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             DECEMBER 2016
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 26 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 10041-10207)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,991

 Thursday, 1 December 2016


• ECB gives ‘in principle’ agreement to first day-night Ashes Test [1991-10041]. 

• Somerset club faces race against time to secure future [1991-10042]. 

• Club ‘not well supported’ over child protection issues [1991-10043]. 

• ‘Bat poke’ earns batsman a two match suspension [1991-10044]. 

• Another BPL corruption claim aired [1991-10045]. 

• Queen’s Park drainage issues again cause problems [1991-10046]. 

• Second-straight slow over rate fine for Pakistan [1991-10047]. 

• Hafeez’s action cleared for return to internationals [1991-10048]. 

• Zimbabwean seamer’s action reported for second time [1991-10049]. 

• ‘Suspect action’ reports lodged against BPL pair [1991-10050]. 

• Vandals dig up square in ‘act of conspiracy' [1991-10051]. 

ECB gives ‘in principle’ agreement to first day-night Ashes Test.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax media.

Thursday, 1 December 2016.

PTG 1991-10041.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed to take on Australia in the first day-night Ashes Test during the 2017-18 austral summer, with Cricket Australia (CA) soon to announce a five-Test schedule that is set to again begin at the Gabba after the current season's switch to Perth.  The ECB have not yet publicly committed to playing under lights during the Ashes series but it is understood they have agreed in principle.

CA chief James Sutherland has said previously there would be between "zero and two day-night Tests" played during the Ashes. The pink-ball component in 2017-18 has not yet been confirmed by CA and the governing body has been guarded with the schedule while it remains in a provisional format.  But if there is only one Test under lights it is certain to be in Adelaide, where 125,993 spectators turned out over four days last week despite Australia's match against South Africa being a 'dead rubber'.

A CA spokesman said on Wednesday: "Piecing together the summer schedule is a complex task. We expect to be in a position to announce this schedule over the coming months once agreements are in place.  We have two day-night Tests this year and ongoing scheduling of day-night Tests in the Australian summer is a natural progression. The Ashes is a great contest and attracts huge audiences both at the ground and on television, but nothing has yet been confirmed for next summer”.

The provisional 2017-18 Ashes itinerary is believed to be: 1st Test November 23-27, Brisbane; 2nd December 2-6, Adelaide; 3rd December 14-18, Perth; 4th December 26-30, Melbourne; and 5th January 4-8 Sydney.

Somerset club faces race against time to secure future.

Paul Roberts.

Somerset Live.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10042.

The Somerset Cricket League’s (SCL) Horrington Cricket Club, which was formed in 1929, has until the end of February to raise significant funds to purchase its home ground and if it cannot it may have to fold. The ground's private owner has set an asking price of £85,000 ($A144,000), and waste management group ‘Viridor' has agreed to contribute £42,500 ($A71,050) if the club can raise the other half.  A combination of local donations and grants has taken the club to within about £20,000 ($A33.440) of their target, but there is still some way to go and club officials are appealing to the local community to support their efforts to rescue the club from a bleak future.

Club officials have negotiated an extension on their lease up until September 2017 which will cover next year's cricket season, but Viridor's offer expires in February and the club will lose that significant donation if they do not match it in time.  "We had just started the new season last May when we had the unexpected news that our lease would not be extended”, said Kevin Russell, the club's honorary secretary. "We were told to vacate the ground by the end of September, which came as an awful shock.  We had to keep it quiet for a while because we didn't want to risk losing players, and that proved to be a good decision because we went on to win league”.

When Viridor came on board, the landowner agreed to extend the club's lease up until September 2017. Viridor's offer is dependent on Horrington being a viable club, which may not have been the case had they been made homeless.  "This would be a big loss to the Horrington community”, added Russell. "The strongest card we have is that the area have got nothing else. No village hall, no playground, nothing. There's a great sense of loyalty and connection with people in the village – it's something that is really precious”.

The club has applied for a number of grants, but is also appealing for donations of £25 ($A42) for the purchase of a square yard of their pitch.  "That is going very well, we're getting cheques in every day of the week”, said Russell. "It's just a notional purchase of course, but everyone who makes a contribution will be listed on a special honours board which will be unveiled at the grand opening if we are able to purchase the land. That board will be there for a very long time”.

Vice president Tom Beasley says the club is also seeking larger donations from local businesses and trusts. "We are extremely grateful for the donations received from individuals so far, some of whom have been involved with the club since the late sixties.  The square yard appeal has raised £5,000 ($A8,400) alone which is an amazing achievement. But we are realists, we are not going to raise the remaining amount by small donations alone. If any readers have details of businesses or trusts that provide local community or sport funding then please ask them to get in touch with us. The clock is ticking but we are confident with a couple more grants we can save the fields and the club”.

District councillor Mike Pullin, who has lived in Horrington for more than 35 years, said: "It would be a huge shame to see the cricket club fold. The ground truly means a lot to the community and all those who live within the local area. It gives our children a safe local place to go and nurture their skills, as we don't have anywhere else within the area for them to do so.  It would be a great cause for local businesses to support with all the associated PR opportunities. We really hope that local stake holders will come forward urgently with information and ideas for funding”.  The campaign is being backed by Richard Parsons, president of Somerset County Cricket Club.

News of Horrington’s challenge comes in the week Yorkshire's Denholme Clough Cricket Club has been forced to withdrawal from the Halifax Cricket League and close down as a result of a dispute with the new owner of the land on which is home ground sits (PTG 1990-10040, 29 November 2016).

Club ‘not well supported’ over child protection issues: Royal Commission. 

Megan Neil.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10043.

People in "the local cricket club" would joke that players should "watch out for Bob”.  However, Australia’s Child Abuse Royal Commission has found that the club in "the small Queensland" town did not know about allegations Robert Ross had sexually abused children in the 1980s and 1990s until they learned police were investigating him in 2014. 

Ross, who had been involved in the club since 1981, committed suicide in 2014 after being charged with a large number of child sex abuse offences.  People in the club made jokes about Ross such as "you wouldn't want to get caught by yourself with Bob”.  The Royal Commission heard there was a rumour a past club member was aware of the abuse allegations in the late 1980s, although there was nothing in the club's records to suggest that.

The Commission noted while the club management committee's first priority then was to make sure Ross had no further involvement with children, they did not consult with police or Queensland Cricket (QC) about the allegations.  It said that to date the club has not been well supported by QC over child protection policies and practices, but that was partly due to the independence of local cricket clubs from the state body, limited funding and the volunteer nature of the organisations.

According to the Commission’s report, which was released on Wednesday, QC should do more to support local cricket clubs in implementing and applying child protection policies and practices.  It has also suggested QC consider developing a "suspended person's register" along the lines of that implemented by Football NSW, saying when that body became aware of allegations a coach had abused children, it took prompt action to reject his application to be registered as a coach .  It also urged the state referees' organisation to reject his bid to become a referee.

‘Bat poke’ earns batsman a two match suspension.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10044.

Afghanistani Mohammad Shahzad of the Bangladesh Premier League’s (BPL) Rangpur Riders franchise, has been suspended for two matches and fined 30 percent of his match fee after he poked Rajshahi Kings’ Sabbir Rahman with the bat during an encounter in their BPL match in Mirpur on Monday.  Sabbir was fined 15 percent of his match fee for his part in the on-field incident while Rangpur’s stand-in captain, Englishman Liam Dawson, lost 30 percent of his fee for showing dissent at an umpiring decision.

In a separate disciplinary matter, Sabbir and Barisal Bulls’ Al Amin Hossain were fined 30 per cent and 50 percent of their BPL contracts respectively after being found guilty of "serious off-the-field" disciplinary breaches.  The BCB says both players were "also reminded of their responsibility as national cricketers and have been warned that any repeat of similar acts of indiscretion in the future will result in harsher penalty”. 

 

It also come to light this week that Barisal’s West Indies all-rounder Rayad Emrit was warned after showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during a match against Chittagong Vikings nine days ago.

Another BPL corruption claim aired.

Ram Kumar.

Dhaka Tribune.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10045.

 

This year’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Twenty20 series is under investigation by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) over allegations of match-fixing.  Rangpur Riders all-rounder Jupiter Ghosh has claimed that his team manager Sanuar Hossain instructed him to fix matches for an undisclosed amount prior to the start of the BPL season, and that when he refused he was dropped from the side.

That has led Rangpur Riders to expel both Ghosh and Hossain on disciplinary grounds and the BCB have now suspended the duo from participating in the tournament until an investigation into the matter is completed. 

The BPL is no stranger to such matters.  Four years ago spinner Shariful Haque was found guilty of spot-fixing and given an indefinite ban (PTG 989-4804, 6 September 2012).  Umpire Nadir Shah was suspended for 10 years, a ban that was lifted earlier this year (PTG 1808-9035, 23 April 2016).  In addition, former Bangladesh skipper Mohammad Ashraful confessed to contriving to fix matches and was handed an eight-year suspension that was later reduced to five years and he is now back playing (PTG 1931-9706, 25 September 2016).

Queen’s Park drainage issues again cause problems.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10046.

The state of Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain has again come under criticism after the rain-affected first class match between the Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward Islands was called off early on Monday.  Last August, the Test between the West Indies and India there was abandoned after just 90 minutes and 22 overs bowled and the International Cricket Council latter issued the ground an official warning (PTG 1920-9644, 9 September 2016) .

Day one of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) first class game last Friday was abandoned, 57 overs were possible on day two and 35 on day three, but despite there being no rain on the last day on Monday no play was possible.  The match was called off at 1.45 p.m. by umpires Gregory Brathwaite and Danesh Randhanie after they had made four inspections that day, the pair deciding that conditions were unfit for play.

In addition to the ICC warning, an investigation into the abandonment of the Test was conducted by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board and the Queen's Park Cricket Club on behalf of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).  Jeffrey Guile, a member of the Oval's management committee said on Monday that Queen's Park "had done what was required to rectify the drainage issues” identified. 

Guile called Brathwaite and Randhanie’s assessment “baffling” as he believed "the ground is fit to play”.  “We've done everything we've been asked to do. We widened the drainage around the ground, we've put more sand on the ground, nothing is wrong with the drainage.  Nothing is wrong with the ground today that cricket could not be played”.

Second-straight slow over rate fine for Pakistan.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10047.

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has been fined 100 percent of his match fee and his team mates 50 percent for slow maintaining a slow over-rate on the fifth day of the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton on Tuesday.  Match referee Richie Richardson imposed the fines after the side was found to have been five overs short of its delivery target when time allowances were taken into consideration.  

Under 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 and their captain fined double that amount.  The charges were laid by on-field umpires Sundaram Ravi and Simon Fry,  third umpire Ian Gould and fourth official Shaun Haig.  Azhar pleaded guilty to the charges and accepted the sanction.

It  is the second time Pakistan have been censure for the same offence in the two-Test series, after then captain Misbah-ul-Haq was banned for one Test following in the opening game in Christchurch (PTG 1983-9989, 22 November 2016).

Hafeez’s action cleared for return to internationals.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10048.

Pakistan spinner Mohammad Hafeez’s remodelled action has been found to be legal and he can now resume bowling in international cricket. Hafeez underwent a reassessment of his bowling action at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane two weeks ago where observations found the elbow extension for all his off-spin deliveries was within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under the International Cricket Council regulations.  

The world body says though that umpires are still at liberty to report Hafeez if they believe he is displaying a suspect action and not reproducing the legal action from the reassessment.  To assist the umpires, they will be provided with images and video footage of the bowler’s remodeled legal bowling action.

Hafeez was originally suspended from bowling in November 2014 but was reassessed and permitted to resume bowling in April 2015. However, he was reported during a Test in Galle two months after that clearance and was subsequently suspended for that in July (PTG 1595-7717, 19 July 2015).

Zimbabwean seamer’s action reported for second time.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10049.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed the bowling action of seamer Brian Vitori will undergo further analysis after he was again reported over concerns about his delivery style during Zimbabwe's One Day International against Sri Lanka on Sunday.  Vitori was suspended in January after being reported following a Twenty20 International against Bangladesh but was cleared to return to the international game in June (PTG 1862-9336, 25 June 2016).

After two games with the Zimbabwe A side, Vitori returned to full international duty on Sunday for the final the tri-series in Bulawayo.  Vitori took 3/52 in his nine overs in that match but concerns about his action were raised during the match.  The ICC said that the latest report means "he will be required to submit to further testing within 14 days”.

‘Suspect action’ reports lodged against BPL pair.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10050.

Only two months after having his bowling action cleared, Rangpur Riders left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny again been reported for a suspect bowling action in the on-going Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Twenty20 series.  Umpires filed a report on Sunny’s action after his side's BPL fixture against Rajshahi Kings last Monday.  Sunny was reported for suspect bowling action during the World Twenty20 Championship in March, was later tested at the International Cricket Council (ICC) accredited laboratory in Brisbane and, and in September, cleared (PTG 1930-9701, 24 September 2016). 

The Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) media and communications committee chairman Jalal Younus, who is also the chairman of the BCB’s Bowling Action Review Committee, said on Wednesday that despite the report Sunny can continue to play for Rangpur in this year’s BPL. He indicated that Sunny’s action will only be assessed during the two weeks after the tournament ends, and that “if the committee finds something serious then they will do remedial work with Sunny”.

Meanwhile, West Indies seamer Kevon Cooper from the BPL’s Khulna Titans, has also been reported for suspect bowling action. Umpires reported his action following the Titans' match against Chittagong Vikings three weeks ago. Details of that report have been passed on to the West Indies Cricket Board.

Vandals dig up square in ‘act of conspiracy'.

Press Trust of India.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1991-10051.

Rajasthan, a Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) first division club, has filed a complaint with the police after vandals dug up and seriously damaged the pitch square at their home ground late on Tuesday evening.  Club secretary Avishek Dalmiya called the situation "an act of conspiracy to rob the club financially and put its reputation in jeopardy” just two weeks before the CAB’s Premier League season is due to get underway. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,992

 Friday, 2 December 2016

 

• Current floodlight quality precludes day-night Test in South Africa [1992-10052]. 

• CA deal behind scheduling nightmare [1992-10053]. 

• One fined, one reprieved, after MCG charges [1992-10054]. 

• Long-time cricket week axed after funding request denied [1992-10055]. 

• Rescheduled ‘smog’ matches to delay Ranji knockouts [1992-10056]. 

Current floodlight quality precludes day-night Test in South Africa

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 1 December 2016.

PTG 1992-10052.

The quality of the lights at South African grounds currently aren't good enough for the staging of pink-ball‚ day-night Test cricket there, says Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat.  CSA used the pink ball in the inaugural season of the Africa Twety20 Cup a year ago to test conditions for according to Lorgat "we were already thinking about day-night Test cricket in future” but “regrettably we found that our lights will need significant upgrade”.

Asked where the country’s first day-night Test could be played of appropriate upgrades of lights were to be possible, Lorgat nominated the Highveld, the portion of the South African inland plateau which has an altitude between 1,500 and 2,100 m, as being "better suited” for such a game.  He also suggested "January or February feels like the right time of year” to play the game.

Meanwhile, Australian captain Steve Smith appears to have done a U-turn and is now endorsing the prospect of a day-night Ashes Test against England during the 2017-18 austral summer (PTG 1991-10041, 1 December 2016).  Smith has long been opposed to the idea, preferring to preserve 134 years of tradition between Test cricket's longest-running rivals but indicated on Thursday that such a game against England “could certainly work”.

CA deal behind scheduling nightmare.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Thursday, 1 December 2016.

PTG 1992-10053.

Cricket Australia (CA) had to do a deal with New Zealand Cricket to get last year’s inaugural pink ball Test over the line and that involved a promise for more One Day International (ODI) series between their two national teams.  It’s another example of CA’s commercial interests affecting the Test team.  Australian captain Steve Smith admits he’s frustrated at the scheduling of three ODIs against the Kiwis over the next week ahead of the three-Test Pakistan series, but will instruct his players to simply “let it go”.

Smith said: “I don’t think it’s ideal but I guess it’s part and parcel of the modern game these days.  You’re playing pink ball one day, then white ball next, and then red ball next, and I guess it’s the guys that are able to adapt to that and just get on with the game who are the ones that succeed.  That’s going to be my message to the guys to just let it go. Make sure we do everything we can to play well on that given day”.

The captain said Australia had absolutely no excuses for their damaging Test series loss to South Africa, but wants administrators know that being bounced around between formats to the point where there’s barely any first-class preparation makes life difficult.  “Yeah I guess so”, he said.  “It’s always difficult with the demands of different cricket.  We’ve got to try and fit it in somehow through all those products. [But] I can’t really hold it as an excuse”.

One fined, one reprieved, after MCG charges

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Thursday, 1 December 2016.

PTG 1992-10054.

South Australia’s Callum Ferguson has been fined 10 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent during his side’s Sheffield Shield match against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) earlier this week.  Ferguson is said to have “looked frustrated” when given out LBW and appeared to hit his glove on his bat before departing.  After considering the report from umpires Mike Graham-Smith and Damien Mealey, match referee Simon Taufel handed Ferguson, who pleaded guilty to the offence, the fine.

Taufel, who was making his debut as a referee at first class level, also had to consider a Level 2 report from the umpires against Victorian wicketkeeper Sam Harper of "charging or advancing towards the umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing”.  Harper was offered a sanction of 50 per cent of his match fee, however he contested the charge and was subsequently found not guilty at a hearing.  No details of why the charge was overturned have been made public.

Long-time cricket week axed after funding request denied

Ryan Jennings.

Essex County Gazette.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1992-10055.

Colchester Council has turned down pleas to scrap charges involved in the hosting of Colchester Cricket Week, which been held annually for over 100 years, and as a result the 2017 event has been cancelled.  Essex County Cricket Board (ECCB) asked the Council to waive the £UK3,000 ($A5,090) fee it traditionally charges to hire the Castle Park cricket ground and nearby parking area in a bid to make the popular festival more viable next northern summer.  

It is understood the Liberal Democrat council members voted to call the cricket club’s bluff by refusing the request.  But days later the four-day County Championship fixture against Somerset, which had been planned for Colchester in mid-August in the draft fixtures, was axed.  The ECCB says officially that the festival as been “suspended” because the 2017 fixture list does not allow for a County Championship game to be taken away from the County Ground.

Andrew Kennedy, chairman of Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club and a member of the Essex Cricket committee, said: “Over the past couple of years we have been looking at ways to make the Colchester festival more viable.  Ultimately it loses the county some money each year.  There are a lot of start-up costs [so] we approached the council and asked if there was any way they could help.  One of those was to waive the [hiring] fees that the council charges Essex because that would have helped bring the budget closer to breaking even".

Kennedy indicated that there were some councillors who supported it but ultimately they decided it wasn’t going to happen.  “It was disappointing but I can understand the council position.  They have other priorities in Colchester and this is a request from a private enterprise”.

John Faragher, Essex club chairman, said Colchester Festival week has been an integral part of the season, with players and members always enjoying the experience of visiting Castle Park.  “Going forward, we will review this decision and depending on the fixtures, hope to see Colchester back in the schedule for 2018”.

Rescheduled ‘smog’ matches to delay Ranji knockouts.

Press Trust of India.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

PTG 1992-10056.

The knockout finals matches of India's Ranji Trophy first class competition have been rescheduled to accommodate the two league fixtures in Delhi which were postponed due to pollution and smog (PTG 1971-9932, 8 November 2016). The quarter-finals, initially scheduled to begin on 17 December, will now be held a week later, and the two postponed matches between Gujarat and Bengal and Hyderabad and Tripura will get underway on 15 December in Visakhapatnam and Kolkata respectively.

As a result the Ranji semi-finals have been moved from a 27 December start to 3 January, while the final, originally set to be played from 7 January, will now commence on 12 January. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also announced that the Irani Cup, to be played between the Ranji winners and Rest of India, will be held from 22-26 January.

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) is set to lodge a protest to the BCCI on the rescheduling of the two Ranji Trophy matches.  TNCA secretary Kasi Viswanathan said the two game shouldn't be rescheduled and points should be shared. "Last year we lost almost four days due to rain against Gujarat; so many matches have been affected by fog, nothing was done then. In a league stage you cannot do this; it will be a disadvantage to the other teams. It is an act of God, and you should have only shared points".

Kasi also said the BCCI should have waited until the fourth day before calling off the two games in Delhi. "After all, only two days of play had elapsed; they could have still completed the game on the third and the fourth day. It has happened in so many games in the past; it is not something new”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,993

 Saturday, 3 December 2016

 

• NZC to introduce concussion substitutes in one-day competitions [1993-10057]. 

• Namibian final postponed pending tangled ‘ineligible player’ appeals [1993-10058]. 

• ECB regulations should be public documents, says Durham MP [1993-10059].

• Aussie union warns of bitter dispute if partnership pay model axed [1993-10060]. 

• Next ICC quarterly meeting moved from Mumbai to Dubai [1993-10061]. 

NZC to introduce concussion substitutes in one-day competitions.

Aaron Goile.

Friday, 2 December 2016.

PTG 1993-10057.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) will introduce concussion substitutes in this season's domestic limited-overs competitions.  Following the lead of Australia, who brought the new rule in this austral summer and where it has already been put into action, NZC will have it in place for its domestic Twenty20 and 50-over one-day series.  The new rules are seen as an important way for cricket to come up to speed with other codes, who already have concussion protocols 

As is the case in Australia though, NZC has not had the regulation in place for their Plunket Shield first class series which has been underway over the last six weeks.  Already this season in New Zealand, two players have been forced out of Plunket games due to concussion after suffering blows to the head while batting.  Canterbury opener Chad Bowes was forced off in the second innings against Northern Districts in Christchurch, and missed the following two rounds, while Otago's Ryan Duffy hasn't played since round two, where he was felled by a bouncer.

The new NZC Playing Condition allows medical staff to come on the field and carry out a concussion assessment, then if the player is not deemed fit to continue he is scratched from the remainder of the game and replaced by a player who can bat, bowl and field just as if he were in the XI, so the injured player's team wouldn't be disadvantaged by his absence.

While in Australia the rule stipulates it must be a "like for like" replacement player, the regulation in New Zealand will see the replacement having to be the named 12th man, making it fair for away teams who travel with only 12 players.

Helmets worn by players at NZC domestic level now have to comply with the new British standard, while the wearing of them has been made mandatory against fast and medium-paced bowling.  That differs from the new regulations in England where players also have to wear them against spinners, for wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps, and anyone fielding within seven metres of the bat in front of the wicket.  At the community level of the game in New Zealand those changes have been left as a recommendation for this summer, but are likely to become mandatory next season.

The new concussion rule was used for the first time in October in Australia when Daniel Hughes became the first player to be subbed out (PTG 1956-9840, 23 October 2016). More recently two players were unable to take any further part in a Sheffield Shield game in Perth due to head knocks, however, replacement players were not allowed (PTG 1988-10024, 27 November 2016).

Namibian final postponed pending tangled ‘ineligible player’ appeals.

The Namibian.

Friday, 2 December 2016.

PTG 1993-10058.

The final of the Namibian Cricket League (NCL) scheduled for Saturday was thrown into disarray and postponed by at least a week after a day of unfolding drama off the field of play on Thursday.  CCD Tigers originally qualified for the final after beating EBH Coastal in a semi final last weekend, but the latter club protested after it emerged that the winners had used an ineligible player.  Subsequent investigations found a player in last week’s other semi final was also ineligible.

According to NCL by-laws, a player must play at least three matches for a club to be allowed to play in the final, but Tiger's opening bowler Jason Davidson only turned out for them for the first time in the semi final.   Davidson, who studies in South Africa, and has previously represented Namibia, made a big impact on the match, taking 4/44 to help his side to an 11-run victory. 

According to John Haynes, Cricket Namibia's (CN) Operations Manager, after the protest was lodged with them they launched an investigation into the matter and discovered another ineligible player. Tiaan Snyman, who had turned out for Wanderers in their one-wicket victory against WHS Old Boys, had also not played for Wanderers this season, with the result that Wanderers, too, were penalised and replaced by WHS Old Boys for the final. 

Haynes said: “We held a meeting [on Thursday] morning via conference call where it was decided to uphold EBH Coastal's appeal against the Tigers. The by-laws were not adhered to - they state that a player must play at least three games for a club to be allowed to play in the final. Innocent mistakes were made, but we have to adhere to the rules of the game and I am pleased to say that Wanderers took it in good spirit”. 

Since then however, Tigers have lodged their own appeal against CN's decision and according to Haynes, they will have to follow the "correct procedures”.  "We have to follow the correct procedures and entertain [the Tiger’s] appeal, so the final has now been postponed and will now not take place on Saturday”, said Haynes.

ECB regulations should be public documents, says Durham MP.

Ali Martin  .

The Guardian.

Friday, 2 December 2016.

PTG 1993-10059.

Kevan Jones, the MP for North Durham, raised the issue of Durham County Cricket Club’s (DCCC) recent relegation and points deduction in the UK parliament on Thursday, describing it as a “scandal” and urging the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to publish the method by which the punishment was calculated (PTG 1938-9747, 5 October 2016).  Jones has also queried whether there is any ECB link in the recent appointment of Ian Botham as DCCC chairman (PTG 1969-9922, 6 November 2016).

In a debate on the subject held in Westminster Hall, Jones accused the ECB of a lack of transparency over the decision that will mean Durham starting next season in Division Two of the County Championship on minus 48 points, stripped of the right to host Test cricket and given a string of financial sanctions as agreed conditions to the governing body’s £UK3.8 m ($A6.5 m) October bailout of the club. Durham supporters have launched an on-line petition to have the “unfair imposition of penalty points” rescinded (PTG 1989-10031, 28 November 2016).  

Jones stated that, while Durham were in financial difficulty amid debts of £7.5 m ($A12.8 m), the club had not gone bankrupt and therefore ECB regulations, which are unpublished [and] had obtained through "a source inside the governing body", should not have been applied. He went on to state that the punishment did not tally with the document he had seen either.

“I don’t think openness and transparency is what comes to mind when it comes to the ECB”, said Jones.  “The regulations should be public documents. What have they got to hide, unless they are trying to cover something up?”  He later added: “The way this has been done is a scandal. Loyal fans who have supported the club over many years through a passionate love of cricket have been completely disregarded”.  

Jones said: “You have to ask, what is the purpose of the ECB? Is it to protect interests and act a cosy club? Or is to support those people who want active involvement in cricket? That is the clear question. This type of secrecy and lack of transparency in 2016 cannot continue”. Jones stated that in response to a letter he had sent to the ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, asking for clarification on the matter, he had been told the governing body was reviewing the publication of its financial regulations in light of Durham’s punishment.

UK sports minister, Tracey Crouch, was unable to attend the parliamentary debate but has agreed to meet Jones and Roberta Blackman-Woods, the MP for the City of Durham, who also took part in the debate, to discuss the subject further.

Aussie union warns of bitter dispute if partnership pay model axed.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Friday, 3 December 2016.

PTG 1993-10060.

Australian players have warned of bitter times ahead if Cricket Australia’s (CA) board moves to end the partnership model that has guaranteed a percentage of income to players for the past two decades.  The players have given a submission to the board that sets out their demands for the new four-year Memoramdum of Understanding (MoU) for when the current agreement expires midway through next year.  The submission will be discussed at board level next week before negotiations begin in earnest, but the players believe the revenue-sharing model is under threat.

Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) or players’ union representative Simon Katich said yesterday: “The players genuinely see themselves as partners in cricket, and the 20-year model they’ve operated under supports this.  Any moves to break this model would be met with fierce opposition from the ACA and the players”.  The deal between players and administrators sees the players’ pay taken from around 26 per cent of certain revenue streams within cricket. In the next MoU, women players will be paid out of the same share of the pie.

The ACA believes CA will try to move away from the model under the stewardship of the new chairman, former Rio Tinto boss David Peever.  CA has refused to comment on the MoU but did not rule out moving away from the revenue-sharing model at their 2016 Annual General Meeting last month.

Katich emphasised that the players believe the game worked best when they were partners with their bosses, but there are concerns that administrators are making changes without consulting their key stakeholders.  “The worst thing that could happen now is if they want to break the partnership”, Katich said. 

“It’s been proven that the players are a critical stakeholder to the game and the revenue-sharing model underpins what is a genuine partnership.  This holds the game together in good and bad times. Yes, the players are well rewarded and so too are the administrators at [CA].  They like to innovate the game and the partnership allows that to happen. Without the players making that possible, there is no day-night cricket or pink balls in Shield games, no microphones on the field, no 'Go Pro' cameras on helmets in the [Big Bash League]”.

The ACA is funded by the current funding model and has put almost $A30 million (£UK17.6 m) into player welfare, medical support and coaching programs to benefit past and current players. 

The ACA is critical of some developments in the game.  “The players feel they are a stakeholder and when the partnership works it is a win-win situation, but at times they have little control over things that impact on their workplace like trialling things at Sheffield Shield level, or trialling things like the CA XI in the Matador Cup”, Katich said.  “You can understand why they can get frustrated with those decisions because those decisions can have a big impact on the players’ careers. Futures Leagues and age restrictions are a prime example — that has a big impact on older cricketers”.

Next ICC quarterly meeting moved from Mumbai to Dubai.

G.Viswanath.

The Hindu.

Friday, 2 December 2016.

PTG 1993-10061.

The next quarterly meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in February, which involves meetings of the board and all other key committees, has been moved from Mumbai to the ICC’s headquarters in Dubai.  The ICC is likely to have made the move because it doesn’t want another unpleasant incident to happen given that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) delegates will be attending the meetings.

Last October, Shiv Sena party activists stormed the head office of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Mumbai and prevented a meeting between the then BCCI President Shashank Manohar and the PCB officials Shahryar Khan and Najam Sethi. The two Boards were planning to discuss the resumption of bilateral ties.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,994

 Sunday, 4 December 2016

 

• WCC to consider inclusion of yellow, red card concept in 2017 Code [1994-10062]. 

• BBL prepared for a corruption threat: CA integrity unit head [1994-10063]. 

• Australian players want say about lead-in to next year's Ashes series [1994-10064].

• Have attitudes to the bouncer changed since Hughes’ death? [1994-10065].

WCC to consider inclusion of yellow, red card concept in 2017 Code.

PTG Editor.

MCC medias release.

Friday, 2 December 2016.

PTG 1994-10062.

A “review" of game-wide consultation and trials on player behaviour and an associated "debate to consider the inclusion of on-field disciplinary measures in the Laws of Cricket” when the new Code is released next October, are “amongst the main items” on the agenda for the latest meeting of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC).  Around a dozen WCC members are to attend the two-day gathering in Mumbai on Tuesday and Wednesday, the last being in London in July.

During the 2016 northern summer the MCC, as the game's law-makers, 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, factors that were amongst those being considered ahead of the planned publication of a new Code in October 2017 (PTG 1642-8036, 10 September 2016).

MCC head of laws Fraser Stewart was quoted last month as saying a final decision had yet to be made on whether the ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ card system being trialled would be enshrined in law next year (PTG 1970-9924, 7 November 2016).  Neil Priscott, the MCC’s head of media and communications, indicated 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”. He stressed though 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". 

Another item for Mumbai on Tuesday-Wednesday is in regards to bats.  At last July’s WCC meeting it was agreed, after several years of wrestling with the issue, that “the time is right to introduce further bat size limitations to the Laws”.   The committee stated at that time that further limitations to the edge, depth and possibly to the weight should now be introduced (PTG 1875-9399. 13 July 2016).  The Mumbai meeting will, says the MCC, include discussions of "specific proposals for the regulation of bat sizes”, but precisely what parameters the club has in mind fare not known.

Other matters the MCC has indicated publicly will be discussed in Mumbai include the structure of the content of international cricket, particularly in regard to the Test championship concept, the possibility of four-day Test matches, and cricket in the Olympic Games.  The WCC said in July that the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics would be the "the single most effective move" the International Cricket Council (ICC) could make to realise its ambition of making cricket "the world's favourite sport” (PTG 1877-9406, 16 July 2016).

No mention was made by the MCC as to whether ball tampering issues will be considered by the WCC this time around.  Such matters have been in the news lately will calls for a clarification of the rules around polishing the ball, particularly with regard to what constitutes an "artificial substance” (PTG 1985-9995, 24 November 2016).  

Advice from John Stephenson, the MCC's Head of Cricket and a WCC member, was cited by the ICC in its announcement South African captain Faf du Plessis had been found guilty of ball tampering because of the way he polished the ball with saliva containing the juices of a lolly (PTG 1984-9992, 23 November 2016).  Sourav Ganguly, another WCC member, has called for the banning of lollies from the field of play (PTG 1982-9985, 20 November 2016).

Those members who are expected to attend this week’s gathering in addition to Stephenson and Ganguly are: Chairman Mike Brearley, Jimmy Adams, Charlotte Edwards, Sourav Ganguly, Rod Marsh, Tim May, Brendon McCullum, Ricky Ponting, Ramie Raja, Kumar Sangakkara and Vince van der Bijl the International Cricket Council’s former Manager of Referees and Umpires. 

BBL prepared for a corruption threat: CA integrity unit head.

Peter Rolfe.

Melbourne Herald-Sun.

Saturday, 3 December 2016.

PTG 1994-10063.

The head of Cricket Australia’s (CA) integrity unit believes a corruption scandal is “imminent’’ in the Big Bash League (BBL) as illegal foreign bookmakers try to infiltrate the sport.  “Pitchsiders” caught at matches this season will for the first time have contents of their mobile phones downloaded by authorities in a bid to catch offshore illegal betting kingpins (PTG 1741-8T59, 19 January 2016).

CA senior legal counsel Iain Roy said ­corruption of Twenty20 leagues in South Africa, India, Bangladesh and the Caribbean meant it was a matter of time before it reached Australia.  “It’s going to happen and like with any sport you’ve got to be prepared”, he said.  “Something big in Australian cricket is just around the corner and we’re just preparing ourselves as well as we can for the day that it comes

Roy said text messages, phone numbers and emails from pitchsiders who sent match information overseas to manipulate live betting could “cut the head off a snake’’, in reference to illegal bookmakers in India and the United Arab Emirates.  “If that helps us and helps the International Cricket Council identify some of the operations that are putting pressure on betting markets in cricket and some of the people involved in cricket that’s got to be good.  It helps us defend Australia cricket from the risk of corruption”.

Security and cricket staff will be trained to identify and report people suspected of sharing information with match fixers, instead of just ­integrity unit staff searching for pitchsiders. The pre-emptive strike comes after player agent Justin McMillan was this week ­suspended for six months for placing a $A50 bet on an English Twenty20 match in breach of strict rules.

With the BBL season and Boxing Day Test looming, CA has conducted a gambling audit of almost 750 staff, players and officials and trawled the accounts of betting agencies.  “Our biggest concern at the moment is most other domestic T20 competitions have had a whack in the last year or two years in a match fixing or corruption sense”, Roy said.  He indicated the devices that would be used to download pitchsiders’ phone data was similar to those used by Victoria Police and racing authorities. “We think we will get access to better, more detailed data than we’ve been able to access previously”.

Australian players want say about lead-in to next year's Ashes series.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 2 December 2016.

PTG 1994-10064.

 

Australia's players union chief has called for the views of players to be canvassed more heavily by Cricket Australia (CA) in its scheduling of the lead-up to next year's Ashes series, which will feature a day-night Test match between Australia and England for the first time.  Alastair Nicholson, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, said players must have a seat at the table in how they prepare for home Test series following a start to the current austral summer in which Steve Smith's men managed only one Sheffield Shield match before an ultimately unsuccessful campaign against South Africa.

Nicholson said that players wanted continued improvement of the pink ball before the first Ashes day-night Test and a strong say in the layout of their season, .  “If [the day-night Ashes Test] goes ahead, it's about making sure the guys have had a lead-in that is consistent with what an Ashes series will be.  There has been commentary around white ball, pink ball, red ball and the different competitions and different formats, and the guys are very noble in saying 'we'll just take what comes'. But I think having a real co-coordinated build-up to allow them to succeed and perform to the best of their ability is really important.  We'll talk to the players around what they want and we'll take that back [to CA]”.

The scheduling ahead of the Ashes at least won't be complicated by the need to work around six home Tests – or by the one-day series against New Zealand, which has been squeezed into the fixtures this southern summer. There should be ample time for three Shield rounds, one of them with the pink ball, before the first Test at the Gabba begins on 23 November. Nicholson, however, is just as intent on ensuring players have a voice in the arrangement of Test series lead-ins beyond the Ashes.

While Test captain Steve Smith has now endorsed the idea of a day-night Ashes Test, set to be staged in Adelaide, the players believe the pink ‘Kookaburra’ ball needs to continue to be worked on.  "I've been round the country in the last few weeks for the Shield [day-night] round and the Adelaide Test and while the ball is holding together better there are still some concerns around the visibility around the gully area, in fielding rather than batting”, Nicholson said.  "The players are open to innovation ... but they want the ball to continue to improve in regard to the Ashes next year”.

Have attitudes to the bouncer changed since Hughes’ death?

Amy Lofthouse.

BBC Sport.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016.

PTG 1992-10065.

0.56 seconds. That's how long a cricketer will have to see, judge and play a 90 mph delivery aimed at their body.  In that short space of time a batsman will have to run through a mental checklist. "Can I duck it? Do I swing the bat? Should I play it into the ground? Or do I turn, take my eye off the ball and accept the inevitable body blow?"

The issue of bouncers in cricket has grown since Phillip Hughes was struck by a short, fast delivery just over two years ago in Sydney.   The Australian Test batsman died two days later, having never regained consciousness, and cricket took a back seat as a community mourned the loss.  And then came the questions. Was the bouncer, a well-known part of cricket's history, no longer safe for batsmen to face?

Analysis from the cricket statisticians program ‘CricViz' shows there has been very little difference in the use of bouncers before and after Hughes' death - and that in Tests involving Australia, the number has risen slightly.  "We looked at balls which pitched 10 or more metres from the stumps, which is a rough estimate of intention to bowl a bouncer. With this, we saw a slight reduction in quantity after Hughes’ death”, said product manager Will Luke.  

"The second set looked at deliveries which bounced 1.5 m or more once it arrived at the batsman - in other words, the chest, throat or head-directed balls. With these, we saw a negligible decrease from 1.68 bouncers per Test to 1.62”.  In Tests involving Australia, the number rose slightly from 1.65 per Test to 1.68 - a small increase at a time when their seam bowling has been the area where they have developed the most.

The use of bouncers has caused controversy since the Bodyline series in 1932-33.  England's bowlers in that series made a point of directing short, fast balls into the body - a tactic replicated with great success by the West Indies team of the 1970s. Criticism that the bouncer was against the 'spirit' of cricket led to the International Cricket Council limiting the number of bouncers in a Test match to one per batsman, per over, in 1991.

On a practical level, changes were made swiftly after Hughes' death, with British-based firm Masuri adding extra protection to the back of the helmet where Hughes was struck.   Earlier this year Cricket Australia ruled that protective helmets should be compulsory for batsmen facing fast and medium-paced bowling, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) making a similar ruling in 2015.

"If they take the bouncer out of cricket, I don't want to be involved”, says BBC Test Match Special commentator Charles Dagnall.  "You lose so much of cricket. It is an isolated incident and we all wish it never happened, but it is one incident.  When you start talking about taking bouncers out of the game, you lose the game. They are part of the game's drama”.

Tactically, very little has changed in the two years since Hughes' accident. Sledging, cited as "an unsavoury practice" in the inquest, is still prevalent. It is seen as a harmless tactic, designed to add an element of humour to the game.  "If you have boxers preparing for a fight, they say all sorts of rubbish leading up, but that's part of the entertainment”, England bowler Katherine Brunt said.  "When they've touched gloves and they fight, there's a lot of respect before and after it, so it's part of the entertainment."

Concussion is an issue that cricket has yet to fully deal with, despite Cricket Australian cricket introducing a new concussion substitute for when a batsman is struck. Players will play on even after taking a blow to the helmet. But where cricket has changed is the reaction of players, team-mates and opponents alike when someone is struck.

"There is a genuine concern now from players when they hit someone and it doesn't stop them doing it, but they want to make sure they are ok”, Dagnall added.  "Bowlers get themselves into a state of high angst where they are hot, sweaty and mardy, and that's what makes a good fast bowler. But they now check and that wasn't always the case”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,995

 Monday, 5 December 2016

 

• Late arrival sees player denied right to bat [1995-10066]. 

• ‘Goof up’ ends 'India cap' dreams of seven teenagers [1995-10067]. 

• Use two different pitches in Ranji matches: Tendulkar [1995-10068]. 

• BCCI saga returns again to the Supreme Court [1995-10069]. 

• ‘Kookaburra' to make the 'Baggy Green' for CA [1995-10070]. 

Late arrival sees player denied right to bat.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1995-10066.

A one-day match in the Manawatu Cricket Association (MCA) on the North Island of New Zealand ended in unusual circumstances on Saturday when a player who had arrived late for the game was not allowed to bat in his team’s innings.  A report in the 'Manawatu Standard’ says that Old Boys, the team that was effected, may appeal the situation once they have discussed the applicable Playing Condition with the MCA.

Problems arose when Old Boys were chasing down Marist's score of 163.  They were 9/148 with five overs left in their innings, when Old Boys tried to use player Ford Burr as their last batsman.  Burr is reported to have been named on the team sheet but only arrived at the ground after Marist had completed their innings and so had not fielded.

Marist didn't think he should be allowed to bat, while Old Boys thought that if someone hadn't fielded they can only bat below number seven. After much discussion the umpires decided Burr, who is usually a tailender anyway, was not allowed to bat, so Marist won the game by 15 runs.  Just what the MCA’s Playing Conditions say about such a situation is not known.

‘Goof up’ ends 'India cap' dreams of seven teenagers.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 4 December 2016.

PTG 1995-10067.

A month after announcing a 15-member squad for the Under-19 Asia Cup series later this month in Sri Lanka, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has told seven of them that they are ineligible for selection.  The squad was scheduled to assemble in Bangalore for a preparatory camp but the day before it was due to start the seven were told of their non-selection.

The BCCI committed the error after assuming that the date of birth cut-off date was 1 September 1997, however, the Asian Cricket Council had previously advised that the same date in 1998 was the actual starting point.  Consequently the selectors used the 1997 date in the process of choosing the squad.

A BCCI official was quoted by 'The Indian Express’ as saying: "It was a major goof-up. Luckily, it came to our notice now. Things could have been worse if we would have come to know about this after the team had landed in Sri Lanka. The selectors were informed and they quickly replaced those seven names”.

Use two different pitches in Ranji matches: Tendulkar.

Press Trust of India.

Sunday, 4 December 2016.

PTG 1995-10068.

Former Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar has suggested that every Ranji Trophy first class game be played on two different pitches in order to prepare a better Test team for overseas assignments.  He also suggested that bilateral Test series could be made more engaging by having back-to-back home-and-away rubbers so that the strength of two teams remains mostly constant but the varying conditions pose a bigger challenge.

Tendulkar said during a conference in Delhi: "I have thought a lot about neutral venues in Ranji Trophy”, an approach that is being trialled in the competition during the current season.  "I have a suggestion is radical. When we go to places like Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa, we play with ‘Kookaburra' balls which swing early. Think about a young Ranji batsman playing with an ‘SG' Test ball in India and then facing difficulty overseas.

He said that in order to help overcome such problems: "Let us have the first innings on a greentop with ‘Kookaburra' balls, which would give openers a challenge. Even the bowlers will have something. Our spinners will also learn how to bowl with the ‘Kookaburra' on green tops.  [Then] let there be a pitch adjacent to the greentop which would be a rank turner on which the game's second innings would be played with the ‘SG' Test ball which would help our batsmen play against quality spin bowling”.

Tendulkar felt the use of two different pitches and two different balls would nullify the toss factor.  "A captain would start thinking that winning the toss will give him only 10 percent advantage that is his right to choose first”, he said. "But if he chooses to bowl on greentop he should remember that he would need to bat on a turner in the fourth innings”.

BCCI saga returns again to the Supreme Court.

Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 4 December 2016.

PTG 1995-10069.

The Supreme Court of India will reconvene on Monday to address the long-standing impasse between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Lodha Committee. Since mid-July, when it approved a majority of the recommendations proposed by the Lodha Committee for best practices in the BCCI and its state associations, the court has directed the Indian board to implement them. The BCCI, though, has steadily resisted implementing most of the recommendations (PTG 1990-10039, 29 November 2016). 

Despite finding "substance" in the Lodha Committee's claim of the BCCI's "intransigence", the court opted to exercise patience. It reserved its order on "superseding" the BCCI's office bearers with a panel of administrators, as was recommended by the committee in September. 

Instead, the court gave the BCCI until the first Monday of December to prove it would convince the states to adopt the approved recommendations in total. But at three meetings conducted by the BCCI since October, including two special general meetings (SGM), the state associations remained steadfast in their defiance of certain recommendations.  

Consequently, the Lodha Committee, in its latest status report, asked the court for the second time to remove all ineligible office bearers at the BCCI and state levels, and to appoint an "observer" to oversee the board's business deals (PTG 1983-9990, 22 November 2016). 

‘Kookaburra' to make the 'Baggy Green' for CA.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Sunday, 4 December 2016.

PTG 1995-10070.

Following a procurement review, Cricket Australia (CA) has signed a contract with ‘Kookaburra' to make the much-coveted 'Baggy Green' caps for the Australian Test teams.  The company will begin by making the commemorative pink Baggies for the New Year Test against Pakistan in Sydney, and will also take over the manufacturing of sunhats for the Australian international teams. 

CA requires that the company it selects to produce the Baggy Green is Australian owned, that they be made of 100 per cent Australian wool, and the manufacturing be done in Australia. Only two companies were able to meet these requirements, ‘Albion' and ‘Kookaburra’.  ‘Albion' has supplied Baggy Greens for more than 50 years but, following the completion of a detailed procurement process where both offers were assessed against specific evaluation criteria, CA has elected to go with Kookaburra. The design of the caps will not change.

James Sutherland, CA’s chief executive, said that the Baggy Green was extremely important to Australian Cricket.  “Receiving a Baggy Green is the highest honour in our sport, and we need to ensure that the quality that goes with this prestigious item is adhered to for years to come. We would like to thank ‘Albion' for their partnership for the past 50 years and look forward to working with ‘Kookaburra' in producing this rare product”, said Sutherland (PTG 1800-8997, 13 April 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,996

 Tuesday, 6 December 2016

 

• Keeper’s eye socket broken by pitch edge ricochet [1996-10071]. 

• Third on-field day-night Test appointment for Illingworth [1996-10072]. 

• Guyanan Umpires Council in deep trouble [1996-10073]. 

• Supreme Court defers BCCI-Lodha hearing until Friday [1996-10074]. 

• Money trumps excellence in Aussie cricket [1996-10075]. 

• Cricket's 'Mary Celeste' sails on [1996-10076]. 

Keeper’s eye socket broken by pitch edge ricochet.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1996-10071.

When standing up to the stumps, wicketkeepers are sometimes subjected to head injuries that result from being hit by a striker’s bat, by balls that arrive awkwardly from the bowler, or by bails that flick up when the wicket is broken, as was the case with former South African keeper Mark Boucher (PTG 976-4734, 13 August 2012).  Last Saturday though Robert Dillon, the keeper for the Mount Martha side in Victoria's Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association's (MPCA) District Firsts competition, had his eye socket broken by a ball thrown in from the boundary.

Dillon, 28, was playing in the second Saturday of the two-day match between Seaford and Mount Martha, the former side reaching 6/237 with 12.3 overs to play chasing the latter’s 7/279 from the week before.  At that time, a ball thrown in from the boundary hit the exposed concrete edge of the synthetic pitch being used and ricocheted up hitting Dillon, who was not wearing a helmet, around the eye, the blow knocking him out for several minutes.  An Ambulance was quickly called and it arrived from nearby Mornington within five minutes, however, it took an hour to prepare the wicketkeeper for transfer to hospital where he spent the next 24 hours, a broken eye socket being diagnosed.

Following the Ambulance’s departure from the ground, and with over an hour’s play lost, umpires Ross Ebert and Carey Glerum, in conjunction with captains Mitchel Danville and David James, decided no further play was possible.  The MPCA says the “match was declared Drawn due to a medical incident”.

Third on-field day-night Test appointment for Illingworth.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1996-10072.

English umpire Richard Illingworth will be standing in his third day-night Test when Australia play Pakistan in that format in Brisbane next week, just the fourth such game to be played.  Illingworth has been appointed to the series along with fellow neutrals, his countryman Ian Gould, Ranjan Madugalle of Sri Lanka, and Sundarum Ravi of India.

Illingworth and Ravi were on-field for the first-ever day-night Test in Adelaide last year (PTG 1673-8206, 28 October 2015), and Illingworth again two months ago for the second which was played in Abu Dhabi (PTG 1937-9741, 4 October 2016).

Madugalle will oversee the forthcoming three-Test series in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney as the match referee, Illingworth being on-field with Gould in the day-nighter with Ravi the television umpire, then it will be Gould-Ravi plus Illingworth in Melbourne for the Boxing Day match and Illingworth-Ravi plus Gould in Sydney.

The Melbourne Test will be Madugalle’s 11th Boxing Day fixture there in the past 20 years, while for Gould it will be his second on-field and Ravi his first such experience.  Overall, the series will take Madugalle’s Test record as a referee to 175 matches, Gould to 58 on-field an 19 as the television official (58/19), Illingworth 26/10 and Ravi 19/15.  Cricket Australia is yet to announce which of its members on the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel will be working as fourth umpires during the series.

In addition to Illingworth and Ravi, the other members of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel to have stood in a day-night Test are Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong and Paul Reiffel.  The next day-night Test is currently scheduled for Edgbaston in August.  At present half of the Test playing countries, Australia, England, Pakistan, New Zealand and the West Indies, have, are or have day-night first class games on their domestic rosters.

Guyanan Umpires Council in deep trouble.

Stabroek News.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1996-10073.

 

Rudolph Harper, the president of the Guyana Umpires’ Council (GUC), has expressed disenchant­ment with the state of umpiring in the north-east South American country.  Harper says that umpires are being lured away from matches played under the auspices of the Guyana Cricket Board of Control (GCBC) by the money they receive for standing in soft ball matches.  In his view paymoney seems to be the primary consideration for most umpires, and because there seems to be no solution to the problem, the GUC is in danger of collapsing.

A recent GUC convention was poorly attended and that is a frightening in­dication of things to come, and Harper says he is hoping that a solution will be found quickly and that good sense will prevail.  The GUC is hoping it will be able to attract school teachers as umpires and is looking forward for the co-operation of the Guyana Teachers’ Union in this regard.

Some umpires have suggested that the GCBC should augment the current umpiring stipend and the GUC should itself hold fund-raisers so that a "decent fee” can be paid.  At present umpires are paid 16, 12 and 7 Guyanese dollars a day for GCBC First, Intermediate and Second division games respectively, while an umpire can earn as much as 50 Guyanese dollars for a Sunday morning softball match.  Neither of those four payments is equivalent to more than $A1 (60 UK new pence).

Supreme Court defers BCCI-Lodha hearing until Friday.

PTG Editor

Media reports.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1996-10074.

The hearing of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) non implementation the Lodha Committee's recommendations in total, as directed by the Indian Supreme Court, was rescheduled from Monday to Friday as Chief Justice TS Thakur, who is part of the bench hearing the issue, was unavailable (PTG 1995-10069, 5 December 2016).  The Court had last heard the case seven weeks ago when it passed an interim order asking the BCCI to stop disbursing funds to state associations until the association gave a written resolution that it would adopt the Lodha Committee's recommendations. 

Money trumps excellence in Aussie cricket.

Greg Barnes

The Mercury, Hobart.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1996-10075.

Australian cricket is in a parlous state because its administrators do not understand the concept of sustainability.  Buckets of money are being made, but at the cost of the integrity of the craft.  The Twenty20 and one-day formats are not rated highly by those who play the game because they do not properly test the skills of a good cricketer.

Those skills are patience, dedication, high levels of concentration and the ability to build an innings in the case of a batsman, or to devise a means of capturing the wickets in the case of the bowler.  Test cricket and Sheffield Shield cricket are much more important to cricketers by virtue of that fact.

So if we assume that the role of Cricket Australia (CA), the organising body for the sport in this country, is to ensure the skill level of those in the game is as high as possible, the current set up is undermining that goal.  Who remembers an innings played in a T20 match?  But memories of  David Hookes’ five consecutive fours in the Centenary Test of 1977 between Australia and England, or Bob Massie’s 16 wickets in the 1972 Ashes series are etched in the minds of many, and certainly players aspire to such moments.

Lets put it in musical terms.  An orchestra that spends its season playing light music of limited technical or creative excellence will not enhance the reputation of the musicians or the orchestra.  If the orchestra challenges itself by performing complex music of composers such as Beethoven, Shostakovich or Mozart, the orchestra and its players relish the challenge and receive accolades if the performances are memorable.

CA’s mismanagement of the game has been the subject of much commentary recently.  Long-serving chief executive James Sutherland speaks of the financial “rude health” of the game, but he cannot claim credit for ensuring the standard of first class players is also an occasion for popping champagne corks.  

Australia’s performance in the recent series against South Africa, particularly the Test in Hobart, showed the folly of putting money before excellence.  Australia’s batsmen went into the first Test of that series in early November with little or no long-form cricket under their belts.  Instead in October, players had to endure a one-day competition between states.  The Sheffield Shield four-day first class competition, a perfect place to improve skills and quality, was shunted aside.

Former Australian captain Alan Border complained recently that Australian administrators use the Sheffield Shield as a laboratory for tinkering with the rules of the game.  “Its the traditional breeding ground for the Australian team.  When that’s strong the Aussie team looks after itself”.  Border added this sting: I think is been treated like a glorified practice match - experimenting with balls, styles of play, pitches and other things. I think we need to have look at it and how it is played”.  Border’s views are echoed by Victorian player Dan Christian.

We have a situation where cricketer’s skills are eroded because they are not given a chance to test and improve those skills in club and Sheffield Shield cricket.  In business, and CA is running a business, the concept of sustainability has rightly become part of the furniture. It mean that regard needs to be had to the broader social, environmental footprint of that balance and balanced against maximised revenue.

CA’s obsession with money, with includes overscheduling repetitive series against England, India and South Africa, and treating its elite domestic competition as a laboratory, is running an unsustainable business.  It is sacrificing excellence for short-term fiscal gain.

In this era where short-term excitement and frenzied activity is leading to mental health deterioration among many of us.  Test and Sheffield Shield cricket are an antidote.  The combination of cricketing whites, green playing fields and measured action provide relief.  CA might like to contemplate this.

Cricket's 'Mary Celeste' sails on.

Greg Baum.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 5 December 2016.

PTG 1996-10076.

No matter how hard Cricket Australia (CA) hammers it, the square peg still won't fit in the round hole.  For Sunday's rematch of last year's World Cup finalists Australia and New Zealand resuming their tussle for the Chappell-Hadley trophy One Day International (ODI) series, a less than fabulous 23,000, capacity 46,000, poked their heads into the Sydney Cricket Ground.

For this Friday's third in a series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground around 25,000, capacity 100,000, are expected, max. At the grand old ground, that is not a crowd, it's a throng. On Tuesday, Canberra's Manuka Oval, where the capacity is just 16,000, may fill up, but at less than 14,000, that will be a modest boast. Sometimes they get more, and louder, at question time in federal parliament several kilometres away.

Pre-Christmas one-dayers don't work. They never have. For reasons fathomable and unfathomable, people do not warm to them.  There was a time when Christmas revellers would come, making for the guise of a crowd. But they were there mostly to amuse themselves, with predictably rowdy and sometimes ugly results. CA backed off. It was an arrangement that suited everyone.  Periodically, CA infiltrates a couple of November-December one-dayers back into the program. If you hadn't noticed, you're excused. To judge by crowds, most people didn't.

CA will point to TV ratings full to the brim and spilling over, more for Sunday night's clash than for any night of the Adelaide pink-ball Test match. Commercially, that is reassuring. Practically, it might be all that matters now. But no number of bums on lounge chairs makes up for their absence from the plastic bucket seats at the country's two biggest cricket grounds. They are not just vacancies, but holes. It's hard to pretend to the big-time with pretend crowds.  Meantime, the cricket season loses rhythm and pace. This is problematic for fans as well as players.

You can't really blame marketing. They had an excrement sandwich to sell. You can't blame ticket prices. If the fare was worth it, the crowds would come anyway. You can blame CA, but only to a point. Pretty much by popular acclaim, they have had to give over January to the Big Bash League. That means everything else has to be jammed in the Boxing Day/New Year's Melbourne/Sydney Test festival. Now that includes reciprocal series with New Zealand for the suddenly back-in-favour Chappell-Hadlee trophy.  Thus this round hole, thus this square peg.

Periodically, world cricket mulls on the idea of giving one-day cricket a context by making all count towards qualification for the next World Cup. Maybe it would help to round off the peg, or square the hole. Would these three current Australia-NZ ODIs draw larger crowds if there was something on the line other than a trophy that someone dug out of a dusty drawer a year ago? It's hard to say.

And we may never know, because the International Cricket Council's wheels turn as creakily as ever, and the earliest likely date for such a scheme is 2019, when the next postponement to the next adjournment is due.  Meantime, CA hammers away, and the blows echo around half-empty stadiums.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,997

 Wednesday, 7 December 2016

 

• Date set for du Plessis ball tampering appeal hearing [1997-10077]. 

• Suspected 'pitchsider' ejected from Canberra ODI [1997-10078]. 

• Huge crowds expected for Gabba pink ball Test [1997-10079]. 

• No rescheduling now of smog-hit Ranji matches [1997-10080]. 

• Dual sportswomen should prioritise cricket over football: CA [1997-10081]. 

Date set for du Plessis ball tampering appeal hearing.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016.

PTG 1997-10077.

The hearing at which South African captain Faf du Plessis’ appeal against being found guilty of ball tampering will be considered is to convene on Monday week.  Du Plessis was cited because of the way he polished the ball with saliva containing the juices of a lolly during his side’s second Test against Australia in Hobart two weeks ago (PTG 1984-9992, 23 November 2016). 

Michael Beloff QC, an experienced sports lawyer, has been appointed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as the Judicial Commissioner who will hear the appeal.  Legal counsel for both du Plessis and the ICC will be present in Dubai for the hearing whilst du Plessis himself will take part via telephone.

Beloff has conducted ICC hearings as a Judicial Commissioner in appeal cases in the past including: the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s submission that Taskin Ahmed’s suspension from bowling in international cricket be overturned (PTG 1785-8910, 22 March 2016); multiyear bans handed to Pakistanis Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif; and over the ICC’s ruling in regards to the pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in Delhi (PTG 557-2830, 26 January 2010).  

Suspected 'pitchsider' ejected from Canberra ODI.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016.

PTG 1997-10078.

Police at Canberra's Manuka Oval escorted a man from the venue on Tuesday after they suspected he was using a mobile phone to transmit live information on play from the ground for the purposes of offshore betting.  The spectator at the Australia-New Zealand One Day International (ODI) is believed to have been be sending updates from the match in real time for betting live in-play with a foreign bookmaker.

The so-called practice of pitchsiding, which allows those involved to take advantage of delays of up to 15 seconds in the broadcasting of games overseas, is not illegal but it is a breach of Cricket Australia's terms and conditions for entry.  The game's anti-corruption officials have been very active in attempting to stamp it out in recent seasons, claiming it undermines the integrity of the code (PTG 1994-10063, 4 December 2016).

The vigilance of binocular-wielding officials hasn't put off those seeking to gain a betting edge, however, if Tuesday is any example. The man who was questioned and then tossed out of Manuka Oval by half a dozen police officers during Australia's innings is the first to be ejected from an international match this summer. He is unlikely to be the last. 

There were a series of such instances during the World Cup last year including several in Canberra, where spectators were ejected and prohibited from attending cricket venues in three separate matches. Two summers ago British man Rajeen Mulchandani was convicted of trespassing and fined $A1, 200 (£UK705) after being tossed out of three Big Bash League matches in Sydney and breaching a CA ban.

How many are eluding officialdom, though, is unclear. Crowd members engaged in the activity are not necessarily easy to identify, although anti-corruption officials will scour crowds looking for signs such as spectators wearing headphones and speaking on the phone at length or surreptitiously sending messages on a smart phone or a laptop. 

Information transmitted from a ground in real time is typically used to bet with unregulated offshore operators on markets such as the overall result or run brackets, where the advantage of even a few seconds can be very profitable. Pitchsiders can't gain an edge by betting with corporate bookmakers in Australia where under the law there is no live in-play betting permitted via the internet and the time it takes to submit a bet on the phone erases any advantage of being at a venue.

The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, of which cricket is a member and whose executive director is former CA and International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed, has lobbied for several years for changes to Australia's Interactive Gambling Act to legalise online live in-play betting as a way of making local agencies more competitive against foreign rivals (PTG 770-3773, 5 June 2011).

In the absence of those changes cricket authorities' hardline stance continues. And with the punishment of being questioned and marched out of a ground unlikely to deter too many pitchsiders and their associates given the potential financial rewards, another summer of interrogations and ejections awaits. 

Huge crowds expected for Gabba pink ball Test.

Travis Meyn.

The Courier-Mail

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1997-10079.

Interest in next week’s day-night Test at the Gabba in Brisbane is heating up with bumper crowds expected for the historic match.  A “very noticeable spike” in ticket sales has been recorded in the past week on the back of Australia’s resurrection following a terrible start to the summer against South Africa.  Pakistan will play its first Test at the Gabba since 1999 in what will be the pink ball’s international debut in Brisbane.

The rescheduling of the summer of cricket, which saw the Gabba Test moved from first to fourth on the schedule, has been a hit with families.  Nearly 40,000 tickets have been sold for the first four days of the match, which begins on Thursday week.  Last year’s total crowd of 52,199 for a Test against New Zealand will be eclipsed and fans have flocked to buy the immensely popular $A20 (£UK11.75) twilight ticket that allow entry after 3 p.m.

Queensland Cricket chief executive Max Walters said.“There has been some very noticeable spikes in public sales and corporate sales in the past week which is pleasing. There’s been a lot of activity in this marketplace, with more to come before we see the first pink ball bowled in a historic first day-night Test at the venue.  We’re confident demand will continue to grow, and we are already seeing the option of the two-session or twilight ticket proving especially popular.  It’s an important Test for Queensland but also for Australia”.

Cricket Australia has set lofty crowd targets for the day-night Test and Queenslanders are traditionally late ticket buyers, especially during the summer storm season.  The majority of Big Bash League tickets are sold in the five days prior to a match and officials are expecting to see a similar flurry for the day-night Test.

No rescheduling now of smog-hit Ranji matches.

Wisden India.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016.

PTG 1997-10080.

The two smog-hit Ranji Trophy 2016-17 matches in New Delhi that had earlier been rescheduled to be held at a later day have now been declared as abandoned, and the four teams in question will receive one point each (PTG 1971-9932, 8 November 2016).  The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the back-flip after both the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) both objected to the rescheduling.

The BCCI's senior tournament committee decided to uphold the MCA and the TNCA protests and as a result the Ranji Trophy will not be prolonged beyond the original dates, with the final slated for 6-10 January as planned preseason.  Both the MCA and TNCA pointed out that the plan to play the games at a later date was unfair to the rest of the teams because there was no provision for rejigging the schedule to accommodate games affected by the weather  (PTG 1992-10056, 2 December 2016).

Dual sportswomen should prioritise cricket over football: CA.

Larissa Nicholson .

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016.

PTG 1997-10081.

Cricket Australia (CA) has asked dual sportswomen to prioritise the bat and ball over their football careers. As the opportunities for female athletes in Australia increase, several women plan to play both in the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL), which starts this weekend, and the Australian Football League's (AFL) inaugural national women's competition, which kicks off in February.

CA has asked players to put cricket training ahead of football training during cricket season, which runs until the end of January.  For most players, neither competition will offer a full-time wage. Physical Education teacher Emma Kearney will return to the Melbourne Stars for her second season of WBBL cricket and was recently drafted to the Western Bulldogs.  She said CA had asked her to sign a form saying she would prioritise the WBBL over the AFL.  She reportedly said: "In my personal opinion I actually think they're a little bit threatened by AFL”.

A CA spokesman said they worked with all players to help them balance the demands on their time.  "But if they are signing a cricket contract then we want to make cricket the priority”, he said.  "The WBBL is a seven-week professional tournament, so there is plenty of scope to plan the year around their cricket commitments.  However, we do want them to be at their peak, to show fans just what they are capable of when playing cricket”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,998

 Thursday, 8 December 2016

 

• New Laws code likely to include player ‘send-off’ provision [1998-10082]. 

• BPL skipper fined for umpire abuse [1998-10083]. 

• Dimensions of bat edges, depths, to be limited [1998-10084]. 

• Despite controversy, no change planned to ball tampering Law [1998-10085].

• Catches, stumpings made via a fielder’s worn helmet to count [1998-10086]. 

• Conference-style World Test Championship concept supported [1998-10087]. 

• Committee split on the possibility of four-day Tests [1998-10088]. 

• WCC repeats support for cricket at the Olympics [1998-10089]. 

• Constantly changing rules confuses followers of the game: Thakur [1998-10090].

• Thursday’s CA board meeting crucial to game’s future [1998-10091].

• Antigua and Barbuda clubs object to proposed new format [1998-10092].

New Laws code likely to include player ‘send-off’ provision.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10082.

Umpires look likely to be given the power, via the new code of the Laws of Cricket and captains, to eject players from a game for serious disciplinary breaches, the so-called ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ card approach, provided the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) adopts a recommendation from its World Cricket Committee (WCC).  Such arrangement will include offences such as: threatening an umpire; physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator, or any other act of violence on the field of play.

At its latest meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday-Wednesday, the WCC concluded that the game must now include a mechanism to deal with the worst disciplinary offences during the match, and not just subsequent to it via a reporting process as is presently the case. If approved, the ability to send a player off would therefore come into effect at all levels of the game next October.

The MCC says the WCC "debated sanctions" for lesser offences, including run penalties and sin bins (PTG 1759-8773, 10 February 2016), but "did not believe anything should be introduced to the Laws, where it would be harder to achieve consistency of application around the world”.  However, the MCC "will look to devise such a system as an appendix to the Laws which governing bodies or leagues may wish to implement within their own playing regulations”.  The club trailed the use of cards in a number of competitions during the last northern summer (PTG 1759-8772, 10 February 2016).

The WCC decided on the ‘card’ approach because cricket "needs a punishment which will have an impact on the perpetrator and his or her team during that particular match”.  It says the game is "one of the only sports in which there is no ‘in-match’ punishment for poor behaviour”, and while a captain may ask his player to leave the field the umpires have no such jurisdiction.  "Taking an extreme example, a batsman could wilfully hit a member of the fielding side with their bat, before carrying on to score a century to win the match for their team”, says the MCC.

In 2015 the MCC consulted with cricket officials and administrators around the world, and an "overwhelming majority of respondents supported the introduction of a system that gave more ‘in-match’ power to the umpires to deal with poor behaviour”.  It points to what it says is the way “the decline in behaviour in the recreational game is having an adverse effect on the availability and willingness of people wanting to stand as umpires.  

A recent survey by Portsmouth University showed that 40 per cent of UK umpires said that episodes of abuse made them question whether or not to continue umpiring, something the England and Wales Cricket Association’s Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) recognises as a "real problem” (PTG 1970-9924, 7 November 2016).

BPL skipper fined for umpire abuse.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10083.

Shakib Al Hasan, the captain of the Bangladesh Premier League’s (BPL) Dhaka Dynamites franchise, has been found guilty and fined 20 per cent of his match fee for “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting”, during a match against Khulna Titans in Mirpur on Tuesday.  Whilst fielding, Shakib became very angry with Pakistan umpire Khalid Mahmood after an LBW decision went against his side.

The charges against the all-rounder was levelled by on-field umpires Nadir Shah and Khalid Mahmud, third umpire Masudur Rahman and fourth umpire Mahfuzur Rahman.  In addition to the fine for what was a Level one breach, Shakib had two demerit points added to his disciplinary record.  Level one breaches carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand up to a maximum of 30 percent of a player’s match fee, and one or two demerit points.

Dimensions of bat edges, depths, to be limited.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10084.

The Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC) has recommended specific limitations be introduced to both the edges and depth of bats.  After years of sitting on the fence, the WCC agreed at its July meeting that “the time is right to introduce further bat size limitations to the Laws”, and that maximums should be set for a bat's edge, depth and possibly its weight (PTG 1875-9399, 13 July 2016).

At its latest meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday-Wednesday, the WCC recommended bat edges be limited to 40 mm and bat depths to 67 mm, the latter consisting of 60mm for the depth plus an allowance of 7 mm for a possible curve on the face of the bat.  Many bats used by what the MCC calls “top players” have edges of between 38 mm and 42 mm, but there are some which have edges of up to 50 mm, which was felt to be "excessive and in need of restriction". There was however no mention on a maximum weight for bats.

The WCC came to its conclusions as it believes: “The balance of the game has tilted too far in the batsman's favour”.   The WCC, together with the MCC's Cricket committee which met last week at Lord’s, "wants to draw a line in the sand and target mis-hits that are clearing the boundary ropes for six”. 

Bat gauges will ensure that the new limits are adhered to in the professional game, whilst a moratorium period, allowing players to use their existing bats which may be in breach of the Law, will be allowed in the amateur game. The length of the moratorium will be determined by local governing bodies and may vary for different levels of cricket. 

If as anticipated the WCC’s recommendations are formally accepted by the MCC’s main committee, they will be included into the new code of the Laws of Cricket which will be introduced in October next year.

Despite controversy, no change planned to ball tampering Law.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10085.

Changes are not anticipated to Law 42.3(a), which covers changing the condition of the match ball, in next year’s new code of the Laws of Cricket.  At its meeting in Mumbai earlier this week, the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC) agreed that the current Law is clear, and that "to try to be too prescriptive by listing banned substances would be counterproductive, as something will be missed in the process of such drafting".  

Discussion of the issue in Mumbai resulted from the recent focus that has been brought bear on 42.3(a) as a result of the charge and subsequent fine levelled at South African captain Faf Du Plessis for polishing the ball with saliva containing the juices of a lolly (PTG 1984-9992, 23 November 2016).  He has appealed the guilty verdict handed to him (PTG 1997-10077, 7 December 2016), and there have been calls for a better definition of what constitutes an "artificial substance” (PTG 1985-9995, 24 November 2016). 

Catches, stumpings made via a fielder’s worn helmet to count.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10086.

From October 2017 the Laws of Cricket will allow catches and stumpings made after the ball has struck helmets worn by the fielding side to count.  At present, catches and stumpings may be taken off a wicket-keeper’s pads, the use of which is optional, and the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) says it therefore "seems unfair that they should not be permitted after hitting a helmet, the wearing of which [these days]  is often compulsorily at many levels of the game".   

The MCC’s World Cricket Committee supported the change during its meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday-Wednesday, and following further discussion within the MCC, its main Committee will be asked to approve including the change in the 2017 Laws code.  The MCC says “it is felt that balls rebounding off a fielder’s helmet could equally help or hinder the fielding side and so the suggestion that rebounds off the helmet make catches easier should be disregarded". 

This change for the caught Law would include a ball becoming lodged or trapped in the grille of a fielder’s helmet, in the same way as it is caught if it gets trapped between the wicket-keeper’s pads or in a fielder’s sweater or pocket.

Conference-style World Test Championship concept supported.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10087.

All Full Members of the International Cricket Council have been encouraged to countries to pursue and develop a conference-style World Test Championship by the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee (WCC).  The committee heard an update from David Richardson, the ICC’s chief executive at its meeting in Mumbai this week on a conference-style arrangement for the longest form of the game (PTG 1951-9815, 19 October 2016). 

Whilst previously supporting the idea of a two-divisional, promotion-relegation Championship, the WCC encourages the ICC to continue its current focus on a conference-style system and, ultimately, to persuade its Members to introduce such an arrangement.  According to the WCC: "A conference system, with all teams starting from scratch, gives the lower-ranked teams more hope of toppling the best nations, and will help to stimulate interest and proper context in what is the ultimate form of the game".

Committee split on the possibility of four-day Tests.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10088.

Members of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee (WCC) were “evenly split” on the possibility of introducing a trial of four-day Test Matches, as part of an attempt to streamline the cricketing calendar.  Historically, the last full series involving four-day Tests was played between New Zealand and Pakistan in 1972-73, whilst the England-Australia Test at the Oval in 1975 was scheduled for six days. 

The MCC says the arguments put forward for the concept were:

• Clear scheduling for all TV, fans and players with every Test played Thursday to Sunday on a weekly cycle.

• Greater crowds likely in grounds and more viewers on television for the last two days of the matches.

• Easier scheduling that allows tours to be shorter.

• Shorter tours mean less cricket would need to take place out of each country’s regular season, meaning fewer rain interruptions.

• Over rates would need to be improved, with suspensions for captains not meeting the required targets.

• As a result spinners might need to be bowled more.

• Play would be likely to change to a more attacking style, which might help to arrest the dwindling crowds in many countries.

• Clearer scheduling for grounds in relation to staffing and operational costs, with most Tests running the full four days.

• Broadcasters need only to pay for four days’ match costs, rather than five, freeing up time for more lucrative limited overs cricket.

• Evidence suggests that there would be no loss of revenue from broadcasters or sponsors if the Tests were shortened.

The negatives were listed as:

• Likelihood of more drawn matches, especially those that are rain-affected, given that some matches are played in the rainy season.

• The dynamic of Tests would change and the statistics would be less comparable with history.

• That would particularly if limits were placed on the duration of the teams’ first innings, which has been mooted.

• There could be more ‘doctored’ pitches to get results within four days, particularly if allied to increased context.

• It should not need a shift to four day Tests to speed up the over rates.  

• Many sides struggle to bowl 90 overs in six and a half hours, so it is unrealistic to think they would bowl many more in a longer day.  

• Any additional overs are likely to be bowled by part-time bowlers.

• It might lead to more ‘manufactured’ games, with declaration bowling and cheap runs on offer.

• The better team would have less chance of winning; the weaker team would have more chance of escaping with a draw.

• With people increasingly more time-poor, it is unrealistic to expect spectators to want to see even longer days at a Test match.

The WCC says it will be interested to hear the thoughts from all of the game’s stakeholders, governing bodies, players, cricket fans, sponsors and broadcasters, and plans to revisit this subject at its next meeting in July.   That gathering is to be held at Lord's on 3-4 July, and will include "a mini conference", with speakers from the WCC past and present, providing an opportunity for MCC Members and guests to debate and discuss some of "the big issues in the game".

WCC repeats support for cricket at the Olympics.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10089.

Administrators should embrace the concept of playing Twenty20 cricket in the Olympic Games, says the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee (WCC), in a repeat of its comments of five months ago (PTG 1877-9406, 16 July 2016).  At its latest meeting in Mumbai this week the WCC said that with the prospect of participating in the 2024 Olympics still open, it "encourages the International Cricket Council (ICC) to work as hard as possible to see the game” included, as such a move is the best way to boost cricket globally.

The WCC is "encouraged to hear that a strategy is being written by ICC" to look at the development of the game in both the United States and China, but believes that the single most effective way cricket can grow around the world is by being included in the Olympics. The committee has therefore asked all members of the ICC to work together to present its case for inclusion to the International Olympic Committee.

Constantly changing rules confuses followers of the game: Thakur.

Sportal India.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10090.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Anurag Thakur asked the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to avoid making too many changes in the rules of the game.  Thakur made his comments whilst attendeding the first day of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee’s (WCC) two-day meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday. 

Reports say that Thakur, who attended the WCC meeting as a ‘special invitee’, asked the MCC to "stop chopping and changing the rules frequently", as it confuses the followers of the game. He felt that cricket already has three formats, which have different rules, so the idea has to be to keep the game as simple as possible, as the fans have enough on their plate already. He pointed out how the rules have remained consistent in other sports.

Thakur told the WCC that day-night Tests are still a work-in-progress in India. “We’re open to day-night Test cricket. We tried it in our domestic cricket, but we need some more research on this. We’ve to keep in mind some issues, like the dew factor, which crop up in our part of the world. Which need to be sorted”.  

However, the BCCI president re-affirmed his organisation's commitment to promote Test cricket, something which "won praise" from the MCC.  He claimed that the Board was doing all it can to promote Test cricket, which was still reasonably popular in India. India are playing 13 Tests this season, and they’ll try to play at least 10 Tests every season for the next eight years.

Thakur also recommended that protective equipment like helmets, guards be made mandatory in junior cricket. At that level, kids get excited and avoid using helmets while batting or fielding in close-in positions. He is believed to feel that the use of protective equipment should be made mandatory in junior cricket [and its] the umpires and captain’s responsibility to ensure this”.

Thursday’s CA board meeting crucial to game’s future.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10091.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) men in suits gather in Melbourne on Thursday for what may be one of the most important board meetings in the recent history of the game.  At issue is the future direction of the organisation, cricket and player relations.  While there have been recent wins in a Test and two One Day Internationals, it would be foolish to think that all was right with the world.

Team performance will be a significant item on the board’s agenda, with high performance manager Pat Howard called before the eight directors to explain how the $A120-odd million (£UK71 m) spent on high performance since the Argus review of 2011 has resulted in such a poor return.  The crisis saw Rod Marsh resign as chairman of selectors and the board take the extraordinary step of involving itself in the day-to-day workings of the cricket ­machine.

The directors met to appoint a replacement for Marsh but went a step further. Directors were asked for their feedback, which was relayed to the new-look selection panel, about what direction they thought the team should take.  If they didn’t approve a youth policy then the decision to make six changes to the squad ahead of the last Test and to blood young players was brave.

There are calls from a distance for others besides the dropped players and the chairman of selectors to pay a price. Players past and present believe the executives at CA’s Melbourne headquarters must also be held to account.  Howard admits he will be under scrutiny. Chief executive James Sutherland is another whose role in navigating towards the rocks is of interest.

The other pressing issue on the agenda is the next Memorandum of Understanding between the players and CA. Under the accepted arrangements, the players receive a percentage share (about 25 per cent) of certain revenue streams and are paid from that pie (PTG 1973-9939, 11 November 2016). In the new four-year deal, women players will be included for the first time.  The players are fretting that the board will smash the revenue-sharing model and have warned the fight will be bitter if this were to happen.

The players made a detailed submission to the negotiating party in the past month and that has been distributed among dir­ectors who will discuss with the industrial relations committee how they should respond.  The position for players has improved somewhat on the back of their performances and so, too, has the position of the entire organisation. However, ratings and attendances, like recent performances, are down for the Test matches.

The Sheffield Shield is about to go into hibernation to allow the razzle-dazzle of the Big Bash League (BBL) to proceed uninterrupted. The tournament has been a winner in terms of crowds and ratings. BBL TV rights, like the international rights, are up for renegotiation next year but it is not a matter of immediate concern for the board. Getting the house in order is.

Antigua and Barbuda clubs object to proposed new format.

The Daily Observer.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016.

PTG 1998-10092.

Five of eight clubs that participated in the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association’s (ABCA) top club competition competition earlier this year, have objected to the organisation’s proposed “Jumbo Cricket” format that has been suggested ahead of the 2017 domestic season.  The clubs say that under the proposed new format, “some teams and players will only play cricket for eight weeks, thereby reducing exposure and opportunities for development”.  That is because the ‘Jumbo' format could mean the end of both the forty over one-day, and two-day series. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 1,999

 Thursday, 8 December 2016

(Second edition)

 

• Mixed views aired on proposed 'red card’ system [1999-10093]. 

• Turning first-class games into 'mere practice’ for internationals ‘inappropriate' [1999-10094]. 

• Indian manufacturers welcome move to trim fat bats [1999-10095]. 

• Maharashtra decline Karnataka's replacement player request [1999-10096]. 

• Supreme Court allows BCCI to fund last two India-England Tests [1999-10097]. 

• No sign yet of call for SACA umpire manager applications [1999-10098]. 

Mixed views aired on proposed 'red card’ system.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1999-10093.

Former New Zealand Test umpire David Quested has scoffed at cricket's new red card punishment system calling it "totally unnecessary”.  Provided the Marylebone Cricket Club’s main committee approves this week’s recommendation from its World Cricket Committee (WCC), players who threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator, or engage in any other act of violence on the field of play, could be ejected from the game (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2016). 

Quested, 70, who stood in five Tests and 31 One Day Internationals in the period from 1992 and 2002, and more recently worked as a New Zealand Cricket match referee, believes there are already systems in place that deal with these sorts of situations.  

Speaking on NZ radio Quested said: "The players association won't agree to stuff like that and it's totally unnecessary and you don't need it at lower levels because you already have systems in place.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) has a Code of Conduct [system in place] and most countries around the world follow that in their domestic cricket”.  He believes it would be a better idea to sort out some of the problems at the source than simply try and fix them with on-field punishments.

However, on the other side of the world, former player, coach, umpire and now commentator David Lloyd has congratulated the WCC on its recommendation but thinks they have "missed a golden opportunity to go much further [and] have yellow cards too”.  Writing for the ‘Daily Mail’ Lloyd, who is a very keen football fan, says it's important that the umpires are issued with actual cards, not just given the authority to send somebody off.  In his view “the public need to know what is going on and they need to clearly see if a player has been disciplined and where he stands for the rest of the game. Two yellows and, like football, you're off and suspended for the next game".

Lloyd says he has been: "advocating this for years and campaigning through the [ICC] as a member of their umpires selection committee for red and yellow cards to be introduced at all levels.  My message to them has always been 'don't leave it too late' because we have seen a real deterioration in player behaviour and it's only a matter of time before something truly shocking happens during an international match.  The one word that covers all this is respect. It has always been integral to any game of cricket but that seems to have been in decline throughout the modern game, from park to Test arena.  Instead we see so much confrontation now”, concludes Lloyd.

Former Australian bowler Glenn McGrath is also backing the card system move, telling the Australian Associated Press:  “It's all about making the umpire's job easier out in the middle and I'm all for anything that does that".

Turning first-class games into mere practice for internationals ‘inappropriate'.

Amit Gupta.

Indian Mirror group

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1999-10094.

Sachin Tendulkar claimed to have thought hard about it but the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee has rejected out of hand the idea of using two different pitches during a first-class game. Earlier this week Tendulkar, a former Indian captain, put up what he called a “radical” suggestion that separate pitches, prepared in a different manner, and different makes of balls, be used in Ranji Trophy first class games in India in order to better prepare national players for overseas tours (PTG 1995-10068, 5 December 2016).     

The WCC has the likes of former international captains Mike Brearley, Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly Ramiz Raza, Brendon McCullum and Kumar Sangakkara amongst its members.  Speaking to reporters after this week’s a two-day WCC meeting in Mumbai, its chairman Brearley made it clear that first-class cricket can’t be used for such experiments and if Tendulkar’s idea was to be implemented, it will dilute the competitive nature of first-class cricket. 

Brearley said his committee: "talked about the conflict between using first-class matches as training and on the other hand, the fact that they are proper games of cricket in a proper competition.  Those two things can be in conflict. I personally think the committee would have probably said we felt that went too far in turning first-class cricket into mere practice for international cricket”.  Such issues have been raised in Australia by the players’ union and others about the approach of the administration there to the approach it takes to Sheffield Shield cricket (PTG 1996-10075, 6 December 2016).

Indian manufacturers welcome move to trim fat bats.

Jasvinder Sidhu .

hindustan Times.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1999-10095.

The recommendation to further restrict size of bats has brought huge relief to Indian bat manufacturers. They feel the recommendation by the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee will, if approved by the MCC board, will not just end the madness in the game, but in the market itself (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016).  The WCC recommendation is that edge widths be restricted to 40 mm and depths to 67 mm. Currently some international players with edges up to 50 mm and a 70mm spine.  Ten years ago, players used bats with edges whose thickness was between 32-35mm. 

Paras Anand, director of Sanspareils Greenlands, said: “Expectations in the market are high and from the manufacturing point of view, it will make life easier for us.  Whether it is an international athlete or a player at club level, they want 40 mm plus bats. If there is a restriction, it would be easier to manufacture bats because the availability of fat wood logs needed to make such bats is very limited in India”.  

Rakesh Mahajan, director of bat-makers BDM, said: “As a result of the Indian Premier League, everyone wants to play with fat bats and the demand in the market has become a headache.  This is not only good news for our industry, but also for the game. These bats have created an imbalance in the game. Earlier, spinners used to get thrashed; now it’s become easy to even hit the best pace bowler of the world out of the ground”.

Maharashtra decline Karnataka's replacement player request.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1999-10096.

Karnataka may have to do with only ten players during the last three days of their ongoing Ranji Trophy match against Maharashtra after batsman Manish Pandey earned a maiden call-up to the India Test squad.  According to a report in 'The Hindu’, Karnataka asked match referee Pranab Roy about the possibility of bringing in a replacement player for Pandey and Roy in turn contacted MV Sridhar, the Board of Control for Cricket in India's general manager (cricket operations), who suggested he speak to the Maharashtra captain. Gugale, however, declined the request.

Gugale was quoted as saying: "There was no question of allowing a replacement considering the situation we are in. We are playing for six points to qualify for the [Ranji] quarterfinals”.  Karnataka have already qualified for the Ranji quarterfinals from Group B, along with Jharkhand. On the other hand Maharashtra are involved in a tough battle with Delhi and Odisha to seal the remaining spot.

It is possible that Pandey could rejoin the Karnataka side if he does not feature in the Indian eleven for the fourth Test against England and the team management agrees to release him.  That match is due to start on Thursday in Mumbai, therefore if that occurs he could return in time to take part in days three and four of the Ranji fixture on Friday-Saturday.

Supreme Court allows BCCI to fund last two India-England Tests.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1999-10097.

India's Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) incurring expenses of 13.3 million Rupees ($A263,400, £UK156,000) for holding the remaining two Tests between India and England scheduled at Mumbai and Chennai respectively.  A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also allowed the BCCI to commit a total of 15 m Rupees ($A296,600, £UK175,500) so that they can conduct the three One Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals India and England are to play over the last half of January.

The Court made it clear that payments to the state cricket associations hosting the respective matches have to be made through pay orders or cheques and that no part of the funds will go to the host itself. It also asked the BCCI to file an affidavit giving details of total money received by it in the three Test against England that have already been played. In early November the Court gave permission to the BCCI to incur expenses of 5.89 m Rupees  ($A296,600, £UK175,500) in conducting the first Test of the England series.

No sign yet of call for SACA umpire manager applications.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 1999-10098.

Four weeks after former South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) 'Umpiring and Coaching Development Manager Neil Poulton resigned from his position unexpectedly, there is no public sign that any recruitment action to call for applications for his position is underway.  Poulton joined the SACA as its 'Umpire Manager' in July 2008, a position that was upgraded to its current title in 2014 (PTG 1984-9994, 23 November 2016). 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,000

 Friday, 9 December 2016

 

• Poor on-field technique sees Aussie Test umpire felled [2000-10099]. 

• NZ scorer to record Test details for the 50th time [2000-10100]. 

• Government survey data contradicts CA’s ’number one sport' claim [2000-10101]. 

• Du Plessis’ bid to escape ball-tampering conviction appears doomed [2000-10102]. 

• 'Red cards' will aid umpires but ban on big bats is futile [2000-10103]. 

• Maharashtra have change of heart on player replacement [2000-10104]. 

• Few opportunities for DP members in first half of BBL season [2000-10105]. 

• CA officials wine and dine captain, vice captain, ahead of pay war [2000-10106]. 

• Second pink ball, day-night tour match for Abood [2000-10107]. 

• Player’s disciplinary fine goes to...... the players [2000-10108]. 

• BBL boss again floats Christmas Day game idea [2000-10109]. 

• ECB considering London Olympic Stadium for 2019 World Cup [2000-10110]. 

Poor on-field technique sees Aussie Test umpire felled

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10099.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel was hit on the back of the head by a ball thrown from deep square leg and felled during the middle session of the opening day of the fourth India-England Test in Mumbai on Thursday and had to leave the field.  Reiffel was at square leg when Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was two-third of the way to the fence behind him, fielded and lobbed the ball, fortunately not too strongly, back towards the wicketkeeper Parthia Patel, however, the Australian had committed the fundamental error of not following the ball’s track.  

Despite a fielder nearby shouted a warning that saw him duck, the umpire, 50, was struck on the sensitive area at the back of the head.  He fell to the ground and was attended to by the England doctor and physiotherapist, and looked groggy as he walked off the field with assistance some ten minutes later delay. He was sent to hospital for scans and was later cleared, play resuming with third umpire Marais Erasmus joining Eiffel’s countryman Bruce Oxenford on-field.  Reiffel was later advised to rest for the remainder of the day.

With Reiffel out of action it would normally have been fourth umpire Nitin Menon, 33, an Indian International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), who was working as fourth official in a Test for only the third time, who would have moved up to the television position.  Instead Chettihody Shamshuddin, his IUP colleague who was “shadowing” Erasmus at the ground as part of a program to familiarise Indian IUP members with the Umpire Decision Review System (PTG 1990-10034, 29 November 2016), took over third umpire duties .  

In 2009 Welsh umpire Alcwyn Jenkins, 72, died after being struck on the head by a ball thrown from the field.  Jenkins, who was at the bowler's end, moved to the same side of the pitch as the ball and the mid-off fielder's attempted throw at the bowler's stumps hit him a "fearsome" blow on the back of the head while he was watching the crease (PTG 449-2339, 6 July 2009).  A Coroner later found the tragedy was an "unfortunate accident” (PTG 601-3017, 5 May 2010), but others pointed to on-field technique issues (PTG 518-2664, 6 November 2009). 

In 2010 an umpire in West Yorkshire, who like Reiffel was standing at square leg, was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull after he was hit on the head by a throw from the boundary behind him.  He eventually made a full recovery (PTG 602-3025, 6 May 2010).  Early in 2015 an umpire spent five hours in hospital in Grafton in northern New South Wales after he was struck between the shoulder blades centimetres below his neck and felled, by a sharp throw from the outfield during a day-night Clarence Valley Cricket Association fixture.  Jeff Hackett, who was then in his thirteenth season as an umpire, was also standing at square leg, the ball coming from behind him (PTG 1521-7322, 15 February 2015).

NZ scorer to record Test details for the 50th time.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10100.

Long-time New Zealand scorer and statistician Ian Smith will record the details of his 50th Test when his home nation plays Bangladesh at Wellington's Basin Reserve in January, say reports.  Smith and Test debutant Jeffrey Stuart have been named as scorers for that match, and Smith will also be there with Cheryl Styles for what will be his 51st Test when South Africa tour in March.  

England-born Smith, 72, started scoring for Wellington's Kilbirnie Cricket Club in 1962 and debuted as a first class scorer during the 1963-64 austral summer at the Basin Reserve, a venue which would become his working home for decades to come. His first Test was in 1968 when India were the visitors.  Since then he has only missed one Test at the Basin Reserve, that being the 1990 match against Australia when he was looking after his wife who was ill.  

The first New Zealand scorer to officiate in 200 first-class and 200 limited over games, Smith started the 2016-17 season having recorded the details of 234 first class, 238 List A matches, 56 of the latter One Day Internationals, as well as 59 Twenty20s, 10 of them Twenty20 Internationals. Of his 50 Tests, nine will have involved Australia, eight England, seven Pakistan, six each for India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, three Bangladesh and South Africa, and two Bangladesh.  

Outside of scoring proper, for thirteen seasons up until April 2014 Smith worked as Cricket Wellington's Club Cricket Administrator, and prior to that also performed the draws and scheduling role for the Hutt Valley Cricket Association. Since 1983 he has also been the co-editor of the New Zealand Cricket Almanac, and in 2009 was one of fifty Kiwis to receive an International Cricket Council Centenary Medal in recognition of his long service to the game. 

Government survey data contradicts CA’s ’number one sport' claim

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10101.

Australian cricket has been warned it may not be the grassroots participation powerhouse it thinks it is as a result of the release of the most comprehensive national survey yet of sport down under.  Evidence from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), a corporate entity within the Australian Government’s Department of Health, which on Thursday released its inaugural ‘AusPlay' survey, contradicts Cricket Australia's (CA) own assertion that cricket is Australia's number one participation sport, and by quite a margin. The ASC's figures indicate a more accurate description would be that cricket is in mid-table. 

While CA's own Australian Cricket Census for 2015-16 suggests that the game can point to 1.31 million total participants, the ASC survey delivered the far lower tally of 562,669 combined senior and junior club sport participants, placing cricket sixth out of the top ten sports. A number of the data points released by CA for 2015-16 appeared inconsistent with those provided for each of the two years before that (PTG 1906-9559, 24 August 2016).  A number of knowledgable observers claim that CA survey data often counts the same individual two or more times.  

Thursday’s ASC survey data shows cricket was well behind soccer's 1,086,986 club participants, and also returned inferior figures to golf, Australian Rules Football, netball and tennis. Ironically, the survey's results were announced at a media event at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with soccer's top brass trumpeting the outcome. CA's executive and directors were preoccupied with a board meeting at the game's Jolimont headquarters in Melbourne (PTG 1998-10091, 8 December 2016).

CA's own participation figures are weighted to include the school-age and Twenty20 Blast programs, with high female participation and increased engagement by diverse Australian communities cited as notable positives in recent years.   However the CA chief executive James Sutherland has admitted previously that there is a need to ensure more junior participants graduate to club teams and a more formal relationship with the game (PTG 1974-9946, 12 November 2016). Interestingly, CA's own club participation figure for this year was 454,657, lower than the ASC's. 

Sutherland said in August when CA's figures were released: "It's a lot about that experience and about creating a positive learning environment and a fun environment for kids to play the sport.  I think that's where the T20 Blast has allowed kids to bridge between entry level programs and playing what some people might call 'real cricket'.  We've seen success but also sustained participation through into the teenage years. Its very pleasing in these results to see growth in that area for the first time in a couple of years”.

Most major Australian sports have tended to downplay each other's participation figures, arguing either that the numbers are too generously weighted towards junior programs or that the figures are gleaned through processes that are not sufficiently independent. The ‘AusPlay' survey has been designed to provide a more definitive picture.  ASC chairman John Wylie said: "The Australian Government's investment in ‘AusPlay' means we will now have a deeper understanding of the sport and physical activity behaviours of our nation.  ‘AusPlay' will report every six months and provide up-to-date information about trends in sport and physical activity participation that will guide key decisions in this area”. 

Responding to the release of the survey a CA spokesperson said: "The ‘AusPlay' survey fills a major gap in national sport and recreation data. We welcome the contribution this data will make to drive the ambition we share with the Government to increase participation. We welcome that the survey again affirms Cricket's place in the top tier of Australia's leading participation sports and look forward to using the insights it provides to further grow Cricket participation".

"However, it is important to note that school participation is presently omitted from the survey report. School participation is one of the key pillars of our participation framework and an area where cricket has been enormously successful in recent years. We would welcome the inclusion of school participation in future ‘AusPlay' surveys to ensure it reflects an even broader participation footprint”.  The spokesperson did not mention the inclusion of statistics for Over 60s, or as it is now known, veterans’ cricket, details of which have never been included in CA survey data.

Du Plessis’ bid to escape ball-tampering conviction appears doomed.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10102.

The determination of South African captain Faf du Plessis and Cricket South Africa (CSA) to wriggle out of a ball-tampering conviction has suffered a significant setback with the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) World Cricket Committee’s (WCC) endorsement the relevant existing Laws and backing the punishment (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2016).  The South Africa captain escaped a Test match ban, was fined his match fee and given three demerit points for using a sweet to shine the ball during the Hobart Test.

The conviction was criticised by CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat, he and du Plessis arguing that using sweets should not be considered ball-tampering and the practice was widespread.  An appeal hearing has been set for Monday week (PTG 1997-10077, 7 December 2016), but the South African captain risks having his penalty increased.

The WCC, an independent body consisting of senior players, umpires and administrators, makes recommendations that are generally ratified by the MCC, but the International Cricket Committee can introduce its own playing conditions.  The WCC dismissed suggestions it publish a list of banned substances, saying it would be “counterproductive as something will be missed in the process of such drafting” (PTG 1998-10085, 8 December 2016).  

MCC head of cricket John Stephenson, who is a WCC member, dismissed out of hand suggestions the current law was vague and took aim at du Plessis.  Stephenson said: “My advice to [any player who is confused] would be to not contravene the law, which is very clear.  I was part of [the du Plessis] hearing. In my opinion, what he did flagrantly contravened the law. He put his finger straight on the mint, straight on the ball, and was caught on camera. It is really a very clear case of ball-tampering”.  

WCC chairman Mike Brearley was equally dismissive of the South Africans’ defence that everybody else did it.  “If you speed you’d probably get away with it”, said Brearley. “But not everyone does. Sometimes you are caught. And when you’re caught flagrantly doing something, you deserve to face the penalty, whatever that penalty is".

The du Plessis ball-tampering incident was missed by umpires, commentators and journalists despite it being broadcast internationally at the time.  It wasn’t until a cricket fan tweeted footage the following day that Richardson, who is based in Dubai, laid charges. Following the revelations, footage was released in England of India’s Virat Kohli apparently doing the same thing, however, it wasn’t noticed until well after the cut-off time for lodging charges.

“We were slightly concerned about host broadcasters”, said Brearley. “There will be a lot of focus now on people, especially on him [du Plessis] and the South African team I dare say at the moment, and it could be used by home broadcasters. That could happen anyway. After a while it will lose its prominence. Anyway people have to behave. They have to do things according to regulations and laws”.

Stephenson was less sympathetic. “If you are not breaking the laws, you have got nothing to worry about,” he said.  “As we all know, shining the ball is part of the art of cricket. We want the ball to swing. But it was pretty obvious to me when I saw the footage.  You couldn’t argue with the fact that his (du Plessis’) fingers went straight on the mint and straight on the ball”.

'Red cards' will aid umpires but ban on big bats is futile.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10103.

Cricket is one of the few games that does not have an in-play deterrent, umpires being, by and large, powerless to act if cricketers behave poorly. A captain can ask a player to leave the field if he so wishes, but an umpire cannot. Players are expected to behave as normal, humane people should, but currently there are only the woolly guidelines of the spirit of cricket, and their own consciences, rather than any concrete powers, to hold players in check.

Anecdotally, it seems in recent years that violence on the field has been on the increase and the overwhelming response from those consulted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was that umpires needed to be empowered to deal with such situations during a match. They will get their wish as the result of a recommendation from the MCC’s World Cricket Committee (WCC) this week (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2016).

Less liable to have an impact on developments in the game is the WCC’s desire to keep a lid on bat sizes, it suggesting a limit to 40 mm thickness for the edge, and 67mm for the depth. Some bats for professional players are as big as 50 mm, which, the committee believes, increases the scope for mis-hits to go for six (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016).

Much in the same way that a gauge is used to see whether a ball has gone out of shape, umpires will use gauges to determine whether a bat adheres to the guidelines. Professional players will be expected to conform to the new guidelines immediately they come into force, while there will be a moratorium for amateur players who either like the feel of a monster they’ve been using for years, or cannot afford to buy a new bat.

Either way, the changes are unlikely to have much impact. Boundary sizes, maybe; if we could turn back the clock to ensure that players spend their days off in the bar, rather than the gym, maybe that, too, would have a significant effect. Generally, though, the increase in the number of sixes is a result of two developments: one-day cricket, and especially Twenty20 cricket, which has broadened the scope of what players believe to be possible; and gym-work, which has transformed the shape, power and dynamism of the modern-day batsman. There is no turning back the clock on either of those fronts.

Maharashtra have change of heart on player replacement.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10104.

A day after denying Karnataka a replacement for Manish Pandey, Maharashtra had a change of heart as David Mathias was allowed to bat on the second day of the two sides’ Ranji Trophy match in Mohali.  Pandey was called up to replace the injured Ajinkya Rahane in India's Test squad in Mumbai and Karnataka approached match referee Pranab Roy for a replacement only for their request to be turned down by Maharashtra captain Swapnil Gugale (PTG 1999-10096, 8 December 2016).  Mathias came out at number seven in Karnataka’s first innings on day two of the game on Thursday but was dismissed after 23 balls for just 6.

Few opportunities for DP members in first half of BBL season.

PTG Editor.

CA appointments.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10105.

Only four of the six members of Cricket Australia’s (CA) second-tier Development Panel (DP) have been allocated positions in the 18 matches that make up the first half of CA's 2016-17 Big Bash League (BBL) Twenty20 series.  Of the four, Simon Lightbody, Damien Mealey, Claire Polosak and Tony Wilds, Mealey has a single on-field appointment, Polosak one third umpire spot, a first for a female in a CA men’s T20 series, but Lightbody and Wilds are limited to two and three fourth umpire positions respectively.  

The twelve members of CA’s National Umpires Panel have been allocated the remaining 35 on-field and 17 third umpire positions, while nine members of State Umpire Panel  plus their DP colleagues will work as fourth umpires in either one or two games.  Five of CA’s six match referees, the exception being Simon Taufel, will be responsible for overall management of initial matches.

Two DP members missing from BBL appointments announced to date, Donovan Koch and David Shepard, plus Lightbody, Mealey, Polosak and Wilds, will all feature in Womens Big Bash League (WBBL) games.  Queenslander Mealey has a single game in Adelaide, his state colleague Koch two in Sydney, Lightbody four, one of which is in Adelaide, Wilds also four, one in Melbourne, and Polosak five.  A second female Deanne Young from the Australian Capital Territory, who made her WBBL debut last January, has been selected for one match on-field.  In addition to those seven, 25 other umpires from the six states and the ACT, have been named for the 34 opening WBBL games.  

WBBL umpires will work under 11 of CA's second-tier match referees, three from New South Wales, two each from Western Australia and Victoria, and one each from the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. 

CA officials wine and dine captain, vice captain, ahead of pay war. 

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media. 

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10106.

Cricket Australia (CA) board members dined with their Test captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner on Wednesday night in Melbourne ahead of what looms as a bitter pay dispute with the players (PTG 1993-10060, 3 December 2016). The make-up of the pay structure for players promises to be central to CA's negotiations over a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the players and there has been a strong belief that the current percentage-of-revenue system will be abandoned by the administration.

A CA spokesman would not elaborate on what was discussed at the dinner when contacted on Thursday, saying: "This was a private dinner, and as such the contents will remain that way.  [CA] will be holding its MoU discussions with the ACA (Australian Cricketers' Association) directly and not publicly in the media”.

The Australian team's senior players are understood to be firmly aligned with the position of the ACA, who have forecast a bitter dispute if, as expected, CA attempts to walk away from the existing partnership model. Smith is due to hold talks with officials from the ACA in Melbourne as early as Friday morning.

While leading players could stand to earn even more than they do now under an alternate contracting system, they want the status quo retained for the benefit of those who aren't at the top level.  CA has refused to commit to retaining the pay model that has formed the central plank of deals with the ACA since 1997.

Under the current model, which the players want to retain, players receive a 24.5 per cent share of CA cricket revenue that can rise on a sliding scale to as much as 27 per cent based on performance.  While CA has been tight-lipped about its intentions publicly there have been fears about the direction that the governing body would go in under the chairmanship of former Rio Tinto boss David Peever (PTG 1973-9939, 11 November 2016).

Second pink ball, day-night tour match for Abood.

PTG Editor.

Match score sheets.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10107.

Cricket Australia (CA) hasn’t yet got around to providing details on its web site, but on-line score sheets indicate that National Panel Umpires Gerard Abood and Shawn Craig are standing in Pakistan’s single tour game, a three-day, pink ball, day-night fixture, that got underway in Cairns on Thursday in the lead up to the side’s day-night Test in Brisbane next week.  

Abood also featured in South Africa's pre-series day-night tour match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last month, and Craig in both of that team’s two-day, daylight, tour games played in Adelaide before the three-Test series got underway.  CA match referee Peter Marshall is overseeing the Cairns fixture, as he did the second South African match in Adelaide.

Player’s disciplinary fine goes to..... the players.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10108.

Ever wondered exactly who pays the fines handed down to players over disciplinary issues and where, if anywhere, the money goes to?  But in the case of the undisclosed fine handed to Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell this week by captain Steve Smith and his so-called “leadership group” for criticising his national teammate Matthew Wade, it would appear whatever monies are involved will go to the players themselves, if a report by News Corporation journalist Russell Gould is to be believed.

Gould wrote on Thursday that the money docked from Maxwell “will be added to a team fund to be disbursed at the end of the [current austral] summer”, but that “more than just enriching team coffers, the disciplinary action served as a warning that Smith means business”.  It is the first time Smith and his “leaders”, Mitchell Starc, Josh Halewood and vice captain David Warner, have publicly imposed a team penalty for disciplinary reasons.

Maxwell had earlier said it was "painful" to be made to twice bat below wicketkeeper Wade in the Victorian batting order during Sheffield Shield matches with Queensland and New South Wales last month, and claimed it had affected his chances of being selected for the recent day-night Test in Adelaide against South Africa, something the selectors denied.

BBL boss again floats Christmas Day game idea.

PTG Editor.

CA web site.

Thursday, 8 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10109.

Anthony Everard, the head of the Cricket Australia's (CA) Big Bash League (BBL), says matches in the competition could be scheduled on Christmas Day in future editions of the BBL, a concept that CA managers have floated publicly before (PTG 1723-8554, 28 December 2015).  Everard confirmed on Thursday that CA were "open-minded" to the idea and that initial testing the waters on public opinion of a Christmas Day game suggests it may be a possibility for future editions of the BBL.

Sporting bodies in Australia have generally shied away from scheduling matches on the festive holiday but with the success of the Adelaide Strikers' matches on New Year's Eve, the league is giving thought to a 25 December fixture.  Players have complained in the past about having to travel on Christmas Day in order to be in position for a BBL fixture the following day, grumblings that led to rebukes from fans (PTG 1490-7199, 27 December 2014).  

Everard said on Melbourne radio on Thursday: "It's very much in the formative stages, in the early days.  There was a bit of discussion about it last year. We got a group together over the winter to consider all the different elements and perspectives.  The key would be, it's not just about rolling out another game on another day. We would want to make it really special and would want to celebrate the Christmas tradition.  We're keen to hear the feedback [and] we're going to undertake some more formal fan research over the season”.  He conceded the Melbourne Cricket Ground appears to be off-limits as the Boxing Day Test starts the following day. 

Australian coach Darren Lehmann was however less enthusiastic about the concept when asked about it on Thursday, but admitted he could be persuaded if the public showed interest. "It's a family day, isn't it?" Lehmann said. "It's a really tough one - I don't mind [games being held on] New Year's Eve [and] New Year's Day, but Christmas day, it's one of the few family days of the year, it's a really great day in the traditional of the family. It could work, I don't really know”.

Twelve months ago CA chief executive James Sutherland said the BBL might break new ground with a Christmas night fixture in 2016.  The potential for such a game surfaced just before that when Everard said such a move was likely to be a television ratings bonanza and therefore "something that made it worth exploring" (PTG 1719-8529, 22 December 2015).

ECB considering London Olympic Stadium for 2019 World Cup.

Tim Wigmore.

The Guardian.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016.

PTG 2000-10110.

London’s Olympic Stadium is being seriously considered as a venue for the 2019 World Cup as part of plans to use the tournament to grow the sport’s appeal. It is also being considered as a venue for the opening ceremony of the competition.  Ticket prices for matches at the London Stadium, as it is now known, could be lowered because the venue can host 60,000 people for cricket, more than twice as many as any other cricket ground in the UK.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) believes that awarding World Cup games to the stadium could help to introduce a new generation of fans to the sport, as well as servicing the huge interest in some matches. Demand for the India-Pakistan fixture in next year’s Champions Trophy, which is being played at Edgbaston, was such that the ECB believes the game could have been sold out eight times over.

Essex’s chief executive has already said that the county’s “objective” is to play two or more Twenty20 matches at the London Stadium in 2018. The ECB will discuss the ground’s suitability to host major matches with Essex in the coming days and the national body intends to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study to determine whether World Cup fixtures could be played there.

In doing that it must explore not only whether the playing surface would be large enough for one-day international cricket, but also how to prepare a pitch in time, potentially using drop-in pitches, given that the stadium is normally used by West Ham United. The 2019 World Cup is scheduled to be conducted in June-July which is well outside the football season.

Taking World Cup games to the London Stadium would be controversial. While the size of the boundaries remains unknown, a county chief executive suggested that they “would be ridiculously short for international cricket, and would compromise the credibility of the game”. Eden Park in New Zealand, which was designed for rugby union, has unusually small straight boundaries and contravenes the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) regulations, but it has dispensation to be able to host games including at the 2015 World Cup.  The London Stadium might also need to apply for an exemption from ground-size requirements.

Many counties would also be unhappy if the London Stadium is chosen to host games. The eleven venues for the 2019 World Cup were picked at the end of 2014, with each ground awarded a specific number of matches out of the 48 in the tournament. Were the Olympic Stadium to host games, other grounds would lose out, adding to tensions between counties and the ECB at a time when the governing body is attempting to push forward with a new streamlined Twenty20 domestic competition – a tournament for which the London Stadium will also be considered (PTG 1987-10020, 26 November 2016).

One county chief executive said: ,“The ECB risks undermining the sustainability of current international grounds. If we need bigger capacity then the ECB should assist existing grounds to increase capacity”, and warned it would “be seen as a betrayal of the game in England”, and suggesting that counties who lost matches could resort to legal action. However, it is possible that the ECB could generously compensate grounds whose allocation of World Cup matches was reduced. The London Stadium would be unlikely to host more than three games in the tournament.  “There would be anger if someone misses out”, another county chief executive said, before adding that “From a positive side if you can fill the Olympic stadium for cricket that’s no bad thing.”

Steve Elworthy, the managing director of the 2019 World Cup said: “We are in the early stages of planning for 2019 and having a number of discussions with multiple venues as we develop the plans, including opening ceremonies, fan zones and inner city activations.  The finalised schedule will only be announced after the team qualification process is complete and the ICC confirm the venues and match schedule” sometime after April 2018.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,001

 Saturday, 10 December 2016

 

• Reiffel ruled out of the rest of the Mumbai Test [2001-10111]. 

• ‘Late batsman’ appeal turned down, no team sheet submitted [2001-10112]. 

• Gough named for Australia-NZ ODIs, but fails to appear [2001-10113]. 

• First female to stand in WACA Premier League first grade [2001-10114]. 

• ECB franchise T20 tournament may not be played at The Oval [2001-10115]. 

• TTCB investigating allegations of sexual abuse [2001-10116]. 

Reiffel ruled out of the rest of the Mumbai Test.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 9 December 2017.

PTG 2001-10111.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel, who was struck on the back of the neck by a wayward ball on the opening day of the fourth India-England Test in Mumbai on Thursday, will take no further part in the game (PTG 2000-10099, 9 December 2016).  Reiffel has been replaced on-field by third umpire Maris Erasmus, Indian umpire Chettihody Shamshuddin taking his place as third umpire with Nitin Menon remaining in the fourth umpire spot.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Friday that Reiffel "underwent precautionary tests after he was hit, the results of which came back all clear”.  Despite that doctors have advised him to rest for the remainder of the game, something the ICC said "is the normal course prescribed following a concussion”.  The Australian is currently scheduled to stand in the fifth and final Test of the series in Chennai with Erasmus.  That game is due to start next Friday.

Multiple reports from a number of countries over the past six months have suggested Reiffel, 50, who played at Test level before being fast-tracked into umpiring, may well be thinking of standing down from the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel next year.  Indications are that he is “sick of travelling and living out of suitcases”, something he has been doing for much of his nearly 30 years in higher level cricket.  To date the Australian has given no public indication of his longer-term intentions.

‘Late batsman’ appeal turned down, no team sheet submitted.

PTG Editor.

Manawatu Standard.

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2001-10112.

An appeal lodged by the Manawatu Cricket Association's (MCA) Old Boys club about the result of a one-day game last Saturday in which one of their players was not allowed to bat, has been rejected by the MCA board.  Old Boys were 9/148 chasing Marist’s 163 with five overs left when they tried to send in Ford Burr, who did not arrive at the ground until after Marist had batted, as their last man, however he was denied the chance to bat (PTG 1995-10066, 5 December 2016). 

MCA operations manager Dave Meiring took Old Boys' appeal to his board.  They decided that there was insufficient evidence that Burr, "the person coming into bat at number 11, had been identified as a member of the Old Boys’ team that day”.  

Meiring said MCA by-laws state that "[team sheets] need to be handed over to the captains and official umpires before the game starts”.   He indicated Old Boys didn’t submit a team list before the game, "so if Burr or whoever else had been named it would have been fine for him to have batted where ever.  You make a decision on your team before the toss and you don't know if you're batting or bowling first”.  

Meiring did not say why the umpires who were managing the game were prepared to start the fixture without team sheets being exchanged.

Gough named for Australia-NZ ODIs, but fails to appear.

PTG Editor.

Match score sheets.

Friday, 9 December 2017.

PTG 2001-10113.

The International Cricket Council appear to have had to make some last minute changes to match officials arrangements for the three One Day Internationals (ODI) between Australia and New Zealand that ended on Friday.  Englishman Michael Gough was named, and is still listed, on the ICC web site as standing in matches one and three and as the television umpire for the second game, however, he actually took no part in the series. (PTG 1989-10033, 28 November 2016).

Instead, Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena stood in the first ODI with Australian Mick Martell, the latter’s countryman Paul Wilson, the original fourth umpire for the game moving up to the television spot, Cricket Australia National Umpires Panel member being brought in as the fourth umpire.  It is very unusual, when the Umpire Decision Review System is in operation, for a home umpire to serve as a third umpire, which suggests the need to replace Gough arose unexpectedly.

By the time the second ODI came around two days later, Englishman Nigel Llong, who had just finished working in the Australia-South Africa Test series, was brought in as the television umpire, with Dharmasena on-field, before Llong worked on-field in match three with Dharmasena in the television suite.

First female to stand in WACA Premier League first grade.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2001-10114.

Perth umpire Ashlee Kovalevs will become the first female to officiate a Western Australian Premier League First Grade match on Saturday.  Kovalev, 23, who made her debut in the Women’s National Cricket League two months ago, will be standing in the match between University and Melville with long-serving umpire Nathan Johnstone.

Kovalevs start umpiring in Premier League in 2012 and won the Western Australian Cricket Association’s (WACA) 'Umpire of the Year’ award in its female competition in 2015-16.  Named a member of the WACA’s state umpires panel for the current austral summer, she is part of the Cricket Australia Female Scholarship Officiating Program.  

CA has selected her for the past two womens’ Under-18 national championship series, and a year ago also sent her on exchange to New Zealand where she stood that board's week-long, 21-match Women’s Under-21 Tournament (PTG 1709-8469, 12 December 2015).

ECB franchise T20 tournament may not be played at The Oval.

Elizabeth Ammon and Ivo Tennant.

The Times.

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2001-10115.

Tension between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Surrey over the proposed new Twenty20 competition may lead to the The Oval in London being excluded as a venue.  Surrey, Sussex and Kent remain opposed to an eight-team competition involving city-based sides that would take place in a six-week window. Their stance means that the ECB could seek other venues in London instead of Surrey’s iconic home ground.

An out-ground in suburban Kent, which is used only occasionally for first-team cricket, is being mooted as an alternative to The Oval and Lord’s.  Beckenham, where Kent have played regularly since 2003, has the advantage of a large playing area and is served by four railway stations on lines from central London. Although no decision has been taken, the ECB has a dilemma if neither Surrey nor Middlesex wish to take part in the new tournament on the basis that they already fill their grounds for Twenty20 fixtures.

Kent chairman George Kennedy said that he had not received a formal approach, but that the club, would not be averse to the upgrading of a ground where they are scheduled to play five days of cricket in early July.  Enhanced temporary seating could take the capacity at Beckenham, owned by private company Leander Sports and Leisure, beyond its present level of 7,000. An ECB spokesman said: “No decisions have been made”.

Beckenham could be used as one of eight grounds for the competition, which Kennedy, who met the other 17 county chairmen on Thursday, still expects to go ahead.  Although Surrey do not see the need for a city-based team to play at The Oval, other counties, such as Hampshire, believe the new competition will provide the financial means to support traditional cricket.

County officials were sold the idea on the basis that the new competition would give first-class counties £UK1.3 million ($A2.2 m) on top of the money that they receive from the ECB (PTG 1935-9728, 1 October 2016).  Independent research commissioned by Surrey showed that a T20 competition involving 18 counties could bring in almost the same amount of revenue (PTG 1987-10019, 26 November 2016).

The ECB hopes to put its full proposal for change to a vote in the northern spring but requires a three-quarters majority of the first-class counties and 39 county boards for their changes to be ratified.

TTCB investigating allegations of sexual abuse.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 9 December 2016.

PTG 2001-10116.

An unnamed "national cricket official" is currently being investigated for alleged sexual abuse of a youth cricketer by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB).  Reports suggest the matter has also been reported to the Children’s Protection Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. 

The alleged incident is said to have occurred while the team playing in a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) regional tournament after the official invited the player to his hotel room for a massage to deal with an injury.  The official concerned has declined comment on the issue, but TTCB chief executive Suruj Ragoonath is aware of the allegation and has indicated the TTCB is carrying out its own probe before any action is taken.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,002

 Monday, 12 December 2016

 

• ECB asks  former police chief to review child sex abuse safeguards [2002-10117]. 

• Third Indian to reach 100th first class match mark [2002-10118]. 

• Bat size reduction plans ‘hypocritical’, claims former international [2002-10119]. 

• CA pay model is 'based on pure greed’: former union chief [2002-10120]. 

• ‘Project Jingle Bash' an ‘intrusive venture’, say Churches [2002-10121]. 

• WBBL enjoys big audiences over opening weekend [2002-10122]. 

• Falling ODI ratings another blow for CA broadcast rights hopes [2002-10123]. 

• CA planning to lobby government on television anti-siphon list [2002-10124]. 

ECB asks  former police chief to review child sex abuse safeguards.

Tom Harper, Simon Wilde and Jonathan Corke.

The Times.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10117.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is to ask Jane Stichbury, a former Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner and former chief constable of Dorset, to investigate child sex abuse in the sport as it emerged that at least nine coaches at both professional and amateur level have been unmasked as paedophiles.  Stichbury is to review “current processes and practices around safeguarding” young people, work that follows the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked football in Britain over recent weeks.

A senior ECB source said Stichbury, who is a current board member, will be asked to help with an “internal audit” that will be headed by Lucy Pearson, another board member and head teacher of Cheadle Hulme School in Cheshire.  Stichbury, who rose through the ranks after joining the Met as a constable in 1977, once famously described Westminster as a “honeypot of crime” and led the police response to a siege at the Greek embassy in 1999.

News of Stichbury’s involvement comes as an investigation reveals that coaches at all levels of cricket have been convicted of child sex offences in recent years.  They include Marques Church, a former strength and conditioning coach with the England international team, who downloaded pornographic films featuring underage children using an internet account paid for by the ECB. He was jailed for six months in 2008 after police found 13 extreme video clips on his laptop featuring children as young as four.

Earlier this year, Michael Strange, a coach who scouted for Durham county cricket club, was convicted of ten counts of sexual abuse after he repeatedly assaulted an underage boy in his car. He was jailed for three years. He had previously been given a six-year prison term in 2012 for molesting three young boys in the 1990s.

In November last year, Simon Price, a coach at the Evesham and Harvington cricket clubs in Worcestershire, was found guilty of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity while in a position of trust. Other cricket coaches convicted of child sex offences in the recent past include Leslie Smith, who trained children at a club in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. He was jailed for 18 months in 2012 and stripped of his OBE in 2013.

The ECB said: “We are totally committed to offering a safe environment for everyone in cricket. We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously . . . No one can be complacent and we are always looking to improve and learn from best practice, in the game and from elsewhere”.

The ECB review comes in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal that has swept the world of football since former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward revealed he had been a victim of sexual abuse.  Police say they are investigating 83 potential football suspects who may have targeted up to 350 potential victims at almost 100 clubs.

Third Indian to reach 100th first class match mark.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10118.

Shahvir Tarapore will become the third Indian to stand in 100 first-class matches when he takes the field in Thumba, Kerala, for the Ranji Trophy match between Jharkhand and Odisha on Thursday.  Tarapore’s landmark match comes after that of now retired Suresh Shastri in 2013 (PTG 1261-6086, 30 December 2013), and Amish Saheba two months ago (PTG 1960-9865, 27 October 2016).

The son of a first class player, Kolkata-born Tarapore played six games for Karnataka at that level in the first half of the 1980s.  He made his debut as a first class umpire in December 1992, six years after his last match for that state, and joined the International Cricket Council's (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel in 2008, at one stage being in contention to become a member of the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP).

Of his 100 first class fixtures, four have been Tests, all of these coming in the last quarter of 2011 when he was being considered for the EUP, appointments that made him his country’s 60th Test umpire.  Another two matches were in County Championship fixtures whilst on exchange in England earlier that same year (PTG 795-3890, 13 July 2011), there have been seven involving international teams touring India, and the other 87 in Indian domestic competitions, the majority being Ranji Trophy fixtures. 

Tarapore, who turns 59 on Boxing Day, says he is looking forward to reaching his first class century "with great anticipation”, however, he says his "preparation remains the same and I will be following the same routines that have helped me get this far”.

Bat size reduction plans ‘hypocritical’, claims former international.

Australian Associated Press.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10119.

Recently-retired cricketers calling for a reduction in bat sizes should cast their memories back a few years to their own playing days, says Dean Jones.  The former Australian batsman says it’s hypocritical for the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee to propose limits with some members having benefited from using big bats.

The eleven-person committee, which includes former batsmen Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum, Kumar Sangakkara and Sourav Ganguly, has recommended limiting the depth of the edge of the bat to 40 mm and 67 mm for the spine (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016).

Jones said he doesn’t have a problem with big bats, telling a Melbourne radio station: “Honestly boys, get over it". “I just find it just a tad hypocritical from batsmen who have already played the game, and they were also using the big bats”, as they weren’t the only factor in an apparent imbalance in favour of batsmen in world cricket.  

“I honestly believe that the standard of bowling around the world has remarkably reduced over the years”, Jones said.  “How many guys really touch 150 Km/h now? You’ve got Mitchell Starc and maybe South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada getting close to it.  They don’t talk about the pitches. The pitches are better now than they’ve ever been, particularly in one-day cricket, so of course you’re going to get massive scores”.

CA pay model is 'based on pure greed’: former union chief.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10120.

Former Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), or players’ union chief Paul Marsh says Cricket Australia's (CA) proposal to abandon the long-existing percentage-of-revenue pay model is "based on pure greed" and believes players “are not silly enough” to let it happen.  The stage will be set for a lengthy industrial relations showdown between CA and players on Monday, with the governing body expected to outline its strategy for an alternative pay system in the first of two days of meetings with the ACA.

The ACA has been in the dark about CA's intentions around the pay structure for players but has suspected that the national body will seek to determine the size of the player payment pool itself, rather than have it automatically devised by a percentage of cricket revenue, as has been the case since 1997.  

CA believes the existing model is not sustainable if the organisation is to pour as much money as it would like into areas such as grassroots cricket, game development, pathways, the women's game and club cricket.  That argument will be staunchly opposed by the ACA, whose negotiating team is headed by Marsh's successor Alistair Nicholson, who are determined to retain the status quo and have the player pool tied to CA revenue.

CA board members dined with Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner in Melbourne last Wednesday night and the meetings with the ACA on Monday and Tuesday follow the governing body's own board meeting last Thursday (PTG 2000-10106, 9 December 2016).  Smith said at the weekend when asked about the dinner that "it was nice to see everyone on the same page and trying to get the best for our game moving forward".

There was a belief from the players' union side of the fence that CA were, in meeting with Smith and Warner away from the negotiating table, attempting to divide and conquer in their efforts to push through a new pay model.  The stance out of CA is that there is nothing inappropriate about their directors having met with the game's senior players, given they are their employees, and broadly discussing pertinent issues with them.

CA's position is that the percentage-of-revenue pay structure – whereby a sliding scale of between 24.5 and 27 per cent of revenue is tipped into the player payment pool depending on performances – is dated. Their negotiating team, led by senior CA executive and former board member Kevin Roberts, is set to argue that providing a fixed percentage amount to players is not a workable model because it only takes into account ballooning revenues headlined by broadcasting rights deals and not costs.

What CA will propose is that they set the figures for the player payment pool instead. It is anticipated that leading players, who earn in the vicinity of $A2 million (£UK1.18 m) a year from CA alone, would stand to pocket even more money in the immediate future under an alternate system. However, it would stand to reason that the rises to the payment pool would not be as sharp as they have been when tied to revenue and the players would not automatically be eligible for a share of windfalls such as the $A99 million (£58.6 m) net surplus CA banked as host of the 2015 World Cup.

‘Project Jingle Bash' an ‘intrusive venture’, say Churches.

Josephine Lim.

Sunday Mail.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10121.

Church leaders have dismissed the concept of playing Big Bash League (BBL) games on Christmas Day, a proposal one denomination has described as an “intrusive venture”.  Cricket Australia (CA) last week revealed it had established a working party – “Project Jingle Bash” – to fast-track plans for a historic Christmas Day Twenty20 blockbuster, a concept it first floated publicly a year ago (PTG 2000-10109, 9 December 2016).

The concept is unlikely to be formalised for next year but not out of the question, according to BBL boss Anthony Everard.  But the Adelaide Anglican Diocese and Catholic Archdiocese say the holy day should be left for friends and family to spend time together.   

Anglican Bishop Tim Harris said Christmas Day remained a religious observance for many South Australians.  He said the day did not need “such an intrusive venture that is essentially a business opportunity.  We need to ask what is driving the perceived need for such an intrusion on a day that has traditionally been set aside for gathering in the company of church communities, families and friends”

He said “an event such as the Big Bash will mean a significant number of people will be pressured to  move back into work mode for all the infrastructure and support required of such an event.  We question greatly the need or appropriateness of such an event, especially as it impacts on a significant sector of the city and parklands”.

CA is floating the idea after Adelaide Strikers’ New Year’s Eve success at the Adelaide Oval.  Moves for a Christmas Day game comes a few weeks after the Australian Football League announced it will break with tradition next season and stage a twilight Good Friday encounter in Melbourne.

Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide Vicar General Father Philip Marshall said Christmas Day was a time for families and friends to spend together, share food and renew relationships.  “With sport every other day of the year, let’s leave this one for people to connect with each other. The only cricket we should have that day is in the backyard”, he said.

Uniting Church South Australia moderator Reverend Sue Ellis reserved her decision and said Christmas was the acknowledgment of Jesus coming and about celebrating life in its fullness.  “As long as people stop and pause on think on Christmas Day why we have the holy day, they can go to cricket or whatever they want to do.  Some people find life in football and cricket, as people engage in the teams, they find abundance of life”.  Ellis said the church’s role was to connect to people on Christmas Day through ways including cricket.

WBBL enjoys big audiences over opening weekend.

Australian Associated Press.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10122.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has hailed the "bumper television ratings" for the start of the second women’s Womens’ Big Bash League (WBBL) Twenty20 cricket competition, as overseas players made an instant impression.  More than 6,000 thousand people turned out at North Sydney Oval over the weekend to watch the six opening round matches involving all eight teams.

The match between Thunder and Stars, which started at 6.15 p.m. on Saturday evening, gained a national average TV audience on free-to-air’s Network Ten of 386,000, according to Mediaweek.  It marked the first time a stand alone women’s sporting match has been broadcast in prime time on a commercial free-to-air network’s primary channel.  The earlier broadcast match in the double-header at North Sydney Oval between the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades netted 267,000 viewers.

They were heartening figures for CA and Network Ten in the second season of the WBBL, with the governing body looking to cash in on the huge popularity of the Twenty20 format when the next BBL-WBBL media rights are up for grabs from the 2018-19 season.

Sutherland said: “We were absolutely delighted with the average audiences.  It just goes to show that during summer time people can’t get enough cricket. But at the same time people are really coming to realise that women’s cricket is great entertainment and want to watch it”.

Falling ODI ratings another blow for CA broadcast rights hopes.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 11 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10123.

Australian cricket's worrying television ratings slide has continued into the home One Day Internationals (ODI), with audience numbers falling 23 per cent from last summer in another setback for Cricket Australia's (CA) ambitions for a big increase in its next domestic broadcast rights deal.  CA’s decision to schedule the ODI series between Australia and New Zealand in early December backfired in terms of eyes on television screens on broadcaster Channel Nine, OzTAM ratings reveal.

The three matches, all won by Australia and featuring some brilliant batting from David Warner and Steve Smith, recorded a five-city metro average of 936,000 for the prime-time evening session, down from 1.215 million for the first three ODIs of last summer between Australia and India, while crowds have also been underwhelming.

Those matches, also all won by Australia in a series in which Steve Smith's world number one ranked men eventually prevailed 4-1, were played a month later in mid-January but the size of the drop-off in ratings has not been missed by industry figures following similarly significant ratings decreases for Australia's Test series against South Africa.  They included a 23 per cent fall in east-cast prime time for the Perth Test and an average 20 per cent slide for each evening of the pink-ball Test in Adelaide.

While the opening night of the Women's Big Bash League  (BBL) on Channel Ten posted the highest ratings for a game since the competition launched last year – a capital city audience of 286,000 tuned into Sydney Thunder's loss to Melbourne Stars at North Sydney Oval – the men's international numbers have not been what CA would have been hoping in a summer leading into a new round of negotiations for the rights to televise cricket from 2018 to 2023.

CA plans to go to market in the new year and while long-time rights holder Nine is keen to continue broadcasting Australia's home internationals, as well as intending to bid for the BBL, the network's chief executive Hugh Marks has already said it would be "uneconomical" to pay any more than they have in their existing deal.

In 2013, Nine agreed to dish out nearly $A100 million (£UK59.2 m) for the rights to home Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 internationals (T20I), while Ten paid $A20 million (£11.8 m) a year for the BBL in an overall rights package worth $A590 million (£349.5 m) to CA over the five years.  The nosediving ratings this summer have done CA no favours in its hopes of a sizeable boost to the international portion of the next rights package, and led industry figures to predict that the  governing body may end up delaying formal negotiations for the next deal.

That scenario wouldn't be favoured, though, by the networks themselves, who will be keen to lock away their content as early as possible.  A likely outcome is that CA will wait until after quarterly International Cricket Council meetings in February at which groundbreaking changes to the make-up of international cricket, including a potential two-tier conference system for Tests and a league structure for ODIs and T20Is, could be pushed through.

Such a revamp to the program stands to be beneficial to CA as a selling point for its rights, adding context to series such as the 50-overs contest just played against New Zealand.

CA's intention has been to finalise a new Asian broadcast deal before beginning the bidding process with local networks.  Broadcasting giants Star Sports and Sony will be the main contenders. They are duelling for the 10-year rights to the Indian Premier League, which could be sold for more than $A4 billion (£UK2.4 bn). 

CA planning to lobby government on television anti-siphon list.

Jake Mitchell.

The Australian.

Monday, 12 December 2016.

PTG 2002-10124.

Cricket Australia (CA) is planning to intensify a proposed lobbying campaign against the anti-­siphoning list with a sharper reduction than previously indicated.  The anti-siphoning list its made up of a range of sporting events, the televising of which should, in the opinion of the relevant Australian government Minister, be available for free-to-air broadcast to the general public, and not just via pay TV outlets.

CA is considering asking the government to make Australian Tests, One Day Internationals and T20 internationals played at home against minnow nations such as Afghan­istan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe available to subscription television platform ‘Foxtel'.

Sources said board approval would be needed for CA to push forward with such ­lobbying.  The board met last week but the focus was on the Test team’s recent poor performances against South Africa and Sri Lanka and how CA’s high-performance system could be improved (PTG 1998-10091, 8 December 2016). The next board meeting is in February and CA is not expected to meet with Communications Minister Mitch Fifield until next year.  CA declined to comment on the matter

The anti-siphoning scheme was designed to ensure events of “national importance” and ­“cultural significance” are available for free to the public, with the Communications Minister able to adjust the list at their ­discretion.  Nine Entertainment Co, which currently holds the rights to home international matches until 2018, has made it clear it will not bid aggressively to retain its rights as it already loses a ­significant amount of money on them.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks believes that CA should only expect a big uptick on the rights for the domestic Big Bash League Twenty20 tournament, which has been a ratings success for his free-to-air rival Network Ten (PTG 1908-9590, 29 August 2016).

Sources said CA was increasingly frustrated by the restraints of the anti-siphoning regime relative to the ­National Rugby League and Australian Football League. Both football codes benefit from more ­lucrative broadcast contracts partly because some matches are televised exclusively by Fox Sports.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,003

 Tuesday, 13 December 2016

 

• Plans for day-night Ashes Test confirmed [2003-10125]. 

• Aussie player urges restraint with pink ball Test revolution [2003-10126]. 

• CA marketing jumps into (not-so-deep) end [2003-10127]. 

• Melbourne womens’ competition expanding rapidly [2003-10128]. 

• Venomous snake stops play [2003-10129]. 

Plans for day-night Ashes Test confirmed.

Andrew Ramsay.

CA web site. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016.

PTG 2003-10125.

Adelaide Oval will host the first day-night Ashes Test next summer but that will be the only pink ball fixture in next year’s battle for cricket’s oldest and most prestigious Test match trophy (PTG 1991-10041, 1 December 2016).  Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed the full schedule for the national men’s team next domestic summer which includes five Ashes Tests against England, the first in late November in Brisbane, five One Day Internationals between the same teams, plus a seven-match Trans-Tasman Twenty20 International (T20I) tri-series featuring Australia, England and New Zealand; the final of which is to be played in Auckland in late February.

Aussie player urges restraint with pink ball Test revolution.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media. 

Monday, 12 December 2016.

PTG 2003-10126.

Australian spinner Nathan Lyon has urged against overkill with day-night Test cricket, saying Australia's players supported the concept but wanted to keep the format "as traditional as possible" and have the pink ball used only occasionally.  The Australians are preparing for the second consecutive Test under lights, against Pakistan at the Gabba starting on Thursday, and an official announcement of the first day-night Ashes Test is imminent, with Cricket Australia (CA) expected to this week confirm the 2017-18 austral summer's Test schedule against England (PTG 2003-10125 above).

Players are no longer staunchly opposed to the pink ball as they once were. A survey taken by the Australian Cricketers' Association after the current season's first day-night Sheffield Shield round found that 57 per cent of players believed the quality of the ball had improved in its latest, black-seam incarnation. The poll also indicated 68 per cent of players felt the day-night conditions affected the outcome of matches. 

Despite being more open to the innovation, after successive pink ball Tests in Adelaide, players do not want to see it infiltrate Test cricket.  "I don't think we need to overkill it”, Lyon said on Monday. "It's been a great success down in Adelaide but I think it's quite important we leave Test cricket still a traditional game ... [that] we don't come in and overkill the pink ball.  But I'd hate to see a five Test match Ashes series next year, all pink ball”.

That won't happen – it's likely there will be only the one during the Ashes, in Adelaide, after England agreed to a day-night contest – but CA will be pushing for at least two in home summers to follow, as they have scheduled this season. 

Ambitious targets have been set for crowd numbers at the Gabba, which have been dismal in non-Ashes years lately, a problem that led the Brisbane Test to be switched from its usual place at the front of the home summer to mid-December (PTG 2003-10127 below). But while ticket sales are encouraging the attendance this week will not challenge the total attendance of 125,993 over four days for the third Test against South Africa in Adelaide last month.

A total crowd in the region of 70,000, up on the 53,572 who witnessed the first Test between Australia and New Zealand last summer, is considered a more realistic expectation.

CA marketing jumps into (not-so-deep) end.

Tony Moore.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 12 December 2016.

PTG 2003-10127.

Cricket Australia (CA) has splashed out to lure fans to the Gabba for the first day-night Test match at the ground.   Along with a pool and pool deck right constructed next to the playing arena, to be populated with cricket fans dressed in swimwear and chosen from among the crowd, CA is offering $A20 (£UK11.85) special "twilight session" tickets to attend the two "after-work" sessions this week. 

Brisbane's first day-night Test match between Australia and Pakistan will feature a pool with a deck next to the oval, something CA says will be “a unique at-match experience that will make a day at the cricket even more appealing".  The 32,000-litre pool opens on Thursday, when the First Test against Pakistan begins at 1 p.m. local time.  It is part of a suite of changes to bring spectators back to Test match cricket as authorities experiment with the day-night Test match formula.

A CA spokesman said: "Basically we will run two sessions at the pool each day.  People just wear the best beach attire or swimwear to the ground and they will just be chosen at random from among the crowd to come onto the pool deck.  We will have spotters going around and those with their pool gear, or a Hawaiian shirt or something similar, board shorts, that sort of thing.  They have the chance of getting onto the pool deck and into the pool”.

The pool’s deep end, at one metre, is the edge closest to the playing area, with a depth of 200 mm at the opposite edge.  CA will have lifeguards and other people at the pool watching for skylarking.  Those chosen to enjoy the pool deck are able to cool off or simply stay pool-side in a three-and-half-hour session.  "You don't have to be in the pool that long, that's just how long you can stay on the pool deck”, said the spokesman.

He went on to call it "a first for cricket”.  From CA’s perspective: "It’s a real fan-engagement type of idea, to give them something else to come along and enjoy the cricket with”.  No food or drink is allowed in the pool itself.  However you can have a beer or two on the pool deck, where food and drinks are allowed.  Whether the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee will look into the issue as part of attempt to boost Test cricket is not known, although the thought of a pool under the Member’s Pavillion at Lord’s might not be a good fit.

The $A20 twilight tickets will allow a spectator to finish work at 4 p.m., with time to spare to arrive after the "lunch break" and see the final two sessions of play.  They could bring along their child, grandchild, nephew or niece for $A10 extra (£6).

Melbourne womens’ competition expanding rapidly

Tim Michell.

Preston Leader.

Monday, 12 December 2016.

PTG 2003-10128.

Melbourne's North Metro Cricket Association (NMCA) expects its women’s competition to expand to 16 teams next year after the success of its second Twenty20 campaign.   A second division was introduced this season as the competition swelled from four teams in its inaugural summer to eleven sides.  NMCA president Phil Crooks said his association hoped to have two eight-team divisions next season.  

A 30-over competition will run during January-February, with plans afoot to integrate the Twenty20 and one-day tournaments into one season from next year.  “We have been delighted and astounded by the growth of the competition this season”, said NMCA women’s cricket co-ordinator Lenore Smith.  “It is a credit to our clubs, their administrators and volunteers who have dedicated so much time to developing this opportunity for local women and girls to play social club cricket”.

Smith said the age of players in the NMCA womens’ competition ranged from 14 to 64, proving how accessible the sport was.   “As a competition our aim is to provide the opportunity for as many people in our community to play the game we all love”, she said.  “This competition has allowed us to invite more members and players into the NMCA”.

Seven clubs fielded female sides for the first time this year.  “Their improvement in each game and training session has been exceptional and widely commended”, Smith said.  “This was demonstrated by Cameron, a new team this season, finishing unbeaten on top of the combined ladder at the end of the home-and-away season”.

Venomous snake stops play.

Simon White.

Perth Now.

Monday, 12 December 2016.

PTG 2003-10129.

There are all kinds of ways that a cricket match might be interrupted - rain, a lost ball or, in the case of a recent Test between India and England, a stray dog on the field of play (PTG 1980-9979, 18 November 2016).  

But junior players in Meadow Springs south of Perth on the weekend faced an all-together more frightening proposition when a Augite, a species of venomous, potentially lethal, snake native to Western Australia, slithered across the pitch bringing play to a standstill in a club match on Saturday morning.  

The reptile was closely watched by players and parents alike as it made its way across the turf and into neighbouring bushland.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,004

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

 

• Expect two day-night Tests every summer, says CA chief [2004-10130]. 

• CA attempting to divide nation’s cricketers [2004-10131]. 

• ‘Sending offs’ set to open up a can of worms [2004-10130]. 

• U-19 pair reprimanded for on-field actions [2004-10130]. 

Expect two day-night Tests every summer, says CA chief.

Andrew Tate.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016.

PTG 2004-10130.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland says the decision to play next year's Adelaide Ashes Test under day-night conditions was a "no-brainer" with two such matches a year soon to be the new normal.  With the Ashes schedule released on Tuesday, Sutherland said the success of the Adelaide Test under lights meant it was the obvious choice for the day-night format once England had committed to it (PTG 2003-10125, 13 December 2016). 

"Certainly our team was very keen to keep the same order of proceedings as that famous 2013-14 Ashes series which we won five-nil”, Sutherland said on Melbourne radio. "We tried something different this year with the Brisbane Test match being played in the middle of December starting Thursday, and of course it being the first time that we have played under lights at the Gabba as well".

"We know with Ashes cricket that the Test match in Brisbane will be very well supported, but we have been a bit disappointed with Brisbane attendances in recent times which was one of the reasons we tried something different this year”.  The cricket chief said ultimately he anticipated two day-night Test per year, but not in 2017-18.

"We just thought it was premature [to have two], we wanted to see how it goes and we needed to get the dates out but I think that Brisbane will be a great venue for day-night Test cricket”, Sutherland said. "I was up there [on Tuesday] for the announcement and the balmy evenings at Brisbane at this time of year couldn't be anything better than sitting out and watching Test cricket”.

Sutherland said the public had embraced day-night Tests and he expected them to be played around the world in coming years.  "People are coming to terms with that”, Sutherland said. "It's just obvious, isn't it really? More people can come to the games, but also more people can watch on TV after finishing a day at work or the kids finishing up at school. Particularly at the time of year [in Australia] when it is not holiday season it really does fit and what do we put sport on for, we put sport on for the fans and it makes the game more accessible”.

And he said the industry had worked out the best way to put on a show.  "All the feedback from the players this year is that the standard of the ball has improved. We've put on the black seam. The hardness of the ball seems to be something that is different.  There's no doubt that it wears differently, but at the same time it is lasting and as we saw in Adelaide it was a fantastic contest - every credit to the curator as well, he rolled out a brilliant pitch – but it was a great contest and it was quite captivating never quite knowing whether it was the batter or bowler on top”.

On discussions over a new players' pay deal, Sutherland urged everyone to calm down and not expect an outcome anytime soon.  "I think it is very very early doors. I'm not sure we have even tossed the coin yet ... I'd encourage you [journalists] not to get too excited too early” (PTG 2004-10131 below).

CA attempting to divide nation’s cricketers.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016.

PTG 2004-10131.

Leaked documents show Cricket Australia (CA) has set out to divide Australia’s international male cricketers from their female and state counterparts by guaranteeing only the richest a direct share of cricket’s revenue in current pay negotiations. CA sent a direct e-mail to players immediately after the first round of bargaining on Monday, setting out its submission for the next Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).  The submission is all good news for the top 20 who earn over $A1 million (£UK592,000) a year.

CA claimed in its proposal to the players: “International men are amongst the highest-paid sportsmen in Australia and CA believes this should remain the case.  CA believes the players who contribute to financial returns should continue to share in those financial returns.  CA believes retainers for international men should increase significantly compared to the retainers in the current MoU [and] international men should be rewarded accordingly”.

Cricket chiefs and representatives of the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) were supposed to meet again on Tuesday but the submission from CA has seen talks suspended while the proposals are discussed with the players.  They reacted with outrage to the move to split them, saying the attempt to wrest back control of revenues was “greedy” and shortsighted (PTG 2002-10120, 12 December 2016).

However, the CA proposal does move to cap the payment to the international players for the first time and claims the average pay to the top 20 averaged $1.16m (£UK686,600) in recent years and that they received a 23 per cent increase in that time.  It claims there is currently an unequal share of risk as CA guarantees a minimum payment but there is no cap on how much players can earn.

While international male players will continue to be paid under the model used for all cricketers over the past 20 years, women and state players would be guaranteed more money but be excluded from the revenue share and presumably have their pay dictated by CA. Women are included in the collective bargaining agreement for the first time but even the international women will not be given access to the revenue-share model under the new proposal.

The CA documents seen by this reporter are blunt about the proposal to end the system where about 26 per cent of certain revenues goes to the Player Payment Pool that funds all players.  It offers male state players, who average $234,000 (£UK138,500) a year if they play Sheffield Shield and Big Bash League cricket, more money but aims to control the amount they are paid.  “Maintaining a revenue-share model that provides additional income beyond domestic men’s payments would compromise resource allocation to other areas of Australian cricket”, the document states.

CA claims to spend only 12 per cent of its revenue on grassroots development compared with 17 per cent on administration and 34 per cent on team performance. It says it has only 171 employees working in game development compared with over 450 in the Australian Football League.  “If grassroots cricket is to evolve and grow sustainably, the funding for grassroots cricket needs to grow”, states the document.

CA has also said it wants to stop funding the ACA which it has done since the first guaranteed pay-share model in 1987.  “Given that [CA] is an employer of the players and the [ACA] is the collective bargaining agent for the players, we question the appropriateness of CA directly funding the ACA”, says the document.

The ACA reinforced its commitment to a revenue-share model for all players yesterday, saying:  “Today we were able to clarify that the ACA and CA have a lot of detail to work through with differences in a number of areas.  The players are emphatic that they are partners in the game and will continue to push for one agreement for all cricketers, men and women, national and state’.

CA chief executive James Sutherland yesterday dismissed suggestions the negotiations might end with the players striking.  “I’m not concerned”, he said. “These sorts of negotiations come around every four years or whatever the cycle is. They’re things that need to be worked through ... behind closed doors and in an appropriate fashion. I don’t think it’s our role to be giving a ball-by-ball commentary on it”.

‘Sending offs’ set to open up a can of worms.

Paul Nixon.

The Cricket Paper.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016.

PTG 2004-10132.

The likelihood that the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) will introduce ‘red’ card’ send offs in its revision of the Laws next year seems to have got everyone talking, is that of sendings off. Players would be ejected for three things: threatening an umpire; physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator; any other act of violence on the field of play (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2016).

I feel it’s the start of something much bigger. Fair play to the MCC for bringing it in, but we have to understand that this is more for the grassroots level of the game.  It’s important to have it at all levels of cricket though because it vibrates down. The international players are the club guys’ role models and the rules need to be the same, no matter where you play.

The rules mainly apply to physical altercations, and you don’t want to see that in any sport, or anywhere else, for that matter. But, as I say, there will be more to come with perhaps the introduction of yellow cards to follow once we’ve seen what impact red cards have on the game.  

Everybody wants consistency with the rules, but it’s always going to be down to the umpires’ discretion. It’s the same with football. We often see a tackle being shown a yellow card by one referee, and a similar tackle in another game, with a different referee, receiving no punishment.

But players know different umpires and they know who they can push and who they can’t. The umpires are the same for both sides, but of course there are going to be variations between people.  You can train umpires as much as you like, but there’s nothing we can do about that. It’s the same with LBW decisions. Some give them, some don’t. It’s the nature of the game.

It’s definitely the right move though. Anything that helps to take violence –  which we rarely see anyway – out of the game is a good thing. You’ve still got to have a competitive nature and guys going head-to-head in battle, but it’s making sure the line is not crossed.

Red cards aren’t the only new law to be mentioned, with bat sizes and bat edges set to be restricted too (ptg 1998-10084, 8 December 2016). Lance Armstrong always said it’s not about the bike (insert joke here) and I’m a big believer that players are getting physically stronger with better hitting techniques.

You could give some of these players the deadest bat going and they would still hit the ball miles; I’m talking about the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell. You still have to be strong enough to pick it up and wield it at pace – that’s a skill in itself.  I like technology being improved and if bat manufacturers have the capability to do what they want then I see no issue. Spectators want to see the ball flying out the ground!

U-19 pair reprimanded for on-field actions.

PTG Editor.

CA media release. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016.

PTG 2004-10133.

Two players have been charged with disciplinary offences during the first week of Cricket Australia's 2016-17 Under 19 National Championships in Adelaide.  ACT/NSW Country’s Callan McKiernan was reported for "abuse of cricket equipment during a match” after he was dismissed caught and bowled, while Victoria Metro’s Ryan Quirk was reported for "showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during a match” after bet g given out LBW.  Both accepted a reprimand for their respective actions.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,005

Thursday, 15 December 2016

 

• Reiffel withdrawn from Chennai Test ‘on medical advice' [2005-10134]. 

• Umpire drowns in Northern Territory water hole [2005-10135]. 

• WICB fines two, reprimands one, after match incidents [2005-10136]. 

• Flare-ups part of cricket’s ‘theatre’, but consistent response needed [2005-10137]. 

• CA women, not men, required to play in ‘courteous’, ‘sporting manner’ [2005-10138]. 

Reiffel withdrawn from Chennai Test ‘on medical advice'.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments

Wednesday, 14 December 2016.

PTG 2005-10134.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel, who missed the last four days of last week’s fourth India-England Test in Mumbai after he was struck by a ball, has been withdrawn from the fifth and final game of the series in Chennai because of what the International Cricket Council (ICC) says is "medical advice”.  Reiffel was to have stood in Friday’s Test with fellow ICC Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) member Maris Erasmus (PTG 2001-10111, 10 December 2016), and is to be replaced by fellow Australian Simon Fry, a member of the world body’s second-tier International Umpires Panel.

For Fry, who became Australia’s 92nd Test umpire on debut at that level 14 months ago, the match in Chennai will be his fifth Test overall and fourth in just six weeks after two in Zimbabwe early last month and one on-field, plus another as the television umpire, in New Zealand a fortnight ago (PTG 1972-9933, 9 November 2016).  The ICC chose to bring him into the particularly high-profile game in an on-field role rather than take the option of moving third umpire Bruce Oxenford, a fellow Australian and EUP member, out to join Erasmus. 

Fry's appointment was only confirmed on Tuesday, which suggests the final medical advice that led to the decision to rule Reiffel out of the game came four days after he was struck; a situation that had led Cricket Australia to say he was “rushed” to India for the Test.   The ICC said last Friday, the day after Reiffel was felled, that he "underwent precautionary tests the results of which came back all clear”, but doctors advised him to rest for the remainder of the Mumbai game, so the fact he cannot finish the series comes as a surprise. 

Both teams may wear black armbands during the Test as a mark of respect for long-serving former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, who passed away Monday week ago.  Last Monday, tropical cyclone ‘Vardah' lashed the city with 160 Km/h winds killing ten and causing considerable damage to the city including at Chepauk Stadium, however, staff there have been working around the clock to ensure the ground is ready on time for Test match.  That includes ground staff were using trays of hot coals sitting on stumps on Wednesday to dry the pitch.

Umpire drowns in Northern Territory water hole.

Lucy Hughes Jones.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016.

PTG 2005-10135.

The body of a Northern Territory umpire who was feared to have drowned while on a school excursion was found at a popular swimming hole 100 km west of Alice Springs late on Wednesday afternoon by Police divers.  Paul Leggett, 48, a Centralian Middle School teacher, who went missing while swimming at the Ellery Creek Big Hole with students on Tuesday, appeared to have got into difficulty with cramp.  

Alice Springs Cricket Association (ASCA) vice president Robert Borgas said Leggett was an "extremely dedicated - almost fanatic - umpire of both cricket and Australian Rules Football in Alice Springs”, his enthusiasm for umpiring being "unmatched here in this town”.  Borgast said the ASCA’s Twenty20 finals day this Saturday will have a sombre feel without Leggett's "iconic" umpiring.

WICB fines two, reprimands one, after match incidents.

PTG Editor.

WICB media release.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016.

PTG 2005-10136.

Two players have been fined and another reprimanded for their conduct during the latest round of matches in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) ‘domestic’ first class competition.  Alzarri Joseph of the Leeward Islands and Nikita Miller from Jamaica were both fined, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Roshon Primus was reprimanded.  All three players admitted to the offences and accepted the sanctions proposed by the respective match referees, meaning there was no need for formal hearings.

Joseph, 20, was reported by on-field umpires Danesh Ramdhanie and Leslie Reifer Jr, along with standby umpire Ericsson Degallerie, for a Level Two Code of Conduct breach during the match against the Windward Islands in Dominica.  When fielding the ball from his own bowling after the final delivery of an over in the Windwards’ second innings, Joseph threw the ball "at or near batsman Johnson Charles in an appropriate and dangerous manner”, even though Charles remained in his crease.  Match referee Carlyle Felix fined Joseph half of his match fee.

Miller, 34, and Primus, 21, were both reported by match umpires Verdayne Smith and Gregory Brathwaite, as well as reserve umpire Rushane Samuels, for Level One breaches in their sides’  match at Sabina Park in Jamaica.  Referee Denovan Hayles fined Miller 20 per cent of his match fee, after he “used language that was offensive or insulting to the match officials and contrary to the Spirit of the Game", when he was notified about the wearing of incorrect playing equipment.

Primus was reprimanded by Hayles after he showed dissent at the umpire’s LBW decision, clearly delaying his departure from the crease after being given out. 

Flare-ups part of cricket’s ‘theatre’, but consistent response needed.

Ali Martin.

The Guardian.

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2005-10137.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has called on-field aggravation in cricket “theatre” for spectators that should not be policed too zealously. If that is going to remain the case, however, the all-rounder wants consistency for all players, irrespective of who they are or which team they play for.

In what has at times been a fractious series between England and India, Stokes goes into Friday’s fifth Test as still the sole combatant on either side to be disciplined after he received a reprimand and points on his record in Mohali for swearing at Virat Kohli in response to a perceived send-off (PTG 1988-10026, 27 November 2016).

The India captain went unpunished for his role, while Ravi Ashwin was similarly not sanctioned for his confrontation with Jimmy Anderson in the middle during the dying embers of the fourth Test in Mumbai.  In that case Ashwin escorted number eleven batsman Anderson down the pitch and offered some choice words in response to comments in a press conference, leaving a lingering sense of inconsistency.

“It’s theatre for people who want to see it”, Stokes said. “It’s part of the game, so I don’t see any reason why they should try to clamp down on it so quickly. But if it’s going to be one rule, it’s got to be the same rule for everyone. You can’t just be letting certain people get away with certain things and not others. I think that side of the game can be just jumped on and people get slapped with fines and all that stuff. But if you’re going to do someone then you’ve got to do the next person no matter who they are or who they play for”.

Asked if he felt certain players – Kohli and Ashwin in particular – were being protected by match officials, Stokes said: “I don’t know, I don’t look into it that much. But as I say, whoever is deciding who is going to get what disciplinary action against them, it should be the same for everyone”.

CA women, not men, required to play in ‘courteous’, ‘sporting manner’.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 15 September 2016.

PTG 2005-10138.

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), or players’ union, has pointed to a range of inequities that currently apply between men and women players in their pay submission to Cricket Australia (CA). While the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) set record ratings for the launch of its second season last weekend (PTG 2002-10122, 12 December 2016), the ACA, which has included female players in its collective bargaining negotiations for the first time, claims they are being treated as second-class citizens by CA.

In the submission, the ACA claims current contracts deny women basic conditions.  “Our female members find it outdated at best and rather condescending that they can only sign one-year contracts, making life planning very difficult, while men can sign multi-year contracts”. “[Women] have to ‘warrant’ that they are not, to the best of their knowledge, pregnant when they sign their contract to play for Australia, which in itself is contrary to acceptable employer behaviour in any other Australian workplace".

Male cricketers fly home to be with their wives when their children are born.  Men are guaranteed a doctor on standby at all games; women in the National Cricket League are not. Women who work for CA in non-playing roles get maternity leave but their sisters who sign a playing contract with the organisation don’t.

The submission goes on:  “[Women] have to agree to ­behave in a ‘courteous’ and ‘sporting manner’ to play for their state while our male members do not.  [Women] are expressly ­excluded from [CA’s] parental leave policy while other female members who work at CA’s head office may have the benefit of between four to twelve weeks of paid parental leave”.  The ACA says it wants cricket to be “gender neutral” but pointed out other anomalies, including the fact that women did not have “the same rights to injury payments, visitor periods, high-performance standards and income protection as enjoyed by the men”.

Australian players Meg Lanning and Alex Blackwell are part of the ACA proposal, signing a letter that calls for “one agreement for men and women”, saying it would “put us on the right path to ­creating meaningful equality of opportunity, regardless of gender”.  National man’s captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have endorsed their association’s approach (PTG 2000-10106, 9 December 2016).  The pair co-signed a statement in the ACA submission which they say is “about a better deal for women cricketers, more investment in grassroots, giving the players greater say in the game and preserving the revenue-­sharing model”.

CA’s submission to the negotiations also calls for a gender-neutral approach in the new deal and wants women and men to receive the same “forms of payments” at state and inter­national level. While it would not publicly comment, it admitted the present contracts fell short but said it aimed to fix the anomalies around pregnancy and parental leave.

Early this year CA doubled women’s pay last year, earmarking $A4.23 million (£UK2.5 m) for female players (PTG 1795-8965, 8 April 2016). The move saw the maximum rate for an international player who has a WBBL contract rise to $A80,000 (£47,200) and tip over $A100,000 (£59,000) once match fees are included. The minimum retainer is $A40,000 (£UK23,600) for the Australian women’s team, the Southern Stars.  Cricket NSW almost doubled the pay of its female state players earlier this year to ensure they earned a minimum wage (PTG 1940-9758, 7 October 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,006

Friday, 16 December 2016


• Dar to pass Koertzen’s Test record, Tucker the 50 Test mark [2006-10139]. 

• Post Christmas return scheduled for Reiffel [2006-10140]. 

• Batsman disadvantaged in day-night, pink ball matches: coach [2006-10141]. 

• Where to from here for top rated CA U-19 series umpires? [2006-10142]. 

• Origin of leather for pink ball is 'top secret’ [2006-10143]. 

• Overs lost after officials’ team work breaks down [2006-10144]. 

Dar to pass Koertzen’s Test record, Tucker the 50 Test mark.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2006-10139.

Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar will equal then pass his former South African colleague Rudi Koertzen’s Test match record of 108 games in the opening two Tests of the South Sri Lanka series over the next three weeks.  Dar will equal Koertzen’s record at Koertzen’s home ground of Port Elizabeth in the opening Test which starts on Boxing Day, then pass it in Cape Town in the New Year to move to second in the all-time umpire Test record behind the 128 Tests of retired West Indian Steve Bucknor.

Dar is one of four neutral officials named for the three Test series, David Boon from Australia being the match referee, and his two countrymen Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker the other two umpires.  The Pakistani will stand with Oxenford in Port Elizabeth with Tucker the third umpire, it will be Dar-Tucker with Oxenford in Cape Town, and Oxenford-Tucker and Dar in Johannesburg in mid-January.

In addition to Dar’s achievement, the Cape Town Test will see Tucker become the 13th person to stand in 50 Tests, a feat he has achieved in just under seven years.  Ten of his 50 Tests will have been played in England, two of which were at Lord’s, eight in South Africa, seven each in India and Sri Lanka, six in New Zealand, five in the United Arab Emirates, four the West Indies, two Bangladesh and one in Zimbabwe.  Those matches involved every Test playing nation except Australia.

Overall the series will take Boon’s match referee record in Tests to 38, Dar to 109 on-field and 19 in the television suite (109/19), Tucker to 51/19 and Oxenford 37/16.

Post Christmas return scheduled for Reiffel.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2006-10140.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel, who is to miss this week's fifth Test between India and England in Chennai because of injury, is to return in the three-match One Day International (ODI) series between New Zealand and Bangladesh in the week after Christmas in Christchurch and Nelson (PTG 2005-10134, 15 December 2016).  Reiffel, Chris Broad of England and Chettithody Shamshuddin from India will be the neutral officials for the three games in a series that is expected to see two New Zealand umpires, Wayne Knights and Chris Brown, make their ODI debuts.

Broad will oversee the series as the match referee, while Shamshuddin will be on-field in the first and third games, probably with Knights, and Reiffel on-field with Brown in the second fixture.  When not on-field Reiffel and Shamshuddin will work as the television umpire.  The series will be the Indian’s fourth as a neutral over the last twelve months, but the first in that role in games involving two Test playing nations.  By series end Broad’s ODI referee record will have moved up to 281 matches, Reiffel to 46 on-nfield and 23 as a third umpire (46/23), and Shamshuddin 18/14.

Following the ODI’s Broad will referee the three Twenty20 Internationals, his 69th, 70th and 71st, Knights, Brown and Shaun Haig being the umpires for those games.  After that two Tests, the first in Wellington and the second in Christchurch, are scheduled around mid-January.  Match officials for those games have not yet been announced.

Batsman disadvantaged in day-night, pink ball matches: coach.

Rachelle Agard.

Barbados Nation News.

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2006-10141.

Barbados coach Emmerson Trotman thinks that teams batting under lights during day-night matches in the West Indies Cricket Board’s domestic first class series are at a disadvantage.  Speaking from Dominica where his team are preparing for Friday’s match against the Windward Islands, Trotman said that the late start of the games and the pink ball posed a major hindrance his players.

According to him: “Starting a bit later, as well as too early, puts the team at a disadvantage. You have to make sure that one team doesn’t have two sessions underneath the light. That’s the only disadvantage, but the pink ball; in fact any ball at night, pink or white, poses a challenge. It’s a good experience, but obviously the guys prefer a white ball.  However, I understand that you have to try something to attract spectators, so I guess as we train under the lights and make the necessary preparations, they would get used to it”.

Where to from here for top rated CA U-19 series umpires?

PTG Editor.

CA selections.

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2006-10142.

Tasmanian umpire Darren Close, who stood in 20 first class fixtures three decade ago (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016), and Queenslander David Taylor, a current Australian Sports Commission (ASC) scholarship holder (PTG 1775-8867, 5 March 2016), were chosen to stand in the main final of Cricket Australia’s (CA) two-week long Under-19 Championship series in Adelaide on Thursday.  

The selections indicate the pair were rated top of the event’s ten-man umpire panel, with Steve Brne of Victoria and Troy Penman from New South Wales, who managed the match for third and fourth place, coming in below them.  Surprisingly, current CA second-tier Development Panel (DP) and ‘fast-track’ Project Panel member David Shepard, who is also a former ASC scholarship holder, missed out on a semi final spot on Wednesday and appears to have been rated in the lower half of the Championship panel.

It is understood Close and Taylor will now stand together in a Twenty20 match involving CA Under-17 and Under-19 selectees that will be played as a curtain raiser to a Big Bash League game at the Sydney Cricket Ground just after Christmas.  Details are sketchy but from there the pair are expected to go into a pool of umpires that reportedly includes Nathan Johnstone of Western Australia and New South Welshmen Anthony Hobson and Ben Treloar.  

That group of five appear to sit below CA’s six-person Development Panel (DP).  However, with movement up from the DP to CA’s top National Umpires Panel very limited, there appears to be somewhat of a 'log jam' promotion-wise underneath it.   

Origin of leather for pink ball is 'top secret’.

Marty McCarthy.

ABC Rural.

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2006-10143.

All eyes were on the pink ball when the first Australia-Pakistan Test began at the Gabba in Brisbane on Thursday, but where the leather used to make the ball comes from is a closely-guarded secret.  Not only is the location of the farm a mystery, but so too is the breed of cattle used for the leather.

Queensland-based company Packer Leather sources, processes and dyes the leather for the ball's manufacturer 'Kookaburra’ and its technical director Andrew Luke said there was complex science behind producing pink leather.  But most of the process is a closely guarded secret between the two companies.  "We don't typically divulge the actual source and location of where the cattle are reared and how we bring it to the tannery”, an approach that is taken to protect Kookaburra's reputation, said Luke.

"Kookaburra remains the number one cricket ball globally and everyone is trying to knock them off”, said Luke.  "We guard those secrets closely so that none of the competition will even come close to what [Kookaburra] are producing now”.  However, he did say the hide came from a European breed of cattle, initially bred for meat production. "All hides we source are directly a result from beef production, so we are taking a by-product or waste from beef production and turning it into cricket ball leather".

Packer Leather would not say if certain feed types or weather conditions helped to produce better leather.  "There are certain conditions the animals can be reared in that will determine whether the leather will be fit for purpose as cricket balls or not”, said Luke. 

‘Kookaburra' and 'Packer Leather' trialled 16 different shades of pink before settling on the current shade.  "We are still experimenting with shades of pink today”, said Luke.  "Colours can be quite subjective and we are yet to determine what the optimum shade of pink actually is”.  

He said the colouring process had no impact on the structure of the leather.  "From the testing we have done here at Packer Leather and the testing Kookaburra has done at its laboratories and on pitch, we're confident the colouring has no effect on the leather”, he said.  "Theoretically between the red, the white, the pink ball, the crust leather performance is identical”.

Luke’s comments come after news surfaced that university researchers in Queensland have been conducting tests on the visibility of pink balls during the ‘twilight’ period between daylight and dark.  No details have been released, however, indications are that the scientific measurements made confirm long-time concerns about ball visibility in the twilight period.

Overs lost after officials’ team work breaks down.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 15 December 2016.

PTG 2006-10144.

Weather conditions, mistakes by both umpires and scorers, and the failure to correctly cross-check match information, came together to rob the first day of a recent two-day match in the Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association country Victoria of two overs.  Instead of bowling the 80 overs required in a day’s play, only 78 were delivered, a situation that was corrected on day two when the association concerned directed that a total of 82 overs be sent down.

The first Saturday of the game was played in very cold conditions such that the scorers soon retreated from out the front of the club house to the warmth inside.  That kept them more comfortable, however, the umpires then had trouble seeing them, one indicating later that they "often weren’t sure” the scorers were actually acknowledging their signals. To compound the situation the outside scoreboard was not being kept up-to-date by anyone so the umpires did not have that to check their figures against.

During the first innings of the match, one of the umpires miscounted the overs, somehow having an extra two on his counter.  While his colleague had the right number and they checked with each other, the umpire with the correct figure did not challenge his colleague’s count or ask for a check with the scorers, rather he went with him and accepted the number.  

That opening innings finished on ball 50.3 not 52.3 as determined by the umpires who then calculated that a further 27 overs remained to complete the 80 required for the day.  They did not pick up the error before the next innings got underway, and nor did the scorers, so play eventually ended for the day at what they all thought was the 80 over mark.  For a second time the error was not picked up when the score sheet was examined at the end of the day’s play.

It was not until a scorer was entering the score sheet from the match from the book on to Cricket Australia’s MyCricket web site that it was realised only 78 overs had been bowled, and by then players and officials had well and truly left the ground.  In the week before the second Saturday of the game the matter was raised with the cricket association and they directed that play on day two run for a total of 82 overs.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,007

Sunday, 18 December 2016

 

• Reiffel says no to helmet despite head blow [2007-10145]. 

• Melbourne suburban competition does away with toss [2007-10146]. 

• Ombudsman to investigate CA's pregnancy clause [2007-10147]. 

• England's women given two-year central contracts for first time [2007-10148]. 

• Batswomen scores 160, team mates all zero [2007-10149]. 

Reiffel says no to helmet despite head blow.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 17 Dec ember 2016.

PTG 2007-10145.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel has dismissed the idea of wearing a helmet while officiating in Test matches, despite suffering concussion after being hit by a fielder's throw on the first day of the fourth Test of the ongoing India-England series. Reiffel is currently home in Melbourne after the International Cricket Council (ICC) deemed him unfit to take the field in the final Test in Chennai (PTG 2005-10134, 15 December 2016). 

The former Australia fast bowler said wearing a helmet would complicate the umpiring process for him. "It would be too heavy and too hot, five days with a helmet on, it just wouldn't be impossible”, he said. "It's hard to hear [with the helmet on]. I've put one on and thought 'could I umpire in this?', and I thought I'd really struggle”.

Reiffel, who was standing at square leg when he was hit by a throw from India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar, said the accident occurred because he took his eyes off the ball thinking it was dead. "Always keep your eye on the ball”, he said. "I just didn't do it. I feel a bit silly not doing that. It's like playing; if you watch the ball you should come out all right. It was just an accident. I'd back myself to get out of the way if I see it coming”.

"The batsmen had stopped running, the fieldsmen were taking their time. I must have relaxed and expected him to throw it to the keeper over my head and he decided to throw it halfway to the fieldsman. He got it wrong and hit me on the back of my head. It got me behind the ear and hit me flush, that's what's done the damage”.

He said he could remember little of what happened thereafter, and, in hindsight, was glad the ICC took the decision to make him stand down for the rest of the Test. "Apart from that, I don't really remember a lot about it. I suppose it did hurt. I've watched the replay and I went down pretty quick. I was rolling around a bit. It certainly shook me up”.

"The next day you feel as though you should be out there. The England team doctor put me through a few tests and I didn't pass them that well, so they decided it was best not to do the Test and have a bit of a rest and come back later. The ICC decided it was for the best I had the rest. I'm glad about that because I needed it. I was pretty sick for a few days there”.  Reiffel is expected to return for the New Zealand-Bangladesh One Day International series, which begins on Boxing Day (PTG 2006-10140, 16 December 2016).

Meanwhile, English umpire Ian Gould was less than pleased when Australian fielder David Warner's throw from the outfield nearly hit him in the closing overs of Saturday’s play in opening Australia-Pakistan Test in Brisbane.  Warner collected the ball after batsman Mohammad Amir had driven the ball down the ground.  The Australian decided to have a throw at the stumps, the ball nearly hitting Gould on the head.  The stump-mic clearly caught Gould saying to Warner "What the **** was that about!?”.  "You nearly knocked my ******* brains out!"

Melbourne suburban competition does away with toss.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 17 Dec ember 2016.

PTG 2007-10146.

Under Playing Conditions adopted for its inaugural 2016-17 season, Melbourne’s new Southern Bayside Cricket Competition (SBCC) has done away with the toss in its two-day matches and given visiting captains the option of batting or bowling.  The arrangement, which will not apply for one-day or Twenty20 fixtures or the end-of-season two-day finals, has says the SBCC’s Darren Anderson put the onus on host teams to produce good pitches.

Anderson said that: “Basically there had always been talk [in the former competition in the area] of teams doctoring wickets for Saturday-Saturday matches.  If they were defending a total on day two they’d put less work into the pitch in the intervening week  than if they were chasing.  So we thought we could completely eliminate that by giving the away team the option.  If it’s a good pitch, they’ll likely bat first. But if what’s presented is a pitch that looks like it’s got a fair bit it in it on day one, they’ll more than likely have a bowl. So it puts the responsibility on the home club to roll up fair pitches"

The working party that oversaw planning for the new competition adopted the measure on the recommendation of a Playing Conditions.  Anderson said that as such eliminating the toss of the coin would give southern Bayside a “point of difference’’ in Victorian cricket.  Asked if there had been much feedback, he said: “Not really. One of the clubs has raised a question about it. But most people have said, ‘Sounds good, it’s different, it will be interesting to see how it goes’”.

The competition recently played a two-day round of games using pink balls.  The SBCC’s Warren Griffin said the league was focused on innovation and the pink ball round was the next step in trialing new initiatives.  "The whole focus around the new competition has been on being prepared to change some of the traditional formats or processes that people might have been used to in community cricket”.

The SBCC consists of 23 clubs residing in the Bayside, Kingston, Glen Eira, Port Phillip and Monash regions, a key aim being to "provide greater accessibility and clear pathway for players and umpires". 

Ombudsman to investigate CA's pregnancy clause.

Australian Associated Press.

Saturday, 17 December 2016.

PTG 2007-10147.

Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating Cricket Australia’s (CA) controversial pregnancy clause in women player  contracts, which has been widely criticised (PTG 2005-10138, 15 December 2016).  The independent organisation, which is charged with educating and encouraging compliance with workplace laws, is says CA “seeking further clarification” over its contracts. 

The Ombudsman, who many roles including assessing complaints or suspected breaches of workplace laws, requested a copy of the womens’ contract on Friday.  

CA chief executive James Sutherland said on Saturday:  “We will cooperate fully with the Ombudsman, and welcome their inquiries because it is always our intention to provide the best support for all our players.  The pregnancy clause has never affected a female player’s right to sign a contract, and we have never, nor would we ever, discriminate against anyone on those grounds. It has only been about ensuring the safety of our players”

Sutherland had said on Friday there might be an “opportunity to develop the wording differently” but the issue had been “misrepresented”. “It’s a health and safety issue”, he said then.

The clause hit the headlines shortly after CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) started formal talks on a new pay deal. Submissions from both parties were sent this week to players. The union’s submission raised concerns about a number of “outdated at best and rather condescending” issues relating to female players.

“We are extremely disappointed that this issue has been raised by the ACA”, Sutherland said. “Their senior executives were fully involved in negotiating, amending and then agreeing the contract for women players in the first half of 2015. As the ACA has shown no objection to this contract, they should take responsibility for their role in developing the current policy”.

Sutherland suggested on Friday that female players had been put in an unfair position by the ACA, with reporters now asking them about a private matter. “I’m sure that sort of line of questioning [about pregnancy and the clause] will make our women feel uncomfortable”, he said.  “I’m sure [female players] would much prefer not to have to answer those questions and I would respectfully ask that people do stay away from it. Talk to us about it.It’s disappointing that it is a distraction”.

The England and Wales Cricket Board released a statement about the issue on Friday, noting its female players “are not required to declare if they are pregnant before they sign their contract”.  Sarah Elliott is the only notable recent example of an Australian player to fall pregnant during her international career. Elliott disclosed she was pregnant and, while reluctant to take a contract, CA encouraged her to do so".

“She opted to stop playing [during pregnancy] and we paid out her contract, which I think in the circumstances is entirely appropriate”, Sutherland said. “I haven’t heard any concerns [about Elliott’s case] and I think we would have, directly or through the ACA, heard if there were concerns in the one case where a woman has been pregnant inside of a contract period”.

England's women given two-year central contracts for first time.

Andy Charles.

Sky News.

Friday, 16 Dec ember 2016.

PTG 2007-10148.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced a total of 18 England Women's central contracts which will, for the first time, run for two years.  The contracts provide added security, and an increase in value, as the ECB looks to further embrace the professional era in the women's game.

"The awarding of two-year contracts represents another significant step forward in the professionalisation of the women's game in this country”,  explained the ECB's Director of England Women's Cricket, Clare Connor.  "The global women's game is evolving rapidly, and in order to ensure that professional cricket continues to be an attractive career option for talented female athletes, it's important that we continue to properly invest in our players.

Connor went on to say: The ECB is fully committed to the goal of supporting the England women's team to become the world's number one team. The pay increase and introduction of two-year contracts will give our players greater financial security and ensure they can be fully focused on the challenges that lie ahead: the Women's World Cup on home soil next [northern] summer, the Women's Ashes in Australia and the Women's World Twenty20 in the Caribbean in 2018”.

Batswomen scores 160, team mates all zero.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 17 Dec ember 2016.

PTG 2007-10149.

An under-19 female cricketer in South Africa may have re-defined the meaning of a 'one-woman team’.  Mpumalanga opener Shania-Lee Swart scored 160 runs from 86 balls in her teams Twenty20 game against Easterns during Cricket South Africa women's Under-19 series in Pretoria on Monday, while the other batsmen contributed a grand sum of zero.  

Besides Swart's 160, there were nine extras in her team's 169 for 8 from 20 overs.  She hit 144 of her runs in boundaries, 12 being sixes and 18 fours. A bowler from the opposition took 5/15, however, Mpumalanga won the game by 42 runs.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,008

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

 

• CA postpones pay talks, rejects ‘public dispute’ approach [2008-10150]. 

• Confusion between skipper, umpires, led to play extension [2008-10151]. 

• Players give ‘soft’ pink ball a belting [2008-10152]. 

• A hat-trick of hat-tricks in a crazy game of cricket [2008-10153]. 

• Errant throw earns England five runs [2008-10154]. 

• ‘Unsafe' outfield results in NZC T20 fixture being moved [2008-10155]. 

• Let's hear it for the ump! [2008-10156]. 

• Big bats become large issue for junior cricketers [2008-10157]. 

CA postpones pay talks, rejects ‘public dispute’ approach.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Monday, 19 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10150.

Cricket Australia (CA) has walked out of contract discussions with its players on the final day of the Brisbane Test after embarrassing revelations about its treatment of female cricketers were revealed.  The national body is furious that the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) submission which revealed that female players were required to declare they aren’t pregnant before signing a contract was made public last week; an issue an Australian government body is now looking into (PTG 2007-10147, 18 December 2016).  

The contracts also required the women behave in a “courteous manner” and excluded them from the same maternity leave conditions as its other employees or the male players (PTG 2005-10138, 15 December 2016).  “[CA] is committed to a negotiation that is conducted in good faith between the two parties, but will not take part in a process which seeks to draw its players into a public dispute”, the national body said in a release issued on Monday morning.  

CA went on: “Players deserve the opportunity to focus on the game, rather than being distracted by a negotiation that should be conducted in a professional and confidential manner.  In the period that will see tens of thousands of fans enjoy Big Bash League matches, and another Boxing Day Test, that cannot be assured if discussions continue under current arrangements with the ACA.  Accordingly, the two days of meetings planned for Monday and Tuesday have been postponed, and [CA] looks forward to continuing the discussions in the new year”.

The ACA hit back at claims that the union is somehow responsible for the clauses in the contracts.  ACA chief executive Alister Nicholson said: “[CA] is attempting to blame others for their own contracts. [CA] should stop blame-shifting and focus on resolving the issues in a constructive way.  The suggestion that pregnancy guidelines were not issued because the ACA allegedly failed to communicate with CA is wrong on two counts. Firstly, we did communicate with CA and secondly the ACA does not currently have a right to veto female CA contracts or guidelines. To suggest so is just plain wrong".  

According to Nicholson: "The real reason the matter was not progressed to a satisfactory conclusion is because CA walked away from negotiations for a collective agreement with female cricketers.  This meant the issue had to again be raised in our submission for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provided to CA five weeks ago (PTG 1973-9939, 11 November 2016).  Our submission highlights many of the great advances for female cricketers, for which we commend CA. It also rightly raises outstanding issues which must be addressed and we will continue to advocate for their satisfactory resolution in the current MoU negotiation”, Nicholson said.

Confusion between skipper, umpires, led to play extension.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 19 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10151.

Umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth believed they were acting on a request from Australian captain Steve Smith for their decision on Sunday night to extend the marathon final session at the Gabba on day four of the opening Australia-Pakistan Test by an extra half-hour. That extension resulted in the final session running for a total of three hours and 10 minutes, a move that saw play extend past 10 p.m. local time.  

The International Cricket Council said in a statement issued on Monday evening that: "The umpires believed they were acting on a request from Steve Smith, based on a conversation with him about the granting of extra time a few overs before the scheduled end of play. It is the umpires' decision as to whether to agree to the request, and the guide for umpires is that a team should be at least seven wickets down before such a request should be granted”.  Pakistan were eight wickets down at the time.

Before play started on Monday, Cricket Australia said Smith didn’t ask to bowl an additional eight overs, and that in fact he wanted to get off the ground and give his bowlers a rest.  

Smith said after the match ended on Monday though:  "Early on [on Sunday], I sort of said 'it's great that we have that extra half hour up our sleeve if we need it’, and then later on, [umpire] Gould was pretty adamant that he wanted to stay out there and try and get the game over and done with.  The umpires deemed for it to be an opportunity of a result. We went with that. I would've liked to have come off. But you've got to go with the umpire's call. It's their decision out on the ground, and they decided to stay out there”.

Current International Cricket Council ‘Standard Test Match Playing Conditions’ say in part 16.2: "The umpires may decide to play 30 minutes (a minimum of eight overs) extra time at the end of any day (other than the last day) if requested by either captain if, in the umpires opinion, it would bring about a definite result on that day. If the umpires do not believe a result can be achieved no extra time shall be allowed”.  

Players give ‘soft’ pink ball a belting.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10152.

After one of the great matches, Test cricket is in the ascendant but not so the pink ball, which has taken a battering in ways other than the literal. Players taking part in the day-night Australia-Pakistan Test in Brisbane say the ball’s latest incarnation stops swinging after about five overs and quickly goes soft thereafter.

Australian captain Steve Smith said after the game there is room for improvement in the ball now day-night Tests are in the schedule.  “You have to improve the game as much as we can. We saw in this game that once the pink ball got a little bit softer, probably after 25 or 30 overs, it was quite hard to get players out. You need to improve the product”.

The skipper also said the pink ball was no friend of the spinners.  “In periods of the game [Australian spinner Nathan Lyon] bowled well”, Smith said. “In ­others he was a little bit off.  He has a great record at the Gabba in red ball cricket, where the ball stays harder for longer and he’s able to generate that bounce out of the wicket, but he couldn’t get that bounce with the way the ball was”.

A hat-trick of hat-tricks in a crazy game of cricket.

Brendan Foster.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 18 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10153.

You expect cricketers playing "bush cricket" to spin a bit of a yarn about what happens on the field, but one scoreboard in the Upper Great Southern Cricket Association in Western Australia south-east of Perth has to be seen to be believed.  In an unbelievable turn of events, three bowlers got hat-tricks, seven batsmen didn't trouble the scoreboard and in between all of that, one player managed to etch out a century in a 45-over A-Grade game between the Wandering and Kukerin-Dumbleyung sides two Saturdays ago.

Wandering tweaker Bailey Parsons was the first to get a hat-trick snaring three wickets with his first three balls of the match.  Then Kukerin-Dumbleyung batsmen Scott Jefferis got his side back into the game scoring 104, which saw his team stagger to 7/186. Just for good measure, Jefferis brought up his ton with a six.  However, Wandering bowler Evan Barrett then struck, snaring the second hat-trick of the game to bowl Kukerin-Dumbleyung out for 186, his last victim being Kukerin-Dumbleyung batsmen David Head.  

It didn’t stop there though for when it came to Wandering’s innings Head just happened to take a hat-trick himself, the third of the game, the series of wickets he took seeing Wandering slump from 4/154 to 7/154 in reply off the last three balls of their 45 overs.  Ironically the three bowlers who took hat-tricks didn't take any other wickets in the game.  

Errant throw earns England five runs.

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Monday, 19 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10154.

Indian captain Virat Kohl cost his side five runs on the opening day of the fifth and final India-England Test in Chennai on Friday.  England batsman Joe Root's miss hit ran down to fine leg and Kohli ran to retrieve the ball, turned around and threw it in only to strike keeper Parthia Patel’s helmet on the ground.

‘Unsafe' outfield results in NZC T20 fixture being moved.

George Heaney.

The Timura Herald.

Monday, 19 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10155.

Central Districts’ (CD) Twenty20 match against Canterbury on New Yeas Eve has been shifted from Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth because of an unsafe playing surface.  CD seamer Doug Bracewell injured his knee when sliding on the wet outfield there during their rained-off game against Northern Districts last week and is out for six to eight weeks.  Following that incident, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have decided to shift the fixture to New Plymouth's other cricket ground, Pukekura Park.

CD chief executive Pete de Wet said it was purely for safety reasons.  "There's been quite a bit of rain in the area”, he said. “[NZC] went down and had a look at the outfield and I think in order to bring it to what it needed to be in time, it wasn't going to be possible.  Therefore they took the precaution to move it to Pukekura Park”.

The slippery outfield hasn't affected the ground's first-class status.  "We have a three-year deal with Yarrow Stadium and there's still a commitment to play cricket there next season. We just have to work and get the outfield up to spec”, said de Wet.  The change of venue means the game, which will be umpired by Shaun Haig and Tony Gillies, will now start at 4 p.m., rather than 7.10 p.m., because Pukekura Park has no lights.

Let's hear it for the ump!

Pete Langman.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 18 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10156.

"How the bloody hell was that?" went one of the more memorable yet printable appeals to which I have borne witness. We've all been there - the intractable umpire, the dead-in-the-water appeal, the shake of the head, the muttering. Then there was the one that resulted in a long silence from the umpire, followed by the words "I was waiting for you to walk”.

It may be a friendly game, but when the batsman is caught flat-footed and back in the crease as the ball raps the pad, plumb as plumb can be, and is yet again given not out, tempers can begin to fray.  But a large percentage of umpiring decisions are invariably met with indignation and angst. It shouldn't be that way

Any LBW decision is always a travesty so far as one side is concerned: for the bowler, it's always out; for the batsman, never. In between these two certainties is the grey area of discretion in which the poor and increasingly beleaguered umpire must wallow, knowing full well that while one side will congratulate them on an excellent decision, the other will scowl and mutter vague imprecations. Not only this but their decision will continue to be questioned during tea, over a pint, the breakfast table, even the end-of-season dinner.

At school, maybe (oh lordy) 40-odd years ago, I was told, "The umpire is right whether he's right or wrong", but the times they are a-changin'. Players now challenge decisions as a matter of course, there are plans afoot for a red-card system, and apparently they even let women umpire now.

There has been much criticism of the spurious appeals made during the most recent Test match between England and India. Some armchair commentators have gone so far as to call such behaviour cheating, which it plainly isn't - gamesmanship, yes - but the umpires are pretty much on top of things. 

According to Charles Davis, some 77 per cent of appeals in Tests over the past 16 years have been for the humble LBW, of which 19 per cent have been successful. As he suggests, "the low success of LBW appeals can be put down to optimistic bowlers and the complexity of the law: even when bowling teams are confident enough to review under the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), only 20 per cent of 'not out' LBWs were overturned".

Of course, it is only in internationals that the UDRS is available - or so you'd think. We have it in club cricket too, it just isn't binding. This second opinion is sought to provide a sort of moral arbitration, a justification after the fact to countermand perceived injustice. And it's sought after practically every decision: it's a rare batsman who returns to the pavilion mouthing the words "I was plumb”.

Whether or not the batsman is given out, the question "How did that look to you?" is invariably put to those two players on whose advice, at the highest level, the review is either invoked or forsaken: the non-striker and the keeper. And both involve great dollops of confirmation bias; that is, only seeing that which accords with the outcome we desire. 

Now I know this will stick in the craw, but other than in the case of travesties of judgement that occasionally manifest themselves, neither keeper nor non-striker really has a clue. The umpire really does have the best view in the house.

First let's take the honest stumper. The only thing you can be sure of from behind the stumps following an LBW appeal is that the ball hit something. You can have a reasonable idea that it wasn't the bat from the noise, but this isn't infallible. When it comes to the line, keepers mostly take their stance outside the line of the off stump, only moving in line if the ball looks to be going down the leg side. 

Think about it. To be LBW, the ball has to hit your pads in line with the stumps and be going on to hit them (and not have pitched outside leg). As a stumper, you can only ever make an intelligent guess at either of these because - wait for it - when you're in line, you can't see exactly where the ball collided with the pads because there's one of them there batsmen in the way. So much for the keeper. And yes, they may know when it's pitched way outside leg, but they're hardly likely to let on.

As for the non-striker, most of the time they are to be found standing outside the return crease as the bowler delivers the ball. That's about four feet to the right of middle stump. The ball is 20 yards away from them when it hits the pad. The non-striker is therefore at least four degrees off from the line of the ball. Those four degrees equate to approximately four inches: the non-striker's line of sight to the point of impact is at an angle of about four inches to the right of the striker's middle stump. 

Or, put another way, a ball appearing to strike the pad in front of middle stump is actually shaving the leg stump. If it's gun-barrel straight. The non-striker must therefore adjust what they see to take account of their margin of error if they're to have a hope. And that's before considering angle of delivery or movement, whether it's seam, swing or spin, the probability that they weren't really paying attention... Oh, it appears that the non-striker doesn't have a clue either.

The umpire can only make a decision based on the information at hand. While a UDRS retrospective might find that not all decisions were accurate, you can't say that 100 umpires in the same position would not have made the same decision, and that is both the failing and beauty of a human game. Be supportive of your umpires, many of whom are unpaid volunteers. They have been trained in how to apply the laws and usually have a lot of experience. Just as you, the players, are out there playing the best cricket you can, they are making the best decisions available.

We owe it to the game to respect the umpire's role, and their decisions, whether we're batting, bowling, in the field or standing. It's not only what cricket's about, it actually makes sense.

Big bats become large issue for junior cricketers.

Will Swanton.

The Australian.

Sunday, 18 December 2016.

PTG 2008-10157.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) game development division is in the thick of a pilot program to revolutionise junior cricket starting with the 2017-18 austral summer (PTG 1908-9574, 26 August 2016). In an era of small boys and girls lugging around huge bats — to the detriment of their technical development — because they want to copy what Australian opening batsman David Warner and assorted Twenty20 sloggers are using on television, official size guidelines are being formulated by CA for the first time. 

Also under review are pitch lengths for age groups, ball characteristics, outfield sizes, the best formats for matches and the number of players in juniors club, school and representative cricket. Seven-a-side or nine-a-side matches are being considered to improve rates of involvement and improvement.  Pitches are expected to be adjusted to scale until later in the age-group progression. At present, full-length tracks are used from as early as the under 10s. Regulation two-piece 156g balls, with a hardcore, come in from the under 12s or 13s in some districts.

The risk with extending the comfort zone is that elite junior players will be held back. They want to play with the same conditions and equipment as the players they are trying to emulate. Gun juniors risk being frustrated for a season or two, as happens now with restrictions on how many runs a batsman can score by the fact they are forced to retire, but the pick of the bunch are likely to be chosen for representative teams. And in those representative games, the most suitably challenging and unrestrictive formats will be in place.

Bats have become a large issue. Trouble has extended beyond parents wanting a bigger blade because little Johnny or Josephine will grow into it. According to Cricket NSW’s manager of association and club development, Jason Lawless, juniors think bigger is better because a huge piece if willow is what a Warner, for instance, with his notoriously thick Kaboom model from Gray-Nicolls, uses to clobber balls out of a stadium. Until now there’s been no strict formula for matching junior bats to junior players apart from the decades-old system of sizes four, five and six, which relate to the length of the bat only.

“We’ve been slow off the mark with this”, Lawless said. “The ­market is led by what juniors see on TV. It’s about trends, fashions and connection to their favourite players. The T20 influx means that if a junior sees a certain brand of bat hitting balls over the fence, that bat will be on the shopping list the next day. But it’s an issue because they’re too big for a lot of kids. Too heavy". 

"Juniors are using small men’s sizes just so they can go bigger”, said Lawless. "We want to provide an understanding that a junior’s game is clearly affected by the size of the bat. It’s not a stab in the dark. We’re doing a lot of research on this and we have a lot of information. It’s time we provided leadership and guidance because it’s an important part of the sport that we’ve turned a bit of a blind eye to in junior cricket”.

CA is receiving feedback from junior associations and coaches across the country. Updated programs and instructions are due to be brought in for next season. While the national body can give direct instructions on the length of a pitch, bats pose the unique problem of being an individual choice. The right equipment is imperative for juniors. Lawless said there was a definite trend towards using the biggest bats they could handle. Which was invariably the worst thing they could do.

“Guidelines in the past haven’t been too influential”, Lawless said. “It’s a no-brainer that we have to do something about it. It’s time for a cultural shift. There’s a limitation on the shots you can play when the bat is too big. We teach them to follow your hands through the ball — they can’t do that unless they have the right bat. If they can’t raise the bat above their eye level they can’t follow through properly.  Cross-bat shots are nearly impossible. The perception is that a big bat lets you hit the ball further. The reality is that it affects your timing, your confidence, it can hurt your arms, it can be tiring”.

The Warner-promoted Gray-Nicolls Kaboom International Jnr Cricket Bat was yesterday selling for $A245 (£UK143) with a renowned retailer.  “It’s time to make the message clear that heavy, expensive bats are not necessarily the best thing for a junior batter”. said Lawless.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,009

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

 

• ‘Kookaburra' firm in defence of pink ball criticism [2009-10158]. 

• ECB restructure plan ‘will sideline non-Test counties’ [2009-10159]. 

• New system aims at better connection with ECB’s participants [2009-10160].

• ‘Brain fade’ costs side five runs [2009-10161]. 

‘Kookaburra' firm in defence of pink ball criticism

Laurence Rosen.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016.

PTG 2009-10158.

Australian sports manufacturer ‘Kookaburra' has hit back at suggestions its current iteration of the pink ball isn't up to the rigors of Test cricket.  Australia captain Steve Smith questioned its hardness in the aftermath of his side's gripping win over Pakistan at the Gabba in Brisbane on Monday, suggesting the ball softened quicker than the traditional red ball and was partly to blame for Pakistan getting within touching distance of a world-record fourth-innings run chase (PTG 2008-10152, 20 December 2016).

‘Kookaburra' spokesperson Shannon Gill said on Tuesday that players would take some time to adapt to the new ball.  "The pink ball will feel a little different to players due to the pink coating, so it's understandable they will take some time to adjust”, he said.  "Structurally, the ball is the same, so we think it is the coating that changes the perception.  We welcome player feedback though because we want to keep improving this ball”.

The Australian company altered the seam ahead of the recent Adelaide and Brisbane day-night Tests, Gill saying: "The most significant and noticeable change [this year] is the black seam.  After the [Adelaide Test] last year, the player feedback was that they needed greater contrast between the seam and the leather for visibility.  Player feedback across the world in the past 12 months has been positive and while we don't profess it to be perfect yet, we've seen definite improvement in it holding its colour and visibility longer”.

While the recently announced 2017-18 Ashes series will have only one day-night Test (PTG 2003-10124, 13 December 2016) , future series not involving England in Australia are expected to see a push for more night cricket (PTG 2004-10130, 14 December 2016).  Gill said ‘Kookaburra' had had contact will all relevant stakeholders after both the Adelaide and Brisbane Tests.  "We've had some general communication without anything formal and on the whole it's been positive with no major issues.  We're keen to keep working with [the stakeholders] on it because it brings a real excitement to Test cricket that we'd love to be part of”.

ECB restructure plan ‘will sideline non-Test counties’.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016.

PTG 2009-10159.

Plans for the eight-team Twenty20 competition being proposed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could prove the thin end of the wedge for the non-Test counties, according to one of the county chairmen opposing the project.  John Faragher, the Essex chairman, fears that the city-based clubs may replace the traditional counties in forming a top tier of the county championship first class series once their brands are established (PTG 1925-9671, 16 September 2016).

The ECB has earmarked 2020 to introduce the so-called 'Super Charge', but Faragher remains unconvinced that plans presented to the board last week represent the best way of giving the game a stimulus it probably needs.  However, Sussex — who along with Kent and Surrey voted against the idea as the “direction of travel”, wanting further research in September (PTG 1924-9667, 15 September 2016), are showing signs of warming to the ECB’s preference. Somerset, too, are encouraged by the latest update despite initial reservations.

Essex sided with the ECB three months ago, but Faragher insisted that his vote did not mean approval for anything beyond further research into an eight-team concept. Asked if he would back the plans as they stand at present, he said: “If I am honest, no. I am concerned about the longer-term picture of where cricket is heading.  I am sure Andrew Strauss [the managing director of England cricket] going forward would like an eight-team championship where we end up with the same eight teams made up of the best players. The danger is of the rest being second-rate minor counties".

“That is long term. I can see how the game could evolve like that from your eight-team city league. [Colin] Graves [the ECB chairman] and Co say that is not on the agenda, but it is how I can see the game changing. We are probably going to lose this, but that is no reason to accept it without asking questions”.

Faragher prefers promotion and relegation in a competition involving all 18 counties. “I would like that to be investigated”, he said. “We have to re-energise for the next generation otherwise the game will die, I accept that, but when you are trying to take cricket forward it needs to be strong in the shires as well as the big cities”.

Jim May, the Sussex chairman, welcomed the latest draft schedule that separates the new T20 tournament from the championship and maintains the current ECB T20 series so that all counties retain a 20-over presence. “The real strength of English cricket is the 18 counties”, he said. “That gives us a good footprint across the country and we have to ensure no area is marginalised”.

New system aims at better connection with ECB’s participants.

MS Poweuser.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016.

PTG 2009-10160.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is planning to implement a project using the computing power of the Microsoft 'Dynamics CRM' program as part of its new "digital transformation process". The digital upgrade is designed to help ECB better connect with recreational players, coaches, umpires and volunteers as well as broaden interest in domestic and international cricket.

Damian Smith, the head of the ECB’s Information Technology unit said: “Our raison d’etre is to drive participation in cricket. By making sure everything is captured on the CRM platform, we have the opportunity to provide a seamless and connected experience for anyone who interacts with any aspect of cricket. Advanced, [the company involved in the project] is working with us to make CRM the digital face of our work, which will drive a connected cricket experience and help us realise our ambition to bring even more people into the game”.  

The project will be implemented in a phased approach, prioritised firstly by those areas which will have the greatest impact on "customer experience", as well as by level of complexity. It will also increase "productivity and effectiveness within the ECB team", by providing them with the tools to "focus value-added activities to drive participation”.

Last month, Cricket Australia announced it and the ‘Microsoft' company were to conduct a trial of a computer-based "intelligent coaches’ platform” (PTG 1978-9966, 16 November 2016), and before that in August ‘Microsoft India’ unveiled a new platform it says improves the accuracy of predicting target scores in weather-interrupted matches (PTG 1895-9500, 9 August 2016).

‘Brain fade’ costs side five runs.

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Wednesday, 20 December 2016.

PTG 2009-10161.

Misuse of the wicketkeeper’s gloves during play cost the Seaford side five runs in a Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association District Firsts match south-east of Melbourne recently.  Seaford had no fielders in the area square of mid-wicket in a game against Delacombe Park and their wicketkeeper Ian Rowe had, on a number of occasions, left his stumps to field the ball played backward of square leg.  

Ryan McQueen his captain, who was at slip, went to the stumps to collect the returns from Rowe, however, after several such plays on the next occasion he picked up Rowe’s discarded gloves and caught the ball when it was thrown in.  Umpire Graeme Robinson called ‘dead ball’ and awarded five penalty runs, McQueen later apologising to him and his colleague Rodney Richardt for what he described as a “brain fade”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,010

Thursday, 22 December 2016

 

• Player strike leads to first class match being forfeited [2010-10162]. 

• Commissioner rejects du Plessis 'ball tampering’ appeal [2010-10163]. 

• CSA bans Petersen for two years over corruption links [2010-10164]. 

• Black bat banned after it discolours white ball [2010-10165]. 

• Loughborough testing showed spinner’s action ‘illegal’ [2010-10166]. 

• Batsman fined for show of dissent [2010-10167]. 

• Players e-mailed on pregnancy clause after talks broke down [2010-10168]. 

• Radical CA plan would see players paid by the hour [2010-10169]. 

• Wrong team shirt leads to student’s arrest [2010-10170]. 

• Adelaide Oval beefs up security after overseas attacks [2010-10171]. 

Player strike leads to first class match being forfeited.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10162.

A match between the Mid West Rhinos and Matabeleland Tuskers in the opening round of Zimbabwe Cricket’s (ZC) 2016-17 first-class competition, the Logan Cup, was forfeited on day three in Bulawayo on Tuesday after Tusker players stopped play in a protest over the non-payment of their salaries.  ZC is reported to have advised its four first class sides last month that salaries for November would be paid in December, however, the funds concerned have yet to be transferred to the players.

Rhinos’ first innings ended on 323 just before lunch on day two on Monday, Tuskers were then all out for 112 soon after tea that day and Rhinos then declared at 4/64 at stumps, leaving Tuskers to score 208 to win outright.  On Tuesday, Tuskers had reached 1/68 in their chase by the time drinks were taken in the first session, but they then refused to continue and eventually match referee Victor Mhlanga awarded the match to Mid West Rhinos.  Reports indicate that domestic players, not nationally contracted ones, led the strike.

Indications are that ZC has since promised players that their outstanding fees would be paid by Wednesday but a source quoted by ‘Cricinfo' said the players are not convinced they will see their salaries. With financial uncertainties and pay issues a frequent feature of cricket in Zimbabwe over many years an insider said: "There is no trust anymore” in the way the game is being administered in the country.

The other match in the Logan Cup’s first round, between the Mountaineers and Mashonaland Eagles in Mutare 560 km to the north-east of Bulawayo, was abandoned on day three without a ball bowled after persistent rain flooded the outfield.

Commissioner rejects du Plessis 'ball tampering’ appeal.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release, media reports.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10163.

South African captain Faf du Plessis’s appeal against being found guilty of changing the condition of the ball during the second Test against Australia in Hobart last month has been dismissed.  Match referee Andy Pycroft had found du Plessis guilty of a breach the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Code of Conduct and fined him 100 per cent of his match fee, and ICC Judicial Commissioner Michael Beloff QC has now confirmed that censure was appropriate (PTG 2000-10102, 9 December 2016). 

 

The result comes after a two-and-a-half hour hearing held in Dubai on Monday, du Plessis being represented there by legal counsel, the player himself taking part via video link.  Beloff, who took two days to consider the submissions before handing down his findings, had the power to increase or decrease the punishment depending on the outcome of the hearing.  That could have meant the South Africa skipper may have been suspended for his side’s opening Test against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day.

Beloff said via media release that "had he concluded [du Plessis] was not telling the truth when he claimed that he believed that his actions were compatible with the Code and the Laws, I would have given serious consideration to the imposition of Suspension Points, not least because of the special responsibility imposed upon a captain, especially of a Test match side”.  He concluded his comments by saying that it is up to the ICC and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to determine where "the line needs to be drawn and what conduct is or is not considered to be offensive to the sport of cricket”. 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) have accepted Beloff's decision, its chief executive Haroon Lorgat saying: "We are satisfied with the matter being given due consideration by a person independent of the ICC. Both CSA and Faf believed that this appeal was imperative considering the important principles at stake.  In our view, the fact that Mr Beloff deliberated for some time after hearing complex legal arguments from both sides demonstrates that this matter does indeed require further consideration and clarification from the ICC and the MCC". 

Du Plessis has repeatedly pleaded his innocence since being charged, expressing the view that every team manipulates the ball like he had been accused of doing. He said last mont he feels "like I've done nothing wrong ... it's not like I was trying to cheat or anything.  For me [ball tampering] is picking the ball, scratching the ball. Shining the ball, I think all cricketers would say, is not in the same place.  It's such a grey area in the Laws and I think it's something that now will be looked at.  I think it was just blown out of proportion by everyone”.

During the hearing, du Plessis explained he uses mints or sweets to preserve the ball in a new and shiny state for as long as possible.  "Basically, we use sweets for two reasons”, he said. "One was that my mouth was very dry and I wanted to try and get a bit of saliva going.  And the second is to make sure that you can keep the ball as new and as shiny and preserve that shine for as long as possible

Discussing Beloff's finding, ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “We hope that this serves as a deterrent to all players not to engage in this sort of unfair practice in the future.  It goes without saying that we will be reviewing the outcome to determine if any additional guidelines are needed to provide further clarity to the players and umpires around this type of offence. However we are satisfied that the Law is clear and is implemented consistently”.

MCC head of cricket John Stephenson last month dismissed suggestions the current law is vague.  He said then: “My advice to [any player who is confused] would be to not contravene the law, which is very clear".

CSA bans Petersen for two years over corruption links.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10164.

Former South Africa batsman Alviro Petersen has been banned from cricket for two years after admitting sitting in on meetings where plans were hatched to fix matches in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) domestic Twenty20 competition (PTG 1976-9956, 14 November 2016).  Petersen is the latest player to be banned in the scandal after sentences handed down to alleged instigator Gulam Bodi (20-years), and players Thami Tsolekile (12), Pumelela Matshikwe (10), Ethy Mbhalati (10) and Jean Symes (7) (PTG 1895-9498, 9 August 2016).

Petersen, 36, who had been charged by CSA with six breaches of the anti-corruption code, has admitted failing to disclose details of an approach to fix matches, not co-operate with investigators, and concealing and destroying information relevant to the probe.  CSA acknowledged though that Petersen had not tried to fix a match, or received any payment to do so.  

“At the time that the meetings with Bodi and the fixers happened, I never had any intention of fixing matches or taking money”, said Petersen said in a statement.  I now deeply regret having participated in these meetings and not to have immediately reported them to the authorities as I am obliged to do”.

Petersen, who played 36 tests between 2010 and 2015, cannot be involved in any international or domestic match sanctioned by CSA or the International Cricket Council until mid-November 2018.

Black bat banned after it discolours white ball.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10165.

West Indian Andre Russell unveiled a mainly black bat in the opening match in Cricket Australia’s (CA) opening Big Bash League (BBL) Twenty20 match in Sydney on Tuesday.  While it was initially deemed to be legal and he used it in the game, CA has since announced it cannot be used again as it discolours the white ball.

Russell went in at number seven for Sydney Thunder with the bat and Brad Haddin, opposition team Sydney Sixers’ captain, immediately turned to umpires John Ward and Paul Wilson to ask about the legality of the bat.  However, CA has allowed coloured bats in the BBL in the past as long as they match franchise colours.  Electric green and gold coloured bats have been used in previous seasons, however, neither interfered with the colour of the ball.

After examining feedback provided by match officials following Tuesday’s game, BBL chief Anthony Everard said: “The bat used by Andre left black marks on the match ball.  As a result, we have decided to withdraw our approval for Andre to use the bat that was used last night as the colour solution used by the manufacturer was discolouring the ball". 

Everard said: “Should Andre, or any other BBL or [Womens’ BBL] player wish to use a bat with a different colouring solution to the one used last night that doesn’t result in the discolouration of the match ball, they will be permitted to do so subject to [CA] being satisfied that the bat won’t compromise the integrity of the game, which we believe discolouring the match ball does”.

Loughborough testing showed spinner’s action ‘illegal’.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10166.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have confirmed that Jack Leach, the leading English spin bowler in county cricket this year, was found to have an action that did not meet the 15 degree arm flex the limit prior to his recent tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with England’s A side.  Although coaches are confident that the degree of straightening in his left arm can be reduced such that it meets requirements, Leach was overlooked when a back injury forced Zafar Ansar to leave England's tour to India this month.

Leach's kink was detected during routine profiling of bowlers at Loughborough in October prior to going to the UAE.  He will be measured again at the ‘A’ side's camp next month before heading to Sri Lanka for two four-day games, but his place is not in jeopardy. Indeed, he played one-day games against the UAE and a first-class match against Afghanistan this month without alarm.

“When I did the test and they told me I was as shocked as anyone”, said Leach, who took 65 championship wickets for Somerset last northern summer.  “It was only a very small thing in terms of my body position, and it wasn’t helping me to bowl a doosra or anything like that”.  He said that he has “made a hell of a lot of progress” working with Peter Such, the ECB lead spin bowling coach, and Jason Kerr at Somerset. “The important thing is that I’ve come to terms with it and feel I’m going to be a better bowler for sorting it out”, Leach said.

Now the issue is in the public domain umpires may keep a closer watch on his delivery. ECB regulations decree that if a bowler is reported for his action in a match for a first time, the report remains confidential. However, one senior county umpire said when contacted about the matter: “This is a surprise. I had not heard a whisper about him”.

Batsman fined for show of dissent.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10167.

Former Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shahzad has fined been 20,000 Rupees ($A260, £UK155) by the Pakistan Cricket Board for showing dissent at umpire’s decision during the match between Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and Habib Bank Limited in the on-going domestic one-day series.  

The opening batsman "looked unhappy” after being judged LBW and openly questioned the decision.  On-field umpires Khalid Mahmood and Rashid Riaz reported the incident to match referee Mohammad Anees who found Ahmed guilty and imposed the fine.

Players e-mailed on pregnancy clause after talks broke down.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 22 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10168.

Cricket Australia (CA) e-mailed players directly to defend pregnancy clauses in female contracts after pay negotiations broke down during the first round of meetings with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA). Hostility between the parties following the public airing of CA documents saw the ACA asked to leave the national organisation's boardroom at the start of meetings on Monday (PTG 2008-10150, 20 December 2016). 

CA high-performance manager Pat Howard sent out an e-mail after that which said in part: “As I have said previously, I don’t want our players to be the meat in the sandwich.  In regards to the pregnancy clause, we are trying to balance confidentiality with player safety. It shouldn’t be a public bargaining chip in [the negotiations with the ACA]. We do not pretend to have everything right and often the written word does not ­reflect how we try and support you on the ground”.

Coach Darren Lehmann confirmed that the pay negotiations were the talk of the men’s national side during the recent Test against Pakistan but denied they were a distraction.  CA claims it does not want the players involved in a dispute while the Boxing Day Test and Big Bash League are in progress. It said it would reopen the negotiations in the new year.  Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating CA over the contracts but it is unlikely that any ­action will be taken (PTG 2007-10147, 18 December 2016).

Howard has said he would never have triggered clauses in the contracts that were introduced last year asking women to declare they were not pregnant at the time of signing.  Guidelines drafted by CA that have been seen by this reporter do not ­include the insistence that players ­declare they were not pregnant at the time of signing but do insist they notify the team.

CA tried to shift the blame for not introducing the guidelines on to the ACA by saying the union had failed to get back to it during discussions, but the ACA replied there was no collective bargaining for the past women’s contracts.  Both parties say they want a “gender neutral” approach to the next pay deal.

Radical CA plan would see players paid by the hour.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10169.

Details are emerging about a radical move by Cricket Australia (CA) to establish an hourly pay rate for players.  Under the proposal, male and female players would eventually get the same hourly rate, however, if adopted it would take four to five years for such equality to be achieved.

Since the first collective bargaining agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed between the national body and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) 20 years ago, the wages of state and international cricketers’ wages have been taken from a share of around 26 per cent of certain CA revenues.  However, the national body is trying to wind this back in the next MoU under its new chairman, former Rio Tinto boss David Peever.

Apart from weaning all but the international men off the revenue-share model, CA wants a wage structure for cricketers based on an hourly rate that would apply to all domestic players, male and ­female.  CA says that in order to ensure the new MoU delivers a fair deal for all the players, it is necessary to compare payments across all groups of players using "consistent measures".  

The three measures its says should be used are: base rate of play, minimum retainers, and average payments comprised of retainers and match fees.   CA says the last two measures are existing concepts in cricket, but the base rate of pay, which is currently in place in other major sports in Australia is not.  "Any differences in the base rate of pay between different groups of players would reflect differences in hours of commitment, rather than differences in hourly rates of pay”, says the CA document.

The ACA was supposed have been in the second day of negotiations with CA on Tuesday but the latter called off their meetings and lashed out at the representatives because it is furious that details of clauses regarding female players and pregnancy disclosures were made public (PTG 2008-10150, 20 December 2016).

Wrong team shirt leads to student’s arrest.

Agence France Presse.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10170.

An Indian student was arrested in a small town in the northeastern Indian state of Assam on Sunday for wearing a Pakistan team shirt bearing the name of that team's all-rounder Shahid Afridi.  The arrest of Ripon Chowdhury, 21, came while he was watching a local cricket tournament following a complaint to police by a Hindu nationalist group.

A police source, who spoke on the condition of anominity, said: A complaint was lodged against [Chowdhury] by a local right-wing outfit. We arrested him based on the complaint but gave him bail immediately”.  The source refused to confirm media reports that Chowdhury had been charged with obscenity in a public place.

Afridi called the arrest “shameful” and that “such incidents don't suit civilised people”.  He said fans in both India and Pakistan put the sport above the often-fraught relations between their countries and admired each others' players.  "You cannot stop fans from supporting a player by arresting them [and] sport and politics should be kept apart as such incidents go against the principles of sportsmanship”.

Last January a Pakistani fan was arrested for waving the flag of India after his idol Virat Kohli struck a match-winning knock against Australia (PTG 1750-8725, 30 January 2016).  Umar Daraz, 22, was charged with sedition and faced up to a decade in prison, but was later quietly released by officials in the central town of Okara.

Adelaide Oval beefs up security after overseas attacks.

Sam McClure.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

PTG 2010-10171.

• 

The Adelaide Oval has implemented significant new security measures in a bid to protect patrons from potential vehicle attacks, after recent incidents overseas.  Sixteen concrete blocks have been placed around the venue to stop a vehicle getting too close to the stadium.

Adelaide Oval chief executive Andrew Daniels said the blocks were temporary until more permanent measures were installed in time for the start of next year's Australian Football League season.  "In light of an number of incidents that have happened overseas ... most recently Berlin ... we have been progressively updating security”, said Daniels.  "One thing we have been aware of is risk of vehicle-born attack”.

"While it is incredibly low risk in Adelaide and while there is no direct threat, we are a place of mass gathering and we need to be very cognisant of what's happening in the world.  The [South Australian] government today announced approximately $1 million [£UK58,550] to be spent on a broad amount of work to be done around the precinct: hydraulic bollards, planter boxes, chairs, etc”.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and that city’s Docklands stadium say they are constantly updating their security protocols but there will be no further measures taken in the immediate future.  Docklands is nearly impossible to access via vehicle unless utilising the underground carpark, while the MCG is comfortable with its procedures.  The MCG will not return to using the outer perimeter fence that was trialled a year ago (PTG 1715-8503, 17 December 2015), although patrons will continue to go through metal detectors and bags will still be searched.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,011

Friday, 23 December 2016

 

• Erasmus named world ‘Umpire of the Year’ [2011-10172]. 

• Pakistan captain wins ICC ‘Spirit of Cricket award [2011-10173]. 

• Four ’neutrals’ named for NZ-Bangladesh Tests [2011-10174]. 

• Kidney transplant player seeks permission to use steroids [2011-10175]. 

Erasmus named world ‘Umpire of the Year’.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 22 December 2016.

PTG 2011-10172.

South African umpire Marais Erasmus, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) since 2010, has been named the ICC’s 'Umpire of the Year’ for 2016.  Erasmus, 52, is the fifth umpire to win the 'David Shepherd Trophy’ in its 13 years, following in the footsteps of five-time winner Australian Simon Taufel (2004-2008), three-time winners Aleem Dar of Pakistan (2009-2011) and Richard Kettleborough of England (2013-2015), and Sri Lanka's Kumar Dharmasena in 2012.

The ICC says Erasmus won the award as a result of votes cast by the ICC’s seven top match referees and the ten Test playing captains.  It goes on to indicate though that in winning Erasmus “beat off strong competition from his [EUP] colleagues Richard Illingworth, Bruce Oxenford and Richard Kettleborough”.  Where Dar and Dharmasena and the other six EUP members were ranked is not known.

In previous years the world body has indicated that in addition to “votes”, "ICC umpires’ performance statistics" gathered over the 12 months to the end of August each year are also factored into the decision-making process for the award, but there was no mention of that in this year’s announcement.  

During the year up until the end of September, Erasmus stood in four Tests and worked as the television official in a further three (4/3), 3/4 in One Day Internationals (ODI), and 6/5 in men’s Twenty20 Internationals; a total of 25 games.  When Kettleborough won the trophy last year he umpired in 24 internationals, 8 Tests all on-field, 16 ODIs, 13 on-field and three in the television suite.

Erasmus, who played at first class level before taking up umpiring, said via an ICC media release that: “David Shepherd has been one of the role models for many aspiring umpires and to win the trophy named after him is something to be really proud of. It has been an excellent period of international cricket and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of it”.  

He went on to thank the match referees and the Test captains who voted on the award, his fellow match officials, and his wife and sons "for their support and sacrifices so that I can live the dream of umpiring at the world stage.  Also mentioned was his ICC umpire coach, Denis Burns, "who during the past three years guided me to become the best possible umpire that I can be"

 

ICC General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice, congratulated Erasmus, saying: “The ICC is very fortunate to have such a strong team of umpires, and Marais has been deservedly rewarded for the steady improvement in his umpiring over the past few years. This recognition, voted by the match referees and the Test captains, shows the high regard in which Marais is held by those closely involved with the game”.

Pakistan captain wins ICC ‘Spirit of Cricket award.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 22 December 2016.

PTG 2011-10173.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has won the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) 'Spirit of Cricket’ Award for 2016. The ICC says the 42-year-old was adjudged the winner for "inspiring his side to play the game in its true spirit, at the same time lifting Pakistan from number-four to number-one in Test team rankings, a feat that was achieved without playing any Tests in his home country.

 

The skipper is the first Pakistan player to win the award with the previous winners being MS Dhoni (2011), Daniel Vettori (2012), Mahela Jayawardena (2013), Katherine Brunt (2014) and Brendon McCullum (2015) (PTG 1721-8535, 24 December 2015).  Prior to it becoming an award to an individual, the New Zealand side won it in 2004, 2009 and 2010, England in 2005 and 2006, and Sri Lanka in 2007 and 2008.

 

Commenting on the news, Misbah said he feels "honoured and humbled to have won. To lift the Test mace earlier this year and now this in the twilight of my career, is a message for every athlete that age is not a barrier as long as the sportsperson maintains highest fitness levels and continues to perform up to international standards".

 

“As a team, we have focused on playing within the rich traditions of the sport with a positive mindset and approach so that we can entertain the spectators and fans, and at the same time, challenge the oppositions. I am glad that this has been noticed and recognised by the game’s governing body”. 

Four ’neutrals’ named for NZ-Bangladesh Tests.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 22 December 2016.

PTG 2011-10174.

The first appointment 2016 world ‘Umpire of the Year’ Marais Erasmus has in 2017 is in the two Tests New Zealand and Bangladesh are to play in Wellington and Christchurch next month.  Erasmus will be working with Paul Reiffel of Australia, Nigel Llong of England and Javagal Srinath of India during the series.

Reiffel, who will return to umpiring in the One Day International series between the two sides on Boxing Day, is to stand in both Tests, his partner in Wellington being Erasmus and in Christchurch, Llong; Srinath overseeing both Tests as the match referee.  For Reiffel it will be his 29th and 30th Test on-field as an umpire, Erasmus his 40th on-field and 28th in the television suite, and Llong his 40th and 21st respectively.  For Srinath the two matches will be his 34th and 35th as a referee.

Kidney transplant player seeks ICC permission to use steroids.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 22 December 2016.

PTG 2011-10175.

Pakistani's Ali Waqas has urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to allow him to use steroids he needs to take following a kidney transplant.  The batsman underwent a kidney transplant last year and now he has decided to rejoin mainstream cricket with the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline side under the captaincy of Misbahul Haq. 

Following surgery Waqas, who turns 27 next Monday, vowed to play cricket again. He said patients like him “cannot survive without steroids” so he had approached the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the ICC, seeking special permission for usage of steroids.  He has already played 72 first class matches and represented Pakistan’s A-team. 

International Anti-Doping Agency rules say sportspeople can use steroids under certain circumstances but they are needed to take permission in advance.  Reports suggest ICC chief executive David Richardson has responded positively on the issue.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,012

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

 

• Black bat approved after clear cover added [2012-10176]. 

• Abusive player behaviour results in loss of umpires [2012-10177]. 

• Umpire changes his mind mid-decision, adjusts hat [2012-10178]. 

• Slow over-rate fine handed to Bangladesh [2012-10179]. 

• Bowling action tests sees Zimbabwean outed for 12 months [2012-10180]. 

• CA chief continues push Christmas Day BBL game [2012-10181]. 

Black bat approved after clear cover added.

Brydon Coverdale.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016.

PTG 2012-10176.

After banning it last week, Cricket Australia (CA) has now approved Big Bash League (BBL) player Andre Russell's black bat after a clear laminate cover was added to help protect the ball.  Russell used the black bat during Sydney Thunder's first match of the tournament, but after that game CA withdrew its approval for its use following feedback from the match officials that the bat had left black marks on the ball (PTG 2010-10165, 22 December 2016).

Anthony Everard, the head of the BBL, said on Tuesday: "Andre has worked with his bat manufacturer to modify the bat.  A clear laminate cover has been applied to the bat, which complies with regulations to ensure the ball discolouration does not occur again. We're now satisfied that the bat will not compromise the integrity of the game by discolouring the match ball and we have granted approval for Andre to use the bat in any future BBL matches”.

BBL and Women's BBL regulations allow players to use a coloured bat subject to CA approval. However, a coloured bat needs to either be black or match the team's primary colours. Chris Gayle had used a gold coloured bat during last year's BBL, produced by Spartan, the same manufacturer responsible for Russell's black bat.

Abusive player behaviour results in loss of umpires.

Riverina Herald.

Saturday, 24 December 2016.

PTG 2012-10177.

Northern Victoria's Goulburn Murray Cricket Association (GMCA) has put a call to recruit new umpires for the remainder of its 2016-17 season.  GMCA umpires’ co-ordinator Phil Dempsey indicated that at least eight officials had chosen not to be continue umpiring during the current season due to abusive behaviour from players.  The GMCA has four senior divisions each made up of between two and twelve teams, single umpires usually being appointed each of the games in the top two divisions.

Umpire changes his mind mid-decision, adjusts hat.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 26 December 2016.

PTG 2012-10178.

New Zealand umpire ‘Billy' Bowden experienced a moment of indecision during the domestic Twenty20 match between Northern Districts (ND) at Central Districts in Hamilton on Saturday. ND’s wicket-keeper Tim Seifert appealed for a caught behind appeal against the opposition’s Mahela Jayawardene.  Bowden slowly raised his arm but at the last moment instead made it look like he was adjusting his hat.

Slow over-rate fine handed to Bangladesh.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Monday, 26 December 2016.

PTG 2012-10179.

Bangladesh has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against New Zealand during the first One-Day International in Christchurch on Monday.   Mashrafe Mortaza’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration, therefore the captain was fined 20 per cent of his match fee and his team mates each 10 per cent.

 

Mashrafe 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 Wayne Knights and Chettihody Shamshuddin, third umpire Paul Reiffel and fourth official Chris Brown.

Bowling action tests sees Zimbabwean outed for 12 months.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 26 December 2016.

PTG 2012-10180.

Zimbabwe fast bowler Brian Vitori has been suspended from bowling in international cricket for 12 months, after his action for some deliveries was once again found to be illegal.  Vitori was reported over concerns about his delivery style during Zimbabwe's One Day International against Sri Lanka late last month (PTG 1991-10049, 1 December 2016).

The latest independent assessment of Vitori's action following that report took place at the University of Pretoria, an ICC-accredited testing facility in South Africa, two weeks ago, that examination showing that some of his deliveries exceeded the permissible limit of 15 degrees.  

The year-long suspension comes because  it was the second time in the space of two years that Vitori's action was deemed illegal.  He had been suspended from bowling for an illegal action in February this year but was cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to resume bowling in June after undergoing remedial work (PTG 1862-9336, 25 June 2016).

The Zimbabwean can appeal against "any procedural aspect" of the latest test that led to his suspension, but he will only be able to approach the ICC for another assessment of his action after 12 months have elapsed.

CA chief continues push Christmas Day BBL game.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016.

PTG 2012-10181.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland says there is "growing sentiment" for a Big Bash League (BBL) match to be staged on Christmas night, as the Twenty20 format morphs into a beast (PTG 2002-10121, 12 December 2016).  Sutherland and his family were left to flick on re-runs of traditional festive film National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on the big night, giving him more food for thought that a T20 match could fill a live sporting void.

CA has monitored how leading US sports go about handling the festive break, with the National Basketball Association (NBA) treating it as one of its key planks outside of the play-offs. The NBA slated five matches on Christmas Day, all of which were strongly supported by crowds and television ratings, the latter worldwide.  Television watching in the US at that time of the year is abetted by the usually very cold conditions as the northern midwinter approaches.

Sutherland suggested it would be too early to schedule a BBL game on Christmas Day next year – but it appears this is likely to happen soon. Speaking on ABC radio on Tuesday he said: "I am not sure we will be ready for it then [2017], but the more I think about it and, obviously, you think a little bit about it on the evening of Christmas night, and then you see what happens the next day with the NBA in the US and the crowds and knowing the television audiences, I think there is a growing sentiment that it is a possibility”.

"We need to think about the right venue for it and we also need to consult widely. We understand it's not just a narrow-minded cricket decision. There is a lot more to it than that, and we will think it through. But I think it is an opportunity and it would be a good thing for the game, for cricket fans around the country”.  CA has created a working party to investigate the concept, with a match likely to be either a twilight or night clash. BBL franchises will likely have to submit an expression of interest.

Sutherland said he was mindful players may be reluctant to cede their Christmas days, but said "it is also part of the job”.  "The Australian cricket team come in [to Melbourne] a few days before Christmas and they are here. Our daughter was on a lunch-time flight to Sydney on Christmas Day to play in a women's [BBL] match on Boxing Day.  It's part and parcel of what happens to a professional cricketer today. I think that's a concern or a matter we will talk through, but the reality is a lot of cricketers are on the move at that time anyway”.

This shapes as another issue CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association may discuss when already fractured negotiations over a new Memorandum of Understanding resume in the new year (PTG 2010-10169, 22 December 2016).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,013

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

 

• Big Brother catches bowler’s attempt to improve figures [2013-10182]. 

• Fielding clash leaves player concussed [2013-10183]. 

• Third umpire accidentally presses ‘out’ button [2013-10184]. 

• How you can breach CA's rules without even knowing it [2013-10185]. 

Big Brother catches bowler’s attempt to improve figures.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016.

PTG 2013-10182.

There's been a mini scandal in the Sydney grade cricket scene this summer, but it's got nothing to do with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. In cricket circles, it's even more salacious than that. Telling lies to enhance one's own cricket reputation is not uncommon,  but as this case shows the ramifications of doing so can be dire. 

Reports say that a player in a lower-level side has been expelled from his club after he was found to have been “improving" his bowling figures in the team’s official scorebook. Unfortunately for him the altered figures were causing problems when it came to entering data from the book into Cricket Australia’s on-line ‘MyCricket' database as the numbers simply would not add up. 

Some may say this is very trivial and hardly a sackable offence, but in the digital era when records are so readily accessible the importance of keeping accurate records is magnified, as is the incentive to tamper with them. Indications are that the operation was "very amateurish" and the word is it was "ludicrous" someone thought they could get away with it.

Fielding clash leaves player concussed.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016.

PTG 2013-10183.

Two players from Cricket Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League Brisbane Heat franchise were involved in a sickening head clash whilst fielding that saw both tumble to the turf in a match against the Melbourne Stars in Brisbane on Tuesday.  Deandra Dottin and Laura Harris converged heavily as they tried to stop a ball hit out to mid-wicket from crossing the rope. 

Dottin and Harris rolled around in obvious agony near the picket fence as players and staff came running to their aid.  Harris was the first to recover it seemed, sitting up on her knees as a teammate and staffer examined her face.  Dottin stayed down longer and appeared to be having trouble with her shoulder. She was stretchered off the field and taken to hospital with a suspected concussion after the ugly collision.

Third umpire accidentally presses ‘out’ button.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016.

PTG 2013-10184.

Pakistan opener Azhar Ali was given a rude shock on Tuesday in the Boxing Day Test when he was wrongly given 'run out' on the Melbourne Cricket Ground scoreboard. The Australians had appealed in hope more than anything for a run out at the bowler's end that was referred to third umpire Richard Illingworth. 

So unconfident were they of success, Steve Smith's men were taking drinks and not even paying attention when the scoreboard flashed the red signal for ‘out'. The news was met with smiles and laughter by the Australians and shock by the Pakistanis, who were quickly informed by umpire Sundaram Ravi of the technical glitch. It would appear Illingworth pressed the wrong button after looking at the replay.

How you can breach CA's rules without even knowing it.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016.

PTG 2013-10185.

Any spectator who has ever filmed footage on their mobile phone at a Cricket Australia (CA) match and uploaded it to social media has breached CA's digital media rights. But don't feel too bad if you did not know, neither, it seems, did the Melbourne Cricket Club who were asked by CA on the first day of the Boxing Day Test on Monday to remove from the Melbourne Cricket Ground's (MCG) official Twitter account, a re-tweet of a fan's post that showed video of Australian spinner Nathan Lyon's taking a wicket.

Under CA's ticket and entry conditions, fans are not allowed to disseminate video or sound recordings on social media without written consent of the governing body, which holds the digital media rights. The rule, however, is hardly ever enforced among the general public – it would be simply too hard to police and it's free publicity as well for the game. But CA wanted the MCG, as the official venue, to retweet by the correct methods – that is from CA's cricket.com.au account.


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,014

Thursday, 29 December 2016

 

• Call to give umpires more discretion in rain delay situations [2014-10186]. 

• Did captain’s concern lead to early lunch? [2014-10187]. 

• Team bizarrely withdrawals from game in sight of win [2014-10188].

• Black bat could feature in Tests [2014-10189].

• Second concussion break for Canterbury batsman [2014-10190]. 

• Fielding clash leaves player with fractured cheekbone [2014-10191]. 

• South African becomes 10,000th LBW victim in Tests [2014-10192]. 

• 'Jumbo screens', Christmas BBL match?, for Melbourne stadium [2014-10193]. 

• Proposed rent rise could see club forced off its ground [2014-10194]. 

Call to give umpires more discretion in rain delay situations.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10186.

Frustrating rain delays over the third three days of the Australia-Pakistan Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has led to a number of commentators calling for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give umpires greater discretion for remaining on the ground when only light showers are falling (PTG 2014-10187 below).

Channel Nine commentator Mark Nicholas said the world body needed to look into the issue, asking: “Is there now a case for us to push the ICC to be more lenient about weather, because the regulation saying that you can’t start in any form of rain, even little drops of rain, is surely too strict, too tight and too unforgiving for the spectators?” 

Co-commentator and former Australian captain responded: “The law as you say has been quite strict for a long time now.  But the instruction to umpires for as long as I’ve been involved in administration has been to try and get the game restarted as quickly as possible and also to stay out in bad weather as long as you possibly can”.

Taylor said he knows "umpires are always worried about the fairness of the game, trying to make sure that one side doesn’t get a disadvantage from staying out or having to go back out in tough conditions. But I think that the instruction has been to try and get that off the table and get playing and keep playing as much as we possibly can. We have to try and stay out there. If some side happens to get slightly disadvantaged that’s sometimes the luck of the draw because people who are watching on TV or have come to the ground here want to see as much cricket as possible”.

Nicholas retorted: “The game has never been fair. It’s not fair from the minute the toss is lost or won”, before another former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, weighed in saying: “I think common sense has to prevail. If it’s a spot or two, no matter what the law says, get the players out there and get them going. Then you have to make a judgment at what point do you stop, because the rain is having an effect on the pitch and could make the pitch dangerous. Those things have to be taken into consideration. But the overriding factor should be common sense”.

In Nicholas’ view "the ICC might look at just altering the regulation enough to say that they could start in conditions they would usually continue in rather than refuse to start, even if it is only very light. You know, it’s not as if Test cricket isn’t fighting enough of a battle as it is and every opportunity to play needs to be taken”.

Did captain’s concern lead to early lunch?

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10187.

Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s coach, says his side's momentum on day two of the Boxing Day Test against Australia on Tuesday was broken by a ’premature’ rain delay in the Boxing Day Test.  The decision of umpires Ian Gould and Sundarum Ravi to call lunch 10 minutes early amid light showers on day two at the Melbourne Cricket Ground raised many eyebrows.

The finish to the opening session of the day left some observers wondering if Australian skipper Steve Smith had pulled "a fast one" on Gould.  Smith had entered into a conversation with Gould as very light rain fell.  One take from commentators was that Smith wanted an early lunch because Australia was due to take the new ball and he didn’t want it ruined by two overs on a slightly wet ground, which if true was hardly a reason for stopping play, for as one pundit put it “that is the luck of the draw”.  

Smith had opted not to take the new ball when it was first available, the 81st over being bowled with the old ball before Smith began his conversation with Gould prior to the 82nd was bowled.  

The captain’s reasoning appeared to become clearer after his discussion with Gould who soon decided to take the players from the field.  "If he has [pulled a fast one on Gould], he’s done very well”, said former Australian captain Mark Taylor, “Because I haven’t read in the rules of cricket anywhere the captain can request an early lunch.  At the end of the day it’s not the end of the world, but I’m not really sure why they came off”.

The wife of a Melbourne Cricket Club veteran is reported to have said of the pre-lunch conditions: "I wouldn't have taken my washing in today”.  Arthur appeared upset at the decision to deny his team the opportunity to add more runs in batsmen-friendly conditions for he walked on to the field and held a brief discussion with Gould and Ravi.

Team bizarrely withdrawals from game in sight of win.  

My Republica.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10188.

Nepal’s Armed Police Force (APF) women’s team somewhat bizarrely refused to continue playing in the National Games cricket final against the Eastern Region side in Biratnagar on Tuesday, apparently over a dispute as to whether they had scored a four or not.   Despite appearing to be in a winning position, APF withdrew its batters from the ground and Easterns were subsequently handed the match.

The dispute started with APF needing nine runs from as many balls to win the match.  The first ball was hit towards the boundary and there was confusion as to whether a four had been scored, but on enquiring with the fielder concerned, the umpire awarded APF two runs, a decision their players and officials watching on from the boundary disputed.  

Despite that play eventually continued and the next two balls sent down were called ‘wide', which meant APF then only required five runs from the remaining eight deliveries to win the game.  After that though the batsmen at the crease left the ground as a result of what one report said was "pressure from the players’ box”. 

Nepalese umpire Durga Nath Subedi, who is a member of the International Cricket Council’s third-tier Associates and Affiliates Umpires Panel (PTG 1824-9121, 11 May 2016), told reporters it was “inappropriate" for APF to withdrawal from the match due to the dispute. “Every umpire asks the fielder in such situation and the APF players must be well aware of it”, said Subedi.

National Sports Council Member Secretary Keshab Kumar Bista said “it is not the first time that such incidents have occurred. A system needs to be developed for punishments to be handed out in such situations.  We cannot afford to have anarchy in sports”.

Black bat could feature in Tests.

Myles Holbrook-Walk.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10189.

With Andre Russell's black bat receiving the green light for use in Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League (BBL), manufacturers of the coloured willow may look at a multi-coloured range for other players in the competition (PTG 2012-10176, 27 December 2016).  Spartan Sports' bat has been a talking point of the BBL and according to Paul Cochrane, the company's general manager of media and marketing, the bat could even feature in Test cricket. 

"You can't rule anything out. We would be happy to collaborate with administrators and have that conversation if we felt there was an appetite to introduce the coloured bat into the longer format of the game”, said Cochrane.  What's more likely for now is the potential for more coloured willows to feature in the BBL. 

Cochrane says it is possible Spartan will look to other brand ambassadors, which include Brad Hogg, Mitchell Johnson and Joe Burns to use coloured bats.   "Now we're at a point where we could potentially look at different colours for our ambassadors which work in with the colours of the team uniform”, he said.

These are troubling words for self-professed 'traditionalist' and teammate of Russell, Shane Watson who hit out at the bat calling it pretty ridiculous during a press conference on Tuesday.  Watson said he didn't believe the bat made any difference whatsoever to Russell's performance, but Spartan haven't styled the bat for improved performance, this is about entertainment.

Watson's comments didn't particularly trouble Cochrane though.  "Once upon a time they brought in coloured clothing and there were people who didn't like that in the game of cricket and it's now standard.  The [BBL] is an entertainment product and [CA] and administrators all round the world who run Twenty20 tournaments don't hold on back on that it is cricket and it is entertainment”, Cochrane said.

While the cricket purists of the world like Watson have their reservations, for now at least the black bat is here to stay.  According to Cochrane: "It's bringing a new dimension to the viewer experience and the entertainment value of Twenty20 cricket," Cochrane said.

Second concussion break for Canterbury batsman.

Chris Barclay.

New Zealand Herald.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10190.

Canterbury batsman Chad Bowes has been sidelined for a second time this southern hemisphere summer after again failing a concussion test.  The 24-year-old has been ruled out of his side's next two New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Twenty20 games after he failed a concussion test administered following his side’s match against Otago in Alexandra on Boxing Day.

Bowes suffered his first head knock during the opening round of the Plunket Shield in October when he attempted to hook Northern Districts' paceman Scott Kuggeleijn - a blow that forced him to miss the next two rounds of that format.  During the Boxing Day game, Bowes top-edged a short ball onto his helmet grill, and although he was cleared to continue his innings it ended a ball later when he was out ‘caught'.

Reports say Bowes' symptoms were not as severe this time and it is hoped he will return in time for Canterbury’s final round-robin game on Monday.  Under both NZC and Cricket Australia Playing Conditions for domestic limited over games this season, teams are allowed ‘concussion substitutes’ when a player found to be suffering from concussion cannot continue in a game (PTG 1993-10057, 3 December 2016).   

Fielding clash leaves player with fractured cheekbone.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10191.

West Indian Deandra Dottin suffered multiple fractures of her cheekbone as a result of the on-field collision with Brisbane Heat teammate Laura Harris in a Women's Big Bash League match against the Melbourne Stars on Tuesday (PTG 2013-10183, 28 December 2016).

Dottin will consult a specialist this week but is considered only an outside chance of playing again this season even if her side make the semi-finals late next month.  The prognosis was much brighter for Harris, a team spokesman saying on Wednesday she had "recovered well”.  Harris received medical treatment after Tuesday's collision but took no further part in that game.

South African becomes 10,000th LBW victim in Tests.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10192.

In 140 years of Test cricket, there have been a total of 2,243 Tests. In this period, there have been batsmen who have gone past 10,000 runs in Tests. There have been bowlers who have taken over 500 wickets. However, in the first Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth, one batsman entered a very unique club. 

On the third day of the first Test, in the 51st over of South Africa’s second innings, Nuwan Pradeep and Hashim Amla became part of history. In the sixth ball of the over, Pradeep bowled a full and straight delivery on middle and leg stump, Amla looked to work it to mid wicket but missed and was struck on the pad. Sri Lanka appealed and Amla was given out LBW, the 10,000th time a batsman dismissed in that manner in Tests.

First Test LBW dismissal came in the first such game which was played between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1876. England’s Harry Jupe was given out LBW after he was trapped in front by by Australia fast bowler Tom Garrett for 63. 

‘Jumbo' screens, Christmas BBL match?, for Melbourne stadium.

Sam Landsberger.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10193.

The Melbourne Renegades Big Bash League (BBL) franchise plans to hang “JumboTron” television screens weighing 13 tonnes from the roof of Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium during Saturday week’s local derby against the Melbourne Stars.  If a top edge somehow flies 27 m directly above the pitch and connects with the high-definition screens, the ball will be declared dead, but batsmen who hit the stadium roof will still be awarded six for the shot.

In a world first for cricket, the Renegades have shipped the screens from Japan and will assemble them in the ­stadium, which has a retractable roof, the day before the match.  They will hang 11 m below the roof and face spectators sitting side-on to the pitch in the expected sellout crowd of about 45,000.

Renegades chief executive Stu Coventry had the idea while admiring Cleveland Cavaliers’ big screens used for this year’s United States National Basketball Association (NBA) finals.  "I was also lucky enough to go and visit the Dallas Mavericks office, where the owner, Mark Cuban, says, ‘We’re not in the business of selling basketball, we’re selling fun’”, Coventry said.  “The screens at an NBA game are extremely interactive and provide that fan experience”.

Coventry said Docklands is “he only venue in [Australia] that can do this because we’ve got a roof. It’s something I don’t think anyone will want to miss, because it’s a first for cricket.  We allocated a fair chunk of budget to it in June. If there’s something out of the box in [the BBL] it’s always the Renegades who do it — we don’t do things by halves”.

It can also be ­revealed that Docklands Stadium management wants to host a Christmas Day BBL match and has told Cricket Australia, which is strongly pushing the concept, that the 93-square metre screens would help make the ground the ­perfect venue  for such a game (PTG 2012-10181, 27 December 2016).  

Docklands chief executive Michael Green has made a presentation to BBL boss Anthony Everard about how the screens would help to make Christmas Day cricket a hit.  “We’ve worked with the Renegades on this”, stadium spokesman Bill Lane said.  “We expect an overwhelming, positive reaction — the fans will be blown away —and that should have us in the box seat to host ‘Jingle Bash’”.  

Not everyone though is quite as excited about the prospect of a game being played on Christmas Day (PTG 2002-10121, 12 December 2016).

Proposed rent rise could see club forced off its ground.

Northamptonshire Telegraph.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016.

PTG 2014-10194.

Northamptonshire’s Isham Cricket Club (ICC) could be forced to leave its home ground unless an agreement can be reached over a proposed 124 per cent increase to their annual rent.  The club is now asking supporters to petition to the Isham Parish Council (IPC) - who are trustees of the land - in an attempt to change their minds over the rise.

ICC treasurer Tony Robinson said: “The [IPC] took over as trustees from the Playing Fields Association [PFA] three years ago [which was when] we started discussing the lease renewal.  The council had an independent valuation done to judge what the rent should be and came up with £UK515 [$A880] per annum, an increase of 11 per cent on what we currently pay, which we felt was reasonable”.

Despite that the IPC is said to have demanded a payment of £1,040 ($A1,770) a year, which is up 124 per cent and, says the club, has no bearing on the land’s market value.  According to Robinson:  “It would mean we need to find another £13,000 ($A22,150) plus inflation over the period of the lease and it is questionable whether we could do that on top of rates and insurance and paying all the maintenance costs including beyond the cricket boundary grass-cutting, hedge trimming and dog bin provision". 

Robinson said his club, which runs five senior sides and five youth teams, was "a non-profit organisation run by volunteers in an effort to make cricket affordable for all.   We are solely responsible for the upkeep of the ground and pavilion and get no help from the council despite the field being a public recreational facility.  The facility is a valuable community asset which we maintain thanks to the commitment of our volunteers but we cannot be treated as a blank cheque book by the parish council and just keep raising more and more money”.

An IPC spokesman said: “The [PFA] is dealing with this matter and they will be making a response to the cricket club in the new year”.  The club, which was formed in the 1870s, has played at its Orlingbury Road home since the late 1970s but feel their long-term future is in doubt if the negotiations are unsuccessful.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,015

Friday, 30 December 2016

 

• Match-fixers targeting young Aussies on social media [2015-10195]. 

• CA adds gender, sexuality attacks to ICC anti-racism policy [2015-10196]. 

• ‘Not Out’ caught until next October [2015-10197]. 

• Women’s cricket in TT called a major success story [2015-10198]. 

• Reaction to dismissal leads to reprimand [2015-10199]. 

• Bowler reprimanded after ‘expletive deleted' [2015-10200]. 

• Ticket agency accused of facilitating BBL scalping [2015-10201]. 

Match-fixers targeting young Aussies on social media.

Peter Rolfe.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 30 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10195.

Young Australian cricketers are being targeted by international match-fixers using social media to groom rising stars in a bid to corrupt the sport Down Under (PTG 1994-10063, 4 December 2016).  Foreign bookmakers have started targeting players through sites such as ‘Twitter' to obtain sensitive information. Scores of male and female players have been contacted via their private social media accounts this summer by figures believed to be linked to offshore betting syndicates.

Players in all formats had been warned about match-fixers and spot-fixers preying on the Australian game via the internet.  Cricket Australia (CA) head of integrity Iain Roy said: “We’ve had a number of approaches made on social media to players already this season.  ‘Twitter' approaches asking for information about team selection, pitches and that sort of thing”.  In-form cricketers vying for national selection or on the brink of Big Bash League (BBL) careers have become a particular focus of the corruption push.

Roy said players in all forms of the game had been briefed not to reply to suspicious online approaches and report the behaviour to the game’s governing body.  CA would not reveal how many players had been approached but said men, women and even promising juniors had also been sent messages on ‘Facebook' and ‘Instagram'.  Australian cricket chiefs hold serious concerns about illegal foreign bookmakers operating in the country, especially in the BBL after a string of scandals in similar Twenty20 competitions overseas.

It is believed pitch-siders, such as one who was elected from an Australia-NZ One Day International this month (PTG 1997-10078, 7 December 2016), who take advantage of broadcasting time delays to feed match information overseas and manipulate live betting markets, are sending information to illegal bookmakers.  “They are actually reporting it back up the chain to people who we think are involved in illegal bookmaking operations overseas in the subcontinent and the United Arab Emirates”, Roy said.  Wanted posters of suspected pitch-siders will be handed to security at matches for the remainder of the austral summer, with staff trained to identify them in the stands and hand them over to authorities.  

In a further bid to combat the problem, regulated Australian bookmakers have partnered with CA to provide information on suspicious bets.  Detailed information on bets placed on cricketers in and out of form, unusual punting such as players bowling several wides in an over and strange dismissals is now shared with CA. The 2013 Australian Crime Commission’s “blackest day in Australian Sport’’ report identified “significant issues in professional and sub-elite sport in Australia’’ (PTG 1056-5133, 11 February 2013).

CA adds gender, sexuality attacks to ICC anti-racism policy.

Tessa Ackerman.

The Australian.

Friday, 30 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10196.

Cricket Australia (CA) has broadened the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) anti-racism policy to include offensive conduct based on people’s gender or sexual orientation.  The ICC’s anti-racism policy for international cricket requires all of the world body's members ensure its “Policy Statement on Inappropriate Racist Conduct” is displayed during each international match played in the member’s jurisdiction.  

The statement addresses conduct likely to “offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any other person ... on the basis of their race, religion, culture, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin”.  An ICC spokesman said the policy, based on a similar one from 2003, had been in place since 2012 and had been expanded in consultation with members. If an ICC member did not display the sign, action could be taken against them.

CA has now added to the ICC’s statement to say people must not “engage in any conduct (whether through the use of language, gestures or otherwise) which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any other person ... on the basis of their gender, race, religion, culture, colour, sexual orientation, descent or national or ethnic origin”.

A CA spokesman said the association was very pleased with the behaviour of fans this season.  “We want to make coming to the cricket a fun and family friendly environment”, he said.  “[CA] takes a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour at any of our matches. If you come to the cricket and ruin someone else’s day or show anti-social behaviour you will be removed and face being banned from any cricket match across Australia, as well as police action being taken”.

In November, a spectator in Hobart was banned from Australian matches for three years after allegedly scrawling racist graffiti directed at South African player Hashim Amla at Bellerive Oval. The graffiti on a fence was removed within minutes (PTG 1976-9957, 14 November 2016).

‘Not Out’ caught until next October.

PTG Editor

Match reports.

Thursday, 29 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10197.

Pakistan short leg fielder Azhar Ali had to leave the ground when a ball pulled powerfully by Australian batsman Matthew Wade struck and broke his helmet during day four go the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.  

After hitting the helmet the ball popped up and was caught by Babar Azam at short fine leg but Wade was, under the current Law given ’not out’, a situation that will change when the Marylebone Cricket Club’s new Laws Code comes into forced next October (PTG 1998-10086, 8 December 2016).  Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket have already introduced it in their domestic games. 

Ali was treated on-field before departing with the broken helmet, Wade apologising before he did so.  The Pakistani was later cleared to return to the game when it resumes on Friday morning.

Women’s cricket in TT called a major success story.

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

Thursday, 29 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10198.

Women's cricket in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) has been identified as one of the major success stories of 2016 by Azim Bassarath, the president of the TT Cricket Board (TTCB).  Bassarath heaped plaudits on the women’s game recently when he addressed the graduation ceremony of 2016 inductees at the Sir Frank Worrell Development Centre in Couva.  He said the TT Women’s Cricket Association under Jocelyn Francois Opadeyi continues to establish itself as a proud asset of the TTCB.

The TTCB’s senior women’s side won both the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) women’s 50-overs, and Twenty 20 titles at regional tournaments staged in Guyana; while the women’s Under-19 team were victorious in the WICB Twenty20 competition played which took place in TT.  

Bassarath said that: “Facilities [for women] are being improved, clubs are being engaged, cricket development is ongoing, and recognising all of this, more cricket is being promoted by the TTCB".  Lauded for their support, "which has significantly contributed to the strength of the local cricket product", were the umpires, match referees and scorers who Bassarath said have provided "yeoman service over the years".   “Though at times they are maligned, the game cannot really be played with match officials”, he said, before “[urging] them to continue to work towards increasing the level of professionalism within the fraternity”.

Reaction to dismissal leads to reprimand.

PTG Editor

CA media release.

Thursday, 29 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10199.

Rachel Priest, a player with the Melbourne Renegades in Cricket Australia's (CA) Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), has been reprimanded for "using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting” during her side’s fixture against the Adelaide Strikers at North Sydney Oval nearly three weeks ago.  

CA, which only released basic details of the censure on Wednesday, said Priest’s offence occurred when she was given out caught and that she was reported, presumably by umpires Marc Nickl and Glen Stubbings, for what was a Level One offence.  After considering Nickl and Stubbings' report, match referee Graham Reed proposed giving the 31-year-old a reprimand a censure she accepted, therefore no formal hearing was required.

Bowler reprimanded after ‘expletive deleted'.

PTG Editor

ICC media release.

Thursday, 29 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10200.

Tanbir Hayder of Bangladesh has been officially reprimanded, and had one demerit point added to his disciplinary record, for “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting” during the second One Day International (ODI) of the New Zealand series in Nelson on Thursday.  

 

The incident involved Tanbir, after being hit for a four, using obscene language which was heard by umpires Paul Reiffel and Chris Brown.  He admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Chris Broad and, as such, there was no need for a formal hearing.  The charge was levelled by on-field umpires Reiffel and Brown, third umpire Chettihody Shamshuddin and fourth umpire Wayne Knights.

 

Under International Cricket Council regulations all Level One first offences carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand, a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee, and one or two demerit points.  Should Tanbir reach four or more demerit points within a 24-month period, they will be converted into suspension points and he will be banned, two such points equating to a ban from one Test or two ODIs or two Twenty20 Internationals, whatever comes first for the player.

Ticket agency accused of facilitating BBL scalping.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 30 December 2016.

PTG 2015-10201.

Cricket authorities on Thursday were warning fans about scalpers targeting the booming Big Bash League (BBL) after complaints were levelled at ‘Ticketmaster’, the official agency, of unfairly cashing in on the competition's popularity.  Friday night's BBL match at the Gabba between the BBL’s Brisbane and Hobart franchises sold out on Thursday morning.

People looking for tickets in what is Brisbane's opening home match of the current season were shocked to see limited tickets advertised at exorbitant prices on the ‘Ticketmaster’ website.  Adult grandstand seats at the Gabba, originally sold for $A40 (£UK24), were offered for $A113.85 (£67) (excluding delivery fees) through a section on Ticketmaster's website called 'Ticketmaster Resale'.  Under Queensland's anti-scalping laws, tickets to events there can only be resold at a maximum 10 per cent above their original price. 

A government spokesperson said any accusations of scalping were a matter for the police and public complaints could also be investigated by Queensland's Office of Fair Trading.  The ticketing drama came as a surprise to Queensland Cricket (QC) who were aware resold tickets could not be passed on for more than 10 per cent their initial price.  Cricket Australia issued a warning earlier this year about third-party ticket scalping, one which QC reiterated on Thursday afternoon, a spokesman saying: "Only buy your tickets from an official ticketing agency and be wary of ticket resellers”.

‘Ticketmaster’ was also accused of ripping off fans in March when tickets to a regular season Australian Football League match in May were sold out within 10 minutes and seats were resold at $A142 (£83.60) through Ticketmaster Resale.  Suncorp Stadium, another sporting facility in Brisbane, warns on the home page of its website it has no obligation to honour tickets purchased from or through unauthorised third-party re-sellers like 'Ticketmaster Resale', ‘Viagogo' and ‘eBay'.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,016

Saturday, 31 December 2016

 

• Third slow over rate fine in four Tests for Pakistan [2016-10202]. 

• Let’s get some former umpires in the commentary box [2016-10203]. 

• Movie advertising comes to the back of bats [2016-10204]. 

• MCG ‘bird’ kites’ on trial as part of anti-seagull push [2016-10205]. 

• ICC conducts dope tests on two Pakistanis [2016-10206]. 

• Match-fixing will persist unless authorities tighten laws [2016-10207]. 

Third slow over rate fine in four Tests for Pakistan.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Friday, 30 December 2016.

PTG 2016-10202.

 

Pakistan has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against Australia during the second Test that ended in Melbourne on Friday.  Match referee Ranjan Madugalle imposed fines after Misbah-ul-Haq’s side was ruled to be two overs short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.  It’s the third time in Pakistan's last four Tests that the side has been censured for such an offence.  

 

In accordance with International Cricket Council regulations which relate to minor over-rate offences, Misbah has lost 40 per cent of his match fee and his players 20 per cent of their.  He pleaded guilty to the charge that was laid by on-field umpires Ian Gould and Sundaram Ravi, third umpire Richard Illingworth and fourth umpire Sam Nogajski. 

Misbah-ul-Haq was banned for one Test after the opening game of his side’s Test series in New Zealand last month (PTG 1983-9989, 22 November 2016).  Agar Ali, his replacement for the second and final Test of that series, was subsequently fined 100 per cent of his match fee and his ten team mates each 50 per cent after it was again found they had not met over-rate requirements (PTG 1991-10047, 1 December 2016).

Let’s get some former umpires in the commentary box

The Roar.

Saturday, 31 December 2016.

PTG 2016-10203.

 

I don’t know what it’s like to be an international umpire, especially today, with technology having a far greater role than at any time in the history of umpiring. With that in mind, is it time for a former umpire’s voice on the commentary panel?

Whatever you think of Shane Warne’s commentary on Australian broadcaster Channel Nine, if a spinner’s on, chances are that he’ll answer the questions you have about what the bowler’s doing. 

For obvious reasons, he is that network's voice on spin bowling. 

He can tell you what it’s like to be treated as an afterthought by your captain, or why it’s so difficult to bowl only after the quicks have failed to get the breakthrough. Other commentators can, but if in doubt, they naturally defer to Warne.

Everyone feels qualified to have an opinion on umpiring. Frankly, they should. Cricket needs opinions and different points of view lead to the progression of umpiring. Marketing gimmicks help too: the ‘Zing' bails should be used for every match because of how they make adjudicating run outs and stumpings easier. 

Yet cricket also needs authoritative voices on umpiring, and commentary panels lack umpires. It is understandable, because umpires aren’t names in the same way former players are. The problem of recognition is enhanced by umpires having to mostly officiate overseas due to the need to be seen as impartial. 

I don’t know what it’s like to have to play your home Tests away from home. A Pakistan player can tell me that. What voice on a commentary panel can tell me what it’s like to be unable to officiate on the field in a Test involving the country of your birth? 

And who can tell me about the importance of the square-leg umpire in the modern game, where most decisions that are within the purview of the square-leg umpire are sent up to the third umpire? What sort of communication goes on between the umpires in a match that is different from a match with no technology?

We already have a better idea of that last question through access to the third umpire’s voice when looking through a review, although that is but a mere snapshot.  I’m not calling for more access to umpires as they do their job – more access to players hasn’t necessarily equated to more insights. I’m suggesting more access to those who can better explain the evolving tradecraft of modern umpiring.

Movie advertising comes to the back of bats.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 30 December 2016. 

PTG 2016-10204.

Eagle-eyed viewers would have noticed the picture of an unshaven man with the word "LION" emblazoned on the back of Australian batsman Mitchell Starc's bat on the final day of the Test against Pakistan in Melbourne on Friday, but it had nothing to do with bat manufacturer ‘Kookaburra’.  The image is of British actor Dev Patel. But what's the connection between Starc and the man who rose to prominence with his performance in the Oscar-winning 'Slumdog Millionaire'?

Patel plays a big role in the new movie ‘Lion', which is co-produced by the Sunstar Entertainment company which is run by Starc's manager Andrew Fraser.  The drama, which also features Australian actors Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, tells the story of Hobart man Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his family aged five and then used Google Earth to find his mother in India some 25 years later.

An examination of the International Cricket Council’s ‘Clothing and Equipment Rules and Regulations’ suggests, on the surface at least, that Starc’s sticker is within the guidelines.

MCG ‘bird’ kites’ on trial as part of anti-seagull push.

Peter Rolfe.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Friday, 30 December 2016.

PTG 2016-10205.

Bird-like kites flying high over the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as part of a bid to scare off seagulls will be trialled for the rest of the current austral summer before a decision is made to keep or kill them off for the coming winter football season.  Guardians of the MCG have installed two kites at either end of the stadium in the latest bid to rid pesky gulls from the playing surface.

After trying and failing to rid the MCG of seagulls for years, Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) chief executive Stephen Gough said a new approach was needed.  As a result spectators taking their seat in the stands of the MCG for the Boxing Day Test during the week could have been forgiven for thinking large, dark birds were flapping high above the ground.

Gough said: “We are trialling the bird deterrent kites during the cricket season [and] will assess at the end of the trial before determining whether they will be used at [Australian Football League] matches”.  Gough, who in March will stand down as MCC boss after more than 17 years in the post, hoped the kites would stop the birds distracting players and spectators.  According to him: “The kite simulates a bird of prey, which is a natural predator of the seagull".

Dubbed the “hovering hawks’’, they have so far been credited with reducing the numbers of birds interrupting play.  It is the latest attempt by the MCC to rid the ground of seagulls, which has included the use of trained wedge-tailed eagles named ‘Zorro' and ‘Sabrina' to try to scare them away, as well as a noise deterrent system.  High wires 180 m long and 35 m, hung between the northern and southern stands in the hope of stopping seagulls flying on to the field, will be used again next year.

It was revealed last month that the MCC may one day consider putting a lightweight, retractable roof over the MCG as part of its long-term plans to keep the stadium world class (PTG 1970-9928, 7 November 2016).  Apart from avoiding multiple rain delays during this week’s Test, Gough said such a move could also end the MCG’s seagull problem.

ICC conducts dope tests on two Pakistanis.

Press Trust of India.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

PTG 2016-10206.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) conducted routine dope tests on Pakistan’s Azhar Ali and leg spinner Yasir Shah during the Melbourne Test on Wednesday, according to the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) media director Amjad Hussain Bhatti.  The results of the tests are expect ted to be available by mid-January.  Whether anyone else from either side were also tested is not known.

Yasir Shah’s last dope test a year ago produced a positive result due to the presence of chlortalidone, a banned drug.  He later clarified that he had mistakenly taken his wife’s blood pressure medicine, as chlortalidone is also used to treat high blood pressure, and had no intention of using any illegal substance to enhance performance.  

Despite that he was suspended for three months, a time during which he missed out on the Pakistan Super League, Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 Championship (PTG 1756-8759, 8 February 2016).

Match-fixing will persist unless authorities tighten laws.

Peter Rolfe.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Friday, 30 December 2016.

PTG 2016-10207.

Match-fixers will continue to prey on promising Australian athletes unless authorities do more to stamp out corruption on a global scale, independent Senator Nick Xenophon believes. Xenophon, who was commenting after it was revealed illegal foreign bookmakers were trying to groom rising Aussie cricketers, said laws about reporting the approaches were “vague’’ and more needed to be done to stop Australian sport and its brightest talent being corrupted (PTG 2015-10195, 30 December 2016).

The Senator said: “It seems like these rules are made to be broken because it does not seem like there is enough enforcement of the rules.  There needs to be co-operation between the Australian Federal Police and other agencies and there should be mandatory reporting by law any attempt to contact you about match fixing.  It needs legislative teeth”.

The South Australian Senator said the fact fringe Big Bash League and promising players were being targeted spelled trouble for Aussie sports culture.  “This is literally international organised crime”, he said.  “The big thing here is once a young player has been caught up in this they are trapped for life and that is why it needs to be nipped in the bud”.

Former Australian batsman Dean Jones said he was not surprised match fixers from abroad were trying to use emerging players to corrupt matches, describing it as a “cancer on all sport’’.  “You would be stupid to think it doesn’t happen in our sport”,’ he said.  “I think it happens in every sport but we’ve got to keep it to a bare minimum if we can”.

 

End of December 2016 news stories.