PLAYING THE GAME
Saturday, 1 April 2017
• Fourth-straight CA ‘Umpire of the Year' award for Fry [2092-10593].
• Batsman run out despite being inside crease line [2092-10594].
• Use of ‘Dukes’ ball in Sheffield Shield labelled a failure [2092-10595].
• CA spruiks record attendances as pay dispute continues [2092-10596].
• Ashes marketing campaign could be victim of CA-player pay war [2092-10597].
• Colour-blind Ballance struggles to see pink ball [2092-10598].
• Bangladesh turn down invitation to tour Pakistan [2092-10599].
Fourth-straight CA ‘Umpire of the Year' award for Fry.
CA media release.
Friday, 31 March 2017.
South Australian Simon Fry has been named as the winner of Cricket Australia's (CA) 'Umpire Award' for the fourth year in a row. Fry, 50, and a twelve-season member of CA's National Umpires Panel who also holds an on-field position on the International Cricket Council's (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), made his Test debut in late 2015 (PTG 1658-8113, 7 October 2015), and over a two-month period late last year, stood in a further four (PTG 2005-10134, 15 December 2016); appointments that put him further into contention for potential elevation to the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), its highest umpiring group (PTG 2044-10353, 10 February 2017).
In the 12 months covered by the award, Fry worked in nine first class matches, five of them Tests in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and India, one being as third umpire, plus another on-field in what was his seventh Sheffield Shield final in eight years (PTG 2080-10529, 21 March 2017). In January he passed the 100 List A match mark, chalking up a total of 8 on-field in the award period, 6 in One Day Internationals (ODI), including three as a neutral in England in an ODI series against Pakistan (PTG 1910-9585, 29 August 2016), plus 4 in the television spot, 3 of those in ODIs. There were also 8 Twenty20s, 5 on-field and 3 as the television official, 2 of those being T20 Internationals, one on-field and another in the television suite.
The award, which CA has indicated is selected by its chairman David Peever and chief executive James Sutherland, but obviously on advice from its Match Officials’ Unit, is based on consideration of the following criteria: "On field performance; Demonstration of a high level of professionalism both on and off field throughout the year; Significant development and improvement in performance on-field; Significant achievement in umpiring throughout the year; Contribution to the Australian umpiring community through off-field activities; Contribution to the Australian cricket community in general; and Sets an example of what it is to be a cricket umpire to the rest of the cricket and umpiring community”.
Those who work with him in the game describe Fry as “precise and dedicated” to the art of umpiring, both on and off the field of play, and say that he is well respected by his peers. With this years’ award, he becomes the first person in its 14-year history to win it four times. Now ICC EUP member Bruce Oxenford and former EUP member Simon Taufel have each won three times, and two other former EUP members Steve Davis and Daryl Harper, current EUP member Paul Reiffel, and former IUP member Peter Parker, all once.
Batsman run out despite being inside crease line.
West Indian batsman Evin Lewis was run-out in his side's Twenty20 International (T20I) against Pakistan in Trinidad on Thursday despite his whole body being well past the crease. Lewis was trying to make his ground during a quick single when he and Pakistan fielder Shadab Khan collided accidentally, the West Indian dropping his bat short of the crease before leaping to avoid the collision.
The moment the ball hit the stumps. The bat is not in Lewis’ hand and his feet are not, and were not at any stage, grounded.
While his bat landed within the crease it was not in Lewis’ hand and he never got any part of his body grounded behind the white line. He was still in the air when the ball broke the stumps, resulting in him being given out by third umpire Gregory Braithwaite on review. Whether, in the light of the collision, on-field umpire Joel Wilson asked fielding captain Safraz Ahmed if he wished to withdraw his side’s appeal is not known.
When the new Code of the Laws comes into effect in October, batsmen will be protected from ‘bouncing bat’ run out incidents (PTG 2067-10462, 7 March 2017). Under it the bat, when held by the hand, or another part of the batsman’s person is grounded beyond the popping crease and this contact with the ground is subsequently lost when the wicket is put down, the batsman will be protected from being run out if they are running or diving and has continued forward momentum towards the stumps and beyond.
Thursday’s circumstances suggest that had that new version of the Law applied in Lewis’ T20I, he would still have been given out.
Use of ‘Dukes’ ball in Sheffield Shield labelled a failure.
Victoria’s chief executive Shaun Graf says the introduction of English-made ‘Dukes' cricket balls to the Sheffield Shield this year has been a failure. ‘Dukes’ were used for the second half of the season, the normal ‘Kookaburra’ brand featuring in the first half in October-November (PTG 2039-10325, 5 February 2017).
Graf cannot be accused of whinging for Victoria won the Sheffield Shield final on Thursday. But Graf said it was despite the ball, not because of it. "I'm not a wrap. It goes horribly soft”, said Graf. "We've had to replace at least two every game. It's not up to it”. He indicated the ‘Dukes' ball "might work on a grassy pitch, for swing-based attack, like South Australia's. But it did not work for Victoria's seamers, on their home-away-from-home in Alice Springs. It does not reverse swing, for instance".
Graf pointed out the ‘Dukes’ balls used were not actually the English classic, but a version made for the West Indies and adapted for Australia. He acknowledged that it might tighten the technique of some young batsman, but that was all. "This is an Australian final, in Australian conditions, over five days, and we're not using an Australian ball”, he said. "It seems ridiculous”.
CA spruiks record attendances as pay dispute continues.
A record season for cricket attendances in Australia only serves to highlight the importance of maintaining the existing revenue-share model between players and Cricket Australia (CA), according to the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA). The day after the conclusion of the 2016-17 summer of cricket, CA released figures that showed 1,863,846 people attended elite cricket in Australia throughout the season, up on the previous record of 1,727,270 set last summer.
While CA was happy with the crowds for the two day-night Tests played during the season, against South Africa in Adelaide and Pakistan at the Gabba, it also noted the continued strength of the Big Bash League (BBL) and Womens’ BBL tournaments. The BBL averaged 30,114 attendees per game, up eight per cent on last year, which CA said made it the fifth biggest sports league in terms of average attendance in the world.
Of the 25 BBL matches, 20 were sold out, with the Sydney Thunder, Brisbane Heat, Adelaide Strikers, Hobart Hurricanes, Sydney Sixers, and Perth Scorchers all recording capacity crowds, while the derby between the Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on New Years’ Day drew a crowd of 71,162, the largest attendance of the season. Memberships of BBL clubs also grew considerably, with the 48,750 people who are now club members representing a 29 per cent increase year on year.
The BBL remained a consistently popular TV offering, with an average of more than one million people tuning into every match. The TV ratings for the BBL saw it win 31 of 35 nights, making it the number one ranked TV program over the summer. CA’s digital properties also had a phenomenal year, with CA’s 'Cricket Network' the top-ranked sports destination in the country between November and January thanks to an average unique audience of 2.46 million, peaking at 2.78 million in January.
Across all platforms, the 'Cricket Network' attracted more than 135 million video views from November-January and live streamed more than 200 days of cricket in addition to coverage on Channels Nine and Ten. This included live streams of the WBBL, the Australia A series, international tour matches and the national underage championships, ensuring fans had unprecedented access to more cricket than ever before.
Notably, all those figures come as CA and the players are embroiled in an ongoing pay dispute, centred around CA's desire to scrap the revenue-sharing model that has existed for two decades. The ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said the record figures showed the importance of maintaining the existing system (PTG 2084-10559, 25 March 2017).
"Australian cricket is enjoying success built on the hard work of players and administrators alike”, Nicholson said. "Hard work supported by a partnership which undeniably works. These figures are proof of that. We have a successful game built on a successful partnership and long may that continue".
"Crucially, its success across all formats with truly exciting results in the domestic game as well. Whether at national, State or BBL level, the public's appetite for cricket throughout the summer is fantastic. The figures clearly indicate the importance of all formats of the game in growing fan and viewer engagement, and is really a testament to how the players at all levels contribute to this".
"It also highlights that the domestic players, as much as the national players, contribute to cricket's success in this country. This is a point we will continue to reinforce in the current Memorandum of Understanding negotiations [with CA], because we are wondering why CA would seek to break such a successful partnership model given it is clearly working so well”.
CA chief executive James Sutherland also commended the players for their part in driving the success of the game. "The interest in the elite level of our game, is also translating to our grassroots, where we are already seeing an increase in our preliminary participation figures compared to last season”, Sutherland said, without providing any new data which normally comes out in August (PTG 1611-7832, 5 August 2016). "Thanks must go to the players who take part in all of our formats. The BBL and WBBL players in particular are helping to inspire the next generation through their ongoing fan engagement and brilliant action on the field”.
Ashes marketing campaign could be victim of CA-player pay war.
Cricket Australia's (CA) promotion of next austral summer's Ashes could be jeopardised, leading players having filmed an advertisement for the series that stands to be shelved unless a truce can be reached to settle the continuing industrial dispute with the governing body (PTG 2092-10596 above). The subject of cricket's image rights to the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc is an intriguing sub-plot to the standoff between CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), or players’ union, over the troubled negotiations for a new five-year pay agreement.
Test captain Smith and other top players agreed to film an Ashes marketing campaign last October promoting the blockbuster home series against England and received marketing payment "points" for it. However, their participation was on the proviso that the footage can only be used beyond 30 June this year – when the current deal expires – if a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been struck. As it stands that appears a distant possibility, with the ACA balking at the terms of CA's financial offer delivered last week (PTG 2084-10559, 25 March 2017).
If the two parties cannot reach mutual ground by the end of June and new contracts are not signed then Smith and co would effectively become free agents, a scenario that would not only leave the game in limbo but could impact on cricket's marketing and commercial arms as they would no longer have image rights to the players.
There are further looming complications. CA's new alcohol partner, Lion, has asked for permission to shoot an ad in with players not involved in the Indian Premier League so they can use the pictures on cartons of XXXX Gold (PTG 2089-10579, 29 March 2017). Players will agree but, like the Ashes campaign the use of the images beyond 30 June is subject to a new CA-ACA MoU being signed.
Hot on the heels of Australia's stoic performance in a 2-1 Test series defeat in India, the men's central contract list for 2017-18 will be finalised in April but individual contracts will remain unsigned while the pay dispute rolls on. Despite CA declaring player payments would rise 35 per cent, the ACA is refusing to accept its 29-page financial offer on a range of grounds. The principal objection is over the body's move to walk away from the fixed revenue-share model around which previous contracts have been based for all but international players.
There is concern that even those elite players will not retain a guaranteed percentage of revenue. CA has proposed instead that they and international women receive a 17.5 per cent of "international cricket financial surpluses" up to a cap of $A20 million (£UK12.3 m) "above the level required to fund player payments for the next five years". Eighty per cent of such a cut of surpluses would go to the men and 20 per cent to women.
The players' union is also aghast at a proposal that half of a $A58.5 m (£35.8 m) pool owed to players called the "adjustment ledger" – which corrects swings in revenue from earlier projections – be carried over to fund future pay rises under a new MoU rather than be paid out under the current deal. They claim this in particular short changes cricketers including former Australian stars who played after 2012 but have since retired or are not contracted. CA counters that this has been done before, saying that $A16.8 m (£10.3 m) was carried over from the previous deal in 2011-12 to contribute to player payments over the past five years.
Colour-blind Ballance struggles to see pink ball.
Saturday, 1 April 2017.
Gary Ballance, the Yorkshire captain, may miss his side’s day-night County Championship match against Surrey in June due to his colour blindness. Ballance, who has taken over the Yorkshire captaincy for the 2017 English season, has admitted that when he has previously played in pink-ball matches he has struggled to see the ball particularly to differentiate between the ball and the grass.
Balance said: "Batting with the red ball is fine but because the pink one is not as dark, when it comes out of the sight screens I lose it. I’m going to have a few net sessions with it. If I can’t see it, I can’t see it. There is nothing I can do. If you can’t see the ball, you can’t play cricket".
Should Ballance have a prolific start to the season and be recalled to England’s Test team, his difficulties with the pink ball would preclude him from playing against the West Indies in a day-night Test at Edgbaston in August. One in 12 men suffer from colour blindness and Kathryn Albany-Ward, the founder of the Colour Blind Awareness organisation, believes that by using a pink ball cricket may be in breach of equalities legislation and further research needs to be done.
Albany-Ward said: “The cricketing world has known about the problems colour-blind players have in following the pink ball for quite some time. The problems experienced by Chris Rogers and Matthew Wade in Australian night matches have been widely reported (PTG 1983-9988, 22 November 2016), so I was amazed and very disappointed to hear that Gary Ballance might be excluded from a night game in county cricket for precisely the same reason".
“In the UK colour blindness can be considered to be a disability where it prevents someone from carrying out their everyday activities. This means employers are obliged to take reasonable steps to accommodate someone’s colour blindness".
“In view of the fact that one in 12 men has some form of colour blindness this means in cricket, in theory, there will be at least one colour-blind player in each team and of course many spectators will also be colour blind. Assuming a capacity crowd at Lord’s with 50:50 male to female ratio, there will be a minimum of 1,250 colour-blind spectators at the ground and for TV audiences the numbers will obviously be much greater. So it would be extremely difficult to argue that it is reasonable to use the pink ball when so many people are potentially affected".
“The issue with the pink ball appears to affect people with red-vision deficiency more than those with green-vision deficiency but many factors will affect how visible to the ball might be, including the type of floodlighting. This issue needs to be urgently investigated in more detail and a colour selected for the balls used in night games which is visible to everyone”.
Bangladesh turn down invitation to tour Pakistan.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has turned down an invitation from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for a tour before July this year (PTG 2083-10554, 24 March 2017). The PCB invited Bangladesh for a two-match Twenty20 International series in an attempt to bring international cricket back to the country,
Pakistan will tour Bangladesh in July and hoped to play host before their visit. PCB has also asked the Bangladesh board to share part of the profits generated from their visit towards compensation for repeatedly refusing to tour their nation for six years.
The PCB had hosted the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore earlier this month with a view to proving that the country could safely host cricket matches. A representative of the BCB attended the final in Lahore in early March. However, the BCB said the security arrangements involved are still inadequate.
BCB’s media and communications committee chairman Jalal Younus said on Thursday: “We had a BCB security team visit Pakistan during the final of the PSL T20 last month, but their report was not satisfactory enough [and thus] we had to pull back. Even the International Cricket Council (ICC) had a fact finding team visit the country and [were of a similar view]". ICC security advisor Sean Norris was present at the PSL final to assess the situation and security arrangements and is expected to submit a report at the ICC board meeting in April.
Bangladesh have said that they are willing to play the series at a neutral venue. However, PCB do not consider it financially viable to host teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in United Arab Emirates, which has been adopted for their home matches since the 2009 Lahore attacks on the Sri Lanka team.
Bangladesh are now the fourth team in two years to turn down invitations to tour Pakistan; the others were West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe were the first nation to visit Pakistan after the attacks when they played five one-day matches in 2015.
Sunday, 2 April 2017
• How the ECB played politics to change English cricket forever [2093-10600].
• ECB to step in to help clubs displaced by new T20 series [2093-10601].
• Test cricket's not dead, nor resting [2093-10602].
How the ECB played politics to change English cricket forever.
London Daily Telegraph.
Sunday, 2 April 2017.
Four miles separates the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) offices in St John’s Wood at Lord’s and the Houses of Parliament, but some of the tactics applied in English cricket’s Twenty20 debate were straight out of Westminster.
The ECB used the levers of power to their advantage and over the course of the last two-and-a-half years have been singular with their policy to introduce a new Big Bash style Twenty20 competition to “future-proof” the game. They refused to take no for an answer and built a case backed up with external research that was presented this week.
They bent the doubters to their will. Pressure was applied like a three line party whip on wavering county chairmen, many of whom are part-time volunteers without the personal financial investment in the club that gives football chairmen clout. Expensive and extensive research was commissioned on grassroots sport and the broadcast market to back up the masterplan and clever political manoeuvrings blindsided opponents. The counties had never been hit by such an orchestrated campaign.
It culminated in Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, beating Britain’s cricket loving Prime Minister by 24 hours to triggering an article change. As the postal ballot papers are returned over the next three weeks, and the necessary votes are received to approve Graves’s plan to change the ECB constitution to allow a new tournament to be established without the counties, 130 years of cricket tradition will come to an end.
Many said it would never happen. Surely the county turkeys would never put a cross in the box marked Christmas. English cricket’s institutional inertia would never give. But Graves and Tom Harrison, the chief executive, succeeded where others feared to tread. But how did they do it? How did they break down the county bloc and ensure that in future it is the centre that holds all the power?
Ultimately they won because they held all the aces and built an unstoppable momentum without many of the counties realising what had happened. The financial inducement of £UK1.3 m ($A2.1 m) per year left some without the ability to say no. Others will be glad to be rid of the burden of having to sell out their grounds for Twenty20 cricket. From 2020 onwards it will be the ECB with its marketing budget of ‘many millions’ that will stand or fall by attendance figures. The future of the game depends on its success and their conviction it will help cricket fight for the family audience it has lost.
The die was cast in September last year. At a meeting with the 18 counties the ECB presented five options for the future ‘direction of travel’ for Twenty20. But there was only one favoured choice for the board. After presentations and opening arguments Graves went around the room to each chairman asking them to back him. By the end 16 had chosen the city-based option. Three were against (PTG 1926-9674, 18 September 2016).
After the meeting some counties claimed there had been no vote and nothing decided; they had only given permission to further explore the Big Bash option. But the savvy ones knew what had happened. If you are only going to explore one option, then it is not longer one option, it is the decision.
It was the opportunity for opponents to kill the plan but Graves had outflanked them. He had flexed his muscles earlier in the summer when he sacked Richard Thompson, the chairman of Surrey, as head of the ECB’s commercial committee for giving a newspaper interview in which he said his county preferred the two division option for Twenty20 cricket. Counties were further cowed by the Durham experience which showed the power the ECB were willing to wield (PTG 1989-10031, 28 November 2016).
When counties were ordered to sign non disclosure agreements over the Twenty20 plans last summer it prevented opponents from going public. Many chairmen feared what would happen if they broke ranks. Some even worried about court action. Floating the Olympic Stadium as a possible venue set alarm bells ringing at the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Oval, particularly handy as Surrey were the major dissenters for the ECB (PTG 1925-9671, 16 September 2016).
The final fear that the £1.3 million payment from the tournament would be withheld if counties did not sign over their media rights to the ECB was telling. It was a risk none were willing to take, the final county signing on the dotted line last week (PTG 2090-10587, 30 March 2017).
Hundreds of phone calls to wavering chairmen and meetings with Graves, Harrison or other ECB officials took place throughout the summer and even up until last Monday’s briefing of stakeholders. Chairmen were told to be strong, not be lead by their members and think of the wider good of the game. The big stars helped. County chairmen can be star-struck and presentations by Andrew Strauss changed a few minds. The appearance of Eoin Morgan added the final dash of stardust last Monday (PTG 2088-10575, 28 March 2017).
But in the end money mattered. The ECB commissioned 'Pitch International' to value its television rights. When they valued the new city based tournament to be worth £35 million ($A57.5 m) per year and the county competition as it stands at £7 million ($A11.5 m) chairmen were asked what do you want? £35 million or £7 million. Not many opted for the latter.
There was also a shrewd move to bring chief executives into the fold. Often they are far more perceptive than chairmen when it comes to the financial realities of the decisions made at the top table because they deal with the bread and butter of running a county club every day. They had been a thorn in the side of the ECB in the past. Now many were invited to sit on the various panels established to make the new competition work. This has played on individual ambition of some chief executives. There are two or three chairmen also eyeing promotion with the potential for an ECB deputy chairman election later this year.
Finally the dilution of county power was confirmed by the vote to change the articles of association. The 21 non first-class boards have been given the same equal vote as Surrey or Yorkshire (PTG 2086-10567, 27 March 2017). The ECB argue they deserve a vote because they will benefit from the funds raised by the new tournament which will bankroll grass roots initiatives the county boards will run. The county boards will vote in one 21 vote bloc in favour of change. That leaves the ECB requiring just ten more votes. Game over.
There is no doubt Graves, Harrison and others are convinced their plan will save English cricket. “It is about box office”, said Harrison last Monday. Others have held such strong convictions before but hit a county wall of resistance. This time it was broken down brick by brick and the game will never look the same again.
ECB to step in to help clubs displaced by new T20 series.
The Sunday Times.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is to help fund the re-development of out-grounds at those counties whose main venues are taken over for 38 days each summer once English cricket’s new Twenty20 tournament gets under way in 2020. The board has also set aside £UK2 m ($A3.3 m) to support the rapid development of a drop-in pitch at the London Stadium for use at the World Cup in 2019, which it estimates could net £18-20 m ($A30-33 m), and subsequently in Twenty20s.
The board has recruited Mark Perham of ‘FieldturfNZ', who is based at Eden Park, Auckland, to assist in preparing a drop-in pitch, on site in Stratford, in time for it to be trialed next summer. Warwickshire could be one of those most affected if, as is almost certain, their Edgbaston headquarters was chosen as one of the eight venues for the new tournament, which would leave them searching for somewhere to play their regular county matches, which will run concurrently to the T20.
Neil Snowball, Warwickshire’s chief executive, said: “We would need to play pretty much all of our 50-overs matches away from Edgbaston. We would get paid a staging fee for hosting the new competition but we’ve made it clear to the ECB that if we invest in infra-structure at out-grounds we’d be looking for some separate funding".
“Portland Road [in Birmingham] is where our academy is based and where our second XI and women’s teams play their matches, and our intention is to develop that into a proper second ground, build a proper stand and expand the pavilion. The ECB have been very positive about that”. Snowball also said Warwickshire might also play matches at Rugby School in the east of the county.
Hampshire, whose hopes of being chosen as a T20 venue are less certain but still likely, would also face a problem finding a suitable second home. All their home matches this summer are scheduled for the Ageas Bowl, though they have played matches at Basingstoke in the past. Surrey would play more matches at Guildford, Middlesex more at Uxbridge.
Some county executives remain skeptical about a new tournament that they feel could, if it is not sufficiently distinct, cannibalise existing formats of county competition, one of them fearing that, “this could yet prove to be another Allen Stanford moment”, but most are persuaded by the ECB’s conviction that it will only benefit the game in this country.
The use of the London Stadium, home to West Ham United, would fit the ambition of Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, for the new Twenty20 to become a “box office” event, but the development of drop-in pitches in this country is barely in its infancy and the board has left it late to prepare and test something in time for the 2019 World Cup (PTG 2080-10535, 21 March 2017). It is to hold a conference call with Perham this week about how it can best meet its deadline. In fact, a drop-in pitch can be got ready in a few months if the right soils are used.
The ECB believes it can make hefty profits from a venue that could hold around 50,000 even if seats are taken out to accommodate a larger playing area. The plan is for the “drop-in” pitch to sit on top of the existing playing area, with a turf outfield laid around it. Whether the ECB is still considering artificial pitches for the T20 series is not known (PTG 2053-10399, 19 February 2017).
Matches involving England and India would probably draw capacity crowds and although the World Cup is an event that belongs to the International Cricket Council, the ECB, as the host body, gets to keep ticket revenues, so the board has an interest is maximising attendances for the tournament.
Although the ECB’s new Twenty20, slated for July and August, would partly overlap with West Ham’s season, several county chief executives expect the London Stadium to become a Twenty20 venue. Outside the football season, the London Stadium could stage international Twenty20s, which are expected to grow in number under the new broadcast deal covering 2020-24.
Test cricket's not dead, nor resting.
Now, where were we? Oh yes, that's right… it's about Test cricket. It's dead! You may remember it was formally certified so just before the recent Australian summer began. In fact, it's absolutely cactus. Run over by one of those new T20 steam-rollers which had careered out of control, gathered speed, and taken everything in its path.
It was only a matter of time. The whole thing had become an anachronism and all the old farts who'd ever liked it, pickled and preserved by gin-and-tonic though they may have been, were now dying off. As former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating once put it in relation to a political opponent, the old game was a "dead carcass swinging in the breeze". Put more politely, it was Game Over.
Well, um, yes it was. But a bit has changed in six months. In fact, a bit has changed in six weeks. And, now, the old girl is back. Not for the first time, she pushed the lid off her coffin and climbed calmly out of the grave. She took an Indian sojourn and by the end of it she's in the rudest of health.
It's fitting she went to India. For once upon a time, the people of that amazing nation heaped adulation upon her like no others. But a few years ago, they were the first to hear the steam-roller coming. They jumped on board, festooning it with colour and sound effects, making it both irresistible and irrepressible. And they left the grand old dame, if not entirely unloved, unwanted at the least.
A pool of a billion people, voting with their feet, made India the touchstone for the growth of the short form of cricket and the impending death of the old game. The Indian Premier League is a modern phenomenon of professional sport. As people have flocked to it, the nation's Test audiences have fallen: albeit more dramatically in some regions than others.
Yet, and while I can't presume to understand the various forces – social, economic, regional, recreational and so on – which are reshaping the choices made by cricket attendees in today's India, there is suddenly a universal truth at play.
It's a truth born of Test cricket's greatest strength which is also, at times, its raw Achilles. It pits nation against nation and thus inflames passions in a way few other sports ever can. And, regardless of crowd sizes, the nationalistic feelings thus aroused touch a massive number of people. In India's case, we're talking nine-digit numbers.
The series just concluded has been compelling. It has been close – only swinging decisively one way into the second half of the final Test – and it has been unpredictable. While the teams aren't necessarily the greatest either country has ever put on the park, each has considerable strengths and is fiercely competitive. And the pair collided head-on.
For all the reasonable concern, sometimes bordering on outrage, when our national team becomes caught up in on-field strife, nothing titillates the punters more. Probably due to the influence of the contact football codes on our sporting culture, Australian players and fans tend to enjoy some serious cut and thrust.
But whereas we're inclined to see this in simple terms – "it's just what happens on the sporting field" – for Indian players and observers it's more complex. Quite clearly, a line was drawn in the sand some time ago and Indian cricketers are no longer prepared to turn the other cheek when conflict occurs, particularly with players of white-skinned teams. Perhaps it started here in 1981 when Sunil Gavaskar called his batting partner, Chetan Chauhan, from the MCG in protest at being given adjudged leg before wicket to Dennis Lillee. A quarter of a century later, the so-called ‘Monkeygate' affair reverberated even more powerfully.
The pity of these occasions is that the potential exists for relationships and reputations to be damaged. Indian captain Virat Kohli stated in blunt terms following the recent series that this has occurred. Sadly, unlike his rival captain, Kohli wasn't prepared to acknowledge that he or his team might have contributed to some of the ill-feeling.
The Australian skipper's acknowledgement of having made mistakes amid the intensity of the contest was impressive. Nevertheless, Steve Smith will be a better captain when he controls his tendency to do this. His mimicking of the India's cultural head-bobble and his preparedness to break the rules relating to outside advice on review deliberations were unbecoming.
The just completed series didn't quite test the breaking strain of the relationship between Australia and India to the extent ‘Monkeygate’ did. Nevertheless, it underlined the potential for serious dislocation between the two cricketing nations that a Test match can unleash. The involvement of the respective national administrations in the skirmish even produced echoes of Bodyline (PTG 172-919, 9 January 2008).
When that flare-up occurred in 1932-33 the Anglo-Australian contest was all that really mattered in Australia's cricket psyche. Thanks to Douglas Jardine, Harold Larwood and co, it mattered considerably more thereafter. Now, the contest between Australia and India matters more than ever before. The series in this country late next year, as a prospect to be savoured, loses little by comparison with the Ashes summer that precedes it.
Looked at another way, though, it's hard to see how an Indian team led by Virat Kohli will cope with the treatment it is now likely to receive from Australian crowds. One hopes the individuals involved have cooled off before that battle begins, but without their natural instincts having been totally sanitised.
Whatever, don't believe everything you read about Test cricket's death. When Keating spoke of a carcass swinging in the breeze in 1988, the Liberal leader he was deriding was none other John Howard, who later went on to become Australia’s second-longest serving PM. Like Lazarus with a triple bypass, Test cricket is back.
Monday, 3 April 2017
• Head strikes a continuing concern for two players [2094-10603].
• Bangladesh skipper suspended after second over-rate offence [2094-10604].
• Two Afghanis warned over on-field issues [2094-10605].
• No details available yet on IPL-10 match officials [2094-10606].
• CA ‘sensitive’ to others having a point of view: union chief [2094-10607].
• SACA criticised over push to merge two Premier clubs [2094-10608].
Head strikes a continuing concern for two players.
Concerns continue to be held about the health of two Victorian players, Sam Harper and Will Pucovski, who suffered different but significant head and concussion-related injuries during the just completed 2016-17 season. In February, wicketkeeper Harper was hit in the helmet by a bat when standing up to the stumps in a Sheffield Shield game in Adelaide, and Pucovski received a blow to the head while fielding in what was his Shield debut, strikes that have sidelined them ever since (PTG 2059-10424, 25 February 2017).
It is understood the aftermath for Harper is more significant than first thought, the keeper’s balance and co-ordination having been affected. In addition, his mental processing ability has not returned to normal as yet and his speech is slightly affected at times. Specialists have given no categorical answers as to how long his full recovery will take, therefore there is no absolute or conclusive outcome or time frame for when he will return to the game.
Pucovski has a history of previous concussion injuries and he will be handled carefully to ensure all is 100 per cent before a return to the field is confirmed.
Off the field, some rumblings are being heard within Cricket Victoria (CV). Some old-timers, and many Premier club stalwarts, are increasingly upset with Victoria’s insistence in bringing interstate players into the state side's ranks at the expense of homegrown talent.
This is a trend that once upset me also, but given the change in philosophy from above at Cricket Australia that the best 66 players should be playing Shield cricket, it is a practice that will only continue with time. Almost all current players have player managers these days and movement interstate for a better opportunity will only increase. Sadly, gone are the days of state versus state in a “state of origin” style set-up.
On the surface, most things seem rosy with the much-anticipated and long overdue Junction Oval redevelopment on target to be completed in time for next summer. Finally, the state will have an alternative venue away from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to host Shield finals in late March, as opposed to Alice Springs, although that is not as straight-forward as one might think (PTG 2080-10534, 21 March 2017).
The only real concern is off the field where a major volcano is brewing at CV board level. There are rockets being launched behind the scenes and it is my understanding the volcano is about to erupt. Let’s hope the off-field boardroom battles can be resolved swiftly and that another decade of dominance for the state side lies ahead.
Bangladesh skipper suspended after second over-rate offence.
Monday, 3 April 2017.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has been suspended for one One Day International (ODI), and fined 40 per cent of his match fee, after a second minor over-rate offence in which his side was ruled to be two overs short of its target in the third ODI of the series against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Saturday. Match referee Andy Pycroft imposed the suspension on Mashrafe and 20 per cent match fee fines to his players in accordance with International Cricket Council regulations.
Mashrafe had previously been found guilty of a minor over-rate offence during his side's first ODI against New Zealand in Christchurch in December (PTG 2012-10179, 27 December 2016), the latest offence constituting his second minor over-rate offence within a 12-month period which has led to a suspension. As a result Mashrafe will miss his side’s next ODI, which is currently scheduled to be in a three-nation tournament in Ireland in May.
Two Afghanis warned over on-field issues.
Afghanistan's Dawlat Zadran and Mohammad Nabi have been warned over two separate incidents during their side's Intercontinental Cup first class match against Ireland in Greater Noida, India, last week. Dewlap threw a ball that hit Ireland number 11 Peter Chase, and Nabi celebrated a catch even though he had grassed the ball.
Dewlap’s action was deemed offensive as Chase, who was firmly inside the crease, wasn't trying to attempt a run. In addition to the reprimand, Dawlat also had three demerit points against his name. Babi was found guilty of "conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” and given one demerit point for his offence. Both players accepted the sanctions proposed by match referee Graeme La Brooy.
No details available yet on IPL-10 match officials.
The Indian Premier League (IPL), whose tenth season gets underway on Wednesday, has yet to announce just who the match officials will be for what is its tenth series. In the past though, IPL organisers have been keen to hire umpires from outside India, for of the 50 used in the past nine seasons 25 have been non Indians, 7 being from Australian, 5 from South Africa, 4 New Zealanders, 3 Englishmen, two each from Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and one each from the West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Of the IPL on-field positions to date, 41 per cent have gone to Indian umpires and 59 per cent to those from overseas. Of the non Indians, Australians have taken up 15 per cent of the on-field spots, South Africans 12 per cent, Sri Lanka and Pakistan both 8 per cent, New Zealand 6 per cent, England and Zimbabwe both 4 per cent, and Zimbabwe 2 per cent. Members of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) have been allocated 57 per cent of all on-field spots
The five who currently head the IPL on-field standings list are: Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena with 87 matches (8 seasons, 4 finals), India’s Sundarum Ravi 72 (8/0), Simon Taufel from Australia on 55 (5/5), Asad Rauf of Pakistan 51 (4/1), and Marais Erasmus of South Africa with 48 (6/0). All are, or were, EUP members at the time. Of the top five Indians apart from Ravi, Anil Chaudhry is on 47 matches (5/0), Chettithody Shamshuddin 46 (4/0), Vineet Kulkarni 40 (4/0), while on 31 are Sudhir Asnani (5/0), CK Nandan (4/0) and Shavir Tarapore (4/0).
Participation in the IPL is a lucrative business for match officials according to what little information on such matters has reached the general public (PTG 1896-9508, 10 August 2016). According to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Dharmasena earned 4.5 million Indian Rupees ($A87,055, £UK51,230) as a result of his 15-match, 51-day stint in last year’s series and Erasmus paid 3.2 million Rupees ($A62,925, £37,070) for 11 games over 31 days. Ranjan Madugalle, the ICC's senior match referee, who oversaw 9 games over 35 days, took home 3.4 million Rupees ($A65,545, £38,615), and his former ICC colleague Roshan Mahanama 3.2 million Rupees ($A63,255, £37,270) for 13 games over 43 days.
That data was released by the BCCI in the post Srinivasan period when the then administration provided monthly up-dates of its expenditure as part of efforts to improve the transparency of its operations. However, since the Committee of Administration was appointed to reform BCCI workings, such data has no been made public. Whether that will change once the organisation starts functioning under the new Constitution remains to be seen.
CA ‘sensitive’ to others having a point of view: union chief.
When Alistair Nicholson took over as the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), or players’ union, in 2014, the initial word on the street, habituated to predecessor Paul Marsh’s straight-talking ways, was that the new boy might not be tough enough for the hurly-burly. Nicholson can understand why some might think that: he is a listener and an appraiser. “But I’m a bit more stubborn than people think”, he says.
He’s also a planner. Cricket Australia’s (CA) position on the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ACA has come as a disappointment to him but not a surprise: “We’ve spent a lot of time with the players talking about what’s coming. And now what’s been coming has come, I’m confident that the players have a good understanding of the issues and are determined not to settle for anything other than what has given the game success over 20 years”.
In just over three months there has been little progress on the new MoU. In four meetings, CA and ACA representatives have managed to sit in the same room, but it has been not so much a conversation as the continuation of parallel monologues. However, senior players are unshakably committed to the principle that male and female international and interstate cricketers should be entitled to a direct share of the game’s revenues; the presentation of CA’s offer last week rejecting that model confirmed that the parties remained as far apart as ever.
Nicholson thinks "that whatever happens in the next few months, both the player group and the ACA will be significantly stronger for it. Because this will be a challenge for everyone”.
CA’s noisy protestation that it needs more money to tend cricket’s grassroots strikes Nicholson as a populist cry: “What’s not working here? CA have a well-performed, well-behaved player group, a model that’s worked 20 years, and 80 cents in the dollar to spend on whatever they want. They want to spend more on grassroots? Go ahead. We’re all for it. The model’s working. The game’s never been stronger and the revenue share has been an important part of bringing that about".
Nicholson says: “If you’re looking in raw terms, over the five years [of the new MoU] cricket will bring in over $A2.5 billion (£UK1.25 bn). So why are we going down this path, because sadly it’s going to escalate. That’s the message coming to me from the player group, male and female, when there could easily be a win-win-win: win CA, win ACA, win grassroots".
“We don’t want significantly more; what we want to ensure is that the players don’t effectively go backwards, especially state players, and those who’ve worked really hard on Big Bash League and are being offered minuscule increases”.
The ACA had its player intellectual property (IP) valued last year, an exercise hard to imagine not so long ago. Obviously, it is an asset it suits CA to control (PTG 2060-10431, 27 February 2017). But could it be sold to someone else. "It’s a possibility”. says Nicholson. “And it should be a concern. Because if you unravel the way things are, where do things go? The ACA is putting finishing touches to a new player IP model that will allow the players and the ACA to generate more funds outside the constraints of CA’s business model”.
Does Nicholson think CA would prefer the ACA not exist? “No, I don’t”, he says. “Because we actually do a lot together and do it well. And I think CA see the value of what the ACA brings. It’s just what that looks like. To me, the ACA has a pivotal role, as the players’ bargaining agent, also responsible for welfare, past players, etc. Because the other model is really ugly".
“The reality is that the ACA brings reliability, stability and consistency to CA’s business model. If you didn’t have that, you’d have lots of players, lots of agents, and it would be hard to guarantee broadcasters’ and sponsors’ investments. The ability for them to tell commercial partners ‘We’ve got our workforce sorted out for the next five years. There’ll be no unrest’ — that’s of huge benefit. We also bring a level of accountability. While it might not always be welcome, we have a point of view on the game, and it’s important …. We’re keeping them honest, and whether you like that or not, the game’s better for it”.
His perspective on CA? “I think a lot of good things have been achieved in cricket in the last five years”, says Nicholson. “But I am surprised at a lot of the sensitivity around others having a point of view. I think there’s a very strong commercial focus (PTG 2039-10326, 5 February 2017). And I think with the changing governance structures and the increase in corporate IQ on the board, there’s a strong attitude of ‘We lead the cricket world, we know what’s best’ paternalism".
The ACA chief executive sees "a lot of AFL [Australian Football League] coming into cricket with professionalism at every level, [but] even [that] can go too far, because you’ve still got to enjoy it. [For CA] the AFL’s ability to commercialise itself has been very influential. I very much see cricket thinking: ‘Well, we’ve got a national footprint. If we get everyone facing the right way, we can gallop right past you’”.
While we’ve been talking, the CA logo has been visible in front of Nicholson on the cover of its 29-page proposal, which bears the title: 'A fair deal for all the players, now and in the future’. Although he has not referred to it in our discussion, I notice as we part that Nicholson has been doodling on the front page, drawing a box around the words 'fair deal’, connected by a line to a question mark. The two parties now have less than three months to come up with an answer to that question.
SACA criticised over push to merge two Premierclubs.
The South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) stacks its board in an undemocratic fashion, is riddled with conflicts of interest and ignored its own constitution when it decided two Premier grade-cricket clubs should be merged, according to a report by a select committee of the South Australian Parliament.
In the Select Committee’s final report 'On the SACA Premier Cricket Merger decision’, the committee's chair Jennifer Rankine expressed concern about the governance of the entire board. Rankine told Parliament after the report had been released that the SACA had been guilty of “manipulating’’ the board selection process so as to promote its favoured candidates. She said there had been a pattern whereby board members who were not standing for re-election would retire early, thereby allowing “casual” vacancies to be filled by unelected candidates.
The committee report noted that of the current eleven SACA Board members, eight had originally been appointed to fill casual vacancies. Rankine said this amounted to a “manipulating’’ of the board selection process and favoured those candidates who would then stand as a “sitting member’’ at the next election. “This systemic process of appointment and conferring the advantage of incumbency flouts the intention of a democratically elected board”, she said, and "is as close to deceiving SACA members as you can get”.
The Select Committee initially had been formed to examine SACA’s desire to merge the West Torrens Cricket Club — which completed a clean sweep of the Premier cricket, one day and 20-20 titles in the just completed 2016-17 season — with the Port Adelaide Cricket Club, after the matter was raised in parliament by Labor member Paul Caica, whose Colton electorate includes West Torrens Cricket Club. South Australian Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan also spoke against the merger, the Port Adelaide Cricket Club being in his Parliamentary seat of Lee.
The committee noted that the SACA had abandoned its original decision to reduce the size of its Premier Cricket division from 13 to 12 teams by merging West Torrens with Port Adelaide (PTG 1801-9001, 15 April 2016). The SACA has now proposed a 14-team league, including a team made up of the state’s best under-19 talent, but clubs are reported to be concerned with such an approach (PTG 2050-10389, 16 February 2017).
The committee made eleven recommendations, including that SACA address the issue of “trust with its clubs”, ensure board members “declared and distanced themselves from decisions about clubs with whom they have an affiliation’’ and revamp its procedures for filling casual board vacancies. A SACA spokesman said the Association was “disappointed that, on an initial reading, the final report potentially contains a number of inaccuracies”.
SACA oversees cricket at all levels in South Australia. Taxpayers have funded the $A535 million (£UK325 m) Adelaide Oval upgrade, including $A85 million (£51.7 m) that effectively wiped out SACA’s debt.
Tuesday, 4 April 2017
• Aussie junior game set for major changes [2095-10609].
• Premier clubs in a pitch battle with CV, chief executive [2095-10610].
Aussie junior game set for major changes.
Tuesday, 4 April 2017.
The most significant modification to junior cricket ever seen in Australia will take place next southern summer following a successful nationwide pilot program where children played on shorter pitches in smaller teams (PTG 1908-9574, 26 August 2016). Cricket Australia (CA) will announce on Tuesday that modified junior formats will be rolled out over the next three years, radically altering the way the sport is played for children younger than 14 in a bid to increase participation and raise skill level.
Reducing the pitch length decreased the numbers of wides and no balls being delivered during the pilot program. Fifty-three per cent more balls bowled were in play, 13 per cent more balls were being hit, and dot balls decreased by 24 per cent. Boundaries were also made shorter and each participant had a chance to bat and bowl in every game, while match length will be trimmed to two hours for Under-10/11s, and three hours for Under-12/13s.
At Under-10/11s level each team will have seven players. That increases to nine for the next two age groups before fleshing out to the standard 11 at under-14s. The new junior format cricket was trialled over the 2016-17 summer by 15 junior associations, 171 clubs and 640 teams, with coaches, parents and players labelling the changes a resounding success.
CA senior manager, team performance and former Australian captain Belinda Clark, who oversaw the pilot, said the changes increased each player's involvement during a match. "There were things like lots of wides being bowled, the game was long, kids had lots of sporting options, all those things that have changed in society where a time-poor mum and dad are busy”, Clark said.
"If we can set up a game where there's a lot more action and that repetition is happening in the game, then that can only be better for skill development and that's exactly what's happened. One of the key things is kids improve when they get the opportunity to repeat things over and over and over again. They've got a chance if they're doing it a lot more”.
"We're seeing younger kids play cover drives, play lofted drives over the bowler's head because the ball's coming at them at a better pace, it's landing in a better spot. Children will no longer have to struggle with playing in conditions suited for adults. They'll now progress through two stages that will ensure they learn to play cricket in an environment that meets their physical, mental and emotional development”.
Junior cricket for children in the Under-14s and older bracket won't be altered, although each association will have the option to embrace the new format should they choose to do so. The changes will also filter through to Under-12/13 representative level. Female representative cricket will adopt the new format next season, while it will be introduced into the male game in season 2018-19.
"These formats open the game up but they also help the kids develop skill and when you're developing skill you're learning, you're much more likely to be continuing on, thinking that you're improving”, Clark said. "Cricket is a game that requires skill to play, not unlike tennis. If you're playing tennis and the opposition player can't serve, the game stops. Cricket's the same with the bowler bowling, that's where the ball gets into play. It's a hard skill, it's a fundamental skill and we need to give the kids the best chance to start mastering it. We're a proud sporting nation and we're a proud cricketing nation too and if we want to remain that, we need to have as many kids playing the game as possible”.
Premier clubs in a pitch battle with CV, chief executive.
Victoria's Premier Cricket clubs are at loggerheads with Cricket Victoria (CV) over plans to introduce an independent board (PTG 2094-10603, 3 April 2017). Club delegates, including Footscray Edgewater president Geoff Collinson, are concerned about several issues involving CV chief Tony Dodemaide, although Collinson did not wish to comment when contacted on Monday. It's understood Dodemaide, one of Footscray's most decorated players, has been told he is not welcome at his former club, such is the anger clubs are venting.
The 18 Premier clubs hold the majority of the 28 votes needed under the current constitution for change, and this power would most likely be threatened – or least weakened – should an independent board be introduced. Cricket Australia (CA) moved to an independent commission in 2012 in what was the biggest shake-up in its then 107-year history.
Dodemaide, a former Australian fast bowler who played 10 Tests, has been CV chief since 2007. One CV source said the attacks had become personal towards Dodemaide, who was in an invidious position. "The 18 Premier clubs hold the power but, to get an independent board, Tony needs to bring those clubs along with him to make and agree to the change. Some of those clubs don't want change”, the source said.
"Some of these clubs have been happy to meander along like it's the 19th century, be happy with their four or five wins a season and collect their dividends every year. The dividends weren't tagged to anything. Now there is more onus on clubs to develop their region, lead junior development, introduce women's teams – it's becoming all too hard for them”.
Should a revamped board be approved, one of its first moves could be to slash the number of Premier clubs. There is growing speculation the Premier clubs are considering a vote of no confidence in Dodemaide and CV chairman Russell Thomas. The next meeting of Premier club presidents is in June, with the CV annual general meeting in August. Club delegates are likely to unofficially discuss the issue at this week's Jack Ryder Medal presentation.
There was controversy in 2015 over CV's support of the Junction Oval redevelopment, but it was ultimately approved. Some clubs believe CV has not done enough to help develop the sport at a local level. Dodemaide in recent days made it clear cricket needs to compete better with the Australian Football League in this regard, and hopes CA's new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Cricketers Association, which is still be negotiated, helps provide more funding (PTG 2094-10607. 3 April 2017).
There are also club rumblings claiming there are too many interstate-born players in the Victorian squad, even though the state claimed a hat-trick of Sheffield Shield titles last week. CV have been active in securing the best talent available, with Marcus Harris and Marcus Stones (both Western Australia), Chris Remain (New South Wales), Dan Christian (South Australia) and departing skipper Matthew Wade who is returning to Tasmania, among their squad. They have also been linked to securing Tasmanian wicketkeeper Tim Paine when negotiations officially open once a new MoU is brokered.
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
• MCC is betraying the game’s soul, must fight T20 push [2096-10611].
• NZ cricketer handed two-year ban for doping [2096-10612].
• Tenth-straight IPL season for referee Srinath [2096-10613].
• ICC appoints new Anti-Corruption Unit head [2096-10614].
• CV on right path with governance reform, says chief executive [2096-10615].
• Concerns country clubs will be “killed off” under Geelong restructure [2096-10616].
• Essex set to play T20 at London Stadium in 2018 [2096-10617].
• Surrey captain expresses reservations about T20 revolution [2096-10618.
• All hail the return of cricket's traditional cable-knit sweater [2096-10619].
MCC is betraying the game’s soul, must fight T20 push.
Last week the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) sent an email to its members about the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) proposed eight-region T20 tournament, a competition that will see professional cricket to be played in England on a non-county and non-national basis for the first time (PTG 2088-10575, 28 March 2017). The email contained the curious statement that “the new tournament aims to offer a complete differentiation from existing cricket to protect and support the future of the County game”.
I know I am not the only MCC member to believe it will do nothing of the sort. It will almost certainly bring huge amounts of money into the counties’ coffers from television rights: and since MCC is now principally obsessed with Mammon rather than with the traditions and soul of the game, one can easily understand why it should think that getting more money will be wonderful for the counties. The email also swallows the ECB’s propaganda whole, for it adds that more T20 is needed because “cricket has struggled to reach a wider audience” via a “participation plan” to “encourage more families to watch the game”.
The ECB is quite entitled to these views, and to justify them by whatever intellectually bogus means at its command: but many MCC members are deeply uneasy that a club of its eminence, the owners of Lord’s, should be acting as the ECB’s barker and tout on something wrecking the traditions of cricket.
Doubtless among its 18,000 members MCC harbours some who do not think T20 a contemptible apology for cricket, best watched and perhaps only truly appreciated when one is ripe to fail a breathalyser: but I am struggling to find them. There are certainly a lot of us who grew up mainly on a diet of three-day championship matches who did not die of boredom after an innings had lasted 20 overs. Indeed, we realised that the deepest form of excitement came in the last couple of sessions of a three-day match, and was only possible because we had spent the previous 2½ days of our precious school holidays watching the drama steadily unfold.
I am glad no one ever patronised me in the way the ECB patronises today’s youth: it is like telling them they are manifestly too thick to take A-levels or go to university, so the school-leaving age might as well be lowered to 14, and they can deliver pizzas or work in Burger King instead.
The main reason young people appear uninterested in first-class county cricket is that the game has been made as unappealing as possible – dragged out over four days, with slow over rates, when it could be done in three, and with little attempt made to market it thanks to the ECB’s obsession with the short game.
The MCC has, as custodian of the laws and the most celebrated club in the world, made much of its role in advancing “the spirit of cricket”. This is the spirit so obviously invisible in the recent series between India and Australia, which was ill-tempered and deficient in sportsmanship throughout. It is about fair play, 'playing the game', walking when you know you are out, and all those things few professional cricketers these days would be seen dead doing.
The spirit is violated often in Test and other first-class matches: but players master the art of violation supremely in the short-form game, where the financial stakes are so much higher and, in some competitions, life-changing. This is why I used the word “soul” earlier rather than “spirit”. You can, and should, apply the spirit of cricket in any form of the game. The soul, though, is wrapped up with its traditions and its past, and is undetectable in T20.
What will the MCC do to preserve the soul of cricket, something its founders and generations of members after them regarded as part of its express purpose? Indeed, at the reorganisation of cricket administration in 1992, the working party under Lord Griffiths said MCC’s role was to “be prepared to speak publicly in defence of the finest traditions and ethics of the game”. Sadly, because MCC is so reluctant to criticise the ECB, helped found and has senior figures in common with the ECB, and because a day seems rarely to pass without the ECB emptying its drains over the finest traditions of the game, MCC does not speak up against it as it should.
There is a huge conflict of interest between MCC and the ECB. They should be entirely separate, and not have the cosy, master-and-servant relationship that has grown up. MCC must criticise and confront the ECB where necessary, to defend the traditional game – and the soul of the game.
The obsession with cash prompts fears that, if the ECB is slighted, Lord’s will be denied Test matches. That is palpable rubbish. Can one imagine the Australians, to pick a side at random, agreeing to tour here with no Lord’s Test? MCC has the whip hand because of its ownership of Lord’s. It should stop being the ECB’s creature and start arguing for the advancement of serious cricket. It could start by arranging more first-class matches at Lord’s.
I have no objection to the existence of T20, any more than I object to rock concerts being held on cricket grounds, as they sometimes are. It is just another commercial activity. But it should not be confused with cricket. The membership of MCC is often said to be comprised of old farts: but sometimes, the old farts with their genuine love and deep knowledge of this great game might just be right.
NZ cricketer handed two-year ban for doping.
A player from country New Zealand has been banned for two years after being found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. Adam King, who plays for the Paraparaumu Cricket Club in the Horowhenua Kapiti Cricket Association north of Wellington, had been charged by Drug Free Sport NZ (DFSNZ) of using banned substances, specifically anabolic steroids and hormones.
King, a medium-fast bowler, has played for Paraparaumu since 2011 and had represented Horowhenua-Kapiti in New Zealand’s Hawke Cup competition in 2013 and 2016. DFSNZ had alleged that King was in possession of prohibited substances nandrolone and testosterone in 2014, along with hormones in 2015, after being alerted by medicine and medical devices regulator Medsafe.
A DFSNZ report quoted King as saying: “I liked looking bigger and more muscular. However, overall, the excessive weight gain leading to a loss of agility and flexibility and tendonitis in my knees was detrimental to my cricket”. King admitted to using hormones after fears of developing gynecomastia [male breast enlargement] from using the steroids.
DFSNZ chief executive Graeme Steel said: “Mr King has paid a high price for a poor decision which has affected his future in cricket. Anyone who thinks they can possess or take prohibited substances and get away with it, should think again”. His two-year ban has been back-dated to start in May last year. His trial was delayed until recently as he had left New Zealand to play for Shrewsbury Cricket Club in England during the 2016 northern summer.
Tenth-straight IPL season for referee Srinath.
Javagal Srinath will be working in his tenth-straight Indian Premier League (IPL) series when he oversees the opening match of the competition's tenth season as the match referee in Hyderabad on Wednesday evening. What will be his 95th IPL game will see Englishman Nigel Llong and Indian Anil Dandekar on-field, Abhijit Deshmukh as the television umpire and Nitin Pandit as the fourth umpire. Llong returns to the IPL after stints with it in 2013 and 2014, Dandekar made his on-field and TV umpire debut in 2016 after two years as a reserve umpire in 2014 and 2015, while for Pandit its his first IPL appointment.
ICC appoints new Anti-Corruption Unit head .
ICC media release.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has appointed Alex Marshall, who began his policing career in 1980, as the new General Manager of its Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). Marshall, 55, is presently the Chief Executive of the ‘College of Policing’, the professional body for police in England and Wales. He will join the ICC in September.
Marshall was appointed Chief Constable of Hampshire in 2008, and was selected to head the new College of Policing when it was created in 2012. He holds a Masters Degree in Criminology from the University of Cambridge and also attended the Royal College of Defence Studies.
Commenting on his appointment, Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Sir Ronnie Flanagan said: “I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Alex Marshall as the new General Manager of the ACU. Alex brings with him from his distinguished police career, a tremendous wealth of knowledge, expertise, experience and commitment which I know will further bolster the ACU in its fight against corruption in cricket”.
Marshall said: “I am a life-long cricket fan and am very keen to play my part in keeping my favourite sport clean. My police career has taught me the importance of prevention and education, operating to clear standards, making best use of intelligence and prosecuting where appropriate. I see these approaches as equally applicable to my new role in the ICC which I relish taking up in September. Until then I, of course, remain fully committed to my role at the College of Policing”.
Marshall is the ICC’s fourth ACU General Manager since the position was established in 2000. His predecessors were Jeff Rees (2000-2008); Ravi Sawani (2008-2011); and Yogendra Pal Singh (2011-2017).
CV on right path with governance reform, says chief executive.
Cricket Victoria (CV) chief executive Tony Dodemaide insists the governing body is on the right path in pushing for reform and says he is unaware of any plans of a no-confidence motion in him being raised. Among several issues, CV Premier competition clubs have expressed concerns about a range of issues that include to introduction a fully independent board and the number of interstate players in the Victoria’s first class squad (PTG 2095-10610, 4 April 2017).
Dodemaide opted to go public on Tuesday, saying change was needed and CV was following the guidelines recommended by the Australian Sports Commission. "Cricket is in a great space in Victoria and there are a lot successes to celebrate. We acknowledge that everyone is not going to be happy with things from time to time and we will answer concerns as and when they come to us. We need to work together as a game and push Victorian cricket forward".
The chief executive, who has been in the key role for a decade, said he still had much to give. "It's a terrific environment. I have been here for a while but the industry has really changed, Victorian cricket has really changed, and there are tremendous opportunities that are waiting for us”. "There is going to be change from time to time and that is going to be contentious. People are sometimes fearful of change or suspicious of change. When I came into the role, you are a custodian of the game and you are in a position for a period of time and everybody wants to hand it over in a better place than where it was”.
Dodemaide said he was unaware of any plans for a no-confidence motion to be tabled against him or CV chairman Russell Thomas. "There certainly has been nothing that has been put forward in that regard”, he said. The 18 Premier club presidents will continue to debate their issues ahead of the July delegates meeting and CV’s annual general meeting in August.
Concerns country clubs will be “killed off” under Geelong restructure.
Wednesday, 5 April 2017.
Geelong's country cricket clubs will be “killed off” under a proposed restructure, a former administrator of Victoria’s Geelong Cricket Association (GCA) fears. Mark Tarbett, the president of Teesdale and ex association executive member, is adamant a shift to two-day cricket will be the beginning of the end for division three clubs.
The GCA will unveil its restructure plans at Wednesday’s management meeting, with a new 10-8-8 turf model likely to be implemented for the 2017-18 season. Under the proposal, the current division three hard-wicket clubs — who are not part of the 10-8-8 model — could be forced to submit two sides in a two-day competition in what would unofficially become a fourth division.
Tarbett said the move would be “unviable” for his club, which has been reduced to fielding just one two-day side and one one-day side in recent years. “The division three clubs have a very strong view on the proposed restructure at the moment”, Tarbett said. “There was already an agreement to a restructure last year and now there’s a proposal to restructure division three where sides must have two two-day sides to compete in what we know as the third division".
“So there’s a lot of email traffic and we have certainly sent emails into the GCA in recent days protesting about what they’re talking about happening. We have pretty strong concerns. The viability of the traditional division three country clubs would really be in question. Having to field two two-day sides is not achievable. You only have to look at a few of the clubs this year and how difficult it was to field sides. The numbers aren’t there and people can’t commit to two-day games, that’s why the one-day format has such appeal”.
After a “transitional year” following last season’s restructure, Tarbett urged the GCA to retain one-day cricket in the third division. “I’d like to see the GCA stick to the previously agreed restructure of 10-8-8”, Tarbett said. It’s all a bit unclear. We’re told if you can’t field two two-day sides in division three that you go into a subdivision. That’s going back on what they agreed to do and what the clubs agreed to do. We don’t like it being thrust upon us”.
The GCA subcommittee has handed its restructure proposal to the board of management, which will on Wednesday decide the next course of action. If the 10-8-8 turf structure gains a tick of approval, two sides will fall from division one and division two will be cut back to eight teams. A third tier will be created to accommodate the remaining turf clubs.
Essex set to play T20 at London Stadium in 2018.
Cricket Essex are optimistic that they will play a Twenty20 match at the London Stadium during the 2018 northern summer on a drop-in pitch that will serve as a trial run for the two 2019 World Cup fixtures to be held at the ground. The discussions between Essex, Newham Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation have been very positive, according to an Essex source. The council has provisionally agreed to help with funding the costs of the match, which are expected to be about £UK500,000 ($A823,615).
The source said: “There are still logistical issues to overcome — not least the development and cost of a drop-in pitch, but we are very hopeful of at least one match there during July or August 2018”. A feasibility study this year concluded that the stadium would be suitable for cricket after a reconfiguration that would require seats being removed, additional turf being laid and the use of a drop-in pitch. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has assigned funding of £2 million ($A3.3 m) for the development of a drop-in pitch at the stadium.
The ECB is understood to be very keen on the idea and would use the Essex match, were it go ahead, to assess the possibility of staging matches at the ground for the new city-based T20 competition in 2020.
Meanwhile, some counties believe that the salary cap will have to increase from 2020, when the new T20 competition is introduced. It currently stands at £1.9 million ($A3.13 m), although only a handful of counties spend anywhere near that amount. “We have been looking across the piece at the implications of the new tournament and whilst we are well within the salary cap at the moment, I would expect we, like many other, counties will need to increase the size of our squads from 2020”, said a county finance director.
Surrey captain expresses reservations about T20 revolution.
Surrey have reluctantly given their backing to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) proposed new Twenty20 tournament but Gareth Batty, the club captain, warned it could set English cricket back years if it fails. “I actually think it is the biggest thing in cricket since Kerry Packer. The ECB have a huge responsibility to get it right to the game as a whole. If it bombs then I think cricket will be damaged for a decade or more”, Batty warned of the competition due to start in 2020.
“We are very tribal in this country. Is a guy who lives in Liverpool going to support Manchester cricket? Probably not. Will he support Lancashire? Yes he will because it has been passed down from generation to generation. Can we get around it? Yes, but good luck. We are little pockets in an island so good luck getting that right. Obviously players are excited about something new that could be massive but there is also a worry about if the Professional Cricketers Association are looking after the three-quarters of players who will not get a gig in it".
All hail the return of cricket's traditional cable-knit sweater.
The American satirist Ambrose Bierce called the sweater a “garment worn by a child when its mother is feeling chilly”. This may explain the almost parental coo that echoed around Twitter when it emerged in November that England’s Test team were planning to revert to the traditional cream-coloured cable-knit sweater for the 2017 summer. It felt like more than the return of pure new wool, which they had last worn in 2008 before donning brilliant-white Climawarm tops: it felt like the return of an entire way of life.
Before England’s volte-face – the result of a change of supplier, with American firm New Balance keen to show it is in touch with cricket’s traditions – only Australia and New Zealand had championed the cable knit. Yet a trusty woollen top had once been synonymous with the game.
England’s away sweater actually came first. Between the wars, the touring model – yellow, red and blue trim – became a familiar sight. Supplied by Jaeger of London, it was topped off with a dark blue cap bearing St George and the dragon. This design had first been seen in 1903, when the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) began organising England’s tours, and captain Pelham Warner was dispatched to the outfitters Beale and Inman to obtain a sample. MCC records indicate that home England sweaters, with their crown and three lions, did not appear until 1948.
The England badge was introduced during the reign of Edward VII, in 1908. Former Test captain R E ‘Tip’ Foster suggested silver lions on “a cap for all England”. Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, of the College of Arms, wrote to Lord Harris at Lord’s: “These beasts are always gold – silver lions remind one of Aesop’s fables. Sport and Heraldry do not mix!”
In 1953, Anthony Asquith’s film of Terence Rattigan’s play 'The Final Test' was released, the cast including Len Hutton and Denis Compton and the costume the official England cable sweater. By now, the MCC had sought “covering authority for the badge being used for all purposes connected with the Test team”. The Home Office gave permission grudgingly, with a stern warning: “The incorporation of the crown is a special privilege and not one to be abused”. It was, it added, to be worn only “on cricket occasions”.
This complicated matters when the BBC commissioned another adaptation of Rattigan’s play in 1961. “We have to dress certain artistes as cricketers”, wrote theatrical agents Bermans, requesting six England sweaters from MCC. The request was rejected.
The allocation of one long-sleeved and one sleeveless sweater, both meant to last five years, seems parsimonious today. There were no on-field presentations back then, but the sweaters were treasured just as much. In 1966, Warwickshire’s Dennis Amiss was said to have kept his under his pillow. The sweater belonging to Glamorgan’s Alan Jones, meanwhile, assumed an elegiac air. After the cancellation of South Africa’s tour in 1970, he was called up to face the Rest of the World at Lord’s, twice falling cheaply to Mike Procter. But the game later lost its Test status, and Jones never did appear in an official Test.
In 1997, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) came into being, with the first series under the new order taking place in New Zealand. England wore old-style tour sweaters over mix-and-match logos on their shirts – a nightmare for the marketing men. From then on, the official ECB cap and sweater were to be used home and away, and issued to substitute fielders too. The Kent and Curwen woollens were still cable knit, but the crown was replaced by a stylised coronet.
Thursday, 6 April 2017
• ’Spirit’ scoffers one week, ’Spirit’ buddies the next [2097-10620].
• ‘Wisden 2017' backs UK free-to-air TV, queries Durham issue [2097-10621].
• Batsman given one-year ban for stump flattening [2097-10622].
• Sri Lanka fined for T20I over-rate offence [2097-10623].
• UAE keeper censured for cheating offence [2097-10624].
• Players won't be 'meat in sandwich' in pay dispute, says CA [2097-10625].
• Plenty of prize money for IPL players, pitches and grounds [2097-10626].
• Image of boys playing wins Wisden-MCC photo award [2097-10627].
• Six obsession sums up the spirit of the age [2097-10628].
• More financial incentives for counties, this time over Kolkap [2097-10629].
• Wife beater to face sentence review [2097-10630].
’Spirit’ scoffers one week, ’Spirit’ buddies the next.
Thursday, 6 April 2017.
The captains who will lead the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) eight teams in the event’s tenth season “pledged”, as their counterparts have done in the previous nine years, "their allegiance to the Marylebone Cricket Club’s 'Spirit of Cricket’ campaign" on Wednesday. They did so by "signing the spirit of cricket bat”, in the lead up to the tournament’s opening game in Hyderabad. The first item in the ’Spirit’ list is that “at all times”, the "responsibility of captains is to ensure that play is conducted within the Spirit of the Game as well as within the Laws".
During the recent India-Australia Test series four of the IPL captains, the respective national skippers Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, plus the latter’s team mates David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, took part in games which at times demonstrated little regard for, or even knowledge of, ’Spirit of Cricket’ issues, matters sometimes referred to euphemistically as ’the line'. Tenants such as respect for opponents, the role of the umpires and the game and its traditional values, frequently went missing because of the actions of key players and their national boards (PTG 2082-10541, 23 March 2017).
Whether, in attempt to overcome the apparent lack of knowledge in this area, briefings on ’Spirit' issues were provided to IPL captains before they signed the ‘spirit of cricket bat’ is not known. They pledged though "to play hard, but play fair and well within the Spirit of the Game”. The eight are reported to have also engaged in a "meet and greet" with IPL match officials during which there was discussion on "different aspects of the a tournament" that will be played over the course of the next 47 days. Just what those “different aspects” were have not been spelt out.
After the formalities of their meeting the captains posed for what one report described as a ’Spirit of Cricket’ selfie in a photo session that another media report called “jovial”.
A trophy will be awarded to the team judged by the umpires over the course of IPL-10 to have best upheld the Spirit of the Game in their matches, but unusually for the IPL no money is attached to the win (PTG 2097-10626 below). Umpires will rate each side against the following criteria: upholding spirit of the game during the match; showing respect to the opposition; showing respect for the laws of the game; and showing respect to the umpires.
The IPL says “additional credit will be given for examples of exceptional behaviour in line with the above criteria, for example a fielder signalling that a ball had not been caught cleanly or a batsman walking without waiting for the umpire’s decision”.
‘Wisden 2017' backs UK free-to-air TV, queries Durham issue.
Wednesday, April 2017.
The 154th edition of ‘Wisden’, which is to be published on Thursday, calls for free-to-air coverage of the sport in the UK and criticises the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for bringing the County Championship “into disrepute” over its handling of Durham’s enforced relegation.
Long considered the touchstone of the game, the 2017 edition of ‘Wisden' comes out shortly after the ECB announced its plans for a new regional Twenty20 tournament (PTG 2086-10567, 27 March 2017), the hope for which is that at least eight matches will be sold to a terrestrial broadcaster after 11 years of exclusive coverage by the subscription broadcaster Sky Sports (PTG 2090-10587, 30 March 2017).
Editor Lawrence Booth writes: “Advocates of satellite paywalls insist the world has changed: youngsters, they say, barely watch television any more; the digital dissemination of cricket, they argue, is about creating noise in bitesized chunks on social media. Since recent research by the ECB suggested that more British children aged 7–15 recognised American wrestler John Cena than Alastair Cook, they could do with cranking up the volume".
Booth says: “The debate over free-to-air cricket has disappeared so far up its own fundament that a basic truth has been lost: the sport needs viewers as much as it needs cash and coaches. Why else are the ECB pushing for terrestrial coverage in 2020? It’s a nice idea. Here’s hoping it’s not too late”.
On the issue of Durham, who after accepting a £UK3.8m ($A6.3 m) bailout from the ECB last October, begin life in Division Two this northern summer on minus 48 points to go with deductions in the two limited overs competitions, a loss of Test status and with various financial restrictions imposed, Booth calls into question the timing of events last year (PTG 2061-10438, 28 February 2017).
He writes: “Serious questions demanded answers (PTG 1993-10059, 3 December 2016). When, for instance, had Durham’s relegation been decided? A leak from a meeting suggested the board knew in May, though they deny this. But the possibility of relegation – and all involved must have known it was a possibility – was not conveyed to Durham’s players. They deserved to know” (PTG 1953-9828, 20 October 2016).
“It would have been better to come clean about Durham’s fate at the time”, writes Booth. "Instead, with games taking place which some officials appeared to know would be meaningless, the County Championship was brought into disrepute”.
Batsman given one-year ban for stump flattening.
A batsman who knocked all of his stumps out of the ground after he was given out caught behind in a Victorian Turf Cricket Association (VTCA) Grand Final two Saturdays ago will not be playing cricket anywhere in Victoria for a year. Liam Collins from the Newport-Digman side, who completed his tantrum by giving a signal to the adjudicating umpire (PTG 2087-10571, 27 March 2017), has been handed a 12-month ban by the VTCA's disciplinary tribunal. A video of the incident posted on ‘YouTube' the day of the incident quickly made its way around the world.
Sri Lanka fined for T20I over-rate offence.
Sri Lanka has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 International (T20I) of their on-going series in Colombo on Tuesday. Match referee Andy Pycroft fined captain Upul Tharanga 20 per cent of his match fee and his players’ all 10 per cent, after the side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.
Tharanga pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing. The charge was laid by on-field umpires Ranmore Martinesz and Raveendra Wimalasiri, third umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge and fourth official Deepal Gunawardene.
UAE keeper censured for cheating offence.
United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) wicketkeeper Ghulam Shabber has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee, and docked one demerit point, for “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” during the third One Day International (ODI) of the series against Papua New Guinea in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Ghulam appealed successfully for a direct-hit run out of batsman Lega Siaka, but a post-match review of TV replays showed that the ball had not hit the stumps and that the UAE keeper had in fact broken them with his gloves.
The charge was laid by on-field umpires Akbar Ali and Shozab Raza and reserve, or in some reports, ’television', umpire Ian Dixon. Ghulam admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by Steve Bernard, the match referee. Delhi-born Akbar is UAE based, Raza from Pakistan is a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel, and Australian Bernard a member of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel
The presence of Zimbabwean Dixon, 39, in what was his first appointment to an ODI, is interesting. He has six first class, and 4 List A, games to his credit in his home country, but records available show the last was over five years ago, although last December he was the referee when the UAE played the England ‘A’ side in a first class fixture in Abu Dhabi. From 2011-15 he stood in a total of 15 County second XI, Yorkshire League and other matches in England.
Players won't be 'meat in sandwich' in pay dispute, says CA.
Cricket Australia (CA) insists it will not make the players the "meat in a sandwich" and has urged player agents to give both sides of the story to their clients in a pay dispute that is set to drag on (PTG 2094-10607, 3 April 2017). CA high performance boss Pat Howard has emailed agents, asking them to detail the cases put forward not only by the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), or players’ union, but also CA itself.
The email said concerns raised about CA's plan to redirect $A29 million (£UK17.6 m) of surplus money that was to go to players this year but instead could be redirected over the next five years – potentially to cover the women's pay rises – was a "media ploy".
Howard said CA would continue to email players directly with updates but he won't be "doing a hard sell" or commenting publicly on negotiations. "I don't want players to feel as though they are getting pressured and I also won't be comfortable with them getting one side of the story. I told the players I won't be making them the meat in the sandwich”, Howard said. "CA has a view and the ACA have a view. This is where player managers have a strong role in reviewing the documentation and being a sounding board for the player”.
Howard said it was important agents understood both positions in a dispute increasingly being played out in the media (PTG 2092-10597, 1 April 2017). "We respect the ACA's role to negotiate on behalf of the collective, we also believe in our right to directly inform players of our offer”, Howard said. Agents were told to contact Howard or Kevin Roberts, the latter who is heading up CA's negotiations, if they had any questions.
On the issue of the surplus $A29 million, Howard said: "The ACA are fully aware both parties must agree for any change to the adjustment ledger ... what we can do is suggest a good idea for use of the ledger, something that actually happened in the last [CA-ACA] Memorandum of Understanding [MoU)”. Under that MoU, about $A16 million (£9.7 m) was carried forward. However, players this time believe any money owed should be distributed to players who have taken to the field under the current deal (PTG 2084-10559, 25 March 2017).
One agent said on Wednesday his responsibility was to his players, not CA. Another agent suggested Howard's email was a sign CA had growing concerns about a deal being done soon. CA's 28-page submission detailed how it wants players to share in $A419 million (£UK254 m) of payments over the next five years – should this plan be accepted.
Female players are the big winners in CA's offer, with the top international players soon to pocket more than $A200,000 (£121,365) a year. They will also get to share in a set-percentage revenue of up to $A4 million (£2.4 m) (PTG 2081-10537, 22 March 2017).
CA-contracted male players will enjoy a 30 per cent pay rise (average income to be $A1.45 million - £879,910 - by 2022) and continue to share in the set-percentage model (up to $A16 million), but domestic cricketers will be paid out of a guaranteed fund. That move has angered the ACA, while CA argues domestic cricket – outside of the men's and women's Big Bash Leagues – does not generate money.
If a deal is not reached by the end of June, the two parties could decide to extend the current MoU for six months or a year, or the players could opt for industrial or commercial action. They have already begun assessing their options. CA could also offer series-by-series contracts.
Plenty of prize money for IPL players, pitches and grounds.
IPL media release.
In addition to their ‘basic’ pay, a total of 43.6 million Rupees ($A885,790, £UK536,560) in prize money will be available to Indian Premier League (IPL) players this season for various individual on-field feats, and the pitch and playing surface deemed the best will also attract a financial reward. However, apart from their own not ungenerous pay, the only incentive available to match officials will be “mementos awarded to the four umpires and the match referee” who are appointed to the competition’s final match, while the winner of the IPL’s ’Spirit of the Game’ award will be limited to silverware (PTG 2097-10620 above).
A 'Pitch and Ground' award of 5 million Rupees ($A101.725, £UK61,735) is available to grounds that host seven or more IPL matches, and another 2.5 million Rupees to grounds that host less than seven games. The two awards will be given to the Indian State Associations whose grounds are ranked the best by the IPL referees and umpires over the course of the IPL season.
Pitch and outfield evaluation forms will be completed after each match which ask questions such as: Did the pitch play the same throughout the match for both innings?; Did the pitch have good pace and ball carry?;Was the bounce of the pitch consistent?; Was the amount of lateral seam movement on offer fair?; Was the amount of spin on offer fair (i.e. not excessive)?; and How do you rate the quality of the outfield?
Player awards include each game’s ‘Man of the match’, the ‘Perfect catch of the match’ and overall season, the most sixes during each game, and the season (PTG 2097-10628 below), what’s called the ‘Stylish player of the day’, the ‘Glam' shot of the season, the fastest 50, the ‘Stylish’ and ‘Most valuable player’ of the season, and the best emerging player.
The "most stylish player of the match” will be selected by the television commentary panel based on a "combination of performance and style”, the latter being defined as "confidence, appearance, ability to remain cool/ calm under pressure, attitude, etc”. The ‘Glam’ shot is defined as "a unique, admirable, exciting, awe-inspiring cricket shot".
In a nod to the ‘Tour de France’, but not until after every team has played at least one match, there are the ‘Orange’ and ‘Purple’ cap awards. The Orange Cap will be worn while fielding by the batsman who has scored the most runs in the league during the season, and the Purple variety while fielding by the bowler who has taken the most wickets. Like the ‘Tour’, the wearer of the caps will change as playing outcomes dictate. The individuals who have the cap at the end of the season will each be awarded one million Rupees ($A20,315, £UK12,300).
Image of boys playing wins Wisden-MCC photo award.
An image of a boys’ cricket game in the Mughal gardens on the outskirts of Srinagar, the capital of the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, has won the 2016 Wisden-MCC Cricket Photograph of the Year Competition. Freelance Kashmiri photographer Saqib Majeed captured the moment last year.
Chris Smith, the chairman of the judging panel, said: "A fellow judge rightly observed that the image looked more like one of the paintings in the Pavilion than a digital photograph – which is testament to the quality of the winning image. The last few winners of this competition have been action shots, so it was nice to be able to select something from outside the professional game”.
More financial incentives for counties, this time over Kolkap.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is planning to crack down on the number of Kolpak players flooding into county cricket when it draws up its next contract with the counties. The term “Kolpak” comes from Maros Kolpak, a Slovakian handball player, whose victory in a Luxembourg court in 2003 allowed sportsmen from outside European Union (EU) countries to be treated as though they were in the Union if their nation had a trade agreement, however, it precludes them from representing his or her country (PTG 2020-10221, 5 January 2017).
Several cricketing countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe and most Caribbean islands are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, a free trade deal that allows access to the EU. Later this year the ECB plans to draft a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the counties regarding ‘Kolpak’ issues. The ECB’s cricket committee and its board level are understood to have had discussions with the UK government about the situation in the past. Tom Harrison, the chief executive, will seek further talks post-Brexit, however, there is little that can be done legally while Britain is still a member of the EU.
Instead the ECB can incentivise counties financially as part of the next MoU for fielding England qualified players, making it in turn less attractive to sign Kolpaks, or even increase the financial deductions levied for picking Kolpak players. The ECB thought it had stemmed the flow of Kolpaks three years ago when counties were docked £UK1,100 ($A1,815) per match for every non England qualified player they picked. But the economic situation in countries like South Africa has resulted in better players opting for the Kolpak route and counties viewing them as a financial risk worth taking.
Hampshire recently signed Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, two South Africa internationals at the peak of their careers (PTG 2022-10231, 7 January 2017). Both could have earned more playing for South Africa but weighed up the gamble of getting injured or falling out of favour with the selectors against the security of a long contract with Hampshire. This week credit rating agencies downgraded the South African economy to junk status and the falling Rand makes an English contract paid in sterling even more attractive.
County coaches are under more pressure than ever before, particularly in division one where two from eight teams will be relegated at the end of the ECB’s 2017 season, so it is understandable why a club like Lancashire, where Glen Chapple, is in his first season as head coach, sign a veteran like Shivnarine Chanderpau, 42, from Guyana on a Kolpak.
In South Africa the problem leads to a talent drain from the national team but the Kolpaks are still able to play domestic cricket so they are also blocking up franchise teams for young players eligible for the national side. Cricket South Africa is now only allowing two Kolpaks per team and has threatened to rule they must be funded outside of the annual grant the board gives each domestic team.
Six obsession sums up the spirit of the age.
‘Wisden’ via the London Daily Telegraph.
In the film 'Death of a Gentleman', the rise of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is symbolised by shots of seething crowds, comely cheerleaders and the flailing bat of Chris Gayle, while his voice sing-songs through the ecstatic din (PTG 1770-8836, 24 February 2016). “Because it’s a different feeling, I’m telling you, when you see so many flags going, right around the ground, and they are shouting your name, and saying ‘We want a six!’” As various of his strokes are seen soaring into stands, Gayle slips into a seeming trance. “It’s like, damn, OK, I’ll give them a six… It’s a great feeling… Going, going, going, gone… Beautiful”.
Had there been a soundtrack, only the late American singer-songwriter Barry White would have been suitable: “Keep on doin’ it, right on / Right on doin’ it.” And, as ever with zeitgeisty Gayle, it was on point. The game has had rhapsodic romances with certain shots, from the cover-drive and the leg glance to the reverse sweep and the ramp.
Today it is smitten with a quantity, a unit: the six has become the currency of cricket’s economy. How many in a Test career, a record seized last year by Brendon McCullum from Adam Gilchrist, has become a kind of blue riband. How many in any given T20 game, as tournament six-counters spin like fruit machines, is a favourite gee-whizz stat, an excitement index. Sponsors, from DLF to Yes Bank, have competed for naming rights to IPL maximums. By calling his autobiography 'Six Machine', Gayle himself incorporated the big hit into his personal brand.
Contemplating the way the six collapsed distance between player and crowd, John Arlott once called it “the most companionable of cricket acts”. Today it is in some ways a marketing device, an act of consumer outreach. As the camera hovers over the expectant terraces, we’re invited to share in the rapture. Look at the fans! Look at them having fun! And – all of a piece with fans having fun – look at the product we’re pitching you!
Oddly enough, the most pronounced growth in the six supply has been experienced in neither Twenty20 nor Test cricket, but in One Day Internationals (ODI) – indicative of the overall tide of aggression and enhancements in technology, but perhaps also of the contrivances adopted to revive the format. Many of the 38 sixes that descended on fans at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium during a ODI between India and Australia in November 2013 seemed almost perfunctory, so far away were fielders kept by restrictions.
Expectations have changed irrevocably. When Robin Smith (167 not out) set England’s one-day benchmark in 1993, they hit their four sixes in the full 55 overs. When Alex Hales (171) moved that benchmark last year, they hit 16 in 50. The four consecutive sixes with which West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite lowered the boom on England in the World Twenty20 final a few months earlier still qualified as extraordinary, although not, perhaps, miraculous. No one had counted West Indies out, even though they needed 19 in the final over. That was the way they had approached the tournament: 43 sixes, to go with the 43 per cent of deliveries from which they did not score.
How and why has this changed? In the game’s earliest days, the scarcity of sixes was as notable as their abundance now. That was partly because six was awarded only if the ball left the ground itself, rather than simply the playing area. Australians awarded five runs for hits into the crowd, although this required the batsman to change ends – a penalty of sorts. Everywhere else, the hit beyond the ropes that remained within the ground was worth only four.
If the six has an ideological forefather, it was the broad-shouldered, horseshoe-moustached South Australian Joe Darling, who was irked on his first tour of England in 1896 to hit two balls over the pavilion at Crystal Palace and earn only four for them, as the venue’s defined precinct extended another 100 yards. “Those two hits of mine would have gone right out of the Melbourne Cricket Ground”, he griped.
Eighteen months later, at Adelaide Oval, Darling got a little of his own back by transiting from 98 to 104 in one hit, off England’s Johnny Briggs – the first blow of its kind in an international match, causing nearly a delirium. “Most batsmen display extreme caution when they approach the coveted century”, reported the Register. “Not so Darling, who, getting from Briggs a ball to leg which was just the right height to have a pop at, put all his strength into a hit to square leg and sent the ball sailing out of the Oval. Then the hats left the heads of excited spectators and the cheering continued until the ball was found in the Park Lands, and Darling was ready to take strike again”.
Darling must have enjoyed the sensation, because he wanted to share it, taking on the six as a personal mission. When Surrey hosted a dinner for the Australians in 1899, and discussion turned to the timidity of modern batting, Darling enjoined English administrators to “alter the rules to enable a batsman to take risks by giving six for every hit over the boundary”. He was unsuccessful in the first instance: when Middlesex’s Albert Trott accomplished his unique blow at Lord’s shortly afterwards, wellying his fellow Australian Monty Noble over the Pavilion and into the squash courts, it was worth only four. But when Darling led the touring Australians in 1905, their sixes for the first time had only to clear the fence, which quickly became the Australian first-class norm, and five years later the English norm too.
To hit in these times was to indulge in an almost guilty pleasure. The notion – so common today it verges on cliche´ – that players were entertainers, had little traction. Even Gilbert Jessop, the definitive hitter of his day, felt no such duty: “Playing to the gallery in all sports is one of the most offensive forms of diseased vanity, and to hit simply in order to extort applause would indeed be a lamentable method of seeking cheap popularity”. Yet he could not deny that it was fun, that there was “some satisfaction in feeling that you are giving pleasure to the vast throng surrounding the field of play, that they are glad to see you appear”.
Even the most bloody-minded batsmen admitted the big hit’s particular frisson, while remaining reticent about such exhibitionism. In 1919, the first season of their famously stubborn and prolific partnership, Yorkshire’s Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe were enjoying themselves at Northampton, vying with each other to be first to three figures. In his 1935 autobiography, 'For England and Yorkshire', Sutcliffe recalled the illicit pleasure of straight-driving 40 yards beyond the boundary into the tennis courts, a shot that took him from 94 to his maiden first-class century. In the next breath, though, he was excusing such self-indulgence: “The thrill stayed with me for a long time – there is a touch of it now when I think of the shot – but the hit was one I should not have attempted had there not been a race with Percy for the pleasure of scoring the first hundred for the county”.
The six was transgressive not only because cricket was conservative. It was also risky. Bats were slim and light. Boundaries hugged fences. At lower levels there was even the inhibition of six and out, lest a precious ball be lost. So for a long time batting’s most rewarding stroke was not identified with its foremost exponents. There was attacking batsmanship, of course. But six-hitting tended to be a facility of specialist practitioners, usually down the order: West Indies’ Learie Constantine, South Africa’s Jimmy Sinclair, Somerset’s Arthur Wellard, Middlesex’s Jim Smith.
The pre-war batsman of stature most notable for hitting was an outsider. C. K. Nayudu was a straight hitter of withering force. A six out of Chepauk in December 1920 ended up near a coconut tree 50 yards beyond the ground. Six years later, 11 sixes in a two-hour 153 against MCC at Bombay Gymkhana advanced India’s case for Test recognition. And one of Nayudu’s 32 sixes on India’s 1932 tour of England, at Edgbaston, was said to have cleared the county, crossing the River Rea, which then formed the boundary between Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Including Nayudu among the Five Cricketers of the Year, ‘Wisden' reported: “Possessed of supple and powerful wrists and a very good eye, he hit the ball tremendously hard but, unlike the modern Australian batsmen, he lifted it a fair amount”. Most did not: Hobbs hit eight sixes in 61 Tests, Bradman six in 52, Walter Hammond 27 in 85, with the boost of ten in one innings against New Zealand. Nayudu was even an outlier among his countrymen: Vijay Merchant’s best first-class score, an unbeaten 359, was unaided by a single six; B. B. Nimbalkar’s record-breaking unbeaten 443 included just one.
If sixes grew more regular after the Second World War, one thing did not change: the conviction that they should be spontaneous. “It is unwise for a batsman specifically to make up his mind before the ball is bowled where he will hit it”, counselled Bradman. “The really fast scorer over a period is not the wild slogger”. Even the free-swinging Australian Alan Davidson, who hit two sixes in a famous over during the tight 1961 Old Trafford Test, insisted it must “be an instinctive thing”, that “the best shots are rarely premeditated”. When Garfield Sobers hit his fabled six sixes at Swansea in 1968, he formed the ambition only after four deliveries: “I thought I should give it a go; there was nothing to lose.”
The taboo was loosened at last by Sobers’s West Indian heirs, licensed by limited-over incentives, empowered by ever-heavier bats. In the course of an 85-ball 102 in the 1975 World Cup final at Lord’s, Clive Lloyd deployed a 3lb Duncan Fearnley to hit Dennis Lillee into the top tier of the Tavern Stand and flail Max Walker into the Grand Stand.
In the final against England four years later, Viv Richards used a hump-backed Stuart Surridge Jumbo to hit the last ball of his undefeated 138, a near-yorker from Mike Hendrick, into the Mound Stand. Seeing mid-off and mid-on back, he anticipated a full delivery, stepped to off and aimed to leg. “I left the field thinking: ‘That shot is my invention’”, he wrote in Sir Vivian. “I was very proud of the option I had taken. It wasn’t arrogance. It was pure one-day cricket”. It was also pure Richards, who bestowed his gifts, and sixes, liberally: six of them in his record-breaking 56-ball Test hundred in Antigua in April 1986, including one, off John Emburey, with one hand.
In the same week, fastidious premeditation informed perhaps the most reverberating six of all. Footage of Javed Miandad awaiting the last ball of the Austral-Asia Cup final in Sharjah shows him standing a full minute, scanning the field, weighing his options and calling on his deity, with four needed to win. Like Richards at Lord’s, he anticipated the pitched-up delivery, and stepped forward, nailing a full toss from India’s luckless Chetan Sharma into the stands. It remains the maximum of maximums: the luxury ‘Mercedes' Miandad was given, and the umrah he was enabled to perform at the Holy Kaaba in Mecca, are a unique temporal and spiritual double.
Thus, perhaps, the beginnings of cricket’s genuflection to the six: Miandad scored an unbeaten 116 that day, though few remember any detail of the first 110. Certainly the six suited the priorities of a game increasingly preoccupied with television. The slow-motion replay broke it down for delectation; the umpire’s ceremonial raise of the arms provided an interlude of celebration; the commentator revelled in descriptive possibilities. Ian Botham’s straight-drive beyond the Headingley boundary during his 1981 command performance will for ever be associated with Richie Benaud’s call: “Don’t bother looking for that, let alone chasing it – that’s gone straight into the confectionery stall and out again”.
A first generation of sponsors embraced the big blow: National Power in England with its Six Award for the first-class season, Mercantile Mutual in Australia with its Six Targets in domestic one-day cricket – for hitting one of them, at the River End of the WACA in October 1995, Steve Waugh won $A140,000. And when Waugh slog-swept Steve Elworthy into the Headingley bleachers during the 1999 World Cup, he foretold how batting’s frontiers would move in the search for extra heft and leverage.
Slog-sweeps and reverse sweeps appear in Bob Woolmer’s magnum opus, 'Art and Science of Cricket' (2008) – perhaps the first instructional book to give them their due. Yet so profuse have been batting’s Twenty20-inspired innovations since then that much else about the book’s stroke catalogue, demonstrated by a sombre Jacques Kallis, now appears rather staid. Certainly there are no elucidations of how best to set oneself to hit a six when it is needed – a skill that since the advent of the IPL has been worth ever more, and proved transferable. The sixes that crowned Virender Sehwag’s first Test triple-century and M. S. Dhoni’s match-winning World Cup innings were batting’s new age incarnate.
Some have raised alarms about the spirit of this age, and in December 2016 MCC’s World Cricket Committee recommended a limit on the dimensions of the modern bat, a miracle of balance, mass and rebound (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016). In the Australian summer of 2015-16, a photograph circulated of that beau idéal of 1970s batting, Barry Richards, holding up one of his own bats alongside one of David Warner’s, wand versus claymore. Into the Big Bash League, Gayle then flourished a gleaming gold bat, almost the perfect fetish object and symbol of cricket’s six-propelled bling economy.
Yet the rise and rise of the six is not just about power. It is also about time, urgency, gratification. Who can wait for centuries? Who can wait for fame? It took Darren Lehmann 30 first-class hundreds over a decade to secure a Test cap. It took his son Jake one ball – sliced inside-out for six to win a BBL game for Adelaide Strikers in January 2016 – to become an instant celebrity.
Curiously, the junior Lehmann didn’t even seem to hit it that well: the ball fell just the right side of an alluring rope. But perhaps that is another dimension of the phenomenon. The hit for six has been less the characteristic shot of the last decade than the mis-hit. Certainly the days when six implied perfect connection, complete mastery, are past. So excellent are bats, so conducive are conditions and so lush are incentives that it hardly matters how – it is how much. Size matters. As Gayle is also bound to have said at some point.
Wife beater to face sentence review.
A man spared jail for beating his wife after telling a court he would lose an offer to play professional cricket is to have his sentence reviewed. Mustafa Bashir, 34, was given a suspended sentence at Manchester Crown Court for assaulting Fakhara Karim after the judge was told that if spared custody he would lose the offer of a contract with the Leicestershire County Cricket Club (PTG 2090-10586, 30 March 2017). The club later said this claim was "wholly false” and now Judge Mansell has ordered Bashir's sentence be reviewed by the Court on Friday.
Friday, 7 April 2017
• County fined, lose points, skipper, before season starts [2098-10631].
• IPL enters new era of transparency at the end of its first decade [2098-10632].
• BCCI to consider player demands for increased pay [2098-10633].
County fined, lose points, skipper, before season starts.
Friday, 7 April 2017.
Leicestershire have been docked points and their captain suspended after one of their bowlers verbally abused a student in a pre-season match. Seam bowler, Charlie Shreck, who has been banned by the county for two games, was found guilty of using “obscene, offensive or insulting” language by an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) disciplinary panel. One source said that Shreck said he would “kill” Loughborough University opener Hasan Azad, although the county deny that.
Leicestershire, who have previously been found guilty of offences five times in a year, were docked 16 points ahead of the County Championship season, which begins on Friday, and fined £UK5,000 ($A8,265). Mark Cosgrove, the captain, will be banned for a game, while the club have taken internal action against Shrek. Pending an appeal, Cosgrove will be suspended for Leicestershire's Championship game against Glamorgan on 21-24 April.
Azad, the Loughborough batsman who made 80, had just edged Shreck for four over the slips with an audacious Kevin Pietersen-style flamingo shot, which involves lifting one leg — a stroke that enraged the 39-year-old bowler. The match took place at the end of last month and ended in a draw.
Umpires Steve O’Shaughnessy and James Middlebrook reported the incident and ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Dean Cosker, in his first match in his new role (PTG 2053-10400, 19 February 2017), determined that Shreck had committed the offence. The club were also given a suspended penalty of eight points, which will be applied if any Leicestershire cricketer incurs a further two penalty breaches within the next 12 months.
Cosgrove told the BBC: "You play hard cricket and sometimes it boils over. We’ve got to be more disciplined — 16 points is a big deal to us. It’s a game. We are now starting a game behind. Charlie [Shreck] is very disappointed and very apologetic. He overstepped the mark. He knows he did the wrong thing”. The ECB disciplinary panel noted that the club has taken action against Shreck.
This is not the first time ill-discipline has resulted in punishment for Leicestershire. In August 2015, they were also deducted 16 points and given a suspended fine (PTG 1619-7886, 15 August 2015).
The ECB has given clear instructions in their pre-season briefings to their umpires to take a firm stance on disciplinary matters. The Marylebone Cricket Club is introducing amendments to the laws of cricket to beef up the sanctions available to officials to deal with breaches that occur during matches, including sendings off although these won’t come into force until the autumn.
Wasim Khan, Leicestershire’s chief executive said: “It’s a harsh penalty, but we have to accept it. I think the ECB are probably trying to make an example of us on the eve of the season and to have three different sanctions does seem harsh. But we have no one to blame but ourselves. We’ve had 10 breaches in three years and we haven’t learned our lessons”. When they were docked points two years ago the club called the ECB’s action "severe" and "bitterly disappointing”.
IPL enters new era of transparency at the end of its first decade.
Times of India editorial.
It began as an experiment in fusing capitalism and the special Indian passion for cricket. Ten years later, having survived ups and downs such as match fixing, corruption charges and changes in five teams either through suspension or takeover, the glittering launch of Indian Premier League’s (IPL) tenth edition in Hyderabad is evidence of its longevity as an enduring pastime on the Indian leisure calendar and a magnet for global cricket talent.
IPL may be synonymous with cheerleaders but its business numbers are revealing. Generating annual business worth 12 billion Rupees ($A246 m, £UK149 m), the profit involved contributing nearly 15 per cent of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) income.
This year’s IPL is significant in more ways than one. It is taking place under the watchful eyes of the Indian Supreme Court mandated Committee of Administrators (CoA) which is also currently at the helm of BCCI affairs. CoA has brought in sweeping changes with regard to conflict of interest, which will now make it compulsory for coaching and support staff to choose between BCCI and IPL franchises while offering their services.
This will come into effect from next year and abolish BCCI’s current system of contracting, whereby it offers 10 month contracts to coaches and support staff giving them elbow room to secure hefty two month contracts with IPL. This should go some way towards cleaning up the IPL and making it fairer.
BCCI to consider player demands for increased pay.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will consider a further increase in salaries for its contracted players after leading cricketers expressed dissatisfaction with the pay raise announced last month (PTG 2085-10564, 26 Mar h 2017). Two weeks ago, world's richest cricket board doubled salaries for the 2016-17 season and improved match fees across all three formats for its 32 centrally contracted players, placed in three categories (PTG 2082-10544, 23 March 2017).
However, the new pay package did not meet the demands of the players, who have been pushing for a revamped compensation structure. Vinod Rai, who heads the Indian Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators to supervise the running of the BCCI, met national captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
Rai, the former comptroller and auditor general of India, told the 'Times of India’ newspaper: "Since the 2016-17 contracts are already done, we will certainly consider the players' request for a hike in the upcoming season. We have heard the players and we will come out with a solution within two months”.
Saturday, 8 April 2017
• Football to cricket for new SACA Umpire Coach? [2099-10634].
• Another retirement hint from Dar [2099-10635].
• IPL reprimands Dhoni over ‘joke review signal’ [2099-10636].
• Afghanistan to play MCC at Lord's [2099-10637].
• Drunken abuse sees player fined, banned for entire CA one-day series [2099-10638].
• Wife beater jailed after misleading court over Leicestershire link [2099-10639].
Football to cricket for new SACA Umpire Coach?
The South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) says it has chosen a person named Nathan Magill as its new ‘State Umpire Coach’. However, it is currently unwilling to provide any details of his background except that he has not previously been involved in umpiring cricket and is to take up the role in mid-May. The position became vacant four-and-a-half-months ago when Neil Poulton, who had headed up SACA’s umpiring effort for nine years, resigned unexpectedly (PTG 1984-9994, 23 November 2016).
Information available indicates there is a Nathan Magill who works for the Football Federation of South Australia (FFSA) whose office is just two kilometres from SACA headquarters at the Adelaide Oval. That Nathan Magill has a strong background as a football, or soccer, referee, and while he has no direct cricket officiating experience he is believed to have a keen personal interest in cricket. He has, for the last four years, been that organisation's Senior Men's Football Manager and prior to that was its Referee Recruitment and Development Officer.
The latter work involved management and support of FFSA elite and senior referees, and assessors – including selection, appointments, training, technical development, and professional support. It also involved the delivery of state and national education, coaching, and development programs. Believed to be in his thirties, the FFCA’s Magill has been a Referee Coach with Australia’s National Youth League since 2011, and for five years before that had a similar role with the Hunter Valley Football Association in NSW.
When it called for applications in mid-January, SACA stated the person selected would be "responsible for recruiting, retaining and driving the ongoing improvement of all cricket umpires in [the state in order] to help ensure the state produces the best and most respected match officials in Australia” (PTG 2025-10249, 16 January 2017). Prior experience as a cricket umpire was not essential but applicants had to have “high performance coaching experience in a related field”.
Another retirement hint from Dar.
Aleem Dar, the longest serving member of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), told reporters in Lahore on Friday that the Pakistan Super League spot-fixing scandal has defamed his country’s name (PTG 2090-10585, 30 March 2017). Dar is quoted as suggesting Pakistani players have limited education and should be properly trained to keep themselves away from any kind of unlawful activities that corrupt the game.
During the interview Dar, who was sporting a beard, is also said to have hinted he plans to retire from the EUP after the 2019 World Cup in England. Last February Dar, who turns 50 in June next year, told a Pakistan Sports Journalists Association meeting in Lahore after suggestions he planned to retire soon saying: “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” (PTG 2043-10351, 9 February 2017).
Should the Pakistani continue on the EUP until the 2019 World Cup he may go out at the top of umpire listings for the game’s Test, One Day International and Twenty20 International formats. He is currently in his 13th year as a EUP member.
IPL reprimands Dhoni over ‘joke review signal’.
MS Dhoni, the wicketkeeper for the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Pune franchise, has been reprimanded for jokingly signalling for a review after Imran Tahir struck Mumbai Indians all-rounder Kieron Pollard on the pads in the sides’ opening match of the series in Pune on Thursday. While television replays are available, no formal review system is operating in the IPL.
Dhoni admitted to the Level One offence of "conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”. However, the IPL website added a new angle to the issue by uploading the video of the incident with the accompanying caption: “When it comes to LBW decisions, can MSD ever get them wrong?” One obvious inference from the write-up is that Dhoni was right.
Afghanistan to play MCC at Lord's.
MCC media release.
Afghanistan are set for another milestone after it was announced Friday they will play their first match at Lord's, taking on a Marylebone Cricket Club side led by former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum. Now one of the world's leading Associate, or second-tier cricketing countries, Afghanistan could potentially become a Test match nation by the end of the decade. What will be a 50-over match at Lord’s has been scheduled for mid-July.
Drunken abuse sees player fined, banned for entire CA one-day series.
Australian and New South Wales (NSW) spinner Stephen O’Keefe has been banned from playing for NSW in Cricket Australia's (CA) one-day tournament in October, effectively 6-8 matches, and fined $A20,000 (£UK12,085), for “conduct unbecoming” at a Cricket NSW function last Saturday. Reports say he made an “ugly slur directed at a female player” and abused other people present whilst under the influence of alcohol, possibly beer or wine provided by one of CNSW’s “official” sponsors for the function.
The fine was imposed by CA as it was O'Keefe's second offence within the last 18 months, and he will also undergo "further appropriate counselling”, while the playing ban was handed to him by CNSW. He accepted the proposed sanctions and charge therefore no hearing was required. O’Keefe was fined $A10,000 (£UK6,040) by CA last August after being issued an Infringement Notice by NSW police for offensive behaviour, and being an excluded person remaining in the vicinity of licensed premises.
CNSW chief executive Andrew Jones said: "Stephen has not upheld the standards expected of a NSW and Australian cricketer. As this is his second recent offence we believe a strong penalty is appropriate". CA Executive General Manager, Team Performance, Pat Howard added: "There is no time or place for unacceptable behaviour from any of our players in Australian Cricket, and we continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to this”. O’Keefe took "full responsibility" and offer an unconditional apology for his conduct.
In unrelated matter, CA is said to be looking into an alleged incident involving Victorian bowler James Pattinson following his side's third-straight Sheffield Shield win last week. Pattinson is believed to have acted in a difficult and rude manner towards Qantas cabin staff on a flight back from Alice Springs, but eventually settled down following the urgings of teammates. Qantas have not lodged an official complaint. Later that day, he is understood to have been ushered out of Victoria's awards presentation after an animated disagreement with a teammate.
A CA spokesperson said they were aware of the alleged flight incident and it is being reviewed, but confirmed no formal complaint has been received from the airline. He departed Australia this week for England to play for Nottinghamshire in the 2017 County season, taking the field for that side on the opening day of the county season on Friday.
Wife beater jailed after misleading court over Leicestershire link.
A man who beat his wife with a cricket bat and forced her to drink bleach has been resentenced to 18 months after he avoided jail via a suspended sentence at an earlier hearing by falsely claiming to have a job offer as a professional cricketer. Mustafa Bashir, 34, admitted to the assault but was initially given the suspended sentence at Manchester crown court after claiming Leicestershire County Cricket Club had offered him a contract, something the club quickly denied (PTG 2097-10630, 6 April 2017).
Judge Richard Mansell QC ordered Bashir’s sentence to be reviewed because “further information relevant to the sentence has become available to the court”, a reference to Leicestershire’s comments. The crown court has the power to alter a sentence within 56 days of the date it was given. The usual reason for altering a sentence is that further relevant information has become available, the court has overlooked some statutory provisions limiting its powers, or the sentence is found to take effect in an unexpected manner.
Monday, 10 April 2017
• India’s old guard still knocking on BCCI, ICC doors [2100-10640].
• African umpires looking after WCL qualifier series [2100-10641].
• Clean sweep of ’Spirit’ awards to Tasmania [2100-10642].
• ECB to spend £UK6 m a year on T20 marketing [2100-10643].
• Expanded media, game development, units being eyed by CA [2100-10644].
• Are Aussie domestic cricketers less deserving of their keep? [2100-10645].
• ECB T20 plan another step on sleepwalk to big-city business model [2100-10646].
India’s old guard still knocking on BCCI, ICC doors.
Sunday, 9 April 2017.
Sunday’s Special General Meeting (SGM) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Delhi was adjourned after the board decided to wait for a directive from India’s Supreme Court on whether disqualified office bearers could attend meetings of the board or the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA), which on the Court’s orders oversees the running of the BCCI, had sought the urgent intervention of the Court in the matter two days before the meeting, following the likelihood that office bearers disqualified under the Lodha Committee's recommendations. would be present at the Delhi SGM. The CoA had warned state associations that only eligible officials could attend Sunday's meeting.
However, the SGM, chaired by acting president CK Khanna, was attended by former BCCI president and ICC chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan, former Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah, and former Kerala Cricket Association president TC Mathew, who are in violation of the Lodha Committee's recommendations (PTG 2080-10528, 21 March 2017). Both Shah and Mathew attended the meeting as representatives of their state associations, however, BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri was not present.
One of the points on the agenda for Sunday's meeting was to select a BCCI representative for crucial ICC board meetings later this month, where key resolutions concerning governance structures and revenue distribution could come up for voting. The Indian board office bearers reportedly want to nominate Srinivasan as a representative for the meetings.
Srinivasan, who represented the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) at the SGM, is in violation of the Lodha Committee recommendations on three fronts. He is past the age cap of 70 years and has also completed nine years as an office-bearer of both the TNCA and the BCCI, which disqualifies him automatically. Srinivasan has not yet resigned as TNCA president, violating the Supreme Court's order of July 2016, which had approved the Lodha Committee recommendations.
As ICC chairman, Srinivasan was one of the individuals responsible for a phase of governance and financial restructuring at the ICC that gave greater power to the BCCI, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board (PTG 2084-10557, 25 March 2017). The ICC has recently sought to overturn those changes with the introduction, in principle, of a new constitution that attempts to correct the imbalance of power given to the three boards. The Big Three rollback was initiated in the tenure of Shashank Manohar, who replaced Srinivasan as ICC chairman in November 2015.
African umpires looking after WCL qualifier series.
Nine umpires from five countries are currently officiating in the 13-match World Cricket League (WCL) African qualifier series being played in Benoni, South Africa. Shaun George of South African, is working with Ravi Angara (Botswana), Rookie D’Mello, David Odhiambo and Isaac Oyieko (Kenya), Andrew Louw and Claude Thorburn (Namibia), and Francis Ekalunga and Patrick Musoke (Uganda), with Devas Govindjee of South Africa being the match referee for the series.
George is a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel and Govindjee its second-tier Regional Referees Panel. Angara, D’Mello, Louw, Odhiambo, Oyieko, and Thorburn are on the ICC's third-tier umpire Development Panel which used to go by the name of ICC Associates and Affiliates Umpires Panel. They are looking after a tournament that involves the national teams from Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia.
Clean sweep of ’Spirit’ awards to Tasmania.
CA media release.
Tasmania picked up all four of Cricket Australia’s (CA) 'Spirit of Cricket’ awards for the 2016-17 austral summer. Both the state men’s and women’s sides won the team awards and their respective captains, George Bailey and Veronica Pyke the individual awards for the way they played the game during the season. Tasmania won the men’s team award the previous year, however, it appears to be the first time CA has made awards to individuals (PTG 1781-8922, 25 March 2016).
ECB to spend £UK6 m a year on T20 marketing.
Monday, 10 April 2017.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will spend more than £UK6 million ($A9.9 m) a year marketing and running its proposed new Twenty20 tournament. The budget completely eclipses anything previously spent on the marketing of English domestic cricket.
The proposed new tournament will see 36 matches played over 38 days, meaning that about £160,000 ($A264,320) per match will be allocated for marketing, promoting and operations. By comparison, Surrey, who almost always sell out The Kia Oval for their ECB’s current ‘Blast’ T20 matches, spend just £35,000 ($A57,820) on the marketing of their T20 campaign.
Most counties use relatively cheap digital engagement to promote their matches but the ECB is expected to launch a huge marketing campaign including television and radio advertising, billboard posters and advertising on public transport.
Financial forecasts for the new tournament prepared by the accounting firm Deloitte and shown to county chiefs last September predict that the central costs of the tournament will be upwards of £15 million ($A24.8 m) a year, half of which will go on budgets for players and coaches and the rest primarily on the marketing and “activation” costs of each of the matches.
The financial forecasting has a separate amount of £700,000 ($A1.2 m) for what is described as management costs. This includes the salaries of ECB staff employed to organise and run the new competition and is in addition to the £1.3 million ($A2.1 m) that the counties will receive. It means the cost of the new tournament will be approximately £40 million ($A66 m) a year. The ECB is forecasting the competition will make a loss of more than £15 million ($A24.8 m) in its first year (PTG 2076-10511, 15 March 2017), and has privately warned that, like the Australian Big Bash League, it may not make a profit for at least the first three years.
Expanded media, game development, units being eyed by CA.
The key items on Cricket Australia's (CA) wish-list contained in its pay proposal to the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) are an in-house media unit, game-development staff numbers to rival the Australian Football League (AFL), major infrastructure investment, a 150 per cent rise in women's pay, and a limited rise in the pay provided to domestic male players (PTG 2100-10645 below). In order to fund such issues, CA proposes to dump the fixed-revenue percentage pay model with the ACA that has been in place for 20 years - the most prosperous two decades in Australian cricket history.
Though CA has publicly pushed the vast increase in pay for female cricketers as the keynote of its offer - backed up by a series of supportive statements from state associations - its full proposal spends a great deal of time outlining realms the board claims it cannot fund due to the current fixed-revenue share model with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA).
If agreed, CA’s proposed diversion of money would allow further growth of CA's in-house media unit, which expanded vastly over the past four years via a $A60 million (£UK36.3 m) digital component of the board's current television rights deal, plus around $A15 million (£9.1 m) tipped in by the telecommunications company ‘Optus' in 2015. CA’s digital properties have had a phenomenal 12 months, with CA’s 'Cricket Network' the top-ranked sports destination in the country between November and January thanks to an average unique audience of 2.46 million, peaking at 2.78 million in January (PTG 2092-10596, 1 April 2017).
AFL Media, housed across town from CA's Melbourne headquarters, employs more than 100 staff, far in advance of CA's digital arm. The document CA provided to the ACA states: "CA is currently precluded from considering increased in-house media production, because the current revenue-share model would see a share of any increased media revenue allocated to the PPP [player payment pool] without offsetting any of the additional investment that was required”.
In terms of game-development staff, the CA proposal calls for an increase in the number of staff who work in that role around Australia from 170 to 290, a move aimed at closing the gap with the AFL's network of more than 450 employed in equivalent roles. CA estimates that this expansion would cost in the order of $A17 million annually (£10.3 m) .
Infrastructural issues listed come as result of the first national audit of Australian cricket infrastructure, a process in its final stages of assessing around 6,000 facilities. While the full audit is yet to be released, CA's offer states that "early indications suggest perhaps 75 per cent of facilities do not yet have female-appropriate amenities". In all, CA has estimated up to $A76 million (£46 m) in funds could be reallocated to "grassroots" investment under its proposal, although it is difficult to determine just what the national body has in mind beyond female-appropriate facilities, or precisely what CA defines ‘grassroots’ as.
CA has removed the requirement it currently has to pass on percentages of revenue drawn from areas such as state sponsorship deals and also providing a cash equivalent to the players for "contra", the practice of providing free television advertising for cricket on the Nine and Ten networks rather than the networks paying the full amount of any broadcast rights deal. The board claims it cannot currently undertake because the break-even margin is too high after the players' percentage is taken out.
Are Aussie domestic cricketers less deserving of their keep?
Cricket Australia’s (CA) rivalry with the powerful Australian Football League (AFL) for players and supporters is writ large across much of the 29 pages that make up its latest Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) proposal to the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) for the four years from 2017-21. Somewhat ironically, CA-ACA MoU negotiations are underway as the AFL is embroiled in pay dispute in which footballers are chasing a fixed-percentage of AFL revenue earning model for themselves, a method CA and the ACA have had in place for 20 years, but which CA now wants to discard (PTG 2094-10607, 3 April 2017).
The recurring theme in CA’s current offer to the ACA is that international cricketers fund the game, and that they are doing their domestic colleagues a mighty favour by bankrolling state and Big Bash League contracts. The document is littered with references to how international players deserve credit for sharing the money they earn with domestic players, and as such the earnings of state-level male domestic cricketers in Australia should not be lifted significantly.
In its proposal, CA outlines how average state player retainer contracts have grown from $A50,000 (£UK30,315) in 2011-12 to $A87,000 (£52,750) in 2016-17, however, it proposes to add only another $A1,000 (£605) to these contracts for the 2017-18 season, and just $A6,000 (£3,635) overall across the four years covered by the new CA-ACA MoU period which is supposed to start in July.
Average domestic match fee totals would go from $A58,000 (£35,165) per player in 2016-17 to $A62,000 (£37.590) in 2021-22. Similarly, Big Bash League (BBL) contracts would creep from an average of $A78,000 (£47,290) in 2016-17 to $A104,000 (£63,055) by the conclusion of the agreement. In brief, all those figures mean that a top Australian domestic player who takes part in all three game formats could have earned up to $A223,000 (£135,210) in 2016-17 and in five years’ time in 2020-21 around $A259,000 (£157,035) - an increase of 16 per cent or a for per cent a year average. Australia’s current inflation rate is around two per cent per annum.
By combining state and BBL figures in such a way, CA claims that its domestic wages are now "higher than the NRL [National Rugby League] and growing towards the level of the AFL in 2016”. Average AFL salaries were calculated at $A300,000 (£181,895) and NRL $A244,000 (£147,940) last year. However not every state player has a BBL contract: for instance neither this season's highest Sheffield Shield run-maker Ed Cowan, nor the highest wicket-taker Chadd Sayers, played any part in that T20 series. For such individuals their earnings from playing the game are far less than the average CA is projecting.
This dramatic slowing of domestic player wage growth is justified by CA's statement that "domestic cricket (i.e. men's and women's BBL and state cricket) is not expected to deliver any significant financial surplus in the next MoU period". The offer goes on to state domestic wages will be "effectively funded by sharing the international cricket financial surplus with domestic players".
Such a statement and the forward pay projections contrast wildly with common estimates of the extra money expected to be pulled in by the standout success of the BBL on free-to-air television over the past four years. The Ten Network paid $A20 million (£12.1 m) a season up to $A100 million (£60.6 m) over five years for the tournament, a deal that will expire in 2018, one year into the next MoU period now under negotiation.
Estimates of the figure likely to be fetched by CA for the next domestic BBL television rights deal have risen as high as $A60 million (£36.4 m) a season for a total of $A300 million (£182 m) over five years (PTG 2021-10226, 6 January 2017). This is without mentioning the domestic and overseas rights deals to be negotiated around the same period. Nine paid just under $A500 million (£303 m) for international cricket in 2013 (PTG 1129-5482, 25 June 2013).
While talks between CA and the ACA have resumed after a public breakdown in negotiations last December, the players have appeared unmoved in their opposition to the current proposal (PTG 2094-10607, 3 April 2017).
ECB T20 plan another step on sleepwalk to big-city business model.
Saturday, 8 April 2017.
“The thing about cricket”, someone said at the ‘Wisden' dinner at Lord’s the other night, “is that it has this image of being a staid and stuffy old game that never changes. But it isn’t like that all. It’s in a state of permanent revolution. It’s almost Maoist”.
The game is, to say the very least, bewildering, even for people who once kidded themselves that they understood it. The 2017 county cricket season began on Friday and will finish on the third-last day of September. In the old days the counties did not play at all when there was an R in the month. This suggests that part of cricket’s radicalism is a fervent belief in global warming.
And, though there was a pullovery nip in the air at the County Ground, Northampton, on Friday the faith was not misplaced. A few hundred turned up, respectable enough on a working day with the trees still leafless. There were even two groups of kids playing with tennis balls on the outfield during lunch. The Gallone’s ice cream van, which has settled by the West Stand every summer since the world was young, was not visible but there were assurances it would be along when the sun came out.
And the congregation had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Glamorgan reduced to 101 all out soon after lunch, which put Northamptonshire top of the County Championship Division Two, with three bonus points, two hours gone and less than six months to go. Perhaps Glamorgan, who had chosen not have a toss and bat, as is not possible under England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Playing Conditions, were confused too.
About four years ago it was decreed that, to make things easier for cricket followers, Championship matches would start on a Sunday. Well, most of the time. That has now been junked. This round of matches began on a Friday. One bemused Glamorgan supporter said he was just grateful to have the right day. Last year he came up from Swansea for the corresponding match on the Tuesday, only to find it started on Wednesday.
Anyone could empathise. 'The Cricketer' magazine’s annual fixture wallchart now has to be colour-coded in 17 different shades to cater for all the tournaments, divisions and formats. The Tokyo subway map is simple in comparison.
It will soon get much, much worse. As is now well known, the ECB has decreed a new Twenty20 competition three years hence, to be played in eight cities, involving new franchises yet to be formed and yet to hire marketing men to think of cliched names. It is an unusual sport that decides to spread the game by removing it from the places it is played at the moment. It will not even encompass the nine Test match grounds. Northampton is the nearest first-class cricket ground for about five million people across a huge area of east and central England.
It will certainly not make it here, whatever vague hints may have been dropped, even though Northamptonshire last year defeated all their better-funded rivals to win the existing ECB event for the second time in four years. And, as far as their most loyal followers are concerned, they can stick it. Barry Card, a retired civil servant, travels regularly from Doncaster to watch matches here. “I wouldn’t cross the road to watch that”, he says.
“My opinion’s not printable”, said Dianne Ward, membership secretary of the Supporters’ Association. “I can’t repeat what I said”, said Alan Claridge, a club member since 1960. None of them dislikes Twenty20 cricket as such; they just want to see their own team play it. Which fits with the known pattern of British sports watching.
Yet something else is going on here. The club they love, in a few weeks’ time, will no longer be theirs. Last September, hardly noticed even by the local press, an Emergency General Meeting of Northamptonshire members voted to accept a plan by the club’s board to make the club a subsidiary of a newly created holding company. Control is expected to pass formally from the membership to the new company within a few weeks, as soon as it receives the £UK1 million ($A1.7 m) in cash from potential shareholders that the board regarded as the minimum starting point. They have already surpassed that amount in pledges.
There was little opposition to the plan in the end because there seemed to be no choice. There are safeguards to prevent any one businessman taking control and to stop the ground being sold off for housing, though some conspiracy theorists have noted there seem to be quite a few people in the property business involved.
The response to this scheme is far more open-minded. “Doesn’t bother me”, said Card. “If that makes it a better club, that’s fine”. "On the surface it looks good. They put up a very good case but I’m waiting to see”, said Ward. Claridge was also relaxed but did add: “They say they have lots of businessmen wanting to put money into the club but there was nothing to stop them putting that in as it is now”.
It is true that Northamptonshire had a near death experience two years ago, after a building project went badly wrong. Their latest chief executive, Ray Payne, is content to leave cricket to the experts but takes direct responsibility for cost control and finding non-cricket revenue. It is perhaps a long overdue separation of powers.
But something beautiful is being lost. Until very recently all the county cricket clubs were just that, clubs, where the members had ultimate authority which, in extremis, they could exercise. Sussex overthrew a rather dozy old committee in the 1990s and rapidly became county champions for the first time.
The whole concept implied that the game sprung from the people. We may drowse in the sunshine, when it appears, applaud appreciatively and occasionally chunter but in the end We Can Be Roused. It is something that clubs like AFC Wimbledon have rediscovered in football.
But cricket is heading towards a business model. Northamptonshire are the third team to take this step: Hampshire have long been under single-owner control; Durham’s members have recently lost their residual rights. Others are bound to follow. It will be a slow process but it is beginning to look inexorable. It is getting little scrutiny because the cricket media are better at keeping their eye on the ball rather than the boardroom. Owning a cricket club is unlikely to be a means to riches in itself, though there are ancillary possibilities.
At Northampton many members are saying they are not interested in buying £250 ($A415) shares as long as they can carry on watching. It is a rather depressing response; one share will not be worth much but it does buy the right to be heard.
Attendances at county cricket have been falling for at least 60 years. It used to muddle on by having low wage bills and low expectations. But the Faustian deal with broadcaster ‘Sky', which came into force immediately after the huge popular triumph of the 2005 Ashes win, had more consequences than even its opponents suspected. Obviously it diminished the game’s base and it haemorrhaged players and spectators.
But it also created internal expectations. The players’ pay exploded; the ECB turned into a vast, impenetrable bureaucracy. Hence the constant revolution: the game cannot maunder on pleasantly; it must keep coming up with ever more eye-catching gimmicks. Hence the grand plan for city-based franchises. Alongside the contempt from the Northamptonshire faithful, furious at their unjust exclusion, there seemed a great deal of scepticism among those within the game to an extent that is beyond normal conservatism.
Cricket is not and never has been a big-city game. At the county level it works best in places like Taunton, Worcester and Canterbury, that do not even support league football teams. The belief is that if one invents a team and markets it cleverly to a large population, they will come. The England players, who should be at the heart of any marketing operation, will probably not be involved because they will be playing Test cricket.
Unless they are not because the emerging global circuit of the big Twenty20s – Australia, India and soon England – will be paying so much that the big stars will not bother with the tedious old disciplines because they whack the ball around for three or four months out of twelve and make enough money never to have to work again.
All the world’s great games have an internal integrity that underlies the business. If civilisation collapses, the remnant in rags will still hunt out footballs and golf clubs to try and recreate the old joys that might persist in their memories.
Perhaps there will be cricket bats too. But cricket gave two great things to civilisation: the idea that the umpire’s decision is final, which has now officially been abolished by the review system; and the delicate interplay of individual and team success that really exists only in cricket and baseball. Neither of these exists in the ECB’s big-city game. Nor will there be any vestige of the sense of tradition and loyalty that has sustained this game through centuries of optimistic spring days like this one.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
• Indian Supreme Court rejects BCCI old guard ICC push [2101-10647].
• ‘Excessive, obvious disappointment’ earns IPL reprimand [2101-10648].
• Power failure stops play, leads to riot, assaults [2101-10649].
Indian Supreme Court rejects BCCI old guard ICC push.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017.
Judges of India’s Supreme Court said on Monday that a person who is “ineligible” to become an office-bearer in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) or the country's state cricket associations, cannot be nominated to represent the BCCI at a key International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting later this month. That appears to have brought to an end attempts by some in India to have former BCCI president and ICC chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan, or former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, both 72, nominated as the country's nominee for the ICC meeting (PTG 2100-10640, 10 April 2017).
The Court said it would not allow its original order on the matter to be violated after the Court-appointed Committee of Administration (CoA) of the BCCI sought a hearing for urgent clarification on the matter. The three-judge bench asked: “How can a man, who is not eligible to contest, be nominated to represent the BCCI? What you cannot do directly, you cannot do indirectly. The man who is disqualified stands disqualified. There is a cap of 70 years given by this court. It is difficult to comprehend that a man who is not eligible goes to the ICC to represent the BCCI”.
Last year the Court approved the Lodha Committee’s BCCI reform recommendations that included official holders not being older than 70 or a politician, and that those who meet those two requirements are limited to total terms of nine years as an office-bearer on both state associations and the BCCI (PTG 1880-9420, 19 July 2016).
However, while the Court made clear its thoughts on ICC representation, it will not hand down its formal decision on the matter until next Monday. Given that, the BCCI Special General Meeting, which was adjourned last Sunday over the representation issue, has been rescheduled for Monday fortnight. It is then that the CoA and the BCCI is expected to decided on who will represent it at the ICC meeting which is expected to make decisions related to the roll back of the so-called Big Three administrative changes of 2014 (PTG 1288-6208, 9 February 2014). Moves to abolish that structure commenced almost 15 months ago (PTG 1755-8752, 5 February 2016).
‘Excessive, obvious disappointment’ earns IPL reprimand.
Mumbai Indians’ batsman Rohit Sharma has been reprimanded by match referee Sunil Chaturvedi for showing dissent after being judged to have been LBW in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai on Sunday. After being given out by umpire CK Nandan, Sharma gestured angrily and showed his bat as he left the crease. The IPL said in a statement that the Mumbai captain, who admitted to the Level One offence, was reprimanded "for showing excessive, obvious disappointment with an umpire’s decision.
Power failure stops play, leads to riot, assaults.
Around 40 people armed with sticks, pipes and sickles “brutally thrashed" a group of Dalits, members of India’s lowest caste, after a power failure stopped play in a day-night match being played in a village in the state of Gujarat on Sunday. Of the eight injured, who the rioters for unknown reasons blamed for the lights going out, six were taken to hospital and discharged, but two others suffered multiple injuries and remained there on Monday.
Police have so far arrested one person while the names of eleven others were listed in a complaint lodged with the local police station. Those involved are being charged with "rioting, assault and under sections of Prevention of Atrocities Act”. The local superintendent of police said that security has been beefed up in the village to avert any escalation of tension.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
• MCC releases full details of new Laws Code [2102-10650].
• Still 42 Laws but presented in different groupings [2102-10651].
• Substitutes can keep wicket provided incumbent is ‘genuinely injured’ [2102-10652].
• Batsman to be prevented from taking strike in ‘Protected Area’ [2102-10653].
• ‘Deliberate’ front foot no balls to see bowler suspended for innings [2102-10654].
• Tethers for bails allowed as a safety measure [2102-10655].
• CA weighing up Christmas Eve BBL derby in Melbourne [2102-10656].
• Faced with tough financial situation ZC slashes salaries [2102-10657].
• North India abattoir ban a challenge to ball manufacturers [2102-10658].
MCC releases full details of new Laws Code.
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has released a document that explains the changes to the new, re-ordered Laws of Cricket that will come into effect around the world at the start of October (PTG 2067-10462, 7 March 2017). The changes outlined in the paper, which is available on-line from the MCC web site, comes as a result of a near three-year project overseen by the Club's Laws sub-committee (PTG 1642-8036, 10 September 2015), which involved "numerous trials and widespread global consultation throughout the professional and amateur game".
The guiding objectives behind all the changes have been, says the MCC to make: the Laws work in a way that makes sense to players, umpires and spectators; as easy as possible to understand and interpret for new umpires, particularly those for whom English is not their first language; as inclusive as possible to all who might play, umpire or watch cricket; and to minimise the likelihood of types of misconduct that have been causing players, and particularly umpires, to leave the game (PTG 1970-9924, 7 November 2016).
Significant changes that will come into force under the new Code that do not appear to have been mentioned in public previously are: that substitutes will be allowed to wicket keep and the concept of penalty time changed (PTG 2102-10652 below); batsmen will be formally prevented from taking strike in the Protected Area (PTG 2102-10653 below); the bowling of deliberate front foot ‘no balls’ will be treated in same way as deliberate full-tosses (PTG 2102-10654 below); and the allowing of “mechanisms” that tether the bails to the stumps in the hope injuries to wicketkeepers will be reduced (PTG 2102-10655 below).
Other changes that have previously been publicised are: the written language used has been changed to apply to all regardless of gender (PTG 2068-10466, 8 March 2017); the non-striker leaving their ground as the bowler delivers the ball (PTG 1877-9404, 16 July 2016); the 'Handled the Ball Law' has been deleted, with its contents merged into 'Obstructing the field'; The 'Lost ball' Law has been deleted and is now covered under Dead ball; Limits have been placed on the thickness of the edges and the overall depth of the bat (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016); bat ‘bouncing' issues have been clarified (PTG 2067-10462, 7 March 2017); and a new Law titled "Players’ Conduct’ introduced that gives "an in-match consequence for poor on-field behaviour" (PTG 2068-10464, 8 March 2017).
Fraser Stewart, MCC's Laws Manager, said on Tuesday: "MCC has left no stone unturned in researching and redrafting the new Laws of Cricket and has done so in order to make the Laws work in a way that makes sense to players, umpires and spectators. The Laws are applicable worldwide so they need to be as simple as possible to understand and interpret and inclusive to all. The Club hopes to encourage interest in the game at all levels and believes these new Laws are reflective of the time and easier for cricketers and umpires to understand”.
The last time that a new Code of Laws was written was in 2000. There have been six editions of that Code as the game evolved over the following 15 years, changes being made in 2003, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2015. The MCC says "the time was right for a new Code of Laws, providing a chance to review all the Laws, to make some significant alterations and to tidy up many of the piecemeal changes made since 2000".
Still 42 Laws but presented in different groupings.
In developing the new Code of the game’s Laws, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has reordered them into what is says is "a more logical sequence" such that the individual numbering some of them previously had have changed. There are still 42 Laws overall, but they have been grouped into six groups the MCC labels: A - Setting up the Game; B - Innings and Result; C - The Over, Scoring Runs, Dead Ball and Extras; D - Fielders and Substitutes, Batsmen and Runners, Practice on the Field, Wicketkeeper; E - Appeals and Dismissals; and F - Unfair Play.
The 'Setting Up the Game' section A includes: 1 The players; 2 The umpires; 3 The scorers; 4 The ball; 5 The bat; 6 The pitch; 7 The creases; 8 The wickets; 9 Preparation and maintenance of the playing area; 10 Covering the pitch; 11 Intervals; and 12 Start of play, cessation of play. After that Group B 'Innings and Result’ contains: 13 Innings; 14 The follow-on; 15 Declaration and forfeiture; and 16 The result.
Part C, 'The Over, Scoring Runs, Dead Ball and Extras’ has: 17 The over; 18 Scoring runs; 19 Boundaries; 20 Dead ball; 21 No ball; 22 Wide ball; and 23 Bye and Leg bye. The 'Fielders and Substitutes, Batsmen and Runners” at group D contains: 24 Fielders' absence; Substitutes 25 Batsman's innings, Runners; 26 Practice on the field; 27 The wicket-keeper; and 28 The fielder.
Group E - Appeals and Dismissals has: 29 The wicket is down; 30 Batsman out of his/her ground; 31 Appeals; 32 Bowled; 33 Caught; 34 Hit the ball twice; 35 Hit wicket; 36 Leg before wicket; 37 Obstructing the field; 38 Run out; 39 Stumped; and 40 Timed out. Lastly, Group F which covers Unfair Play has two sections: 41 Unfair play; and 42 Players' conduct
The MCC says that in addition to that restructuring, the formatting of the numbering of the sub-sections has changed, so that, for example a listing that previously would have been say Law 38.2(a)(i), will now be referred to as Law 188.8.131.52.
Substitutes can keep wicket provided incumbent is ‘genuinely injured'.
The new Laws Code will allow a substitute fielder to act as a wicket-keeper provided the umpires give their consent. The reason for that, says the Marylebone Cricket Club, is that if the original wicket-keeper is genuinely injured, then a substitute should be allowed to take over (PTG 2054-10403, 20 February 2017). However, it has been made clear that the umpires must "control the situation to prevent abuse”. Despite that a substitute still cannot bowl, bat or act as captain.
If a player is absent while their side is fielding, unless in exceptional circumstances or if the absence was caused by an external blow during the match, that player will incur Penalty time equivalent to the total time spent off the field, which is the time they will have to spend on the field before being able to bowl or, if the innings ended meanwhile, bat.
Some competitions already include such an arrangement in their Playing Conditions, but the 'rolling over' into the batting innings is a new concept for the Laws themselves, as is the differentiation of an external blow, which is easier for the umpires to monitor. The player must ‘serve’ the same time that they were absent, to a maximum of 90 minutes. Unlike the previous Law, however, there is no grace time at all (a player under the 2000 Code could be off the field for up to 15 minutes without penalty), meaning a player who leaves the field for one over cannot come back onto the field and immediately bowl.
The concept of cumulative penalty time has been more clearly defined and, as a new policy, unexpired penalty time will now be carried forward into the next day’s play, to prevent abuse the previous evening going unpunished. The Law also covers the situation where a substitute is temporarily removed from the field for a Level 3 offence (PTG 2068-10465, 8 March 2017), particularly in relation to the Penalty time that will accrue for the player they are replacing.
Batsman to be prevented from taking strike in ‘Protected Area’.
The new Laws Code will formally prevent a batsman from taking strike within the Protected Area, "or so close to it that they will usually encroach into it when playing the ball”. Penalties for such a transgression are the same as for the present Law of 'Batsman damaging the pitch'. The requirement will not though, prevent a batsman advancing down the pitch to play the ball from the Protected Area. The Marylebone Cricket Club says a bowler is heavily punished for encroaching into the Protected Area and it was felt that the "batsman’s movements into that area should be restricted where reasonably possible".
‘Deliberate’ front foot no balls will see bowler suspended for innings.
Bowlers who are judged by an umpire to have “deliberately” delivered front foot ‘no balls’ will be "immediately suspension from bowling under the new Laws Code, in the same way as at present when they bowl a deliberate beamer. The Marylebone Cricket Club says that the additional requirement was made because it considers a bowler who deliberately runs through the crease before releasing the ball closer to the striker than allowed "can be very dangerous and deserved a harsh punishment”. It makes no mention of the deliberate bowling of ‘no balls’ for some nefarious reason such as ‘spot-fixing’ as has occurred in the past.
Tethers for bails allowed as a safety measure.
As a result of injuries that have, in particular, been sustained by wicket-keepers in recent times (PTG 936-4734, 13 August 2012), the new Laws Code "allows specially designed mechanisms" which tether the bails to the stumps, to be used. Such ‘mechanisms’ will limit the distance bails can fly when struck by balls, however, they will be such that they do not limit a fielding side's ability to dislodged them as at present. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) says that “such devices” will need the approval of the appropriate Governing Body, either nationally or “more locally" by individual associations.
The MCC says there "has been some criticism" of the lengths of the pitches used in junior cricket saying the distance laid down in the Laws is too long, however, it states "there is conflicting advice and research as to how long the pitches should be for each age group”. As a result the length of pitches for adults is still defined in the new Code, but, the length of the pitches for juniors "should be agreed by the Governing Body for the match”, "most likely following any guidelines set by the National Board in each country”, as was announced last week in Australia (PTG 2095-10609, 4 April 2017).
CA weighing up Christmas Eve BBL derby in Melbourne.
Cricket Australia (CA) is considering staging a Big Bash League (BBL) Melbourne derby on Christmas Eve within two years, as part of a festive-season bonanza. It has emerged that a BBL and Women's Big Bash League double-header between the Stars and Renegades has been floated for Docklands Stadium in Melbourne next December as part of early fixture discussions. It would take place two days before the fourth Ashes Test which will be played xx kilometres away at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
However, a final call will not be made until mid-year, when fan research has been completed. If the clash does not go ahead this year, it is set to be firmly on the agenda in 2018. BBL chief Anthony Everard last summer floated the idea of a Christmas Day clash, but said spectator research would be important in making a final call (PTG 2014-10193, 29 December 2016). While league chiefs are now leaning more towards a Christmas Eve game, officials are aware the public may not yet warm to the idea.
Television ratings aside, a point of conjecture is whether the stadium would be full on a night when families traditionally get together. While broadcaster Channel Seven's Carols by Candlelight remains popular viewing, the sporting landscape is largely free on the night. A derby is seen as the best option on Christmas Eve, as it means neither side will have to fly home on Christmas Day – an issue players have previously had when flying on Christmas night for upcoming games (PTG 1490-7199, 27 December 2014). The final BBL clash before Christmas last December was on the 23rd when the Perth Scorchers defeated the Adelaide Strikers.
Melbourne will be full of English tourists and Barmy Army diehards at Christmas coming December, with the first three days of the Melbourne Test expected to feature strong crowds. While the Melbourne BBL derby is always popular, should there be a Christmas Eve clash that would escalate, with English fans given the opportunity of watching former England captain Kevin Pietersen on show with the Stars.
Last summer's derbies were held on New Year's Day – when the Renegades prevailed in the rain in front of more than 70,000 fans at the MCG – and a week later when Pietersen's 73 helped to lay the platform for the Stars' win at docklands. Should a Christmas Eve clash be introduced this year or next, it would be another blockbuster for the host broadcaster to build around. The second derby would be held on New Year's Day at the MCG.
A new broadcast rights deal will be brokered this year for the burgeoning competition, which already averages more than one million viewers a night on Channel Ten. The rights to international matches are also on the table, with Channel Nine indicating it would also like to win the BBL and WBBL deal. Channel Ten's $A100 million (£UK60.4 m), five-year deal was seen as a risk when brokered, but a new contract is likely to be worth three times that figure.
Faced with tough financial situation ZC slashes salaries.
Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has slashed salaries of its employees by between 10 and 30 per cent as the organisation bids to halve its $US6 million ($A8 m, £UK4.8 m) a year wage bill. The organisation has been using two-thirds of its $US9 million ($A12 m, £UK7.2 m) per year allocation from the International Cricket Council (ICC) on salaries and both the board and management have sought to correct that.
In the latest cuts, players are not affected as only management and support staff of the organisation will have their salaries adjusted. ZC board chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani confirmed on Monday that the organisation would be effecting another salary cut. “Management recommended to the board that we reduce salaries by by 10-30 per cent”, Mukuhlani said. “We had a budget deficit of $US2.9 million ($A3.9 m, £UK2.3 m), so the board said that there would be no more borrowing. We can’t continue to borrow to pay salaries, that is not sustainable".
ZC has been making adjustments over the period and the bill, which stood at $US7.2 million ($A9.6 m, £UK ) per year, was reduced to $US6 million ($A8 m, £UK4.8 m) after some employees were laid off while others had their salaries reduced. “The bill has been reduced after we laid off people and made some adjustments. But it has to go down further”, Mukuhlani added.
While only $US3 million ($A4 m, £UK2.4 m) of the ICC allocation was reserved for development, domestic and international cricket, ZC wants to see the figure doubled and total salaries brought down to around $US3 million ($A4 m, £UK2.4 m). Those who earn $US500 ($A665, £UK400) or less will not be affected by the adjustment, but the top management, which is the highest paid group, faces the 30 per cent cut.
Last year, ZC embarked on a streamlining exercise where some of the employees were not offered new contracts once their deals had expired.
Those that were offered new contracts had remuneration reduced. On the other hand, the organisation also changed the contracts system for players where more players signed contracts that guaranteed them monthly income.
North India abattoir ban a challenge to ball manufacturers.
A crack down on the illegal shipment of cattle products in the north of India is being felt not just on dining tables, for the cricket ball manufacturing industry is now feeling the pressure as well. The slaughter of cattle in India is a very sensitive subject because of the cow's traditional status as a respected creature in Hinduism, and the country’s constitution asks states to “endeavour” to “prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves”.
Not only has it hit the meat export industry and the one million people it employs, but it has also triggered waves of panic among the Uttar Pradesh city of Meerut’s cricket ball manufacturing units, Kanpur’s tanneries, the 11,000-odd shoe manufacturing units in Unnao and Hapur that operate from private residences, as well as the big leather export units in Agra. In Meerut, which is one of the major manufacturing hubs for sports goods in India, manufacturers say that with buffalo hide not readily available the cost of cricket balls has shot up.
Anil Sachdeva, a businessman who deals in a wide rate of sporting goods, said he had braced for an impact but did not expect it to be so swift. “Buffalo hide, which goes into making cricket balls, is not available because of the crackdown on slaughterhouses. Whatever little is available is priced at rates higher than usual”, said Sachdeva. “A cricket ball priced at 130 Rupees ($A2.70, £UK1.60) is being sold for 160 ($A3.30, £2). It will be a difficult time for our business if the ban continues”, he added.
Anoop Singh, a contractor who supplies cricket balls to shops in Meerut’s Surajkund sports market, agreed with Sachdeva. “Shortage of buffalo hide has left people like us, who manufacture cricket balls, worried. We are making do with the old stock for now, but the shortage of raw material has led to prices shooting up”, said Singh.
The worst, however, is yet to come, he said. “If the slaughterhouses do not start functioning soon and the atmosphere of fear is not dispelled, then we may not be able to manufacture cricket balls at all”. But all is not rosy for the few slaughterhouses that were not closed by the government. With cattle dealers fearing attacks from vigilantes, even legal slaughterhouses are not able to function.
Thursday, 13 April 2017
• Test scorer, long-time ABC ’stats’ man, dies [2103-10659].
• No balls, wides, reign in a protest against ‘poor umpiring' [2103-10660].
• New Laws Code includes two new signals for umpires [2103-10661].
• Method of tethering bails being explored [2103-10662].
• Captains, referees score SCG the worst first-class venue in Australia [2103-10663].
• Positive news on the umpire recruitment front positive for players [2103-10664].
• PCB charges another over PSL-related corruption investigation [2103-10665].
• Four teams boycott Kenyan T20 tournament matches [2103-10666].
• 'Weaker BCCI means weaker Bangladesh’, says BCB chief [2103-10667].
Test scorer, long-time ABC ’stats’ man, dies.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017.
Former Australian Test scorer Jack Cameron junior, a long-time servant of the game who was part of an on-going cricket dynasty, died aged 93 last Friday. Cameron is best known across Australia for the provision of real-time match information and statistics to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) commentators describing interstate and international matches in Melbourne during what was a nearly 40 year stint. During the winter months he provided football match statistics to ABC broadcast of football matches.
In a cricket scoring career of nearly sixty years, Jack junior had a long association with the North Melbourne Cricket Club. He was appointed its First XI scorer in 1971, holding the position for just over thirty years until he retired. Overall, Cameron junior scored over 350 First XI and 250 Second XI matches for the Club. In order to be able to assist ABC commentators at an instant, he developed his own scoring and record retention systems, concepts that came before computers which he never relied upon.
His father Jack senior, himself a Test scorer, was honorary scorer for North Melbourne either side of the Second World War, while Jack junior’s own son Gerard is currently the ABC's cricket scorer, taking over that position from his father and grandfather. A highlight of Jack junior's career was his appointment as the official scorer for Australia’s tour of Britain in 1961, a series in which he scored all five Test matches: at Edgbaston, Lord’s, Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval.
In 2001, Jack junior was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to the game. In the same year, the Victorian Cricket Umpires and Scorers’ Association instituted a medal to honour its ‘Scorer of the Year’ which has been presented annually since. The 'Cameron Medal’ honours the services of both Jack senior and junior to the game. The father is number 39 on the list of Australian Test scorers and the son number 46 (PTG 1985-9499, 9 August 2016).
No balls, wides, reign in a protest against ‘poor umpiring'.
During a period in which he sent down four legal deliveries, Bangladesh club bowler Sujon Mahmud deliberately sent down 15 no balls and 13 wides in what was a protest against "poor umpiring” in a Dhaka Second Division Cricket League match on Tuesday. The bowler’s Dalmatia club had been dismissed for 88 in 14 overs after being put into bat, a score that left the team unimpressed at several umpiring decisions that went against them. As a result of the bowling ‘protest’ 92 runs were scored, Dalmatia's opponents from the Axiom club winning the one-day game in just four legal balls.
Dalmatia general secretary Adnan Rahman Dipon told the 'Dhaka Tribune': "It started at the toss. My captain was not allowed to see the coin and we were sent to bat first and ... the umpires' decisions went against us. My players are young, aged around 17, 18 and 19. They could not tolerate the injustice and thus reacted by giving away 92 runs in four deliveries”. League co-ordinator Jahid Hossain says as a hearing will be held into the incident although "nothing has come officially to us as yet”.
The tournament has been plagued by controversy, the Fear Fighters Sporting Club's Tasnim Hasan doing something similar on Monday when he conceded 69 runs in seven legitimate deliveries in a protest against the umpiring.
New Laws Code includes two new signals for umpires.
CAs web site.
Umpires will have two completely new signals in their repertoire as a result of the in-field disciplinary provisions introduced by the Marylebone Cricket Club in the new Laws Code when it comes into force in October (PTG 2102-10650, 12 April 2017). A new section of the Laws titled 'Players’ Conduct’ gives umpires the ability to send players from the field of play on both a temporary of permanent basis should their behaviour meet certain guidelines (PTG 2068-10464, 8 March 2017).
When a player is being sent from the field – either permanently or temporarily – umpires must put an arm out to the side of their body and repeatedly raise and lower it. If the player is being sent off only temporarily, which is classed as a ‘Level Three' sanction, the umpire will follow the first gesture by raising both hands with all fingers spread to shoulder height with their palms facing the scorers. A ‘Level Four’ permanent dismissal will see umpires, after the repeated raising and lowering of their arms, point their index finger and hold their arm outstretched to the side of their body.
The five penalty runs that go with both temporary and permanent sanctions will be signalled to scorers in the same way as required by the current Laws.
Method of tethering bails being explored.
Two companies, one from South Africa and the other from the UK, have submitted designs for systems that tether bails to the stumps without limiting their ability to be dislodged. The new Laws Code, which will come into effect in October, allows such "mechanisms” as a safety measure provided they do not impinge on the normal ability of the fielding side to dislodge bails (PTG 2102-10655, 12 April 2017). Both firms have approached the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) with their tether concepts.
Only the UK version, designed by Augury Sport, has so far been seen in its physical form by MCC. The brainchild of Gus Kennedy, a former wicketkeeper with bosh Cambridge and Oxfords Universities, it comprises two holes, drilled down into the off and leg stumps, and a tiny, lightweight ball, attached to a piece of cotton. The ensemble rests on a platform, so that there is no weight pulling on the bail, which is then able to travel no further than eight centimetres when the stumps are put down.
Kennedy said that his experience “wicketkeeping on the fringes of the first-class game highlighted to me the dangers of flying bails, as did the Mark Boucher injury which ended his playing days (PTG 976-4734, 12 August 2012). [As such] the risk of losing others to an eye injury was enough to inspire me to put some thought into the design”.
Aside from the physical thrill of watching the bails flying through the air, there are few obvious drawbacks to the proposed innovation. Fraser Stewart, the MCC's Laws Manager, concedes that adapting the mechanism for electronic ‘Zing' bails could be problematic, with their reliance on sensors to trigger the lights. There may also be implications for run-outs on occasions when the stumps have already been broken.
Captains, referees score SCG the worst first-class venue in Australia.
Thursday, 13 April 2017.
The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) has seen hit for six, with a survey of state captains and match referees voting it the worst first-class venue in Australia. In what has become a contentious report for one of world cricket's most prestigious venues, the SCG was voted – when it comes to pitch and outfield conditions – arguably worse than council-run venues.
Cricket Australia (CA) on Wednesday publicly released for the first time the ratings of each Sheffield Shield venue, the move coming after the International Cricket Council's recent naming and shaming of international venues not up to scratch (PTG 2041-10337, 7 February 2017), and as seen during Australia's tour of India (PTG 2062-10442, 1 March 2017). The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brisbane's Gabba, the Adelaide Oval and Perth's WACA Ground rated highly for pitch and outfield conditions during the Shield season.
Pitches are rated on bounce, turn and seam. In terms of the outfield, three times the SCG was given a modest three votes, with the full five votes on the remaining occasion. Outfields are judged highly on how quickly the ball travels to the boundary. Overall, in four games, the SCG polled 29 votes, averaging 7.25.
The SCG's figures were a worry for CA. Only once did the ground receive the full five votes for the standard of the pitch, and on one occasion it received two votes. That came after Victoria won by 198 runs in November, New South Wales being bowled out for 192 in their second innings. NSW and Australian skipper Steve Smith rated the pitch poor but Victorian counterpart Matthew Wade disagreed and match referee Daryl Harper disagreed. Officials have also not forgotten that a Shield clash against Victoria at the SCG was abandoned in November 2015 because of unsafe conditions (PTG 1686-8286, 12 November 2015)ssss.
CA operations manager Sean Cary said curators, on the whole, were providing "high-standard" conditions. "There is, obviously, one venue where the scores were less than a four out of five from a pitch and outfield. We hope they take note of that and put measures in place to fix up any issues they might have”, he said.
But a spokesman for the SCG Trust said it would seek an explanation from CA why an "unfair adjustment" had not been revised. "CA were advised by the match referee to review the poor rating given to the SCG pitch for the NSW-Victoria match. NSW captain [Smith’s] rating was at odds with that of the Victorian captain and the officiating umpires”, he said.
By comparison, in four matches at the MCG, three times it was given the full five votes for the outfield and pitch, with four votes for each category in the remaining game. Overall, the MCG polled 38 votes, averaging 9.5. The Gabba polled 27 votes in three games (average 9), the Adelaide Oval 37 votes in four games (9.25), while the WACA had 48 in five games (average 9.6) and Blundstone Arena 47 in five (average 9.4). In one-off matches at Gliderol Stadium (Glenelg in Adelaide), North Dalton Park (Wollongong) and Tony Ireland Stadium (Townsville), each received four votes apiece for the standard of pitches and outfield.
The ratings were given post-match in Sheffield Shield games by the two captains and match referee – with the curator present the majority of the time, ensuring what CA says was a transparent process. It's understood all Australian venues used for international matches last summer were given at least a "good" rating by the ICC.
At their annual conference last year, Australian curators agreed when preparing first-class pitches they would consider four points: a balance between bat and ball, to preserve the unique characteristics of each pitch, promote entertaining cricket and showcase the skills of all players. CA says the "ultimate" day of cricket would produce 10 wickets and 300 runs.
Positive news on the umpire recruitment front positive for players.
Cricket Wanganui (CW), which manages the game on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is enjoying a revival in its umpiring ranks after almost a decade of player rule. Premier club games were being umpired by players but over the past two years a pool of twelve umpires has been built up and it's having a positive impact on the club cricket.
Much of that is down to Cliff Tootell who joined CWS three years ago as an umpire training officer. He began contacting those with past experience or with an interest in the game and the region's umpire's association was re-formed providing coaching and support to local umpires. "The attitude of the premier teams has changed from quite a negative attitude to now more positive”, Tootell said. “That allows the teams or skippers to be able to focus on the day and they're not having to worry about going outside to umpire”.
CW manager Dilan Raj said it was great for the sport and the players. "They've got professional umpires, it's neutral, and I think that's also stopped them arguing with each other”. Raj said the resurgence of umpiring was a great achievement in an era where many provinces were struggling to get people to commit and volunteer their time. "We're pretty chuffed that there's twelve guys that want to be trained and are quite focused on progressing and giving up their time on Saturday”.
Umpiring was a great way for former players to stay in the game or for anyone interested in cricket to be involved, Tootell said. "It's about the enjoyment of the game, not about the money. There's always something they can do whether it's scoring, umpiring, assisting. If they've got a keen interest in the sport then I'm more than happy to guide them through or take them in board”.
There is also as pathway to provincial and first class level and many of the Whanganui umpires are on their way. Tootell and Martin Inness are working towards a Level Four qualification which would allow them to umpire first-class level and have already made their debut in top-level women's cricket, while Barry Touzel and Oliver working towards Level Three.
PCB charges another over PSL-related corruption investigation.
Wednesdays, 12 April 2017.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has formally charged Nasir Jamshed, the former Pakistan opener, as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption in the 2017 Pakistan Super League (PSL). Jamshed has been charged with two violations of the PCB's Anti-Corruption Code, which deal, essentially, with obstructing and not cooperating with an investigation.
Jamshed, who is presently based in Birmingham, has 14 days to respond to the charges. The former batsman was arrested by England's National Crime Agencs in February and is also being investigated by the agency as part of the same case (PTG 2050-10386, 16 February 2017).
Jamshed is charged with: “failing or refusing, without compelling justification, so cooperate" wish a PCB investigation and "obstructing or delaying any investigation" of the board. Those charges stem from unsuccessful efforts the PCB claims to have made to try and meet or communicate with Jamshed - two officials were in the UK recently but were unable to meet him.
The board believes him to be a central figure in the corruption controversy that occurred during the second edition of the PSL and the possibility of laying further charges, said one official, has not been ruled out. Jamshed was arrested on the same day that he was provisionally suspendedby the PCB, and was later released on bail.
Four other players - Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan and Shahzaib Hasan - were also provisionally suspended as part of the investigation. Irfan was later banned from all forms of cricket for one year after he pleaded guilty to failing to report details of two approaches to corrupt the game (PTG 2090-10585, 30 March 2017).
Sharjeel, Latif and Shahzaib were charged for alleged breaches of the Anti-Corruption Code. Hasan was charged with breaching three major clauses of the code, including allegedly inducing players in corruption indirectly. However, like Sharjeel and Latif, Hasan has contested the charges and the three players will attend hearings before a three-man tribunal constituted by the Pakistan board.
Four teams boycott Kenyan T20 tournament matches.
A showdown looms between Kenya’s Coast Cricket Association and four teams over the fielding of non-Mombasa-based cricketers in the area's on-going T20 cricket tournament which entered a decisive phase at the weekend. Leaders Mombasa Sports Club (MSC), former Coast league champions Jaffery, newcomers Pakistan Cricket Club (PCC), and Mombasa Simba (MS), have threatened to pull out of the tournament.
The teams boycotted their matches last Sunday, awarding thsir opponents walkovers. Jaffery were to play Shree Cutchi Leva, MSC the Coast Gymkhana side, MS had a date with Burhani, while PCC were scheduled to play Mombasa Heats. The standoff has put the tournament in a precarious situation as three teams - MSC, Chutchi Leva, and Coast Gymkhana - had qualified for the second round.
The four teams claim that the association had violated the by-laws of the tournament that state that local players be given priority of play and only one player outside the coastal city be allowed to sign to play. The association sin turn claimed that the four teams had ganged up to blackmail it and warned that stern action would be taken against them. An official who did not want to be named said the association would convene an urgent meeting to deliberate on what disciplinary action to take against the teams.
A source said three MSC players were suspended over allegations that they used abusive language while addressing umpires.
'Weaker BCCI means weaker Bangladesh’, says BCB chief.
Press Trust of India.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief executive Nazmul Hassan Papon says concerns the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has regarding the International Cricket Council's proposed revenue model need to be sorted as a "weaker BCCI means weaker Bangladesh”. The BCB chief met Vinod Rai, chief of the BCCI’ court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) in Mumbai on Wednesday to discuss issues related to the ICC board meeting later this month.
Hassan told journalists after the meeting: "Everybody is trying to find a middle path and solve [the revenue structure problem] in a more amicable manner. We don't want any member country to get hurt. Especially India, as they have always supported us. If India becomes weak, we also become weak” (PTG 2079-10523, 20 March 2017).
However, the BCB chief is an advocate of equitable distribution of ICC revenue. "I was a party to the decision when [former ICC chairman] Narayanaswami Srinivasan was there and the 'Big Three’ concept was mooted. While I believe we need a more equitable distribution but that certainly doesn't mean, you take away India's share. No, no that's not what we want”. He said there is a need to help member countries who are going through financial difficulties.
Asked about the proposed changes in ICC's governance structure, Hassan said different member nations have different issues. "Not all of us had agreed on the governance structure. There are a lot of issues that others don't agree and there are some with which we don't agree. That's why it was placed at the ICC Board Meeting for everybody's observation”.
Friday, 14 April 2017
• No drugs tests for 75 per cent of County cricketers [2104-10668].
• Afghan wicketkeeper charged with doping violation [2104-10669].
• Five for, one against, ECB T20 proposal to date [2104-10670].
• PCB's biomechanics facility set for ICC nod at last [2104-10671].
• Series attracts biggest ever Indian TV Test audience [2104-10672].
No drugs tests for 75 per cent of County cricketers.
Three quarters of professional cricketers in England and Wales were not tested for drugs in the past year. Only 130 tests were carried out on male cricketers in the 12 months to March this year, while no tests were carried out on female cricketers in that period. Of these 130, only 28 took place outside of the cricket season.
It has been learnt that the reason for the lack of tests is because UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) does not deem cricket to be of sufficiently high risk to demand them to use their public funding, as they do for sports such as rugby union and football.
The rise in prominence of Twenty20 cricket means cricketers need to be stronger and this means the risk of doping has naturally increased (PTG 1740-8656, 17 January 2016). One anti-doping expert said that Ukad’s stance is “a complete nonsense” as players could clearly benefit from substances that enhance their strength, stamina or recovery from injury.
At present the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) pays Ukad to carry out 150 urine tests a year in domestic cricket (PTG 1068-5195, 28 February 2013). While the figure amounts to about a third of the registered professional men and women, some are tested more than once, meaning it can lead to as few as 80 players being tested. Two county cricketers, who did not wish to be named, say they have not been tested for two years.
In comparison, two thirds of Premier League footballers were tested during the 2015-16 season. In rugby union only a third of top-flight players were tested, with a more of a focus on the amateur and semi-professional game. No testing is conducted in amateur or semi-professional cricket. A source close to Ukad said that because of the way that Ukad decides who and how to test based on their assessment of risk there would be very few, if any, anti-doping tests carried out in cricket unless paid for by the governing body or triggered by a specific piece of intelligence that they had received.
“It’s a complete nonsense that Ukad don’t deem cricket to be high risk”, one anti-doping expert said. “Especially for bowlers, where certain banned substances could help their stamina and strength and help them recover from injury more quickly. The rise in prominence of T20 cricket. which has given rise to far more lucrative contracts in cricket than ever before, means cricketers need to be stronger than ever and this means the risk of doping has naturally increased”.
Dr Paul Dimeo, a leading academic in the field of doping in sport at the University of Stirling said: “If Ukad are motivated by health and fair play, you would think their resources should be allocated consistently across sports, which they don’t seem to be. Risk becomes higher when athletes see drugs as useful for their ambitions”.
Few cricketers have failed drugs tests. Former Australian spinner Shane Warne was banned for taking a diuretic after a shoulder injury in 2003 while Pakistan fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif tested positive for nandrolone, a steroid, in 2006 and were banned (PTG 1724-8561, 30 December 2015), but that was subsequently overturned; while leg-spinner Yasir Shah was banned for three months after testing positive for chlorthalidone (PTG 1756-8759, 8 February 2016). More recently a country player in New Zealand was banned for a year for using nandrolone (PTG 2096-10612, 5 April 2017).
Testing is conducted via urine samples at present, though this does not show up use of human growth hormone or peptides, a banned chemical. They are detected using blood sampling, which will be used in the Champions Trophy, which takes place in the UK in June. The International Cricket Council is introducing blood passports later this year (PTG 2040-10332, 6 February 2017).
Cricketers under the ECB’s jurisdiction are subject to mandatory annual hair testing for recreational drugs. The scheme has been in place for three years and was introduced after the death of Tom Maynard, the Surrey cricketer, who was found to be under the influence of alcohol and cocaine (PTG 1077-5241, 18 March 2013). The ECB has set aside additional funding for anti-doping education and testing for the coming year, including extending its contract with Ukad to cover the women’s T20 Super League.
We’ve seen the impact that doping scandals have had on the reputation of other sports and the ECB has made the integrity of its new T20 league a keysobjective. The huge amounts of money being ploughed into this competition, one that it wants to make the best versus the best, means that people will expect it to be clean. Cricket has not been tarnished by doping scandals, but the sport is changing and efforts to keep it clean have to be ramped up.
Afghan wicketkeeper charged with doping violation.
Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad has been charged with an anti-doping rule violation under the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Doping Code. The sample Shahzad provided in an out-of-competition test, which was conducted mid-January at the ICC Academy in Dubai and analysed at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, was found to contain the presence of Clenbuterol, a Prohibited Substance in the category of "other anabolic agents".
In accordance with the ICC Anti-Doping Code, pending the outcome of the disciplinary process, Shahzad will be provisionally suspended, with such suspension coming into effect two Wednesdays from now, unless he exercises his right to challenge the imposition of the provisional suspension before such date. The ICC said soon Thursday: "The matter will now be dealt with in accordance with the process set down in the code, and until such time as the process is resolved, the ICC will make no further comment on this matter".
Shahzad has the right, within five days from the date of the notice of the charge, to request that his B sample is analysed. Within 12 days from the date of the notice of charge, he can challenge the imposition of the provisional suspension at a provisional hearing, in which case the provisional suspension will not be imposed until the challenge is determined. The Afghani has to respond to the charge within 14 days. If he fails to do so, he will be deemed to have waived his entitlement to a hearing and admitted to having committed the anti-doping rule violation.
Five for, one against, ECB T20 proposal to date.
Middlesex have opposed plans for the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) new eight-team Twenty20 tournament and will not be involved following the ECB's annual general meeting at Lord’s next month. However, Derbyshire have become the fifth county to back the proposal, Sussex, Somerset, Yorkshire and Leicestershire previously confirming they will endorse the city-based competition which is set to take place in 2020 (PTG 2100-10643, 10 April 2017).
Middlesex chairman Mike O'Farrell said: “While Middlesex is fully supportive of the creation of a new T20 tournament to drive the future of the game, we are unable to support this proposal at the current time. Middlesex has a unique position in playing at a ground that is likely to be a host venue at the tournament, yet not benefiting from the revenues associated with that status. Therefore, the financial impact on Middlesex is still very uncertain and contains great risks to our current revenue streams”.
O’Farrell also pointed to the proposed change in the ECB’s articles of constitution to allow the proposed eight-team T20 series toss proceed, saying such a change creates a significant risk that counties that are not host venues for the new tournament may, in the future and be a downgrading both in status and in revenue terms.
He "welcomed the ECB's commitment to a further revision to its articles to provide the protections that we require - but until these commitments become legally binding, we cannot support the current change of articles of association. We look forward to working with the ECB in the near future to developing a proposal that alleviates our concerns and provides a solution to domestic cricket that meets all our collective objectives”.
Derbyshire chairman Ian Morgan said the club "unanimously supported the change to the ECB articles of association to pave the way for a new Twenty20 tournament”. He said: "The number of people who follow, watch and play the game is not where we would like it. We know that the recreational game is under pressure from the ever growing list of new sports and activities it has to compete with, so we have to attract new people to the game at all levels”.
ECB chairman Colin Graves last month triggered a postal ballot to support the amendment to the national governing body's articles of association for the new T20 tournament. The vote involving all 18 first-class counties, the Marylebone Cricket Club, Minor Counties Cricket Association and 21 recreational boards, must be concluded within 28 days. The ECB needs a vote of at least 31 in favour from the 41 member organisations consulted.
PCB's biomechanics facility set for ICC nod at last.
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) independent biomechanics facility, installed at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), is in line to obtain accreditation from the International Cricket Council (ICC). The testing facility has been acknowledged by the world body after two officials from Pakistan underwent a two-day workshop in Pretoria last month.
The facility has fulfilled the technical requirements in terms of equipment and expertise to procure official accreditation. It operates with 16 motion-capture high-speed infrared cameras and two high-speed video cameras in compliance with the ICC's requisites. Other mandatory preconditions laid down by the global body include the availability of an indoor area with enough space to allow a player to perform their full run-up, a three-dimensional motion-analysis system with a minimum of 12 high-speed cameras, along with the recruitment of qualified personnel experienced in using such systems and implementing the ICC testing protocol.
So far, LUMS has been implementing its own model of assessment on cricketers but the ICC required it to align with the governing body's protocol that mandates quality checks and calibrated trials during assessment using specialised kit (PTG 1835-9179, 24 May 2016). Professor Mian Awais, Head of the biomechanics facility at LUMS, and PCB representative Hissan ur Rehman attended an exclusive two-day workshop - involving four sessions primarily aimed at introducing the ICC protocol regarding bowling assessment and data processing - at the High Performance Centre in the University of Pretoria, to oversee the administration of the test centre.
The idea of reviving the biomechanics lab came up after Pakistan found themselves saddled with several cases of suspect bowling actions in the recent past. Among the high-profile internationals to have undergone reassessment for illegal action, Mohammad Hafeez has returned with a remodelled action, as has Saeed Ajmal - the latter, however, has been a diminished force and has not played for Pakistan since 2015. According to the PCB, the stock of offspinners available at the domestic level also includes a significant number with suspect actions.
In 2014, the ICC accredited five centres around the world - in Brisbane, Cardiff, Lougborough, Pretoria and Chennai - as testing facilities for the global body with a view to reviewing bowlers reported for suspect bowling actions (PTG 1440-6969, 3 October 2014). The PCB initiated the process of establishing the biomechanics facility in the country by entering into a partnership with LUMS - where equipment worth $US460,000 ($A606,880, £UK366,680) had been lying unused from 2008 to 2016 - as it needed to have an independent testing facility of its own (PTG 1016-4942, 7 November 2012).
Pakistan could have been the first Asian country to have a high-profile biomechanics facility, but construction of the laboratory and financial mismanagement impeded its progress. LUMS, however, helped make up for lost time by re-gathering the equipment and making it functional by conducting tests on over 20 domestic cricketers so far. The centre has also tested the Kenya offspinner James Ngoche, whose bowling action was declared illegal by the ICC in 2015.
Series attracts biggest ever Indian TV Test audience.
Thursday, 14 April 2017.
Broadcaster Star India is celebrating a record-breaking TV audience from the recently concluded India-Austsralia Test series, revealing the fiercely fought contest was the highest-rating Test series ever on Indian television. The series saw a total of 1.1 billion gross impressions, the total number of individual households watching, across the four matches – more than any other Test series in the history of India’s Broadcast Audience Research Council – including 383 million for the enthralling third Test in Ranchi, where a gritty batting performance from Australia on the final day secured a draw.
Overall, each match averaged 282 million gross impressions, up from the 245 million for India’s one-off Test against Bangladesh the previous month. “The Indian cricket team continued their high levels of performance as they reclaimed the number one Test team title, beating opponents like New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia”, a Star India spokesperson said. “With success across all three formats, the fans were delighted to witness such an action-packed home season of cricket with every session being exciting and unpredictable. For the advertisers, it reinforces the belief that nothing cuts across like cricket in India”.
Sunday, 16 April 2017
• Ball strike to forehead kills young batsman [2105-10673].
• IPL umpiring errors leads to call for UDRS use [2105-10674].
• Commentators acknowledge IPL third umpire ‘got it right' [2105-10675].
• Indian match officials to the fore in early IPL games [2105-10676].
• Windies' cricket ‘hijacked’ by ’small clique', says TT PM [2105-10677].
• UK player agents in conflict-of-interest row [2105-10678].
Ball strike to forehead kills young batsman.
Friday, 14 April 2017.
An eight-year-old boy died immediately after being hit on the forehead by a ball while batting in a village school match in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday. Kotharlanka Leeladhar collapsed as soon as he was hit and was not breathing so CPR was immediately administered. Doctors at a nearby hospital declared him dead soon after he arrived there.
IPL umpiring errors leads to call for UDRS use.
Saturday, 15 April 2017.
Nothing about the Indian Premier League (IPL) is second rate anymore even though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) prefers to call it a domestic tournament. It is for that reason that the glaring umpiring errors in the first ten days of this year’s IPL have become a talking point. The BCCI in an effort to provide international exposure to Indian umpires, are using a lot more of them this season (PTG 2105-10676 below). Unfortunately not all of them have been able to give a great account of themselves.
Rohit Sharma's leg before against Kolkata Knightriders that shouldn't have been given, Keiron Pollard's leg before against Rising Pune Supergiant that should have been are case in point. The more recent umpiring oversight with destructive Dave Warner keeping strike in a new over after hitting a boundary of the previous ball was downright disappointing. The umpires have nowhere to hide in a competition in which the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) is not used, although there are some positives (PTG 2105-10675 below).
Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan advocates the usage of UDRS in the IPL just as it is in all three formats of international cricket. "The UDRS is good. If it was available to players once in each innings in T20 it will help avoid these situations”, said Muralitharan.
Batsman Sharma and wicket keeper MS Dhoni who remonstrated against the umpires in IPL games this season were charged with dissent (PTG 2101-10648, 11 April 2017). There are those who sympathise with players when umpiring errors take centre stage and the slightest of player reaction is charged. Muralitharan though prefers to be a purist on such matters.
"It's tradition. When a decision is given you have to walk out. They say it's a gentleman game. You have to walk out. You can have disappointments but have to keep it to oneself rather than showing publicly. Because when you do that you put the umpire under pressure. He is human and can make mistakes the same way a player can”, said Muralitharan.
The greater worry from BCCI's point of view is in the absence of UDRS, if the Indian umpires can't demonstrate good standards it may end up being another poor advert for Indian umpiring.
Commentators acknowledge IPL third umpire ‘got it right'.
Sunday, 16 April 2017.
A change to the Playing Conditions for the Indian Premier League's (IPL) 2017 series led to a contentious yet completely legal intervention from third umpire Abhijit Deshmukh in Saturday’s IPL match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Knight Riders batsman Robin Uthappa was given 'not out' after on-field umpire Anil Dandekar referred a caught-behind decision to Deshmukh to check if the catch had carried to Sunrisers wicketkeeper Naman Ojha, Dandekar giving the 'soft signal' of ‘out’ as he did so.
Side-on replays of the incident indicated that Ojha had taken the ball above the ground, but Deshmukh then checked for a front-foot no-ball and closely analysed whether or not the ball had struck either Uthappa's bat or glove. Replays gave rise to thoughts the ball had hit Uthappa's pad instead of bat or glove, and after a long wait Dandekar was advised by Deshmukh to give a 'not-out' verdict.
Commentators questioned Deshmukh's ruling that the ball had missed both bat and glove, as well as his going beyond assessing just the legitimacy of the catch, but there's no doubt the third umpire correctly applied the IPL's current Playing Conditions. While the Umpire Decision Review System is not available in the IPL (PTG 2105-10674 above), under Playing Conditions that applied prior to this year, a third umpire was only allowed to rule only on whether or not a catch had been taken cleanly.
This year’s IPL Playing Conditions though require that the third umpire analyse all aspects of a dismissal when called upon by the on-field umpires. Appendix 6 of the Playing Conditions regarding fair catches states that third officials must review a decision as closely as possible.
It states in part: "The third umpire has to determine whether the batsman has been caught. However, when reviewing the television replay(s), the third umpire shall first check the fairness of the delivery ... Additionally, if it is clear to the third umpire that the batsman is ... not out by any mode of dismissal (excluding LBW), he shall notify the on-field umpire so that the correct decision is made”. It goes on: "The third umpire shall only have access to TV replays ... Other technology which may be in use by the broadcaster for broadcast purposes ('Hot Spot', ball tracking, ‘Snicko') shall not be permitted”.
A number of commentators later deleted their tweets that questioned how Deshmukh made his decision, at least one acknowledging that the third umpire had "got it right".
Indian match officials to the fore in early IPL games.
Only one of the umpires and one of the referees engaged to officiate in the first two weeks of this year’s Indian Premier League series are from outside India. Englishman Nigel Llong and Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe are part of an umpire-referee group that so far totals 21 and comprises, in addition to Llong and Pycroft, 11 Indian umpires who are working in on-field and television umpire roles, four other Indians who have been limited to fourth umpire duties, and four Indian match referees.
The Indian umpires working in on-field and TV umpire spots are: KN Ananthapadmanabhan; Yeshwant Barde; Anil Chaudhry; Abhijit Deshmukh; Anil Dandekar; Ammanabrole Nand Kishore; Nitin Menon; CK Nandan; Sundarum Ravi; Chettihody Shamshuddin; and Virender Sharma. Barde and Deshmukh are in their first season as a TV/on-field IPL umpire, Ananthapadmanabhan, Dandekar, Ammanabrole Nand Kishore, Menon and Shrma their second, Nandan and Shamshuddin their fifth, Chaudhry his sixth, Ravi his ninth. Llong its in his third IPL season.
Of the referees Javagal Srinath is in his tenth IPL season, Manu Nayyar and Chimney Sharma their third and Sunil Chaturvedi his second. For Pycroft its his sixth IPL season.
Windies' cricket ‘hijacked’ by ’small clique', says TT PM.
Trinidad and Tobago (TT) Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has bemoaned the state of cricket in the Caribbean, and accused certain members of the region’s governing body, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), of being “hell-bent on destroying West Indies cricket”. Rowley made his thoughts known in a radio interview on Wednesday morning where he spoke on the lack of involvement by CARICOM, an governmental organisation made up of 15 Caribbean countries, in West Indies cricket.
In November 2015, a CARICOM 'Cricket Governance Sub-committee’, recommended the WICB be dissolved and that all of its then current members resign (PTG 1681-8254, 5 November 2015). But, in May 2016, Antigua-Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne openly rejected the call for the dissolution of the WICB, saying that move “would be to plunge West Indies cricket into further chaos and confusion”, although others disagreed (PTG 1805-9023, 20 April 2016).
Rowley pulled no punches on Wednesday when it came to his take on the sport, saying the game in the Caribbean "has been hijacked by a small clique of people” who were “destroying” the game there. “Unless there are drastic changes to the current arrangements, West Indies cricket will never get back to where we want it to be”.
Rowley is hopeful that this year's final of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will be staged in Trinidad, but admitted that, due to the state of the TT economy, his government may have to adopt a cautious approach when it comes to the bidding process. “We are available to make [an] offer, not a largesse, but we can make some contributions, if the CPL is interested. There are talks going on but we can’t provide that kind of money that was provided [in the CPL’s early years]”.
UK player agents in conflict-of-interest row.
England players may refuse to take part in promotional activities with the UK Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) over a row between the organisation and a number of leading agents.
A group of player agents have written to David Leatherdale, the PCA chief executive, highlighting their concerns over the part-time appointment of Richard Hudson as a consultant to give contract advice to English cricketers while he is working for a player management agency called 'Essentially CSM'. The service is offered free of charge to all PCA members.
The email, sent to Leatherdale and copied to the ECB, raises concerns about the conflict of interest and highlights “very real concerns” about 'Essentially CSM' having access to the personal details that all agents must disclose to the PCA on behalf of their clients. Leatherdale responded that he believes there is no conflict of interest as Hudson has resigned as a registered agent. He is working for Essentially’s cricket department but Leatherdale says that the PCA has taken steps to ensure Hudson will not have access to its database of player information.
However, agencies including ISM (which represents Joe Root, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes), Quantum Sports (David Willey and Mark Wood) and First Artist Mission (Jason Roy and Kevin Pietersen), are not satisfied by the PCA’s reassurances.
Anyone who wishes to be a player agent has to register with the PCA and pay an annual fee of £UK280 ($A460). Unless the issue with Hudson is resolved satisfactorily in the next two weeks, all the registered agents have said that they will be asking for a refund of that fee and will be refusing to pay it for future years.
The issue has been escalated to Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, and Andrew Strauss, the England team director, who have asked the PCA to provide more information about the terms of Hudson’s appointment. The PCA has so far declined to comment publicly on the matter.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
• 'Mankading' should be called ‘Browned’: Gavaskar [2106-10679].
• Supreme Court blocks Srinivasan comeback, appoints ICC reps [2106-10680].
• Indian umpires need mentors, says former international umpire [2106-10681].
• County fans well served by ECB's new highlights website [2106-10682].
• Aussie broadcaster Nine seeks greater control over cricket coverage [2106-10683].
'Mankading' should be called ‘Browned’: Gavaskar.
Monday, 17 April 2017.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has called for the term 'Mankading' to be removed from the game's terminology because in his view its “disrespectful" to the Indian player after whom the practice is named. 'Mankading’ occurs when a bowler runs out the non-striker after he has left his crease prematurely (PTG 1877-9404, 16 July 2016), and comes from incidents involving Vinoo Mankad that occurred during India’s 1947-48 tour of Australia.
Mankad ran out Australian batsman Bill Brown when, in the act of delivering the ball, he held on to it and removed the bails with non-striker Brown well out of his crease. That was the second time Mankad had dismissed Brown in that fashion on the tour, having already done it in an earlier match against an Australian XI.
On the first occasion he had warned Brown twice before running him out. The Australian press accused Mankad of being unsportsmanlike, a reaction that usually still accompanies such an action today (PTG 1775-8864, 5 March 2016), even thought the Marylebone Cricket Club has on a number of occasions in recent years emphasised it is a legitimate action that does not require a warning (PTG 1755-8757, 5 February 2016).
Gavaskar said Mankad “was one of India's all-time great cricketers” and he has "grave objections to the name being used as it currently is because it's putting one of India's cricketing legends in a bad light. If it ... has to be referred by somebody's name, it should be [named after] the non-striker, who, despite being warned twice by Mr Mankad ... left [his crease a third time, after which] Mankad removed the bails and so suddenly there was an uproar created".
The former Indian captain believes such an action "should be called [being] 'Browned' because it was Brown who was inappropriately outside his crease. He was at fault, not Mr Mankad. Our legend's name should not be spoiled. If you want to call it anything, just say the batsman was 'Browned', not ‘Mankaded’”.
Last month there was a not dissimilar call for a change in the name ‘Chinaman’ for the delivery of a left arm wrist spinner (PTG 2090-10583, 30 March 2017).
Supreme Court blocks Srinivasan comeback appoints ICC reps.
Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Narayanaswami Srinivasan will not be allowed to attend International Cricket Council board meetings next week as the Indian board's representative. That ruling was delivered on Monday by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court.
The Court had been asked by the BCCI’s Committee of Administrators to clarify whether office bearers disqualified by the Lodha Committee's recommendations could return as representatives of state associations or the BCCI (PTG 2101-10647, 11 April 2017). The court said BCCI's acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and chief executive Rahul Johri would attend the ICC's second round of quarterly meetings which begin in Dubai next Sunday.
Indian umpires need of mentors, says former international umpire.
Erratic umpiring has been a bane of Indian cricket and it has been particularly highlighted over the first two weeks of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) series (PTG 2105-10674, 16 April 2017). Former Indian international umpire Krishna Hariharan, who stood in two Tests and 34 One Day Internationals and is a member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) umpiring review committee, says the standard can improve by having mentors for each of the BCCI’s senior umpires.
Hariharan said in an interview: “Just as the selectors are constantly watching players from the sidelines, you have to have mentors for umpires who can monitor their performance during the game and point out their positives and negatives right after the game. We all know some umpiring howlers have been committed in the IPL and that can happen, human errors happen all the time, but as of now, there is nobody to guide Indian umpires on the domestic circuit”.
In addition to Hariharan, the other members of the BCCI's umpiring review committee are: Vijay Chopra, Ivaturi Shivram, and Virinchirpuram Ramaswamy, who have all officiated in internationals in the past. Hariharan said the group has "already submitted our report [to the BCCI] in which we have proposed the appointment of mentors for the top 25 umpires of the country. The board will decide the future course of action”. A total of 110 umpires are currently certified by the BCCI to stand in its top competitions.
With the IPL attracting global attention, the social media has been abuzz with posts on the embarrassing umpiring errors already committed in the competition, especially the on-field duo of CK Nandan and Nitin Menon have had a horror tournament so far. Both allowed David Warner to take strike the next over after he struck a four off the last ball of the previous over in the game between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai. Days before, at the same venue, the same pair was officiating when Rohit Sharma was adjudged LBW despite getting a huge inside edge before the ball hit the pads (PTG 2101-10648, 11 April 2017).
That glaring mistake prompted many commentators to criticise prevailing umpiring standards. Hariharan said the decision involving Warner was unacceptable. “The third umpire should have stepped in that scenario. However, not hearing big edges can happen especially in the IPL where you see big noisy crowds”, he said. “Overall, I would say that Indian umpires are not bad at all. One has to keep in mind that umpires are always judged by their mistakes, not by the good decisions they make”.
Hariharan felt the advent of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) has added to the pressure on the umpires. “UDRS or no UDRS, the umpires should be making minimum mistakes”.
Suggestions that Indian umpires need mentors comes nine months after the BCCI stopped using former Australian international umpire Simon Taufel in an umpire training role, work he had been involved in since at least 2007 (PTG 1879-9414, 17 July 2016).
County fans well served by ECB's new highlights website.
It has not been easy for fans of cricket to find love in their hearts for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in the last decade. Between the embarrassment of getting into bed with ‘Sir’ Allen Stanford, falling behind the Indian Premier League and Big Bash League pace, L’affaire Pietersen, three-figure prices for London Test-match tickets and cruel and unusual punishment for Durham, it has often felt that the supporter has been low down the list of priorities
But credit where it’s due, and this season has seen the introduction of a first-rate new service for fans of county cricket via the ECB’s website. In addition to scorecards, it now contains short, easy-to-access video clips of all the key moments of every County Championship match, as well as close-of-play highlights packages, player interviews and features. All free, all done to a high standard, and the clips within seconds of a wicket falling or a boundary being struck.
The ECB’s head of digital, Nick Shaw, explained: “We have put two High Definition cameras at every county game, behind the bowler’s arm, initially for performance analysis so the England team and the counties can analyse every key moment and catalogue them [for coaching and tactics]. The by-product is one that fans told us they would love to see, so we make it into clips and interpret it for the fan. Everything we do is about trying to develop a loop between the elite national side, the domestic game, recreational participation and fan engagement”.
£UK15 ($A25) for a whole day’s cricket in the sunshine at a Championship match represents, to this fan at least, value to compete with anything in sport. However, the fact remains that not everybody can get to games in the weekdays, or at the weekends if they or their kids play the sport. By making extensive highlights easily available on its website, the ECB is doing its level best to engage as many people as possible.
And county cricket may yet emerge as a trailblazer: a governing body reaching fans without the need for a media middleman. Major League Baseball does this already, with an app that lets you watch every game of the season for around £100 ($A165) a year. Most sports would like to market direct to their consumers without having to pay fortunes to television companies – or having to put up with deplorables like sports journalists as the conduit.
There’s a lot of devolved power to the counties in this project, and a chance for them to build their own constituency. Surrey’s media man Jon Surtees said: “The first match of the season, when Mark Footitt had that great spell, the day’s highlights had 100,000 views on social media. It’s a way to engage with a new audience. And we think it is working: our membership used to spike in Ashes years [because Surrey members get first dibs on tickets] but the last couple of years it has stabilised. We’ve got about 10,000 members, and we have 300,000 likes on Facebook, 62,000 followers on Twitter".
Surtees indicated: "The goal is to get more of those people to become Surrey fans and members, and that is working: Gareth Batty, for instance, has said the atmosphere at the games is feeling more like having a ‘home crowd’. Maybe full televised coverage of a whole day of county cricket is not realistic but we know there is an audience. There is love for it. We certainly don’t think the county game is dying”. Indeed not. It’s just about finding new ways to bring it to people. And the ECB has put this delivery, at least, right on the button.
Aussie broadcaster Nine seeks greater control over cricket coverage.
Australian broadcaster Channel Nine has made it clear it is seeking greater control over cricket match scheduling and in-game advertising on top of an expanded fixtures list to justify paying more than $A450 million (£UK272 m) in a new television deal (PTG 1985-10003, 24 November 2016). Nine Entertainment Co chief executive Hugh Marks said that the explosive growth in the value of sports rights was becoming unsustainable, and unless sporting bodies ceded more control to rights holders, he would think twice about forking out record sums.
“We as a business are focused on content where we can control the rights, exploit the windows, integrate advertising into the whole proposition and influence the scheduling”, said Marks. "But the problem with a lot of sport is that the more we go into that world, sport doesn’t often meet all those criteria. There has to be some rationality in the market for rights to reflect the fact that, yes, it is great content but at the same time we can’t keep bidding up to a point where we become an unprofitable business”.
There has been an astronomical rise in the value of sports rights in recent years . The Australian Football League signed a six-year broadcast deal with broadcaster Channel Seven, pay-TV network Foxtel and phone company Telstra worth $A2.51 billion (£1.52 bn) in 2015. In the same year, Australia’s National Rugby League secured a five-year deal with Fox Sports, the Nine Network and Telstra worth $A1.8 billion (£1.09 bn).
Cricket Australia (CA) is hoping that the bidding tension for those rights will apply again when a new broadcast rights deal — which will capitalise on the runaway success of the Big Bash League (BBL) — could see it crack $A1 billion (£605 m).
Marks said Nine, which holds rights to international Test matches and One Day Internationals (ODI), would like to poach the BBL from rival Australian broadcaster Channel Ten to add to its roster of cricket rights. “I would like to do more with cricket than less but we have to be financially responsible for our shareholders in the way that we approach that”, he said. “We have to ensure that we are doing that on a basis on which we can make a return. [CA] also wants to be dealing with profitable businesses. They want great competition in the market but if rights keep bidding up their options will become more limited”.
Nine’s current rights deal runs from 2013-18. The total value of that five-year deal to CA was $A590 m (£357 m) and includes Ten’s payments of $A20m (£12.1 m) a year for the BBL.
Marks said Nine possessed a strong enough balance sheet to match the nearly $A100 m (£60.5 m) a year it pays to broadcast the game, but he would not be drawn on whether the broadcaster would be willing to pay more for the current cricket package it holds. “What is the right mix of licence fee and content going forward I’m sure is something we will pick up with [CA] when they are in a position to come to the market with the next lot of rights”, he said.
Fox Sports is also drawing up plans for an aggressive bid and has toyed with the idea of partnering with Nine to help it fund the capture of the entire package of rights on offer. Marks said a partnership with Fox Sports to acquire cricket rights was “possible”. Sources say that under such a partnership Fox Sports would share rights with Nine for the shorter forms of the game including the BBL. “I wouldn’t rule anything in or out. Who could a partner be? It could be anybody. We are open to all options and not closed to any”, Marks said.
CA has already started sounding out interested parties, including all the free-to-air networks, for the next broadcast rights deal. A formal tender process for cricket rights has not yet begun but sources are expecting negotiations to kick off in the second half of this year, well before the next instalment of the Ashes begins.
But any deal by Nine to secure all forms of cricket is predicated on the sport’s administrators, the International Cricket Council (ICC), making changes to the schedule as part of a radical shake-up to introduce new leagues in Tests and ODIs and to spread voting power and money more equitably among member nations. A revised ICC constitution that includes such changes is due to be decided upon at the next board meeting this month amid calls for big changes.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
• Neutral officials for Windies-Pakistan Tests announced [2107-10684].
• Floppy hat earns batsman six runs [2107-10685].
• Lost kit sees player dropped for IPL match [2107-10686].
• Further summons for pair over PSL spot-fixing scandal [2107-10687].
• Rest and the unknown [2107-10688].
• NZ ground in line for major refurbishment [2107-10689].
• How a paralysed boy's love of cricket changed his life [2107-10690].
• MCG roof walk project canned [2107-10691].
Neutral officials for Windies-Pakistan Tests announced.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017.
Three Englishmen and an Australian have been appointed as the neutral officials for the three Tests the West Indies and Pakistan are to play in Jamaica, Barbados and Dominica over the next three weeks. Chris Broad will oversee all three games as the match referee, while Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Bruce Oxenford are to stand in two games each and work as the television official in another.
Illingworth and Kettleborough will be on-field in the opening game at Sabina Park in Jamaica, which will be the fiftieth Test played there since the first 87 years ago. After that Kettleborough and Oxenford are to stand in the second match in Barbados and Illingworth and Oxenford in Dominica. The series will take Broad’s tally as a referee in Tests to 87, Kettleborough to 44 on-field and 16 as the television umpire (44/16), Oxenford to 41/18 and Illingworth 29/12.
Floppy hat earns batsman six runs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Chris Gayle was stunningly caught on the boundary in his side’s Indian Premier League match against the Gujurat Lions on Tuesday, however, he ended up earning a six instead because of a floppy hat.
Fieldsman Brendon McCullum caught the ball one-handed at full stretch just inside the padded advertising boundary marker only to slide toward it and it seemed he had pulled up just in time. On referral video showed though that the brim of McCullum's hat had skimmed the rope whilst he had the ball in hand. Gayle, who had walked off the pitch on 38, was recalled to continue what became a match-winning innings of 77. It appears unlikely had McCullum been wearing a cap that Gayle would have survived.
Under the game’s Laws, it is not a catch if the fielder "subsequently touches the boundary or grounds some part of his person beyond the boundary while carrying the ball”. So a wide-brimmed hat touching the rope is the same as stepping on it. Both are not out.
Lost kit sees player dropped for IPL match.
"Sorry Sir, I lost my kit”. We have all said it at one time or another in a desperate attempt to avoid cross country or such other grim exertion during PE class at school. However, it's not something you expect to hear from a fully grown man - let alone one whose job is on the line.
Indian Premier League (IPL) Gujarat Lions franchise player Aaron Finch looked ready to kick on against the imaginatively named Mumbai Indians on Sunday, but when he turned up at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium he found he was missing a few important items. "Unfortunately [Finch will] miss out playing today because his kitbag didn't arrive on time”, explained Lions captain Suresh Raina.
A few things: First of all that's quite funny; But then, it is also ridiculous. How does someone lose their kitbag? Their whole kitbag?; Maybe it was out of his control. Maybe the luggage was lost in transit and the fault lies with the airline/coach company the team travelled with? Now I feel marginally bad as Finch is probably quite attached to his kit. If only there was some temporary way round this problem…..FOR GOD'S SAKE: BORROW SOMEONE ELSE'S.
Of course, wearing a different player's gear would be frowned upon by Finch's sponsors, who pay him big bucks to promote their name. Better that the team's star man not play at all than wields a Grey Nicolls in place of a New Balance. Dear Lord, we cannot have a rogue Millichamp and Hall among the ranks. Isn't it heart-warming to see the IPL focus on the important things in life?
Further summons for pair over PSL spot-fixing scandal.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has once again issued a notice to batsmen Khalid Latif and Shahzaib Hassan over their alleged involvement in spot-fixing during the recently-concluded second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The Notices of Demand have been issued under the PCB's Anti-Corruption Code and require both players to appear before the PCB Security and Vigilance department for interviews relating to investigations into the spot-fixing scandal. Both Latif and Hassan's interview have been slated for next week.
Earlier this week the PCB submitted supporting evidence against Latif to its Anti-Corruption Tribunal. Both he and Hassan, two of the five cricketers accused in the PSL spot-fixing scandal, were provisionally suspended by the PCB earlier and have already been questioned by the anti-corruption tribunal.
Late last month the PCB suspended Mohammad Irfan from all cricket for a year and fined him one million Rupees ($A12,435, £UK7,680) for violating its anti-corruption code. Irfan admitted he had been contacted by bookies during the PSL tournament but had not reported the approach to the PCB. He can return to the game in six months provided he assists the investigation into PSL fixing issues and does not breach the conduct once again during that time.
Rest and the unknown.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017.
The majority of South Africa’s professional cricketers are currently enjoying some ‘down time’. Although some may be enjoying it less than others. The future is exciting and scary in equal measure for the majority with the emphasis on earning power so obviously focused on Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) new Twenty20 ‘Global Destinations’ League.
Be picked for one of the spots in the eight Franchise 15-man squads and you should be fine – theoretically. The eight marquee international stars will be paid $US200,000-300 000 each ($A265,710-398,565, £UK155,900-233,850), with the eight South African internationals assigned to each team not far behind. That uses up a great deal of the player budget. By the time the salary men get down to numbers 8-15, there isn’t going to be much cash left.
But still, like journeymen golfers who scrape together a survival income on making a few cuts, South Africa’s cricketers will now have the chance to compete on a truly global platform and earn themselves a shot at the pot of gold which the Indian Premier League (IPL) offers.
Sponsors have struggled for any meaningful exposure in the last couple of years. CSA’s former sponsor ‘Momentum' has done an outstanding job for the game with little reward and Standard Bank has rejoined the cricket family with an eye on what the future might provide. They may both be rewarded handsomely if the T20 league even comes close to achieving the recognition and acclaim of the IPL and Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL). And it can, but it needs help.
The solitary factor which binds the IPL, BBL, Caribbean Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League together in their success is ‘bums on seats’. The issue is not ticket prices, but television advertising income. And that only comes when broadcasters and advertisers see images of full stadiums. So our question is this: How will CSA fill stadiums?
CSA confirmed last week that all eight Franchises would be based in different cities rather than double-up in high density areas like Jo’burg and Cape Town, which is a laudable and well-intentioned approach. As long as the people can be persuaded to come! Benoni, Paarl, East London, Kimberley and Potch are all in the running to be host venues and every one of them would provide the atmosphere and visuals required to make a success of the event if they are full. Or even three quarters full.
I believe there needs to be a strong and well orchestrated drive to attract the people of the region to support the new teams. Not just a random selection of colours for the new uniform and an animal to name the team after. What do our regions stand for? What is our history? Gold miners. Wine farmers. Diamond diggers.
If you are interested in the success of the tournament, I suggest you send your ideas to CSA. Squads, formats and logistics are one thing, but without YOU the tournament will fail. So – send YOUR suggestions about what sort of team you would like to follow, and what would excite you, to: CSA. And I promise we will both acknowledge receipt of your contribution and do what we can to make your dreams come true.
NZ ground in line for major refurbishment.
Napier City Council (NCC) is set to spend over $NZ2 million ($A1.87, £UK1.1 m) replacing McLean Park's turf, drainage and irrigation system. An overhaul of the ground will be carried out next summer and is necessary to ensure the venue remains up to scratch for international cricket matches, a status that has been up in the air since February when a One Day International (ODI) was abandoned because the playing surface was deemed unsafe – five hours after persistent, but relatively light, rain had stopped. It was the third drainage-related cancellation of an ODI in just over three years at the ground, which is owned by the council.
The council has previously budgeted $NZ851,000 to lay new turf at the park but in a report prepared for the NCC's strategy and infrastructure committee, staff said the full upgrade – including new drainage and irrigation at the ground – would cost more than $2 m. "A more accurate cost will be able to be established once the detailed design and design specifications for all components of work have been completed”, the report said.
An interim report commissioned after February's abandoned ODI pointed the finger of blame for the drainage woes at the council and "poor management" decisions by ground staff. Napier was scheduled to host a NZ-South Africa ODI in March, but the match was moved to Hamilton to avoid the risk of another McLean Park washout (PTG 2057-10419, 23 February 2017).
How a paralysed boy's love of cricket changed his life.
Dharamveer Pal, 24, may need to use his hands to walk but he’s probably been to more countries, and certainly more cricket matches, than you have. Afflicted by polio as an infant, Dharamveer suffers from severe muscle paresis and skeletal deformities. But his love for cricket has fueled an extraordinary journey across the world, and helped to highlight disability issues in a country that normally shuns such people.
Born to a family of farmers in a village in the Morena district of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, growing up Dharamveer could not afford a wheel chair. He's learnt to use all fours to move, making up for any deficit of physical strength with his exuberance and determination. Obsessed with cricket since he was a boy, he was 11 years old back in 2004, when he decided to take his dream of watching a cricket match live at a stadium, into his own hands.
India was to play Sri Lanka in Mohali in Punjab 550 km to the north and Dharamveer was determined to be there. He set off on a train with nothing, relying on the compassion of fellow passengers and ticket collectors for food and directions. He reached Mohali three days before the match, and make his way to the stadium, waiting outside with the hope that someone, somehow, would give him a ticket. “I hadn’t eaten for two whole days, but it all paid off -- the Indian team came to practice the day before the match, and Mr. Daljit Singh, the pitch curator and a former cricketer, happened to notice me. He saw how much I wanted to watch them play. He took me in”.
Dharamveer Pal fielding during an Indian side's practice session.
Not only did Dharamveer get to watch the team practice, he became an honorary ball boy, fielding from just beyond the boundary line -- something he continues to do at matches 12 years later. Today, any cricket lover in India will recognise his smiling presence -- he's been to Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and the West Indies to support Team India, and TV cameras cut to him at almost every match he attends.
The match in Mohali in 2004 was the beginning of Dharamveer’s incredible cricketing adventure. It took him two years of hitch-hiking across India -- a disabled adolescent with no money, relying only on his own perseverance and resourcefulness, and the goodwill of others -- before he garnered the regular financial support and social recognition he has come to earn as one of Indian cricket’s most dedicated fans.
“By 2006, I’d somehow made it to enough matches that the cricketers started to recognise me and would come up and talk to me. At a match in Faridabad that year Virender Sehwag came up to me. He and Harbhajan Singh wanted to know why I love cricket so much, why I keep coming to support the team. From then on, at every match players would give me their jerseys, bats, and helmets. Moved by my passion for the game, they started offering to help me out financially. MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli — some of the most well known players in Indian cricket -- have acknowledged me and offered to help me”.
Dharamveer recognises the power of his story to challenge the widespread stigma around disability in India. In that country disabled people are among the most excluded -- children are less likely to be in school, adults are less likely to be employed, or to be considered eligible to marry -- and some families even confine disabled relatives to their homes. Social prejudices include the idea that a disability is the result of ones own karma. Little public infrastructure has wheelchair access provisions, and few can afford the long term medical care or equipment that treating a disability may entail.
But Dharamveer’s narrative suggests a glimmer of hope. He said: “All through my journey, people have wanted to help me. On trains, on the road, in the stadiums -- the kindness of strangers has been amazing. They want to help me in whatever way possible. By embracing rather than trying to hide my disability, I’ve been able to turn it into my biggest strength”.
MCG roof walk project canned.
Business Tourism News.
The proposed zip line and roof walk project at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has been canned following detailed research which concluded that the structural impact on the stadium and its associated costs “would greatly exceed initial forecasts”. The concept was proposed in February last year, after the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) secured a $A650,000 (£UK381,425) contribution from the Australian government’s 'Tourism Demand Driver' infrastructure program towards the project.
The MCC’s initial intention was to construct and operate a cross-stadium zip line and roof walk experience for MCG visitors. However in a statement, MCC said: “Extensive consideration of the MCG’s structure, the stadium’s heavy event schedule and safety imperatives has shown that it is not a viable option at this time”. The decision was reached following significant consultation with engineering and design organisations, both in Australia and overseas.
The project was initially estimated to cost around $A2.55 million (£1.5 m) and lure thousands of more visitors to Victoria every year, but operating a standalone roof walk was also deemed not viable at this point in time, the group said. However, MCC chief executive Stuart Fox said: "We remain committed to enhancing the MCG’s tourism offering, and will continue to explore opportunities to complement the existing MCG tour and National Sports Museum”.
Thursday, 20 April 2017
• Essex, Durham reveal opposing views on city-based T20 plans [2108-10692].
• Erasmus, Gaffaney join IPL umpire pool [2108-10693].
Essex, Durham reveal opposing views on city-based T20 plans.
Thursday, 20 April 2017.
Essex have become the second county to announce their intention to stand against the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) proposed new city-based Twenty20 competition, planned for 2020. The ECB’s articles of association need to be altered to remove the right of all 18 counties to play in the new tournament. Essex follow Middlesex in their refusal to support the change which requires the approval of 31 of the ECB's 41 voting members.
But Durham chairman Sir Ian Botham said that for his county: "It's financially very sensible to do it and if we prepare properly and come up with the right formula throughout the  summer - just look at the success of the Big Bash League in Australia and the Indian Premier League - then it's proven that the format has great benefit”.
Essex chairman John Faragher said the County Championship, one-day and T20 competitions "must be protected”. "We are focused on expanding cricket in Essex, East Anglia and Metropolitan London, ensuring there are opportunities for all age and ability groups, male and female, to be actively involved in the game".
"We believe that as a result of the proposed changes, these opportunities will be reduced, that our income overall will suffer and the first-class game will be diminished. [That’s] in contradiction to the ECB's objective which is to grow the game in this country - an objective that is unlikely to be advanced by a competition which would exclude large areas of the country from any involvement in it”.
Middlesex chairman Mike O'Farrell previously said the financial impact of the new tournament on his county "is still very uncertain and contains great risks" (PTG 2104-10670, 14 April 2017).
A number of counties have come out in support of the proposals for the new tournament, with Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Somerset, Sussex and Yorkshire all announcing that they will back the ECB rule change, while others including Glamorgan, Hampshire and Warwickshire have been vocal in their support for a city-based competition.
Kent have asked their members and supporters to give them further feedback before making a decision, while Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart has expressed concern over the details of the new event, as has its first team captain (PTG 2096-10618, 5 April 2017).
Erasmus, Gaffaney join IPL umpire pool.
South African Marais Erasmus and Chris Gaffney of New Zealand have joined the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) umpiring pool for the event’s 2017 season. Erasmus and Gaffney, who are both members of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), will be working under an IPL contract for the seventh and third time respectively, an arrangement that if past indications are a guide could earn them in the order of $A60,000 (£UK35,200) for their troubles (PTG 1896-9508, 10 August 2016).
For Erasmus, who first stood in the IPL in 2009, the current season is his fifth in a row, and the second game he stands in will be his 50th overall on-field in the competition. Gaffney is taking part in the IPL for the third season in a row. The EUP pair join two of their colleagues on that panel in India, the others being Englishman Nigel Llong and India’s Sundarum Ravi. Of the eight other EUP members three, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Bruce Oxenford are currently in the Caribbean for the Windies-Pakistan Test series (PTG 2107-10684, 19 April 2017).
Considerable concern has been expressed across the Indian media, and even in umpiring management circles there, about the standard of some of the umpiring in this year’s IPL (PTG 2106-10681, 18 April 2017). Arrangements for Erasmus and Gaffaney to take part are unlikely to be associated with that though, for their contracts would have been negotiated well before the season began.
Friday, 21 April 2017
• The keeping of scoresheets is wonderful artistry. It needs preserving [2109-10694].
• Former South African international umpire passes away [2109-10695].
• Misbah to be inaugural recipient of PCB Spirit of Cricket Trophy [2109-10696].
• Aussie reprimanded for 'excessive appealing’ [2109-10697].
• Neither players nor BCCI want an Indian player association [2109-10698].
• Drop-in pitches transferred to new Perth Stadium [2109-10699].
The keeping of scoresheets is wonderful artistry. It needs preserving.
Fridy, 21 April 2017.
A beautifully completed, totally-tallying cricket scoresheet is a wonder to behold. The box method, the linear method, top-and-bottom method – these are codes that transport me to another world. I can look at a scorebook from a century ago and decipher the ebb and flow of the game. That is a great joy, and one that we must never lose.
Yet, sadly, the skills in which my fellow scorers and I take such delight are fading, as an array of computer “apps” and software replace time-tested pencil and paper with digital ones and zeros. These programs offer simplicity and ease, and they also mean that our work is broadcast and updated on the internet, where it can be followed, live, by fans around the world.
But that is not quite the same as a permanent record. I have seen scorebooks going back to the 1800s, and my own will themselves be placed in the archive at the County Ground – Somerset’s home – where I hope they in turn will transport future followers of the game, long after I am gone.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for software. But it must be a complement, not a replacement, to the beautiful ledgers of the game that we have today. I am no Luddite, I teach all methods of scoring, including digital ones. But only the traditional, manual methods truly communicate what the game is all about. A computer filling in the blanks does not force you to get to grips with the 42 Laws.
For cricket scoring is not a robotic exercise; it is about a true love of the game. Certainly, every scorer I know must have something akin to obsessive compulsive disorder – we have to make it all add up, to make everything look neat. But there is artistry in our obsession. Some score in colours so details stand out; the feats of individual bowlers, for example, or the batsmen who face them. To some, such colour is itself a new fad, having only arrived in the last 30 years.
I started scoring at school, when I found I was mad keen on the game but was deemed too young to play. I loved it, and when I grew up discovered that I was much better with a pencil than with a bat. When my son started playing I scored for his colts team. They nagged me to get qualified, and I went on from there. Bill Frindall – Bearders in the Test Match Special team – taught me his linear method.
I started with Somerset Under-17s in 2006, moved to the Second XI in 2008; last year I scored all the first team games at the County Ground. I will also do some England games this year. My season started on 19 March and will end on 28 September – in which time I will have watched 120 days of cricket.
The passion remains undimmed, both for traditional scoring and the game itself. It would be a tragedy if the paper and pencil method was lost. It really is something of an art. Each scorer puts their own stamp on it. Some even put a key at the beginning of each scorebook so their particular signs – inverted triangles for a leg bye, perhaps, a cross for a wide – can be decrypted years later. With very fine pens we can make it look really very beautiful.
It is blissful. For when I look up from the scoresheet out towards the square I get to appreciate the great players playing. It’s an absolute joy, the way that the scorer’s handwritten dashes and dots translate the artistry on the field, into a different kind of artwork in the scorebook. And like all great art, we must preserve it.
Former South African international umpire passes away.
Former South African first class player and international umpire Danzel Becker passed away at the age of 69 on Wednesday after a long illness. Becker represented both North Eastern Transvaal and Transvaal in the period from 1968-75, playing 35 first class and 5 List A games, before turning to umpiring after his retirement. Becker made his umpiring debut at first class level in January 1994, standing in a total of 74 such games, plus 103 List A games, 16 of which were One Day Internationals, over an 8-year period. He also served as a match referee in the 1998 Under-19 World Cup series which was played in South Africa.
Misbah to be inaugural recipient of PCB Spirit of Cricket Trophy.
Agence France Press.
Pakistan’s retiring Test player Misbah ul Haq will become the first-ever recipient of the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) new Imtiaz Ahmed Spirit of Cricket Trophy for "his good behaviour during his career”. The PCB announced in February the award was to be named after former Pakistan player Imtiaz Ahmed who dies last December and that it would be warded to "any team, player or official who played the game with its true spirit”.
The decision to choose Misbah as the inaugural recipient was made by a PCB committee chaired by Professor Aijaz Farooqui a member of that organisation's governing board. Other members of that group were Ahsan Raza, who is currently a member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, and PCB match referee Muhammad Anees.
Misbah is expected to be handed the trophy, “together with a cash prize of 500,000 Rupees ($A6,335, £UK3,725), during the PCB's Annual General Meeting in Lahore in early May.
Aussie reprimanded for 'excessive appealing’.
Australian Associated Press.
Australian bowler James Pattinson has been reprimanded by the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) Cricket Discipline Commission for "excessive appealing” during Nottinghamshire's County Championship match against Durham last week. Pattinson admits he "may have overdone it” by going "on a bit too long” when he was denied an LBW against former England batsman Paul Collingwood, an action that resulted in umpires Peter Hartley and Alex Wharf laying a Level One charge against him.
Pattinson said on Australian radio on Thursday: "I had Collingwood plumb LBW and the umpire gave it not out. I think in country cricket you don't get away with as much as you do back home [in Cricket Australia competitions]. It's a bit more strict [here] so I better pull my head in a bit more”. The ECB said in a statement read the "penalty will remain on [Pattinson’s] record for a period of two years and the accumulation of nine or more penalty points in any two-year period will result in an automatic suspension”.
Neither players nor BCCI want an Indian player association.
Buried in Page 30 of the Lodha Committee report is a paragraph about player associations, a seemingly casual recommendation in what is an exhaustive blueprint for dismantling and reconstructing the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This recommendation could prove exceedingly difficult to implement because nobody wants it --- neither players, nor officials.
BCCI officials see this as an irritant that threatens their monopoly over power. Players see it as a worthless perk, a free meal coupon valid at a kebab-only restaurant given to a confirmed vegetarian. Theoretically, player associations unite players and give them an opportunity to participate in governance. Sceptics treat them as glorified trade unions where cricketers agitate for money.
Internationally, player associations operate at two levels. One, where players work closely with officials on the technical side, especially about scheduling, laws, workload, injury prevention/rehab. Second, to represent players about welfare issues, insurance, pensions and general post-career life skills.
With this double role, of ally and watchdog, player bodies can offer constructive support and principled opposition. But yes, the focus is largely around players’ commercial interests when negotiating contracts and salaries.
Started as a First World concept in England, player associations are backed by theInternational Cricket Council (ICC) but India and Bangladesh refuse to play ball. For the BCCI, this is a non-negotiable, sovereignty issue, any suggestion of engaging with a player body is considered sedition. The BCCI’s consistent ‘we are one family’ position was repeated recently when it declared ‘intermediaries’ were not needed to resolve player demands for more money.
Leading Indian players are equally lukewarm towards creating a formal structure to replace the current informal discussion mechanism. All previous attempts (even one that involved Tiger Pataudi, Anil Kumble/ Rahul Dravid and other legends) have failed. Not surprising though because top players have a hotline to senior BCCI officials and the clout to have it their way (PTG 2085-10564, 26 March 2017).
For Virat Kohli, or any India captain, any requirement (pay hike, square turner, rest between games, support staff appointment, new suitcase and chartered flight) is a matter of calling the right number (PTG 2098-10633, 7 April 2017). The system is loaded in favour of so-called star players.
Any player association must factor in two basic truths --- In India, the captain is Rajinikanth [a revered Indian film actor] incarnate. He is the spokesperson, chief negotiator and selector who picks the team and appoints the team coach. The captain of the Indian cricket team is both king and the state, the ultimate all-powerful high command! The Indian team itself is the de-facto player association. It functions like a grievance redressal system for an exclusive club whose membership is restricted to top players.
One drawback of the present system is it excludes domestic cricketers. They are a vote bank waiting for admission into cricket’s parliament. Ironically, it is these first-class players who stand to benefit most from a player association’s welfare measures. Players from humble backgrounds, with limited education and low skills outside cricket, need support to navigate through a professional career and prepare for cricket’s scary afterlife (PTG 2083-10547, 24 March 2017).
Drop-in pitches transferred to new Perth Stadium.
CA web site.
The new Perth Stadium's preparations for hosting Test cricket have hit a significant milestone, with five drop-in pitches successfully transferred to the state-of-the-art venue at Burswood.The lifting and transfer process took approximately 20 hours in total, including setup and preparation time, with three pitches moved on Wednesday and the final two on Thursday.
A crane was used to lift the pitches from the footings where they were grown, before being loaded onto two specialist low-loader vehicles that transferred the 25 metre-long strips to Perth Stadium. A second crane was then used to unload and locate them at the pitch nursery at the Stadium.
Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews said: "This is an exciting milestone and I congratulate all involved in reaching this stage, in particular our Turf Team, led by head curator Matthew Page. The achievements to date on the production of the wickets have been significant and the next phase will be even more so. I have absolute faith that we have the best people possible involved in this project and we continue to expect that we will be able to produce a wicket that provides WA cricket and the wider community with as entertaining a game as possible”.
While a completion date for the new stadium is still unknown – and therefore it is unclear as to whether the venue or the WACA Ground will host this year's Ashes Test in December – the 60,000 seat stadium is set to host all international matches involving England, South Africa and India, as well as all Perth Scorchers matches in Cricket Australia's Big Bash League.
Saturday, 22 April 2017
• CA will lose big if gambling ad bans are modified [2110-10700].
• Serious calf pull ends umpire’s match [2110-10701].
• Fourth PSL player charged by PSB over corruption [2110-10702].
• Former ACA chief challenges CA over players' pay offer [2110-10703].
CA will lose big if gambling ad bans are modified.
Saturday, 22 April 2017.
Cricket is firming as the sport most likely to be upset by a prospective ban on gambling advertising in Australia, as the likelihood increases that the federal government there will relax a previously proposed 'during match’ betting advertising ban so that it only applies after children’s bedtime. Earlier this week news broke that the government is poised to introduce new laws to ban gambling advertising during live sporting events, a move that prompted angry opposition from sporting bodies, which say it will dramatically reduce funds for grassroots sport.
The Australian Football League (AFL), in particular, has been lobbying Communications Minister Mitch Fifield intensely for an 8.30 pm moratorium on the original proposed ban from the start to finish of matches. The AFL and the National Rugby League (NRL) are arguing that an 8.30pm timeslot represents adult viewing time and should be exempt from kid-friendly advertising restrictions, and that from that time sports bet advertising should be allowed.
It is looking increasingly likely that will be the final proposal that will be taken to federal cabinet by Minister Fifield next week, although there are still talks in play about modifications to this position. Cricket authorities have privately expressed concern about the in-match ban as most Test and one-day cricket is played before 8.30 pm, and only the second half of Big Bash League (BBL) matches continue after that time. As such the interest of betting companies in advertising during cricket telecasts is likely to be significantly diminished.
Cricket was seen in some quarters as having the most potential for a growth in revenue from gambling partnerships. Cricket Australia’s (CA) only involvement with gambling companies now is a “gold partnership” with ‘Bet365', believed to be worth $A1 million (£UK588,595) a year. By contrast, both the NRL and AFL have $A60 million-plus five-year deals (£UK35.3 m plus) with the 'Sportsbet' and 'CrownBet' companies.
One cricketing source acknowledged on Friday the night-time relaxation of restrictions would impact cricket more than the AFL and NRL, both of which feature many night-time games throughout the season. “Cricket is the most affected", the source said. “It is also the least invested. We don’t have nearly the partnerships that the NRL and AFL have with betting agencies. It’s not something we’ve pursued because our market is so young". The BBL — possibly the most attractive cricket property for betting agencies — has no partnership with betting agencies.
Serious calf pull ends umpire’s match.
Friday, 21 April 2017.
Tasmanian umpire Darren Close suffered an unfortunately injury early in the third One Day International (ODI) of the Under-19 series between the Australian and Sri Lankans sides in Hobart on Tuesday, a situation that led to an urgent call for a replacement. Close, 49, who stood at first class level thirty years ago and has made a return to umpiring (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016), is reported to have experienced significant pain in his calf muscle while moving out of the way of a ball just 3.3 overs into the game.
It took some 15 minutes before Close could be moved from the field of play, Cricket Australia umpire coach Ian Lock, who is also a former first class umpire taking over at square leg while Close's on-field colleague, Nathan Johnstone stood at both ends. While that was happening match referee Bob Stratford asked Cricket Tasmania for a replacement and they contacted Tasmanian state umpire panel member, Pakistan-born Muhammad Qureshi, at work.
Qureshi immediately left there for home to get his umpiring gear and got to the ground in time to take the field at the start of the match’s 22nd over. He was reportedly “hands free” on his mobile phone as he drove to the match while key points of the Playing Conditions for the U-19 ODI series were read to him.
Close, who had stood in the second ODI of the series two days previously, was so incapacitated he couldn’t drive the 300 km back to his home in Ulverstone on Tasmania’s north-west coast. So on Wednesday Western Australia-based Lock drove him home in his car, and then hired a car to drive back for the remainder of the ODI series (PTG 2044-10358, 10 February 2017).
Fourth PSL player charged by PSB over corruption.
Former Pakistani batsman Shahzaib Hasan on Friday became the fourth player to be formally charged in the spot-fixing scandal that broke out during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February (PTG 2107-10687, 19 April 2017). The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has already charged batsmen Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan plus bowler Muhammad Irfan, and the charges laid against Hasan were released by the PCB's Anti-Corruption Unit in Lahore on Friday.
Shahzaib, who represented Pakistan in the 2009 World Twenty20 Championship in England that the country won, has been charged with a number of breaches of the PCB Anti- Corruption Code. They relate to not providing "full details of any approaches or invitations received by [him] to engage in corrupt conduct”, and “directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach any [the Code’s] provisions”.
Shahzaib has the opportunity to respond to formally the charges in mid-May and PCB may, if it sees fit, file a rebuttal a week after that. The final hearing into the matter is expected to start in early June
Meanwhile, former Pakistan Test captain Aamir Sohail has expressed his reservations about whether the PCB has enough evidence to punish the players. He also called on Najam Sethi, a top official of the PCB, to resign if the Board fails to prove spot-fixing allegations against suspended players. Other former players and critics claim to have been surprised at the PCB anti-corruption unit’s decision to once again call Khalid Latif and Shahzaib for questioning next Wednesday and Thursday.
Former ACA chief challenges CA over players' pay offer.
Tim May, one of the architects of the first collective bargaining agreement between Cricket Australia (CA) and Australia's cricketers, has challenged the board to provide better justification for its desire to end the fixed revenue percentage model that has remained in place over the past 20 years (PTG 2100-10644, 10 April 2017).
In a ‘Cricinfo' column, May took issue with CA's contention that the model had "done its job" of ensuring international male players were the best paid in the country while domestic players are paid competitively relative to other sports. While lauding moves to raise pay for women, he questioned why it had been determined that domestic players in particular must now be locked into a wage.
He did so while noting that every major sport in the United States - where May has been based for more than a decade - makes use of revenue sharing models, invariably offering the players a far higher percentage of revenue than the figure of around 26 per cent Australia's cricketers have been entitled to since that first deal was struck with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) in 1998. May wondered why CA wished to break it up at a time when domestic players were about to provide a greater share of the game's revenue - via the Big Bash League - than ever before.
"For the past two decades CA and ACA have built a culture of players and administrators working together to grow the game and share in its success - but now with this success moving to a new level, one party no longer wants to play ball”, May wrote. "The stakes here are high. CA's position threatens to set back by decades the relationship between players and administrators".
"To change the system so radically, it needs to provide a valid and compelling argument. The onus is on the board, not the players. CA needs to explain why, for 20 years, the revenue-sharing model has worked so successfully and yet now it suddenly can't work. It's a tough one for it because, as far as I can see, there really isn't a valid argument”.
In 1998, May worked alongside James Sutherland, who was then the commercial manager at what was then the Australian Cricket Board (ACB), to sort out the finer details of the deal that has remained in place with minimal changes over the past two decades, most of which have seen Sutherland in place as CA's chief executive.
Having observed the way the game is changing, particularly via the emergence of Twenty20 leagues across the globe, May argued that the model is now more valuable than ever, providing the players with a genuine stake in the game down under that helps to dissuade some from simply pursuing T20 competitions year-round. At the same time it means the cost to CA rises or falls depending on the total amount of money being raked in, rather than putting pressure on the board in the event of a tour cancellation, or the boycotts like the one threatened by India in early 2008 (PTG 172-919, 9 January 2008).
"The uncertainty of projected revenues was one of the main reasons that the ACB agreed to the introduction of the revenue-sharing model in the first place”, May wrote. "It's of massive benefit for them. Ask any business if they would like to make their largest expense variable and I suspect they would jump at the chance. For CA to imply that the shared risk-and-reward ideology is outdated is nonsense. Far from being obsolete, it is more relevant now than perhaps any time in the past 20 years".
"Scheduling disputes, unforeseen circumstances and uncertainty around International Cricket Council distributions can play havoc with projected revenues, placing CA in danger of not being able to meet other obligations, such as development of the game. In 2008, when the Indian team threatened to go home after the Sydney Test, CA faced a revenue black hole amounting to tens of millions in TV rights.
"Uncertainty to do with global issues is a genuine concern. These days we have heightened security challenges and the spectre of terrorism. There is the possibility the international cricket schedule could be affected, leaving Australia in a bind. These are valid and sensible current arguments to keep player expenses in line with the fluctuations of revenue”.
Monday, 24 April 2017
• ICC propose three-year championship as part of revamp [2111-10704].
• Aussie players still frustrated by lack of financial detail [2111-10705].
ICC propose three-year championship as part of revamp.
Monday, 24 April 2o017.
A Test championship played over three years will be among the latest proposals put forward at an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting this week in an attempt to save the future of international cricket, which the players’ union has warned is facing its biggest threat from Twenty20 leagues.
The proposal will be discussed in Dubai on Monday and has the backing of England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa but is hitting a wall of resistance from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Indian opposition is mainly centred around the reorganisation of the ICC’s financial structure, rather than the changes to international cricket. A new future tours program that will provide a fixture list after 2019 is close to agreement but in India there is little support for the new revenue model. There have even been reports that India will threaten to pull out of June’s Champions Trophy in England if the changes go through, although this is not being taken seriously by officials at the moment.
However, the ICC cannot afford more dithering, with the number of Twenty20 leagues on the rise. The closing date for votes to change the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) constitution to allow the new tournament is Monday, with the result likely to be announced on Wednesday. The ECB will receive the mandate it is looking for with only two counties, Essex and Middlesex, likely to vote against the proposal (PTG 2108-10692, 20 April 2017).
Tony Irish, the chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations said: “This is a crucial time for decision-making at the ICC. A Test league and an One Day International league between countries must be introduced. If that doesn’t happen, then international cricket, including Test cricket, will increasingly go backwards across the globe”.
English cricket has been somewhat isolated from the problems hitting Test cricket around the world. Test matches in England still attract healthy crowds but part of the reason why the ECB is pushing through its new Twenty20 plans is to protect the game from expected fall in broadcast revenue for international cricket.
In England, the ECB pays players well to play Test cricket and almost all will describe it as their main ambition. But elsewhere around the world Test crowds are waning and, in some countries, players are prioritising Twenty20 leagues over international cricket because that is where they can earn more money.
This will become apparent in England this summer. AB De Villiers will not be playing Test cricket for South Africa against England but is currently playing a full Indain Premier League season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“The alternative cricket market of T20 leagues is growing and flourishing”, said Irish. “These leagues are good for the game but, with the exception of the cricket World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20, which are all good events, international cricket is simply not keeping up. For the whole game to flourish, the ICC must a find a way for international cricket and the leagues to co-exist in a coherent overall structure,” said Irish. “With the right collective will this is possible. The time for it is now”.
Aussie players still frustrated by lack of financial detail.
Sunday, 23 April 2017.
The pay dispute between Australia's top cricketers and their governing body remains far from over, with players increasingly frustrated by the lack of detail in the Cricket Australia (CA) submission. It's understood the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), or players’ union, has sought outside help in assessing future financial returns, including from a new broadcast rights deal from 2018 and the locally hosted WorldTwenty20 in 2020, as it prepares to respond to CA's submission that was tabled in March.
Players say their response has been hampered by the lack of detail in the 28-page document in which CA outlines how it wants players to share in $A419 million (£UK247) of payments over the next five years. This plan has the top women players earning more than $A200,000 a year (£117,730).
Former ACA chief Tim May has again bought into the argument, detailing why the set percentage model, introduced in 1997, should remain (PTG 2110-10703, 22 April 2017). May also argues that "CA's position threatens to set back by decades the relationship between players and administrators" should it continue to insist domestic cricketers are no longer included in the model.
However, it's understood CA does not believe ongoing tensions will divide the two parties, arguing they are in agreement over many things and their partnership is more than just about pay. But May's comments were endorsed by Australian mens’ captain Steve Smith and his womens’ counterpart Meg Lanning on social media, highlighting how unified the players are in their bid to retain the status quo.
CA's formal submission for a new memorandum of understanding for men and, for the first time, women, has CA-contracted male (up to $A16 million - £9.4 m) ) and female players (up to $4 million - (£2.35 m) ) sharing in a percentage of revenue. But CA argues that it's no longer feasible for Sheffield Shield cricketers to share in these spoils, although they will continue to be paid well.
It's understood players have yet to discuss strike action, in part because if a new deal is not signed by 30 June, and an extension not agreed upon by both parties, they will be off contract anyway. Players, keen for a new deal to be done by June's Champions Trophy in England, could go on series-by-series contracts should a deal not be brokered by the new financial year. The first series impacted would be the women's World Cup in July and an Australia A tour of South Africa.
Should there be no resolution by June 30, it's likely to impact on CA's promotional plans ahead of an Ashes summer (PTG 2092-10597, 1 April 2017).
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
• Application of new disciplinary Law needs discussion [2112-10706].
• Final hurdle cleared for ECB T20 shake-up [2112-10707].
• Kent abstains from T20 franchise vote [2112-10708].
• BCB looking at ACSU report on ‘biased umpiring’ match [2112-10709].
• Child sex offender worked at schools association with ECB permission [2112-10710].
• Aussie broadcaster facing uphill battle to retain BBL rights [2112-10711].
• What science tells us about mysteries of swing bowling [2112-10712].
Application of new disciplinary Law needs discussion.
When I sat an umpiring exam many moons ago we were told to make liberal use of Law 43 – in other words basic common sense. The best officials in any sport are those who keep sight of the human element, understanding that games were invented by fallible people for fallible people. A smile or a nod or a quiet word is frequently more effective in handing a potentially tricky situation than battering players around the head with the book of rules…or laws.
But the 2017 Northamptonshire Premier League (NPL) season may be the last without umpires having the authority to instruct – not request – a captain to remove one of his players from the field, for either a stipulated period or the rest of the match. The idea of introducing ‘red and yellow cards’ into cricket has been around for a while, but now we have the details of the Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) approach (PTG 2068-10464, 8 March 2017). The new Law 42 – titled ‘Player Conduct’ – will come into force in October (PTG 2102-10650, 12 April 2017).
That particular Law change has been driven by an MCC committee that includes former Northamptonshire opener Alan Fordham who is currently the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Head of Cricket Operations for the first-class game. Frankly, he is not a chap who was likely to fall foul of such sanctions in his playing days.
Recreational competitions and leagues like the NPL will need to decide whether to implement all aspects of the new Law 42 in any, some or all of their respective divisions. Long-time Northamptonshire official Paul Joy, who has sat in a number of national Board meetings on the subject said: “It could depend on whether there’s any inducement or pressure from ECB. Personally I think they need to be careful, but the ECB has influence here because they provide funding for their Premier Leagues".
“That said, there was no pressure brought to bear a few years ago when five-run penalties were introduced for incidents of unfair play including time-wasting and ball-tampering. When that occurred it was agreed in the NPL that they would only be enforced in those divisions in which panel umpires were managing matches. Today though, there has to be a discussion about whether a similar ‘cut-off point’ is needed for the new Law 42. And it’s not just about the umpires. The captains will also need to be made aware of their responsibilities".
Joy, who is someone who may end up having to go out and explain the changes to clubs on behalf of the ECB, agrees with the contention that imposing the new Law in NPL divisions where non-playing umpires – let alone qualified ones – are the exception rather than the rule would be an absolute minefield.
The new Law 42 makes it clear that if penalties are imposed – whether five runs or ‘sending-offs’ – these must be reported "to the Governing Body responsible for the match”. This potentially opens up a fresh can of worms. An experienced NPL panel umpire said recently that one of the biggest plus-points of the new Law is that the ‘innocent’ team benefits immediately if an opposing player is guilty of bad behaviour, either in the scorebook or by getting him or her off the pitch. But let’s suppose a bowler throws a huge wobbly in the first over of the match and is banished for the remaining 99 or whatever. Is that sufficient punishment, or should the league’s disciplinary committee still get involved?
Joy’s concern in that regard is that someone incurring penalties on a regular basis – a ‘repeat offender’ – might not be picked up by officials if the reporting mechanism doesn’t work properly. “The laws of cricket only deal with what’s happening here and now – there has to be a whole process about what happens next”, he says.
"You must remember that the five-run penalties except for the ball hitting a helmet are also reportable offences – so it could be a busy time for disciplinary committees! Initially I wasn’t sure about the whole idea of taking action on the pitch, but having listened to people around the table at lots of meetings I think it had to come. I know Alan Fordham hopes it never has to be used at first-class level because it would be splashed across the back pages if it was”.
As was indeed the case recently when the ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission, another organisation Joy is involved with, imposed a 16-point penalty and a fine on Leicestershire – whose captain Mark Cosgrove also landed a ban – following a series of conduct issues (PTG 2098-10631, 7 April 2017).
I’m certain NPL officials, clubs and umpires will give the new Law serious consideration in the coming months. For what it’s worth, my own view is that adopting it in divisions without panel umpires would make the task of persuading former players to don the white coat and help out their club on a Saturday afternoon even harder than it is already. Ultimately, though, the solution rests with the players. As we head into another NPL season let’s hope the old Law 43 – incorporating Law 43.1 (It’s Only a Game) – continues to thrive.
Final hurdle cleared for ECB T20 shake-up.
Monday, 24 April 2017.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new city-based Twenty20 tournament looks certain to go ahead after the board received enough votes in favour of changing its constitution to allow eight completely new teams, and run them as separate entities from any of the existing county clubs. A change to the ECB constitution is required because at present it only allows competitions in which all 18 first-class counties take part.
To change the constitution, the ECB requires “yes” votes from at least 31 of its 41 constituent members, which comprises the 18 first-class counties, the Marylebone Cricket Club, the Minor Counties Cricket Association and 21 recreational cricket boards.
The deadline for postal ballots is Tuesday and the ECB is not officially opening any of the envelopes until then, but it is understood it has already received enough positive votes to trigger the change without it needing to be discussed further at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in two weeks. Only Middlesex and Essex have publicly stated that they have voted against the changes (PTG 2108-10692, 20 April 2017), and it is anticipated that, at most, only two other first-class counties will vote against, or either not vote at all (PTG 2112-10708 below).
The development means that the ECB can go ahead with issuing an invitation to tender to all broadcasting outlets interested in bidding for the television rights for this competition, the other domestic tournaments and England internationals between 2020 and 2024. The tender document will be issued following the AGM. It is understood that interested parties will then be given a six week window in which to submit their bids with the preferred bidders appointed by the end of June. The winning bidders are expected to be involved in deciding the locations of the new T20 teams.
The ECB is hopeful that it will receive bids that could be worth between £UK230-£250 million per year ($A389-423 m) for five years from 2020 to 2024 (PTG 2089-10577, 29 March 2017), which represents three times as much as the £75 million ($A127 m) it receives annually from Sky Sports for exclusive coverage of all live cricket in England at present.
In addition to the changes to the constitution to allow for the setting up of the new T20 competition, the ECB is undertaking a full review of its governance and the Memorandum of Understanding it has with the first-class counties.
Kent abstains from T20 franchise vote.
Kent will not support the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) plans for the new city-based franchise T20 competition (PTG 2112-10707 above). The club revealed on Monday that after studying feedback from supporters they will abstain in the ECB ballot that calls for a change to the national body’s constitution that would allow the proposed eight-team series, the only option open to the club other than backing the proposal.
Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford said: “Whilst Kent Cricket does not wish to be at odds with the ECB, the proposals for the future direction of the game as they stand are such that the club cannot actively endorse them. The club has taken the view that an abstention is the appropriate reaction to the proposed change of ECB articles. We believe that our stance reflects the anxiety there is amongst non-Test match grounds - those unlikely to host new teams – that their role as active players in the future of the game is at risk. However, understanding that it is now inevitable that the proposals will receive the support that they need to be enacted, we hope that we might act as a 'critical friend’ in their further development”.
Clifford said he hopes the 'inevitable' changes can be altered to ensure the game benefits, adding: "There are far-reaching consequences to what is proposed and we hope that the plans will now evolve to the overall betterment of the whole game in England and Wales and that ECB’s hoped for outcomes around the profile of the game, participation and finance are delivered".
“Everyone at [Kent] is a passionate supporter of the game. We want it to thrive in all its forms. There is no way, as cricket lovers, that we will seek to obstruct or derail the game's future direction. You can expect that we will do all we can to make sure that it continues to flourish. Part of the evolution must be to ensure that county cricket is at the game’s heart long into the future. To see first-class counties reduced to bit-part players will not be an acceptable outcome - no matter how high the profile of the new Twenty20 competition. Kent Cricket has a long, proud and rich history and our supporters should be reassured that we will do all we can to protect that”.
BCB looking at ACSU report on‘biased umpiring’ match.
Last week a second division cricket match in Bangladesh unexpectedly grabbed the attention of the cricketing world, the reason being visible in the scorecard of that game. It showed a bowler conceded 92 runs off just four balls, delivering wides and no-balls until the game was over. That was done, claimed a representative of the bowler’s team, to protest the "biased umpiring” the side had experienced in its innings (PTG 10660, 13 April 2017).
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan indicated on Sunday that the board's the Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) had already submitted a report regarding the ’92 runs in four balls’ match, and that the BCB had formed a three-member committee to look into the matter. "This issue has received international coverage and that's not good for our cricket. We are taking this up seriously”, said Hassan.
Hassan has met with the BCB's umpires' committee to discuss the issue. As a result it has been decided that video cameras will now be used during all first and second division matches played around the country so that the performance of umpires can be assessed. Hassan said: "If required I will bring trainers from the International Cricket Council to train and improve our umpires".
There have been talks in the past about how Bangladesh's clubs and cricketing organisers influence umpires, and how umpires are scared of various club officials.
Hassan said: "Look, forget the clubs [and] the organisers. If you want to do well in the future, you have to have a strong umpiring community. If you remove umpires after each complaint, it won't do you any good. Already umpires are fearful of clubs and directors. You have to make umpires and match referees more powerful. We need a review system to assess the umpires. If you don't have that then how can you say whether an umpire is biased or is not working properly. Because of the cameras, there will be a check and balance”.
Child sex offender worked at schools association with ECB permission.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) child protection policies are likely to come under close scrutiny after it emerged a convicted child sex offender worked at a schools cricket association with written permission from the ECB, and also attended junior cricket festivals in the company of an ECB executive. That news comes five months after the ECB asked Jane Stichbury, a former senior police officer, to review “current processes and practices around safeguarding” young people (PTG 2002-10117, 12 December 2016).
The trial of Wasim Aslam for breach of a barring order forbidding him from coming into contact with children was dropped this month when the Child Protection Service withdrew its prosecution after deciding to offer no evidence. Aslam, who was previously known as Wasim Majid, had been imprisoned for four years in 2004 after being convicted of indecent assault on two boys while working as a teacher. At the time he was described by the trial judge as “posing a significant amount of risk” to children.
Despite this, and despite the ECB being aware of his conviction, correspondence that has come to light shows Aslam was deemed a suitable person under current ECB guidelines to work as fixtures secretary at the prestigious London Schools Cricket Association (LSCA), a charity concerned solely with promoting children’s cricket.
London Schools has an illustrious history, with Denis Compton, Graham Gooch, Alastair Cook and Eoin Morgan among its former players. Aslam had been a coach there before his conviction, though there is no suggestion he committed any offences at the club. In 2012 he returned as fixtures secretary.
In December 2014 the ECB’s child welfare Referral Management Group (RMG) reviewed Aslam’s case having been made aware of his presence at the LSCA. It was at this point the ECB granted Aslam permission to continue in the role, with the condition he did nothing at the schools‑based cricket body that brought him into contact with children.
Aslam went on to break the ECB’s condition, attending a series of junior age group cricket festivals featuring among others, county age group teams from Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The collapsed trial related to his presence last northern summer at a festival at Oundle School. A tip-off from a concerned parent in September 2016 led to newspaper reports and from there a police investigation.
The LSCA has since been widely criticised for using Aslam even in an administrative role. In the past few weeks the LSCA chairman and its president, John Barclay, a former chairman of the Marylebone Cricket Club, have both left their posts in an attempt to offer coaches, players and parents a fresh start.
A charitable volunteer organisation devoted to spreading cricket in the inner city, the LSCA continues to carry all the blame for Aslam’s presence. Some counties refused to engage over the winter with its now reconfigured executive. However, correspondence sighted by this journalist shows Aslam was working at the LSCA with the explicit written approval of the ECB’s child protection committee, permission that was shared with LSCA officials and taken as a rubber stamp for his presence.
An ECB letter addressed to Aslam on 5 December 2014 acknowledges “in 2003 you were convicted of indecent assault of two boys”. It also states: “On 3 December 2014 the ECB RMG meeting convened in order to discuss and review information that may have implications in terms of safeguarding children in cricket. The RMG’s role is to consider … the ECB’s duty of care to all children in cricket”.
The letter concludes that it would be acceptable for Aslam to work as fixtures secretary at an organisation that takes boys on trust from schools, counties and clubs.
In an odd twist Aslam had been assisted at the junior age group festivals by an ECB executive. Nick Cousins, senior executive of the ECB young scorers and umpires association, is listed in the brochure from the 2015 Under-12 Oundle festival as “Nick Cousins (ECB)” just below Aslam at the top of the organisers’ credits. In a further coincidence Cousins was also a coach at London Schools in the late 1990s at the same time as Aslam. However, Cousins says he had no recollection of ever meeting Aslam before 2012, despite managing an age group team at the association simultaneously.
Shown a 2011 email from his ECB account that begins “Hi Waz, long time no see”, Cousins re-stated that he had no memory of meeting Aslam and that this was likely to be a polite response to a prior telephone inquiry. Cousins also stated that he had no knowledge of Aslam’s conviction when he worked with him on junior age group cricket festivals and therefore had no cause to report his presence to the ECB’s child welfare officers.
Aslam’s trial, which took place after Cousins had left the LSCA, was widely reported at the time and became something of a cause célèbre before his conviction as he maintained his innocence. To its credit the ECB is widely acknowledged to have been rigorous in its child protection policies, introducing the 'Safe Hands' procedure now adopted by many clubs.
In a statement a ECB spokesperson said the national body "is totally committed to ensuring a safe environment in the game for everyone. We have clear and well-established safeguarding policies and procedures that are continually checked and challenged to ensure they are robust. At no time did ECB authorise the individual to work directly with children and during the investigation additional steps were taken to ensure that could not happen".
“Nevertheless there are always important learnings to be taken. While we made it clear to the LSCA that the individual must not undertake any role that involves contact with children, stated this directly to the individual and liaised with the appropriate authorities, the restrictions we put in place were not properly adhered to”.
The ECB said that in response to the Aslam case it would be increasing its focus and resources in this area: “We have looked further at the way we audit the management of such cases and, as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure our safeguarding work is as strong as possible, have recently increased the resource on this within the ECB safeguarding team”.
In spite of this questions will still be asked at a time when sport and child welfare has become a wider societal issue. One issue of concern lies in the highly specific background checks requirement. Currently the ECB issues a list of job descriptions that require a Disclosure and Barring Service check, along with a list of those that do not. The non-vetted roles include club chairman, fixtures secretary, barman and groundsman, providing these roles do not involve contact with children.
This leaves obvious loopholes, just as in practice very few roles in a cricket club with a colts section do not involve contact with children. The cost and convenience of restricting those who require a police check to a lower standard than, for example, a school, must now be measured against the fact it has been possible for a child sex offender to work at a schools cricket organisation with full ECB approval.
Aussie broadcaster facing uphill battle to retain BBL rights.
Australian broadcaster Channel Ten may need to pay more than the station is worth if it is to retain rights to Cricket Australia's (CA) Big Bash League (BBL). The Ten company's challenging financial predicament means its hold on the cherished rights to the mega-rating Twenty20 competition are under extreme threat from broadcasting rival Channel Nine.
Ten paid $A100 million (£UK59.2 m) for a five-year deal which expires at the end of next season. That contract was called “the bargain of the century’’ by television executives, but there will be nothing cheap about the next deal with CA hoping to get as much as $A250 million (£148 m) for the same period.
On Monday, Ten’s market worth was $A166 million (£98 m) after a rugged year which has featured poor ratings and the looming challenge of a $A200 million (£118 m) debt repayment deadline of 23 December. The station faces the difficult prospect of having to “sell the farm’’ to stay in the hunt to retain the BBL or let it go and loose not just a huge ratings winner but a crucial promotion vehicle for its own shows.
Ten is part owned by Foxtel and there is a possibility that Fox Sports could share the financial load in a bidding war against Nine. But unlike rugby league and Australian Rules Football, where Fox is happy to screen matches also broadcast by free to air stations, Fox would only be interested in the deal if it could get exclusive rights to some matches, which could sell subscriptions and be sure-fire ratings winners.
Nine has declared it will chase the BBL rights hard as well as trying to retain rights for international matches it has held for more than three decades (PTG 2106-10683, 18 April 2017).
What science tells us about mysteries of swing bowling.
Swing bowling. A phenomenon as baffling to explain as it is to negotiate. The young Yorkshire bowler Ben Coad has taken 22 wickets with it in five early-season innings for his county. This English summer, which for the first time has balls of three different colours (and two makes) in use in county matches, the issue is more complicated than ever: which balls swing the most, when, and most importantly, why? After a day spent testing balls in a wind tunnel at the University of Bath, I hope that I have the answers.
There are many myths and fallacies about swing. The wind tunnel immediately dispelled a principal one, that moist, humid air will encourage swing. It was bone dry inside the machine, yet some balls swung prodigiously. Humidity is largely irrelevant, but cloud cover is a big influence. Swing, as every bowler knows, is a very fragile art conditional on various factors. One is the stability of the air directly above the pitch, to a height of, say, three metres. The sun shining on the surface generates heat and convection currents rise disrupting that stability. That is why the ball swings considerably less on a sunny day. Cloud cover blocks the sun, preventing the ground from heating up; there is no convection and therefore the stable air is likely to be more conducive to swing.
Darkness can, of course, have the same effect. During Middlesex’s Champion County match against a Marylebone Cricket Club XI in Abu Dhabi last month, batsmen became spooked in what became known as the “twilight hour” as the pink ball dipped and swung around. Wickets fell at regular intervals. There is a whole round of day-night County Championship matches in late June as England prepare for the first-ever pink ball Test against West Indies at Edgbaston in August. Expect a glut of wickets at about sunset.
Professor Gary Lock, the head of mechanical engineering at Bath, gives lectures on the aerodynamics of a cricket ball and, under his guidance, we experimented with a variety of balls of different colours in varying states. Each ball was inserted on to a thin metal arm in the wind tunnel that was connected to a number of sensors measuring the deviations of the ball as the wind was blown towards it, simulating a ball being bowled fast through the air. The speed was regularly cranked up to 100mph.
One of the keys to swing is the slight tilting of the seam in the direction of intended movement. The ridge on the seam “trips” the air coming towards it, creating turbulence in a thin layer around the ball on the rougher side. That causes drag and the ball is pulled off its straight-line path. Keeping the other side smooth and shiny enhances this effect as the air slips past that side, known as laminar flow.
I sucked a mint and added sugary saliva to the shiny side of a ‘Dukes' ball about 40 overs old. After polishing, it swung more consistently and at higher speeds. Bowlers have been doing this for years, of course. 'Murray Mints' are best. Note to Faf du Plessis, the South Africa Test captain: just don’t do it by transferring your finger straight from mint to ball, especially when there are about 38 TV cameras watching (PTG 2010-10163, 22 December 2016).
It was noticeable that the white (and pink) ‘Kookaburra' balls swung far less than the red ‘Dukes'. This is borne out by the experience of most one-day batsmen around the globe who flay the white ball about with alacrity, much to the chagrin of their red-ball counterparts who have to handle frequent and prodigious deviation. The reason for this is explained by Dilip Jajodia, the owner of ‘Dukes'.
“Our Dukes balls are hand-stitched in Pakistan and the stitching is done forwards and backwards so that the seam is thicker and prouder compared to ‘Kookaburra' balls, which are machine-stitched in one direction only”, he says. [The seam creates a rudder on the ball that controls swing]. "Also, we add grease to the leather for red English balls to make them more water-resistant so you can achieve a better polish than on an Australian-made ‘Kookaburra' which does not have the grease added.”
‘Kookaburra' balls are still used for all International Cricket Council tournaments, which is why every country plays with the white ‘Kookaburra' in their domestic competitions, but interestingly Australia used the red ‘Dukes' for the second half of their 2016-17 Sheffield Shield season. Pink ‘Dukes' will be used for the day-night matches in England this summer.
Now we come to the complex phenomenon of reverse swing. This happens when a ball becomes scuffed and cut on a dry, cracked pitch. In such conditions teams are good at (legally) allowing the rough side of the ball to become badly damaged while still looking after the shiny side. At some point, usually at about 40 overs, the ball held for a conventional outswinger — seam tilted to the left, shiny side on the right — starts curving the opposite way if it is bowled at high pace.
Essentially this is due to the air around the very rough side becoming so turbulent that it forces the movement — swing — in the other direction. We watched this happen in the wind tunnel. An older ball scuffed up on one side swung in a conventional direction until the speed was about 75mph and then it began to reverse swing. A tennis ball with tape stuck to one side does this at almost any speed.
Professor Lock illustrated that this could happen even to a relatively new ball with a bit of appropriate doctoring — applying a few scrapes of sandpaper to one side — although again the pace has to be above 80mph. Players have experimented with sandpaper attached to the inside of their shirt cuffs for this purpose, though of course this is illegal.
So, to sum up, Dukes balls generally swing more because of the prouder seam and more-polishable leather but the seam should be tilted to 15 degrees for best results and maintained in that position as the ball flies towards the batsman. A wobbling seam will nullify swing. Both types of ball will reverse swing with the right sort of abrasions and if bowled at high speed.
An old ragged ball damaged on both sides that had been at the bottom of my bag for years moved not a jot in the wind tunnel even at 100mph. This was reassuring as I remember how consistently it had flown straight on to, and off, the middle of a succession of Somerset players’ bats. It is still really a batsman’s game.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
• CSA charges seventh person with 2015 T20 corruption [2113-10713].
• ’No toss’ to the fore in opening County Championship games [2113-10714].
• Protest looms over abandoned two-day match [2113-10715].
• No sign yet of ICC 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’ [2113-10716].
• ‘Deliberate physical contact’ sees player lose half his Test match fee [2113-10717].
• IPL captain fined after second dissent charge [2113-10718].
• BCCI rejects ICC chair’s reported offer of additional $US100 m [2113-10719].
• Revive Test crowds by getting rid of draws: Lara [2113-10720].
CSA charges seventh person with 2015 T20 corruption.
Former South Africa fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe has been charged by Cricket South Africa (CSA) with several breaches of its Anti-Corruption Code relating to the CSA’s 2015 domestic Twenty20 series after an investigation that began over a year ago (PTG 1772-8849, 26 February 2016). As a result he has also been provisionally suspended from any involvement in cricket under the jurisdiction of CSA, the International Cricket Council (ICC) or any its members.
The charges include "contriving to fix or otherwise improperly influence” matches during the T20 tournament and follows the previous bans handed to six players, including former Test wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile and batsman Alviro Petersen. Others are: Seeking to accept, accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe or reward to fix or contrive to fix a match or matches; Failing to disclose the receipt of a gift or payment to him related to match fixing; and Failing to disclose full details of any approaches or invitations to engage in corrupt conduct.
CSA said in a media release: "The charges against Tsotsobe follows a lengthy investigation which started around October 2015 by CSA's Anti-Corruption Unit, and the previous findings and bans imposed on Gulam Bodi, Jean Symes, Pumi Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati, Thami Tsolekile and Alviro Petersen for [corruption-related] offences [during] the 2015 T20 Challenge Series. To date Tsotsobe has not been under any form of suspension, [but] CSA has now provisionally suspended Tsotsobe from playing, coaching or otherwise being involved in any capacity in any match under [CSA, ICC or ICC member] jurisdiction”.
CSA has previously banned Bodi, the alleged instigator of the corruption, for 20-years, and players Tsolekile (for 12), Matshikwe (10), Mbhalati (10), Symes (7) and Petersen (2) (PTG 2010-10164, 22 December 2016)
Tsotsobe, 33, played five Tests, 61 One Day Internationals and 23 Twenty20 Internationals for South Africa in an international career that ran from 2009-14. Overall he played 61 first-class matches, 144 List A games and 77 T20s over a 11-year career; the last of those domestic games being in December 2015.
’No toss’ to the fore in opening County Championship games.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017.
Three-quarters of the 24 County Championship matches played this April have seen the toss done away with as the visiting side elected to bat first. A year ago, after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to give visitors that option in its domestic first class competitions (PTG 1698-8376, 28 November 2015), of the 18 matches that were played that April, only 8 or 44 per cent, saw away teams taking the ‘no toss’ option.
In the Championship’s 11 Division One games this month, 7 had no toss, while in Division Two a hefty 11 of the 13 matches had no coin spin. In Division One Yorkshire has elected to have no toss twice, and all the other sides once each, the exceptions being Lancashire and Middlesex who are yet avail themselves of that option. Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire have twice chosen to bat first in Division Two, while of the other eight sides all except Kent have done so once.
Raw statistics for the 2016 ECB season indicated that visiting sides who took up their right to bowl without contesting the toss had a much better chance of winning outright than when they decided to let the toss proceed in the time honoured manner (PTG 1931-9707, 25 September 2016). This year to date though the outcome is more even for of the 13 outright wins that followed a ‘no toss’ situation, home sides have won 6 and away sides 7.
Protest looms over abandoned two-day match.
The Daily Observer.
The Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association’s (ABCA) All Saints Cricket Club (ASCC) could be filing a protest over an umpire’s decision to abandon play in the two-day match against Pigotts Crushers in the ABCA competition over the weekend, if they lose points as a result of the official’s call. ASCC president Justin Joseph says the club is currently investigating the circumstances under which the game was abandoned before start of play on the second day.
All Saints were to resume play on Sunday with a lead of 51 runs after posting 204 on day one after Pigotts made 153 in their first innings. Joseph admitted that his team should take some blame in the debacle. “We showed up late and there is no excuse for [that]. We are the home team, we know what time the game should start and we should have been there”. However, Joseph hinks "the way the situation was handled was very unfortunate and [there may be] some grounds to appeal on. I am still investigating the matter and so, until I get full details on the matter, I will not divulge into it”.
So far unconfirmed reports state that the result could swing in favour of All Saints as the match referee’s report could state that the match was, in fact, abandoned by Pigotts who refused to take the field.
No sign yet of ICC 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’.
Four months after the closing date for applications, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is yet to announce just who will become its first 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’. An advertisement circulated late last year indicated that the successful applicant 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 (PTG 2045-10361, 11 February 2017).
The ICC said then that 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 its third-tier Development Panel. There was 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".
Those who apply for the new position are expected to have had coaching experience in a relevant 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”.
‘Deliberate physical contact’ sees player lose half his Test match fee.
West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel has been fined 50 per cent of his match fee and handed three demerit points after an incident involving Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed on the fourth day the sides’ opening Test of the series in Jamaica. At the end of the 103rd over of Pakistan's first innings, which was Gabriel's 22nd, he deliberately made contact with Sarfraz at the non-striker's end when collecting his cap from umpire Richard Illingworth who then had a word with Gabriel.
Illingworth, along with his on-field colleague Richard Kettledborough and television umpire Bruce Oxenford, later reported the incident and Gabriel was found to have engaged in "Inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with a Player, Player Support Personnel, Umpire, Match Referee or any other Person (including a spectator) in the course of play during an International Match”. Gabriel admitted the offence and accepted the sanction from match referee Chris Broad so there was no need for a hearing.
IPL captain fined after second dissent charge.
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma has been fined half of his match fee for showing dissent at an umpire's decision during his side's India Premier League (IPL) match against Rising Pune Supergiant in Mumbai on Monday. After the game match referee Javagal Srinath found Rohit guilty of a Level One offence which was his second for dissent during the current IPL season (PTG 2101-10648, 11 April 2017).
The incident occurred during the final over of Mumbai's chase of 161 with 11 needed off four balls. Sharma shuffled across the stumps to Jaydev Unadkat, who pushed a slower delivery outside off stump. On seeing that the ball was well away from the guideline for wide deliveries, Rohit stopped playing a shot. However, umpire Sundarum Ravi did not call it a wide and Rohit gesticulated animatedly and remonstrated with him before the square-leg umpire, A Nand Kishore, intervened.
Sharma was charged with “arguing or entering into a prolonged discussion with the Umpire about his decision”. IPL regulations say: "It shall not be a defence to [such a] charge to show that the Umpire might have, or in fact did, get any decision wrong”.
One Mumbai player was quoted as saying: "Rohit's behaviour was natural. As a captain, as a player, when the game is so close, it comes automatically; nobody does it deliberately. I don't think there was anything wrong with his behaviour. [What] happens on the field remains on the field. In this format, in close games, this will happen in the future as well. You should respect the umpire's decision as well as whatever Rohit did that was completely natural”.
BCCI rejects ICC chair’s reported offer of additional $US100 m.
The revenue model feud between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) continued on Tuesday with the Indian cricket body outrightly rejecting the world body’s offer of an additional $US100 million ($A133 m, £UK780 m) in the proposed format. “Yes, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar gave us an offer of an additional $US100 m in the new financial model. In fact, he gave us a deadline to get back to him. From our end, we won’t get back to him as we don’t even consider it an offer”, said a senior BCCI source who is present in Dubai.
Asked why the offer is not being considered, the official blamed it on the trust deficit between Manohar and the BCCI. “The offer came from Manohar. He is the chairman but the ICC is a members’ body and the chairman doesn’t decide who gets what share of the pie. It’s the members who decide. We are still working on the formula with all nations. They are receptive. Mr Manohar doesn’t decide what should be BCCI’s share”, the official added.
The BCCI has been at loggerheads with the ICC on the proposed revenue model which cuts down considerably on India’s share (PTG 2043-10350, 9 February 2017). In the existing revenue distribution model, the BCCI receives $US579 million ($A769 m, £452 m) from the ICC. If the current proposal is passed by the ICC, then the BCCI’s share will halve to $US290 million ($A385 m, £226 m). That massive $US289 million ($A384 m, £225 m) cut would be reduced to a still very large $US189 m ($A251 m, £147 m) if Manohar’s reported offer had been accepted.
The BCCI’S Committee of Administrators (CoA) had found the $US289 million reduction unacceptable. After attending the last ICC Board Meeting three months ago, CoA head Vikram Limaye objected to the model, terming it as something that was not based on good faith and equity (PTG 2044-10354, 10 February 2017).
The BCCI source in Dubai laid down a tough line in an another area on Tuesday, a date that is the ICC deadline for playing squads for June’s Champions Trophy series to be named. With at least 14 of the 15 members of the Indian team more or less known Indian officials are in no hurry to name their squad. The source said: “Tell me one thing, if we name the squad, say for example on 5 May, will ICC bar us from participation? We have a settled squad and naming it is a mere formality".
Revive Test crowds by getting rid of draws: Lara.
Former West Indies batsman Brian Lara says having a winner in every Test match could arrest dwindling crowd numbers. The 47-year-old, who played 131 Tests before retiring in 2007, praised the introduction of Twenty20 cricket and suggested a change in the long form of cricket of the game could have similar affects in Tests in bolstering crowds.
Lara told the BBC: "I played in a period when Test cricket was waning and the crowds were a bit smaller and I grew up in the 70s and 80s and lined up at five o'clock in the morning to watch a Test match with a packed house. T20 has brought a new spectator in”. He would like to see Test draws scrapped, adding a winner in each match could make the game more attractive to a younger audience.
"One of the complaints by an American is 'how can you play a game for five days and it ends in a draw?' I would like to maybe see results in every single Test match”, he said. "I know 70 per cent of the time the game takes its natural course and you get a result. Maybe find a way where you structure the game ... and come up with some formula that can bring a winner at the end of it”.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
• Nine urged to dump international cricket due annual $A40 m loss [2114-10721].
• Australian cricketers 'led up the garden path' in pay fight, claims CA [2114-10722].
• Windies fined for Test slow over-rate [2114-10723].
• ECB confirms review of child safety procedures [2114-10724].
• Black Caps, cricket bosses could clash on pay [2114-10725].
• Bangladesh hikes international player payments [2114-10726].
• Snow stops play at Headingley [2114-10727].
Nine urged to dump international cricket due annual $A40 m loss.
Wednesday, 27 March 2017.
Australia’s Nine Entertainment company is being urged by global investment bank UBS to dump its decades old broadcast coverage of international cricket due to losses the bank estimates to be as much as $A40 million (£UK23.4 m) a year. The broadcaster is in the last year of a five-year deal worth $A450 m (£263 m) with Cricket Australia (CA) and is preparing to negotiate a new contract for 2018-2023, but analysts at UBS believe Nine should walk away from those talks if a better deal is not offered.
UBS analyst Eric Choi said in a note to clients: “The existing deal for international games costs Nine circa $A100 m (£58.5 m) per annum. We estimate the existing deal likely only generates gross revenues of $A60-$70 m [£35-41 m], but on a net basis we think the contract is only likely to generate revenue of $A30-$40m [£17.5-23 m]”. As a result “we think it would seem logical for Nine to enter negotiations with the mindset of getting more cricket content at no additional cost, or stepping away from the international cricket contract and focusing on Big Bash League [BBL] rights”.
Choi has estimated that the costs associated with securing and broadcasting international cricket rights could increase by as much as 15 per cent in the next international broadcast rights deal, implying a yearly cost of $A115 m (£67.2 m) a year for whoever wins the rights to the game.
Nine chief executive Hugh Marks recently said the network was prepared to match its $A450 m (£263 m) deal but only if it could secure greater control over cricket match scheduling and in-game advertising on top of an expanded fixtures list (PTG 2106-10683, 18 April 2017). Marks said the explosive growth in the value of sports rights was becoming unsustainable, and unless sporting bodies ceded more control to rights holders, he would think twice about forking out record sums.
The exit of Nine from new negotiations for international cricket broadcast rights would be a disaster for CA's ambitions to see the sales price for its cricket package crack the $A1 billion (£585 m) mark. CA has been hoping to capitalise on the runaway success of the Network Ten’s BBL broadcasts — which has attracted intense interest from Nine and Fox Sports — to boost the competitive tension for bidding on the summer sports package. However, Ten itself has its own challenges (PTG 2112-10711, 25 April 2017).
CA is also in the midst of re-signing its major sponsorship contracts having lost Victoria Bitter (PTG 2089-10579, 29 March 2017) and the Commonwealth Bank as major partners. Fast food provider KFC, which has been a major partner since 2003, is due to renegotiate its sponsorship deal with CA at the end of next year.
Australian cricketers 'led up the garden path' in pay fight, claims CA.
Cricket Australia (CA) has growing concerns players are being "led up the garden path" in their pay fight and has declared it won't back down on plans to slash the revenue-share model. In response to a Fairfax Media report on Sunday where it emerged players were frustrated by the lack of detail in CA's submission (PTG 2111-10705, 24 April 2017), the game's governing body has hit back, questioning whether the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) is up to the task of negotiating a new deal.
CA's inflammatory comments - and concerns - come with eight weeks remaining before the current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ACA expires. The two parties, increasingly at odds, are due to meet for the first time in five weeks on Friday, with each side having had to postpone earlier dates because of personal or work circumstances. But CA is concerned by what it claims to be a lack of urgency from the players.
A well-placed CA source said: "There is growing concern at the ACA's ability to represent the players effectively. We provided them with a detailed offer five weeks ago and we have received no detailed response from them with regard to that.” The ACA has rejected this claim, insisting it needed more detail on how CA's plan would be funded, and will release its response this week.
CA's final submission outlines how it wants the players to share in $A419 million (£UK244) of payments over the next five years. However, CA says as 80 per cent of revenue is uncontracted, with sponsorships and a new broadcast rights deal yet to be resolved, it cannot provide specifics. It has offered "a range of scenarios" in terms of revenue but claims the ACA has not asked for this. The ACA also denies this, claiming it has repeatedly asked for the information.
CA's submission for men and, for the first time, women, has CA-contracted male (up to $A16 million - £UK9.3 m) and female players (up to $4 million - £2.3 m) sharing in a percentage of revenue. But CA argues it's no longer feasible for Sheffield Shield cricketers to share in these spoils, as they have done since the original MOU was brokered in 1997. The top female cricketers will earn about $200,000 (£116,690) a year.
CA has suggested the ACA, led by chief executive Alistair Nicholson, does not want to negotiate, in the hope the governing body will roll over under pressure. "We are worried that it is under a mistaken assumption that we will eventually back down on the key issues if the players are not signed up by the end of the MoU”, the source said. "If that is their strategy, they are going to be disappointed and the players are likely to feel that the ACA has led them up the garden path because CA has no intention of backing down, whatever pressure is applied”.
The ACA returned fire on Wednesday night, declaring: "CA are kidding themselves and these bully-boy tactics aren't going to fly”. The ACA also noted that CA indicated it would release its submission in January or February but waited until late on a draining Indian Test tour in March, when players were also about to go on leave, to do so. The ACA submitted its original proposal six months ago.
If a deal is not done by the end of June, and an extension not agreed upon, the first series which could be impacted is an Australia A tour of South Africa. Players could boycott this or agree to go on a series-by-series contract. As the Australian womens’ team do not yet fall under the MoU, its players are on individual contracts, meaning their World Cup plans in July are unlikely to be affected.
Windies fined for Test slow over-rate.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017.
The West Indies has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during the first Test against Pakistan in Jamaica which ended on Tuesday. Match referee Chris Broad imposed the fine after Jason Holder’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.
In accordance with International Cricket Council regulations for minor over-rate offences, players are fined 10 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount. As such, Holder has lost 20 per cent of his match fee and his team mates 10 per cent. Should the West Indies commit another minor over-rate breach in a Test within 12 months of this offence with Holder as captain, it will be deemed a second offence by Holder and he will face a suspension.
Holder pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing. The charge was levelled by on-field umpires Richard Illingworth and Richard Kettleborough, third umpire Bruce Oxenford and fourth umpire Gregory Brathwaite.
ECB confirms review of child safety procedures.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)has confirmed that it undertook a review of its child safeguarding procedures in the wake of the revelation that a child sex offender had worked at a children’s cricket association with the ECB’s written permission (PTG 2112-10710, 25 April 2017.
A ECB spokesperson said the audit began last December (PTG 2002-10117, 12 December 2016), involved members of the board with safeguarding experience, and covered every aspect of safeguarding in the game, including some individual cases, and the role of the ECB’s Review Management Group (RMG). In December 2014, the RMG, which is responsible for child welfare in cricket, gave its approval to Wasim Aslam working as fixtures secretary at the London Schools Cricket Association (LSCA).
The spokesperson said the audit “is ongoing and the board is being kept informed. It is also important to point out that Mr Aslam has – as of November 2016 – been permanently disbarred from any role within cricket, for life. At the ECB we take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously and we know that, like everyone, we must remain vigilant. We constantly assess our procedures and processes, challenge them and try to learn from best practice in sport and elsewhere. We also want to stress that we would always encourage anyone with any concerns to contact the safeguarding team or relevant authorities and to assure them that we would work swiftly and sensitively should they have anything to report”.
The ECB refused to answer questions on the involvement of Nick Cousins, special executive officer at the ECB’s Association of Cricket Officials, who had previously been a coach at the same time as Aslam at the London Schools Cricket Association. Cousins had subsequently contacted Aslam personally to arrange a link-up between the two bodies, before attending festivals in his presence. Cousins has indicated he has no recollection of ever meeting Aslam while they were coaches at the LSCA and that he had no knowledge of Aslam’s trial and conviction.
Black Caps, cricket bosses could clash on pay.
New Zealand Herald.
Rapidly increasing athlete unrest in Australia could spill across the Tasman Sea, with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) due to renegotiate their collective agreement with the players’ association. It is understood that the New Zealand Cricket Players Association and senior NZC personnel will meet "within a month or two" to discuss the way revenue is shared between the governing body and the players, in the hope of a new agreement to replace the existing one that expires next year.
However, signals from Australia suggests it could be a drawn out and fraught process, with revenue-sharing an inevitable sticking point (PTG 2114-10722 above). New Zealand Rugby last year thrashed out a deal with the Players' Association, which saw a $NZ70 million ($A64.4 m , £37.6 m) increase in the player payment pool and revenue sharing locked in at around 36 per cent.
Cricket's situation has been more complicated of late, with the percentage of revenue shared tied to forecast profits but if Australia is any indication then this will be a deal breaker. Cricket Australia (CA) and the players are working on a new five-year collective but the rhetoric has turned ugly. The stoush is centred on CA's bid to drop the revenue-sharing model - tantamount to treason in the players' minds.
Paul Marsh, the former Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief, recently described CA's move to scrap the 20-year-old pay structure as "pure greed” (PTG 2002-10120, 12 December 2016). There is talk of industrial action, and even if few think the players will actually strike, even loose talk of it tends to put the frighteners up sponsors and broadcasters.
Only last month, a release from current ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson indicated that the warring sides were some way apart. He said then: "With a lack of detail in the terms and conditions that underpin this proposal, the ACA will continue to seek clarification from CA and advise the players on this accordingly”.
New Zealand had a taste of dissatisfaction last year, when Olympic champions including Mahe Drysdale and Jo Aleh spoke out about their "second-class status", but in Australia the antipathy between athletes and administrators is set to boil. A long-running pay dispute between the Australian Rules Football (AFL) players and their bosses remains unresolved. The players are reportedly set to receive a pay boost of up to 25 per cent, but the deal has been stalled by the AFL Players' Association, which wants an improved share of revenue.
It's unlikely New Zealand's cricketers would vote to strike again as they did 15 years ago. They were soundly beaten in the public relations battle when they went down that route in 2002 although they arguably ended up winning the war. If Australia is sending us a message, it is that those who administer the entertainment are increasingly out of step with those who provide it.
Bangladesh hikes international player payments.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has agreed to meet its players' demand for increased pay, overall pay for contracted players rising by over 60 per cent. The move follows improved results over the past few years which has meant the BCB has been able to attract more sponsors. In addition, the development fund payment from the International Cricket Council has improved, however, despite all that players’ pay has not changed significantly - until now.
Under the new arrangement contracted cricketers will be paid in five different grades. The Grade A+ salary has been increased from 250,000 to 400,000 Taka ($A3,960-6,335, £UK2,315-3,700) a year, while Grade A cricketers will now receive 300,000 Taka ($A4,750, £2,775), Grade B 200,000 ($A3,170, £1,850), Grade C 150,000 ($A2,375, £1,390), and Grade D 100,000 ($A1,585, £925). Match fees for a Test will rise from 200,000 to 350,000 Taka ($A3,170-5,545, £1,850-3,240), for One Day Internationals the fee will be 200,000 Taka ($A3,170, £1,850), and in Twenty20 Internationals 125,000 Taka ($A1,980, £1,155).
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data shows that the average annual income across that country is the currently equivalent of around $US1,314 ($A1,750, £1,025).
Snow stops play at Headingley.
Cricket is prone to falling foul of inclement weather, but it seems spring in England has more than its share of snowstorms. A second XI county match in Leeds has been halted due to snow as parts of England shivered through a spring-time cold snap. Play in the match between Yorkshire's second XI and Lancashire's second XI at Headingley was suspended at 4.20 pm local time on Tuesday due to snow that covered the outfield of the ground.
There was also snow further south in Birmingham on Tuesday but no cricket was affected there; the first division county match between Warwickshire and Surrey having been completed the day before. While snow in late April - more than halfway through spring - would be considered unusual by some, it's not the first time in recent years that the early-season county action has been halted due to snow.
It's a year to the day since matches in London, Durham and Birmingham were all delayed by snow or sleet, while images last April of some club cricketers in Yorkshire having a snowball fight instead of playing cricket also generated some headlines (PTG 1807-9033, 22 April 2016).
Friday, 28 April 2017
• Why the umpire's lot has never been harder in county cricket [2115-10728].
• Report into ’92 runs in four balls’ match to target bowler? [2115-10729].
• Tasmanian named inaugural CA ‘Community Umpire of the Year’ [2115-10730].
• BCCI loses ICC revenue and governance vote, is trouble brewing? [2115-10731].
• ECB wins T20 vote 38-2, plans to produce its own cricket coverage [2115-10732].
• T20 leagues threaten new international schedule [2115-10733].
• Former CA Umpire Manager moves on [2115-10734].
• Science proves Aussies were right with 1981 underarm [2115-10735].
Why the umpire's lot has never been harder in county cricket.
Thursday, 27 April 2017.
Umpiring at county levels in England and Wales has always been mostly the pleasant preserve of the former cricketer, whereas old footballers and rugby players don't seem to referee. More than three hundred years ago, as we know from a poem by William Goldwin, any dispute in a cricket match would be resolved by “some grey veteran” - and “rich is he in cricket lore”.
In Victorian times, before the UK Professional Cricketers Association began its sterling work, the choice in front of the retired player was often umpiring or the workhouse. Not that there was much money in it, but there were expenses, and much of the daily allowance could be saved if one stayed with a fellow umpire or, as several have done, travelled round the country in summer in a caravan.
Now, thanks to the now long defunct Indian Cricket League, a seasoned umpire can earn more than £UK50,000 ($A86,245) per season in county cricket, a report eight years ago suggesting their 12-month contracts in 2009 were between £70,000 ($A127,870) and £100,000 $A172,675) (PTG 371-1978, 13 February 2009).
The daily allowance for bed and breakfast has been abolished, and umpires are now quartered at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) expense in good hotels, but that is not bad - and the best ones are promoted to the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), where they are guaranteed a winter abroad and six figures as a pay rate: at the moment Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong.
The difference between then and now, as in most walks of life, is the degree of scrutiny and accountability. Some old-time umpires were landlords, and at lunch intervals they might lapse into winter ways, and doze at square-leg on hot afternoons. But nobody minded much if they did, or if they triggered a few tailenders so they could "catch the 6.20 pm to Derby" for the game on the morrow. The main rule was not to give a county captain out leg-before-wicket, because you were marked at the end of each game by the two captains, and at the end of the season the umpire with lowest marks became a landlord full-time.
It is the video camera at every county match which has changed this ball-game. It was introduced so a coach could analyse his players and their techniques, but now every umpiring decision can be evaluated, and is, by the Cricket Liaison Officer (CLO) who attends every game (PTG 2053-10400, 19 February 2017). This role grew out of the Pitch Liaison Officer, who was only called in when too many wickets fell in a day; the CLO is the equivalent of a match referee in international cricket.
So an umpire’s game is now assessed and marked by both captains and a CLO. No more triggering to catch the 6.20 pm! Not that any first-class umpire travels round by train any more: Mark Benson, ex-Kent and a former EUP member, was the last of his kind (PTG 1742-8663, 21 January 2016). Instead, the downside to this job is the long time spent on motorways, and those engineering works which start at 8 pm and often dictate a long detour.
And just as important as the decision-making is the man-management on the field. “Treat the players just as you wanted to be treated when you were a player”, is the maxim of Nick Cook, one of the senior umpires in what is becoming an ever younger profession.
When Cook started, every junior umpire had a mentor, like the late John Hampshire or David Constant. “Mervyn Kitchen was my first mentor”, Cook remembered. “They taught you the tricks of the trade - like even if the ball goes down to fine-leg, move a couple of yards wide of the stumps at the non-striker’s end in case one comes flying at you for a run-out. And don’t move to the side where the ball is coming in from, because you will soon be wearing a ball on the back of your head”.
When tempers are lost - or, rather, before the combustible moment - this is the time when umpires bring all the experience of their playing days to bear. And with the intensity of the county championship’s first division only increasing, with two out of eight county teams to be relegated to Division 2 this September - their skills will be tested more than ever.
Report into ’92 runs in four balls’ match to target bowler?
The three-member committee the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) formed to investigate last week’s '92 runs in 4 balls' incident in a Dhaka Cricket League Division Two has submitted its report to BCB president Nazmul Hasan (PTG 2112-10709, 25 April 2017). During a period in which he bowled four legal deliveries, the Lalmatia club’s bowler Sujon Mahmud deliberately sent down 15 no balls and 13 wides in what was said to be a protest against "poor umpiring” (PTG 2103-10660, 13 April 2017).
Jalal Younus, who is the chairman of the BCB’s media and communications committee, and was also a member of the investigation committee, confirmed his group had completed their work, saying: “We were given three days to complete the investigation. We are done with our work and the report has been submitted to [Hasan]”. The Lalmatia Club’s general secretary Adnan Ahmed Dipon, the team’s captain, the opposition skipper, the batsman who was on strike when the incident happened, the on-field umpires, the scorers and the match referee, were all called to a hearing conducted by the committee.
It is understood Sujon is likely to be the only one in the firing line and that a heavy punishment awaits him. According to sources, only Sujon admitted to being aware of the incident while everyone else involved in the game denied having idea of any such thing happening. It has been suggested that the committee "is helpless" in proving the involvement of others in the incident due to “insufficient evidence being available.
Questions remain however. Given Sujon’s relatively young age, many believe he would never have the courage to trigger such an incident without the support of other individuals.
Tasmanian named inaugural CA ‘Community Umpire of the Year’
Tasmanian Geoff Jackson, who manages umpires for the Southern Cricket Association (SCA) which covers the suburbs and country outskirts of Hobart, has been chosen as Cricket Australia’s (CA) 'Community Umpire of the Year’ for 2017. Jackson’s award was one of 12 people acknowledged at CA'a inaugural 'A Sport for All' Community Cricket Awards function held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday evening which honoured the key work being undertaken within the Australian cricket community by individuals, clubs and associations.
CA said in a statement that "recent improved training standards and accreditation of the umpires in the [SCA] is a direct result of [Jackson’s] hard work, commitment and dedication. [He] has mentored countless junior umpires and continues to work with a range of peole from different socio-economic environments and those seeking entry into the workplace”.
In addition to the umpire award, other categories were: 'Volunteer of the Year’, ‘Cricket Association of the Year’, ‘Community Cricket Club 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’, ‘Junior Cricket Champion of the Year, and 'Community Coach of the Year’.
CA said “hundreds of nominations" were received from all over Australia and the two finalists in each of the 12 categories were flown to Melbourne to attend the dinner. The winners received a $A200 (£UK116) gift voucher and a signed bat.
BCCI loses ICC revenue and governance vote, is trouble brewing?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) significant influence in world cricket received a major set back on Thursday when a majority of Full Members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) voted for a change in the world body’s governance and revenue structures. The vote on governance and constitutional changes was passed by a margin of 12-2, while the revenue model, which was the bigger bone of contention, was passed 13-1.
The BCCI's revenue now that the ‘Big Three’ structure has been scrapped is nearly half of what it was (PTG 2113-10719, 26 April 2017). The Indian board will now receive $US293 million ($A392 m, £UK227 m) across the eight-year cycle, while the England and Wales Cricket Board and Zimbabwe Cricket will get $US143 m ($A192 m, £110 m) and $US94 m ($A126 m, £73 m) respectively. The rest of the seven Full Members will be receiving $US132 m ($A177 m, £102 m) each, while total Associate Member funding is $US280 m ($A375 m, £217 m).