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FEBRUARY 2017
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 26 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 10312-10441)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,036

 Wednesday, 1 February 2017

• Windies' all-rounder handed one-year ban for doping breach [2036-10312]. 

• India breached ICC umpire guidelines in Nagpur [2036-10313]. 

• Another Test for Windie’s Wilson [2036-10314]. 

• Three BBL players fined for on-field actions [2036-10315]. 

• Laws now available in Urdu, Xhosa [2036-10316]. 

• Outdoor indoor cricket keeps locals in Australia's hottest town active [2036-10317]. 

• Hole in one, but four balls lost [2036-10318]. 

Windies' all-rounder handed one-year ban for doping breach.

Agence France Presse.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017.

PTG 2036-10312.

Globetrotting West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell has been banned from all cricket for a year over a doping code violation, a case that has been drawn out for over a year (PTG 1928-9692, 22 September 2016).  The 28-year-old did not file his whereabouts on three separate occasions in 2015 as required, which constitutes a failed drugs test under World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines.  His punishment was handed down by the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission on Tuesday.

Sydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins, one of the many side’s Russell plays for each year said: "We are devastated for Andre.  We haven`t seen the written judgement, but given the circumstances surrounding the filing failures we thought he had a good chance of being exonerated.  We will monitor the appeals process and assess our options”.  

Patrick Foster, Russell's lawyer, defended him after the verdict was handed down.  "Relieved it's one year, but not two years”, said, “but I genuinely thought given the circumstances and the evidence that was before the panel that he would have been exonerated”.  The lawyer indicated his team is looking into the verdict and is likely to file an appeal against it.  Under WADA`s whereabouts rules, elite athletes must supply details of where they will be for one hour each day to facilitate drug tests.  

India breached ICC umpire guidelines in Nagpur.

Richard Hobson.

The Times.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

PTG 2036-10313.

India breached International Cricket Council (ICC) guidelines in appointing the umpire at the centre of England’s controversial Twenty20 International (T20I) defeat in Nagpur on Sunday less than 24 hours after he arrived in the country.  Chettithody Shamshuddin, 46, whose decisions have been questioned by the England camp (PTG 2035-10310, 31 January 2017), had been officiating in a One Day International between Australia and Pakistan in Adelaide only three days earlier. At the behest of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), he replaced CK Nandan who had been listed to stand in the Nagpur match. 

ICC guidelines state that officials should have three clear days between arriving in a country and umpiring. Experts say that the body adjusts to changes in time zones at the rate of one hour per day, meaning that Shamshuddin’s body clock was past 2 a.m. when he made the key decision to give England batsman Joe Root out LBW.  Conversely, earlier in the game in Nagpur, Shamshuddin gave two Indian batsman ‘not out LBW, apparently thinking both balls would have gone over the stumps, as they might on firmer, bouncier Australian pitches. On both occasions ball-tracking showed the ball going on to hit the wickets.  

Responsibility for T20I umpiring appointments lies with the home board rather than the ICC.  According to a source close to the running of the game, match referee Andy Pycroft from Zimbabwe, who is appointed by the ICC, raised concerns over Shamshuddin’s capacity to officiate in the middle after long flights and before an opportunity to return to his Hyderabad home.  The source said that Pycroft had preferred Nitin Menon to stand onfield with Shamshuddin as third umpire, but he did not indicate why Nandan the original appointee, did not take part.  

The BCCI has refused to comment on the matter and Shamshuddin remains on the roster to stand in Wednesday’s final T20I of the India-England series.

Another Test for Windie’s Wilson.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017.

PTG 2036-10314.

West Indian Joel Wilson has been named to stand in the one-off Test between India and Bangladesh in Hyderabad next week.  He will be on-field with South African Maris Erasmus while New Zealand umpire Chris Gaffney will work as the television umpire, Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe being the match referee.  It will be Wilson’s fourth Test on-field since his debut at that level in July 2015, Erasmus’ 41st, Gaffney’s 11th in the television suite, and Mycroft’s 52nd as a referee.

Three BBL players fined for on-field actions.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017.

PTG 2036-10315.

Three players in the Big Bash League (BBL) - Sydney Sixers’ duo Colin Munro and Johan Botha, plus Brisbane Heat’s Ben Cutting - have been charged and fined for with breaching the Cricket Australia's (CA) Code of Conduct in the second BBL semi-final at the Gabba last Wednesday.  All three were charged over incidents that occurred when they were dismissed.

Munro used "language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting”, Botha for dissent at the umpire’s decision, and Cutting for "abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings”.  Match referee Bob Stratford fined Munro $A1,500 (£UK900), Botha $A2,500 (£1,500) and Cutting $A1,750 (£1,055).  As it was Cutting’s second offence within 18 months, Stratford imposed a larger fine than he would have otherwise received had it been his first offence in that time.

CA also announced that the Brisbane Heat side have been fined $1,000 (£600) per player in the playing XI as a result of a slow over rate in their semi-final at the Gabba.  The Heat were found to be 7.5 minutes behind the scheduled time to complete their 20 overs, after allowances, which equated to being one over short.  The fine will be reduced to $500 (£300) per player, should the Heat accept the penalty without appeal.  In addition to the fine theircaptain Brendon McCullum also received one strike which will not carry over into next season’s competition.

Laws now available in Urdu, Xhosa.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

PTG 2036-10316.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has published the Laws of Cricket into Urdu and Xhosa, making them the twelfth and thirteenth languages in which the Laws have been written.  The MCC says the new sets of Laws have been made possible "by the hard work of cricket enthusiasts in Pakistan and South Africa".

The MCC’s translation program began in 2011 when, in conjunction with the International Cricket Council's Europe region, the Club produced a set of seven new Laws of Cricket in French, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Italian, German and Spanish.  Since then others have been published in Gujarati, Bahasa, Malay and Romanian.

John Stephenson, MCC Head of Cricket, said: “MCC works hard to make cricket accessible to all across the globe, and translating the Laws into languages like Urdu and Xhosa is part of this strategy.  I hope many cricketers and cricket fans will enjoy learning the Laws of the game thanks to these translations”.

Outdoor indoor cricket keeps locals in Australia's hottest town active.

Eliza Wood.

ABC Radio.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

PTG 2036-10317.

In the Western Australian town of Marble Bar where the mercury regularly licks 50 degrees Centigrade in summer, indoor cricket — outdoors — is the hottest game around.  The locals of the small town took up the game in late 2016, training in the cooler evenings on the town's floodlit outdoor basketball courts.   Their coach Laurence Wovat says the players were making steady progress as “the sledging's improving".

Marble Bar holds the world record for the longest heatwave: in 1923-4 the temperature exceeded 37.8 degrees Celsius on 160 continuous days.  Wovat said that both women and men participated in the league, under trying conditions, and that raised the confidence of others in the town to play more.  "It's just good for everyone to get out, join in, and have a bit of fun”, he said.  "It's more than we had when we grew up [for then] we would just muck about in the park with the sprinklers on”.

The dwindling town of around 200 people has limited team sport options.  In the winter there is football and basketball, and in summer it is indoor cricket, the pool, or a walk up to the water tanks.  "People swim in the morning, or walk in the morning. In the afternoon it's just too hot.  "I think they do all their sports in the pub”, said Wovat, who indicated "it was great to finally see organised sport in the town at the hottest time of the year”.

Hole in one, but four balls lost.

Terry Wilson.

Gold Coast Bulletin.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

PTG 2036-10318.

 

The Australian Gold Coast’s international cricket umpire Bruce Oxenford, a member of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel, made his second career hole-in-one on the golf course last week.  When his umpiring commitments allow, there is nothing better that Oxenford likes than a round of golf.  Playing in a stableford competition at his home club Surfers Paradise, Oxenford snagged his second elusive ace on the 135 m par-three fifth hole using a nine-iron.

"I hit it pure”, Oxenford said rather modestly of his shot.  “It stayed just right of the flag, which was cut down the front of the green, it caught the downslope of the bunker and rolled up into the hole.  But it gets even better.  I had a birdie on the fourth hole, the eagle on the fifth, then a birdie on the sixth”.  Chronic hooker Oxenford admitted though that he also “donated four balls to the water on the way around”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,037

 Thursday, 2 February 2017


• Umpire ‘withdraws’ from on-field spot in final India-England T20I [2037-10319]. 

• Enamel Haque dropped from Bangladesh IUP groupT20I [2037-10320]. 

• Player’s union hits back at CA criticism of member’s remarks [2037-10321]. 

Umpire ‘withdraws’ from on-field spot in final India-England T20I.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 2 February 2017.

PTG 2036-10319.

Indian umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin is reported to have “withdrawn” from an on-field position in the third India-England Twenty20 International (T20I) in Bengaluru on Wednesday, working instead in the television umpire position.  Shamshuddin’s decision-making in the second T20I in Nagpur on Sunday was the subject of public comment by the England camp, their captain Eoin Morgan, indicating the matter would be discussed with match referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe (PTG 2035-10310, 31 January 2017).

On Tuesday, England batsman Joe Root, whose dismissal was one of those question by England, was asked if he had any objections to Shamshuddin officiating at Bengaluru, as one of the on-field umpires. Root replied, “I have no problem with him umpiring any of our future games.  As a player you’re going to make mistakes, and as an umpire you’re going to do exactly the same. I don’t think it would be right to single him out as a person at fault”.  The England batsman, however, mentioned that “there were decisions throughout the game that went against us”.

The move of Shamshuddin to the television suite, which is reported to have come less than two hours before the match began, meant that his countryman Nitin Menon, 33, who made his senior international debut in the first T20I match of this series in Kanpur, worked on-field with partner Anil Chaudhry.  Menon apparently joined the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel last year (PTG 1918-9628, 7 September 2016), however, confirmation of that only appeared on the ICC’s web site this week.

Enamel Haque dropped from Bangladesh IUP group.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 2 February 2017.

PTG 2036-10320.

A listing of International Umpire Panel members for 2016-17 released by the International Cricket Council earlier this week indicates that long-time member Enamel Hague has been dropped from the panel.  Enamel Hague, who turns 50 in three week’s time and played at Test level before taking up umpiring, stood in a single Test plus 54 One Day Internationals, plus 14 Twenty20 Internationals in an international umpiring career that commenced in 2006.

The move means Sharfuddoula Ibne Shahid has moved into the top on-field spot on the Bangladesh portion of the panel, with Anisur Rahman moving up from a third umpire spot to an on-field position.  Masudur Rahman Mukul, 41, who like his two IUP is a former first class player, has been promoted coming into the television slot.  He made his first class umpiring debut in December 2008, and has since gone on to stand in 52 first class, 68 List A and 50 senior Twenty20 fixtures.

Player’s union hits back at CA criticism of member’s remarks.

Australian Associated Press.

Thursday, 2 February 2017.

PTG 2036-10321.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), or player's union, has come out swinging against Cricket Australia (CA) and selector Trevor Hohns over criticism of Victorian veteran Cameron White.  Interim chairman of selectors Hohns labelled White's international career as nothing "earth shattering" and accused him of having a short memory.

White's criticism of CA's selection policies was met with a swift response by Hohns, and the ACA leapt to his defence, saying players believed they were being gagged, a not unusual description of how CA operates in its management of the game.  "Cameron is entitled to express his views, and Trevor Hohns and others from CA are entitled to disagree”, ACA chief executive Alastair Nicholson said.  "But to reduce the discussion to a negative critique of Cameron White's career is playing the man, not the ball".

Nicholson said there was a growing feeling amongst players that any critique of CA would be met with a disproportionate response.  The relationship between the player's union and CA reached a low ebb in December after the governing body called off contract negotiations for a new pay deal.  The two parties were negotiating a new Memorandum of Understanding however talks soured over several issues, notably female players.

On Tuesday White expressed his frustration at the state of the national side, saying it at times resembled a development team.  He lamented that "you can get picked to play for Australia in any format out of Big Bash" and that Sheffield Shield and one-day cup form had become irrelevant.  That prompted Hohns' retort, pointing out that White had debuted in the Australian one-day side as a 22-year-old but failed to make an impact at international level.  "Cameron has had plenty of opportunities ... he has had plenty of opportunities in the past and it's probably fair to say performed okay without being earth shattering”, Hohns said.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,038

Friday, 3 February 2017


• ICC web site revamp includes new umpiring features [2038-10322]. 

ICC web site revamp includes new umpiring related features. 

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 2 February 2017.

PTG 2038-10322.

"Umpires have one of the toughest jobs in cricket”, says the International Cricket Council (ICC) in what appears to be a new video titled 'What Makes a Great Umpire?’.  The nearly three minute long presentation, which includes clips of current Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) members in action during matches, outlines the seven key points the ICC believes make those on the EUP "the best umpires in the business”.  The seven points briefly discussed are: ‘Concentration’; 'Man management’; ‘Adaptability’; ‘Endurance’; ‘Trust your judgement’;  ‘Calm under pressure’; and ‘Teamwork’ .

The video says ‘Concentration' must be "maintained over a long period of time” such that "split second high pressure decisions” can be made. 'Man management’ is a key for an the relationship with players "helps ensure that the game is played in the correct spirit”.  ‘Adaptability’ is essential as "a widely varying set of conditions from Test to T20 in both pleasant and difficult weather conditions” has to be contended with”.  ‘Endurance’ is required as umpires "must be physically and mentally fit to stand in the field and concentrate.  Umpires need to ‘Trust your judgement’ for "dozens of crucial decisions [have to be made] in every match”. They must remain ‘Calm under pressure’ in difficult match situations”.  While ‘Teamwork’ with colleagues they are working with in a game’s Playing Control Team is fundamental.

Also included in the match official’s section of the reconstituted web site are: the usual match appointment details, although as is common they are not up-to-date; the three umpire panel and two match referee lists for 2016-17 which hadn’t prior to the revamp been in some casesup-dated for months; and a page with the biographies of each of the ICC’s three Umpire Coaches: Denis Burns, David Levens and Peter Manuel.  

Also provided in an open-source format for the first time which will be of interest to the general umpiring community is a section titled ‘Umpire Resources’ which includes the 'ICC International Umpire Accreditation Program’ developed three years ago (PTG 1417-6843, 22 August 2013), plus a multifaceted ‘Resource for all umpire coaches and trainers’. Both sets of materials have to be accessed via a user name and password which are provided.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,039

Sunday, 5 February 2017


• ICC agrees to scale back power of the 'Big Three’ [2039-10323]. 

• Test and ODI cricket to get an overhaul [2039-10324]. 

• Call to use ‘Dukes' ball in Australian home Tests [2039-10325]. 

• CA overhauls its management structure [2039-10326]. 

• Former Aussie Test umpire Lou Rowan dies at 91 [2039-10327]. 

• TV comment on umpiring decision leads to $A5,000 fine [2039-10328]. 

• Better quality cameras needed for non-televised Indian domestic games [2039-10329]. 

• Independent review of ground planned after ODI ‘wash out’ [2039-10330]. 

• Bee swarm stops play in J’burg ODI [2039-10331]. 

ICC agrees to scale back power of the 'Big Three’.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, 5 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10323.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to scale back the powers of the so called ‘Big Three’ nations, Australia, India and England, in a bid to introduce a fairer decision-making body.  In 2014 the three were granted more executive powers and a greater share of revenue from ICC tournaments in a controversial move dubbed the ‘Big Three’ takeover (PTG 1388-6710, 8 July 2014). It led to a public demonstration at the Oval and a campaigning film entitled 'The Death of a Gentleman'.

A series of scandals within Indian cricket also weakened the grip of the Big Three and the ICC board, on Saturday, voted in favour of a more equitable governance that will see India’s share of revenue drastically cut possibly by up to £180 million ($A293 m) from the current ICC broadcast deal. There will be fewer committees in future, streamlining decision making, and all members will be given equal voting rights.

The ICC has taken advantage of the fact the Indian board is in turmoil after the country’s Supreme Court sacked its president and last week appointed a temporary panel to run its affairs (PTG 2035-10307, 31 January 2017).  The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) representative at the meeting voted against the proposals which will be discussed again at the next ICC meeting in April where boards will be able to put forward alternative proposals. The opposition of the BCCI could derail the ICC’s plans if they can muster the support of other nations and how the money is carved up will likely need further negotiation.

The ICC has also agreed to the unilateral use of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) in international cricket after years of opposition from India was ended by Virat Kohli agreeing to the use of the system in the recent Test series against England.  UDRS will also be used in the World Twenty20 with one review per side, something that until recently has been rejected (PTG 2035-10310, 31 January 2017).

The ICC decided to give its anti-corruption unit the power to extract information from cell phones, potentially allowing them access to messages on services such as ‘WhatsApp’ (PTG 1979-9974, 17 November 2016).

Test and ODI cricket to get an overhaul.

Jon Pierik.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10324. 

International cricket appears on the verge of a long awaited overhaul, with the Test and 50-over formats to be divided into leagues to add greater context.  The International Cricket Council's (ICC) chief executives committee has over the last few days in Dubai reached consensus on a way it believes will bring greater clarity to the two formats from 2019 – although, for Tests, it's not in a two-division conference which several countries had initially favoured.

The plan for Test cricket is now a 9-3 system to be run over a two-year period. Full details have yet to be confirmed, with one day remaining at the Dubai-based conference. Any plan is likely to need approval at the ICC board meeting in April.

As it stands, the plan is for the top nine member Test countries to play each other over a two-year period, with points at stake and the top two clashing in a final. The three lower-ranked teams – that being Zimbabwe and, should they earn secondary Test status, Ireland and Afghanistan – will play each other over a two-year period, with a view that each of the nine top teams should play at least one of the bottom three nations.

Ireland's domestic system has previously been granted first-class status, and Afghanistan's is in the pipeline, meaning those countries are favoured to be granted Test status, although that is unlikely to be ICC full-member status.  A series could feature just one Test. Nations which did not meet would forfeit points.

It was reported on Saturday that the ICC had regained control of the Future Tours Program (FTP) , and the major nations – Australia, England and India – wouldn't have the final say in scheduling of the championship system when the current FTP expires in 2019.  However, the nations would still have the power to schedule bilateral series outside of the championship. Regardless, it's unlikely icon series such as the Ashes and the battle for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be affected.

It's also emerged the nations are in favour of a three-year, 13-team One Day International (ODI) league to determine qualification for the World Cup.  The proposal is for a minimum of 12 ODIs annually for each nation.  Just how these plans fit around the expanding domestic Twenty20 competitions, such as the Indian Premier League and Big Bash League, will also need to be explained, along with plans to pool television broadcast rights.

There are also plans for qualification events for the World Twenty20 Championship (WT20C), with discussions ongoing about whether to add a WT20C in 2018 after the success of last year's event in India. Australia is due to host the WT20C in 2020.

Call to use ‘Dukes' ball in Australian home Tests.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10325.

Ed Cowan, the former Australia Test batsman, has declared the new ‘Dukes' ball being trialled in the Sheffield Shield this season should be seriously considered for use as the Test match ball of choice down under (PTG 2035-10308, 31 January 2017).  Having hit it for an innings of 212 for New South Wales (NSW) against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) over the past two days, Cowan paradoxically praised the ‘Dukes' - a version of which has been specially devised for use in Australian conditions - for offering more help to the bowlers. 

That much was seen later on day three of the match when Trent Copeland and Sean Abbott swung it prodigiously to help NSW put Victoria under immense pressure with one day of the match remaining. Cowan said the balls had stood up on a pair of diverse pitches at the MCG and also last week in a state second XI match he played at Geelong.  "I think the ‘Dukes' is a far superior cricket ball to the ‘Kookaburra' in terms of the quality of contest between bat and ball”, he said. "They certainly stay in shape, they're harder for longer, they consistently swing, there's a little bit there for the bowlers all day if you're good enough to bowl well, but you can get some runs if you're disciplined with the bat". 

"From Australian cricket's point of view I'd love Cricket Australia [CA] to look really hard at using ‘Dukes' balls in Test cricket in Australia because I think the quality of the ball is superior. I've been lucky enough to play a bit of cricket in England and use the ‘Dukes' a bit. I've always found you just have to be really disciplined on the front foot, particularly day one or two of a four-day fixture, you can't bully the ball off the front foot through the off side". 

"You've got to play the ball late, respect the ball when they pitch it up and really wait for the bowler to come to you. It doesn't change your plan too much at the top of the order but I certainly think those overs 50-80 with a ‘Kookaburra' ball, where a batsman can really dictate terms and hit bowlers off a good length, you can't get away with a ‘Dukes' and that keeps bowling sides in it for longer”.

Victorian stand-in captain Cameron White has wondered at the point of using the ‘Dukes' in Shield matches where most likely contenders for the 2019 Ashes are otherwise engaged, but Cowan noted the trial had offered a competitor to ‘Kookaburra' the opportunity to show its wares. The traditional manufacturers of Australian cricket balls have been heavily occupied with developing a pink ball for day-night Test cricket in recent times, and is believed to be eager for CA feedback on how the red version can be improved. 

"I know CA brought it in under the public guise of preparing for [the Ashes tour of] 2019 - I don't know whether politically they're trying to put some pressure on ‘Kookaburra’”, Cowan said. "But regardless of whether you're playing in Shield rounds and might go on an Ashes tour, I think they've actually fallen over a better cricket ball to use in Australian conditions". 

CA overhauls its management structure.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10326.

A conflict of interest has been removed and a former Rio Tinto executive hired in a major restructure of Cricket Australia’s (CA) management this week.  Following a raft of departures from the game's Jolimont headquarters in Melbourne in recent times, CA chief executive James Sutherland has informed staff of a new senior management model that constitutes the biggest changes to cricket's day-to-day operations down under in five years.

Chief among the changes is the creation of a new public affairs department overseeing communications, government relations and infrastructure, to be led by the former Rio Tinto executive Mark O'Neill, who had also served as an advisor to the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating. O'Neill previously worked alongside the current CA chairman David Peever when he was Rio Tinto's managing director in Australia (PTG 1346-6505, 5 May 2014).

Ben Amarfio, formerly the head of communications, digital and marketing, has been moved to head the commercial wing of the game, a role left vacant by the departure of Mike McKenna to oversee the development of Perth's new stadium. Amarfio will still oversee CA's digital arm and broadcast rights but will no longer be in charge of communications, a combination that had proven problematic as a conflict between growing CA's website and working openly and effectively with other media.

CA's executive management team is now: Game and market development- Andrew Singleton; Team performance - Pat Howard; Events and leagues - Anthony Everard (acting); Broadcast, digital and commercial - Ben Amarfio; Public affairs - Mark O’Neill; Strategy and people - Kevin Roberts; Chief financial officer - Todd Shand; and General counsel and company secretary - Christine Harman.

Operations, meanwhile, will for now be the responsibility of Everard, who has been a vigorous and visible presence for CA as the head of the burgeoning Big Bash League and Women's Big Bash League. In his email to staff, Sutherland said this area had been renamed from ‘Operations' to ‘Events and Leagues', with a replacement for the head of events and operations Chris Loftus-Hills, who joined McKenna in Perth, to be advertised shortly. The longtime head of finance, Kate Banozic, was another departure from CA late last year. 

Sutherland has faced questions about the behaviour of some of his executives over the last few months, including allegations that Amarfio had been acting as an agent for the former Nine commentator James Brayshaw in talks for new roles with broadcasters.  At the time, Sutherland stated that the matter would be dealt with internally. Sutherland said in December: "Look I don't think it's right that one of our staff was acting as an agent, but let's just say they're things we'll deal with behind closed doors at [CA].  I don't think this is the place to be talking about that any further”.

There were also reports that one senior executive had raised the ire of other staff by having his female personal assistant cook him hot breakfasts and lunches at Jolimont, an arrangement that flew in the face of CA's efforts to promote inclusiveness and advance the cause of women as players and spectators.  At a recent meeting of board directors, the Cricket New South Wales chairman John Warn and chief executive Andrew Jones made a presentation where the pair described how they had changed the culture and output of the state association following a dramatic power struggle at board level four years ago.

CA's senior management structure was last overhauled in early 2012, when the system of executive general managers replaced the previous senior management team. Those changes pre-dated the board's move from state-appointed delegates to an independent board of directors later in 2012. Peever was among the first independent directors announced at that year's Annual General Meeting - the appointment of one of his former colleagues to CA management does not appear to have been a coincidence.

Former Aussie Test umpire Lou Rowan dies at 91. 

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10327.

Former Australian international umpire Lou Rowan, who together with the late Tom Brooks stood the first ever One Day International (ODI), passed away on Friday at the age of 91.  During nearly fourteen years at first class level from 1958-72, Rowan stood in 74 first class games, he stood in 38 Sheffield Shield matches, 25 Tests, but just that single ODI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in January 1971.

A former policeman, Rowan was perhaps best known as one of the umpires who stood in the controversial 1970-71 Ashes series in Australia.  Most notable was the seventh Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground where England captain Ray Illingworth walked his team from the field after fast bowler John Snow was attacked by a member of the crowd.  Rowan instructed Illingworth to return his team to the field or face forfeiting the match, before the game continued. Rowan had earlier warned Snow for intimidatory bowling after Australian tailender Terry Jenner had been hit in the head by a Snow bouncer.

Years earlier, in his third Test, Rowan was at the bowler’s end when square leg umpire Col Egar no-balled Australian bowler Ian Meckiff for having an illegal delivery in the 1963-64 series against South Africa. He later became a voice against alleged chuckers, petitioning for them to be removed from the game. More latterly, and before Phillip Hughes was fatally struck, he was amongst those who believe administrators should look at banning the bouncer (PTG 1490-7200, 27 December 2014).

Rowan had a 30 year friendship with Sir Donald Bradman during which they wrote letters to each other.  More than 130 of Bradman’s letters to Rowan have for sometime been kept in a bank for safe keeping,  The former umpire told a local newspaper recently that “when I'm gone they'll be shredded in their entirety”.  "They contain personal thoughts and comments on a whole range of topics and I'd rather they are destroyed than have them fall into the wrong hands.  He confided a lot of personal matters in me and we discussed the laws of cricket a great deal”, said Rowan.

TV comment on umpiring decision leads to $A5,000 fine. 

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10328.

Melbourne Stars batsman Kevin Pietersen has been fined $A5,000 (£UK3,075) for labelling an umpiring error an "absolute shocker" on air during his side's Big Bash League (BBL) semi-final against the Perth Scorchers two Tuesdays ago, by far the largest disciplinary fine dished out during the 2016-17 BBL series.  Pietersen, who was mic’d up whilst fielding, made his thoughts known to broadcaster Network Ten commentators shortly after Perth batsman Sam Whiteman was give 'not out' to an appeal for caught behind. 

"Shocker. Absolute shocker”, said Pietersen said on air.  "He [the umpire] said it could have been glove or it could have been pad. I said 'Well, he's got big gloves and big pads to reach that'. "Massive. Massive nick”.  Umpire Shawn Craig later admitted he got the call wrong (PTG 2031-10284, 26 January 2017).  With Cricket Australia (CA) saying nothing at the time, Pietersen’s comments led to a call for him to be sanctioned (PTG 2032-10289, 27 January 2017), and another for a ban on players being fitted with microphones (PTG 2033-10300, 28 January 2017).   

CA revealed on Friday that Pietersen had been charged with making a "public or media comment that is detrimental to the interest of cricket, irrespective of when or where such comment is made”.  It would appear that the high-profile player was charged by match referee David Talalla directly after the game, however, while he accepted the charge he opted, three days later after his return to the UK, to contest it. The fine is double the second highest monetary censure handed out in 2016-17 and perhaps relates to the fact the comments went direct to air on the television broadcast. 

At a hearing conducted by Talalla on Thursday the original sanction was upheld.  After that Pietersen had 48 hours to decide if he will appeal and have the matter heard by a CA Code of Conduct Commissioner.  There is no public information as yet that he has chosen to do so.

Better quality cameras needed for non-televised Indian domestic games.

Bagawati Prasad.

The Times of India.

Thursday, 2 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10329. 

The two key talking points that have cropped up at the conclusion of India's 2016-2017 Ranji Trophy season are the standard of umpiring and the need for "quality" cameras for non-televised matches. The belief from most quarters, players, umpires, referees and match analysts, is that if technology improves, then there is scope for improvement in umpiring standards and the Umpire Decision Review System could be available in Ranji games by "tweaking" the rules so they fit with technological features currently available.

At the moment, non-televised matches in every venue have six fixed cameras around the ground capturing all the action. However, the two playing teams receive feeds from only the two cameras behind each bowler and not, so as to “avoid controversies”, the four others square of the wicket. Officials say that there is a clause in Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) rules that states the video feed for teams is only for "analysis purpose" and it cannot be used as an evidence for any decision making or arguments later in the game.

Match referees act as third umpires in non-televised games. Former India cricketer and referee Pranab Roy feels the quality of cameras "is not" as good as it is for a televised game. As a result “the areas where we encounter difficulties include caught behind, when ball is close to the bat, bat-pad decisions and whether it's a bump ball or not. Also, there is no sound tracking [which makes it] even harder”.  "With ordinary cameras, the moment you zoom in, the vision gets blurred and is difficult for us to judge nicks. We have already spoken to the BCCI [and they have] said that they will discuss the matter”.

Roy further claimed that the quality of umpiring will improve if good cameras are set up. "At the end of the day, umpires sit with the video analysts and go through decisions which they feel were close calls. In fact certain umpires even go to the extent of checking their body language on the field, such as how they walk at the start of the day and how they were after tea".

Goa skipper Sagun Kamat and Tamil Nadu captain Abhinav Mukund also feel high-quality cameras would help players analyse their game better. According to Abhinav: “At some grounds when the sunshine falls in the north-south direction the light falls directly on the camera. We players only get those two feeds for analysis. It's very hard to spot the ball or action as the video looks hazy. A better quality camera would certainly help things”.  

However, everyone understands that it would be a "costly affair" for the BCCI and there are logistical problems as well. "Yes, it is expensive. And we have to take into account that there are numerous junior cricket matches too that are being played throughout," Roy said.

Independent review of ground planned after ODI ‘wash out’.

Anneke Smith.

Hawkes Bay Today.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10330.

Napier City Council (NCC) has said the cancellation of Thursday's second NZ-Australia One Day International at McLean Park is a result of weather alone and not poor pitch conditions. However, the council is conducting an independent review, in conjunction with New Zealand Cricket (NZC), after the ground was judged, following numerous inspections, to be “unsafe” for play to get underway.

Napier mayor Bill Dalton said Thursday's match was ill-fated with both consistent rain that day and no natural drying in the air.  “It started raining at 8.30 a.m and continued until about 2 p.m. but when it stopped raining there was no breeze, there was no drying in the air”, said Dalton.  "[NZC] have a turf team that are absolute experts in that field. So we're bringing them in to work beside our own team” to ensure they get the "best outcome".

Dalton said: "If we get recommendations that we should change things rest assured we will change things. Having said that we're absolutely confident that we've produced a world-class cricket facility match after match but in this case we've been defeated by the weather”.  NCC chief executive Wayne Jack said two turf experts will look at the process leading up to the game, what caused issues on the day and what needs to be done to ensure it doesn't happen again. "The thing to remember with McLean Park is that it's a sand-based turf so it needs constant water or it will die off pretty quick”, he said.

Dalton said there was "absolutely no reason" why next month's game NZ-South Africa ODI shouldn't go ahead.  However, NZC communications manager Callum Elder said speculation on an outcome should be reserved until all relevant information is gathered.  "Until that review is completed and we have all relevant information at hand, it would be unwise to speculate on an outcome”, he said.  But he’s spoken to [NZC] and they are absolutely keen to see us retain that status.

Bee swarm stops play in J’burg ODI.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 5 February 2017.

PTG 2039-10331.

A swarm of bees halted play and left the teams prone on the pitch during the third One Day International between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Johannesburg on Saturday. Sri Lanka had just lost their fourth wicket with the total on 115 in the 25th over when, with new batsman Asela Gunaratne about to face his first ball, the slip fielders dropped to the ground, other players quickly following. 

At one time all thirteen players on the ground as well as umpires Adrian Holdstock and Richard Kettleborough were lying face down on the field as the bees buzzed about. Play resumed but midway through the 27th over the bees converged on a helmet which had been placed behind wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and Holdstock and Kettleborough stopped play. Ground staff at Wanderers Stadium emptied the contents of two fire extinguishers into the swarm. The players returned after a delay of more than 20 minutes but again left the field because there were still bees in the area where de Kock needed to stand. Eventually after almost an hour play was resumed.

Its not the first time in recent years that play has been interrupted by bees.  In 2013 they did so in a Sri Lanka-Bangladesh One Day International in Hambantota (PTG 1081-5260, 26 March 2013).  It happened twice in 2014, a one-day Berkshire Cricket League fixture being abandoned because of an invasion of flying ants (PTG 1404-6787, 1 August 2014), while a game on the North Island of New Zealand was suspended for five minutes when a “massive swarm of bees” arrived (PTG 1478-7150, 9 December 2014), as well as in an international played in Harare last year (PTG 1884-9444, 24 July 2016)  Locusts too have stopped play (PTG 502-2600, 6 October 2009).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,040

Monday, 6 February 2017

 

• International players face blood testing in crackdown [2040-10332]. 

• Umpire felled by ‘full-blooded’ batsman’s shot [2040-10333]. 

• Walk-off over umpire decision leads to match forfeit [2040-10334]. 

• Umpires included in new CA ‘Community' awards [2040-10335]. 

• 'We probably had an easier time because we actually made the decision’ [2040-10336]. 

International players face blood testing in crackdown.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Monday, 6 February 2017.

PTG 2040-10332.

International players are to face more stringent drug testing during major tournaments now that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has decided to introduce blood testing, in addition to urine testing.  The new testing will be introduced at the Champions Trophy, to be held in England and Wales in June, when all international cricketers will have blood samples taken to bring them in line with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines on “smart testing”.

Cricket has been compliant with broad WADA guidelines since 2006, but players only undergo in-competition random urine tests at present.  However, the ICC is increasingly concerned that there are a lot of performance-enhancing drugs and steroids that are not visible in urine samples, but which do show up in blood samples. Blood testing is recommended by WADA on top of the in and out-of- competition testing that takes place at present.

Cricketers who come under the auspices of the England and Wales Cricket Board give hair samples that are used to test for recreational drugs, a move recommended by the coroner at the inquest into the death of the Surrey batsman Tom Maynard earlier this decade (PTG 1077-5241, 18 March 2013).

The blood samples taken by the ICC will form part of that cricketer’s biological passport and the blood-sample results will be kept on file for ten years — a procedure that has been in place in a number of other sports, such as cycling, for years but has not been part of cricket’s anti-doping procedures.  International cricketers will be required to provide a blood sample every six months, although the new measures will not, initially at least, extend to professional cricketers who only play domestic cricket.

The ICC is particularly concerned by the potential increase in use of human growth hormone, which does not show up in urine samples. WADA’s smart testing of blood samples includes sport-specific profiling, and for cricket the blood samples will be tested for growth hormones as well as performance- enhancing drugs.  Anti-doping violations in cricket are rare, but there are concerns they could increase. With the rise of Twenty20 leagues around the world, players know that they face missing out on lucrative deals if injured. There are fears that they may be tempted to use substances that mask injuries or speed up recovery time.

Umpire felled by ‘full-blooded’ batsman’s shot.

Josh Callinan.

Newcastle Herald.

Monday, 5 February 2017.

PTG 2040-10333.

Newcastle District Cricket Umpires Association secretary Bruce Muddle was released from hospital on Sunday night after being struck in the head with a ball during a first grade Twenty20 match that afternoon.  Muddle, aged in his 70s, was knocked unconscious and left bleeding while officiating in a Newcastle District Cricket Association fixture between University and Waratah-Mayfield at University Oval.  

An off-duty doctor, at the ground watching his son, assisted with treatment before an ambulance arrived.  Muddle had been standing at the bowler’s end and copped the full force of the full-blooded shot fromUniversity skipper Matt Gawthrop.  The game was abandoned after the incident but it appears the umpire escaped with just stitches but without, it appears, any serious injury.

Gawthrop said: "I knew I hit it pretty hard, but it all happened really quickly and he [Muddle] didn’t have time to move. I ran over straight away and knew he wasn’t in a good way. It was a scary moment for everyone out there on the field, especially being the one that hit the ball. I was pretty shaken up when it happened.  If anyone is going to get hit you think it will be a batsman or a fielder, but never an umpire.  You never expect it, but it’s lucky it has turned out okay and didn’t hit in a more fatal area”.

Walk-off over umpire decision leads to match forfeit.

Richard Mwangi.

Daily Nation.

Sunday, 5 February 2017.

PTG 2040-10334.

The Kanjis side lost their match in the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association's (NPCA) Twenty-20 tournament in Kenya after they refused to continue to play in protest at an umpiring decision.  In the game, which was against the Stray Lions side, Vinod Rabadia one of their batsman was adjudged to have been run out by square leg umpire Sukbans Singh.  Rabadia left the field but confusion then ensued when his batting partner Gautam Bhudia walked out in protest over the umpire’s decision.

After waiting for a few minutes umpire Sukbans consulted with his on-field colleague Tariq Iqbal, after which they removed the bails as an indication that the game was over.  Sukbans is a qualified umpire, even though he has not joined other match officials who have boycotted NPCA matches over outstanding fees due to them from the provincial body.  When the match was called off, Kanjis needed, with seven wickets in hand, 25 runs to win in the 11 balls that remained to be bowled.

Umpires included in new CA ‘Community' awards.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2040-10335.

Cricket Australia (CA) has launched twelve new ‘Community Cricket Awards’ whose aim is to "recognise and celebrate the people, organisations and community groups” without which the game at club level would have a very hard time operating.  CA says the awards, one of which is specifically for umpires, are "an opportunity to shine a spotlight on, and celebrate, the many tremendous achievements of our community clubs, associations, indoor centres, administrators and volunteers who do so much to make cricket fun, safe, welcoming and inclusive”.

The new awards, which appear similar to those that the England and Wales Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket set up earlier this decade, are, in order of CA’s listing: Community Cricket Club of the Year; Cricket Association of the Year; Premier Cricket Club of the Year; Community Cricket Initiative of the Year; Junior Cricket Program of the Year; Partner Organisation of the Year; Community Facility Project of the Year; Ambassador of the Year; Volunteer of the Year; Junior Program Champion of the Year; Community Umpire of the Year; and Community Coach of the Year.  No specific award for Scorers is included in the inaugural list.

CA chairman David Peever indicated late last year that the national body's next five-year plan would have community cricket as its centrepiece (PTG 2017-10208, 1 January 2017). He described cricket then as "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”.  CA says that while many organisations and individuals contribute to the success of community cricket, "we can only give out a limited number of awards”, however, it believes "we are all winners for sharing our passion for cricket and encouraging everyone to enjoy our great game".

Nominations for the awards close on Sunday, 26 February, and the dozen inaugural winners are to be announced at a dinner that has been scheduled for “late April”.  Details of the eligibility criteria and entry terms and conditions are provided in the Awards brochure.

'We probably had an easier time because we actually made the decision’.

Luke Alfred.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 5 February 2017.

PTG 2040-10336.

Former South African umpire Cyril Mitchell, now 78, who stood in 26 Tests in the period from 1992-2000, hears a voice rather than sees a face when you ask him a question nowadays. Eighteen months ago he started suffering from a hereditary disease of the retina - called macular degeneration - which blurs everything he looks at directly. His peripheral vision is fine but in the middle it's indistinct and blurred, a soggy mess.

He struggles in the garden and shouldn't be driving his 'Toyota Tazz', but carries on regardless, vaguely relieved that he no longer needs to see whether Saeed Anwar or David Boon has feathered an edge to the keeper. "My paternal grandmother was an artist”, he said. "She painted water. When she started painting red and yellow water we realised that something was up and that her eyes were packing in. I've got the same thing”.

There was a pinch of the showman about Mitchley the umpire. In his early umpiring days he used to go into a prize-fighter's crouch before jabbing his index finger at you not once but twice or three times. "Dave Richardson complained - he said I took too much pleasure in it, so I didn't use the flourish so much after that. Even when I wasn't crouching I always used to stand with my head at a slight angle so my good ear was facing the batsman. I had one season as a 20-year-old inside-forward with Sheffield United - I had the choice of Charlton, Wolves or United, God alone knows why I chose United - and someone kicked a wet, heavy ball at my head. It burst my eardrum. After that my hearing in the left ear was always a bit dodgy”.

Mitchley wasn't about to allow the imperfections of a wonky ear get in the way of a job he loved - umpiring. He was always engaged, never distant, always part of the game without allowing his personality to overshadow bigger names or larger spectacles. He remembers giving Sachin Tendulkar run out from square leg in South Africa's first readmission Test (beside the third-umpire bells and whistles, the match was unspeakably dreary) and was scandalised by a stranger who he at first assumed was an autograph-seeker, offering him $US50,000 to make sure Pakistan didn't lose the third Test of their 1994-95 home series against Australia. He reported the approach to John Reid, the match referee, and promptly forgot about it. The high-scoring Test was drawn, so Pakistan wrapped up the series 1-0.

"The best umpire I ever stood with was [the Tasmanian] Steve Randell", said Mitchley. "I thought he was brilliant. I was the first neutral umpire to stand in an Ashes Test [at the Gabba, in November 1994] and I stood with Steve, although he couldn't stand Ian Healy for some reason. He came to me once and said: 'If he steps out of line for anything we're going to nail him’”.

The biggest decision Mitchley ever made was when he was asked to judge on Sanath Jayasuriya's run-out in the 1996 World Cup final in Lahore. Jayasuriya was later named 'Man of the Tournament', and Mitchley was well aware his decision would have far-reaching consequences. "[Steve] Bucknor and [David] Shepherd got the final and I wasn't even sure I was going to be in Lahore because I was in Delhi, but Dave Richards [then the ICC chief executive] phoned and said: 'Look, we think there's going to be a bit of shit and we want you there as TV umpire. We'll send you a ticket’”.

"To cut a long story short, many of the tournament umpires had flown to the final in Lahore and we were all sitting in the same box-like booth, so when I worried about giving Sanath run-out there were many eyes on me. Not long after that we get a Sri Lankan delegation who've come to complain. I'm not happy but Clive [Lloyd], the match referee, says, 'Relax, Cyril, let's all have a look at the slow-motion together’. So we look at the replay and he then asks them: 'Are you happy with the decision?' They say they are, and then he tells them in no uncertain terms to get the hell out of there”.

Mitchley describes the 1996 World Cup - co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - as a tournament of considerable behind-the-scenes strain. With such a broad sweep of venues, competition logistics were already demanding, and with the Australians and the West Indians refusing to visit Sri Lanka, tensions rose. He had to be present in Colombo, just in case the Australians arrived, and signed an affidavit in the presence of an attorney to that effect. He remembers tournament organisers like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev ("They didn't trust the Australians") being exceptionally tense and the competition unfolded in an atmosphere of mutual watchfulness. "I suppose the upside of the trip to Colombo was that I had four or five days free to visit the tea plantations and the hill stations and that was fabulous”, said Mitchley.

He wasn't one to dwell on mistakes but remembers a shocker he gave Mike Atherton in Port Elizabeth in 1995-96. "As soon as I saw his face he just knew I'd stuffed it up”, recalls the man many in South Africa still call "Squire". Mitchley apparently gave Atherton, a man for whom he had immense respect, out caught off the thigh pad and the decision perched darkly on his conscience for the rest of the day.

Squire's humiliation was softened only slightly when Ian Botham told him to forget it after the close, but turned to wry amusement when he was later presented with the signed leg of a white plastic chair by Dermot Reeve. Atherton had smashed the chair in a fury once he returned to the dressing room and the token of his esteem was duly delivered by a smirking 12th man - Reeve. To this day it remains one of Mitchley's treasured mementos, along with signed shirts and equipment from Brian Lara and Malcolm Marshall, two of his favourite players.

Mitchell was always a firm favourite with the players. He was verbally adroit and exuded a kind of cheery calm that instantly made them comfortable. He enjoyed his time at square leg and is mildly relieved that he escaped much of the current culture of super-scrutiny. "We probably had an easier time because we actually made the decision. Every decision nowadays can be referred with the exception of a wide. We weren't watched quite as much”, he says.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,041

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

 

• Curators to be 'shamed' under ICC plan to improve pitches [2041-10337]. 

• Angry batsman hurls stump, kills fieldsman [2041-10338]. 

• Umpire shortage taking its toll on Ballarat competition [2041-10339]. 

• NSW player looses quarter of match fee for show of dissent [2041-10340]. 

• Cricket South Africa announces plans for revamped T20 league [2041-10341]. 

• NZ loss has Australian cricketers hit for six financially [2041-10342]. 

• Due process….. [2041-10343]. 

Curators to be 'shamed' under ICC plan to improve pitches.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 6 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10337.

As Australia prepares for a defining tour of India, world cricket curators have been warned they will be "shamed" should they produce doctored sub-par pitches under a new International Cricket Council (ICC) system designed to produce entertaining cricket.  The points-based system will focus on the standard of pitches and outfields. The match referee's rating of the venue will be publicly available post match, and venues who fail will be docked points and could ultimately be stripped of international cricket for up to two years. 

The criteria will see two demerit points for a 'below average' deck and one point for a 'below average' outfield; three points docked for a ‘poor' deck and two points for a ‘poor' outfield; and five points docked for an ‘unfit' deck and ‘unfit' outfield. A venue will be banned for a year should it lose five points over a five-year period.

The ICC says there "should be consequences for a venue if it presents conditions that make it unsafe for an international match to proceed, without mitigating circumstances or regularly presents substandard conditions for international cricket”.  However, just what constitutes "substandard conditions" could spark debate, for sharp-turning pitches produced on the sub-continent may lead to three-day Tests but, in the eyes of some, these contests could still be deemed "attractive" cricket for wickets have regularly fallen.

Asian nations could argue it was the ineptness of touring teams, for instance when Australia was swept 3-0 in Sri Lanka last year, rather than so-called doctored conditions which have been to blame for one-sided results. But it could also have been argued the Galle pitch used last year in a second Test which lasted two-and-a-half days was sub-par, with match referee Chris Broad expressing concerns, and although no sanction was handed out many asked serious questions about the pitch (PTG 1900-9532, 15 August 2016). Broad had rated the Galle pitch "poor" in a 2011 Test against Australia, and action was taken against the venue (PTG 843-4124, 8 October 2011).

New Zealand's McLean Park in Napier, which had a wash-out in last week’s One Day International between Australia and the Black Caps because of poor drainage, could also find itself under pressure (PTG 2039-10330, 5 February 2017).  Last year, Queens Park in Port of Spain and Durban’s Kingsmead grounds were both handed official warnings by the ICC (PTG 1920-9644, 9 September 2016). 

ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said it was time to make curators and venues more publicly accountable.  "I think everybody accepts that if we want to have entertaining products, exciting matches, an attractive form of cricket, then the pitches need to be good and there needs to be a good balance between bat and ball, particularly in Test matches”, he said.

"For that reason, we have tried to focus on the member countries, or the venues that are producing these pitches for international cricket, [make them] more accountable, so in the future we will be incentivising them by saying: 'If you produce a good pitch, then go to the ICC website and you will see the result of the grade the match referee has given you and you will be rewarded in that way for producing good pitches. On the other hand, if you produce a below average or a poor, unfit pitch, then unfortunately you might be shamed”. 

The Nagpur pitch used for the third Test between India and South Africa in 2015 which finished inside three days was given a "poor" rating by match referee Jeff Crowe (PTG 1701-8401, 2 December 2015).  A senior Indian cricket official responded at the time by questioning whether the seaming Trent Bridge deck used in the 2015 Ashes series should also have been rated poor. Stuart Broad claimed a stunning 8/15 as Australia were bowled out for 60 in 111 balls on the opening morning - the shortest innings in Test history - with the hosts ultimately winning within three days.

Richardson said: "We want to make [ICC] members and the venues more accountable and they have accepted that, it doesn't necessarily come from ICC. They have said they need to do it for the sake of improving the product”. 

Angry batsman hurls stump, kills fieldsman.

Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10338.

A 14-year-old player has died in Bangladesh after he was hit by a stump thrown by an angry batsman during a friendly game between neighbourhood teams.  The batsman has been detained and will, according to police, be prosecuted for causing unintentional death. 

Assistant police commissioner Jahangir Alam said Faisal Hossain was fielding in the southeastern port city of Chittagong when the batsman was given out.  “[He] was furious when he saw that he had been stumped, [after which he] grabbed a stump and threw it in the air. The stump hit part of the neck and head of the young man who was fielding close to the wicket.  He collapsed on the ground in pain and was declared dead after he was taken to a hospital”.

Clashes are common over cricket in Bangladesh, where the sport is taken seriously even at village level.  Last May, a batsman wielding a stump allegedly beat a 16-year-old player to death in Dhaka after the teenager taunted the umpire over a no-ball delivery (PTG 1826-9131, 13 May 2016).

Umpire shortage taking its toll on Ballarat competition.

Ballarat Courier.

Monday, 6 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10339.

Victoria’s Ballarat Cricket Umpires Association (BCUA) is suffering a “severe shortage” in numbers, which is partially being blamed on the attitude of players and spectators towards officials.  The struggle was evident in last weekend’s round of matches, with four of the Ballarat Cricket Association’s (BCA) second grade games left without umpires.  In an email to club administrators, BCA operations officer Greg Wakeling said some umpires are only available for one week of the two-day encounters and had been allocated matches in one-day competitions as a result.

Wakeling said the BCUA has lost some experienced umpires this season for various reasons and is struggling to recruit new members given the demands of society in this day and age.  “They have expressed their concerns about some attitudes towards umpires from players and spectators recently which has taken its toll with a further two umpires retiring during the season.  One of those, which happened this week, resulted from the actions of several players in the last round of matches”. 

The BCA’s Wakeling asked club’s to "please implore your players that umpires need to be respected at all times regardless of personal opinion on decisions, and that our umpires will be taking a zero tolerance policy from this week onwards aiming to quell the increasingly difficult task of controlling the game”.  He indicated that as it stands, there will not be enough umpires to have two standing in all of the BCA senior semi-final matchers next month. He urged anyone wishing to take up umpiring, a paid position, to contact the BCA or BCUA.

NSW player looses quarter of match fee for show of dissent.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Monday, 6 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10340.

New South Wales player Daniel Hughes has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee for "showing dissent at an umpire’s decision” during his side’s Sheffield Shield match against Victoria and the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Thursday.  Hughes was reported by umpires Greg Davidson and Stephen Harris from South Africa for his reaction after he was given out LBW, one media report describing him as appearing to be “visibly frustrated". 

After considering the umpires’ written report, match referee Daryl Harper offered Hughes the 25 per cent match fee sanction, however, the player elected to contest the charge, a move that led to Harper conducting a hearing into what was rated as a Level One offence.  Cricket Australia says that “after considering submissions made by the parties along with video footage", Harper confirmed the charge and the proposed sanction.

Cricket South Africa announces plans for revamped T20 league.

Agence France Presse.

Sunday, 5 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10341.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has announced plans for a domestic Twenty20 league which it hopes will attract major international investment and big-name players.  The '#T20 Global League’ appears to be based on the successful Indian Premier League and Australia's Big Bash League (BBL), although there limited details about the structure of the tournament have so far been released.  Plans call though for eight franchises to be sold and that it is expected their associated teams will be city-based.  

The tournament will be played in late 2017, possibly ahead of the BBL’s season, when all South Africa's leading players and many well-known internationals are likely to be available. CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "We are confident that the window we have chosen will make it possible for franchises to attract top-class players to South Africa". Expressions of interest in the franchise opportunities are required to be submitted by early March.

CSA president Chris Nenzani said: Our vision is to drive the creation of a new T20 destination league in South Africa that would energise the sport of cricket in the country by creating a global platform for the best-in-class to perform and showcase their talent to a global audience.  We have received a very favourable response to our plans from the International Cricket Council and member boards and look to their support”.

NZ loss has Australian cricketers hit for six financially.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10342.

Australia's cricketers are frustrated at missing out on performance bonuses, in part because a cramped international schedule has meant key players have been rested.  Concerns about scheduling have again risen in the wake of the 2-0 one-day series loss to New Zealand, when the tourists were forced to cede the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and almost certainly lose the top One Day International (ODI) ranking to South Africa, meaning a double financial blow for the Cricket Australia (CA) contracted players.

Under the current CA-player Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and stipulated in 2011 in the wide-ranging Argus Report, players are given bonuses for winning series, and for the No.1 ranking in each of the sport's three formats. But it's argued those ambitions, certainly in the ODI and Twenty20 formats, are threatened by a congested schedule, which has players angry.

Under the set-percentage revenue system, players share in added spoils when the sport flourishes and less when it doesn't, but the resting of key players because of a busy schedule has added a new paradigm.  David Warner was rested from the New Zealand series, while Usman Khawaja, a line-ball selection in the ODI side, was sent to Dubai early to prepare for this month's Test series in India.  However, injuries also had an impact on Australia's hopes, with skipper Steve Smith ruled out because of an ankle sprain and Matthew Wade returning home without playing a game because of a back problem.

Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Alistair Nicholson said on Monday the performance system needed to be reviewed.  "The performance pool was agreed in the last MoU negotiation but now we have a system that needs to be reviewed”, he said.  "There is a situation when this model is combined with the overlapping of the schedule and having players rested, it will need revisiting in the MoU negotiations.  The ACA will be exploring both the schedule and the performance pool as part of the current discussions”.

The three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka this month will also involve a weakened Australian side missing Warner, Smith, Starc, Hazlewood and Khawaja as they will be in India.  The ACA, not wanting to disrespect replacement players, understands key players need to be rested but the argument is that this would not be required in a more refined schedule.

CA did not wish to comment on Monday. CA has acknowledged this summer's schedule wasn't ideal but changes are afoot. Players are to be given the opportunity to play up to three Sheffield Shield matches as preparation heading into next summer's Ashes series but that will be less for those in India for a one-day and T20 series in October.

In what has been hailed as a pivotal development, the International Cricket Council revealed on the weekend it had won back control of the Future Tours Program, with countries hopeful of a less cluttered schedule when the new Test and ODI championships are introduced (PTG 2039-10324, 5 February 2017).

The players' frustration comes at a time when they are fighting to retain the current revenue sharing model, and arguing for better conditions, particularly for women.  CA and the ACA held two days of discussions last week but it's understood CA has yet to release the full financial details the players are after (PTG 2030-10278, 25 January 2017).

Due process…..

Neil Mantorp.

SuperSport.

Saturday, 4 February 2017.

PTG 2041-10343.

Recently, Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat led a small delegation of colleagues to Harare to chat with their counterparts at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) about ways in which ‘big brother’ might be able to help their ailing little brother get back on his feet after a decade-and-a-half of illness.  ZC said they desperately needed fixtures and urged CSA to agree to a series of regular, and lucrative, One Day Internationals between the neighbours in the manner of the ongoing Chappell-Hadlee series between Australia and New Zealand. 

Lorgat pointed out that arranging fixtures was pointless with a broken infrastructure. Even when Zimbabwe did have regular international fixtures, the money always seemed to disappear before it could find its way into the domestic game (PTG 1962-9881, 30 October 2016).  Lorgat pointed out that CSA now has one of the most efficient and transparent governance structures in any sport and offered to assist ZC in putting their own house in order. But ZC wanted fixtures. Lorgat said there was no point…they asked again. Lorgat said… you get the point.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,042

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

 

• Revealed: how the new ECB Twenty20 format will work [2042-10344]. 

• Three neutral officials named for NZ-South Africa ODIs [2042-10345]. 

• US border control issues sees player withdraw from tournament [2042-10346]. 

• Four Aussie umpires awarded National Officiating Scholarships [2042-10347]. 

• Batsman reportedly scores 300 in local Delhi T20 match [2042-10348]. 

• Climate change linked storms caused £UK3.5m damage to clubs [2042-10349]. 

Revealed: how the new ECB Twenty20 format will work.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

PTG 2042-10344.

Detailed plans for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new Twenty20 competition can be revealed today after a briefing memo sent to county executives was seen by 'The Times'.  The revolutionary tournament, set to start in 2020, aims to create an English league that will rival the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL), but has caused controversy among the counties (PTG 2030-10274, 25 January 2017). 

The eight-page memo confirms that the eight teams involved will have 15-man squads that include three overseas players, with 13 of those players picked during a draft that the ECB hopes will be televised. The two other players in each squad will be picked as “wild cards” after the NatWest T20 Blast has been played. All county cricketers, plus overseas players who enter themselves, will be put into the draft unless they request not to be. They will be placed into different salary bands. The tournament will run from mid-July, after the conclusion of the ECB’s 18 county T20 ‘Blast' and alongside a 50-over format competition (PTG 1950-9813, 18 October 2016).

Despite the memo outlining the basics of the T20 series, there is no mention of where the eight teams might be based, an issue that is likely to cause ructions as some counties will miss out on hosting matches. Hosting decisions will not be taken until at least the end of March (PTG 2001-10115, 10 December 2016).

A number of county chiefs had expressed concern over the original proposal that the eight teams would be solely owned by the ECB (PTG 1987-10019, 26 November 2016). In an effort to alleviate some of those worries, the latest proposal about the governance of the competition is that the eight sides would be separate legal entities, but each will be controlled by two to three first-class counties. So for example, a team based in Nottingham may be controlled by Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

Head coaches and directors of cricket from counties who work in the new tournament will not be permitted to coach at their local county venue. The memo explains that this is borne out of a desire that the proposed competition is not a facilitator for player movement from smaller counties to the larger Test-venue counties.  Coaches and support staff from county cricket will be eligible to work in the new competition should their counties be happy to release them.

Each of the eight teams will be allocated the same fixed budget for players, a separate budget to cover coaching costs and a salary cap similar to the one in place in the BBL.  Originally the ECB had hoped that players would not play for the team at their “home” club so that each new team would have a totally separate identity from the county side based at that venue. However, this was a bone of contention among some of the larger counties, who did not wish to see all their best players based at other venues, so the ECB has rowed back on this proposal.

Teams will be able to call up players from the county 50-over competition in case of injuries and, similarly, players can be released back to the county 50-over competition should their coaches in the new T20 competition want them to play competitive cricket. It is anticipated that players would be released by their counties to join the new team squad not more than a week before the T20 competition begins and would be given back to their counties as soon as their team are eliminated.

Players will be signed on an initial one-year contract with an option to extend for a second year. A proportion of a player’s existing county salary will be deducted if he plays in the new competition and it is anticipated that the salary from taking part will more than make up for any shortfall in his county pay.

The new competition will be played over 38 days — England players will not be available, as Tests will be played at the same time. There will be 36 games, rather than the 35 expected initially. This is because there will not be semi- finals. The finalists will be decided on the results of three play-off games. The team who finish top of the table will play against the second-placed team in “the qualifier” for a place in the final. The third and fourth-placed teams will play each other in “the eliminator”. The winner of the eliminator and loser of the qualifier will then go head to head for the other spot in the final.

The memo sets out that each team will be run by an operations board comprising an independent chairman and chief executives from the two or three counties who control the team. The board will be in charge of appointing a general manager and coaches.

It is believed that the consultancy firm tasked with coming up with the venue options is not just looking at Test grounds for hosting and there is a potential move away from the competition being purely city-based, with some host teams having one or more of their four home group games at a second or third venue. Each first-class county will also receive a guaranteed minimum amount of revenue from the proceeds of the competition.

While the tournament is three years away, the ECB needs the details signed off before it puts the broadcast rights for this, international cricket and the other domestic competitions from 2020 onwards out to tender, which it wants to do at the end of next month (PTG 1936-9729, 1 October 2016).  The broadcast tender document will specify that a certain number of the matches — possibly ten — must be shown live on free-to-air television and that highlights and clips should be available on other digital outlets such as ‘YouTube' or 'Amazon Prime’.

Three neutral officials named for NZ-South Africa ODIs. 

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

PTG 2042-10345.

Javagal Srinath from India, Paul Reiffel of Australia and the West Indies’ Joel Wilson have been appointed as the neutral match officials for the five One Day Internationals (ODI) New Zealand and South Africa are to play in Hamilton, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier and Auckland respectively over the last two weeks of this month.  Srinath will oversee the series as the match referee, while Wilson will be on-field for matches one, three and five when Reiffel will be the television umpire, the pair swapping roles for games two and four.  

Wilson’s New Zealand colleagues on the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Wayne Knights, Chris Brown and Shaun Haig, are expected to fill the second on-field and fourth umpire positions in each game, but just what their appointments will be have not been made public.  The series will take Srinath’s record as an ODI match referee to 196, Reiffel to 48 on-field and 27 as the television umpire (48/27), and Wilson to 37/17.

US border control issues sees player withdraw from tournament. 

Andy Bull.

The Guardian.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

PTG 2042-10346.

The cricket pages must be one of the last little corners of ‘The Guardian' that hasn’t yet featured some kind of article about Donald Trump. So here we go: several United States-based players are away in the West Indies at the moment, playing with the International Cricket Council's Americas squad in the West Indies Cricket Board’s regional fifty-over competition. But batsman Fahad Babar has decided he needs to withdraw from the tournament because he’s worried that he may struggle to get back into his home country if he stays away any longer.

Babar, 24, is a Pakistani national who qualified for the USA team through residency because he emigrated there when he was 14. Pakistan isn’t one of the seven countries effected by the Trump’s recent executive order limiting immigration, but Babar was so worried that they might soon be added to the list (along with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) that he flew home to Chicago after his team’s defeat to Jamaica last week.

“I had no issues coming in and out, but there’s always that fear which bothers you”, said Babar. “Cricket is a mental game and you have to be mentally fit enough to play the game and I think it affected me a little bit in my performance”. Babar’s lawyer explained “He’s from Pakistan which is close to those other countries and might be next on the chopping block. If he’s out of the US when they say, ‘OK we’re extending the ban to Pakistani people’, Fahad will be barred. He will not be allowed to come back into the United States even if he’s travelling for cricket and that’s what we’re scared of”.

Four Aussie umpires awarded National Officiating Scholarships. 

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

PTG 2042-10347.

Four of the twenty-one National Officiating Scholarships (NOS) awarded by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) for 2017 have gone to cricket umpires, thus bringing to twenty the total number who have been through the program in the last ten years (PTG 2030-10277, 25 January 2017).  The four scholarships for what the Australian government funded ASC calls “developing officials”, have gone to two Western Australians (WA) and two New South Welshmen (NSW), all four being members of their respective state umpire panels; two of six groups from which members of Cricket Australia’s (CA) second-tier Development Panel are normally selected.

The umpires chosen by CA this year and approved by the ASC are: Anthony Hobson and Ben Treloar from NSW, and Nathan Johnstone and Ashlee Kovalevs from WA.  Each has a mentor who will work with them during their scholarship year: Hobson’s being Robert Faraday-Bensley, a former Sydney grade player; Treloar’s Bill Hendricks a senior umpire in NSW; Johnstone’s Mathew Cheeseman a former national soccer referee and WA’s state referees’ manager; and Kovalevs’ Claire Polosak, a former NOS holder (PTG 1513-7295, 3 February 2015) and a member of the International Cricket Council’s third-tier Associates and Affiliates International Umpires Panel.

Of the twenty-one scholarships awarded for the year ahead, four each have gone to match officials from cricket and Australian Rules Football (AFL), three to Rugby Union, and two each to BMX, Rowing, Rugby League, Swimming and Tennis.  Under scholarship rules, sporting bodies are only allowed to nominate between two and four people for the awards, therefore CA, like AFL, was successful in having all four names they submitted to the ASC for scholarships accepted.  A notable omission from the four is Tasmania Darren Close, who stood in 20 first class fixtures three decades ago (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016), who appears appointments-wise this year, to at minimum to be on par with Johnstone, Hobson and Treloar.

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.  ASC says that “at the community level, officials play a vital role in the sporting experience of participants and therefore a vital role in retention. Quality officiating improves the public perception of sport and the integrity of sport in general”.

Hobson, Johnstone, Kovalevs and Treloar plus the seventeen officials chosen from across the other seven sports, and their respective mentors, will commence their scholarship years by taking part in a four-day Induction Program that will be conducted on Queensland’s Gold Coast late this month.  Scholarship holders then are required to attend several professional development workshops throughout the year, the final one of which is usually scheduled for late November.

Batsman reportedly scores 300 in local Delhi T20 match.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

PTG 2042-10348.

A player in India has picked the perfect time to blast the innings of his life, posting a reported triple ton in a Twenty20 match just days out from the Indian Premier League's (IPL)  2017 player auction.  Mohit Ahlawat, a 21-year-old playing for Maavi in a local T20 fixture in Delhi, notched a mammoth unbeaten score of 300 from just 72 deliveries.  His innings included 39 sixes and 14 fours and saw him score 34 runs from the final over for he finished his time at the crease with five consecutive sixes and a four.

Ahlawat said after the match: “The attack was good but after seeing off the new ball, I decided to just bat aggressively and was really timing the ball well.  I saw the scoreboard, and I was nearing my 200 with five overs to go, so I decided to go for the kill.  I reached 250 with just two overs to go, I told my partner, ‘let me try if I can make 300’, and I got 16 and 34 off the last two overs”. Ahlawat’s side posted a total of 2/416 in their 20 overs. 

Reports suggest the innings is a world record, bettering the 277 from 72 balls scored by Sri Lanka’s Dhanuka Pathirana in a local match in Lancashire in 2007. West Indian Chris Gayle holds the professional record having scored 175 in an IPL fixture.

The son of a truck driver, Ahlawat’s first stint at first-class level was not altogether impressive as he made scores of one, four, duck, duck and duck for Delhi in three matches in October 2015.  But the wicketkeeper-batsman believes he’s ready for another opportunity and hopes his record score could lead to riches in next fortnight’s IPL auction.  “Yes, I have put my name in for the IPL auction but I am not sure if this knock will help make people notice me, however, I am eager to prove my worth”.

Climate change linked storms caused £UK3.5m damage to clubs.

BBC Radio.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

PTG 2042-10349.

Storms in December 2015 that can be linked to climate change caused more than £UK3.5 m ($A5.7 m) worth of damage to cricket clubs in the UK, says the "Weather Warning” report published by the UK’s Climate Coalition.  Two of the clubs impacted, Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire and Appleby Eden in Cumbria, have yet to return to their grounds, and 130-year-old Corbridge Cricket Club in Northumberland had to have their clubhouse demolished (PTG 1737-8631, 14 January 2016).  

The "Weather Warning” report is backed by more than 100 organisations including the UK branch of the World Wildlife Fund, the RSPB, the National Trust and the Women's Institute.  Professor Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, which analysed the report, said science could now show that climate change made the record wet weather in December 2015 more likely.  The England and Wales Cricket Board distributed more than £1 m ($A1.6 m) in emergency funding to clubs last year as a result of the storms and has earmarked a further £1.6m ($A2.6 m) in 2017.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,043

Thursday, 9 February 2017

 

• Why cricket’s new world financial model might not work [2043-10350].  

• Dar denies retirement rumours, eyes 2019 World Cup [2043-10351].  

• ODI pair fined over on-field physical contact [2043-10352].  

Why cricket’s new world financial model might not work.

Suresh Menon.

The Hindu.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

PTG 2043-10350.

There are a number of ways of looking at the newly acquired spine the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) displayed at its meeting in Dubai last week. By rolling back the “Big Three” formula that gave India a little over 22 per cent of the revenue (it was three per cent before that) from 2014, it struck when the iron was hot. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in a shambles, the Indian Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators is only a few days old, and this is as good a time as any to cut India’s income by 34 per cent (PTG 2035-10307, 31 January 2017).

You could argue about the actual percentages, but the attempt to rein India in is understandable. Those who have been screaming about the “unfair” treatment need only to remember that the self-designed jump in India’s share three years ago was equally unfair. As the Indian representative at the ICC meeting in Dubai said last week, “Two wrongs do not make a right”.

A second way to look at the new dispensation is to see it in terms of equitable distribution, where every cricket board (except India) gets more money, and the ICC gives the impression of caring about the greatest good for the greatest number.  The ICC, long criticised for being the lap dog of the BCCI can now claim to be the governing body for all cricket, and that too when an Indian, Shashank Manohar, is its independent Chairman, the first to ever work in that capacity in that role (PTG 1826-9135, 13 May 2016).

It can be seen as payback time from a body that was bullied, blackmailed and intimidated by the BCCI which distributed its favours like a Maharajah of old. It even interfered in the elections in other countries, hinting not-so-subtly that so-and-so was preferable over such-and-such. You displeased the BCCI at your own peril, as South Africa’s cricket chief once discovered — he was forced to apologise despite being unclear about what he had done wrong (PTG 1283-6179, 4 February 2014).

It can be seen as an attempt at redemption by the Big Three. Both England and Australia were part of the working group that recommended the new models. Manohar has admitted to being embarrassed by the BCCI model three years ago (PTG 1699-8390, 29 November 2015).

In the 'Wisden India Almanack' of 2014 I had written, “Will the next BCCI President be able to handle the backlash from around the world? For, have no fear, backlash there will be. Wheels turn, and if responsibility is divorced from power, the fallout can be catastrophic”.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, the backlash is here… But it is as disturbing as the original “Big Three” takeover. If in 2014, the BCCI put forward an unscientific, poorly argued reason for the change in the percentages in its own favour, now the ICC is doing something similar.

The fact that an international body dealing in billions of dollars is unable (or unwilling) to provide the statistical rationale behind its decisions beyond a vague bow to “common sense” and “simplicity” is worrying.  The ICC has never considered all its members equal even if it now talks about “interdependency”. For decades England and Australia enjoyed veto rights — voted out only a quarter century back — and they rode roughshod over everybody else then. Democracy was never sought or achieved in the ICC at any point. When the then BCCI president Narayanaswami Srinivasan decided to translate India’s economic power in cricket into more money in the bank, he was merely continuing a tradition. His power flowed from the remote control on television.

By not allowing the BCCI’s Committee of Administrators time to study the proposals to build a case, the ICC displayed a haste that might rebound on it. Administration by bullying is never good for the sport, but it is a well-entrenched ICC technique borrowed in recent years by the BCCI for its own purposes.

There is another ICC meeting in April before the new rules are voted on in June. The current voting on the proposals is 7-2 with Sri Lanka voting with India and Zimbabwe abstaining. An 8-2 vote in June will endorse the change, which means India has enough time to persuade two other countries to vote in their favour. Experience has shown this is usually easily achieved. Promises of more Tests and series are all that it takes. Last week's meeting in Dubai, therefore, might be remembered just as an academic exercise.

If that sounds excessively cynical, it is also a practical way of looking at it, however depressing that sounds and however poorly that reflects on the international administration of the game. Thanks to India’s television audience, support in the stadiums in all cricket-playing countries and access to sponsorship denied to most, it is India who will call the shots. In a reversal of the old line, he who calls the tune gets paid by the piper.

India’s argument has always been that since they bring in the most amount of money into the game, they should be allowed to take the most out of it. Sports administration, like international politics, is increasingly becoming less about what is good and more about what makes business sense. The dollar decides, and India can easily pay for all the carrots they dangle before friends and rivals in the cricketing world.  Administration by bullying is never good for the sport, but it is a well-entrenched ICC technique borrowed in recent years by the BCCI.

Dar denies retirement rumours, eyes 2019 World Cup.

PTG Editor.

GeoTV.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

PTG 2043-10351.

Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar, who has been quoted several times over the past decade as indicating he expected to retire at 50, says that he has not yet decided to retire from the game and is keen to officiate the matches for at least another three years.  Dar, who will turn 50 in June next year, told a Pakistan Sports Journalists Association meeting in Lahore on Wednesday: “I am not retiring. These are mere speculations. I am enjoying umpiring and I want to stand as an umpire until the World Cup of 2019”.

The longest-serving International Cricket Council Elite Umpire Panel member said the world body wants him to stand as umpire for years to come as long as he continues to work at a high standard.  “The success and honour I gained from umpiring is because of my honesty and commitment with the game and I never comprised on these principles”, he said adding, “ I don’t take a decision on assumptions, what I see I go according to that”.  Should the Pakistani continue on the EUP until the 2019 World Cup he will likely go out at the top of umpire listings for the game’s Test, One Day International and Twenty20 International formats. 

Dar urged the Pakistan Cricket Board, as he has done a number of times in recent years, to give attractive package to its domestic umpires so that they should progress ahead without financial worries.  “If the umpires are not well paid then less people will take up umpiring as profession”, he said, pointing to the example of England and Australia where umpires are paid to a higher level in their respective domestic seasons.

In response to a question about the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), Dar said the introduction of the technology the game of cricket has become more smooth and controversy free and it also helped in minimising the reservations of the players in case of certain judgments and decisions. In his assessment it has had a positive impact as player-umpire relations have improved, and he praised the ICC for its recent decision to use the UDRS in World T20 Championship series (PTG 2039-10323, 5 February 2017).

Dar said it was unfortunate that international cricket was not being played in Pakistan and acknowledged the steps of the government and the PCB to take extra ordinary measures in this regard to ensure the return of the game.  He believes playing the final of the Pakistan Super League in Lahore will give a tremendous boost to the ongoing efforts of the government and the PCB to bring back international cricket to Pakistan.  “There should be quality cricket instead of quantity cricket and PCB should pay attention to it by giving special attention to the club game”, said Dar.

Questioned about his cricket academy in which deaf players are learning the game alongside those with hearing, Dar said its his desire to do more for those with impaired hearing by building a school for them.

ODI pair fined over on-field physical contact.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017.

PTG 2043-10352.

Sri Lanka opener Niroshan Dickwella and South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada have both been fined 50 per cent of their match fees after being found guilty of Code of Conduct breaches during the fourth One-Day International between the two sides in Cape Town on Tuesday.  The pair were found to have been involved in “Inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with each other at the non-striker’s end after the batsman had completed a single, such contact being judged to have been avoidable.

Both players admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Richie Richardson and, as such, there was no need for a formal hearing.   The charge was levelled by on-field umpires Adrian Holdstock and Richard Illingworth, third umpire Richard Kettleborough and fourth umpire Shaun George.  Under International Cricket Council statues, all Level Two breaches carry an imposition of a fine between 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the applicable match fee and/or up to two suspension points, and three or four demerit points.  In addition to the fines, three demerit points have been added to both Dickwella and Rabada’s disciplinary records.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,044

Friday, 10 February 2017

 

• ICC looking to increase EUP numbers [2044-10353]. 

• BCCI CoA member calls for 'trust-building' [2044-10354]. 

• Middlesex fear huge losses from new ECB T20 series [2044-10355]. 

• ECB to double CLO numbers for 2017 season [2044-10356]. 

• Bowler changes delivery arm mid-over [2044-10357]. 

• Match officials appointed to Australia-Lanka U19 ODI series [2044-10358].  

• Will helmets become compulsory for umpires?  [2044-10359].  

• The reality of that Twenty20 300  [2044-10360].  

ICC looking to increase EUP numbers.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10353.

Reliable reports indicate that the International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking to increase the size of its Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) from 12 to 14, a move that could occur as early as May this year provided the ICC’s Chief Executives Committee and its Full Board endorse the proposal.  The ICC increased EUP numbers to the current 12 in 2009 in order "to cope with increasingly busy periods in the cricket calendar”, a move that was taken following a 2007 review of international umpiring structures (PTG 126-868, 1 November 2007).  In the seven years before that, EUP membership numbers varied between 8 and 11.  

However, in the decade since that investigation, the number of international fixtures has expanded significantly.  That, plus the need since 2008 for EUP members to increasingly work as television umpires in matches in which the Umpire Decision Review System is in operation, has increased the demand on panel members' time.  As a result they are spending increasingly long, and more frequent, periods away from home, a situation that has apparently led to concerns amongst some of those involved, and equally applies to the ICC seven-man senior match referees panel.  

One of the key points made by the 2007 umpiring review in announcing the then increase in EUP memberships was that the upgrade would allow those involved to spend "less time away from home and more time mentoring up-and-coming officials, and working on their own skills, in their own nation's domestic competitions".  In fact in the time since it is only English members of the EUP who have regularly appeared in their home nation’s domestic first class, List A and Twenty20 matches, while those from the nine other ICC entities have done so either very spasmodically or in most cases not at all.

Such issues are further compounded for some EUP and referee members choose to sign lucrative non-ICC contracts to stand in multi-week events such as the Indian Premier League (PTG 1896-9508, 10 August 2016) or Pakistan Super League (PTG 2031-10285, 26 January 2017).

Suggestions are that the ICC has no plans to drop any of the current EUP members for the 2017-18 year, although there always exists the possibility that someone may choose themselves to step down.  

If the world body does decide to increase panel members then there appear to be only three realistic contenders the ICC has clearly been grooming for an EUP role over the past year: Simon Fry of Australia, Michael Gough of England, and Joel Wilson of the West Indies.  Should, as some are reporting, one of the current members resign, the inclusion of those three in an expanded panel could mean there would be five members from England, four from Australia, and one each from India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies on the panel for 2017-18.

BCCI CoA member calls for 'trust-building'.

Cricbuzz staff.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

PTG 2044-10354.

Vikram Limaye, a member of the newly-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) (PTG 2035-10307, 31 January 2017), attended the International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting in Dubai last week. During the meeting the proposal for a new revenue sharing model was agreed in principle as the ICC decided to do away with the previous 'Big Three' policy which rested more powers in the hands of Australia, England and India (PTG 2043-10350, 9 February 2017).

Limaye, who is a senior banker, admitted that he didn't have much time to prepare for the ICC meeting and had to work hard in the three days that were available to him before it got underway. While he accepted that he didn't have much understanding of what had happened in the past in respect to the other cricket boards and the BCCI, he has identified the need for more trust-building and a collaborative approach to be adopted by everyone at the ICC.

"There is a lot of mistrust between the BCCI and the other members based on historical experiences and based on how they feel they have been treated in the past”, said Limaye.  "I outlined my views to those present and emphasised the need to adopt a collaborative approach, rather than a confrontational approach, which is not in the interest of anybody; neither does it help Indian cricket nor world cricket for long-term".

"It's important to move forward in a collaborative way, rather than getting bogged down by history. Fortunately I don't carry baggage of the past, I have no alignments, I am not here on a permanent basis, I am here to try and do what I have been asked to do. In that context, if I am to build some bridges and sort out some issues, I would do that”, he added.

Limaye also pushed for a more inclusive approach wherein India and other stronger cricket boards need to extend their support to the weaker nations to help develop their cricket. While it is in the best interest of not just the BCCI but others too to play the top sides as that brings in better viewership and revenue, there also needs to be a proper balance in the whole spread, Limaye noted.  “You have to sign up for an overarching principle that as a strong nation in the cricketing world it is also your responsibility to make sure that the weaker nations have adequate resources to develop their cricket”, he says.

Limaye, who met the likes of Shahryar Khan the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, ICC president Shashank Manohar, and a CA representative on the sidelines of the ICC meeting, said he didn't get much time to speak to the ICC members on a one-to-one basis. The CoA member also expressed his thoughts about the 2014 model when the 'Big Three' concept was devised, and said he didn't want to delve too much into history. He pointed out though that the BCCI brings in a heavy share of revenue but there shouldn't be a completely disproportionate revenue sharing system.

Limaye indicated he has a fair understanding of how the revenue sharing system worked thus far and what has been proposed now. Since it would have been unfair and inappropriate to go ahead with the proposition immediately, he felt that there is a need to study it better and work on the feedback the BCCI will provide to the global governing body. Whether or not it would be accepted at the next meeting due in April remains to be seen.

Middlesex fear huge losses from new ECB T20 series.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10355.

Middlesex are set to hold talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday to discuss their serious concerns that the ECB’s new domestic T20 competition could deprive them of hundreds of thousands of pounds because they do not own their ground.  Part of current plans for the tournament, which is set to start in 2020, involves new teams being owned and controlled by the first-class counties (PTG 2042-10344, 8 February 2017).

However, further details have emerged that grounds who host the 36 matches will be paid a staging fee of about £UK75,000 ($A123,500), with the ground also able to keep the profits from food and drink sold at the match. Ticket and merchandise revenue would go to the franchise rather than the ground.  But because Middlesex rent Lord’s from the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) they would not receive any staging fees or concessions profits and they believe that immediately puts them at a disadvantage.

At the meeting with ECB officials, Middlesex executives plan to point out that their income comes primarily from cricket-related activities, rather than being able to generate income from renting out their ground for conference facilities and weddings as other grounds can do.  Their revenue primarily comes from membership fees, sponsorship deals and their hosting agreement with MCC, whereby they are paid a subsidy by that club for the matches they play at Lord’s.  Middlesex though have one of the largest memberships in county cricket because it members can watch a lot of cricket at the prestigious venue.

With the new competition expected to occupy at least 38 days of the summer, and with Lord’s also hosting at least one Test match and a One Day International, the amount of ‘new’ T20 cricket they will be able to play there, rather than at one of their outgrounds, will be severely restricted. This will have an impact on both the worth of their staging agreement with MCC and could prompt a significant number of members to decide not to renew their membership.

Middlesex believe that because of their anomalous position they stand to lose out substantially more than any other county as a result of the new tournament. Each of the counties have been promised a considerable amount of additional income — a guaranteed extra amount arising from the profits of the tournament — thought to be around £1.3 million ($A2.2 m) per county.  However, Middlesex believe that once they have subtracted the amount they could potentially lose in lost sponsorship and decreasing membership, that £1.3 million could be cut by as much as half.

Given that a significant portion of Middlesex’s revenue also comes from the ECB in the form of England player payments — for Eoin Morgan, the white-ball captain, and fast bowler Steven Finn — and their share of the broadcast revenue, they will want to pin down a confirmation from the ECB that this new £1.3 million will be on top of existing payments not instead of them.

ECB to double CLO numbers for 2017 season.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10356.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is increasing the number of its Cricket Liaison Officers (CLO) from five to ten for the 2017 season, a move that will allow one to be allocated to all first team matches played in the ECB’s three major County competitions for the first time.  The CLOs role in games includes supporting umpires, groundsmen, counties and the ECB by providing detailed reports of match activities, a role that in other countries and the international circuit is generally referred to as the match referee.

The ECB introduced the CLO role ahead of the 2015 northern summer season by amalgamating the previously separate positions of pitch liaison officers and umpire coaches (PTG 1522-7327, 16 February 2015).  In 2016 the group was made up of former Australian international umpire Steve Davis, three former first class cricketers, Tony Pigott, Phil Whitticase and Graham Cowdrey, and former rugby league referee, Stuart Cummings (PTG 1754-8749, 4 February 2016).  Just who will make up the panel for 2017 is not known at this time.

While changes are in the wind in regards to CLOs, there will be no change to the ECB’s Full List of umpires in 2017.  That group therefore is, as it was in 2016:  Rob Bailey, Neil Bainton, Paul Baldwin, Michael Burns, Nick Cook, Nigel Cowley, Jeff Evans, Russell Evans, Steve Gale, Steve Garratt, Michael Gough, Ian Gould, Peter Hartley, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong, Graham Lloyd, Jeremy Lloyds, Neil Mallender, David Millns, Steve O’Shaughnessy, Tim Robinson, Martin Saggers, Billy Taylor, and Alex Wharf.  

The ECB has also indicated that Lloyd will be travelling to the West Indies next month to stand in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) regional first class competition.  He will be the ninth ECB umpire selected to travel to the Caribbean as part of the ECB-WICB exchange program since its establishment eight years ago (PTG 344-1822, 6 November 2008).  Just which West Indian will travel to England in May-June in the other half of the exchange is not known at this time.  Similarly an Indian umpire is to again travel to England, Millns having gone to the subcontinent to stand in matches there last November (PTG 1979-9971, 17 November 2016).

While there is no change to the Full List, the number of umpires on the ECB's Reserve List will return to eight with the addition of James Middlebrow and Mark Newell to the group.  They join last year’s members Ian Blackwell, Ben Debenham, Tom Lungley, Paul Pollard, Russell Warren and Chris Watts.  For Debenham and Pollard its their sixth year on the List, and Blackwell, Lungley, Warren and Watts their third.

Records available indicate that Middlebrook, who played 226 first class, 192 List A and 106 Twenty20 matches at county level in the period from 1998-2015, started umpiring at County second XI and Minor Counties level in 2015. Newell too played at first class and List A levels over four seasons from 1996-99, chalking up 24 and 42 games respectively.  He has been umpiring with the Sussex Premier League since 2011, and also has County second XI games to his credit.

Bowler changes delivery arm mid-over.

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10357.

Bangladesh off-spinner Shaila Sharmin created a stir when she bowled with two arms in the same over in her side’s Women’s World Cup Qualifier match against Pakistan in Colombo on Wednesday.  Coming in to bowl her first over at the 29 over mark Shaila, who was playing her fifth One Day International, delivered her first two deliveries around the wicket with her left arm, before reverting to right arm around from then on.  She obviously advised Australian umpire Claire Polosak of her intentions for she was not no balled.

Match officials appointed to Australia-Lanka U19 ODI series.

PTG Editor.

CA appointments.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10358.

Cricket Australia (CA) has appointed three members of its second-tier Development Panel, and another three from its DP ‘hopefuls’ group, to stand in the five Under-19 One Day Internationals (ODI) Australia and Sri Lanka are to play in Hobart in April.  Those involved are the three DP members Donovan Koch, Claire Polosak and David Shepard, plus Darren Close, Nathan Johnstone and Ben Treloar.  All but Close are either former or current Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship holders, although only Close has to date stood at first class level (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016).  

Polosak and Treloar have been allocated a single ODI and the others two each, the forementioned standing in a three-day fixture between the two sides that will be played ahead of the ODIs.  For Close, 48, and Koch, 40, it will be their first experience in the international game, while Shepard, 46, has previously been the fourth umpire in a Women’s ODI, Treloar having the same role in a Women’s Twenty20 International (WT20I).  Johnstone, 36, stood in six WODIs in 2011-12 and Polosak, 28, in both WODIs and WT20Is over the last 18 months.

CA has appointed Daryl Harper as the referee for the three-day game and Bob Stratford for the five ODIs.  Nathan Bester and Lynn Hayes will be the scorers for the multi-day match and Graeme Hamley and Steve Jewell for all five ODIs. 

Will helmets become compulsory for umpires? 

Newcastle Herald.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10359.

Former Australian fast bowler Paul Wilson, who is now a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel, has been umpiring for a decade and feels the danger of being struck by balls has increased throughout that period because of a combination of factors.  Newcastle-born Wilson, 45, provided his views after Newcastle District Cricket Association (NDCA) first grade umpire Bruce Muddle was hit in the head while officiating in a Twenty20 match last Sunday (PTG 2040-10333, 6 February 2017).

Wilson said he's "certainly seen an increase of risk for umpires over the last 10 years.  The debate about thickness of bats was more around Test cricket, but I think most umpires would tell you that’s irrelevant compared to One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationalss. I’ve seen a huge difference – the technology is better, bats are thicker and the batsmen are bigger. The bats are the same weight as we used when we played, but they are twice the thickness. T20 cricket, which has come in whilst I’ve been an umpire, it’s changed things completely because there’s a lot more power in the game, it’s more dynamic and there are shots being played far more often”.

Australian umpires such as John Ward and Gerard Abood have opted to wear a helmet while adjudicating, including the most recent Big Bash League seasons, while Bruce Oxenford who is on the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel, has introduced a plastic-style forearm shield (PTG       1862-9337, 25 June 2016). 

Wilson hasn’t gone that way but said he would consider donning new advancements if they came into being down the track.  He said: “It’s something that Cricket Australia, the ICC and all the member boards are looking at, but they certainly wouldn’t make it compulsory to wear the current helmet.  But there may be a stage in the future that if a suitable technology is available for umpires rather than batsman or wicketkeepers, such designs may become compulsory”. 

At a local level, NDCA chairman Paul Marjoribanks said they would continue to be guided by policies from governing bodies, leaving their umpires to make a personal choice about helmets.  

Meanwhile, the match between University and Waratah-Mayfield in which Muddle was hit, which was abandoned after he was felled by a shot from University skipper Matt Gawthrop, has been awarded to University who were 0/54 after 8.2 overs when the incident occurred.  After the umpire was taken to hospital there was talk of continuing the match, however, Waratah-Mayfield skipper Scott Mackenzie said his “shaken” side were willing to forfeit the fixture.

The reality of that Twenty20 300.

Nihau Kochie.

Indian Express.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2044-10360

Lalita Park is a mini-cricket island, roughly 60 m x 40 m in size with a 25 m boundary behind the batsman, embedded deep inside the mostly-commercial and always congested Laxminagar area of Delhi.  There they are still talking about Mohit Ahlawat’s 300 off 72 balls and his 39 sixes in a Friends Premier League (FPL) Twenty20 match earlier this week (PTG 2042-10348, 8 February 2017). 

Ahlawat’s brutal assault against a bowling attack, a mix of club and mohalla players, had Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise owners scrambling for the wicket-keeper batsman’s number and the international media hailing the son of a truck driver as the ‘Indian who hit the first-ever T20 triple hundred’.

For a first-time cricket-watcher at Lalita Park, what catches the eye is the concrete stage that is not far from the pitch. The ground is a dustbowl that is skirted by tightly-packed weather-beaten matchbox-size flats tied together by low-hanging electric cables. To get a sense of size, it would be safe to say that at least five full Lalita Parks can be fitted into the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

So it’s understandable that the FPL, an initiative by the area’s enthusiastic youth, isn’t recognised by the Delhi and District Cricket Association. The treasurer of the tournament, Manohar Yadav, beams as he relives Ahlawat’s sixes. “We play this tournament with the pink ball, they cost 300 Rupees ($A5.90, £UK3.50). We had to replace the ball nine times because Ahlawat hit it well beyond the sight screen. I believe some of his hits were over 100 metres”.

The news of the “72 ball, 300” has spread, as the tournament in its third edition has invited sudden interest. Locals standing behind the wicket-keeper can easily hear the chatter on the field. They also need to be cautious as sixes keep raining down on them. They are used to it.

Monstrous scores aren’t new to the spectators here. The scorer flaunts sheets that are littered with ‘4s’ and ‘6es’. Batsmen on these scorecards have only their first names recorded. The organisers say that since the umpire has to shout the name of the incoming batsman from the middle, it’s tough to catch the “full names”.

Regulars recall a local legend, lovingly called “Lara”, who scored a T20 double hundred last year. He isn’t playing this time. Today, Lalita Park has another minor hero. Sultan Ansari has hit 18 sixes in his 139 off 39 balls. In one particular over he hit 34 runs — five consecutive sixes and a four.

Just then a batsmen glides the ball past the square leg boundary. The umpire doesn’t signal a four, Yadav clarifies. “Since that is a short boundary, you only get a couple for that”, he says. He believes Ahlawat’s record innings will boost the reputation of the tournament which will help attract bigger teams. “Right now we can’t afford to invite registered clubs in Delhi because they will want a dressing room and other facilities. This is a local tournament but after Ahlawat’s triple hundred we hope to attract more sponsors from next year”, he says.

Ahmed Ali, who has played on this ground for a local club, says the relatively smaller dimensions make it a batsman’s paradise. “You are never out of the match on this ground because even an average batsman can hit a century as it is easy to hit boundaries.  Ahlawat’s team scored 416, their opponents replying with 216 in just 15 overs”, Ali says.

Even as another boundary-fest is in progress, the live commentator, had an important announcement to make. “Aapke ghar pe mehmaan aaye hai Girish ji”, he says as the spectator who is wanted at home raises his hand and rushes out of the ground. One look at the bowler on this batting paradise, you feel they’d want a similar announcement asking them to leave and go home.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,045

Saturday, 11 February 2017

 

• ICC recruiting 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’ [2045-10361]. 

• Extreme temperatures to stop play in NSW [2045-10362]. 

• Fielder bitten after encountering a snake [2045-10363]. 

• PSL confirms Lahore final, assures players of 'foolproof security’ [2045-10364]. 

• CSA targets Indian investors for revamped T20 series [2045-10365]. 

• Giant covers to overcome ground's ‘abysmal' drainage? [2045-10366]. 

ICC recruiting 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 11 February 2017.

PTG 2045-10361.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is understood to be in the final stages of recruiting for a new position it is calling a 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’.  The successful applicants will be responsible for the overall management, assessment, development, training and support of international umpires assigned to television review spots, as well as the hardware, systems and processes involved in technology-based decision making.

The ICC says the responsibilities of the manager will include but are not limited to working with members of its top Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), and what it calls its Development Panel; the latter presumably being located in the space between the IUP and EUP.  There is also mention of the need for the individual chosen to work closely with home boards in the development of strategies and training of "top emerging domestic TV umpires".

Tasks listed for the eventual appointee, which overall appear complex, high in work load and wide-ranging, include: assess and report on all TV umpire decisions match-by-match; attend specified international matches to observe and provide assessment reports; conduct post-match/series reviews; assist in the preparation of umpires for matches and in conjunction with individual umpires assess performance and future training needs; and analyse trends and facilitate continuous improvement.

The training aspect of the job includes: ensuring umpires are up-to-date with current Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) playing conditions and interpretations; assisting in the development of regular ICC umpire training modules so they include any new UDRS technologies, TV umpiring tools, communication protocols and the simplification of regulations and protocols; working with umpire coaches to deliver TV umpire simulation; meeting with individual country board umpire managers at least quarterly to develop and monitor strategic plans for development of the emerging umpires; and attend Elite, ICC event and regional workshops as directed. 

Administrative activities involved are to include: annual planning of coaching, personal development and travel within group budget; communicating regularly with the umpire coaches on activities, strategies and development progress with individual umpires; and managing the reporting of activities, travel and accommodation arrangements, and expense processing.

Those who apply for the new position are expected to have had coaching experience in ra elevant field, as well as “a very good understanding of the Laws and playing conditions; exceptional time management skills including the ability to work remotely; strong interpersonal and communication skills; be motivated and have an enthusiastic attitude; the ability to build strong personal relationships; and be a good team player with a flexible approach".

Extreme temperatures to stop play in NSW.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 10 February 2017.

PTG 2045-10362.

Forecast temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Centigrade across much of New South Wales (NSW) has led to club cricket in many competitions across the state being cancelled this weekend.  Coastal areas of Sydney are anticipating maximum temperatures around 39 degrees, in western Sydney it could go as as high as 44, while some inland areas of the state will experience maximums in the order of 46 degrees.

The Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) got underway on Friday, the mercury reaching 38 degrees, conditions some players reportedly found particularly exhausting. While that match is to continue on Saturday, NSW and Cricket Australia (CA) chief medical officer John Orchard, backed the decision by Cricket NSW to cancel Sydney grade cricket, as well as its call to other competitions not under its direct control to take similar action.

Orchard said: “My main concern is that club cricket does not have the infrastructure in place to safely monitor and manage heat stroke in what is essentially an amateur volunteer-run organisation. At the SCG we have medical staff in place that will be monitoring players who are showing any signs of symptoms and making sure no one with heat stress returns to play. We also checked before the game that no one had pre-existing illness”.

Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said his organisation’s decision regarding the club game was "not [one] we take lightly”. "We waited for the latest forecast possible before making a final decision. We want men and women, girls and boys, to play as much cricket as possible however duty of care comes first. Each association should judge the suitability to play depending on local conditions in their region but the welfare of players and umpires must be the central consideration”.

The current summer in Sydney is the hottest in the 158 years since meteorological records began, to date ten days having had temperatures above 35 degrees.

Fielder bitten after encountering a snake.

James Illingworth.

Wigan Today.

Friday, 10 February 2017.

PTG 2045-10363.

A young English cricketer, who normally plays in the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition, had more than snarling Aussie opponents to reckon with when he was bitten by a poisonous snake during a match 'Down Under’ late last month.  Fast bowler Joe Lyth, 18, who was fielding on the boundary for his Pennant Hills District Cricket Club second grade side in the Sydney Shires Competition, had to retrieve a ball that had been struck over his head for six, and it was then that he came across the reptile. 

On jumping the perimeter fence to collect the ball from some undergrowth, he disturbed a large red-bellied black snake. He said: “As I grabbed the ball, I saw the snake and as I turned to run away I felt it grab my heel. I got back on the field and felt dizzy, my eyes started to swell up and my ears were ringing. The bite didn’t hurt at the time, it just felt like a little nip”.

Lyth's quick-thinking teammates ran from the ground in order to identify what type of snake it was, one managing to take a picture, in order doctors knew precisely what treatment was required. He was quickly taken to hospital where he had several anti-venom and steroid injections. He was also hooked up to an IV drip for several days after the incident.

Although the bite of a red-bellied black - one of Australia’s most common snakes - can be potentially deadly, there have been no recorded deaths as the amount of venom deposited is rarely at a fatal level.   However, it can cause blood-clotting problems and nerve damage without immediate treatment.

Lyth said: “I wanted to play this weekend but the club said it probably wasn’t a good idea as I wasn’t 100 per cent.  Out of all the Aussies I’ve met whilst over here, none of them have been bitten by a snake and most of them - as they’re living in Sydney - have never even seen one. I think I’ve just been unlucky.  At first I told my family [in England] I’d got injured so they wouldn’t worry.  But then the club posted a picture on its ‘Facebook' page of me hooked up to the IV drip so they weren’t too happy to find out like that, but it was a white lie!”

PSL confirms Lahore final, assures players of 'foolproof security’.

Agence France Presse.

Friday, 10 February 2017.

PTG 2045-10364.

Pakistan Super League (PSL) organisers have given assurances that the players who travel to Lahore for the franchise-based tournament’s final next month will be given ‘foolproof security’ (PTG 1961-9871, 28 October 2016).   The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed that Lahore will host the final game of what is the second edition of the PSL on the first Tuesday of March "come what may”, PCB executive committee chairman Najam Sethi saying they spending a lot of money to "secure the city".

Sethi, the PSL chairman, briefed players taking part in this year’s series in Dubai the day before the Twenty20 league begins. Apart from the final all the matches will be played in the United Arab Emirates.  Sethi said security consultants would travel to Dubai during the league “to allay the doubts and fears of the players” about security in Lahore.

Former Pakistan captains Wasim Arkam, Ramiz Raja and Shoaib Malik were also present at the meeting and encouraged foreign players to play the PSL final in Lahore.  Akram said: “It is imperative that cricket returns to the country, Pakistanis are passionate about the game.  My wife, who is an Australian, is stayed in Karachi for the last four years and she is having a great time ... the government will do everything possible to ensure the safety of the players”.

CSA targets Indian investors for revamped T20 series.

Vijay Tagore.

Mumbai Mirror.

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

PTG 2045-10365.

The deliberations during the recent International Cricket Council conclave in Dubai were not just about the governance and finance structures of the world body, for there were talks about the new domestic Twenty20 competition Cricket South Africa (CSA) is planning to launch at the end of this year (PTG 2041-10341, 7 February 2017). Indian entrepeneurs have been investing in the Caribbean Premier League over the last two years.

It is no secret the CSA is targeting Indian investors for the city-based franchise tournament but the move did not exactly amuse the Indian delegation to the Dubai meeting. But with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) deep in its own problems, administrative or otherwise, its senior personnel have had no time to apply their mind to the initiative, but there could be some movement on this front in the future.

Early indications are that the BCCI will not change its stated position vis-à-vis other Twenty20 leagues the world over. There is no way it will release its players for the tournament, just as it has not done for any other such event, but that is unlikely to stop Indian interest in the CSA’s venture.

As of now, CSA's tournament seems to have excited people here in India and going by the response to the advertisements and media drive of the CSA, it is likely that a few Indian investors would end up associating themselves with the league.  “The response from India has been very encouraging”, said a CSA spokesman without going into any details as: “The details and specifics cannot be disclosed at this stage because we don’t have all of them”.

CSA has engaged multinational professional series form Ernst and Young to handle the project, but one mandate given to them is to entice the Indian investors, chiefly Bollywood stars, who have large fan following in South Africa.  CSA has made it clear that there will be eight teams and indications are that cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town may be allowed two teams each, just like in the Big Bash League where there two sides each from Sydney and Melbourne.

The initial plan is to allow 30 per cent of foreign players. It is unlikely there will be any Indians there but Twenty20 tournaments elsewhere are run comfortably without Indian presence. So, the show will go on.

Giant covers to overcome ground's ‘abysmal' drainage? 

Mark Geenty.

New Zealand Herald.

Friday, 10 February 2017.

PTG 2045-10366.

Giant covers extending across Napier's McLean Park outfield are among options being explored as part of attempts to manage the risk of weather preventing play in the New Zealand-South Africa One Day International (ODI) there on the first day of March.  In what would be a significant gamble, the under-fire venue looks likely to host the forthcoming ODI as scheduled, despite farcical scenes when last weeks NZ-Australia ODI was abandoned without a ball being bowled  (PTG 2039-10330, 5 February 2017).

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is awaiting the findings of an independent report into why the ground was unfit for play, five hours after light rain stopped falling. It was the third abandonment of an ODI in Napier in just over three years, again highlighting the abysmal drainage at the ground.  The report, commissioned by NZC and the ground's owner Napier City Council, is expected to be completed this weekend and an announcement on McLean Park's future will likely follow on Monday.

NZC's chief operating officer Anthony Crummy last week refused to rule out the prospect of the NZ-South Africa ODI being shifted from Napier, pending the report. NZC is understood to have made contingency plans for other floodlit venues to step in and host the day-night match, with Hamilton's Seddon Park high on the list.  But for Napier to be stripped of the match, the report needs to show there is no ability to improve the risk of it being washed out if rain falls in the leadup.

Extending the covers across the entire McLean Park outfield - as some Indian grounds do to protect the playing surface from torrential downpours - is one option being discussed.  The trouble spots, including one that Australian captain Aaron Finch sank his foot into and made a shot put-sized indentation, were around the 30 m fielding restriction circle and beyond the pitch covers.

The volume of watering of the outfield in the match leadup will also be closely monitored. Sources confirmed in the wake of last week's debacle that there was concern over how much water was applied by ground staff on match eve as they grappled with the Hawke's Bay drought.

Sure enough the drought broke on match morning but, even allowing for heavy pre-match watering the ground should have been able to cope with the 5 mm of rain which actually fell. As New Zealand coach Mike Hesson noted, nearby Nelson Park was bone dry as water was still seeping to the surface at McLean Park. "It wasn't even close [to being fit for play]," he said.

NZC appears reluctant to shift the South Africa ODI from Napier, even if it faces a backlash if things go wrong again. Anxious glances at long-range weather forecasts and elevated heart rates in the leadup are assured if McLean Park gets the tick.  And way will happen in a year’s time with McLean Park pencilled in to host ODIs against Pakistan and England.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,046

Sunday, 12 February 2017

 

• Keeper cleared of serious injury after head strike [2046-10367].

• WICB fines three for their on-field actions [2046-10368].

• Top cricketers concerned about privacy threat [2046-10369]. 

• The T20 revolution has only just begun [2046-10370]. 

Keeper cleared of serious injury after head strike.

Australian Associated Press.

Sunday, 12 February 2017.

PTG 2046-10367.

Victorian wicketkeeper Sam Harper has been cleared of serious injury after being struck on the head by the tip of South Australian Jake Lehmann’s bat during the Sheffield Shield match at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.  Harper was standing up to the stumps to the bowling of spinner Jon Holland shortly before lunch when Lehmann pulled a short ball, striking Harper on the head during his follow through.

The 20-year-old 'keeper, who was wearing a helmet at the time, tumbled to the ground as players and medical staff went to his aid. There was a delay in play while Harper was helped from the ground, umpires Paul Wilson and CK Nandan electing to take an early lunch. Cricket Victoria said late Saturday afternoon said Harper - who has been ruled out of the remainder of the match - would spend the night in hospital under observation.

An extended lunch break was taken after the incident.  Victoria coach Andrew McDonald told ABC radio the umpires had delayed the second session to give players from both teams time to compose themselves after the incident.  He said the opposing captains also discussed whether Victoria should be allowed a replacement player under extenuating circumstances, given Harper will take no further part in the match.

While concussion substitutes are permitted in domestic one-day matches under Cricket Australia's new 'Concussion and Head Trauma Policy', the same rule does not apply to Sheffield Shield (PTG 2022-10227, 7 January 2017).  Last June, the International Cricket Council rejected the new rule for first-class and international cricket saying that in the event that a player is replaced, the match risks forfeiting first class status (PTG 1844-9246, 4 June 2016).  

The incident came a few weeks after the Big Bash League’s Melbourne Renegades wicketkeeper Peter Nevill was taken to hospital after Adelaide Strikers captain Brad Hodge lost his grip on the bat which flew through the air and struck the keeper on the jaw (PTG 2026-10255, 18 January 2017). 

Just hours after Harper's injury, NSW batsman Daniel Hughes was assessed for a mild concussion after he was struck on the helmet while fielding against Queensland in a Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  Cricket Australia said recently it would be further reviewing safety issues following a number as a result of a number of incidents that have occurred during the current austral season (PTG 2032-10288, 27 January 2017).

WICB fines three for their on-field actions.

PTG Editor.

WICB media release.

Sunday, 12 February 2017.

PTG 2046-10368.

Three players have been fined for their on-field actions during matches played in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Regional Super50 Tournament over the past week.  Jamaica’s Jerome Taylor was fined half of his match fee and his team mate Damion Jacobs 15 per cent, the latter censure also being applied to the Combined Campuses and Colleges’ (CCC) Cassius Burton.

Jacobs and Taylor were reported by on-field umpires Jonathan Blades and Peter Nero, along with reserve umpire Kevin Signet, after the Jamaica-CCC match last Monday at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.  Jacobs was cited for the Level Two offence of making "inappropriate physical contact" with CCC batsman Mark Deyal during the course of play.  Later, after a LBW appeal was turned down, Taylor said “You must be joking” to the umpire while walking back to his bowling mark and was thus charged with dissent.

The day after those incidents, the CCC's Cassius Burton was reported by on-field umpires Nigel Duguid and Danesh Ramdhanie plus reserve umpire Kevin Signet, for "showing dissent at an umpire’s decision by action”, a Level One Code of Conduct breach, in the match against ICC Americas.  The WICB says Burton "failed to depart the wicket in a timely manner” after being given out caught.

All three players admitted to the offences and accepted the sanctions proposed by match referee Stephen Proverbs, therefore there was no need for formal hearings.

Top cricketers concerned about privacy threat.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Sunday, 12 February 2017.

PTG 2046-10369.

The world's top cricketers are in favour of tightening anti-corruption measures but have raised concerns over a threat to their privacy.  The International Cricket Council's (ICC) Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) wants access to the mobile phone data of players, should it be necessary in any investigation (PTG 1979-9974, 17 November 2016). The ICC is exploring what technology should be used, and any impact this would have on players.

Tony Irish, the chief of the Federation of International Cricketers Association, said players needed to be consulted before any amendment to the anti-corruption code was made.  "The cell phone data extraction provisions could significantly affect player rights to privacy and, accordingly, we believe these need to be agreed with players before anything is implemented. The ICC has undertaken to engage with us over these before any actual provisions are finalised”, he said.

If passed, it would mean players would have to hand over mobile and social media data if they are involved in an investigation. The ICC’s ACU currently does not have direct access to players' personal communication data. It can only request  certain information, including phone records, from players.  The ICC says it is "exploring the legal aspects of introducing the technology, exploration of the technology itself and liaising with all interested parties before reverting to the ICC Board with a full proposal for consideration later in 2017".

Match or spot fixing remains the greatest threat to cricket, at international and domestic level, with Twenty20 competitions believed to be most at risk. Six players in South Africa have been banned in the past year for their role in the corruption of the domestic Ram Slam T20 competition in 2015.

ACU chief  Ronnie Flanagan said in November the sport needed to stay ahead of the developments in social media (PTG 1978-9968, 16 November 2016), with players able to be contacted by bookies, gamblers and others seeking inside information through devices such as ‘Whatsapp' and ‘Snapchat' and encrypted messages.

While anti-corruption details remain an ongoing issue, Irish has backed the in-principle agreement to restructure Test and One Day International (ODI) cricket. From 2019, the Test format will be broken up into a 9-3 system - the nine top nations competing primarily among themselves and the bottom three playing among themselves over a two-year period. The ODI system will become a league of 13 teams, with qualification for the World Cup the ultimate aim (PTG 2039-10324, 5 February 2017).

The T20 revolution has only just begun.

Simon Briggs.

London Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 11 February 2017.

PTG 2046-10370.

In Dubai, the Pakistan Super League (PSL), the latest Twenty20 competition launched its obligatory fireworks into the night sky. Like fashion weeks or film festivals, every city must have its own incarnation. And yes, the second version of the PSL, which started on Friday, will feature all the regulars: Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Kevin Pietersen et al.

It seems only a few years since we started talking about a dystopian future in which itinerant T20 specialists roamed the globe, hiring themselves out to the Perth Scorchers or the Karachi Kings.  Well, that future is now with us. After last weekend’s announcement from Cricket South Africa – which will introduce a pre-Christmas T20 competition next year – the world’s beefiest batsmen will soon move on to a 12-month carousel (PTG 2041-10341, 7 February 2017).

Gayle, the self-styled “Six Machine”, was not invited back to Australia’s Big Bash after the stink he caused last season by trying to chat up a female TV presenter on air. But he made his PSL bow on Friday, and will roll on to the daddy of them all – the Indian Premier League (IPL) – in April and May. From there, he might nip to England for a few hits before flying home for the Caribbean Premier League in July. And if September and October look a bit quiet, no need to worry: the Bangladesh Premier League will probably move its dates forward next year to accommodate South Africa’s new competition.

If Gayle’s chosen moniker is a risqué pun, then T20 delivers instant gratification, rather than the slow-burning romance of the longer forms. This is cricket for the Tinder generation, even down to the wild swiping.  Like a drunken snog in a pub, the individual matches leave little impression once the endorphin rush has worn off. In a sport that has always breathed history and reminiscence, this represents a significant shift.

Test-lovers can usually reel off dozens of details from the matches they attended: who scored the hundreds, who dropped the catches and who paid for the beers at the close of play.

How does the 'Wisden Almanack', the published conscience of the game, deal with T20’s disposability? In the 2016 edition, less than a tenth of the section on Australian cricket addressed the Big Bash. To a traditionalist, this feels about right. But then you look at its average crowd of 28,279 – which places it ninth in the list of best-attended leagues, ahead not only of Italy’s Serie A football but of Australia’s other myriad sporting formats.

For the moment, few players have to make a decision between T20’s hard cash and the more meaningful nature of Test cricket. They still need No Objection Certificates from their boards, and the Indians are barred from any short-form competition but their own.

But how long can this delicate balance last? If the success of the IPL could be attributed to unique trading conditions, the Big Bash is surely a game-changer. We are talking about a near-perfect sport/entertainment crossover, in which the emphasis is less on familiar names than interchangeable ‘talent’. Like England’s footballing Premier League, the Big Bash creates a secondary layer of gossip and scandal – the Gayle-interviewer imbroglio being just one example – that finds its way on to the front pages as well as the back.

It has taken a decade to go from the IPL’s inauguration to a 12-month T20 calendar. In another decade, cricket’s international contests – like those of football – could well have faded into the background. Watched in millions of extra homes every year via television, the 20-over revolution is only just beginning.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,047

Monday, 13 February 2017

 

• Catch off fielder’s helmet illustrates proposed Laws change [2047-10371].

• Umpires from NSW, Victoria stand in CA Indigenous final [2047-10372].

• Pakistan stands down two players in corruption probe [2047-10373].

• County groundsman attend pre-season conference [2047-10374].

Catch off fielder’s helmet illustrates proposed Laws change.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 13 February 2017.

PTG 2047-10371.

Queensland's Mark Steketee has been dismissed under a new Playing Condition Cricket Australia brought into the Sheffield Shield for the 2016-17 austral summer regarding helmets worn by close-in fielders.  Steketee was given out caught at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday after his pull shot ricocheted off the helmet of NSW short leg fielder Nick Larkin and ballooned to Sean Abbott at leg gully, who took a comfortable catch.

Under the current Laws of Cricket Steketee would not have been given out but the Play Conditions amendment means it's now a fair catch.  The Sheffield Shield's amendment to Law 32 (a fair catch) of the Laws states that a batsman will be given out when "a fielder catches the ball after it has touched an umpire, another fielder or the other batsman or any protective equipment worn by any of those persons”.

The Playing Conditions continue: "This playing condition modifies the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) Laws of Cricket to, for example, allow for a batsman to be out caught off a ball that ricochets off the protective helmet being worn by a player or umpire”.  That change was made in the wake of the Curtain Review into the death of Phillip Hughes (PTG 1825-9241, 12 May 2016). 

That review's recommendations included that the highest standard of helmets become mandatory for batsmen facing fast and medium pace bowling, for wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps and for fielders positioned close to the batter, except those in the slips  and gully area.  

While the Shield Playing Conditions have changed, the current MCC Law means a similar catch would not stand in Test cricket. That was seen when Australian batsman Matthew Wade was given not out during this last year's Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, when he was 'caught' off the helmet of close fielder Azhar Ali (PTG 2015-10197, 30 December 2016).  That may no be the case for long though as the MCC is believed to be changing the Law later this year (PTG 1998-10086, 8 December 2016).

Umpires from NSW, Victoria stand in CA Indigenous final.

Reuters.

Sunday, 12 February 2017.

PTG 2047-10372.

New South Wales umpire Stuart Grocock and Nick Ferns from Victoria have been appointed to stand in the final of Cricket Australia’s National Indigenous Cricket Championships in Alice Springs on Monday. Grocock started umpiring in Grade Cricket in Canberra during the 2007-8 season and made the Australian Capital Territory’s representative panel in 2010-11, but since the 2014-15 season has been standing in Sydney Grade Cricket.  Ferns has been umpiring in Premier Cricket in Melbourne for five years and in the time since has stood in National Under-15 championships in Brisbane and Darwin.  He also umpired at the Female U-18 national championships in Ballarat at the beginning of 2015.

Pakistan stands down two players in corruption probe.

Reuters.

Sunday, 12 February 2017.

PTG 2047-10373.

Pakistan batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have been provisionally suspended and sent home from the Pakistan Super League  (PSL) Twenty20 competition being played in Dubai as part of an anti-corruption investigation.  The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) says it's trying the determine whether an international syndicate has attempted to influence PSL matches. 

Both Sharjeel and Latif play for Islamabad United in the PSL, which is being played in Dubai due to security concerns in Pakistan, although the final will be staged on home soil (PTG 2045-10364, 11 February 2017)). The PCB said in a statement: "Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have been suspended and the rigorous and wide-ranging investigation by the PCB supported by the ICC will continue as part of collective efforts to protect the integrity of the sport”. 

Sharjeel played the opening match of the PSL’s 2017 edition for defending champions Islamabad against Peshawar, while Latif was not part of the playing XI.  Sharjeel is a regular member of Pakistan's limited-overs team and made his Test debut against Australia in Sydney last month, while Latif has played five One Day Internationals and 13 T20 Internationals. 

Three more players have so far been questioned in the probe: Mohammad Irfan and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar - who have both played Test cricket - and opening batsman Shazaib Hassan, who represented Pakistan in a handful of one-day matches in 2010.  They will continue to play for their PSL respective franchises as the investigation goes on.

PSL Chairman Najam Sethi said in a statement: "The investigation of the PCB Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), backed by the [International Cricket Council’s ACU), has been effective in dealing with this case to date and we will continue to work in the closest collaboration as the investigation proceeds.   We are all absolutely committed to relentlessly pursuing anyone who would seek to damage the integrity of our sport”. 

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said: “I must remind all players of their responsibilities in the fight against corruption. They must understand that if they even think they may have been the subject of a suspicious approach, it is their obligation under the PCB anti-corruption code to report it to an appropriate anti-corruption official as a matter of urgency”.

County groundsman attend pre-season conference.

Andy Wilson.

ECB web site.

Saturday, 11 February 2017.

PTG 2047-10374.

The groundsmen who produce the surfaces on which the County game is played, plus members of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Pitches Group, held their pre-season meeting and conference this week.  The gathering, which for the first times was held at the Football Association's (FA) 134 Hectare National Football Centre at St George’s Park in Staffordshire, featured a range of speakers including Neil Stubley, the head groundsman for the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon.

ECB’s Pitches Consultant Chris Wood said: "St George’s Park was an excellent venue for a very worthwhile couple of days.  The meeting  is an important annual event for us, providing as it does the chance to keep the county groundsmen informed of any changes in pitch-related rules and regulations, and them with the chance to raise any issues with us".

“But we also try to provide them with some different perspectives, and this year they included Neil Stubbly and also Alan Ferguson, whose role as head groundsman at the FA takes in Wembley as well as St George’s Park – and who also gave us a tour of their new facilities. I was blown away, and I think that was a common reaction".

“All first-class groundsmen come under huge pressure during the course of the season, so hopefully it was enlightening for them to hear from Neil and Alan in terms of precision, attention to detail – and having no margin for error. The fields of play may be different, but there are many common areas where we can assist each other, from pitch management, equipment, innovations and research". 

“We also heard a presentation from David Bates, [a former County groundsman and now] the managing director of [sports surface specialist company] 'Total Play', who are one of our most important partners in the recreational game, both in regard to non-turf pitches and in improving squares". 

“David has worked with me on our research into providing training facility surfaces conducive to spin at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough, and we were also given an update from Dr Iain James of TGMS, one of the country’s most respected soil scientists, on the research that has been commissioned by the ECB into spin.

“Our executive board gave the go-ahead last year for a sizeable investment providing new equipment for county groundsmen to test the hardness and moisture of their pitches, and we are now starting to collate some data results from that.  All this was invaluable to our own ECB Pitches Group, led by the Head of Cricket Operations Alan Fordham and the Chairman of the Cricket Committee Peter Wright, and also including Tim Robinson as a senior representative of the first-class umpires, and Bill Hughes, Chairman of our Pitches Research Group".

After the gathering the groundsmen scattered around the country back to their counties – already well aware of the forecast of widespread ice, snow and sleet this weekend, with the first pre-season fixtures now approaching rapidly.  Wood concluded: “As with our annual awards ceremony, which we held in Bristol before Christmas (PTG 1988-10025, 27 November 2016), the pre-season meeting is a chance for us to remind our groundsmen how much we appreciate their efforts. We certainly don’t take them for granted”.


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,048

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

 

• Third player suspension, Lahore bombing, add to PSL challenges [2048-10375].

• More BBL teams on way, hints CA chief [2048-10376].

• Survey indicates players favour two-tier County T20 structure [2048-10377].

• Club’s covers slashed by vandals [2048-10378].

Third player suspension, Lahore bombing, add to PSL challenges.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

PTG 2048-10375.

A third player has been provisionally suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board for violating its anti-corruption code as the investigation into whether an international syndicate has attempted to influence Pakistan Super League (PSL) games continues. Nasir Jamshed, who has represented Pakistan in two Tests, 48 One Day Internationals and 18 Twenty20s Internationals, joins Pakistan batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latin who were stood down and sent home from the PSL on Friday (PTG 2047-10373, 13 February 2017).  Three others players have been questioned, however, they continue to play in the on-going PSL. 

Meanwhile, just where the PSL final, which is currently scheduled to be played in Lahore, will be played, awaits confirmation after at least 13 people were killed and 85 injured in a suicide bombing in the city on Monday evening.  Last March, at least 75 people were killed and over 340 injured in another suicide bombing in Lahore. 

PSL chairman Najam Sethi promised on Monday that the PSL final will be held in Lahore, even in the absence of "foreign players".  He said in a statement: “The foreign players have refused to play the final in Lahore after Monday’s blast, but if the citizens of Pakistan want the final of PSL to be held in Lahore despite foreign players not participating in the final, then the final will be held in Lahore”.  Last week Sethi promised that “fool proof security” would be in place for the Lahore final (PTG 2045-10364, 11 February 2017).

More BBL teams on way, hints CA chief.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 13 February 2017.

PTG 2048-10376.

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia’s (CA) chief executive, has given a strong indication that the Big Bash League (BBL) is set for further expansion, dangling the carrot of a Twenty20 team for Victoria's Geelong region by way of encouraging a healthy crowd for that city’s Kardinia Park's international debut on Sunday when Australia plays Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 International.

Located around an hour's drive south-west of Melbourne, Geelong has played host to BBL practice fixtures in recent times, and will step up further as a venue when Australia's makeshift T20 team hosts Sri Lanka in the second of three matches - preluded by an encounter between the Australia and New Zealand women's teams.

While Kardinia Park is likely to feature at least one BBL match next season as the number of matches expands, Sutherland spoke in terms of "when" not "if" in response to questions about the addition of a Geelong T20 side in future. "I know there's a group here that's very keen on continuing to develop the ideas around that”, Sutherland, a lifelong supporter of the Geelong Australian Rules Football team, said.

"We're expanding the BBL next year in terms of number of matches. I'm not quite sure how long it will be before we expand the number of teams (PTG 2033-10294, 28 January 2017). But I do know that when we do, Geelong will be a very strong candidate”, said Sutherland.  "We've seen practice matches for the BBL down here and we've seen good crowds here before. But this is really the first major test - to have an international match here. We know there's a lot of enthusiasm, culturally cricket is really strong down here, but I'd like to see on the weekend just how the community supports big-time cricket coming here”.

CA's plans for the BBL have been carefully modulated over time, with the governing body conscious of not growing the number of teams too quickly in order to avoid the fates of other sports such as football, rugby league and basketball that grew the number of teams in Australian competitions before having to cut them back as local markets could not sustain them. Two extra matches per team next season is an early step in the expansionist direction.

"The expansion of the [BBL] in number of games does present an opportunity”, Sutherland said. "I think we'll have a bit of an indicator on Sunday to see the response of the local community and from Melbourne and other regional areas around here to see how much they embrace international cricket here, and who knows, it might well be [BBL] here next season as well”.

Cricket's calendar, both international and domestic, is set for considerable change over the next few years as a result of the competing forces of changes to the structure of Tests, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 internationals and also the continued expansion of T20 leagues around the world. England and South Africa have unveiled new T20 tournaments in recent times, with the latter's to be scheduled in November and December immediately prior to the BBL (PTG 2045-10365, 11 February 2017).

At the same time Sutherland has been selling the concept of a Test match league currently under discussion at the International Cricket Council. He has floated the possibility that numerous former certainties of the Australian home summer, like the Boxing Day and New Year's Test matches, may no longer be guaranteed for Melbourne and Sydney as teams find themselves facing different obligations.  "I'd like to say they are [quarantined] but they're not totally guaranteed”, Sutherland told ABC Radio. "I think we would like to see it unfold in such a way that we can secure those matches but it's actually a very congested schedule through the traditional Australian summer”.

Survey indicates players favour two-tier County T20 structure.

Richard Gibson.

Daily Mail.

Monday, 13 February 2017.

PTG 2048-10377.

Four out of five county cricketers believe a two-divisional Twenty20 remains an attractive option for the future of Twenty20 in Britain, according to a survey conducted by the UK Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA).  While players are overwhelmingly keen on a Big Bash League-style tournament, draft plans for which have been penned by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), retaining all 18 first-class counties in a revamp is also popular with players.

The PCA results highlighted a lack of information reaching the players on the preferred eight-team 'Super League' model proposed by the ECB, 62 per cent of respondents suggesting they would like to hear more before anything is rubber-stamped.  The ECB are considering revamping T20 in England in order to attract more supporters, although at least one county has some basic concerns (PTG 2044-10355, 10 February 2017).

Other player concerns brought out in the PCA survey included: further marginalisation of the County Championship, the competition 92 per cent of respondents said was the one they most wanted to win; the absence of England players, 94 per cent agreeing domestic T20 cricket is enhanced when they participate; a lack of terrestrial television coverage contributing to a drop in participation levels (84 per cent); and the format of cricket to be played simultaneously with the 'Super League', 31 per cent suggesting none at all and 49 per cent favouring a secondary T20 competition

However, on the last point, it appears the ECB anticipate Tests and domestic 50-over matches running alongside the tournament, meaning that England players would be conspicuous by their absence and premier white-ball cricketers getting reduced opportunities to prepare for One Day International cricket (PTG 2042-10344, 8 February 2017).

The rival county-centric proposal comprising two divisions of nine with promotion and relegation and fresh player drafts each season was seen as attractive by 79 per cent of those who made their views known.  That was one of five options put forward to the counties by ECB chairman Colin Graves at the end of the 2016 season, although the ECB’s preference for one with eight newly-created teams was made clear.

Setting up new organisations to compete over six weeks at the height of summer from 2020 would undermine 130 years of tradition - counties rather than cities or regions have contested top-level English cricket since the formation of the Championship in 1890.

All but three counties remain members’ clubs and the player survey revealed fears of ostracising them. One wrote "supporters are affiliated to a team and generally only that team. So you might find that Worcestershire fans won't come to watch the Birmingham team because they are classed as a rival. You might attract a new audience but again if people are not coming to watch in a major city like Birmingham in their masses now, then they never will”.

This week, PCA president Andrew Flintoff spoke of the charm of representing your county, and the pride he took in doing so.  But the ECB are intent on something fresh, including a new TV deal, which is why they are holding off until 2020 as a start date. Their ongoing agreement with broadcaster ‘Sky' runs until the end of 2019, and the tender document for the tournament will specify a quarter of matches are screened free to air.

Club’s covers slashed by vandals.

Laura Devoy.

Coffs Coast Advocate.

Monday, 13 February 2017.

PTG 2048-10378.

Members of Sawtell Cricket Club (SCC) on the north-east coast of New South Wales, arrived at their home ground on Saturday morning to discover sharp cuts throughout one of their pitch covers.  The damage left several gaping holes throughout the cover, the position of which had many asking questioning as to whether it was an act of skulduggery by a fellow player instead of a random act of malicious damage. 

SCC president Rod Buckle said the vandalism is "disappointing all round”, and the club is now looking for quotes to repair or replace the cover, which could cost in excess of $A2,000 (£UK1,225).  As a community-based organisation, the club relies heavily on sponsors and grants to purchase the necessary equipment for the upkeep of the grounds.  "The damage is very disappointing for the number of volunteers who give up their time to look after the grounds each week and keep the oval running not just for us, but for the wider community”, Buckle said.

The club has an old cover that can be used until the damaged cover is repaired, however it is not large enough to cover the whole of the required area and will not hold up under substantial rain - a key factor as Sawtell's first grade side lead the competition just weeks out from the finals series. The damage not only affects the SCC, but also a number of teams who host fixtures at their ground including junior and senior representative teams, local schools, and Coffs Colts carnivals.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,049

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

 

• Eight named to manage India-Australia Test series [2049-10379].

• Keeper remains in hospital following head strike [2049-10380].

• CA planning another approach to ICC on concussion subs [2049-10381].

• Doctors call for ICC to act on concussion [2049-10382].

• Napier pays the price for ODI washout farce [2049-10383].

• Lord’s running on ‘100 per cent renewable energy’ [2049-10384].

Eight named to manage India-Australia Test series.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

PTG 2049-10379.

Five Englishmen, Chris Broad, Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong, plus South African Marias Erasmus, New Zealand’s Chris Gaffney and Richie Richardson of the West Indies, have been appointed to manage the four Tests India and Australia are to play in Pune, Bengaluru, Ranchi and Dharamshala over the next month.

Broad will oversee the first two games as the match referee, Pune seeing Llong and Kettleborough on-field with Illingworth in the television spot, then in Bengaluru it will be Llong-Illingworth (Ketttleborough TV).  Richardson comes in for the third and fourth Tests, the umpires being Gould-Gaffney (Llong) in Ranchi and Gould-Erasmus (Gaffney) in Dharamshala.

The series will take Broad’s record as a match referee in Tests to 84, exactly half of which involved Australia as one of the teams, while 16 will have been India-Australia Tests. Richardson on the other hand will take his Test referee tally to 8, Gould to 60 on-field and 19 as a television umpire (60/19), Erasmus, Kettleborough and Llong all to 42 on field and 28, 15 and 22 respectively in the TV role, Illingworth 27/11 and Gaffney to 13/12.    

As a result of the Test appointments Illingworth, who is currently standing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the United Arab Emirates (PTG 2031-10285, 26 January 2017), will miss at least the last 11 PSL matches, games that include the four finals matches.

Keeper remains in hospital following head strike.

CA web site.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

PTG 2049-10380.

Victorian wicketkeeper Sam Harper was still under observation in Adelaide hospital three days after taking accidental blow to the head in his side's Sheffield Shield match against South Australia on Saturday (PTG 2046-10367, 12 February 2017).  Cricket Victoria (CV) confirmed Harper had not yet fully recovered from the injury and would remain in hospital in Adelaide "so he can continue treatment and to be reviewed by specialists”.  CV expects "to have a clearer indication on when he can return home and his recovery time later this week”.

Harper, 20, was standing up to the stumps to the bowling of spinner Jon Holland shortly before lunch on the second day of the match when South Australian batsman Jake Lehmann looked to pull a shorter ball to the leg side, inadvertently striking Harper on the head during his follow through.  The 'keeper, who was wearing a helmet at the time, tumbled to the ground as players and medical staff quickly rushed to his aid.

CA planning another approach to ICC on concussion subs.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

PTG 2049-10381.

Cricket Australia (CA) plans to join forces with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Cricket South Africa (CSA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) in another bid to lobby the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the introduction of concussion substitutes in first-class games.  After failing last year to convince the game's governing body to amend playing conditions to allow concussion subs, CA will make another submission after the completion of its current domestic season – this time with the official backing of other Test-playing countries. 

CA spoke with the ECB, CSA and NZC last year but went to the ICC with a submission on its own that failed (PTG 1844-9246, 4 June 2016).  It believes a unified approach will have more impact with the ICC's Cricket Committee, which is chaired by India coach Anil Kumble and includes Australia's Darren Lehmann, and give them better chance for change.  CA will table its data from concussion cases across its competitions at the end of the current austral summer then liaise with other boards before submitting a report to the ICC via their medical committee.

The development comes after Victoria wicketkeeper Sam Harper and New South Wales opener Daniel Hughes were ruled out of the latest round of Sheffield Shield games due to concussion (PTG 2032-10288, 27 January 2017). Former Test batsmen Adam Voges and Alex Doolan are among those who have also been withdrawn from Shield matches this season by CA's concussion policy (PTG 1988-10024, 27 November 2016).  Harper remains in an Adelaide hospital for more treatment for concussion symptoms, Cricket Victoria said, after he was hit on Saturday (PTG 2049-10380 above).

While concussion substitutes are allowed in CA's one-day and Twenty20 competitions, they are not permitted in Shield games in accordance with ICC rules without risk of the match losing first-class status (PTG 1936-9734, 2 October 2016).  CA's playing conditions committee has discussed playing the Shield competition without first-class status but there was strong opposition from all parties, including the players, who were represented by Australian Cricketers Association chief Alistair Nicholson.

CA has kept the ICC informed over the progress of concussion subs in its domestic tournaments.  Sean Cary, CA's head of cricket operations said: "If we can consolidate a submission from a number of member boards then it provides a more unified approach to the [ICC] Cricket Committee – it's not just CA proposing something [and there is] more weight behind the submission.  It's a hot topic at the moment, we would like to see a substitute included because we believe concussion is a very serious injury and can have significant long-term effects on our players.  The players' wealth and wellbeing is at forefront of our thinking”.

While CA is seen as a leader within the sport for its stringent regulations on concussion, international cricket does not have a concussion protocol, a situation that concerns some medical professionals (PTG 2049-10382 below). The issue was highlighted during the Australia-Pakistan Test series, where Australia's Matt Renshaw and Pakistan's Azhar Ali were both dealt head knocks (PTG 2015-10197, 30 December 2016).

Renshaw developed concussion and was ruled out by CA's doctor Peter Brukner during the Sydney Test (PTG 2021-10223, 6 January 2017). Ali was also assessed by Brukner, as Pakistan did not have a doctor on tour, and played on after not showing symptoms. But even if he was deemed to have been concussed the decision would have been left to the player as CA does not have authority to rule over international teams.

The ICC decided last year against amending playing conditions to allow concussion subs, saying existing measures were sufficient, the world body saying in June:  "The committee considered a proposal from Cricket Australia for a 'concussion substitute' to be trialled for two years in domestic first-class cricket.  The committee acknowledged the seriousness of the issue of concussion in cricket and stressed the need for consistent concussion policy to be implemented in all countries.  But its view was that the current laws and playing conditions allow players to receive the best possible medical treatment and further change to the regulations in this area is not required at present”.

Doctors call for ICC to act on concussion.

Ben Horne.

The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

PTG 2049-10382.

The World Medical Association (WMA), an international organisation that represents physicians, may consider forming a sub-committee to lobby the International Cricket Council (ICC) over its non-existent concussion policy.  Worrying head injuries suffered by New South Wale’s Daniel Hughes and Victoria’s Sam Harper in Sheffield Shield games over the weekend have once again exposed the ICC over their refusal to allow concussion substitutes in first-class and international cricket (PTG 2049-10381 above).

Dr Michael Gannon, the president of the Australian Medical Association, has flagged the possibility that the ICC’s slow-moving approach to addressing the global problem that is concussion in sport could prompt an approach from the WMA.  “I don’t think we could have any other view than to call for the body that governs cricket at the elite level to have a sensible policy”, said Gannon who is considering raising the issue at the next WMA meeting.

Gannon commended CA "for moving in the direction it’s moving, but it requires [support from an international level]. If the ICC needs to be moved along … the [WMA] would be the appropriate body to communicate with the ICC.  “It requires people who do understand and have a passion for and an understanding of the laws of the game. But also understanding how difficult it can be when your ethical duty to a patient is in any way misaligned with your loyalty to your club or national team.  It’s absolutely essential that their code of ethics is placed as the highest level of priority.  The idea that the show must go on is wrong. Sport is a positive influence in life. It’s to be enjoyed by the participants so we should be aiming to minimise risk to the participants wherever possible”.

The ICC says its newly reformed Medical Advisory Committee will soon distribute concussion guidance to its 105 members to assist in providing the best possible medical management for players who have suffered head knocks.  However, an ICC spokeswoman confirmed there are no plans in the short term to revisit the issue of concussion substitutes, with no support for the proposal when the ICC Cricket Committee last considered the CA led proposal last year.  The ICC says its focus is on medical treatment to players, but head injury advice to members is only coming now, nearly two and a half years after the passing of Phillip Hughes.

Australian players, led by NSW skipper Moises Henriques, are overwhelmingly in favour of a rule change from the ICC which would bring domestic cricket up to speed with other major sports and welfare as the number one priority.  In CA’s one-day domestic and BBL series, provisions were made for like for like replacements for concussed players – in other words a batsman would replace a concussed batsman.

“I think there should really be a change”, said Henriques on Sky Sports Radio.  “Especially when it’s an incident like [wicketkeeper Harper’s]. It was obviously a complete accident … but it was a horrible incident. I definitely feel Victoria shouldn’t be penalised for something like that.  South Australia denied Victoria the opportunity of [a replacement], which is completely up to them, but it would be interesting to see what some other teams might have done if they were in that situation”.

Napier pays the price for ODI washout farce.

David Leggat.

New Zealand Herald.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

PTG 2049-10383.

Napier's ground issues have come home to roost with the fourth NZ-South Africa One Day International (ODI) scheduled for McLean Park in two week’s time being moved to Hamilton where the opening match of the five-match series is to be played on Sunday.  The game listed for the first day of March had a major question mark over it after the NZ-Australia ODI in Napier earlier this month was abandoned without a ball bowled due to a waterlogged outfield; the third game to be washed out there since 2013 (PTG 2045-10366, 11 February 2017).

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the latest fiasco has highlighted a need for urgent remedial work on McLean Park's turf, drainage and irrigation system.  New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the Napier City Council have agreed it is best to avoid ''an unacceptable risk" of a repeat failure.  

NZC chief operating officer Anthony Crummy said the findings of the investigation left few options open but the one agreed.  He said: "There have been shortcomings identified in McLean Park's drainage and irrigation system which need to be remedied before we can be confident of avoiding what happened in the [NZ-Australia ODI].  The investigation concludes that drought conditions in the Hawke's Bay necessitated significant levels of watering in the days leading up to the match which, combined with a limited drainage infrastructure and rain on match-day, resulted in a worst-case scenario”.

Lord’s running on ‘100 per cent renewable energy’.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

PTG 2049-10384.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) says that Lord’s has become the first cricket ground in England to run on 100 per cent renewable energy.  The new Warner Stand, which will be opened in April, is said to be “symbolic" of the MCC’s sustainability drive.  The innovative structure includes photovoltaic roof panels for electricity generation and a state-of-the-art water collection and recycling system.

The club has in recent years developed a broad sustainability program, meeting its 2020 emissions targets last year and reducing its electricity use by 7 per cent since 2010.  MCC Chief Executive and Secretary Derek Brewer said via a media release: "It is important that all organisations embrace sustainability and I’m very pleased that Lord’s has become the first cricket ground in the country to run on 100 per cent renewable energy".

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,050

Thursday, 16 February 2017

 

• Dismissal raises a question on UDRS procedure [2050-10385].

• Two arrested in relation to PSL spot-fixing concerns [2050-10386].

• Sreesanth plans return in defiance of life ban [2050-10387].

• Exhibition focusses on ‘Dickie’ Birds’ life in cricket [2050-10388].

• South Australian clubs not keen on U-19 proposal [2050-10389].

• Burglaries impact clubs on both sides of the world [2050-10390].

• The real spirit of cricket [2050-10391].

Dismissal raises a question on UDRS procedure.

Sidhnarth Monga.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10385.

 

A possibly unforeseen event occurred to end the one-off India-Bangladesh Test in Hyderabad on Monday, as far as the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) is concerned that is.  In brief, India were allowed to review a 'not-out' call on LBW after they had possibly seen the replay on the big screen or had at least had the opportunity for signals to be made from the change room.

The incident started with a really full ball from Ravichandran Ashwin which hit batsman Taskin Ahmed’s pad and lobbed up. India went up immediately. It cannot be said whether they appealed for LBW or A bat-pad catch, but it seemed like one of those plays where only bat can save the batsman from the LBW, in which case he is out caught anyway. Umpire Marais Erasmus, though, gave it another twist by going to the third umpire to check if there had been a bump ball, giving the soft signal ‘out’ along the way.

Replays showed that the bat didn't touch the ball. In fact it hit the ground, which might have given Erasmus the impression of an inside edge. However, the replays also showed this was a really good LBW call in this case. As soon as the big screen flashed 'not out', Indian captain Virat Kohli hit his left forearm with his right fist, initiating what turned out to be a successful review.

That was in clear contravention of 3.2 (d) of the UDRS protocol which states: "No replays, either at normal speed or slow motion, should be shown on a big screen to spectators until either the next delivery has been bowled or the players have left the field”.

Even if there are both an umpire review and a player review for the same delivery, the player review has to be made within "no more than a few seconds" of the ball becoming dead. The umpire preview precedes the player review in such instances but the request for the player review has to be made immediately. However, the UDRS protocol as of now covers more for instances such as an LBW appeal and a subsequent run-out where the on-field umpire thinks one appeal should be turned down and is not in position to rule on the second. In such cases the fielding side has to review immediately against the not-out.

However, in this case, even though Kohli wanted to review immediately, even the umpire wanted to rule out as was evident from his going to the third umpire to check for a bump ball and a soft signal of out. So if Kohli was to review immediately, what was the review against? 

UDRS was first trialled in 2008, and this is quite possibly the first time we have had such a situation. What's important in these unforeseen circumstances is that eventually the correct decision was made. What's more important is that an addition be made to the UDRS protocol after discussions at the ICC cricket committee's meeting this May because not always will such a mix-up be so harmless.

The most practical solution for such cases is to check for all dismissals once the umpire review has been initiated. If the secondary mode of dismissal is LBW, as it was in this case, the umpire's call should depend on the original decision. In this case, for example, Erasmus had originally ruled that the batsman had hit the ball, which means that when the review is run for the LBW the original decision should considered to be 'not out’.

Two arrested in relation to PSL spot-fixing concerns.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10386.

Pakistan batsman Nasir Jamshed was one of two men arrested by the National Crime Agency in Britain on Monday as part of an investigation into spot-fixing allegations connected to the Pakistan Super League.  Both men, the other who is reported to be a bookmaker, were later bailed until April pending further inquiries.  Jamshed, who has not commented on the allegations, is among three players who were recently suspended for violating a cricket anti-corruption code (PTG 2048-10375, 14 February 2017).

The suspicion is said to be that the pair referred two Pakistan opening batsmen, Khalid Latif and Shaqjeel Khan, to members of a syndicate who were allegedly planning to arrange spot fixes during the tournament.  Both Jamshed and the bookmaker, named only as Yousuf, were questioned by UK National Crime Agency (NCA) officers in connection with “bribery" offences. It is believed that the bail conditions involve surrendering their passports.

The NCA released a statement saying it was “working closely” with the Pakistan Cricket Board and and International Cricket Council anti-corruption units on the issues involved.

Sreesanth plans return in defiance of life ban.

Deccan Chronicle.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10387.

Former Indian player Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who was banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) nearly four years ago in relation to Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing (PTG 1188-5731, 15 September 2013), is all set to return to cricket. The Kerala cricketer will represent Ernakulam Cricket Club in a first division two-day game that starts on Sunday.  In the process he will defy the BCCI’s life ban.

Last year the BCCI refused to issue a No Objection Certificate that would have allowed Sreesanth to play club cricket in Scotland. That led him to attacked the BCCI for its handling of the matter, saying: “When there is no official letter stating my life ban then why will the umpires stop me from playing? There have been no emails, courier or anything which states that I am banned from playing cricket.  All that I have received is a suspension letter when I was in Tihar jail. A suspension letter is valid only for 90 days”.

Sreesanth described the way he has "been ill-treated is probably even worse than a terrorist. Those who have been found guilty of corrupt practices have been encouraged to play again by the International Cricket Council.  On the other hand I am not even found guilty but I still have to go through this hell. I want my respect back which I earned through cricket”.  After he was charged for IPL spot-fixing in 2013, a trial in Delhi in 2015 dropped all charges made against him (PTG 1602-7771, 26 July 2015), however, the BCCI refused to lift its ban.

Exhibition focusses on ‘Dickie’ Birds’ life in cricket. 

Yorkshire Post.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10388.

A new exhibition that will open in Barnsley on Saturday focusses on the life and achievements of former England international umpire ‘Dickie’ Bird.  Titled ‘Dickie Bird: My Life in Cricket’, it will feature many artefacts Bird, now 83, has accumulated, including those from his umpiring career and others from his encounters with royalty and political leaders.

The exhibition, which runs until mid-May, charts his story from early days as the footballing son of a miner to an umpiring career that saw him stand in a then record 66 Tests. He was awarded the MBE in June 1986 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and became a frequent tea-time visitor at Buckingham Palace, apparently attending more than 20 times.

As well as mementoes from the three World Cup finals he umpired, and the 1980 Centenary Test Match at Lord’s between England and Australia, visitors can see the bag he carried his gear in, including his cap and international umpire’s jacket.  “They took all my stuff and it’s gone into cabinets at the town hall, there are also quotes from all the greatest players in the world”, said Bird.

South Australian clubs not keen on U-19 proposal.

Matt Turner.

Messenger Community News.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10389.

Senior figures at most Premier League clubs in Adelaide do not want South Australia's Under-19 team to play in the state’s top two-day competition in 2017-18 saying it will hurt squad depth and dilute the standard.  The South Australia Cricket Association (SACA) last week proposed introducing the squad to bring the league to 14 teams and eliminate the need for a bye, president Andrew Sinclair also stating such a move would fast-track the young players' development.  But captains or coaches from eight of the 10 clubs contacted criticised the plan.

SACA initially wanted to reduce the competition from 13 teams to 12 by forcing the West Torrens and Port Adelaide clubs to merge (PTG 1801-9001, 15 April 2016).  However, both rejected the idea and last week SACA confirmed they would remain as stand-alone clubs.  That about face by the governing body came before the release of a report by a Select Committee of the South Australian Parliament which held hearings last year into the 'SACA Premier Cricket Merger Decision’.  

Part of the Committee's terms of reference were to examine if SACA is meeting its constitutional aim “to promote and develop the game of cricket in South Australia”.  Its report on the matter is due for release this week (PTG 1983-9987, 22 November 2016).

Burglaries impact clubs on both sides of the world.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 16 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10390.

New Zealand’s Weraroa Cricket Club in Levin has been hit by a burglary and left with a "huge mess".  An intruder stole money, food, alcohol and a projector, and left broken doors and frozen food to defrost in their wake sometime overnight on Sunday-Monday.  Club bar manager Cheryl Nielsen described the incident as "heart-wrenching" for the club. "We work hard to keep the club really nice ... some mongrel decides he wants what we have”, she said. 

Meanwhile on the other side of the world a burglar has been sentenced by a judge for his role in a break-in at the Netherfield Cricket Club in Cumbria last October.  Carlisle Crown Court heard how a front door was forced and around £UK550 ($A890) cash was stolen.  Steven Carr was handed an 18-month prison sentence but the jail term was suspended for two years.  He must though complete 180 hours’ unpaid work and will be subject to an electronic four-month night-time curfew.

The real spirit of cricket.

Nicholas Hogg.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 16 February 2017.

PTG 2050-10391.

In the summer of 1989, three years prior to reaching the legal drinking age, I admit I'd already cracked open a good few cans of lager. Before I even watched David Boon in England during that Ashes series, I knew he had guzzled 52 tinnies on the flight from Australia. Fifty-two cans, on the way to an Ashes series. Perhaps it tells of the brash confidence of that great Aussie side that the almighty piss-up began before the 4-0 victory rather than after. Or it simply reflects the long and torrid relationship between cricket and alcohol.

All the blokes I played cricket with drank, as did the professionals of that era, and every other cricketing era. The modern game was born in a pub, the infamous Bat and Ball inn on Broadhalfpenny Down. From those beery afternoons with gamblers in top hats to mega-breweries emblazoned across billboards, willow and hops have forever been entwined.

Writing in 2009, shortly after Andrew Symonds had been dismissed from the Australian team for one beer too many, again, Mike Atherton worried that "cricket and booze" were inseparable. After calling out the hypocrisy of an organisation bankrolled by beer brands, and the "finger-pointing" righteousness of Ricky Ponting, a reformed legend of lager overload himself, Atherton also reminisced about his own drunken celebrations. 

Cricket reflects culture, and this culture likes a drink. Therefore our cricketers like a tipple or two. Much of social cricket exists for the pub, and not the wicket. Every friendly XI has a local watering hole that may well be visited before and after - and quite possibly during - the game. This is a society that ranks machismo by counting drinks. I guess keeping score of pints downed over the course of an evening can be likened to tallying up your runs. A Man-of-the-Match award at my old rugby club was the right to demand a pint off the 14 other players. 

Beer might not fuel many great innings - although it may take wickets, as Nottinghamshire skipper Arthur Carr always made sure Harold Larwood had an ale at lunch - but it does bank pounds in the club coffers (PTG 1238-5980, 21 November 2013).

I watched some fine cricket at The Oval last year. At least I presume I did. The manic energy of those Friday-night T20s felt like a frat-house riot at the end of the world. Blokes ferried pints from the bar like stoic pack mules, dangling cardboard carriers with drunken brio up and down the concrete steps, and only wobbling if a white sphere threatened to spill their carriage. 

The crack of leather on willow was drowned out by the cacophony of shoes crushing plastic cups. I forget the exact number, but the figures of the night weren't a miserly economy rate or stratospheric six count. It was a Bradmanesque ground revenue compiled from malted barley. Did Surrey win? No one was quite sure. The hammered fans were falling back into the Underground, and the staff were cashing up by the fistful.

Apart from swelling club accounts, like any drug, alcohol can bring pleasure, or pain. Jesse Ryder, James Faulkner, David Warner, Andrew Flintoff and Monty Panesar come immediately to mind.  Perhaps I'm stating the helplessness of cricket's symbiosis/poisoning with alcohol to assuage my own guilt on being sent home from a cricket tour.   I put forward my youth - I was a teenager - as my defence, along with the poor construction of a Norwich hotel. After a dozen or so spirits and lurid mixers, and a near-lethal climb onto the hotel roof, I decided a fire-exit sign was the ideal spot for a chin-up contest. The sign, and most of the ceiling, ended up on the floor, and the police found my room by following a trail of gypsum, broken glass, and vodka-blackcurrant.

I'm not blaming anyone for my behaviour. I was young and reckless, naïve to the powers of hard liquor. Reading well-researched material that claims saturation advertising by breweries resulted in "4600 incidents of alcohol promotion in just three one-day international cricket games", I have a case for indoctrination. One research paper contends that "exposure to high-level alcohol promotion teaches pro-drinking attitudes” (PTG 2024-10244, 13 January 2017). 

Take the hyphen away from the penultimate word of that last sentence and we're back to Boon on the plane in 1989. Don't worry, this isn't a Pom blaming an Aussie for his boozing. In fact that 2005 victory parade, where England's gods of the summer celebrated by unzipping their trousers in the garden at 10 Downing Street, probably launched an entire generation of sozzled wannabes. 

Yes, we could temper our reliance on brewery branding, and certainly provide better support for players who seek solace in the bottom of a glass. However, the human condition is the cricketer's condition. Beer has been brewed since Neolithic times, and despite the bat-like shape of a caveman's club, we were drunk long before that first ball was ever bowled.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,051

Friday, 17 February 2017

 

• Where are the female umpires? [2051-10392].

• CSA holds elite umpires’ assessment workshop [2051-10393].

• Samuels’ again cleared to bowl in internationals [2051-10394].

• ECB told to allay fears players will be sidelined by new T20 series [2051-10395].

• Sri Lankan cricketers to complain about raw ordeal [2051-10396].

Where are the female umpires?

Firdose Moonda.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 16 February 2017.

PTG 2051-10392.

It is 2017. A woman is in charge of the country with the largest economy in Europe. A woman was, until last month, chair of the African Union Commission. The chief executive officer of 'General Motors' is a woman, another heads ‘Pepsico', and a third leads ‘IBM'. Women do everything from construction work to firefighting, but a female umpire has yet to officiate in a high-profile men's match. Why? Well, it's professional sport and male-dominated professional sport, so what do we really expect? These things take time.

Female football referees are only just starting to become familiar sights, especially in South America, and in 2015, both the US National Football League and England's Rugby Football Union added their first female officials. Cricket is also taking small steps. Women have officiated in the Women's World T20 Qualifier in 2015 (PTG 1704-8430, 5 December 2015), and then in the main event in 2016 (PTG 1773-8853, 1 March 2016). This month the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that four female umpires would stand at the Women's World Cup qualifier in Sri Lanka, with a view to them progressing to the Women's World Cup later this year (PTG 2031-10282, 26 January 2017).

The baby steps may seem condescending but it follows the structures the ICC has in place for all umpires, regardless of gender. As a member-driven organisation, the ICC relies on domestic umpire programs to feed their panels. The more female umpires member countries have in their systems, the more female umpires the ICC will have at its disposal. The problem is that there just aren't that many going around.

In Australia, where Cricket Australia (CA) says there are 9,168 active umpires, a little over three per cent (278) are women. South Africa has close to 50 female umpires. Numbers elsewhere around the world are similarly low. Former Australian international umpire Simon Taufel, who worked with the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s top umpires panel, and the next three rungs, said there were no female umpires among the top 110 officials that he had come into contact with in India. 

So is it simply that female umpires, like female journalists in sport, are a small but growing number, or are they actively choosing not to become involved in a profession they feel will discriminate against them? Perhaps it's a bit of both. 

"Females seem reluctant to get involved and that is something that we are trying to change”, said Sean Easey CA's match-officials manager. "There is a traditionally male-dominated environment in cricket, and the reality is that female officials subsequently stand out from their peers. For example, when compared to their male colleagues, there is a lot more pressure on a female official to get everything right because they are so easily identified and criticised. That will change as the ratio of male to female umpires improves, but it will take time”. 

New Zealand’s Kathy Cross would know. She is the most experienced member of the four the ICC has chosen to stand in the current Women's World Cup qualifier, and the first woman umpire on the ICC's third-tier Associate and Affiliate Panel, which she was appointed to in 2014 (PTG 1280-6164, 31 January 2014). That made her eligible to officiate in World Cricket League matches from Division Three to Six, and she has since stood in a Division Five and Four event. She has also been involved in three women's World Cups and has presided over 39 women's One Day Internationals and 16 Twenty20 Internationals. 

Cross' journey to the middle was much longer than that of many others, primarily because she only found a means to participate in cricket after she was married, with children.   "I was always interested in cricket but could not play the game in my early years because I went to a girls' school, which did not have a cricket team”, she said. "It was only after my marriage that I got interested in cricket as my husband and three children - two boys and a girl - used to play at the club level. We supported our children and I started playing at the age of 30. I played women's local club matches for close to ten years”. 

By chance, the vice-principal of a college where Cross used to volunteer asked her whether she would like to go to an umpires' meeting "to have a better learning of the laws of cricket", and she agreed. She moved from playing to umpiring after 40 and then things sped up a touch. Cross had only been umpiring for a year when one of the umpire trainers suggested she try to become involved in the 2000 Women's World Cup, which was being held in New Zealand. 

Although Cross did not stand in that tournament, she was in the background and quickly moved on to her first "big match" - a domestic women's game between Canterbury and Central Districts. She has since overseen much bigger events, including a Women's World T20, and admits there is a difference between officiating in a men's match and a women's.   

"In the men's match, the ball comes down a lot faster. Everything is a lot quicker. Watching the ball is much different”, she said. There are also elements that are the same. "Women are not fast but play the game with the same intensity”." Doubtless that means it requires the same concentration and the same presence of mind to make the best decisions in the moment. 

Although Cross dreams of standing in a Test match, be it a men's or women's fixture, just like any other umpire, she feels "that is a long way away because women umpires will need a lot of experience before they can get there".  Cross is not the only one to suggest it will take several more years, if not decades, before that happens. There is evidence to show how slow the progress has been. At member level, female umpires are battling to make an impact even in top-tier domestic matches of either gender.

Most umpires stand in club matches, men's or women's, and need to do their time there for seasons before progressing to age-group tournaments, provincial or state games, and eventually international matches. Australia have had two female umpires standing in men's matches: at Under-17 and in the Futures League - the State 2nd XI competition. They have also had a women performing third-umpire roles in their List A tournament and the Big Bash League. In South Africa, the highest-ranked female umpire officiated at the Under-15 week, and although there was a woman who progressed further - to the Under-19 week, club championships and the Varsity Cup - she left cricket to pursue other interests. 

Acceleration programs are in place among some ICC members. In South Africa, for example, they target the unearthing of umpires from disadvantaged backgrounds. Cricket South Africa (CSA) is also in the process of appointing umpire coaches, who will, among other things, focus on female recruitment. But like the women's game at large, it will need time to develop. 

It has been scientifically proven that men's reaction times are faster than women's. Given that umpires occasionally have to take evasive action and are in constant danger of being hit, this would have a bearing on how many female umpires are put in charge of men's matches, although all the organisations interviewed, including the ICC, maintained that anyone who displays the qualities of an international umpire will be promoted regardless of gender.

CSA has found that there is a correlation between the number of woman playing the game and those who progress to umpiring. "For want of not making excuses, the fact that women's cricket is in its fledgling stage, when compared to men's cricket, contributes to the lower numbers in the associations”, said Karl Hurter, CSA's national match-officials administrator. "As we see the number of leagues and the number of teams participating in those leagues grow, we expect that there will be an element of natural advancement, from playing to umpiring. Even on the male side, it is seldom that we have someone who has never played the game wanting to take up umpiring”. 

It is not essential that umpires have played at any level, but it does help add some weight to their cause. "Having some playing experience does help a match official within the sport”, Taufel said. "The umpire should have a better 'feel' for the game, have a greater understanding of what the game expects in officiating terms, and is better placed to demonstrate humility and empathy with what the players go through". 

"Playing experience is not essential when an umpire starts their career but is an advantage, and having played the higher levels of the game does assist with receiving a higher level of initial credibility with the players and other stakeholders. Having said that, just because you have played the game for a long time or at a high level will not mean you will be a good umpire. It is a very different discipline to playing”.  And in 2017, we should all know that.

CSA holds elite umpires’ assessment workshop.

Cricket365.

Thursday, 16 February 2017.

PTG 2051-10393.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) held its annual assessment workshop of its National First Class Panel (NFCP) of umpires during the course of a three-day conference in Bloemfontein this week, the focus being Personal Development Plans for match officials.  Key areas covered included conflict management, an individualised training program, including fitness assessments, nutrition and recovery techniques, financial and strategy planning and an interaction session with top International Rugby Board referee Jaco Peyper.

Corrie van Syl, CSA General Manager: Cricket, said: “This is the first time CSA match officials and attended a fitness assessment session and we will in due course be filtering this down to the lower tiers of match officials.  In this respect I would like to express our thanks to the support we have received from the Free State Sports Science Institute and we will be making this a biennial event".

Van Syl said the gathering “is all part of our plan to achieve operational excellence in all areas of our activities.  We are extremely proud of the standards our top umpires achieve with Marais Erasmus, who serves on the International Cricket Council's Elite Umpire Panel and was named ICC 'Umpire of the Year’ late last year (PTG 2011-10172, 23 December 2016).  In addition we have umpires benefiting from the experiences they enjoy through our exchange arrangement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket”.

The workshop was attended by NFCP members: Murray Brown, Johan Cloete, Lubabalo Gcuma, Adrian Holdstock, Cliffie Isaacs, Bongani Jele, Allahudien Paleker, Gerrie Pienaar, Dennis Smith, Brad White. Shaun George, who is currently umpiring in Zimbabwe, and Stephen Harris in Australia, will be assessed when they return.

Samuels’ again cleared to bowl in internationals.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Friday, 17 February 2017. 

PTG 2051-10394.

West Indian all-rounder Marlon Samuels has been cleared to bowl in international cricket after his action was found to be legal.  Samuels, 36, was last reported for a suspect bowling action during the Galle Test against Sri Lanka in October 2015 and was subsequently suspended for 12 months in December 2015 after an independent assessment showed, for the second time in two years, his action was illegal (PTG 1712-8483, 14 December 2015).

Samuels underwent a reassessment of his bowling action at the UK’s National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough three weeks ago and it showed the amount of elbow extension for all his off-spin deliveries was within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations.

The ICC said that "umpires are still at liberty to report Samuels if they believe he is displaying a suspect action and not reproducing the legal action from the reassessment. To assist them, umpires will be provided with images and video footage of the bowler's remodelled legal bowling action”.  Should Samuels is reported again, he will be required to undertake further analysis of his bowling action at an ICC accredited testing centre. 

ECB told to allay fears players will be sidelined by new T20 series. 

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Fridy, 17 February 2017.

PTG 2051-10395.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will meet with the players union next week where they will be asked to offer assurances that county cricket will not be sidelined when a new Twenty20 tournament is launched in 2020.  Officials from the ECB will address the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s (PCA) annual general meeting where they are due to brief the players on the new Twenty20 tournament. 

Around 100 cricketers will be involved in the new tournament playing for the eight intended teams but that represents only a third of the PCA’s membership. The rest will remain playing county cricket but fear being sidelined (PTG 2044-10355, 10 February 2017). 

Daryl Mitchell, the Worcestershire batsman, started his two-year term as the PCA chairman on Thursday which will coincide with the biggest shake-up of domestic cricket in England.  He said:  “Everyone knows the Twenty20 is going to happen. The players are excited by that but as with any change the devil will be in the detail. We need to know how it is going to run, how many players are going to be involved, where the teams will be based and it is important to look after the 90-100 players involved in that competition”.

Mitchell warned though that "potentially there will be 300 or so not involved as well so it is important we look out for those guys. We want to know the impact on the rest of the county structure as well and how they are going to work. There is a lot of finance talked about coming into the game and that will obviously help those players playing in the T20 but it also has to help the county clubs and filter down to remaining players in the county dressing rooms as well”.

A survey of PCA members last year found that 92 per cent believe a Big Bash-style competition will be good for the English game but 79 per cent also believed a two-divisional competition made up of ‘the best county sides’ would be an attractive option (PTG 2048-10377, 14 February 2017) .

Sri Lankan cricketers to complain about raw ordeal.

The Island.

Thursday, 16 February 2017. 

PTG 2051-10396.

As if their recent eight-match Test and One Day International whitewash in South Africa weren’t bad enough, the Sri Lankan team was made to go through another rough ordeal as they took a long route to Australia instead of taking a direct flight.  As there was little time between the series in South Africa and the current one in Australia, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) decided to fly the team from South Africa to Australia instead of coming back home.  However, although several airlines provide direct flights from Johannesburg to Sydney, SLC in its wisdom chose to fly the team via Hong Kong.

While the flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong took 12 hours and 30 minutes, the connecting flight from Hong Kong to Sydney took another nine hours and 30 minutes. Into the bargain, the team was in transit in Hong Kong for 18 hours.  A direct flight could have, however, saved the team much trouble as a Johannesburg-Sydney a direct flight only takes 12 hours.

Sri Lanka’s preparations ahead of the T-20 series against Australia was affected due to the scheduling and a formal complaint will be lodged with board officials by Head Coach Graham Ford.  SLC should investigate the matter and find out whether any individual within their marketing department was to gain by this bizarre scheduling that caused much inconvenience to the national team.


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,052

Saturday, 18 February 2017

 

• New Laws Code to be ready for mid-year ‘winter’ schools [2052-10397].

• Umpires stop T20 to check what’s in bowler's pocket [2052-10398].

New Laws Code to be ready for mid-year ‘winter’ schools.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 17 February 2017.

PTG 2052-10397.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) says that the work involved in producing the new Code of the game’s Laws is on schedule and that they will come into force on the first of October as planned.  It is currently anticipated that the final version of the updated Laws will go to the MCC Committee for approval towards the end of March, and be available for all to access via the internet shortly afterwards, then in other formats later in the year.  

 

The MCC committee approved “99 per cent” of the draft Code provided to it last week for consideration and “except for a few tweaks” all the general principles involved have been signed off on.  Apart from tidying up the other one percent, the main task now for the MCC Laws sub-committee and staff involved is to carefully go through the draft to renumber the Laws and all the cross-references, as well as amending the index at the back of the Laws booklet.

 

The most significant changes to the Laws are expected to be to Law 6, in regards to bat dimensions (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016), and Law 42 in relation to player discipline, particularly the introduction of a system to remove players from the field (PTG 1998-10082, 8 December 2016).  Other changes include such matters as catches and stumpings taken after the ball has struck a fielder’s or wicketkeeper's helmet (PTG 1998-10086, 8 December 2016), while many Laws have been reworded in order to make them clearer and easier to understand. 

 

Fraser Stewart, MCC’s Cricket Academy Manager, who is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the work involved, says that the availability of the new Code in April will ensure trainers who conduct ‘winter laws schools’ in areas of the world where their next season starts in the last quarter of the year, such as in southern Africa, south Asia and Australasia, ample time to prepare and present courses to umpires and scorers in their region of responsibility.  “MCC is well aware of their needs time-wise, so we’re keen to get the Laws out as soon as we can”, said Stewart.

 

In the first instance MCC’s website will be used to distribute information on the new Code.  The current version of the Laws will remain on the site under the end of September for use of those playing their 2017 season in Europe and the northern Americas.  Access to the new Code from April will be via a downloadable PDF, while an accompanying document will focus on, and explain, the changes that have been made.

 

Work to have a new edition of the ‘blue book’ printed and distributed will, says Stewart, be undertaken in conjunction with countries around the world.  It is hoped that, where relevant, national boards will have the Laws translated into as many languages as possible, to be housed on MCC’s website.  

MCC’s Laws App, already available as a free download on iOS and Android, will also be updated (PTG 1826-9130, 13 May 2016), and amendments made to some of the existing Laws animations; however, there are no plans to expand the number of animations beyond the existing fifteen (PTG 1576-7576, 25 June 2015).  The Laws ‘Bible’, ‘Tom Smith’s’, is to be published in book format and as an e-book, although there is no indication at this time as to when it will be available.

 

MCC also plans to launch a new e-learning and accreditation system that will be available world-wide, a project it first flagged publicly two-and-a-half years ago (PTG 1409-6802, 8 August 2014).  It will focus on the Laws and will include the Laws animations plus, says Stewart, “the liberal use of video clips”.  Those who eventually undertake that course on-line will be able to sit an "exam-style” test and receive a certificate from MCC that indicates the percentage of questions they got right.  It would then though be up to individual national boards to make the decision as to whether the score received is a pass or fail. 

Umpires stop T20 to check what’s in bowler's pocket.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 18 February 2017.

PTG 2052-10398.

Umpires momentarily stopped Friday’s Australia-Sri Lanka Twenty20 International at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to check the pocket of fast bowler Lasith Malinga.  The Sri Lankan was walking back to his bowling mark in the 17th over of Australia’s innings when umpire Mick Martell approached him and asked what was in his pocket as Malinga had kept placing his bowling hand into it between deliveries.

Malinga pulled out and showed Martell a white hand warmer which he deemed legal, handed him the ball and the game continued.  Television commentator Michael Clarke said the Sri Lankan had a hand warmer in pocket as "it’s a little bit cold here at the MCG tonight”.  "He’s just got one warmer in there to keep the fingers warm for the way he releases the ball”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,053

Sunday, 19 February 2017

 

• ECB considering artificial pitches for new T20 venture [2053-10399].

• Five new CLOs named to support the County game [2053-10400].

ECB considering artificial pitches for new T20 venture.

George Dobell.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 18 February 2017.

PTG 2053-10399.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is contemplating the use of artificial pitches for its proposed new Twenty20 league. Reports suggest the ECB wants to use such artificial pitches which will be more advantageous to batsman to score more runs and hence attract more audience and viewership (PTG 2042-10344, 8 February 2017). 

Keen to ensure the best-possible surfaces, at least for batsmen, for a competition seen as vital in attracting a new audience to the game, the ECB recently discussed the idea with county groundsmen during their preseason meeting last week (PTG 2047-10374, 13 February 2017). It is understood that Chris Wood, the ECB's Pitch Consultant, has been charged with researching how to introduce such surfaces ahead of the launch of the competition in 2020. 

There are significant pros and cons to the use of such pitches. While it would likely result in a certain homogenisation of conditions and provide even less opportunity for bowlers to extract anything from surfaces, it would also enable grounds to provide the centre-wicket pitches required by broadcasters multiple times without concerns about deterioration. Artificial surfaces might also be considered to provide uniformity of conditions for both teams, which a turf surface will not always offer.

While long-term lovers of cricket may have reservations about artificial surfaces, the ECB's mantra over the new competition is that it is not designed to appeal to those already watching the game: it is designed to appeal to the vast potential audience that is currently immune to its charms. The ECB feels that providing such good-paced surfaces will help create the high-scoring, boundary-filled cricket it believes will attract that new audience. It might also minimise delays after poor weather.

To that end, Wood is looking into the best options and cost implications of laying such pitches close to the middle of squares in all first-class grounds.  Drop-in surfaces have also been considered but are not thought to be cost effective or provide quite the same uniformity of performance.

It is a move that will do nothing to address the increasing imbalance between bat and ball and might rob the game of the sort of low-scoring thrillers that made the 1983 World Cup final, the 2015 World Cup match between New Zealand and Australia, and the 2003 World Cup match between Australia and England - among many others - so memorable. But subtlety appears to be one the likely victims of the T20 revolution.

Five new CLOs named to support the County game.

PTG Editor.

ECB media release.

Saturday, 18 February 2017.

PTG 2053-10400.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has named the five former county players who will take up positions on its expanded Cricket Liaison Officer (CLO) group for the 2017 northern summer.  Those chosen are: Tim Boon, Dean Cosker, Richard Ellison, Wayne Noon and Lloyd Tennant , who join the five who served as CLOs in 2016, Graham Cowdrey, Stuart Cummings, Steve Davis, Tony Pigott and Phil Whitticase (PTG 2044-10356, 10 February 2017).

Of the newcomers, Ellison played for Kent and England, the latter in 11 Tests and 14 One Day Internationals, including the Ashes victory of 1985.  Tennant was with Leicestershire for more than two decades and worked as England Under-19 bowling coach in two World Cups. Boon also played for Leicestershire then moved on to a long coaching career there and as member of England’s staff during the 2005 Ashes, and with the national Under-19s.  Cosker retired as a player late last year after a 21-season career with Glamorgan while Noon, a former Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire player, worked for 14 years at Trent Bridge as assistant to director of cricket.

With the panel now doubled to 10, the aim is to have a CLO at every match in both divisions of the County Championship, and both the North and South Groups of the ECB’s domestic one-day and Twenty20 competitions.  

The CLOs are to be managed by Andy Smith, a former Surrey all-rounder who re-joins the ECB in a new role as Cricket Operations Manager after eight years working as Operations Manager and High Performance Director for Hockey Australia.

Smith said: “I’m delighted to be back in cricket at the ECB, in an interesting and challenging new role. After encouraging feedback following the introduction of this role two years ago, the CLO will now have more decision-making responsibility in the areas of discipline and the rating of pitches.  It’s a positive step forward to support the county game and will enable us to provide coverage across all matches for the first time”.  That role appears, if not the same, very similar to what are known as match referees in other jurisdictions.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,054

Monday, 20 February 2017

 

• PSL pair charged with anti-corruption code breaches [2054-10401].

• Cancer surgery for former Aussie international [2054-10402].

• Aussie keeper pushes for concussion substitutes [2054-10403].

• One-day game seen as key to England game's future [2054-10404].

PSL pair charged with anti-corruption code breaches.

Umar Farooqf and Osman Samiuddin.

Cricinfo. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017.

PTG 2054-10401.

Pakistan and Islamabad United batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif face the prospect of lengthy bans from cricket after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) charged them for alleged breaches of its anti-corruption code on Saturday.   The pair were handed official charge sheets of their alleged misdemeanours in Lahore, a week after they were sent home from the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the United Arab Emirates (PTG 22050-10386, 16 February 2017). 

The PCB confirmed in a statement that Sharjeel and Latif had been charged for breaching various articles under Clause 2 of the code, including specific ones to attempt to corrupt a game, as well as more general misdemeanours of failing to disclose suspect approaches.  "They have been handed notices and been advised to seek legal counsel”, said PCB legal advisor Taffazul Rizvi. "They have 14 days to respond”. 

How the case now proceeds will depend on the replies the players make to the charges. If, for instance, they decide to contest, then an independent tribunal will be set up to hear the arguments of both the PCB and the players. If they accept the charges, the chairman of the PCB's disciplinary panel will decide on the quantum of punishment each player receives. 

Sharjeel and Latif have been in Lahore for the last three days, where they have been interviewed extensively by the PCB's Vigilance and Security department. They were handed their notices in person on Saturday. 

The charges centre on the opening game of the second season of the PSL, as well as activities around it, in Dubai. Islamabad romped home to a comfortable Duckworth-Lewis win over Peshawar Zalmi; Sharjeel was dismissed for one off four balls and Latif did not play the game. Both men have played international cricket for Pakistan with Sharjeel starting to become a vital cog in limited-overs cricket for his ability to attack from the outset. 

The pair, along with team-mate Mohammad Irfan, were first questioned by the PCB's anti-corruption unit straight after that game. Sharjeel and Latif were sent home, but Irfan was allowed to stay on and has continued to play a part in Islamabad's campaign.  In the immediate aftermath of those developments, Zulfiqar Babar from Quetta Gladiators and Shahzaib Hasan of Karachi Kings, were also questioned. But both have been cleared and have continued to play for their franchises (PTG 2048-10375, 14 February 2017). 

The other key figure in the investigation is another left-handed opener who has represented Pakistan - Nasir Jamshed, who was arrested in the UK by the National Crime Agency last Monday but released on bail until April. Jamshed was one of two men arrested. Prior to this, PSL chairman Najam Sethi had said on his talk show on Geo TV: "We had a lot of evidence on which we based our decision. We know what we are doing. We have all evidence. We had this for a while, we had information - we cannot talk about stuff right now but a charge sheet will be given to players soon”. 

Meanwhile, former England batsman Kevin Pietersen, who is currently playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the PSL, says he is still mulling whether to travel to Pakistan if his side makes the competition’s final and it is played in Lahore.  Last week PSL chairman Najam Sethi assured fans that the final match in the Twenty20 series will be held in Lahore, if they want it to be so (PTG 2045-10364, 11 February 2017).

Cancer surgery for former Aussie international.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 19 February 2017.

PTG 2054-10402.

Former Australian international umpire Daryl Harper underwent cancer-related surgery in Australia on Wednesday. The surgery, during which 60 cm of his colon was removed, was performed at an hospital in Adelaide his home town.  Harper was quoted by a journalist as saying from his hospital bed he "had a three-hour bowel cancer operation” and is currently recovering in hospital where was expected to be required to stay “for three to four days”.  

Harper, 65, who has been employed as a match referee for Cricket Australia over the last five years, stood in 95 Tests, 174 One Day Internationals and 10 Twenty20s Internationals in the period from 1994-2011.  His departure from the international game came after what he called a “lack of support from the International Cricket Council” following his criticism of the on-field behaviour of Indian players and subsequent public statements made about him by both the players and their administrators (PTG 798-3902, 17 July 2011).

Aussie keeper pushes for concussion substitutes.

Australian Associated Press.

Sunday, 19 February 2017.

PTG 2054-10403.

The push for concussion substitutes in first-class cricket continues to gather momentum, with Australia's wicketkeeper Matthew Wade saying the issue "needs to be looked at”.  His comments come after Victoria's Sam Harper, keeping in the absence of Test squad members Wade and Peter Handscomb, was struck on the helmet by a bat during a recent Sheffield Shield game (PTG 2049-10380, 15 February 2017), and Victorian team mate Aaron Finch spoke passionately about the need for a substitute earlier in the week.

Cricket Australia (CA) introduced a concussion substitute law for domestic one-day and Twenty20 cricket this astral summer, but the International Cricket Council blocked attempts to roll it out at first-class level.  CA officials continue to lobby the ICC, while its players are becoming increasingly vocal about the topic (PTG 2049-10381, 15 February 2017).  "The players are starting to come around I suppose more and more with this issue, that we've got to look after the players”, Wade said in Mumbai.

"You don't want people to be playing with 10 men because someone got hit with a cricket bat. So it's something that needs to be looked at, for sure.  I can't speak for all the players, but it's something I'm sure the Australian Cricketers’ Association will sit down and speak to the players about. It's something we've definitely got to look at”, said Wade.

Finch took the gloves for Victoria following Harper's hit, having also filled in for Peter Nevill during the Big Bash League (BBL). Nevill was struck on the head twice during the BBL season (PTG 2026-10255, 18 January 2017).

Former Australian player Justin Langer is one of few notable figures to offer a contrary opinion about the issue. Langer, who is currently serving as coach of the national Twenty20 side, said last year the rule would work provided "people respect what it is”.  

"The problem is when people start looking for loopholes. Then it's no good, it wrecks it for everybody”, Langer said.  "We don't have runners any more but if people had maintained the integrity of that then we'd still have runners.  Maybe we've got to have a look at the whole concept of substituting a player through injury but to just do it for concussion - it's such a grey area.  We've got to be consistent and with concussion I don't know how we can be consistent”.

One-day game seen as key to England game's future.

Simon Wilde.

The Times.

Sunday, 19 February 2017.

PTG 2054-10404.

This week more than 200 past and present England cricketers will gather at Lord’s for a dinner organised by England team director Andrew Strauss. His aim is to make current players appreciate that they are part of a broader narrative, and merely temporary custodians of the national shirt, but what is striking too is that invitees are not just Test cricketers but those who “only” represented England in One Day Internationals (ODI) or Twenty20 Internationals.

This is just one manifestation of Strauss’ determination to scrap the second-class status the English game has historically bestowed on limited-overs cricket, a quiet revolution that has shaped Strauss’ two years in his job and which is being felt in the way the national teams are run.

Another comes on Monday when the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 2017 auction is expected to result in more English players being recruited for the world’s richest tournament than ever before. Ben Stokes may well go for big bucks, as might Tymal Mills and Jason Roy. Jos Buttler and Sam Billings already have deals. Five years ago, Strauss’ captaincy was almost brought to its knees by Kevin Pietersen unsuccessfully demanding time off to go to the IPL. Strauss was not then on his side.

Somewhere along the line, Strauss has undergone a Damascene conversion. As a player, he was a Test cricketer first and a one-day player second. Neither as batsman nor captain was he a gambler. But since becoming director of cricket he has appointed a head coach, Trevor Bayliss, specifically because of his success in white-ball cricket and last week England’s Test captaincy and vice-captaincy passed to two multi-faceted cricketers in Joe Root and Stokes.

Root has spoken about how he sees Test match batting going down the same path as one-day cricket: “Guys will be scoring at quicker and quicker rates. We have to make sure we keep up”.

Strauss, more radically still perhaps, sees the high-pressure environment of the IPL, Big Bash (another competition he has allowed English cricketers to populate) or a World Twenty20 as perfect testing grounds for emerging players. If they can show a stomach for the fight and an ability to soak up pressure in those situations, he argues, they will cope with the first morning of an Ashes series.

While England’s white-ball cricket has changed out of all recognition over the past two years, their Test cricket has suffered. Strauss rejects the suggestion that there is a connection: that the freewheeling approach that works well in white-ball games has infected mindsets in the five-day format. He believes that England have simply had problems with batting that they are now on the way to solving.

There is more to it than just results, though. When he took office, Strauss would have been made aware of the crisis facing the English game, of the market research that showed a disconnection between the game and a young population who no longer recognise the nation’s top cricketers (PTG 1925-9671, 16 September 2016). The England and Wales Cricket Board’s new domestic Twenty20 tournament set to come online in 2020 is designed to address this problem, but if that event is to take off it would greatly help if England won the 50-over World Cup on home soil in 2019. If the Ashes are also won that same summer, so much the better.

Strauss has described his job as getting England to number one in the rankings in Tests and ODIs — which leaves work to do as they stand respectively fourth and fifth — but one gets the sense that the non-negotiable prize is the 2019 World Cup.  The truth is that it is one-day stars — Root, Stokes, Buttler, Billings, Roy et al — who have the capacity to again make cricket an irresistible brand with the wider public, not the Test specialists, and Strauss knows that.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,055

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

 

• 'Run out' ‘legal’ but against ‘spirit’, claims umpires' secretary [2055-10405].

• MCC looking for new ‘Laws of Cricket Advisor’ [2055-10406].

• ECB, players’ union in talks to resolve IPL pay dispute [2055-10407].

• Pollock to represent media on ICC’s Cricket Committee [2055-10408].

'Run out' ‘legal’ but against ‘spirit’, claims umpires' secretary.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 20 February 2017.

PTG 2055-10405.

A player in suburban Melbourne has been accused of an action that was against the spirit of the game after a run out during a tied Diamond Valley Cricket Association (DVCA) match between Bundoora and Macleod on Saturday.  While DVCA umpires’ secretary Ian Davidson told local media the dismissal was within the Laws, he apparently believes it was "against the spirit of the game" and hinted that as such umpires Robert Poyntz and Nick Shearer should have turned the appeal down.

With his side chasing 103 for a win, reports say Bundoora batsman Nasir Cheema was short of his ground after being run out by Macleod skipper Tim Wise in the what was the second day of a two-day fixture.  Cheema, who was the third wicket to fall in the innings, fended off a ball from all-rounder Wise, which stopped a short way from the batsman’s crease.  Bundoora captain Shupinder Taggar said Cheema offered to pick the ball up and pass it to a fieldsman or bowler Wise.

Taggar said that bowler Wise then told the batsman not to pick up the ball and to “leave it alone”.  “As [the fieldsman] picked up the ball, Nasir was trying to get back to his crease and his foot was on the line when Tim hit the stumps and appealed for a run out”, Taggar said.  The umpire at square leg is then said to have asked Wise if he wanted to go through with the appeal, which he did, and the umpire raised his finger.

“I’m not sure how you can do that, playing local cricket”, said Taggar after the game, in a reaction common when ‘Mankad’ type run outs occur (PTG 1775-8864, 5 March 2016).  “Our players didn’t believe what they were seeing.  We just stood there stunned.  If it came from someone who isn’t local and doesn’t know about the competition, that could be understandable.  But Timmy [Wise] being around [the competition] for so long, I was just stunned.  It’s called a gentleman’s game and that’s not what gentlemen do”.

DVCA umpires’ secretary Davidson was quoted as saying in the local paper on Monday as saying: "One of the other [umpire association’s] executive members spoke to the two umpires and they said it was within the game’s Laws because it wasn’t a dead ball, so naturally they had to give it out.  I believe, and this is only myself, that it wasn’t in the spirit of the game … even though it was legal”.  Wise declined to comment and Bundoora won’t be appealing the decision.

Bundoora’s Tagger also questioned whether the action was compatible with the spirit of the game.  “You sledge, you cop a bit, you give a bit back but after the end of the game you go back and have a beer to try and maintain that friendship and bonding off field, but that wasn’t the sort of thing you hang back to have a beer over”, he said.  “Three or four [members of our team] stayed back for 15-20 minutes after the game but [the Macleod side] didn’t come out of their rooms so we just decided to leave.  All I know is that I have never seen or heard anything like this before and probably won’t see again in my life”.

MCC looking for new ‘Laws of Cricket Advisor'.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Monday, 20 February 2017.

PTG 2055-10406.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has called for applications for its 'Laws of Cricket Advisor’ positionthe vacancy arising as a result of the retirement of Mark Williams (PTG 1485-7182, 17 December 2014).  As the name implies, the position carries out work that relates to the game’s Laws, and the Club says: “ideally, candidates will have experience as an umpire or a scorer, with experience of producing or delivering training courses for officials".  

The job description says the person selected will be required to "produce and review market leading on-line training and education materials for match officials at all levels and all around the world, aimed at awarding various degrees of accreditation (PTG 2052-10397, 18 February 2017).  Other key projects include "working with departments within the Club to investigate commercial opportunities that may exist in relation to the Club’s ownership of the Laws, assisting with the production of animations on the Laws of Cricket, and investigating illegal cricket equipment". 

The role will also handle all Laws related administration, including writing content for the Lord’s website and also writing an annual summary of the work of the Laws sub-committee for the Club’s Annual Report. 

The MCC says its looking for someone who has "a passion and knowledge of the game of cricket”, and that "the ideal candidate will be self-motivated and resourceful, with a meticulous eye for detail”.  "Robust presentation and interpersonal skills are also essential, as he or she will be interacting with a diverse range of people, internally and externally with the aim of establishing long-lasting relationships.  Fluency in English is essential, with excellent written and communication skills.  A firm knowledge and understanding of English grammar is also required.  Experience of producing e-learning materials is also beneficial".

Those chosen will need to demonstrate: a positive and proactive approach to all elements of the role; responsibility for their own actions and outputs; demonstrate respect and courtesy to the Club’s staff and visitors; promote teamwork by supporting others and sharing knowledge; and deliver high quality work and service in a timely manner.  Skills and ability testing are said to form part of the selection process.

ECB, players’ union in talks to resolve IPL pay dispute.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2055-10407.

Talks between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the UK Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) or players’ union will be held to resolve a a pay dispute over the Indian Premier League (IPL).  The PCA will meet with Andrew Strauss, the England director, to negotiate a new compensation scheme to replace the current one, which will see England’s Ben Stokes docked potentially up to £UK140,000 ($A227,100) for playing in the IPL this year.

Centrally contracted Test players like Stokes and Chris Woakes are deducted 0.5 per cent of their £UK700,000 ($A1.14 m) a year salary by the ECB for each day they are on IPL duty. White ball players such as Jos Buttler and Jason Roy face losing one per cent every day for 21 days of IPL duty, which drops to 0.75 per cent thereafter. An ECB white ball contract is worth an estimated £UK180,000 ($A292,000).

The money is to compensate counties for losing England players to the IPL at a time when they might be expected to play championship cricket.  Stokes will be away for around 39 days. 

David Leatherdale, the chief executive of the PCA, said: "There are discussions ongoing at the moment. The compensation model has been around for six years so we, the PCA and ECB are discussing what a future model should look like because it is felt the present model is not right going forward”. 

In the past the payments were put in place as a deterrent because English cricket viewed the IPL suspiciously and counties felt they would lose their best players overseas for a chunk of the championship season. But Strauss has encouraged players to play in the IPL (PTG 2054-10404, 20 February 2017), and many leading cricketers now negotiate an IPL clause in their county deals. 

The money is no problem for Stokes who will earn around £UK2.4m ($A3.9 m) from cricket next year but for players like Chris Jordan or Roy, who are only earning between £UK60,000-120,000 ($A97,300-195,000) in the IPL, a decent chunk of their payment will disappear. 

All England players are expected to be available for the IPL until mid-May when they will have to return for a training camp in Spain before the Champions Trophy, apart from Morgan who will have to be back on the first day of that month to captain against Ireland in two One Day Internationals.

Pollock to represent media on ICC’s Cricket Committee.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Monday, 20 February 2017.

PTG 2055-10408.

Former South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock has replaced former Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri as the representative from the media on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee (CC).  The 43-year-old South African was nominated to the committee, which is chaired by former Indian captain Anil Kumble, at the recent ICC meeting in Dubai, and expected to attend his first CC meeting at it’s annual gathering in May.

The CC now consists of: Kumble; Andrew Strauss and Mahela Jayawardena (representing former players’); Rahul Dravid and Tim May (Current players’); Darren Lehmann (Team Coaches); David White (ICC Full Members);  Richard Kettleborough (Umpires’); Ranjan Madugalle (Referees’); John Stephenson (Marylebone Cricket Club); Kevin O’ Brien (ICC Associate Members); Clare Connor (Women’s game); Pollock; and CC Secretary Clive Hitchcock.  ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and chief executive David Richardson are ex-officio members.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,056

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

 

• Keeper remains in hospital, immediate playing future in doubt [2056-10409].

• Cricket urged to use gender-neutral terms [2056-10410].

• All-female umpire team for WWC Qualifier final [2056-10411].

• IPL auction a 'slap in Test cricket's face’, says Pietersen [2056-10412].

• ‘More than half’ PSL’s foreign players OK about Lahore final [2056-10413].

• Latest indiscretion sees Sri Lankan banned for two matches [2056-10414].

• Player potentially facing lengthy ban for ‘chest push’ [2056-10415].

Keeper remains in hospital, immediate playing future in doubt.

Russell Gould.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10409.

Victorian wicket keeper Sam Harper remains in an Adelaide hospital ten days after taking a blow to the head in a Sheffield Shield game and his immediate playing future is in serious doubt.   Harper wasn’t considered for this weekend’s Shield fixture against Western Australia (WA) in Perth and is yet to return home as he continues to receive treatment (PTG 2049-10379, 15 February 2017).  

The wicketkeeper was accidentally hit in the head by South Australian batsman Jake Lehmann two Saturday’s ago and ferried straight to hospital where scans revealed no skull or facial fractures (PTG 2046-10367, 12 February 2017).  However, he has continued to display symptoms from the blow and isn’t expected to be able to leave hospital until later this week at the earliest.  The specifics of what’s ailing him remain unknown but even when he is released from hospital an immediate return to cricket is unlikely.

Seb Gotch, who was flown to Adelaide to replace Harper in the game before South Australian captain Travis Head denied a Victorian request to sub him in, is set to take the gloves against WA in what will be his Victorian debut.  “While our thoughts and best wishes are with Sam on making a quick recovery, Seb Gotch will be given his first opportunity at the top level and has shown impressive form of late in the Futures League”, said Victorian Chairman of Selectors Andrew Lynch.

Cricket urged to use gender-neutral terms.

Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10410.

An Australian cricket administrator has called for terms like "batsman" and "12th man" to be dropped in favour of gender-neutral versions like "batter" and "12th", to encourage women and girls to play the game. Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews said that "words matter" and the "gentleman's game" needed to be more inclusive.

She said cricket should adopt words like "batter", "12th" and "third" -- instead of "third man" -- describing the traditional terms as "a bit like bullying”.  "Here we are, in 2017, using terms such as 12th man, batsman, fieldsman and nightwatchman without a second thought”, said Matthews.

"In my view, there's no common sense reason why [the terms can't be changed]. I think it's just something people have held on to”, continued Matthews.  "Words matter, and words demonstrate respect as well. By not changing the terms, you're disrespecting half the population.  I'm not saying people are deliberately trying to offend but it's a bit like bullying -- whether you're bullied or not is dictated by the person who is on the end of it, not the person who's doing it”.

Perth Scorchers Womens’ Big Bash League fast bowler Piepa Cleary backed Matthews and said it was important to take steps towards gender equality in cricket.  "Everyone still says female athletes or female cricket, but we're athletes playing cricket”, Cleary said.  "We need to stop being compared to the men's game and be recognised for playing the same sport in our own field.  It's going to take a long time to change, but hopefully it will start to happen sooner rather than later”.

The current Laws of Cricket contain a statement which says: “The players, umpires and scorers in a game may be of either gender and the Laws apply equally to both.  The use, throughout the text, of pronouns indicating the male gender is purely for brevity. Except where specifically stated otherwise, every provision of the Laws is to be read as applying to women and girls equally as to men and boys”.  What the Marylebone Cricket Club’s approach will be in the new Code when it is published later this year is not known.

All-female umpire team for WWC Qualifier final.

PTG Editor

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10411.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed four women umpires to the final of the Womens’ World Cup Qualifier series played in Colombo on Tuesday.   Kathy Cross of New Zealand and Claire Polosak of Australia were on-field, the television offical was Sue Redfern of England and the reserve Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies.  All four are members of the ICC’s third-tier Associates and Affiliates International Umpires Panel (AAIUP).  The other five umpires selected for the series were male (PTG 2031-10282, 26 January 2017).  

Meanwhile, the ICC is using 11 match officials to oversee its World Cricket League East Asia-Pacific Region (EAP) Qualifier series which is currently underway in northern Victoria.  Cricket Australia have provided senior match referee Bob Stratford and Phillip Gillespie from its National Umpires Panel, to work with umpires from six other countries.  In addition to Stratford, Jane Livesey the EAP Development Officer, has also been working as a match referee in games involving the tournament’s six teams: Indonesia, Fiji, Japan, Philippines, Samoa and Vanuatu.

The umpires the ICC has flown in for the tournament are: Alu Kapa and Lakani Oala from Papua New Guinea, Singapore’s Sarika Siva Prasad, Hong Kong’s Clive Howard and Chris Thurgate, Indonesian Suresh Subramanian, Viswandan Kalidasa from Malaysia, and Thai Ashwani Kumar Rana.  Howard, Kapa, Oala and Prasad are all members of the AAIUP. 

IPL auction a 'slap in Test cricket's face’, says Pietersen.

BBC Sport.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10412.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen says Monday's auction for this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 competition was "another slap in Test cricket's face".   England duo Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills were bought for £UK1.7 m ($A2.8 m) and £UK1.4 m ($A    2.3 m) by Rising Pune Supergiants and and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively.  Pace bowler Mills only plays Twenty20 cricket because of back pains, which led Pietersen to comment: "A T20 specialist becomes one of the current England team's richest players”.

Pietersen, who has not played an international match since he was sacked by England in 2014, has since become a T20 specialist and played in competitions in Australia, India, South Africa, the West Indies and in the on-going Pakistani T20 tournament being played in the United Arab Emirates.

The now 36-year-old said via social media: "I embraced [T20] eight years ago” and  "I absolutely love how all these youngsters are now benefiting”.  "I love how T20 is growing the game. I'm just saying that Tests are falling way behind at the moment. The ICC [International Cricket Council] needs to act and quick”.

England players Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy and Chris Jordan were also bought in the auction, while Jos Buttler and Sam Billings were retained by their franchises.  The fee paid for 25-year-old all-rounder Stokes made him the the most expensive overseas player in IPL history.  "It's a life-changing amount of money”, said Stokes, who was recently named as England’s Test vice-captain. 

The England and Wales Cricket Board have given Buttler, Stokes, and Woakes, who are all senior England one-day players, permission to miss the start of the international summer in order that they can play in the IPL.  They have been told they can remain in India instead of returning home to appear in the two One Day Internationals England are to play against Ireland in the first week of May.

‘More than half’ PSL’s foreign players OK about Lahore final.

PTG Editor

Media reports.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10413.

Shahryar Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), says more than half of foreign players taking part in the on-going Pakistan Super League (PSL) series are willing to travel to Lahore for the competition final.  He said the PCB fully trusted law enforcement agencies to provide “foolproof security" for foreign players.  The PCB chief said arrangements are being made at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore for the final and that that ticket sales will open “soon”.

Owners of the five PSL franchises have agreed that their teams will travel to Lahore should they qualify for the final, which is scheduled to be played on Sunday week. The decision came after a meeting on Monday in which PSL management briefed the franchises on security arrangements for the final.  The PSL has maintained from before the start of this season that the final would be held in Lahore, but that intent has been shaken by a series of bombings in Pakistan over the last week (PTG 2048-10375, 14 February 2017). 

Latest indiscretion sees Sri Lankan banned for two matches.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10414.

Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella’s disciplinary points record has reached five following an incident in last Sunday’s Twenty20 International (T20I) against Australia in Geelong, and as such he has been suspended for his side’s next two limited-over matches.   Dickwella was fined 50 per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) against South Africa in Cape Town two weeks ago (PTG 2043-10352, 9 February 2017), and his dissent at an umpire’s decision in Sunday’s T20I saw him fined 30 per cent of his fee and given two more demerit points.

Sunday's two demerit points meant he had reached the minimum threshold of four demerit points, which, pursuant to the International Cricket Council’s Code of Player Behaviour, have now been converted into two suspension points.  Two suspension points equate to a ban from one Test or two ODIs or two T20Is, whatever comes first for the player.

 

As such, Dickwella has been suspended from his side’s third and final T20I of the series against against Australia which is to be played in Adelaide on Wednesday as well as the next limited overs match Sri Lanka is likely to play, which is currently scheduled to be the first ODI against Bangladesh in Dambulla in late March.

 

The five demerit points will remain on Dickwella’s disciplinary record for a period of twenty-four months from their imposition and if he reaches eight or more demerit points within a 24-month period, then they will be converted into four suspension points. Four suspension points equate to a ban from two Tests or four ODIs or four T20Is, whatever comes first for the player.

 

The incident in Geelong happened when Dickwella, after being given out caught behind, paused to view the replay, kicked the turf and looked at his shoulder for a prolonged period of time.

 

In a related incident, Australia wicketkeeper, Tim Paine, has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee and received one demerit point for “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his/her dismissal during an International Match”.  The ICC says the incident happened when Paine used "inappropriate words" after Dickwella had been given caught behind.

 

The charges against the pair were leveled by on-field umpires Simon Fry and Sam Nogajski, third umpire Joel Wilson and fourth official Michael Graham-Smith.  Under ICC regulations, all first offences Level One breaches carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand, a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee, and one or two demerit points.

Player potentially facing lengthy ban for ‘chest push’.

Andrew Moir.

Border Mail.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

PTG 2056-10415.

Nick Hallam from the Wangaratta Magpies’ club in northern Victoria’s Wangaratta and District Cricket Association (WDCA), is potentially facing one of the longest suspensions in association history.  Hallam has been charged with the physical abuse of Yarrawonga Mulwala’s Matt Knight during an incident on the last day of a two-day match last Saturday, an action for which the WDCA has a set penalty of a 20-week suspension.

It is understood that tension between Hallam and home side Yarrawonga Mulwala started on the first day of the game the previous Saturday.  On that day Hallam dismissed Yarrawonga number ten batsman Matt McCabe and gave him what reports say was "a robust send-off”.  When the Wangaratta side batted for a second time and Hallam was at the crease, Knight was fielding at second slip and talking to Hallam, who approached Knight and pushed him in the chest.  

Yarrawonga captain Reid Clarke said:  “We were just sticking up for a team-mate, I guess, and we’ve done that a lot over the years”.  Wangaratta had their view too, their captain Dylan Lindgren saying: "Nick has the absolute backing of the club.  Obviously any time a player engages in physical contact it’s probably pushing the boundaries and taking it too far.  But it’s not in [Nick’s] nature for incidents like this to happen”.

Landgren maintains Hallam’s send-off of McCabe was settled after day one.  “The umpire had spoken to me and Nick, and we’d both spoken to [McCabe] and opposition captain [Clarke], and Nick apologised, even if he didn’t really have to”, said Lindgren.  "From our point of view, it’s one of those scenarios where it comes across, when you hear it, a lot worse than what it actually was”.  Clarke admitted his players had a beer with Hallam after the game and there’s no bad blood between the parties.  “I’m quite proud of how our team handled the situation once we [dismissed] Nick” on day two, Clarke said.  “We could have carried on and whatever, but we just dealt with it, we didn’t say a word”.

WDCA vice-president Justin Triffitt said: “Some preliminary discussions that we have had suggest that, in this instance, the 20 weeks may be a little bit too heavy-handed, [although] obviously we’re not happy what’s happened in the game, it’s certainly not within the spirit of cricket”.  Triffitt indicated that “a full statement” has been received from umpire Richard Heywood, who was looking after the game as the sole official.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,057

Thursday, 23 February 2017

 

• 'Ball kick' for four called ‘disappointing’, against game’s ’Spirit'  [2057-10416].

• WICB fines, reprimands, three players for dissent [2057-10417].

• Fans paying the price for bloated schedule [2057-10418].

• Napier ground for $NZ900,000 drainage refurbishment [2057-10419].

'Ball kick' for four called ‘disappointing, against game’s ’Spirit’. 

Caulfield Glen Eira Leader.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017.

PTG 2057-10416.

Cricket Victoria (CV) will take no action against a Melbourne player who deliberately kicked the ball over the boundary in last Saturday’s Premier League first XI match against Prahran at the Albert Ground in Melbourne.  But CV says it will write to the Melbourne Cricket Club reminding them of the ‘Spirit of cricket'.

Prahran was battling to save the game in the game’s last session when the incident occurred.  Matt Wilcox, facing the last delivery of the over, hit the ball through point. It stopped some 25 metres inside the boundary.  Wilcox and partner Sam Grimwade had completed two runs and were considering a third, but had not crossed, when a Melbourne fieldsman booted the ball to the fence, the intention being to have Wilcox at the nonstriker’s end for the next over.

The umpires, Adam Hawking and Gaurav Bawa, initially signalled four but after the match they awarded Wilcox six runs under Law 19.7, the two he ran and the four for the ball going to the boundary.  The ploy worked in that Grimwade was given out LBW to the first delivery of the following over, leaving Prahran nine wickets down.  They eventually finished on 9/279 in reply to Melbourne’s 7/362 though, therefore the match ended in a draw.

CV’s Mike Ronchi described the incident as “disappointing’’.  He said the umpires mentioned it in their post-match report but the fieldsman would not be penalised.  “That said, there will probably be some correspondence entered into in regards to playing the game in the spirit of the game”, said Ronchi.

“It will be more as an educational thing than any penalty, along the lines that it wasn’t appreciated, please don’t do it again, it wasn’t in the spirit of the game, it’s something we don’t want to see again in Premier Cricket.  Obviously [Melbourne] were trying to keep the batsman at the nonstriker’s end. That was the motivation behind it. The idea was to kick it over and have it called four”.

Ronchi said he had never heard of such an incident in cricket and nor had CV senior umpires adviser Richard Patterson, a former first class umpire.  “As I said to him, cricket’s an amazing game. It keeps throwing up stuff you’ve never seen before. It never fails to amaze me how something comes up where people just look at each other with a blank stare”.’

Melbourne coach Andrew Walton said he was disappointed in the episode.  He said the fieldsman acted on the encouragement of another player to boot the ball to the fence.  “I didn’t see the entire incident. I have been part of an investigation and a full debrief of the incident”, he said.  “Personally, based on my own beliefs, I don’t accept what happened and I find it very disappointing. The spirit of cricket in all its forms needs to be upheld".

WICB fines, reprimands, three players for dissent.

PTG Editor.

WICB media release.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017.

PTG 2057-10417.

Two players were fined and another reprimanded for shows of dissent in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) recently concluded domestic List A series.  Barbados captain Nkrumah Bonner and Jason Holder of the Leeward Islands were fined 25 per cent of their match fees, while another Barbadian, Kraigg Brathwaite, was reprimanded.  Bonner and Holder admitted to the offences, but Brathwaite was given a reprimand following a hearing conducted by match referee Mervyn Jones.

Holder was reported for a Level One breach by on-field umpires Nigel Duguid and Peter Nero, along with TV umpire Carl Tuckett and reserve umpire Patrick Gustard, following the competition’s final.  He threw his hands in the air in a show of dissent following an unsuccessful LBW appeal.

Banner’s report, by on-field umpires Gregory Brathwaite and Carl Tuckett, plus reserve Bernard Joseph, was also a Level One.  After being given out caught behind he delayed leaving the wicket while looking at the umpire. On walking past the umpire Bonner queried the method of his dismissal and, when told, responded: “You can’t see”.  Brathwaite was reported by on-field umpires Nigel Duguid and Danesh Ramdhanie, along with reserve Ryan Willoughby for a clear delay in leaving the wicket after being given out caught behind.

Fans paying the price for bloated schedule.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Thursday, 23 February 2017.

PTG 2057-10418.

What’s the second best Test team in the world?” went the Australian joke in the 1990s. Australia ‘A’, of course, was the answer in that heady period of green and gold domination. Happily, long gone are the days when they could field an understrength team and wipe the floor with the opposition — not that it has stopped them trying this week.

Those keeping an eye on things down under would have noticed that there are two “Australia” teams playing simultaneously. One completed a Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka on Wednesday evening there, while the other starts a Test match today thousands of miles away in Pune, India. One flag, one badge, one nation but two cricket teams, two sets of coaching staff on two continents. How so?

Scheduling is the answer. Or, to be more precise, shocking scheduling. “Very, very poor”, according to David Warner recently, in defiance of his paymasters Cricket Australia. Warner is one of those players who would have been first choice in the T20 team, but is instead preparing for a trial by spin in India. Along with Warner, there are others such as Mitchell Starc, Glenn Maxwell and the captain, Steve Smith, who would be in two places at once were it possible.

Such has been the makeshift nature of the T20 team playing against Sri Lanka, that the star-studded coaching staff is better known. Ricky Ponting, Jason Gillespie and Justin Langer, probably the most decorated coaching staff ever assembled, have been charged with preparing them, while Darren Lehmann is away in India. On the field, opportunities have been granted to Michael Klinger and Ashton Turner, among others, who would not necessarily have been first-choice picks. Good for them, you might say.

For the T20 series, the crowds have been healthy, the games competitive and it is possible to argue that new faces keep things fresh — and such are the demands of international cricket that rotation is now the norm. But there is, surely, a simple, unshakeable principle about international sport: it should be the best of one country against the best of another. By no stretch could you say that Australia has put its best team onto the park this week against Sri Lanka.

Admittedly, the vastly different forms of the game means that Test teams and T20 teams will diverge more and more, but still the principle of best v best should remain. Certainly, Tony Irish, head of the international players’ union, thinks so. Not fair on fans or players, he said, recently. Warner’s beef was player-centric — he said that Australia should have designs on winning the next World Twenty20, and therefore should play its best side at all times; my complaint would be on behalf of the spectators, who buy tickets a long way in advance in expectation of seeing the best players.

This is not the only example of spectators being short-changed. Bristol have been pushing sales for their early and late-season international matches against Ireland and West Indies over the current northern hemisphere winter, by referencing England’s record-breaking one-day team through the pyrotechnics of Alex Hales and his mates last summer. Hales, as it happens, went unsold in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction this week, and will be in Bristol in May but others will be allowed to miss the early season One Day Internationals (ODI) against Ireland to stay a little longer in the IPL. No Ben Stokes, no Jos Buttler, no Chris Woakes (PTG 2056-10412, 22 February 2017).

This is not to criticise Andrew Strauss, who is playing the hand he has been dealt pragmatically. Given England’s intense schedule during the 2017-18 austral summer, it is unlikely that there will be much chance for England’s players to play IPL, and so this was the opportunity to be flexible and allow players to jump on the gravy train, with those filling their boots the most allowed to stay in India longest. It doesn’t change the fact that England’s early season ODI’s against Ireland will feature a less than full strength team.

Such is the problem with a calendar that is crammed to bursting with cricket. It is struggling to cope given that, uniquely, cricket has three forms of the game, as well as international and domestic tournaments competing against each other. Early plans for a revised schedule in England in 2020, to include the new-fangled city-based T20 tournament, would reveal that in high summer there will be three competitions going on simultaneously: Test matches, the 50-over competition and the new T20 tournament.

Pitching different forms of the game against each other is not a smart long-term strategy. It almost makes you wonder whether there is a deliberate intent to let the long form of the game wither and die.

Recent International Cricket Council meetings paved the way for a wholesale reform of the cricket calendar (PTG 2039-10324, 5 February 2017). A nine-team Test Championship played over two years; a 13-team ODI league played over three years, and regional T20 qualifiers for the T20 World Cup. These changes may bring more clarity, meaning and structure but they are unlikely to change the fundamental problem of a game cannibalising itself because of a fixture list that is too bloated.

Napier ground for $NZ900,000 drainage refurbishment.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017.

PTG 2057-10419.

As a result of the abandonment of the One Day International (ODI) match between New Zealand and Australia at McLean Park in Napier three weeks ago that was caused by drainage issues, the ground's outfield is to undergo a $NZ900,000 ($A838,300, £UK516,000) overhaul prior to the 2017-18 austral summer season.  Last week lost the NZ-South Africa ODI scheduled for next Wednesday because the outfield is not up to standard and will have to be dug up as part of the remedial work (PTG 2049-10383, 15 February 2017).

Central Districts cricket chief executive Pete de Wet said: "We haven't had the discussion with the [Napier City] Council yet or when they're planning on starting [the work involved].  We're just going through the initial program of scoping out the project”. But de Wet said work wouldn't start before the rugby season and it was likely to be done once the national provincial rugby competition finishes.

Provincial rugby finished in October last year, so it could be a quick turnaround trying to get the ground ready for cricket next summer.  But de Wet didn't think that would mean they would have to shift any cricket games from McLean Park.  "The plan is it's not going to affect our season in any way. I don't see one issue with that.  We should have everything ready and rocking and rolling for the start of the season”.

That would mean the two ODIs scheduled there in 2017-18, against England and Pakistan, will still go ahead at McLean Park.  The dates for the games are yet to be determined.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,058

Friday, 24 February 2017

 

• Net incident leaves player with serious head injuries [2058-10420].

• Neutrals named for Windies-England ODIs [2058-10421].

Net incident leaves player with serious head injuries.

Alex Martin

London Daily Mail.

Friday, 24 February 2017.

PTG 2058-10420.

A player in Bolton has been left seriously injured with fifteen broken bones in his face after a ball struck him between the eyes while he was bowling in the nets.  Alex Tait, a member of the Bradford Premier League's Lightcliffe Cricket Club, has a fractured skull, eye sockets, nose, cheekbones and forehead as a result.

Tait was taken straight to hospital following the incident a week ago and has since been told by doctors he will require a number of invasive operations from ear to ear.  He said he "saw the ball coming back very quickly and the next minute it just struck me on the head hard, very hard. It was an awful feeling and I knew straight away I was in trouble”.  

He is due to have an operation on Friday and reports suggest he may suffer some loss of vision in his right eye but just what the situation actually is won’t be known for a few weeks.  The extensive restructuring thought to be needed will include inserting metal plates behind his  forehead.  Depending on how the initial operation goes, a neuro specialist will then assess any long-term damage to his brain and eyes.

Father to a son and with a second child on the way, Tait faces financial difficulty after being told he will not be able to work for several months. Matters are made worse by the fact he will receive no sick pay as he only recently moved jobs. 

A crowd funding page has been set up on-line with the aim of raising £UK10,000 ($A16,280) to help him cope through what is sure to be a long and painful period of rehabilitation.  England captain Joe Root and commentator David Lloyd are believed to be just a few of the hundreds of supporters to have donated so far, almost £UK4,500 ($A7,300) being raised in the appeal’s first 24 hours.

Last month, a bowler in Australia was injured when he was struck by a shot from a batsman during a net session, evading said reports, a critical injury or worse, by centimetres (PTG 2033-10293, 28 January 2017).  Before that incident, Cricket Australia’s sports science and sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris, said he believed the wearing of helmets by coaches giving throw downs to batsmen in the nets would soon be compulsory (PTG 2032-10288, 27 January 2017), however, the safety issue regarding bowlers in the nets is less straight-forward to deal with.

Neutrals named for Windies-England ODIs.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Friday, 24 February 2017.

PTG 2058-10421.

New Zealanders Jeff Crowe and Chris Gaffaney plus Sri Lanka’s Ruchira Palliyaguruge have been named as the three neutral match officials for the One Day International (ODI) series the West Indies and England are to play in Antigua and Barbados next month.  Palliyaguruge, a member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, will be on-field for the first and third games with Gaffney the television official, their roles being reversed for the second match, while Crowe is the match referee.

The series will take Crowe’s ODI record as a referee to 253, Gaffaney to 49 on-field and 19 as the television umpire (49/19), and Palliyaguruge to 41/14.  It's Palilyaguruge’s seventh appointment as a neutral in a ODI series over the last two years.  In early 2015 he stood in that year’s World Cup, and since then series involving Bangladesh-Pakistan, Zimbabwe-Pakistan, Pakistan-West Indies, India-England and earlier this year New Zealand-Australia.

After the series ends Gaffaney will fly to Ranchi where he is scheduled to stand in the third Test between India and Australia (PTG 2049-10379, 15 February 2017). 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,059

Saturday, 25 February 2017

 

• Team eliminated from finals over player registration issues [2059-10422].

• NSW stalwart to stand in his 750th match [2059-10423].

• Victorian keeper out of hospital and back at home [2059-10424].

• Another suspect arrested as PSL corruption probe continues [2059-10425].

Team eliminated from finals over player registration issues.

Brad Cole.

The Advocate.

Friday, 24 February 2017.

PTG 2059-10422.

Controversy has engulfed the Leven Cricket Association (LCA) in north-west Tasmania on the eve of the 2016-2017 finals series with West Ulverstone, who topped the LCA ladder at the end of the home-and-away season, barred from competition in the finals. The club fields two teams in the six-team league, one that goes by the name of Thunder and the other Lightning, and both were stripped of their points by the LCA committee this week after it was found they played several players throughout the season who were also registered with Tasmanian Cricket League (TCL) club Exeter, and did so without permission.

The decision doesn’t affect the Lightning side, who failed to qualify for the finals, but there is a distinct possibility that the first week of finals may be postponed on Saturday if West Ulverstone lodge an appeal with Cricket North West, who the LCA and its clubs are affiliated with.  It is understood that West Ulverstone have already sought an appeal from the LCA tribunal, but the matter was returned to the LCA committee, who rejected it and upheld its original decision.

LCA president Rodney Miles said the club had clearly breached the rules, leaving his committee with no alternative.  “It was done against constitution rules without permission gained form either [the LCA or TCL)”, he said.  “The full [LCA] committee had no choice but to deduct West Ulverstone’s points.  Pending any appeal, the Leven finals games will go ahead as scheduled on Saturday at this point in time”.

While West Ulverstone president Dean Smith was reluctant to make any comment on the findings of the LCA committee, he did outline his club’s situation.  “We had three players from our club that went and helped out at another club at another association”, Smith said.  “They were originally our players to begin with and they went to help out [Exeter] because they were short”.  Exeter field both A reserve and B grade teams in the TCL.

The matter only came to light in the past few weeks after the LCA heard what had been happening and started an investigation,  With the Thunder not taking part at this stage, the Kindred Club have been elevated to second spot on the ladder and are scheduled take on defending premiers Wilmot on Saturday for a spot in the grand final on the first Saturday of March.  The Nietta 2 side are the lucky team to be elevated to the finals and they are to play Nietta 1, the loser being eliminated from the finals race.

NSW stalwart to stand in his 750th match.

CA web site.

Friday, 24 February 2017.

PTG 2059-10423.

New South Wales (NSW) umpire Arthur Watson is to stand in his 750th Cricket NSW’s Premier League match on Saturday, a milestone that comes in his 48th year in Sydney club cricket.  Watson, 76, a Life Member of both NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (NSWCUSA) and the Sydney Cricket Association, will bring up his 750 in a two-day second XI Grade match.  Of the 750, 365 will have been in first grade, 60 in second grade, 83 in the thirds, 129 the fourths, 92 in the fifths and 21 in the Shires competition.

No other umpire in the 124 year history of NSW Premier League competition has officiated more matches than Watson. A member of the NSWCUSA since 1969, he served as its Treasurer from 1977-99 and has contributed to the Association as a Board Director, Educator, member of Examination, Technical and Training Committees, and Mentor to many new umpires.  During his umpiring career Watson has officiated in 10 first class and two domestic List A games, one of the latter a national final, plus three One Day Internationals (ODI), a Womens’ ODI, and an Under-19 Test match.

Victorian keeper out of hospital and back at home.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 24 February 2017.

PTG 2059-10424.

Victorian wicketkeeper Sam Harper has returned home after spending almost a fortnight in an Adelaide hospital after a blow to the head in a Sheffield Shield game (PTG 2049-10380, 15 February 2017).  Harper was accidentally hit in the head by batsman Jake Lehmann who pulled a short ball from spinner Jon Holland and accidentally hit the keeper in his follow through (PTG 2046-10367, 12 February 2017). 

Cricket Victoria (CV) has yet to reveal why Harper had to remain in hospital but confirmed on Friday he has returned to Melbourne.  He was not considered for selection in the Shield match against Western Australia, beginning in Perth on Saturday, and a date for his return to the field remains unclear. He may not play again this summer.

Meanwhile, CV will continue to monitor the progress of batsman Will Pucovski, who was concussed while fielding on debut against New South Wales. The emerging batsman will likely return to action via grade cricket when declared fit. He could also yet play in Futures League State second XI matches.

Another suspect arrested as PSL corruption probe continues.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 24 February 2017.

PTG 2059-10425.

British police announced on Thursday that they had arrested a third suspect in connection with their investigation into Pakistan Super League (PSL) spot-fixing issues.  A statement issued by the National Crime Agency (NCA) said officers had arrested a British man in his thirties that morning in the Sheffield area as as part of its investigation into spot-fixing in cricket matches.  The suspect was granted bail pending further inquiries.

Earlier this month British police arrested two men in relation to the same issue and they were also bailed until April (PTG 2054-10401, 20 February 2017). It followed news of a corruption probe involving PSL players, the NCA saying then said they were “working closely” with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption units.  Islamabad United batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif face the prospect of lengthy bans from cricket after the PCB charged them for alleged breaches of its anti-corruption code on Saturday (PTG 2054-10401, 20 February 2017).  

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,060

Monday, 27 February 2017

 

• ’Nelson’ of Tests for Pakistan’s Dar [2060-10426].

• Donations for injured player pass initial target [2060-10427].

• Long-serving umpire awarded ACO life membership [2060-10428].

• Data points to upward trend in international disciplinary offences [2060-10429].

• What makes a player with no Tests or ODIs worth £UK1.4m in IPL? [2060-10430].

• Are players partners in cricket or just another CA cost base? [2060-10431].

’Nelson’ of Tests for Pakistan’s Dar.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Sunday, 26 February 2017.

PTG 2060-10426.

Pakistan’s Aleem Dar will take his umpiring Test match tally to 111 when he stands in the two Tests Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are to play in Galle and Colombo in the first half of March.  Dar is one of four neutral officials named by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Sunday, the others being match referee Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe, Marais Erasmus from South Africa and India’s Sundarum Ravi.

Dar and Erasmus will be on-field in the opening Test in Galle with Ravi the television official, the later two swapping places for the second match in Colombo.  The series will take Pycroft’s Test match referee record to 54, Erasmus to 42 on-field and 29 as the television umpire (42/29), and Ravi to 20/16.  The South African will fly to Dharamshala from Colombo where he is to stand in the fourth India-Australia Test, thus taking his record to 43/29 (PTG 2049-10379, 15 February 2017).

After their Tests, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will play three One Day Internationals (ODI), two in Dambulla and a third in Colombo, plus two Twenty20 Internationals (T20I).  Pycroft and Ravi will stay on for the ODIs and the Zimbabwean also the T20I.  Englishman Michael Gough, a member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), will come in to stand in the first and third ODIs with Ravi the television umpire, the pair reversing those roles for match two.   

For Pycroft those three ODIs will take his referee record in that format to 129 matches, Gough to 33/15 and Ravi 28/24.  The T20Is will be Pycroft’s 53rd and 54th as a referee.  Sri Lankan IUP members Ranmore Martinez,  Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Ravindran Wimalasiri are expected to stand in both the ODI and T20I series, Palliyaguruge after the West Indies-England ODI series in the Caribbean (PTG 2058-10421, 24 February 2017), and Martinez post the Pakistan Super League (PTG 2031-10285, 26 January 2017).

The allocation of the ICC’s match referees and Elite Umpire Panel members to Tests, ODIs and T20Is being played in February-March suggests Australians Bruce Oxenford, Rod Tucker and David Boon, plus Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka, may have been allocated to the three Test series New Zealand and South Africa are to play in Dunedin, Wellington and Hamilton next month.  No announcement of just who the Playing Control Team for the three games has yet been made.

Donations for injured player pass initial target.

Sam Morshead.

London Daily Mail.

Sunday, 26 February 2017.

PTG 2060-10427.

 

A crowd funding initiative setup to assist Alex Tait, a member of the Bradford Premier League's Lightcliffe Cricket Club, who suffered a fractured skull, eye sockets, nose, cheekbones and forehead as a result of a ball strike in a net session, had raised £UK12,472 ($A22,255) by lunchtime on Saturday, well past the original £UK10,000 target (PTG 2058-10420, 24 February 2017).

 

Tait, 30, underwent a six-and-a-half-hour operation at Bradford Royal Infirmary on Friday.  The process involved peeling back his face and inserting metal plates into his forehead and nose, and required extensive sticking across the top of his head.  

Tait said: They have told me I could lose part of my sight in my right eye, but they will not know to what extent until the operation itself.  Part of the fracture of my forehead has gone into my eye socket and until they get a clearer picture they won't know. I have been told that my forehead will be permanently numb afterwards, but the worst-case scenario when I wake up is that they tell me I won't be able to see.  I need to see because otherwise I will not be fit to sit behind a computer at work”. 

Somewhat ironically, Tait works as a legal advisor in the personal injury claims department of a well-known firm but he is not entitled to company sick pay as he only joined in November, hence the fund raising campaign.  He and his partner have a three-year-old son and are expecting their second child in July.

Long-serving umpire awarded ACO life membership.

Bolton News.

Saturday, 25 February 2017.

PTG 2060-10428.

Bolton umpire Karen Knott's 40 years of service to cricket has been recognised with honorary life membership of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Association of Cricket Officials (ACO).  ACO head Nick Cousins made the presentation at the monthly meeting of the ACO's northern branch earlier this month.

As well as taking charge of matches, Knott has undertaken many roles in umpire administration and has assisted many people to become umpires, and writes a weekly column on the craft for the ‘Bolton News'.  One of the few women umpires in Lancashire, the former teacher has been a member of the former Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers and its successor the ACO for 41 years.  She is the chairman of the northern branch of the Lancashire ACO and secretary of the Bolton Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association.

Originally from New Zealand, Knott has lived in Bolton since marrying husband Clive, whose own umpiring career ran for over 40 years.  She has umpired in competitions outside the Bolton League, including back home in New Zealand around four years ago when her presence was something new to the teams involved.  "We went over for a holiday and we were asked to umpire”, she said.  "My dad was an umpire and my brother is an umpire there now.  In my local community they hadn't had a female umpire before, but they have now”.

Knott says of the ACO life membership: "It was nice to be honoured but I have enjoyed my 41 seasons being an umpire.  It's been a great experience and I have travelled quite a bit umpiring and umpired at Old Trafford.  I have met some great people and thoroughly enjoyed it”.

Data points to upward trend in international disciplinary offences.

Alok Prasanna Kumar.

The Cricket Monthly.

February 2017.

PTG 2060-10429.

India, Pakistan and Australia lead the list of Test-playing teams whose players have been penalised for disciplinary offences in Tests, One Day Internationals (ODI) and Twenty20 Internationals since the International Cricket Council (ICC) developed a player Code of Conduct and introduced match referees in 1991.  In the 25 years from then until last October, data available shows 291 different players and team officials were found guilty of a total of 508 disciplinary breaches for which a sanction of some sought was imposed.

Of the offences, India players were involved in 78 in a total of 1019 all-format matches (78/1019), Pakistan 58/971, Australia 53/1004, South Africa 43/882, Sri Lanka 41/961, England 38/876, West Indies 38/835, New Zealand 33/833, Bangladesh 24/466, and Zimbabwe 22/616.  Overall the trend in the number of offences per year has more than doubled from around 10 to 25, but whether that reflects player behaviour or a tightening of disciplinary measures or the way match referees interpret the Code, is not altogether clear.

Given how much the Code has changed since 1991, there is no common description of the offences across the time involved. However, for the purposes of this article they have been classified into 13 categories, 11 being: Advertising and equipment breaches; Ball-tampering; Damaging equipment; Dangerous play, where the player unnecessarily puts an opponent in harm's way; Dissent; Excessive appealing/Intimidating umpire; Inappropriate language/gestures, such as send-offs; Obscene language/verbal abuse; Physical contact; Public criticism of other players or match officials; and Racial vilification.

Of the two other categories one was Sharp practice - where the player takes an unfair advantage during the game (For example, England’s James Foster was found guilty of having breached the code for disturbing Andy Flower at the crease and was severely reprimanded by the match referee Naushsad Ali in an ODI in 2001).  The other was Miscellaneous, that is anything deemed contrary to the ‘Spirit of Cricket' which doesn't fall within the above categories, such as Glenn McGrath being fined when found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute for spitting on the pitch in the direction of West Indian batsman Adrian Griffith.

Analysis shows Dissent offences led the way with 139, then came Miscellaneous 87, Obscene language 65, Intimidating an umpire 40, Inappropriate language 31, Physical contact 25, Damaging equipment 23, Ball-tampering 10, Sharp practice 4, Racial vilification 2, and Dangerous play 2.  Of the dissent situations, India leads with 29, then comes Australia 26, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan all 13, Sri Lanka 12, England 11, the West Indies and Zimbabwe both 8, and Bangladesh 5.

In terms of overall offences, the most-penalised players have been Sourav Gangly with 10, Inzamam-ul-Haq 9, Ricky Ponting 7, Shahid Afridi 7, Harbhajan Singh, Glenn McGrath, Kumar Sangakkara, and Ishant Sharma all 6, while the names of Shoaib Akhtar, Graeme Smith, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Shakib Al Hasan each appear in the list five times.

Over the last quarter of a century there have been an average of 17 offences per year, from lows of 5 in 1992 and 2012 to a high of 33 in 2001.  Since that 2012 low, the four years since have been above the long-term average with 19 in 2013, 24 in 2014, 27 in 2015 and 28 in 2016, while the overall trend line over the 25 years has been from around 10 a year at the start to close to 25 at the end.

Of the ICC’s match referees who were involved in 15 or more cases, Jeff Crowe handed down sanctions 47 times in 385 matches across the three formats (47/385), then came Chris Broad 45/386, Ranjan Madugalle 44/550, Roshan Mahanama 33/291, Andy Pycroft 28/217, Clive Lloyd 23/183, Hanumant Singh 18/63, Mike Proctor 17/208, Javagal Srinath 16/261, and Alan Hurst 15/173.

What makes a player with no Tests or ODIs worth £UK1.4 m in IPL?

Vic Marks.

The Guardian.

Sunday, 26 February 2017.

PTG 2060-10430.

The 21st-century cricketer is so much better at “taking the positives” out of a seemingly bleak situation than predecessors were. This week for Tymal Mills, currently in Dubai playing Twenty20 cricket for the Quetta Gladiators alongside Kevin Pietersen in the Pakistan Super League against players such as Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara, every cloud really does seem to have a silver lining.

Two years ago Mills was diagnosed with a congenital back condition: his spinal cord and his vertebrae are too close together, meaning the former can become seriously aggravated. The experts decided that bowling fast over long periods of time was a risk too far.

Mills was 22; he had already demonstrated that he could propel the ball with his left arm at 145 km/hr or more. There had been a buzz around the counties and among the England hierarchy. Technically Mills seemed equipped to excel in all forms of the game since extreme pace can be deadly whether the ball is white or red. But now he was consigned to just one form of the game, T20, which required him – on a good day – to bowl no more than 24 balls in an innings.

Last Monday the silver lining was dazzling. At the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction there was a bidding war for Mills, who has played four Twenty20 Internationals for England, taking three wickets, scoring no runs (after a solitary two‑ball innings) and holding one catch. In the end he was bought by the IPL’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for £UK1.4 m ($A2.3 m), a staggering 24 times his base price.

Mills is bright and personable – he once started a journalism course, though he now seems to have found a much swifter way to make money – and he recognises that the limitations imposed by his body have, curiously, enhanced his career. “My back injury could have been the best thing that’s happened to me”, he said while still acclimatising to his new status, “because it’s changed all my focus to playing T20 and it’s probably accelerated my development in that form of the game – without having to focus on the other formats”.

Even so, the price for such an unproven cricketer is astonishing and hard to explain. It is too simple to suggest that the astronomical fee that Mills commanded can be attributed to the adrenaline of the auction rooms. In April the tenth IPL season gets under way; the protagonists have surely been around long enough to be business-like in their approach. Yet this obviously does not rule out a bidding frenzy (in this case RCB were joined by Kolkata Knight Riders in the final stages of the pursuit of Mills).

So what were his attractions to the IPL coaches? First – mundanely – there is his availability. Of all the English players in the auction he was the only one who could play the entire IPL season (some, such as Ben Stokes, have to return by mid-May for a training camp; Eoin Morgan and others must be back by the start of May for the Ireland One Day International series – the IPL final is on 21 May).

Mills is a bowler and they tend to be more in demand. There seem to be plenty of batsmen who can heave the ball over the disappointingly short boundaries of the IPL. Even better, Mills is a left-handed pace bowler and that angle of delivery is often reckoned to be more effective in this format.

Tom Moody, the coach of Hyderabad Sunrisers, certainly believes in this theory and the Australian’s side won the IPL last year. He signed the relatively unknown Bangladesh left-armer, Mustafizur Rahman, to join the veteran Indian Ashish Nehra, and Moody’s faith was justified. (This year it will be fascinating to see how two Afghanistan cricketers, Rashid Khan, the precocious teenage wrist-spinner, and the veteran Mohammad Nabi fare for the Sunrisers.)

Moreover, the late withdrawal of the Australian Mitchell Starc, who has performed well for Bangalore in the past, was timely for Mills. Starc is one of the best left-armers in the world and he took the long-term view: that he needed to refresh mentally and physically for the challenges ahead – and, no doubt, this was a decision greeted with glee by Cricket Australia (CA) as well as Mills.

Then there is the odd key connection. This winter Mills played briefly for Brisbane Heat in CA's Big Bash League, impressing not just with his pace but the cleverness of his slower ball variations. Coaching there was Daniel Vettori, who also happens to be the RCB’s coach. The New Zealander must have been as captivated by Mills’ attitude as his bowling to justify that fee.

Thus a 21st-century, globe-trotting career is on the horizon for Mills with the Gladiators, the Heat, the Sharks, maybe the Vikings, most lucratively the Royal Challengers and – just occasionally – with England.

Are players partners in cricket or just another CA cost base?

Greg Dyer.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2060-10431.

As the days roll by and the end of June gets ever closer, increasingly I, as the president of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, am being asked: "Why are the negotiations for a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the players and Cricket Australia (CA) dragging on?”  The answer is simple: CA wants to end the long-standing partnership with the players and the players just won't have it. 

The players have been partners with CA since Tim May and Malcolm Speed negotiated the first MoU in 1998. They agreed a model, about a century in the making, which gave both parties what they needed: a "revenue share" allocating about 25 per cent of a pool of revenue to the players and player programs, and the much larger remaining share to the running of the game.  A fair arrangement as the foundation for a 20-year partnership of success and growth for Australian cricket. 

It's a model allowing both parties to share risk and reward, triumph and failure and crucially a shared responsibility for growing the game from the grassroots all the way up. It fosters productivity and limits dispute or unrest and it has created sufficient trust so the players even feel comfortable to license their image and intellectual property rights to CA for the betterment of the sport. A trust which extends to the players having confidence that CA will work with them to improve player health and safety in what can at times be a very dangerous occupation where time in the spotlight can end abruptly.

The model also creates the right incentives to attract and maintain elite talent and fight off challenges from other sports or rebel leagues. This alone should be reason enough to preserve the model because a hard, modern commercial truth is this is the first MoU where an elite Australian player could potentially earn more playing "club" or "franchise” cricket, than playing for their country or heaven forbid, another sport. And on this point, playing for a "club" or "franchise" may also allow players to have less onerous commercial restrictions placed on their ability to exploit their own intellectual property.    

So, when it comes to the MoU, the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" actually doesn't do justice to a partnership which has produced far more "thriving" than just "surviving”.  But driven by a desire to further improve the model, the players, over a 12-month consultation period, developed these proposals: The inclusion of women and men in one agreement; A revenue sharing model to include women; A greater investment in grassroots cricket than the current 12 per cent of revenue; Maximisation of player wellbeing during and after their careers; Better communication delivering improvements to scheduling; and a more balanced approach to innovation in the sport, reflecting the players' desire to respect the game's traditions and character.

These are fair, progressive, reasonable and future focused proposals.  For reasons, yet to be justified to the players and the public, CA wants to jettison the partnership. It rejects the need for closer discussions with the players on scheduling, on life after cricket, on the creation of the right remuneration model for women cricketers and even for the financial transparency the players' negotiating team needs.

To offer reasons for CA's motivation would be to speculate. But what seems clear is that a new philosophy has emerged at CA. A new language of "control" in which increasingly the players seem to be regarded as cost centres or not generating enough return on investment.  To view Sheffield Shield cricket and the players who play it, the traditional powerhouse of Australian cricket, in this manner is particularly grating.

There seems to be an ethos regarding players as a tax on the game rather than the living and breathing investment in both the present and, more importantly, the future. All of which is a bit odd in what is after all, a not-for-profit enterprise enjoying an income tax free environment and with no requirement to produce cash dividends for shareholders. And certainly, a new take on what the goals have always been and should always be: to win games of cricket, do our country proud and grow the game for everybody. These are the dividends we should be collectively striving for and these are the dividends which only the cricketers can help to grow.

From the players' point of view, this language is one they will not and should not speak.  They are curious as to why a successful model would be tagged for the scrap heap, especially on the eve of battle with the old enemy in the Ashes series later this year.  And they are resolute in a way which I haven't seen since 1998 to remain as partners in everything required to win for their country and to grow the game for the next generation.

That's why, more in sorrow and frustration than in anger, the players instructed their Association to carry the message as plainly as we can: the partnership matters and we will fight for it!  And so, to end this piece where I started: Why is the negotiation taking longer than anyone would really want? It's because there is a genuine non-meeting of the minds between the parties fuelled by this new approach at CA. 

The message to them from the players is simple: the players must be regarded as partners in an enhanced and modernised MoU, not merely figures in CA's over-zealous accounts process.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,061

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

 

• Indian broadcast chief warns on BCCI’s ICC ‘downgrade’ [2061-10432].

• UDRS calls a struggle for India [2061-10433].

• Aussie umpire’s NZ exchange visit underway [2061-10434].

• One shot produces eight runs [2061-10435].

• Halifax league reports positive trend in umpire recruitment [2061-10436].

• PSL final to be held in Lahore [2061-10437].

• Durham can overcome points deduction, says new chair [2061-10438].

• Aussie broadcaster steps up bid for all cricket rights [2061-10439].

• New ECB T20 series could cost counties two ‘Blast’ home games [2061-10440].

• Bowled over by cricket on ice [2061-10441].

Indian broadcast chief warns on BCCI’s ICC ‘downgrade’.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10432.

Television network Star India has warned that if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not allowed to play a "leading role" in international cricket administration, the consequences for the game could be “disastrous”.   Star holds the broadcast rights for cricket in India and International Cricket Council (ICC) events from 2015-23 and their chief executive officer Uday Shankar said the risk of doing business was "very, very high" at a time when the BCCI has been pushed into a corner by the ICC. 

Shankar was referring to the ICC's decision to roll back the 'Big Three' reforms. And as part of that, they proposed a new financial model which indicated the BCCI's projected earnings for the current rights cycle could be as low as half of what was estimated in 2014 (PTG 2039-10323, 5 February 2017). 

The BCCI has opposed the new financial model, arguing that it was neither transparent nor backed up with scientific proof. However, with an 8-2 majority vote at an ICC meeting in Dubai, it was passed and then accepted in principle as well. All that remains is a final ratification by the ICC board, which is expected to happen in June, but the BCCI are confident of gaining enough support to stall the move. 

"If India lose their voice or even if they are not playing a leading role, it would be disastrous for global cricket”, Shankar told the 'Times of India'. "The country that delivers the largest share of fans and also the largest share of money in global cricket should have a say in the critical affairs of the game. It is in the best interest of cricket as a whole. The game can't get stronger without it becoming stronger in India. We must ensure that we aren't throwing the baby out with the bathwater".

"For us, the problem is, right now we do not see a consensual leadership in cricket. The power of cricket came from the fact that everybody was aligned. The global cricket leadership was generally aligned to drive it forward. The alignment seems to have broken down. Lack of clarity both, in ICC as well as BCCI, is our biggest concern right now. We have nothing to do with the politics of cricket. Currently we have invested in cricket more than any other media company has ever done. Our investments in the game are to the tune of a few billion dollars. And hence the business risk for us is very very high."

Star has paid close to $US1.9 billion ($A2.47 bn, £UK1.53 bn) to secure the broadcasting rights for 18 ICC events until 2023 and they believe the mood in India - widely acknowledged as the biggest market for ICC events - is highly important. "The centrality of India, a country that generates so much revenue for global cricket, is crucial. The percentage share of revenue that India generates is very high but the percentage share of viewership that India generates is even higher. And our take here is that nothing should be done to weaken or demotivate that enthusiasm. The consequences of that will be devastating”.

Shankar said Star would honour all its existing deals with the BCCI as well as other boards, but would be "very careful" before entering future contracts. Their six-year deal with the Indian board, including mobile and internet rights, ends in 2018 and is worth approximately $US750 m ($A977 m, £UK602 m).  Star, also the team sponsor for India, said they would not be renewing the agreement which expires at the end of March this year. 

"Given all the volatility, we are indeed concerned about the health of cricket in the days ahead. No one seems to be talking about making cricket bigger and more popular. We have been very proud that our name is carried on the jersey of Team India. But given all the uncertainties, we have decided not to bid for it again. The commitments being asked for are too onerous without any clarity”, said Shankar.

"We have no clarity on the Future Tours Program. The contract [with BCCI] says schedules can be changed at the will of the BCCI and how does that work? The minimum price has already been fixed for each match that the bidder has to pay. Now, can the value for an India-Australia series be the same as that for an India-Zimbabwe game? Is it the same for a Test with Bangladesh as it would be for an One Day International or Twenty20 International with England or Australia? We have no clarity on any of this. So, on what basis does a potential bidder walk into this?”

UDRS calls a struggle for India.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10433.

Indian captain Virat Kohli may have been a vocal advocate of Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), but his dismal success ratio indicates that requests for referrals is not yet exactly his 'calling card’.  In the seven Test matches played since India allowed UDRS to be used, its team referred decisions 55 times but was only successful on 17 occasions, a rate of 30.9 percent.  India turned against the UDRS for many years after a similarly bad experience in the first-ever UDRS Test in 2008 (PTG 288-1526, 1 August 2008) 

In recent Tests against England, Bangladesh and Australia, 7 out of the 13 referrals by Indian batsmen have been successful, while of the 48 fielding reviews only 10 went India's way.  In a few cases, it has been an act of desperation bordering on selfishness as was the case with Murali Vijay and KL Rahul wasting two reviews within first six overs of their critical second innings in the Pune Test against Australia.

In that Test, on a turning pitch, India wasted all 4 reviews while fielding and one out of three were correct while batting, a success ratio of one out of seven.  Against England at Visakhapatnam late last year, the hosts got 3 out of 9 referrals correct and just 3 out of 10 in Chennai. The more recent Bangladesh Test in Hyderabad was shade better with 5 out of 11 correct calls.

Former India wicketkeeeper Deep Dasgupta, who is now an analyst, believes the UDRS is there to help the umpires get their decisions correct rather than other way round.  “It should be strictly used for howlers [as] it is a tool to help umpires be as accurate as possible”, he said.  "For me an umpire's call should only be challenged in cases of LBW before if a player is absolutely sanguine that he has had an inside edge onto the pads”.

Aussie umpire’s NZ exchange visit underway.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10434.

Australian umpire Shawn Craig is currently in New Zealand for his one-match exchange visit (PTG 2034-10303, 30 January 2017).  Over the last three days he has been standing in a Plunket Shield match in Whangarei between Northern Districts and Otago, the 14th first class game of his umpiring career. 

Craig, 43, is on-field with former international umpire ‘Billy’ Bowden who is standing in his 159th first class game, 84 of which were Tests.  Bowden’s NZ colleague Tony Gillies stood in a Sheffield Shield match in Adelaide earlier this month, his second such visit in three years (PTG 2034-10303, 30 January 2017).  

One shot produces eight runs.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10435.

Lachlan Borsboom, a batsman playing the the Clarence club’s Under-17 side in Cricket Tasmania’s Premier League competition in Hobart, scored eight runs with a single shot in his side’s match against University on Sunday as umpires Tim Blazely and Nathan Leaman watched on.  

Borsboom hit the ball past square leg beating the fielder there who then chased it towards the boundary where he manage to save it from crossing the line.  His return went to a close in fielder as the batsmen crossed on their fourth run, that fielder throwing hard at the bowler’s end stumps in an attempted run out, but he missed and the ball then travelled at speed to the boundary at wide long off. 

Halifax league reports positive trend in umpire recruitment.

Halifax Courier.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10436.

The Halifax Cricket League (HCL) in north-east England has bucked local and national trends in its recruitment of umpires for the 2017 northern summer season. While many leagues are losing officials hand over fist, the HCL has seen an incredible 36 per cent increase in numbers over the winter months, raising the number of its listed umpires from 49 to 67. 

HCL spokesman Paul Whiteley said: “The league’s Umpires Association has done a magnificent job in the close season, particularly its president Ray Taylor and appointments secretary Andrew Mitchell. The recruitment process commenced immediately the season closed in 2016 and with some subtle advertising and contact methods the enquiries to join the panel started to come in. One major training course was held, coupled with smaller refresher ones for umpires coming back into the fold". 

Whiteley said: “An interesting fact was that the main course was held outside the league’s area but, of all the trainees, 70 per cent were future [HCL] umpires”. Asked why the recruitment process had been such a success Whiteley said: ‘It was a combination of factors. Potential recruits were canvassed by telephone and the workings of the league fully explained to them. Major plus points were that the league has always remained faithful to the 45-overs per innings format and that the match appointments system is fully transparent, with the majority of appointments for the whole season being available as early as March". 

“In addition the Umpires Association is an umpire friendly body looking after all its members. That may seem an obvious comment but there are no favourites, proven by the fact that its appointment secretary officiated in more lower division and second team matches last season than any others”.  Despite the good progress, the league is not resting on its laurels and is still actively seeking enquiries from any person that may be interested in umpiring in the HCL.

PSL final to be held in Lahore.

Asian News International.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10437.

The final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 series on Sunday will be held in Lahore as scheduled, according to Rana Sanaullah, Punjab State’s law minister. The decision was made in a meeting on Monday, PSL chairman Najam Sethi saying that the tickets for the match will go on sale from Tuesday.

Sethi said which foreign players will travel to Lahore for the match will not be known until Friday when it will be clear who the two teams for the final will be.  In his view: “This is a time for the people to be united and resilient” and show that Pakistan will not be held hostage by terrorism", a reference to a recent wave of terrorism in the country, attacks that included locations in Lahore.

PSL management is expected to further brief overseas players before the play-offs begin, the primary aim remains being to try and convince as many of them as possible to make the trip. However, preparations are also underway to create a nominated pool of foreign players willing to travel in case the finalists' current roster of personnel pulls out. 

Durham can overcome points deduction, says new chair.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10438.

Durham can overcome their 48-point deduction in Division Two and achieve success in 2017, says newly appointed chairman Ian Botham.  The club were relegated in 2016 and handed various points penalties, after seeking financial help from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) (PTG 1993-10059, 3 December 2016).  Supporters launched an on-line petition to have what they said was the ECB's “unfair imposition of penalty points” rescinded (PTG 1989-10031, 28 November 2016), but it was unsuccessful.

Botham said: "We'll take that on the chin.  What's gone has gone, I think we're good enough to get past that [the deduction] anyway.  It's two wins.  The team are more than good enough to get those two early wins and then in Division Two they'll be the best side by a distance.  I genuinely believe we can be back, if not this season, which I think we can do if we have a little bit of luck with the weather and the fixtures.  But it certainly won't take us much longer than that”.

In addition to the Division Two 48-point deduction, Durham will also face a four-point penalty in the ECB’s 2017 T20 ‘Blast’ series and a two-point deduction in the one-day cup.  Additionally, the club will be subject to a revised salary cap from 2017-2020, with the level determined annually by the ECB board.

Aussie broadcaster steps up bid for all cricket rights.

Darren Davidson and Mitchell Bingemann.

The Australian.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10439.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) dream of a $A1 billion (£UK618 m) television rights payday remains on track as Australia's Nine broadcast network throws its hat in the ring for the first time to buy all of the sport’s television rights in that country: for Tests, One Day Internationals, Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) and CA's domestic Big Bash League (BBL).  Nine currently has the international rights but rival Australian broadcaster Ten holds the BBL contract.  

“Cricket is an important foundation of Nine’s business and it gives us a great revenue platform over summer”, said Nine chief executive Hugh Marks.  “Would we like to have all of cricket? Of course we would. We think the BBL has been a great innovation by [CA] and certainly young audiences are engaging with that format”.

But any deal by Nine to secure all forms of cricket is predicated on the sport’s administrators making changes to the schedule as part of a radical shake-up to reflect the stunning ascent of the Big Bash League (BBL). The BBL will expand to 40 games next austral summer and CA has plans to expand the format to 60 matches by 2019 with the tournament stretching into February (PTG 2033-10294, 28 January 2017).

A formal tender process for the rights could begin within months, sources say, once CA attains full clarity of the new structure of Test and one-day international cricket (PTG 2039-10324, 5 February 2017). The International Cricket Council is expected to formalise a new structure in April, triggering discussions over the local TV rights earlier than an expected October start date. A spokesman for CA declined to comment on that though.

Nine paid nearly $A100 million (£61.7 m) a year to secure home international match rights from 2013-18 (PTG 1117-5431, 5 June 2013), after stumping up $A45 million (£27.8 m) annually under the previous deal. “How we go about [attaining those rights] will be very important for the future cost profile of the [Channel Nine] business. I just want to restate that our intention is … not to prejudice our shareholders by ramping up costs”, Marks said. “We must invest in these key sports on the basis of a profitable outcome”.

With Australia’s Twenty20 side missing senior players like David Warner and Steve Smith due to the concurrent tour of India, last week’s T20I series in Melbourne and Adelaide against Sri Lanka was contested by an Australian B-team.  The late February match timetable resulted in the series being pitted, television-wise, against big rating franchise programs such as 'My Kitchen Rules' and 'I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!'

While the T20I series attracted big crowds, ratings on Nine’s primary channel collapsed. For the first match two Fridays ago the audience plunged by 47 per cent, from 1.3 million viewers a year ago when Australia played India to 672,658 viewers in the five capital cities, according to ‘OzTAM' data.  The drop was less severe but still alarming for the second match two days later with a TV audience of 698,006 viewers, and by the third game Nine’s viewing audience declined to 591,333.

Senior CA personnel are about to embark on negotiations with the three main Australian commercial networks Seven, Nine and Ten, and pay-TV providers Fox Sports and Foxtel (PTG 1908-9590, 29 August 2016). The current five-year $A590m (£365 m) deal — including Ten’s payments of $A20m (£12.4 m) a year for the BBL — expires at the end of the 2017-18 austral summer.  Australia’s National Rugby League and Australian Football League rights increased by 70 per cent last year, and cricket administrators hold lofty ambitions of breaking the $A1 billion mark, with the BBL expected to yield $A40m-$60m (£24.7-37.1 m) a year in the forthcoming new deal.

New ECB T20 series could cost counties two ‘Blast’ home games

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10440.

Counties have been warned that they may lose two of their seven home Twenty20 ‘Blast' matches when the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) proposed new T20 competition starts in 2020 (PTG 2053-10399, 19 February 2017).  To accommodate the additional competition, which is likely to comprise eight new regional teams, the ECB’s existing domestic T20 series is likely to drop from 14 group matches per team to ten, meaning only five home games per county.

The plan has led some counties to fear that total attendances for the ‘Blast' may drop by up to 40 per cent, which on present attendances would be a reduction across the competition of more than 300,000 people. The counties have also asked the ECB’s T20 working party to confirm what share of income they will be guaranteed from the new tournament.

The 18 counties have received reassurances that they will each receive a guaranteed percentage of the profits from the new competition but have not been given a figure (PTG 2042-10344, 8 February 2017). The ECB’s working group is, however, revisiting the proposed schedule for 2020 and there is an increasing possibility that the new competition may not be played in the school summer holidays.  The initial idea was for the ‘Blast' to take place in May and June and for the new tournament to be played over 38 days in July and August.

The ECB believes that by moving the competition it can maximise ticket sales, avoid clashes with marquee Test matches and maximise participation. With the ‘Blast' moving this coming northern summer from Friday nights, when its games were most often staged in the past two years, into two small blocks, counties and the ECB will be looking closely at the effect that has on attendances and what that might tell them about potential crowd sizes for 2020.

The ECB also stages England’s main Test series in July and August, so holding the tournament earlier would allow more international players to take part.

One of the key aims of the new competition is to maximise participation but most junior matches finish when the school holidays begin. If the competition were to start in May then there will still be colts cricket being played and more chance of children being inspired to take up the sport.

If this change were implemented it would mean that the ECB’s 50-over competition would also be brought forward and played alongside the new T20 tournament, with a final in June.  A final proposal will be put to the ECB board next month, before the counties vote on a change to the ECB constitution that will allow the introduction of the new Twenty20 tournament.

Bowled over by cricket on ice.

Agence France Presse.

Monday, 27 February 2017.

PTG 2061-10441.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It may look like an odd place for a cricket match but these players are taking part in the most prestigious event on the Swiss cricketing calendar, held on the frozen surface of a lake.  The 30th 'Cricket on Ice' tournament saw two teams, Old Cholmeleians XI and Lyceum Alpinum Cricket Club, batting it out on Lake St Moritz in Switzerland last Saturday.

The pitch is made of artificial grass laid onto the packed snow that covers the frozen lake. The boundary is marked with the same dye used to mark ski runs.  Unlike traditional cricket, the matches use a low-impact ball instead of a leather ball, which would get wet, heavy and unpredictable on snow. Players need to adjust to playing at a high altitude as air resistance is less and the ball travels farther in the air. They also need to tread more carefully as the ice on the pitch cracks sometimes.

The tournament started in 1988 when a group of Britons challenged the students of international boarding school Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz in Switzerland to a game.

 

 

End of February 2017 news file.