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JANUARY 2017
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 19 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 10208-10311)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,017

 Sunday, 1 January 2017

 

• CA five-year plan to focus on local clubs [2017-10208]. 

• Bush cricket clubs wait anxiously on BBL largesse [2017-10209]. 

 

CA five-year plan to focus on local clubs.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Saturday, 31 December 2016.

PTG 2017-10208.

Now that the Big Bash League (BBL) s booming, Cricket Australia (CA) is looking to do something about the cracks in the game’s bedrock (PTG 2005-10138, 15 December 2016). Clubs are not just struggling with the heavy load of producing players to deliver the TV content, they are battling to survive.  While cricket is indisputably popular, whether it is healthy is another matter.

In an interview during the Boxing Day Test, CA chairman David Peever revealed the national body's next five-year plan would have community cricket as its centrepiece. It will push to promote the game in indigenous communities and exploit its success in women’s cricket. He also seeks an end to the code wars.

Reaching down from the wood-panelled boardrooms to haul up the little people follows the extraordinary success of the BBL, after the domestic Twenty20 competition was front and centre in CA's previous five-year plan. The seismic shift from the glitzy Big Bash with its flame cannons and flashing bails to the suburban and country ovals is in keeping with Peever’s mantra that cricket is the “people’s game”.

“It’s much more than a slogan”, he says from CA’s dining room high in the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s WH Ponsford Stand. “It is the people’s game. The game is owned by … 24 million Australians. That’s how we see it. We are guardians, custodians of the game … for a short while”.

On that the people who nourish the game’s grassroots and those who water, mow and scarify the pitch are in calm agreement with Peever. On other matters they differ.

Peter Sleep, who played 14 Tests for Australia as a leg spinner between 1979 and 1990 and now coaches grade club Tea Tree Gully in Adelaide, says local cricket is in dire need of urgent help. “All the money basically goes to the top of the tree … what’s got to happen is more money comes down the system because, quite simply, grade clubs are run by volunteers”, he says.

Sleep said: “We get $A50,000 (£UK29.165) a year. And that has to pay for coaches, administration and everything else. And balls. Cricket balls are your biggest expense. After everything’s taken out, you basically have about minus five grand.  With more money coming down into the game you can provide better facilities, better practice wickets, better everything, really. Then the game can start going forward again. Because the standard has gone backwards”.

The former international isn’t sure the CA monolith understands the magnitude of the problems. “We’ve got people working for [CA] who’ve never played a game of cricket in their lives”, he says.

Peever is not among them. The 59-year-old was a former opening batsman for Easts in Brisbane. When told of Sleep’s concerns, he adopts a conciliatory line.  “We recognise and agree with most of what Peter has said”, he says. “And we recognise we’ve got to build this foundation much more strongly. We’ve got to get the right facilities. We’ve got to be supporting the volunteers much more than we have been, and so working out the ways to do that is really important”.

CA intends to start its back-to-­basics drive with a national audit of cricket grounds and facilities such as practice nets and clubrooms. And local clubs are desperately short of ovals (PTG 2017-10209 below). The five-year strategy would build on the audit.  CA claims to currently 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 (PTG 2004-10131, 14 December 2016).

“I’m as not convinced that standards have slipped”, Peever says. “Peter’s probably much more in touch with it than I am. When I talk to people about club cricket, they say it’s a really strong competition. How do you judge that? I don’t really know.  Nevertheless it’s an important point and we listen to all of that. But we do feel if we take our foot off the pedal and can’t get that sustainsbility at grassroots, it could deteriorate”.  Deteriorate further, some may say.

Bush cricket clubs wait anxiously on BBL largesse.

Andrew Faulkner and Sam Buckingham-Jones.

The Australian.

Saturday, 31 December 2016.

PTG 2017-10209.

A long way from the bright Sydney Cricket Ground lights of the Big Bash League (BBL), 452 km to be precise, the Lake Albert Bulls Cricket Club in Wagga Wagga is rattling the can and holding out a battered cap.  Like local clubs all over Australia, the Bulls, where former Australian players Mark Taylor, Michael Slater and Geoff Lawson started their careers, need a hand paying the bills. 

Budding Steve Smiths and Meg Lannings might be slipping through the nets because their parents can’t afford the travel costs that come with playing cricket in the bush.  “We do sponsorship to subsidise our fees”, club president Scott Turner says. “It’s about opportunity. There are a lot of kids who don’t get noticed because travel or costs might be a restriction"

Enter Cricket Australia (CA), which revealed this week that community cricket will be at the heart of its next five-year strategy (PTG 2017-10208 above).  Declaring it has listened to the concerns of the volunteers who give so much time to the sport they love, CA has pledged more money for grassroots cricket.

Whether it be a new mower or help with the biggest cost of all — balls — CA is coming to the rescue of the nation’s long-neglected clubs.  It is scanning dusty fields to the 'back and front' of Bourke to assess the Australian cricket landscape.

CA will start with a nationwide audit of grounds and facilities and move into redistributing cash generated by the BBL and soaring TV ratings.  CA chairman David Peever says the five-year strategy’s “central component … is grassroots” cricket.  He said: “We recognise that we’ve got to build this foundation much more strongly.  We’ve got to get the right facilities [and] we’ve got to be supporting the volunteers much more than we have been”.

In Euroa, northeastern Victoria, the local cricketers also could do with a helping of CA cash. Robbing the local bank would help but, sadly, bushranger Ned Kelly who ‘worked’ in the area is long dead and the National bank he robbed in 1878 is long closed.  Euroa locals dream of building a place for their children to play. And the field of their dreams, the Friendlies Reserve, is a battered old bit of real estate.

In their dream, which they have developed into a formal proposal, turf wickets will replace brutal concrete. There will be a clubrooms too, overlooking a lush outfield ringed with a running track and book-ended by soccer goals.

So when the news filtered through this week that big cricket is shifting its focus from the glitz and glitter of the BBL to the little people who underpin the summer game, local volunteer Rob Asquith was very interested indeed.  “We need the facilities”, said Asquith. “And they’ve been very lackadaisical in supporting this kind of thing. This is the kind of thing they need to know about.  It virtually hasn’t had any money spent on it. A little bit from the [cricket] club and a little bit from the local Rotary Club”.

The club’s heavily used main oval, on the other side of the Seven Creeks from the ground the town wants to upgrade, boasts a scoreboard salvaged from an earlier incarnation of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).  The oval itself has the same dimensions as the MCG. That’s thanks to the grand old cricketer of Euroa, Harry “Bull” Alexander, the man who gave the Englishmen a touch of their own dastardly medicine during the ‘Bodyline' series.

Former Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes was born in the town.  He said yesterday: "it’s a great initiative by [CA] to get back to grassroots cricket.  From what I understand, the Friendlies Reserve has been left behind a little bit, so to do it up would be great for everyone involved in cricket in Euroa”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,018

 Monday, 2 January 2017

 

• Captain fronts referee over her Duckworth-Lewis ‘confusion’ [2018-10210]. 

• Limited BBL opportunities continue for CA DP members [2018-10211]. 

• WBBL side penalised for slow over rate [2018-10212]. 

• Boxing Day Test in South Africa - success? [2018-10213]. 

• $A4.50 campaign targets Sutherland departure [2018-10214]. 

Captain fronts referee over her Duckworth-Lewis ‘confusion’.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 1 January 2016. 

PTG 2018-10210.

Australian and the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) Melbourne Stars captain Meg Lanning fronted the match referee for clarification on cricket's rain rule after her team was upset in Sunday's rain-marred WBBL derby at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.  Lanning's frustration and confusion over the interpretation of the Duckworth-Lewis method was obvious when she approached umpires Steven Brne and David Shepard on the field immediately after her side lost by nine wickets.

Her opponents the Melbourne Renegades had needed only seven runs off 3.3 overs to win when play resumed after a lengthy rain break.  At that stage Lanning was of the belief that target should have been increased when Renegades skipper Rachel Priest was dismissed two balls after play resumed. The umpires said at the time that was not the case, and repeated this stance when Lanning approached them and made her feelings clear on national television when the match was over.

Lanning was soon called before match referee Ken Hannam to discuss the issue.  She said afterwards: "It was just a chat with the match referee clarifying the rules really, just to make sure we are on the same page.  It was a little bit confusing there at times. I don't know what the rule is, obviously. It was nothing major, just to clarify things.  I was under the impression it [size of run chase] would change if we took wickets but there was just a bit of miscommunication about that. I know now the target doesn't change if you take wickets but that was what I thought”.

The Stars had posted 3/127 after 20 overs, but the Renegades' chase was cut to 122 when an over was lost due to rain between innings.  Another rain delay with the Renegades on 0/45 after 4.3 overs would see the contest reduced to eight overs under the Duckworth Lewis method, meaning the they needed only seven more runs off 3.3 overs. That they had not lost a wicket had made their task even easier when the revised total was assessed.

 

Limited BBL opportunities continue for CA DP members.

PTG Editor.

CA appointments.

Monday, 2 January 2017.

PTG 2018-10211.

Cricket Australia (CA) has again given limited opportunities to the six members of its second-tier Development Panel (DP) to work in the final 14 home and away matches in its 2016-17 Big Bash League (BBL), the majority of spots going to members of its National Umpires Panel (NUP) as was the case in the opening 18 games (PTG 2000-10105, 9 December 2016)  

DP member Tony Wilds will make his on-field debut in the series and also has a second game, former NUP member Damien Mealey who currently has 19 BBL games to his name will be on-field once, while Donovan Koch and David Shepard will work as television umpires in the competition for the first time.  The other two DP members, Simon Lightbody and Claire Polosak, have single fourth umpire spots. 

Polosak has been busy having been given 21 CA appointments across Canberra, Hobart and Sydney over the last two-and-a-half months.  Six were in men’s competitions including an on-field debut in a state Second XI four-day match, a first for a women (PTG 1945-9783, 13 October 2016), a third umpire spot in the BBL in Hobart later today, another first, and four games as the reserve umpire in CA’s one-day men’s competition.  

There have also been 15 women’s games, 12 on-field, including two in One Day Internationals for the first time (PTG 1933-9715, 29 September 2016), and two in the final of CA women’s competitions, plus two as the television umpire and one as a reserve.

WBBL side penalised for slow over rate.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Saturday, 31 December 2016.

PTG 2018-10212.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) Melbourne Renegades Womens Big Bash League (WBBL) side have been docked 0.5 competition match points as a result of a slow over rate in their match against the Perth Scorchers in Melbourne last Thursday.  The Renegades were found to be "6.5 minutes behind the scheduled time to complete their 20 overs", after allowances, a time CA says equates to being one over short.  

In addition to the points loss, captain Rachel Priest received a "one strike” penalty.  CA’s WBBL Playing Conditions say in part: "For every two strikes imposed on a captain in respect of over rate breaches committed in a WBBL season, the captain will be suspended for the next WBBL match for which she is available for selection, regardless of whether that match is in the same or the next WBBL season”.  

Boxing Day Test in South Africa - success?

Neil Mantorp.

Super Sport.

Saturday, 31 December 2016.

PTG 2018-10213.

What constitutes a successful Test match? What are the criteria? Smoothly coordinated logistics, a good pitch which provides opportunities for batsmen and bowlers, a close contest, a happy crowd, a home victory…they will all be requirements for the majority of spectators. 

Congratulations to Faf du Plessis, Stephen Cook and the rest of the team. And a special shout-out to head groundsman Adi Carter who did a brilliant job. I’m sick and tired of people routinely repeating the hackneyed, boring line about ‘low and slow’ at St George’s in Port Elizabeth. It’s tired, out-of-date and uninformed. 

However, over the last decade or so the ‘success’ of the Boxing Day Test match has been measured overwhelmingly by the size of the crowd at Kingsmead and St George’s. It’s time to cast aside the blinkers of conventional thinking and really, really look at the tradition of the Boxing Day test with fresh eyes.

My limited and unscientific research and feedback suggests that the Test match remains immensely popular with cricket followers – perhaps more so then ever. Just because only a couple of thousand people go to the stadium, doesn’t mean to say they aren’t interested or don’t care. Television viewing figures prove that.

Durban and Port Elizabeth both offer strongly attractive alternative forms of entertainment and, let’s be brutally honest here – the stadium aren’t the most modern or comfortable. 

Only the grass embankments really offer the chance of comfortable, family entertainment. The lack of shade in most of the seats is a huge disincentive. Watching from the comfort of home with the chance to jump in and out of the pool and grab a cool drink whenever you want is a temptation many fans can’t resist at this time of the year. Cricket is increasingly a ‘made for television’ event.

The New Year Test at Newlands is different for many reasons. The Boxing Day Test will not be the same, unless we change our thinking.  My suggestion is to make it our annual circus, in the best traditions of mobile entertainment. When England or Australia are in town then St George’s, Kingsmead or Centurion should be contenders as hosts. 

But when other nations are touring, why not take the game to our smaller venues. With a year’s notice they make sure the fans in their cities are aware that it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be there and be a part of it.  Kimberley, Potch, Paarl – the Boxing Day Test! Come on…think about it. There’s a lot to be said for progressive change.

$A4.50 campaign targets Sutherland departure.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 31 December 2016.

PTG 2018-10214.

"Sutherland must go!" It's a cry that has not been heard as much since the Australian team started its climb from rock bottom but there's one Australian cricket fan who is continuing the crusade. The fan, who preferred to be known only as Terry, says he has been putting up stickers in and around the Melbourne Cricket Ground outlining his case against Cricket Australia’s (CA) chief executive.

It's very much a no-frills campaign Terry is running: he's printed 180 stickers at the cost of 2.5 cents apiece – or $A4.50 in total (£UK2.60).  The sticker reads: "Sutherland must go! Cricket is our game, not his corporation. We wanna win Tests, not make profit”.  According to Terry he’s: "stuck them everywhere I can, on toilet, mirrors, garbage bins”. 

We admire Terry's ambition however it will take more than a $A4.50 campaign to unseat Sutherland, who has survived multiple Ashes defeats, a root and branch review of the national body and the fact that he still has the support of the CA board.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,019

 Tuesday, 3 January 2017

 

• Top BCCI officials removed for stalling reforms [2019-10215]. 

• Dar goes to top of the international umpires’ list [2019-10216]. 

• BBL pair fined for ‘dissent’, ‘abuse of equipment' [2019-10217]. 

Top BCCI officials removed for stalling reforms.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 2 January 2016.

PTG 2019-10215.

In a major move, the president and secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the world’s richest cricket board, were removed from their positions on Monday by the country’s Supreme Court because of their failure to implement administrative reforms recommended by the Court-appointed Lodha Committee (PTG 1995-10069, 5 December 2016).  The decision is the latest in a saga that commenced with Indian Premier League corruption issues nearly four years ago, matters that were investigated by the three-man, Lodha Committee.

In July, the Supreme Court accepted most of the recommendations made to it by the Lodha panel.  The BCCI rejected a number of the recommendations made by the panel, including age and tenure restrictions for top officials, as well as banning them from serving successive terms.

Lodha, a former Supreme Court Chief Justice, told reporters Monday's verdict "was a victory for Indian sports, especially for cricket [and] would lead to transparency, accountability and good governance in the game”.  “Being at the helm of affairs, if [BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke], were not able to implement the Supreme Court order, [their removals] were bound to follow".  

The Court said that a "committee of administrators" would now be appointed to run the BCCI on a daily basis under the supervision of the Lodha Committee, the latter's job now being limited to "overall policy making”.  Until the “committee of administrators" is formed, the BCCI’s senior-most vice-president has been ordered to take over as president.

Dar goes to top of the international umpires’ list.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 2 January 2016.

PTG 2019-10216.

Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar became the game's most experienced international umpire on Monday when he broke former South African umpire Rudi Koertzen’s record of standing in 331 senior men’s internationals on taking the field in the second Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Cape Town.  Dar is also standing in his 109th Test, one more than Koertzen, but still 19 behind the Test record of the now retired West Indian Steve Buckner. 

Of Dar’s 332 games, 209 are Tests, 182 One Day Internationals (ODI) and 41 Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) (332 - 209, 182, 41).  The others at the top of the list are: Koertzen (331 - 108, 209, 14); Bucknor (309 - 128, 181, 0); ‘Billy’ Bowden of New Zealand (308 - 84, 200, 24); Australian Simon Taufel (282 - 74, 174, 34); his countryman Daryl Harper (279 - 95, 174, 10); and David Shepard of England (264 - 92, 172, 0).  The Pakistani lies second in the overall Test list, third in ODIs, and first in T20Is.

Dar, who joined the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) in 2002, said the milestone is a great honour for him and thanked everyone who supported him throughout the years. “It is a great honour for me and I would like to thank Allah as well as my family and friends, who have always supported me”, he said.  The now 48-year-old won the ICC’s 'Umpire of the Year' award in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

On the same day Dar was notching up his record, his on-field colleague Rod Tucker became the 13th person to have stood in 50 Tests (PTG 2006-10139, 16 December 2016).

Tucker, 52, who joined the EUP in 2010, said via an ICC media release: “Cricket has been a life-long passion since my days as a player, so to be standing in my 50th Test match as an umpire is a great achievement in my career.  I would like to thank the New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association and Cricket Australia for helping me on the pathway to the ICC Elite Umpires Panel".

Adrian Griffith, the ICC’s Senior Manager – Umpires and Referees said the Australian "is a very good umpire with a fine temperament. He has done consistently well at the international level and this along with his dedication has afforded him the opportunity to reach this milestone.  I congratulate him on behalf of everyone at the ICC and wish him all the best for the future. He has served cricket well and we hope he continues to excel in the coming years”.

BBL pair fined for ‘dissent’, ‘abuse of equipment'.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Monday, 2 January 2017. 

PTG 2019-10217.

Two Big Bash League players, Adam Zampa of the Melbourne Stars and Mitchell Marsh of the Perth Scorchers have each been charged and fined following incidents in their respective matches on Sunday evening.  Zampa was fined $A2,000 (£UK1,165) and Marsh $A2,500 (£1,455) by Cricket Australia for their respective offences.

Zampa was run-out late in his side’s run chase and reacted by slamming his bat into the Melbourne Cricket Ground turf as he walked off the ground, only to see it snap at the handle. He was reported for "Abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during a match”, a Level One offence.  Match referee Steve Bernard, considered the written report from on-field umpires Shawn Craig and Geoff Joshua and offered Zampa a reprimand and the fine which he accepted.

Over in Perth, Marsh was charged with dissent at an umpire’s decision, which is also a Level One offence, when he questioning the square leg umpire regarding a possible waist-high no-ball that wasn't given as he batted late in his side's innings.  

After considering the report from umpires Gerard Abood and Mike Graham-Smith, match referee Daryl Harper proposed the fine, however, Marsh contested the charge. Harper then conducted a hearing but “after considering all parties reasoning”, he upheld the original guilty decision and fine.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,020

Thursday, 5 January 2017


• ‘Spidercam’ plays key role in ‘Hit Wicket’ dismissal [2020-10218]. 

• ‘Pitchsider’ ejected from Bellerive Oval BBL match [2020-10219]. 

• Brisbane Heat players fined for slow over rate [2020-10220]. 

• ‘Brexit' sparks Kolpak county rush [2020-10221]. 

‘Spidercam’ plays key role in ‘Hit Wicket’ dismissal.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 5 January 2017.

PTG 2020-10218.

Australian batsman Peter Handscomb was given out in unusual circumstances after a review using ‘Spidercam’ footage showed for his bat had dislodged the leg-bail during the third and final Test against Pakistan in Sydney on Wednesday.  Handscomb was out hit-wicket after stepping deep in his crease and clipping the leg bail as he played a wide ball from Wahab Riaz.

Confusion followed as the Pakistanis eventually realised that a bail had been dislodged. Third umpire Ian Gould was called upon and determined that Handscomb had in fact hit the stumps. The batsman said after the day’s play:  "I thought I could have gotten away with it if ‘Spidercam’ hadn’t [been directly overhead at the time]” and provided a clear view of just what happened.

‘Pitchsider’ ejected from Bellerive Oval BBL match.

Simeon Thomas-Wilson.

Hobart Mercury.

Wednesday, 4 January 2016.

PTG 2020-10219.

A ‘Pitchsider' suspected of sending information to illegal bookmakers was thrown out of Bellerive Oval in Hobart during the Hobart Hurricanes’ Big Bash League (BBL) match against the Adelaide Strikers on Monday.   The person was escorted from their seat towards the end of the Strikers’ innings and police were made aware of the incident.  ‘Pitchsiders' try to take advantage of the broadcasting time delays to manipulate live betting markets by sending information to illegal foreign bookmakers.

A number of pitchsiders have been caught at Hobart Hurricanes and international matches at the oval, with up to five the most detected during one game at the venue.  The ground has recorded the highest detection of pitchsiders for any venue in Australia because of the smaller size of the ground and a new state-of-the-art surveillance system.  It is not clear whether this week’s incident has been the only detection of a pitchsider at a Hurricanes home match this season.

A Cricket Australia (CA) spokeswoman said the governing body took a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to bring the game’s credibility into disrepute.  “Australian cricket has a longstanding, proactive approach to sports integrity management,” the spokeswoman said.  For the first time, those caught pitchside betting at matches in Australia this summer will have the contents of their mobile phones downloaded by authorities in a bid to catch illegal offshore betting kingpins.

It comes as CA last month confirmed that young Australian cricketers are being targeted by international match fixers who are using social media to groom rising stars in an attempt to corrupt the sport.  There have been no reports of any Hurricanes players being approached.

Last month, police at Canberra's Manuka Oval escorted a man from the venue after they suspected he was working as a pitchsider during t the Australia-New Zealand One Day International (PTG 1997-10078, 7 December 2016).  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).

Brisbane Heat players fined for slow over rate.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017.

PTG 2020-10220.

Each player in the Brisbane Heat side that played the against the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League (BBL) fixture in Brisbane last Friday have been fined $A1,000 (£U590) for maintaining a slow over rate.  The fine will be reduced to $A500 (£295) per player should the franchise accept the penalty without appeal.  The side was found to be 5.5 minutes behind the scheduled time to complete their 20 overs, which after allowances were allied equated to being one over short.  

In addition to the fine Brisbane captain Brendon McCullum received 'one strike’ against his name.  CA’s BBL Playing Conditions say in part: "For every two strikes imposed on a captain in respect of over rate breaches committed in a WBBL season, the captain will be suspended for the next BBL match for which he is available for selection, regardless of whether that match is in the same or the next BBL season”.  

In contrast to fines in the men’s game, slow over rate matters are dealt with its women’s equivalent by docking teams found guilty of such an offence 0.5 competition match for every over they are behind.  Earlier this week the Women’s Big Bsh League’s Melbourne Renegades side were, like then Brisbane Heat men counterparts, were found to be "6.5 minutes behind the scheduled time to complete their 20 overs”.  However, WBBL captains face suspensions for multiple offences like the men (PTG 2018-10212, 2 January 2016).

‘Brexit' sparks ‘Kolpak' county rush.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Thursday, 5 January 2016.

PTG 2020-10221.

Uncertainty over ‘Brexit' has prompted an exodus of South Africa players to county cricket on ‘Kolpak' contracts, with more expected to agree terms before the start of the season. François Brink, who brokered Stiaan van Zyl’s move to Sussex, said that he advised the all-rounder to sign the three-year deal because the route may be shut once Britain leaves the European Union (EU).  ‘Kolpak' status precludes a player from representing his or her country.

Concerns within Cricket South Africa (CSA) at the loss of Test players have escalated amid reports that Kyle Abbott is close to joining Hampshire. CSA officials have sought talks with Weber van Wyk, Abbott’s representative, over the pace bowler, whose career has blossomed to the extent that he may spearhead the attack against England this summer.  CSA will be concerned over the future of Abbott, 29, who is opening the bowling in South Africa’s present Test against Sri Lanka.

As well as Van Zyl, who has played 12 Tests, the international pair of Hardus Viljoen and Simon Harmer have agreed ‘Kolpak' terms with Derbyshire and Essex respectively. Dane Piedt and Rilee Rossouw have been touted around the counties, while Stephen Cook, the Test opener, is also believed to be susceptible to approaches.  The director of cricket at one leading county reported a rush of interest from South African players and representatives at the end of last season before a quieter period leading into Christmas. “Brexit certainly made people ask questions”, he said. “There is a feeling, perhaps, that if you want that sort of player you should get him now”.

Brink, whose agency also manages Piedt, Vernon Philander, Ryan McLaren and Chris Morris, said: “When Stiaan was offered the chance to go as a Kolpak, we said, ‘Let’s take it because the opportunity may never come again’. It was certainly a driver in his decision. Our advice to clients is that we have to keep Brexit in mind.  Nobody knows what will happen, but I have to say that in all my time I have not met a South Africa player whose first ambition has not been to play for South Africa. You take that as far as you can, then adjust your targets accordingly”.

The “Kolpak” term comes from Maros Kolpak, a Slovakian handball player, whose victory in a Luxembourg court in 2003 allowed sportsmen from outside EU countries to be treated as though they were in the Union if their nation had a trade agreement.  An influx of South African cricketers abated when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) tightened regulations in 2009. To qualify since, a player must have either appeared in one Test during the previous two years, five in the past five, or in 15 white-ball internationals in two years. However, withdrawal from the EU may leave the Kolpak ruling redundant and block the route completely.

Other factors are also making moves attractive. The toughening of quotas in South Africa’s domestic game so that at least six non-white players feature in each franchise has reduced opportunities for white cricketers. Tony Irish, the chief executive of the South African Cricketers’ Association, also believes that soft currency is a factor.  “We pay in the Rand, which can devalue quite significantly from year to year,” he said. “If you go to England you are paid in pounds, and then dollars for the Twenty20 leagues overseas. A lot of players are going to where they are more valued financially. If there is a chance that Brexit will close the Kolpak loophole, you can see there might be this rush”.

In England, the Professional Cricketers’ Association is monitoring signings. David Leatherdale, the chief executive, said: “Immediately after Brexit, we looked at registrations and found 23 EU or Kolpak players out of 410”, he said. “If that suddenly grew to become an average of two or three per side it might become a concern”.  He suggested that the ECB’s Performance Related Fee Payments, which reward counties for fielding nine England-qualified players, will prevent a wave of imports.

An ECB spokesman said: “We await information on the legal situation post-Brexit and will need to hold detailed discussions with our stakeholders, the government and other sporting bodies before we can comment further”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,021

Friday, 6 January 2017

 

• More pressure as a TV umpire than on field, says Erasmus [2021-10222]. 

• Player being monitored after second head strike in three days [2021-10223]. 

• WBBL team lodges appeal against slow over rate penalty [2021-10224]. 

• CA chief outlines his part in bat-ball balance issue [2021-10225]. 

• $A800 m CA TV deal on horizon as BBL reaches new heights [2021-10226]. 

More pressure as a TV umpire than on field, says Erasmus.

Mahlatse Mphahlele.

SuperSport.

Thursday, 5 January 2017.

PTG 2021-10222.

Current International Cricket Council (ICC) umpire of the year Marais Erasmus says the introduction of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) has had a positive impact on the game.  He admits though that he feels more pressure while working as a television umpire than on the field because there is no room for error when looking at referrals.  "On field mistakes are‚ to a certain extent‚ understandable but you are not supposed to make a wrong decision while reviewing on television”, said the South African..

Cricket umpires are constantly under tremendous pressure and Erasmus admitted that there would always be human error despite working hard to get decisions right.  He was one of the first to speak out about the UDRS and the positive effect it has on the game, something he thinks "most international umpires” now also believe because it "helps fix errors”.  "You don’t start umpiring differently because there is UDRS [for] we [always] continue to try and get decisions right.  You don’t want to give a 'not out' decision because the fielding team has a review or something like that but [rather] give a decision that is right in the moment”.

Erasmus also said that there were teams that are difficult to work with but: “Generally I have a good relationship with all the international sides” he umpires.  He pointed though to Kane Williamson of New Zealand and India’s Virat Kohli as the two captains he enjoys working with the most. "Williamson is a respectful guy on the field and Kohli is passionate about the game”.  

But all umpires come across challenging moments during matches.  Erasmus remembers a day during a Test in India last year "when Kohli came to me and said you have to give batsmen out because India only had one review left".  "Moments later [Kohli’s opposite number] Alastair Cook came to me and said the same thing.  I was laughing to myself and saying that [at least] opposing captains agree on something”.

Player being monitored after second head strike in three days.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017.

PTG 2021-10223.

Australian opening batsman Matthew Renshaw was being assessed overnight for possible concussion after being struck in the helmet for the second time in three days whilst fielding at short leg during the third Test against Pakistan in Sydney on Thursday.  It was the second blow to the head Renshaw had copped in the match for two days earlier he was struck by a Mohammad Amir bouncer which left the grille of his helmet bent and forcing it to be replaced, but was quickly given the green light to continue by team doctor Peter Brukner and soon after completed his maiden hundred.  

After being struck by a ball hit by Pakistan's Sarfaz Ahmed on Thursday, Renshaw withdrew from the field after complaining about a headache. Australian assistant coach David Saker he would continue to be monitored overnight.  "These days with head knocks you've got to take them quite seriously”, Saker said. "He'll be assessed and we'll just deal with that in the morning”.  Bruner said: "Matthew complained of a headache. He came off the ground to rest and is having an ongoing assessment of his condition” (PTG 1939-9752, 6 October 2016).  

WBBL team lodges appeal against slow over rate penalty.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Thursday, 5 January 2016.

PTG 2021-10224.

The Sydney Thunder side in Cricket Australia’s (CA) Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) competition have lodged an appeal against the penalty handed to them for maintaining a slow over rate in their WBBL fixture against the Brisbane Heat in Sydney on Monday.  

Match referee Ian Thomas, a former first class and international umpire, found that after allowances the Thunder side were a whopping nine minutes behind the scheduled time to complete their 20 overs, a time CA says equates to being two overs short.

Given that, and in accordance with the WBBL Playing Conditions, Thunder were therefore penalised 0.5 competition match points for each over they were short, while their captain Alex Blackwell received "one strike”.  As it currently stands if the side is penalised again in such a manner when Blackwell is the captain she will be suspended from the following WBBL fixture her side is due to appear in.

CA has not indicated just what the basis of Thunder’s appeal against losing a competition point is, nor when the hearing involved will actually take place.  That process though will be overseen by CA Code of Conduct Commissioner David Harper.

CA chief outlines his part in bat-ball balance issue.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph

Friday, 6 January 2016.

PTG 2021-10225.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has confirmed his role in helping instigate a review of the oversized bats.  Sutherland says he encouraged former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his colleagued on the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) World Cricket Committee (WCC) to thoroughly examine whether size restrictions should apply, but equally whether an overhaul of cricket balls was also needed to help safeguard bowlers from an imbalance between bat and ball.

A number of players well-known for their large bats and extravagant stroke making  have hit back at the proposal to ban their provocative giant willows, arguing that the game’s number one priority should be to put bums on seats.  However, Sutherland, a former first-class quick, says the opinions of international bowlers must also be taken into consideration.

In Sutherland’s opinion, memorable moments like Australian opener David Warner’s before day one lunch century in the Test against Pakistan in Sydney on Tuesday would still happen with smaller bats, but a size ban might stop the questionable look of top edges flying for six.  “I can understand people reviewing it and I think that we’d certainly encourage that with the MCC and the [WCC]”, said Sutherland.  “I spoke to them in Adelaide [in November 2015] … my views were I would encourage them to look at that, but I felt to look at the bat in isolation without looking at the ball is probably fraught, or somewhat one-dimensional.

That Adelaide WCC meeting referred to by Sutherland agreed, as it had done over the three years before that, that “more research” was needed into bat issues (PTG 1699-8384, 29 November 2015), but at its next meeting seven months on the group finally decided “the time is right to introduce further bat size limitations to the Laws” of the game (PTG 1876-9399, 13 July 2016).  That was followed last month by a recommendation from the WCC that bat edges be limited to 40 mm and bat depths to 67 mm (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016). 

Sutherland said on Thursday: “There are things that should be looked at with the ball as well, to ensure the ball is providing enough support for the bowlers — whether it’s around the hardness or the size of the seam.  I think that if you hit the ball in the middle and you hit it for six, no matter what bat you’ve got, you deserve to have a six.  But I don’t believe you deserve to be able to hit a six off an edge”.  Sutherland made it clear he’s not calling for bat restrictions, rather a thorough review to take place — because fair balance between bat and ball should be the game’s objective.

Meanwhile, CA’s chief executive says he has no problems with the pitches prepared for the Test matches in Sydney and Melbourne, despite criticism they’re too flat.  He admits drop-ins like those at the Melbourne Cricket Ground can be problematic, but is confident the new Perth Stadium will closely mimic the bouncy conditions that have always been synonymous with the WACA.  That variability in pitches and unique character is important but at the same time, as we know, the necessities around drop-in pitches now with multipurpose stadiums does make that a little bit more challenging”, he said.

Cricket Australia has not heard back as yet from Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman after a request was made by the authority to run the microscope over cricket’s women’s contracts and pregnancy guidelines (PTG 2007-10147, 18 December 2016). CA is confident their current requirement that women players disclose pregnancy to a team doctor for health and safety reasons will be given the green light, but may not hear back from the Ombudsman for some time yet.

$A800 m CA TV deal on horizon as BBL reaches new heights.

Christian Nicolussi.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 6 January 2017.

PTG 2021-10226.

Australian cricket's next TV deal could reach $A800 million (£UK473 m) over five years as broadcaster Channel 9 prepares to throw everything at securing the Big Bash League (BBL).  This week’s cricket has proved why the Ten Network is facing an almighty fight to retain rights to the BBL.  The Twenty20 matches have challenged the on-going Test in Sydney which is one of the standout sporting events on the Australian calendar when it comes to TV ratings.

While Nine attracted a national peak audience of 1.821 million and 1.427 million viewers on its opening two days, Ten’s BBL numbers peaked at 1.47 million for Tuesday’s Sydney Sixers-Brisbane Heat match, then 1.48 million the following night in the Sydney Thunder last-ball win.

Nine are so desperate to add the BBL to their summer schedule they are placing more importance on the short-form rights than Australia’s internationals.  Only Test cricket can hold its own against the BBL when it comes to ratings.Talks with Cricket Australia (CA) over BBL rights will hot up as early as March.  There is more room for networks to trial new technology such as miking up players while batting and bowling.  

Five One Day Internationals (ODI) against Pakistan and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) against Sri Lanka pencilled in the coming weeks will struggle to pull in decent ratings for Nine.

Nine currently pay $A90 m (£53.2 m) a year for all Tests, ODIs and T20s, and are unlikely to budge on that price when the current five-year deal expires at the end of next summer.  But the $A20 m (£11.8) paid by Ten for the BBL each season is set to fetch as much as $A60 m (£35.5 m) a season when it comes up for renewal at the end of next summer.

Fox Sports are not expected to compete for the new BBL rights and CA would also prefer cricket remain on the free-to-air networks.  Ten are aware they will need to dig much deeper to retain the BBL rights.

CA general manager of media, communications, and marketing Ben Amarfio said: “We hope to commence the rights discussions once we get through this season and have some greater clarity about what we have to offer those who are interested in bidding.  Ultimately the market will decide on the value of the rights [but] we are obviously very bullish of a strong outcome”.

The new deal that could nudge as much as $A800 m (£473 m) over five years if the BBL rights triple to $A60 m (£35.5 m) a year and the international rights go for close to $A100 m (£59 m). Their summer rival, the football A-League, last month trumpeted a six-year deal worth $346 m (£205 m).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,022

Saturday, 7 January 2017


• Test concussion case puts pressure on ICC to bring in subs, says doctor [2022-10227]. 

• Poor scheduling puts heat on Australian tourists in India [2022-10228]. 

• Reprimand handed to WBBL player for showing ‘dissent’ [2022-10229]. 

• ‘Investec' pull out of ten-year £UK50m ECB Test sponsorship deal [2022-10230]. 

• South African pair quit internationals to play county cricket [2022-10231]. 

• Arctic 'big bash' an eye opener for NZ umpire [2022-10232]. 

Test concussion case puts pressure on ICC to bring in subs, says doctor.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 6 January 2017.

PTG 2022-10227.

Cricket Australia's (CA) national team doctor Peter Brukner has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to take a "very serious" look at introducing concussion substitutes.  Brukner’s comment came after Australian player Matthew Renshaw was ruled out of the rest of the Sydney Test against Pakistan before play on day four on Friday, a day after being struck on the helmet while fielding at short leg. It was the second blow the Queenslander had received in the match after being hit on the grill of his helmet while batting on day one (PTG 2021-10223, 6 January 2016).

Renshaw became the first Australian player to be pulled out of a Test since CA introduced stringent concussion related protocols in 2015 for its competitions (PTG 1601-7770, 25 July 2016).  Brukner, an advocate for improved protocols around concussion, believes Renshaw's episode will provide more impetus for change in cricket.  Last year the ICC rejected, for the second time, CA's push for concussion subs to be introduced into the Sheffield Shield so any move to bring new rules at Test level will be difficult (PTG 1844-9246, 4 June 2016). 

"The more experience we have with this, the more common it is, the more pressure there will be on the ICC to do a concussion sub”, Brukner said.  "The concern we have is there's a tendency for the player and the coaches to continue, because they don't want to let the team down, they don't want to be a player short”.  He stressed that had not happened in the Renshaw case, but a concussion sub would lessen the chance of it happening at all. He said: "It would be helpful in that regard if we had a sub it would make it easier to pull players out with a concussion.  That's for the ICC and the politicians to sort out. I'm more concerned with looking after Matthew”.  

Brukner pointed out that "[CA] introduced it in non first-class cricket in Australia and it was successful” and believes such an approach "needs to be looked at very seriously by the ICC”.

Poor scheduling puts heat on Australian tourists in India.

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 6 January 2017.

PTG 2022-10228.

There is no adequate rehearsal for the clamour and bustle of a Test match in India.  In the seven weeks between now and the first Border-Gavaskar Test match in Pune, Australia have no strenuous first-class engagements to approximate even remotely the pressure that will come down on them in that game.  After Saturday, the Australians will disperse to various limited-overs and state engagements around the antipodes before coming together, in dribs and drabs, for a preparatory camp in Dubai.

No first-class pre-series fixtures in India have been announced yet, and there will only be time for one three-day game between the Australians' arrival on the subcontinent and the commencement of hostilities in Pune.  While the Australians are reacquainting themselves with the idea of first-class cricket on practice wickets in Dubai, India will be completing a Test series at home against Bangladesh, what you might call a perfect build-up.

The on-going lament from touring teams around the world, and an obvious reason for their failures – that they have entered a foreign series inadequately prepared and acclimatised – is, therefore, already pencilled in for Australia.

The final meanderings of the Australia-Pakistan Test series in Sydney are a part of that story. Pakistan came here underprepared, and never caught up with a resurgent host. Lack of preparation has, simultaneously, undermined Sri Lanka in South Africa. With such half-baked scheduling, nobody wonders anymore why cricket teams fail so often overseas. The wonder is that any succeed.  For many of the Australian players, this is their last taste of first-class cricket for the summer. Some of Pakistan's play at the Sydney Cricket Ground has barely merited first-class, let alone Test match, status.

Reprimand handed to WBBL player for showing ‘dissent’.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Friday, 6 January 2017.

PTG 2022-10229.

Nicola Carey of the Sydney Thunder Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) franchise has been reprimanded for showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during her side’s WBBL match against the Hobart Hurricanes in Launceston on Thursday.  What is a Level One offence occurred, says Cricket Australia, "when Carey was bowling”, however, no other details of just what was involved have been released.  Carey accepted the sanction offered to her by match referee Roy Loh and no hearing was required.

‘Investec' pull out of ten-year £UK50m ECB Test sponsorship deal.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Saturday, 7 January 2017.

PTG 2022-10230.

English cricket is looking for a new Test match sponsor after ‘Investec' opted to pull out half-way through the ten-year contract reported as being worth up to £UK50 million ($A84.2 m) when hands were shaken in 2011.  The bank and asset management company chose to exercise a break clause after five years partly because of an alternative deal the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) agreed with National Westminster Bank (‘NatWest') to succeed ‘Waitrose' starting in May, which includes sponsorship of the national side and branding on shirts.

Although there is no suggestion of the board doing anything untoward, a source suggested that ‘Investec' see enough of a commercial rivalry between themselves and banking rival ‘NatWest' to influence their decision. ‘Investec' also found involvement more expensive than perhaps anticipated after deciding not to include corporate hospitality in the package.  Malcolm Fried, an advisor at ‘Investec', said: “Due to a change in our marketing approach we will look to implement a wider range of marketing activities”.  Sanjay Patel, the ECB commercial director, described the partnership as “successful and enjoyable”.

However, the news comes at a time when Test cricket is fighting to retain its presence as the pinnacle of the sport as Twenty20 leagues continue to thrive. The ECB has made the one-day format 2019 World Cup on home soil a priority and will also promote the new domestic eight-team Twenty20 competition heavily from 2020 if it receives final approval from the counties, no matter there could be a clash with home Tests against Sri Lanka.  The next deal will include naming rights to a five-Test series against India in 2018, giving them massive exposure in Asia, and the 2019 Ashes.  The challenge for the ECB will be to find a sponsor away from its traditional base of financial institutions and insurance companies.  

The International Cricket Council is yet to reach consensus among its full member countries in bringing context to the five-day game having rejected both a World Test Championship, initially due to take place in 2013, and more recently a two-tier concept with a top flight of the leading seven countries.  Fortunes for the England side, too, have dipped since ‘Investec' came on board. Only three months earlier, Andrew Strauss captained the team to the top of the rankings courtesy of a 4-0 success over India, while the glow of victory Down Under against Australia in 2010-11 was still just about burning.

The contract was celebrated as the longest single deal in English cricket and Strauss posed alongside the now-familiar Investec zebra for a publicity shot on the Lord’s outfield. One observer ranked it an even more extraordinary sight than the landing of Allan Stanford’s hired helicopter at the famous ground some three years earlier.  Administrators around the world are hoping that the introduction of day-nights Tests will reinvigorate the format and ticket sales for the first such fixture in England, against West Indies at Edgbaston this summer, are encouraging. Only time will tell whether the pink ball is a novelty or a long-term benefit.

South African pair quit internationals to play county cricket.

Reuters.

Friday, 6 January 2017.

PTG 2022-10231.

South African fast bowler Kyle Abbott has announced his retirement from international cricket to play in England, catching his employers by surprise and highlighting a growing drain of sporting talent from the country (PTG 2020-10221, 5 January 2017).  Abbott quit immediately after South Africa's victory over Sri Lanka in the second test in Cape Town, saying he had made the difficult decision to sign a four-year contract with Hampshire to ensure his financial security.  He will be joined in southern England by batsman Rilee Rossouw, a one-day specialist, who also announced he was effectively quitting the international game on Thursday .

National coach Russell Domingo suggested he would not have picked them had he known they were leaving, and Cricket South Africa (CSA) said it was considering limiting the number of places in its domestic competitions for Kolpak players.  Several other South African Test cricketers, including Hardus Viljoen and Simon Harmer, have also recently taken up ‘Kolpak’ county contacts, which are awarded to those who play county cricket without being considered overseas professionals and are therefore unavailable for international duty.  In rugby union, South's Africa's resources have been decimated by similar departures though national selectors can pick overseas-based players.

Abbott, 29, played 11 Tests largely as an injury replacement, but had just established himself as South Africa's new-ball bowler in succession to Dale Steyn, whose best days are gone.  Rossouw appeared in 36 One Day Internationals and 15 Twenty20 internationals.  "Rilee's decision is a big disappointment because he has told us of his decision by e-mail only”, Domingo said. “[Abbott and Rossouw]...haven't been sincere with us. I've been playing these guys in our team without knowing they are leaving”.

Test captain Faf du Plessis said CSA needed to guard against similar departures happening in the future.  CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat acknowledged spots should be kept open in domestic cricket for players who wanted to play for South Africa. But he said the country, whose currency the Rand has weakened steadily for much of the past decade, also had to face economic realities.  Keeping talent at home was "something all sectors are challenged by... be it professional cricket, nurses, doctors or chartered accountants”, said du Plessis.

A tearful Abbott said he signed his contract five months ago and only intended to tell CSA after next week's third Test but was forced to come clean with the team after the news was leaked.  'The decision had been hard, but was the right one to make", said Abbott.  "Test cricket remains the ultimate level to play on but security and life after cricket are my considerations”, he told a news conference.  "I hope that by showing my commitment over the next four years to Hampshire, I can set up a life after cricket for myself”.  Lorgat said CSA have terminated Abbott's contract and will do the same with Rossouw in the next few days. 

Arctic 'big bash' an eye opener for NZ umpire.

The Marlborough Express

Friday, 6 January 2017.

PTG 2022-10232.

Officiating an international cricket game near the Arctic Circle under the midnight sun proved an eye opener for Andrew Holdaway, and umpire in Blenheim, New Zealand.  The Blenheim policeman can now add Finland to his list of match venues after he chanced upon the rare opportunity to take his place behind the wicket at the Nordic Baltic Twenty20 international tournament while visiting his brother-in-law, and Finland cricket representative, Karl Fitzpatrick, in Helsinki last year.

The two-day tournament featured a tri-series between hosts Finland, Sweden and Estonia.  Not regarded as powerhouses of the game, the three nations rely on a healthy number of English, Australian and New Zealand expats, as well as a rising number of migrants from the Middle East and India to bolster domestic club competitions. "The quality of play is on a par with senior club level in Marlborough and each country is working hard to encourage more players to become involved”, said Holdaway, whose Helsinki-based brother-in-law and asked him to umpire during his visit.

Finland had two homegrown players in the squad with the remainder of the team made up of foreigners.  "The local players are definitely outnumbered in the club competition which plays for three months in Finland, using Helsinki as the base”, said Holdaway.  In spite of the small player base, the facilities were straight out of a cricket green in England, he says.  "There was one cricket ground in Helsinki which has an artificial pitch and is surrounded by a picket fence, much as you would see in England”.

Holdaway umpired the final between Finland and Sweden, which was completed close to midnight with no ground lighting necessary because of the extreme summer daylight hours.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,023

Thursday, 12 January 2017

 

• Crowe to reach 250 ODI mark as a match referee [2023-10233]. 

• Applications open for SACA Umpire Coach position [2023-10234]. 

• BBL captain faces one match suspension [2023-10235]. 

• No sign yet of WBBL over rate appeal [2023-10236]. 

Crowe to reach 250 ODI mark as a match referee.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2023-10233.

New Zealand referee Jeff Crowe will become the third person, after Ranjan Madugalle of Sri Lanka and Chris Broad of England, to oversee 250 One Day Internationals (ODI) during the forthcoming five-match series between Australia and Pakistan (PTG 1481-7166, 12 December 2014).  Crowe has been named with New Zealand umpire Chris Gaffney and Chettithody Shamshuddin of India as the neutral officials for the games, Australian members of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Simon Fry, Mick Martell, Paul Wilson and Sam Nogajski, working in other umpiring positions. 

Shamshuddin will be on-field in the first, third and fifth matches in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and Gaffney in two and four in Melbourne and Sydney, each working as the television umpire when not out on the field.  The Indian is no stranger to Brisbane having stood in a first class game there whilst on exchange with Cricket Australia in February 2015 (PTG 1512-7288, 1 February 2015).  Martell will pair with Shamshuddin in Brisbane and Gaffney in Sydney, and Fry with Shamshuddin in Perth and Adelaide, Wilson’s single game being with Gaffney in Melbourne.  Nogajski has been named as the fourth umpire for the Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide fixtures and Wilson in Perth and Sydney.

Crowe will reach the 250 mark as an ODI referee in the last match of the series in Adelaide, a milestone that will come two months short of 13 years since his debut in that role in Guyana in April 2004.  Since then he was worked in three World Cups, in the West Indies in 2007, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India in 2011, and Australia in 2015. He was selected to manage the final of the 2007 event, a match that ended in what then ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed called “disarray and confusion” and led to Crowe and his Playing Control Team colleagues being stood down for what was the first World Twenty20 Championship series (PTG 59-324, 24 June 2007), but he bounced back and was the referee for the 2011 final in Mumbai.

The 250 matches will have been spread across a total of 15 national regions, all ten Test playing entities plus Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  The majority have been played in the West Indies, which is not far from his home base in Florida, a total of 53 have been in the Caribbean, 47 in Australia, England has seen 41, Bangladesh 23, India 22, Pakistan 11, South Africa and Zimbabwe both 10, Sri Lanka  7, and his home country two, neither of which involved the New Zealand itself. There have also been 10 in the United Arab Emirates, 5 in Kenya, 4 Canada, three in Ireland and two in Scotland.

Applications open for SACA Umpire Coach position.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2023-10234.

The South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) is calling for applications for its Umpire Coach position, a job that was left vacant two months ago following the apparently sudden and unexpected resignation of long-time incumbent Neil Poulton (PTG 1984-9994, 23 November 2016).  SACA’s recruitment page asks applicants to apply by listing their attributes against the selection criteria set down for the position, however, that information is currently not available via the association’s web site.  The closing date for applications is listed as the first Friday in February.

BBL captain faces one match suspension.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2023-10235.

Each member of the Brisbane Heat team that played in Wednesday’s Big Bash League (BBL) match against the Perth Scorchers at the Gabba have been fined $A1,000 (£UK611) for maintaining a slow over rate whilst there were in the field.  The fine will be reduced to $A500 (£305) per player should the franchise accept the penalty without appeal.

After allowances were taken into account, the team were found to be 6 minutes behind the scheduled time to complete their 20 overs, which Cricket Australia (CA) says equates to being one over short. In addition to the fines, Heat captain Brendon McCullum also received one strike.  As it is his second such “strike” during the current BBL season, he will face a suspension for the next such match he is available for selection in.

CA says franchise has "14 days from the match" to advise if they are exercising their right to appeal, but until any such appeal is successful "the penalty stands”.  The Heat’s next game is scheduled for Melbourne next Tuesday.

No sign yet of WBBL over rate appeal.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2023-10236.

One week after Cricket Australia (CA) announced that the Sydney Thunder side in its Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) competition had lodged an appeal against the penalty handed to them for maintaining a slow over rate in their WBBL fixture ten days ago, there is still no news of just when the hearing into the matter will be convened by CA Code of Conduct Commissioner David Harper. 

Thunder were found after allowances were applied to have taken nine minutes longer than allowed to bowl their 20 overs by match referee Ian Thomas, a time CA said equates to being two overs short, and which led to the side being docked one championship point (PTG 2021-10224, 6 January 2017).  The current WBBL table shows the Thunder sitting in sixth place on eight points, one less than their match results to date would normally accrue.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,024

Friday, 13 January 2017

 

• ECB T20 revamp developers drawing on BBL know-how [2024-10237]. 

• BBL franchise accepts captain’s one-match ban [2024-10238]. 

• Umpire engages in ‘ball tampering' [2024-10239]. 

• ACO members vote to adopt new constitution [2024-10240]. 

• Jamaican groundsmen struggle in the face of financial challenges [2024-10241]. 

• Former Test umpire supports ‘red card’ proposal [2024-10242]. 

• Players reject UDRS use in BBL [2024-10243]. 

• TV sport heavily exposing kids to booze ads, say academics [2024-10244]. 

ECB T20 revamp developers drawing on BBL know-how.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10237.

Six of the eight-strong team charged with developing the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new Twenty20 tournament have flown to Australia to see what has made Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League (BBL) the competition that they desperately want to replicate.  The group is Lisa Pursehouse, Guy Lavender and David Leatherdale, the chief executives of Nottinghamshire, Somerset and the Professional Cricketers’ Association respectively, plus Gordon Hollins, Mike Fordham and Tom Johnson from the ECB board.

Last January, Rob Calder and Sanjay Patel accompanied Fordham on a similar fact-finding trip (PTG 1719-8524, 22 December 2015). It means that the entire development committee formed after the counties voted to look deeper into a radical eight-team competition will have seen the BBL.  With six of the eight BBL teams reporting increased attendances from what was already a success in 2015-16, it is clear why Hollins, the chief operating officer, wants to pick Australian brains.

The problems facing CA at the turn of the decade mirror those perceived by the ECB now, as does the objective of bringing families to games. CA research around 2010 revealed that cricket was as low as the seventh-favourite sport of Under-15s.  ECB figures are even more alarming, with only two in nine children listing cricket among their top ten.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has staked his reputation on being able to push through the competition provisionally scheduled to start in 2020. Like his counterparts at CA, he is highlighting the link between children watching cricket and being inspired to play.  A final decision to proceed appears likely to be made at a full ECB board meeting scheduled for 28 March, after which Hollins and his colleagues will need to resolve naming and location of teams plus a player draft.

CA had a big advantage because it was adding two teams to the existing six. The ECB is cutting back from 18 counties to eight teams, likely to be city-based at international grounds. According to a draft schedule, the tournament will span 38 days and clash with the 50-over competition.

Surrey are concerned, but Jason Roy, their opener, believes from a spell with the BBL’s Sydney Sixers that the BBL can be replicated in the UK. “It is pretty basic”, he said. “They pull in big crowds, they have incredible players, and good pitches and boundary sizes. It is not rocket science”.

BBL franchise accepts captain’s one-match ban.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10238.

Big Bash League (BBL) franchise Brisbane Heat will not appeal skipper Brendon McCullum's one-match suspension for his team's second slow over rate censure of the season on Wednesday (PTG 2023-10235, 12 January 2017).  Queensland Cricket (QC) chief executive Max Walters said it was disappointing to lose the former New Zealand Test captain, however, after reviewing the match it was decided there were no grounds for an appeal after the side were found to have taken six minutes longer than they should have to bowl their 20 overs.  

Umpire Simon Fry, who was standing in the match with Mike Graham-Smith, said McCullum was kept updated as to what their over-rate looked like after five, 10, 15 and 18 overs, “so Brendon was well aware of the situation, but [the punishment] lays in the hands of the match referee” David Tallala.  Walters said: "It is a shame but we accept those are the competition rules we are playing under and [it] reminds us that we can continue to improve in all facets of the game”.  The decision not to go to appeal means that each Heat team member has been fined $A500, down from the initial $A1,000 a player that would have otherwise applied.  

While QC’s Walters accepted to rules, two high profile employees of Cricket Australia had a different perspective.  Commentating on television about the situation, Australian coach Darren Lehmann called the censure “ridiculous”.  According to him: “we want McCullum playing. Speed it up, fine them all, if it’s that bad, but we want them playing cricket”.  Co-commentator and Australian selector Mark Waugh replied saying: “Exactly, take it out of his pay packet if it’s that bad”.

The Heat were previously fined when they exceeded their 90-minute limit by five-and-a-half minutes in the BBL fixture against Hobart at the Gabba late last month (PTG 2020-19220, 5 January 2017).  To date there have been a total of four over rate offences in this year’s BBL, two each in the men’s and women’s competitions.

Umpire engages in ‘ball tampering'.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 13 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10239.

Australian umpire Rod Tucker had to rub a replacement ball on ground to take the shine off it on the opening day of the third Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Johannesburg on Thursday.  Half way through the eleventh over Sri Lanka thought the ball was going out of shape and asked Tucker and his colleague, countryman Bruce Oxenford, to replace it, a request they denied.  However, three ball later they asked again and this time they were successful, but the balls fourth umpire Adrian Holdstock brought out were deemed a bit too new hence Tucker’s “ball tampering”.

ACO members vote to adopt new constitution.

PTG Editor.

ACO media release.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10240.

Members of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) have agreed to the ACO adopting the new constitution proposed by the board.  In promoting the change, the board pointed to “the fundamental reorganisation” the ECB is undertaking in order to “increase participation in cricket at all levels” in areas under its purview, and spoke of the need for the ACO “to aline with the way the game is being managed” so it can play a full part in the future” of the game in England and Wales.  The ECB has been seriously concerned in recent years by surveys that show interest and participation in cricket in those countries is faltering.

The ECB conducted its fourth 'National Cricket Playing Survey’ of the club level game in England and Wales last year but just what it found has not been made public (PTG 1881-9426, 20 July 2016).  The first two surveys in 2013 and 2014 produced some troubling results that showed a significant drop in player numbers (PTG 1463-7085, 20 November 2014), while the findings of a third in 2015 have so far been kept under wraps (PTG 1714-8495, 16 December 2015).  All indications are that the feedback was not flattering and amongst other things the ECB is concerned funding from government for the game will be reduced if it cannot reverse the negative trends.

It appears though that interest in the survey from ACO members was also limited, only 1,811, or less than 20 per cent of what the ACO said last year was its “nearly 8,000” members, returning ballot papers supplied to them by post in November.  However, those that did vote "in favour" did so overwhelmingly with 95 per cent, or 1,728, supporting the change and only 83 “opposed".  As a result the ACO Board formally approved the new constitution late last week, just two days after the closing date for the return of papers.

As required by the new constitution the ACO Board has been replaced by a Management Committee which has on it the Chairmen of the seven new regions rather than the previous four.  The regions now are: North (which consists of 6 counties), East (6), East Midlands (5), West Midlands (5), London (4), South Central (6), South West and Wales (7), and ICC Europe (33 countries). Others on the Management Committee will be as in the past: the head of ACO, the ECB’s Chief Operating Officer, its Umpire Manager, and a representative of the Marylebone Cricket Club.  Applications are currently being invited for the seven Regional Chairman positions, as well as seven Regional Appointments Officers, submissions to fill both roles closing on Friday next week.

Jamaican groundsmen struggle in the face of financial challenges.

Robert Bailey.

Jamaican Gleaner.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10241.

Despite weekly wages of around $J6,000 ($A62, £UK38), some $J26,000 ($A270, £165) below the country’s average weekly pay, and very little recognition, local cricket groundsmen in Jamaica are committed to the craft even though there has been a considerable reduction in their ranks in recent years.  Local groundkeepers say that although they face financial challenges, they still remain dedicated to their jobs due to their love for the profession and the sport.

Travis Reid the curator at Kingston’s Lucas Cricket Club's (LCC), whose members have in the past included George Headley, Frank Worrell and Chris Gayle, says that despite the measly returns, he continues to carry out his duties because of love for the sport and his club.  "You have to love the game to be a groundsman because most men involved have been in it for years”, said Reid, who has been curator there for seven years.  "It is an underpaid job in Jamaica because nobody recognises the work that the groundsmen do, he said, and “it's only when we have international and first-class matches you make a little money".

Floyd Williams, who has been a curator at the Melbourne Cricket Club on the other side of Kingston for 23 years, said that despite the lack of financial rewards, he, too, remains committed to doing his job to the best of his abilities.  "Cricket is my main sport, and so this why I continue to be a groundsman.  The money don't' matter to me because although it may be small, but I just love doing my job as a groundsman”.

Meanwhile, LCC president Daniel Wilmot, said the lack of financial support at the club is hampering its ability to properly pay its ground staff.  "The curators, or groundsmen, don't earn that much money, and what they earn is not enough to keep doing that alone. This is partly because the clubs are struggling for money, and only maybe two clubs are doing well, and so they are able to pay their staff.  However, generally, the clubs are struggling, and this is one of the reasons why cricket as a sport is struggling”, said Wilmot.

However, all is not lost as Jamaica's University of Technology (UTech) is set to stage a curator's course this year in a bid to create new opportunities for those with interest in the field.  Anthony Davis, UTech's director of sports, said that the aim of the course is to improve the standard of Jamaican curators.  “We really don't have a consistent formal way of training groundsmen because people learnt the trade as an apprentice', and there is no scientific method of doing it”, said Davis.  "Looking around the world, we realise that it is a job in itself and a very distinguished job because if you are a curator in Sydney or Lord’s or any of the big places in the world, it is a serious job you have, but we don't treat it that way here”.  

Davis went on to say that the university was planning to engage the services of what he described as "a well-known curator from Durham in England" to conduct the curator’s course.

Former Test umpire supports ‘red card’ proposal.

Tony Bugby.

Saddleworth Independent.

Thursday, 12 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10242.

Former Test umpire John Holder, who is now president of the Pennine Cricket League (PCL) in northern England (PTG 1748-8708, 28 January 2016), favours cricket following football and rugby with the introduction of red cards for misbehaviour on the field of play.  Holder believes the drastic measure, that looks set to be implemented by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in October, is needed to penalise offenders who abuse officials and opposing players (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2016).

Holder said: “There is a tide of bad behaviour and it is getting worse as we saw in [the PCL] last summer [and] I am in favour of anything that tries to turn this horrible plague of bad behaviour”. The PCL’s disciplinary committee dealt with 22 incidents, 13 of which were for dissent, either against umpires or opponents during the 2016 northern summer (PTG 1920-9643, 9 September 2016).  Holder is especially disappointed for before the start of the 2016 season there were three meetings with team captains and club officials to spell out discipline and conduct and punishments for breaches.  He believes a red card system with immediate punishments favourable to punishments simply being implemented at a later date (PTG 1976-9954, 14 November 2016).

“If a player knows they would be sent off for the remainder of the match, it may make them think twice as it will affect the team immediately if they are to lose a key bowler or best batsman”, said Holder.  He believes the PCL took decisive action handing out suspensions rather than suspended bans, but was critical of some clubs for only paying “lip service” to the disciplinary guidelines that say they ought to take action.  It was because of clubs’ failure to deal with issues that forced the league to call players to account at disciplinary meetings.  

Holder added that if action is not taken he can see more umpires quitting the game.  “We are desperately short of umpires in our league as is the case with most others. If the situation doesn’t improve, I can see the day when players have to officiate games themselves”.  “Umpires are the custodians of the game. They don’t need that hassle, all for £UK45 [$A75]” (PTG 1970-9924, 7 November 2016).

The West Indian born umpire, who retired in 2009 after 27 years as a first-class umpire, officiated in 11 Tests and 19 One Day Internationals.  He says although he was only a victim of abuse three times in that long career, he was aware of problems.  “About 12 years ago I was serving on the MCC’s Laws Working Party and one of our members, Stan Bennett from Cheltenham, first alerted me to umpires quitting because of bad behaviour, of being abused and threatened.  When I was still umpiring, I realised it was no longer a gentleman’s game. It was about winning and the attitude of the players left a lot to be desired".

“It’s a sad state of affairs”, said Holder, "and something has to be done or it will reach the stage when players have to umpire games themselves because officials won’t tolerate being abused, threatened and even assaulted.  We are losing umpires and there is no incentive to join the list. I have asked former players to get involved but they don’t want the hassle.  In saying that umpiring is still the best job in the world as it enables you to see the game from a perspective nobody else does”.

Players reject UDRS use in BBL.

Sam Landsberger.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10243.

A number of players in Cricket Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) don’t want the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) to be used in the competition as they believe halting the on-field action for reviews would deter fans from attending games.  While no umpire howler appears to have changed a match this summer, Sydney Renegades captain Aaron Finch and Melbourne Stars all-rounder Glenn Maxwell said handing each skipper one incorrect referral per innings would not add value to the BBL.

“You don’t need it in T20”, said Finch.  “The game is probably getting slower and slower, I think it keeps getting dragged out an extra five minutes per year.   You need to keep the game quick and moving forward in my opinion, so there is no time for UDRS in this format”.  Maxwell said fans flocked to grounds for non-stop entertainment — and UDRS would only add delays.  “I think it’s so fast and furious and you’ve already got your time restrictions to bowl your overs.  The crowd comes here to see instant decision-making and exciting stuff, so uDRS might just slow everything down a bit.”

Stars legspinner Adam Zampa believes though that if his team had access to a UDRS in last year’s final it would have lifted the trophy.  BBL boss Anthony Everard said last season that introducing UDRS to the competition was not on Cricket Australia’s agenda.  “There’s no overwhelming feedback from clubs to bring it in and there are other things we’d focus on before UDRS”, said Everard at the time.

TV sport heavily exposing kids to booze ads, say academics.

Martin Johnston.

New Zealand Herald.

Friday, 13 January 2017.

PTG 2024-10244.

Children who watch sport on television are being repeatedly exposed to alcohol brands, say researchers who want the practice outlawed.  In a study published today, they say that Sky TV viewers who watched the whole match in which New Zealand lost to Australia in the 2015 Cricket World Cup final in Melbourne were exposed to 519 instances of the 'Victoria Bitter' brand appearing on screen.  The beer's branding was in view, from the Australian players' clothing, for 10 per cent of the match (excluding any advertisements and halftime shows), an issue that has led to concern being expressed in the past (PTG 1238-5980, 21 November 2013).

Otago University’s Associate Professor Louise Signal, one of the researchers involved in a paper published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, said that: "Due to alcohol sponsorship of sport, New Zealanders, including children, were exposed to up to 200 ads per hour they watched televised sport, and people watching football and tennis saw alcohol ads for almost half of each game”.  The paper analyses recordings of five sporting events on SkyTV from the summer of 2014-15: the Asian Cup men's football final, The Australian Tennis Open final in Melbourne, a women's League 9s test in Auckland, the Cricket World Cup final, and a Football Ferns women's international friendly in Chicago.

The paper says the events "attracted large audiences of all ages”.  "Marketing drives alcohol consumption by encouraging drinking," say the researchers, and that "Alcohol ... contributes to over 5 per cent of deaths in New Zealand and costs the country more than $NZ5 billion a year” ($A475 bn , £UK292 bn).

Associate Professor Signal said sport sponsorship bypasses traditional marketing and gets around the current advertising codes.  In 2014, a group chaired by former rugby league coach Graham Lowe urged the NZ government to ban alcohol sponsorship of all streamed and broadcast sports and in the long term to ban alcohol sponsorship of sport in total.  That was among 14 recommendations by the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship.  Lowe said on Thursday "For people to think young people aren't affected and don't log in their memory banks the loyalty factor of seeing so many alcohol ads - you're bloody crazy” (PTG 1211-5834, 15 October 2013).

Spokesmen for NZ Football and Justice Minister Amy Adams both said on Thursday there was insufficient time to comment on the new study before the Herald's deadline.  Alcohol supplier Lion, whose ‘Kirin' and ‘Budweiser' brands were among those observed in the study, said it supports many sports organisations and its marketing is responsible (PTG 1234-5959, 17 November 2013).  

A spokesman said: "The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and the Advertising Code for Advertising and Promotion for Alcohol prohibit marketing alcohol to children and young people, and we [ensure] we comply with all relevant laws and codes.  "The aim and effect of alcohol advertising and sponsorship is not to increase consumption - it is to increase or promote brand loyalty. The data bears out this fact: even though channels for advertising have increased, consumption has been steadily trending down."

Association of NZ Advertisers chief executive Lindsay Mouat criticised the Otago University research, saying  "there is no evidence of viewing audience demographics of the events cited provided, when advertisers know that the audience for live sport is predominantly adult.  Also, the claimed 'exposure' of 1.6-3.8 per minute is grossly overstated as much of this is peripheral”.

A response was sought from from New Zealand Cricket and Victoria Bitter supplier Carlton and United Breweries, but they had not replied by the deadline for filing this story.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,025

Monday, 16 January 2017

 

• Helmet standards for international players tightened [2025-10245]. 

• Head strike sees batsman taken to hospital [2025-10246]. 

• Batsman ’Timed Out’ after umpire enquires about an appeal: report [2025-10247]. 

• Soft ground leads to single wicket game [2025-10248]. 

• Cricket umpire experience not essential for SACA coach applicants [2025-10249]. 

• WBBL player reprimanded for showing dissent [2025-10250]. 

• Zimbabwe postpones domestic first class series for third time [2025-10251]. 

• CA, players to resume pay talks on Thursday [2025-10252]. 

• CPL reported looking for buyer [2025-10253]. 

Helmet standards for international players tightened . 

PTG Editor.

ICC media report.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10245.

New International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations make it compulsory for batsmen and women who choose to wear helmets in international matches to only use those that comply with British Standard BS7928:2013.  The new requirement, which has been incorporated in the ICC Clothing and Equipment Regulations that became effective 1 January, do not make it compulsory to wear a helmet when batting, however, when a batsman elects to do so their headwear must meet the British Standard.  

The ICC says that from 1 February the regulations "will be strictly enforced” and that “sanctions will be applied" to those found to be wearing non-compliant helmets.  They say an official warning will be issued after each of the first two matches in which a player is found to be wearing a non-compliant helmet, and if there is a third breach of the regulations the player will be suspended for one-match.

 

ICC General Manager Cricket, Geoff Allardice, said that the aim is to get all players to wear the safest helmets available. “Our number one priority is to have all batsmen wearing the safest helmets available rather than to see players sanctioned. It has been pleasing to see that the vast majority of international players have been wearing compliant helmets since the start of this year” (PTG 1954-9835, 21 October 2016).  Under BS7928:2013 though, clip-on ‘StemGuards' that better cover the back of a batsman's neck, do not have to be fitted, however, further research into their importance has been recommended (PTG 1946-9788, 14 October 2016).

Allardice said that "some teams have requested more time [post 1 January] to assist them in implementing the new regulation before the sanctioning process commences”.  "As such, the extension [to February] was granted to enable all teams and players to comply, and after this time the regulations will be strictly enforced”, Allardice said.

 

The new requirement has been introduced following a strong recommendation by the ICC Cricket Committee at their most recent meeting last June (PTG 1844-9246, 4 June 2016).  Just why it has taken six months since then to formalise the requirement is not known.  Fifteen months ago Cricket Australia (CA) brought in regulations that require all Australian and State contracted players to wear BS7928:2013 compliant helmets (PTG 1658-8114, 7 October 2015).  Since then CA has made it the responsibility of individual players, and not the umpires, to ensure their helmets comply to that standard when they are batting against "fast or medium-paced bowling” (PTG 1937-9744, 4 October 2016).

Head strike sees batsman taken to hospital.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10246.

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has been cleared of any serious injury after he was felled by a bouncer on the final morning of the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington on Monday.  Mushfiqur was struck on the back of the helmet as he took his eye off the ball and tried to duck under a low bouncer from New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee.  He knelt, then collapsed to the ground near the pitch and lay motionless for almost 20 minutes as he received treatment from medical staff of both teams before an ambulance arrived in the middle and took him to hospital.

There were fears Mushfiqur had suffered a serious injury but after arriving at Wellington Hospital, which is only about 100 m from the Basin Reserve, he was able to get word to his teammates that he was feeling better. He also asked that his family in Bangladesh be informed that he was well.  A team spokesman said later that the captain had tests in hospital and there was no evidence of significant harm from the strike.  He said on return to the ground: "I'm feeling much better. Things could have been worse [but] luckily I escaped. There is a bit of pain there but hopefully I'll get through”.

Mushfiqur was 13 not out and had batted 80 minutes with a broken finger against a barrage of short-pitched bowling before he was struck by Southee. He was unable to bat again in the innings and is in doubt for the second Test which starts in Christchurch on Friday.  Bangladesh's media manager Rabeed Iman said on Monday evening:  ''Obviously there were some mild concussions so the physio and medical team will take it slowly with Mushfiq and observe him regularly over the next few days”.

Short-pitched deliveries were a feature of the Test, New Zealand batsman Mitchell Santner taking a blow to the head from Taskin Ahmed in his side's first innings, while his team mate Neil Wagner was hit three times by Kamrul Islam drawing blood from his chin.

Batsman ’Timed Out’ after umpire enquires about an appeal: report.

PTG Editor.

Media report.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10247.

A batsman who was ‘not out’ at the end of day one of a two-day match in northern Victoria, was dismissed ‘Timed Out’ when he failed to get to the crease in time at the start of the second day’s play in a Cricket Shepparton match in Mooroopna last Saturday, says a report in Monday’s ‘Shepparton News’.  The Old Students side's opener Manny Singh, who was to resume on 11 as his side chased Mooroopna’s 187, was still changing at the time play was due to get underway at the Mooroopna Recreation Reserve.

Old Student’s coach Daniel Coombs, who was batting with Singh, was quoted by the ’News” as saying his colleague "got stuck at work and ended up being late and he wasn’t out there for the start”.  Journalist Oliver Caffrey writes that with no sign of Singh, Graeme Mansfield, the single umpire overseeing the game, "then went to Mooroopna captain Andrew Cowen and asked if he would be appealing”.  Apparently, if that version of events is correct and Mansfield actually asked for an appeal, Cowen said yes, for the opener was then given out.

Soft ground leads to single wicket game.

Ben Carter.

Riverina Herald.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10248.

The charm of country sport is that there is always a solution when it comes to getting a game played, even if it is introducing something which has rarely been seen before been seen in senior cricket anywhere.  As a result single wicket cricket, a game where every over is bowled to the same end because the other is too wet from recent rain, made its debut in a Goulburn Murray Cricket Association ‘A’ grade match at Echuca South in northern Victoria on Saturday.

With Echuca South reaching 139 on the first Saturday of the match, Echuca captain Brendan Pendergast was keen to win the match on the second Saturday, however, rain meant that the southern end of the ground was “soft” and the bowlers' run up there was unsuitable.   After a 45-minute delay Pendergast reached an agreement with opposing skipper Jayden Rosin to play from one end only, a proposal that umpire Terry Thomas acceded to.  However, things didn’t turn out as well as Pendergast had hoped for his side were all out for 87 in just 32 overs.

Cricket umpire experience not essential for SACA coach applicants.

PTG Editor.

SACA selection criteria.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10249.

Applicants for the South Australian Cricket Associations’ (SACA) vacant ‘State Umpire Coach' position do not have to demonstrate they have any experience as a cricket umpire, according to selection criteria for the position circulated late last week, but they do have to have “high performance coaching experience in a related field”.  The position description appears very similar to that long-time incumbent Neil Poulton was required to work to up until his sudden resignation two months ago (PTG 2023-10234, 12 January 2017).  Poulton, who was with SACA for eight years, came from a baseball umpire background. 

SACA says its State Umpire Coach is "responsible for recruiting, retaining and driving the ongoing improvement of all cricket umpires in [in the state in order] to help ensure the state produces the best and most respected match officials in Australia”.  The person chosen will be required, “in conjunction with Cricket Australia, SACA and affiliated umpire and cricket associations": to “develop and implement [state] recruitment and retention strategies”, particularly for women; develop, coordinate and deliver training courses, including "professional development opportunities for individual umpires, umpire coaches and the wider umpire group"; “ensure all umpires and their coaches are fully versed with the current Laws of Cricket, respective playing conditions, interpretations and policies”; and “manage relationships amongst cricket umpire stakeholders”.

Those applying are required to show they have: the "ability to tailor coaching methods for different individuals and personalities”; "experience and/or knowledge of the laws of cricket and playing conditions”; “a very strong work ethic”; the “ability to build strong personal relationships”; “empathy for the demands on match officials in elite sport; and “excellent communication skills”.  Applications for the position close on Friday fortnight.

WBBL player reprimanded for showing dissent.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10250.

Sydney Sixers’ player Angela Reakes has been reprimanded for "showing dissent at an umpire’s decision” when she was dismissed LBW in a Cricket Australia Womens’ Big Bash League (WBBL) match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.  As a result of her actions, Reakes was reported for what was a Level One offence by umpires Claire Polosak and Tony Wilds, and after considering their written report match referee Ian Thomas proposed the reprimand which was accepted and thus no hearing was required.

Reakes is the third WBBL player to be reprimanded during the current season after Nicola Carey of the Sydney Thunder for ‘dissent’, and Rachel Priest of the Melbourne Renegades for "using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting”.

Zimbabwe postpones domestic first class series for third time.

News Day.

Saturday, 14 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10251.

Zimbabwe Cricket’s (ZC) domestic first-class competition has been postponed for a third time this season, with no confirmation of when fixtures may resume.  The four-team, 12-round tournament has only had one completed match so far after player strikes and non-payment of salaries (PTG 2010-10162, 22 December 2016). Now an unexplained postponement, ostensibly to concentrate on the the Zimbabwe Premier League (ZPL), a 40-over club competition that was going to take place anyway, has got in the way of game time.

An e-mail sent by Caesar Bond Nayoto, Zimbabwe Cricket’s manager of domestic cricket and game development, says ZC have decided to “focus on the ZPL” and will circulate Logan Cup fixtures in “due course”.  A source expected the competition to resume mid-February, but admitted players were becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of game time.  There has been no explanation given to players for the most recent postponement, but it is known that it does not have anything to do with outstanding payments to players. Unlike earlier in the season, when provincial players from the Matabeleland Tuskers went on strike and forfeited their match over unpaid salaries, players have been paid. 

For Zimbabwe’s national players, the inaction is a major concern not least because they do not have any cricket scheduled until at least the middle of the year, when they are due to travel to Sri Lanka. That means they will likely only have a series or two in preparation for the 2019 World Cup qualifier, which takes place in Bangladesh in March 2018 and without regular game time, Zimbabwe fear they may miss out on the showpiece event.

The Logan Cup is scheduled to run until early May, but the latest postponement could see it extend further into the Zimbabwean winter, unless some rounds are forfeited. If fixtures resume mid-February, the tournament could lose at least three rounds. 

CA, players to resume pay talks on Thursday.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 16 January 2016.

PTG 2025-10252.

Pay talks between players and Cricket Australia (CA) are set to reopen this week, with hopes that progress can soon be made.  CA called off talks with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) a week before Christmas, accusing the union of not negotiating in good faith - an allegation the ACA denies.  CA was concerned the pay talks were a disruption for players at a time when it wanted the Big Bash League and the two marquee Tests of the summer - in Melbourne and Sydney - to dominate the public and media focus (PTG 2008-10150, 20 December 2016). Now this period is over, talks are expected to resume on Thursday.

The two parties are negotiating a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for men and women players, but tensions grew after the initial submissions of each party were made public.  CA chief executive James Sutherland said earlier this month the governing body was looking forward to negotiations reopening.  "It is a little bit of a misnomer about talks being abandoned and what have you”, he said on ABC radio. "What happened was there was a meeting that was cancelled prior to Christmas and the schedule of meetings for January and beyond is absolutely as is. Nothing has changed from that perspective. So I think everyone is looking forward to recommencing discussions in the middle of this month and we will get on with it"

CA said on Monday that anything to do with MoU negotiations would remain private.  There remains much to discuss, with players keen to see CA's full financial picture. CA's plans to partially abandon the set-percentage revenue model is one of the key agenda items. All players have typically shared in about 26 per cent of allocated revenue streams, but CA now wants only CA-contracted players to share in this, with domestic players to be paid from a set pool. The ACA opposes this.

The national body says state players would have the opportunity of a major pay rise by playing in the BBL but players point out that many do not get the chance to feature in the burgeoning Twenty20 format, and the proposed system would impact on those playing only in the Sheffield Shield, thereby diminishing the standing of the competition that breeds future Test players. CA estimates that a domestic player who lines up in all forms can earn about $A234,000 (£UK145,000).  CA's current stance, ending what had been a relatively friendly relationship with the ACA, has been viewed by some as an attempt to wrest back greater control of the sport.

A crowded international fixture is also an issue, with national vice-captain David Warner last week declaring he was unhappy with the "very poor" scheduling that  has meant there will be two Australian sides taking to the field next month (PTG 2022-10228, 7 January 2017). The Test squad will be preparing for the first Test in India at a time when the Twenty20 side is at home taking on Sri Lanka.  The need to give players the opportunity to play in at least two Sheffield Shield matches heading into a home summer is another scheduling issue.

The negotiations come at a time when CA will soon go to market for a new round of broadcast rights.  The value of the BBL is tipped to triple to $60 million a year, with international and digital rights combining to give CA about $200 million a year in overall broadcast revenue.  Fox Sports is keen for a slice of exclusive BBL matches and to simulcast international matches.

CPL reported looking for a buyer.

Vinode Matchan.

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

Sunday, 15 January 2017.

PTG 2025-10253.

The owners of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) are reportedly looking for the buyer for the tournament.  With the league expected to get underway in the first week of August, it is understood that talks are in progress with a potential buyer from India but nothing is concrete just yet. CPL has been pumping money into the product since the inception in 2014 and is yet to turn around a profit.

What they have done though is create a product that is now a viable one and a sale at this point in time could fetch them a handsome amount, to offset the funds they would have pumped into the league.  Only last year, all six teams were picked up by owners but prior to that the CPL itself had to bankroll the teams that had no owners. This cost a significant amount and with regional governments not coming on board as before because of the current economic climate in the Caribbean, the business model has been struggling.

CPL chief executive Damian O’Donohue said that last year would have been a profitable one for the CPL but it was not. He mentioned prior to last year’s tournament that CPL had already invested $US20 million.  He added though that even in the long term a realistic profit is probably only around “2-3 million dollars a year".

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,026

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

 

• Short-pitched bowling has gone too far [2026-10254]. 

• Truly ‘freak' incident fells wicketkeeper [2026-10255]. 

• WBBL player reprimanded for post dismissal actions [2026-10256]. 

Short-pitched bowling has gone too far.

Otago Daily Times.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017.

PTG 2026-10254.

Former New Zealand coach Warren Lees has called for changes around short-pitched bowling and says umpires need to get tougher.  Short-pitched bowling has come under the spotlight after a player was stretchered off the field and both sides were guilty of overs of short-pitched bowling in the first Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh in Wellington (PTG 2025-10246, 16 January 2017).

Lees said short- pitched bowling was part of the game and had always been so but it had gone too far.  ''It is not just because the batsman was carted off to hospital. It has been concerning me for some time”, Lees said.  ''It is a dangerous thing. What happens when a fast bowler goes up against a fast bowler and someone gets really hurt? Then they'll be trouble.  To me a lot of it comes down to frustration. The bowlers who aren't particularly quick can't get them out so they get into short-pitched bowling. There are three stumps in the ground - aim for them”.

Lees said all the short-pitched bowling was doing was dragging the game out as a majority of the balls did not get wickets.  ''They might bowl three in a row. One will be way over the batsmen, another will just be down leg and the other one the batsman will try to ungainly hook it. It just draws the game out.  The umpires are a wee bit lenient. The guy at square leg has to be more switched on. It is sort of getting out of control”.

Test Playing Conditions allow two bouncers an over but that refers to the batsman’s shoulder many of the short-pitched balls were aimed at the chest.  Lees, a former national team wicketkeeper, said it did not take a lot of skill to bowl a bouncer. Bowlers simply had to pick the right line.  They just have to throw the ball in short. He says he doesn’t "see many of them being bowled to the top batsmen from South Africa, England and Australia [as] the good players just cash in".

Lees played in an era when by and large bouncers were not bowled to tail-end batsmen and it was more about getting players out.  ''Ewen Chatfield did not get a lot of bouncers bowled at him. But that is because the bowlers wanted to get him out. They did not want to waste a ball with a bouncer”.  Hatfield though almost died when he was hit by a bouncer from English bowler Peter Lever in 1975.

Chatfield tried to fend a ball away as he turned his head but the ball deflected off his gloves into his left temple. He lost consciousness and lay on the ground twitching and moaning.  England physiotherapist Bernard Thomas went on to the ground and realised Chatfield had swallowed his tongue, so he dealt with that and asked for resuscitation equipment to be brought out ... only to be told there was none. He said afterwards that the Kiwi’s heart had stopped beating "and technically that's the sign of dying”.  Lever said he "honestly thought I had killed him as I saw him lying there in convulsions.  

Hatfield’s condition was stabilised but he was still unconscious and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance where it was found he had sustained a hairline fracture of his skull.  The incident triggered a worldwide debate on the legitimacy of bouncers.  Hatfield though eventually made a full recovery.

Truly ‘freak' incident fells wicketkeeper. 

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017.

PTG 2026-10255.

Former Australian Test wicketkeeper Peter Nevill will return to Sydney for further scans to determine the nature of Monday night’s freak facial injury in a Cricket Australia Big Bash League (BBL) match in Adelaide.  Nevill, who was standing well back from the stumps, may have sustained a hairline fracture of his jaw when hit by a bat that slipped from the hands of opposition captain Brad Hodge.  The keeper was following the path of the ball to the outfield when the bat handle struck the right side of his face. 

The incident occurred just one ball after Hodge had swapped his batting gloves.  “If you have brand new gloves they have got this powdery feel to it and it (the bat) just slipped straight out of my hands”, Hodge said.  “I have never seen anything like it at all. While I have seen things where bats have gone flying but never hit anyone”. Reports are suggesting Neville is unlikely to play again in this summer’s BBL.

WBBL player reprimanded for post dismissal actions. 

PTG Editor.

ICC media report.

Monday, 16 January 2017.

PTG 2026-10256.

Sydney Thunder’s Womens Big Bash League player Harmanpreet Kaur has been reprimanded for "abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings" during her side’s WBBL match against the Hobart Hurricanes on Monday.  Kaur, 27, an Indian international, was reported by umpires Muhammad Qureshi and Harvey Wolff for her actions after she was dismissed caught and bowled.  After considering the umpires’ written report, match referee Roy Loh proposed the sanction of a reprimand, which Kaur accepted therefore a hearing was not required.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,027

Friday, 20 January 2017

 

• CA Integrity unit investigating BBL commentators' on-air 'advice' [2027-10257]. 

• Female umpires make Victorian Country Week history [2027-10258]. 

• Batswomen admits ’Super Over' confusion in WBBL derby [2027-10259]. 

• Women’s International Cricket League returns to the news [2027-10260]. 

CA Integrity unit investigating BBL commentators' on-air 'advice'.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 19 January 2017.

PTG 2027-10257.

Cricket Australia (CA) are investigating possible integrity breaches by broadcaster Channel Ten during the telecast of the Sydney Thunder-Adelaide Strikers Big Bash League match on Wednesday.  The network has landed in hot water with CA after what appeared to be a good-humoured live mid-match interview with-up miked-up Strikers captain Brad Hodge, who was in the field at the time, became the subject of an anti-corruption investigation.

Commentator Mark Howard had told Hodge of Strikers paceman Ben Laughlin's recent success against Thunder captain Shane Watson. Laughlin was brought into the attack the following over.  "Our master statistician Lawrie Colliver tells us Laughlin has got Watson twice in the last eight balls he's bowled him in this competition”, said Howard said.  "Really?" Hodge replied.  "I'll leave that with you skipper”, Howard said.  A jovial Hodge then said: "I'll bring him on next over then. Let's get him into the game. Next over bud”.

While the dialogue may have come across as a joke to many viewers, CA took a dim view, immediately contacting the network to voice its concern.  With billions now bet on the BBL, CA are on the lookout for even the slightest hint of a corruption threat, wary that information such as that aired by Channel Ten could be abused by punters or bookmakers.

A CA spokesperson said: "Australian cricket has a long-standing, proactive approach to sports integrity management. We educate our broadcasters at the beginning of each season in the area of Cricket Australia's Integrity codes and policies so they fully understand the extent we take to ensure the integrity of cricket in the country.  We are disappointed with the comments made on the BBL broadcast [on Wednesday], and expressed this concern immediately to Channel 10 when it occurred.  [CA’s] Integrity unit is looking into the matter further to ensure the comments made during the broadcast did not jeopardise the integrity of [the] match”.

The network has apologised to CA, saying all commentators are educated on CA's integrity codes and policies.  "The comments were in no way intended to advise Adelaide Strikers Captain Brad Hodge on game tactics or influence the outcome of the game”, said a Network Ten spokesperson.

Female umpires make Victorian Country Week history.

Luke West.

Bendigo Advertiser.

Thursday, 19 January 2017.

PTG 2027-10258.

Two female umpires stood in Victoria’s Country Week cricket carnival in Bendigo on Wednesday for the first time in the competition’s 83-year history.  Helen Wardlaw, a former England international who now lives in Bendigo, and Lisa McCabe, took charge of the division one fixture between Northern Districts and Goulburn Murray at Golden Square Oval.  McCabe is in her second season of umpiring with the Bendigo District Cricket Association (BDCA) and Wardlaw her first. 

Yorkshire-born Wardlaw, 34, played three Tests and seven One Day Internationals for England in three Tests and seven One Day Internationals in 2003 and 2004 as an off-spin bowler.  She likes though to keep her international experience "fairly low key, but I learned so much through that time, not just cricket-wise, but life experience as well”.  “But it’s good to be humble about these things and it was a long time ago now"

Wardlaw moved to Australia three-and-a-half-years ago.  She played during the 2015-16 austral summer with Melbourne in the Premier Cricket women’s competition, but not keen on the travel this summer to and from Bendigo for each game, decided to take up umpiring in her new hometown.  “I saw Cricket Victoria was doing a free course for women umpires, so I gave that a go and then got in touch with Bendigo umpires and it’s just a great way of staying involved in the game”, she said.

After her first BDCA game recently, a third XI fixture, she said she "enjoyed it more than I thought I probably would [and] I would love if I could make a career out of umpiring, but there’s a lot of work that would go into that in getting the games behind me.  Hopefully, further down the line avenues will open up to proceed down that path”.

McCabe, 34, who became the first female to officiate a senior BDCA game 15 months ago, said she "grew up watching my older brother play cricket, but girls weren’t allowed to play”.  “I love cricket and I saw umpiring as an opportunity to get involved in the game.  When I signed up I didn’t realise that I was the first female to umpire in Bendigo. Hopefully, some more women get involved because I’ve had a lot of fun so far.  Women’s cricket is getting bigger and bigger in Australia and there’s no reason why more women can’t get into umpiring”.

Batswomen admits ’Super Over' confusion in WBBL derby.

James Buckley.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 19 January 2017.

PTG 2027-10259.

Ashleigh Gardner from Cricket Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) Sydney Sixes franchise admits she didn't realise her team had lost to the cross-town Sydney Thunder until she left the field following the Super-Over confusion that decided their contest last Saturday after the main match ended in a tie.  Gardner needed two runs from the final ball of the Super Over to hand her side victory but only managed a single which meant the teams had also tied their Super Over.

However, the Thunder outscored their opponents 16 boundaries to 14 in their regulation innings, but the Sixers scored one more off the first ball of their Super Over.  "There probably could be [a better way to decide a winner]”, said Gardner.  "I don't have a solution for what it could be but definitely probably in the women's game where probably girls don't hit as many boundaries as the men do there could be a better way of finding out who the winner could be.  I guess as a team in the past couple of days, we haven't seen it as a loss so much seeing as we didn't really lose, we only hit one less boundary than them”.

Women’s International Cricket League returns to the news.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 19 January 2017.

PTG 2027-10260.

Plans to stage an annual six-team women's Twenty20 tournament in Singapore are slowly coming together according to Women's International Cricket League director Shaun Martyn.  A date is yet to be set for the inaugural tournament, which will feature female cricketers from lesser-known cricketing nations across the world, but Martyn was hopeful to have a schedule locked in the end of April.  This appears to be the first time news of WICL plans have surfaced since both Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board dismissed the concept two-and-a-half years ago (PTG 1370-6622, 6 June 2014).


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,028

Sunday, 22 January 2017

 

• More smashed windows as backyard games feed on BBL popularity [2028-10261]. 

• Third umpire mistake leads to confusion [2028-10262]. 

• England fined for slow over-rate in Cuttack ODI [2028-10263]. 

• Slow over rate fine for BBL side [2028-10264]. 

• ‘Spider cam’ wire denies Dhoni a six [2028-10265]. 

More smashed windows as backyard games feed on BBL popularity.

Zenon Kosmider. 

Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Sunday, 22 January 2017.

PTG 2028-10261.

Cricket crowd numbers aren’t the only things getting smashed this austral summer, so are suburban windows, in a phenomenon Glaziers are calling the “Big Bash Effect”.  The extraordinary success of Cricket Australia's (CA) Big Bash League (BBL) has record numbers of kids picking up their bats and balls in streets, backyards and driveways across Australia.  That in turn has meant that the glazier business is booming as youngsters, determined to imitate their hard-hitting heroes, are hitting cricket balls through home windows at an alarming rate.

Mark Kearins of Sydney firm Kingsway Glass said: "We noticed last year, and it’s happened again this year, we are getting a lot more calls from mums and dads saying their kids have knocked a window in with a cricket ball.  I get around 20 per cent more work because of it, or around 10 extra jobs a week.  When a big BBL match is on, we will get calls the following morning asking for windows to be replaced.  We think kids are inside playing video games, but I reckon that the amount of windows I’ve been fixing over the last couple of years around this time means there are a fair few outside playing cricket”.

Crowds are averaging 30,000 for each BBL match and TV ratings are going through the roof. Last Saturday’s big derby between the Sydney Sixers and the Sydney Thunder was a sellout, with more than 39,000 packing into the Sydney Cricket Ground.  CA has always said one of the big aims of the BBL was to encourage kids to play the game and its popularity had already had an impact on playing numbers.

Third umpire mistake leads to confusion.

Times of India.

Friday, 20 January 2017.

PTG 2028-10262.

Being an umpire is not easy. With plenty of noise everywhere, the on-field umpire’s job is often a thankless one, which is why the addition of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) was seen as a great move. With the help of replays and all the latest technology at their finger tips, the job of a third umpire is supposed to be easy.  But as International Cricket Council (ICC) Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) member, and current ICC ‘Umpire of the Year’ Marais Erasmus said earlier this month:  "On field mistakes are‚ to a certain extent‚ understandable but you are not supposed to make a wrong decision while reviewing on television” (PTG 2021-10222, 6 January 2017). 

However, despite all the technology that is available, sometimes human error is inevitable. And that is precisely what happened during the second India-England One Day International in Cuttack on Thursday.  Needing to up the run rate, England batsman Liam Plunkett opted to use the UDRS after being given out LBW when he walked across his stumps and tried to clip the ball but ended up missing it.  On appeal umpire Anil Chaudhry gave him ‘out' but Plunkett immediately asked for a review for he felt he had walked across and the impact was outside off.  

UDRS showed though that the batsman knew where his stump was for it showed he was outside the line, however, he was almost given out due to a mistake by EUP member Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka who was working as the television official.  Although evidence was clear that Chaudhry’s decision should be overturned, Dharmasena asked Chaudhry to stay with his decision, saying in part: “It’s impact outside the line and you can stay with your original decision” of ‘out’.  Confusion was evident as Chaudhry again gave Plunkett ‘out’, however, common sense eventually prevailed for he reversed his decision again and allowed the Englishman to stay at the crease.

England fined for slow over-rate in Cuttack ODI.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Friday, 20 January 2017.

PTG 2028-10263.

England has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against India during the second One Day International of their series in Cuttack on Thursday.   Match referee Andy Pycroft imposed the fine after the side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.  As such each player has been fined 10 per cent of their match fees and their captain Eoin Morgan double that amount.  The charge was laid by on-field umpires Anil Chaudhary and Ruchira Palliyaguruge, third umpire Kumar Dharmasena and fourth official Nitin Menon.

Slow over rate fine for BBL side.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Friday, 20 January 2017.

PTG 2028-10264.

Each player in the Melbourne Renegades Big Bash League (BBL) side that played Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Friday have been fined $A2,000 (£UK1,220), and their captain Aaron Finch given 'one strike’, because of the team’s slow over rate.  Match referee Steve Bernard found that after applying allowances, the Renegades were 8.75 minutes behind the time in which they were scheduled time to complete their 20 overs, a time which equates to being two overs short.  Cricket Australia says the fine will be reduced to $A1,000 (£610) per player if the franchise accepts the penalty without appeal.

 

Meanwhile, CA has had nothing more to say about the appeal lodged nearly three weeks ago by the Womens’ Big Bash League’s (WBBL) Sydney Thunder side against the slow over rate penalty handed to it following a WBBL match against the Brisbane Heat in Sydney (PTG 2021-10224, 6 January 2017).  CA Code of Conduct Commissioner David Harper was appointed to hear the appeal against the one championship point that was docked from their tally after they took nine minutes longer than allowed to bowl their 20 overs.  If Harper’s hearing has been held it would appear the appeal was unsuccessful as Thunder finished their season one point short of what their results entitle them to.  On the other hand given the loss did not impact on their ability to reach the WBBL semi finals, they may have withdrawn from their action. 

‘Spider cam’ wire denies Dhoni a six.

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Saturday, 21 January 2017.

PTG 2028-10265.

India batsman MS Dhoni was denied a six against England during the sides' One Day International in Cuttack on Thursday by ‘Spidercam.  On 93 at the time, Dhoni struck a full-toss and the ball seemed to be sailing comfortably over the fence at deep square leg, however, it struck one of the ‘Spidercam’ wires suspended high in the air.  As required by International Cricket Council Playing Conditions the ball was called ‘dead’ which meant the Indian batsman was robbed of a sure six.  His frustration didn't last long though for he cleared the fence, and ’Spidercam’ and its support equipment, on the very next delivery.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,029

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

 

• Cricket NSW proposing BBL play a round in Hong Kong [2029-10266]. 

• ‘Airborne’ batsman ruled ‘run out’ [2029-10267]. 

• Grassroots to benefit from BBL side's incredible $A1m profit [2029-10268]. 

• IPL payday comes before country [2029-10269]. 

• Mask protects batswomen's titanium reinforced cheek bone [2029-10270]. 

• Batsman receives warning after show of bat [2029-10271]. 

• BBL franchise chief calls for scheduling clashes to be solved [2029-10272]. 

• Is it 'the show' that matters? [2029-10273]. 

Cricket NSW proposing BBL play a round in Hong Kong.

James Buckley.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10266.

Cricket New South Wales has proposed an opening-round Big Bash League (BBL) excursion to Hong Kong as part of plans to expand the super-successful competition amid a boom of international interest in the Australian Twenty20 game.  Singapore, China and even New Zealand have also been slated as target areas for Big Bash growth after the league's strongest regular season yet, which has boasted an average attendance of 30,534 ahead of this week's finals.

That figure puts the BBL in elite company on the list of international sporting leagues, narrowly ahead of the most recent Major League Baseball season in the United States in average attendance numbers, albeit with the competition being played over a much shorter timeframe, and not far behind the Australian Football League.  Last year Cricket NSW chief Andrew Jones sat down with members of his staff, Sydney Sixers boss Dom Remond and his Thunder counterpart Nick Cummins to discuss the possibility of dipping the BBL toe into the largely untapped south-east Asian market.

The proposal was taken to Cricket Australia (CA) about three months ago and the national body will look at the idea more closely at the conclusion of this season's competition, which ends with the men's and women's grand finals on Saturday. A CA spokesperson said expanding the game in Australia either by lengthening the season or adding more teams was a higher priority than taking the game offshore, but Jones believed the two should go hand in hand.

"If and when Big Bash expands, the first stage of that would be to move to a full home and away season, rather than adding two teams straight away, which would give each team 14 games”, Jones said.  "There's a question mark about whether the Australian market could accommodate that volume straight away if it's in a similar timeframe to what it is now. We thought with that, to help the market absorb the content, we could take either the first or the first two rounds overseas in early December.  It's harder to get crowds before Christmas in Australia for obvious reasons, kids are at school and people are busy with end of year stuff”.

Jones is proposing a blockbuster opening-round weekend involving all eight men's teams which would include a Friday night game, a double-header on Saturday and a fourth game on the Sunday. The Cricket NSW suggestion also hopes to include the eight women's teams.

Hong Kong hosted a Sixes cricket tournament for two decades up until 2012 before a lack of funding forced the competition to fold, although the Hong Kong Cricket Association announced last year that the league would return in 2017.  Cricket has established a strong presence in Hong Kong and the national team played in the last two Twenty20 World Cups, while the Sixers and Thunder both played practice matches against Hong Kong last month in country New South Wales in the lead-up to this season's Big Bash.

Jones said south-east Asia offered significant growth potential for the BBL.  "The obvious locations would be Hong Kong, Singapore, possibly China – there's a cricket ground in Guangzhou”, Jones said.  "It's a bit like starting the Tour De France in England or Ireland or Germany or Denmark as a way of globalising the brand. It starts to look and feel a lot like a Hong Kong [rugby union] Sevens type weekend targeted at a mix of ex-pats and locals. It's a good time zone for Australia and it's an emerging market for cricket.  It's premium quality sport so I think you'd have to develop the market. There isn't a market until you take games there and when you take games there people say 'Wow, maybe this is something we enjoy’”.

‘Airborne’ batsman ruled ‘run out’.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 23 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10267.

New Zealand lost their last wicket in their first innings in the Christchurch Test against Bangladesh on Monday in unusual circumstances, when third umpire Marais Erasmus ruled Neil Wagner run out despite his having grounded his bat before wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan's flick had disturbed the bails.  Rather than drag his bat past the crease, Wagner had plonked it in and then lifted it; at the point when the bails came off, Wagner's entire body was past the crease, but entirely airborne, with his bat and both feet off the ground.

Wagner would have been okay if his feet had touched ground within the crease at some point before the bails came off. He had, however, not done so yet. His feet had made their final contact with the ground before reaching the crease.  According to Law 29 (batsman out of his ground), "(a) batsman shall be considered to be out of his ground unless his bat or some part of his person is grounded behind the popping crease at that end”.

In October 2010, the Marylebone Cricket Club changed the Law to rule that "if a running batsman, having grounded some part of his foot behind the popping crease, continues running further towards the wicket at that end and beyond, then any subsequent total loss of contact with the ground of both his person and his bat during his continuing forward momentum shall not be interpreted as being out of his ground” (PTG 675-3312, 1 October 2010).  Wagner, however, had yet to ground his foot when the bails came off, and was therefore run out.

Grassroots to benefit from BBL side's incredible $A1m profit.

Robert Craddock.

The Courier-Mail.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10268.

The Brisbane Heat Big Bash League (BBL) franchise are set to post a seven figure profit for the season and it will be funnelled back to those who generated it.  A million dollar-plus profit (£UK605,800 plus) awaits the Heat who sold out their entire four-match home season and are also set to sell out Wednesday’s semi-final against the Sydney Sixers.  The Heat takes 15 per cent of profits for the semi-final.

A crowd of around 17,000 is considered about break even at Heat home games so this figure has been doubled at every game.  “It would be fair to say it will be seven figures”, Heat general manager Andrew McShea said of the likely Heat profit.  “Queensland Cricket is not for profit so the profits will continue to grow the game all over Queensland.  It will help with more staff and helping with junior clubs and schools, more equipment, changes to facilities and improvements to grassroots cricket”.

When the BBL was launched there was a massive push for the teams to be privately owned just as they are in the Indian Premier League.  Cricket Australia (CA) gave that concept careful consideration but elected to maintain the ownership of all franchises in the hope that the venture would take off and the teams would make money.  So it has proved.  CA is now greatly relieved it made this decision because not only is it reaping the financial benefits but with the state associations being the parent bodies it has access to all junior networks. Despite being owned by CA the Heat are allowed to disperse profits back into Queensland cricket.

McShea said the stunning form of Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn and the winning form of the team had triggered a lift in crowd figures.  “Last year we were averaging a tick under 30,000 but part of the increase is seeing the team winning and also the Bash Brothers (Lynn and McCullum) as they have been termed for going so well. That is the beauty of all this.  The sellout just seem to breed other sellouts. A few years ago fans would wait and look for the weather but now they realise if they wait they will miss out. Hopefully it will cascade through to next summer as well”.

IPL payday comes before country.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10269.

With the resting of opening batsman and vice-captain David Warner from Australia’s three-game One Day International (ODI) series against New Zealand, like the resting of Steve Smith before him, Cricket Australia (CA) has conceded that something has to give in the crowded cricket calendar and it is not going to be the players’ participation in the Indian Premier League.  The decision to withdraw Usman Khawaja from the Chappell-Hadlee series as well and place him in the remedial training group ahead of the India Test ­series is another realpolitik acknowledgment of the compromise needed because of the chaotic state of the fixtures.

The shuffling in and out of the Australian teams and the decision to have the Test side preparing for the India series while a Twenty20 team plays Sri Lanka in Australia shows how difficult things have become.  The bind for some of the senior players such as Warner and Smith, who are co-signatories to a contract submission from the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) which states they want to be able to represent Australia at all times, is they also want to compete in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but know they need a rest at some period.

The decision to rest Khawaja and Warner is good news for Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch, who come into the squad in place of the two openers. The Australian captain and vice-captain have an extraordinary workload, but both chose to spend their designated break earning large amounts of money in the Indian domestic tournament and presumably will do the same again this April.  CA gets a cut of their wages but does not reciprocate to other nations whose premier players sign up to the Big Bash League and who put up with the inconvenience.  The trade-off for the money is allowing a window in the internat­ional schedule for the IPL, but that puts pressures on administrators to rest players from international duties.

Smith was rested from the last games of the Sri Lanka ODI series and Warner will be rested from next week’s three-match contest in New Zealand because it is the only break that could be found for them.

The ACA’s confidential submission to the contract negotiations with CA identifies the crowded schedule as one of the main concerns of players and claims the players have 30 bilateral tours scheduled between 2015 and 2018 (PTG 2022-10228, 7 January 2017).  “Domestic T20 events, including the IPL are now effectively part of the international calendar/schedule, and should be treated in this way in any scheduling and ­fatigue discussions”, the submission says.  “Player fatigue and burnout does not just relate to on-field/physical fatigue, it extends to appearance/travel fatigue”.

In 2016, Australia played 11 Test matches and 29 ODIs at home and in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies.  New Zealand Cricket was given a guarantee of annual Chappell-Hadlee series if it would overcome its reluctance to play the day-night Test in Adelaide in late 2015.  The time that could be spent preparing for a critical four-Test series against India at the end of next month will be spent shuttling players between the ODI series in NZ and a T20 series in Australia against Sri Lanka.

The Test players will be in India next month and in March. The IPL begins in April and the Champions Trophy, in England and Wales, in June. There is a chance of a Bangladesh Test series after that and then England arrive for the Ashes. The scheduling means nobody in the Test side can play in the T20s against Sri Lanka. It is an issue highlighted in the contract negotiations by the ACA.  “The ACA submission is simple: any time an Australian team plays, it should be with the best players and it should be playing to win”, the ACA says.  “There would need to be very clear reasons for any moves which could devalue what it means to play for Australia”.

High performance manager Pat Howard has to be highly creative in order to get anywhere near approximating preparation for tours. Scarred by experiences where practice wickets have borne no resemblance to Test tracks, the Australians are heading to Dubai for a crash course in playing on low, slow turners before the first Test in Pune.  A remedial course is being held for Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon and Matt Renshaw, who will fly to Dubai early.

Mask protects batswomen's titanium reinforced cheek bone.

Robert Craddock.

The Courier-Mail.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10270.

Deandra Dottin feels no pain in her titanium reinforced cheek bone.  In fact she can’t feel much at all.  West Indian all-rounder Dottin will on Tuesday take the field for the Brisbane Heat in the semi-final of the Women’s Big Bash League against the Scorchers wearing a special mask that protects her cheek-under-repair.  It is an essential part of her recovery after a sickening collision left her with a badly fractured cheekbone which required surgery and the insertion of several titanium plates (PTG 2014-10191, 29 December 2016).

The Barbados native, who currently owns the fastest international Twenty20 century in either men’s or women’s cricket, was determined not to have her season derailed by the accident.  “It’s not painful but it is numb at the moment”, Dottin said.  “I don’t have much feeling in the cheek. Just a little bit.  The mask is very comfortable but it does make me sweat a lot”.

Dottin was taken off the field on a stretcher after the accident and Heat coach Andy Richards was so concerned about her that he and wife Penny took her into their home and helped her through her rehabilitation.  “They were very kind to me. After the collision it was really tough. I was in terrible pain. My face was really swollen. It was not easy for me.  It effected my eating habits. I could not eat anything hard. I just had to eat soft stuff like mashed potatoes.  That was two or three weeks. I lost some weight".

Despite being out injured Dottin says she "was never going to go home”.  "I told them I wanted to stay and support the girls to the end even if I did not recover.  Fortunately things worked out. I recovered quicker than I thought. The team really needed me to stay there and bat in the last game and I was pleased to be able to do it”.

Batsman receives warning after show of bat.

PTG Editor.

ICC media report.

Sunday, 22 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10271.

Mark Watt of Scotland has received an official warning for “showing dissent at an umpire’s decision” during his side’s Twenty20 match against Ireland in Dubai on Friday.  After being adjudged LBW, Watt showed his bat to the umpire to indicate that he had hit the ball first.  In addition to the warning, the Scotsman also had one demerit point added to his disciplinary record.  The charge was levelled by on-field umpires Ahmed Shah Paten of Afghanistan and Buddhi Pradhan of Nepal plus third official Tabard Dar from Hong Kong.

BBL franchise chief calls for scheduling clashes to be solved.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 22 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10272.

Melbourne Stars chief executive Clint Cooper has called for a Big Bash League (BBL) ‘symposium' in a bid to find a solution to scheduling to allow Australia's international players more time in the burgeoning Twenty20 competition (PTG 2029-10269 above).  The Stars have been particularly hit by Australian selection this summer, losing five players – Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa – to the One Day International (ODI) series against Pakistan.

They have lost their past two matches but head into Tuesday's semi-final in Perth against the Scorchers hopeful that Stoinis will be released. Cricket Australia (CA) was to make a call after Sunday's ODI in Sydney.  The Stars had been of the belief Stoinis would have been released to play on Saturday in what proved to be a loss to the Sydney Sixers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but CA, according to BBL insiders, changed its mind, prompting one of its players, Kevin Pietersen, to publicly lash the governing body on Friday.

The BBL is the growing beast of Australian cricket, although all parties maintain having players represent their country is the ultimate aim. However, there is a growing tension about the need to do what's best for the international side, while also ensuring record BBL crowds, television audiences and sponsorship are retained – and grow – in the next round of broadcast rights. Negotiations over new Australian international and domestic rights will soon intensify.

Cooper said on Sunday it was time CA, state associations, which run BBL franchises, and the Australian Cricketers Association got together to solve scheduling issues.  "I think what we need to do first – clubs, state associations, [CA] and the players' association need to get together and maybe have some honest, robust discussions about how can we actually make this work more effectively".

"The pinnacle is playing for the country and everybody recognises and understands that and, certainly, we would never want our players to not have that opportunity. But I think having the four parties working together, there is certainly a way in which I reckon the calendar can be structured, maybe even better communication between the Australian team and the clubs, to enable some better planning”.

Senior Australian players such as Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc cannot play in the BBL because of international duties has raised questions as to how the tournament can grow. The Indian Premier League – the world's best T20 domestic tournament – features India's best players.  The Stoinis situation has particularly frustrated the Stars because, while he was allowed to play against the Brisbane Heat last Tuesday before joining the Australian squad in Perth, he then did not play there on Thursday and was also overlooked for Sunday's ODI in Sydney. This came at a time when all franchises were fighting for a spot in the finals.

One suggested solution is stretching the BBL season into early February, and perhaps even having a week off on the eve of the finals when most, if not all, of the ODIs could be staged. Expanding the finals series to include a preliminary final has also emerged as a talking point. While a longer season has merit, the Australian side often heads off on an overseas tour in February.

"Scheduling is obviously the tricky piece in all of this ... depending on where [CA] has visions of Big Bash going in the future, whether that is extra games or teams, we are certainly going to have to extend that calendar because I can't see how we are going to condense it in the same period that we are currently working under at the moment”, said Cooper.  "If that meant a bit more in December or encroaching into February, I think that might give us a bit more flexibility to really manage this”.

On losing several of his best players at the pointy end of the season, Cooper said: "It wouldn't happen anywhere else in the world”.  Franchises are also mindful of having the best talent on the park, ensuring the paying spectator and viewers at home believe the competition is of the highest standard.  The Stars this year had a record overall attendance of 198,312 through their four home matches at the MCG.

The eight franchises currently play eight home-and-away matches but Cooper said the priority should be for each side to meet the other twice in the season before expansion – and potential dilution of talent – was considered (PTG 2029-10266 above).

Is it 'the show' that matters?

Neil Mantorp.

SuperSport.

Sunday, 21 January 2017.

PTG 2029-10273.

When you’re too close to a good painting it can be hard to see it properly. Take a few steps backwards and it can become clearer, easier to appreciate. Get out of the woods to see the trees.  It is perfectly possible that, after a quarter of a century working in cricket, my ability to "see" certain aspects of the game has become faded. Sometimes I know what is going to happen in 10 overs' time because I have seen it happen so often before, but other times I learn something brand new from a 10-year-old.

What prompted this bout of introspection? Well, it was the sold out signs going up at SuperSport Park almost a week before South Africa's first Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka.  For the last five years the calls for "context" in international cricket have gathered pace around the world (except in the administrative boardrooms which really matter, it seems.) I have been as close to the forefront of those calls as I can possibly get, especially for Test cricket.

I still believe that Test cricket will struggle to survive without a league or championship which is recognisable, credible and understandable. One Day International cricket, too, will lose much of its relevance to people without a league table which includes four or five non-Test playing nations, but it will cling to the World Cup for its survival.  So there I was thinking: “Who will want to watch a very new-looking Proteas team play an arbitrary T20 match against an equally young and almost certainly out-of-its-depth Sri Lankan team?” And the answer is – LOTS OF PEOPLE!

Perhaps the "show" is enough to sustain people. Maybe they don’t actually care that the match "means" nothing. After all, what does the circus "mean"? What does it mean to ride a roller coaster or listen to an orchestra? Not much – but it’s fun.  That is the difference between three-hour cricket and its eight hour and five day older siblings. It’s simple, quick and lively. It doesn’t test its exponents’ all round skills, endurance or mental strength but it’s usually a damn good show and, sometimes, that’s all we want. The result won’t really matter, just as long as we are entertained.

The sold out signs were a timely and welcome reminder not to forget that cricket is “show” as well as a business and an industry.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,030

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

 

• ‘Wales’ could feature in new ECB T20 competition [2030-10274]. 

• 'Run out' law makes no sense, claims NZ coach [2030-10275]. 

• All-Lankan neutrals for Australia-NZ ODIs [2030-10276]. 

• Four Aussie umpires granted officiating scholarships, say reports [2030-10277]. 

• Aussie players still chasing full CA finance records [2030-10278]. 

• Tennis, ODI viewing numbers way down as BBL rules the roost [2030-10279]. 

• Bowler takes five consecutive wickets in T20 match; finishes with 6/0 [2030-10280]. 

‘Wales’ could feature in new ECB T20 competition.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10274.

The new Twenty20 competition being proposed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) may include a team playing under the name of Wales, who will be based at the Swalec stadium in Cardiff.  Hugh Morris, the Glamorgan chief executive, has reiterated his strong support for the new competition and is keen for one of the eight teams to be situated in Cardiff and playing as Wales, albeit not necessarily made up of Welsh players, to represent the silent ‘W' in the ECB. It is thought that Morris wants to use the ardent rivalry between England and Wales in other sports to promote the new team.

Morris told the BBC: “The growth and development of the game in Wales could be driven by this new competition. We are going to fight really hard [to get a standalone team in Cardiff]. We are the ‘Wales’ in the ‘England and Wales Cricket Board’”.  No final decisions have been made as to where the eight teams will be located, although the traditional Test-match venues of Lord’s, The Oval, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Old Trafford and Headingley are likely to be six of the home venues.

The ECB is exploring a number of options. One could involve host teams playing at more than one ground, which might mean that a team playing out of Cardiff could have one or more of their four home games played in Bristol or Taunton, with the team being more of a west regional team than a Welsh team.  The new competition will be played over a 38-day window in July and August from 2020 and run alongside the ECB’s domestic 50-over competition. It is understood that Glamorgan may use this as an opportunity to play games at other venues in Wales in the hope of spreading the game’s appeal there.

Final details of the competition, including locations, names and how the player draft will work, are being considered by the ECB’s T20 working group and will be put to county chiefs at the end of March. After that, a tender document will be put out for potential broadcasters to bid to cover the competition, which could attract upwards of £UK45 million ($A74 m) a year. The teams will be owned by the ECB, but with the 18 first-class counties being stakeholders, each receiving more than £UK1 million a year ($A1.65 m) in additional revenue as a result.  Six of the ECB’s eight-strong team charged with developing the tournament visited Australia recently to look at all aspects of Cricket Australia’s Big Bash League competition (PTG 2024-10237, 13 January 2017).

Meanwhile, the ECB’s women’s T20 Super League, which is entering its second year, has received a boost after broadcaster ‘Sky' decided to televise six matches, including the final. The inaugural Super League last year had no television coverage but was deemed a success with decent crowds and a good quality of cricket. The semi-finals and final will be played at Hove on the first day of September, 24 hours before the men’s T20 finals day.

'Run out' law makes no sense, claims NZ coach.

Daniel Gilhooly.

Australian Associated Press.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10275.

Cricket's lawmakers have been urged to step in following the run out dismissal of New Zealand batsman Neil Wagner during the second Test against Bangladesh in Christchurch on Monday (PTG 2029-10267, 24 January 2017).  Wagner’s coach Mike Hesson was left shaking his head after third umpire Marais Erasmus correctly deemed an airborne Wagner was out even though he had crossed the popping crease.

Wagner grounded his bat to complete a second run before wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan, with Wagner well past the crease, flicked the ball onto the stumps from close range.  The ball struck just as Wagner's bat left the ground, having become stuck in the turf beyond the crease line.  His feet were still to make contact with safe ground and, because of that, he was deemed out. Had it been his feet making initial contact, rather than bat, it would have been not out.

Hesson sees no reason for the bat having different status to feet.  "It's obviously been around for a long time but it seems a little bit unfair”, he said.  "When your bat bounces over the line once you've made your ground, that's not really what the run-out's all about.  I personally think it needs a bit of tinkering”.

All-Lankan neutrals for Australia-NZ ODIs

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10276.

Fresh from working together as the neutral umpires in the three-match One Day International (ODI) series between India and England which ended on Sunday (PTG 1963-9883, 31 October 2016), Sri Lankan umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Ruchira Palliyaguruge will next travel to New Zealand for that side’s three ODIs against Australia, the first match of which is scheduled for Auckland on Monday.  The pair will work under countryman and match referee Ranjan Madugalle, Palliyaguruge being on-field in Auckland as well as the third game in Hamilton, and Dharmasena in match two in Napier.  When not on-field each will work as the television official.

The three Sri Lankans will work with New Zealand members of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) who will occupy the second on-field and four umpire spots in each game.  New Zealand Cricket is yet to announce which of Wayne Knights, Chris Brown and Shaun Craig will fill those positions, their match officials appointments page for most of its competitions this austral summer not being kept up-to-date.

The series will take Madugalle’s ODI record as a referee to 305, Dharmasena to 77 on-field and 41 as a television umpire (77/41), and Palliyaguruge to 39/14.  For the latter, who is a Sri Lankan IUP member, the coming series will be his sixth as an ICC neutral umpire in the last two years.  The first was in the 2015 World Cup, then came appointments to the Bangladesh-Pakistan series in April 2015, Zimbabwe-Pakistan that October, Pakistan-West Indies last September-October, then the just finished India-England matches.

Four Aussie umpires granted officiating scholarships, say reports.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10277.

Reports suggest four Australian umpires have been awarded year-long National Officiating Scholarships (NOS) by the Australian government’s Sports Commission (ASC), but as yet no publicity has been given to just who those the Commission chose last month are.  If that information is correct, it will be the largest number of such scholarships awarded to cricket in a single year by the ASC since the sport’s first in 2008, and would bring to 20 the total number of umpires who have been through the program in the last ten years.

The aim of the NOS program, which is now in its fifteenth year and encompasses all sports, is to support and encourage the professional development of emerging match officials by helping them progress through recognised pathways to the highest levels of their chosen sport in national and international competitions.  As the governing body for cricket in Australia, Cricket Australia (CA) would have had to nominate individuals, or give any umpire seeking to submit scholarship applications their support before they did so.  

Documentation for 2017 applicants said that “scholarships will NOT [their emphasis] be available to those who: have been appointed as a senior official on a national team; or are regarded by the sport to be a senior official and not a developing official”, a change that came in prior to the 2016 group being selected.   If adhered to, that suggests that the six of the twelve members of CA’s top National Umpires Panel (NUP) who have yet to receive such a scholarship, Gerard Abood, Ashley Barrow, Mike Graham-Smith, Geoff Joshua, John Ward and Paul Wilson, will not be recipients this year.  Similarly neither will 2017 awards go to CA’s six-person second-tier Development Panel (DP), which sits below the NUP, as all of the current members of that panel have already been through the scholarship program.

That leaves a group of umpires that analysis suggests are currently hovering in a loose grouping below the DP who are looking for promotion as potential scholarship recipients.  They include: Queensland-based David Taylor; Nathan Johnstone of Western Australia; Darren Close of Tasmania who stood in 20 first class fixtures three decades ago (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016); plus New South Welshmen Anthony Hobson and Ben Treloar (PTG 2006-10142, 16 December 2016).   Taylor though was a NOS recipient last year (PTG 1775-8867, 5 March 2016), so it would appear that the other four may be this year’s awardees.  

On the other hand some reports suggest that, like last year, CA will again be pushing a female for a scholarship.  Should that be so, that means with DP member Claire Polosak, a scholarship holder in 2015, only two women will be in the running, either Deanne Young from the Australian Capital Territory who has been standing in men’s senior competitions for some years, or Western Australia's Ashlee Kovalevs, who made her debut at men’s senior Premier League level last month (PTG 2001-10114, 10 December 2016).

Current NUP and International Cricket Council (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) member Mick Martell became cricket’s first NOS recipient in 2008 (PTG 200-1098, 22 February 2008).  Early in 2009 now ICC Elite Umpire Panel member Paul Reiffel, who was fast-tracked into umpiring via CA’s Project Panel system, received the scholarship along with then emerging umpire Steven John (PTG 369-1963, 9 February 2009); however, John quit umpiring altogether at the end of the scholarship program after missing out on NUP selection (PTG 639-3183, 26 July 2010).  

Now CA umpire coach and former long-serving NUP member Ian Lock, and current NUP members Simon Fry and Sam Nogajski, were awarded scholarships in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively, and their NUP colleague Shawn Craig and then NUP and now DP member Damien Mealey both in 2013 (PTG 1070-5203, 2 March 2013).  The 2014 recipients were the NUP’s Greg Davidson and the DP's Tony Wilds, in 2015 NUP member Phillip Gillespie and the DP's Polosak and David Shepard (PTG 1513-7295, 3 February 2015), and last year DP members Donovan Koch and Simon Lightbody, plus Taylor (PTG 1775-8867, 5 March 2016).

Craig, Davidson, Gillespie, Martell and Nogajski were given their scholarships the year prior to their appointment to the NUP, but on the other hand Mealey, Reiffel, Fry and Lock were one, four, six and seven years into their time on CA’s top domestic panel respectively when they came to be selected; Reiffel and Fry in fact already being members of the IUP at the time their scholarships were announced.  Since then though the ASC has shifted the emphasis to the selection of umpires who are still working towards national level.

Aussie players still chasing full CA finance records.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10278.

A proposal by the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) that calls for a cap on Cricket Australia's (CA) administrative costs has been underlined by the ACA as it chases full disclosure of the game's finances ahead of the next round of CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) meetings, set for next week.  The ACA executive, which includes Aaron Finch, Moises Henriques, Neil Maxwell, Lisa Sthalekar, Janet Torney and Shane Watson, met in Sydney on Monday ahead of the Allan Border Medal ceremony, which in itself is a vestige of warmer past relations between the players and CA.

Negotiations for the next MoU broke down in December amid bitter sparring between the two parties, and though informal talks have resumed (PTG 2025-10252, 16 January 2017), the players remain convinced they are not being afforded the sort of transparency they had previously enjoyed when trying to reach an agreement with the board. 

Suggestions of "a ceiling on [CA’s] administrative costs to create space for greater grassroots investment as future revenues grow" were included in the ACA's original submission to the pay talks. That would appear to be a counter to CA's claim that the longstanding fixed revenue percentage model by which players are paid needed to be pared back to only include the top male players, because more cash needed to be spent on the game's grassroots; something CA itself has acknowledged (PTG 2017-10208, 1 January 2017).

ACA president Greg Dyer asserted that the players needed greater access to CA's financial records than has presently been offered if talks are to progress.  "The executive of the ACA are adamant that there must be greater financial disclosure from [CA] if the talks are to meaningfully progress”, Dyer said in a statement. "Many players ask the very fair question: how does the game spend the revenue the players generate for it?

Dyer went on: "Players receive less than 20 per cent of total revenue, and only 12 per cent currently goes into grassroots investment. The players would like to see a greater investment in grassroots cricket, a better deal for female cricketers, and an ongoing share of Big Bash League and Women’s Big Bash League revenue they generate.  "We want the negotiations to be fully informed as due diligence demands. These are very fair questions and a very reasonable position for the players to take. Players regard themselves as genuine partners in the game. This is the strength of the current model - a partnership model which has grown the game and a partnership the players value and will fight for”.

The ACA's chief executive Alistair Nicholson, meanwhile, offered a reminder that fruitful talks needed to start in order to allow the new agreement to apply to the next round of contracts for all players, international and domestic, male and female.  "Failure to get this sequencing right means that the contracts could include some of the out-of-date terms and conditions the ACA has acknowledged in our submission”, he said, "and could also create different types of contracts which create inequities from player to player. The MoU informs the contracts. That's why the sequence needs to be MoU first and contracts second”.

Tennis, ODI viewing numbers way down as BBL rules the roost.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10279.

Executives at Australian broadcaster Channel Seven are facing some big decisions in the coming months following a week of Big Bash League (BBL) cricket exposing the soft underbelly of the Australian Open tennis which has been underway in Melbourne over the last ten days.  The Open has beaten cricket in the ratings on just one night since the tournament began, falling short of expectations that it would be a ratings bonanza.

As a result questions will have to be asked at the Seven Network about why its $A40 million (£UK24.3 m) a year tennis deal is being grand slammed by rival broadcaster Channel Ten’s $A20 million  (£12.1 m) a year BBL.  Seven might have invested heavily in the Australian Open, but there are suggestions circulating that they may feel compelled to join Ten and Channel Nine in going all in for the BBL in the next round of television broadcast rights.

The complication Seven has is that the BBL rights come up in 2018 and they are bound to the Australian Open until 2019, but not even that may be enough to dissuade them from a tilt at television sport’s latest cash cow.  Hypothetically speaking, Seven could always shift the tennis night sessions to its number.2 channel and if that were the case, Cricket Australia may oblige by not scheduling BBL on the nights of the men’s and women’s finals.

Cricket Australia are going to market with their cricket TV rights in the coming weeks and expect the BBL to command unprecedented interest from all the major free-to-air networks (PTG 2021-10226, 6 January 2017).  There is a feeling Channel Nine might even make the BBL its number one priority over international cricket.  Nine and Ten aren’t printing money by any stretch, and cashed up Fox Sports shapes as the X-factor in the upcoming cricket rights negotiations – with the potential to get a winning party over the line for BBL or international rights, or both.

Free-to-air audiences across the board are down eight per cent over the past year and even though the BBL has still performed outstandingly well, it too has experienced a slight dip of six per cent.  However, Nine’s international ratings are down by as much as 30 and 50 per cent on comparisons with last summer (PTG 1738-8640, 15 January 2016).  While still soundly beating the tennis and invariably winning its time slot, the gap between internationals and BBL is steadily closing and Nine executives may see more upside in going all in for the cheaper to run domestic Twenty20 league as the best bang for their buck.

Last austral summer six of the top 10 highest rating TV programs of the summer were international cricket matches, but to date not one session of Test or One Day International (ODI) cricket this season would have made that top 10 – indicating a marked drop in numbers across the board.  The highest rating session of Test cricket this summer was 1.06 million on Boxing Day across the metropolitan areas of the country’s five largest cities – whereas 12 months earlier it was a whopping 1.62 million for the day-nighter in Adelaide.  That’s more than 50 per cent down despite there being two day-night Tests this austral summer.

The highest rating ODI from this summer – a 1.14 million audience for last Sunday’s second match against Pakistan - is down 39 per cent from last year’s top of 1.59 tuning in for a match against India.  The first four ODI matches against India last summer averaged 1.27 million viewers, compared to a 999,000 five-city metro average against Pakistan.  International cricket on free-to-air television is undoubtedly still a massive drawcard for whichever network gets it, but all the momentum is shifting towards the Big Bash.

Bowler takes five consecutive wickets in T20 match; finishes with 6/0.

CricketCountry.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

PTG 2030-10280.

We have seen bowlers take hat-tricks in cricket. We have seen them finish with impressive returns, conceding minimal runs and doing maximum damage for the opposition. But what Sarfaraz Ashram, 27, achieved recently in a Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) T20 tournament in Bangalore is phenomenal. In a spectacular performance, the left-arm spinner took 6 wickets without conceding a single run while playing for Young Pioneer Cricket Club against Mercara Youth Cricket Club.  During his spell, five of his wickets were taken on consecutive deliveries, the umpire turning down an appeal for LBW on the sixth ball.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,031

Thursday, 26 January 2017

 

• Player suffers skull fracture, brain bleed, after training accident [2031-10281]. 

• Four female umpires selected to stand in WWC qualifier [2031-10282]. 

• Match abandoned after team clashes with umpire [2031-10283]. 

• Umpire concedes BBL error [2031-10284]. 

• EUP pair to stand in Pakistan Super League [2031-10285]. 

• TV boss downplays importance of Australian internationals in BBL [2031-10286]. 

• Player’s ‘personal message’ to dead man leads to reprimand [2031-10287]. 

Player suffers skull fracture, brain bleed, after training accident

Simon Brunsdon.

Fox Sports.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10281.

South Australian bowler Joe Mennie, 28, has been hospitalised again after scans revealed a skull fracture and minor brain bleed following a training accident on Monday.  Mennie was rushed to hospital on after being struck in the side of the head while bowling during a Sydney Sixers training session.  He was released that same night but a Cricket Australia (CA) update on Wednesday morning confirmed the injury was more serious than first thought.

CA chief medical officer Dr John Orchard said: “Joe was reviewed by a [CA] doctor on Tuesday and had some scans performed that revealed a small fracture and associated minor brain bleed”.  “While this is a serious injury, Joe is feeling well. We believe that this is a stable injury and will not require surgery.  As a precautionary measure, Joe has been admitted to hospital for observation and will continue to be assessed by a neurosurgeon to determine best course of action”.

Four female umpires selected to stand in WWC qualifier.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10282.

Four women have been named amongst the nine umpires chosen to stand in next month’s Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 in Sri Lanka.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) says the four, Kathleen Cross of New Zealand, Sue Redfern of England, Claire Polosak of Australia and Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies, "all have international experience and are being groomed for more future [international] responsibilities”.   

The five male umpires in the 8-team, 14-day, 30-match tournament, include Anil Chaudhry of India, Leslie Reifer from the West Indies and Raveendra Wimalasari from Sri Lanka, who are all members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel.   Ian Ramage of Scotland and Mark Hawthorne from Ireland, who like the four women are members of the ICC’s third-tier Associate and Affiliate International Umpires Panel, will also be involved.  Sri Lankan Graeme Labrooy, a member of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel, will oversee the series, while ICC Umpire Coach Peter Manuel will attend in that capacity.

Adrian Griffith, the ICC’s Senior Manager – Umpires and Referees said via a media release: “The ICC is committed to the growth of women’s cricket and more female officials in the game is a natural progression. We have four extremely capable female umpires for the 2017 Qualifier and are hopeful that more women will be able to officiate in international matches in the coming years. I’m sure watching these four officiate in this tournament will inspire more women to take up umpiring”.

Match abandoned after team clashes with umpire.

The Free Press Journal.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10283.

A match in India’s West Zone Inter University Cricket Tournament was abandoned in Bhopal on Tuesday after an on-field melee.  Problems started when players from Satya Sai University became engaged in what has been described as "heated arguments with an umpire”, and matters deteriorated further when other students who had been watching the game became involved.  After the university’s dean was hit with a chair, his players refused to continue with the game and left the ground.

Umpire concedes BBL error.

Sam Ferris.

CA web site.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10284.

It’s often forgotten that umpires, like the players they officiate, are humans and make human errors.  What separates the good players and umpires from the bad are those who can own up to their mistakes, acknowledge where they went wrong and become better for it.  Just like no batsman means to miss a ball or no fielder deliberately drops a catch, no umpire means to make the wrong call when standing out in the middle.

On Tuesday night in Perth in the first Big Bash League (BBL) semi-final, umpire Shawn Craig declined an appeal for a caught-behind that left the Melbourne Stars aghast with disbelief.  The batsman was Perth Scorchers wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman, who later admitted he did indeed edge the ball and should have been given out.  But Craig, in the centre of a ground that was humming with noise and excitement, ruled 'not out' before later admitting he was incorrect. 

“It was a really muffled noise and so I didn’t think it was bat”, Craig said afterwards.  “I got it wrong. He [Whiteman] has hit it, there’s no doubt I got it wrong and it’s one of those ones I wish I could take back”.  Craig stood firm as Melbourne Stars fielders, led by veterans David Hussey and Kevin Pietersen, pleaded with him to give it out before being left disappointed and frustrated by the decision.  

“That’s part of the game”, Craig said. “There are many occasions where they will ... appeal confidently and it is not out and you make the right decision.   Especially in the Big Bash when it is noisy and there are times when you can’t hear the nicks or something that might occur, off the pad or bat, you’ve got to rely on your partner to give you a hand.  You’ve just got to trust your judgment and hope you get it right more often than not”.

Pietersen, who was miked up whilst he was in the field, called Craig’s decision on line television “shocking”, but as yet there is no indication he will be sanctioned for that remark.

EUP pair to stand in Pakistan Super League.

The International News.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10285.

Richard Illingworth, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpire Panel (EUP), has been contracted to stand in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 series which is due start at the United Arab Emirates early next month.  

Illingworth’s EUP colleague Aleem Dar, Sri Lankan member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) Ranmore Martinesz, and Pakistanis Ahsan Raza, Shozab Raza and Ahmed Shahab, who are all also members of their nation’s part of the IUP, plus their national colleagues Rashid Riaz and Asif Yaqoob, round out the eight-man umpiring panel.  

Former ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama and Pakistan’s Mohammad Anees will, as they did in the PSL’s inaugural edition last year, will between them oversee the 24 matches involved, the last of which has been listed to be played in Lahore (PTG 1961-9871, 28 October 2016).

TV boss downplays importance of Australian internationals in BBL.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10286.

The head of Australian broadcaster Channel Ten's Big Bash League (BBL) has weighed into the club-versus-country debate, saying the addition of Australia's international stars to the Twenty20 competition would make only a "marginal" difference to TV ratings.  The current season’s BBL is heading towards its climax amid calls for Cricket Australia (CA) to create a window in its schedule so the likes of Australian players Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc can play in the event (PTG 202910272, 24 January 2017), but the network says it is happy with the current arrangement.

The issue of the country's best players being made available for the BBL has again been a talking point this summer and will continue to be while international matches are scheduled alongside the domestic Twenty20 tournament.  CA remains committed to keeping international cricket as the priority, with one insider saying franchises needed to get used to losing their best players to the national team just as states have in the Sheffield Shield.

Former captain Ricky Ponting, who is part of Ten's commentary team, Melbourne Stars captain David Hussey and Melbourne Renegades spinner Brad Hogg are among those calling for CA to allow their internationals to play in the BBL. India's top players are all available to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League whereas Australia's three biggest names – Smith, Warner, Starc – rarely play in the BBL.

Ten's head of sport David Barham said: "I'm very comfortable with the way it is – you get the best of both worlds.  Would you love David Warner and Steve Smith, would it make a difference to ratings? Probably not.  Truthfully, I'd rather have AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli play next year than a couple of the Australian players. You see the Australian players all the time – in Test matches, T20s and one-dayers.  I don't want to sound disrespectful in any way to the Australian players; if it was possible, fantastic. Does it really matter? I'm not so sure”.

Barham conceded better players would make for a better competition but added it "depends on how you define better”.  "Could it be any more entertaining than it is? It's a pretty good entertainment product as it is. In a perfect world, they're all available but what we have now is working really well. I love celebrating what we have”.  There will be another BBL-international clash next year with the BBL scheduled alongside the Ashes Tests and the ensuing One Day International series against England.

Player’s ‘personal message’ to dead man leads to reprimand.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017.

PTG 2031-10287.

South Africa’s Imran Tahir has been reprimanded for displaying a personal message on his clothing without seeking prior approval from his home board and the International Cricket Council (ICC) during the second Twenty20 International of the series against Sri Lanka in Johannesburg on Sunday.  

The player, who was born in Pakistan, paid tribute to Junaid Jamshed, a Pakistani recording artist, television personality, fashion designer, occasional actor, singer-songwriter, preacher and televangelist, who died in a plane crash a month ago.  After trapping Asela Gunaratne LBW, Tahir lifted his jersey in celebration to reveal a portrait of the now dead man which was printed on his undershirt.

Relevant ICC regulations say in part: “Players and team officials shall not be permitted to wear, display or otherwise convey messages through arm bands or other items affixed to clothing or equipment (“Personal Messages”) unless approved in advance by both the player or team official’s Board and the ICC Cricket Operations Department. Approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes”.  

Tahir admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by the ICC and, as such, there was no need for a formal adjudication.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,032

Friday, 27 January 2017

 

• Latest head injury prompts CA safety review [2032-10288]. 

• Call for player ban over BBL umpire decision comments [2032-10289]. 

• ICC acknowledges match referee’s 250th ODI [2032-10290]. 

• Trinidad and Tobago introduces digital scoring for National League [2032-10291]. 

• Sixers eye bigger BBL third umpire role [2032-10292].

Latest head injury prompts CA safety review.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 26 January 2017.

PTG 2032-10288.

Cricket Australia (CA) will review its safety regulations after South Australian Joe Mennie was admitted to hospital on Tuesday with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain following a training accident in Brisbane the previous day (PTG 2031-10281, 26 January 2017).  Mennie was struck in the head by a straight drive from batsman Michael Lumb while bowling in the nets, his injury following head strikes suffered by Matt Renshaw in the recent Australia-Pakistan Test in Sydney (PTG 2022-10227, 7 January 2017), and Peter Nevill during a Big Bash League fixture (PTG 2026-10255, 18 January 2017).

CA amended its safety regulations after conducting an internal inquiry into safety in the wake of Phillip Hughes’s death 14 months ago.  The organisation mandated an upgrade to helmets worn by batsmen, made it compulsory for fielders within a seven metre radius of the bat to wear the helmets, and that a helmet be worn by a wicketkeeper when up at the  stumps.  In addition, coaches are urged to wear helmets when giving throwdowns for batting practice, something but Alex Kountouris, CA’s sports science and sports medicine manager, believes will soon be compulsory. 

Kountouris said that while they would review everything at the end of the season, there were issues that were difficult to overcome.  He said they found that when wicketkeepers wore helmets to fast bowlers they were more prone to neck injuries when they dived to catch the ball.  “The reality is that we have made a lot of changes in the last two to three years and it is an ongoing thing”, continued Kountouris. "At the end of each season we get in the doctors, physics, risk people and events people and we look through the things that have come up.  To be honest, it is going to be hard to stop every accident. The one with Joe Mennie was a risk we were aware of, the ball gets hit back towards the bowler, but what do you do to stop that? We can’t get the bowlers to wear helmets”.  

Kountouris also indicated that CA has "already [been] encouraging our umpires to wear helmets in Twenty20 matches”, but so far only two have.  Test umpire Paul Reiffel had to be withdrawn from an England- India Test in December after being struck by a ball thrown from behind him when he was not watching it (PTG 2001-10111, 10 December 2016).

Call for player ban over BBL umpire decision comments.

Warren Barnsley.

Australian Associated Press.

Thursday, 26 January 2017.

PTG 2032-10289.

Melbourne Stars Kevin Pietersen should be suspended for on-air comments criticising an umpiring decision during a Big Bash League (BBL) semi final in Perth on Tuesday, says former Test umpire Peter Parker.  Pietersen, who was mic'ed up while fielding, criticised umpire Shawn Craig's decision to reject an appeal for caught behind against Perth's Sam Whitman on live television, saying: "That was a shocker, an absolute shocker, he says it could have been glove or pad, and I said, 'well, he's got big gloves and big pads to reach that’.  Massive nick”.  Craig acknowledged his error soon after the match ended (PTG 2031-10284, 26 January 2017).

Former Australian umpire Peter Parker, who adjudicated in 10 Tests and 65 One Day Internationals, believes Pietersen's comments set a bad example and the former England player should be facing a ban.  Parker said: "Players need to show more respect.  There's too much questioning going on and too many players getting in their [umpires’] face.  The kids sitting at home watching Kevin make those comments, how do you then tell them on a Saturday morning it's not acceptable”.

Twenty-four hours after the incident there was no indication from Cricket Australia that Craig, his on-field colleague Sam Nogajski, and third and fourth umpires Greg Davidson and John Ward had lodged a report about the matter.

ICC acknowledges match referee’s 250th ODI.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 26 January 2017.

PTG 2032-10290.

Former New Zealand captain Jeff Crowe became the third match referee to reach the 250 One Day International mark in the final match of the Australia-Pakistan series in Adelaide on Thursday (PTG 2023-10233, 12 January 2017).  Crowe said via an International Cricket Council (ICC) media release that: “It is always an honour to represent ICC and have a continued involvement in the game of cricket. I look forward to adding a few more to the tally”.  

Adrian Griffith, the ICC’s Senior Manager – Umpires and Referees said:  “Jeff brought his rich experience as a player into the role of an international match referee and has done a fine job of it over the years. I congratulate him on behalf of everyone at the ICC and wish him continued success”.

Trinidad and Tobago introduces digital scoring for National League.

Jelani Beckles.

Trinidad and Tobago News Day.

Thursday, 26 January 2017.

PTG 2032-10291.

In an effort to professionalise Trinidad and Tobago (TT) Cricket and West Indies cricket on the whole, the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) has launched the CricHQ online scoring initiative which will be used in the National League when this season’s competition gets underway on Saturday.  Each team in the National League will use a Tablet to score as oppose to the manual system used by most teams in the past. 

TTCB chief executive Suruj Ragoonath explained the new scoring system at the launch at the National Cricket Centre in Couva on Wednesday.   Ragoonath said: “It’s a scoring system that is going to be used by scorers via a tablet device, we want to move away from the manual scoring on paper. This type of scoring would be real time, you can just log on to the board’s website (www.ttcb.co.tt) and you will be able to follow any match that is being scored.  The system in itself displays scorecards, statistics, individual players as well as teams, it is done in real time, and you can look at the system and see a player’s pitch map, wagon-wheels and strike rate”.

Azim Bassarath, the President of the TTCB, said it was "a goal of mine when I assumed the presidency to introduce digital scoring at the club level. The TTCB are the first organisation in the western hemisphere to introduce CricHQ platform and he is hoping other Caribbean countries follow the move. The benefits of CricHQ will only serve to strengthen our cricket and I am confident that the other West Indian territories will follow our lead. We must continue to push the barrier and find ways to improve if West Indies cricket is to become a dominant force in world cricket again”. 

Sixers eye bigger BBL third umpire role.

Australian Associated Press.

Thursday, 26 January 2017.

PTG 2032-10292.

Sydney Sixers players have called for the use of more video technology for decisions in the Big Bash League following Wednesday’s dramatic Super-Over semi-final victory over Brisbane at the Gabba.  All-rounder Johan Botha awoke on Thursday sporting a bruise on his right bicep after he was given out caught behind on the third last ball of the Sixers' chase, replays indicating he missed the Ben Cutting delivery.  It was a crucial blow for the Sixers, given they needed four to win at the time and the dismissal brought tailender Nathan Lyon to the crease with number nine Ben Dwarshuis.

Dwarshuis eventually tied the game, running two on the last ball to put it into a Super-Over, before the Sixers booked their spot in the final against Perth on Saturday in the tiebreaker, thanks to captain Moises Henriques.  The skipper said he would like to see the rules changed to allow the third umpire to have a great impact, but wasn't a fan of slowing the game down by allowing captains to challenge decisions.  "There was a couple of umpiring decisions I felt if they got right it wouldn't have been a Super-Over”, Henriques said."I don't think there should be referrals for the captain to use, but maybe if there is an absolutely howler before the batsman walks off then who knows”.

On-field umpire Geoff Joshua, who gave Botha out, said he thought the ball had flicked the South African’s glove before hitting him on the arm.  He said immediately after the match ended: “I haven’t had a look at it [yet].  At the time I heard two noises, I thought it got a bit of glove on the way through. I’ll have to have a look.  I certainly tried my best to get the decision right and I’ll have to have a look later if it’s not”. 

Asked if he’d like to see difficult decisions referred to the third umpire in future, Botha cautiously suggested teams could have one referral at their disposal in BBL games.  “People try to keep the game as fast moving as possible”, said the former Proteas limited-overs captain.  “You could bring that in, you could probably bring one [referral] in to a T20. That was just a decision against us last night. It’s not ideal, it could have cost us a finals spot. Fortunately it didn’t”.

But Melbourne Renegades captain Aaron Finch emphatically rejected bringing a review system to the BBL earlier this month (PTG 2024-10243, 13 January 2017).  “You don’t need it in T20”, Finch said at the time.  “The game is probably getting slower and slower, I think it keeps getting dragged out an extra five minutes per year.  You need to keep the game quick and moving forward in my opinion, so no time for reviews in this format”.  

Henriques also suggested another system could be used rather than the Super-Over, after the tournament reached it first tie of the season in the semi-final.  However he admitted he wasn't sure of what any alternatives could be.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,033

Saturday, 28 January 2017

 

• As T20 changes the game of cricket, vulnerable bowlers need safety nets [2033-10293]. 

• Bigger BBL praised but players say pay structure must remain [2033-10294]. 

• Premature celebration as batsman miscalculates [2033-10295]. 

• 2015 BBL final PTC together again in 2017 [2033-10296]. 

• Slow over-rate sees Pakistan skipper banned for one ODI [2033-10297]. 

• Chennai students doubling as umpires to fund studies [2033-10298]. 

• One player fined for disputing decision, another apparently not [2033-10299]. 

• Don’t ban Kevin Pietersen, ban the mic [2033-10300]. 

As T20 changes the game of cricket, vulnerable bowlers need safety nets.

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10293.

Joe Mennie, who went to hospital this week after being struck by a shot from Sydney Sixers teammate Michael Lumb during a net session can count himself the luckiest man in cricket.  The blow caused bleeding on the brain and a fractured skull, but Mennie evaded, by centimetres, a critical injury or worse. Twenty20 is changing cricket so fast, we are seeing a race between fate and intervention; and the vulnerability of net bowlers requires urgent address before fatality clouds the game once more (PTG 203210288, 27 January 2017).

Practice nets are a different and more dangerous space than the game itself. Batsmen have historically been the ones under increased threat. Bowlers, unrestricted by the laws against intimidatory bowling and unchecked by the popping crease, will sometimes hurl down short balls at a batsman for reasons of mischief, "tough love" or legitimate practice. Net pitches are sometimes composed of substandard and unpredictable turf.

The batsman in his box of netting can feel like a fish in a barrel.  It is bowlers, however, who face the new threat in the nets. All young cricketers are told to keep their wits about them in the bowling area at the nets: you never know when a missile is going to come out of the nets with your name on it. Fielders, staff and waiting bowlers can keep their eyes open, but the bowler who has just delivered the ball, regathering his balance and just 17 or 18 metres from the batsman, is horribly exposed, as Mennie was in Brisbane on Monday.

In the Twenty20 age, those missiles are coming with hellfire frequency. In discussions of the big hitting we see nowadays, the most over-rated element is the new species of cricket bat, which weighs the same as the old and, sweet spot for sweet spot, hits the ball no harder or further. The most under-rated element is the skill and intent, honed by practice, of today's batsmen.

They hit more sixes because they are trying to hit more sixes. They spend net sessions conjuring new ways of blasting the ball to kingdom come. They are revealing ever-newer ways to express their incredible talent for hitting. The cricket ball has never been more dangerous in a practice setting, and clubs from the top level down are having to examine safety in a new light. No longer is the batsman the one needing protective measures.

Some umpires have recognised the peril by donning helmets in limited-overs cricket. But umpires – even those derided by the Kevin Pietersens of the world – have their eyes open and their brains switched on. Bowlers are in every way more vulnerable now.

So what can be done? It doesn't take much thought to understand the difficulty of a solution. You can't bowl in a helmet or body padding – though it is a matter of time before spin bowlers, who may not find it such an encumbrance, will wear something to protect the head and face. In practice, extra layers of netting can do something to lessen the risk, although the central corridor between bowler and batsman obviously has to remain clear.

Then there is how players and staff react to an injury after it has happened. Thanks to the inquest into Phillip Hughes' death, cricket carries a far greater awareness of risk into how it deals with injuries after they happen, and Mennie can count himself a beneficiary of this awareness.  What else? The use of bowling machines will expand, purely for safety reasons. Batsmen will give advance warning of when they are going to practise straight hitting. Bowlers will wear protective gear in the nets, if not in games. Nets can be engineered to narrow, even close, within the blink of time once the bowler's delivery has passed through.

But these are considerations, not immediate solutions. In Twenty20 cricket, where batsmen even call their practice "range hitting", as if they are on the top deck at a golf driving range, it is inevitable that more bowlers will be hit and seriously injured until changes are made. Is cricket going to wait for another fatality? It will only take a bowler to turn his head at the wrong angle, with a ball coming at twice the speed he sent it down, for a death to occur. By any measure, it is more likely for a bowler to die in the nets than for a batsman to die in the middle.

This may sound alarmist, but Twenty20 is changing the game in many ways that continue to take us by surprise, and after all the attention given to safety around Hughes' death, it is to be hoped that cricket will recognise the risk and take action before, rather than after, another catastrophic accident.

Bigger BBL praised but players say pay structure must remain.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10294.

Cricket Australia (CA) revealed on Friday it would increase the number of Big Bash League (BBL) matches from 32 this season, excluding finals, to 40 next season, highlighting how strong the bite-sized format has become in terms of attendances, audiences, sponsorship and, soon, an upgraded broadcast rights deal.  Each franchise will now have an additional home match, an increase to five, and will play 10 regular-season matches, up from eight. The Women's BBL though will remain as is, with each side playing 14 matches.

Under CA's current payment system, state-based players – many of whom play in the BBL – have been able to share in the growth of the sport at the same rate as their more recognisable international teammates. But CA is now arguing for only those with CA contracts, and not players who have only BBL or BBL/state contracts, to continue to enjoy the spoils of the set-percentage model embraced since the initial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two sides was brokered in 1997.

Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief executive Alistair Nicholson said CA and the players were responsible for the BBL's continued growth.  "Congratulations should rightly go to the players and to [CA] for the development of a terrific domestic cricket tournament”, he said.  "Over the past six years, the players have supported the innovation required to make the Big Bash a huge success, both on and off the field.  Record crowds, record TV audiences and the attraction of fans of all ages indicate a growing appetite for T20 cricket in this country”.

However, CA's latest MoU submission to the ACA states the BBL will be a source of growing wages for state players even though this wouldn't be linked to the current revenue model.  "Combined payments for domestic men playing state and BBL cricket should increase at a sustainable rate”, the submission says.  "The increase should be driven by BBL payments, as state men's retainers have already grown by over 50 per cent in the last four years”.

In a recent move, CA decided that the BBL's trade period will be put on hold indefinitely from Saturday evening, as talks between the ACA and CA fail to gain momentum.  CA informed the eight franchises of this move in a bid to ensure a level playing field at a time when there is uncertainty over how the new MoU will look, for both men and women.  CA, unwilling to publicly comment on the discussions, also does not want the Southern Stars, Australia’s women’s side, to share in the set percentage model, with the leading female players also calling for better conditions.

"There is need to give all parties certainty going in to next summer. The players are no different to the broadcasters in wanting to have security about the short, medium and longer term view of the game”, Nicholson said.  "Specifically from the players perspective, the MoU underpins the players contracts, their terms and conditions, and a desire to have a greater say on changes to the schedule such as how this will impact the rest of the domestic season.  How the players can continue their partnership in the growth of cricket is the primary focus of the current negotiations, as well as how the model can now include all players across the country, male and female”.

Premature celebration as batsman miscalculates.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10295.

Sri Lankan batsman Asela Gunaratne pulled out one of the stumps after he thought he had hit the winning runs at the end of the third Twenty20 International between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Newlands on Wednesday.  Sri Lanka needed five runs off three balls, but after hitting a four off the third last delivery of the game he removed a stump as a souvenir, only to be told the scores were actually level and his side still need one run. 

Umpires Shaun George and Bengali Gele put the stumps back and play continued, but Farhaan Behardien, South Africa’s captain, looked visibly annoyed and appeared to question the legality of Gunaratne’s act.  Asked if Gunaratne “could be theoretically out”, former South African umpire Rudi Koertzen said George and Gele "made the correct decision and I would’ve done the same”.

2015 BBL final PTC together again in 2017.

PTG Editor.

CA appointments.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10296.

The same Playing Control Team (PCT) that looked after the final of the Big Bash League (BBL) in Canberra two years ago have been named for manage this year’s final of the competition in Perth of Saturday.  Cricket Australia (CA) has named National Umpire Panel (NUP) members Mick Martell and Paul Wilson to stand in the match, their colleague Sam Nogajski being the third umpire and John Ward the fourth, with CA match referee Bob Stratford in overall charge. 

For Martell the match will be his sixth BBL final and fourth on-field of the last five years, the two others being as the television umpire prior to that.  Wilson will be standing in his second final, the first being in 2015, and like Martell there were two as the TV official before that.  Nogajski, who stood in his first final a years ago, will be working as the television umpire in a BBL final for the second time, while for Stratford its his fourth-straight final.

The Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, which will be played as a curtain raise for the men’s match, will see NUP members Shawn Craig and Greg Davidson on-field, and Ward the television umpire, no fourth umpire having been named, while Steve Bernard will be the match referee.  For all four men it will be their first WBBL final.    

Slow over-rate sees Pakistan skipper banned for one ODI.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10297.

Agar Ali, Pakistan’s One Day International (ODI) captain, has been suspended for one match and fined 40 per cent of his match fee, and his players 20 per cent, for maintaining a slow over-rate during the fifth and final ODI of the series against Australia in Adelaide on Thursday.  Match referee Jeff Crowe handed down the suspension and fines after Pakistan was ruled to be two overs short of its target after time allowances were taken into consideration.  

In internationals, players are fined 10 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount, for what are defined as “minor over-rate offences".  However, as Azhar had previously been found guilty of a minor over-rate offence during an ODI against New Zealand in Auckland on the last day of January last year (PTG 1751-8734, 1 February 2016), his offence constituted his second minor over-rate offence within a 12-month period which automatically leads to a suspension.  As such Azhar will miss his side’s next ODI, which is currently scheduled to be against the West Indies in April.

 

The charge against Pakistan in Adelaide was laid by on-field umpires Simon Fry and Chettithody Shamshuddin, third umpire Chris Gaffaney, and fourth official Sam Nogajski.

Chennai students doubling as umpires to fund studies.

Bagawati Prasad.

Times of India.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10298.

N Uthaman, the son of a daily-wage labourer, is in his final year of engineering and funding his studies hasn't been easy. But the 24-year-old, like a few others in the Chennai, have made the most of their passion for cricket to ensure that they can complete their education.  Uthaman is part of a group of about 350 who umpire in various corporate, district and private cricket tournaments played outside Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) league matches across the city, in order to support themselves financially.

Most of them are not qualified TNCA umpires. A weekend could well see these amateur cricketers-turned-umpires, who are provided with food and soft drinks as part of the deal, earn 1,500 to 2,000 Rupees ($A30-40, £UK18-25). During the very hot days of April and May that income could go up.  Uthaman, who lost his farmer father when he was 17, said that AV Loganathan, a Thiruvallur District Cricket Association (TDCA) umpire and chairman of its umpires sub-committee, "asked me if I was interested in umpiring”.  "I said yes and now I'm able to pay my college fees easily as I earn about 5,000 Rupees ($A98, £60) per month by umpiring," said Uthaman.  

During his first year in college, Uthaman was dependent on his mother, Rani, a daily-wage labourer in Dindivanam, and his brother in Chennai, to fund his education. "But that's no longer the case now. I have also planned to take part in the TNCA umpiring exam this year. What began as a parttime job has now opened up a career option for me”, Uthaman added.

Loganathan, who has been a TNCA umpire for 14 years, said most tournament organisers spot cricketers who are keen on umpiring rather than those who take on the role just for money. “But there are a lot of tournaments happening and there aren’t an adequate number of qualified umpires. Most of these non-qualified umpires are cricketers. I have spotted about 40 people and they attend umpires' seminars every year. The financial factor is there, but it's their passion for the game that makes them do the job”, said Loganathan.

R Kaviarasu, who is part of the Kancheepuram U23 district team, has to pay about 80,000 Rupees per year ($A1,560, £940) for his engineering studies at St Joseph's Engineering College in Sriperumbudur. Son of a carpenter, Kaviarasu said: "I play during the week and do umpiring during weekends. I give whatever I earn to my father. I have a younger sister as well. Thus I'm able to contribute for her studies too”.

One player fined for disputing decision, another apparently not.

PTG Editor.

Media report.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10299.

Fairfax Media is reporting that the Big Bash League’s (BBL) Sydney Sixers all-rounder Johan Botha has been fined $A2,500 (£UK1,500) by match referee Bob Stratford following Wednesday's BBL semi-final against Brisbane at the Gabba. Botha is said to have disputed the decision by umpire Geoff Joshua to give him out caught behind in the last over of the main part of the match, a call that Sixes have suggested could have cost the side the game (PTG 2032-10292, 27 January 2017).  Cricket Australia (CA) is yet to confirm the  reported sanction, as it usually does, via a media release.

The report, by journalist James Buckley, also says that CA is against suggestions that the Umpire Decision Review System be used in BBL games "given how much it would slow the game down", while broadcaster Channel Ten takes a similar view and believes leaving decisions to umpires "is part of the BBL's appeal”.  Buckley points out that “the decision to give Botha out was the second umpiring mishap in two nights”, the first being in the other BBL semi final in Perth the night before (PTG 2031-10284, 26 January 2017).

While Botha has apparently been fined for his indiscretion, it would appear that Kevin Pietersen, a former England international who now plays in the BBL and similar competitions around the world, will not be sanctioned for his comments about the Perth decision.  Former Australian Test umpire Peter Parker has called for Pietersen, who is a high-profile player in the BBL’s marketing of its “product”, to be disciplined for dissenting from the Perth decision on live television whilst playing in the match (PTG 2032-10298, 27 January 2017 and 2033-10300 below).

Don’t ban Kevin Pietersen, ban the mic.

Ben Pobjie.

The Roar.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2033-10300.

Personally I think it would be a shame if Kevin Pietersen were suspended for his comments on the umpiring during Tuesday's Big Bash League semi-final (PTG 2033-10299 above).  I think it would be a shame because, unlike most terrible things that have happened during KP’s career, this was not KP’s fault. The blame lies rather with the worst innovation cricket has yet seen – and you know there’s some pretty stiff competition for that title. 

I’m talking about the on-field player interview, the “mic’d-up” cricketer providing commentary on the game while he’s playing in it.  It’s a hideously ruinous aspect of the Twenty20 form of the game, and the only good thing to be said about it is that it hasn’t yet spread to the longer formats.  But for how long will that be the case? 

As the ratings for T20 rise ever higher, some bumbling lackwit in the corridors of power is sure to put two and two together to make zero, and decide that the reason the short form is so popular is the opportunity to hear insights from players in the middle, and that therefore the way to boost the popularity of Tests and One Day Internationals is to put wires on the participants of those as well. And then we will truly be in hell.

Broadcasters’ love of the on-field interview stems, I think, from two sources. First is the conviction that commentators are completely incapable of filling air-time with their own observations and analysis, and that they need a direct injection of insight from the men or women in the middle to avoid hapless tedious floundering. This conviction is, to be fair, not without a certain amount of evidence in its favour, but I say you’ll never get better commentators if you mollycoddle them.

The second source is the fact that broadcasters don’t really, you know…get sport. Which is weird because a lot of them used to play it, but it’s as if as soon as an ex-sportsperson enters a commentary box they sever some kind of sporting nerve ending and become beings of pure promotion. They forget that a major part of the appeal of sport is that, although it is a form of entertainment, it stands apart from other entertainments by virtue of its competitive aspect, the genuine contest undertaken by real human beings striving for the upper hand over their opponents.

This is why sport is more popular the more there is at stake and why more people watch finals than non-finals in all sports.  It’s why, no matter how much TV producers might think that audiences want to hear the inner thoughts of athletes mid-contest, we actually place a much higher premium on seeing sportspeople hurling themselves into the fray with irrepressible gusto.

This is the way in which the mic’d-up players degrade the viewing experience: while they banter with the commentary team, we know they’re not concentrating one hundred percent on the game, and the more enthusiastically they chirrup, the less focused they will be. 

So an articulate, entertaining on-field chat equals a far less engaged player. A monosyllabic, surly respondent might be far more engaged with play, but then what’s the point of micing them up if they’re going to be so terse?  Most importantly, the fact of on-field interviews holds back the sport of T20 from true seriousness.  Finally, it’s not as if we’re ever going to find out anything all that interesting from these conversation anyway. As the KP kerfuffle shows, the minute anyone says anything controversial there will be calls to ban them and attacks on their disrespectful attitude and players will quickly get the message to keep their thoughts to themselves. 

End it now, I say. Take away the microphones and let the players get on with playing, and let us get on with watching sport, not a slightly sweatier than average talk show.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,034

Monday, 30 January 2017

 

• Sri Lanka Cricket to probe match fixing allegation [2034-10301]. 

• Durban to see Illingworth's 50th ODI [2034-10302]. 

• Aussies named for senior international, first class, debuts [2034-10303]. 

• Slam of bat into pitch results in fine [2034-10304]. 

• Wrong button pushed? [2034-10305]. 

• ICC Task Force head doesn’t see quick return to Pakistan [2034-10306]. 

Sri Lanka Cricket to probe match fixing allegation.

Press Trust of India.

Sunday, 29 January 2017.

PTG 2034-10301.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is to probe an alleged match fixing incident in the domestic premier B division three-day game played last week.  Two clubs, Kalutara Physical Training Culture Circle and Panadura Sports Club, who are from neighbouring towns, are alleged to have fixed the first class match.

Reports state that on the final day of the game, 24 wickets fell, 10 runs were scored per over during the day’s play, and at one stage 13 overs were bowled in 20 minutes.  Both clubs have influential members of the current SLC administration, according to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority club which also plays in the league and which lodged a complaint about the matter.

SLC said an independent panel would be appointed to investigate the matter and that strong action would be taken against anyone found to have acted inappropriately.

Durban to see Illingworth's 50th ODI.

PTG Editor.

Match score sheet.

Sunday, 29 January 2017.

PTG 2034-10302.

English umpire Richard Illingworth will be standing in his fiftieth One Day International (ODI) when the second match of the five-game series between South Africa and Sri Lanka gets underway in Durban on Wednesday.  While the International Cricket Council (ICC) is yet to announce the neutral match officials for the series, it would appear Illingworth and his countryman Richard Kettleborough are the neutral umpires and Richie Richardson of the West Indies the match referee.

Kettleborough was on-field in the opening match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday with Illingworth in the television position, the same arrangement that is expected for the third and fifth games of the series in Johannesburg and Centurion, their roles being reversed in matches two and four in Durban and Cape Town.  The series will take Kettleborough’s ODI record to 68 on-field and 30 as the television umpire (68/30), and Illingworth to 51/39, while Richardson will reach the 20 match mark as a referee.  

South African members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Shaun George, Adrian Holdstock and Bongamu Jele and will fill the second on-field and fourth umpire spots in the five games.  George and Holdstock will each be on-field in two matches and Jele in one.

After the Durban match Illingworth will be one of 44 umpires who have stood in 50-plus ODIs.  Eleven of those are from Australia, seven from England and also South Africa, four each from New Zealand and Sri Lanka, three each from Pakistan and Zimbabwe, two each from India and the West Indies, and one from Bangladesh. 

Aussies named for senior international, first class, debuts.

PTG Editor.

CA appointments.

Friday, 27 January 2017.

PTG 2034-10303.

Australian umpire Sam Nogajski, who became a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) six months ago (PTG1860-9331, 24 June 2016), is to make his senior international debut on-field when Australia plays Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 International (T20I) in Geelong in three weeks.  That milestone in his career, together with the first class debut of New South Wales umpire Simon Lightbody, and the naming of exchange umpires from India, New Zealand and South Africa, and the most interesting items in February appointments announced by Cricket Australia (CA) on Friday. 

Tasmanian Nogajski, 38, the CA National Umpires Panel’s (NUP) youngest member, was appointed to that panel ahead of the 2012-13 austral summer after making his first class debut in November 2011.   To date he has stood in 29 first class games, including one in New Zealand and two each in South Africa and India on exchange, plus 28 List-A and 29 Twenty20 fixtures, the latter including the final of last year’s CA Big Bash League (PTG 1745-8681, 24 January 2016). 

Since joining the IUP after four years as an NUP member, he worked as the fourth umpire in the recent Australia-Pakistan One Day International series, and will the television umpire in the first Australia-Sri Lanka T20I.  Nogajski’s IUP colleagues Simon Fry, Mike Martell and Paul Wilson will fill the other on-field and third umpire positions during thAT series, while Jeff Crowe of New Zealand will be the match referee.  Each of the three games will be played after curtain-raiser T20I games between the Australian and New Zealand women’s sides.  NUP members Gerard Abood, Shawn Craig and John Wards will umpire that series with Steve Bernard, a member of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel, will oversee the series.

Lightbody, a member of CA’s second-tier Development Panel (DP) since its formation two years ago, is one of 16 umpires CA has named to stand in the next 12 Sheffield Shield matches.  Those selected include all 12 NUP members, three DP members, Lightbody, Damien Mealey and Tony Wilds, the latter pair’s second first class matches of the season, plus Tony Gilles from New Zealand, Stephen Harris from South Africa, and C K Nandan an Indian IUP member, who will all be taking part during exchange visits.  

Sydney-born Gillies previously went to South Africa on domestic exchange in February 2014 (PTG 1292-6229, 15 February 2014), Nandan, who made his One Day International debut last October, in County cricket in July 2015 (PTG 1581-7613, 1 July 2015), while Harris’ first exchange was to New Zealand last March (PTG 1953-9830, 20 October 2016). 

 

CA NUP member Geoff Joshua are to travel to South Africa in March for two domestic first class games there, and his colleague Shawn Craig to New Zealand for one around the same time, Nogajski having travelled to India three months ago (PTG 1985-9996, 24 November 2016). Joshua went on exchange to New Zealand a year ago (PTG 1746-8690, 26 January 2016).  

Slam of bat into pitch results in fine.

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Sunday, 29 January 2017.

PTG 2034-10304.

Guyana’s Shimron Hetmyer has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee for a breach of the West Indies Cricket Board’s Code of Conduct during a match in a List A match against Jamaica in Barbados on Thursday.  The opener slammed his bat into the pitch following his dismissal and was charged with "abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, or ground equipment or fixtures and fittings” by on-field umpires Jonathan Blades and Leslie Reifer Jr, plus reserve umpire Troy Tudor.  The batsman admitted to the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Melvyn Jones.

Wrong button pushed?

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Sunday, 29 January 2017.

PTG 2034-10305.

Sri Lankan batsman Asela Gunaratne was clearly well short of his ground during his side’s innings in the opening One Day International against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, however, despite that the words ’NOT OUT’ flashed up on the stadium’s big screen. Whether that was a system glitch or third umpire Richard Illingworth pushed the wrong button, something that has happened in internationals several times in the past.  Whatever it was Illingworth quickly dealt with the situation and when a revised ‘OUT’ appeared Gunaratne went on his way.

ICC Task Force head doesn’t see quick return to Pakistan.

Daniel Rasool.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 28 January 2017.

PTG 2034-10306.

Giles Clarke, president of the England and Wales Cricket Board and chairman of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Pakistan Task Force (PTF), has cautioned that bringing international cricket back to Pakistan will be an arduous process requiring "a lot of time and hard work”.  Clarke arrived in Lahore on Saturday - his first visit to the country as head of the PTF - on a fact-finding mission to inspect security arrangements that can be put in place for visiting teams. During his visit, Clarke met with senior officials of the Punjab government, including the chief minister and the Home Secretary.

Addressing a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium, Clarke praised Punjab's government for "significant investment" in safety and security arrangements for potential touring aides. He was quick to point out, however, his observations were not to serve as a replacement for expert advice.  "I have to receive a proper report from my experts”, Clarke said. "But speaking as a non-expert, I was deeply impressed by the size of the investment, and the passion of everyone I've met from the chief minister downwards, the desire and determination to see international cricket return to Lahore was absolutely there. The ICC wants every Full Member plays international bilateral cricket in their own country, but for us to do that, we need everyone to be safe and secure”.

Clarke referred to a bomb blast in a crowded park in Lahore last March that killed over 70 people. The Pakistan Cricket Board was in talks with the Marylebone Cricket Club at the time for the latter to send a team to Lahore, but the terror attack put an end to that.  "We don't want to get it wrong”, Clarke said. "We all know one terrible incident can push things backwards again. What happened here in one of Lahore's parks did make it impossible for us to send a team here last year. So we're hoping to move forward, but this isn't an easy road.  There's a considerable amount of perception that needs to be changed [around Pakistan being an unsafe country] and information that needs to be shared. But I am most impressed by the efforts of the authorities to make Lahore a safe city”.

Clarke, who has been on the PTF since it was set up in the aftermath of the Lahore terror attacks on the Sri Lanka team in March 2009, praised Zimbabwe for coming to Pakistan in 2015 to play two Twenty20 Internationals and three One Day Internationals, and said it was a "very well organised" tour. "We want to build on that and move forward in a sensible and measured fashion”.  Even that tour, however, was the target of an attempted attack.

Clarke didn't comment on a recent statement by the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) that "an acceptable level of participant safety and security cannot be expected or guaranteed" in Pakistan, saying he hadn't discussed that statement with FICA, or read it in full. "I was far more interested in coming here for myself before I opened that conversation," he said.   That statement had come on the back of the PCB announcing that the final of the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) would take place in Lahore, whether or not international players travelled to Pakistan. Clarke expressed strong support for the PCB's endeavours to hold the final of "their own domestic competition" in Pakistan. "I completely understand that desire, and will support their efforts to do that”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,035

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

 

• Auditor, banker, historian to run cricket in India [2035-10307]. 

• ‘Dukes’ balls to be unveiled in Sheffield Shield [2035-10308]. 

• Pakistan group developing bowling action ‘wearable’ technology [2035-10309]. 

• England to complain about umpire after tight T20I loss [2035-10310]. 

• Fit of pique behind match fixing claims? [2035-10311]. 

Auditor, banker, historian to run cricket in India.

Amit Anand Choudhary.

The Times of India.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

PTG 2035-10307.

India’s Supreme Court on Monday appointed a four-member panel of administrators, headed by former national Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai, to oversee the affairs of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after its president and other top office bearers were barred following sweeping changes ordered by the Court (PTG 2019-10215, 3 January 2017).  

In keeping with norms set by the court-appointed Lodha panel, the court named historian Ramachandra Guha, Infrastructure and Development Finance Company chief executive Vikram Limaye and former India women's captain Diana Edulji as the other panel members.  The move comes after nearly three years of legal proceedings during which the Court urged BCCI and state cricket associations to reform the nation’s cricket administration.  

‘Dukes’ balls to be unveiled in Sheffield Shield.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 30 January 2017.

PTG 2035-10308.

• 

Preparations for Australia's 2019 Ashes tour to England begin in earnest this week when ‘Dukes' balls are unleashed in the Sheffield Shield, however, Australia's best players will miss out on the experiment.  Australia's inability to handle the swinging and seaming deliveries on green English pitches has prompted the decision to use the English Dukes "special county" balls when the Shield season resumes on Wednesday (PTG 1958-9858, 25 October 2016), a turn around from mid-2016 when the experiment appeared in doubt (PTG 1843-9236, 3 June 2016).

‘Dukes' will be used in Shield rounds six to 10 and the final, a total of 16 matches, and would appear likely to continue from this point next year if preparations for the 2019 Ashes trip are still deemed to be a key agenda item.  However, most of Australia's current Test players are either in New Zealand contesting the Chappell-Hadley One Day International series or in Dubai preparing for next month's Test series in India.  However, the next generation of national players should benefit, whether that be batsmen or bowlers.

The ‘Dukes' balls, which are also used in the Caribbean, are claimed to be handmade, have a more prominent seam and are a slightly darker red complexion compared to the traditional Australian ‘Kookaburra' balls, which are a combination of hand- and machine-made.  With Australia having lost their past four Ashes tours to England, with the Dukes ball seen as a major reason for this, for it traditionally swings more in English conditions than the ‘Kookaburra' ball does locally.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and fellow players Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have long called for Cricket Australia (CA) to embrace the Dukes ball, however, another former captain, Steve Waugh has the opposite view (PTG 1845-9251, 5 June 2016). Warne though has even called for CA to ditch ‘Kookaburra' and use ‘Dukes' in Tests played in Australia.  Reports last year suggested New Zealand Cricket "remains open" to the prospect of adopting ‘Dukes’ balls in home Tests during the 2017-18 season (PTG 1842-9225, 2 June 2016).

Cricket Australia (CA) has been trialling ‘Dukes' in their Under-17 and Under-19 national championships and in the state second XI Futures Leagues since 2012 (PTG 1008-4899, 25 October 2012). The ball maker has modified their product for Australian conditions, with pitches there are traditionally more abrasive.

All-up this season's Sheffield Shield competition will feature three different balls – the traditional ‘Kookaburra’ red ball, the ‘Kookaburra  pink ball for day-night games, and now the ‘Dukes’ (PTG 1790-8938, 30 March 2016).  Players have so far given a mixed response to the change. While mindful of the need to improve performances in England, there are concerns by the Australian Cricketers Association the Sheffield Shield competition is being used too much for experimental purposes – an issue it is debating with CA in the latest round of pay negotiations (PTG 1791-8943, 31 March 2016).

Pakistan group developing bowling action ‘wearable’ technology.

Geo News

Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

PTG 2035-10309.

Cricket could be the latest sport to embrace wearable tech, with one startup in Pakistan developing a smart sleeve to detect illegal bowling actions in near real time.  Abdullah Ahmed, the chief executive of ‘CricFlex', says his company has developed "an affordable, wearable sleeve embedded with sensors which bowlers can wear on their arms and which can instantaneously show through a smartphone app if the bowling action is legal or not”.

The team of five young electrical engineers first developed the idea for a National University of Science and Technology project in 2014 as a result of the controversy involving former Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal's bowling action.  The work really got underway after they presented a paper titled 'A Wearable Wireless Sensor for Real Time Validation of Bowling Action in Cricket' at the Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks Conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  in 2015. 

 

So far the sleeve is able to detect illegal actions with up to one degree of accuracy but the innovation doesn't end there.  The ‘CricFlex' Android app also doubles up as a trainer, allowing bowlers to see the force and speed of their action at the ball's release point, how much spin is on the ball and how long it took to complete a delivery.  The developers are still working to refine the overall product but a general release expected “soon". And when it does, it won't just be those at the highest level who have access to the corrective tool.  "We think that this is most needed by cricketers at the grassroots level, so we want to target cricket clubs and academies first”, said Ahmed.

Last weekend the group won a ’Startup’ event held in Lahore, which is the biggest such gathering held in Pakistan, and will no doubt be putting the cash prize of 1,000,000 Rupees ($A12,610, £UK7,630) to good use.  

Whether the work is connected with what appears to be a very similar project conducted by an Australian university on behalf of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) is not known.  At last report those involved in the Australian work were looking for someone to invest in commercial production of the devices, which they said met the basic specifications initially laid down by the ICC-MCC (PTG 1824-9122, 11 May 2016).  That suggested either the MCC-ICC was not convinced of its “viability”, or that the resources put into the ICC’s laboratory testing program and its apparent success, was a more cost-effective way to proceed (PTG 1875-9400, 13 July 2016).   

England to complain about umpire after tight T20I loss.

Australian Associated Press.

Monday, 30 January 2017.

PTG 2035-10310.

England plan to formally complain about umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin to match referee Andy Pycroft after the Indian official dismissed Joe Root LBW off an inside edge in the series-levelling Twenty20 International (T20I) defeat in Nagpur on Sunday.  Shamshuddin was not originally listed to stand in the match, replacing CK Nandan for reasons that are unknown, but found himself in the eye of the storm when he gave Root out with just eight runs needed from the game’s final over.  Earlier in the match, the 46-year-old had raised eyebrows by giving India’s Virat Kohli not out to what looked to be a clear LBW.

Root was visibly annoyed at his dismissal and assistant coach Paul Farbrace appeared to share a couple of choice words with the official when the sides shook hands following a dramatic finish, which set up a winner-takes-all match in Bangalore on Wednesday.  England captain Eoin Morgan, bristling in the post-match conference, said of Root's departure: "There is extreme frustration, absolutely. It shifted momentum, first ball of the 20th over. Losing a batsman who's faced 40 balls on a wicket that's not that easy to time it on is quite a bit of a hammer blow. It's proved very costly all things considered”, he said.  

Asked if England would take their observations to the International Cricket Council (ICC), or Pycroft, he added: "Absolutely. We have an opportunity to do before the next game.  It's part and parcel of the job, to be able to cope with the pressure and make good decisions more often than not.  The fact that comes out of today's game as a highlight is disappointing, it shouldn't be like that. It should be a good performance by both teams and a really competitive game.  But we will draw a line under it tonight and move on to think about what we may come up against in Bangalore”.

Over the last six weeks Shamshuddin, a member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, has been selected by the world body to stand in both the Australia-Pakistan and New Zealand-Bangladesh One Day International series.  In early December he worked as the television umpire in an India-England Test after ICC Elite Umpire Panel member Paul Reiffel was struck by a ball and had to withdraw from the Test in Mumbai (PTG 2001-10111, 10 December 2016).

One thing they know they will not be seeing in the third and final India-England T20I game is the Umpire Decision Review System. While it is now widely used in Tests and One Day Internationals the ICC, and others, have resisted the temptation to offer teams any reviews in the game’s shortest form (PTG 2033-10299, 28 January 2017).  The feeling is that it would slow down a format that is built around its brevity but Morgan believes it is time to revisit that verdict. "The fact it's not used is a concern”, he said.  "There is as much on the line as there is in a Test or a one-day match, so [there is] no reason why it shouldn't be used”.

Fit of pique behind match fixing claims?

PTG Editor.

Monday, 30 January 2017.

PTG 2035-10311.

The complaint that has led Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to launch an investigation into allegations of match fixing has been initiated by a club that lost SLC's 2016-17 Premier League Tournament Tier B first class series by a narrow margin.  The complainant, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Cricket Club (SLPACC), could only draw its final three-day game of the season, but its rival and winner of the league championship, the Panadura Sports Club (PSC), managed to pull off an outright win in just two days in their last match against the Kalutara Physical Culture Club (KPCC).

PSC’s win, in a game that was scheduled to be played over three days, saw them take the league title by just 11 points from SLPACC.  Prior to the final round of Tier B matches, PSC had 116.00 points against their name and SLPACC 113.45, both teams being well clear of the remaining seven teams in the competition.  Despite achieving a first innings lead, SLPACC could only draw their final fixture and earned 11.99 points to finish on 125.44.  PSC’s outright win meant that it received 18.55 points and finished on 134.55, just under ten points ahead of SLPACC.

Original reports stated that 24 wickets fell, 10 runs were scored per over, and at one stage 13 overs were bowled in 20 minutes, on the final day of PSC-KPCC game.  Further, SLPACC is said to have claimed both PSC and KPCC "have influential members” who are part of the current SLC administration (PTG 2034-10301, 30 January 2017).

On-line score sheets show that in the game under question, PSC amassed 9/245 on day one when a total of just 46.3 overs were bowled in what was a rain affected day.  Day two saw PSC bat on and add 64 runs in the 14 overs delivered until they were finally all out for 309. KPCC then ran up 131 in its first innings in 40.5 overs, and were then asked to bat again, this time reaching 147 in 49 overs before they lost all ten wickets for a second time.  Thus before the second day ended PSC had won outright by 31 runs, play that day seeing 342 runs scored or the loss of 21 wickets in 104 overs, an average run rate of just over three per over.  

PSC slow left-arm bowler Gayan Sirisoma, 35, who was taking part in his 102nd first class game, took a total of 14 of those wickets, his figures being 7/42 in the first innings and 7/24 in the second for a remarkable total of 14/66 for the day.  However, they were not particularly unusual figures for him for he took a total of 92 wickets for 1,185 runs at 12.9 during the eight matches that made up PSC's 2016-17 Tier B season.  



 

 End of January 2017 news file.