffle.

PTG Editor.

SVGCA web site story.

Thursday, 3 November 2016.

PTG 1969-9918.

An umpire who reversed his decision in the final of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association’s (SVGCA) 'Super-40’ competition two weeks ago, a call that was a precursor to the match being abandoned has, says the SVGCA, "accept full responsibility for the unfortunate incident, and offered sincere apologies to all stakeholders involved”.  The SVGCA has decided that the final will not be replayed and that both teams, 'Team Rivals’ and 'Victor One’, will share first prize, even though the latter walked out on the game as a result of the reversed decision (PTG 1967-9905, 4 November 2016).

The reported apology came in writing from umpire Roger Davis, who revised his decision to give Team Rivals batsman Roneil Jeffrey out LBW after his fellow umpire Cornelius Edwards at square advised him the ball had hit bat first.  The Victor One side were reported to have been “angered” at Davis’ change and chose not to continue playing in the match.

SVGCA president Kishore Shallow was quoted as saying that he was "disappointed with the premature end [to the final, but] after reflection, I sympathise with the umpire and also both teams, who all got caught up in the excitement. It was a case of one blunder leading to another, and unfortunately, the result in this particular instance was not favourable.  Credit must be given to the umpire for admitting that he should have handled the situation differently. I also commend the two teams who up until then had entertained spectators, and who in spite of the high tension, generally conducted themselves in an acceptable manner”.

Shallow, with remarks that reflect his surname, concluded by apologising to spectators who attended the final about "the premature end". However, he expressed "great satisfaction” what he described as "the main event", which was draw of the SVGCA car raffle on the day of the final, an event that saw Nathalie Balcombe of Georgetown win a small Japanese-manufactured car.

Batsman declared ‘retired out’ after leaving ground to change bat.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 5 November 2016.

PTG 1969-9919.

Japanese opening batsman Makoto Taniyama was declared ‘retired out’ by the umpires after he left the field of play to change his bat without seeking approval during the inaugural East Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament on Thursday.  Taniyama left the ground after the first delivery of the third over of Japan’s innings and after what is reported as a “short conversation” umpires Alan Curr and Mihindu Perera decided to prevent him from continuing his innings.  

Whether Curr and Perera gave opposing captain Zhang Yu Fei of China the chance to give his consent to a return is not known. The match, played at the Sano International Cricket Ground north of Tokyo, was the opening fixture of a four-day, eight-match quadrangular tournament that features those two sides plus those from Hong Kong and South Korea.

UAE, Windies umpires stand in main WCL-4 final

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Saturday, 5 November 2016.

PTG 1969-9920.

Akbar Ali of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Carl Tuckett of the West Indies stood in the main final of the World Cricket League Division 4 (WCL-4) tournament in Los Angles on Saturday between hosts the United States and Oman.  That pair were part of a ten-person panel of match officials, two of them women, who were involved in managing the week-long, 18-match series involving those two sides plus Bermuda, Denmark, Italy and Jersey (PTG 1956-9842, 23 October 2016).

Saturday's match for third place between Bermuda and Denmark went to Ali Kapa of Papua New Guinea and Jacqueline Williams another West Indian umpire, while the decider for fifth involving Italy and Jersey saw Kathy Cross of New Zealand and Courtney Young of the Cayman Islands on-field.  Gregory Braithwaite of the West Indies, Iftikhar Ali of the UAE and Lakani Oala of PNG were the reserve umpires respectively in the three matches.  Devas Govindjee of South Africa oversaw all three matches as the referee.

Janeiro Tucker, the Bermuda all-rounder, defended his ‘Mankad' dismissal of Jersey batsman Will Harris early on in the tournament to Bermuda’s ‘Royal Gazette’.  Tucker dismissed Harris, who was batting at number four, in his bowling stride after the Jersey batsman stepped out of his crease in the wake of previous warnings from the Bermuda bowlers.  Some of the Jersey players voiced their displeasure with the incident, but Harris said he was acting within the Laws.  

CA has paid Hughes family $A4m in compensation

John Townsend and Daniel Mercer.

The West Australian.

Saturday, 5 November 2016.

PTG 1969-9921.

Cricket Australia (CA) has made a payment of up to $A4 million (£UK2.45 m) to the family of Phillip Hughes but is unsure whether that move will prevent further damages action over the death of the batsman in a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney two years ago.  On Friday, the New South Wales Coroner found that Hughes’ death was accidental (PTG 1967-9904, 4 November 2016), but CA has provided an initial compensation payment that takes into account the loss of Hughes’ potential future earnings.

The sum included Hughes' full contract payment in the year of his death, the following year’s contract and an estimate of what the 26-year-old might have earned over the following decade.  CA chief executive James Sutherland said on Friday he was unsure whether further damages would be sought. “I don’t have any anticipation on that,” he said. “That is a matter for the Hughes family”.

MP now questions Botham’s Durham role.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Saturday, 5 November 2016.

PTG 1969-9922.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who last week queried the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on its handling of Durham’s problems, has now questioned the appointment of Ian Botham as chairman of the county (PTG 1965-9898, 2 November 2016).  He wrote that the move "raises yet more questions about the actions of the ECB, and: “It has been known in cricket circles since the announcement of the sanctions against Durham that Sir Ian was to be appointed. Is this, therefore, yet another condition that the ECB has placed on the club?”

Several Durham members are questioning whether Botham put himself forward for the role or whether he is, to all intents and purposes, an ECB appointment.  “Supporters will rightly want to know whether he will be a champion for the club or whether he will simply be a voice of the ECB”, wrote Jones. “Also, with his many other commitments, members and supporters will want to know how much time he will be able to commit to his role at such a critical time"

There is increasing pressure on the ECB to answer questions about the sanctions it has imposed on Durham after their acceptance of a £UK3.8 million ($A6.1 m) bailout. They include relegation from the County Championship First Division, a 48-point penalty for the 2017 season and removal of Test status for their Chester-le-Street ground (PTG 1938-9747, 5 October 2016).

Seven-year-old applies for Yorkshire head coach job.

Ed White.

Yorkshire Post.

Friday, 4 November 2016.

PTG 1969-9923.

A cricket obsessed seven-year-old has received a unique response from Yorkshire County Cricket Club after sending an application for the vacant head coach position at Headingley.  Isaac Zabrocky, who has Asperger Syndrome and suffers with ligamentous laxity in his wrists, penned a hand-written letter to Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon saying he was the right choice to replace outgoing coach Jason Gillespie.  The seven year old wrote: “I am a Yorkshire member and go to every match I can.  I would like to replace ‘Dizzy' as coach. I think I can help us win”.  

Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur spotted the letter and wrote a reply, highlighting Isaac’s “strong passion” for cricket.  It read: “We have considered your application carefully but believe that the opportunity may have come a little too soon. If you show as much enthusiasm in your school work as you do in all things Yorkshire cricket, then I’m sure you will enjoy a very successful future in whatever you choose.  Just to keep you updated, we are working very hard to find the right person to replace [Gillespie]. Rest assured, whoever is appointed to the role will be doing all they can to win cricket matches and silverware for the Club”.

Arthur also invited Isaac to write his own match report from the press box during a match in 2017.  “It’s unbelievable that such a big club can care so much about one little fan,” said father Rob Zabrocky.  "He will definitely be taking up the chance. He has already been planning which match he wants to be doing it for, the Roses match. But we might have to see how busy it is”.

Zabrocky said his son regularly plays a computer generated cricket game on his laptop and has an obsession over the sport’s statistics.  “With Jason Gillespie leaving he was asking who is the next coach going to be. He got a piece of paper and wrote an application letter.  A week later we got the reply back. He sat down and read through it a few times and at first couldn’t believe it.  He gave it to me to tell him what he is going to be doing, and he has been bouncing around ever since. He’s incredibly excited about it”.

Yorkshire chairman Steve Denison said the club were taken aback by the application.  “We have got to know Isaac quite well over the last year as he has attended many games at Headingley.  When he wrote in we knew who it was and just thought it was brilliant that a seven-year-old would care so much about cricket. [Chief executive Mark Arthur’s] wrote a brilliant response but we mean it all as well”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,970

 Monday, 7 November 2016

 

• UK research suggests many umpires there face verbal abuse [1970-9924].

• Delhi smog prevents two Ranji games getting underway [1970-9925].

• Make ‘ball tampering’ legal: Richards [1970-9926].

• Zimbabwe set to use UDRS for home series [1970-9927].

• Pakistan, Lankan umpires for BPL T20 [1970-9928].

• Retractable roof for the MCG? [1970-9928].

UK research suggests many umpires there face verbal abuse.

Emma Forde.

BBC.

Sunday, 6 November 2016.

PTG 1970-9924.

Some 56 per cent of the 763 UK umpires who responded to a University of Portsmouth (UoP) survey say they have been a victim of verbal abuse, 50 per cent that swearing and aggressive confrontations had increased in recent times, 40 per cent it makes them question whether they should continue umpiring, and three per cent they had been subjected to physical abuse (PTG 1941-9762, 8 October 2016). Cricket chiefs said umpires are vital to the game and that the findings of the research were "disappointing but not surprising”. 

The vast majority of those who replied to the survey officiate at a recreational level, and half said that they received abuse every couple of games or a couple of times a season.  One Derbyshire umpire who has been involved in that role for six years and who wanted to remain anonymous, said he regularly encounters problems.  "I've had a person spit at me… how would you feel if someone spat at you? I think it's the most deplorable and disgusting thing you could ever think of.  I've been sworn at… that's a regular thing, every match”.

Dr Tom Webb, senior lecturer in the UoP’s sports management department and one of academics behind the research, said: "What we are noticing is there is an underlying trend here, and there is an issue that needs to be addressed.  We didn't expect to see any umpires in cricket saying they had been physically abused. So that is concerning”. Abuse of umpires is not the only concern affecting the sport for in 2015 five recreational matches in the UK had to be abandoned because of violence, and in 2016 a total of three have come to light.

In July this year a Huddersfield Cricket League game was abandoned due to fighting (PTG 1921-9647, 10 September 2016), as was Yorkshire and Derbyshire Cricket League fixture PTG 1902-9543, 18 August 2016).  The same thing happened in Cherwell League Division 4 match in August (PTG 1915-9615, 3 September 2016).

During the 2016 northern summer, the game's law-makers, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), trialled new on-field sanctions in an attempt to improve behaviour (PTG 1759-8772, 10 February 2016). They range from penalty runs to giving umpires the power to direct captains to dismiss players from the field of play (PTG 1759-8773, 10 February 2016).  Responding to the UoP work, MCC head of laws Fraser Stewart said a final decision had yet to be made on whether the ‘red’ and ‘yellow; card system being trialled would be enshrined in law.

Neil Priscott, the MCC’s head of media and communications, appears to have gone further.  He was quoted by the London Daily Telegraph on Sunday as indicating, like Stewart, that while the trial appeared to have a positive impact “we are now aiming to greatly expand the trial with a view to it becoming law”. Priscott stressed, however, that the MCC was currently a “way off that point” and that the inclusion of related changes in the update of the ‘Laws of the Game’ scheduled for next October would not be feasible, and that "more extensive trials, including in matches abroad, will now take place". 

Nick Cousins, head of the England and Wales Cricket Board's Association of Cricket Officials, said: "The game cannot afford to lose these people.  If we are being told that large numbers of umpires are considering giving up the game because of increasing amounts of player abuse, then the one thing we can't do is nothing.    [Therefore] we'll continue to work hard to improve player behaviour to ensure that players and umpires have a good experience when they take part in the game”.

Delhi smog prevents two Ranji games getting underway.

Press Trust of India.

Sunday, 6 November 2016.

PTG 1970-9925.

Heavy smog in the Indian capital of New Delhi, in part caused by the massive use of fireworks set off during the recent Diwali festival, caused cancellation of the first two day's play in two Ranji Trophy games on Saturday-Sunday, players complaining of irritation in eyes and breathing problems.  The situation is so bad that Delhi's chief minister has shut some 1,800 municipal schools in the region for three days and promised a raft of measures to combat the extreme air pollution problems.

The matches cancelled were those between Bengal and Gujarat at the Feroz Shah Kotla and Tripura and Hyderabad at the Karnail Singh Stadium.  While “No play due to bad light” is listed on electronic score sheers as the reason, the players’ complaints have led to multiple inspections by match officials, whose key concern is the health of players.

Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule said: "The players were complaining that they were having burning sensation in their eyes. It's bad out there”, another coach wearing a mask to try and combat the toxic air.  Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary said the players felt that they could not play amid such a dense smog even before the start of the game.  "This is the first time something like this happened in my career”. "If you stay out there for an hour, the air that you inhale will cause irreparable damage to the lungs”, said an official.  

Current weather forecasts suggest the smog will continue and the chance of either match getting underway on Monday-Tuesday appears to be low.

Make ‘ball tampering’ legal: Richards.

Robert Craddock.

The Courier-Mail.

Sunday, 6 November 2016.

PTG 1970-9926.

Former South African player Barry Richards cringed at the sight of umpires Aleem Dar and Nigel Llong waving fingers at South African captain Faf du Plessis during Australia’s first innings in the first Test (PTG 1968-9913, 5 November 2016).  The ball had started to reverse swing and the South Africans had enhanced the process by deliberately bouncing it back to keeper Quinton de Kock in an attempt to rough up one side of it.

Richards believes such regulations are old hat.  “Look I can understand all those rules that ban the use of things like bottletops scratching the ball.  Clearly they can’t allow that but I haven’t got a single issue with bouncing the ball back.  Batsmen get quite enough their way these days with the big bats and pitches the way they are.  But using the ground is a different issue. It’s part of the conditions. If you want to take the risk bouncing the ball then that’s your decision".

“Seeing umpires waving their fingers as if some big crime had been committed ... I just don’t get it”, continued Richards.  “Are you going to ban batsmen from hitting the ball into the ground when they play defensively? Let’s give the bowlers something.  And even if it works for one bowler it might not work for the bowler at the other end. I have seen that plenty of times so I just cannot consider it ball tampering and would like to see the game loosen up a bit’’.

Zimbabwe set to use UDRS for home series.

Zimbabwe Star.

Sunday, 6 November 2016.

PTG 1970-9927.

The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) made a long-awaited debut in Zimbabwe during their second Test against Sri Lanka in Harare on Sunday, and will also be in use in the one-day format tri-series later this month that also involves the West Indies. While Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have never objected to the use of the UDRS on principle, and it was the cost of hiring the technology involved that has previously made it prohibitive. 

However, pressure from overseas broadcasters to improve television production of Zimbabwe's matches led to Hawk-Eye being used during the broadcast of their Test series against New Zealand in August.  With Hawk-Eye once again being utilised in the broadcast for the Test series against Sri Lanka, ZC expressed their desire to use UDRS in the two Tests, but were unable to make the necessary arrangements in time for the first game. 

Pakistan, Lankan umpires for BPL T20.

PTG Editor.

Media reports

Sunday, 6 November 2016.

PTG 1970-9928.

The first four matches of this year’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Twenty20 series on Saturday-Sunday were washed out without a ball being bowled and all seven franchises have agreed to restart the competition on Tuesday.  The Bangladesh Cricket Board has again acquired the services of umpires from Pakistan and Sri Lanka to complement their own officials, the former country’s Khalid Mahmoud and the latter’s Ranmore Martinesz being flown in for the series.  For Martinesz its the second year he has been engaged for the BPL.  His sixth match in the series will be his 100th senior T20 fixture.

Retractable roof for the MCG?

Peter Rolfe.

Melbourne Herald Sun

Sunday, 6 November 2016.

PTG 1970-9929.

A roof could be built over the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to weatherproof Australia’s greatest stadium in one of the biggest such redevelopments ever attempted in world sport.  Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) chief executive Stephen Gough has proposed installing a lightweight retractable roof over the MCG and believes the technology required to complete the major project was ready to roll.

Gough said: “I think technology is on our side here and the engineers are working on all sorts of solutions.  And that would be something the MCC would have to look at. Do we want a covered roof and should it be retractable because we go back to those great sunny days for a big open air stadium?”  Such a plan is likely to divide sports fans who believe the stadiums open structure is sacrosanct and others who see it as an obvious advantage. Soccer giant Real Madrid has approved a €400 million ($A580 m, £UK356 m), retractable roof for its Santiago Bernabeu headquarters with construction to commence next year.

In Gough’s view the MCG needed to keep pace not only as a leading stadium in terms of capacity, events, environmental impact and turf quality but as “the benchmark” globally. “You could have a lightweight, retractable roof if it was felt that was what we wanted to have,” he said. “I think the opportunities are quite enormous”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,971

 Tuesday, 8 November 2016

 

• Umpires’ board criticised for appointments decision [1971-9929].

• Zimbabwe’s Tiffin to reach 150 ODI  mark? [1971-9930].

• BCCI ends captains’ umpire reports function [1971-9931].

• Heavy smog in Delhi impacts four Ranji fixtures [1971-9932].

Umpires’ board criticised for appointments decision.

Alex Oates.

Geelong Advertiser.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016.

PTG 1971-9929.

Victoria's Geelong Cricket Umpires Association (GCUA) has copped a rap over the knuckles for its decision to deny the Thomson club an umpire for its Geelong Cricket Association (GCA) Division 2 match against Torquay last Saturday.  GCA president Barry McFarlane says the umpires’ board had made the wrong call to take matters into its own hands and penalise the the club because had failed to submit assessments on the umpires in its opening three fixtures of the 2016-17 season over the last few weeks.

McFarlane said: “The role of the umpires appointments board is to appoint umpires to our [five divisions] as numbers permit starting from the highest level.  They have got the right to choose where they send umpires, but they don’t have the right to determine which games they do or don’t appoint an umpire to.  There will be repercussions because we have a [best and fairest] medal and the umpires give votes for each game.  So who’s going to appoint votes for that game?"

Thomson coach Adam Bliss admitted he had failed to submit paperwork for the opening three rounds of the season, saying he had been unaware of the process.  Under GCA rules, clubs are fined $A50 (£UK31) if they fail to submit umpire assessment forms.  But after consultation with the GCA, he lodged the relevant papers two Mondays ago and was left stunned when an umpire failed to arrive at Torquay’s ground last Saturday.  Umpires boss Greg Illingworth admitted the penalty was “a little harsh”, but said clubs had to be made responsible for their actions.

McFarlane plans to attend the GCUA's regular meeting on Wednesday night to address the issue.  “I’ll go along to make sure everyone’s on the same page”. he said.  “This rule has been in place for a long time. A mistake has been made, and I wish it wasn’t made, but we’ll try to rectify it.  That’s the only point I’ll make on Wednesday. Everyone has got to know what their roles and duties are”.

Zimbabwe’s Tiffin to reach 150 ODI  mark?

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016.

PTG 1971-9930.

Zimbabwean Russell Tiffin may become the eighth umpire to stand in 150 One Day Internationals (ODI) during the seven-match triangular series between Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the West Indies that is to be played in Harare and Bulawayo over the next three weeks.  Tiffin, 57, who made his ODI debut in 24 years ago and has to date stood in 147 such games, is one of three Zimbabweans on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) who are expected to fill on-field spots during the forthcoming ODIs.

The ICC named five neutral match officials from four countries for the series on Monday: Javagal Srinath of India, South African Marais Erasmus, Indian Chettithody Shamshuddin, and Englishman Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth.  Srinath will oversee all seven games as the match referee, while Erasmus and Shamsuddin will work on-field or as third umpires in the first three matches, before Gough and Illingworth coming in for the last four, the latter being named to stand in the series final with a yet unnamed Zimbabwean IUP member.

Its been a busy ICC appointments year for IUP members Gough and Shamshuddin.  Over that time the world body has selected Gough to stand in four Tests, two each in Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates, plus ODI series between Sri Lanka and Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and Sri Lanka and the West Indies.  Shamshuddin too has been travelling at ICC expense, to Bangladesh, Ireland and the UAE for ODI series there, all of which involved Afghanistan.  The forthcoming ODI triangular event will his first as a neutral in which all the sides playing are from Test playing countries.

Currently Tiffin’s ODI record stands at 147 onfield and 37 in the television chair (147/37) and his Zimbabwean IUP colleagues Jerry Matibiri 17/20 and Langton Rusere 2/8.  Of the neutrals, Srinath will by the end of the triangular event having looked after 191 ODIs as the match referee, and Erasmus 67/42, Illingworth 49/35, Gough 31/14 and Shamshuddin 16/13.

BCCI ends captains’ umpire reports function.

The Times of India.

Monday, 7 November 2016.

PTG 1971-9931.

At a time when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is trying to improve the quality of its umpires, the practice of the captains' providing a report on umpires after each game has been scrapped, and the board is now putting the onus squarely on its match referees.  A top BCCI official said on Sunday:  "The referee also serves as the third umpire and are therefore in a better position to provide a fair and balanced report [of the umpires] with the help of video analysts”.

He indicated the move has "been made to eliminate any emotion in the reports [as] a captain can have bias or a grudge against the umpire and the referee, in that sense, has nothing at stake”.  Over the past few years, discontent against umpires on the domestic circuit had been voiced by a few teams.  Reports submitted by captains in recent years "didn't really help as they were written very casually and provided little insight into actual performances”.  "It also came obvious that somebody other than the captain, like the manager or some other member of the support staff, used to file these reports”, said the official.

Heavy smog in Delhi impacts four Ranji fixtures. 

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016.

PTG 1971-9932.

High levels of pollution and smog eventually forced the cancellation of two Ranji Trophy fixtures that were to be played in Delhi over the last few days (PTG 1970-9925, 7 November 2016).  The situation remains so bad that the Board of Control for Cricket in India have decided to move two further games, which are scheduled to start next Sunday, out of the region.  Reports say the decision regarding the forthcoming fixtures were taken following requests from at least two of the four teams involved in the next round. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,972

 Wednesday, 9 November 2016

 

• Another Test for Australia's Fry [1972-9933].

• Supreme Court releases money for England Tests [1972-9934].

• NZC has neglected women's game, acknowledges chief executive [1972-9935].

• CSA suspend pair for three months for ‘unbecoming’ conduct [1972-9936].

• Scrap T20Is, consider four-day Tests, says former NZ captain [1972-9937].

Another Test for Australia's Fry.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1972-9933.

Australian Simon Fry, who is currently standing in the second Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka Test in Harare, the third of his career, will be in action at Test level again in a week’s time during the New Zealand-Pakistan series.  Fry was named yesterday as the television umpire in the opening Test in Christchurch, Sundarum Ravi of India and Ian Gould of England being on-field, then will be on-field with Ravi in the second and final match in Hamilton the week after that, Richie Richardson of the West Indies being the match referee for the series.

The series will take Gould’s record as a Test umpire to 55 on-field and 18 as the television umpire (55/18) and Fry to 4/5, while Ravi will be standing in his 16th and 17th Tests and Richardson will be working as the referee in his fifth and sixth.

Supreme Court releases money for England Tests.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1972-9934.

The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to spend up to 5.9 million Rupees ($A114,900, £UK71,400) for the conduct of the first Test match between India and England that starts in Rajkot on Wednesday.  The bench headed by chief Justice TS Thakur said that the BCCI can spend a similar amount for the other four Tests of the series that run matches to be played between India and England.  The court said the amount has been released to meet the players' allowances, insurance expenses and other payments associated with the running of the match.

NZC has neglected women's game, acknowledges chief executive.

Radio New Zealand.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1972-9935.

A damning independent report into the state of women's cricket has forced New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to concede its neglected the game n recent years.  The report reveals only 10 percent of players in the sport are female and of those 90 percent are under 12 years old.  Report author Sarah Beaman, a former Auckland representative, says at times she thought she was studying "an endangered species."

 

Bearman found over 90 percent of cricket clubs don't have female only teams, while almost 60 percent of clubs don't offer cricket for girls at all.  The report also shows a significant drop in the number of women in governance positions in the past 20 years. Women fill only six percent of governance roles compared to 38 percent in 1993.  That shows, said Beaman, women had "virtually no voice in governance or leadership of the game”, and her study also talked of a "lost generation" in women's cricket.

In a statement, NZC accepted it had neglected the women's game.  Its chief executive David White said: "We need to put up our hand here and accept responsibility.  We have allowed women's cricket to be run by men for women; we have neglected the women's game on the basis of cost, and a perceived lack of interest.  We have sidelined women's cricket both structurally and philosophically. We were wrong, and we now need to address the areas we've allowed to slip”.

Beaman's said the top priority should be to bring more women into governance positions and increase female presence in coaching and umpiring.  All national and regional cricket authorities should have leadership roles focused on improvements for females in the game.  She recommended modifying the game so it suits females.  White accepted "the level of change required to genuinely alter women's engagement with cricket will not be comfortable either personally or organisationally ...however the benefits of change ... are indisputable”.

CSA suspend pair for ‘unbecoming’ conduct.

CSA media release.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1972-9936.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has suspended Shabnim Ismail and Trisha Chetty, two members of its national women’s squad, for "repeat offences" that breached its Rules and Code of Conduct.  The pair have been suspended until the end of January for “unbecoming or detrimental conduct which could bring them, the Board or the game of cricket into disrepute”.  Both admitted to contravening the Code and have been suspended from playing for the Proteas, however, they will be allowed to play in their provincial sides.

Although CSA would not give details of the nature of the offences, sources said the two players had been at loggerheads for a while now.  “We strive to be a highly professional and world-class outfit, whether on or off the field. Incidents of this nature are always disappointing and cannot be tolerated in a high performing environment”, said CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat in a short statement.  “We have agreed with them that they will undertake specialised counseling during their period of suspension and together with the South African Cricketers Union, we will try to ensure that they successfully re-integrate themselves back into the team environment”.

Scrap T20Is, consider four-day Tests, says former NZ captain.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016.

PTG 1972-9937.

Cricket should scrap Twenty 20 international matches and give four-day Tests real consideration to draw bigger crowds to the sport, according to one of the game's most respected tacticians.  Former New Zealand captain and now coach Stephen Fleming said the world was getting faster and Test cricket was not keeping up.  Although he was not yet completely convinced of the need to shorten the traditional five-day Test format, he was leaning in favour of changing it to four.

That would mean matches could run from Thursday to Sunday, with the players on the ground for slightly longer each day.  Fleming said five-day Test matches too often ambled along and may not be dynamic enough for modern audiences.  "There are periods during the game now when it drifts and audiences have dropped off," he said.  "At times I've commentated and watched a Test and it's meandered through rather than pushed on”.

Fleming says captains may need to be encouraged to play faster, a style that was more natural to a new generation of players that had grown up playing T20 cricket.  He feels any change to Test traditions would be difficult, but the matter seemed to now be open to discussion in cricket circles, whereas in the past it would have been seen as fanciful.  "It's history you're dealing with and the fear of changing something that's been in place for so long and so many people have played it, it means so much to the people who have played it”, he said.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,973

 Friday, 11 November 2016

 

• Questioned LBW correctly tracked, says ‘EagleEye' provider [1973-9938]. 

• CA, players union, start arm wrestle on pay, conditions [1973-9939]. 

• Second indiscretion costs West Australian half his match fee [1973-9940].

• Vidarbha all-rounder’s bowling attracts ’suspect action’ reports [1973-9941].

• Vandals seriously chew up club pitch [1973-9942].

• WICB demand fee for Caribbean players' T20 releases [1973-9943].

• Team India coaching staff seek pay hike [1973-9944].

• Yorkshire are fearful over debt [1973-9945].

Questioned LBW correctly tracked, says ‘EagleEye' provider.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 10 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9938.

Australian batsman Mitchell Marsh's hotly-debated LBW on the final day of the Perth Test against South Africa on Monday was correctly tracked from its initial point of impact on the all-rounder's front toe, according to custodians of ‘EagleEye’ ball-tracking technology.  The decision, which was reversed from umpire Aleem Dar's initial verdict of 'not out' due to the widening of the zone in which the stumps can be projected to hit earlier this year (PTG 1868-9365, 4 July 2016), was openly questioned by a succession of television commentators and also Australia's captain, Steven Smith, who said it was like Kagiso Rabada was bowling "leg-spin".

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke said on Channel Nine's cricket coverage he "was certain that [ball] was missing the stumps, [and] when you look at that replay, I thought it was definitely swinging too far and missing the leg stump.  Similar sentiments were echoed by Clarke's predecessor Ricky Ponting, while another former captain in Mark Taylor - until recently a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee that has long advocated the use of the umpire Decision Review System and ball-tracking - offered his own criticism of the projection.

However, Ian Taylor, head of the New Zealand company Animation Research that provides ‘EagleEye' for Australian broadcaster Channel Nine's broadcast, said that the tracking used for Marsh's dismissal had been reviewed and not found to be in error, either in terms of the projection reached or the process used to get there.  "I talked to my guys [in Perth] and we talked to the ICC and showed the process we went through, and we're happy with it”, Taylor said. 

"They had a really good pitching point off the pitch, and a really good contact point on the shoe, it wasn't on the pad. They felt confident they could extrapolate from those two points to make the prediction.  They have the choice there of saying they think there was insufficient data, but they saw it really clearly and it didn't continue out on that line [down leg], it hit the foot right in front of middle stump. We saw the impact on the toe before anyone else did, and we saw the impact on the toe with our four cameras, and our guys confirmed it with the ‘HotSpot' guys sitting with them. That's where the projection was made, the line from the bounce to the foot, to the stumps”.

Taylor offered an open invitation to any sceptical commentators, officials or even umpires to visit the technology operators and see things for themselves - not unlike the process by which the Board of Control for Cricket in India recently approved the use of ball-tracking as part of the Umpire Decision Review System for use on a trial basis in the just-begun Test series between India and England.

"What surprises me is so many people can make a call straight away with just seeing the replay from the end-on view, when we're going through four super slo-mo cameras and HotSpot" Taylor said. "That was the process they went through. I fully respect the guys who spent their whole careers out in the middle, it's an instinct they have and that umpires have".

"We definitely don't dismiss that and we take very seriously the views of those people. Our doors were open to all of the commentators to come down at lunchtime - we had people wait there because we thought someone might. We've also re-affirmed to the ICC and all the umpires as well that the door is always open, come on down and talk it through so we all learn from it”. 

Technology operators have advocated for some time that either the third umpire or an ICC-accredited official sit alongside those working ‘HotSpot’, ball-tracking or other devices to provide clearer lines of accountability (PTG 1855-9301, 17 June 2016).  "The issue for us is if we did this properly with a third umpire who was trained and there [with the technology operators], he could have made the call that my guys made”, he said. "That's what we talk about - here's all the information we've got, and you make a call whether you want us to project this on or not, because you're an umpire". 

"The argument we have about a third umpire or ICC-accredited person who sits with our guys, the third umpire sitting up in the box does not know what's going on down in our room. Who's talking, what we're seeing, what we're looking at, what we're replaying and what our thought process is. We've always argued if we had a fully qualified person from the ICC sitting in that room with everybody, we would go with that”.

CA, players union, start arm wrestle on pay, conditions. 

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9939.

Australia's players’ union will begin its push for better pay and conditions on Friday as they and Cricket Australia (CA) commence negotiations on the formation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to replace the current 2012 agreement.  Discussions on the new MoU, which will cover the five years from 2017-22, are getting underway as CA looks towards new multi-year broadcast deals that some reports say could see it pocket $A260 million (£UK158 m) annually from international and domestic rights, including Big Bash League content; although the degree to which such earning skyrockets could be limited (PTG 1908-9590, 29 August 2016).

Friday’s meeting, involving CA chairman David Peever and chief executive James Sutherland, and Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) or players’  union president Greg Dyer and chief executive Alistair Nicholson, is expected to be held in private at Melbourne Airport, but indications are the gathering is unlikely to go into major detail.  Discussions had been expected to begin in October, however, other pressures have delayed them until now (PTG 1938-9749, 5 October 2016).

Players have already flagged that their key interest is in maintained the status quo for the "percentage-of-revenue" model in the current MoU, under which players receive on average of about 26 per cent of all CA revenue, however, there have been suggestions CA may well be seeking to change or scrap the current arrangement (PTG 1961-9869, 28 October 2016). Last month CA indicated that over the four years to 2017 it expects to record a $A50 million  (£30.4 m) profit (PTG 1962-9880, 30 October 2016).

The ACA also wants women to share in the same MoU model as the men for at the moment  Australia's elite female players are given a set distribution, CA raising its commitment to them from $A2.36 million to $A4.23 million  (£1.43-2.6 m) earlier this year (PTG 1795-8965, 8 April 2016), maximum retainers for female internationals increasing from $A49-65,000  (£30-40,000) .  However, if women are to be included under the new MoU, the ACA will either need the men to take pay cuts or find extra money from CA's Total Cricket Revenue to fund the extra players. This may mean the ACA will argue for a share of money that is set aside for areas such as diversity and grassroots, which if so is something CA will reportedly contest.

Second indiscretion costs West Australian half his match fee.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9940.

Western Australia’s Cameron Bancroft has been fined 50 per cent of the match fee due to him for playing in his side's Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales in Sydney this week, that censure coming as a result of an incident in that game and an indiscretion in another Cricket Australia (CA) match last month.  In Sydney, Bancroft was found to have used "language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting during a match”, a Level One offence, when he was dismissed by NSW’s Will Somerville.  

In a CA one-day game in Perth five weeks ago, Bancroft was reprimanded for "abuse of cricket equipment" during a CA domestic one-day cup match after he made contact with his bat to his off stump when he was dismissed, which is also a Level One offence.  Peter Marshall, the match referee in the Sydney Shield game considered the written report provided by umpires Greg Davidson and Phillip Gillespie and, as it was Bancroft’s second Level One offence within 18 months, proposed the 50 per cent fine which the player accepted without challenge.

Last April, when making his debut for Gloucestershire, Bancroft was reprimanded for "showing dissent at an umpire's decision by word or action”, a Level One breach of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Code of Conduct (PTG 1802-9004, 16 April 2016).

Vidarbha all-rounder’s bowling attracts ’suspect action’ reports.

PTG Editor.

Media stories.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9941.

Vidarbha all-rounder Aditya Savrate has been suspended following a second ‘suspect action’ report lodged against him by umpires during India's on-going Ranji Trophy first class series.  Sarvate, 26, was first reported by umpires Krishnaaraj Srinath and Navdeep Singh during his side’s game against Assam in Kerala last month. After missing a match, Sarvate returned for a game against Karnataka in Vadodara but the umpires for that fixture, Navdeep Singh again and Rohan Pandit, also lodged a report.  

Before he can bowl again Savrate has to pass tests conducted at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, an International Cricket Council accredited testing centre.  However, a Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) official, who did not want to be named, said they are confident that Sarvate's action will soon be cleared. 

"There's nothing wrong with his action. He has been bowling since his Under-15 days and had there been a problem with his action, otherwise he would have been reported in the past.  Our coaches also didn't notice anything unusual about his action. Our head coach is the bowling coach of India 'A'. If his action was suspect, he would have noticed it. We are fully behind him”, said the official.

Vandals seriously chew up club pitch.

Ben Carter.

Shepparton News.

Thursday, 10 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9942.

Echuca South Cricket Club in northern Victoria will have to find an alternative venue for its Goulburn Murray Twenty20 Cup second round tie against Tongala after vandals gave the recently-watered pitch a bad kind of roll.  Club coach and curator Brad Jones was greeted on Tuesday morning by a black, muddy mess with numerous bicycle tyre track grooves cutting through the pitch and surrounding square.

‘‘It’s standard for Echuca South, isn’t it”, said Jones.  ‘‘Someone took the roller for a run last year. It’s not great”.  At best guess, Jones reckoned it to be young people who ‘‘tore the pitch to shreds’’, and as he put it: ‘‘It’s pretty well stuffed”.  The club says its hard enough to maintain a turf pitch these days without outside interference of this kind.  Even the ropes hoisted to keep trespassers off the pitch were pulled down by the offenders.  ‘‘I might have to hire a heavy roller and flatten the whole square”, said Jones.

WICB demand fee for Caribbean players' T20 releases.

PTG Editor.

WICB media release.

Thursday, 10 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9943.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) wants to levy a charge for the granting ’No Objections Certificates' for West Indian cricketers who are seeking a release to participate in one or more of the various Twenty20 leagues that have sprung up around the world over the last decade.  The WICB says that while such competitions raise an "interesting opportunity" for a player to significantly maximise his or her earnings, it has invested in developing a player’s talent and is not able to realise a return on it if the player is not available to play in ‘domestic’ tournaments in the Caribbean.

The WICB also says the absence of such players overseas means they are unavailable to mentor and develop younger players and to otherwise contribute to the overall growth of the game and its development infrastructure.  As such current arrangements bring disadvantages to "nations like the West Indies which have traditionally developed players who are particularly skilled in the shortest format of the game”.  "In the end, it compromises the standard of the WICB’s international team and that team’s performance internationally”, and as such “the primacy of international cricket is threatened”.

Reports say the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is set to resist demands for a 20 per cent levy on contracts involving West Indians who play in the ECB’s domestic T20 series, the Bangladesh Premier League agreed to a 10 per cent fee for its Bangladesh Premier League, but Cricket South Africa (CSA) is refusing to pay the charge. A company that manages a number of well-known West Indians described the WICB stance as “vindictive and malicious” and players are believed to be seeking legal advice. A report in 'The Times’ quotes an unnamed source as saying: “The ECB, CSA and Cricket Australia all think it was a terrible idea”.

Team India coaching staff seek pay hike.

Vijay Tagore.

Mumbai Mirror.

Thursday, 10 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9944.

The coaching staff of Team India met senior officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) during the pre-lunch session on the first day of the opening India-England on Wednesday to discuss staff grievances, salary and long-term contract issues.  The meeting was attended by chief coach Anil Kumble, and say reliable reports, BCCI president Anurag Thaku, secretary Ajay Shirke and chief executive Officer Rahul Johri.

A key point raised is believed to have been that foreign coaching staff under former coach Duncan Fletcher were being paid more than the current group of support staff under Kumble. Indications are though that it was not Kumble, who is being paid 6.2 million Rupees ($A120,770, £UK75,090) for a years’ work, who is concerned with his salary range.

Under Fletcher the support staff consisted of bowling coach Joe Dawes, fielding coach Trevor Penney and physio Evan Speechley. They were replaced by the BCCI after Ravi Shastri was appointed as Team Director in September 2014. Three Indian assistant coaches, Sanjay Bangar (batting), R Sreedhar (fielding) and Bharat Arun (bowling), were brought in. Arun's contract was not extended after Kumble was appointed coach in June. There are 13 members in the coaching staff currently and different pay structures apply to each member. 

Reports indicate that the BCCI heavyweights were not in general opposed to the request for increased pay but they wanted to do it in a proper manner. It is difficult for the Board though as the issue has been brought before at a time when the BCCI is shackled by the Lodha Committee orders over signing new contracts (PTG 1965-9896, 2 November 2016). However, it is understood coaching staff were told by senior personnel they are sensitive to the points made. 

Yorkshire are fearful over debt.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Thursday, 10 November 2016.

PTG 1973-9945.

Yorkshire have warned that the “financial sustainability” of the club is in question because of a delay to a joint £UK38 million ($A61.6 m) redevelopment of the Headingley complex with Leeds Rhinos rugby league club.  The county have debts of £22 million ($A35.7 m) and, while prospects until 2019 are encouraging, the failure to convince that a rebuild of the stand at the rugby ground end will be complete for the World Cup that year may result in the significant loss of international cricket.

Durham’s recent experience has brought home the reality of the precarious situation around the first-class game. Yorkshire want to raise the cricket capacity to 20,000, but the Rhinos are caught in planning issues around the sale of land that will finance part of the project.  The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Major Match Group is due next year to allocate England matches from 2020 to 2024, and Yorkshire must show that the ground will be fit for purpose. They want building to start next September with a projected finish of around March 2019.

About £18 million ($A29.2 m) of Yorkshire’s debt is with the Graves Family Trust, established when Colin Graves became ECB chairman to try to avoid suggestions of a direct conflict of interest (PTG 1956-9848, 23 October 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,974

 Saturday, 12 November 2016


• Grassroots cricket in Australia is both healthy and sick [1974-9946]. 

• Few watch on as local hero scores Test century [1974-9947]. 

• Cricket and the dark art that dare not speak its name [1974-9948]. 

• Vandals trash club facilities, equipment [1974-9949]. 

Grassroots cricket in Australia is both healthy and sick.

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1974-9946.

In Australian cricket, we have a tendency to panic about the overall health of the sport when the national team is not performing well, particularly on home soil in the full glare of daylight savings time.  The loss of the 2010-11 Ashes prompted Cricket Australia (CA) to set up the Argus Review into all levels of cricket as eleven men losing the Ashes seemed to mean that the other million or so cricketers in the country were on the skids. Cricket was dying.

Likewise, this week. An abject performance by the men's Test team in Perth, with declining television ratings, revives old fears about basketball, skateboarding and video games corrupting our already morbidly obese and morally deficient youth. In this Australia, it's a wonder we can even get eleven fit Test players on the field.  The truth is both better and worse than those fears. CA trumpets its success in boosting overall participation numbers, which it says have risen to unprecedented highs .

According to the 2016 National Cricket Census (NCC), cricket participation reached a record level of 1,311,184, an increase of 8.5 per cent on the previous year and 26 per cent higher than five years ago. Women's cricketers now make up 24 per cent of the cricket population. Nearly 315,000 women and girls play the game, up 9 per cent from last year. That is excellent progress, as is the 28 per cent year-on-year increase of multicultural cricketers, 40 per cent growth of Indigenous cricketers, and 70 per cent growth of disabled cricketers.

If correct, those numbers suggest the game is growing faster than the country’s overall population; although analysis of NCC numbers presented over the last few years indicates the figures are not consistent from year-to-year (PTG 1906-9559, 24 August 2016).  Even though some of those participants are the same people double-counted (for example, people who play for both a club and a school, or for an outdoor and an indoor team, are counted twice as "participants"), there are still well in excess of one million actual cricket players, making cricket the biggest participation sport in Australia.  

So why do those numbers draw scoffs of disbelief among those involved with cricket in clubs, schools and organisations? Why do so many experienced people – and, to be frank, the evidence of our eyes – tell us that the figures are not telling the full truth?

In an ideal world, the cricket population would form a perfectly shaped pyramid, with the overall numbers forming a bustling foundation for a healthy elite. But Australian cricket is not pyramid-shaped. It has an enormous, diversifying and multiform base before narrowing dramatically – its shape is more like one of those crystal wine decanters, squat-bodied before tapering into a long and fragile neck.

The great growth in Australian cricket participation, for which CA takes and deserves due credit, is among under-12s, females and minorities. Thanks in large part to modified formats and rules that enhance participation, three in five cricketers in Australia are between five and 12 years of age.  In the bad old days, an eight-year-old turned up for four hours on a Saturday to field at fine leg and watch someone else bat and bowl. Now, the Saturday morning commitment for young children and their families is not much longer than a game of soccer, and they are guaranteed an equal opportunity to participate with bat and ball. The Twenty20 format gives them a coloured shirt and the chance to emulate their CA Big Bash League “heroes".

Whatever the numbers, the game has done a tremendous job in expanding its base from what was a culturally narrow white male game tilted strongly towards those who, through skill or social advantage, were able to dominate it.  Another way of reading this is that CA has been busily picking all the low-hanging fruit. Sweeping reform for juniors, women, multiracial, Indigenous and disabled players was overdue. What has happened to the rest of the pyramid?

Anyone involved with teenaged sub-elite cricketers will tell you that the game is struggling. Once children hit their teens, participation falls off a cliff.  In New South Wales, close to 20 per cent of five to 12-year-old boys play cricket. In the 13-18 age group, that drops by half. By the time they're adults, it halves again. One in five under-12s becomes one in 20 under-18s. Teenaged club competitions become harder to organise for lack of teams.

Schools that once boasted four or five cricket teams per age group in their senior years now struggle to make up one. Clubs that are bursting with registrations among new cricket participants, with half-a-dozen teams per age group up to under-12s, have to combine their under 16s to 18s to find one team.  The best players are well cared for, but in Australia, once maturing cricketers understand that they are not going to play for their country, they find it harder and harder to see the point in playing at all.

In those teenaged years, the best talent is identified early – possibly too early – and put on the "pathway". Their coaching, and in many ways their skills, are ever improving. But they are no longer supported by a strong base of teenaged and adult participants.  Where we can draw a parallel between the national team and overall teenaged and adult cricket participation, it is in this lack of real depth.  The outstanding performances of a gifted few paper over the structural unsoundness in the wider game in those age groups.

Cricket is the national sport, but it has also become a sport in Australia where you give it a go when you are little, you either get on the elite track as a teenager or you drop out of it, and by the time you are an adult, if you are not among the elite, more and more you are going to look at other ways to spend your weekend.  And by the time you have children, cricket has become something you only watch, when you can find the time.

Few watch on as local hero scores Test century.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1974-9947.

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara will have dreamt all his life of raising his bat to celebrate a Test century in his home city but he probably never envisaged being greeted by the sight of so many empty yellow, green and blue bucket seats.  Pujara provided the fairy tale by scoring a century in Rajkot’s first Test match on Friday against visitors England. The local media has been full of his story: the father who has coached him all his life but would see him bat live for India for the first time in this match.

Word spread around the city and by the time he reached his hundred the attendance had grown to around 9,000, but for most of the day the crowd was made up of children who had arrived in the yellow school buses parked at the back of the stadium.  The current generation are the fans the Indian board are trying to lure to Test cricket by giving away 15 per cent of tickets at every match in this series to children.

It is not just an attempt to fill empty seats quickly and easily. By 2025 half of India’s population will be under 25 years of age, which is around 750 million people. For Test cricket to survive it needs to appeal to this market or it will be eaten alive by Twenty20.  The Indian Premier League (IPL) has changed cricket here forever. When Virat Kohli makes a fifty for his IPL franchise, social media impressions are 10 times what they are in when he does the same in Test cricket. While television ratings for Twenty20 in India rose by 228 per cent between 2012-15 they fell for Test cricket by 38 per cent.

A match between India and Pakistan at the last World Twenty20 was watched by 83 million in India alone. According to the International Cricket Council, 46 million worldwide mentioned the tournament on Facebook. It is easy to see where the future lies and it will perhaps be brought home in this series.  Indian officials believe crowds for the rest of the series will be better with more England fans expected to arrive. More may watch over the weekend but the first three days have been a disappointment despite this match having a lot in its favour. 

But, India is also in the grip of financial chaos. On Tuesday the government scrapped the 500 and 1,000 Rupee notes to try and eradicate the black economy in India. It means many are queuing up for hours at banks to exchange the old money. The ground here will not accept those notes. If you only have a handful of small denomination notes you are going to spend them on groceries and not a cricket ticket.

Broadcast money props up Test cricket but TV companies do not like empty seats. Dean Jones, the former Australia batsman, wrote recently in the Melbourne Age, an article headlined “Why Test cricket is on its last legs”. In it he said the long form of the game will be dead in 10 years if something is not done to reignite interest in India.  “If Asia doesn’t want Test cricket the game is gone”, he writes. “Asia has got to love it and embrace it. They fell in love with One Day International cricket when India won the World Cup in 1983, the same for Twenty20 after 2008. We need a Test championship and for India to win and then they might come back".

In Australia last week there were only 7,000 at the WACA in Perth on the penultimate day of the first Test between Australia and South Africa. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday that Channel 9’s audience during the final session of each day’s play – which falls in prime-time hours on the east coast – fell by an average of 23 per cent on last year.  All that while ratings for Cricket Australia's Big Bash League continue to climb.

Cricket and the dark art that dare not speak its name.

Greg Baum.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 11 November 2016.

PTG 1974-9948.

Let's see if we can get this straight: whatever the South Africans were not doing in Perth in the opening Test against Australia last week, they were doing it really well. The Australians thought so.  The umpires also were keeping a watchful eye on what they were not doing, and and at one stage had a stern word to them about not doing it (PTG 1968-9913, 5 November 2016).

Now South African captain Faf du Plessis says the Australians were not doing it first, and as early as the twenty-fifth over on day one, and his team learnt by observation much about how not do it so that it was really effective. He remembered facing one around-the-wicket spell from Mitchell Starc that was a "brilliant" example of 'not-doing-ness'.

Even on the fourth day, when he came to the crease after a 250-run stand between Dean Elgar and JP Duminy, du Plessis was shocked by a ball that swung violently and whistled past his earhole - here, he added a hand gesture and sound effect, "whoosh" - and thought to himself, they've got this not-doing thing down pat.  But the Australians still maintain that when it comes to expert not doing, they are the tyros.

Cricket is nowhere more obtuse than when contemplating reverse swing and how to do it. It's been around since Imran Khan, and every team in the world practises it, and every other team tries to unravel it and commentators are forever on the alert for it. It can make a Test-quality batsman look foolish as he plays for the ball going one way and it zips in the other. It happened to both Marsh brothers, among others, in Perth. It's wrong-seeming seamers, seaming wrong-'uns. It's interesting.

But when it comes to they whys and wherefores, cricketers become all coy, because what they're doing is illegal, of course, or only a bit legal, say 25 per cent legal, and so they have to give a 75 per cent impression of not doing it. They bounce the ball in from the outfield, or even from infielder to infielder, and when the umpires ask about it, they have to say, oops, slipped. It is reverse spin about reverse swing. In Perth, Australia even kept the ball out of the hands of spinner Nathan Lyon because whatever he was doing or not doing, it was reversing the reverse. Not doing so as not to do; at least Australian captain Steve Smith could be honest about this.

Really, there ought to be no need for any charade. Roughing the ball or shining it are two sides of the same coin, meant to achieve a particular effect. They are both governed by the same caveat, that no artificial agent is used. They ought to be treated the same in the laws of cricket (PTG 1970-9226, 7 November 2016).

But they're not. And so the elliptical discourse goes on. It's not that they're roughing up the ball in a particular way to facilitate reverse swing. It's just that they're, um, well, roughing the ball up to facilitate reverse swing. They're doing what they're not doing, you see. Or not doing what they're doing. But they have to get better at what they're not doing, in full view, for all to see. Both sides say so.

When it came down to it in Perth, it was not syntax or semantics that mattered, but skill. Whatever the Australians were not doing the South Africans coped with it. Whatever the South Africans were not doing, the Australians didn’t.  As an issue, it goes back to sleep for a week or so now. In Hobart's green and pleasant land for the second Test, reverse swing is improbable. To judge from forecasts and the way both teams are hedging their bets about personnel, everyone is going to spend much of the next five days not doing much, really well.

Vandals trash club facilities, equipment.

Robert Sutcliffe.

Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

Friday, 11 November 2016.

PTG 1974-9949.

Yorkshire’s Batley Cricket Club (BCC) has been left reeling after vandals attacked its facilities on Thursday causing around £UK4,000 ($A6,685) in damages.  Sight screens were broken, spectators’ benches and mobile practice nets damaged, and external plumbing pipes smashed.

BCC secretary Suleman Motala said: “Kirklees Council own the ground but it’s our equipment that has been vandalised.  All the members are devastated, I couldn’t believe it.  We are a community club and I can’t understand why anyone would want to do such a thing.  We don’t get any funding so it is quite a big blow for us as we are not insured for vandalism”.  The ground is used by three senior and three junior teams that range from under-9s to under-15s.

Motala said there have been a number of incidents lately that left benches being broken.  “However, this is much worse. As the ground is open anyone can get in and this is causing a lot of problems. At the moment the damage is to the property. This can be repaired. But things could get worse and someone could get seriously hurt.  We need a way of improving the security to stop this. We will have to look at things like better fencing, lighting, CCTV, etc.”

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,975

 Sunday, 13 November 2016

 

• Former South African batsman charged with match-fixing [1975-9950]. 

• Zimbabwe Cricket condemns racist chants during Test [1975-9951]. 

• ICC congratulate Pycroft on 50 Tests as a referee [1975-9952]. 

• Broad reported ’slapped firmly on the wrist’ over TV golf watch [1975-9953]. 

Former South African batsman charged with match-fixing.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1975-9950.

Former South Africa batsman Alviro Petersen has been charged with match-fixing as a result of a lengthy investigation into Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) 2015 domestic Twenty20 series.  Petersen, 35, who has spent the last two years with Lancashire, is charged with multiple breaches of CSA’s anti-corruption code and has 14 days to respond to the allegations laid against him. 

He has been charged with: Contriving to fix or otherwise improperly influence, or being party to a scheme in which attempts would be made to fix or otherwise improperly influence, a match or matches; seeking to accept, accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe or reward to fix or contrive to fix or influence improperly a match or matches; failing to disclose full details of any approaches or invitations to engage in corrupt conduct under the code; failure to disclose full details of any incident or fact that may evidence corrupt conduct under the code by another participant; nine counts of failing to disclose accurate and complete information and/or documentation; and obstructing or delaying the investigation by concealing, tampering with or destroying information or documentation relevant to the investigation.

Born in Port Elizabeth, Petersen featured in 36 Tests, 21 One Day Internationals and two Twenty20 internationals for South Africa.  He previously played for English county sides Glamorgan, Essex and Somerset, before joining Lancashire as a non-overseas player under the Kolpak ruling after he retired from internationals.  Petersen said in September that he might not return to Lancashire for 2017 for family reasons.

The same investigation into the 2015 T20 series resulted in former Proteas spinner Gulam Bodi being banned last January for 20 years after admitting charges of contriving or attempting to fix matches (PTG 1746-8686, 26 January 2016).  Then in August, CSA banned former wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile for 12 years for his part in the scandal, while Pumelela Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati and Jean Symes received lesser bans for accepting money from Bodi (PTG 1895-9498, 9 August 2016).

Zimbabwe Cricket condemns racist chants during Test.

PTG Editor.

ZC media release.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1975-9951.

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have issued a statement condemning abusive racist chants aimed at their players at the tail-end of this week's second Test against Sri Lanka in Harare.  The statement said was "deeply disturbed by the conduct of a section of fans” and that they "condemn any act of racism, abuse or intolerance in cricket, in particular, and sport, in genera"l.

ZC indicated they intend to investigate the incidents and impose sanctions on the culprits, pointing to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Racism Code which requires its members to impose punishments including life bans on anyone found guilty of racial abuse.  “There is absolutely no place for racism or any form of prejudice in the game of cricket”, said the ZC statement, and it and the ICC "promote and encourage participation at all levels regardless of race, colour, religion, national or ethnic origin and to ensure that there is no discrimination in the sport”.

ICC congratulate Pycroft on 50 Tests as a referee.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1975-9952.

Zimbabwean match referee Andy Pycroft has been congratulated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) of reaching a half-century of Test matches in that role when  second Test between Australia and South Africa got underway in Hobart on Saturday (PTG 1957-9850, 24 October 2016).   Pycroft, 60, whose primary years as a cricketer were before Zimbabwe reached Test status, played three Tests and 20 One Day Internationals (ODI) as a batsman, the latter including the World Cups of 1983, 1987 and 1992.

 

Pycroft, who had stints as coach and chief selector in Zimbabwe before he started officiating as a match referee, looked after his first Test in that role at Lord’s in May 2009 (PTG 414-2187, 2 May 2009). He officiated in an ODI for the first time in Bristol during the same month while his Twenty20 International debut was in the match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Colombo in September 2009.  His record in the latter two formats now stands at 123 and 49 matches respectively.

 

Pycroft said via an ICC media release that he is delighted to have reached the landmark.  “I’m grateful to the ICC for the opportunity it has given me to officiate in international matches, for the support I have been given and the opportunity to stay connected with cricket friends, particularly officials, throughout the world. It has been a privilege and honour”..

 

Adrian Griffith, ICC’s Senior Manager – Umpires and Referees, congratulated Pycroft on the achievement, saying: “Andy has been an asset for us over the years. His experience as a player and administrator, have stood him in good stead and he has been a consistent performer in carrying out his duties. I would like to congratulate Andy on behalf of the ICC and wish him continued success in his career”.

Broad reported ’slapped firmly on the wrist’ over TV golf watch.

PTG Editor.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1975-9953.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has given match referee Chris Broad a “firm slap on the wrist” over his watching of golf in the third umpires room during the One Day International (ODI) series between South Africa and Australia in September, says an article published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (SMH).  Staff from Cricket Australia’s (CA) integrity unit came across a picture of Broad appearing to watch the Ryder Cup golf on his computer during the ODI at Centurion on the last day of September, above which he posted: "Cricket? What cricket? #bbcrydercup” (PTG 1955-9838, 22 October 2016).

Reports at the time said CA did not make a formal complaint to the ICC but rather “brought the issue" to the attention of the ICC's senior manager of umpires and referees, Adrian Griffith, and ICC general manager cricket Geoff Allardice.  ‘SMH’ journalist Chris Barrett writes that the ICC has since made it clear to Broad that his conduct was “inappropriate”.  Presumably Barrett got the information from a CA official who was pleased to have been able to pass it on.

That is likely to have been because of the difficult relationship the Australians are said to have with Broad.  The Englishman has a history with Australia stretching well back past his days as a match referee, and since he took on that role in late 2003 they are said to have found him far from the easiest of match officials to deal with, although just why has not been spelt out.  To date, Broad has overseen 428 internationals as a match referee - 82 Tests, 278 ODIs and 68 Twenty20 Internationals (T20I), figures that place him second on the all-time referees list in all three international formats.  Of those over a quarter, or 115, have involved Australia - 40 Tests, 65 ODIs and 10 T20Is.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,976

 Monday, 14 November 2016

 

• Player in NZ red-carded for abusing umpire [1976-9954]. 

• Wellington Plunket Shield game delayed after earthquakes [1976-9955]. 

• Match-fixing involvement denied, CSA plea bargain rejected [1976-9956]. 

• Spectator banned for posting racist graffiti during Hobart Test [1976-9957]. 

Player in NZ red-carded for abusing umpire.

John Hill.

Gisborne Herald.

Monday, 14 November 2016.

PTG 1976-9954.

Timoti Weir made history of the unwanted kind on Saturday when he became the first Poverty Bay player to be sent off. The medium-pacer was shown a yellow card, then a red, after abusing an umpire midway through the morning session of Bay of Plenty's first innings in a Fergus Hickey Rosebowl two-day fixture.  

“Timor’s gutted”, Poverty Bay selector Lance Cairns said. “At first he was really angry after we’d had a couple of tough decisions, but that’s no excuse. You have to accept whatever decisions the umpires make. There’s a line and Timoti stepped over it.  But after calming down, he apologised to me and the umpire. He knows he let himself and his teammates down. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing and I’m sure he’ll learn from it and not make the same mistake again”.

Any further action will follow after the Northern Districts Cricket Association (NDCA) consider the umpires’ report to the Northern Districts Association.  The NDCA introduced its player ‘sin bin’ and ‘send off’ approaches to player discipline during the 2013-14 season.  Under the arrangement, “any player who uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to any player, umpire or spectator during the course of a match”, could be subjected to instant disciplinary action by official umpires controlling the game, a move that would mean their side would be forced to continue play one person short (PTG 1435-6938, 26 September 2016).

Over the past year the Marylebone Cricket Club has been trialling a yellow and red card system, the possibility being it might be made a formal part of the game’s Laws sometime in the future (PTG 1970-9924, 7 November 2016).

Wellington Plunket Shield game delayed after earthquakes.

New Zealand Herald.

Monday, 14 November 2016.

PTG 1976-9955.

The Plunket Shield match between Wellington and Central Districts at the Basin Reserve which was due to start on Monday has been delayed until Tuesday pending a risk assessment of the ground following the overnight earthquake that struck the region.  The Basin Reserve has long been targeted as an earthquake risk, the Wellington City Council in 2012 declaring the Museum Stand as "earthquake prone”.  Spectators have not been allowed to sit in the 92-year-old grandstand since then.

Two other Plunket Shield matches are also scheduled to start on Monday.  Northern Districts are scheduled to host Auckland at Tauranga's Bay Oval while Otago are to meet Canterbury in Queen's Park, Invercargill. Both are in doubt.  The first Test between the New Zealand and Pakistan is currently scheduled to begin at Christchurch's Hagley Oval on Thursday.  Whether it will be impacted is also not known.

Match-fixing involvement denied, CSA plea bargain rejected.

Firdose Moonda.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 13 November 2016.

PTG 1976-9956.

Former South Africa opening batsman Alviro Petersen has denied ever accepting a bribe or contriving to fix matches but admitted to "playing along" with those involved in the match-fixing scandal in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) domestic Twenty20 tournament. Petersen was charged on Saturday by CSA with six breaches of the anti-corruption code (PTG 1975-9950, 13 November 2016). In a statement through his lawyer Robin Twaddle, Petersen confirmed that he rejected a plea bargain because he regards the charges as "heavy-handed", and would welcome a tribunal instead. He also claimed to know of at least one other player who has not been charged by CSA. 

In the statement, Twaddle wrote that Petersen was "surprised" when he learned of charges being drawn up against him at the end of July because the cricketer had been co-operating with the investigation. "Alviro acknowledges and admits that he played along with other persons involved in the scandal so as not to alert them to the fact that an investigation was underway”, Twaddle writes. "Alviro was in constant contact with the investigative team from the time he reported his knowledge of the scandal until Bodi was charged and he gave information that he had received of actual plans to influence matches to the investigative unit”.

In March, Petersen revealed he had reported fixing approaches but did not consider himself under investigation. At the time, he also said investigators were aware of his meetings and discussions with other players. Petersen maintained that he blew the whistle on Gulam Bodi and five other players, who were subsequently banned for between seven and 20 years.  Since then, Petersen has been involved in what Twaddle called "a lengthy negotiating period" with CSA during which the board offered him a plea bargain. Although the details of that agreement have not been revealed, Petersen rejected it because he thought it excessive. 

"Whilst Alviro is willing to take responsibility for his actions over this period, although they were taken in good faith under the circumstances at the time, he could not reach agreement with CSA because he believes that the sanctions which would have been imposed were disproportionate to Alviro's actions and do not take sufficient cognisance of the defenses and mitigating circumstances put forward by Alviro”, Twaddle wrote.  Petersen, who was due to play for the Lions franchise in CSA’s 2016 domestic T20 competition which started on Saturday, has been suspended from all cricket activities. He has 14 days to officially respond to CSA. 

Spectator banned for posting racist graffiti during Hobart Test.

PTG Editor.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 13 November 2016.

PTG 1976-9957.

A man has been banned from going to the cricket anywhere in Australia for three years after he allegedly wrote racist graffiti aimed at a South African player at Bellerive Oval in Hobart during the second Test against Australia on Saturday.  Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed the man will be barred from any official match across the country, while Tasmanian police said he would appear in court after being charged on summons.

The 24-year-old man is accused of writing an offensive message on a fence inside the ground on Saturday afternoon. The message is believed to have been targeted at former South African captain Hashim Amla who was playing in the game.   

A CA spokesperson said it and Cricket Tasmania "can confirm a crowd behaviour issue that occurred on day one of the Test in Hobart.  Tasmania Police identified the person of interest through CCTV and witnesses in the area. [CA] takes a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour at any of our matches, which includes racial vilification. Our message to any fan attending a match is that if you display anti-social behaviour you will be removed and risk being banned from any cricket match across Australia, as well as police action being taken”.

The situation came a few days after racial issues arose in a Test in Zimbabwe (PTG 1975-9951, 13 November 2016). It is not the first time South African players have been on the receiving end of offensive crowd behaviour in Australia.  Former fast bowler Makhaya Ntini spoke out about racial abuse from the crowd in Perth more than a decade ago, but since then CA has cracked down on vilification of any kind at cricket grounds. South Africa have put in place racial quotas for the national team, aiming for six coloured players including two black Africans. Recent Proteas teams have, by and large, met those targets at full strength (in the absence of injured players) anyway (PTG 1900-9534, 15 August 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,977

 Tuesday, 15 November 2016

 

• Earthquake fails to halt Christchurch Test  [1977-9958]. 

• Aussie exchange umpire falls ill, hospitalised [1977-9959]. 

• Prominent critic calls UDRS use in India-England Tests a ‘positive step’ [1977-9960]. 

• County season opener back as a day-night match [1977-9961]. 

• Queenslander found to have an illegal bowling action [1977-9962]. 

• Perth BBL franchise fined for breaching salary cap [1977-9963]. 

Earthquake fails to halt Christchurch Test.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

PTG 1977-9958.

The first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan in Christchurch is set to go ahead on Thursday after the country suffered two earthquakes.  A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake on the South Island on Monday which killed at least two people, was followed hours later by one of 6.3.  Christchurch, about 160 km away from the epicentre, felt the quake strongly, but after engineers checked Hagley Oval, the venue for the Test, it remains on schedule to take place.

Pakistan women, who are also touring New Zealand, were on the 13th floor of a hotel in Christchurch when the tremors started.  They are due to play New Zealand in the fourth One Day International of their series in Nelson on Thursday, a city that is a similar distance from the quake’s epicentre as is Christchurch.

The start of the match between Wellington and Central Districts at the Basin Reserve which was to have started on Monday appears likely to now start on Tuesday after engineers to assessed the venue for damage, and quantify any safety concerns arising from the shake (PTG 1976-9955, 14 November 2016).  The other two Plunket Shield matches scheduled to start on Monday, in Invercargill and Tauranga, proceeded as planned.

Aussie exchange umpire falls ill, hospitalised.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

PTG 1977-9959.

Australian umpire Sam Nogajski fell ill and was unable to continue standing in the Ranji Trophy match between Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai in Mysore on Monday.  Nogajski, who had been on-field during the opening day’s play on Sunday, complained of stomach ache and vomiting before the start of the second day's play and was admitted to a local hospital as a precautionary measure, his on field colleague, Indian Virender Sharma, standing at both ends with another umpire standing at square leg.   

A Karnataka State Cricket Association official said it was originally hoped Nogajski would be able to return after lunch on Monday but hospital authorities recommended complete rest.  “Unfortunately it means he will not take any further part in the match”, said the official, who indicated the Australian will be taken the 150 km to Bengaluru on Tuesday for on-going treatment.  Some reports say he is suffering from food poisoning and others dehydration, however, the former appears to be a more likely cause. 

Nogajski is the fifth Australian to visit India on exchange and is scheduled to stand in a second Ranji game in Nagpur 930 km to the north-east of Mysore between Tamil Nadu and Punjab (PTG 1953-9829, 20 October 2016).  That fixture is due to start next Monday but whether he will be able to take part in that game is yet to be confirmed.  Last year John Ward, another Australian umpire on exchange in India, was hospitalised after being struck by a ball during a Ranji match (PTG 1701-8399, 2 December 2016).

Prominent critic calls UDRS use in India-England Tests a ‘positive step’.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 14 November 2016.

PTG 1977-9960.

Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar, a long-time critic of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), has termed its use in the on-going India-England series a "positive step”.  The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ended its long-standing opposition to UDRS last month and agreed to its usage on a trial basis over the five Test series (PTG 1956-9841, 23 October 2016).  Tendulkar said the UDRS is all about getting the decisions right but that more work is needed to ensure the system is available on a consistent basis, something the International Cricket Council is now focusing on (PTG 1967-9907, 4 November 2016).

County season opener back as a day-night match.

Sporting Life.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

PTG 1977-9961.

A pink ‘Dukes' ball will be used for the first time in a Champion County fixture next year when the match between an Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) XI and 2016 County champions Middlesex in Abu Dhabi returns to a day-night format.  Australian manufacturer ‘Kookaburra’ supplied the ball for the five matches played there from 2010-15, but the current year's contest was played during the day with a red ball following a request from then champions Yorkshire (PTG 1755-8753, 5 February 2016). 

The ‘Dukes’ pink ball will be used when England play their maiden day-night Test next August at Edgbaston (PTG 1957-9849, 24 October 2016).  MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said: "I'm sure it will be another excellent week's cricket in the [Abu Dhabi and] hopefully the match will continue to raise the profile of the pink ball ahead of a crucial summer for Test match cricket”.  The Abu Dhabi match could see several England players in the MCC's side with the England and Wales Cricket Board believed to be keen to give the national side plenty of preparation with the pink ball under lights.

Queenslander found to have an illegal bowling action.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Saturday, 12 November 2016.

PTG 1977-9962.

Biomechanical tests carried out in Brisbane late last month show that Queensland womens' medium pacer Georgia Prestwidge has an illegal bowling action.  The assessment revealed that all of Prestige’s deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the regulations and, as such, the she has been suspended from bowling in Cricket Australia (CA) sanctioned matches with immediate effect.

Prestige, 18, was reported by umpires Murray Branch and David Taylor following the CA Womens National Cricket League one-day game against Tasmania in mid-October, and tests were carried out two weeks later.  In line with the CA Doubtful Bowling Action Procedures, Prestige is not able to submit for a re-assessment of her action for a minimum 90 days.  During that time she is eligible to bowl at Premier League, but not interstate, level.

Perth BBL franchise fined for breaching salary cap.

PTG Editor

CA media release.

Monday, 14 November 2016.

PTG 1977-9963.

Cricket Australia (CA) has fined its Big Bash League (BBL) Perth Scorchers  franchise for breaching the "maximum team retainer pool” or salary cap of $A1.3 million (£UK782,000) by $A5,000 (£3,010). The Scorchers have been fined the "minimum penalty" of $A150,000 (£90,250), however $A145,000 (£87,240) has been suspended pending no further breach of the team retainer pool rules during the next five years, an effective fine equal to the pay overrun.

Iain Roy, CA head of integrity, said the Scorchers self-reported the salary cap breach to CA. “Following a thorough investigation, we understand that this was not a purposeful breaching of the rules by the Perth Scorchers, and this has been taken into account for the purpose of fixing an appropriate penalty”, he said. “We do however take a proactive, zero-tolerance approach to maintaining the integrity of our sport and this includes any breaches of salary caps in the BBL”.  He added: "This serves as a timely reminder that the integrity of our game is a high priority and we won’t accept this being compromised”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,978

 Wednesday, 16 November 2016

 

• Frequent aftershocks, sleep-deprived players, sees game deferred [1978-9964]. 

• Sidelined umpire back to 'full health' [1978-9965]. 

• As team in tatters, CA goes for more computing power [1978-9966]. 

• No appeal but batsman given out and has to go [1978-9967]. 

• Illegal gamblers using instant messenger services to relay information [1978-9968]. 

Frequent aftershocks, sleep-deprived players, sees game deferred.

PTG Editor.

NZC media release.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

PTG 1978-9964.

The Plunket Shield first class match between Wellington and Central Districts at the Basin Reserve, the start of which was delayed by a day on Monday after an earthquake struck overnight, was finally abandoned on Tuesday (PTG 1976-9955, 14 November 2016).  New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said “frequent aftershocks in the region left players sleep-deprived and anxious, and in no fit state to start the game".

 

Although the ground was assessed as safe by structural engineers, and the match had been given the go-ahead by local authorities, NZC decided that proceeding with the game "would be unfair on the players involved”.  Central Districts coach Heinrich Malan said NZC had taken the right decision as “at this stage it's about looking after the welfare and health of the players”.  Options for re-playing the four-day match will be considered by NZC over the coming week.

The match was to have been the second for South African umpire Brad White during his exchange visit.  His first game was with New Zealand umpire Wayne Knights in Hamilton last week (PTG 1947-9797, 15 October 2016).

Sidelined umpire back to 'full health'.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1978-9965.

Australian umpire Sam Nogajksi, who suffered a severe case of food poisoning earlier this week during a Ranji Trophy match in Mysore, is back to “full health” (PTG 1977-9959, 15 November 2016).  After two days in hospital he returned to his hotel on Tuesday afternoon and will rest there until its time to move on to the second and final game of his exchange visit in Nagpur 930 km to the north-east of Mysore.  That match, between Tamil Nadu and Punjab, is due to start next Monday (PTG 1953-9829, 20 October 2016). 

As team in tatters, CA goes for more computing power.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

PTG 1978-9966.

As the Australian team was facing challenges in the second Test against South Africa in Hobart on Tuesday, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Cricket Australia (CA) and the ‘Microsoft' company announced that a trial is to be conducted over the next few months of a computer-based "intelligent coaches’ platform” "designed to lift performance management to a new level”.  The system, powered by Microsoft’s cloud and Cortana Analytics Suite, uses "machine learning, predictive analytics and visualisations" to better manage the large volume of player performance data CA managers track to determine "athlete and team wellness”.

The ‘Microsoft' platform under trial is “brand new”, says CA's head of technology, Michael Osborne.  According to him: “[CA] is one of a handful of sporting organisations worldwide that ‘Microsoft' engineers are working with to develop and trial the platform.  [With it] we aim to unlock the insights buried in [the] data [we currently collect] and make [it] more actionable.  We hope to tailor information not just for each individual player, but also to take into account how each player responds to particular conditions.  [That] will allow us to optimise our sports scientists’ time and introduce more predictive elements into our analyses”.

Osborne went on to say: “We are the only cricket organisation involved, so we will be the first in our code to use the new platform”. “The work [planned] lines up neatly against our goal to produce the world’s best teams, events and officials".  Coaches will be helped by machine learning within the system, which will make recommendations and suggestions that will improve over time as more datasets come online.  "This is machine intelligence coming to life, and will refine coaching, training and wellbeing programs to help our cricketers compete internationally”, said Osborne.

No appeal but batsman given out and has to go.

Dhaka Daily Tribune.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

PTG 1978-9967.

A batsman was given out in a Bangladesh Premier League game between the Barisal Bulls and Rajshahi Kings sides in Mirpur on Sunday, however, there is no evidence that anyone appealed before umpire Khalid Mahmoud from Pakistan raised his finger.  His countryman Umar Akmal came to the crease for Rajshahi to face opening bowler Al Amin Hossain, who sent down a straight delivery that the batsman tried to defend but failed and the ball hit his pads. 

Al Amin was going back to his bowling mark and suddenly realised that the umpire had raised his finger. No fielders, including wicket-keeper Mushfiq, had bothered to appeal, but the umpire kept his arm up and batsman had to go. It was more painful for Rajshahi soon after though as television replays showed the ball was not only missing leg-stump but that height was also an issue.

Illegal gamblers using instant messenger services to relay information.

Agence France-Presse.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1978-9968.

Gangs are using instant messenger services to pass on match information to illegal gamblers and sport needs to act to catch up, says the head of the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.  Ronnie Flanagan, former chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and its successor the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said sports criminals are also crossing into new sports having already become a thorn in the side of cricket, football and tennis. 

Flanagan said such people “are becoming more inventive in how they communicate with each other and circumvent our measures.  They use WhatsApp and other forms of social media to communicate.  We have to keep a step ahead of them”. Gangs have long stationed agents at cricket and football matches to try and get game information for illegal bets.

Even a split-second advance on a goal being scored in football or a six being hit in cricket can make syndicates a fortune. Messenger services can easily beat delayed television images. Flanagan, who replaced another former senior police chief, Paul Condon, in 2010, said the creation of anti-corruption units in English, Australian and Indian cricket has been “very positive”. The 67-year-old Northern Irishman said the ICC unit was working increasingly closely with the national bodies. But gambling is like sports doping, regulators close down one avenue and the criminals find another another to exploit. ”They are increasingly determined”, he said.

“While international cricket has become a harder target for them they have improvised and targeted all types of televised matches. ”They don’t care if it is England versus Australia for the Ashes or Kent versus Sussex just so long as it is televised so it facilitates betting illegally”.

The ICC unit does not have police powers and relies on national authorities to arrest and prosecute suspects. ”Policing, as it is I believe similarly with fighting corruption, can only dream of being successful if it involves effective and vibrant partnerships between themselves and local stakeholders. ”That’s why I’m delighted with the relationship we enjoyed with the Australian Federal Police leading up to and including the 2015 World Cup. ”That is the model for co-operation in the fight”. There are many ways to get tips, but Flanagan is not at ease with using the term “whistleblower” for when somebody comes forward with information. ”That also goes back to my police days”, he said.

“I prefer to call them a reporter of wrongdoing. They are all different types, some are risking a lot by coming forward. These people must be looked after and the term whistleblower has connotations to it.  There are really honourable people who are approached to give information to these criminal gangs and in some cases are physically sick at the thought of doing so”.

Despite all that Flanagan seeks to reassure those who go through cricket ground turnstiles.  “I would tell them to be optimistic when they buy their tickets for the match”, he said. ”Everything is being done to ensure it is a fair game. Sometimes these games are won by luck but usually they are won by the best side” on the day.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,979

 Thursday, 17 November 2016

 

• On-field confrontation leads to lengthy bans [1979-9969]. 

• ICC to probe use of ‘lollied' saliva on ball [1979-9970]. 

• Indian exchange visit for England’s Millns [1979-9971]. 

• First international neutral appointment for South African [1979-9972]. 

• CA failed to follow through on key Argus recommendations [1979-9973]. 

• Players face surrendering their ‘WhatsApp' conversations [1979-9974]. 

• Kent to take part in WICB one-day competition [1979-9975]. 

On-field confrontation leads to lengthy bans.

PTG Editor.

Media reports, WGCA web site.

Thursday, 17 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9969.

Two players who were involved in an on-field confrontation during a West Gippsland Cricket Association (WGCA) match in Victoria last Saturday have been given lengthy bans.  On Wednesday, a WGCA tribunal suspended Cranbourne Meadows' Justin Hinkley for fourteen playing weeks and the Officer club’s Shannon Marum for ten, censures that mean the former cannot return to the game until March next year, and the latter until mid-February.

What is said to have started as “a bit of banter” in the match quickly escalated and “got out of hand”, resulting in reports being laid for shoving, head-butting, and using threatening language.  David Webster, the president of the WGCA’s umpires group who was standing in the match between the Officer and Cranbourne Meadows sides and has been involved in cricket for 45 years, described it as the worst behaviour he’d witnessed in any game over that time.

Webster said:  “We had to warn a few blokes a couple of times [for inappropriate language] but then [Hinkley who was batting at the time] just lost the plot and it wasn’t pleasant”.  Reports say that after a dismissal Marum was waiting at the crease for incoming batsman Hinkley to arrive out in the middle.  Later in the over, after Hinkley had scored and moved to the bowler’s end, Marum walked from slip down to the non-striker’s end, and that’s apparently when an altercation took place.

“My disappointment is that it got to that. It’s just a game of cricket”, said Webster, “there’s got to be a line with banter" and while “they’re just words, they can carry a bit of weight”.  He described the overall actions involved as "extremely disappointing”, “nasty" and "just not cricket”, and that “this sort of behaviour starts right at the top in international cricket, and it’s a disgrace”.

Cranbourne president Ben Warren-Smith had opened the batting for his side in the game and was out in the middle when the incident took place.  He said what happened was disappointing from both clubs' perspective. His player had accepted responsibility for his part in the incident.  “From our perspective, it was pretty ordinary from both parties, and the language [that was] used out in the middle was “pretty ordinary”, he said.  “Something had to be said for the situation to occur, but we’re playing park cricket – not for sheep stations”.  “It was a blight on our game, and on both clubs”.

WGCA president Brett Armitage said the association has “zero tolerance for physical contact and abuse, regardless of provocation”.  “It’s like speeding – you either did it, or you didn’t”, he said.  “Our association has standard penalties under the Cricket Victoria banner and a very specific code of conduct is on our website for everyone to see.  We won’t hesitate to deal with people if they don’t follow the rules which have been clearly spelt out.  We’re custodians of the game and there’s a spirit we need to honour”.  The Officer club’s president Tim Smith opted not to comment about the game.

ICC to probe use of ‘lollied' saliva on ball.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9970.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is reviewing footage of South African captain Faf du Plessis shining the ball with a lolly in his mouth during his side’s Test against Australia in Hobart this week before deciding whether to lay charges against him.  As the 18-hour window for umpires to lay a charge has elapsed, ICC chief David Richardson can report du Pleases as can Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland if the ICC does not.

In what appears to be tactics similar to those used by England during the 2005 Ashes series to enhance the ball's ability to swing, footage shows du Plessis repeatedly licking his finger before rubbing the ‘Kookaburra’ ball.  No action was taken against England eleven years ago, however, Law 42.3 states that a fielder may polish a ball, "provided that no artificial substance is used".

The South African skipper was warned in the first Test for deliberately bouncing the ball along the ground to rough it up (PTG 1968-9913, 5 November 2016).  He said before the second in Hobart that the issue had been "blown out of proportion”.  "We were watching the first innings in Perth and [Australia] got the ball to reverse in the 25th over”, he said.  "I was quite impressed. I was trying to see how they were doing it because that meant they were doing something right. Twenty-five overs is very early for ball to reverse and the Aussies did it really well”.

In 2013, du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee after he pleaded guilty to ball tampering (PTG 1218-5858, 26 October 2013).  He was accused of rubbing the ball close to the zipper on his pants pocket but at the time said although he had pleaded guilty, he wasn't trying to cheat. He said the ball wasn't affected by his actions.  Match referee David Boon said at the time that du Plessis' actions warranted the charge, but that he was satisfied that it "was not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball”.  The year after bowler Vernon Philander was fined 75 per cent of his match fee for “changing the condition of the ball" during a Test against Sri Lanka in Galle (PTG 1394-6744, 19 July 2014).

Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) ethics committee has in the past damned the practice and said it was damaging the country’s reputation.  “The committee wishes to raise its deep concern [at] the recent reports and allegations of ball-tampering”, read its report to the CSA board in 2014.  The committee takes a very dim view of these reports and wishes to send out a strong message that such behaviour cannot be tolerated. Such conduct damages our fragile reputation. It’s not about what others do, it’s about our reputation, and we urge our lads to take this matter very seriously”.

Also in 2014, Australian opener David Warner was fined 15 per cent of his match fee after he accused South African AB de Villiers of ball-tampering during a Test in Port Elizabeth.  Warner's comments did not relate to the use of lollies or saliva, but rather allegations the South African wicketkeeper was roughing the ball up with his gloves (PTG 1301-6276, 28 February 2014).

Former England captain Marcus Trescothick admitted in 2009 he used mints to help produce saliva which kept the ball newer for a longer period of time during the 2005 series (PTG 542-2773, 7 January 2010).  Interestingly, Trescothick noted in his autobiography that the tactic did not cause as much of an effect on ‘Kookaburra' balls as they did the English ‘Dukes’.  

Indian exchange visit for England’s Millns.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9971.

English umpire David Millns is halfway through a two-match stint in India’s Ranji Trophy first class series as part of the on-going umpire exchange program between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the England and Wales Cricket Board.  Earlier this week he stood in the match between Maharashtra and Vidarbha at Kolkata's Eden Gardens ground, his on-field colleague being Goa-based Yeshwant Barde, who like Millns is a former first class player.  The Englishman’s second and final match in India during his current visit, his 121st first class game as an umpire and 292nd overall, will be between Karnataka and Orissa in Delhi starting next Monday.

First international neutral appointment for South African.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9972.

South African umpire Bonging Jele, who was elevated to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel in mid-year (PTG 1875-9394, 12 July 2016), has received his first ICC appointment as a neutral in the two-match List A series Kenya and Hong Kong are to play in Nairobi on Friday and Sunday.  

Joining Jele, 30, on-field in both matches, which are part of the ICC’s on-going 2015–17 World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) series, will be Kenyan umpire David Odhiambo, his countryman Rockie D’Mello being the reserve official, and South African Devdas Govindjee of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel the referee.  Odhiambo and D’Mello are members of the ICC’s third-tier Associated and Affiliates International Umpires Panel (PTG 1824-9121, 11 May 2016).

Matches in the series will be Kenya’s first played at home after a four-year hiatus that resulted from security concerns following a series of bomb attacks that hit Nairobi in 2012.  Kenya was forced to play their first home game of the WCLC tournament against the United Arab Emirates in England in June last year.  Cricket Kenya has announced that a "specially-trained security team” will be deployed during the forthcoming matches to assist police.

CA failed to follow through on key Argus recommendations.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 17 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9973.

The same failures that brought on the Argus review into Australian cricket in 2011 have been revisited in recent months, but there has been a selective approach to the review’s demands. The review called for the captain to be on the selection panel, but after an unhappy experience with Michael Clarke, that move was abandoned and not reinstated when Steve Smith took over the job.

Smith said yesterday that he and coach Darren Lehmann, who is a selector, usually got the sides they wanted, but it was obvious he was not always happy with the ­decisions made in his absence. “It’s obviously talked about and I do talk to the selectors quite a bit and in the end it is up to them to pick the team that they think best for whichever conditions”, Smith said. “I have to back their job and go out there and support our guys and do whatever we can to win matches but obviously we’re not doing that and it is not working”.

The Argus review called for “rigorous succession planning”, but stopgap measures by selectors have created a situation where young players are overlooked and veterans used to fill holes.  Chris Rogers was successfully recalled ahead of the 2012-13 Ashes series when he was 34, but his success triggered an obsession with older state ­players.  Adam Voges was 35 when he was called up for the 2015 Ashes and stayed on last summer when many believe a younger player would have profited from playing in home series against West Indies and New Zealand.  Callum Ferguson, 31, is the ­latest mature-age recruit to the side. 

Coaches who who have been spoken to in recent days said there was plenty of talent coming through the system but it was being wasted by lack of opportunity first at state level and then at the national level.

Queensland coach Phil Jaques yesterday urged calm. “There’s a lot of good players running around in first-class cricket”, he said. “I don’t think the system is ­broken. When you get a couple of losses you can jump to conclusions. I don’t think it’s time for panic, I think it’s time for calm.  I think there are some good young players in every state. You could pick anyone of a dozen who could come up and do a job. It’s up to the selectors to decide”.  Jaques, however, backed the XI that played so poorly in Hobart. 

Behind the scenes though there is angst with CA corporate structures whose most recent five-year strategy demanded the team be number one in all forms of the game. Cricket officials say that the Melbourne-based business was obsessed with its International Cricket Council rankings and meeting this key performance indicator.

Selection wasn’t the only recommendation of the Argus report that was ignored. The report called for more emphasis on Sheffield Shield matches and the scheduling of multiple games ahead of the summer Tests. Only one round of Shield — and a pink ball game at that — was played ahead of the now on-going South African series.

In its preamble, the Argus report noted a number of ­failings of Australian cricket.  “Our top six has had the ­tendency to underperform in key Tests and our batsmen have failed to dominate key series in the way they did ... our fielding — both ground fielding and catching — has markedly declined”, the ­report said.  “The major issues with the team have been: poor performances by leading players, poor basic skills, confusing selections, inadequate selection planning ... a lack of accountability for these issues and team performance generally"

Within a year of the Argus review being released the Australian Cricketers Association or players’ union questioned whether the review had done its job (PTG 1214-5843, 20 October 2013).  When it was commissioned Australia had just lost to South Africa at home and their last two tours of India and lost in England. Little, it seems, has changed in the last five years.

Players face surrendering their ‘WhatsApp' conversations.

London Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9974.

Players suspected of match-fixing face being forced to surrender their mobile phones to anti-corruption investigators under plans to be discussed by the International Cricket Counci (ICC).  Ronnie Flanagan, the chairman of the game’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), is to seek new powers from the ICC board that would allow players’ personal devices to be examined for evidence of fixing amid concerns such activity is now being organised via messaging applications such as ‘WhatsApp' and ‘Snapchat' as well as the so-called dark web (PTG 1978-9968, 16 November 2016).

Anti-corruption investigators in other sports, such as tennis, already possess such powers, but the ACU is limited to demanding phone records and therefore in danger of failing to keep pace with advances in technology.  Flanaghan has already informed many on the ICC board of his position, which he is preparing to outline formally early next year.  He would then consult player associations about precisely how any new powers would be applied, including how to handle personal information irrelevant to any investigation, before returning to the board with a firm proposal.

Flanagan has also revealed the ACU was close to signing a memorandum of understanding with the UK’s National Crime Agency that would enable the sharing of information on future suspected fixing cases.

Kent to take part in WICB one-day competition.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

PTG 1979-9975.

Kent has accepted an invitation to play in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) ‘domestic’ one-day series in January-February, the first time the seven-times county champions have competed in a recognised senior overseas tournament.  During the series Kent will face teams from Trinidad and Tobago, both the Windward Islands and Leeward Islands, plus the WICB’s Under-19 world champion side, in the group stages of the tournament in Antigua and Barbados.

Jamie Clifford, Kent’s chief executive officer, said: "It is a huge honour for Kent Cricket to be invited by [the WICB] to join their domestic 50-over competition. It will be the perfect opportunity to play competitive off-season cricket and good overseas experience for the players. We look forward to helping make the competition a big success and introducing [our side] to cricket supporters in the Caribbean”.

WICB Operations Manager Roland Holder said: “Regional players will have an opportunity to test their skills against their contemporaries from another region. We anticipate keen contests with our teams and are pleased to welcome Kent”.  Sides who will play in the other half of Group stage games will be: Barbados, Guyana, Combined Campuses and Colleges, Jamaica, and an XI from the International Cricket Council’s Americas region.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,980

Friday, 18 November 2016

 

• Head strike sees player withdrawn from match [1980-9976]. 

• Player threatens opposition captain via post-match phone call [1980-9977]. 

• Match referee stops photographer covering women’s match [1980-9978]. 

• Dog forces early tea in India-England Test [1980-9979]. 

Head strike sees player withdrawn from match.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 17 November 2016.

PTG 1980-9976.

Western Australia captain Adam Voges was struck on the helmet and suffered concussion on the first day of a Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania at the WACA in Perth on Thursday.  Voges failed to evade a bouncer from fast bowler Cameron Stevenson and lay on the ground for some time after the strike before being assisted from the ground by medical staff.   Although he didn’t need to go to hospital, he has been ruled out of the rest of the match with concussion.

Its the second time this year Voges has suffered a strike to the head whilst playing cricket.  Last May, whilst he was captaining Middlesex, Voges was concussed when he was hit on back of the head by a throw while fielding against Hampshire in Southampton.  He was released from hospital the next day and did not any take further part in that game (PTG 1818-9090, 3 May 2016).  

Had Voges been concussed in any Cricket Australia match other that in the Sheffield Shield first class competition, his withdrawal would have allowed his team to apply to introduce a full-playing substitute in his place (PTG 1933-9714, 29 September 2016). 

Player threatens opposition captain via post-match phone call.

PTG Editor.

Media reports, WACA web site.

Thursday, 17 November 2016.

PTG 1980-9977.

A player with the West Australian Cricket Association’s (WACA) Melville Cricket Club in Perth has chosen not to pursue police charges over a threatening mobile phone message allegedly left for him by a player from the Joondalup club following incidents that occurred during a Premier League match earlier this month.  Joondalup bowler Josh Anderson and his teammate Ty Hopes recently faced a WACA disciplinary tribunal over their treatment of Melville captain Tom Scollay during and after their two-day fixture which ended on the first Saturday of this month.

The player suspension page on WACA’s web site shows that Hopes was found guilty of the Level 2 offence of "using obscene language towards another player" plus a Level 3 charge of "threatening to assault another player”.  It is understood Anderson threatened Scollay via a mobile phone message a day later in a manner that could have warranted police involvement, an offence for which Anderson was found guilty of "unbecoming behaviour that could bring the game into disrepute”, a WACA Level 6 offence.

Both Anderson and Hopes were suspended for two matches for their behaviour.  Under WACA rules, Level 2 offences can attract a ban of one or two matches and Level 3 two to four matches.  Persons found guilty of a Level 6 charge can be either: banned from participating in any match; fined any amount up to $A2,000 (£UK1,195); or given a reprimand.

While the sanctions have been handed down, it would appear the matters involved will be discussed further for the WA District Cricket Council (WADCC) is to hold a meeting with officials from all Premier Cricket clubs.  WADCC chairman Brendan Reid has been quoted as saying the management committee was “not impressed” with the behaviour.  “What happened is a serious issue, it was dealt with through the correct process and channels”, he said.  “The tribunal made its decision from the evidence available to offer a penalty as per the current playing conditions and rules.  WADCC hopes this is a deterrent to any similar incidents happening in the future”.

Match referee stops photographer covering women’s match.

Angela Jamindar.

Mumbai Mirror.

Thursday, 17 November 2016.

PTG 1980-9978.

Match referee Rajani Venugopal took offence at our photographer taking pictures of the Under-19 West Zone Women’s Cricket League match between Mumbai and Maharashtra in Ahmedabad on Thursday.  Venugopal was shown the man’s Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) photo accreditation card which allows the media to take pictures or report on BCCI matches, however, she was having none of that saying: “You cannot take pictures even if you have the card”.

The photographer tried to reason with the referee that no official ever objects to the media’s presence at men’s matches, but she claimed: "We have got strict instructions that the press will not be allowed to cover BCCI matches”.  The Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), which was hosting the game, denied that the BCCI prohibited the media for the match. “No, we have no orders regarding any ban on media. If you have the BCCI-accredited card, you can cover the match”, said GCA secretary Rajesh Patel.

In the decade that started in 1984, Venugopal, 47, played six womens’ Tests, two at home and others in Australia and England, and nine Womens’ One Day Internationals, seven of which were in the 1993 World Cup in England.

Dog forces early tea in India-England Test.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 17 November 2016.

PTG 1980-9979.

A pitch-invading dog caused tea to be called early on the opening day of the second Test between India and England on Thursday.  The four-legged intruder bounded onto the field in the 57th over, stopping England bowler Stuart Broad in his tracks as two volunteers failed to chase it down.  The canine visitor found gaps with as much ease as had the Indian batsman even clearing the boundary at one point, only to reappear to loud cheers from the Visakhapatnam crowd.

After a couple of minutes of the spectacle, umpire Kumar Dharmasena called for tea and the dog may well have been keen on some himself following a good workout.  It was at the same ground that another furry friend made an unlikely appearance in an Indian Premier League match between the Pune and Delhi franchise sides in May.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,981

Saturday, 19 November 2016

 

• Du Plessis to challenge ICC ball tampering charge [1981-9980]. 

• Second batsman concussed in Sheffield Shield match [1981-9981]. 

Du Plessis to challenge ICC ball tampering charge.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Friday, 18 November 2016.

PTG 1981-9980.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has been charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) with “changing the condition of the ball” during his side’s second Test against Australia in Hobart earlier this week, a Level 2 offence (PTG 1979-9970, 17 November 2016).  Du Plessis has pleaded not guilty to the charge and the matter will now be heard by match referee Andy Pycroft at a hearing, the date of which will, says the ICC, "be announced in due course".

ICC chief executive David Richardson decided to “exercised his right” to proceed with the charge after a review of "television footage [which] appeared to show" du Plessis "applying saliva and residue from a mint or sweet, an artificial substance, to the ball in an attempt to change its condition” during the final session of the match on Tuesday morning.

The ICC’s Code of Conduct says that actions not be permitted in terms of the ball are: "(a) deliberately throwing [it] into the ground for the purpose of roughening it up; (b) applying any artificial substance to [it]; applying any non-artificial substance for any purpose other than to polish [it]; (c) lifting or otherwise interfering with any of the [ball’s] seams; (d) scratching [its] surface with finger or thumb nails or any implement”.  The Code explains that that "list of actions is not exhaustive but [are] included [in the Code] for illustrative purposes”.

Umpires spoke to du Plessis during the Perth Test over concerns with the South Africa's management of the ball (PTG 1968-9913, 5 November 2016). On learning of the charge on Friday, South African batsman Hashim Amla said: "we thought was actually a joke.  "It's not April, but the allegation against Faf was ... a really ridiculous thing. Whether it is or not [under investigation], we've done nothing wrong and I know Faf has done absolutely nothing wrong”.

 

Under current ICC regulations, all Level 2 breaches carry an imposition of a fine between 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the applicable match fee and/or up to two suspension points, and three or four demerit points, so if found guilty he could face a ban of one or more matches.

In 2013, du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee after he pleaded guilty to ball tampering (PTG 1218-5858, 26 October 2013).  He was accused of rubbing the ball close to the zipper on his pants pocket but at the time said although he had pleaded guilty, he wasn't trying to cheat. He said the ball wasn't affected by his actions.  Match referee David Boon said at the time that du Plessis' actions warranted the charge, but that he was satisfied that it "was not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball”. 

Second batsman concussed in Sheffield Shield match.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 19 November 2016.

PTG 1981-9981.

Tasmanian batsman Alex Doolan was forced to retire his innings on 202 in the Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia in Perth on Friday after being struck in the jaw by a bouncer from the home side’s Jason Behrendorff just before stumps.  Doolan saw out the day, but he was diagnosed with concussion that night and ruled out of play on Saturday.  The Tasmanian was the second player to be diagnosed with concussion in the match after WA skipper Adam Voges was hit by a bouncer on Thursday and withdrawn from the match (PTG 1980-9776, 18 November 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,982

Sunday, 20 November 2016

 

• Tiffin reaches 150 ODI match mark [1982-9982]. 

• Transgender 60-year-old sets sight on WBBL spot [1982-9983]. 

• Former Barbadian first class umpire dies [1982-9984]. 

• Ban sweets and lollies on-field, suggests Gangly [1982-9985]. 

Tiffin reaches 150 ODI match mark.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 20 November 2016.

PTG 1982-9982.

Harare-born Zimbabwean umpire Russell Tiffin stood in his 150th One Day International (ODI) in the tied match between his national side and the West Indies in Bulawayo on Saturday (PTG 1971-9930, 8 November 2016).  Tiffin, 57, became the eighth person to reach the mark in what was his third-straight game in the opening three matches in the seven fixture triangular series which involves those two teams and Sri Lanka.  Whether the International Cricket Council have recognised the milestone is not known as no publicity has yet been given to the achievement.

As well at home in Zimbabwe, Tiffin’s ODIs over the last 24 years have been played in Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, plus Kenya, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.  Five of the 150 were in the 2003 World Cup, and just on half or 74 have been played in Zimbabwe, 50 in Harare and 24 in Bulawayo.  In addition to his on-field role, Tiffin also served as the third umpire in another 37 ODIs, while a further 8 were completely washed out.  

Transgender 60-year-old sets sight on WBBL spot.

Cindy Tran.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, 20 November 2016.

PTG 1982-9983.

A high-profile transgender person who started her life as a man hopes to play in Cricket Australia's Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).  Catherine McGregor, 60, who made the public transition from Malcolm to Catherine in 2012, has defended herself against critics as she prepares to take the field in a women’s first grade match in Sydney on Sunday for the first time.

With critics arguing that male-to-female competitors have an unfair biological advantage in terms of size and muscle mass, McGregor said she no longer produces testosterone and has high levels of oestrogen. 

"I know there might be some out there who would say 'that's just an old bloke in a dress', but I would argue that any physical advantages I may have had as a born male are offset by my age and the changes to my body”, she said.  "I am nowhere near the biggest woman on my team. There are girls who could throw me over their shoulder and I now weigh less than 70 kg, so while I am fit and strong, I think it’s right that I play in my affirmed gender, which is female”.

The transgender advocate revealed how she hadn't picked up a bat for three decades after suffering alcohol and drug abuse.  She said she became 'lost' with the sport as she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria - a condition where people don't identify with their biological sex.  But 30 years on, the current Queensland 'Australian of the Year' said she's hoping to make her comeback on the pitch and go on to play at WBBL level as a woman.

Despite the criticism McGregor, who pointed out she used to be a serious competitor who represented Queensland as a schoolboy, said she has received a significant amount of support from the cricket community.

Former Barbadian first class umpire dies.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 19 November 2016.

PTG 1982-9984.

Former West Indian first class umpire Halley Moore, who stood in 15 first class and 4 List A matches in the Caribbean in the period from 1994-2003, died in Barbados on Thursday.  Moore, a former player in the Barbados Cricket League, took up umpiring after he was given out stumped on 98, two short of a maiden century.  He passed the West Indies' umpires examination in 1985 and made his first-class debut in 1994 before going on to officiate in a total of 23 Caribbean region matches.

Moore joined the Barbados Cricket Umpires Association (BCUA) in 1976 and only retired from umpiring in 2006 because of ill health.  During his time with the BCUA, he was a member of its executive and served on the training committee over 28 years of unbroken service.  He considered his biggest personal assignments were when he was appointed as the third umpire in international matches, monitoring television replays and making judgments on decisions referred to him by the on-field umpires.  He worked in that role in seven Tests and nine One Day Internationals.

The West Indies Cricket Board expressed sadness at Moore's passing saying it "would like to express condolences to his family and close friends and the umpires’ fraternity”.

Ban sweets and lollies on-field, suggests Gangly.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 19 November 2016.

PTG 1982-9985.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis' chances of playing in the third Test against Australia on Thursday hang in the balance as his board considers flying over lawyers from South Africa in a bid to clear the captain of ball-tampering charges of using saliva from a lolly in his mouth to change the condition of the ball (PTG 1981-9980, 19 November 2016).  While injured South African bowler Dale Steyn fanned the flames, accusing the Australian public of sour grapes, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly said the International Cricket Council (ICC) was right to charge du Plessis.

Du Plessis is in danger of missing the final Test if found guilty of ball tampering, which carries a penalty of a one-Test suspension or a fine between 50 per cent to 100 per cent of his match fee.  As of Saturday afternoon, the ICC had yet to set a date for the hearing. The Proteas would rather it be sooner rather than later but complicating matters is the red tape they need to cut through to obtain a visa for their legal counsel.  It took Cricket South Africa two to four days to get clearance for replacement player Dwaine Pretorius, who was called in to cover for an injured Steyn. 

Steyn lashed out at Australia on Twitter, with his initial tweet suggesting Cricket Australia (CA) had played a role in du Plessis being charged. CA says it had no part to play, with the ICC launching an investigation after seeing media reports.  "Beaten with the bat. Beaten with the ball. Beaten in the field. Mentally stronger. Here's a [sic] idea, Let's blame it on a lollipop #soft”, Steyn tweeted.  He later said: "Just so we clear, I'm not blaming the aussies, but I won't let a fantastic series win be tarnished by some lollipop fabrication”.

Ganguly said what du Plessis did was common practice, and the only way to outlaw it was to ban sweets and lollies on-field.  "He could have done it differently, he is not the first person to have done it, and I don't think he will be the last person who will be doing it.  In the past there were people chewing gum and sweets in the mouth and they kept putting on the saliva to help shine the ball.  Sugar which sticks on the ball, makes it heavy and light, so you get swing with the old ball.  I'm sure [Du Plessis] has done that before but in a much polite way so it's not apparent on TV but I think [the ICC] have pulled him for the right reason”.

Ganguly dismissed an in-jest suggestion from du Plessis’ team mate Hashim Amla that asked whether players would now have to brush their teeth "after lunch every time I come out to field”.  "I don't think that's the point here”, said Ganguly.  "The point is the way it has been seen on TV. As long as they are discreet and as long as they don't make [saliva on the ball] apparent on TV, it's fine.  Faf du Plessis has done it before, Hashim Amla has done it before, many cricketers around the world have done it before, it's just the way you do it.  The only way you can stop this is by banning sweets and lollies on the ground. I don't know whether that is possible at the moment”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,983

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

 

• Du Plessis ball tampering hearing set for today [1983-9986]. 

• SACA officials in spotlight over poor state of club cricket [1983-9987]. 

• Colour-blind Wade sizes up pink ball [1983-9988]. 

• Pakistan skipper suspended over slow over-rate [1983-9989]. 

• Nearly 100 BCCI tenders await resolution of Lodha squeeze [1983-9990]. 

• BCCI owes England £80,000 for tour living expenses [1983-9991]. 

Du Plessis ball tampering hearing set for today.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1983-9986.

The hearing into the ball tampering charge against South African captain Faf du Plessis is to be held in Adelaide on Tuesday afternoon.  Du Plessis has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which was laid by International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson (PTG 1981-9980, 19 November 2016), and the matter will now be heard by Andy Pycroft, the match referee for the on-going Test series.

Pycroft held a preliminary hearing on Monday and heard submissions in regards to just when the hearing should take place.  The ICC says that he "determined that, in the interests of expediency and in order to protect the integrity of the Adelaide Test [which starts on Thursday], the hearing will take place on Tuesday at the Adelaide Oval”.   

After the hearing, Pycroft will have 24 hours to verbally confirm if a breach has been committed and 48 hours to announce his decision in writing with reasons. Both the ICC and the South Africans will have a right of appeal, which must be lodged within 48 hours of receipt of the written decision of the match referee.  Players found guilty of a Level 2 breach can be fined between 50 and 100 per cent of the applicable match fee and/or, up to two suspension points, and three or four demerit points.  

Du Plessis was charged after television footage appeared to show him applying an artificial substance to the ball during the fourth day’s play in the second Test against Australia in Hobart a week ago (PTG 1979-9970, 17 November 2016).

SACA officials in spotlight over poor state of club cricket.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1983-9987.

As the spotlight swings to Adelaide for the start of Australian cricket’s supposed new era, local administrators, rather than basking in the attention, are being grilled by the South Australian parliament about problems that reflect the game’s wider malaise, something that has also been raised elsewhere (PTG 1974-9946, 12 November 2016).  A state parliament select committee inquiry into aspects of the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) has heard junior sides are forfeiting games and teams are fielding players “not up to the standard”, all this while the state’s administration is at war with two of its grassroots clubs (PTG 1948-9801, 16 October 2016).

The national problems that have culminated in the rapid decline in the Australian Test team are writ small in Adelaide clubs such as Northern Districts, where national coach Darren Lehmann was unearthed, who are so struggling for players they have forfeited junior games.  The fish rots at the head but the tail is refusing to wag in local club circles, where Port Adelaide have also forfeited junior games.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) boasts about “Australia’s favourite sport” sound hollow for clubs struggling to find enough youngsters to fill a side on Saturdays. It raises the question of whether local clubs are receiving the support they need in return for fostering young players; young players who are routinely whisked away into “pathways” programs, rather than learning the game in the rough and tumble of club cricket.

South Australia has long been the nation’s worst-performed cricket state, but its deep problems run counter to CA’s strategy to “work as one team across Australian cricket by providing world-class leadership and management to deliver our strategy”.

SACA is at loggerheads with Port Adelaide and West Torrens over its push to merge the 120-year-old clubs.  The parliamentary select committee is investigating SACA’s reasons for, and deliberations over, the merger (PTG 1965-9899, 2 November 2016). Part of its terms of reference are to examine if SACA is meeting its constitutional aim “to promote and develop the game of cricket in South Australia”.

Broader issues have been broached: The committee has already heard from a former board member who said he was “pushed out” of SACA.  Other board members have resigned and coach Darren Berry left last year with 12 months remaining on his contract.  Cricket manager Jamie Cox was sacked over allegations he conducted player contract negotiations out of the official Big Bash League trade period — a practice that was said to be commonplace across the league at the time.

Colour-blind Wade sizes up pink ball.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 21 November 2016.

PTG 1983-9988.

Recalled Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade is colour-blind, but insists he will not let this be an issue when he seeks to cleanly glove the pink ball during the day-night Test against South Africa at the Adelaide Oval later this week. His former Victoria teammate Chris Rogers was also colour-blind and always stated how difficult that made sighting the pink ball on a white sight screen (PTG 1431-6921, 21 September 2014).

Wade said on Monday: "I've got more used to it I suppose. The more you play, you get more used to it. But the ball is getting better year in, year out. It'll be interesting to see what it does. I played a game with a pink ball at the Adelaide Oval last year in a Shield game, so it'll be interesting to see what it does in the Test arena.  I can see the colour of the ball, I pick it up. it's just at times it takes a little bit longer to work out the depth of where it's coming”.

Pakistan skipper suspended over slow over-rate.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1983-9989.

Pakistan skipper Misbahul Haq has been suspended for one Test and fined 40 percent of his match fee, and his team mates fined 20 percent of their fees, for maintaining a slow over-rate during last week’s Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.  Match referee Richie Richardson imposed the suspension after Pakistan was ruled to be two overs short of its over-rate target, a ‘minor over-rate offence’, after time allowances were taken into consideration

In accordance with International Cricket Council regulations players are fined 10 percent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount.  As Misbah had been found guilty of a minor over-rate offence during the Oval Test against England last August (PTG 1901-9538, 17 August 2016), the latest offence constituted his second minor over-rate offence within a 12-month period and means he will miss the second Test against New Zealand which starts in Hamilton on Friday.

The charge the Pakistani team was laid by on-field umpires Ian Gould and Sundarum Ravi, and third and fourth umpires Simon Fry and Shaun Haig.

Nearly 100 BCCI tenders await resolution of Lodha squeeze

Press Trust of India.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1983-9990.

With the Lodha Committee seeking direction from India's Supreme Court on the appointment of former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai as the observer to "guide” the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the board’s senior personnel are unaware as to how to process the awarding of nearly 100 tenders that currently await signing.  A worried BCCI insider said on Monday: "From media rights to the Indian team's shirt sponsor deal, every pending tender process has been delayed, most of which pertain to the Indian Premier League (IPL) which is just four months away. It is only adding to the confusion in the BCCI ranks”.

The BCCI Status Report sent by the Lodha Committee to the Supreme Court on Monday stated: "While the day-to-day administration of BCCI is presently carried out by the chief executive officer and certain managers who assist him in this regard, there is a need to appoint an observer who would guide the BCCI in its administration, particularly with reference to the award of contracts, transparency norms, audit, etc., for domestic, international and IPL cricket]”.  It went on to recommend that G K Pillai, former Union home secretary be appointed as the observer.

While the BCCI had estimated around $US4 billion ($A54.3 bn, £UK3.2 bn) from a lucrative 10-year IPL media rights deal that covers broadcast, digital and mobile domains, the other important contract that is up for renewal is the team's apparel sponsor deal.  "The apparel contract with ‘Nike' comes to an end in March next year. Now whether it's ‘Nike' or ‘Adidas' or ‘Puma', any sports manufacturing company requires minimum six months to deliver consignments. These are some issues bothering the BCCI”, said the source.

BCCI owes England £80,000 for tour living expenses.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1983-9991.

England tour manager Phil Neale is in discussions with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to try to speed up the payment of daily allowances for the touring players and officials.  England have been in India for 19 days but have still not been paid their daily £UK50 ($A84) living expenses by the Indian board. It is protocol for the home board to cover the hotel travel costs and provide a daily stipend for the visiting team and officials. Indian players and International Cricket Council match officials have been paid.

All up the BCCI owes an amount around £80,000 ($A136,000) for the 17 England players and 16 backroom staff in India. Cash flow is not an issue for England but sources have said it is a point of principle that the home board pays its dues.  The Memorandum of Understanding for England’s tour of India has still not been signed.  At the start of the tour the BCCI wrote to Neale warning they were unable to provide expenses for the England team due to restrictions placed on their financial dealings by India’s Supreme Court (PTG 1968-9912, 5 November 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,984

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

 

• Du Plessis fined, but free to play Adelaide Test [1984-9992]. 

• ‘Dangerous throw’ sees Lankan loose half his match fee [1984-9993]. 

• South Australian umpire manager departs unexpectedly [1984-9994]. 

Du Plessis fined, but free to play Adelaide Test.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1984-9992.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is free to play in the third Test against Australia in Adelaide after avoiding suspension for ball-tampering at a three-hour hearing held at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.  He has, however, been fined 100 per cent of his match fee of about $A2,500 (£UK1,490) after television footage appeared to show him shining the ball from saliva tainted by a mint in his mouth during the fourth day’s play in the second Test in Hobart a week ago.  In addition to the fine, three demerit points were added to du Plessis’ disciplinary record. He has 48 hours to appeal the decision.

Du Plessis was charged by International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson last week (PTG 1981-9980, 19 November 2016), and Tuesday’s hearing is said to have heard evidence from "the umpires in the second Test" as well as Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Head of Cricket John Stephenson.  The ICC says match referee Andy Pycroft’s decision "was based on the evidence from the umpires, who confirmed that had they seen the incident they would have taken action immediately", and from Stephenson, "who confirmed the view of the MCC that the television footage showed an artificial substance being transferred to the ball”.

According to the ICC, Pycroft “in summing up his decision to find the South African guilty, referred to his role as requiring him to make a determination based on the ICC Code of Conduct, the Laws of Cricket and, in particular, the preamble to the Laws of Cricket and the role of the umpires as the sole judges of fair and unfair play”.  The South African’s counsel David Becker is understood to have argued that mints have no proven effect on making the ball swing.  Reports also say the South Africans believe the allegations will be a test case for ball-tampering rules and may lead to clearer guidelines over the use of mints.

While Cricket Australia have distanced themselves from the ball tampering saga, vice captain David Warner weighed into the issue on Tuesday by backing the fact du Plessis had been charged.  “The rules are in place for a reason and if you’re not going to use them, why bother having them?” he said.  “They’ve got the rules and they’re going to stand by their decisions. I think that’s a good thing.  We as players know the guidelines now so if you’re going to overstep that mark and get fined, be prepared to miss Test matches as well”.

In somewhat of an irony, given his tendency to cross the fabled ‘line’ the Australians often talk about, former wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said on Tuesday the saga had been poor for cricket’s image.   “It hasn’t been a good look for the game”, he said.  “I think the whole thing has been blown up, to be honest, and it’s not Australia who has been complaining. After all the ICC laid the charge".

It is the second time in three years that Du Plessis was been found guilty of ball tampering.  In 2013 he was seen scuffing the ball against a zip pocket and third umpire Paul Reiffel brought the incident to the attention of umpires after seeing a replay.  Du Plessis’s latest punishment comes after footage emerged of Virat Kohli, the India captain, apparently using the same tactic against England during the opening Test of their on-going series in Rajkot last week. Both captains had wet their fingers with saliva while obviously sucking on a sweet, then polished the ball.

‘Dangerous throw’ sees Lankan loose half his match fee.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1984-9993.

Sri Lankan bowler Suranga Lakmal has been fined 50 percent of his match fee and two demerit points have also been added to his disciplinary record for a Level one charge of "conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”.  During the Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka One Day International (ODI) in Bulawayo on Monday, which was abandoned after only 13 overs due to persistent rain, Lakmal threw the ball back at Zimbabwe opener Chamu Chibhabha at the striker's end in a "dangerous manner” when the batsman had strayed in his crease after playing a shot and was not attempting a run. 

Lakmal’s fine is at the upper end of censures available for a Level one breach, which run from a minimum penalty of an official reprimand, up to a maximum penalty of 50 percent of a player's match fee, and one or two demerit points. If a player accumulates four to seven demerit points within a two-year period, they are converted into two suspension points, which will earn the said player a ban for one Test or two ODIs or Twenty20 Internationals, whichever comes first.

After the game, Lakmal pleaded guilty and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Javagal Srinath. The charge against the Sri Lankan was levelled by on-field umpires Michael Gough and Langton Rusere, third umpire Richard Illingworth and fourth umpire Jerry Matibiri.

South Australian umpire manager departs unexpectedly.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016.

PTG 1984-9994.

Neil Poulton, who has been responsible for managing umpiring in South Australia over the last nine years, is reported to have resigned unexpectedly just over a week ago.  Poulton, who it is believed has not umpired a game of cricket but has long experience of that role in baseball, joined the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) as its 'Umpire Manager' in July 2008, a position that was changed to 'Umpiring and Coaching Development Manager' six years later.  

Prior to joining SACA he worked for four years with Basketball South Australia, first as its information technology manager and then as the person responsible for the daily and long-term management of the state's basketball referees.  Reports indicate SACA will be advertising the now vacant Umpiring and Coaching Development Manager position but as yet just when that will occur is not known.  Until then Sarah Fry, who was Poulton's assistance in the match officials area, is understood to be looking after on-going operations.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,985

Thursday, 24 November 2016

 

 • CSA chief calls for clarification of ball polishing rules [1985-9995].   

• Another exchange umpire falls ill in India [1985-9996]. 

• Short leg fielder struck, taken to hospital [1985-9997]. 

• Batsman fails concussion test one week after head strike [1985-9998]. 

• Player to miss one-day game for Level 2 offence [1985-9999]. 

• Beware the 'Big Bash' model, warns new Sussex chief [1985-10000]. 

• Why a careless administration is costing Australia dearly [1985-10001].

• Indian women’s team penalised for not playing Pakistan [1985-10002].

• 'We want everything’ for broadcast, says Channel Nine [1985-10003].

 

CSA chief calls for clarification of ball polishing rules

Firdose Moonda.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016.

PTG 1985-9995.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive officer Haroon Lorgat has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to clarify the rules around polishing the ball, particularly with regard to what constitutes an "artificial substance", after South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering after he shone the ball with saliva while he had a sweet in his mouth (PTG 1984-9992, 23 November 2016).  Despite media reports, a decision has not yet been made on whether du Plessis, who denies any wrong doing, will appeal the verdict, which resulted in him being fined his entire match fee from last week's Hobart Test but cleared to play in the Adelaide day-night Test.

Lorgat said in Adelaide on Wednesday: "At this stage we've advised Faf to reserve his position with regard to the match referee's finding and wait for the full [written] reasons before deciding his next step.  Very understandably, he is disappointed by the decision and I can fully understand that.  In fairness to him and the ICC though, this is an unprecedented case involving unique issues of policy, science and performance that need to be carefully considered at the game’s highest levels. There are also issues relating to fair and just process, rule interpretation, and importantly, the consistent application of the Code of Conduct that need to be considered".

The CSA chief executive believes that "the Laws of the game do not currently define the term 'artificial substance', leaving room for inconsistent application of the rules. For instance, the Laws currently prevent the use of 'artificial substances' to polish the ball, yet artificial cotton fibres from playing kit can be used to shine the ball.  Players also regularly chew gum when applying saliva to the ball, or ingest sugary drinks and sweets during short breaks in play before shining the ball. No action is taken in such circumstances by the umpires.  Players and fans deserve certainty around these issues. Integrity and consistent application of the rules are important for everyone. We'll consult with our legal teams. We want to engage with the ICC in a constructive matter, and we want to deal with this properly”.

The Code of Conduct charge against du Plessis was laid by ICC chief executive David Richardson, who is also a qualified lawyer. On Wednesday, Richardson said on Australian television that the ICC "drew the line" because du Plessis' actions were "pretty obvious”.  "We said, 'we need to charge' because in our eyes anyway it was pretty obvious that he was using the residue from the sweet directly on the ball.  I think the bottom line is if you want to change the condition of the ball by polishing it, in other words improving it, keeping it, retaining its condition, do so, but don't use any artificial substance”.

Du Plessis believes he’s "done nothing wrong”, saying: "It's not like I was trying to cheat or anything. I was shining the ball. It's something that all cricketers do.  Our mouths are always full of sugar. It's such a grey area in the Laws".

Also on Wednesday, Australian skipper Steve Smith came out in support of du Plessis.  While making it "very clear that we haven't come out and said anything about Faf or about how he was shining the ball… ...we along with every other team around the world shine the ball the same way”.  Indian captain Virat Kohl, who was shown in a video shining the ball in a similar way to du Plessis during the opening Test of his team’s series against England two weeks ago, has escaped censure from the ICC because his video surfaced four days after the five-day window in which the world body can lay charges against a player had closed.

Another exchange umpire falls ill in India.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1985-9996.

English umpire David Millns fell ill and was unable to stand in the third day of the Ranji Trophy match between Karnataka and Odisha in Delhi on Wednesday, the second and final game of his exchange visit to the sub-continent (PTG 1979-9971, 17 November 2016) . Millns is reported to have a "high-fever”, the suspicion being that he suffered a bout of food poisoning. 

Umpire Tapan Sharma had to stand at both ends during the first session of Wednesday’s play before Dharmesh Bhardwaj, who has not previously stood at first class level, joined him for the post lunch sessions.  Whether Millns will be able to take part in the final day of the game on Thursday is not known at this stage.  

Millns’ illness follows that of Australian umpire Sam Nogajski who suffered from food poisoning after day one of a Ranji match in Mysore last week and had to be hospitalised (PTG 1978-9965, 16 November 2016). Nogajski is also currently standing in the final match of his exchange visit, the Ranji fixture between Punjab and Tamil Nadu in Nagpur, which also ends on Thursday.

A third exchange umpire, Babs Gcuma from South Africa, is also nearing the end of his two-match Indian visit.  Last week the 40-year-old stood in the Bengal-Tamil Nadu fixture in Rajkot with Indian umpire Paschim Pathak, and currently he is in Chennai with local A Nand Kishore for the match between Maharashtra and Assam.  Gcuma’s exchange is his third in less than two years, he standing in two Plunket Shield games in Wellington and New Plymouth in February 2015 (PTG 1523-7333,  17 February 2015), then in two Sheffield Shield games in Perth and Hobart in February this year (PTG 1971-8732, 1 February 2016).

Short leg fielder struck, taken to hospital.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016.

PTG 1985-9997.

Hyderabad opener Tanmay Agarwal was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday after being hit on the head while fielding at short leg during his side's Ranji Trophy match against Chhattisgarh in Valsad.  The incident happened when Chhattisgarh wicketkeeper-batsman Manoj Singh pulled Mehdi Hasan and the ball struck Agarwal's helmet. He lay on the floor after initially attempting to take the catch off the rebound.

Even though he was conscious after being hit, on-field umpires Umesh Dubey and Amish Saheba called for a stretcher after the 21-year-old complained of dizziness.  He was taken to the hospital after medical staff examined him in the stadium. 

Batsman fails concussion test one week after head strike.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1985-9998.

Western Australian batsman Adam Voges, who was concussed when hit in the helmet during a Sheffield Shield match in Perth last Thursday (PTG 1980-9976, 18 November 2016), failed to pass a concussion test on Wednesday and as a result was ruled out of his side’s next Shield against Queensland which starts in Townsville on Saturday.  

Voges failed to evade a bouncer from fast bowler Cameron Stevenson in Perth and lay on the ground for some time after the strike before being assisted from the ground by medical staff and was ruled out of the rest of that match with concussion. It was the second time he had been hit in the head this year whilst playing cricket (PTG 1818-9090, 3 May 2016).  

Player to miss one-day game for Level 2 offence.

PTG Editor.

CSA media release.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016.

PTG 1985-9999.

Eastern’s wicketkeeper-batsman Sizwe Masondo has been suspended for one match by a Cricket South Africa (CSA) disciplinary hearing after being found guilty of a Level two offence, however, CSA does not say just what the nature of his misdemeanour was.  

CSA Disciplinary Commissioner, Professor Rian Cloete, is quoted as saying: “I have taken into account the fact that Mr. Masondo admitted the offence and has accepted that his behaviour was inappropriate”.  “Therefore, having taken all factors into account, it is important that an effective penalty be imposed and that it is fundamentally important for disciplinary action to correct behaviour. In the circumstances I am satisfied that the appropriate penalty in respect of this offence is a suspension for one match”.

  

The censure makes Masoned, 29, ineligible for selection for Easterns match against Gauteng in CSA's Provincial One-Day Challenge competition chichis scheduled to be played in Willowmoore next Sunday.

Beware the 'Big Bash' model, warns new Sussex chief.

Mark Souster.

The Times.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1985-10000.

Sussex’s new chief executive Rob Andrew has warned English cricket against following the example of Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL).  The former England rugby player's political acumen is likely to be as important as his ability to improve the county’s fortunes when he takes up his position at Hove in January, with the future of domestic cricket in England and Wales near the top of the agenda for the 53-year-old.

Andrew spent a decade at the Rugby Football Union, wrestling with issues surrounding the development of young English talent and implementing policies to ensure it is retained — including the decision not to allow foreign-based players to play for the national team — before his departure earlier this year. Now he has to get to grips with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) proposed city-based Twenty20 competition, which is due to start in 2020.  Sussex were one of three counties who opposed the ECB strategy, not because they were resistant to change, but because they felt that the tournament had not been thought through properly.  

“In English rugby we found an English solution to an English problem”, he said. “What cricket has to do is look at how it makes itself relevant and sustainable. Has Australian cricket gone too far in one direction and impacted the long-form side of the game? How do you get the balance right? Cricket has a very strong future if it grows together.  You have to take your time to get things right. You only have to make one mistake, going down what turns out to be a cul-de-sac, and that creates an awful lot of damage, which could take a generation to recover from”.

Andrew’s passion for cricket is clear. He was awarded his blue at Cambridge and was one of 50 applicants for the Sussex job.  According to Sussex chairman Jim May, he was successful because of his values, which are common to both sports — his belief that the game has to be developed from the grass roots up, that participation must grow, and that investment in developing one’s own talent is fundamental to a sustainable future for a county of Sussex’s size.

The county has long prized its family feel, its academy and the fact that is has no debt and stands on its own two feet. He adopted a similar approach with Newcastle Falcons during his time as their director of rugby.  He is a big name, who will also attract attention, and must hope for commercial opportunities which will help Sussex return to the first division of the County Championship as quickly as possible, after their relegation in 2015. He is all too aware of the need to ensure county cricket remains relevant while balancing that with the opportunities and appeal of “the quick, colourful and noisy” shortest form of the game.

“I wanted a change and hoped that something in cricket would come along”, Andrew added. “It encompasses everything I want to do next. It is the challenge of cricket generally and making sure that Sussex’s position in the cricket landscape is protected. It is critical to the long-term future of any sport, but especially in Sussex, that the game is completely joined up”.

Why a careless administration is costing Australia dearly.

Gideon Haigh.

The Times.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016.

PTG 1985-10001.

To lose one Test might be thought a misfortune; to lose five in a row looks, at least to the Australian public, rather like carelessness. Add five consecutive One Day International defeats (ODI), and the past six months have been as bad as any in the annals of cricket down under.

Last austral summer, Cricket Australia (CA) was regarded worldwide as this streamlined commercial machine credited with having “invented the future”. It was pioneering day-night Test cricket, packing houses with its domestic Twenty20 extravaganza, the Big Bash League (BBL).  However, while four months ago the Australian team was number one in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings, if they lose the day-night Test that starts in Adelaide on Thursday they will slump to fifth, their lowest ebb.

However, the pink ball in use in Adelaide may well be the Test’s least interesting dimension, while the BBL will recommence five days before Christmas against a rather different backdrop, leaving CA banging repeatedly on a complex console of its own creation in hopes of a reboot.

Certainly, the second Australia-South Africa Test, at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval last week, bore out that old line about winners having parties and losers having meetings. As the hosts were bowled out twice in little more than a standard day’s play, men in dark suits were to be observed in a more or less constant cycle of coffee caucuses and corridor chats. One of them, chairman of selectors Rodney Marsh, was about to resign, a few hours after the expression of confidence in him by another, CA chief executive officer James Sutherland.

The reconstituted selection panel then abandoned old Aussie customs of cautious incrementalism, declaring almost a spill of positions, such that the third Test has become almost a trial match.  So what’s happened? Put simply, it’s the piling of a problem on a problem. Australia appointed current coach Darren Lehmann after the fiasco of a 4-0 defeat in India three and a half years ago. Until this series, he had maintained Australia’s robust record at home, but made little headway with results on the road: disintegration in Sri Lanka this year was even more abject than in England last.

Now the gap between home and away outcomes has been closed but from the wrong direction. In Hobart, and before that in the first Test in Perth, Australia made South Africa look like the hosts, and inhospitable ones at that.  In the first Test, Smith’s team were none for 158 chasing 242, with South Africa a bowler down after injury to Dale Steyn. Since that point to the end of the second Test, the visitors have taken 40 wickets for 693, dismissing an Australian about once every six overs.

At his post-match press conference in Hobart, captain Steve Smith looked shattered, appealing for players “willing to get in the contest and get in the battle and have some pride in playing for Australia and pride in the baggy green” cap. It did not go unnoticed that he made those comments from beneath a sponsor’s cap not that much vaunted ‘baggy green’.  Making it worse, in fact, is a sense among fans of cumulative surfeit: there seem too many players on too much money, too many coaches, too many officials, and too many games to keep track of any longer.

What point was served, onlookers wonder, by the five ODIs in South Africa, to which Australia sent a weakened team, except to offer the Proteas a chance to boost their confidence? Why are Australia hosting New Zealand for ODIs next month and Sri Lanka for T20 Internationals in February, including one a day before a Test in India? In such circumstances, what does “Australia” even mean anymore?

The zeal for experimentation has reached down even to the Sheffield Shield, nurturer of Australian cricket talent since the reign of Queen Victoria but where this summer four different kinds of balls are in use, workloads are managed by mid-match substitutions, and bonus points are leveraged to scoring rates (so that the top-ranked team in 2015-16 lost half of their games).

The irony is that this generalised sense of chaos and cock-up might work in favour of the BBL, which has the virtues of simplicity and continuity to go with its prime summer timeslot – and in which, of course, there are always some Australians winning.  But at what cost? CA is shortly to court broadcasters for their next commercial rights sales. The impression is widespread that at the last negotiations Channel Nine overpaid for international cricket and Channel Ten secured a bargain with the BBL.

True or not, commercial realities are impinging. Broadcaster Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks flagged last week that the network’s commitment to the cricket that Kerry Packer wrested in 1979 should not be taken as read: “It would be a big decision for us to walk away from that [international cricket]. But, all of those things we’ll have to consider hard, because it’s a financially challenging environment and we need to be very disciplined about our decisions”.  On the other hand since then he has indicated Nine is eager to own and screen all of the game’s formats (PTG 1985-10003 below).

The underlying assumption, that Australian fans do not wish to watch Australian cricketers losing, seems unflattering and unfair. But, then, not since Packer’s World Series Cricket have they had a choice about the cricket they watched, and at the times their tastes proved malleable.  Having this time designed the choice, CA would have little grounds for complaint were fans to exercise their rights as what chief executive Sutherland refers to as “cricket consumers”. And that wouldn’t look only like carelessness.

Indian women’s team penalised for not playing Pakistan.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016.

PTG 1985-10002.

India have forfeited three matches of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women´s Championship for failing to play scheduled fixtures against Pakistan amid ongoing political tension between the South Asian rivals.  Cricketing ties between the nuclear neighbours are currently stalled, and the men´s teams have not played a bilateral series since Pakistan toured India at the end of 2012.  They have, however, played against each other in various tournaments including the 50-overs World Cup, the World T20 Championship, Champions Trophy and Asia Cup.

The world governing body´s technical committee have awarded Pakistan two points for each of the three unplayed matches, which were to be hosted by Pakistan and should have taken place in the period between the start of August and end of October.  The ICC said in a statement: "The technical committee was sensitive to the current state of relations between the nations of India and Pakistan, but concluded that the Board of Control for Cricket in India had not been able to establish ´acceptable reasons´ for not participating in this series”.  The decision means India will miss out on automatic qualification for the 2017 Womens’ World Cup in England.

The Indian women's team is scheduled to play Pakistan in the Asia Cup in Bangkok next Tuesday but there has been no indication as to whether BCCI will allow its players to participate in the tournament.

It is not the first time a country has been sanctioned for not honouring its obligation in an ICC event. Australia and the West Indies lost points when they did not play their scheduled matches in Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup, citing security concerns.  England and New Zealand similarly forfeited points by refusing to tour Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively during the World Cup of 2003.

'We want everything’ for broadcast, says Channel Nine.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1985-10003.

There is a sense of renewal about the Australian team as three debutants join Steve Smith's revamped side at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, and even the host broadcaster the Australian company Channel Nine is buying into the optimism of new beginnings, saying of the upcoming cricket television rights negotiations, "Any future deal that we do, we want everything".

The Australians' abject start to the summer has hurt Nine's ratings – they were down as much as 30 per cent year-on-year for the first Test in Perth, and the results were not much brighter for the second Test against South Africa in Hobart, where less than two-and-a-third days of play took place.  With a new broadcast rights bidding process around the corner in the new year the slump, in Australia's form and in TV ratings, could impact on Cricket Australia's hopes of vastly improving on the last five-year, $A590 million (£UK350 m) domestic rights deal.

Nine's chief executive Hugh Marks said last week that "no one wants to watch the Australian team losing" and has suggested it would be uneconomical for the network to extend its present financial investment in covering international cricket.  That does not mean Nine does not want to continue its long association with the game, however, and they are expected to bid strongly for the rights to the Big Bash League (BBL), which after being sold to rival Australian broadcaster the Ten Network for $A20 million (£11.9 m) a year in 2013 could go for as much as $A60 million (£UK35.6 m) a year this time around.

Nine's director of sport, Tom Malone, said on Wednesday. "Any future deal that we do, we want everything.  We want Test matches, we want one-dayers, we want [international] Twenty20s and we want the [BBL]. We've just got to try and find a way to make it work, but certainly there is a strong desire from the Wide World of Sports program and from Nine more broadly to maintain our proud history with cricket”.

The inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide was, ratings-wise, Nine's most successful Test last summer, Malone said, and the network hopes the pink ball Test and a new-look Australian team can be a panacea to ratings woes.  "We're really excited about the day-night Test ... the new players that are in the [Australian] team hopefully can perform really well”, Malone said. "I think it's a promising new beginning not only for the team but also in light of any future broadcast rights deal. Cricket is such an institutional part of Channel Nine – it's been on Channel Nine for more than 40 summers and it's something that we want to continue well into the future”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,986

Friday, 25 November 2016

 

• Female umpires to the fore in NZC women’s series [1986-10004]. 

• Declaration catches opener with penance time to serve [1986-10005]. 

• Sri Lanka fined for slow ODI over-rate [1986-10006]. 

• Huddersfield league facing serious umpire shortage [1986-10007]. 

• Ball-tampering row is not worth spit so move on [1986-10008]. 

• Tasmanian cricket ground to be named after Trump? [1986-10009]. 

• Redevelopment leaves Museum looking for new premises [1986-10010]. 

Female umpires to the fore in NZC women’s series

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10004.

Half of the umpiring positions in the round-robin sections of New Zealand Cricket’s (NZC) 2016-17 women’s Twenty20 and 50-over one-day competitions have been allocated to female umpires, easily the highest ratio of any major women’s series conducted anywhere in the world.  The T20 series involves a total of 16 matches and the one-day tournament 31 games, numbers that include a single final for each event.

The three women umpires involved, Kim Cotton from Canterbury, Wellington’s Kathy Cross and Diana Venter from Auckland, who are all members of NZC’s second-tier Reserve Panel (PTG 1882-9430, 21 July 2016), will be on-field in a total of 14 T20s and 28 one-dayers, and are also likely to feature in the finals of the two competitions in mid-February.  All are experienced umpires who recently worked together in managing a Women’s Twenty20 International (PTG 1928-9686, 22 September 2016).

The nine males named, who are also from the NZC Reserve Panel, are Mark Elliott, Mike George and Glen Walklin from Central Districts; Raoul Allen, Jayeth Batuwangala and Hiran Perera from Auckland; Cory Black from Wellington; Damian Morrow from Northern Districts; and Eugene Sanders from Canterbury.  Second on-field umpires have not been named for one round-robin T20 and two of the one-dayers, which could mean female umpires on exchange from either Australia or one of the Pacific islands may be involved.

Declaration catches opener with penance time to serve

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10005.

South African captain Faf du Plessis’ decision to declare his side’s first innings in the day-night Test in Adelaide late on Thursday evening forced Australia to shuffle its batting order.  That resulted because Australian opener David Warner had been off the field for treatment to an injury he suffered whilst fielding earlier in the day and he had not served enough penance time when the declaration came.

Having hurt his shoulder, Warner left the field of play when the Proteas were nine wickets down. Despite returning to the field of play before the end of the innings, by the time of declaration he had not been back on the field for as long as he had been off it.   As a result, the left-hander was informed by umpires Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Long he could not bat for the first six minutes of Australia’s innings.

Du Plessis said after play ended for the day:  "I listened to the conversation [Warner] had with the umpires [and that] he had six minutes left before he could bat again so I thought 'let's have a crack’” and declare.  Australian bowler Josh Hazlewood said of Warner” "they messed their timings up and he couldn't bat straight away. He confirmed it was up to Warner to ensure he was not caught out in this way, and said the team would likely receive an apology from the vice-captain as a result.  

As for du Plessis, Hazlewood could only doff his cap. "I think he might've had a rough idea, yeah”, he said. "He's quite cagey like that, pulled the pin and declared and caught us out a little bit."

Whilst commentating on television, former Australian captain Michael Clarke said:  “I cannot believe I am seeing this. The Australian vice-captain has gone off the field when South Africa are nine [wickets] down, with the understanding that they could declare at any time.  The second most senior player of the batting line-up can’t walk out to open the batting in tough conditions”.

 

Sri Lanka fined for slow ODI over-rate

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10006.

Sri Lanka has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against the West Indies in the fifth One Day International (ODI) of the tri-nation series in Bulawayo on Wednesday.  Match referee Javagal Srinath imposed the fine after Upul Tharanga’s side was ruled to be two overs short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.  

International Cricket Council regulations require that for ‘minor over-rate’ offences players be fined 10 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount.  As such, Tharanga has been fined 40 per cent of his match fee, while his players have received 20 per cent fines. If Sri Lanka commits another minor over-rate breach in an ODI within 12 months of this offence with Tharanga as captain, it will be deemed a second offence by Tharanga and he will face a suspension.

 

Tharanga pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing.  The charge was laid by on-field umpires Richard Illingworth and Jerry Matibiri, third umpire Michael Gough and fourth official Langton Rusere. 

Huddersfield league facing serious umpire shortage.

Mel Booth.

Huddersfield Examiner.

Thursday, 23 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10007.

The Huddersfield Cricket League (HCL) is looking at how to address what looks like a critical shortage of umpires for the 2017 northern summer season. At the moment the prospect is that most second XI cricket is under threat of having no official umpiresn standing in games, and the HCL executive have pledged to do all they can to support the Umpires Association's drive to recruit more men in white coats.

Umpires Association secretary Ron Tindall had 60 umpires on the books for the summer just gone, but that figure quickly became 48 as people dropped out for various reasons.  And at the moment, the prospect is for only 45 umpires to be involved on a regular basis and 38 of those are immediately taken up officiating each week’s 19 first-team matches which would leave, provided they are available each week, just six umpires for other HCL competitions.

Speaking before the HCL's annual dinner, chairman Trevor Atkinson explained: “Our League are fully supportive of the initiative from the Umpires Association to get more people involved in umpiring and we have formed a three-man working party to work together throughout the winter to recruit more umpires.  “It’s important we have a conversation between the Umpires Association, the League and the clubs to do everything possible to find out why people are not going into officiating”.

Ball-tampering row is not worth spit so move on.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10008.

It is a deep irony that in the week South Africa’s captain was fined his entire match fee for applying an artificial substance to a cricket ball (PTG 1984-9992, 23 November 2016), a Test match has started in Adelaide with a pink one. The authorities, in that sense, seem very relaxed about ball-tampering.  The game has always had an ambivalent relationship with it. Save, perhaps, the accusation of chucking, nothing is guaranteed to induce more moral indignation and yet every cricketer knows that the Laws are such that there are grey areas to be exploited by every team.

In Bangladesh last month, reverse swing was fundamental to England’s chances of winning. The pitches were tailored to suit the home team, rough and abrasive and responsive to spin. The surrounding areas of the squares in Dhaka and Chittagong, being bare and dry, opened up opportunities to rough up one side of the ball. It would be fair to say that reverse swing went a long way to winning the first Test in Chittagong.

Throughout the game, England’s fielders would shy at the stumps even when there was little chance of a run-out. It was encouraged. From time to time — not frequently, but occasionally — they would throw the ball in from the boundary and it would land on the rough side, short of the wicketkeeper.

There is nothing in the Laws of the game to prevent this. There is, however, mention of it in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Code of Conduct (CoC). It says that “deliberately throwing the ball into the ground for the purpose of roughing it up” shall not be permitted. How do you decide as an umpire what is deliberate and what is not? A shy at the stumps can be legitimate or unnecessary; a ball that lands a yard short of the wicketkeeper can be a deliberate ploy or an incompetent throw.

The umpires know this; players know this. It is a kind of charade, between those who police the game and cricketers desperate to gain any advantage, no matter how marginal, in conditions designed to nullify seam bowling. A kind of wink-wink, nudge-nudge operation, promoted by the need to get the ball moving sideways in a game more skewed towards the batsman than ever.

It is into this maze, impossible to navigate, that Faf du Plessis, South Africa and the ICC descended this week, when the Proteas’ captain was fined for applying a so-called artificial substance to the ball in Hobart. Using his executive powers, David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, felt that the evidence was too strong to ignore. Du Plessis countered that he was shining the ball in the way that he and many other teams have always done, a point backed up by Steve Smith, his opposite number.

Everyone in cricket knows that sweets, chewing gum, mints, 'Tic Tacs', jelly babies and a variety of other confectioneries have been, or are being, used by teams to help to shine the ball. Famously, Marcus Trescothick admitted to using 'Murray Mints' during the 2005 Ashes series (“they worked a treat”, he said), when England’s bowlers outswung Australia’s. MBEs all round. Matt Prior leapt to Du Plessis’s defence this week on the basis that “everyone” is at it.

There is no proof that it helps, and I remain convinced that England’s bowlers in that Ashes series were simply better, but who knows? Some bowlers of my acquaintance used to complain that saliva made the ball too soft, but the word went around the county circuit from the mid-1990s onwards that sugar helped and so the practice caught on. My favourite anecdote is from when we sent a naive young 12th man in a Lord’s Test to stock up on chewing gum from the newsagents and he came back with ‘Orbit', the sugar-free gum.

The use of saliva and sweat are legal ways to help to shine the ball. Add hairgel or sunscreen from a player’s skin to the mix or sugar from mints or gum to his saliva and does that turn a natural substance into an artificial one? Good luck arguing that one. David Becker, South Africa’s legal counsel, a man who has history with the ICC after stepping down in protest at their corporate governance failings, and a man who knows the CoC inside out, given that he helped to draft it, is likely to be rubbing his hands with glee at the chargeable hours to come.

In this legal, moral and cricketing minefield some things seem clear. Du Plessis acted unwisely, his actions being so obvious as to arouse suspicion. The ICC moved against him because of this (“we drew the line in this instance”, Richardson said). In circling the wagons so righteously, South Africa overreacted (PTG 1981-9980, 19 November 2016). Those arguing for a tightening of regulations or the Laws are being naive — there will always be grey areas in sports codified in a different age (PTG 1985-9995, 24 November 2016). How is it possible for the ICC to police what players eat or drink? (PTG 1982-9985, 20 November 2016).

If there is no clear definition of what constitutes ball-tampering, cricket can’t even decide how serious a crime it is. The CoC makes it automatically a Level 2 offence, bracketing it with abusive language and other infractions of a “serious nature”. The Laws of the game? They simply state that, if tampered with, the ball should be changed and, if the culprit can be identified, a five-run penalty should be applied. Five runs! In other words — and you might say that he would say this, wouldn’t he? — let’s move on.

Tasmanian cricket ground to be named after Trump? 

Calla Wahlquist.

The Guardian.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10009.

A local Councillor in the small town of Westbury in northern Tasmania, population 1,500, has suggested that the name of its cricket ground be changed to the 'Donald J Trump' park in a gesture of friendship toward the United States' president-elect.  Councillor John Temple suggested the name change at a Meander Valley council meeting this week, noting that Trump was “likely to be the greatest agent of change this century”.

Despite the chortles of his fellow councillors, Temple says it was a genuine suggestion.  He cited the importance of the Australia’s military alliance with the US and the relative exposure of Tasmania as an island, should anyone decide to attack.  “It is in our best interests to extend the hand of friendship to the new president of the United States, who is not a politician and will likely come at things from a different perspective”, he said.

The response, Temple said, had been mixed.  “The personal conversations I have had have all been positive,” he said, but he has "seen things on ‘Facebook' calling me an idiot”.  Temple said he suggested the cricket ground not because he believed Trump had any great affection for the sport, but because the oval, known for the giant stumps that serve as a gate to the grounds, happens to be opposite his workplace.  The extent of Trump’s interest in cricket is believed to be that he briefly followed former Australian test batsman Damien Martyn on ‘Twitter’.

Redevelopment leaves Museum looking for new premises.

Patrick Boddan.

Gosford Express Advocate.

Thursday, 24 November 2016.

PTG 1986-10010.

 

A multi-million dollar facelift to the Central Coast Rugby Leagues Club (CCRLC) in New South Wales has claimed its first victim with the J.S. White cricket museum there set to be moved into storage.  After featuring prominently over 30 years ago, the collection is no longer a part of the vision for the club’s future­. The priceless artefacts were sold to the club for a dollar by Mr White in the hope he could share his collection with those that would treasure it.

Central Coast Cricket Association life member David Smallman said it would be a travesty if the museum was simply boxed up and moved into storage.  It contains photographs and other memorabilia of local, national and international cricket dating back to the 19th century.  “It’s one of the largest private collections in the country”, said Smallman, "and we need to look after it”.  “Bowral have got the Bradman Museum, which is a very big tourist attraction for them. Why can’t Gosford be known for having a fine cricket museum?”

A number of the museum trustees have their sights on moving the collection in its entirety to a new location, but they fear they will not be able to afford the rent.  At the moment they are looking for sponsors to help with a move to a different site.  CCRLC chief executive Peter Blacker said it would assist the museum trust to find new premises.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,987

Saturday, 26 November 2016

 

• Pressure from coaches sees umpire reverse his decision twice [1987-10011]. 

• ICC ‘disappointed’ at Du Plessis appeal, plans ball-tempering review [1987-10012]. 

• Suspend Du Plessis and umpires suggests commentator [1987-10013].

• ICC-CSA rift widens over du Plessis affair  [1987-10014].

• Day-night Test wins Aussie television ratings [1987-10015]. 

• Umpiring in India a different ball-game, says exchangee [1987-10016]. 

• ECB schedules nine County day-night matches [1987-10017]. 

• SLC renews club cricket focus in bid to strengthen domestic game [1987-10018]. 

• Holder amongst awardees as Barbados celebrates independence [1987-10019]. 

• ECB T20 franchise approach losing support [1987-10020]. 

• Thieves steal $A7,000 worth of bats in Hobart [1987-10021]. 

• How far is CA prepared to take day-night innovation? [1987-10022]. 

Pressure from coaches sees umpire reverse his decision twice.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10011.

An umpire twice changed his decision regarding a ‘run out’ in an Under-16 match played at the Cross Maidan in Mumbai on Thursday following pressure, first from the coach of the fielding side, and then from a similar intervention from the batting team’s coach.

The incident involved a ball that was hit back straight down the pitch, the bowler getting a finger to it before it broke the wicket with the non-striker seemingly out of his crease. However, umpire Mahesh Walkar, fearing he would be hit by the ball, had taken evasive action and when the fielders appealed he gave the batsman ‘not out’.

Agitated with the decision, the coach of the fielding side went on to ground and started arguing with Walkar, asking him to consult his colleague at square leg. Walkar did so and decided to reverse his original decision, this time gave the non-striker ‘out’.  It did not finish there for the coach of the batting side then went onto the field of play to ask Walkar how could he change his decision, which after some discussion he eventually did for the second time, much to the dismay of the fielding side.

Mumbai Schools Sports Association secretary Nadim Memon said that while the umpiring "needed to improve", neither of the coaches had the right to enter the field of play and argue with the umpire.  Whether they will be disciplined for their actions has not been announced,

ICC ‘disappointed’ at Du Plessis appeal, plans ball-tampering review.

PTG Editor.

Media reports, ICC statement.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10012.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed on Friday that their national captain Faf du Plessis has appealed against match referee Andy Pycroft’s  decision to find him guilty of ball-tampering during the second Test against Australia in Hobart last week (PTG 1984-9992, 23 November 2016).  CSA intends to support du Plessis' attempt to "clear his name", and said both "he and his legal team had studied [Pycroft’s] written reasons” which detail just why the decision was made to fine the South African his entire match fee.

The ball-tampering charge angered the South African tourists and senior batsman Hashim Amla launched an impassioned defence of his captain after the charge was announced in a public show of solidarity, the entire team standing behind him as he did so in a manner that some observers interpreted as a show of dissent. 

CSA said in a statement on Friday: "Faf is clear that he did not alter the condition of the ball nor did he intend to do so, that [Pycroft] was not correct to find him guilty”, and he wants the matter "examined by an independent Judicial Commissioner".  According to CSA: “There are issues relating to fair and just process, interpretation of the rules, science and performance that needs to be considered”.  The International Cricket Council responded via a media release, saying it "is disappointed” du Plessis has chosen not to accept Pycroft's findings and wants to "exercise his right to appeal” (PTG 1987-10013 below).  

The ICC statement went on to say it will wait until the completion of the appeal before making full comment, however, it felt it "important to clarify the Laws of Cricket". It went on: "These state that a player should not use artificial substances to shine the ball, [which] the ICC understands includes, but is not limited to, sunscreen, lip ice and residue from sweets".

 

The world body "does not wish to prevent players from using these substances for legitimate purposes, however, any deliberate attempt to apply such substances to the ball, as was the case [with du Plessis], will not be acceptable. This will continue to be reported and the ICC confirms that unless the Laws are changed, the current practice of charging players when the evidence shows an obvious breach will continue, [and] ICC umpires will remind all teams of the Laws as they stand". 

 

Following the du Plessis appeal the ICC plans "along with our members and the [guardians of the game’s Laws the Marylebone Cricket Club]”, to conduct a "review to see if there are any learnings to be taken from the issue”.

Meanwhile, England player Chris Woakes, who is currently on tour in India, has joined those who believe the ICC needs to provide clearer guidelines on ball-tampering (PTG 1985-9995, 24 November 2016).  "Everyone has said they try to shine the ball in a similar fashion”, said Woakes. "I think the fact Faf has been fined, the ICC are trying to make a stance on it but there is a grey area there, isn't there?”  

ICC-CSA rift widens over du Plessis affair.

Andrew Wu and Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10013.

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief David Richardson might have once played for South Africa but that fact has done nothing to temper his disappointment at the conduct of his countrymen over the Faf du Plessis ball tampering affair (PTG 1987-10012 above).  The former South Africa wicketkeeper is in Adelaide this week and has clearly been irked by some of the comments from the tourists since du Plessis was charged seven days ago, including Hashim Amla's statement that the claims against his skipper were a "joke".

One remark that Richardson was particularly unimpressed by was the suggestive claim by Cricket South Africa chief Haroon Lorgat that Richardson himself was formerly a member of South Africa's "ball shining brigade".  "I thought that comment was probably inappropriate”, the ICC executive said on Friday. "Probably because I was the wicketkeeper I had no real need to shine the ball in any way … but I can confirm I never used [artificial substances on the ball]. I used lip-ice and sunscreen religiously for 30 years and never put it on the ball”.

While the South Africans and du Plessis are adamant he did nothing wrong and have filed an appeal, the ICC sees it differently. Richardson said this case was one of two – along with an incident in which Rahul Dravid "actually took the sweet and rubbed it on the ball" in 2004 – that sprang to mind as being instances where players appeared to deliberately apply a foreign substance to the ball.  "I think it's fair to say I'm disappointed that [the South Africans] don't respect that the laws are there”, Richardson said. "They are there and the process is not necessarily respected. I was disappointed in the initial sort of comment that this is a joke – that kind of comment”.

Suspend Du Plessis and umpires suggests commentator.

Fox Sports.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10014.

Former Australian player Ian Healy has suggested umpires Richard Kettleborough and Aleem Dar, who were standing in the Test in Hobart after which South African captain Faf du Plessis was cited for ball tampering, should be stood down.  The charge was laid against du Plessis only after footage emerged post-match of the captain shining the ball with a mint in his mouth (PTG 1981-9980, 19 November 2016).  

“Faf can have a rest and the umpires can have a rest too, because they didn’t do their job”, said Healy during Channel 9’s coverage of the on-going third Test, in which Kettleborough is an on-field umpire and Dar the TV umpire.  The crux of Healy’s argument is that it is the umpires’ job to ensure nothing untoward is being done with the ball.  

“What are our umpires doing?” he queried. “They get the ball every other over don’t they? And they have a look at it. You can tell if a ball has been accelerated in its deterioration, its shape”.  Asked by colleague Mark Nicholas if you can tell if a ball is being shined unnaturally, Healy responded in the affirmative.

Co-commentators Kevin Pietersen and Michael Clarke were less convinced; with the Australian opining that ball tampering is hard to define and Pietersen unconvinced that mints actually impact swing.  “There’s inconsistencies around the world in what a player can do versus what a player can’t do”, Clarke said.  “Where’s the scientists to prove that a lolly or sunscreen or sweat or the underarm actually makes that much of a difference to the ball?” Pietersen asked. “Where’s the evidence? If you can show me the evidence, then I’ll think about it”.

Day-night Test wins Aussie television ratings.

Abigail Dawson

Mumbrella.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10015.

Day one of the world’s third day-night Test saw broadcaster Channel Nine dominated the television ratings with some 948,000 tuning in to see the Australians play South Africa in the evening session on Thursday.  Coverage of the Test helped Nine win in overall audience share with 23.9 per cent but the number of views fell slightly compared with last year’s inaugural day-night Test against New Zealand which saw 1,049,000 tune in.  It was up though from the 832,000 who watched the broadcast of the opening Australia-South Africa Test in Perth earlier this month, which because of the time differences with Australia’s east coast means it went to air there at the same time in the evening as the day-night match.

Umpiring in India a different ball-game, says exchangee.

Bagawati Prasad.

India Times.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10016.

It's not just the foreign cricketers who find life tough on spinning conditions in India. Even foreign umpires face the same situation when they are out in the middle on typical turning Indian tracks. As a result South African umpire Lubabalo Gcuma who has just completed an exchange visit to the sub-continent, says umpiring in that part of the world has been a learning curve for him (PTG 1985-9996, 24 November 2016).

"Officiating here is different thing altogether. Ball's spinning and jumping. The challenge is to spot whether the ball hit the pad or bat first. Bat-pad decisions are tough to make. However, it's a good experience”,  said the 40-year-old.  He has previously been to both New Zealand and Australia on exchange, visits he described as "a superb experience". “[India] is my final phase of learning. After this, it's about putting in consistent performances” which he hopes may one day see him stand at international level.

He says that in general the Indian players behave well on the field. "We get tested on people management as well and how to deal with it on the field. I find the Indian players behave well.  We have mentors and a good support base back home for umpires. The umpires' coach helps you and advises on what you need to do to improve. It's about respecting both your umpiring colleague and the players”.

Gcuma also mentioned that officiating in women's matches has helped him improve his concentration powers.  "The women's action goes at a slightly slower pace. It can get to a stage were you feel like nothing is happening. But that's when you have to concentrate more”.

ECB schedules nine County day-night matches.

PTG Editor.

ECB media release.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10017.

The 2017 County Championship will feature a full round of day-night, pink ball matches for the first time with England players expected to be made available for the nine floodlit games involved from 26-29 June, a time when the sun sets around 9.30 p.m. across England and Wales (PTG 1951-9820, 19 October 2016).  That will give the internationals a chance to prepare for the country’s first day-night Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston three weeks later (PTG 1941-9760, 8 October 2016).

In releasing the 2017 schedule, Tom Harrison the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said: "It was important for us to arrange a full round of fixtures to give our England players the chance to experience the conditions.  But just as we wanted to assess the impact of making Test cricket more accessible by changing the hours of play, the counties have really embraced the potential of Championship matches that stretch well into the evening when people have finished school or work".

According to Harrison: "There are some really attractive matches in the day-night round and it will be fascinating to see how it works out”. The four-day games involved are Essex-Middlesex, Hampshire-Somerset, Warwickshire-Lancashire and Yorkshire-Surrey in Division one, and Durham-Worcestershire, Glamorgan-Derbyshire, Northamptonshire-Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire-Kent, and Sussex-Gloucestershire in Division two.  The venues involved are: Chelmsford, the Rose Bowl, Edgbaston, Headingley, Riverside, Sophia Gardens, Northampton, Trent Bridge and Hove.

Its will not be the first time the ECB has arranged a day-night first class game for Glamorgan played Kent in a hastily arranged game late in the 2011 County Championship season (PTG 834-4075, 16 September 2011).

SLC renews club cricket focus in bid to strengthen domestic game.

Andrew Fidel Fernando.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10018.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has announced it will invest heavily in the existing club-based domestic structure, although a new provincial first-class tournament is also in the works. The board has promised a grant of 11 million Rupees ($A99,500, £UK59,550) for each of the 14 clubs in its ‘Tier A’ first-class tournament, and has also said it will beef up facilities by providing bowling machines, mechanised rollers and other groundskeeping equipment. In addition, ten 'Tier B' clubs will all get a grant of nine million Rupees ($A81,400, £48,700)l.

Thilanga Sumathipala, the SLC president, said: "We have identified our clubs as the places that we promote, sustain and develop cricket in our country, and we will invest as much as possible in this area.  For Sri Lanka to make an indelible mark on the world arena we need to focus on strengthening and developing our domestic cricket - this will provide us with a world-class pool of players to select from. Our focus is on the quality of cricket and not just the quantity”.

The grants announcement comes weeks after SLC reinstated domestic contracts, handing out 85 of them to players from a variety of clubs. This was a repudiation of the pay-model devised by the SLC interim committee in 2015, who sought to better incentivise players by paying out substantial match fees for games played, instead of handing out contracts that guarantee income through the season. 

The latest grants suggest the board does not want to move away from a club-based domestic structure, despite growing criticism of the competition. Several former players have suggested the current first-class format does not encourage high-quality cricket, and have also voiced concerns that senior cricket has not meaningfully spread beyond the country’s western and southern provinces.

SLC is expected to announce the details of a new provincial tournament over the next few weeks. However, this tournament is expected to be much shorter than the club tournament, and is likely to feature just four teams.  The Premier League Tournament - for now the main first-class competition in Sri Lanka - will be unchanged from the previous season's format. Fourteen teams will be split into two groups, before the top sides progress to a Super Eight round-robin.

ECB T20 franchise approach losing support.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10019.

Support for an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) eight-team city-based Twenty20 competition is waning after an independent report commissioned by Surrey found that the proposed tournament would not earn the participants any more broadcast money than one involving all 18 counties.  The report suggests that the ECB significantly underestimated the 18-county tournament when it valued its potential broadcast revenue at about £UK7 million ($A11.7 m) and its favoured franchise-based competition at £35-£40 million ($A59-67 m) (PTG 1924-9667, 15 September 2016).

Counties were told at a presentation in September that they could receive £1.3 million per year ($A2.2 m) each if they agreed to the introduction of the new tournament, which would run in addition to the existing 18-team ECB T20 series. This gulf in revenue led 15 counties plus the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to vote to allow the ECB to push ahead with developing the details for a new competition. Of those counties, Essex, Somerset and Middlesex are understood to be reconsidering their position, while Surrey, Sussex and Kent voted against the proposal (PTG 1925-9671, 16 September 2016).

However, Surrey’s report says that an 18-team T20 competition, split into a Premier League and a secondary division, would bring in “at least the same level [of broadcast revenue] as proposed by the ECB”.

At present counties receive about £1 million ($A1.7 m) in funding, with the report stating that the broadcast value of the county game is actually about £23 million ($A38.5 m) and will increase to about £35 million ($A58.6 m) in 2020, when a new media rights contract will be in place. While this forecast includes all county cricket, compared to the ECB figures that are for the T20 competition alone, few four-day games are covered and the 50-over competition would add little in terms of broadcast revenue.

The ECB was urged to seek a second opinion on the relative media rights values of an 18-team T20 competition, which would allow all counties to take part. It declined to do this, which led to a number of counties holding conversations with media companies and to Surrey commissioning their report, which has been shared with other counties.

While the ECB won the vote in September to move to this stage, the proposals must still be voted upon next year and require a three-quarters majority among the 18 counties, the 39 county boards and the MCC to pass.

Holder amongst awardees as Barbados celebrates independence.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10020.

Former international umpire John Holder is one of 50 people of Barbadian heritage who are to be recognised for their contribution to UK community life.  The recognition comes as Barbados prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain next Wednesday, the ‘Golden Jubilee’ awards for 'Outstanding Service in the UK’ being made at the Barbados High Commission in London.

Holder, who was born in Barbados in 1945, played for Hampshire from 1968-72 in 47 first class and 40 List A games (PTG 1880-9424, 19 July 2016). In 1983 he joined the England and Wales Cricket Board’s first-class umpires panel and from then until 2009 stood in 421 first class games, 11 of them Tests.  There were also 450 List A games, 19 of them One Day Internationals (ODI), 41 Twenty20s, plus women’s and Under-19 ODIs, and U-19 Tests and other fixtures.

He is well known for his ‘You are the Umpire’ series in ’The Guardian’ newspaper which has been running since 2009 (PTG 1888-9467, 30 July 2016), and is also heard regularly on the BBC’s ‘Test Match Special’ program.  Earlier this year he was appointed president of the then new Pennine Cricket League in north-west England (PTG 1748-8708, 28 January 2016).

Thieves steal $A7,000 worth of bats in Hobart.

Patrick Billings.

The Mercury.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10021.

Police in Tasmania are investigating the theft of bats worth a total of more than $A7,000 (£4,180) from a cricket store in the Hobart suburb or Derwent Park over the last two weeks.  Another cricket store in the area also had two other bats stolen, situations that prompted Detective Inspector Steve Burk to ask anyone who has "been offered a cheap cricket bat, or know someone who has, to please contact Police”.

How far is CA prepared to take day-night innovation?

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 25 November 2016.

PTG 1987-10022.

The promoters of day-night Test cricket have declared the experiment a success, yet it is far from a sure thing that the 2017-18 austral summer's Ashes series will feature a pink-ball game, something some have called “a certainty” (PTG 1941-9760, 8 October 2016).  Cricket Australia (CA) would like to build on its momentum after three day-night Test matches in two seasons, and the "probationary" period has been deemed complete by South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) chief executive Keith Bradshaw, who had the same role at the Marylebone Cricket Club, and others.

But any push for a pink-ball Ashes Test will be a hard sell with an England team and administration determined to hold onto the urn in Australia. A solution could be to take the bulk of a Test series back where it should be, in the summer school holidays, but this would require CA to make a concession of its own, pulling back from its January Big Bash League (BBL) and One Day International schedule.

The merits of this week's Adelaide Test match have been far less debated than the inaugural event a year ago. The main bone of contention was always the ball, and Kookaburra's pink ball has been greatly improved, both in behaviour and visibility.  South African captain Faf du Plessis's magnificent century on Thursday has shown that batsmen can master the ball and the conditions – by comparison, Peter Nevill's 66 was the highest score in the inaugural match last year – but they have to work for it.

The early stages of the current Australia-South Africa match produced a noticeably higher quality of cricket than last year's toe-in-the-water venture by Australia and New Zealand. How quickly the day-night Test has come to feel "normal".

That said, there are a few asterisks around it. The announced day one crowd of more than 32,000 beggared belief, as often in Adelaide, judging by the number of empty seats, with untold thousands apparently enjoying the warmth of the hospitality tents rather than the grandstands. Channel Nine love day-night Test cricket, of course, but commentator Michael Clarke went off-script for a moment when he revealed that his dad was shivering in the stands wishing he had packed for Hobart weather. 

Like last year, a November Test match under lights is cold in Adelaide, and the colder it got, the further the crowd dwindled. It's possible that once the novelty fades, day-night crowds will revert back to the average.

This could be addressed by taking the Adelaide Test match back to its traditional slot in late January. There should be more Test cricket in January anyway, when families are on holidays, and a day-night Test match in Adelaide on the Australia Day weekend would feel right. Conditions for the players would be better, with less moisture in the air and less dominance of ball over bat.

For the spectators, a January evening is decidedly more appealing than a November one. But CA would need to be bold enough to elevate the Test schedule above the BBL. Is it prepared to back its own day-night innovation that far?

The other asterisk over this week's fixture pertains to what is at stake. A dead rubber is a bit like a miniature silly season, where the outcome of the match can seem peripheral. Du Plessis and his lolly, and Australia's blooding of three youngsters, have captured more attention than who wins and loses. If the result of the series hinged on this game, we would have seen different selections and different debates. Like it or not, the degree of pressure around this match is lighter. The teams' opennesss of spirit in embracing the day-night experiment has been proportionately greater than if it were a decider.

In an Ashes series, on the other hand, the volume is fixed at 11. Negotiations have the intensity of a life-and-death situation at all times because an Ashes Test is an Ashes Test. In the past, England resisted using floodlights to enhance visibility because of the sense that too much was at stake. Within their playing group, the conservatism of Alastair Cook's captaincy suggests that their team leadership will be risk-averse. On current form, there is every chance that England will enter the Ashes series as warm favourites, and to hazard a day-night Test match, in which Australia will enjoy the advantage of two years' experience, would be inimical to England's attitude under Cook.

If the fundamental reason for day-night Test cricket is to expand audience, here too there is less need during an Ashes series. Whatever the month and whatever the hour, an Ashes Test match in Adelaide will draw bumper live and TV audiences. The popularity imperative is weaker. No doubt England will cite this if they want to prevent it from happening.

Two-and-a-half years ago, John Stephenson the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) Head of Cricket, said while the club is keen to see day-night Test fixtures introduced, he did not believe an Ashes Test under lights was either "necessary or imminent” (PTG 1353-6536, 15 May 2014). Several senior CA officials have hinted that the 2017-18 Ashes series could feature two day-night Tests (PTG 1850-9277, 10 June 2016, 1841-9217, 1 June 2016 and 1807-9030, 22 April 2016).  Exploratory talks between England and Australia are reported to have also indicated that there is a will in both countries for such games (PTG 1729-8582, 4 January 2016). 

Personally, I have been less convinced than others by the two day-night Test matches I have seen in Adelaide, and when Australia and Pakistan play in Brisbane next month, I fear that we will be enjoying sunny mornings with no cricket and then evening thunderstorms. But that does not mean the experiment is not worthwhile, and the improvement in the ball this year has been significant. Moving this Test match to January would just about seal the argument.

If day-night Test cricket is a success, as CA, Nine, the SACA and others maintain, then it should be applied unconditionally, although the players’ union says their members don’t like the though of an Ashes day-nighter (PTG 1959-9860, 26 October 2016). There is something lukewarm about saying the day-night debate is settled, yet not declaring it appropriate for Ashes cricket. You are not really deeming this format a real success if you don't think it's sturdy enough for Australia-versus-England. CA won over the unwilling South Africans, and it ought to apply the same persuasion to the old enemy next year.

If England don't like the look of Adelaide under lights in spring, then this pink-ball Test match should be the climax of the summer in the last week of January.  The boldness and confidence, from both sides, to take that step would truly signify that the experiment has succeeded.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,988

Sunday, 27 November 2016

 

• Book explores impact of ‘front foot’ rule on bowler injuries [1988-10023]. 

• Second batsman misses match after head strike in Perth [1988-10024]. 

• Yorkshire curator wins top ECB 'Groundsman of the Year’ award [1988-10025]. 

• Stokes reprimanded post-dismissal reaction [1988-10026]. 

• Day-night Ashes Test in Adelaide would be sell-out: SACA chief [1988-10027]. 

• Burns reflects on first year on ECB Full List [1988-10028]. 

• ICC proposes to reduce the number of Tests [1988-10029]. 

• Working group continues to look at ‘Big Three’ rollback [1988-10030]. 

Book explores impact of ‘front foot’ rule on bowler injuries.

Andrew Wu and Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 26 November 2016.

PTG 1988-10023.

Only in cricket would you see an entire book dedicated to a rule change. That description doesn't do justice, though, to 'Front Foot! The Law That Changed Cricket,' by Doug Ackerly, a 288-page read launched by Ian Chappell that not only explores the drawbacks of the move to the front foot no-ball law in 1963 but also its impact on injuries to fast bowlers. In an age where workload management is a buzz phrase in Australian cricket and young quicks have missed so much cricket, it's a timely release.

For the real diehards, there are a dozen or so pages of tables that compare, among other things, when particular bowlers throughout the eras suffered stress fractures and how many deliveries they would typically bowl a year. Alec Bedser was the ultimate iron, sending down an average of 7,400 balls a year in matches. Peter Siddle, currently out of the Australian set-up with a back injury, by comparison bowls 2,639 annually, although a far higher percentage are at international level. 

"I've always believed in a return to the back-foot no-ball law because of the positives it would bring to the game in relation to increased entertainment and improved decision making”, Chappell writes in the foreword to the book. "Now, thanks to the perserverance and tenacious research undertaken by Doug Ackerly, I realise there could be another important reason for a return to the back-foot no-ball law – a decrease in the number of injuries to bowlers. I hope that many cricket officials buy Doug's book. If they read his comprehensive coverage of the controversial no-ball law and still believe the current situation is best for the game, then it'll only confirm that in cricket circles at least, the problem with common sense is, it's not that common”.

Four years ago Chappell expressed the view that a return to the back foot rule "would reduce the number of illegal deliveries bowled, improve over rates, and give umpires more time to spend on the important decisions" (PTG 1033-5016, 27 December 2012).  A year after that, amidst a controversy over umpires missing ‘no balls’ in an Ashes series, former Australian international umpires Ross Emerson and Lou Rowan called for a return to the back foot rule (PTG 1251-6041, 10 December 2013).

Second batsman misses match after head strike in Perth.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 26 November 2016.

PTG 1988-10024.

Western Australian batsman Adam Voges, who was concussed when hit in the helmet during a Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania in Perth last week (PTG 1980-9976, 18 November 2016), is not the only player from that game to have missed his side’s next match because of a ball strike to the head.  

Voges failed to pass a concussion test a week after being hit and was ruled out of the game against Queensland which started in Townsville on Saturday (PTG 1985-9998, 24 November 2016), while Tasmanian Alex Doolan who had to retire hurt on 202 after being diagnosed with late-onset concussion after being struck on the jaw by a bouncer in Perth (PTG 1981-9980, 19 November 2016), missed his state’s game against New South Wales in Hobart which also started on Saturday.

Yorkshire curator wins top ECB 'Groundsman of the Year’ award.

PTG Editor.

ECB media release.

Saturday, 26 November 2016.

PTG 1988-10025.

Yorkshire curator Andy Fogarty has retained his title as the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) 'Groundsman of the Year’.  Fogarty was recognised for producing the best four-day pitches in the county game at the annual awards night for the first-class groundsmen held in Bristol on Friday, the third time in six years he has won the main prize.

In other awards John Dodds, the long-serving head groundsman at North Marine Road in Scarborough, won the award for the best out grounds pitches, his fourth win in five years; and Richard Robinson, who prepares pitches for the Leeds/Bradford university team at Weetwood, shared the award in that category with John Moden and Lee De Grammont who between them looked after Fenners in Cambridge in 2016.

Nottinghamshire’s Steve Birks won the one-day pitches award for the second time in six years, with Surrey’s Lee Fortis runner-up, commendations being given to Durham’s Vic Demain, Hampshire’s Karl McDermott, and Stuart Kerrison of Essex.  Demain was also presented with a memento of his first Test pitch at the Riverside.  Kerrison was also the runner-up in the four-day category.

Chris Wood, the ECB’s Pitches Consultant said the evening "is an opportunity to thank and congratulate all our groundstaff for their work over the last year. There were major challenges from the weather during the 2015-16 northern winter, and from the change in regulations around the toss in the County Championship (PTG 1934-9725, 30 September 2016).  They responded magnificently, as they always do. It’s good to have this chance to recognise them”.

Stokes reprimanded post-dismissal reaction.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Sunday, 27 November 2016.

PTG 1988-10026.

England batsman Ben Stokes has been reprimanded by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for Level One disciplinary breach on the opening day of the Mohali Test against India on Saturday.  Stokes was found guilty of “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting”.  

After he was stumped, the all-rounder stopped in his tracks as he headed to the pavilion, seemingly in response to words directed at him by Indian captain Virat Kohl.  Stokes's reaction prompted umpire Marais Erasmus to shoo him off the field, then have a word with Kohli.  Erasmus and his on-field partner Chris Gaffaney, plus third umpire Kumar Dharmasena reported Stokes for inappropriate comments.  He admitted to the offence and no formal hearing into the matter was therefore needed.

Day-night Ashes Test in Adelaide would be sell-out: SACA chief.

Andrew Wu and Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 26 November 2016.

PTG 1988-10027.

The South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) believes next year's Ashes Test in Adelaide will sell out for the first four days if it is conducted in the day-night format. While Cricket Australia's enthusiasm for the pink ball game grows, it will need to convince England's board to stage a historic Ashes Test at night (PTG 1987-10022, 26 November 2016). 

SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw told ABC Grandstand on Saturday: "We would love to have an Ashes day-night Test next year.  My hope would be we'd sell out for the first four days, such would be the interest. I'm sure we'd have many, many thousands of people coming from England. We're seeing, too that Adelaide is becoming a destination Test”.

The dream situation for those pulling the strings will be to stage a day-night Test that ran across Australia Day, 26 January, in Adelaide, which has more often than not played host to international cricket in recent years. Bradshaw said such a match "would be utopia for us to have a long weekend to stage day-night Test cricket on an Australia Day holiday. Australia Day is part of our DNA here with cricket. If it were a Test match, I'd be a child in a lolly shop”.

Burns reflects on first year on ECB Full List.

Bridgwater Mercury.

Saturday, 26 November 2016.

PTG 1988-10028.

Former Somerset captain Mike Burns has just completed his first year on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Full List and he is already back in training ready for the 2017 season (PTG 1714-8494, 16 December 2015).  Burns, 47, said the past year "has been fantastic for me and although I have been really busy it was great to be umpiring at that level continuously.

“First Class cricket is where you want to be umpiring and during my first year I have been involved in some pretty high profile matches”, said Burns. "I guess some of the highlights would be the Roses Match at Headingley where there is a lot of local rivalry, and a Middlesex v Surrey Twenty20 at Lord’s in front of 28,000 fans.  Also, to umpire a championship game at Scarborough was fantastic as there were more than 5,000 supporters in the ground each day, so there was a great atmosphere".

Burns said "In the last month of the season I was also involved with umpiring some pretty big games as well – it was good fun and hope this all bodes well for the future”.  Asked how much of a help had it been that Burns had he played the game at the top level he said: “I think it is a massive help to have played the first class game because the players respect you because you have been there and done it and that gives you the credibility.  You know exactly what is going on and you almost see things before they happen”.

He said his time after retiring as a player a decade ago hadn’t been easy.  "I was lucky in that I worked for North Gear and Bradbury when I first finished and that ended in 2010, which is when I seriously thought about taking up umpiring.  Since then, I have been umpiring Second XI games and been on the ECB’s Reserve List.  Even though it was a bit of a struggle financially it was good to get away from the game and get involved with the sales and manufacturing side of things.  They are all life experiences and if I had become an umpire first off I would have missed out on them.  Now I am on the First Class list I am starting to reap the rewards for the years I have put in learning the job and I can go on from here”.

ICC proposes to reduce the number of Tests.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 25 November 2016).

PTG 1988-10029.

World cricket would lose up to 10 Test matches a year under proposals presently before the International Cricket Council (ICC) designed to bring more equitable league structures to the three formats and add more context to the international game (PTG 1951-9815, 19 October 2016).

Proposals for a "conference" style split among Test-playing nations would serve to broaden the number of teams playing Test matches while reducing the amount of fixtures played by the likes of England, India and Australia. The conference structure, believed to have been mooted by England and Wales Cricket Bard chief executive Tom Harrison, was floated as an alternative to first and second divisions, an idea vehemently opposed by the likes of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for reasons of history and status.

Speaking in Adelaide during the day-night match between Australia and South Africa, ICC chief executive David Richardson said the heads of Full Member boards agreed that the volume of international cricket needed to be reduced while the context of each individual match was increased. Richardson and ICC chairman Shashank Manohar remain optimistic that the proposals presently in the works are on course to be agreed upon by the time of the ICC Annual Conference in London next June.

"I think we're at a stage now where, come February at least, at the [ICC member] chief executives level we'll have consensus as to the structures we can implement, particularly in respect to One Day Internationals (ODI) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20I)”, Richardson said. "There's not yet consensus about the Tests, but certainly there's a recognised need that cricket needs context and league structure, we just haven't agreed at this point in time on the actual structure".

"We want to make sure we're not playing too much Test cricket, bearing in mind in some countries its not financially viable so we don't want to overload or play too much unnecessary Test cricket. The current average in total we're talking about around 45-50 Test matches a year.  We don't want to suddenly put in place a structure that will see 70 Test matches a year played, so we want to make sure it is around 35-40, because we've also got ODIs and T20Is we've got to schedule into the program and part of the problem is there is often too much cricket. We'd rather have less cricket, better quality and more context”.

Among the current sticking points around the conference structure is the question of how many cross-conference matches could be scheduled, a feature of the systems used in the United States in the National Football League  and Major League Baseball. Provision for these fixtures would allow iconic series like the Ashes or England versus India to be played even when the nations concerned found themselves in opposite Test Championship conferences.

Interrelated to these discussions is the prospect of bilateral series television rights to be pooled among a consortium of Full Members. England, Australia and South Africa have led these discussions, and those boards are eager to go through with the concept irrespective of whether or not India join in (PTG 1922-9658, 12 September 2016).

"At the moment the commercial rights around bilateral cricket belong to the members, not the ICC”, Richardson said. "So if they agree to give that up or share that or exploit it on a collective basis they have to agree it themselves. We're still facilitating any discussions the members want to have, but they're driving it”.

Working group continues to look at ‘Big Three’ rollback.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 25 November 2016).

PTG 1988-10030.

The working group put together by the International Cricket Council (ICC) executive board to make changes to the game's global governance structure and financial model, has been meeting in Adelaide this week.  The group is effectively rolling back the "Big Three" changes ushered in by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and Cricket Australia (CA) in 2014. 

ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, ECB president Giles Clarke and the CA chairman David Peever are among those included in the working group, which does not have a BCCI representative.  ICC chief executive David Richardson is cautiously optimistic about prospects of the game's financial giant accepting any proposed changes. 

"The working group has only got recommendatory powers, so it can't make a final decision”, said Richardson. "Any proposals it comes up with will have to go to the full board and be discussed with India at some point. I'm as confident as we can be that we'll eventually get some consensus among Full Members, bearing in mind to pass a resolution you need seven Full Members to vote in favour”.

All these discussions are taking place against a backdrop of uncertainty for international cricket and mounting pressure from boards, broadcasters and players eager to further expand the amount of domestic Twenty20 tournaments played. While CA is one board arguing that a tournament like the Big Bash League must be made to run parallel to international cricket, other boards want to follow the Indian Premier League (IPL) model of an exclusive window. 

"I wish there was an easy solution, but the fact is that more and more each country is wanting to develop their own domestic T20 league and make it valuable in its own right”, Richardson said. "If each member is going to take the approach that we want to play our domestic T20 competition at a time when we can attract other players there's never going to be any time for anything else really”.

"The option of creating windows for domestic T20 cricket only and international windows is not as easy as doing that. They don't want to compete with the IPL or each other, so they want to find their own little windows. It's not going to be easy, FICA [the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations or players’  union] raise a good point, but finding the solution, FICA don't have a solution as yet and nor do we” (PTG 1917-9622, 6 September 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,989

Monday, 28 November 2016


• Petition calls for ECB to rescind ‘unfair’ Durham points deduction [1988-10031]. 

• South Africa pleasantly surprised by pink-ball cricket [1988-10032]. 

• Three neutral officials named for Australia-NZ ODI series [1988-10033]. 

Petition calls for ECB to rescind ‘unfair’ Durham points deduction.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 27 November 2016.

PTG 1989-10031.

Durham supporters have launched an on-line petition to have what they say is the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) “unfair imposition of penalty points” against their club for the 2017 northern hemisphere season rescinded.  Last month, Durham were relegated to division two of the County Championship because of its financial situation, given a £3.8m ($A6.3 m) bailout from the ECB, and will begin next season on minus 48 points in the first class County Championship, minus four points in the ECB’s Twenty20 series, and minus two points in the 50 over format one-day competition (PTG 1938-9747, 5 October 2016). 

The web site set up to support the campaign says those involved "believe that the totality of penalties applied to Durham CCC by the ECB as a punishment for their financial mismanagement is grossly disproportionate to the offences.  The wide ranging nature of the measures imposed mean that the innocent suffer alongside the culpable.  The heaviest burden of punishment falls upon the Durham players and supporters.  The reactions of cricket professionals, commentators, journalists and MP's is almost universal in condemning the package of punitive measures as 'over the top’”.

The ‘Ditch the Durham Penalty Points’ push “calls upon the ECB to demonstrate its magnanimity by rescinding the penalty points it has imposed upon Durham - in all forms of the game - next season, thereby offering the players and supporters some hope of redemption - a glimmer of hope at the end of a long dark tunnel”.  Plans call for the petition to be delivered to ECB chairman Colin Graves when the number of signatories reaches 1,000.  As of Sunday evening nearly 800 people had indicated their support for the campaign.

South Africa pleasantly surprised by pink-ball cricket.

Reuters.

Sunday, 27 November 2016.

PTG 1989-10032.

South Africa, whose reluctance to embrace the concept of day-night Test cricket threatened to stall Australia's charge into the future, were surprised by how much they enjoyed playing under the lights, captain Faf du Plessis said on Sunday.  It required considerable persuasion to get the Proteas to agree to take part in one of two their hosts had planned during their three-Test tour.

Cricket Australia, who have also scheduled a day-night test against Pakistan next month, will have been delighted with the bumper crowds as well as the images of stunning sunsets at the picturesque ground that have flashed around the world.

Du Plessis was clearly also warming to the concept.  "It's positive”, he said when asked about his first experience. "A lot more positive than I thought it would be before we played it, and I think there's a real future for it”.  

Vernon Philander, named 'Man of the Series', was though a little more reserved from the bowler's perspective.  "I think we have to get used to the pink ball”, he said. "We need to experiment with it a bit more. Obviously we had two warm-up games but I don't think that was sufficient time to get to get used to it as a bowler.  But there's definitely a future for pink ball Tests”.

Three neutral officials named for Australia-NZ ODI series.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Sunday, 27 November 2016.

PTG 1989-10033.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has named Richie Richardson of the West Indies, Michael Gough from England and Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena as the neutral officials for the three-match One Day International (ODI) series Australia and New Zealand are to play in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne over the next two weeks.  Cricket Australia is yet to announce which of its four members on the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel will work in the three on-field and fourth umpire spots during the series.

Richardson will oversee all three games as the match referee, while Gough will be on-field in the first and third matches in Sydney and Melbourne respectively with Dharmasena in the the television spot, their roles being reversed in the second game in Canberra.  The series will take Richardson’s record as a match referee in ODIs to 14, Dharmasena to 73 on-field and 39 as the television umpire (73/39), and Gough to 33/14.

The coming series will be Gough’s fifth as an ICC neutral umpire in an ODI series over the past 12 months, the others being Sri Lanka-West Indies, New Zealand-Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka-Australia, and the tri series involving Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.  That period also saw him make his Test debut and he now has a total of four such matches under his belt.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,990

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

 

 

• Indian IUP members ‘shadowing’ UDRS umpires [1990-10034]. 

• Female umpire to stand in major CA final for first time [1990-10035]. 

• Test cricket sees the light, but must not be blinded by it [1990-10036]. 

• Fears of day-night twilight zone unfounded [1990-10037]. 

• Allow players to use one method to aid swing [1990-10038]. 

• BCCI continues Lodha committee arm wrestle [1990-10039]. 

• Club folds after search for new ground leaves fails [1990-10040]. 

Indian IUP members ‘shadowing’ UDRS umpires.

Jasvinder Sidhu.

Hindustan Times.

Monday, 28 November 2016.

PTG 1990-10034.

Three Indian members of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) are ‘shadowing’ the television umpires working in the last three Tests of the India-England Test series in order to get first-hand experience of Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) operations.  

Last month the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to allow the UDRS to be used on a "trial basis" during the series (PTG 1956-9841, 23 October 2016), however, ‘Hot Spot’ is missing due to logistics issues (PTG 1962-9876, 30 October 2016).  The BCCI recently asked the ICC to allow of its IUP members to sit in the television suite.  

As a result Anil Chowdhary is looking over the shoulder of ICC Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) member Kumar Dharmasena in the on-going third Test in Mohali, Chettihody Shamsuddin doing so with the EUP’s Marais Erasmus in Mumbai in the fourth, and C K Nandan in the fifth in Chennai with EUP member Bruce Oxenford.

MV Sridhar, the BCCI's General Manager (Cricket Operations) said: “We are using UDRS first time in India in Tests and so we thought our International panel umpires, who normally are deputed for other series, should use this opportunity to familiarise themselves with its operations”.

Female umpire to stand in major CA final for first time.

PTG Editor.

CA appointments.

Monday, 28 November 2017.

PTG 1990-10035.

Claire Polosak will become the first female to stand in the final of Cricket Australia’s (CA) 50-over format Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) when Queensland play New South Wales in Brisbane on Saturday.  She will be on-field with CA National Umpire Panel member Mike Graham-Smith, Peter Marshall being the match referee and Gail Cartwright and Peter Gagen the scorers.

The appointments for the final mean that CA allocated 3 of the 44 on-field spots available to female umpires during this year’s seven team, 22-match WNCL series; Polosak from NSW, Ashlee Kovalevs from Western Australia and Deanne Young of the Australian Capital Territory all having one game each.  CA’s considerable efforts to build up female umpire ranks are slowly bearing fruit, however, the overall depth of women umpiring in Australia, as elsewhere, remains very thin.  Scorer allocations for WNCL matches this season were close to equal gender-wise.

Meanwhile, CA has nominated Mick Martell and Paul Wilson as its umpires for the One Day International (ODI) series between Australia and New Zealand over the next fortnight.  The pair, members of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, will work with neutral officials Richie Richardson, Michael Gough and Kumar Dhamasena in the matches in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne (PTG 1989-10033, 28 November 2016).  

Martell will be on-field with Gough in the Sydney and Melbourne games and Wilson with Dharmasena in Canberra, the Australians working as fourth officials when not standing in the match.  Prior to the series Martell has been on-field in four ODIs and the reserve umpire in six, Wilson’s  numbers being four and one respectively.

Scorers named for the series are Christine Bennison and Darren Mattison in Sydney, Cameron Allen and Rammanee Shivakkumar in Canberra, and Jim Hamilton and Mike Walsh in Melbourne.

Test cricket sees the light, but must not be blinded by it.

Greg Baum.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016.

PTG 1990-10036.

Day-night Test cricket has us tickled pink. Ratings and crowds in Adelaide last week for the Australia-South Africa Test boomed, and if many spectators did not actually clap eyes on the cricket, preferring the splendid hospitality available around the ground so what? No one thinks that is a problem at the Melbourne Cup.

The sense of occasion was all-encompassing. The spectacle was breathtaking. The kinks of last year by and large were ironed out. The scoring compared honourably with the other two matches in the series. The  Australian players loved it. Even the South Africans, sceptics when first approached, were won over, captain Faf du Plessis saying he would like to see a day-night Test staged at home (PTG 1989-10032, 28 November 2016).

In two weeks it will occur again in Brisbane with Pakistan being the visitors. That will show pink-ball cricket in a, ahem, different light. The weather will be less reliable. It will be more humid. Twilight will be earlier, and shorter. Historically, Pakistan do not draw as well in Australia as South Africa, and recently not even Australia has drawn well at the Gabba. The Adelaide Oval always was a likely venue of first resort for day-night cricket in Australia. At the Gabba, it will feel more like last resort.

Nonetheless, a shift is under way, a night shift. Cricket Australia would love for one of next austral summer's Ashes Tests to be played under lights (PTG 1988-10027, 27 November 2016). England has not said no, and meantime is mooting a day-night Test for its own summer, in Birmingham. In a way, cricket is being swept up in a long-established historical trend for sport to move into the night. Nearly every major sport is staged largely, if not exclusively, under floodlights now. 

It is not hard to see why. Sport is theatre, its stadiums stages. At night, when the background is blacked out, they become stagier still, and so more theatrical. Modern effects enhance it, creating a brilliance that outshines even daylight. The effect often is dazzling. Cricket in its shorter forms has been played under lights for nearly 40 years. Test cricket, a game that has struggled to broaden its appeal, could not afford to sit loftily outside this paradigm.

Which raises the question: if Adelaide and Brisbane, why not everywhere else? (PTG 1987-10022, 26 November 2016).  There are many good reasons. In Perth, a day-night match would finish too late for the television audience on Australia's eastern seaboard whose clocks are three hours ahead. Hobart hosts Test cricket only occasionally, and because of fixture congestion only early in the summer, and would run the risk of cold stopping play.

Melbourne and Sydney simply are examples of well that should be left alone. The same could be said of Adelaide, but as a matter of scale, it was the ideal place to trial day-night Tests. It would dishonour Adelaide's goodwill in the venture if it meant that every Test there henceforth was to be at night.

The Melbourne and Sydney Tests are fixed in the calendar, with their own appellations: the Boxing Day Test, the New Year's Test. So was Adelaide once, with Test played around the Australia Day long weekend. Scheduling priorities around the Twenty20 format series changed, but it is not impossible that Adelaide will again have an Australia Day Test one day.

Permanence is the secret of the success of Melbourne and Sydney: same place, same time, every year, and you add to that, same hour. It makes for an almost circadian rhythm. If there is one knock on Adelaide's day-night Test, it is that it has set askew what has always been the most sociable Test match. For visitors – there are always many – and locals alike, the Test match was not just a sporting event, but a day-round and week-long experience, with all forms of entertainment before and afterwards. Now the playing day sits discordantly in that experience, and it has put noses out of  joint.

Besides, imagine if next summer, England's 'Barmy Army' did not have to ease into their work in the relative confinement of the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 11 a.m. or so, but arrived in mid-afternoon, well-lunched and already very pleased with themselves. Imagine that about half the local crowd, too.

There is also a very good cricket reason to make day-night Test cricket a feature in the schedule, rather than the norm. Though much work has been done to align day-night cricket with day cricket, there are irreconcilable differences. The most obvious is twilight, when conditions change rapidly and so has become strategically vital (PTG 1990-10037 below); witness du Plessis' first-day declaration in Adelaide, a rarity . This is fine and even exciting as a variation, but not as the new rule. As New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum noted last year, the day-night protocol was meant to enhance Test cricket, not fundamentally change it.

Adelaide's pink-ball Test is a good thing, and Brisbane's might be. However, moving such matches in Melbourne and Sydney would be too much of it.

Fears of day-night twilight zone unfounded.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016.

PTG 1990-10037.

The conventional wisdom about Test cricket’s unconventional match is that evil happens at night.  Just as sundry spirits, spectres and shades emerge after dark, so too do the demons in the pitch.  Whether it’s because of dew, humidity, or simply that any ball — even a pink one — is harder to see at night, the general belief to this point has been that batting is harder at night.

Except in this week’s Adelaide day-night Test, at least according to the numbers, for more runs have been scored at night than either the afternoon or late afternoon sessions.  And no more wickets have fallen after dark than in the other sessions.

Statistician Ric Finlay has crunched numbers that show 260 runs have been scored in the first sessions in the Test, 276 in the second, and 300 in the third or post sunset period.  Nine wickets fell in the third session, exactly the same number as have fallen in the bright natural light of the first, when the going is supposedly good for batting.

Of course it’s a small sample and might be an anomaly, as the new format is yet to accumulate a body of evidence. And other vari­ables are at play: the quality of batsmen/bowlers and the age of the ball for a start.  But given the prevailing belief that the ball hoops, jags and skids more at night, the figures are worth noting.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to bat at night.

Australian batsman Usman Khawaja said as much on Friday night, and no one knows this pitch better than the man who has spent the majority of this Test on it scoring nearly 150. But it appears the pink ball/drop-in pitch duopoly is not doing what it’s supposed to.

What was apparent in the Adelaide Test is that the ball will swing or seam or cut for short periods before settling down again. And, after a run of straight breaks, all of a sudden it will be ripping like the Sydney Cricket Ground of old, and not when it’s supposed to.  Spinner Nathan Lyon’s devastating spell on Saturday night came out of nowhere. Well, it came out of the thick pitch thatch but immediately before that Lyon might have been bowling on a ‘road’ at the WACA in Perth.

The same thing happened the night before when South African Tabraiz Shamsi suddenly had the ball rearing like a wild horse and spitting like a cobra.  Now, this is not supposed to happen. Night is when the alpha pacemen roam, not when the spinners come out to scavenge.

Further evidence of the confounding conditions is found in Faf du Plessis’s declaration on the first night.  In a decision that was funkier than a 1970s afro, du Plessis left Australia with 12 overs to bat. They were none-for at stumps.  That the only certainty is uncertainty is apt for a format that has upset the natural rhythms of the Adelaide Test. Natural rhythms that appear to remain in flux for next year’s Ashes Test at least.

Still, the glorious uncertainty has made for good cricket. Groundsman Damian Hough’s often stated aim of fostering a contest between bat and ball has been fulfilled.  Cutting the strip 2 mm lower than last year’s inaugural day-night Test, which lasted just three days, has been a masterstroke. The track has provided lively bounce from the start, and Mitchell Starc was steepling it like the adjacent cathedral.

Lyon heaped high praise on Hough after play on Saturday night, saying: “I think Damian Hough’s up there with the best curators in the world [for] the wicket he’s produced is fantastic”.

Allow players to use one method to aid swing.

Ian Chappell.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 28 November 2016.

PTG 1990-10038.

The furore over Faf du Plessis' mint-sucking episode brought a whole new connotation to the word "gobsmacked", following Australia's complete capitulation in Hobart earlier this month.  Like the capitulation, du Plessis' misdemeanour could prove to be a watershed moment. The former turned the spotlight on Australian selections, while the latter might have a similar effect on the ball-tampering law.

On the basis that "if you can't beat them you might as well join them", I proposed a few years ago that players should be allowed to do one thing that assisted them in swinging the ball.

Like wristspin, the swinging delivery is crucial to Test cricket's viability as a competitive and entertaining sport. In both cases the bowler has to bowl a full length to encourage the batsman to drive, and this often leads to one of two outcomes: it either brings about a classical shot for a boundary, or a misjudgement that ends an innings. The risk-reward aspect of these two forms of bowling adds greatly to the anticipation and enjoyment of cricket fans. Both arts should be encouraged by selectors and law-makers.

With this in mind, I suggested that the law-makers should invite international captains to check with their players and then provide a list of things they felt enhanced swing bowling. Once these lists were submitted, the law-makers could then decide on one thing that enhanced swing bowling that could be made legal. 

A player using any other method of enhancement would face a ban, with severe consequences for straying. By compromising in this manner, the administrators would not only enhance the game but also simplify life for the officials at the ground and give the players an incentive to obey the law.

By making one method of "preparing the ball" legal, there would also be less pressure on teams to try and outdo their opponents. There would also be less risk that one side would be caught while another got off scot-free. The greatest success on the field would then be achieved by the most skilful swing bowlers.

It was pretty obvious that du Plessis was angered by his fine and the inference that he was a cheat (PTG 1987-10012, 26 November 2016). He responded exactly as you would expect from a proud, strong-minded person, by making a defiant century at Adelaide Oval. By the time du Plessis was celebrating his three-figure score, I'll bet there were many Australian supporters who wished they hadn't inspired the South African captain by booing him on his way to the crease.

The fact that no opponent of du Plessis was enraged by his actions, and many were even supportive, suggests that, as has been inferred, "all teams are doing it". England's Marcus Trescothick even revealed in a book that the 2005 team used sweets to assist with the shining of the ball in their successful Ashes campaign.  Hence the feeling that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

If international batsmen were to object to a proposal to legalise a ball-shining enhancement, it would be hypocritical. Firstly, many of the current laws and playing conditions favour batsmen over bowlers. Secondly, the majority of captains are batsmen and they are happy to condone their own players' questionable actions when the team is in the field.

With the advent of competitions like the Indian Premier League, which attract many overseas players, there are now virtually no secrets in the game. Also, through these leagues players from different international teams have become quite close friends, and consequently they are reluctant to be critical of each other.   

Producing late-swinging deliveries has always been a destructive weapon for bowlers and an exciting aspect of the game for fans. At Bellerive, Australia was beaten by the better bowling side rather than an opposing captain who liberally applied gobs of mint-flavoured saliva to the ball.

BCCI continues Lodha committee arm wrestle.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 29 November 2017.

PTG 1990-10039.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is to hold yet another Special General Meeting in New Delhi of Friday to discuss Lodha Committee related matters.  The BCCI is required to file a Compliance report with India's Supreme Court on Saturday ahead of the next formal hearing before it on Monday.  The Lodha committee has demanded removal of all BCCI office-bearers and has sought directions from the Court to appoint former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai as an observer to oversee its operations (PTG 1983-9990, 22 November 2016).

BCCI president Anurag Thakur told a recent meeting of the Treasurers' of all its state associations in Mumbai that the board "has not been very good at engaging with the general public about the kind of work the BCCI has done to improve the cricketing standard in the country -- be it creating infrastructure or by generating funds which also meant that cricketers had more financial security”.  

As a result state media managers have been directed to upgrade their websites to show the benefits to players in recent years by playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).  A state association member said: "There is a lot of negative perception about IPL [so] websites could put up videos telling stories of those cricketers who hail from the hinterland of their states and have made it big in the IPL.  How their lives changed post IPL and how it made them better cricketers”.

Club folds after search for new ground leaves fails.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

Monday, 28 November 2017.

PTG 1990-10040.

The Halifax Cricket League’s (HCL) Denholme Clough Cricket Club (DCCC) has been forced to withdrawal from the league and close down as a results of a dispute with the new owner of the land on which is home ground sits.  The club has not been able to confirm whether it had found a new home before the HCL deadline for nomination of teams for the 2017 northern hemisphere season.

Commenting on the DCCC's Facebook page, secretary Mohammed Yousaf thanked everyone who helped to try and save it, saying: “Denholme Clough will be forced to fold as a result of not having a ground for the coming season. Several grounds that were possibly available, on further enquiry are no longer available to us. So, with sad regret, after five long hard-grafting years, building a team from nothing to finally win trophies with all three of our teams, we’re being forced to call it a day.  It is sad when you realise we have over 50 playing members, whereas other teams can’t put two full teams out”.

A HCL spokesman said: "It is with much regret that [we] accepted the resignation of the [DCCC].  Sadly this is not a story of a club having a shortage of players but one where it has found it impossible to find a new ground by the deadline which was set because of the necessity to formulate fixtures for 2017.  At the end of the last season [the club] was given an ultimatum by its ground owner to accept a rent increase or vacate its home [ground]. Despite the help and assistance of the Yorkshire Cricket Board and the [HCL] attempts to find a new ground have failed”.

The club warned in early October that its future was in doubt after its new landowner asked it to pay £UK625 ($1,045) a month for using its now former ground.  The landowner, who did not want to be named, countered that he had done nothing wrong, adding that the club could hardly expect to use someone else's land for free.  He said the club's members should have been well aware that the land was on the market before he bought it, and that they could have put an offer in for the property themselves.  Reports suggest the land will now be developed for housing.


 

End of November 2016 news stories.