Share:
 
MAY 2017
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 35 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 10747-10924)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,119

 Monday, 1 May 2017


• ICC's $US400 million offer 'far less than what India deserves’: BCCI [2119-10747].

• Williams again lone female umpire in WICB womens’ series [2119-10748].

• Aussie cricket faces a '70s-style moment of reckoning [2119-10749].

• Women Test umpires? Why not, if they’re good enough [2119-10750].

• Sponsors in Bangladesh ’not interested’ in womens’ game [2119-10751].

• Afghani provisionally suspended over doping violation [2119-10752].

• Bengaluru hosts wheelchair tournament [2119-10753].

ICC's $US400 million offer 'far less than what India deserves’: BCCI.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 30 April 2017.

PTG 2119-10747.

Amitabh Choudhary, the acting secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has said the $US400 million ($A534 m, £UK309 m) offer the International Cricket Council (ICC) has left on the table is not "anywhere even close" to the Indian board's contribution to global cricket revenues (PTG 2116-10737, 28 April 2017). Choudhary contended that the Indian market contributed 70 per cent of the global cricket revenue and that it was natural for India to get the lion's share (PTG 2115-10731, 28 April 2017).

Under the ICC's new finance model, the BCCI's share of ICC revenues across the 2015-23 cycle stands at $US293 million ($A391 m , £226 m). That share is based on the ICC's projected income of $US2.7 billion ($A3.6 bn, £2.1 bn). While the BCCI wanted $US570 million ($A761 m, £440 m) in accordance with its revenue percentage under the previous 'Big Three' finance model, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar made a counter-offer of an additional $US100 million ($A134 m, £77 m) to bring the BCCI's share to near the $US400 million.

During the ICC meetings last week in Dubai, Manohar placed that offer in person to Choudhary, which the BCCI rejected. The offer was once again made to Choudhary when he sat as the BCCI representative in the ICC Board meeting that eventually passed a new constitution, a new governance structure and the new finance model (PTG 2113-10719, 26 April 2017).

While the ICC constitution comprising the governance structure will be ratified at the ICC annual conference, the revenue model will be approved by the ICC Board separately. "Because it is far less than what India deserves fairly”, Choudhary told the 'Indian Express', when asked why he did not agree to the settlement deal. 

While presenting the finance model for the first time this February, Manohar said the basic premise was to allow every member country to get an equitable share. The BCCI objected, saying it could not accept the finance model without any scientific basis. Choudhary reiterated that stand saying: "Why do you forget that a disproportionate share of revenues to cricket comes from India? It's very easy and misleading to say that India is getting a disproportionate share. The facts are that over 70 per cent of cricket's revenue world over comes from the Indian market. That [the $US293 million offered by the ICC] is not even close to the contribution that India makes”. 

In addition to hardening its stance over the finance model, the BCCI has also delayed announcing India's squad for the Champions Trophy, which starts in four-and-a-half weeks. Although the ICC and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the tournament hosts, are not breaking sweat yet, both are aware the BCCI is trying to use the Champions Trophy to facilitate a deal (PTG 2117-10743, 29 April 2017).

The BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA), which was appointed by the Indian Supreme Court to supervise the BCCI, is aware of the BCCI's moves. Choudhary said though that any decision on revoking the ICC Members Participation Agreement (MPA) could only be taken by the BCCI and not the CoA, and has called for a BCCI special general body meeting (SGM) next Sunday to discuss the matter. 

Vinod Rai, the CoA chairman, said pulling out of the tournament was "hypothetical" at the moment, while Ramachandra Guha, part of the four-member CoA (PTG 2035-10307, 31 January 2017), tweeted that a boycott should not be an option.  "Speaking in my personal capacity, as a cricket fan, I believe the Indian cricket team absolutely must take part in the Champions Trophy”, Guha said in the tweet, and went on to add: "Boycotting or threatening to boycott a prestigious international tournament does not become a great cricketing nation”.

Williams again lone female umpire in WICB womens’ series.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 30 April 2017.

PTG 2119-10748.

Jacqueline Williams from Jamaica stood in the final of the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Regional Womens’ Championship (RWC) series for the second year in a row in St Kitts on Sunday.  Williams, 41, who has stood in two first class games over the last 18 months, was once again the only female in the six-person umpiring panel appointed to the 6-team, 16-match, 50 over format, RWC; an event that will play a key part in selection of the West Indies side for the Womens’ World Cup (WWC) in England in June-July.

In November 2015, in the lead up to Williams’ debut at first class level, WICB cricket operations project officer Rawl Lewis said the Board believed there is an important role for women to play in officiating in the regional game and that it planned to work towards developing more female umpires (PTG 1682-8256, 7 November 2015).  Despite that information available indicates that since then Williams has been the only female umpire who has stood in the two RWC series played, or in a range of other WICB womens’ senior and youth events held in that time.

It would be a major surprise if Williams and her three female colleagues on the International Cricket Council's (ICC) third-tier Development Panel (DP), Kathy Cross of New Zealand, Claire Polosak of Australia and Sue Redfern of England, were not amongst the umpires chosen for this year’s WWC.  For Cross, who will turn 60 in the first week of the tournament, it would be her third WWC after those of 2000 in her home country and 2013 in Australia.  However, for Polosak, 29, and Williams, it will be their first and the first for Redfern, 39, as an umpire, however, she played for her country in the 1997 event.

If the last WWC in 2013 is any guide, the bulk of what will probably be a total of 12 umpires this year will be male and come from the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) and the DPl.  Four years ago 13 umpires and a single referee were chosen for the event, seven of the umpires being from the IUP, five from its then third-tier panel, plus Cross who at that stage had not been elevated to what is now the DP (PTG 1048-5091, 28 January 2013).  

The final in 2013 saw IUP members Shaun George of South Africa and Vineet Kulkarni of India on-field, Ruchira Palliyaguruge of Sri Lanka the third umpire and Sarika Prasad of Singapore, a third-tier panel member, the reserve umpire.  David Jukes of England from the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel, was the match referee (PTG 1060-5154, 17 February 2013).

Aussie cricket faces a '70s-style moment of reckoning.

Ian Chappell.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 30 April 21017.

PTG 2119-10749.

Suddenly it's shades of 1977 in Australian cricket. The players' association has rejected the financial deal proposed by the board and there is uncertainty surrounding the next television-rights deal (PTG 2117-10740, 29 April 2017).

A similar formula in 1977 resulted in the advent of World Series Cricket (WSC). The players were agitating for better pay and conditions and Kerry Packer - the owner of the Nine network - was apoplectic when the then Australian Cricket Board (ACB), Cricket Australia’s predecessor, refused his offer of substantially more money for the television rights, then held by the government broadcaster the ABC.

Packer didn't take rebuttal lightly and with his curse, "the devil take the hindmost", ringing in their ears, he commenced a torrid legal battle with the cricket administrators. He found plenty of willing allies among the players, and worldwide more than 50 signed to play for the television magnate.

The animosity towards the administrators had been building among the Australian players since the tours of India and South Africa in 1969-70. In 1974-75, Dennis Lillee - the premier fast bowler - had just returned after a serious back injury and described his displeasure at the pay scale ($A200 per Test), in a series of newspaper articles.

The chairman of the ACB then, Tim Caldwell, pleaded with me as captain: "Tell your fast bowler to back off in his newspaper articles”. My response was simple: "Why don't you tell him yourself, Tim, because I happen to agree with him”.  From there it gradually went downhill, to the point in 1977-78 where WSC played its first season in direct competition with the ACB's series between Australia and India.

I'm not suggesting it has reached that same stage in Australia again; the players are too well paid these days to seriously contemplate a strike against their major employer. However, the greed that has been palpable in cricket for the last decade looks like it might be coming home to roost.

Worldwide, boards have been guilty of siphoning every last dollar out of their media deals. The result in some regions has been detrimental to the game, which is now only available on subscription TV in the UK. Indian viewers are entitled to complain that the cricket coverage gets in the way of them watching the ads.

The television companies pay so heavily for the rights that, understandably, they then try to capitalise on any commercial opportunity in an attempt to recoup some of their investment.   The players - in Australia at least - are so used to being well remunerated that they're unhappy at any hint their livelihood may be curtailed. The difference now, compared to 1977? The players have lucrative T20 leagues as alternative employment if they're unhappy with the board's offer.

This is a situation of the administrators' making. They demand exorbitant prices for the media rights, so surely they must expect the players to be just as financially vigilant. And it was the administrators who devised the Indian Premier League and other burgeoning T20 leagues, which has increased the financial options for cricketers. 

The greed of the administrators - they claim it is money needed to run the game - has resulted in the players expecting regular pay increases every time a new media-rights deal is struck.

In the meantime, there is a surfeit of one-sided Test and One Day International matches, where the number of really competitive teams - especially away from home - is insufficient to keep up with the increased attractiveness of T20 games. The ability of T20 leagues to lure star overseas players and the relative shortness of the contest means they have serious advantages over the longer forms of cricket. 

T20 matches capitalise on the attraction of close finishes and possible upsets. In the shorter game, there is more likelihood that scores will remain close, and a favoured team can always lose to a less fancied side.  For all but the marquee series and tournaments, this has meant that T20 leagues are growing in television value, while the longer versions of the game are in danger of receding. The current Australian wrangle could well be an insight into where cricket's future is headed.

Women Test umpires? Why not, if they’re good enough.

Alison Mitchell.

The Cricket Paper.

Thursday, 29 April 2017.

PTG 2119-10750.

Rarely have I in my writing for this paper sought out a particular scorecard from World Cricket League (WCL) Division 5. However, there are two points of interest to note from a match between Oman and Nigeria, played at the St Clement ground in Jersey in 2016.  The most obvious fact to stand out from the scorecard is that not one Nigerian batsman reached double figures. Batting second in the 50-over contest, they were rolled over for 39 inside 23.5 overs. The total, however, wasn’t even the lowest in the history of the WCL.

The second point of interest is less obvious, but rather more significant. Glance down to where it says ‘Umpires’, and alongside the name ‘AJT Dowdalls (Scotland)’ it lists ‘S Redfern (England)’. Below that it records the third umpire as ‘JM Williams (West Indies)’. The ‘S’ in Redfern stands for Sue while the ‘J’ in Williams is Jacqueline (PTG 1839-9207, 30 May 2016).

Two females were officiating a International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s tournament match – something which had never happened before. Whilst New Zealander Kathy Cross, a member of the ICC’s third-tier Associates and Affiliates Panel of Umpires (now Development Panel) since 2014, had begun paving the way in international men’s cricket by standing in WCL Divisions Five and Three in Malaysia that year (PTG 1799-8988, 12 April 2016), this was the first time two females had officiated at this level together.

Redfern and Williams went on to stand in the Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament earlier this year in Sri Lanka, alongside Cross and Australian Claire Polosak, a pair who had featured together at the Women’s World T20 in India in 2016. The four women officiated alongside five male colleagues, and together, they are the most senior female umpires in the game. Cross is the most experienced, having switched from playing to umpiring in 1998, and being heavily involved in New Zealand’s domestic men’s scene. She has been umpiring women’s internationals since 2000.

Polosak and Williams had their first experience of women’s internationals in 2015, having started to gain experience of officiating men’s domestic cricket in their respective countries, too.

Redfern estimates she spends between 50 and 60 days per year officiating in England at various levels under the auspices of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). A former England bowler, she combines her umpiring career (or ‘hobby’ as she calls it) with a role at the ECB as Clubs and Facilities Manager for the East Midlands (PTG 2070-10480, 10 March 2017).

She was previously the ECB’s Inclusion and Diversity Manager, and before that the National Development Lead for Women’s Cricket. Now she could be officiating in men’s, women’s or even indoor cricket in the winter.  “Obviously I work full time as well”, she says. “[Umpiring is] a hobby, it’s a passion, and I spend a fair bit of time out there trying to improve myself as an umpire and standing in different levels of the game to get different experiences.”

While Redfern played six Tests and 15 One Day Internationals for England from 1995-99, her route into umpiring and her experience of the game is very different to Polosak’s, who is a teacher by profession and never played any cricket, despite loving it. Polosak’s pathway is important to show other potential umpires that you don’t need to have played the game in order to be able to understand, appreciate and apply the Laws as an official.

“All four of us have had very different experiences as to how we got into cricket and officiating”, Redfern explains. “I’ve been fortunate to play international cricket but there are people who get into officiating simply through an interest in the game and wanting to do something within it. When I stopped playing I wanted to stay involved and wanted to give umpiring a go but there are a variety of backgrounds that lead to officiating”.

“Any woman who wants to officiate can contact their local board,” says Redfern. “You can feel confident that if you go on the basic course for officials it will teach you all about the game. So if you haven’t got a huge amount of playing experience, it will give you an opportunity to get into it”.

Redfern estimates that 95 per cent of her umpiring is done in men’s cricket, which is more due to the number of matches available than anything else.  “I feel passionate about the women’s game and the participation and growth that is being experienced in women’s cricket, but there are just more matches in men’s cricket at the moment with the volume of teams. So there is more opportunity. For me though it’s about doing a mixture. I love doing the women’s game for different reasons to the men’s, and it all gives me different experiences”.

It is inescapable that Redfern would have attracted more curiosity on her umpiring debut than she would have done if she was a man. However the 39-year-old prefers to focus on the fact that it takes any new umpire time to earn the respect of the players, whatever your gender.  “I was very fortunate,” she says. “I got lots of support from my local county association. But like any new umpire it’s a new challenge. Players don’t know you, but as you officiate with them more, as I have over the last five years, they start to recognise who you are and they base your performances on what you do on the field. It’s not about me being a female, it’s about me being a good umpire”.

The ECB say they have over 150 qualified female umpires, and its Association of Cricket Officials will be using the visibility of the Women’s World Cup in England this summer as an opportunity to try to significantly increase their membership (PTG 2119-10748 above).

Last year Redfern was joined by two other women in officiating men’s County 2nd XI cricket for the ECB; 53-year-old Alison Smith, from Buckinghamshire, and 52-year-old Ingeborg Bevers, of Worcestershire (originally from the Netherlands). Redfern knows that more women need to be seen doing tasks that are traditionally male in order for perceptions to change and for other women to realise there are opportunities in that regard.  “I think it’s similar to what we’re experiencing across the world in terms of the number of female players. It will be natural that the more visible it is and the more women are interested in and involved in cricket, the more likely it will be to increase coaches and umpires alike”.

Compared to the number of volunteer umpires operating at all levels of the sport, there are only a small number of full-time professional umpiring jobs in world cricket.  However the ECB and ICC say pathways are in place for both men and women equally, so if Redfern or any other female wanted to choose the life of an elite umpire and set out to rise up the rankings, is it conceivable that one day a woman could stand in a men’s Test match?

“There is no reason why a woman can’t stand in a men’s Test match in the future”, she states emphatically, although the ICC hasn’t got as good record for appointing them to womens’ Tests since it took over responsibility for the womens’ game 15 years ago (PTG 2083-10546, 24 March 2017). “It should be about an umpires’ performance, not their gender. It’s important that women are given the same opportunities as men, and if they’re good enough, why not”.

Sponsors in Bangladesh ’not interested’ in womens’ game.

Daily Star.

Sunday, 30 April 21017.

PTG 2119-10751.

Players who take part in the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) eight-team National Women’s Cricket League will only be paid 600 Taka ($A9.60, £UK5.55) per match.  BCB officials are blaming the lack of remuneration on the BCB’s inability to attract, despite record sums for the mens’ game, sponsors who are willing to support womens’ cricket.

So far this year, the BCB has secured two-year sponsorship deals totalling around around 60 million Taka ($A958,200, £UK554,000), plus a larger share of revenue from the International Cricket Council totalling $US132 million ($A176 m, £102 m) over the five years from 2018; or $A35 m or £20 m per year.

Because of all that the low rate of pay for women players has come as a shock.  BCB’s women’s wing chairman MA Awal Chowdhury blamed the sponsors for not being as charitable towards women as they are with men, saying on Saturday: “The sponsors] do not like to pay much for the women’s game whereas they spend [significantly] for a men’s event. Despite making efforts we have not been able to bring in sponsors with big money for the women. 

He claimed that the women’s wing do not get a share of national team sponsorship rights, despite the women being a part of the deal.  “I would like a separate contract for the women’s team but the problem is there is hardly any money coming in for the women’s team. We do approach the big corporate houses of the country but there is hardly any feedback”.

Chowdhury said Bangladesh’s national sponsor for the last two years, telecom operator Robi has not done enough for the women’s wing, despite it being part of the central contract. Under that contract Robi is the title sponsor of the BCB Academy team, Bangladesh A side and Bangladesh Under-19 side.  The discrimination not only affects holding domestic womens’ competitions but also creates massive difference in salary structure, compared to that of the men’s team.

Afghani provisionally suspended over doping violation.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release

Sunday, 30 April 21017.

PTG 2119-10752.

Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad who was charged with an anti-doping rule violation under the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Doping Code two weeks ago (PTG 2104-10669, 14 April 2017), has now been provisionally suspended by the world body pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding. 

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”.  The ICC said in announcing the charge that Shahzad had the right to request that his B sample is analysed, however, whether that actually occurred was not mentioned when notice of the provision suspension was announced on Sunday.

Bengaluru hosts wheelchair tournament.

Daily Record.

Sunday, 30 April 21017.

PTG 2119-10753.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Wheelchair teams from the Indian states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka competed in a tournament in the southern city of Bengaluru over the weekend.  The opening series of games were 12 over per side affairs with the final being a 20 over match. All the fixtures involved were played on matting pitches.  The aim of the tournament is to encourage para athletes by providing specialised training, infrastructure, and equipment and assist them financially so that they can participate in national and international events.

'

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,120

 Tuesday, 2 May 2017

 

• Aussie players stand firm in pay fight with CA [2120-10754].

• Match officials for England-Ireland, Ireland tri-series, named [2120-10755].

• Senior CA referees, umpires, hold post-season workshop [2120-10756].

Aussie players stand firm in pay fight with CA.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Monday, 1 May 2017.

PTG 2120-10754.

Both Australia’s male and female national captains, Steve Smith and Meg Lanning, have endorsed their union’s resolute stand in cricket’s pay dispute in an apparent bid to head off any divide-and-conquer campaign from Cricket Australia (CA). The national captains have joined their teammates in standing firm with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) in its rancorous and long-running pay dispute with the sport’s governing body (PTG 2111-10705, 24 April 2017).

Smith tweeted on Friday after the ACA announced it remained opposed to CA’s offer: “The playing group are fully supportive of the ACA”.  Tweeting under the hashtag #fairshare, players joined Smith in backing the union in what ­appeared to be a concerted ­campaign to show the players were united.  Lanning wrote: “All players — male, female, domestic and international — are fully supportive of the revenue share model”.

Their comments followed an unnamed CA official last week urging the ­players to be wary of being “led … up the garden path” by the ACA (PTG 2014-10722, 27 April 2017).  This reporter has been told the players are determined not to be the generation of cricketers who lost the 20-year-old revenue-sharing model (PTG 2110-10703, 22 April 2017). 

Messages of solidarity continued to pour in from around the globe after the ACA announced it had rejected CA’s latest offer.  Australian international Peter Handscomb wrote from England, where he is playing for Yorkshire: “Well done ACA for fighting for all groups in Australian ­cricket — male, female, international, domestic and grassroots”.  Indian Premier League all-rounder and ACA board member Moises Henriques’ message from India was though written in a conciliatory tone: “CA do a great job of growing the game, as do the players. Maintaining the revenue share model ensures this continues”.  

Former international Shane Watson, another playing in India at the moment, was in an ­uncompromising mood: “The players won’t back down on their support for the revenue sharing model”.  Trent Copeland retweeted Watson’s message with the added comment: “I wonder if the message is getting across?”  Former Test opener Ed Cowan’s message bordered on the revolutionary: “The players are not just employees. We are valued partners who want the game to grow at all levels. Not greed, just a fair share”.

The ACA’s ‘no deal’ announcement on Friday raised the stakes in the long-running pay dispute as the days tick down to the end-of-June contract expiry date (PTG 2117-10740, 29 April 2017).  After that date, the nation’s cricketers will, conceivably, be unemployed. “Whether the players strike or don’t strike is ­irrelevant — they’ll be out of contract”, the ACA says.  “They’re out of contract ­anyway — it’s sort of a moot point. So that takes that out of the conversation”.

Australia’s next scheduled ­series is in August, against ­Bangladesh, so there’s time for both sides to reach an agreement. Although CA and the ACA are separated by a gulf as broad as the distance between the Melbourne Cricket Ground's square boundaries, CA’s response to the ACA’s statement last Friday contained a scintilla of hope.

The statement did not reject outright the ACA’s proposal for a new model where revenue was carved up three ways — 22.5 per cent to the players, 22.5 per cent to grassroots cricket, and 55 per cent to the administrators.  Under that model, club and community cricket would receive a huge boost in funding, but CA would have to shed admin­istrative jobs in line with its smaller budget. The ACA was heartened that CA had not rejected its proposal out of hand.  CA chief executive James ­Sutherland agreed there was common ground from which to edge towards a new deal.

Match officials for England-Ireland, Ireland tri-series, named.

PTG Editor.

ICC/ECB appointments.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2120-10755.

Rajan Madugalle, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief match referee, is to oversee the England-ireland and part of the Bangladesh-Ireland-New Zealand One Day International (ODI) series later this month, matches that will take his ODI match tally as a referee to 309.  Madugalle will work with ICC Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) members Aleem Dar and Paul Reiffel in this week’s two England-Ireland fixtures and their EUP colleagues Ian Gould and Nigel Llong in three of the six match tri-series in Ireland.  

Dar will be on-field with Rob Bailey, an England member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), for the opening England-Ireland match in Bristol on Friday, Reiffel being the television umpire and another England IUP member, Tim Robinson, the fourth official.  For the second game on Sunday at Lord’s, Reiffel will be on-field with Robinson, Dar the television umpire and Bailey the fourth umpire.  The series will take Dar's ODI record to 183 on-field and 47 as a third umpire (183/47), Reiffel to 49/28, Bailey to 17/4 and Robinson 11/1.

Over in Ireland, Gould will be on-field in matches one and three with Long the television umpire, their roles being reversed for the second game.  Games four to six will see a fresh match management group come in, David Jukes, a member of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel overseeing each fixture, while Sri Lankan IUP member Ruchira Palliyaguruge and his West Indian colleague Joel Wilson will work in on-field and television roles.  

Palliyaguruge will be on-ground in games four and six with Wilson in the television suite, their roles being reversed in match five-day.  Irish members of the ICC’s third-tier Development Panel, Roland Black, Alan Neill and Mark Hawthorne, are expected to fill the second on-field and reserve umpire spots for all six games.

The tri-series will take Gould’s ODI tally to 117/35, Llong 108/61, Palliyaguruge 45/15 and Wilson 40/19.  Hawthorne’s ODI record going in to the series is 24 on-field and 2 as a reserve (24/0/2), Neill 2/0/7 and Black’s 2/0/4.

Senior CA referees, umpires, hold post-season workshop.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 30 April 2017.

PTG 2120-10756.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) top 23 domestic umpires and referees, 22 of them men, and the national body’s match officials management group, took part in a two-day post-season meeting in Sydney last weekend.  CA says the purpose of what is an annual gathering, which was also saw departing CA operations manager Sean Cary and International Cricket Council umpire coach David Levens present, was to allow umpires and referees to "discuss and advance group specific topics and projects”.  

There was a general review of the season’s match management experiences and outcomes across competition formats.  The new Laws Code, which will be into force for the next Australian domestic season was considered, although as yet just which aspects CA will include in the Playing Conditions for its competitions, particularly the new disciplinary procedures, are unlikely to have been available in full detail.  Match referee training resources were on the agenda and the importance of using the non-playing season to effectively prepare for the 2017-18 season was emphasised.

Umpires who went on exchange to India, New Zealand and South Africa, and those who debuted at a higher level or worked in finals "shared their experiences and insights”. There was also a formal presentation to Simon Fry of CA’s 2017 'Umpire of the Year’ award, his fourth in a row (PTG 2092-10593, 1 April 2017).  On Saturday evening the partners of most attendees took part in a group function "in recognition of their support to the role of the officials”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,121

 Tuesday, 2 May 2017

(Second edition)

 

• England expected to play pink-ball Test in NZ next March [2121-10757].

• Two Kiwi umpires to stand in Womens’ World Cup [2121-10758].

• Manohar likely to continue as ICC head for another term [2121-10759].

• CoA to BCCI: ‘don’t contact ICC without our permission' [2121-10760].

• Lord’s set to delay £UK98 million rebuild [2121-10761].

England expected to play pink-ball Test in NZ next March.

London Daily Mail.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2121-10757.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) are determined to host England in a pink ball Test next austral summer - and are prepared to take the second match away from the currently schedule Eden Park in Auckland if there are significant obstacles in the way.  As it stands, the two Tests during England's visit in February-March next year are set down for Christchurch's Hagley Oval, which doesn't have lights, and Eden Park.

However, there are significant resource consent issues for despite all the rugby and cricket events staged under lights at Eden Park, there has never been a fixture there on a Sunday night.  NZC's problem is that if that can't be over-turned, they would have to play a Test there during the week, rather than incorporating a potentially spectator-friendly Sunday.

It is understood NZC won't abandon pink ball plans for the sake of keeping the Test at Eden Park. That brings Hamilton's Seddon Park and, as a long shot, Wellington's Westpac Stadium, into the picture.

NZC’s plan would mean England would be facing the prospect of playing three day-night Tests in eight months - against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August (PTG 1941-9760, 8 October 2016), the second Ashes test in Adelaide just before Christmas (PTG 2003-10125, 13 December 2016), and then in New Zealand.  NZC conducted its first Plunket Shield games in a pink ball, day-night format two months ago as part of planning for a day-night Test (PTG 2066-10460, 6 March 2017). 

Two Kiwi umpires to stand in Womens’ World Cup.

PTG Editor.

NZC media release.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2121-10758.

Two New Zealand umpires, Kathy Cross and Chris Brown, are to be members of the umpires panel for the Womens’ World Cup (WWC) in England in June-July, says New Zealand Cricket (NZC).  The selection of Cross, who is a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) third-tier Development Panel (DP), was anticipated (PTG 2119-10748, 1 May 2017), however, Brown’s participation less than a year he was made a member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpire Panel (IUP) is somewhat of a surprise.

For Cross, 59, it will be her fourth 50-over format WWC after those of 2000, 2009 and 2013, and she thus joins a small group of umpires who have officiated in four or more World Cups; they being ‘Billy' Bowden, ‘Dickie’ Bird and Aleem Dar, plus Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd who have featured in six.  During the forthcoming series Cross, by far the world’s most experienced female umpire, will become the first woman to stand in 50 One Day Internationals (ODI), her current tally being 46.

Brown’s rise up umpiring ranks over the last two years has been very rapid.  A former NZ Under-19 Test and ODI representative, he featured in 19 first class and 25 List A matches with Auckland from 1993-98.  Now aged 44, his umpiring debut at first class level came in February 2013 and he was elevated to NZC’s top domestic umpiring panel ahead of the 2015-16 season, then after that one season straight into a NZ on-field spot on the IUP in the lead up to the 2016-17 austral summer (PTG 1855-9300, 17 June 2016).

While NZC have announced the selection of the pair for the WWC, just who the probably 10 other umpires and the match referees or referees who will also be involved has not been made public.  Three of those ten will most likely be Claire Polosak of Australia, Sue Redfern of England and Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies.  The others will be current members of the IUP and DP groups.

Manohar likely to continue as ICC head for another term.

Khurram Habib. 

Hindustan Times.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2121-10759.

It seems Shashank Manohar might continue as the International Cricket Council's (ICC) first independent chairman as various member boards are trying to convince him to complete his two-year term.  Seven weeks ago Manohar announced he was quitting the post just eight months into his term, but then “deferred” that move two weeks after that (PTG 2084-19557, 25 March 2017).

Nagpur-born Manohar, 59, has played a key role in putting in place a reformed ICC constitution and governance model that ended the ‘Big Three’ model that guaranteed his home country, England and Australia the lion’s share of ICC’s revenue and more power in governance (PTG 2115–10731, 28 April 2017).

It is understood that one of the points of discussion at the ICC meeting in Dubai last week was to have been the choice of an ICC chairman if Manohar quits after the world body’s annual conference in June.  Giles Clarke of England, David Peever of Australia and Thilanga Sumathipala of Sri Lanka were the contenders. 

CoA to BCCI: ‘don’t contact ICC without our permission'.

Chander Luthra.

Daily News Analysis.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2121-10760.

With disgruntled Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) members likely to call for a for boycott of next month's Champions Trophy (CT) during Sunday’s BCCI Special General Meeting (SGM), the head of Indian Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), Vinod Rai, is contemplating attending the gathering to take personal stock of the situation.

The CoA has told the BCCI that it cannot correspond with the ICC on any matter without seeking its permission and a source close to CoA has indicated that Rai has been advised to personally oversee how a few dominant forces are trying to dictate terms about the CT issue. "Let him see the inside atmosphere where only one or two members control the BCCI like their own fiefdom”, said the source.

A senior BCCI member said in reference to the SGM:  "We're going to discuss in detail about how India was humiliated in Dubai [last week]. It will be up to the SGM to decide whether they want a dominant or a lame duck BCCI (PTG 2119-10747, 1 May 2017).  All this talk of extra $US100 million is fake [unless] there is any hidden understanding between Shashank Manohar and the CoA”.  The source said the new ICC revenue arrangement would cost the BCCI 20 billion Rupees ($A414 m, £UK241 m) and pointed to the "huge loss [to the Indian government] of taxes  paid on the income”. 

Rai is slated to meet all state cricket associations on Saturday in his efforts to understand their concerns and difficulties in implementing, in their respective states, the Supreme Courts' orders of July last year (PTG 1880-9420, 19 July 2016).  It will be first time CoA members will have met with newly-inducted state bodies as required under the Lodha panel recommendation of one-state-one-vote.  There remains a question though over whether the corruption-ridden Bihar Cricket Association should be invited or not.

Lord’s set to delay £UK98 million rebuild.

Ivo Tennant.

The Times.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2121-10761.

The rebuilding of the Allen and Tavern Stands at Lord’s, a £UK98 million ($A168 m) project that was originally supposed to have begun last year, is to be postponed until at least 2027. Instead the ground’s owners, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), faced with competition for major matches from other venues, is intent on redeveloping the Compton and Edrich Stands at the Nursery End to increase the spectator capacity of ’The Home of Cricket' by 2,000 to 31,000.

Planning permission is likely to take two years to obtain and MCC still has to decide whether to try to fund the costs of this rebuilding work out of its own resources — each stand will cost about £UK20 million ($A34.2 m) plus professional fees — or to accept an offer of £UK100 m ($A171 m) from Rifkind Levy Partnership, a property group which owns the head lease on disused railway tunnels under the —Nursery Ground, in return for developing flats, a pavilion and a frontage on to Wellington Road.

Planning permission on the Allen and Tavern Stands was granted by Westminster city council in 2015. These would have been rebuilt as one edifice, resulting in an increase of 1,082 seats, and further work would have been undertaken on the Thomas Lord banqueting suite, the Tavern pub and the Harris garden. Some MCC members, who were planning to object to the Middlesex Room in the Allen Stand being taken over for staff use, will raise the delay in rebuilding at the club’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

A green paper, purportedly independent and outlining the latest plans for redevelopment, has already been redrafted several times but is expected to be sent out to members next month. “This explains that it would be much more beneficial financially for the club to redevelop the Compton and Edrich Stands than to create a new Tavern and Allen Stand first”, Robert Ebdon, MCC’s assistant secretary, has written in a letter to some concerned members.

MCC may have to re-apply for a new consent if the Allen and Tavern Stands are not implemented by 2020. It will be easier for the club to install smaller seats in the Compton and Edrich Stands, which are for public use, than in the Warner, Allen and Tavern, which are for members and friends, following a successful demand by members for greater leg room.

The rebuilding of the Compton and Edrich Stands was advocated in the original “Vision for Lord’s”, which was scrapped in 2011. There has long been a difference of opinion within the club over whether to build another tier, hence obscuring the view of the treeline from the pavilion that was cherished and protected by Gubby Allen for many years. If the new edifices incorporate food stalls at the rear, the Nursery Ground might have to be extended beyond the temporary marquees to Wellington Road, hence reducing the space available for the building of flats.

If the capacity of Lord’s is extended to 31,000, it would be 9,000 short of the figure envisaged in the “Vision,” which was abandoned by the then chairman, Oliver Stocken, and the treasurer, Justin Dowley, after the development committee, including Sir John Major, Mike Atherton and Tony Lewis, voted unanimously that the £UK400 million ($A684 m) project should go ahead. Stocken and Dowley, citing concerns over the recession, threatened to resign if it did.

The development committee was summarily dismissed, Major resigned from the main committee and Keith Bradshaw, the club’s secretary, returned to Australia. The Warner Stand, which will be re-opened on Wednesday, has been rebuilt at a cost of £UK25 million($A42.8 m), but delay over developing other parts of the ground has coincided with the establishment of international venues elsewhere and speculation over competing venues for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposed new Twenty20 competition.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,122

 Wednesday, 3 May 2017

 

• Bowlers handed ten-year bans for umpire protest 'no balls' [2122-10762].

Club claim 'shirt-front' penalty was swept under the carpet [2122-10763].

Bowlers handed ten-year bans for umpire protest 'no balls'.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017.

PTG 2122-10762.

Two Bangladesh club cricketers who deliberately conceded runs to protest against poor umpiring in the Dhaka Second Division Cricket League three weeks ago have been banned from the sport for 10 years.  In addition the captains, managers and coaches of both teams have been banned for five years and their clubs barred indefinitely from the competition (PTG 2115-10729, 28 April 2017).  

The Lalmatia Club's Sujon Mahmud conceded 92 runs in four legal deliveries in his side's match against Axiom Cricketers last month, delivering 15 no balls and 13 wides that also raced to the boundary.  Around the same time Fear Fighters Sporting Club's Tasnim Hasan had 69 runs in seven legitimate deliveries in a similar protest against the umpiring in an earlier match (PTG 2103-10660, 13 April 2017).

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) director Jalal Yunus was quoted as saying by the 'Daily Star’ as saying: "This incident has dented the reputation of Bangladesh cricket and we have taken a stern step because this was important for us.  They willingly tarnished the image of Bangladesh cricket”, Sheikh Sohel the BCB's disciplinary committee chief said.  A bowler won't be able to do such a thing without the order of their team management. Our investigation shows it was done to hurt Bangladesh cricket”.

Club claim 'shirt-front' penalty was swept under the carpet.

Alex Oates.

Geelong Advertiser.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017.

PTG 2122-10763. 

Geelong Cricket Association (GCA) club St Peter’s has taken a swipe at the GCA claiming it was kept in the dark over the penalty handed down to a player who shirt-fronted its captain. South Barwon fielder Sean Thompson was banned by his club from his side's grand final match in late March after shoulder charging on St Peter’s captain Brett Fisher when he was standing as the square leg umpire (PTG 2082-10543, 23 March 2017.  

St Peter's has labelled the GCA “unprofessional” after claims it failed to disclose the 12-week penalty that was later imposed on Thompson following a tribunal hearing in mid-April.  The communication breakdown left GCA president Barry McFarlane “flabbergasted”, but tribunal chairman David Robson was last night adamant St Peter’s was notified of the penalty.  “They have been told”, Robson said.

GCA administration manager Garry Goodman, who was at the hearing, said Fisher was told of the penalty but club advocates were not in the room at the time.  Thompson served a club-imposed suspension and was ordered to face an independent hearing after laying a shoulder charge on Fisher.  The St Peter’s captain suffered a back injury as a result that forced him out of work for over a week.

In addition to his 12-week suspension, Thompson also has a 12-month suspended sentence hanging over his head.  St Peter’s will consider appealing the tribunal’s findings, vice-president Justin Brown describing the penalty was grossly inadequate.  “I think it’s very light”, Brown said.  “He’s physically accosted an umpire and it’s only 12 weeks, which is only half a season. It’s just not right and it’s not acceptable”.

Brown said his club was angry that the GCA had attempted to sweep the matter under the carpet.  “They told us that he was found guilty but they weren’t under any obligation to tell us what the penalty was”, Brown said.  “There needs to be an avenue where if we think the penalty is light on or unjustifiable that we can appeal it. What happens if he was given two weeks and we never found out about it?  It just doesn’t make any sense. If you’ve gone to the lengths of having an investigations committee, why wouldn’t you make everything transparent?”

McFarlane was at a lost to explain how St Peter’s was not notified, but vowed to get to the bottom of it.  “I have know idea what happened”, McFarlane said.  “I cannot understand why they weren’t told. That flabbergasted me. I wasn’t involved in the hearing at all, so I wasn’t aware that St Peter’s wasn’t advised of the penalty and I don’t understand why.  I’ll bring that up with the appropriate people but it seems very strange to me”.

Goodman revealed that tribunal was provided with “conflicting evidence” over the nature of Thompson’s shoulder charge. “South Barwon said [theshirt-front] was front on, where St Peter’s said it was from behind and he injured his back”, Goodman said.  “There was no evidence to back up either side. The St Peter’s captain [Fisher] was very angry at the tribunal and that didn’t help his cause”.


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,123

 Thursday, 4 May 2017

 

• BCB bans for ‘no ball’ protest a lesson in scapegoating [2123-10764].

• CoA to BCCI: 'Drastic steps may jeopardise ICC negotiations’ [2123-10765].

• What might have been [2123-10766].

BCB bans for ‘no ball’ protest a lesson in scapegoating.

The Daily Star.

Thursday, 4 May 2017.

PTG 2123-10764.

In addition to banning players, clubs and their officials over the recent ‘no ball’ protests against so-called ‘biased umpiring’ in two recent Dhaka Second Division Cricket League (PTG 2122-10762, 3 May 2017), the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has also given six month bans to the two umpires who were standing in both games.  Shamsur Rahman and Azizul Bari have been stood down for their "inability to properly control" the games, a ruling must have brought a sigh of relief to them as they will have ’served their time’ before the next season gets underway.

You may have a lot of questions in your mind regarding the justification of the punishments to players and clubs over the ‘no ball’ protest issued.  But even if you accept the vague terms from the BCB such as 'tarnishing image’, one question must be asked -- whether the game's governing body in Bangladesh was sincere enough to go to the root of the problem or were they only looking for some scapegoats.

The BCB's umpires' committee have the sole authority to allocate match officials but the clubs have long been raising their voices at the committee's deaf ears about taking action against certain umpires and asking that they not be awarded any matches.  Kazi Yusha Mishu and Sailab Hossain Tutul have been occupying the posts of chairman and member-secretary of the BCB's umpires' committee respectively for such a long time that many could not recall when they started, and it seems that their aptitude for the posts is directly proportional to their loyalty towards the powerful.

With biased umpiring gradually and silently decaying Bangladesh cricket, there was a need to revamp the committee to solve this perennial problem, but BCB has so far showed little urgency to solve it. 

We wish that this punishment could solve the evil practice of deciding the fate of a match beyond the boundaries of the playing field where every stakeholder, starting from club officials to umpires, engage in backroom dealings. It is a practice that has been going on for years, especially at the lower levels of domestic cricket and with the full knowledge of the board. But unfortunately, the nature of the punishment hints that the board's wrath was focused on those who, even if wrongfully, tried to portray the true picture of the ills of domestic cricket while failing to address the root of all the evils.  

CoA to BCCI: 'Drastic steps may jeopardise ICC negotiations’.

Nagraj Gollapud.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017.

PTG 2123-10765.

The Indian Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) will not shy away from intervening if it feels any decision taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at Sunday's special general meeting (SGM) hurts the interests of Indian cricket. In an e-mail sent to the state associations who are to attend, the CoA issued a thinly-veiled warning that they would take the matter to the Supreme Court should the BCCI decide to take any "drastic step/measure” on Sunday which could "jeopardise" ongoing negotiations with the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The BCCI called the SGM to update the state associations on the discussions and decisions emanating from the April round of ICC Board meetings, the second SGM called by the BCCI in less than a month. At the previous one in mid-April, the BCCI had authorised Amitabh Choudhary, the acting BCCI secretary, to ask the ICC Board to defer any decision on the new constitution, governance structure as well as the new finance model. Choudhary did so and also argued that the BCCI should get $US570 million as its share from ICC tournaments in the 2015-23 right cycle (PTG 2119-10747, 1 May 2017).  But his request was rejected (PTG 2115-10731, 28 April 2017).

Disgruntled, some BCCI office bearers and state associations want to take an aggressive stance and have threatened to revoke the ICC Members Partnership Agreement (MPA) signed by the Indian board and ICC in 2014 (PTG 2121-10760, 2 May 2017). A dozen state associations including two BCCI office bearers - Choudhary and board treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry - wanted to send the ICC a legal notice challenging the decisions taken last week, though that was thwarted when the CoA stepped in. 

If the BCCI were to revoke the MPA, then India will pull out of the Champions Trophy, which starts on 1 June in England. Seemingly pre-empting such a decision, the CoA is seeking a more collaborative approach between the BCCI and the ICC and other members, believing that it will help especially in negotiations on the financial model. "It is in the interests of Indian cricket for the BCCI to continue negotiations with the ICC and other cricket boards to arrive at an amount/share that is somewhere between that envisaged under the financial model that was put in place in 2014 and that which is envisaged under the revised financial model”, the CoA said in a comprehensive e-mail, sent to the state associations on Wednesday morning.

Being bullish, the CoA pointed out to the BCCI, would only harm its own cause. "It is not in the interests of Indian cricket for the BCCI to take any drastic step/ measure which may result in breakdown of negotiations between the BCCI, ICC and other cricket boards, especially since there is sufficient time between now and the ICC Conference [next month] for a negotiated outcome to be arrived at”.  Instead, the SGM ought to take a "mature and well-considered” approach, said the CoA will, who will "support any decision taken by the BCCI as long as it was unanimous and protected the interests of Indian cricket". 

The CoA message emphasised though that: "In the extremely unlikely event that the decision of the Members of BCCI at the SGM is one which, in our view, is against the interests of Indian cricket, we would be duty bound to bring such decision to the attention of the Supreme Court, communicate our views to the Supreme Court and seek its intervention in the matter as also to take such other steps that we consider necessary to protect the interests of Indian cricket”.

What might have been.

Neil Manthorp.

Supersport.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017.

PTG 2123-10766.

It was fantastic news to hear that the directors of the member nations of the International Cricket Council (ICC) had agreed to a new, refreshed and updated constitution at their quarterly meeting in Dubai last week – and also a new financial model for the distribution of television rights revenue (PTG 2115-10731, 28 April 2017).

It might all sound a bit ‘removed’ from the day-to-day running of the game for the hundreds of millions of cricket lovers throughout the world who actually keep the game alive, but they will notice – and benefit – if the changes are adopted. If… (PTG 2123-10765 above).

At the moment they have been agreed to in principle but will have to be ratified by the ICC Full Council in June. There are still several massive hurdles to clear before that happens. If it does, then greater accountability, transparency of administration and equitable standing will have been achieved. 

And, with the addition of five new votes to the ten existing Test nations, including independent directors and a greater say for the ICC second-tier Associate Members like Ireland and Afghanistan, the effective monopoly of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will no longer exist. Which is why nobody should take anything for granted just yet. Indeed, a healthy scepticism should prevail.

Sadly, there was no news on the acceptance or otherwise of a proper, recognisable Test or One Day International championship (PTG 2039-10324, 5 February 2017). Not even on a World Twenty20 league, which should be the easiest and least contentious to organise. Bizarrely, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe counted among those who objected to the most recent proposal for a Test Championship that would be contested over three years on a home and away basis wherever possible. Governments, of course, mean that India and Pakistan will have to play on neutral territory and England and Zimbabwe will probably never play each other.

But Bangladesh and Zim would, at the very least, benefit from far more regular Test cricket than they are currently enjoying. So why vote against it? There are still far too many ‘deals’ taking place under tables and behind closed doors for the health of the game. 

Way back in 2011, when Haroon Lorgat was the ICC’s chief executive, an agreement was reached to stage the first ever Test Championship in 2013. But the BCCI rallied its cronies and vetoed the plan before final details could be confirmed. It was agreed to postpone it to 2019. Not only did it never happen, but the admittedly popular and successful Champions Trophy was reintroduced. 

So next month we have another 50-over Champions Trophy. If the Test Championship had gone ahead next month, it would have been, given their respective current Test ranking, India against South Africa, either at a neutral venue of India’s choosing as the number one ranked nation, or at a venue in India. How mouth-watering would that have been?

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,124

 Friday, 5 May 2017

 

• ICC beefs up WWC prize money, broadcast arrangements [2124-10767].

• Cricketers are at risk in 'a game based on failure’ [2124-10768].

• ‘High risk’ drug problem in the game, claims anti-doping expert [2124-10769].

• Mumbai Cricket Association bans 10, sidelines 16, for age-fudging [2124-10770].

• Wrong shirt draws match referee's ire [2124-10771].

ICC beefs up WWC prize money, broadcast arrangements.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 4 May 2017.

PTG 2124-10767.

Women's cricket is line in for a significant pay increase at their World Cup in England in June-July, a tournament that will see the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) in operation in the women’s game for the first time.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) has approved prize money of nearly $US2 milllion ($A2.7 m, £UK1.55 m) for the tournament, which is up significantly from the $US200,000 ($A269.820, £154,820) available at the previous event four years ago.  Broadcast commitments have also been substantially expanded, with every ball set to be televised for the first time in the competition's history.

ICC chief executive David Richardson is hoping it's the first step towards greater parity and recognition for the women's game.  He said:  “The Women’s World Cup [WWC] is the pinnacle of the women’s game and as such the players should be rewarded appropriately.  We think the Women’s World Cup this [northern] summer will be a turning point in the history of the game. There is growing interest globally in women's sports and we want cricket to be front and centre of this and lead by example”.

Ten matches in the eight-team tournament, 31 matches event will be broadcast live on television with the remaining 21 matches live-streamed.

The television broadcasts, which will include the two semifinals and the final, will be covered using 30 cameras. This includes, eight Hawk-Eye cameras which will be employed at each broadcast game for Ultra-motion ball-tracking that will enable a detailed analysis of the game.  The final at Lord’s in late July will see a drone camera and ‘Spidercam’ deployed, something never seen before in women’s cricket or at Lord’s itself.

Cricketers are at risk in 'a game based on failure’.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 5 May 2017.

PTG 2124-10768.

"Cricket is a game based on failure”, wrote Graeme Fowler in his autobiography, 'Absolutely Foxed', last year.  He explained a batsman has to cope with the fact that nine times out of 10 he will not achieve his aim of scoring a hundred. Even the great Sir Donald Bradman only managed it once in every three innings so, by that logic, he too failed most of the time. 

When Fowler played in the 1980s and early 1990s nobody in cricket talked about mental health. “If you asked to see a sports psychologist they would have said, ‘What’s bloody up with you’”, he says now.  But cricket has been forced to address its mental health issues over the past decade as a string of high profile players have succumbed to the pressures of the sport. 

Fowler is now a mental health ambassador for the UK Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) along with fellow sufferers Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick, Mike Yardy, Monty Panesar, Tim Ambrose and Iain O’Brien. All played international cricket. All were successful in their own field but all suffered mental health problems. They can talk to players from a unique, personal perspective.

Every professional cricketer in England has the personal phone numbers of each ambassador and can contact them at any time. The PCA has a 'Mind Matters' program covering education and treatment as well as a confidential 24 hour helpline. 

Fowler toured the 18 counties last year speaking to the current generation about his own mental health battles and promoted the idea of looking out for one another. Often it can be fellow players who spot the first signs.  But he says the main message is to remove the stigma and tell players it is OK to have a problem. “We say you wouldn’t feel guilty if you got injured or had a virus so why should you feel guilty for feeling like you are at the moment”, he said.

“If someone talks to me I will listen to them and tell them my story and what happened to me and see if that strikes a chord with them.  Then I will always recommend they talk to a professional. I would not say the club doctor because sometimes if a player asks for to see the club doctor people stick their noses in and want to know what is going on.  I try to get them to talk to somebody in confidence who they can trust. If they don’t feel comfortable doing that I recommend they go to the GP or we will also send them to a psychologist if that is an option they want to pursue".  

“We also try to get players to recognise signs of team-mates not behaving the way they normally do. That is quite a complex issue but when you are playing seven days a week with people you learn their behaviour.  Now if you speak to a team-mate he might say ‘I’m fine’ but they also might come back several days later and say: ‘No,I am struggling.' It is the care that counts and we try to embrace that environment”. 

The PCA program also covers addiction to alcohol and drugs. Graham Gooch has personally funded an addiction to gambling program after seeing others suffer. Films on the PCA website include a moving interview with former Nottinghamshire player Kevin Saxelby, whose brother Mark, also a cricketer for Notts, took his own life aged just 31 in 2000.

“As people become more aware of depression and listen to what other people have gone through you have more understanding”, said Saxelby. “It is difficult for men to admit they have a problem with depression. He just could not see any way out of the position he was in. The more we can tell people there is help out there, and they accept they need help, then we are in a position to get them on their way to some sort of recovery”.

Fowler believes Everton footballer Aaron Lennon may have been failed by his sport. “I feel sad really that it got to such a stage. I don’t know the ins and outs of all of it but if it has gone that far then something along the way has sadly failed him. Football is an incredibly wealthy sport. But he had been left to his own devices. They have not come up trumps for him. There has not been a great support network”.

‘High risk’ drug problem in the game, claims anti-doping expert.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Thursday, 4 May 2017.

PTG 2124-10769.

An anti-doping expert has lifted the lid on a huge problem facing international cricket after two worrying cases arose in the game's shortest format.  The evolution of Twenty20 cricket has given the sport a huge shot in the arm, bringing a new generation of fans into the fold with record ticket sales and coverage - but according to experts, the pressure of faster-paced gameplay could soon bring a drug issue of gigantic proportions into the game.  In the UK, three quarters of professional cricketers in England and Wales were not tested for drugs in the past year (PTG 2104-10668, 14 April 2017).

A huge doping case descended on the cricketing world when West Indian T20 specialist Andre Russell was handed a ban for a breach in the rules.  The 28-year-old all-rounder failed to file his whereabouts on three separate occasions in 2015, an offence equal to failing a drug test under Anti-Doping Agency guidelines.  Russell was banned from playing professional cricket both internationally and domestically until late January 2018, although he is seeking to have the ban overturned (PTG 2083-10551, 24 March 2017).  

Then, in April this year, Afghanistan T20 powerhouse Mohammad Shahzad tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance, before being suspended.  The wicketkeeper-batsman is yet to receive the full outcome of his disciplinary hearing (PTG 2119-10752, 1 May 2017).

While cases like Russell's and Shahzad's are currently rare in international cricket, an expert warns they could be the first of many breaches to confront T20.  Richard Ings, the former head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, slammed cricket's "inconsistent" testing procedures in an interview with the 'New York Times'.  "Cricket is a high-risk sport for performance-enhancing drug use”, he said. "I would rate the risk of doping in cricket as high and the quality of the sport's co-ordinated global antidoping efforts as poor”.

Ings said signing and maintaining contracts appears to be main issue for players chasing careers in the game's shortest format and suggested the pressure for athletes to stay at their physical peak could send the sport down an undesirable path.  That, alongside the pressure of consistently bludgeoning sixes over the rope, is one of many issues presented by T20 cricket that could force more players into taking illicit substances.

"Risk is a function of motive and opportunity”, Ings said. "Motive in cricket exists because selections are highly competitive, contracts involve massive sums of money and injuries are common”.

The ever-growing nature of T20 - which has seen the format inspire club-based domestic competitions in England, Australia and the West Indies after the overwhelming success of the Indian Premier League - makes it increasingly hard to mediate drug testing.  Only 547 drug tests were conducted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last year across all formats of the game.  The ICC admitted they are "doing what they can" to police cricket, announcing blood tests in new measure to track a wider variety of banned substances (PTG 2040-10332, 6 February 2017).

Australia's Shane Warne was caught in one of cricket's most publicised drug offences in 2003 after being caught with Moduretic, a prescription drug banned by the ICC for its common use in masking steroids, in his system.  Warne was banned for a year by the ICC after tearfully admitting to using the diuretic, saying he was "shocked and absolutely devastated that the test sample indicated a presence of a prohibited substance ... because I have not taken performance-enhancing drugs”.  Warne returned to international cricket in early 2004.

Mumbai Cricket Association bans 10, sidelines 16, for age-fudging.

Subodh Mayure.

Mid-day.com.

Thursday, 4 May 2017.

PTG 2124-10770.

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has banned 16 players from across the Under-14, 16, 19 and 23 age groups from participating in summer vacation camps and tournaments due to age-fudging.  The players were caught producing fake birth certificates which did not match other documents such as their school leaving certificates and mark sheets. Age-fudging has been an issue in Indian cricket for some time (PTG 1702-8417, 3 December 2015)

A total of 26 players came under the scanner, but on verification, the MCA deemed 10 players eligible.  The remaining 16 and their parents have been summoned to the MCA office next Monday when their documents will be further scrutinised.  Until then, these players will not be permitted to be part of any local cricket activities, according to MCA Honorary Secretary Unmesh Khanvilkar.  Players found guilty of misrepresenting their true age could be banned for two years.

Age-fudging has been rampant in some quarters.  MCA vice-president Vinod Deshpande said: "One player produced a document to prove that he is in Class VII. The same cricketer had earlier submitted a certificate to indicate he is in Class IX. Last year, we discovered some players were over-aged when we began selecting the Mumbai Under-19 team”, as also happened in the state of Orissa (PTG 1936-9736, 2 October 2016).

MCA managing committee member Ramesh Vazge said: "Age-fudging is a major cause of decay in Mumbai cricket. It is not fair to other players who adopt fair means to pursue their cricketing careers. This is a serious issue and we need to find a permanent solution to stop this”.

Wrong shirt draws match referee's ire.

Press Trust of India.

Thursday, 4 May 2017.

PTG 2124-10771.

Australian Dan Christian has attracted the attention of match referee Javagal Srinath for accidently wearing the wrong playing shirt in an Indian Premier League match on Wednesday.  Christian wore a shirt bearing his name and the number 54 during Rising Pune Supergiant's bowling innings, but the all-rounder made what could be a costly wardrobe change in the run chase.

After the Australian hit a match-winning six in the final over, eagle-eyed television viewers were quick to point out on social media that Christian was wearing a shirt bearing the number 55 and the name of English teammate Ben Stokes.  The tournament's rules regarding clothing and equipment suggest Christian may attract some kind of punishment for his mistake; for they state that "a player’s name and number must correctly reflect the identity of the player”.

The all-rounder indicated that he's already attracted a reprimand from the match referee.  "Put my shirt out to dry after the bowling innings, and grabbed the wrong one before I went out to bat, much to the ire of the match referee”, Christian wrote in an Instagram post.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,125

 Saturday, 6 May 2017

 

• India CT uncertainty unsettling advertisers, Star tells ICC [2125-10772].

• SLC pleased with reduction in age-group suspect actions [2125-10773].

India CT uncertainty unsettling advertisers, Star tells ICC.

Reuters.

Friday, 5 May 2017.

PTG 2125-10772.

Indian broadcaster Star Sports, a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, has raised concerns with the International Cricket Council (ICC) that advertisers might steer clear of next month's Champions Trophy (CT) if India opted against competing at the tournament in England.  The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was outvoted in its bid to stall a new revenue model for the world body, a situation that has led to some at the BCCI calling for a CT boycott (PTG 2121-10760, 2 May 2017).

Unimpressed by the almost halving of their current share of the monies it receives from the ICC, the BCCI responded by refusing to name a squad for June's One Day International competition by the ICC’s 25 April cutoff date (PTG 2119-10747, 1 May 2017).  "There is concern in the market”, said the Star India official, who wished to remain anonymous, adding that the broadcaster had paid $US1.9 billion ($A2.6 bn, £UK1.5 bn) for the current ICC rights package.  "There has been no official communication from the ICC or the BCCI on India's participation.  We have sent an email to the ICC asking how they plan to compensate us if our business is impacted due to India's pullout”.

United States businessman Rupert Murdoch's Star group owns broadcast rights for 18 ICC global events to be held during an eight-year cycle from 2015, including two 50-over World Cups, two Twenty20 World Championships and a similar number of CT events.  India's huge market is a major draw for sponsors and advertisers, who often plan product launches around major cricket tournaments and book advertising slots in advance.

The option of pulling out of the CCT by revoking the Members Participation Agreement between the ICC and the BCCI has been gaining traction within the India board, who will discuss the issue at a special general meeting on Sunday.  The operations of the BCCI are currently being supervised by four court-appointed administrators (CoA), who has said it would intervene if the board took any drastic measures which might hurt Indian cricket (PTG 2123-10765, 4 May 2017).  It has since “directed" the BCCI to select and announce the squad for the event “immediately".

The top eight sides in the world rankings compete in the CT and it remains unclear who would replace India, who won the last edition in 2013, if they decide to withdraw.

SLC pleased with reduction in age-group suspect actions.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 5 May 2017.

PTG 2125-10773.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) says that its drive to reduce the number of bowlers with suspect actions in school and age-group cricket has been a success. According to SLC vice-president K Mathivanan a "visibility drive campaign where umpires had workshops for school coaches to create awareness the issue.  As a result the number of reported cases fell from 178 last year across the Under-19, 17, 15 and 13 age groups to five this year. 

Those SLC workshops followed the visit of International Cricket Council's Richard Dunne to Sri Lanka in August 2015 when he conducted a series of workshops to educate local umpires on suspect actions.  Those events, which were conducted in Colombo, Galle, Dambulla and Kandy, were reported to have been attended by around 160 coaches (PTG 1626-7942, 24 August 2015).

Mathivanan said: "Only one boy was reported in the U-19 age group this season and four in U-13. No one was reported in the U-17 and U-15 age groups. This is certainly an encouraging sign; it's a vast improvement from last year”.  He went on to say that only six bowlers had been reported for suspect bowling actions in club cricket. These bowlers, he said, had then worked with former Sri Lanka fast bowler Ravindra Pushpakumara at the Khettarama Stadium High Performance Centre to improve their actions.

The SLC vice-president attributed the success of the campaign to the Illegal Bowling Action Committee (IBAC), headed by former Sri Lanka player Ishak Sahabdeen, and assistance from umpires Asoka de Silva and Tyron Wijewardene.  "The boys and coaches know that the umpires are also monitoring them”, Mathivanan said. "Some time back the umpires were just calling them but now they know their actions are being monitored and some of the suspect bowlers are not bowling at all. They may have even given up bowling”.

The need to eradicate illegal deliveries at school level grew more urgent after three Sri Lankan bowlers were reported for suspect actions during the 2014 U-19 World Cup. To prevent a repetition in the 2016 version, SLC sent seven bowlers with suspect actions to the International Cricket Council-accredited testing centre in Chennai to have their bowling actions checked and corrected. As a result no Sri Lankan bowler was reported during the 2016 tournament.

"We will start the campaign again in August to create more awareness with posters and also issue a CD with the bowling actions of what represents a fair and unfair delivery”, continued Mathivanan. "We'll have posters put up in the schools and have workshops with the school coaches and umpires. It's only through the workshop program this awareness was created”. 

"We want to keep this campaign going each year as there are new boys coming through the U-13 age group upwards. We just can't relax because this is an ongoing thing, and the moment there are signs of relaxing this menace can always creep in, we need to conduct this program every year”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,126

 Sunday, 7 May 2017

 

• BCB handed list of alleged ‘non-neutral’ umpires [2126-10774].

• India confirms Champions Trophy participation [2126-10775].

• Aussie umpire pair for Womens’ World Cup [2126-10776].

• CA team to assess Bangladesh tour security [2126-10777].

BCB handed list of alleged ‘non-neutral’ umpires.

Atif Azam.

New Age Publishing.

Sunday, 7 May 2017.

PTG 2126-10774.

The Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM) has submitted the names of nine umpires to the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) umpires committee whose "track records” they are suggest will not conduct themselves in a neutral manner during CCDM third division matches (PTG 2123-10764, 4 May 2017).  News of the list followed allegations of poor umpiring in second division games last month, the player protests involved leading to the suspension of players, clubs, officials and two umpires for periods ranging from six months to two years (PTG 2122-10762, 3 May 2017).

Both Azizul Bari and Shamsur Rahman, the umpires who were banned for six months because they were unable to "control situations" in the two controversial second division matches under focus, are in the list of "incompetent umpires” submitted by the CCDM.  Whether the nine will be allowed to officiate in third division fixtures remains unclear.  A meeting between the 20 third division clubs and the BCB on Saturday ended abruptly after details of third division playing conditions were read out, no chance being given for those present to ask questions of the administrators.

India confirms Champions Trophy participation.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 7 May 2017.

PTG 2126-10775.

A special general meeting (SGM) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has cleared their national team's participation in next month’s Champions Trophy (CT) series.  At that gathering in New Delhi, the BCCI also decided against sending a legal notice to the International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding a breach of the BCCI-ICC Members Participation Agreement (MPA), instead authorising acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary to continue negotiations with the world body regarding India's share of ICC revenue (PTG 2119-10747, 1 May 2017).

The BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA) convinced those present to take that approach and as a result India's playing squad for the CT will be announced on Monday.  Before the SGM, CoA members met India’s state cricket associations to lay out the implications involved under the MPA should a CT pull-out go ahead.  They include missing all the other ICC tournaments between now and 2023.  The CoA also pointed out the situation regarding the all-important television advertising issue (PTG 2125-10772, 6 May 2017).

 

Aussie umpire pair for Womens’ World Cup.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 7 May 2017.

PTG 2126-10776.

Australian umpires Paul Wilson and Claire Polosak are to stand in this year’s Womens’ World Cup (WWC) in June-July, according to reports from Sydney and Newcastle.  The two New South Wales (NSW) based umpires, the former a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) and the latter of its third-tier Development Panel (DP), will be part of a group of 12-15 umpires that will also include Chris Brown and Kathy Cross, ICC IUP and DP members respectively from New Zealand (PTG 2121-10758, 2 May 2017).

Polosak’s selection for the WWC comes as no surprise for she is a key part of both the ICC and Cricket Australia’s (CA) push to increase the number of females umpiring both domestically and on the world scene. Made a member of the ICC DP a year ago, it will be Polosak's first WWC.  She made her debut in a Womens’ One Day International (WODI) last November and stood in qualifier event for the forthcoming tournament in Colombo in February (PTG 2031-10282, 26 January 2017).  

Her first ICC sojourn was to Thailand in March 2015 for a Womens’ World T20 Championship (WT20C) qualifier series, after that progressing to the WT20C itself in India early last year (PTG 1773-8853, 1 March 2016).  Last month, just after her 29th birthday, she stood in her first men’s Under-19 Test and ODI fixtures.  A former teacher, she now works, say media reports, as Cricket NSW’s "umpire educator/female umpire engagement”, conducting courses for umpires around that state. 

Wilson, 45, who describes himself in CA’s somewhat factitious umpire web site profile as a “Progressional sport official and coach”, played 51 first class games for both South and Western Australia, one of them a Test for his country, in the period from 1995-2004.  He came to umpiring as the third member of CA's Project Panel for fast tracking former first class players, the first and second being current ICC Elite Umpire Panel (EUP) members Rod Tucker and Paul Reiffel.  

After making his first class debut in November 2009, Wilson joined CA’s top National Umpires (NUP) panel in late 2010, and was moved into an IUP third umpire spot in the lead upon to the 2013-14 austral summer (PTG 1193-5748, 23 September 2013).  He made his ODI debut in November 2014 and his first appointment from the ICC was to a Hong Kong-Papua New Guinea ODI series in late 2014, then to Ireland in 2015 for a men’s WT20C qualifier series.

Newcastle-based Wilson’s selection is particularly interesting for he has been chosen ahead of Australian NUP and IUP on-field member Mick Martell.  That and other appointments over the last six months suggest Wilson will replace Martell, who stood in last year’s Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh (PTG 1761-8783, 12 February 2016), in that IUP on-field role later this year, with Martell dropping to a TV spot alongside his NUP colleague Sam Nogajski.  

Should Simon Fry, Australia’s other current IUP on-field member, be elevated to the ICC’s EUP in June (PTG 2044-10353, 10 February 2017), evidence available publicly suggests that by the end of this year, Wilson and Nogajski, 38, will be in the IUP on-field spots, and that Martell will be joined in the IUP TV spot by Shawn Craig, 43, another NUP member, whose appointments over the past year suggest he is on the rise.

CA team to assess Bangladesh tour security.

The Daily Star.

Sunday, 7 May 2017.

PTG 2126-10777.

A delegation from Cricket Australia (CA) is expected to arrive in Bangladesh next week to assess the security arrangements for Australia’s expected two-Test tour in August.  Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury told reporters in Mirpur on Saturday:  “Teams like Australia, England and India have certain standard pre-tour activities, [and as such] the [CA] team will check the security arrangements and assess other opportunities”.

Last week, BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon said that Australia had confirmed it's tour of Bangladesh during an unofficial meeting between the two boards' leaders' on the sidelines of the recent International Cricket Council meeting in Dubai. CA were to have sent its national team to Bangladesh in October 2015 for a Test series, however, they postponed that visit citing security concerns and also pulled their team out of the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh for the same reason.

Chowdhury also said that the BCB had sent a draft tour itinerary to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for Pakistan's expected tour of Bangladesh in July.  Late last month the PCB said publicly that they won't be touring Bangladesh at that time, but is yet to tell the BCB that officially. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,127

 Monday, 8 May 2017

 

• Banned ‘no ball’ protest captain asks BCB for a reprieve [2127-10778].

• Alcohol price hikes to make ECB T20 'family friendly’ [2127-10779].

• BCCI old guard continuing resistance to Lodha reforms [2127-10780].

• Car crash stops play in village match [2127-10781].

• Power cut disrupts new £UK25m Lord’s stand debut [2127-10782].

Banned ‘no ball’ protest captain asks BCB for a reprieve.

The Daily Star.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2127-10778.

The captain of one of the teams who was banned from playing for five years by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) over the ‘no ball’ umpiring “protest” in a BCB match last last month, went to the board’s headquarters in Dhaka on Sunday to request his suspension be withdrawn (PTG 2122-10762, 3 May 2017).  Faisal Ahmed, the Lalmatia Club’s skipper in the game in which Sujon Mahud concede 92 runs in four balls, told reporters: “I have come here today to ask the BCB to forgive me and let me continue playing cricket. I want to do something great in this game and I want to play”.

Ahmed said he “wanted to inform the board that I was captain for only that game and I really didn't have anything to do with the incident. I had told Sujon not to bowl that way, but he did not listen to me”.  When asked why he was not able to handle the situation on the field, he said: “I couldn't do anything until he had bowled six balls in that over”.

The banned captain spoke to BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury who asked him to submit his case in a written letter to the board.  While the BCB announced to the media the steps they had taken against the players involved in the two protest actions, they are yet to officially communicate the verdicts to the players.

Last week, the BCB said it had banned Lalmatia’s Mahmud and Tasnim Hasan from Fear Fighter Sporting Club for 10 years.  It also banned the captains, coaches and team managers of Lalmatia and Fear Fighter for five years and suspended the two clubs indefinitely.  Umpires Azizul Bari Babu and Shamsur Rahman Jacky, who stood in both games, were suspended for six months because of their "inability to handle the game". 

Alcohol price hikes to make ECB T20 'family friendly’.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2127-10779.

The price of alcohol at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new Twenty20 competition could be significantly increased in an attempt to stop drunken behaviour and make the tournament more attractive to women and families.  A pint of beer at one of the larger grounds where the ECB’s current T20 ‘Blast' matches are played costs about £UK5 ($A8.75), but it is possible that this could be increased to £8 or £9 ($A14-15.75), with soft drinks being as little as 50p or £1 ($A90c or $A1.75).

As well as price hikes, the venues for the eight-team tournament that will run from 2020 are likely to have family-only areas or “dry zones”, where no alcohol can be consumed. It is also likely that there will be no alcohol or gambling sponsorship allowed on team shirts or inside the grounds.

The ECB’s working group has discussed a number of ideas on how to ensure that the new competition attracts an audience of predominantly families rather than the “stag-do” culture that prevails at Thursday and Friday night T20 Blast matches at present.

Andy Nash, the Somerset chairman, told the Somerset fan website 'The Incider' last week: “One of the problems we have with the ‘Blast' is trying to make it more of a family occasion but we do get stag parties turning up and having a beer fest.  The Friday night games are like a massive party and that will put off some families.  Games get sold out and it is probably not somewhere you want to bring your kids. You might see with ‘Supercharged' [the new T20 competition] that alcohol is priced out so people aren’t going to drink too much of it”.

The ECB is also looking at altering the salary cap from 2020 onwards. At present, each county can spend £1.9 million ($A3.3 m) on wages, including those of overseas players. The level of the salary cap is set at two per cent of the ECB’s central revenues, which come mostly from broadcast deals and sponsorship. However, that central revenue is expected to at least double and possibly treble from 2020 with a new television deal in place, meaning that the salary cap could increase to more than £5 million ($A8.75 m) under those terms.

There are concerns within the ECB and some of the debt-ridden Test counties that one of the unintended consequences of each county receiving an additional £1.3 million  ($A2.28 m) from 2020 onwards, once the proposed new T20 competition starts, is that those counties who do not have significant debts will use this increase to offer higher wages.

Counties with Test-match grounds and large debts will need to use the additional income to pay off some of that debt. This could lead to counties such as Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Somerset being in the position where they are able to offer much larger salaries and could lead to large disparities in what county players are paid.

To avoid this, the ECB is in discussions with the Professional Cricketers’ Association about changing the way the salary cap is calculated.  Instead of the cap being two per cent of ECB income, it will be limited to increases in inflation only. The move is likely to be unpopular with some non-Test match counties who believe that being able to pay their players more is one of the few benefits of missing out on being part of the new T20 competition.

There is a feeling among some chief executives that the increased money should trickle down to players — even those who will not be involved in the new T20.

BCCI old guard continuing resistance to Lodha reforms.

Press Trust of India.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2127-10780.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), took part in that organisation's special general meeting (SGM) on Sunday from London via ’Skype', thus again raising questions about the eligibility criteria for BCCI membership agreed to by India’s Supreme Court.  The SGM cleared the participation of India’s team in next month’s Champions Trophy series, and authorised the BCCI to continue negotiations with the International Cricket Council (ICC) on revenue matters (PTG 2126-10755, 7 May 2017).

A senior BCCI official said: “Yes, Mr Srinivasan attended the meeting via conference call from London [as] there is no clarity [as to whether] he is disqualified [from BCCI membership] or not. The Supreme Court passed a judgement that he won’t be allowed to attend ICC meetings, but it never clarified whether he is ineligible to attend an SGM [or not]”.

The old guard of BCCI is still showing defiance with Srinivasan, 71, deemed disqualified as per the Lodha Committee Reforms which call for an age cap of 70 years.  In a similar move, Niranjan Shah, the 72-year old Saurashtra Cricket Association’s former president, convened a meeting of the National Cricket Academy last week.  

It will be interesting to see as to what the BCCI’s Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators’ stand will be when they know about Srinivasan’s SGM participation.

Car crash stops play in village match.

Alan Thompson.

Leicester Mercury.

Sunday, 7 May 2017.

PTG 2127-10781.

A Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket League Division 4 match between Barkby United and Medbourne was interrupted by the sound of grinding metal when a car crashed onto the field of play on Saturday.  The vehicle skidded on the road, slipped sideways then smashed through a metal boundary fence and ended up on the spot where a fielder had been standing 10 minutes earlier.  Pieces of metal were strewn across the edge of the ground.  No one was injured and play is said to have resumed after a short break.

Power cut disrupts new £UK25m Lord’s stand debut.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2127-10782.

There was embarrassment at Lord’s on Sunday after the £UK25 million ($A43.8 m) Warner Stand, opened by the Duke of Edinburgh last week, experienced several technical issues during England’s One Day International (ODI) against Ireland.  The new stand suffered a power cut during play, which meant that the bars and toilets were out of use for members and guests. There were also problems with the lifts. Lord’s insists the issues will be corrected by the time England face South Africa in an ODI in two weeks time.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,128

 Tuesday, 9 May 2017

 

• The strangest dismissal in cricket history? [2128-10783].

• ‘No ball’ call sees bowler fined, but captain escapes [2128-10784].

• Indian umpires to stand in IPL final for the first time [2128-10785].

• 'The BCCI concedes nothing' in agreeing to play Champions Trophy [2128-10786].

• Another player summoned by PCB over fanti-corruption code issues [2128-10787].

• Anti-doping authority drops appeal on Russell ban length [2128-10788].

• CSA moves closer to overturn of major tournament ban [2128-10789].

The strangest dismissal in cricket history?

Jack McAnespie.

Sporting News.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10783.

 

A Mid Year Cricket Association game played in Melbourne on Saturday has thrown up one of the stranger dismissals on record.  In the match between the Moonee Valley Cricket Club and Strathmore Heights, a batsman was dismissed when his middle stump was knocked out of the ground, however, the bails defied the laws of physics and remained unmoved. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debate is currently raging on social media as to whether the umpire concerned, who gave the batsman out, was correct or not.  Many people believe the bails needed to be removed for a player to be declared bowled, while others believe that the stump coming out of the ground justifies the umpire's decision to send the batsman back to the pavillion.

Part of Law 30 ‘Bowled’ states that: “The striker is out Bowled if his wicket is put down by a ball delivered by the bowler, not being a No ball, even if it first touches his bat or person”.  Law 28, ’The wicket is down’, says in part that: "The wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the ground”.  

‘No ball’ call sees bowler fined, but captain escapes.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10784.

Kings XI bowler Sandeep Sharma has been fined half of his match fee for showing dissent at an umpire's decision during his team's Indian Premier League match against Gujarat Lions in Mohali on Sunday.  Right armer Sharma got into a heated argument with umpire Ammanabrole Nand Kishore after he was called for a ‘no ball’ because in the latter’s view he changed his delivery mode from over to around the wicket without advice.

Replays are not conclusive but they show Nand Kishore had been facing Sharma, who was at the top of his run, when the bowler appears to signal to the umpire as he moved across to the top of his mark for a delivery around the wicket.  

Sharma ran in with non-striker Dwayne Smith remaining on the umpire's right-hand side, though the West Indian was standing wide enough to allow him ample room to bowl.  Gujarat batsman Ishan Kishan did not appear put off by Sharma's switch, clipping the delivery off his legs to the mid-wicket fielder for no run.  

But the umpire was apparently caught by surprise and signalled a no-ball, prompting an incredulous response from Sharma and his captain Glenn Maxwell. Both the bowler and his captain reacted furiously, gesturing and debating at close range with the umpire during what ended up being a lengthy delay in then game.  Maxwell was seen walking away, his gestures and comments that were available to lip readers clearly suggesting he too dissented from the umpire’s decision, however, unlike Sharma he did not attract a censure from match referee Javagal Srinath.

Indian umpires to stand in IPL final for the first time.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10785.

For the first time in its ten-year history, the on-field match officials assigned to the final of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) series will come from the country whose name adorns the competition.  All three non-Indian umpires who worked in this year’s event, Chris Gaffaney of New Zealand, Marais Erasmus of South Africa, and Nigel Llong of England, have now completed their 2017 IPL stints, returning home for a short break before travelling to England for next month’s Champions Trophy (CT) tournament. 

Apart from those three overseas umpires, the IPL on-field and third umpire pool this season has included 11 Indian umpires, while of the match referees panel of six, five are Indians and the other Andy Pycroft from Zimbabwe.  Amongst the umpires is Gaffaney, Erasmus and Llong’s colleague on the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel, India's Sundarum Ravi.  Other contenders for an on-field spot in the final, which is to be played 10 days before the CT gets underway, are Anil Chaudhary, Nitin Menon, CK Nandan and Chettithody Shamshuddin.

Of the on-field umpires appointed to the past nine IPL finals, 7 have come from Australia, 4 Sri Lanka, 3 South Africa, 2 New Zealand and one each from England and Pakistan.  They were: Simon Taufel (Australia) with 5, Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) 4, Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) 3, ‘Billy’ Bowden (New Zealand) 2, Bruce Oxenford (Australia) 2, Richard Illingworth (England) 1, Asad Rauf (Pakistan) 1.

Of the Indians, Ravi has twice worked as the third umpire in the final, and Chaudhary, Shamshuddin and Vineet Kulkarni all once, while match referee Javagal Srinath has overseen two finals and Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan one. 

'The BCCI concedes nothing' in agreeing to play Champions Trophy.

Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10786.

India's participation in the Champions Trophy will not come at the cost of ceding any ground in the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) ongoing negotiations with the International Cricket Council (ICC) over a new constitution and finance model. according to the board's acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary.  He said after the BCCI's special general body meeting (SGM) on Sunday: "Let that be absolutely, unequivocally clear. The BCCI concedes nothing [and]there is adequate legal room for further action”.

The BCCI is unhappy with the outcome of the ICC Board meeting in April, when it was outvoted by other Full Members in the motion to pass through a new ICC constitution and financial model.  At the SGM, the BCCI's members - the state associations - unanimously decided not to send a notice to the ICC over the possibility of revoking the Members' Participation Agreement (MPA). Had they pulled out of the MPA, it could've meant India not hosting or participating in ICC tournaments until 2023. The board instead said it would continue to negotiate with the ICC, while keeping its legal options open.

Under ICC’s new financial model, the BCCI receives $US293 million from the world body's revenues, a sharp drop from their projected revenues of $US570 million in the model devised by the 'Big Three'. T ICC chairman Shashank Manohar has left room for an additional $US100 million- an offer that still stands - but Choudhury turned that down. The BCCI still wants $570 million, although in Dubai they did tell other members their shares would not be affected.

An official who was present at the SGM, indicated that former BCCI president Narayanaswami Srinivasan, who took part in that meeting via ’Skype’ from London (PTG 2127-10780, 8 May 2017),  said that the governance changes approved at the ICC's meeting should be of greater concern to the Indian board than the finance model.

"Honestly, we have been too stuck up with the amount [of money]”, Choudhary said. "There were two parts to the metamorphosis that the ICC will be going through. The financial model which has been presented is a part of that. The major changes are proposed for the governance structure. I think all of us should be devoting ourselves to what is more important and what will have greater consequences. That is the ICC governance structure”.

The BCCI's objections to those have already been made eminently clear. In March, BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri sent the ICC an email, in which he called the proposed changes "vague and unclear". In particular, the Indian board has concerns that it could lose clout in the boardroom if the composition of the ICC board is expanded to 15 members and includes voting rights for independent directors. "Our concerns are very clear”, Choudhary said. "While cricket must spread as a world sport, we must also make sure that our position as the predominant cricket country in the world remains undiminished”. 

Although the ICC has approved the new constitution, it needs formal ratification at the annual conference in June, a week after the Champions Trophy ends. Choudhary said he was hopeful negotiations could bear fruit before then. "I think most Full Members and even the three Associate members that were there - one from Singapore, one from Ireland and one from another country. I think all of them, all of them empathise with India. That's why I still see hope”.

Another player summoned by PCB over fanti-corruption code issues.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10787.

The scope and span of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) investigation into corruption allegations continues, with yet another international cricketer called up for questioning on Monday.   The PCB's security and vigilance department issued a notice of demand to all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz as part of its continuing investigations into corruption. Nawaz has been asked to appear before the security and vigilance department in relation to the possible breaches of the PCB's anti-corruption code.

A PCB media release said Nawaz was issued a notice "in continuation of its fight against the menace of corruption in cricket". The release went on to indicate the PCB would not make further comments due to the "sensitivity of the matters under question".

Though the release did not specify as such, the demand to question Nawaz is part of the ongoing fallout from the second season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). It is believed that the PCB is concerned, specifically, about a failure to report a potentially corrupt approach made to the player. 

The notice now brings to seven the number of players who are either facing charges of corruption, have been banned, or were questioned by the PCB for developments in the PSL. Proceedings against Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshed and Shahzaib Hassan are already underway; Mohammad Irfan has been punished and suspended for a year; Zulfiqar Babar has been questioned as part of investigations and now Nawaz has been summoned (PTG 2110-10702, 22 April 2017).

Of particular concern to the PCB will be the fact that other than Jamshed and Shahzaib, all the players have been in and around Pakistan's international squads. Nawaz rose to prominence after the first PSL last year and was inducted into the limited-overs and Test sides as Pakistan searched desperately for an all-rounder. 

Anti-doping authority drops appeal on Russell ban length.

Reuters.

Monday, 8 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10788.

Jamaica's anti-doping authority has withdrawn its appeal over the one-year ban given to West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell for breaches of the whereabouts rule, according to court documents (PTG 2069-10476, 9 March 2017).  Russell was given a one-year ban in late January after he failed to file the necessary paperwork on his availability for drug testing three times in 2015, which constituted a failed test according to World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) rules.

The Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) appealed against the one-year ban and were seeking a two-year suspension at a hearing that was scheduled for Monday in Kingston, but it has now withdrawn that appeal. Russell's lawyers, headed by Patrick Foster, had also launched a cross-appeal to overturn the ban, but court documents show that action was also withdrawn (PTG 2083-10551, 24 March 2017).

CSA moves closer to overturn of major tournament ban.

Firdose Moonda.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 7 May 2017.

PTG 2128-10789.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is "optimistic" of having the South African government’s ban on bidding for hosting major global tournaments overturned when the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) presents its transformation report on Tuesday morning, although they do not foresee having any global cricket events in the country until at least 2023 (PTG 1916-9617, 4 September 2016).

The EPG is an independent committee, appointed by ministers, who compile an annual assessment of various sporting codes and their commitment to change. Last year, they found four sporting federations, including cricket, had not met the transformation criteria. Then-sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, meted out the same punishment to all four federations, even though it had little material impact on any of them. In cricket's case, the International Cricket Council had already distributed events for the next six years.

Nonetheless, CSA set new transformation targets which required the team to field a minimum of six players of colour, of which at least two must be black African. At the end of the 2016-17 summer, CSA exceeded their targets (PTG 2091-10589, 31 March 2017).

"We are optimistic of achieving good outcomes but we would not want to pre-empt anything at this stage. Regardless, we are committed to transformation and we will continue to engage with the ministry and other stakeholders to ensure we achieve our transformation goals”, said CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

Apart from the on-field numbers, CSA also worked with the EPG and government administrators to create a more up-to-date database of cricket statistics at lower levels, particularly schools and clubs where much of the existing information was obsolete. "We have engaged constructively with the EPG secretariat and the Department to correct data errors and to develop a tailored scorecard for cricket”, Lorgat said.

With accurate statistics now in place, cricket is unlikely to have a similar problem in the future provided the transformation numbers continue to meet requirements. There is no word on whether the targets will be increased, with new sports minister, Thembelani Nxesi, who was appointed in early April, yet to weigh in on the issue.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,129

 Wednesday, 10 May 2017

 

• Clarke ready to take on the most powerful job in cricket [2129-10790].

• Manohar coy on staying or going [2129-10791].

• Ten named to manage WCL Division 3 series [2129-10792].

• CA introduced quarter-million dollar prize for womens’ competition [2129-10793].

• Ministerial ban on Cricket South Africa lifted [2129-10794].

Clarke ready to take on the most powerful job in cricket.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2129-10790.

Giles Clarke is poised for a tilt at the most powerful job in cricket, and finally realise his long-held ambition of becoming chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), if the position becomes vacant this week.  It is understood that the current holder of the position, Shashank Manohar, has been given until Thursday to confirm if he intends to see out his full term in office, which is due to end in June 2018.

Manohar resigned suddenly in February but was persuaded to return to chair the ICC’s last meeting in March and stay on until the governing body’s annual general meeting next month (PTG 2084-10557, 25 March 2017). But he has not publicly committed to the job for any longer.

Manohar has been given the Thursday deadline to make a decision, the same day any nominations for his replacement also have to reach the ICC. Jockeying for his position has been going on for weeks, and Clarke is in pole position to become ICC chairman in the event of Manohar standing down.  If Manohar goes, the election for his replacement will take place at the ICC’s annual general meeting and conference in London between June 19-23. 

It is understood Clarke will stand if he thinks he will win an election and become the second chairman of the ICC. If he stands for election at the ICC he will have to give up his role as president of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the role that allows him to sit on the board of the ICC. He will be replaced as England’s ICC director by Colin Graves, the chairman of the ECB.

Clarke was interested in the job when the post was created 18 months ago but he did not attract enough support due to his involvement in the so-called big three power grab at the ICC by England, India and Australia.  Clarke was tainted by his role in the reworking of the ICC’s constitution which vested power, and a greater slice of cricket’s income, in the hands of England, India and Australia and marginalised the smaller nations.

But at the ICC’s last meeting in March, the big-three model was redrawn and a fairer distribution of money agreed. Attempts are still being made to persuade Manohar to stay on but he has faced huge criticism back home in India in recent weeks for his role in scaling back Indian power at the ICC and he will have to decide if he still has the stomach to carry on now that change has been achieved.

Clarke will hope the part he played in scaling back the big three has won support of the nations who refused to back him in the election for the ICC chairman’s role last year.  He will receive the backing of Pakistan as thanks for his work in arranging for an ICC World XI to play in Lahore in September, paving the way for a return of international cricket to the country.

Australia are also understood to be behind Clarke but the key will be winning Indian support. This could be a good time for Clarke to make his pitch for the job for it is unlikely he will have to go head to head with an Indian rival. Indian cricket administration is in chaos at the moment and it is unlikely they will be able to field a candidate with the necessary experience to win an election.  

The ICC’s constitution states the chairman must be either a current or past director of the ICC board.  Many of India’s old guard have been swept away by the Supreme Court in India as part of its clean up of cricket administration.

Another candidate for the job could by Singapore Cricket Association chairman Imran Khwaja, who is head of the associate nations and sits on the ICC board. He was instrumental in persuading Manohar to return and has strong backers in India.

The next two years are crucial for the ICC. After the Champions Trophy next month the ICC does not have another global tournament for two years so can concentrate on constitutional change that goes to the very heart of the board’s existence.  The ICC is facing an identity crisis. Is it a private members club where self interest rules or a global governing body able to lead the game?

International bilateral cricket is in a battle with Twenty20 leagues for the game’s top talent and months of prevaricating over the introduction of Test and one-day leagues is bringing the issue to a head. It will need strong leadership from the top to be resolved. Clarke, ever confident that his way is the right way, will believe he is the man to do that if Manohar exits for good this week.

Manohar coy on staying or going.

Lokendra Pratap Sahi.

Calcutta Telegraph.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2129-10791.

Shashank Manohar has confirmed that his colleagues in the International Cricket Council (ICC) have requested him to complete his two-year term as chairman and not step down after the Annual Conference in June.  Citing "personal reasons”, Manohar announced his resignation from the post in mid-March, but was persuaded to put his decision on hold until next month's meeting (PTG 2084-10557, 25 March 2017). His term is currently due to end June 2018.

Manohar said on Tuesday afternoon: "Of course, colleagues have been in touch with me and I was even approached to continue at last month's executive board meeting. They want me to take back my resignation”.  Asked if he'd agreed not to quit, Manohar replied: "Right now, I'm on vacation in Mahabaleshwar, spending time with my parents and my sister. I'm definitely not thinking of ICC matters. Besides, as you know, I don't look too far ahead”.

Ten named to manage WCL Division 3 series.

PTG Editor

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017.

PTG 2129-10792.

 

Ten match officials from eight countries have been appointed to manage the week-long, 18-match World Cricket League (WCL) Division 3 series in Uganda later this month.  Two promotion spots to the WCL's Division 2 are on offer to teams from Canada, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, the United States and hosts Uganda.

Devdas Govindjee of South Africa, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier Regional Referees Panel, will oversee the tournament, his countryman Shaun George, a member of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel working in a mentoring capacity. 

The other umpires are from the world body’s third-tier Development Panel, they being: Buddhi Pradhan and Vinay Kumar Jha (Nepal); Akbar Ali Khan (United Arab Emirates); Pim Van Liemt (Netherlands); David Odhiambo (Kenya); Ian Ramage (Scotland); Andrew Louw (Namibia); and Kalidas Viswanadan (Malaysia).

CA introduced quarter-million dollar prize for womens’ competition.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2129-10793.

In addition to the significant pay rise for women players that is contained in Cricket Australia (CA) offer to the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), CA has now announced that, for the first time, the winner of next austral summer's Womens’ National Cricket League (WNCL), 50 over format, competition, will receive a prize of $A258,000 (£UK146,750).  After an interstate home-and-away series, the top two teams will advance to the WNCL final, which will be hosted by the top-ranked team.

CA's recently reappointed head of team performance Pat Howard said: "Cricket has led the way in showing that women too can make a living from the game, with the proposed remuneration providing the country's best domestic players the opportunity to earn a full-time wage for the first time.  Under [CA’s] remuneration proposal, which is still under negotiation with the players' union, the [ACA], domestic female cricketers playing both WNCL and Womens’ Big Bash League] would receive an average remuneration of $52,000 next season” (PTG 2081-10537, 22 March 2017).

Howard said the WNCL: "continues to provide a platform for Australia's finest young cricketers to further develop their skills and strive for national selection.  We know we have a strong structure to our domestic competitions which identifies and elevates players who are performing, so that we can continue to strive for success on the international stage and ensure our players are provided with the very best opportunities to perform to their ability here at home and away".

Ministerial ban on Cricket South Africa lifted.

Firdose Moonda.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017.

PTG 2129-10794.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has regained the right to bid for and host major tournaments, after meeting the government's transformation criteria. Sports minister Thembelani Nxesi confirmed the lifting of the sanction at the annual Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report handover on Tuesday (PTG 2128-10789, 9 May 2017). The EPG report is a yearly assessment by an independent committee on various sports' commitment to and execution of transformation. 

After a season in which CSA established transformation targets for the national team - which stipulated that a minimum average of six players of colour including two black Africans should take the field over the course of the season - and exceeded those targets, it was widely expected that the ban, which was imposed last year, would be lifted. Cricket is among two other sports, rugby and netball, which has now satisfied the sports ministry, while athletics remains under sanction. 

In real terms, the news will only have an immediate effect on rugby, whose administrators are bidding to host the 2023 World Cup. CSA does not have any international events on its calendar for the next six years and its chief executive Haroon Lorgat said earlier this week that he does not foresee that changing. 

There was some talk of the International Cricket Council organising a World T20 Championship in 2018 and South Africa being considered the front-runner to host it, but there has been no further developments on this (PTG 1832-9169, 20 May 2016). Nonetheless, CSA has been recognised for what the ministry called "improved barometer scores" and could put itself up to host tournaments in the future.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,130

 Thursday, 11 May 2017

 

• Manohar to remain ICC chairman until June 2018 [2130-10795].

• IPL owners aim for a piece of South African T20 pie [2130-10796].

• One small club, three players get to world number 1 [2130-10797].

• Convicted paedophile used false names so he could umpire [2130-10798].

• Last Ashes hurrah for the WACA [2130-10799].

• We need BBL's razzmatazz in ECB's T20, says Vaughan [2130-10800].

• ECB invests more in the game than ever before [2130-10801].

Manohar to remain ICC chairman until June 2018.

Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10795.

The uncertainty over whether the International Cricket Council (ICC) will have a new chairman next month has been brought to an end by the man who started it in the first place. Shashank Manohar has decided to complete his term as ICC chairman, which is due to end in June 2018 (PTG 2129-10791, 10 May 2017). 

The decision represents a second change of heart in his tenure. In March, Manohar had opted to step down for "personal" reasons, but was persuaded quickly by a host of ICC directors - both Full Members and Associates - to continue (PTG 2084-10557, 25 March 2017). On the back of "overwhelming support" Manohar said he would return, but only till the annual conference this June when the new ICC constitution, comprising the governance structure and the latest finance model will be ratified. 

Manohar has once again been persuaded by similarly overwhelming support from a collection of Full Members who were keen for him to finish the process of reform he has begun. Those reforms are slowly edging closer to reality, though they are not yet a done deal. At the last two ICC Board meetings, in February and April, a majority of Full Members have voted in favour of bringing in a new constitution for the ICC, as well as considerable governance reforms. They have also voted in favour of a new model of distribution of the ICC's expected revenues over the current cycle (PTG 2115-10731, 28 April 2017). 

But that it is not quite final yet is down to the opposition of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), once the domain of Manohar but now a hurdle to further progress. The Indian board has voted against the governance changes as well as the financial model in both meetings, calling instead for deferments, but unlike previous occasions, they have been roundly outvoted by other Full Members. 

In last month's meeting, the BCCI was the lone objector to the financial model - from which it is projected to receive $US292 million ($A396 m, £UK225 m) over eight years. That is more than any other board, but far short of the $US570 million ($A774 m, £440 m) they want. On the governance model, the vote was 8-2 in favour, with only the BCCI and Sri Lanka Cricket objecting. 

Much of that is thought to be down to the efforts of Manohar, who has stood firm in his bid to push reforms through, reforms which undo the world created by the Big Three in 2014. Manohar was head of the five-member working group that first presented the reforms in February.

That role will presumably continue to be a key one in his negotiations with the BCCI as both try to come to some middle ground, especially - but not exclusively - on the financial model. Manohar has left the door open to discussions and has offered an extra $US100 million ($A136 m, £77 m) over the eight years to the Indian board to entice them (PTG 2116-10736, 28 April 2017). 

But the realisation is growing among BCCI officials that the governance structure changes, some of which fundamentally alter the way in which power will be exercised at a global level, are equally important. One, for example, foresees the induction and presence of independent directors with voting powers in the boardroom, which will significantly change the nature of decision-making at the ICC.  Last Sunday, for instance, the BCCI's acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said after a special general meeting: "I think all of us should be devoting ourselves to what is more important and what will have greater consequences. That is the ICC governance structure” (PTG 2128-10786, 9 May 2017).

In that meeting, the BCCI decided that India would defend its title in the Champions Trophy next month in England - their participation had been thrown into some doubt by suggestions that the BCCI could take the option of revoking the Members Participation Agreement (MPA). That would have meant India not playing in, or hosting, any ICC tournaments in the foreseeable future.

Manohar agreeing to stay on also means the end of the aspirations of Giles Clarke, the England and Wales Cricket Board's president and another author of the working group's reforms. Clarke was reportedly interested in the position when it was created over a year ago (PTG 2129-10790, 10 May 2017). Though he is behind the scale back, he was also a key member of the trio that pushed through the Big Three reforms in the first place (PTG 1288-6208, 9 February 2014).

IPL owners aim for a piece of South African T20 pie.

Neil Manthorp.

SuperSport.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10796.

Among the almost 60 bids for the eight franchise teams in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) new Twenty20 competition were at least three from Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises eager to claim more exposure for their brands and sponsors.  There may have been a thought that $US300 million ($A407 m, £UK232 m) might be enough to spend on one cricket team but, at around a tenth of the price, CSA’s T20 teams are a bargain.

Remember, too, that IPL teams have only a six to seven week window in which to make a return on their massive investment and having a second team in another globally televised tournament will double the television window for their sponsors and drive up revenue.

This process of franchise amalgamation has already started with the acquisition of the Trinidad and Tobago franchise in the Caribbean Premier League by the Kolkata Knight Riders forming the Trinbago Knight Riders (PTG 1758-8771, 10 February 2016). The hugely successful Kolkata-based corporation has also bid for a South African team and, if successful, would become one of the most televised sporting outfits on earth. And one of the richest. And most powerful.

It is just a short step away from cricket moving forever towards the worldwide soccer model in which clubs dominate the fixture list and international football is wedged into small windows for continental championships and the World Cup.

It would take a leap of bizarre national loyalty for any player, of any age, to decline an annual contract from a global franchise brand in order to sign a national contract which would inevitably be financially far less competitive. Already the best West Indian players are all ‘freelance’ and it seems just a matter of time before the boards of the more efficient and profitable nations start losing their best players as well.

CSA’s new league will be a great success and there is a great deal to be excited about. One of the less appealing by-products of South Africa joining the T20 revolution will be the accelerated decline of bilateral series between nations. If they do continue they attract far less interest and revenue from broadcasters and the decline will spiral until they become financially unviable.

The International Cricket Council and its directors – effectively the member nations – had an opportunity to fix the situation with the formation of formal Test and One Day International (ODI) leagues involving all 10 test nations, perhaps even 12, and an ODI championship involving 14 or 15 with a massively increased prize-money pool. But they dithered for five years and that opportunity now appears to have disappeared (PTG 2115-10733, 28 April 2017).

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise. The leagues, after all, are commercially successful. And they are owned, of course, by the member nations who have always been motivated most by a busy cash register. 

One small club, three players get to world number 1.

Danny Hall.

Sheffield Star.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10797.

Aeydale Sports Club, on the outskirts of Sheffield and a stone’s throw from the Peak District, is a fairly unassuming place. Racketball, badminton and squash vie for the courts in the sports hall; the hockey pitch is a distinctive and striking shade of blue after finding a new home in the Steel City after the London 2012 Olympic Games. Then there’s the cricket club. 

The Sheffield Collegiate Cricket Club proudly hails itself as ‘one of the finest clubs in the world’, as well as the first in the world to have a website, with the caveat ‘unless someone had one before 2003’.  Either fact may be true. Both could equally be false, but what cannot be disputed is their production line; of the last seven England Test captains, two - Joe Root and Michael Vaughan - came through the ranks at Collegiate.  Those two have in their careers been ranked number one batsman in the world.

Completing the triumvirate is Richard Kettleborough, for a time officially the world’s number one umpire for he was awarded the International Cricket Council’s ‘Umpire' of the Year award three times (PTG 1721-8534, 24 December 2015).  Kettleborough’s route to the professional game contrasted that of Vaughan and Root - he joined Collegiate at 15 years old, and went straight into the first team - as has his career since. 

He spent his professional playing career with Yorkshire and Middlesex, and was on the verge of joining Derbyshire in 1999 when he was pointed in the direction of umpiring by the late, great John Hampshire.  Aged just 26, he made the switch; within ten years, in late August 2009, he was umpiring a Twenty20 international at Old Trafford, Manchester and it was England v Australia.

Kettleborough said: “To have three people reach number in the world is a great achievement for anyone, to be fair, never mind a club like Collegiate,.  It’s something the whole club should be proud of. I know we all are as individuals. We’ll look back in our careers in, say, 20 years time, take a deep breath and think, wow. Look at what we’ve achieved".

“Sheffield is obviously a big footballing city, but cricket is huge too and to have two England captains is remarkable. Michael did a wonderful job and I’m sure Joe will, too. It’s richly deserved; he was the ideal candidate, and one of the top four players in the world, without a shadow of a doubt.  He’ll make a great captain, and I guess it’s very unique to have three people from the same club achieve what they have in international cricket.”

We meet at at a golf club where Kettleborough is speaking at a meeting of the Sheffield Cricket Lovers’ Society. He’d just returned from standing in two Tests between Indian and Australia and has since gone to the West Indies for their series against Pakistan where he is currently in Dominica working as the television umpire in the third Test (PTG 2107-10684, 19 April 2017). The five weeks he enjoyed at home in Sheffield was his longest break, he reckons, in seven or eight years.

One of biggest things in this job is building those relationships with players. He says: "There’s a line you don’t cross but because I can’t do England in Test matches, I see the Aussies and Indians more than I see the Yorkshire players, so I know them a lot more. That helps build a rapport with them, it builds respect. I was always told when I started that you have to earn respect of the players, but we as match officials have to respect them as well".

“When you talk to anyone about the lifestyle of an international cricketer or umpire, their first thought is usually ‘wow, what a great life’”, Kettleborough, now 44, adds.  “But I’ve got three young children, I know Joe has a very young child who’s probably three or four days older than my youngest, so leaving them at home for months on end is tough"

“When we’re abroad, we’re in a pressurised environment where all our focus has to be on the job in hand, otherwise it can go wrong very quickly.  We work with sports psychologists, working hard on being able to focus on the job in hand when you’re away.  Otherwise, it’s easy to let your mind wander to what you’re missing back home”.  

After all, it’s a dangerous game. Kettleborough made the headlines in January last year when he took the full brunt of a hefty drive from a batsman on the shin in a game between Australia and Pakistan (PTG 1742-8661, 21 January 2016).  “It was quite ironic actually”, Kettleborough smiles.  “My colleague, John Ward, was the first umpire in international cricket to wear a helmet after he’d been hit on the head previously, and it was me getting carried off the field after five overs or so".

“In seriousness, I was very lucky there that it didn’t break my leg. I had 24 hours in hospital and at one stage it looked like I might not be able to fly for 10 to 15 days, and I was due home in three. I know a few umpires who’ve been hit. Batsmen are stronger now, they’re bigger and are hitting the ball harder than at any point in history. And we’re the ones 23 yards away, stood still, right in the firing line”.

It’s a vantage point that does have its benefits, though; especially on the rare occasions Kettleborough is allowed to stand in one-day games involving England.  “I’ve umpired Joe a number of times for Yorkshire and England and you can just see from a long way off that he’s a wonderful young player”, Kettleborough says of his fellow Collegiate graduate Root.  “But we have a bit of banter out in the middle. He’s a ‘Blade’ [Sheffield United football club] and I’m an ‘Owl' [Sheffield Wednesday football club], so we have a little bit of chat at the right time".

Does Kettleborough see Root emulating Vaughan, and conquering the Aussies as skipper?  “It won’t be easy”, he smiles, but "he’ll make a wonderful captain, as Michael did”.  However, “I took a different route in cricket but still ended up number one in the world, so I’m quite glad I did.  It’s gone really well”.

Convicted paedophile used false names so he could umpire.

Craven Herald ands Pioneer.

Thursday, 11 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10798.

A convicted paedophile whose convictions for sexual offences date back 40 years broke the law for years by umpiring local cricket matches using false names, the Bradford Crown Court heard on Wednesday.  Kenneth Haymonds, 61, who is on cricket's “Barred List” because he posed a danger to women and children, was unmasked when he applied to umpire for Yorkshire's Craven Cricket League (CCL), where players can be as young as 13.

Haymonds, 61, used two bogus identities to umpire in other matches, including adopting the name of someone who had recently died, prosecutor Sophie Drake said.  He pleaded guilty to seeking to engage in cricket umpiring for the CCL in December 2015 while barred from doing so under the UK’s 'Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act'. He was found out and never appointed by the league.  A safeguarding expert from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) attended the court to give evidence in a prosecution case that Judge Jonathan Durham-Hall described as “overwhelming”.

Prosecutor Drake said that cricketers under 17 would have been playing in the matches that Haymonds told the ECB he had been umpiring for up to 30 years. The ECB placed him on the “Barred List” in 2005 and told by the them he could not be a cricket umpire. The ban prevented him from working with children and vulnerable adults, including doing voluntary work (PTG 2114-10724, 27 April 2017). 

Haymonds objected to the ban in 2009, saying it was only men in the cricket teams he umpired. In June 2015, the ECB discovered he was umpiring under a false name. Haymonds wrote to the Board saying he had been umpiring for 30 years. When he applied to CCL in December 2015, he said he did not do “boys’ cricket” but Miss Drake said players as young as 13 could be in CCL fixtures. The court heard that Haymonds had not committed any offences against children during his time as an umpire.

Judge Durham-Hall told Haymonds: “A long time ago, you were clearly a dangerous individual when it came to youngsters and women. Your genuine love of cricket is no excuse for deliberating avoiding the barring order”.  The judge gave Haymonds a ten month sentence but suspended it for two years.

Last Ashes hurrah for the WACA.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10799.

The WACA Ground in Perth will get one final Ashes hurrah, after the new $A1.2 billion Perth Stadium lost its race to be ready in time to host the showpiece Test this austral summer.  Cricket Australia was hopeful the new 60,000-seat venue at Burswood would be completed ahead of schedule to host Australia’s third Test against England, which starts on December 14, but the Western Australia state government confirmed on Wednesday that the Test would have to be played at the WACA Ground.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said he was disappointed when told the news about the Ashes Test.  But he said he understood there was a good chance the One Day International between Australia and England in late January would be played at the new stadium.  Currently, a concert by British pop singer Ed Sheeran in early March is the first official event listed for the stadium.

The WACA Ground is steeped in cricket history, with England and Australia meeting in the first Test there in 1970.  Overall, 43 Tests will have been played there, with England featuring in 13 of the encounters.  Australia have won nine and drawn three of their 13 Tests against England at the WACA Ground. England’s only Test win there came in 1978.

We need BBL's razzmatazz in ECB's T20, says Vaughan.

Ben Rumsby.

London Daily Telegraph.

Thursday, 11 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10800.

Runs, wickets and catches need to take their place alongside off-field entertainment if England’s new Twenty20 competition is going to make an impact, according to ­Michael Vaughan.  The former England captain hailed Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) as having produced the correct blueprint for the T20 format following its remarkable ­success since its launch six years ago. As well as the on-field action, BBL matches have featured the likes of acrobatic motorcyclists and a daredevil in a jetpack, innovations that have helped restore cricket’s place as the country’s leading sport.

Speaking at a Business of Sport conference, Vaughan said: “Cricket Australia deserve a lot of credit. They were clever. And I hate actually giving any Australians that kind of tag of being clever.  But a few years ago, when they created the Big Bash, they fundamentally sat down and said, ‘We have to put on the product of entertainment for the family. The cricket matches, the 20 overs, the 40 overs, that you’re going to see are secondary to what the family are going to be entertained by’.

“So, the activation of the fan was their number one principle. It was making sure that a family of four, that they go down to the arenas, they get entertained.  We got entertained by all sorts and, by the way, Aaron Finch hit a couple of sixes as well’, which is exactly the way to go about it.  Sixty-seven per cent of their ticket sales are through families, so they triggered the market absolutely right”.

Vaughan claimed English cricket had been “crying out” for a similar eight-team city-based competition, one that has only just been ratified by the England and Wales Cricket Board for launch in 2020 (PTG 2115-10732, 28 April 2017).  He said: “T20 came to the market just over 10 years ago. We actually invented it in this country and then allowed all the other countries to make a load of money out of it.  So, we are just a little bit behind the game. In 2020, we will see the launch of a new eight-team ­tournament in the United Kingdom, which is what it has been crying out for”.

He added: “I don’t think we were brave enough to deliver what India have done. It is quite difficult to change the thought process of 18 counties, very difficult to turn it around. They’ve just managed to do that, but it has taken a lot of time”.

ECB invests more in the game than ever before.

PTG Editor.

ECB media release.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

PTG 2130-10801.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) made the highest level of contributions to the cricket network and stakeholders in its 20-year history in 2016, with nearly £UK75 million ($A132 m) invested in the professional and recreational game, according to a report table at the ECB’s Annual General Meeting at Lord’s on Wednesday.  Overall group reserves were reduced to £35.7 million ($A63 m), reflecting an increased investment and the four-year business cycle of cricket linked to international series at home and overseas.

ECB’s main areas of expenditure were: payments and contributions to the first class Counties; recreational and grass-roots spend including a new entry-level participation scheme and investment in the Participation and Growth team; supporting England teams and talent pathways across men’s, women’s and disability cricket; and the ECB’s role in leading and supporting the growth of the game.  Just how the money was divided up amongst those categories was not mentioned in the ECB media release.

Colin Graves, ECB Chairman said: “Last year we invested more in our professional and recreational game than ever before. We must ensure the sustainability of the game at all levels, not only supporting existing clubs and competitions but creating new opportunities and investing further in the growth of the game.  It’s also important that we meet the Sport England Code on governance. Our ambition is to reflect best practice in this area and to progress this over the summer.

Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive Officer of ECB, confirmed that leading law firm CMS had been appointed to advise on the media rights sale for all competitions, including home-based International matches and the new domestic T20 competition, for the period 2020-2024 to help "ensure the process meets the very highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability".   “It’s critical that the process is right [and] the experience and expertise of CMS will support us in this”.

The ECB confirmed that later this year its members are to be asked to approve a package of governance reforms, which will be both compliant with the Sport England Code and reflect "best practice" in sport.  Should these be agreed, changes to the structure of the ECB Board would be confirmed before year’s end.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,131

 Friday, 12 May 2017

 

Stories in this edition: 

• Cracks emerge in BCB's probe into ’no ball’ protest [2131-10802].

• Former Aussie first class umpire dies [2131-10803].

• Extra short run attracts only basic penalty [2131-10804].

• CA offers multi-year contracts in bid to have players miss IPL [2131-10805].

• Aussie state-level players deserve to share in CA revenue [2131-10806].

Cracks emerge in BCB's probe into ’no ball’ protest.

Mohammad Isam.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 12 May 2017.

PTG 2131-10802.

Cracks have emerged in the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) investigation into two controversial lower-tier league matches held last month in the Dhaka Second Division League.  Documents seen suggest that one of the players and a coach, who were punished and accused of "tarnishing the image of Bangladesh cricket", were not given a fair hearing by the three-member inquiry committee formed by the Bangladesh board.

Two Tuesdays ago, the BCB approved a report that concluded that the Lalmatia Club and Fear Fighters Sporting Club should be scratched from the league, bowlers Sujon Mahmud and Tasnim Hasan be banned for 10 years each and the captains, managers and coaches of the two teams be handed five-year suspensions. The board also imposed a six-month ban on umpires Shamsur Rahman and Azizul Bari (PTG 2122-10762, 3 May 2017), however, one of the banned captains has asked for a reprieve (PTG 2127-10778, 8 May 2017).

While announcing the verdict, the committee's convener Sheikh Sohel said that the clubs never complained against these two umpires or raised any issues on umpiring in general. However, letters that have now come to light show that BCB directors were aware of umpiring complaints and had even exchanged memos on the issue during the 2015-16 season.

In a letter dated 22 April 2016, the chairman of the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM) - the BCB body that runs the four-tier Dhaka league - had written to the BCB's committee of umpires, urging that in response to verbal complaints made by the participating clubs, nine umpires should be barred from officiating. Among them, were Shamsur and Azizul.

Sohel said the clubs never expressed their displeasure to the committee about poor umpiring standards. "I want to ask a question to the club officials: why didn't they give us a letter if this was happening for such a long time? Why didn't they tell the umpires' committee? Also, these two umpires did other matches too, why didn't anything similar happen in those games?” (PTG 2123-10764, 4 May 2017).

Sailab Hossain Tutul, the member secretary of the umpires' committee, said the clubs are required to address their grievances to the umpires' committee but many of the clubs are aware of the protocol of making all their complaints to the CCDM, which has been followed for decades.

He also claimed that Shamsur and Azizul were assigned ten matches to preside over together this season, primarily because of their "mutual understanding with each other". Tutul, however, admitted that no other umpiring pair was allocated as many games to officiate together in through this season.

"If a club has any complaints about an umpire, they have to directly address to the umpires’ committee”, Tutul said in an interview to the Bengali daily 'Prothom Alo’ last Friday. "Other [umpires] are also paired, but not to such an extent. Maybe the umpires' allotment committee didn't think too deeply about it. We try to appoint pairs who are comfortable with each other”.

It is understood that Shamsur and Azizul were given lighter punishments over the ’no ball’ protests verdict because neither of the two teams under scrutiny - Lalmatia and Fear Fighters - submitted written complaints. However, it has now emerged that Lalmatia bowler Sujon, captain Faisal Ahmed Bonik and coach Asadullah Khan had written statements that were submitted to the BCB's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit in mid-April (PTG 2126-10774, 7 May 2017).

Sujon wrote that the umpires didn't allow their captain to see whether the coin fell in favour of Lalmatia's call at the toss, and that when Sujon had got off the mark with a boundary, one of the umpires came up to him and asked him to get out on his own, failing which the umpire threatened to "take charge". Sujon claimed that his dismissal - stumped - was unjust as he was well within the crease.

Biplob, the Lalmatia coach, wrote that he had arrived at the ground after the match had already begun. In a separate interview to the Bengali daily 'Kaler Kantho', he said it was Lalmatia's assistant coach who was in charge of the match against Fear Fighters as Biplob himself was occupied with umpiring in an indoor tournament nearby, organized by a company owned by Akram Khan, one of the members of the fact-finding committee that looked into the ’no ball’ matters. 

However, when Biplob finally reached the City Club Ground, he found his side struggling at 6/20 and was subsequently informed by his captain that he hadn't been allowed to see the coin at the toss.  "Being utterly disappointed with the unethical proceedings, I left the field and later came to know the outcome”, wrote Biplob. 

He said even though he didn't appear at his hearing in person, he was told to await a call from the fact-finding committee. Upon receiving the verdict, Biplob said he was surprised to have been handed a five-year ban despite neither being present at the ground nor having given a statement to the committee.

That turn of events was similar for the Fear Fighters captain Tanumoy Ghosh, who was down with jaundice in his hometown Rajshahi during the hearing. Like Biplob, he, too, was told to wait for communication from the committee, but he never received any. It is understood that Ghosh was punished on the basis the statement by Tasnim, the bowler who had deliberately conceded 69 runs in 1.1 overs.

Former Aussie first class umpire dies.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 11 May 2017.

PTG 2131-10803.

Former Australian first class umpire Jack Hinds, who stood in eight first class, two List A and an Under-19 One Day International in the years from 1983-87, passed away in Launceston, Tasmania, on Monday.  Hinds, who was 79, had a cricket career that spanned 60 years as a player, administrator and umpire.  Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association president Paul Clark said Hinds served as a board member and had great involvement in all areas of cricket over many decades, and until relatively recently was playing in Over 70s competitions.

Extra short run attracts only basic penalty.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 12 May 2017.

PTG 2131-10804.

Mumbai Indians batsman Kieron Pollard courted controversy in the Indian Premier League when he appeared to deliberately take a short run in order to retain the strike.  As Kings XI bowler Mohit Sharma began the final over, with Mumbai still needing 16 from the final six balls, Pollard hit the ball down the ground, but didn't get the connection he wanted and it was cut off near the boundary.

 

 

With Harbhajhan Singh at the non-striker's end, Mumbai wanted two off the shot so Pollard could retain the strike and increase their hopes of reaching the target Kings XI had set.  When the West Indian reached the bowler’s end he grounded his bat around half-a-metre short of the popping crease before returning to the striker’s end ahead of the fielder’s throw reaching the wicketkeeper.

The throw was wide and Pollard safely made his ground back at the striker’s end. However, umpire Ammanabrole Nand Kishore spotted the short run and observers were quick to point out on social media it smacked of a deliberate short run.  While signalling short run such that Mumbai only earned one run for the stroke, the umpire apparently didn’t consider Pollard’s action deliberate, otherwise after a warning no runs would have been scored and Harbhajhan would have been on strike for the next ball.  

CA offers multi-year contracts in bid to have players miss IPL.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 11 May 2017.

PTG 2131-10805.

Cricket Australia (CA) has dangled multi-year contracts before the country's top handful of players in an effort to convince them to forgo the riches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next three years.  It is understood that Test captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were contacted individually by CA in recent weeks with verbal offers of three-year deals rather than standard one-year central contracts on the condition that they sit out the IPL.

Pat Howard, CA's newly re-signed executive general manager of team performance, made the approaches, which have come with the governing body and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) still in dispute over a new pay deal for players.  The offers were met with a lukewarm response from the players (PTG 2120-10754, 2 May 2017). 

The terms of the multi-year deals discussed informally with Howard were regarded by the players as underwhelming, with the only perceived incentive for them missing the IPL being the security of a three-year contract.  That could change after the CA board discussed at its meeting last Friday the introduction of financial compensation to wrest international players away from the IPL.

It would need to be significant to turn the heads of Australia's top-line stars from a looming windfall on the subcontinent.  Smith and Warner, who captain their IPL franchises, collect more than $A1 million (£UK575,110) a year for the Twenty20 tournament and their earning capacity there is set to rise sharply with a bumper new IPL broadcast deal tipped to see the event's player payment pool double.

Warner, for example, is arguably now the most valuable foreigner in the league, having led Sunrisers Hyderabad to the title last year and blasted his way to the top of this year's IPL run-scorer's list over the past six weeks.  The second-ranked player in CA's 2017-18 contract list behind Smith, the Australian opener's retainer with CA is estimated to be worth $A2 million (£UK1.15 m) but he could conceivably earn as much as $A10 million (£UK5.75 m) in the IPL alone over the next three years.

Starc, who left Royal Challengers Bangalore before this year's IPL to focus on the Champions Trophy in England next month, could also command upwards of $A3 million (£UK1.7 m) a year from a new team under an inflated payment pool. England all-rounder Ben Stokes was bought for $A2.8 million (£UK1.6 m) by Smith's Rising Pune Supergiants at auction this year.

With the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CA and players to expire at the end of June and no sign of a resolution on the horizon the approaches by Howard have been viewed suspiciously by the players' union.

CA is adamant, however, there is nothing sinister behind the strategy and that it is simply about ensuring players have a break during their leave period, which falls when the IPL is played in April and May, in the hope that Australia can minimise injuries and avoid the controversial resting of players elsewhere in the calendar such as Smith in Sri Lanka and Starc and Hazlewood in South Africa last year. The international schedule in 2019, which includes an Ashes series and a World Cup, is chiefly in mind for Howard in his efforts to ensure players have a proper off-season.

Meanwhile, sources close to the negotiations between CA and the ACA, which are due to resume on Friday, are doubtful that a new MoU will be signed before the end of June as both sides refuse to budge. It is a stand-off that could leave the game and hundreds of players, who are arguing for the retention of a percentage-of-revenue pay model, in limbo (PTG 2131-10806 below). 

One area that shapes as an immediate flashpoint, with players on the verge of becoming free agents, is the use of their image rights. Australia host England in a Test series from November but unless there is a new agreement in place by June Australian players are likely to refuse to do any Ashes promotions in England during the Champions Trophy (PTG 2092-10597, 1 April 2017).

Aussie state-level players deserve to share in CA revenue.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Friday, 12 May 2017.

PTG 2131-10806.

Australia’s state-level players should share in cricket’s riches because they — through Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League (BBL) — are the ones generating cash for CA, says recently retired Queensland wicketkeeper Chris Hartley.  In a warning against any further erosion of the domestic scene, Hartley says BBL player pin-ups such as Chris Lynn and Travis Head should be rewarded for bringing a new generation of fans to the game.

With CA and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) taking tentative steps this week towards a new pay deal, Hartley said the administrators should back down on their plans to rip up the revenue-sharing deal because doing so would hurt domestic players.

Hartley told the ACA website: “The primary reason the BBL has been successful is because of the domestic players.  The fact is, young fans and new fans — which [CA] keeps talking about — are talking about Lynn or Head when it comes to Twenty20. They’re not talking as much about the Test players. [So] I don’t see the need for a major change to the [pay] system”.

The former wicketkeeper argues that shutting state players out of the revenue-sharing model would be a further assault on a domestic scene already diluted by gifting players games in CA XIs such as the one that plays in the Matador Cup 50-over competition.  Using the second-tier competitions for “development” rather than as “finishing schools” threatened to undermine the Test and One Day International sides, he said.

If the CA XI players were good enough, they would be playing for their state. “If you could make it there, you knew you’d be able to make it in the Australian side”, Hartley said of the Sheffield Shield’s status when he made his debut in 2003.  “You can have your CA XIs and second XI comps and all that, but once you get to the final level you almost need to start limiting the opportunities because that’s what keeps everyone on their toes.  If you simply give opportunities and they don’t have to work for it, they’re going to lose their hunger and the quality will go down".

“If, instead of playing for the CA XI, they were forced to watch on for another 12 months, perhaps those players would become hungrier to take the spot of a player in the next season’s CA domestic one-day series competition, rather than being gifted an opportunity. It’s a balancing act between providing opportunities in development stages but ­limiting them at the top level”.

Hartley's comments about a diluted, compromised domestic scene are in line with murmurs about how the Shield is being devalued by CA subbing Test players in and out of matches. And his observations will add spice — not that any is needed — to the pay talks now they have resumed.

Yes, they are back on speaking terms at least, but CA and the ACA remain estranged 50 days before the players fall out of contract at the end of June. After that date, the players might as well be on strike because they will be out of contract.

The ACA said on Thursday it was disappointed CA had reportedly offered players such as Steve Smith and David Warner three-year deals without consulting the players’ association (PTG 2131-10805 above).  “We’re disappointed that they’re continuing to go around the ACA”, a ACA spokesman said. n nBut the spokesman rejected suggestions the players would refuse to take part in official promotions during next month’s Champions Trophy in Britain. That is because the tournament is being played during the life of the present CA-ACA agreement.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,132

 Saturday, 13 May 2017

 

• Freak dismissal stumps not set properly, says MCC [2132-10807].

• Discovery Channel to challenge BBC in bid for free-to-air cricket [2132-10808].

• Aussie players request mediation in pay dispute [2132-10809].

• UK universities’ first-class status under threat [2132-10810].

• Trinidad and Tobago launches new womens’ T20 event [2132-10811].

• Accused ‘hitman’ organiser made up cricket umpire lie [2132-10812].

Freak dismissal stumps not set properly, says MCC

PTG Editor.

MCC web site.

Friday, 12 May 2017.

PTG 2132-10807.

Fraser Stewart, the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) Laws Manager, says last week’s strange dismissal in a match in Melbourne was caused by the wicket being "incorrectly pitched, either by its positioning or the size of the equipment”.  In that game between the Moonee Valley Cricket Club and Strathmore Heights, batsman Jatinder Singh was dismissed bowled when his middle stump was completely removed from the ground, but the two bails were lodged against each other and remained in place (PTG 2128-10783, 9 May 2017).

Stewart says in an article posted on the MCC web site on Friday that the umpires were right to give Singh out, pointing to Law 28.1 which states in part: "The wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the ground”.  "In this incident", says Stewart, "the middle stump was completely removed from the ground, thereby satisfying the ‘a stump is struck out of the ground’ option in 28.1 (a), so the umpire was justified in giving the batsman out, from a legal and equitable perspective”.

The Laws Manager went on to say:  “The problem was caused by the wicket being incorrectly pitched, either by its positioning or the size of the equipment.  A wicket comprising three stumps and two bails of the correct size [of 21.9 cm] would mean the situation could not happen.  The ends of the bails resting on the middle stump should not be touching.  “If a mistake in setting up the wicket has been made, the umpires need to apply fairness and common sense to reach the correct decision”.

Discovery Channel to challenge BBC in bid for free-to-air cricket.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2132-10808.

The 'Discovery Channel', a United States-based cable and satellite television channel, is to challenge the BBC in bidding to bring live cricket back to free-to-air television after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) launched its broadcast tender process (PTG 2090-10587, 30 March 2017).  ‘Discovery', which owns ‘Eurosport', a pan-European television sports network, is examining the ECB’s tender document and has joined 'BT Sport', 'Sky Sports' and the BBC as prospective bidders for a five-year rights deal for English cricket from 2020, which the board hopes will be worth more than £UK1billion ($A1.75 bn) (PTG 2089-10577, 29 March 2017). 

The ECB is offering five packages of rights, one of which is for exclusive digital content on social-media channels in an attempt to tempt ‘Twitter' or ‘Facebook' to bid.  The deal – which the ECB wants finalised by the end of next month – will include live content for its new Twenty20 event that launches in 2020, the England men’s team across all formats, county cricket and women’s cricket.

'BT Sport' and 'Sky Sports' will fight for the bulk of live rights. BT has set aside a considerable war chest for the cricket rights and will press home to the ECB its access to more than 18 million homes that take its broadband services.  ‘Sky' has been the sole broadcast-rights holder for English cricket since the 2005 Ashes summer and will fight hard to keep hold of its prize summer content. 

All that leaves the ECB in the fortunate position of having two major bidders as it looks to launch its new Twenty20 competition, which the board believes will reinvigorate the game in this country.  It means that ‘Sky' and 'BT Sport' will have to go into partnership with a terrestrial broadcaster for the live rights to Twenty20. The ECB also intends to produce its own television content from 2020 (PTG 2115, 10732, 28 April 2017).

The ECB wants to show at least eight matches live on free-to-air television and has met executives from all major terrestrial channels, including the BBC and ‘Discovery’.  The latter will offer to show cricket on its free channel, Quest TV, and has considerable financial muscle, so it could easily rival the BBC in making a bid.  Discovery last year bought the European rights to the Olympic Games in a £UK920million ($A1.6 bn) deal and recently launched a channel in India, DSport, that is looking to buy cricket content.

The decision the ECB will have to make is choosing between money and reach. The BBC offers the greatest audience across its many platforms and could potentially boost the profile of Twenty20 cricket.

The BBC is keen to return to cricket but sources have indicated that almost every major terrestrial broadcaster has expressed an interest in the new Twenty20 tournament. UK commercial broadcaster ITV will be in the market (PTG 2089-10578, 29 March 2017), as will Channel 5. ITV showed highlights of England’s Test series in Bangladesh last year and has previously held live rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL). Channel 5 shows the highlights to England’s international summer, although its deal runs out at the end of this season.

Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, is spearheading the ECB’s rights negotiations and has wide experience of the market after working for IMG handling global rights deals for Cricket Australia, Cricket South Africa and the IPL.  He described the negotiations to come as "a very important process and the outcome will be hugely significant for cricket in England and Wales”. 

“The game is in good shape, with inspiring international teams, strong county competitions, a recreational game that’s adapting to modern lifestyles and a new participation drive for a younger audience. Our partners for the next rights period will help us build on these very strong foundations and develop an even brighter future. They will understand our strategy, see the opportunities and share our ambitions for growth.  Through this process, we are looking to secure the right balance of reach, revenue and exposure to drive the game for the next decade. To achieve that, we’re offering a wide range of opportunities”.

Aussie players request mediation in pay dispute.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 12 May 2017.

PTG 2132-10809.

In the latest escalation of Australia's player pay dispute the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), or players’ union, has requested independent mediation with Cricket Australia (CA) to try to avoid the negotiations passing beyond the end of June deadline.  A CA spokesman declined to comment on the mediation request.

It has been learned that the ACA lodged a formal request with CA for independent mediation on Friday, in the form of a letter from association president Greg Dyer to the CA board's chairman David Peever.  That followed the most recent meeting between the two negotiating teams in Melbourne on Thursday. It is the first time since the signing of the first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 1998 that either party has felt the need to call for outside assistance.

As part of the request, the ACA has offered to allow the squad selected for this year’s Women's World Cup in England, a tournament which straddles the MoU deadline, to sign a tournament-specific contract. There is unease both nationally and at state level about the contractual limbo created by the dispute, though on Thursday fast bowler Mitchell Starc was adamant about players not wanting to enter contract talks with CA until a new MoU is signed.

The request was made with little more than six weeks remaining before the expiry of the current MoU, with neither side of the debate showing any desire to back down from their publicly stated positions (PTG 2120-10754, 2 May 2017). It is believed that the prospect of a dispute resolution process was first broached by CA's negotiating team early in talks, before the board presented its formal pay offer that was recently rebuffed by the players (PTG 2119-10749, 1 May 2017).

While the ACA is as committed to maintaining the present fixed revenue percentage model that has been in place for two decades as CA is determined to dismantle it, a major sticking point in negotiations has been the board's reluctance to provide the players association with all the financial information it has requested and believes it is entitled to (PTG 2117-10740, 29 April 2017).

At the same time, CA has pointed out that the ACA has declined to assent to its offer of documentation outlining a range of financial scenarios around its existing pay offer, which limits any "blue sky" money over and above fixed amounts to the nation's top centrally-contracted male and female players. Domestic male players, by contrast, would have their wages effectively frozen over the next five years despite a looming Big Bash League television rights deal expected to as much as triple the value of the competition (PTG 2131-10806, 12 May 2017).

In a parallel negotiation, the Australian Football League (AFL) and the AFL players association are soon to announce a new collective agreement that is set to bring a fixed revenue percentage model to Australian football for the first time (PTG 2114-10725, 27 April 2017).

UK universities’ first-class status under threat.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Saturday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2132-10810.

The early-season matches between counties and universities, the Marylebone Cricket Club University (MCCU) program which if funded by the MCC, may lose first-class status following increasing pressure on the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) Board from a number of county chairmen.

At a meeting of county chiefs this week which included Gerald Corbett the MCC chairman, the issue of the status of MCCU matches was raised and it is understood that there was general, although not unanimous, agreement that while the program is an important one, the matches against universities, which take place prior to the County Championship season, should not count as first-class.

There is a significant gulf in quality between counties and the MCCU teams and there is a feeling among many that the first-class status of some of the matches means that counties field their strongest XIs, leading to significant mismatches and causing anomalies in first-class averages.   For example, in this year’s match between Lancashire and Cambridge MCCU, Lancashire bowled out their opponents for 62 in the first innings and 56 in the second, Lancashire declaring on 6/338 in theirs.

The ECB noted the views of the county chairmen — this is not the first time that the issue has been raised — and says that it is in discussions with the MCC as part of a review of player pathways. Last year the ECB and MCC commissioned a report from a consultancy firm on pathways for young cricketers, including the MCCU program. Andrew Strauss, the director of England cricket, and John Stephenson, MCC’s head of cricket, are now reviewing the recommendations.

Any proposals on future changes to the MCCU program and other pathways, including county academies and minor counties cricket, will be put to the ECB board next month. Because of this review, no decisions have been made about the status of the matches or the future of the program.  The MCC says that it remains fully committed to it and to maintaining the first-class status of some of the matches because they provide better sponsorship opportunities and give the players a valuable incentive to perform.

The MCCU program began when Graeme Fowler, the former England opener, founded the Durham University centre of excellence in 1996. Its success prompted the ECB to set up the other five centres. The program gained first-class status in 2001 and has been run and funded by MCC since 2005. Strauss, the former England captain, graduated through the system at Durham and is believed to be a strong advocate of it, although open to recommendations about securing its future. There is a feeling among some, including Fowler, that the program should be funded by the ECB, rather than MCC.

Until 2016 each of the six university centres — Cambridge, Oxford, Loughborough, Cardiff, Durham and Leeds/Bradford — received £UK92,000 ($A160,600) a year from the MCC, but last year their central funding was halved to £46,000 ($A80,300), although some of the shortfall was made up by sponsorship from multinational professional services firm Deloitte.

Trinidad and Tobago launches new womens’ T20 event.

Brij Parasnath.

Trinidad and Tobago News Day.

Friday, 12 May 2017.

PTG 2132-10811.

West Indian international players from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Grenada and St Lucia women cricketers will be involved a new, four franchise side, womens’ Twenty20 'Grand Slam' tournament in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) next week.  The five-day event, which starts on Monday, is being sponsored to the tune of $TT75,000 ($A15,055, £UK8,645). 

Sururj Ragoonath, the TT Cricket board’s chief executive, said the regional players’ airline return fares and stipends will be sponsored by a Trinidad and Tobago company which will also assist with the tournament. The players are expected to arrive on Friday for training sessions on Saturday and Sunday.  

Ragoonath outlined the concept and value of the franchise tournament and thanked the sponsors for their support to help promote women’s cricket in TT.  He expects the tournament to serve as the "catalyst to identify and encourage new talented cricketers in the region who will eventually represent the West Indies team". 

Speaking on behalf of the women cricketers, TT captain Merissa Aguilleira said: “We are so thankful to everyone, especially the sponsors who have come on board to help us develop our talent and to create new opportunities for women cricketers to be better prepared for regional and international competitions.  We, the players are so excited to play and entertain everyone and the competition will be strong”. 

Accused ‘hitman’ organiser made up cricket umpire lie.

BBC Sussex.

Friday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2132-10812.

A man accused of hiring hitmen to kill his partner invented an elaborate lie to have an affair with a woman 40 years his junior, a court at the Old Bailey in London has heard.  "House husband" David Harris told his partner Hazel Allinson he had become a cricket umpire and had to travel away from his Sussex home, jurors were told.

Prosecutor William Boyce QC asked Harris, who denies three counts of soliciting to murder Ms Allinson, if he had ever been in a village cricket team, and he said he had not.  The court heard Harris, a former TV producer who worked on the program 'The Bill', told Allinson tales about his village cricket club involvement so he could travel to London to be with Ugne Cekaviciute, who he had met in a brothel.

Harris is accused of trying to get rid of Ms Allinson and get full ownership of the £UK800,000 ($A1.4 m) house they shared to run off with Ms Cekaviciute, who he previously admitted being "besotted with” and spending £50,000 ($A87,290) on her.  The court heard Harris's "story" was he was too unwell to play cricket and had been persuaded to umpire - and as a driver he had to do the matches furthest from where he lived.

Cross-examining Boyce said: "You never got the local matches. The whole thing was an elaborate lie dreamed up by you to deceive Hazel to get regular away days with Ugne.  You would tell Hazel you were an umpire on Arundel Castle Cricket Club. It was all a complete fabrication”,  Harris replied: "It was”.  The case continues.


 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,133

 Sunday, 14 May 2017

 

• Agree terms or CA won't pay you: Aussie CEO to players [2133-10813].

• Misbah-ul-Haq for ICC match referee spot after retirement? [2133-10814].

• Leeward Islands umpire shortage needs addressing [2133-10815].

• They often lose heavily but university sides are a crucial pathway [2133-10816].

Agree terms or CA won't pay you: Aussie CEO to players.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2133-10813.

Australia's players have been threatened with unemployment by the Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive officer (CEO) James Sutherland, in what amounts to a declaration of war on the players’ union, the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA).  In a letter forwarded to all male and female contracted players on Friday, Sutherland states that the board and state associations plan to present contract offers to players before the current CA-ACA agreement expires at the end of June. Contract terms involved are to be in line with CA's current pay proposal, which was rejected by the ACA two weeks ago (PTG 2120-10754, 2 May 2017).

Should no new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)t be reached by the deadline, Sutherland wrote, the board will not be offering payment to players under any alternative model, whether it be a rollover of the current MoU or the use of tournament-by-tournament contracts.

Delivered to the ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson on the same day its president Greg Dyer requested independent mediation to end the present stand-off (PTG 2132-10809, 13 Mazy 2017), Sutherland's message constitutes a major escalation of the conflict between the board and the players, heightening the likelihood of industrial action. Australia are scheduled to tour Bangladesh and India, prior to next summer's Ashes series, after the MoU expires.

"In the absence of the ACA negotiating a new MoU, players with contracts expiring in 2016-17 will not have contracts for 2017-18”, Sutherland wrote. "Players with existing multi-year State or Big Bash League contracts that expire after 2017 will be required to play in 2017-18 and will be paid the retainer specified in their contract, regardless of whether a new MoU is in place; and in the absence of a new MoU, the Australian Women's World Cup Squad will be paid in advance of the June-July World Cup and will be employed until the end of the event.

Sutherland went on: "To be very clear, in the absence of a new MoU, CA is not contemplating alternative contracting arrangements to pay players beyond [the end of] June if their contracts have expired”.

Also attached to the letter is a list of CA rebuttals of the ACA's alternative pay proposal, which featured a "win/win" split of the game's revenue with 22.5 perl cent to go to the players, 22.5 per cent to go to the game's lower levels, and the remaining 55 per cent left to CA to run the game. Sutherland wrote the ACA response "seeks to inappropriately expand its role as a players' representative body into that of a de-facto administrator".

In maintaining CA's view that the current MoU model is outdated and limiting the board's ability to adequately fund the development of the game around Australia, Sutherland also claimed that some players have expressed unease about the ACA's unwillingness to look more closely at the new pay offer. On Thursday, fast bowler Mitchell Starc stated that none of the nation's top players would contemplate a contract offer until an MoU deal is reached.

"In its defence of the status quo, the ACA's narrative about the history and supposed sanctity of the existing pay model has unfairly placed current players in a difficult position”, Sutherland wrote. "I understand that some have been made to feel that accepting the relatively minor but necessary changes to the existing pay model, while being paid more, would somehow be 'letting the side down'.

"This is nonsense. Nothing decided by today's players binds future generations, just as nothing decided by past players should govern current players' decisions concerning their own careers and welfare. Future players will have their own opportunities to negotiate an MoU that suits them and the circumstances of the game at the time”.

Relations between the board and the ACA have been deteriorating for some years, dating back to the 2014 departure of the former chief executive Paul Marsh to take up the equivalent role with the Australian Football League’s (AFL) players association. The AFL is set to announce its own pay deal, placing pressure on cricket to reach a similar point of agreement.

"For at least five months, [CA] has been unambiguously clear that the twenty-year old pay model needs to be adapted in the next MoU to reflect the changing landscape of the game”, Sutherland wrote. "In particular, CA has identified the need to significantly boost funding for grassroots cricket.  CA firmly believes that the proposal is a fair deal for all players. It is therefore surprising and regrettable that the ACA is yet to engage in negotiations on any element of it. Instead, the ACA spent weeks developing a response which merely seeks to defend and entrench the status quo".

"It is clear to me that the only way forward is for the ACA to engage in focused and constructive negotiations based on the proposal put forward by CA in March. With [the end of] June now only weeks away, the ACA is fast running out of time to engage with CA's proposal and optimise the outcomes for players”.

Misbah-ul-Haq for ICC match referee spot after retirement?

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2133-10814.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan said on Saturday that Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who is currently playing his final Test, could be appointed as an International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee.  The chairman made the comment while discussing details of Misbah-ul-Haq's retirement plan, also expressing the opinion that the soon-to-be-retired player is the country’s most successful Test captain.

 

Currently there is no match referee ifrom Pakistan on either the International Cricket Council’s referees panels, the last person to have carried out referee duties in a senior international being Azhar Khan in 2015.  A total of ten Pakistanis oversaw 51 Tests, 105 One Day International and 5 Twenty20 International fixtures in the period from 1993-2015.

Those involved have been: Asif Iqbal 1/3/0 respectively in 1993; Javed Burki 6/15/0 (1993-1998); Majid Khan 4/0/0 (1995); Naushad Ali 5/13/0 (2000-01); Talat Ali 19/26/0 ((1997-2001); Wasim Raja 15/34/0 (2002-04); Zaheer Abbas 1/3/0 (1993); Azhar Khan 0/3/2 (2015); Ishtiaq Ahmed 0/1/3 (2010); and Nasim-ul-Ghani 0/0/7 (1996).

Of the ICC’s 11 current match referees, seven in the top panel and four in the second-tier Regional Referees Panel, all of the world body’s full member entities except Bangladesh and Pakistan have a member.

Leeward Islands umpire shortage needs addressing.

Neto Baptiste.

Antigua Observer.

Saturday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2133-10815.

There is a shortage of qualified cricket umpires in the Leeward Islands and this must be addressed if the sub-region is to avert a crisis, says Vernon Springer, the Leeward Islands Cricket Board’s (LICB) Cricket Operations Officer.  Springer said the LICB often struggles to find enough qualified umpires for tournaments held in what is one of the West Indies Cricket Board’s six regions. 

Currently, all the umpires employed during the ongoing Leeward Islands 50 overs tournament currently underway are from Antigua.  He said: "We have flown in umpires to Anguilla for the LICB Under-15 tournament because there are no qualified umpires there, [and in addition there are] none in the British Virgin IslandsI, none in the United States Virgin Islands and I think there is only one in Montserra”.  “In Nevis, the only qualified umpire there is Carl Tuckett, while St Kitts has nobody on the list”.

Springer said efforts are being made to rectify the potential crisis.  “We’re speaking to the Leeward Islands Cricket Umpires Association and asking what help they want so that we could start promoting and getting a couple of young umpires. The West Indies High Performance Centre (HPC) is going to be moving here so at some point in time, therefore almost all the West Indies camps are going to be here”, he said. “We have to start positioning ourselves if we going to take advantage of this investment made by the Antigua and Barbuda government” in the HPC initiative.

They often lose heavily but university sides are a crucial pathway.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Saturday, 13 May 2017.

PTG 2133-10816.

At first glance, the argument for removing first-class status from the six Marylebone Cricket Club University (MCCU) sides would seem to be straightforward (PTG 2132-10810, 13 May 2017). The matches are often uncompetitive, one-sided, have nothing riding on the result and skew the end-of-season averages in favour of those who gorge themselves on callow student bowling attacks or batting line-ups.

If first-class cricket is the pinnacle of achievement in the domestic game and aims to be the preserve of the elite, then MCCU cricket surely fails to fit the bill. The margins of victory of some of the matches this year highlight just how uncompetitive these games can be: Nottinghamshire beat Cambridge by 344 runs, Durham beat their university counterparts up the road by 459 runs, and Yorkshire beat Leeds/Bradford by an innings and 224 runs.

A number of the dozen early-season first-class games were drawn but few would argue that they were characterised by red-blooded, competitive cricket. They would have been, at best, a gentle workout for the counties for the season to come. The days of any university team challenging a county on merit, as Oxford and Cambridge would routinely do in the decades after the Second World War, are long gone. Although first-class status is rightly now more democratic than being the preserve of Oxbridge alone, that status is, in a purely cricketing sense, an anachronism.

But the argument is more complex than that and should be considered more broadly, recognising the importance of an alternative pathway for young, bright cricketers who may not yet have decided on a choice of career. And it is a significant pathway, as the figures suggest.

Since 2005, when the MCC began funding the six cricketing centres of excellence at Oxford, Cambridge, Loughborough, Durham, Cardiff and Leeds, which incorporate 13 academic institutions, the number who have come through the system has doubled to about a fifth of the total number of England-qualified players in the county game. In 2015, half of the England women’s team attended or were attending MCCUs.

Of course, many of these talented players would have gone on to play first-class cricket in any case and most were fine cricketers before they arrived into higher education. But for Nick Gubbins and Toby Roland-Jones of Leeds/Bradford MCCU and Jack Leach of Cardiff MCCU, university cricket boosted their cricketing prospects enormously. Other poster boys for university cricket in the system at present would be Sam Billings (Loughborough) and Tom Westley (Durham).

Andrew Strauss, now running English professional cricket, wondered whether his promotion to international cricket would have been so straightforward had he not gone to Durham.  “It [Durham University] allowed me to bridge being a talented sportsman with a professional sportsman and if I hadn’t gone to university would that have happened? I’m not quite sure it would”, he has said. Strauss was a late developer and his time at university provided a buffer between the amateur and professional game.

The most important reason for encouraging university cricket, though, is to act as a brake on a game that is becoming ever more demanding of its players. More and more, the focus of professional cricketers is narrowing because of the uber-professionalisation of the game, and that, in turn, is storing up problems for when cricketers contemplate moving on in life. Anything that encourages breadth and diversity of interest, or a chance to gain qualifications that will help in later life, should be welcomed.

The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) has put it well: “All professional cricketers have the right to an education to prepare to transition out of the game and pursue a life beyond cricket. The game should formally recognise a responsibility to its professional players and assist in funding appropriate programmes to properly prepare them for their career transition”.  A university education is one early stage in that process, and a relatively cheap one too given the present costs to the MCC of £UK46,000 ($A80,300) a year to each MCCU.

The possibility of playing a decent standard of cricket at the same time as getting a higher degree surely encourages some of our brightest cricketers to hold off on full-time professional cricket so that they may study a little longer. Would they go to university without the enticement of first-class games and a high-class cricketing structure within these six centres of excellence? Who knows, but English cricket should do everything to encourage its young players to broaden their horizons.

So the real question comes down to the effect of removing first-class status of what is, after all, merely a dozen games a season. Would the MCC still fund a scheme that does not have the incentive of first-class cricket? If not, would these institutions wither, with the consequence of discouraging cricketers into higher education? Would the England and Wales Cricket Board step into that funding breach if the MCC pulled out? They ought to, but decision-makers often know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

In the grand scheme of things, the first-class status of a dozen games a year is insignificant. If status can be removed without a knock-on effect on the funding and standard of these centres of excellence, then fine, but encouraging cricketers to go to university is more vital than ever. If removing first-class status would discourage the brightest and best, then it is not a price worth paying.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,134

 Sunday, 14 May 2017

(Second edition)

 

• Aussie players have been considering striking since January [2134-10817].

• Who is to blame in Aussie cricket's ugly pay dispute? [2134-10818].

• George takes out CSA ‘Umpire of Year’ double [2134-10819].

• Llong to jet in for IPL final series [2134-10820].

• Will the BCCI seek refuge in T20? [2134-10821].

Aussie players have been considering striking since January.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 14 May 2017.

PTG 2134-10817.

Australia's players have been considering the possibility of strike action since as early as January, according to the former Test captain and Cricket Australia (CA) board director Mark Taylor.  As the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) responded to the threat of CA's chief executive James Sutherland that the players will cease to be paid after June unless the ACA agrees to the board's current pay offer (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017), Taylor revealed the depth of the players' feeling while describing his frustration at the lack of any constructive negotiation.

Following reports of Sutherland's letter broke, numerous Australian players, including Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch, took to ‘Twitter' to maintain their strong support for the ACA, using the #fairshare hashtag. Starc wrote the dispute "makes for an interesting men's and women's Ashes", while the former England batsman Kevin Pietersen wrote "Fairly big player strike soon in Aus..." 

Taylor, who was captain of the national team when the first CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was struck in 1998, said on Channel Nine: "The board and CA in general have been frustrated by the fact there has been no negotiation. I had players say to me in January of this year 'we could well be on strike by July'. This is before [CA’s current] MoU [proposal] was presented," 

"I'm not surprised James [Sutherland] has done what he's done. Things haven't been going anywhere for months now, and I know Cricket Australia feel the ACA aren't negotiating at all. CA want to change the MoU, want to get away from the revenue sharing model, although the deal being offered to the players is still revenue sharing to a certain extent. No-one's worse off, women are going to be very well paid in the new model".

"But right from the word go, the ACA - I'm not so sure about the players - have not wanted to engage at all on this deal that's been offered. It's all about status quo or the highway, and I don't think you can negotiate that way”.

Taylor said CA was intent on breaking up the fixed revenue percentage model because the board did not think it was sustainable. "It doesn't make business sense for Cricket Australia”, he said. "Every time you make money you have to give away a certain percentage of it. The costs of revenue are going up in sport all the time, every sport will say that".

"This could be a win-win. Both side have to negotiate, Cricket Australia has said right from the word go there is our deal. There has been no discussion, or any negotiation on the detail of that deal. The deal they want is status quo”, concluded Taylor.

Alistair Nicholson, the ACA chief executive, criticised what he called CA's attempt to "drive a wedge in Australian cricket” (PTG 2084-10559, 25 March 2017), and reiterated the association's call for independent mediation of pay talks (PTG 2132-10809, 13 May 2017).

"Clearly, we are disappointed that CA are threatening the players”, Nicholson said. "It's also a window into the nature of CA's behaviour in these negotiations so far. There is incoherence and aggression in what we have experienced at the negotiating table from CA. This has further been demonstrated this week with some top players being offered multi-years deals one day only to now be threatened the next” (PTG     . 

"However, despite these threats, the players affirm their offer to participate in independent mediation. Quite simply, one side entered these negotiations in good faith with an intent to provide a win/win result, and the other is trying to remove player unity and drive a wedge in Australian cricket. Further lighting the fuse on this dispute on the eve of the Ashes and during discussions with potential broadcasters and sponsors is quite baffling".

"The point lost on CA is that the players will not respond to threats, whilst broadcasters and sponsors need certainty. That's why we state again, for the good of the game, that it is time to sit down in mediation rather than make unnecessary threats and create such uncertainty”.

Who is to blame in Aussie cricket's ugly pay dispute?

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax media.

Sunday, 14 May 2017.

PTG 2134-10818.

So, who to believe? On one hand, Cricket Australia (CA) says the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) is to blame for the ugly pay dispute which threatens play after the end of June because it will not budge from the revenue-sharing model which has served the sport well for 20 years.  On the other, the ACA – representing a bunch of players who are not afraid to get on social media and hint at an Ashes boycott – say it's CA's "incoherence" and "aggression" that has turned these discussions sour (PTG 2134-10817 above).

"We are more than happy to discuss the mechanics of the model to apply to the current landscape ... but CA are saying it's their way or no way”, an observer of CA's stance said on Sunday.  The divide has become so great that there is now even an argument over whether mediation can be used, with CA claiming the ACA did not agree to this in November when CA urged that negotiations be conducted in private. 

That the two parties can't find any common ground on how to carve up more than $A400 million (£UK229 m)  in expected player pay over the next five years seems ridiculous. The sport appears awash in cash, even though CA does have sponsorship issues and questions abound over the next TV rights deal for international action and the Big Bash League (BBL) because of the troubled broadcast media landscape.

Regardless, cricket, under the CA direction of James Sutherland, and the ACA under Alistair Nicholson, continues to grow, and the greater focus on the women's game has been a boon for everyone. But what was a relatively smooth relationship has turned nasty. CA has clearly taken a more militant line this time around, with claims CA chairman David Peever – a former Rio Tinto boss – wants to break the union (PTG 1346-6505, 5 May 2014). CA denies this.

While neither party would like to hear this, perhaps it's time they looked for guidance from the Australian Football League (AFL).  Agreement has almost been reached on what shapes as a fair pay rise for AFL players, with enough left over for clubs and grass roots football.

Paul Marsh, the former ACA chief, had wanted to replicate cricket's set percentage model with the AFL. The AFL did not agree to that but a mechanism has been struck so players receive about 28 per cent of unbudgeted income should AFL revenues exceed forecasts. The salary cap this year will rise by almost $A40 million (£22.9 m) overall.

In terms of unbudgeted revenue, this sounds a similar deal to what CA has offered the players, with the set-percentage model to be used for international male and female players if income exceeds estimates.  Where the argument differs is that CA no longer wants Sheffield Shield players to share in the percentage of revenue. 

Under CA's offer, Shield players would be paid only from a lump sum, although salaries of about $A300,000 (£171,845) – excluding income from overseas competitions – are still more than healthy.  Players argue first-class cricket is the lifeblood of the sport. CA says the Shield doesn't pay its own way, and wants player incomes to increase from BBL contracts (PTG 2131-10806, 12 May 2017). It's been called a divide-and-conquer policy, and it could be argued CA has underestimated the players' resolve to remain united.

To Marsh's credit, amid consternation and, at times, a lack of financial detail from the AFL, he continued to negotiate. When discussions again stalled, AFL chief Gillon McLachlan intervened, and reinforced why he is regarded as a fine deal-maker by adding some well-received extra cash.  It's time for Sutherland and ACA chief Alistair Nicholson to get together. Can a tweak be found so Shield players get to share in just a part of the set-percentage model? Would that keep both parties happy?

In the 1987 movie ‘Wall Street', Bud Fox, the young stockbroker played by Charlie Sheen, asks mentor Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, "how much is enough?" when it comes to making a deal. Gekko responds: "It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another”.  There is plenty of money to go around. It's time, though, for the ugly perception of cricket's pay fight to end.

George takes out CSA ‘Umpire of Year’ double.

PTG editor.

Media reports.

Sunday, 14 May 2017.

PTG 2134-10819.

Shaun George has won both Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) 2017 'Umpire of the Year’ and 'Umpires’ Umpire of the Year’ awards at the national body’s 2017 awards night in Johannesburg on Saturday.  For George, 49, who has been an on-field member of the International Cricket Council’s  (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel for nearly six years (PTG 830-4057, 12 September 2011), It was his second ‘Umpire of the Year' win, and the fourth time that his peers had voted him in as the umpires’ umpire award.

 

 

Shaun George (right) receives his award.

George said: “It is a really special moment, I really treasure the Umpires’ Umpire of the Year award especially, as being recognised by your peers is fantastic, but I am really happy with both.  It is always a goal for me to be one of the top umpires every year, but it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice.  It is special for a so-called ‘small region’ like Border to be recognised on the national stage.  I am proud to be from Border and I believe we will continue to produce top-class players, officials and umpires for many years to come”.

George played seventeen first class games as a bowler over four years from 1987-91, thirteen of them for Eastern Province and the others for Transvall, his final game being in January 1991 at the age of 23.  His umpiring debut at first class level came in November 2004 and he currently has 84 such games to his credit.

During the evening Marais Erasmus, a South African member of the ICC’s top Elite Umpires Panel, was presented with the David Shepherd trophy he won five months ago as the ICC’s 2016 ‘Umpire of the Year’ (PTG 2011-10172, 23 December 2016).  CSA did not mention anything about its 'Scorers’ Association of the Year’ trophy or the ‘Fair Play’ award that have been on its annual awards night in the past. 

Llong to jet in for IPL final series.

PTG editor.

IPL media release.

Sunday, 14 May 2017.

PTG 2134-10820.

Current International Cricket Council (ICC) and Indian Premier League (IPL) appointments indicate Nigel Llong, a member of the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), is in for a busy week, one that will see him officiating in Ireland on Wednesday and then in India over 8,000 km away and several degrees of temperature hotter less than 48 hours later.  Two weeks ago the ICC announced Llong was to support three games in the Ireland-Bangladesh-NZ tri-series, then on Sunday the IPL appointed him to two of the four matches of its finals series, the first in Bengaluru on Friday and then the final itself on Sunday in Hyderabad.

Llong’s IPL appointment means it won’t be an all-Indian match officials panel for the four finals of this year’s IPL final series (PTG 2128-10785, 9 May 2017).  The Englishmen will return to the IPL three weeks after the last of the 11 games he worked in across four Indian cities during April, a break in which he has been standing in the tri-series (PTG 2120-10755, 2 May 2017).  Whether such an arrangement was planned ahead of the tri-series and IPL finals is not known.

Next Sunday’s IPL decider for 2017 will see Llong standing with Sundarum Ravi, one of his EUP colleagues, while Anil Chaudhary will be the television umpire, A Nanda Kishore the reserve, and Javagal Srinath the match referee.  It will be the first time an Indian umpire has stood in the final of an IPL series in its ten years, although Srinath worked in the referee’s role in the first two series in 2008 and 2009.  Chaudhary was the third umpire for the 2016 final and Ravi in both 2010 and 2014.

Ravi will be on-field in game 1 of the finals in Mumbai on Tuesday with Chettihody Shamshuddin, CK Nandan being the television official and Yeswant Barde the fourth umpire.  Game 2 in Bengaluru on Wednesday will see Chaudhary and Nitin Menon on-field, A Nanda Kishore the television umpire and K N Ananthapadmanabhan the fourth.  Game 3 on Friday will see Shamshuddin standing with Llong, Menon the television umpire and Ananthapadmanabhan the reserve.  While Srinath will oversee the final, he, Manu Nayar and Chinmaya Sharma will each work as the referees in the other three finals matches.

ICC appointments sheets currently available on line indicate Llong will be working as the third umpire in a Bangladesh-NZ One Day International (ODI) in Dublin on Wednesday.  The middle east airline that sponsors the EUP has a flight that leaves Dublin Airport close to midnight on Wednesday night some five hours after the ODI is likely to end, and after a change of planes in Dubai Llong should arrive in Bengaluru, a time zone shift of 5 hours, around 8 pm Indian time on Thursday evening.  That’s almost exactly 24 hours before the IPL’s finals game 3  is due to get underway.

Will the BCCI seek refuge in T20?

Ian Chappell.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 14 May 2017.

PTG 2134-10821.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCC)I was comprehensively outvoted when the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) proposed constitutional revamp went before the organisation's board at a meeting in Dubai last month (PTG 2115-10731, 28 April 2017). So what does this mean for the game when the most powerful body, and by far its greatest financial contributor, is shunned?

The first thing we know is, the BCCI won't take this rejection lightly. The most important aspect of the rebuff is that it involved a hit to the BCCI's projected revenue stream. Considering the importance all cricket administrations place on finance, it's hard not to imagine the BCCI will react angrily to this perceived slight (PTG 2128-10786, 9 May 2017).

There have been mutterings for some time about the BCCI expanding their highly successful and lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament. Any profits from the IPL are not shared among the other cricket nations, so it's easy to assume this will be the first port of call for the BCCI to cover any shortfall following the ICC rebuff.

Any expansion of the IPL will involve players being more committed to the T20 format. The high-profile players who participate in the IPL are well rewarded, so it's hard to see many, if any, not simply accepting such a dramatic change to the schedule. More involvement in the T20 format obviously means less time for players to participate elsewhere.

The 50-over game has already been squeezed, so it stands to reason any cutbacks to accommodate an expanded T20 schedule are most likely to occur in the Test program. The five-day game really only prospers in Australia and England, so it's doubtful if there will be too much outrage expressed if the Test schedule is reduced.

If you then add the success of Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League, both financial and support-wise, and the fact that CA only makes a profit from one or two international tours at most, then expansion could also be on the horizon for this tournament. England will also be launching a city-based T20 tournament, and if this takes off, who knows what destination they might have in mind, while Cricket South Africa and the West Indies Cricket Board are planning, or already have, their own high-profile T20 series.

I've been under the impression for some time that many cricket officials believe the game can survive on T20 alone. Consequently it's not hard to visualise Test cricket being shortchanged when it comes to the nurturing it needs.

There are two things that might stand in the way of any concerted T20 push. Firstly, there's the BCCI's Committee of Administrators (CoA), which has taken a very firm stand with the BCCI over its flimsy attempts at governance. However, the BCCI could simply acquiesce to the CoA's demands, and once they are given the green light to conduct business freely, they could execute their plan for IPL expansion (PTG 2123-10765, 4 May 2017).

Then there's FICA, the international body of players' associations. If the players were totally committed to Test cricket remaining the prime form of the game, they could take a stand against any decrease in the scheduling of the longer version. However, this is unlikely on the basis that, firstly the Indian players are not a part of FICA, and secondly, the better players are usually the most influential in these associations. The better players are also the best rewarded and the ones who are most likely to be in demand at the more glamorous T20 tournaments. 

Considering how much importance cricket officials place on the bottom line, it's unrealistic to expect the players not to take a similar approach.

Cricket needed a grand overall plan for the game when the rebel Indian Cricket League was introduced in 2007. It wasn't forthcoming then and questions such as how many forms of the game cricket needs (and if the answer is two, which one needs to be discarded?) have remained unasked. For a long time cricket has been a runaway train, careering ahead without an obvious destination in mind. If the BCCI reacts angrily to the recent ICC rejection, the destination for cricket's future could become clear and the journey may well be considerably curtailed.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,135

 Monday, 15 May 2017

 

• Rift continues, union chief executive rejects CA pay deal claims [2135-10822].

• Indian umpires were ‘excellent' in IPL-10, says former international [2135-10823].

• ICC increases Champions Trophy prize money [2135-10824].

Rift continues, union chief executive rejects CA pay deal claims.

Anthony Colangelo.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 15 May 2017.

PTG 2135-10822.

Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Alistair Nicholson says Cricket Australia (CA) hasn't made it clear why they want to dump the revenue-sharing player payment model that has operated since 1997.  Nicholson labelled his CA counterpart James Sutherland's explosive email over the weekend to the ACA as a "really big threat” (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).

Sutherland's email threatened to not pay out-of-contract players beyond the end of June unless they accepted new contracts which moved off the revenue sharing model – something ACA is opposed to.  Nicholson rubbished claims made in the email by Sutherland which said that ACA had knocked back a great deal and hadn't done enough to come up with a solution to the standoff.

"I totally disagree with that”, Nicholson said on Radio Sport National on Monday. "We've come up with a solution that's a win-win and that was rejected by CA within two hours.  Us coming to the table is really important and putting up mediation as we have is a sign of that (PTG 2132-10809, 13 May 2017). It is in our interest to get this done ... the players want it done, they want to play the Ashes”.

CA want to pay Australia's male and female cricketers a set amount not tied to revenue as of the new financial year; however Nicholson says he or the players don't know why CA and Sutherland hadn't given a satisfactory reason for the proposed change.  "That's something that we are not comfortable that we have got the right answer on”, Nicholson said. "[CA] see it as wanting to invest some of the monies into grass roots. We are all for that. We have advocated spending to grass roots goes up.  The players at the moment take 20 per cent of all revenue so having 80 cents in the dollar is enough to invest in the future of the game”.

If CA does not submit a contract offer to the players that they deem satisfactory then Australia could be without its top Test talent for an away series in Bangladesh and this summer's Ashes at home.  Nicholson stressed that he and the players did not want to miss any scheduled matches, including the Test tour of Bangladesh and the Ashes.  "At the moment we are very much trying to jump into mediation and we are not at that stage yet, no one really wants that”, he said. 

Sutherland argued in a statement on Monday that the fixed payment model would make salaries more even across the board. "As it stands, [the revenue share model] has achieved its purpose – to make Australia's male cricketers among the best paid sportspeople in the country – but it needs to be adjusted, not least to ensure our women receive proper remuneration. Under our proposal, we can achieve this while still lifting payments for our male cricketers” (PTG 2134-10817, 14 May 2017). 

Indian umpires were ‘excellent' in IPL-10, says former international.

N Jagannath Das.

Press Trust of India.

Sunday, 14 May 2017.

PTG 2135-10823.

Indian umpires have come of age and in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and have done an ‘excellent' job, says former long-serving umpire Ivaturi Shivram, a member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) umpire review committee.  While acknowledging there "may have been one or two mistakes here and there during the series”, some criticism having gone the umpires’ way including from one of Shivram’s colleagues (PTG 2106-10681, 18 April 2017), he rates the overall performance as "very good”. 

Shivram said on Sunday: "Every umpire makes mistake. I was impressed the way they handled the match situations”.  Despite that optimistic assessment, he also pointed to the need to "improve the communication skills of those who work as third-umpires”.  He blames the problems that occurred in that regard as "mainly because there is no exposure for them [to such work] in Indian domestic cricket”.

But the on-field umpiring, according to Shivram, was “brilliant". “Umpires like Abhijit Deshmukh,Yeshwant Barde, KN Ananthapadmanabhan, Nanda Kishore, Anil Dandekar and Virender Sharma have shown tremendous improvement with their work on the field. They were spot on with some of the decisions.  Nitin Menon was a success in domestic cricket and he also had a very good report during the exchange tour of Australia in February. 

Shivram said the Indian umpires were more focused this IPL season. “They have become more professional. They have taken umpiring seriously as a career. They are an improved lot. Pressure is always on the umpires. The preparation is very important. In IPL, it is a full-house crowd. There will be lot of noise. The umpires had to work on their mental skills and this year the Indian officials have stood up to the challenge admirably.  Indian umpires are talented and second to none”.

The veteran umpire said there were unwarranted criticisms against Indian umpires. “I think it is time the Indian umpires are given their due. The experts should analyse the game properly before passing on the verdict [in television broadcasts]. The Indian umpires are unsung heroes of this year’s IPL. They work under pressure and can’t relax till the last delivery. For one bad decision they cannot be condemned”.  Apart from the umpires, Shivram had a word of praise for the Indian match referees. In his assessment: “They were on par with international match referees. They conducted themselves very well”.

Despite Shivram’s comments, IPL organisers have not been content to have an all-Indian match officials panel for this week’s four-game IPL final series, bringing back Englishman Nigel Llong to stand in two of those matches, including Sunday’s final (PTG 2134-10820, 14 May 2017).

ICC increases Champions Trophy prize money.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Monday, 15 May 2017.

PTG 2135-10824.

The International Cricket Council has increased prize money for this year’s Champions Trophy by $US500,000 ($A677,230, £UK387,925) over the money that applied in the last series in 2013, to a total of $US4.5 million ($A6.1 m, £3.5 m), the winner of the eight-team taking home $US2.2 million ($A3 m, £1.7 m).  

The runner-up of the tournament will earn $US1.1 million ($A1.5 m, £853,440), and the other two semifinalists $US450,000 each ($A609,510, £349,135).  Teams finishing third in each of the two initial groups will both take home $US90,000 each ($A121,900, £69,825), and those who end the group stage at the bottom of each table each $US60,000 ($A81,265, £46,550). 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,136

 Tuesday, 16 May 2017

 

• Cricket strike? Most likely it will end in a draw [2136-10825].

• Windies' coach fined for dissent over batsman’s dismissal [2136-10826].

• PSL spot-fixing trial begins [2136-10827].

• 350-year-old club lose £UK2,000 in burglary [2136-10828].

Cricket strike? Most likely it will end in a draw.

Greg Baum.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 15 May 2017.

PTG 2136-10825.

Much as both Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) would like you to fear it, the first ball next austral summer's Ashes series will not be from Stuart Broad to the winner of a Kanga [kid’s] Cricket raffle. Nor for that matter will it be his pot-bellied round-arm dad to Alastair Cook. That was as good as confirmed on Monday when that noted analyst of Australian cricket affairs, Kevin  Pietersen, tweeted: "Fairly big player strike soon in Aus ...."

The Australian players won't strike, nor will be they be laid off (PTG 2135-10822, 15 May 2017). It's just that there is a certain amount of posturing each side has to work through in negotiations on a pay deal. Sometimes it is more shrill than others. This time, it is particularly strident, because the disagreement is about not just a quantum of money, but the principle under which is it is distributed, and because the cricket landscape is changing rapidly anyway, leading each side to believe that the time to act is now (PTG 2134-10818, 14 May 2017).

That is not to say neither board or players believe their own rhetoric. Each has a case. But they will not pursue it to the point either of walk-off or lock-out. That is because of two certainties. One is that sportspeople, in contrast to wage slaves, altogether would rather be working. The other is that industrial action by athletes garners little popular sympathy for either side. Fans distrust administrators anyway, and love players for what they do, not as an industrial cause.

An American journalist once characterised a stand-off between basketballers and owners as a fight between "millionaires and billionaires". Something of that sentiment applies now. Nuance does not come into it; the only stake that matters is the unransomable Ashes, not who is paying whom however many noughts for what. That is for them and their managers to fret over.

That said, sportsmen (and increasingly, women) are in the rare position of being both the workers and the product. In 1975, as industrial rumblings began in the still pretty much amateur Australian Test team, mild-mannered Ian Redpath was seen to hold then board secretary Allan Barnes up against a wall, yelling: "Of course there are 50,000 out there who would play for nothing. But how good would the Australian team be?"

Two years later came the World Series Cricket revolution. Twenty years later, players and administrators were at loggerheads again over money. The players played harder ball than the board expected, leading to a place at the table for the then newly-formed ACA and enshrinement of revenue sharing, which CA now wants to dispense with. But despite many threats to strike in the process, not even one ball was foregone.

Then, of course, the players had no alternative employment. Now they do, the endless - and lucrative - round of T20 competitions. But when push came to glance, how many would bypass an Ashes series and risk public contempt to make a point beyond the decimal points they are already making? That question would test the playing cohort's hitherto rock-like solidarity. Meantime, a familiar game goes on: claim and counter-claim, bluff and counter-bluff, oaths not to negotiate through media, negotiations through media, stalemate.

The best pointer this time might not be the past, but the neighbours. The Melbourne-based Australian Football League (AFL) appears to have concluded its own protracted negotiations, complete with much finger-wagging and vague intimations about a strike. The central issue also was revenue sharing. The cricketers want to preserve it, the footballers to introduce it. Eventually, the AFL Players Association settled for a hybrid arrangement by which some of their income was tied to revenue, the rest fixed.

Of course, the footballers could depend on the steadily rising value of broadcast rights and a lot of money upfront. It meant the AFL could have their plenty of their cake and eat it, too. Cricket's worth to television is less certain, which is why CA is looking to restructure its deal with players in the first instance. But no cricketer is going to have to worry about a wolf at the door any time soon.

Whoever blinks first, expect it to be presented as a mutually knowing wink, and for David Warner to be taking strike rather than being on it on day one of the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba in Brisbane in November.

Windies' coach fined for dissent over batsman’s dismissal.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Monday, 15 May 2017.

PTG 2136-10826.

West Indies head coach Stuart Law has been fined a quarter of his match fee for showing dissent during the final day of the third and final Test against Pakistan on Sunday.  Upset over the dismissal of wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich in the second session, Law went to the third umpire's room and proceeded to question umpire Richard Kettleborough over his ruling to confirm on-field umpire Bruce Oxenford’s initial decision.

Oxenford gave Dowrich out to a bat pad catch at short leg.  The batsman immediately asked for a review but replays proved inconclusive, and under review protocols Oxenford's decision was upheld as there was no clear evidence to the contrary.

After taking to Kettleborough, Law is said to have made “an inappropriate comment” while leaving the room. He later pleaded guilty to the charge of “showing dissent at an umpire's decision during an international match”.  In addition to the fine, one demerit point has been added to Law's disciplinary record.

PSL spot-fixing trial begins.

Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017.

PTG 2136-10827.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal commenced hearings on Monday into spot-fixing charges against five players who could face life bans if found guilty.  The panel, which is looking into Pakistan Super League (PSL) related matters, is headed by Justice Asghar Haider and includes former Pakistan captain Wasim Bari and ex-PCB chairman Tauqir Zia.

During the opening day, prosecutors played a tape in which opening batsman Sharjeel Khan admitted having met a bookmaker but denied any wrongdoing.  Sharjeel is one of five players provisionally suspended in the case, which surfaced during the second edition of the PSL tournament staged in the United Arab Emirates in February. He was present during the hearing. Khalid Latif, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed are also facing charges punishable by a minimum five-year ban and a maximum suspension for life.

In March, fast bowler Mohammad Irfan admitted failing to report an approach to fix a match and was banned for six months, with six more suspended. He was also fined one million Rupees ($A12,900 , £UK7,400) (PTG 2090-10585, 30 March 2017). Another player, Mohammad Nawaz, was also summoned by PCB anti-corruption unit in regards to the spot fixing case but has not yet been charged (PTG 2128-10787, 9 May 2017). If charged his case will also be submitted to the tribunal.

PCB lawyer Taffazul Rizvi said Sharjeel had admitted meeting a bookie along with Khalid.  "He also accepted that man was linked to fixing and that whatever was decided in that meeting panned out in the agreed manner”, Rizvi told reporters.  Sharjeel in the recorded statement said the fact he played two dot [non-scoring] balls at a particular point in his side’s first game of the PSL’s 2017 season was not linked to spot-fixing. The PCB's anti-corruption unit believes Sharjeel took money to play the dot balls.

Witnesses are due to give evidence to the tribunal on Tuesday.  Sharjeel's lawyer Shaigan Ijaz said his client expects a favourable result.

250-year-old club lose £UK2,000 in burglary.

Adam Flinnon.

Basingstoke Observer.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017.

PTG 2136-10828.

A 250-year-old club in Hampshire has been left counting the cost after thieves broke into their clubhouse.  Cash and stock including spirits worth over £UK2,000 ($A3,480) were taken after burglars managed to get into an office and find the keys to a store cupboard.  Odiham and Greywell cricket club claim to be one of the oldest clubs in the world having been formed in 1764.  They celebrated their 350th anniversary in 2014.

“It’s incredibly disappointing”, said Bruce Applin, the club’s chairman of bar, house and events.  “We cater for a large section of the community, including 250 kids that play here, but it’s business as usual.  We won’t allow people to hinder what we’re trying to do and things will carry on as normal”.  Damage was also caused by the intruders to a door and a kitchen window that were smashed in the process of the theft.

In January 2012, the club’s wooden pavilion was destroyed by fire following another burglary where thieves used an angle grinder to break into a safe.  The current £250,000 ($A434,870) clubhouse opened in 2013.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,137

 Wednesday, 17 May 2017

 

• Cricket is given out by resurgent Taliban [2137-10829].

• Aussie pay dispute sign of things to come: Vaughan [2137-10830].

• Tight time-line for new ECB broadcast rights deal decision [2137-10831].

• Kiwi women to fly business class to World Cup [2137-10832].

Cricket is given out by resurgent Taliban.

Hugh Tomlinson.

The Times.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017.

PTG 2137-10829.

The Taliban have banned cricket, football and school sports in the Afghan province of Ghazni, raising fears of a return to the brutal rule of the 1990s.  Militants have halted and fired on matches and confiscated equipment in several districts of the restive eastern province where they control much of the countryside, although the government controls Ghazni city.

In some areas, all sports have been banned, including children’s games. The insurgents, who outlawed a host of leisure activities and barred girls from attending school when they controlled Afghanistan two decades ago, claimed that they were responding to public complaints about the growing popularity of sport in the area.

Expanding from their southern strongholds, the Taliban have recaptured swathes of Afghanistan since NATO troops ended combat operations in the country in late 2014. A recent internal study by the United Nations found that almost a third of the Afghan population was under Taliban control.

Saranwal Haqyar, a tribal elder in the Andar district of Ghazni, said that the Taliban had ruled that cricket was haram, or forbidden. “The Taliban said the three sticks [stumps] behind the player represent Allah. Throwing the ball at them means you hate Allah’s name, so stop playing”, he said.

Many defied the order initially, Haqyar said. “People in Mehman and Nani villages did not obey the Taliban order at first. They said ‘Afghan players have raised the national flag all over the world. We will play’.  But then the Taliban started shooting and some youngsters got wounded. People don’t want to obey the order but the elders have been forced to agree”.

Afghan cricket has thrived in recent years despite the war, with the national team making huge strides in the global game. Football too is wildly popular, emerging from the shadow of the Taliban years when public executions were carried out in stadiums and players were banned from wearing shorts.

With so much of Afghanistan slipping back into Taliban hands, and government forces buckling before the insurgency, there are fears that other parts of the country will return to the dark days of their rule. At the height of their power, from 1996 until the 2001 US-led invasion, the Taliban controlled almost half of Afghanistan, including Kabul, under the leadership of the one-eyed cleric, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Under the group’s interpretation of Sharia, many activities were banned, including music, television, dancing and, notoriously, education, employment or sport for women. Girls’ schools were razed and many people caught secretly teaching girls were executed.  More than 150 Afghan troops were killed in a Taliban ambush on a base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif last month, the deadliest attack since the war began in 2001.

Aussie pay dispute sign of things to come: Vaughan.

Rob Forsaith.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017.

PTG 2137-10830.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes the Australian pay dispute hanging over the Ashes could be the first of many to affect the international game.  Cricket Australia are seeking to replace the existing revenue-sharing model with new contracts as part of a wider restructure of remuneration throughout the game – a move that has left senior players unimpressed (PTG 2135-10822, 15 May 2017).

The lucrative T20 offers that would exist for Australia's top players should they not pen new central deals mean their bargaining power is stronger than ever and Vaughan predicts similar situations could arise with other boards.  "It's great for England to see Australia falling out and fighting with each other but in terms of the game as a whole it's not a great story”, he said.

"I've never seen it to this level. It's sad for the game when you're hearing this but I don't think it will be the last case of players getting together as groups. There's so much money coming through TV deals, I think players will say 'we fancy a piece of that’.  International boards have got to put their hands in their pockets to save international cricket. In our day international cricket was the sole moneymaker for the game but the Twenty20 leagues are catching up” (PTG 2115-10733, 28 April 2017).

Tight time-line for new ECB broadcast rights deal decision.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2137-10831.

Live international cricket will return to free-to-air television in the UK in 2020 for the first time in 15 years.  Two England Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) will be shown as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new broadcasting deal, according to the tender document seen by this reporter, which also indicates the time-line between the submission of tenders and the announcement of the successful bidder is very tight indeed.

The document, sent to all leading broadcasters, sets out the bidding process for the rights to all international and domestic cricket in England from 2020-24 and reveals that at least 13 leading matches a year will be shown live and free to air. This will include the two men’s T20Is, the final of the women’s T20 superleague and ten matches in the new eight-team T20 domestic tournament. It had previously been thought that only eight matches out of the 36 in the new tournament would be shown.

The leaked document also reveals that fewer Tests are likely to be played. When the Ashes are contested at home, England would only play the five Tests against Australia, rather than also two "warm-up" Tests against another nation.  Other seasons would feature six Tests — fewer than the normal seven — six One Day Internationals and six T20Is.

The possibility of reducing the number of Test matches in most summers is likely to concern some of the counties who already battle it out to host England’s five-day matches.  Many county grounds rely on Test income to make a profit and fund their players and staff salaries.  In a summer of only five Tests, at least one of Lord’s, the Oval, Edgbaston, Headingley, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge would miss out. Cardiff and Southampton are also desperate to host more matches.

Any pay TV broadcaster that bids for the rights to the new T20 tournament must also bid for the rights to the package that includes international and county cricket. They cannot bid for just one.  As well as making bids for each package, broadcasters must show how they would maximise their reach and attract new audiences to the game.

The document also indicates that within five business days of the deal being signed, 10 per cent of any successful bid must be paid, with the remaining 90 per cent paid in five equal annual instalments.  The board’s decision on which channels will win the tender will be made at 5 pm UK time on 30 June — 48 hours after the deadline for the submission of bids.

But it is the return of England matches to terrestrial television that will most excite cricket fans. The 2005 Ashes series on Channel 4 was the most recent time when international cricket was shown live on a free-to-air channel. It attracted average viewing figures of 2.5 million, peaking at an astonishing 8.4 million, in contrast with viewing figures on pat-TV channel Sky peaking at 0.5 million during the 2015 Ashes.

Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, has revealed his concern that keeping cricket behind a paywall is harming its ability to stay relevant. He said this year that he wanted to see some games return to free-to-air, even if that meant forsaking some money from the pay TV companies. “We have no ambition to be the richest, most irrelevant sport in this country”, he said.

The BBC, which has not shown live cricket since 1999, is the firm favourite to win the competition for free-to-air games, although there will be bids from ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery, who would show it on Quest, their non-subscription channel (PTG 2132-10808, 13 May 2017).

It was revealed in March that Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the BCC director-general, has held talks with ECB executives in an attempt to get cricket back on the BBC and has promised to give the new T20 tournament exposure similar to that of the FA Cup (PTG 2089-10578, 29 March 2017). The ECB is known to believe that the prestige attached to the BBC’s name and its online presence will help to broaden the sport’s audience.

Sky has been the sole broadcaster of English cricket since immediately after the 2005 Ashes and pays about £UK70 million ($A122 m) a year for exclusive rights. However, with a new T20 competition included as part of the deal for 2020-24, an acknowledgement that the international rights were undervalued last time round, and that BT Sport is also competing this time, the ECB is expecting the value of the new deal to double if not treble, which may earn it more than a billion over five years ($A1.75 bn).

A 90-page, glossy, hard-backed tender document with Joe Root and Heather Knight, the men’s and women’s Test captains, on the cover was sent out to all radio and television broadcasters who had expressed an interest. All parties have been required to sign a 12-page non-disclosure agreement.

The document sets out the process for submitting bids and a surprisingly tight timetable for the process. Submissions will need to be made to the ECB “no sooner than 0900 hours and no later than 1000 hours, local time in London, England on Wednesday, 28 June, 2017”.

The bids will then be considered by a five-man panel comprising Barry O’Brien, the chairman of Glamorgan, Lord Patel of Bradford, who is an independent director on the ECB board, Sir David Scott, the former Channel 4 boss, Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, and Harrison.  

Kiwi women to fly business class to World Cup.

Abby Wilson. 

1 NEWS Sport.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017.

PTG 2137-10832.

When New Zealand’s womens' team fly to next month's World Cup (WWC) in England, for the first time they'll be sitting at the front of the plane.  In the past the women's cricket side have had to fly economy while the men's team enjoyed sitting in business (PTG 1783-8901, 17 March 2016).  White Fern Catherine Campbell, who played 73 One Day Internationals for New Zealand, “that's one of the many factors that they've addressed in recent times [for women]”. 

The move signifies a significant shift towards embracing professionalism in the women's game, the prize money for this year’s WWC is nine times that of the last event, the total pool of monies on offer now being nearly $NZ3 million ($A2.8 m,   £UK1.6m).  However, it's still a long way off the $NZ14.5 m ($A13.4 m, £UK7.7 m) the men play for.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,138

 Thursday, 18 May 2017

 

• CA reject ACA mediation request, wants talks to resume [2138-10833].

• Fielder dies after truly freak head strike [2138-10834].

• PCB bans Nawaz for two months over PSL bookie approach [2138-10835].

• India looking at national player, support staff, contracts [2138-10836].

• BCCI officials reported ‘furious' at proposal to cut allowances [2138-10837].

• Bangladesh-Australia Test series  hinge on security report [2138-10838].

• Pakistan pair belatedly fined over April match incident [2138-10839].

CA reject ACA mediation request, wants talks to resume.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2138-10833.

David Peever, the Cricket Australia (CA) chairman, has rejected the Australian Cricketers Association's (ACA) request for mediation in pay talks between the two parties, reiterating the board's insistence that talks resume with its formal pay offer as the starting point.  The ACA indicated last week it had requested independent mediation be set up with CA to try and resolve the impasse on a new CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on pay matters (PTG 2132-10809, 13 May 2017).

In a letter addressed to ACA president Greg Dyer, Peever states that it is "extraordinary" that the players association has requested mediation without first attempting to negotiate based on CA's current offer, which seeks to break up the fixed revenue percentage model that has existed for the past 20 years (PTG 2081-10537, 22 March 2017).

"The preconditions you set out in your letter are unacceptable to CA”, Peever wrote. "They may be genuine issues of contention from the ACA's perspective, however they should not be an insurmountable barrier to even commencing good faith negotiations”.

Peever's rejection of the ACA request followed the CA chief executive James Sutherland's blunt message that players out of contract would cease to be paid after the end of June if the ACA did not return to the bargaining table (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).  Peever wrote: "As James Sutherland indicated in his letter to your [ACA] chief executive last week, the approach the ACA has taken in demanding certain preconditions be met before it is prepared to begin negotiations is the fundamental reason why no progress has been made to date".

"Surely a more constructive and conventional approach would have been to work through CA's [MoU] proposal to agree all possible items, leaving issues where the parties may be further apart to be resolved towards the end. Such an approach generally leads to a greater understanding between parties and reduces potential conflict”.

Though Peever struck a somewhat less confrontational tone in his correspondence than Sutherland, expressing hope that a way can be found for the two negotiation teams to work together over the six weeks until the end of June, he did not deviate from CA's insistence that talks resume based on a pay offer document offering players fixed wages over the next five years.

"While I do not agree that mediation is appropriate in the current situation, out of respect for the players the present impasse needs to be broken and a mechanism found that allows good faith talks to finally start and move forward as quickly as possible”, he wrote. "In that spirit I suggest we instruct our respective negotiating teams to recommit to the negotiation calendar, beginning at the earliest opportunity with a full day of structured talks, without preconditions". 

"The objective would be to work through CA's proposal to identify the areas of agreement or in principle agreement, and areas of ongoing disagreement. I am confident that such an exercise would find much common ground, a way forward on outstanding issues and build momentum”.

ACA president Dyer said it was "poor form" for CA to suggest that negotiations had not yet begun when the formal process had begun as far back as last November.  "How does CA expect to get a deal done by the end of June?”, Dyer said. "To make inaccurate statements about negotiations not having begun is poor form and clearly not consistent with good-faith discussions".

"To be clear, I personally met with CA back on 11 November to commence negotiations, at which time we were commended for the position that had been presented on behalf of the players (PTG 1973-9939, 11 November 2016). Since then, the ACA management has had over 20 hours of face-to-face meetings with CA".

"The players have categorically rejected CA's offer given that it did not include the revenue sharing model, but its offer is all that CA wants to talk about. The current successful revenue sharing model has been presented by the ACA with a number of solutions regarding increases in grassroots cricket, flexibility in investment and sharing of risk; yet CA appears unwilling to talk about our approach".

"The ACA clearly wants to resolve a new MoU before 30 June, and given the differences in both parties, mediation seems the right step”.

Fielder dies after truly freak head strike.

The Hindu.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2138-10834.

A fielder who was hit in the head by a batsman playing a shot in a match in played near Hyderabad in India on Sunday, died as a result of his injuries on Tuesday.  Somewhat unusually though, the victim Mohammed Abdul Wajid, 22, was not playing in the same game as the batsman who inadvertently inflicted his injuries.

Scores of teams play cricket matches side-by-side at the ground where the tragedy occurred.  It's so crowded the fielders in one match often run onto the playing being used for another game.  While running to catch a ball skied by a batsman in his game, Wajid went close to the stumps being used for another match.  One witness said that as he did so: "the batsman at the crease [in that game tried] to hit a ball bowled to him but his bat hit Wajid [instead]”.  

Wajid fell on to the stumps and the strike to his head was compounded by the fact teams use stones to support the stumps, for in falling the young man hit his head on the stones. He was rushed to hospital where he was treated for several days but succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.  

PCB bans Nawaz for two months over PSL bookie approach.

Agence France-Presse.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2138-10835.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) banned all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz for two monthsand fined him the equivalent of $US2,000 ($A2,690, £UK1,545) on Wednesday after he admitted failing to disclose an approach by a bookmaker to engage in corrupt practices.  The 23-year-old, regarded as a bright prospect for Pakistan, becomes the second casualty of a wide-ranging investigation.  Fast-bowler Mohammad Irfan was banned for six months with six suspended and fined one million Rupees one million Rupees ($A12,900, £UK7,400), after admitting to similar charges (PTG 2090-10585, 30 March 2017).

Four other players -- Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshed and Shahzaib Hasan are also under investigation by a three-member tribunal and are provisionally suspended.  The cases pertain to corruption in the Twenty20 Pakistan Super League (PSL) held in United Arab Emirates in February to March this year.  The PCB has so far not revealed any details about their cases, including the identities of the bookmakers, what they asked players to do, and the amounts involved -- though unconfirmed reports have cropped up in the local media.

The PCB said in a statement that Nawaz, who was asked 10 days ago to explain himself (PTG 2128-10787, 9 May 2017), "was charged with a single violation, on one occasion, which he failed to disclose to the PCB vigilance and security department, full details of the approaches and invitations received by him to engage in corrupt conduct”.   It added that the player’s admission of guilt had led to a lighter sentence.

Nawaz, who appeared for the Quetta Gladiators in the PSL, has so far played three Tests, nine One Day Internationals (ODI) and five Twenty20 Internationals.   His last international outing came during an ODI in Pakistan’s tour of Australia in January.  If found guilty, the four remaining players face bans ranging from five years to lifetime, because their charges related to more serious offences and they have not admitted their guilt.

India looking at national player, support staff, contracts.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2138-10836.

Members of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Committee of Administrators (CoA) are to have separate talks with national coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli sometime over the next week regarding player and player support staff pay issues.  Unlike most International Cricket Council (ICC) full member countries, India does not have a player’s union for such negotiations, such work being left, despite the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, to senior players (PTG 2109-10698, 21 April 2017).

In March, Kumble wrote to CoA members seeking what would amount to a 300 per cent hike in players’ salaries (PTG 2085-10564, 26 March 2017).  BCCI sources said at the time suggested his correspondence related to the players’ share of the Board’s earnings, which currently stand at 26 per cent, although not from every BCCI earnings stream.  In the absence of a union, senior staff such as Kumble and Kohli also oversee player welfare, insurance, pensions and general post-career life skill issues.  Players in Australia are currently batting their board over revenue sharing issues (PTG 2138-10833, above).

With the amount of money flowing to the BCCI from ICC coffers being reduced significantly, something the BCCI is still in negotiations about (PTG 2128-10786, 9 May 2017), things might not be so straight-forward for Kumble and his colleagues regarding the ‘gross revenue’ issue.  There are also said to be concerns amongst the players over the income from media rights.

Kumble’s own contract is set to end after next month's Champions Trophy ends, and although the Indian team has had a very successful 12 months, the terms of the new contract are still to be negotiated.  Kumble was offered a one-year deal last year for an annual remuneration of 62.5 million Rupees ($A1.3 m, £UK750,460), but some reports suggest the former India captain is now seeking 80 million Rupees ($A1.7 m, £960,585) per year. 

As for the meeting with Kohli, the current Indian captain has previously made a demand for a higher retention fee for contracted players.  He has pointed out that the board must ensure the so-called marquee players do not fall behind the remuneration packages offered to their counterparts in other countries, chiefly England and Australia. Whether Kumble and Kohli’s talks will also include concerns expressed by Indian players whose careers limit them to ‘domestic’ first class cricket in India is not known, an issue that is also part of current negotiations in Australia.  

In late March, media reports from the sub-continent suggested there were “two dramatically different worlds exist in Indian cricket”.  "One occupied by the elite, dazzling duniya of rich international cricketers with their earthly concerns and possessions.  The other, on the fringe of this celestial system, is inhabited by impoverished domestic first-class players who live on the edge of the proverbial poverty line” (PTG 2083-10547, 24 March 2017).

BCCI officials reported ‘furious' at proposal to cut allowances.

Sportal India.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2138-10837.

While Indian players are paid a daily allowance of $US125 ($A170, £UK95) on foreign tours, Board of Control for Cricket in india (BCCI) office-bearers and committee heads receive $US750 ($A1,010, £UK580) when they are accompanying the national team.  However, the latter group may see a massive cut in the amount they receive as the BCCI starts to deal with revenue shortfalls that look likely to flow as a result of recent reforms at the International Cricket Council (PTG 2128-10786, 9 May 2017).

A senior BCCI official said: “Since the office-bearers are senior members of BCCI and are older than the cricketers, they could be allowed to get twice the amount than the players, but not five times more than a national player. This has to be revised”.

A number of board members who were contacted expressed anger at such the suggested cuts. One said: “Enhancement [of the daily allowance] came through a resolution of the general body and there nothing wrong with it. The players travel 150 days with the team and the officials only when there is a need. The players are paid match fees and retainership fees too”.  Another official said the extra money is needed because meetings are often held with representatives of other national boards over lunch or dinner. 

Board officials who travel with the team for next month's Champions Trophy in England and Wales will be paid £UK500 ($A870) while the players will receive £125 per day ($A220).  The players of course also receive match fees on tour: 1.5 million Rupees ($A31,415, £18,000) per Test, 600,000 ($A12,565, £7,200) for a One Day International, and 300,000 ($A6,285, £3,600) for a Twenty20 International.

Sources say the officials’ daily allowance was raised to $US750 from $US500 two years ago, while until then the players were paid less than $US100 ($A135, £77) per day. Board officials are also entitled for first class air travel while the players are provided with seats in travel business class.  Sources added that there are officials on the board who spend 20 million Rupees ($A418,775, £234,000) per year on travel and related issues.

Bangladesh-Australia Test series hinge on security report.

Dhaka Tribune.

Thursday, 18 May.

PTG 2138-10838.

Officials from Cricket Australia (CA) have completed their visit to Bangladesh to assess security issues ahead of a potential two Test series there in September (PTG 2126-10777, 7 May 2017)  If it the tour goes ahead, the two Tests listed for the series will be played in the first half of September.  In 2015 CA cancelled visits of both the Australian senior and under-19 teams to Bangladesh over security concerns.

CA security unit manager Sean Carroll’s told journalists on Wednesday: “I am very happy with the security plan provided by the [Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB)] but it won’t be appropriate for me to make any comment at the moment. But I will definitely inform CA regarding my satisfaction over the security measures from the BCB. I would like to thank BCB for all the support”.  When queried if Australia’s tour of Bangladesh will go ahead, Carroll wasn’t willing to make any final comment, saying only that he will convey his finding regarding the series to CA.

Pakistan pair belatedly fined over April match incident.

Umar Farooq.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017.

PTG 2138-10839.

Two Pakistan players, Umar Akmal and Junaid Khan, have been fined half of their match fee for misconduct in an incident related to a Pakistan Cup List A match in April. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) set up an inquiry committee to look into the controversy, which centred around Umar's comments on Junaid's availability for the match, and the committee submitted its report to the board on Wednesday. 

The PCB said in a statement on Wednesday that in addition to the fine: "The Board has also warned the two players that they will be under observation for a month starting on 18 May and reoccurrence of breach of discipline will lead to one-month suspension”.  Both players are part of Pakistan's squad for next month's Champions Trophy series.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,139

 Friday, 19 May 2017

 

Aussie player’s union unveils fund for vulnerable' players [2139-10840]

• Fifteen named to manage Champions Trophy series [2139-10841].

• Gaffaney to reach 50 ODI mark [2139-10842].

• National coach sits on fence in pay dispute [2139-10843].

• Why the players must continue the fight against CA [2139-10844].

Aussie player’s union unveils fund for 'vulnerable’ players.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2139-10840.

Australia's players are preparing for a long, cold and out-of-contract winter, with their union, the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), unveiling plans for a contingency fund to help female and domestic players avoid financial difficulty in the event of the stalled Memorandum of Universtanding (MoU) talks with Cricket Australia (CA) not progressing before the June 30 deadline.

On the day Australia's squad for the Women's World Cup was unveiled with an acknowledgement by CA that the team will be paid in advance for a tournament that will conclude after the current MoU runs out, the ACA outlined plans to aid around 200 players who will be out of contract if an agreement is not reached in time. 

ACA past players, development and personal development manager Clea Smith, said the plan was designed to protect the most vulnerable players. "The playing group is unified. All male, female, international and domestic players are standing together because they believe in what their position represents”, she said.

"The players' position is about preserving the Revenue Sharing Model [RSM] as well as understanding a need for increases in grassroots cricket. Female and domestic players are the most vulnerable once locked-out by [CA] after 30 June, so the [fund] will provide some financial security until a new MoU is resolved”.

The 'Women and Men Cricketers' Assistance Plan' will allow players in need to apply for financial help as and when required in the second half of 2017. International male players, whose rich salaries have been highlighted during the dispute, are not eligible for access to the fund. The fund is a response to CA's threat, delivered by the chief executive Jame Sutherland last week, that the board was not considering any alternative contract plans beyond the MoU expiry (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).

"We are genuinely committed to getting a deal done before 30 June”,  ACA player liaison manager Simon Katich, a former Australian international, said. "Unfortunately, however, the players and CA still appear to be a long way apart in the current negotiations, especially given CA are now refusing mediation (PTG 2138-10833, 18 May 2017). And with CA's threat last week saying that they would effectively lock-out the players after 30 June, it looks as though this impasse may continue for some time yet".

"The players continue to be united with the ACA and are up for the fight when it comes to having the [RSM] for all players - male, female, national and domestic. There is no doubt that there is a degree of uncertainty about what lies ahead given June 30 is fast approaching, so whatever can be done to ease some of the pressure on the players is welcome”.

In naming the Women's World Cup squad, the CA team performance manager Pat Howard said the team would be supported either side of the deadline. "Selectors have chosen this squad irrespective and independent of the status of the MoU”, he said. "We are confident that there will be a resolution in place by 30 June and look forward to continuing to support these players to perform at their very best on the global stage”.

The first tour to take place after the expiry of the current MoU is an Australia A tour of South Africa. The national selectors are yet to announce a squad for that tour.

CA and the ACA remained poles apart on Thursday, following the board's rejection of a request for independent mediation in order to get negotiations moving once more. Darren Lehmann, the former ACA president and national men's team coach, has stressed that communication is key to avoiding further turmoil (PTG 2139-10843 below).

Fifteen named to manage Champions Trophy series.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2139-10841.

All twelve members of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel, plus three from the world body’s top match referees panel, have been named to manage the Champions Trophy (CT) 12-match group stage next month.   Of the 15 chosen, the three referees will have between them managed a total of 501 One Day Internationals (ODI) by the time the CT series gets underway, while the umpires collectively have been on-field in 943 ODIs, the television umpire in 444 and the fourth umpire in a further 155. 

The match referees named are Chris Broad of England, David Boon of Australia and Andy Pycroft from Zimbabwe, while the umpires are: Aleem Dar (Pakistan); Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka); Marais Erasmus (South Africa); Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand; Englishmen Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong; Sundaram Ravi from India; and Australians Bruce Oxenford, Paul Reiffel and Rod Tucker.

Dar will be officiating in his fifth CT series, and Gould and Broad their third.  It will be the second CT event for Dharmasena, Erasmus, Kettleborough, Llong, Oxenford, Pycroft and Tucker.  Boon, Gaffaney, Illingworth, Ravi and Reiffel will be officiating  in their first.  In addition to umpiring in the 2013 CT series, Dharmasena also played in four others: 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2002 for one win in 1995.  

Each of the referees have been allocated 4 of the 12 games in the group stage, while the umpires all have two matches on-field, one as the television umpire, and one as the fourth official.  Reiffel’s first of the series, at Edgbaston between Bangladesh and Pakistan on Saturday week, will be his 50th ODI as an umpire, the 46th person after Gaffaney the week before to reach that mark (PTG 2139-10842 below).  Match officials for the two CT semi finals and final will be named once the group stage ends.  

Gaffaney to reach 50 ODI mark.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2139-10842.

New Zealand umpire Chris Gaffaney will become the 45th person to stand in 50 One Day Internationals (ODI) when he takes the field in the second match of the three-game England-South Africa series in Southampton on Saturday week.  Gaffaney along with Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe and Rod Tucker of Australia, have been named as the neutral officials for the three fixtures, the first in Leeds, second in Southampton and third at Lord’s.

With Pycroft overseeing the series as the match referee, Gaffaney will be the third umpire in matches one and three when Tucker will be on-field, the latter pair reversing those duties in match two.  English member of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Rob Bailey, Michael Gough and Tim Robinson, will work with the three neutrals during the series, each having one game on-field and another as the fourth umpire.

The appointments will take Pycroft’s tally as a referee in ODIs to 132, Tucker to 66 on-field and 33 as the television umpire (66/33) and Gaffaney to 50/22.  Bailey, Gough and Robinson’s on-field ODI tallies as umpires will move up to 18, 34 and 12   respectively.

National coach sits on fence in pay dispute.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2139-10843.

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has strong views about the fixed revenue percentage model that the players are presently battling Cricket Australia to retain in the next payment Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA). But he's not going to air them publicly.

Lehmann, a former player delegate and president of the ACA, and now a highly-paid employee of CA, sat firmly on the fence ahead of the national team's departure on Thursday for England and the Champions Trophy - the last tournament to take place before the 30 June expiry of the current pay deal MoU.

Though he acknowledged that the dispute would be a distraction for the players over at least the next six weeks, he doubted the Ashes would be disrupted, saying "I wouldn't think so, and I would hope not as a fan". Most of all, he stressed the importance of the two parties re-opening effective, respectful communication to get a deal done. 

"Both parties have got to get talking, that's what they've got to do," Lehmann said the day after CA rejected the ACA's request for independent mediation (PTG 2138-10833, 18 May 2017). "Once they get that they'll get a deal done, and once that happens we'll be right and get the game going the way it should be". 

"What I want to do is see both parties come to the table and get a deal done for the betterment of the game. From the grass roots right through to the elite cricketers. From a players point of view they're sticking together, we support players and support CA. Everyone supports each other, it is just a case of getting a deal done”.

Communication has been a hallmark of how Lehmann has coached Australia, and he has continued that theme during the dispute. He has discussed matters at length with the national captain Steven Smith during his Indian Premier League stint, and also indicated that he would open the floor to players to discuss matters together when they convene in England, for the start of a campaign that leads ultimately to the 2019 World Cup and Ashes double.

While pointing out that negotiations have often run close to the wire in the past, Lehmann admitted he had not seen such acrimony between the two parties since the 1997-98 dispute that ultimately led to the revenue-sharing arrangement that has existed over the past 20 years.

"I was there as a player [in 1997-98] and a delegate and then president”, he said. "You have those issues, every sport has them, so it's just about communication and getting the right outcome for both parties. That's the key. Both sides I'm sure will get there. It traditionally goes quite late, so there's no panic, it's just about those two parties getting together” (PTG 2136-10825, 16 May 2017).

Why the players must continue the fight against CA.

Gideon Haigh.

The Australian.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2139-10844.

For the past six months, Cricket Australia (CA) has been making an excellent case in its representations regarding a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) — an excellent case for its counterpart in discussions, the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA).

At times in its existence, it’s been possible to wonder what the ACA has been all about. The machine has seemed to run itself, with a sluice off the fast-growing channel of CA’s revenue directing a healthy fixed proportion to the players. It’s not been so easy, of course. But in most respects, relations have been harmonious and mutually beneficial.

In arguing for the end of the revenue-sharing model after nearly 20 years, however, CA has behaved as unchecked mono­polies are apt to.  It has postured, obfuscated, delayed, intrigued. It has sought to divide the players among themselves: women from men; international from domestic; just recently, senior inter­nat­ionals, to whom it offered extended contracts, from their colleagues.  That having failed, it has escalated to outright intimidation.

Australian vice captain David Warner has been tut-tutted for his statement that Australia “might not have a team for the Ashes” — it is believed that Warner lives in a nice house and owns a nice car, placing him in a category that some believe invalidates his opinions. 

Yet Warner’s remarks merely translated for the layman last week’s ultimatum from CA chief executive James Sutherland, who threatened the ACA’s rank and file with an uncontracted void come 30 June, a lockout, by any other name (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).  If Warner and Test players were looking after themselves they would have taken exclusive pay rise on offer. Altruistically turned it down.

Bear in mind, too, that under CA’s offer, Warner and his elite circle actually stood to be paid a good deal more. His objections signify disquiet about the impact of the offer not on himself but on others, and in some ways on the status of cricketers generally.

For it would be a mistake to regard this dispute as solely about the division of a sport’s spoils. For players, the mechanisms of revenue sharing have been a recognition of their position in the game — as not just skilled practitioners but also national embodiments, as producers and product, as custodians and conscience.

With that status has come a certain dignity and a sense of responsibility. In fact, where football codes have been wracked by behavioural and ethical crises, Steve O’Keefe has become the exception that proves the rule of cricketers’ squeaky-cleanliness (PTG 2099-10638, 8 April 2017).

Why does CA want to end this entente cordiale? Obviously it wants more money, even if to what precise end is unclear, notwithstanding bromides about “grassroots” investment and the foreshadowing of significant increases in CA’s media and game development headcounts (PTG 2100-10644, 10 April 2017)  .

Yet it concerns more than that: a telltale paragraph in Sutherland’s letter complains of the ACA’s “reluctance to recognise the necessity of change and innovation as circumstances change”, reflected in its push back on matters such as scheduling, and a reticent embrace of concepts like day-night Tests.  In fact, the players have prevented none of these “changes and innovations”. Rather have they acquiesced in them after expressing perfectly reasonable reservations.

Had players been habitually and capriciously vetoing matters of significant cricket policy then there might be some grounds for Sutherland’s complaint. But they have not. On the contrary: the sustainability of Australia’s eight-day-a-week international treadmill and the vitality of the men’s and women’s Big Bash Leagues testify to their wholehearted commitment.

More than a few of their views, too, have struck a public chord, such as misgivings expressed last season about the degradation of the Sheffield Shield and the debasement of national representation inherent in separate Australian teams playing simultaneously at home and in India.

It seems, however, that what sticks in CA’s craw is the inconvenience of considering any view but its own. How dare the players express opinions? How dare they do anything but obey? This is the voice of authoritarianism and it has no place in a modern game (PTG 2094-10607, 3 April 2017) .

It’s not too late to turn this back. For once, in a way, the money part is the less difficult. If the apportionment of expenses is complex, the revenue is ample and growing — at least it is, both parties might note, in an environment of industrial accord.

Even now, I suspect, players would be open to an MoU that, providing it respected the integrity of a revenue-sharing model, freed up significant funds for an identified greater good. After all, it is only two years since Australia’s international cricketers forewent tens of millions of dollars for the sake of welfare and wellbeing schemes benefiting past and ­future players less fortunate.

The deeper issue is the philosophical question of the players’ relations to the game, whether they should be partners in it or merely vassals. It would doubtless suit CA’s short-term corporate purposes better had it no administrative counterweight in the form of the ACA. But a certain contention is valuable in any sphere: in the long run, such mechanisms diffuse tension, build consensus, and actually promote the “change and innovation” on which CA is so keen.

Some have identified this as the power play of a board longer on corporate experience than on sensitivity to cricket’s unique mesh of overlapping stakeholders. To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail; to the representative of commerce, everything looks like a business.

But CA’s directors might want to be careful what they wish for. In shredding 20 years of accumulated goodwill, they stand to leave players as disaffected as they were 40 years ago.  Back then there was no player union. There were no dispute mechanisms. There was a sense among players of being stood over and taken for granted — and that disaffection, as much as financial motivation, was a factor when Kerry Packer hove into view.

CA’s approach in the past six months, then, has been a glimpse for the players of what life totally at CA headquarters behest would be like. Administrators are at risk of turning themselves from partners in cricket’s progress into employers for whom few would work ungrudgingly.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,140

 Saturday, 20 May 2017

 

• UK National Crime Agency tip-off led to PSL scandal: ICC [2140-10845].

• English umpires reach first class, List A, milestones [2140-10846].

• ECB appoint first ever full-time disability coaches [2140-10847].

• Australia A tour potential flash point for CA-ACA dispute [2140-10848].

• Chroniclers of the gentleman’s game need more pay [2140-10849].

• Fewer Test matches is right decision, to stage more T20s isn't [2140-10850].

• MCC ready to fight for two Lord’s Tests [2140-10851].

• England players would each receive £113k bonus for CT win [2140-10852].

• England for back-to-back tours down under in 2021-23 [2140-10853].

• CA Operations Manager applications close on Tuesday [2140-10854].

• Mystery of the ‘lost’ umpire solved [2140-10855].

UK National Crime Agency tip-off led to PSL scandal: ICC.

Agence France-Presse.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10845.

Britain's National Crime Agency provided the initial intelligence that helped uncover a major spot-fixing scandal in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), a leading official from world cricket's governing body said Thursday.  Sir Ronnie Flanagan, head of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), was speaking to reporters in Lahore after testifying in a case against opening batsman Sharjeel Khan, who has been provisionally suspended by his board since the scandal erupted in February (PTG 2136-10827, 16 May 2017).

Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan and spinner Mohammad Nawaz have already been banned for six months with six suspended, and one month with one suspended, respectively, after confessing to failing to report offers to fix matches (PTG 2138-10835, 18 May 2017).  Opening batsmen Khalid Latif, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed, who did not feature in the tournament, have been charged with more serious offences, and face bans ranging from five years to life if found guilty.

Flanagan, head of the ACSU since 2010, said: "The inquiry was absolutely led by the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) throughout and our role was simply that before the PSL match we received intelligence that was passed to us by the British National Crime Agency”.

Sharjeel was charged for failing to report an offer to fix and for playing two 'dot balls' in exchange for money.  Latif, whose proceedings will begin soon, was charged for luring others to spot fixing.  Flanagan said: "As chairman of the ICC's ACSU, I work very closely with the domestic anti-corruption units across the world, whatever is the outcome of this case, I would say that the PCB and its unit in this entire process have demonstrated a great determination to keep cricket clean”.

Sharjeel's lawyer said the PSL’s Islamabad United coach Dean Jones, a former Australian batsman, former Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf and former Pakistan opener Sadiq Mohammad, will appear as witnesses for his defence next week.  The ICC formed the ACSU in 2001 following the life bans given to South African captain Hansie Cronje, Pakistan's Salim Malik and India's Mohammad Azharuddin by their respective countries.

English umpires reach first class, List A, milestones.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10846.

English umpire Rob Bailey is currently standing in his 150th first class match, the county fixture between Glamorgan and Nottinghamshire in Cardiff.  Bailey, 53, made his umpiring debut at first class level in April 2003, and is currently in his 15th year on the county circuit.  Five of his 150 matches have been overseas, three in the West Indies in 2010 and two in India in 2013 (PTG 1037-5032, 7 January 2013).

Bailey brought up a second sesquicentennial milestone last week, this time for List A games when Surrey played Kent at The Oval.  Of that 150, 17 have been in One Day Internationals (ODI).  As a player in the period from 1982-2001 he played 374 first class games, four of them Tests, plus 396 List A games, four of those ODI.  He is due to add to his ODI umpiring tally in Southampton next week (PTG 2139-10842, 19 May 2017).

Another English umpire, Jeremy Lloyds, reached the 250 List A game mark last Sunday in Worcester in the home county’s match against Durham, a figure that includes 18 ODIs.  He is currently scheduled to stand in his 250th first class match at Chelmsford next Friday when Essex play Surrey.  Five of his 250 have been Tests, two being played in the West Indies, and one each in Australia (the Boxing Day Test of 2004), Bangladesh and New Zealand.

Lloyds, who turns 63 in October, is currently in his 22nd season as an umpire in county cricket.  Prior to that he played 267 first class and 177 List A matches in a playing career that ran from 1979-91.

The county circuit saw another milestone earlier this month when Steve Garratt stood in his 100th List A fixture, it being a Hampshire-Gloucestershire 50 over match in Southampton.  One of only five on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Full List of umpires who didn’t not play first class cricket before taking up umpiring, Garratt, 63, made his List A debut in May 2003.

ECB appoint first ever full-time disability coaches.

BBC News.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10847.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has named Ross Hunter and Ian Salisbury as England's first ever full-time disability cricket coaches.  Ex-England international Salisbury has been appointed as new head coach of England's physical disability team.   Hunter will continue his work as coach of England's visually impaired side, but now in a full-time capacity.

The ECB's head of disability cricket Ian Martin said: "This is an important step change in disability cricket.  I'm proud that we are the first international cricket board to make such a step.  It will increase the capacity of our coaches to work with performance squads and is further evidence of the improvement and culture shift within our national squads”.

Hunter recently led the England's visually impaired side to the semi-finals of the Blind World Cup in India, where they lost to Pakistan.  Salisbury's first assignment will be to prepare England's physical disability squad for games this summer as the side continues to build towards a world tournament in England in 2019.

Australia A tour potential flash point for CA-ACA dispute.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 20 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10848.

The first on-field chip to fall in cricket's pay dispute could arise in seven weeks if the Australia A squad opts to boycott a tour of South Africa.  The 14-man four-day and one-day Australia A squads for a series of two first-class and five one-day matches, were named by Cricket Australia (CA) on Friday.

It will be the first series under what would be a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), should this be brokered by 30 June. A new pay deal seems highly unlikely by this date, as negotiations have barely started and the stand-off between CA and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) shows no sign of abating.

It's understood on initial projections a meeting between CA and the ACA was scheduled for next week, but such are the hostilities over the players' decision to dig in and retain the existing payment structure, and CA's refusal to head to mediation, that this may not go ahead (PTG 2138-10833, 18 May 2017).

If there is no movement, let alone agreement, by 30 June, the ACA executive and players will have to make a call by 8 July, when the Australia A squad is due to depart, whether to strike, regardless of whether some players have multi-year contracts with their states.

CA high-performance boss Pat Howard said on Friday the squad had been picked regardless of the MoU situation.  "Selectors have chosen this squad irrespective and independent of the status of the MoU. We are confident that there will be a resolution in place by 30 June and look forward to continuing to support these players to perform at their very best on the global stage”, Howard said.

The ACA on Friday took a "one-step-at-a-time" approach, pointing out the trip was still almost two months away and a deal could yet be reached with CA. However, if the series was abandoned for pay reasons, players could seek financial help through the ACA's support fund (PTG 2139-10840, 19 May 2017).

The senior Australian side will compete in the Champions Trophy in England next month, with their first series under what should be a new MoU not until the slated Test tour of Bangladesh in August. Player security also remains an issue for that two-Test series (PTG 2138-10838, 18 May 2017).

A strike by the Australia A players would be a blow for their selection claims for the home summer should, as expected, the Ashes series go ahead, and then for the following four-Test tour of South Africa.

Chroniclers of the gentleman’s game need more pay.

Vijay Lokapally.

The Hindu.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10849.

Away from the limelight, scorers play a vital role in documenting a cricket match for posterity.  They are the unsung contributors to the game and play an important role in the game, chronicling the events on the field with their dedicated work, keeping a record of the happenings with unflinching accuracy.

A game of cricket can never be complete without a scorer. Narayan Kumar Lakhotia, a veteran with close to four decades of experience, says: “It is demanding, needs uncompromising concentration, and is an art. It is one area of the game which has never been recognised even though a scorer is, like an umpire, required to be on the job every ball of the contest”.

Lakhotia, 63, leads a team of six official scorers in Delhi. The others — Ramandeep Singh Ahluwalia, Bhagwat Singh Rawat, Krishna Kumar Tiwari, Jatin Sood and Aijaz Ahmed — look to him for guidance as scoring has assumed a professional look in modern cricket. Most of them owe their growth as scorers to the late Amarnath Gaud, a lively figure in Delhi cricket, who used to spend around 300 days in a year at cricket grounds as a scorer and umpire.

“I come from the era of manual scoring”, Lakhotia smiles. Having graduated from Hansraj College in Maths with Honors, he has made a career in scoring. “I loved watching cricket and just could not stay away from the ground. I would go to the Ferozeshah Kotla, the second oldest international cricket stadium still functional in India, and slowly got involved in scoring. It was a nice way to follow the game. I realised that scoring can be a career and plunged full time into it”, recalls Lakhotia, who made his first-class debut in a Ranji Trophy quarter final match in 1981. 

Tiwari came to the city to study. “Circumstances compelled me to take to scoring. I would get 50 Rupees ($A1, £UK0.60) as monthly allowance from home during that time and it was hardly sufficient. It then struck me that scoring could help me make some money. I would do scoring in local matches and earn close to 100 Rupees ($A2, £1.20) a month. After that scoring became a career”.

 

(From left) Ramandeep Singh, KK Tiwari, NK Lakhotia, Bhagwat Rawat and Jatin Sood  

For Ramandeep scoring is a way of life. “It is an enjoyable profession. It keeps you involved with the game and fetches you a decent earning. I took to scoring because I loved the game. It is hard work but at the end of the day there is satisfaction of having contributed in your own way”.  “Scoring may not be a glamorous profession like umpiring”, said Rawat. We stay in the background. Television has made the umpires famous too but as scorers we are as much involved with the game as them".

Lakhotia, who has stuck to manual scoring even though the computer-based format has become the norm. “Technology has made scoring comparatively easy. With a click of the mouse the entry is made in all the boxes but you still need a manual scorer. What if the digital device stops working? How do you feed the data in that case because you have to record every ball and every run. Manual scoring has its own charm”, insists Lakhotia, who also doubles up as an umpire in local matches.

Saurabh Chaturvedi, a veteran scorer from Uttar Pradesh, exemplifies the significance of manual scoring. “Not that I can’t do digital scoring. It’s exciting too but manual scoring has its charm. You mark the scores on the sheet with different colours. For example, a boundary is marked in blue, a six in green and the runs (one, two or three) in red. I find it fascinating”, says Chaturvedi. 

The co-ordination between the scorer and the umpires is a vital cog in the smooth conduct of the match. “We have to watch every signal and record it in the score sheet. Every ball is recorded and obviously every run”, said Lakhotia.  But all is not well  for scorers are the least paid amongst those involved with the game

Currently a BCCI scorer earns 5,000 Rupees ($A105, £60) a day in all first class and 50 over matches, a figure that rises to 10,000 Rupees ($A205, £120) for an Indian Premier League fixture.  In local games scorers are paid 1,200 Rupees  ($A25, £14) a match. “None of us has a regular job because we can’t afford to take leave”, says Lakhotia.  "It would be nice if the authorities raised the fee for scorers”, pleads Ramandeep. It is a request not out of place. Scorers deserve to be treated better, for they document the game for posterity.

Fewer Test matches is right decision, to stage more T20s isn't.

Mike Atherton.

The Times.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10850.

The direction of travel in cricket has long been clear. Just in case you needed reminding, though, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) tender document for the next television rights cycle for the period from 2020-24, revealed this week, confirms it. There will be fewer Tests and more T20 cricket in future (PTG 2137-10831, 17 May 2017).

Traditionalists may be dismayed by the reduction of Test cricket from 2020, to five home Tests in an Ashes year, and six otherwise. This shouldn’t necessarily be a concern, given that fewer Tests could be viewed as a good thing, provided that the gaps are not filled automatically, and there is a concerted effort to promote and encourage the Tests that are played to be the vibrant, special occasions the format demands.

The end of early-season Test series in May, often uncompetitive affairs played to less than full houses in bleak conditions, should not be mourned because they did more harm than good to the reputation and image of the long game. Remember last year at Durham, a Test against Sri Lanka played shortly after another just down the road in Leeds? It felt anything but vibrant and special. When Alastair Cook became the first Englishman to score 10,000 Test runs, he raised his bat to a near empty ground. It felt humdrum.

 

Those early-season series were a relatively recent development, since around the turn of the millennium. English cricket had looked to maximise its broadcast revenues through increasing the number of televised international games, and with the number of international stadiums growing, because of the inclusion of venues such as those in Durham, Cardiff and Southampton, as a result of a dubious expansion policy, there was a need to play more Tests to pay the bills.

Now, though, trends have reversed and the forces that promoted the desire for more Tests no longer prevail. A glut of international cricket has meant that early-season Tests have become increasingly hard to sell, and the advent of the Indian Premier League, which runs through May, means that the top players are itching to be elsewhere. Seven Tests, split into series of two and five, now makes no sense to anyone, least of all the grounds, for whom early fixtures — with the exception of Lord’s — have become loss leaders.

There are questions to be worked through. How many Tests post-2020 will Lord’s stage? (PTG 2140-10851 below).  Clearly, in an Ashes year, only one, although they would hope to make up the shortfall with other opportunities, maybe including present ICC associate nations, such as Ireland and Afghanistan, who are set to make Test status. With an expensive redevelopment in the offing, Lord’s is looking nervously into the future (PTG 2121-10761, 2 May 2017).

 

In a year with two three-match series, Lord’s would want two Tests for financial reasons, and each touring team would expect to play there, for obvious reasons of status and player demand. With The Oval holding a staging agreement until 2022, which guarantees them a Test a year, it would mean three Tests out of six in London, and a scrap for the remainder in the provinces.

A return towards the traditional six Test grounds has been happening in any case. Between 2017-19, all Tests with the exception of one India Test in 2018, which will be held at the Ageas Bowl, will be staged at one of the six traditional grounds — Lord’s, the Oval, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Old Trafford and Headingley. Other grounds, more recently promoted to international status, will be given One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals in compensation and, in the case of Cardiff and Southampton, a likely T20 berth in the ECB’s new eight-team competition in 2020 (PTG 2030-10274, 25 January 2017)..

A reduction of Tests will not be a bad thing, and may even be a good thing on the basis that less is more — never a phrase that rolls easily off an administrator’s lips. If that reduction were to create breathing space in the calendar, and more thought given to encourage the creation of a Test championship, say, with context and meaning, it could even be celebrated.

Instead, it is likely that there will simply be more short-form cricket thrown into the mix. And with players unwilling to forgo opportunities in domestic franchised competitions, and the authorities nervous of player power in this regard, the fixture list is likely to remain crammed, with players increasingly choosing one format over another.

At the heart of the issue is the lack of clear strategic thought and planning as to how the various forms of the game fit together in a coherent fixture list that does not pit international against domestic, and Tests against T20. At the moment there is consensus that by simply pushing more “product” at “consumers”, three forms of the game will thrive. To my mind, that remains optimistic — and is likely to push Test cricket further to the margins.

MCC ready to fight for two Lord’s Tests.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10851.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is to seek reassurances that Lord’s will continue to stage two Test matches each summer after it was revealed that the number of home England Tests is to be cut from 2020 (PTG 2137-10831, 17 May 2017).  As part of an overhaul of English cricket, which will include a return to free-to-air television for the first time in 15 years, home Tests will be reduced to six per summer and five during Ashes summers  (PTG 2140-10851 above).

A number of counties have expressed surprise at the revelations, which came from a tender document that was sent out to leading broadcasters by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as part of the bidding process for international and domestic cricket rights between 2020 and 2024. The ECB had refused county executives permission to view the confidential document.

Revenue from international matches is a significant source of income for the Test match grounds and counties are nervous that a reduction in the number of matches will mean a substantial loss in their income.

The Oval, the home of Surrey, has a staging agreement in place until 2022 that guarantees at least one Test and one One Day International each summer. If Lord’s is granted two Tests per summer and the Oval continues with its agreed one, that will leave the other seven Test venues with only three matches between them.

The majority of counties outside of London who host international fixtures have taken out substantial loans to develop the venues. The repayment of these loans is based on a projected amount of income from leading matches. One county executive said there is concern within the banking sector about the potential viability of these or future loans based on the situation at Durham and the reduction in income from fewer international matches.

The northeast county were stripped of their Test-match status after a £UK3.8 million ($A6.6 m) bailout by the ECB having spent money on improving their ground to international standard (PTG 1938-9747, 5 October 2016). From 2020 some of the potential losses from the reduction in those games will be off-set by the extra £1.3 million ($A2.3 m) each county have been guaranteed from the new eight-team T20 competition (PTG 2100-10643, 10 April 2017).

Richard Gould, Surrey’s chief executive, said: “We have a proven track record of high attendances and excellent facilities and we are confident that we are in a strong position to continue to host at least one Test a summer even in years where there are only five”.

An MCC spokesperson said: “We are comfortable with the case we have made to hold two Tests per year at Lord’s. We have always had strong ticket sales. Lord’s is a place where people want to watch cricket and where cricketers want to play”.

Test matches and other leading fixtures scheduled between 2020 and 2024 are likely to be allocated in the autumn by the ECB’s major match group. The venues of matches in the new T20 competition will be decided at the same time and will be taken in conjunction with whichever broadcaster is appointed.

England players would each receive £113K bonus for CT win.

The Times.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10852.

Each player in the England squad will earn more than £UK100,000 ($A174,635) in bonuses should they win the Champions Trophy (CT) on home soil next month.  According the the terms of a contract drawn up in 2013 - long before Andrew Strauss made it his misison to improve the standard of England’s white-ball teams - the playing squad is entitled to 100 per cent of the prize money available at International Cricket Council events (PTG 2135-10824, 15 May 2017).

Because the winners cheque for the Champions Trophy amounts to £1.7 million  ($A2.97 m), each member of England’s 15-man squad would take home more than £113,000  ($A197,335). Should they reach the final, the bonus payments would amount to more than £56,000 ($A97,795) per player. If England were to win the 2019 World Cup, which is also being held in England, they would each take home £231,000 ($A403,405).

England for back-to-back tours down under in 2021-23.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10853.

England will tour Australia during consecutive austral summers from 2021 with the second visit consisting solely of One Day Internationals (ODI). Cricket Australia’s international schedule, which is set out in a broadcast tender document, includes an Ashes and one-day series in 2021-22 and then a five-match ODI series the following southern summer.  The latter series is likely to take place in January 2023 and will precede the World Cup, which is due to take place in India soon after.

The approach is similar to the winter of 2015, when England travelled to Australia to play in an ODI tri-nation series before the World Cup. However, in that case the main tournament was taking place in Australia and New Zealand, whereas the 2023 series is more likely to be motivated by a desire to host a money-making tour that is attractive to broadcasters as the World Cup will be played in sub-continental conditions.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the national governing bodies are yet to agree a future tours program once the present one expires in 2019. The ICC believes that an agreement to reshape international cricket, which could include an ODI league and a Test championship, is close. However, a number of boards, including the England and Wales Cricket Board, are in the process of tendering for broadcast rights for home international cricket series beyond 2019 (PTG 2137-10831, 17 May 2017).

CA Operations Manager applications close on Tuesday.

PTG Editor.

CA position advertisement.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10854.

Applications for Cricket Australia’s (CA) Head of Cricket Operations position, a job that includes in its list of responsibilities overseeing the national body’s Match Officials Unit, close on Tuesday.  The person chosen will replace Sean Cary who is leaving to take up a job with the United States Tennis Association (PTG 2115-10734, 28 April 2017).  

CA’s advertisement for the position says in part that the person chosen will be "a primary contact for player relations, umpiring, international relations, and playing conditions across all formats of the game”.  The role includes responsibility to work closely with "overseas cricketing nations and the International Cricket Council on relevant issues including tour scheduling, umpiring and playing conditions arrangements”. 

Mystery of the ‘lost’ umpire solved.

Sarah Page.

West Sussex County Times.

Thursday, 18 May 2017.

PTG 2140-10855.

Keen cricketer Matt French has a unique way of marking the start of the cricket season each year - by displaying a team of cricketing gnomes in the front garden of his home inn West Sussex.  But Matt was hit for six this week after one of the team - an umpire - mysteriously disappeared. And after searching everywhere, he issued an urgent ‘Find Dickie’ plea.

Just a day later, a relieved Matt, who is an umpire in the Sussex Premier League, was re-united with his little concrete character after it was found in a nearby stream.   Matt has had his gnome collection for nearly 30 years, they having been given to him by his mother. Since he moved to Barns Green four years ago he has displayed the little sportsmen every summer on his front lawn. 

“They had become a bit of a tourist attraction”, said French, 43.  “A lot of people comment on them, both locals and visitors to the village”. The Horsham District councillor was initially left stumped by the disappearance of his concrete adjudicator - named after former international umpire ‘Dickie' Bird.

He put ‘Dickie' and the rest of his gnome team - two batsmen, a bowler, a wicket keeper and stumps - outside on the lawn at the beginning of April.  “On Sunday I woke up to find the umpire had disappeared overnight. It was just gone. The fact that it was the umpire rubbed salt into the wounds”.

But by Tuesday morning, ‘Dickie' had been found by fellow villager Michelle Ogle. “I’d really like to thank her”, said Matt. “It’s not that the gnomes are of any real worth, just sentimental value. You can buy them on the internet for about £UK50 [$A85] each.  “At the end of the day, it’s just a bit of concrete but I’ve had them for 30 years”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,141

 Sunday, 21 May 2017


• Bookie gave bat grips that would indicate PSL fix was in [2141-10856].

• Introduce 'wicket pressure' to even out rain-hit T20s, says coach [2141-10857].

• Sheffield Shield bowlers thrive with UK ball [2141-10858].

• How an Indian village without electricity watches the IPL [2141-10859].

• No sign yet of ICC 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’ [2141-10860].

• Gaffaney named Otago’s sports official of the year [2141-10861].

Bookie gave bat grips that would indicate PSL fix was in.

Agence France-Presse.

Saturday, 20 May 2017.

PTG 2141-10856.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal investigating Pakistan Super League (PSL) corruption is reported to have heard evidence that bookmakers supplied players with bat grips that would signal when spot-fixing activity was underway.  The PCB said it had seized bat grips given to Khalid Latif by a bookmaker which the Islamabad United opener was allegedly supposed to use to indicate he would participate in a spot-fix.  The 31-year-old stands accused of attempting to spot-fix, accepting an offer by a bookmaker which he did not report, and luring other players into the conspiracy.

PCB lawyer Taffazul Rizvi told reporters: "One (piece) of ... evidence is that we seized the bat grips that [a] bookie had given him from his kit bag”.  Khalid did not feature in Islamabad United's opening game of the 2017 psi season in Dubai in early February but is said to have passed on the grip to Sharjeel Khan.  He in turn is alleged to have not scored off two specific balls according to a pre-determined plan.  Rizvi added that Khalid had met the bookmaker twice but failed to report the meeting.

The head of International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit Sir Ronnie Flanagan told the tribunal that Britain's National Crime Agency had provided the initial tip-off about fixing attempts in the PSL (PTG 2140-10845, 20 May 2017) .  Khalid's lawyer Badar Alam meanwhile contested the neutrality of the tribunal on the grounds that one of its members was a former PCB chairman (PTG 2136-10827, 16 May 2017).

Introduce 'wicket pressure' to even out rain-hit T20s, says coach.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 19 May 2017.

PTG 2141-10857.

Several Indian Premier League (IPL) stakeholders - players, coaches, franchise owners and administrators - have expressed reservations on various aspects of the rain-affected eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Bengaluru on Wednesday, which finished at 1.27 a.m. local time the following day. 

While Stephen Fleming, coach of finalists Rising Pune Supergiant, has spoken strongly of the need to revamp the method of revising targets in T20 cricket, members of the KKR management, including captain Gautam Gambhir and coach Jacques Kallis, have voiced concerns about the late finish. IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, meanwhile, said the governing council will be looking into the the possibility of reserve days in future.

After restricting Sunrisers to 128, KKR had to wait over three hours while the rain poured down before they were set a revised target of 48 to chase in six overs via the Duckworth-Lewis method. They eventually got there comfortably, despite being reduced to 3/12 seven balls into the chase. 

Fleming said that while Duckworth-Lewis was efficient in the 50-over format, it was heavily biased towards the chasing team in a T20 game. Fleming suggested "wicket pressure" - that is, reducing the wickets in hand along with the overs in shortened T20s - was the best way to even out the contest. 

"The Duckworth-Lewis method is satisfactory for 100 overs, but in a 40-over game, it simply favours the team batting second too much”, Fleming said. "With low-scoring games on difficult pitches, whenever the overs are reduced, the team batting second will always have an edge because they stand a far lower chance of being bowled out, so they can stay a lot more relaxed".

"In a situation like Wednesday night, even though there has been a small increase in runs required and there's pressure on the team batting second owing to a reduction in the number of overs, they still have all wickets in hand which means they can play with less risk. Even losing three wickets in approximately one over doesn't really hamper them; they know they can just keep going because they have plenty of batting resources to fall back on”.

"The whole scenario just isn't ideal and definitely needs a bit of tweaking. One of the ideas floating around is to introduce 'wicket pressure', so if you have a small chase, then you also have fewer wickets to play with. In effect, that means you only have five wickets, for example, for a six-over chase”.

The regulations for the IPL’s 2017 season state that if a knockout game is washed out, the team that finished higher in the league stage will be declared the winner. They also allow for a later cut-off time for play to begin in the playoffs than in the league games. On Wednesday, the six-over chase began just after 12.50 a.m. The regulations allow for a five-over innings to begin as late as 12.58 a.m., and a Super Over decider to begin at 1.20 a.m. But there is no reserve day, except for the final. 

This is different from the rules in 2014, which had a provision for a reserve day for all playoff matches. The first qualifier between KKR and Kings XI Punjab went into the reserve day that season. 

Speaking of the possibility of a reserve day next season, Rajiv Shukla said: "The late-night finishes are a concern. Shah Rukh [Khan, KKR's franchise co-owner] has tweeted about the option of a reserve day. We will weigh all options and the IPL governing council will look into it”. 

Gambhir said he "felt sorry for Sunrisers. I hope someone takes note of rain-affected matches and comes up with a plan B”.  Kallis called it "truly crazy to see the winning runs hit at 1.30 in the morning”.  After the game on Wednesday, KKR fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile had said: "You can't be playing cricket at 2 a.m."

However, Gambhir also applauded the new drainage facilities at Bengaluru's M Chinnaswamy Stadium which allowed play to begin after all that rain. "Any other venue in India, with that amount of rain, it would have been game, set and match Sunrisers”, he said.

Sheffield Shield bowlers thrive with UK ball.

Andrew Ramsey.

CA web site.

Saturday, 20 May 2017.

PTG 2141-10858.

Analysis of the impact made by the English-manufactured ‘Dukes' ball on last austral summer's Sheffield Shield competition has shown it might provide a boost for Australia's Test team striving to break a 16-year Ashes drought in the UK.  Cricket Australia's (CA) Head of Cricket Operations, Sean Cary, said the statistical data collected from Shield matches played after Christmas that employed the Dukes ball had yielded results largely in keeping with expectations that drove the trial.

The most significant finding was the drop in the average number of runs scored per wicket taken; 28.9 against the ‘Dukes' ball as opposed to 34.6 in the three rounds of Shield cricket that featured the traditional, Australia-made, ‘Kookaburra' red ball. As well as the comparative reduction in individual centuries – 19 against the red ‘Kookaburra' (6.3 per round of matches) versus 18 in total in preliminary Shield rounds using the ‘Dukes' (3.6 per round) – suggesting that batters found it tougher against the English ball that is reputed to swing further and retain its hardness longer.

CA announced last October they had worked with UK-based manufacturer to produce a ball that mirrored the performance of the English version, but was designed to suit harsher Australian conditions, to help the nation's top-level domestic batters and bowlers better adapt to the idiosyncrasies of the ‘Dukes’ (PTG 1958-9858, 25 October 2016). 

The trial was driven by the struggles that successive Australia Test teams have endured against their Ashes rival on English soil, where the visitors have not won a campaign since 2001 (PTG 1845-9251, 5 June 2016).  “[The two-month Dukes trial] delivered what we thought it would deliver, we thought it would create challenging environments for the batsmen and give the bowlers a little bit more to work with”, said Cary.  "I think the long-form game, if anything, needs to favour the bowler a little bit because the batsmen get plenty of favouritism in the white-ball formats”.

"So it was about allowing local cricketers to adapt, and seeing who among them can adapt more quickly, as well as those who are prepared to accept that challenge.  And then they put their foot forward in terms of Ashes selection for 2019 if they can become consistent.  The unique properties of the ‘Dukes' ball – slightly smaller and darker than its red ‘Kookaburra' counterpart, and with a more prominent seam – were most evident on day one of the 15 Shield matches played prior to March's final between Victoria and South Australia which also featured the English ball.

In eight of those matches, the team batting first lost their initial six wickets for 150 runs or less, compared to 12 such day-one collapses in 34 matches using the red ‘Kookaburra' ball over the past two summers.  As a result, the average total of the team batting first on day one dropped from 335 against the red ‘Kookaburra' at the start of the summer (when pitches are traditionally at their most lively) to 270 from February onwards when the ‘Dukes' ball was used.  

"We've seen that the ‘Dukes' ball swings in any conditions, and at different times of the day as well”, Cary said of the ball's performance in Australia.  It was quite interesting in the Shield final [in Alice Springs last March] on the first day, it didn’t swing at all early on when it was quite warm and humid yet the days after that it did swing around when it was quite dry”.

Cary acknowledged that a key element of playing Test cricket in England – the presence of heavy, low cloud and high levels of air and surface moisture, such as prevailed at Trent Bridge in 2015 when Australia was bowled out for 60 in less than a session – cannot be replicated during an Australia summer.  But he noted it was the players who had experienced first-class cricket in the UK who adapted most readily to the introduction of the ‘Dukes' ball to Sheffield Shield, with four of the five leading runs scorers against the ‘Dukes’ all having previously plied their trade on the England county circuit.

The only setback according to Cary was the unexpected wear and tear problems with some of the ‘Dukes' balls in the early matches, but the manufacturer had quickly acknowledged the performance fault and pledged to rectify it.  "Coaching staff were really positive around the use of different balls and the way it taught the players to learn to adapt”, said Cary, a former Western Australian seamer who departs CA next week to take up a role as senior director with the United States Tennis Association  in Florida (PTG 2115-10734, 28 April 2017).

"Players don't necessarily like change at the best of times, but sometimes we've got to force the change on them so that they develop adaptability skills and learn to challenge themselves in different environments. Hopefully it holds them in good stead for opportunities down the track where they need to go back to their memory banks and recall how they learned to adapt to a different environment.  From a CA perspective, we're happy because we're getting appealing, result-driven cricket.  As far as Test cricket's concerned, that's really important. If we're going to maintain an attractive format and long-term product for fans then we need results, and we need bowlers to be in the game all the time”.

In late March, Victorian chief executive Shaun Graf labelled the use of ‘Dukes' in the 2016-17 Sheffield Shield competition “a failure” (PTG 2092-10595, 1 April 2017).  Graf, whose side won the series said that was despite the ball, not because of it.  He said he was: "not a wrap [for the ball because ] it goes horribly soft”.  "We've had to replace at least two every game. It's not up to it”.  ‘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".

How an Indian village without electricity watches the IPL.

Avijit Ghosh.

The Times of India.

Saturday, 20 May 2017.

PTG 2141-10859.

For the past six weeks, teenager Bilal Sheikh and his friends from the village of Dakshin Mashaldanga in North Bengal near the border with Bangladesh have had a simple routine. Every evening they cycle to Nazirhaat, a small ancient fortress, about two kilometres away.  Sometimes they turn up unannounced at a friend's home. Occasionally they find space for themselves at a youth club. When neither of the two options is available, they simply stand outside an electronic goods store and gaze inside.

Sheikh and company are addicted to cricket. Watching Indian Premier League (IPL) matches on television every day is one of the non-negotiable aspects of their life. "I even stay over night at my friend's if the match becomes a nail-biter and it's too late to return home”, says Maidul Haq, 18, who plays as an all-rounder for his school team.

Two years ago Dakshin Mashaldanga ceased to be a Bangladeshi enclave and became part of mainland India. But the absence of electricity in the village all these years later rankles among all who live there, especially cricket-crazy teenagers like Bilal and Maidul who can't watch the IPL at home.

According to the July 2015 boundary agreement, a total of 162 small villages involving about 37,000 people were exchanged between India and Bangladesh.  Bangladesh got 111 enclaves and India received 51, including Dakshin Mashaldanga.  Many living there believed that the village would soon be on the fast track to progress. All villages had been promised a development package that included the provision of electricity and water, better roads and security.

It is lack of electricity that the village's main gripe. "After a hard day's work, watching cricket or a few film songs on TV can be extremely relaxing”, says Parimal.  There is hope though for a new installed solar panel system installed has been set up in a corn field. And the electricity poles, standing tall in a sea of parrot green, foretell that the days of candles are numbered. "The solar panel was set up in February. But we still live in darkness”, says Goutam.

Until then the teenagers must ride to Nazirhaat for their IPL fix. "We have even tried watching cricket at home on the Hotstar app. But the internet connectivity is too weak”, says Bilal.  Local priest Gouranga Chatterjee sums up the mood: "Enclave people are optimistic by nature. We are patient too. We waited for decades for the enclave swap. And we know electricity too will come one day”.  Then he smiles and adds: "And then nobody would have to go to Nazirhaat to watch cricket”.

No sign yet of ICC 'TV Umpire Performance Manager’.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 21 May 2017.

PTG 2141-10860.

Five 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 were 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”.

Gaffaney named Otago’s sports official of the year.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 20 May 2017.

PTG 2141-10861.

Chris Gaffaney, a member of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel since July 2015, was named as Otago’s sports official of the year at the Otago Sports Awards presentation night in Dunedin on Friday.  Gaffaney, 41, who becomes the first recipient of what is a new award, has over the past 12 months stood in Tests in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, One Day Internationals in Australia and the West Indies, and in the Indian Premier League.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,142

 Monday, 22 May 2017

 

• How far will the world actually go with the new Law 42? [2142-10862].

• New city T20 will help the Test game: England coach [2142-10863].

• Could scrapping traditional teas help slow Hampshire League's decline? [2142-10864].

• Former EUP member turns to Olympic administration [2142-10865].

• The millionaire family that built cricket in Oman [2142-10866].

How far will the world actually go with the new Law 42?

PTG Editor.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2142-10862.

Many cricket playing countries, especially those whose next season starts around the time the new Code of the game’s Laws comes in effect in October, will be watching the outcomes of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual Cricket Committee (CC) meeting at Lord’s on Tuesday-Wednesday.  A key focus of the CC is expected to be whether or not it recommends the ICC include the full tenents of the new Law 42 regarding player send-offs in its next set of playing conditions (PTG 2102-10650, 12 April 2017).

The committee’s role is to "assist and advise" the ICC's Chief Executives’ Committee about, amongst other things: the Laws of the game; playing conditions for all ICC sanctioned matches; and umpires and referees.  In addition to many former international players, its membership includes representatives of both referees, umpires and the Law’s authors the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).  Currently the ICC’s chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle fills the first role, its Elite Umpire Panel member Richard Kettleborough the second, and the MCC's Head of Cricket, John Stephenson, the last.

Should the ICC decide to take on Law 42 in its entirety, it would be likely, given past practice, that its Full Member national boards would also adopt it for all or some of their domestic first class, one-day, Twenty20, women and youth competitions.  Such a move might then filter down to Premier League club level, but just where its goes from there to the many associations that exist below that, where only single umpires are appointed or players play that role, is far less easy to predict.

However, there appears to be a strong school of thought at international, national and often at Premier League levels, that says the send off provisions of the new Law 42 are not needed in their games.  The basis of that point of view is that their respective Codes of Conduct and disciplinary systems now in place adequately deal with serious player misbehaviour.  Those who watched the recent India-Australia Test series though, matches in which not for the first time bad player behaviour did not attract any public sanctions, might well query that view (PTG 2069-10471, 9 March 2017).

Should the CC reject the send-off concept the matter is relatively straight-forward for international, higher-level domestic and Premier League series, as while other changes have been included in the new Code, none are quite as dramatic as send-offs.  

On the other hand any move to include send-offs in playing conditions will need considerable though and preparation. Managing the sending off of players in a game of cricket is not considered straight-forward by many and will need considerable thought and training into not only what the revised Law says and expects, but more importantly the practical aspects of handling such situations (PTG 2112-10706, 25 April 2017).  

With training programs due to start in the next six weeks or so, those preparing for and conducting Laws instruction ahead of their new seasons ahead, will be watching what happens with keen interest at Lord’s this week.  They will also be hoping their own national boards are aware of the need to quickly reach and promulgate what their own approach to any changes might be, in order that those lower down the chain can get on with preparing for the season to come.

New city T20 will help the Test game: England coach.

Steve James.

The Times.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2142-10863.

England coach Trevor Bayliss has thrown his weight behind the England and Wales Cricket Board'snew city-based Twenty20 competition proposed to begin in 2020, arguing that it will help Test cricket, not harm it.

The plan for a new eight-team tournament has divided opinion in the game but Bayliss says it will be good for England. “It will be good for the future of cricket”, the England head coach said. “I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Test cricket but there are less and less people coming to watch it round the world. To keep Tests going, what we need is more new people".

“If this is a way to get more people involved in the game through T20 cricket then hopefully a percentage of them go to watch Test cricket, and a percentage take the game up and a percentage go on to play Test cricket.  I like the longer form but, in 30 or 40 years’ time when the traditionalists, me included, are no longer here, who is going to be watching the game? And who is going to be playing the game?"

“I’ve only got my experiences in Cricket Australia's Big Bash League [with Sydney Sixers] to fall back on but one of the great things that is happening there is not necessarily the standard of play, it’s the families and kids that are coming through the gates".

“There were the same arguments 30 or 40 years ago when one-day cricket started — ‘Ah, this will be the end of Test cricket’— but the majority of people now agree that it has helped. The scoring rates are faster, some of the athleticism and the different shots, it’s all entertainment. It’s fantastic”.

Could scrapping traditional teas help slow Hampshire League's decline?

Simon Walter.

Southern Daily Echo.

Saturday, 21 May 2017.

PTG 2142-10864.

Scrapping the traditional English cricket tea could help slow the decline of the Hampshire Cricket League (HCL).  That is the left-field view of Tony Oxley, a non-executive director of the Hampshire Cricket Board (HCB) and president of Fair Oak Cricket Club .

The provision of sandwiches and cakes by the home side has been a feature of village cricket since time immemorial.  But Oxley argues that doing away with the popular tradition could be in the long-term interests of the HCL, which remains the world’s biggest cricket league despite losing a whopping 28 teams in the last year.

“It sounds outlandish but cricket teas are a pain in the a**e to organise and cost too much money”, he said.  “We pay £UK2,000 ($A3,500) a year for our four teams’ teas, so let’s ask players to bring their own food, instead of taking half an hour between innings".

“When I first mentioned it at our club a lot of the youngsters – and by youngsters I mean 25 to 32 year-olds – didn’t like the idea.  They grew up with their mum and dads doing their teas, but we have to bring in outside caterers.  Not providing teas would be radical but it would save time and money”.

The future of local cricket was discussed at the HCB’s Stakeholder Day on Friday. A major restructure is to be proposed at next year’s HCL Annual General Meeting.  Since September HCL chairman Denis Emery and other local cricket organisations have been asking players what they want at a series of workshops across the county through 'Cricket Unleashed', a nationwide England and Wales Cricket Board initiative to increase participation launched last year.

“We need to be giving people what they want not what we think they want”, continued Oxley.  “As a result of the surveys we’ve come up with a few absolute must-dos; games currently start and finish too late, they take too long and there’s too much travel.  We’re talking to players during this season and asking them what their ideal Saturday would look like".

“What we’re hearing is that players don’t want a choice between playing cricket or attending an event in the evening - they want to be able to do both.  Finishing games at 8 p.m. is putting a lot of people off.  We’ve suggested starting at 1 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. and reducing overs, especially at lower levels.  Also kids are having to make the jump from 20-over to 42-over matches and not getting as much involvement.  No wonder they are turned off!  My focus would be the bottom division, because that’s where we’re losing most teams”.

Of the 28 teams that have dropped out of the HCL in the last 12 months, 13 were in Regional Division Four.  “At that level I think games should be reduced to 35 overs-a-side and increase in increments of five as you go up the pyramid, with County One matches being 50 overs”, continued Oxley.  “I would also regionalise all of the HCL with no more than ten teams in each division to reduce travel.  Organising such a restructure would be an administrative nightmare but it would help solve these issues”.

Former EUP member turns to Olympic administration.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2142-10865.

Former international umpire Billy Doctrove has been elected President of the Dominica Olympic Committee (DOC), unseating incumbent Felix Wilson who had held the position since 1997.  Doctrove, 61, began his officiating career in football, taking charge of several international matches including a World Cup qualifier between Guyana and Grenada in 1996.   

Doctrove told journalists he will give the position "my all”.  "The vote clearly indicates that member associations were not satisfied with where the Olympic Committee was going.  The boat was astray and we have been given the responsibility to bring it at an even keel.  It’s going to take a lot, but I am confident in my Executive."

Following his World Cup match experience in football, Doctrove switched to cricket soon after and officiated in a One Day International (ODI) match between the West Indies and England in St Vincent in 1998. His first Test Match followed two years later between West Indies and Pakistan in Antigua.  He was a member of the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel from 2006-12, retiring from international umpiring in 2012 after officiating in 38 Tests, 112 ODIs and 17 Twenty20 internationals (PTG 946-4600, 8 June 2012).

The millionaire family that built cricket in Oman.

Peter Della Penna.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 21 May 2017.

PTG 2142-10866.

Over the course of the last decade, Afghanistan have been a shining example of the merit-based value of the World Cricket League (WCL) structure, vaulting from Division Five in 2008 to Division One by the middle of 2009. For every Afghanistan, though, there has to be a team going in the opposite direction to keep promotion and relegation in balance. Argentina, who were in Division Two in 2007, experienced five straight relegations, eventually being banished back to regional qualifying, the feeder into Division Five.

Oman has experienced both sides of the coin. After gaining admission as an International Cricket Council (ICC) Affiliate nation in 2000, they reached the 2005 ICC Trophy in Ireland, and were again a de facto Division One team, appearing at the 2009 World Cup Qualifier in South Africa. A series of relegations, concluding with a bottom-two finish at 2014 WCL Division Four, saw them slide all the way back to Division Five.

Almost at rock-bottom, the side's stunning resurgence began at the 2015 World T20 Qualifier in Scotland and Ireland, where wins over Afghanistan, Netherlands and Canada preceded a knockout win over Namibia to reach the 2016 World T20 Championship series. A stunning win over Ireland helped spark a rejuvenation in 50-over cricket as well, and by the end of the year the team had secured twin promotions from Division Five back into this week’s Division Three event in Uganda (PTG 2129-10792, 10 May 2017).  So they are now two steps away from getting back into Division One at the next World Cup Qualifier series. 

The one constant through all of the ups and downs in the Oman cricket journey has been one name: Khimji.  "Cricket in Oman, all credit goes to the Khimji family”, says long-time Oman team manager Jameel Zaidi.  The modern era of cricket in Oman began in the 1970s, spearheaded by the enthusiasm of the Khimji patriarch, Kanaksi, a man Zaidi refers to as "the godfather of cricket in Oman". With the support of the Oman royal family, Oman Cricket was formally established in 1979, with Kanaksi as president and His Highness Sayyid Abbas Bin Faisal as patron-in-chief.

Pankaj, Kanaksi's 55-year-old son, who has been an Oman Cricket board member for more than 20 years and was elected to a position on the Asian Cricket Council executive board last year, says the Oman cricket story begins a little bit further back.  "My father played school cricket and then in Oman in the early 1960s, and probably even late 1950s, against the visiting British naval teams when they used to anchor in our harbours and we'd give them a game of cricket”, Pankaj says. "One of our royal highnesses who studied in Africa had played cricket in the schools, so it was quite a passion amongst them".

The Khimji family's net worth has been estimated to be around $US900 million ($A1.21 bn, £UK690 m) as of 2015.  Kanaksi senior is labelled "the world's only Hindu sheikh". The honorary title - and citizenship - was bestowed upon the 81-year-old by the Oman royal family as a gesture to recognise the Khimjis' impact on Omani society. Yet whatever free time the family has available is dedicated mainly to cricket.

"At every tournament, whether it is in Ireland, Jersey, India, [Kanaksi] is always with the team, coming there, supporting the team, taking them to dinner every day and Pankaj has come and joined us also”, Zaidi says. "These are the people who are running the show, absolutely. Their interest and the cricket, which has reached this level, is because of them".

“They are corporate guys, they are millionaires, and the only thing is their interest in giving us a lot of things. Whenever we are short of funds, they pour their money in it. They take care of all of us like family members. So the boys have respect for them, and what they have done for cricket is absolutely amazing”.

At the local level that includes the family's involvement and support for the domestic cricket league, which is centred on a corporate structure. Muscat Cricket Club, a team run by Khimji Ramdas, includes many employees who also play for the national team. Having corporate backing allows them to earn a living while getting flexible work hours to train for the national team.

Infrastructure improvements have also played a major role in Oman's recent success. For years, cricket in the country was played on artificial pitches, before the inaugural turf wicket opened at Al Amerat, a facility on the south-western outskirts of Muscat, in late 2012. A second floodlit turf ground opened up in the same complex in late 2015, and a third ground, with practice facilities, is currently being developed at the site.  It is scheduled to open later this year.

The new turf wickets allowed Oman to host their first bilateral series, in April, with the United Arab Emirates visiting for three 50-over matches as part of Oman's preparation for WCL Division Three in Uganda. If the third turf-wicket ground opens on schedule and Oman gain promotion to Division Two, they will have the requisite number of grounds to host the event and are expected to make a bid. Pankaj credits the royal family with making land and extra funding available to develop for cricket, both locally and for when the team is touring abroad.

Another factor that helped them do well abroad was the Khimjis’ connections with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Kanaksi and Pankaj are MCC members and their relationship with MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson led to Derek Pringle coming on board as a key addition to the backroom staff ahead of the 2015 World T20 Qualifier, producing a dramatic reversal of results.

For most players in the national squad, days start at 5 a.m. with a two-hour session, before they head home to shower and be at work by 9 a.m. Some can get away for another 90 minutes during a 1:30 p.m. lunch break before going back to work and then coming back in the evening for another session. It means little time is left for family or social endeavours. But players don't seem to mind, especially when they see someone like Pankaj standing by their side.

"Pankaj sir is always there for us”, says one player. "Whenever we require, he is with us. I'm working under him in the same company. Basically he is like a morale booster for our team”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,143

 Tuesday, 23 May 2017

 

• CA's good business methods not always good sport [2143-10867].

• Australian pay dispute 'in dangerous territory’ [2143-10868].

• Indian coach wants dual player contracts, revenue sharing reform [2143-10869].

• Stokes wants more England team-mates in IPL [2143-10870].

• Thieves steal £UK20,000 of cricket equipment [2143-10871].

• Jamshed challenges PCB’s suspension [2143-10872].

CA's good business methods not always good sport.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2143-10867.

With the plummeting of union membership across Australia over the last 25 years, many companies there have become used to being able to deal from a position of considerable advantage in industrial relations issues.  The majority of Cricket Australia's (CA) current independent board of directors are drawn from that senior corporate backgrounds and that may explain the organisation’s approach to negotiating the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA).

The board includes former Wesfarmers chairman, Bob Every, veteran of numerous battles over the work practices of truck drivers delivering goods for Coles supermarkets. Another director, Jacqui Hey, also sits on the board of airline Qantas, where in 2011 the entire fleet of aircraft was grounded by the decision to lock out disputing employees. And of course, the CA chairman David Peever, formerly of Rio Tinto, has well circulated views on third-party negotiations in the workplace.

In that context, the strategy outlined by CA's board and the tactics employed by CA management make more sense than if viewed simply in isolation (PTG 2140-10848, 20 May 2017). The threat to discontinue existing terms of employment in the event of CA's pay offer not being accepted as the basis for negotiations comes as part of a similar sequence of events as in other recent episodes in the business world (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017)..

These included the summary terminations of expired enterprise bargaining agreements for major companies such as AGL (electricity) and Griffin Coal and Aurizon (rail freight) over the past three years, all with the blessing of the national regulator, the Fair Work Commission. Not surprising, then, to hear complaints from CA's camp that the ACA are operating "like an old-style union”.

However the parallel story over the past 25 years has been of the rise of players' associations across Australian professional sport. A key moment arrived in January 1993, when the previously supine Australian Football League's (AFL) players’ association made a show of force by having 134 listed players meet together to discuss possible industrial action if the league continued to stall over its log of claims. It remains a key event in the story of player and league relations.

Four years later cricket's moment arrived when the national team voted to withdraw their services from several high-rating limited-overs matches in December if the then Australian Cricket Board, CA’s predecessor, did not come to the table. The subsequent compromise led to the fixed-revenue percentage model that has existed, in one form or another, in every MoU deal struck since, and which is the focus of much angst at the moment.

Other moments have included strike action taken by the national women's soccer team, the Matildas, over pay and conditions in 2015. The players withdrew from a tour of the United States and a match against the then world champions, and were ultimately rewarded with significant improvements. In the words of the midfielder Hayley Raso, it wasn't "something that we wanted to do but in order for the game to grow and for the future of women in sport, I think it's something we had to do".

Players' associations around Australia are more conscious of what is going on in other sports following the foundation of the Australian Athletes Alliance, with its board comprising the chiefs of the nation's eight major professional sports - cricket, AFL, rugby league, rugby union, basketball, netball and horse racing. In 2014, the alliance unveiled a charter that included the right of all members "to have any dispute resolved through impartial and expeditious arbitration in which the athlete has an equal say in the appointment of the arbitrator" and also "to organise and collectively bargain”.

Players, then, understand strength in numbers as a concept that extends beyond the middle and onto the bargaining table - membership of the aforementioned players' associations stands at 100 per cent in the shared knowledge that their small, organised workforce can have a huge influence on events. That belief in collectivism has duly been bolstered by numerous examples over the past two decades, making it harder than ever for CA or any other sporting body to play the old game of divide and conquer.

This is where the make-up of CA's board comes back into view. Among nine directors, it features a pair of former players, Mark Taylor and Michael Kasprowicz; the latter somewhat ironically being a former president of the ACA. But in recently making the CA case for a break-up of revenue sharing in his other role as a television commentator, Taylor demonstrated that it was the view of corporate Australia, rather than its sporting equivalent, that holds sway on the board (PTG 2134-10817, 14 May 2017).

Six years ago, the David Crawford-Colin Carter governance review into Australian cricket that brought CA's current independent board into being (PTG 870-4249, 9 December 2011), wrote that players may not be co-owners, but "their long-term position is best served by working in partnership with CA". 

Australian pay dispute 'in dangerous territory’.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2143-10868.

Leading player agent Neil Maxwell, a former first class player, says Australian cricket's pay dispute has slipped into "dangerous" territory, with players on the verge of falling into the hands of cashed-up entrepreneurs and even having the right to establish their own competitions.  

Two years ago, the sport was under threat from Indian conglomerate Essel Group when it moved to set up the registration of company names in cricket-playing countries, prompting Cricket Australia (CA) to respond by offering multi-year contracts to its best players, including now vice captain David Warner (PTG 1677-8230, 1 November 2015).   Essel were behind the now-defunct Indian Cricket League, which was squeezed out by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in the lead up to its establishment of the Indian Premier League in 2008 (PTG 371-1978, 13 February 2009)  

Warner said two years ago that any offer from the Essel Group would have to be considered.  This month he has been vocal in his displeasure at CA's pay plan to cut players not contracted by the national body out of the 20-year-old set percentage model (PTG 2139-10844, 19 May 2017); a plan which has divided players and their governing body and meant there has been little, if any, negotiation ahead of the 30 June deadline for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (PTG 2134-10867 above).

Player agent Maxwell, who is on the Australian Cricketers Association board, and also represents players Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, said players would "have to find their own new sources of revenue and income" from 1 July  if a deal was not brokered.  "Their image rights and playing abilities are the two things they've got and they'll be worked hard. This has ramifications not only for Australian cricket but world cricket because you are going to have players out of contract who can play anywhere they want and set up their own matches. It is dangerous".

“[Australian captain] Steve Smith and others will be free to walk into India, anywhere, and play a game, and in any sort of league. If I wanted to put on a match in New York, I could just go and get the Australian squad. Any entrepreneur with money will be looking at this with interest . . . [he] could contract 24 Australian players and play a game on 1 July. Any news agency that wanted their image rights, or a bank or conflicting sponsor, could just start signing cricketers. Blokes could go and sign five-year deals with a competitor”.

Maxwell said it would be wrong to claim the players would be on strike from 1 July. Rather, referring to comments made by CA chief James Sutherland, he said the players would be out of contract and "locked out” (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).  "It is an important distinction," he said.  Should a deal not be reached players could look to play in the England and Wales Cricket Board's 2017 T20 ‘Blast’ series  which starts on 7 July. 

Sutherland has threatened to not pay players after 30 June, meaning the scheduled Australia A tour of South Africa beginning July 8 is in doubt (PTG 2140-10848, 20 May 2017). It would seem odd for CA to then offer a tour-by-tour contract should a MoU not be reached, but should CA opt to do that, players could then vote to not tour. However, those with multi-year state contracts could be obliged to tour.

CA says Shield cricket does not pay its own way, so players on state contracts will be paid from a set pool under its submission. CA also maintains as 80 per cent of its revenue is not guaranteed, the percentage model used since 1997 will only be used on CA-contracted male and female players should there be surplus income.  "They suspended negotiations and won't accept mediation, and they have the hide to say the players aren't negotiating. It's a lie. They're going to try and divide and conquer. This could last four or five months”, Maxwell said.

The pay dispute threatens to overshadow Australia's Champions Trophy campaign in England. While this tournament falls under the expiring deal, chat amongst players and the media is likely to focus on the stalled pay talks. 

Indian coach wants dual player contracts, revenue sharing reform.

Vijay Tagore.

Mumbai Mirror.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2143-10869.

India coach Anil Kumble has made a forceful argument for protecting the primacy of Test cricket in India (PTG 2138-10836, 18 May 2017). The only way to do it, he said, is to have separate contracts for Test and limited overs players. If his proposal sees the light of the day, Test players will be earning between 200-300 per cent more than their current wages and will have two separate contracts with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Kumble made presentation to the members of the BCCI and its Committee of Administrators (CoA) in Hyderabad on Sunday, his national captain Virat Kohli also being present via ‘Skype’.  He is reported to have said: "The players taking part in the Indian Premier League (IPL) end up earning more. The current pay structure encourages the players to play the IPL and not bother about Test cricket”.  He wants the board to make sure that the Test cricketers are suitably compensated so that the longer format becomes equally attractive.  

During the presentation, Kumble also talked about "robust compensation structures" for the domestic players and support staff (PTG 2083-10547, 24 March 2017).  He also asked for an increase in the players share from the BCCI's gross revenue. Currently, they are entitled for 26 per cent of the gross revenue, although he pointed out that the calculation of just what amount that was has been left to interpretation, rather than being “cast in iron”.  The focus of the current stows between  Cricket Australia and its players has the revenue percentage issue at its heart (PTG 2143-10867 above).

Kumble also asked for a share of the BCCI's International Cricket Counci and Indian Premier League income, which is not the case currently.  "He basically wants the concepts of the players share and gross revenue re-defined”, said sources.  The CoA has asked BCCI office-bearers to study the proposal put to it. "It will require some brainstorming”, said a BCCI source.

Stokes wants more England team-mates in IPL.

BBC News.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2143-10870.

All-rounder Ben Stokes would like to see more of his England team-mates join him in the Indian Premier League (IPL).  Stokes became the IPL's most expensive foreigner when he was signed by Rising Pune Supergiant for £UK1.7m ($A3 m), and went on to win the most valuable player award.  He helped his side to second in the group stages before returning to England duty, while Pune went on to lose the 2017 final by one run.

Stokes said: "Everyone who goes there becomes a better player”.  "It would be great in the future if maybe the whole England team could be out there.  It's not just the fact of playing in the tournament, it's the exposure you get as a player.  Playing in high pressure situations against all the best players in the world at what they do - guys bowling at 150 kph and guys knocking it out of the park if you do not hit the areas you want to bowl”.

Thieves steal £UK20,000 of cricket equipment.

David Knights.

Craven Herald and Pioneer.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

PTG 2143-10871.

Thieves who raided shipping containers in Silsden in West Yorkshire have cleaned out a Keighley company that maintains cricket grounds.  Burglars took at least £UK20,000 ($A34,780) of specialist equipment used by Keighley-based JMS Sports UK to ensure pitches across the country are in tip-top condition.

They used cutting tools on Sunday night to break through the steel walls of 15 containers, making off with a wide range of items, from hand tools and strimmers to large and expensive groundworks equipment such as ‘scarifiers’ and mowers.  On Monday morning Police recovered two wheelbarrows dumped nearby and were investigating a trail of trampled grass leading away from the containers.

In recent weeks company director Jonathan Smith had been using the equipment to finish off work for several cricket clubs in time for the beginning of the playing season.  Smith’s wife Carole said “It’s going to affect our business because it’s going to put Jonathan out-of-work. They’ve taken every bit of equipment that we own.  It’s the start of the cricket season. He’s finished some of the work, but not everything".

“We’ve been trying to get the message to all local cricket clubs about what’s been stolen.  [It includes] brand new ‘Stihl' FS360 strimmers, a climbing saw, ‘Stihl' backpack blower, ‘Honda' generator, ‘Royer' shredder, ‘Sisis' trio rotorake and ‘Sisis' 600, and loads of smaller drills, handtools and ‘Dewalt' gear”.  While the couple have insurance it is too early to know whether the full cost of the loss will be covered.

Jamshed challenges PCB’s suspension.

The Nation.

Monday, 22 May 2017.

PTG 2143-10872.

Nasir Jamshed has challenged the provisional suspension imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for his alleged links with the Pakistan Super League spot-fixing scandal (PTG 2050-10386, 16 February 2017).  Nasir was suspended by the PCB in mid- February, the allegation being he introduced an alleged bookie to the players.  In April he was formally charged with not cooperating with investigations (PTG 2103-10665, 13 April 2017).

His counsel Hassan Iqbal Warraich wrote to the chairman of PCB’s disciplinary panel on Monday challenging the provisional suspension.  The letter accused the PCB of "misusing and bulldozing its own anti-corruption code while suspending Nasir Jamshed”.  It also says Nasir was never charged for the corruption and there were no exceptional grounds available for PCB to suspend him.  

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,144

 Wednesday, 24 May 2017

 

• Safety is ICC-ECB's ‘highest priority’ for CT, WWC, events [2144-10873].

• Few details available as ICC CC gets underway [2144-10874].

• CA-ACA maintain stand-off as pay dispute drags on [2144-10875].

• Out-of-contract Aussies may be blocked from overseas gigs [2144-10876].

• Gamble on greed in pay talks will cost CA: 'Chappelli' [2144-10877].

• The IPL is having a positive impact on Test cricket [2144-10878].

• Eden Park lights decision nears on first NZ day-night Test [2144-10879].

• Recognition for cricket scoreboard inventor [2144-10880].

Safety is ICC-ECB's ‘highest priority’ for CT, WWC, events.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release, media reports.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

PTG 2144-10873.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has emphasised that safety is their highest priority in conducting the Champions Trophy (CT), which starts in nine days time, and Women’s World Cup (WWC) series in late June and July.  The ICC issued a statement on Tuesday that said their "thoughts are with everyone affected by the horrific attack in Manchester” that killed 22 and left many more seriously injured. 

The ICC said in the statement “we operate on advice from our Tournament Security Directorate, in conjunction with the ECB and relevant authorities, to ensure that we have a robust safety and security plan for both tournaments. We will continue to work with authorities over the coming hours and days and review our security in line with the threat levels”.  "The security situation has been very much front and centre of our preparations and we constantly review our procedures to guarantee they are as effective as possible to keep everyone safe”. 

Media reports say the Manchester attack will prompt security rethinks worldwide and that while more can be done, in the words of one expert, it is “virtually impossible” to stop an individual who is determined to cause havoc despite the cost of their own life.  The ICC statement concluded by saying: "We do not disclose our security details as a matter of policy”, however, media reports say the world body and the ECB will clearly be reviewing security issues.  Early on Wednesday the UK government raised its terrorism threat level from “high likely” to “imminent”.

A minute's silence in memory of the victims of the Manchester atrocity will be observed at Headingley on Wednesday before England's opening One Day International of the series against South Africa.  The players will also wear black arm bands during the match.

Few details available as ICC CC gets underway.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017.

PTG 2144-10874.

Few details of just what this week’s annual meeting of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) 13-member Cricket Committee will discuss have been provided in a media release issued by the world body after the group commenced its two days of discussions at Lord’s on Tuesday.  The ICC says the group “comprises representatives of many stakeholder groups involved in the modern game, including players, match officials and the media”.    

According to the release "some of the key topics up for discussion include international playing structures, the development of principles for the clear and consistent use of the Umpire Decision Review System, four-day Tests, and adaptation of [new Code of the] Laws of Cricket by the ICC” (PTG 2132-10862, 22 May 2017).  There was no specific mention of suggestions earlier this year that the ICC will expand its Elite Umpires Panel to 14 members (PTG 2044-10353, 10 February 2017), something that would be expected to be provided to the committee for its views.

The committee is chaired by former India captain and current coach Anil Kumble, while ICC chief executive David Richardson is the ex-officio member.  The recommendations it formulates will go to the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) and, if it is a policy matter, to the ICC Board for approval. Both the CEC and the ICC Board are scheduled to meet during the ICC annual conference week in London from 19-23 June.

CA-ACA maintain stand-off as pay dispute drags on.

Russell Gould.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

PTG 2144-10875.

The mood has turned ugly in Australian cricket circles with the warring parties being urged to put ego aside and end a pay stand-off which many in the industry believe has become “embarrassing”. Not a single phone call has been made between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) this week and while both parties maintain their desire to get a deal done before the end of June, neither is willing to make the next move (PTG 2143-10868, 23 May 2017).

The head of CA’s negotiating team, Kevin Roberts, has been calling other people with an interest in talks to get feedback on the governing body's stubborn “sign with us or we won’t pay you” stance in recent days (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).  And Roberts has been told in no uncertain terms that the players resolve to hold out for their “fair share” has been a long time in the making, a result of years of poor treatment in communication, selection and fixturing.

Roberts has been told the players “don’t trust” CA, that they feel disrespected on many levels and that discontent has only grown in recent times after threats of unemployment from chief executive James Sutherland.  Former Australian captain Ian Chappell, who was at the forefront of cricket’s last great impasse which heralded the birth of World Series Cricket, has weighed in to the issue saying CA had “picked the wrong target” (PTG 2144-10877 below).

ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson will fly to the UK this Friday to continue talks with Australian players as they begin their Champions Trophy campaign, the union’s offer of mediation with CA still on the table.  Nicholson echoed suggestions players “locked out” by CA on 1 July if a new deal is not done would be placed “squarely in the sights of the new cricket world” and available to play anywhere for anyone.  “Times have changed”, he said.  "The commercial reality of the international cricket world is that our cricketers are in high demand for more money all over the world” (PTG 2144-10876 below).

Out-of-contract Aussies may be blocked from overseas gigs.

Greg Baum.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

PTG 2144-10876.

Cricket Australia (CA) could stand in the way of disgruntled Test cricketers who seek to play in other competitions around the world. Whether they choose to is another matter.  CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) remain at an impasse in their pay dispute, and CA has made it clear that if there is no agreement by the end of June, the players will fall out of contract and go unpaid (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017). 

Test vice-captain David Warner has said he and his teammates might play instead in lucrative domestic T20 competitions in England, the West Indies or South Africa.

Technically though, even when uncontracted, players would need "no objection" certificates from CA to play elsewhere. These were introduced by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2009 to protect international cricket as the pioneering Indian Premier League began to gather strength and other T20 competitions emerged. Under ICC rules, a "no objection" certificate's terms can be as broad as any board wants.

To date, CA has not discussed using this device, hoping for an amicable settlement. The ACA remains quietly sure it would be unenforceable anyway, as a blatant restraint of trade.

Generally, boards issue "no objection" certificates when asked. In 2010, the West Indies board refused to authorise three disaffected players, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, who wanted leave to play in CA's Big Bash League. When the international federation of player bodies FICA threatened legal action, the West Indies board relented. Last year, Pollard initially was refused a certificate to play in South Africa, but later was released.

Those all were forseeable circumstances. These are new. Most likely, CA will figure it has enough of a fight on its hands without wanting to widen it, although a story posted on its web site on Tuesday by writer Andrew Ramsey goes through the issue in chapter and verse. 

But as long as both sides maintain their hard and intractable positions, nothing can be ruled out.  Apart from domestic competitions, there are as-yet-unformed rogue competitions, or even series arranged by the players themselves, as mooted on Monday by player agent Neil Maxwell (PTG 2143-10868, 23 May 2017) . These, plainly, would not be subject to any ICC regulation. 

Gamble on greed in pay talks will cost CA: 'Chappelli'.

Australian Associated Press.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

PTG 2144-10877.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has praised the altruism of modern-day successor Steve Smith and his Test teammates, saying Cricket Australia (CA) unsuccessfully gambled on players' greed in the ongoing spat.  Chappell was a leading figure in Australian cricket's most meaningful and momentous pay fight, which came 40 years ago in the form of World Series Cricket.  Kerry Packer's breakaway competition revolutionised many elements of the sport and ended the amateur era.

The players have made it clear they're willing to do whatever it takes to ensure Cricket Australia (CA) doesn't scrap the revenue-sharing model that has shaped their salaries for 20 years.  Smith, David Warner and fellow Australia Test players would actually pocket a much higher wage if they accepted CA's offer.  Instead they're digging in, believing a fixed share of revenue is crucial to the health of the game and the future income of domestic players.

Chappell said he’s "delighted the players are sticking together and staying strong on it.  From afar it looks as though the board are trying to splinter the players, which I find a rather strange tactic.  Maybe the board thought 'you know what the players are like'. They were working on the theory of greed, that you keep the top blokes happy with money and they won't care about the rest.  It looks like they've picked the wrong target”.

CA chairman David Peever made it clear while serving as Rio Tinto's managing director in 2012 that he felt unions were disruptive and should be removed from the bargaining process.  "There's always faults on both sides in any blue like this but they have to come to the realisation that it's a partnership ... it can only work as a partnership”, Chappell said.  "Some ploys might work for Rio Tinto and might work with some businesses and some industries.  But what you've got here is 100 per cent membership of a union” (PTG 2143-10867, 23 May 2017).

Chappell added the threat of players becoming freelancers, as flagged by Warner last week, was more real than ever (PTG 2144-10876 above).  "They could easily head off and do a Chris Gayle and be pretty well off”, he said.  "The board couldn't stop them playing in any Twenty20 league because they're not under contract”.  However, Chappell doubted whether the Ashes series late this year would be affected by the current impasse.  "There will be more posturing and eventually they'll come to their senses”, he said.

The IPL is having a positive impact on Test cricket.

Sanjiv Shankaran.

The Times