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JUNE 2017
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 31 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 10925-11076)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,154

Thursday, 1 June 2017

 

• CA setting four-year targets for female umpire numbers [2154-10925].

• Compromise on the way in Aussie pay dispute? [2154-10926].

• ACA has known of BBL loss figure for six months, says CA [2154-10927].

• After 91 years the WICB gets a name change [2154-10928].

CA setting four-year targets for female umpire numbers.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 1 June 2017.

PTG 2154-10925.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) match officials strategy for the four austral summers from 2017-21 is understood to target having females make up five per cent of the umpires who are qualified and experienced enough to stand in the top levels of men’s Premier League (PL) competitions around the county.  Each Saturday during the season a total of 43 PL first grade matches, from which players and umpires are selected to play or stand in interstate, including first class, games, are played across Australia: 4 in Tasmania, 6 each in Queensland and South Australia, 8 in Western Australia, 9 in Victoria and 10 in New South Wales.

Such a program requires a total of 86 umpires to manage games, the overall group across the nation who are currently rated as suitable to stand at that level being around 100 individuals. Of that 100, around 30 per cent are on one of the six state umpire panels, while around 18 per cent are also members of CA’s second-tier Development Panel (DP) or its top National Umpires Panel (NUP) .  Thus a five per cent target for female umpires means around five suitable qualified and experienced female umpires being required if CA’s four-year target is to be met.  During the 2016-17 season three females, one in NSW and another in WA, stood in their respective men’s PL first grade games, while a third from Canberra had limited exposure during a visit to Tasmania. Two years before that the figure was zero. 

On the wider scene, CA is said to want 15 per cent of all accredited umpires, those who have completed one of the three accreditation courses CA currently offers, to be females.  The first course is called ‘Beginners’, the second ‘Community Umpires’ (formerly titled Level 1), and the third ‘Representative Officiating’ (the old Level 2) which PL first grade umpires in most states are required to possess.  CA has indicated “over 5,000” umpires are on its registration list but what percentage of that are females is not known.  While such data appears unavailable, 15 per cent of 5,000 is around 750, a number that suggests CA has the job ahead of it if it is to have that many females with at least the basic qualification level on its books by the end of the 2021 season.  

Reports suggest a more advanced version of the 'Representative Officiating’ level course is being prepared by a Melbourne-based company and that it may soon be available.  CA also lists a fourth course on its web site called 'High Performance Officiating’.  Details of the course, which can only be taken "by invitation only", are says CA, "coming soon".  Indications are that this is the long-awaited ‘Level 3’ course that has been on the drawing board for many years now, and that it is targeted at those who are considered as potential DP and NUP members. 

Work is also said to be progressing in-house at CA to improve the ability of its Match Officials’ Unit and state umpire manager groups to better manage the administration of accredited processes overall - a system apparently called for some unknown reason, ’The Crowd'.  One source said there have been challenges over the last few years about “marrying" various parts of CA’s other computer systems with ‘The Crowd’, but that progress is now such that those who are to attend CA’s 2017 state umpire manager meeting in mid-month will be given training on it.

Compromise on the way in Aussie pay dispute?

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 1 June 2017.

PTG 2154-10926.

Australia's players are willing to compromise on a major financial sticking point that lies at the heart of their on-going pay dispute with Cricket Australia (CA). With the CA board's nine directors meeting in Brisbane on Thursday, the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) opened up a potential path for more productive talks on the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), by indicating they are open to a redefinition - and reduction - of the revenue they are entitled to share in. 

That led to a reciprocal response from CA, who have expressed their own willingness to be "flexible". In a negotiation period that began last November and has been the most divisive and bitter in 20 years, this may be a significant step forward ahead of the 30 June deadline by which the parties must find agreement (PTG 2153-10923, 31 May 2017). 

CA has repeatedly claimed that the ACA is seeking a share of all revenue in the game for professional players, including from such areas as sponsorships of grassroots competitions and junior registrations. The claim was made explicit in a briefing note distributed to media last week, which said:  "A proportion of revenue from the sponsorship of grassroots cricket programs has to be distributed to elite player payments. Under the ACA's new proposal, a guaranteed 22.5 per cent of all CA and the states and associations revenue means the players would receive 22.5 cents of every dollar spent by parents on a junior registration fee”.

However, the ACA have now confirmed that the players' flexibility over the next pay agreement extends to being "open to a discussion of what is in and what is out of shared revenue streams”. The position was conveyed in a letter to the CA chairman David Peever. 

A narrower definition of agreed revenue may be the first building block of a deal between the parties. It would remove the impending risk of a major industrial relations battle, in a year when Australia are scheduled to play a home Ashes series after tours of South Africa, Bangladesh and India.  "The players have always had and still do have flexibility”, the ACA president Greg Dyer said, striking a far less confrontational tone. "There is room to move to modernise this partnership. The ACA can discuss new models of revenue sharing, and how we can collectively manage risk”.

A CA spokesman said the board was also prepared to be flexible. "CA believes there is still time to conclude an MoU by 30 June and reiterates its preparedness to be flexible in negotiations”, he said. "CA urges the ACA to spend more time at the negotiating table and less time writing press releases in order to begin making progress towards a resolution”.

Less than a month remains before the expiry of the current MoU, with CA threatening that all players out of contract will be unemployed should the ACA not agree to discuss its current pay offer (PTG 2143-10868, 23 May 2017). A key plank of the offer is the replacement of revenue sharing with fixed wages for players, with only international players entitled to any of the game's "blue sky" above that, while state player contract levels are effectively frozen over the next five years.

CA's tactics have included efforts to put space between the ACA and the players, including the team performance manager Pat Howard's attempts to deal directly with all contracted players by email. Howard recently offered multi-year deals to the top five CA-contracted players - Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins - under the board's new terms, an approach that was quickly rebuffed (PTG 2148-10901, 27 May 2017).

All-rounder Moises Henriques, who is also part of the ACA executive, said the association was working closely with the players, and that they were willing to be flexible in the interests of reaching an agreement with CA.  "We're a part of the decision-making process, in strategy and how we play it ... and the ACA are just a representative agent of the players”, he said. "Really, the decisions get made by the players and the ACA acts on their behalf".

"It's not like we [the ACA] are going to do anything the players don't want to do. Coming to an agreement would be the best way forward. What we've got to worry about is that agreement being made as quickly as possible. Maybe CA may have to give a little bit, we may have to give a little bit, who knows. But the players know we need to get to an agreement. Guys want to play international cricket, guys want to play state cricket. The players want it sorted and I am sure CA do as well”.

ACA has known of BBL loss figure for six months, says CA.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017.

PTG 2154-10927.

Cricket Australia (CA) says the success of its Twenty20 format Big Bash League (BBL) "is not based on money alone”, but rather was "set up to increase [Australia’s cricketing] fan base and attract more people around the country to pick up a bat and ball and play cricket.   CA was responding to statements made by the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) on Tuesday about the BBL’s financial performance in that the competition has lost $A33 million (£UK19 m) over its first five years (PTG 2153-10924, 31 May 2017).

CA says that the ACA has been aware of the BBL’s financial position, which presumably includes the BBL loss, for six months as it was detailed in the national body’s initial submission on the new Memorandum of Understanding that CA tabled last December.  "ACA’s auditors review CA’s finances on a regular basis”, said CA in a statement, "and the ACA has not raised the issue” until now.  “Considering players have benefited from the success and growth of the game for the past two decades, it is extraordinary for the ACA to suggest that the game has been mismanaged by [CA]”. 

“We have kept the same entry-level ticket prices of $A20 (£11.50) for adults and $A5 (£2.90) for children for six seasons” as a key part of the aim of attracting new people to the game, said a CA spokesperson.  “The 'Summer of Big Bash', now including the Women’s BBL, is a remarkable success for bringing more and more fans and families to the game, but it has cost money, as every start-up business does in its early years”.  The ACA’s "criticism suggests they still do not understand that it takes 71 per cent of cricket’s total investment to run elite cricket. It also demonstrates why the current fixed-percentage model is hurting cricket, when the players are guaranteed a quarter of revenue regardless of the costs associated with putting on the game”.

After 91 years the WICB gets a name change.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Thursday, 1 June 2017.

PTG 2154-10928.

As of the first day of June the West Indies Cricket Board will after 91 years of operation be known as Cricket West Indies (CWI), a move that was mooted over 18 months ago (PTG 1691-8326, 21 November 2015).  Johnny Grave, the organisation’s chief executive officer, said that the new named "better reflects how the organisation operates, as there are many different stakeholders who we work in partnership with, under the unifying aim of improving cricket at all levels within the region. We plan to work even more closely with them over the next few years and consultation will begin immediately as we develop a new strategic plan for 2018-2023”.  

WICB and now CWI president David Cameron, said "the new name is more inclusive and appropriate, as we want to recognise the valuable role that our players, territorial boards, staff, supporters, governments, coaches, match officials and volunteers, play in our work”.  "For CWI to operate effectively and efficiently, we need all of our stakeholders to work in partnership and the name change is an important step in our first strategy”.  

The change comes just under two years after a Governance Review Panel, commissioned by regional national grouping, CARICOM, recommended the “immediate dissolution” of the WICB, and the instalment of an interim board (PTG 2105-10677, 16 April 2017), something that never happened.


 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,155

Saturday, 3 June 2017

• Plan for older balls to revive art of one-day reverse swing [2155-10929].

• CA earmarks $A55-60 m a year for 'grass roots', ACA wants $A119 m [2155-10930].

• Blast sees Afghanistan cancel planned Kabul T20Is against Pakistan [2155-10931].

• BCCI ‘conflict of InterestI unaddressed, superstar culture gone berserk’: CoA member [2155-10932].

• There’s no KFC in the diet of an elite athlete [2155-10933].

Plan for older balls to revive art of one-day reverse swing.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Tines,

Saturday, 3 June 2017

PTG 2155-10929.

To redress the balance between bat and ball, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking into the possibility of allowing a captain to select one of the two balls used in a One Day international (ODI) innings and stick with it for the final 20 overs of an innings in the hope that it produces reverse swing,  Since the introduction of two new balls into ODIs in 2011 — which means that one is used from each end and, consequently, neither is ever more than 25 overs old — there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of reverse swing in the 50-over game.

The proposal put forward is still to use two new balls for the first 30 overs of the innings, but then to let the captain of the fielding team decide which of the two he wants to use for the remaining 20 overs from both ends.

In 2015, David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, admitted that the changes have put too much in favour of the batsman and the ICC Cricket Committee is keen to look at a range of options. As well as the possibility of moving to one ball after 30 overs, the ICC and the Marylebone Cricket club have commissioned research into potential changes to the thickness or depth of the seam.

Meanwhile, live coverage on 'Sky Sports' of the opening match of the Champions Trophy between England and Bangladesh on Thursday attracted a peak audience of almost 600,000 — higher than normal for an ODIl on a weekday.

Highlights shown on BBC 2 that evening in a 50-minute program attracted almost 230,000 viewers even though they did not go to air until 11.20 p.m. because the BBC is contractually obliged not to televise it until after Sky Sports (PTG 2147-10899, 26 May 2017).  Although exact numbers are not available, the BBC says that the final viewing figure will be considerably higher once the numbers who watched via the BBC iPlayer are taken into account.

In other news, player representatives and the England and Wales Cricket Board are understood to be close to an agreement that would leave English players who take part in the Indian Premier League (IPL) significantly better off. The deal would mean players would have to return less of their central or county contracts.  Under the present agreement centrally contracted England players have to pay back 0.5 per cent of the value of their contract for every day they are at the IPL.

CA earmarks $A55-60 m a year for 'grass roots', ACA wants $A119 m.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 2 June 2017.

PTG 2155-10930.

The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) have proposed a $A600 million (£UK344 m) five-year "seed fund" for grassroots cricket, but Cricket Australia (CA) has questioned where all the money involved will come from, an argument that has become the latest battleground in the two sides’ pay dispute, suggest media reports.  CA is said to have indicated in its submission towards a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ACA that it plans to spend $A275-300 million (£158-172 m) on the grassroots game over the five years, an increase of $A15 million (£8.6 m) per year, from what the ACA is suggesting is CA's income over the next five years of $A2.6 billion (£1.5 bn).

Like CA the ACA proposal also has, in addition to 22.5 per cent of the national body’s budget for grassroots matters, a second 22.5 per cent going to player payments and the remaining 55 per cent to CA for the overall running of the game.  The ACA wants to "prioritises the investment in grassroots cricket via its $A119 million per year, five-year 'Grassroots Seed Fund’, the aim being "to secure cricket's future".  That would leave an estimated $A1.4 billion (£803 m) with CA for cricket administration over and above player payments and protected grassroots investment.  

As it reiterated this week, the ACA says the grassroots plan should be set up in conjunction with a cap on CA's administrative costs (PTG 2153-10924, 31 May 2017).  The ACA said: "As a result of this set allocation to grassroots, cricket achieves a 'cap' on CA's administrative costs of approximately 55 per cent of revenue ... to ensure that cricket in Australia prioritises the right level of investment in grassroots and fair remuneration of all players”.

CA has questioned this plan, declaring the added funds needed for the ACA’s grassroots target could only come from either slashing CA staff needed to administer competitions such as the Sheffield Shield, Women's National Cricket League and state List A series, axing initiatives such as the recent "boot camp" for elite Under-18 cricketers in the Australian highlands, or slashing player payments.  "The ACA's proposal would require significant cuts in some of these areas but the ACA doesn't say which should be targeted”, a CA spokesman said on Friday.  

"The ACA's proposal would make the inflexibility of the revenue-share model even worse. It would effectively pre-commit 45 per cent of Australian cricket's gross revenues to just two areas, regardless of the costs of generating that revenue.  No business could operate with that lack of flexibility and no other business does. The ACA's proposal attempts to fix one problem, the underfunding of grassroots, by making another problem, the inflexibility of a fixed gross revenue-share model, much worse”.

The ACA has rejected these claims, declaring there would be enough of the $A2.6 billion to spread around.  "I don't think we'll need to cut anything”, an ACA spokesman said.  This comes amid an argument between players and CA over projected revenue. Despite the ACA's $2.6 billion five year forecast, CA says it's difficult to put a specific figure on revenue, as 80 per cent of revenue is uncontracted. CA will soon formally go to market for new international and domestic television broadcast rights, while what one report calls "a rich deal with an Indian broadcaster”, will also be brokered.

Suburban clubs contacted by the Melbourne newspaper ‘The Age’ say they just want a fair deal that will enable more development coaches and an upgrade of facilities. Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide is said to be one state boss sweating on funds to hire more development coaches, that region being dominated by the Australian Football League (AFL).  CA's MoU submission says that across the country, "cricket currently lags behind the AFL in terms of full-time grassroots resources, with only 171 full-time employees versus AFL with 450-plus [according to CA internal estimates]” (PTG 2100-10644,  10 April 2017).

’The Age’ says comments made by Australian captain Steve Smith in England ahead of Australia's opening match in the Champions Trophy "have raised eyebrows". When asked about CA's claim that the ACA's insistence of a revenue-share model would harm grassroots cricket, Smith said: "I'm not sure I completely agree with that. If we look back at the last MoU I think players gave back $A10 million (£5.7 m) to grassroots cricket, which is quite significant”.  

It is believed CA has questioned whether that money was given only to Premier cricket clubs – which are community based – and whether those funds had actually been fully distributed. One report said ACA indicated the $A10 m was spent "in several development areas”, but no details of that have come to light publicly.  Without such information it is not possible to make an appropriate assessment of the ACA’s comment.  CA itself has a track record of using similar ‘smoke and mirrors’ approaches to information flow.

What is known is that in late 2013 the ACA expressed concern about the state of the Australian game and questioned whether CA’s Argus review of 2011 had done its job. The following March had the ACA saying it had negotiated an arrangement with CA whereby $A10.75 m (£6.2 m) would be set aside to finance an ACA initiative "that sees past players employed to further develop and promote the game” at grassroots level, an initiative called the ‘Premier Cricket Program' (PCP).  It allows clubs to submit requests for support of up to $A10,000 a season (£6.2 m) to acquire ACA members for playing, coaching, talent identification and administrative roles (PTG 1324-6385, 31 March 2014).  

At the end of the 2015-16 season the ACA indicated 101 of its members were participating in the PCP across 85 of the 87 Australian Premier Cricket clubs.  It is the actual outcome of that program that CA is querying.  Applications for PCP support for the coming 2017-18 season open this month.

ACA chief Alistair Nicholson has spent the past week in England discussing the pay issue with players, who are still calling on CA to appear at mediation in a bid to get negotiations going ahead of the 30 June stalemate.  But CA maintains unless the ACA drops its insistence on a revenue-share model, mediation is pointless. The ACA has offered "flexibility" to a degree in what is "open to a discussion of what is in and what is out of shared revenue streams”, the approach being acknowledged by CA (PTG 2154-10926, 1 June 2017), but so far nothing actually appears to be happening to bring the two sides together.  The current agreement runs out in 28 days.

Blast sees Afghanistan cancel planned Kabul T20Is against Pakistan.

Press Trust of india.

Friday, 2 june 2017.

PTG 2155-10931.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has canceled two planned “friendly” Twenty20 InternationalS against Pakistan that were scheduled to be played in Kabul in July and August following Wednesday's deadly bomb blast in that city that killed at least 90 people.  Last week, ACB chairman Atif Mashal met with senior Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials in Lahore and it was later announced that the countries planned to resume cricketing ties at youth and senior levels.   

However, in a message posted on Twitter on Thursday, the ACB said the situation left it with no choice but to cancel the planned visit by the Pakistan side.  Afghanistan's intelligence agency has claimedthe deadly blast had been carried out by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network with assistance from Pakistan.  

The PCB responded to the cancellation by denying permission for its players to take part in the fifth edition of the ACB’s T20 league, even though some had already been selected by franchises at last week's auction.  The board said in a statement on Friday none of its players or coaches contracted by Afghanistan would be issued with no-objection certificates.

BCCI ‘conflict of interest unaddressed, superstar culture gone berserk’: CoA member.

PTG Editor.

indian media reports.

Friday, 2 June 2017.

PTG 2155-10932.

Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, a member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), has expressed his dismay in the manner in which former BCCI office-bearers, disqualified by the Court, repeatedly defy the bans and attend Board meetings.  That was one of a number of concerns, including conflict of interest matters, he outlined in his letter of resignation from the CoA he handed to the group’s chairman Vinod Rai on Friday, just four months after his appointment (PTG 2035-10307, 31 January 2017).

Former BCCI strongmen such as Narayanaswami Srinivasan and Anurag Thakur have been barred by the Court, but they are constantly on the lookout for avenues to exert their influence on cricketing matters. Srinivasan even proposed an Indian boycott of the Champions Trophy when the ‘Big Three’ revenue sharing model, championed by him, was dismantled by the International Cricket Council.  “These disqualified men are openly attending BCCI meetings, claiming to represent their state association, and indeed played a leading role in the concerted (if fortunately in the end aborted) attempt to get the Indian team to boycott the Champions Trophy”, said Guha.

Guha believes the CoA should not “have stayed silent and inactive when the Supreme Court judgement was being so flagrantly violated by people clearly disqualified to serve as office-bearers of state or even BCCI-run cricketing bodies”.  “The CoA did not bring them to the notice of the Court, and did not issue clear directions asking the offenders to desist either”.  He also complained about being kept in the dark while several decisions were taken on the CoA’s behalf.  “Between meetings there was not adequate consultation, and there were several crucial decisions made where all CoA members were not brought into the loop”.  He especially objected to the sacking of a CoA legal counsel, saying: “A capable, non-political senior counsel representing the CoA and BCCI in the Supreme Court was abruptly replaced by another senior counsel who is a party politician. Surely, other CoA members should have been consulted by email or by phone before this important change was made”.

His seven-page resignation letter, Guha also made reference to senior players being given extra privileges than anybody else in the board.  He said: “In a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?”  “Unfortunately, this superstar syndrome has also distorted the system of Indian team contracts”.  He was also not happy about former and current players "with brands and businesses” outside "the national interest".

There’s no ‘KFC' in the diet of an elite athlete.

Adam MacDougall.

Huffington Post.

Friday, 2 June 2017.

PTG 2155-10933.

While our major sporting bodies kicked the cigarette-sponsorship habit years ago, it seems like they can't get enough greasy fast food money.  They cop plenty of flak for taking money from other organisations that ruin lives, like alcohol and gambling brands, but surely we should be taking the health of our kids just as seriously?  I reckon so, which is why I was struck by the huge hypocrisy of sports which want to fight youth obesity, but fail to examine their own sponsorship deals with fast food companies.

Getting more kids participating in sport is a fine goal, but what about looking at what they're eating when they're off the paddock?  Our sporting codes need to have a good, hard look at themselves and consider the responsibility they have in setting the right example.  In Australian rugby league, a KFC-sponsored screen pops up every single time the referee sends a call upstairs for the "Try" or "No Try”,  it's the same with the third umpire in cricket in Australia.

Every head in the ground, and in homes around Australia, swivels to those screens and is offered an image of a fat-filled burger or oily chicken treat before the decision is given.  These sporting bosses are trying to put a Band-Aid over a bigger problem by saying kids should simply play more sport. I think they're causing more problems than they realise by promoting these brands and making eating these foods seem normal.  Basically, they're telling kids that junk food is what a sports star eats, but I can tell you there's no ‘KFC' in the diet of an elite athlete, no matter how often you see a cricketer chowing into some on TV ads.

And ‘KFC' -- which is endorsed as "the official Fast Food Restaurant of Cricket Australia" -- gets away with selling its food as the "family" option, with its cheap and easy 12 pieces for $A12 (£UK6.90). You'd be lucky to get 12 apples for that price, so it seems tempting -- but anything that cheap is rarely good for you.  KFC, has been a CA major partner since 2003 and is due to renegotiate its sponsorship deal with them at the end of next year (PTG 2114-10721, 27 April 2017).

I'm not just picking on ‘KFC' and its National Rugby League and cricket sponsorships, of course, because you can see McDonald's everywhere you look in the Australian Football League, which is also sponsored by Coca-Cola and the Mars chocolate group.  Our sporting codes need to have a good hard look at themselves and consider the responsibility they have in setting the right example, and promoting the right habits for our kids.  We're always hearing that the players need to act more like role models, so why doesn't that apply to the blokes in head office as well?

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,156

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

 

• CA, states back down from contract offer threat  [2156-10934].

• Name change for Australian womens’ side a boost for gender equality [2156-10935].

• England players agree new pay deal to keep more IPL wages [2156-10936].

• CA player pay proposal fair, says former Aussie international [2156-10937].

CA, states back down from contract offer threat.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017.

PTG 2156-10934.

Cricket Australia (CA) and the states have backed down from a threat to send out contracts under the terms of the pay proposal already rejected by the players, as the board and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) begin the difficult task of reaching an agreement ahead of the end-of-June expiry of their current pay Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

It has been learned that domestic players have been sent letters of intent, indicating whether their state plans to contract them for the 2017-18 season and for how many seasons beyond. However, the letters do not include any financial details, nor the contracts that usually arrive at the same time. 

After weeks of public debate, both parties have switched firmly to "no comment" mode, as sure a sign as any that progress may finally be made. It echoes previous pay disputes where a rhetorical war has been followed by an agreement to move discussions in-house.

The letters of intent are a marked departure from the CA chief executive James Sutherland's mid-May letter to the ACA, in which he said the contracts would be "consistent with CA's proposal, and contracts will be conditional on a new MoU being in place” (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).

CA had already publicised its list of players to be offered central contracts for the 2017-18 season, with the team performance manager approaching five top players - the captain Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins - to offer them multi-year deals in exchange for accepting the board's terms and also forgoing the IPL for the next three years (PTG 2148-10901, 27 May 2017). It was an offer Warner has described as "laughable".

State players on the fringes of each squad remain on shaky ground, with some asked to train with their states until more is known about how many places and how much money will be available to each state. Rookie contracted players, the entry level for many domestic cricketers, are in a similarly uncertain position.

However, the compromise move made to domestic players, as all state squads begin pre-season training this week, is an indication of a more moderate approach after months of bitter and public mudslinging between CA and the ACA, following the formal start of negotiations last November.

Legal representatives of the ACA met CA's lead negotiator Kevin Roberts last week, with more meetings set to take place this week following the return of the ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson from England, where he met with members of Australia's Champions Trophy squad and also attended meetings of the international players’ union. 

CA indicated last week that it wished to resume negotiations with the two parties discussing their areas of common ground to build better trust and working relationships before reaching the key area for contention - the board's wish to dismantle the fixed revenue percentage model and the ACA's to retain it (PTG 2154-10926, 1 June 2017).

The ACA then followed up by clearly stating that the players were open to discussing which streams of revenue they are entitled to under any future agreement, as well as other areas like shared risk and the carryover of "adjustment ledger" funds from one MoU to the next. 

Nicholson and Roberts traded opposing views as early as Monday via a pair of newspaper columns, but have now set about the task of finding middle ground between their two wildly divergent positions. It remains to be seen how much of an agreement can be reached over the next 24 days.

Members of the Australian squad for the women's World Cup (PTG 2156-10935 below), which begins before the deadline but ends after it, are being paid for the term of the tournament, and a similar arrangement may be necessary for next month's Australia A tour of South Africa should talks drag beyond the start of July.

Name change for Australian womens’ side a boost for gender equality.

Warren Barnsley.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2156-10935.

The Australian women's cricket team will no longer be officially known as the Southern Stars in move that has a been made to boost gender equality in the game.  Rather, like the men, the Australian side will have no nickname.  Cricket Australia (CA) chairman David Peever said: "This move may appear symbolic, but it does carry considerable weight”.  "Cricket cannot hope to be a sport for all Australians if it does not recognise the power of words, and the respect for women that sits behind such decisions”.

CA expects the Southern Stars moniker will be used colloquially, but changes will include an official renaming and new logo. "We are not dropping the Southern Stars, a wonderful brand that our cricketers have created and which will remain as an alternative name for the team”, Peever said.  "But the new naming convention demonstrates that [CA] is looking at all the ways in which it operates to ensure we can meet the ambition of being a sport for all”.

England players agree new pay deal to keep more IPL wages.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 3 June 2017.

PTG 2156-10936.

English cricketers will be able to keep more of their wages from the Indian Premier League (IPL) after agreeing a new pay deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), ending a row that threatened to strain relations between the governing body and its top players.  Andrew Strauss, the director of the England team, has agreed a new deal that will see players pay back less of their central contracts or county salaries when on IPL duty.

Under the current agreement Test players have to reimburse the ECB 0.5 per cent of their annual salary every day they are in India with those paid by their counties having to pay back one per cent every day for the first 21 days, dropping to 0.7 from then onwards.  Next year those with IPL deals will pay back one day’s salary for each day on IPL duty, simplifying the system and reducing the amount they will have to fork out.

Ben Stokes was deducted around £UK75,000 ($A129,890) of his ECB contract, but his IPL salary of £1.7 million ($A2.9 m) cushioned the blow somewhat. The changes are aimed at helping the players further down the pay scale who receive smaller IPL deals and can actually make a loss on the trip despite the England management encouraging them to play in India.

Next year it is likely there will be more IPL deals on the table with a bigger auction due to the fact two teams, Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings, will rejoin the league after being suspended for two years over a fixing scandal.

Following the performance of Stokes and the rise in England’s one-day fortunes, English players again may be in high demand making it important the pay dispute was solved.  At the moment Strauss is confident the ECB can avoid a similar pay row that has engulfed Australian cricket but all talks are on hold until the board completes its next broadcast rights deal, expected to be announced at the end of this month and which they hope will be worth £1 billion ($A1.73 bn).

The current deals between the England players and the ECB are linked to television deal with ‘Sky' which runs out in 2019. But the players will inevitably demand a bigger slice of the ECB’s new rights deal and county players are concerned the ECB will try to take a hardline stance here.  Last month Gareth Batty, the Surrey captain, warned relations will be at breaking point over the issue and there are concerns that plans to link the county salary pay cap to inflation, rather than ECB income which is currently the case, will mean players will miss out.  

Strauss said: "I'm in no way commenting on what's happening in Cricket Australia, because I don't know the ins and outs of it. But I'd like to think we can have some sort of mature conversations with TEPP (the Team England Player Partnership group that negotiates for the players) and the players themselves early enough to prevent us going down that sort of route”.  “What I'm focused on is making sure the relationships between ourselves as the national governing body and our players who are contracted to us are as good as they possibly can be. That's the best way of ensuring that those conversations happen in good faith”.

CA player pay proposal fair, says former Aussie international.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2156-10937.

Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist has broken ranks with past and present players by supporting Cricket Australia's (CA) pay offer, labelling it fair.  Gilchrist is confident the pay dispute between CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) is on track for a resolution by the end-of-June deadline.  That's despite players standing firm on their opposition to the governing body's move to scrap the existing revenue-sharing model under the new agreement.

CA has been spruiking the deal's 58 per cent increase of guaranteed payments, benefiting men and women players. Gilchrist has backed players for showing unity, in particular those at the highest level who are concerned the new deal will leave domestic players out of pocket.  But he suggested CA's argument that the revenue-sharing agreement takes money away from the grassroots of the game had merit.

"I think [CA] are offering a very, very fair deal for players”, Gilchrist told Fox Sports. "No-one's going to go without and everyone's growing and increasing.  I do hope that they're (players) thinking of the cricketer at the most important level, and that is the kid signing on for his first year.  Because grassroots cricket is under siege from other sports, like the various footy codes”.

Australians playing in the Champions Trophy in England have been vocal in their opposition to the deal, as have a number of former cricketers.  But CA is maintaining its new pay offer has to be implemented for the long-term good of the game.

Gilchrist said the two sides will eventually negotiate.  "There will be an end to it. I wouldn't be surprised if they've been meeting in the last few days - the players' association and the board.  I think both sides are going to have to compromise. Having spoken to people in both parties, I think they're both starting to say that and understand that”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,157

 Thursday, 8 June 2017

 

• CSA restructures panels, introduces umpire coaches [2157-10938].

• Two-match ban for skipper for ’serious' slow over-rate offence [2157-10939].

• BCCI panel umpire dies aged just 51 [2157-10940].

• NZ fined for slow over-rate in Cardiff ODI [2157-10941].

• ‘Super Hero’ shield returns for Champions Trophy [2157-10942].

• More pay dispute argy bargy after second CA video [2157-10943].

• New SACA Umpire Coach confirmed as former football man [2157-10944].

• Play stops for minute's silence for London attack victims [2157-10945].

CSA restructures panels, introduces umpire coaches.

PTG Editor.

CSA media release.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10938.

In a major restructure of its national match officials panels, Cricket South Africa (CSA) has promoted six umpires and a match referee to its first-class panels for the 2017-18 season.  Its senior National First Class Panel (NFCP) has been increased in size from 12 to 17 members,  three Umpire Coaches have been appointed, and what was the second-tier 'Amateur Panel’, which was 19-strong last year, has been renamed the Reserve List.

The six umpires promoted to the NFCP are: Siphelele Gasa, 33, Arno Jacobs, 40, Thomas Mokorosi, 36, Abdoellaah Steenkamp, 42, Ryan Hendricks, 43, and Philip Vosloo, 46.  They join last year’s members Murray Brown, 50, Johan Cloete, 46, Babs Gcuma, 41, Shaun George, 49, Stephen Harris, 36, Adrian Holdstock, 46, Clifford Isaacs, 50, Bongani Jele, 31, Allahudien Paleker, 38, Dennis Smith, 45, and Brad White, 47.  On the first class referees’ front, Zama Ndamane, 52, who stood in 30 first class games from 2004-10, joins Tiffie Barnes, Devdas Govindjee and Barry Lambson.

Gasa, Jacobs and Makorosi, who are all former first class players, have been elevated to the country’s top domestic panel after just one season on the now replaced Amateur Panel (PTG 1885-9446, 25 July 2016).  They, along with George, Holdstock, Paleker, Smith and White, mean that eight, or just on half of NFCP members, are former first class players.  Steenkamp, the other newcomer, has not played at first class level but appears to have been with the second-tier group over the last three seasons.  

South Africa’s membership of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel remains as George and Holdstock as the on-field members and Jele as the television official.

CSA says that former NFCP member Gerrie Pienaar, 58, "has retired from umpiring to pursue a career in one of three "newly instituted" Umpire Coach positions. The others who will work in that role are Shaid Wadvalla, 67, who Ndamane has replaced as a match referee, and Laurance Matroos, 59, who from 2001-07 stood in 34 first class matches.  Pienaar stood in 101 first class games in the period from April 2004 and March this year, while Wadvalla stood in 95 from 19898-2007, plus three One day Internationals early last decade.

While CSA has not spelt it out, the coming season’s Reserve List appears to have 14 members: Rudi Birkenstock; Hassen Dawood; Gladman Gaseba; Marlon Jansen; Kevin Lawrence; Lester Leendertz; Bryan Mantle; Jack Morton; Bongani Ntshebe; Stephen Rex; Jurie Sadler; Irvin Van Kerwel;  Laurance Willemse; and Jeff Wolhuter.  Former member Faizel Samsoodien has, says CSA, "retired from umpiring due to personal reasons following a long and committed contribution on the Amateur Panel”.

CSA General Manager Corrie van Zyl congratulated all involved "on their deserved appointments for the approaching season”.  Umpires are central to the game of cricket and we are fortunate to have an extremely competent group of match officials. The new appointments are indicative of the successes achieved within the CSA Umpire Acceleration Program.  We will continue to create opportunities for them to develop through our exchange programs with Australia, India and New Zealand”.

To date Cloete, Gcuma, George, Holdstock, Jele, Paleker and Smith have been on exchange to all three countries, and George also to Sri Lanka a program that is no longer active, and White twice to New Zealand.

Two-match ban for skipper for ’serious' slow over-rate offence.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10939.

Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga has been banned for his side’s for the next two Champions trophy games against India and Pakistan, and his team mates fined, after the side took four hours and seven minutes to finish their 50 overs in their opening match against South Africa on Saturday. The time allocated to bowl the 50 overs in an innings in a One Day International is three and half hours.

Match referee David Boon ruled that after allowances were applied, Sri Lanka were four overs short of its target, which under International Cricket Council regulations is a “serious" over-rate offences.  As a result the players were fined 10 per cent of their match fees for the first two overs and 20 per cent of their match fees for the additional overs their side failed to bowl in the allotted time, with Tharanga also receiving two suspension points. 

Tharanga pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing.  He told journalists after the game: "We were slow between the overs. The umpire brought it to my notice in the 40th over that we were three overs behind”.  The charge was laid by on-field umpires Ian Gould and Aleem Dar, third umpire Paul Reiffel and fourth official Bruce Oxenford.

BCCI panel umpire dies aged just 51.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10940.

Ravi Subramanyam, who stood in 81 first class, 40 List A and 40 Twenty20 matches in the period from 1997 to December last year,  passed away at the age of 51 from cardiac arrest at home near Bangalore on Sunday.   Ravi became a qualified Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India umpire in 1991, was a former president of the Karnataka Association of Cricket Umpires.  

Long serving BCCI umpire Shavir Tarapore, who late last year passed the 100 first class match mark (PTG 2002-10118, 12 December 2016), said the death "came as a shock to me”.  "I have lost a close friend. We have officiated in lot of matches together”.  His father, MG Subramaniam, now 85, stood in two Tests in 1983, one India-Pakistan in Nagpur, and the other India-West Indies in Chennai.

NZ fined for slow over-rate in Cardiff ODI.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10941.

New Zealand have been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during their Champions Trophy match against England in Cardiff on Tuesday.  Match referee Andy Pycroft imposed the fine after Kane Williamson’s side were ruled to be two overs short of their target when time allowances were taken into consideration.

In accordance with International Cricket Council regulations that relate to minor over-rate offences, players are fined 10 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount.  As such, Williamson lost 40 per cent of his match fee and his team mates each 20 per cent fine each. 

Williamson pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing.  However, if there is a second minor over-rate offence committed by New Zealand during the event with Williamson as captain, he will be suspended for one match.  The charge was laid by on-field umpires Paul Reiffel and Bruce Oxenford, third umpire Rod Tucker and fourth umpire Aleem Dar.

‘Super Hero’ shield returns for Champions Trophy.

PTG Editor.

Media report.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10942.

Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford is again wearing his home-designed ‘Super Hero’ like shield on his left arm, this time during the on-going Champions Trophy series in England, the second time it has been used in that country (PTG 1862-9337, 25 June 2016).  He first sported the device, which is made from polycarbonate, weighs one kilogram is six millimetres thick, in a World Twenty20 Championship warm-up match between Australia and the West Indies in March last year, and a month later in the Indian Premier League (PTG 1840-9209, 31 May 2016).  

A year ago, Oxenford was reported to have spoken with the Gray-Nicolls company about the potential of making his shield available commercially (PTG 1869-9372, 5 July 2016).  He was reported at the time to have shown the prototype, that some suggested could be called the ‘Ox Block’, to Gray-Nicolls and that they were "working on something similar”.  As yet little appears to have happened on that front and so far there has been no publicity about anyone else using the device.

Commentators in his first Champions Trophy match, which was in Cardiff on Tuesday, described the device as a "Millennium Falcon-esque shield” that glinted in the sun.

More pay dispute argy-bargy after second CA video.

Russell Gould.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10943.

Australian vice captain David warner has lashed Cricket Australia (CA) for telling “half truths” in the latest salvo in a pay war that looked to be thawing (PTG 2156-10934, 7 June 2017).  After meetings last week set CA and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) on course for more talks in a bid to get something done by the end of the month, CA’s Kevin Roberts has again turned the blowtorch on the players by calling them out for taking a slice of junior cricket sponsorships.

In a second online video CA’s Roberts, head of CA’s negotiating team for Memorandum of Understanding, did his best to pick apart the ACAs’ claims about what it costs to run the game.  Roberts painted the ACA as ill-informed and said the union’s pay proposal, which suggests 80 per cent of all cricket revenue goes to the governing body, failed to take in to account the expenses involved.

He also said some players “aren’t even aware” that the revenue sharing model hands players a slice of revenue from sponsorships including the successful ‘Milo’ children's cricket program.  “This situation has become unbalanced, and unsustainable”, said Roberts.  But in a continuation of the public proclamations without examination - that is posting videos but not taking questions - Roberts failed to mention the ACA’s proposal would allocate $A1.45 billion (£UK849,000) for running of the game over the next five years.

The ACA has had independent forecasts suggesting CA could reap as much as $A2.6 billion (£1.52 bn) over the next five years with heavy increases expected in TV rights for the Big Bash League.  The union plan would give CA $290 million (£170 m) a year to just run cricket and grow the game.  That doesn’t include player payments, which would be $119 million (£69.7 m) a year under the ACA proposal, and another $119 million a year to grass roots cricket (PTG 2155-10930, 3 June 2017).

The ACA has also stated from the outset it remains “flexible” on what areas of revenue player payments should be drawn from, conscious of some issues with the current model, including the slice of funds coming from junior cricket.  Warner, in England for the Champions Trophy, has previously said CA “might not have a team for the Ashes” if it doesn’t come to the party, and took to ‘Twitter' to voice his concerns over the latest Roberts video.  “Got to love half-truths”, he said  in providing a link to the CA video.

New SACA Umpire Coach confirmed as former football man.

PTG Editor.

Observations.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10944.

The Nathan Magill who the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) indicated two months ago would be its new ‘State Umpire Coach’, did actually come to SACA from Football Federation of South Australia (FFSA).  While happy to provide his name, SACA would not divulge details of his background when approached in early April, and it hasn’t yet said anything about him via its regularly active web site in the four weeks since he moved into the position.

Magill has for the last four years been the FFSA's Senior Men's Football Manager and prior to that was its Referee Recruitment and Development Officer.  While there has been no information suggesting he has a direct link with cricket officiating, he is believed to have a keen personal interest in cricket (PTG 2099-10634, 8 April 2017). 

When it called for applications in mid-January, SACA stated the person selected would be "responsible for recruiting, retaining and driving the ongoing improvement of all cricket umpires in [the state in order] to help ensure the state produces the best and most respected match officials in Australia” (PTG 2025-10249, 16 January 2017).  Prior experience as a cricket umpire was not essential but applicants had to have “high performance coaching experience in a related field”.    

Magill has moved into a position that was vacated at very short notice by long-time incumbent Neil Poulton who resigned unexpectedly and at very short notice last November (PTG 1984-9994, 23 November 2016).  Despite the fact that he departed over six months ago, Poulton’s e-mail address is still on the SACA web site as the contact point for umpires in that state. 

Play stops for minute's silence for victims of London attack.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017.

PTG 2157-10945.

The Champions Trophy match between England and New Zealand in Cardiff on Tuesday paused at 11 a.m., after four balls of the seventh over of the match, to permit a minute’s silence for the victims of this week's London terror attack in which seven people were killed and a further 48 injured.  Arrangements were made for the standing umpire, in this case Australian Bruce Oxenford, to step away from the crease at 11 a.m., before an announcement was made over the public address system. 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,158

Friday, 9 June 2017

 

 

• Umpire’s sight in doubt after ball strike [2158-10946].

• The meeting that wasn’t actually was [2158-10947].

• Club gears up for 175th anniversary celebrations [2158-10948].

• ACA lashes CA on latest video release [2158-10949].

• Members set to decide on £UK150m facelift for Lord’s [2158-10950].

Umpire’s sight in doubt after ball strike.

PTG Editor.

US sources.

Thursday, 8 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10946.

Ramesh Naidu, a former Indian first-class umpire, was seriously injured while standing in a game in Boston in the United States last Sunday when a ball struck him in the face, just under his left eye socket. Whether he was standing at the bowler’s end or at square leg is not known, although he apparently remained conscious at the ground and on the way to the hospital.

He later underwent three hours of surgery to repair the eye socket and is said to have a long period of recovery ahead of him.   Reports say though that currently doctors are not certain if he will regain his vision partially or in full.   Naidu, 78, is currently one of the trustees of the USA Cricket Umpires’ Association.  He stood in nine first class, and three List A matches in India in the period from 1975-84. He has lived in the US for many years and taken part in numerous competitions across the country.

The meeting that wasn’t actually was.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 8 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10947.

It is understood that the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) 2017 annual meeting of National Umpire Managers (NUM) from all ten Full Member entities took place in Bangladesh in the last half of May.  News is now filtering out about the gathering after an ICC spokesman, in a response to a direct question in early May about the meeting, indicated that the get together “was not an ICC event”.  

Presumably what is normally a three-day meeting, which was apparently like last year attended by a number of national umpire coaches as well as the NUMs themselves, was facilitated by Adrian Griffith the ICC’s Umpires and Referees manager.  But just what was on the agenda, the issues of concern, the work programs underway, or the strategies that have been established for on-going development issues are a complete unknown.  That though is nothing new. 

Club gears up for 175th anniversary celebrations.

Danny Hall.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard.

Thursday, 8 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10948.

Gloucestershire’s Cirencester Cricket Club is preparing for a series of events that will mark the 175th anniversary of their founding in 1842.  Over ten days late this month and early the next the club will hold a six-a-side event, host a team from the Marylebone Cricket Club, an Overs 70s fixture between Gloucestershire and Warwickshire, womens’ and children’s games, and a visit by BBC Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld and his roadshow.  Throughout the festivities an exhibition that focuses on the club’s history will be on display in the newly furbished pavillion and there will also be a reunion of all available former players and officials.

ACA lashes CA on latest video release.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 8 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10949.

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) reacted strongly to the latest pay dispute related video sent to players by Cricket Australia’s (CA) Kevin Roberts on Wednesday.  Roberts’ latest video repeats the argument that 70 per cent of CA revenue is spent supporting elite players, 12 per cent to grass roots and 17 per cent to run the game (PTG 2157-10943, 8 June 2017).

An ACA media release about the video issued late on Wednesday said:  “The latest attempt by [CA] to directly communicate with Australia’s cricketers has undermined current behind the scenes efforts to break the impasse for a new Cricket [Memoraudum of Understanding].  It is also a mischaracterisation of the true position regarding grassroots investment which every Australian male and female cricketer is passionate about”.

The release contained a number of bullet point responses to “the video”.  The ACA says: "[It] Comes a day after productive talks for a ‘without prejudice’ process for attempting to rebuild trust and break the current impasse (PTG 2156-10934, 7 June 2017); Is another attempt to directly communicate with players who have asked for the last 6 months to be left alone to concentrate on cricket; Rehashes the same ‘half-truths’ and mischaracterisations which have already been exposed and rejected; and Discounts the players’ role in raising the revenue in the first place”.

It goes on to state CA’s new video: Effectively blames the ‘players’ for grassroots under investment whilst CA sits on $A70 million (£UK40.8 m) in cash reserves, in a ‘not for profit’ organisation (PTG 2155-10930, 3 June 2017); Makes the same illogical argument that the players who receive 17 per cent of revenue, compared with CA’s more than 80 per cent, are somehow responsible for grassroots under investment;  and Fails to take responsibility for [CA’s] heavy administrative foot print".

ACA rounded out the statement by saying: “As has been the case with CA throughout the negotiation it is 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. This latest effort exposes what the ACA have been dealing with. [CA] has rejected mediation twice, and has yet again demonstrated actions that undermine attempts at progress. ACA again commends the players for immediately rebuffing what is another unfortunate and inaccurate public display”.

Members set to decide on £UK150m facelift for Lord’s.

Ivo Tennant.

The Times.

Thursday, 8 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10950.

Lord’s cricket ground will be significantly changed by a £UK135 million ($A232 m)  investment if the latest development proposal is accepted by members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).  Rebuilt stands, a pavilion at the Nursery End, and a glass façade in place of the wall along Wellington Road will be financed by the building of two blocks of apartments on the site should the scheme go ahead.  These plans are outlined in a 'green paper' that is being sent to the club’s 18,000 members this week.

The Morley Plan, named after the architect and shown below is one proposal. The alternative is the club’s own Masterplan for Lord’s, the latest phase of which is expected to be revealed on Friday. The members, who own Lord’s, will decide on which option to pursue at a special general meeting to be held in the northern autumn.  Lord’s, which has a capacity of 30,000, is in need of investment given that it could lose its second Test match each summer after 2020.


 

Charles Rifkind, the investor who acquired the head lease on the disused railway tunnels at the Nursery End in 1999, originally offered £UK100 million ($A171.5 m) to the MCC in return for building apartments along the Wellington Road side of the land when the “Vision for Lord’s” plan was proposed in 2009.

He has now put to the club that this sum should be spent on rebuilding the Tavern and Allen stands and Thomas Lord Banqueting Suite, the cost of which is estimated to be £UK98 million ($A168 m). In addition, he is offering £35 million ($A60 m) to excavate the tunnels and create parking spaces for 120 cars plus bicycles and room for storing television equipment underground for significant matches. Equipment owned by the nearby Wellington hospital could also be stored there.

The original Vision for Lord’s was scuppered in 2011 after disagreements between senior MCC committee members and officials.  Under the plans put forward by Rifkind, the apartments would have a separate, street-front entrance and it is claimed there would not be a security risk to spectators inside the ground.  The adjacent north gate would be relocated to a position 40 metres away and through the new façade a sports injury clinic would be visible.

The £400 million ($A686 m) Vision for Lord’s incorporated four or five blocks of flats: this latest plan would encompass two blocks of 97 residential apartments, ten storeys in height and of at least 24,700 square metres with ground floor commercial space of 1,075 sq m. Awnings in MCC colours have been designed to withstand any flying cricket balls. Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott has been one prominent individual to show interest in taking up occupation.

The buildings will not be visible from the main pavilion if, in a separate development, the Compton and Edrich stands were rebuilt in line with Rifkind’s specifications.  A second pavilion at the Nursery End, comprising 3,760 sq m, would be built in between the two blocks of apartments and leased to the club. Naming rights would be offered to corporations in return for an annual donation to sporting charities and the local community.

Corporate events, which at present take place in the temporary hospitality marquees above the tunnels, could be held there. The club’s full, honorary and life members would be given a collective sweetener of £UK15 million ($A25.7 m), the cost of two years’ subscriptions, as compensation for noise and disturbance while works are carried out.

In return for the Morley Plan development, which would be wholly financed by the sale of the flats in this expensive part of northwest London, MCC would have to surrender its remaining 120-year lease on the tunnels.  They were acquired by Rifkind from then owners ‘Railtrack' in 1999 after the MCC was outbid at auction. The then chief executive of Railtrack, Gerald Corbett, ensured that the company would reap in excess of £UK10 million ($A17.1 m) in the event of any development that was carried out.  Corbett is now the chairman of MCC and will preside over the autumn special general meeting.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,159

Friday, 9 June 2017

(Second edition)

 

• CA looking for $25 m in savings for ‘grass roots’ game, claims report [2159-10951].

• One change for now to CA national panel for 2017-18 [2159-10952].

• Indian umpire for Windies-Afghanistan ODIs [2159-10953].

• Rain break rules should follow T20: Aussie coach [2159-10954].

Surrey plans £UK50 m redevelopment of The Oval [2159-10955].

MCC must keep two Tests a year to fund Lord's redevelopment plan [2159-10956].

CA looking for $25 m in savings for ‘grass roots’ game, claims report.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2159-10951.

An article published in Fairfax Media newspapers in Australia late on Thursday says that “all” Cricket Australia (CA) departments "have been instructed to find operational savings" so that the national body can devote another $A25 million (£UK14.8 m) to grassroots cricket”.  A CA spokesman is quoted by Fairfax journalist Adam Collins as saying the national body has “commissioned” Melbourne-headquartered financial services firm Mercer: "to review their costs base 'to ensure that its [operational] structure[s] and use of resources are best practice’”.

Collins puts forward the view that that revelation adds weight to a sharp attack on CA's expenditure priorities from former Australian batsman, and now Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) player liaison manager, Simon Katich, as the ACA "seethes over a video released by CA that they see as badly out of step with recent talks between the feuding parties”.  Katich again  rejected the idea that extra money for grassroots cricket should come from the state players' existing cut, when CA's executive remuneration, media footprint, staff numbers and revenue are all increasing.

CA's latest pay-related video sent to players, which was presented by executive general manager and lead negotiator Kevin Roberts, states that grassroots funding is jeopardised if the current revenue sharing model with state players is retained (PTG 2158-10949, 9 June 2017).

The Fairfax article has a focus on data that Collins says indicates CA senior executives and board directors were paid over a million dollars more than the entire national women's squad during the 2015-16 year.  He points to CA’s annual report for that period showing "$A5.7 million (£3.4 m) was spent on executive salaries and director expenses", while on the other hand "the allocated payment to elite women players” was $A4.23 million (£2.5 m)”.  Katich said: "It certainly is interesting to compare what female cricketers have been paid in the past compared to the CA Executive team.  The [CA proposed] increase in investment in female cricket is welcome (PTG 2081-10537, 22 March 2017), but there is still a long way to go”.

Katich spoke to elements of CA's most recent annual report, namely areas of significant expenditure outside of player salaries, and to a breakdown of the national body's revenue windfalls of recent years.  The publicly available document shows marked growth in CA's contingency fund from $A10.9 million (£6.4 m) four years ago to the $A129.3 million (£76.4 m) listed in CA's 2015-16 annual report.  

Katich maintains that if $A30 million (£17.7 m) is "urgently" needed for grassroots cricket, as indicated by CA chief executive James Sutherland last month who described the situation as “chronic", it could be funded from there.  "We understand [CA] has around $70 million (£41.4 m) in cash reserves”, said Katich, “so the question has to be asked why some of this money can't cater for the 'urgent investment' needed in grassroots cricket?” (PTG 2149-10904, 28 May 2017).

Collins says CA argues the operating deficit the organisation has forecast for the 2016-17 year [which is also $A70 million] highlights the well-known normal volatility in its four-year budget cycle. Staff levels at CA have also increased by 130 to a total of 287 over the five years that the existing CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covers. Katich repeated his call for a cap on CA's administration spend as the Mercer review proceeds.

CA spent 12 per cent of revenue on grassroots cricket during the past five years, a total of around $A232 million (£137 m). They have pledged to increase that by $A76 million (£44.9 m) in the years spanning 2017-2022 writes Collins.  He quotes a CA's spokesman as saying the latest pay-related video the ACA is concerned about was "unrelated to the status of the talks” on the new MoU. He repeated CA's position that the ACA have not commenced "proper negotiations" in relation to the March offer since rejected by the players. 

One change for now to CA national panel for 2017-18.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2159-10952.

Cricket Australia (CA) has made one change to its 12-man National Umpire Panel (NUP) for the 2017-18 domestic season, Victorian Ashley Barrow having been dropped in favour of New South Welshman Tony Wilds who has been promoted from its second-tier Development Panel (DP).  The latter panel has also undergone changes, for in addition to Wilds' elevation, former NUP member Damien Mealey has been dropped from the group, the two DP vacancies that have been opened up as a result of their respective departures being filled by Nathan Johnstone of Western Australia and Ben Treloar from NSW.

The NUP for the year ahead will therefore be: Gerard Abood, Greg Davidson, Wilds and Paul Wilson (NSW), Shawn Craig, Phillip Gillespie, Geoff Joshua and John Ward (Victoria), Simon Fry (South Australia), Michael Martell (Western Australia), and Tasmanians Michael Graham-Smith and Sam Nogajsk.  DP members are, in addition to Johnstone and Treloar: Donovan Koch (Queensland), David Shepard (Victoria), and NSW’s Simon Lightbody and Claire Polosak.

The two panels are the first selected under the auspices of CA's Match Referee and Umpire Selection Manager, Simon Taufel.  He joined CA last year in what was a new position that is responsible in part for “ensuring” CA’s "umpire assessment criteria and processes are robust, consistent and fair”, and that the selection of umpires to CA umpire panels is "meritorious” and “lawful” at all times (PTG 1888-9458, 30 July 2016).  

Barrow is leaving after seven seasons on the NUP.  He made his first class debut in October 2010, three months after being promoted to the panel following the departure of Rod Tucker to join the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) (PTG 617-3093, 5 June 2010).  In the time since then he has stood in a total of 32 first class, 27 List A and 36 Twenty20 games, all of them in CA domestic series. There have also been 4 Womens’ One Day Internationals (ODI) and 5 Under-19 ODIs.

Wilds, who has been on the fringe of the NUP for some years, made his first class debut in February 2015 and has since gone on to stand in four such games, plus six List A and three T20s. He has also stood in both women’s and Under-19 ODI fixtures.  In 2014, along with his NSW and now NUP colleague Davidson, Wilds was awarded an Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship (NOS) (PTG 1308-6310, 8 March 2014). 

CA Match Officials Manager Sean Easey said about the changes: “It is extremely pleasing to see Tony Wilds make the step up to the [NUP] after a number of years as a [DP] member and we wish him well as he takes this next step in his career”.  Easey also said: “It’s always a difficult decision to replace an umpire on either panel, and we thank both [Barrow and Mealey] for their years of service and commitment to umpiring and the game of cricket”.  CA says its umpiring panels are chosen by a selection panel consisting of Taufel, former ICC EUP member Steve Davis, who is now a CA second-tier group match referee, and Easey.

Should Fry be promoted to the EUP later this month as is a possibility (PTG 2044-10353, 10 February 2017), CA would have to promote someone on to its section of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) (PTG 2126-10776, 7 May 2017), add a second current DP member onto the NUP, and in turn selected another new person to the DP.  Given the uncertainty at this time and the time-line involved it is likely CA already has a clear view of what should happen if Fry actually departs. 

In terms of the NUP, Lightbody, who made his List A and first class debuts last austral summer (PTG 2034-10303, 30 January 2017), appears to be the clear candidate should that happen, but just which of the current remaining DP fringe umpires, Darren Close (Tasmania), Anthony Hobson (NSW) or David Taylor (Queensland), would win a spot on the DP is far less clear.  

Close stood in 20 first class matches in the period from 1986-92 (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016), while both Hobson and Taylor are, like Craig, Davidson, Fry, Gillespie, Johnstone, Koch, Martell, Lightbody, Mealey, Nogajski, Polosak, Shepard, Treloar and Wilds, all NOS holders.

Indian umpire for Windies-Afghanistan ODIs.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10953.

Indian umpire Chettihody Shamshuddin has once again been called on by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to stand as a neutral official in a One Day International (ODI) played outside India, this time the three-match series between the West indies and Afghanistan in St Kitts over the next six days.  Prior to that series getting underway, Shamshuddin stood in 21 ODIs over 8 separate series, 16 of those being across 6 series that did not involve India.  

Jeff Crowe of New Zealand will be the match referee for the coming matches, games that will take his ODI referee’s tally to 259.  Which members of the West Indian contingent of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel will make up the officials panel for the Afghanistan ODI series has not yet been announced.

Rain break rules should follow T20: Aussie coach.

Martin Smith.

CA web site.

Thursday, 8 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10954.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann has urged the international game to follow the lead of Twenty20 cricket and be more proactive when it comes to rain delays.  Lehmann said there would have been more play in Australia’s washed-out Champions Trophy match against Bangladesh at The Oval on Monday had it been a T20 fixture. His side was four overs short of a comfortable victory against Bangladesh, the equivalent of just 16 minutes of play, when players left the field.  The rain stopped for around 30 minutes at one stage after the initial delay, but there was no further play.

Lehmann, a member of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Cricket Committee (CC) that recommends changes to the international game's rules and playing conditions, says the issue of rain delays has been discussed at meetings before and he believes more needs to be done to ensure players get back on the field as soon as possible.  "The game of cricket is there for the fans and you want to play as much as you can”, he said."Obviously I sit on the [ICC CC] and we're all about trying to play as much cricket as you can.  It's always a tough one. The ground staff and the umpires do the best they can, but we just have to play”.

"As soon as (rain) stops in this day and age, you have to be able to get back on. The ground staff are working tirelessly to get back on, I think we've just got to be more liberal to play some cricket. The fans want to see a result.  Especially this time of year in England, you can get [wet] weather. So it's a case of if it's not raining or it's drizzling, we should just play.  We've played games in the past, I can think of a T20 game in [Durban in 2014] where we had sand or sawdust on the ground to play. As long as you give it your best effort to play, that's the main thing”.   At the time both teams expressing safety concerns about a wet outfield.

Lehmann applauded the approach sometimes used in T20 cricket, where play continues during light rain or slightly slippery conditions, as an example of putting the fans first.  "If [the game against Bangladesh] was a T20 game, a packed house at The Oval or a packed house at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, I'm sure there would have been play somewhere”, he said. "My view is simple – play as much cricket as you can, where you possibly can.  You have to consider the safety of the players. That's important and umpires and the match referees take that into account.  Players and administrators have to move the game forward in the best way for the fans. Because we've got to grow the game”.

In his Cricket Australia (CA) web site column, former Australian One Day International and Twenty20 International captain George Bailey agreed that the game needs to be more adaptable when it comes to rain.  "Player safety is important but I think if there's just a bit of discomfort, you should play.  Conditions don't have to be perfect out in the middle and I think the players would be on board with that, particularly in a tournament like this".

Speaking to CAs Umpire's Verdict after that match, current CA National Umpire Panel member Mike Graham-Smith said the ground was safe despite the wet conditions.  He was involved in a 2015-16 Big Bash League match that achieved a result at the Gabba despite the fact heavy drizzle fell for the final seven overs of the run chase (PTG 1729-8580, 4 January 2016), and also the Sydney Cricket Ground Sheffield Shield match debacle a few months before that (PTG 1683-8259, 9 November 2015).

"Our primary concern is always going to be player safety”, said Graham-Smith. "Provided we think it's safe for the players to continue playing out there, we will stay out there as long as we possibly can.  It [can be] uncomfortable at times, but we have to determine if it was dangerous. And we're at a distinct advantage in T20 cricket ... (where) we know we've got an end point. As long as we can get to that end point, we can keep the game going”.

Last month former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming lamented the arrangements that apply to rain-hit T20s (PTG 2141-10857, 21 May 2017).

Surrey plans £UK50 m redevelopment of The Oval.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10955.

Surrey are planning a “big, bold and ambitious” £UK50million ($A84.8 m) redevelopment of The Oval which will expand its capacity to 40,000, up 15,000 on the present limit, and make it the biggest dedicated cricket ground in England.  The news comes soon after details of a £UK135 million ($A232 m)investment proposal that could see the ground’s London rival, Lord’s, also substantially remodelled but increase its capacity to only 32,000 (PTG 2158-10950, 9 June 2017).

Plans currently in the pipeline for The Oval would see the Bedser Stand and Laker-Lock stands rebuilt, increasing capacity from the ground’s current level of 25,500 in time for the 2023 Ashes Test. The Bedser Stand houses the dressing rooms and indoor school but contains only 1,800 public seats and will be the first stand to be redeveloped.  Once finished, The Oval will be the biggest dedicated cricket ground in the world outside India or Australia.

Work will begin after the 2019 World Cup and will put the Oval at the forefront of English cricket as the new Twenty20 league is launched.  “English cricket needs a ground that can hold 40,000-plus supporters said Richard Thompson, the Surrey chairman.  “We have shown the demand is there and we would not contemplate this project unless we were confident we can fill this ground. We want to do something that is big, bold and ambitious and we know we can deliver it and we know we can fill it”.

Surrey have already held talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and their landlord, the Duchy of Cornwall, and are confident they will not meet any significant planning issues.

In recent years the club has enjoyed unprecedented levels of ticket sales. It has built up a huge database of 282,000 ticket buyers and over the next week or so expect to sell out home ECB ‘Blast' Twenty20 games against Sussex and Middlesex some six weeks before those games are to take place. A capacity crowd filled the ground for Thursday’s Champions Trophy clash between India and Sri Lanka.

Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive said: "The ECB are looking at places like the London Olympic Stadium because they want additional capacity. Well, we can deliver that here. When you look forward to the new Twenty20 competition this takes us to the next level. There is no other club that can do it”.

The club expects to be debt free by 2022, when they will have paid off loans incurred for the building of the OCS Stand in 2004. The new project will be funded through more borrowing but the club will also offer the ECB the option of financing it in return for the revenue from ticket sales from the extra seats.  Surrey’s 20-year staging agreement with the ECB, which guarantees one Test match per year, runs out in 2022. With the Olympic Stadium a potential future cricket venue, and likely to host games at the 2019 World Cup, Surrey face competition for matches.

MCC must keep two Tests a year to fund Lord's redevelopment plan.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2158-10956.

Members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) will be told the club can fund their own £UK184million redevelopment of Lord’s as long as they retain two Tests per year at the ground (PTG 2140-10851, 20 May 2017), and are at the forefront of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new Twenty20 league.  A media report last month suggested development plans were on hold (PTG 2121-10761, 2 May 2017). 

The club’s 18,000 members will on Friday receive a 34-page report (plus 19 pages of appendices) setting out the two plans for the redevelopment of Lord’s before a vote in September on what Derek Brewer, the club’s chief executive, describes as the “biggest decision” in the MCC’s 230-year history.

The report has been written by the MCC executive team with input from external independent experts and Brewer hopes the process will finally end almost 20 years of stalemate and recriminations over the redevelopment of the ground and the construction of apartments at the Nursery End (PTG 2158-10950, 9 June 2017). Should either of the two options on the table get the go ahead, the work proposed will not be completed until 2032 at the earliest.

Brewer described it as "a very complex decision [that] will require a lot of thought from the members”.  “I have never in my business career [of] over 37 years come across an issue like it. It is really important after so much discussion over so many years that it is really put to bed one way or another. What we have done with this review, setting up the consultation process and the special general meeting [in September], is a way to draw it to a close and move forward”.

Lord’s, The Oval (PTG 2159-10955 above), and the former 2012 Olympic Stadium, which are all being looked at one way or another to host major cricket in the UK capital, are all located within 10 km of each other.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,160

Saturday, 10 June 2017

 

• ICC EUP 'the target' says newly promoted South African umpire [2160-10957].

• ODI debut for Barbados umpire [2160-10958].

• Queen’s birthday honour for former NZ Test umpire [2160-10959].

• Pay 'summit' option to resolve CA-ACA dispute [2160-10960].

• Why players and 'the grassroots' are not opposing interests [2160-10961].

ICC EUP 'the target' says newly promoted South African umpire.

Yonela Mofu.

South African Herald Live.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2160-10957.

The dream of being part of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) first-class umpiring panel came true this week for former professional player Arno Jacobs, 40, who lives in Port Elizabeth (PTG 2157-10938, 8 June 2017).  Having had a father who was a cricket administrator, and brother Stefan, who played first class cricket, Jacobs was always in line to play a role in the sport from primary school onward.  “It pretty much came as a natural process for me to get into cricket because it was in the family and in my blood as well”, he said.

In recent years Jacobs has risen from being an all-rounder with Eastern Province and the Warriors to a no-nonsense umpire following his retirement in 2013.  “Umpiring was a normal progression from my playing days that I could not run away from”, he says.  “It was a massive adjustment for me to go from being a player to officiating.  As a cricketer, I had always thought I knew the laws of the game, but it proved otherwise when I started being an umpire".

“Adjusting to umpiring in terms of getting your knowledge base in place with regard to playing conditions and to the management of players on the field is something one needs to get used to, as it can be difficult when emotions get tense.  The nice thing about having played the sport is that it puts you at an advantage in reading the game better and faster.  It is, however, a bit tricky because you cannot be friends with anyone on the field.  It is not really a social environment – you just need to do your job”.

The former all-rounder has aspirations of ultimately joining the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), saying: "Joining the ICC is my ultimate goal”.

Jacobs reflected on the standard of cricket in the country and how he hoped to fit into the system. “Umpiring standards have improved in South Africa over the years and there have been a lot of training programs, which were almost non-existent in the past.  There is knowledge and information flowing around to ensure that the standards only get better.  The playing standards at national level have also improved, with transformation having a positive impact.  South Africa has remained among the top in world, regardless of all that was said about transformation (PTG 2129-10794, 10 May 2017).

Jacobs holds coaching clinics at Port Elizabeth's Union Cricket Club and also visits Grey High, Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay weekly in a personal capacity. “Coaching is something I really enjoy. I believe I have what it takes to get through to children.  Youngsters are like sponges, always keen to learn. Seeing them progress gives me a lot of satisfaction as their coach”.

Jacobs' elevation means that there are now two people from Port Elizabeth on CSA’ first class panel, the other being Stephen Harris (PTG 1953-9830, 20 October 2016).  

ODI debut for Barbados umpire.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 10 June 2017.

PTG 2160-10958.

West Indian umpire Leslie Reifer is to stand in his first One Day International in the final game of the Windies-Afghanistan three match series next Wednesday in St Lucia.  Reifer and two of his colleagues on the West Indian section of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), Joel Wilson and Nigel Duguid will each share the on-field, television umpire and fourth umpire spots across the three fixtures.

Reifer, 27, from Barbados, who started his umpiring career as a teenager, was appointed to the IUP 13 months ago (PTG 1822-9114, 9 May 2016), made his senior level international debut in a Twenty20 international early last June.  He is thought to be one of the youngest, if not the youngest, umpire to have stood in a full international (PTG 1910-9588, 29 August 2016).  The ICC selected him amongst the officials who managed the 2017 Women’s World Cup Qualifier event in Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Duguid, Reifer and Wilson will be part of a Playing Control Team for the Windies-Afghanistan series that also includes Jeff Crowe of New Zealand and Chettihody Shamshuddin from India (PTG 2159-10953, 9 June 2017). 

Queen’s birthday honour for former NZ Test umpire.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 10 June 2017.

PTG 2160-10959.

Wellington-based umpire Evan Watkin, who was a New Zealand member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP) for most of last decade, has been awarded the NZ government's ‘Queens Service Medal’ (QSM) for what the accompanying citation says is “services to cricket”.  Established in 1975, the QSM is awarded " to recognise and reward volunteer service to the community and also public service in elected or appointed public office”. 

During his 24 years at the senior levels of New Zealand Cricket (NZC) from 1989-2013, Watkin, who is now 65, stood 135 first class games, three of them Tests (PTG 871-4255, 11 December 2011), and another two when on a domestic exchange visit to South Africa.  There were also 177 List A fixtures, 23 of them being One Day Internationals, plus 38 domestic Twenty20 games, three of those being internationals.

A member of NZC’s top domestic umpires’ panel for over two decades, Watkin was moved to the Reserve Panel ahead of the 2013-14 season (PTG 1187-5725, 14 September 2013), however, he did not stand in any NZC games that season.  Indications are that he left senior domestic cricket earlier than he thought appropriate (PTG 1744-8674, 23 January 2016), although he was still active in Cricket Wellington Premier League fixtures last austral summer.  He was for many years the chairman of Cricket Wellington Umpires and Scorers Inc (CWUSI)  and their Appointments Officer and was made a CWUSI Life Member earlier this decade.  

Pay 'summit' option to resolve CA-ACA dispute.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 9 June 2017.

PTG 2160-10960.

A multi-day intensive "summit" between negotiators for Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) has been discussed as a possible way of moving forward from the current pay dispute, less than four weeks away from the 30 June expiry of the two parties current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Tentative talks between the board and the players have been going on for a little more than a week, in spite of continued public sparring taking the shape of fresh videos and graphics released by CA's lead negotiator Kevin Roberts and subsequent ripostes by the ACA (PTG 2158-10949, 9 June 2017). 

While Roberts has met with the ACA's legal counsel Joe Connellan and a mediation lawyer, John Whelan, who has been consulting for the players' association, it is understood that the ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson and his CA counterpart James Sutherland have also spoken in recent days about ways to find progress. 

It was Sutherland's letter to Nicholson a month ago, threatening to leave players unemployed if an agreement to CA's terms was not reached by the end of June, that escalated tension between the two parties after six months of largely fruitless meetings, claims and ambit proposals (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).

Apart from the major difference between the parties - CA's desire to breakup the fixed revenue percentage model and the ACA's equally strong intent to retain it - there have also been disconnects around how talks should be structured. CA has expressed a preference for starting the process by discussing many of the areas in which the two parties share common ground, allowing these details to be ticked off while building a better relationship dynamic with which to tackle the more difficult issues.

However, the ACA is understood to prefer dealing directly with the fundamental differences between the parties to begin with, allowing for a shared position on revenue sharing to underpin and underline all subsequent talks. The players' association is believed to have suggested getting the two parties together earlier in the process without either side bringing their respective pay proposals with them - a request that was not granted by CA.

The prospect of a long-haul summit over two days or more, in order to thrash out many of the issues currently dividing the board and the players, has been raised between the two parties as one option to find a workable passage towards an agreement. 

A similar approach was taken earlier this week in concurrent pay talks between Australia's rugby league governing body, the National Rugby League (NRL), and the Rugby League Players Association. The opposing sides devoted two days to intensive talks in Sydney, concluding the summit by releasing a joint statement to say talks had been "constructive" though plenty of work remains to be done.

The announcement of a pay deal in the Australian Football League (AFL) is also imminent, with the league and the AFL Players Association set to unveil a deal that will bring in elements of revenue sharing to their next collective bargaining agreement - something NRL players are also seeking. All Australian sports have looked towards cricket's now 20-year-old model as a way of balancing prosperity with a prolonged period of industrial relations peace.

Why players and 'the grassroots' are not opposing interests.

Malcolm Knox.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 10 June 2017.

PTG 2160-10961.

As Australia’s rugby league and cricket go into parallel endgames negotiating new collective bargaining agreements, it's time for them to leave the big lie outside with the umbrellas and raincoats.  The big lie is the false dichotomy between "the players" and "the grassroots", as if the two stand in opposition and poor administrators are caught in the middle, trying to stop the former from robbing the latter.

There are so many ways in which the dichotomy is wrong, it's a surprise that sports administrators continue to trundle it out every time they have to go through that pesky business of agreeing how much to pay their players. It was used in 1997-98 when cricket had its last bust-up, and it was used in the 1880s when cricket had its first bust-up. It was not a fair representation then, and it is less fair now than it has ever been.

Elite players are permanently connected with the grassroots, and not just in the obligatory coaching clinics and community visits they attend week-in, week-out. On a bleak evening last September at North Sydney Oval, there was Jake Trbojevic a top rugby player running around as the blue-shirt trainer for the Mona Vale Raiders Under-15s as they got towelled up in a semi-final. He was on the brink of a big new deal with the Manly Sea Eagles side, but whatever money was going to him was not money lost to the game.  Through his volunteering with youngsters, he was putting it back in. Trbojevic is one of countless elite earners in his and other sports who do such things without a second thought, every week of the year.

You can take it further. In 1997-98, the then Australian Cricket Board (ACB), Cricket Australia’s (CA) predecessor, agreed not without kicking and screaming and the odd underarm ball, to pay a fixed percentage of revenue to professional players. At the time, the ACB complained about how this would devastate the grassroots. Since then, not only have player payments steepled but so has money allocated to grassroots development. 

This was partly good luck, as the sport was entering a revenue boom, but there was never any real either/or between "the players" and "the grassroots". The best thing that ever happened to grassroots cricket in that time, better than a whole army of development officers trying to persuade young talents to reject Australian Rules Football (AFL) for cricket, was that Sheffield Shield players finally earned a living income.

Prior to 1998, a youngster could see 25 professional cricketers making enough to live on, compared with 300 AFL players. After 1998, that became 150 to 200 professional cricketers. A career path widened, and kept talented young players in cricket.

Even the top level maintains a symbolic connection to the grassroots. Australian vice-captain David Warner jumping into his ‘Lamborghini' and telling his footie mates they chose the wrong career is, at one level, Warner being Warner. But it's also sending a message that benefits cricket's grassroots, just as watching Warner scoring a hundred on television inspires kids to go out and play. It offers aspiration. To describe Warner's multimillion-dollar income as money "lost to the game" or, morally, stolen from the grassroots is to miss many points. One is that the grassroots need sun. The other is that you might as well also call every second-hand ‘Holden' bought by a CA development officer, or every glass of pinot shared across a CA lunch table, as money "lost to the game".

Sport is not a profit-and-loss statement, but an organism with all of its parts complexly connected. The cricket and rugby league players' associations are both asking for a fixed-share agreement, in cricket as a continuation and in league as part of a new deal. Hardline elements in both administrations are using financial arguments, plus an ideology buttressed by the big lie, to oppose them. The players are asking, if you're going to be so mathematically rigorous, when do you start applying the same rigour to your own bloated bureaucracies? And so it goes. Who is really taking money from the grassroots? Neither.

Elite players and peak governing bodies both contribute in different ways, they are both connected fundamentally to the grassroots, and each side ought as a first principle to acknowledge the fertilisation that the other performs.

Administrators would also do well to shake off the misconception that the top players, being fabulously paid, can be bought off. The opposite is the case. Intelligence is shared among the players' organisations, both here and internationally, but it is taking administrators some time to acknowledge the reality that has long pertained in American sports. The richer players become, the greater their solidarity and even militancy, and the stronger their belief in principles. A principled stance is much easier on a full belly.

Just ask Will Hopoate another top rugby player. But if you were, say, a mining executive on the other side of the table, it must be frustrating to see these bolshie billionaires. What's the sporting equivalent to a driverless train? Let go. You can no sooner de-unionise sport than you can automate it. The moment to destroy player solidarity came in 1912, it served cricket administrators very nicely for 60 years, but it's over. The American experience tells us that rich players are more likely to stick together, and even to go on strike, than poor ones.

There is a fair compromise available for both sports, and that is to acknowledge in practical, financial terms the connection between the elite and the grassroots. What actually is grassroots funding? It comprises trickle-down payments to organisations and clubs, it goes to councils for ground hire and insurance and to the butcher for sausages, but it also goes to jobs within the game: coaches, development officers, paid officials and administrators, people who work in the equipment supply chain, and so on.

Directly or indirectly, it goes to the paid workers who keep the game ticking over. And on the other side, what is one of the players' associations' greatest needs? Jobs within the game, for players who are both on the way up and on the way out.

So how about this? The governing bodies guarantee the players a share of revenue. But within that share, a percentage is set aside, a development fund, as a deferred payment specifically for grassroots work. Effectively, once individual negotiations begin to take place, this means the professional cricketer or rugby league player is told this: you will receive X for playing the sport, but you also have an option to receive a further Y. This further amount will be for services rendered directly to the game at the grassroots.

It may give you a career as a development officer, a coach or an administrator after you have retired, you can draw on it for umpiring, it can subsidise your income if you choose to become a rep for a supplier, you can do it concurrently with your playing career, but you only access that money once you render those services. You get part of your money now, and we will hold onto the other part, but in return we will give you employment and direction. You can apply for funding from that second pot, and we will collaborate in how it is spent, as partners who both have a duty to the grassroots.

It's an inclusive plan that stops good people from being lost to both sports, and rewards loyalty on both sides. In some ways, informally, it's already in place. It only needs to be codified in the new agreements and be guaranteed to members of the players' associations. If it is, it would see the big lie, the major obstacle to a fair compromise, the misconception that "the players" and "the grassroots" are opposing interests, to be buried where it belongs, in the dustbin of history.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,161

Sunday, 11 June 2017

 

• Players’ relations with CA at lowest point for years [2161-10962].

• No bails for most of St Lucia ODI [2161-10963].

• Quiet time for UDRS in Champions Trophy [2161-10964].

• A single is the new dot ball in modern cricket [2161-10965].

Players’ relations with CA at lowest point for years.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Saturday, 10 June 2017.

PTG 2161-10962.

Relations between Cricket Australia (CA) and its players are at their lowest point in decades and there are fears they will not recover during the career of the current players unless a way out of the contract stand-off is found.  Just how much it impacted on the team’s early Champions Trophy departure is difficult to gauge.  The international men’s side lost faith in the board and its executives during the ‘Monkeygate' scandal of 2008 with captain Ricky Ponting and his men convinced the organisation sold them out to preserve its relationship with India (PTG 172-919, 9 January 2008). 

Australian captain Steve Smith’s men believe they will be forced into a lockout at the end of the month as CA take the “nuclear option” to win an industrial relations battle. They are also angry that the situation is coming to a head in the middle of the Champions Trophy.  The players in England are anxious about the prospect of an ugly public relations backlash and upset at the strongarm tactics from their employees.  Both sides accuse the other of provoking the situation.

The only solution visible would be for CA chief executive James Sutherland — a man who was an advocate for the revenue-share model in the past — to take the lead in negotiations.  It is understood that the chief executives of cricket’s warring parties met for the first time during the week, but any progress made was derailed when chief negotiator Kevin Roberts outraged players by releasing a video of claims they denounced as “half-truths” (PTG 2158-10949, 9 June 2017).

Roberts stepped down from the CA board in 2015 to join the executive and is considered a possible successor to Sutherland.  He has done the board’s bidding in the negotiations — CA’s board stance against the revenue-share model has emerged only since former Rio Tinto chief David Peever took over as chairman (PTG 2143-10867, 23 May 2017).

Sutherland has stayed an arm’s length from the fraught process except for one inflammatory intervention — a letter threatening to stop paying players (PTG 2133-10813, 14 May 2017).  Both sides refused to confirm Sutherland’s presence during the week and accused the other of leaking information about the meeting.  Talks between the two parties have been stalled since before Christmas.  The dispute is a disaster for Australian cricket and Sutherland’s absence has been baffling.

No bails for most of St Lucia ODI.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 10 June 2017.

PTG 2161-10963.

Almost half the overs in the opening One Day International between the West Indies and Afghanistan were delivered without bails on the stumps as a result of high winds blowing across the island of St Lucia on Friday.  Umpires Joel Wilson and Chettihody Shamshuddin elected to take the bails off after 19.1 overs of the Afghanistan innings which went for the full 50, and did not place them back on the stumps until prior to ball 9.4 of the West Indies innings.  During that time seven wickets fell, two LBW and five caught.  The second and third matches of the series will also be played at the same ground over the next few days, a period in which winds should be more benign.

Quiet time for UDRS in Champions Trophy.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 10 June 2017.

PTG 2161-10964.

Of the 5,054 legitimate deliveries, or 842.3 overs, that were sent down across the first 10 matches of the on-going Champions Trophy series, another 120 balls being illegal, fielding captains or batsmen chose to call on the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) a total of 16 times, all in relation to LBW - 9 when bowling and 7 when batting.  

Of those 16 only two were successful, and of the 127 wickets that fell only one did so via a request for a review, eight of the twenty innings involved seeing no referrals at all.  Australia didn’t, and so far India hasn’t, use the system to examine an umpire’s on-field decision, while Bangladesh has once, South Africa twice, England, New Zealand and Pakistan each thrice, and Sri Lanka on four occasions. 

A single is the new dot ball in modern cricket.

Ed Smith.

The Sunday Times

Sunday, 11 June 2017.

PTG 2161-10965.

The development of white ball cricket is like watching evolution­ on fast-forward: good and bad ideas are sorted out remarkably quickly. As always, progress is not smooth or predictable. Some old truths have proved resilient­; some apparent insights turned out to be passing­ fads. “You miss, I hit”, is one of the oldest truisms in cricket. It was probably­ knocking about when there were two stumps not three, and over-arm bowling hadn’t yet been invented. Now, the adage is more appropriate than ever because modern batsmen have such a complete range of attacking options.

Intriguingly, the value of threatening the stumps recently went out of fashion. About 10 years ago, death-bowling theory was focused on wide yorkers — as wide as bowlers could go without the ball being signalled wide.  In theory, wide yorkers were supposed to guard against the right-hander’s default hitting target: the leg side. Captains­ and coaches, who naturally love control, were desperate to bowl “on one side of the wicket”.

Guess what? Batsmen moved over to the off side. Today, many top batsmen finish­ their preliminary movements around off stump. At the death, they’ll go wider still — perhaps well outside the line of the stumps and way back in the crease. The swing of the bat is sometimes deeper than the stumps: if they stood in front of the stumps, they’d hit their own wicket.

So the wide yorker can become a straight-ish half-volley, with the leg side back in play. In effect, bowlers were giving­ up the possibility of achieving two dismissals (bowled and LBW) while increasing the risk of bowling a wide. As a tactical argument, the batsman had won before the ball was even released.

So the evolutionary response of the best bowlers has been to bring the stumps back into play. Since the 2015 World Cup, data from CricViz shows that the following bowlers have taken the most wickets with balls that did or would have gone on to hit the stumps: Imran Tahir, Mitchell Starc, Adil Rashid, Kagiso Rabada, David Willey and John Hazlewood­. That group overlaps considerably­ with the top five bowlers according to world rankings: Rabada, Tahir, Starc, Sunil Narine and Hazlewood­.

One way that cricket could support the bowlers’ right to attack the stumps — which is always good to watch — is for umpires to be slightly more lenient about leg sides wides, especially when the batsman has moved across to the off.

A second old adage that has proved surprisingly durable is “wickets in hand”. At its worst, this theory became an excuse for slow and passive batting ­during the early overs — in that sense, the cliché is indeed extinct in terms of ­usefulness. But as a factor that allows teams to accelerate over the innings, wickets in hand remain crucial. Winning teams don’t need an anchor, but they do require a platform.

Over the past three years, the average score of the losing team after 30 overs is 134 for 4.3 and the average score of the winning team after 30 overs is 155 for 2.7. Obviously, the winning teams’ superiority is more marked in terms of wickets retained (60 per cent better) than runs scored (15 per cent better).

Put differently, in any match in which overs are limited, there is always a balance­ of risks: the risk of not scoring fast enough balanced against the major risk of losing too many wickets. Fielding captains weigh up the same conundrum from the opposite perspective.

Far from being an exercise in hit and hope, white-ball batting is about probability. The best batsmen not only calculate risk ­better during the match, they also have the underlying ­ability to score more quickly without recklessness: their matchplay smartness rests on their superior skill. AB de ­Villiers, the top-ranked batsman, averages 54 at a strike-rate of 100.

“It’s a batsman’s game” is a new truism with more questionable foundations. The concept of moderate inflation shouldn’t be beyond us. Most households have got the hang of the idea that prices can go up: your house may have a ­different number attached to it, but it’s still the same house relative to other houses. It’s the same with bowling figures.

How hard can it be to factor in run inflation? It is ridiculous to say that a bowler’s analysis, on a flat pitch, of 50 runs off 10 overs “doesn’t look like much on paper”. On paper, it looks like exactly what it is: a brilliant spell of bowling. If the other four bowlers match it, the team wins easily. The whizzy mathematical algorithm here is simply to multiply by five: 250 is a losing score in typical ­conditions.

No game contested between bat and ball can ever be “a batsman’s game”. However far the numbers inflate, some bowlers will always dominate the better end of the spectrum. It’s just that ­language lags behind reality: the way we describe good bowling needs to catch up. At the death, the ability to bowl a ball that goes for a single is precious: the single is the new dot. We need to analyse and explain how top bowlers achieve that ­single and their skill at getting the hitter off strike.

There is a case for pushing the boundaries back and finding a ball that swings a little more. But there is a simpler way to counter-balance the concept of a “batsman’s game” and that is celebrating bowlers who buck the trend.

Conversely, there should be more ­critical scrutiny of batsmen who make a big score at a “losing” scoring rate. In India’s dramatic defeat to Sri Lanka at The Oval on Thursday, the overall scoring rate in the match was 108 runs per 100 balls. India’s Shikhar Dhawan scored 125 at 97 runs per 100 balls. But how good an innings was it?  Inflation, as always, comes with new pressures.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,162

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

 

• Players want pay talks progress before tour debate [2162-10966].

• Discussions on ‘Red’ card training issues expected at CA workshop [2162-10967].

• One player fined, another reprimanded, over ODI dissent [2162-10968].

• Aussie national award for long-serving umpire [2162-10969].

• England players for county first class day-night round [2162-10970].

• IPL-CPL franchise holder looking at CSA T20 purchase [2162-10971].

• CSA to pump R350m into stadium upgrades [2162-10972].

Players want pay talks progress before tour debate.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 12 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10966.

Australia's top cricketers will only consider accepting tour-by-tour contracts if they see progress in the pay dispute this week.  Informal negotiations between the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and Cricket Australia (CA) will continue but there has been no movement to date, with CA unwilling to bend on its bid to overhaul the set-percentage pay model (PTG 2161-10962, 11 June 2017).

A major sticking point for CA is the players want their fixed percentage, of 22.5 per cent, to come from revenue before costs. CA argues that is economically unviable. If there was a breakthrough in this area, discussions could develop more quickly.

CA chief James Sutherland is in England this week for meetings with fellow International Cricket Council chiefs where a revamped playing schedule for Tests and One Day Internationals is the major discussion point.  It's understood he met with Australian players informally after they lost to England in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston on Saturday.

This leaves Kevin Roberts to continue to spearhead CA's discussions. Roberts again angered players and the ACA last week with his video sent directly to players arguing why CA's submission should be accepted – a plan players rejected six months ago (PTG 2158-10949, 9 June 2017).  Meetings on Wednesday and Thursday ofd this week could decide the immediate trajectory of discussions as the deadline looms in 18 days time.

The ACA wants players at state and international level to continue to share in the model used since 1997. CA only wants international players to do so, and only for surplus funds. Grassroots cricket, and how much should be spent on it, has also become a battleground (PTG   2159-10951, 9 June 2017), at a time when CA argues it cannot predict what its earnings will be over the next five years because of moving sponsorship and broadcast rights deals.

If even a basic understanding between the players and CA is not reached by 30 June, contingency plans for an Australia A tour of South Africa next month and the Test tour of Bangladesh in August will have to be raised (PTG 2120-10754, 2 May 2017).  As previously reported, players could be offered tour-by-tour contracts. CA would have to agree to not lock the players out come 1 July. But for this to be agreed upon, it's understood players want progress to be made this week in talks, for they argue they have been willing to be "flexible".

Australian coach Darren Lehmann, who called the pay dispute the “elephant in the room” during his team’s recent Champions Trophy stint, said he's planning to be on the plane to Dhaka for the two Test series despite the uncertainty.  "You have to [prepare] as a coach. You can't just stop”, Lehmann said.  "We're really getting ready for Bangladesh. That's all we can do. The rest of it will look after itself, I am sure”.

Lehmann confirmed there was ongoing chatter in the squad about the situation, but said it had nothing to do with the side's early exit from the Champions Trophy.  "That's going on behind the scenes obviously and probably can come to the forefront now”, he said.  "It's always there. It's always in the room, it's always going to be talked about. But, from a playing point of view, you are out there, you are surely not thinking about the Memorandum of Understanding when you are batting or bowling. So, I wouldn't think that would have affected the players' performance at all”.

Discussions on ‘Red’ card training issues expected at CA workshop.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 12 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10967.

An understanding of, and how best to teach, details of forthcoming Laws changes, particularly those that relate to ‘red’ cards, to those who will be managing matches at all levels around Australia during the 2017-18 season, are likely to be one of the key matters up for discussion at this week’s Cricket Australia (CA) post-season match officials managers meeting.  The gathering, which will run from Tuesday-Thursday in Hobart, is expected to be attended by CA Match Officials’ Unit (MOU) members, State Umpire Managers (SUM), and umpire coaches from around the nation.

SUMs in the six states and the Australian Capital Territory are currently gearing up to start their traditional ‘winter’ Laws Schools in the next month or so.  They will therefore be looking to work through a range of Laws issues and seek guidance and share ideas on the more complex concepts involved and how best to present them to their umpires and scorers. Reports from other countries whose next playing season, like Australia, starts around the time of the Laws changes come into effect on 1 October, suggest there is uncertainty on just how best to proceed, particularly in regard to the new Law 42 - ‘Players’ Conduct’ (PTG 2068-10464, 8 March 2017).

The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee agreed last month to recommend to the world body’s Chief Executives Committee (CEC) that the full tenants of that Law be incorporated into ICC playing conditions (PTG 2146-10888, 26 May 2017).  Approval from the CEC is still awaited but could come as early as this week, after which the boards of ICC Full Members are very likely to follow suite, but just to what degree and in what format remains to be seen.

Earlier this month news surfaced of the CA MOU’s strategic plan for match officials for the next 4-5 years and it is therefore expected to be a meeting issue.  However, as the MOU strategic plan is not a public document it is impossible to gauge just how well the MOU has performed in relation to goals set some years ago.  Just why such a document should be so protected is yet to be explained.

There is some insight though for it is obvious one target for the period to 2021 is to raise the number of female umpires standing at Premier League level around the country, so Hobart is likely to see discussions on that issue. A question asked in regards to females in umpiring at last year’s post-season workshop was: "Why are only two per cent of [CA’s 5,000 plus] accredited umpires female?” (PTG 1830-9155, 18 May 2016).  

Umpire accreditation issues are also surmised to be part of the strategic plan, with an up-graded 'Level 2' program, and a new ‘Level 3’ "invitation only” course, apparently in the wind.  Management of accreditation issues is expected via an improved system for umpires in what’s called ’The Crowd’ (PTG 2154-10925, 1 June 2017).  

Other matters that will be on the Hobart table are the perennial chestnuts of match officials recruitment and retention, umpire pathways, and umpire assessment systems, particularly those that relate to the improved grading of candidates for CA high-level panels.  Last year, CA indicated it aimed to tighten its umpire assessment criteria to ensure its processes are "robust, consistent and fair”, and that the selection of umpires to its panels is "meritorious” and “lawful” at all times (PTG 1888-9458, 30 July 2016).  

It is not known whether there will be any discussions on scorer issues, including training matters, although progress in that area at the national over the last decade appears very limited at best.  

One player fined, another reprimanded, over ODI dissent.

Peter Lalor.

ICC media release.

Sunday, 11 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10968.

Afghanistan’s Afsar Zazai has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee and West Indian Ashley Nurse reprimanded for their involvement  in separate incidents during the first of their three One Day International (ODI ) in St. Lucia on Friday.  Both players were found to have “showed dissent at an umpire’s decision during an international match”.

Zazai showed dissent during the 29th over of the Afghanistan innings, when following an appeal for LBW, he displayed the TV review signal. Nurse showed "excessive displeasure" on being given out LBW during the 29th over of the West Indies innings.  The Level One offences mean each player has had one demerit point added to their disciplinary records.  

Should either of them reach four or more demerit points within a 24-month period, they will be converted into suspension points and they will be banned.  Two suspension points equate to a ban from one Test or two ODIs or two Twenty20 Internationals, whatever comes first for the player or player support personnel.

After the match, both players admitted to their offences and accepted the sanctions proposed by match referee Jeff Crowe, and as such, there was no need for formal hearings.  The charges against the players were laid by on-field umpires Chettithody Shamshuddin and Joel Wilson, third umpire Leslie Reifer, and fourth umpire Nigel Diguid.

Aussie national award for long-serving umpire.

Peter Lalor.

ICC media release.

Sunday, 11 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10969.

Joe Wooding, who umpired in the Albury and Border Cricket Association for 26 years, and served the game in many other capacities, was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in this week’s Queens’ Birthday Honours.  In addition to umpiring Wooding, 79, played in the league, managed its representative teams, and is the author of a history of cricket in the Albury-Wodonga region.

Wooding said: “How anyone could be interested in what I’ve done or been I don’t know.  There’s a lot of people that have written a book and don’t get a thank you.  It might be alright for people that have done community things, but for me doing things that you enjoy doing is not any reason for great celebration.  I’ve just enjoyed it.  You do things because you like doing them, not because some people say ‘he’s spent this long doing this’.  You do it because somebody has to be the manager, somebody has to be the selector, somebody has to the umpire”.

His greatest playing highlight was captaining East Albury to a first grade win in 1974-75 with a team that included six under-17s.  “It was a junior side; you couldn’t imagine kids good enough to win a first grade grand final now”, said Wooding.  His other peak was managing the association representative team which won the top level of Victorian Country Week cricket in 1990, the final of which was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  “All I had to do was try and keep them off the grog”, Wooding joked when asked what his role involved.

England players for county first class day-night round.

PTG Editor.

ECB media release.

Monday, 12 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10970.

A number of England’s “all-format” players are being “rested" for the Twenty20 International (T20I) series against South Africa next week in order to allow them to gain experience playing with pink ‘Dukes' balls ahead of their day-night Test against West Indies at Edgbaston next month (PTG 1941-9760, 8 October 2016).  Those involved will turn out for their counties in the round of day-night first class fixtures that are to be played immediately after the three T20Is (PTG 1987-10017, 26 November 2016).  

All nine of the county day-night matches, four in Division 2 and five in Division 2, will begin at 2 p.m. on Monday week, with a late lunch interval at 4 p.m., tea scheduled at 6.40 p.m. and a finish at 9 p.m., although it could be later depending on the over rate.  Its will not be the first time the England and Wales Cricket Board has arranged a day-night first class game for Glamorgan played Kent in a hastily arranged afternoon-evening match late in the 2011 County Championship season (PTG 834-4075, 16 September 2011).

IPL-CPL franchise holder looking at CSA T20 purchase.

PTG Editor.

Indian media reports.

Monday, 12 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10971.

After owning teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) could well buy one of the teams in the newly formed South African T20 League (PTG 2130-10796, 11 May 2017).   Named as 'T20 Global League South Africa', the franchise tournament is expected to announce owners for it's eight teams next week.  SRK currently owns the IPL’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the CPL’s Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel (PTG 1571-7553, 19 June 2015).  

Indian media reports claim SRK’s sports management group has been in talks with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and has shown interest in buying a team in two of the top cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg. In total, the board has put two teams from Johannesburg, two from Cape Town and single teams from Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Durban, up for sale.

CSA has price tags for the 'Tier 1’ city entities in Johannesburg and Cape Town of $US50 million ($A66.4 m, £UK39.5 m), to be paid over a period of 10 years at $US5 million a year ($A6.6 m, £3.9 m).  The other cities, which are classed as 'Tier 2’, are being offered for $US30 million ($A39.8 m, £23.5 m) at $US3 million a year ($A4 m, £2.4 m).  The salary cap for each team has been pegged at $US1.5 million ($A2 m, £1.2 m), which when compared with that of the IPL of  around $US9.9 m ($A13.1 m, £7.8 m ), is very low.

With the potential of Indian market known, the initiative was believed to be taken from CSA's end, which has been eying the market on the sub-continent ever since it announced the venture two months ago.  While SRK's brandpower is considered as the prime reason behind the KKR's status as the most popular franchise, CSA zeroed in on SRK hoping his presence will boost the potential and reach of the new tournament.  It is also understood that SRK sent an emissary to South Africa recently for discussion with CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

CSA to pump R350m into stadium upgrades.

PTG Editor.

South African media reports.

Monday, 12 June 2017.

PTG 2162-10971.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has earmarked more than 350 million Rand ($A36.2 m, £UK21.5 m) for stadium refurbishment and upgrades over the next three years.  CSA said that 200 million Rand ($A207 m, £12.3 m) will be invested during the next few months on improvements such as "artificial lighting systems, advanced sports field technology and LED scoreboards", as well as "revamping change-rooms and media centres”.  

CSA chief executive, Haroon Lorgat said: “We want our cricket stadiums to be world class and having recognised the need to improve our facilities, we are in a very fortunate position to be able to do so”.  “Looking ahead over the next two years, CSA are planning to implement new designs and features like improved Wi-Fi signal and reach, crowd flows and ticketing systems to enhance fan experience”. 

Work has already begun across the country to ensure the stadium works are complete before the start of the new season and before the T20 Global League tournament kicks off in November.  CSA said it has identified the actual work and the investment needed for each venue.  They also said that three local municipalities, in Port Elizabeth, Paarl and East London, have contributed towards the stadium refurbishment and upgrade works currently underway.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,163

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

 

• CT semi final match official appointments announced [2163-10973].

National award for long-serving South Australian scorer [2163-10974].

• Former Indian Test umpire dies [2163-10975].

Slow over-rate fine for Pakistan [2163-10976].

• Aussie broadcaster's woes could impact on CA revenue forecasts [2163-10977].

CT semi final match official appointments announced.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

PTG 2163-10973.

Three of the four umpires who will be on-field in the semi finals of the Champions Trophy (CT) on Wednesday-Thursday are have been awarded the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) ‘Umpire of the Year’ trophy over the last five years.  Marais Erasmus of South Africa and the only non-winner, Rod Tucker of Australia, are to stand in the England-Pakistan semi final in Cardiff on Wednesday, while Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka and Richard Kettleborough from England will be on-field when Bangladesh plays India at Edgbaston the day after.

Andy Pycroft of Zimbabwe will oversee proceedings in Cardiff as the match referee, Chris Gaffaney of New Zealand and Bruce Oxenford from Australia being the television and fourth umpires respectively.  Chris Broad of England will be the match referee at Edgbaston, his countrymen Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth looking after the television and fourth umpire duties.

Given the 12-man umpiring and 3-man referee panel in use for the CT (PTG 2139-10841, 19 May 2017), their nationalities and the ICC’s neutral officials policy, the mix of teams who make up the semi finals roster meant that 7 of the umpires and 2 of the referees were eligible for the England-Pakistan match, and 11 umpires and all 3 referees for the India-Bangladesh fixture.  With four potential team combinations possible for Sunday’s final, the ICC will have either 2 or 3 neutral referees, and between 7 and 11 neutral umpires, to choose the referee and four umpires from for that game.

The semi finals will take Broad’s tally as a referee in One Day Internationals (ODI) to 285 and Pycroft’s to 137, while for Dharmasena it will be his 78th ODI as an umpire, and Kettleborough, Erasmus and Tucker their 71st, 70th and 69th respectively.

National award for long-serving South Australian scorer.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

PTG 2163-10974.

Tom Lowrey, the former long-serving scorer with South Australia and Adelaide’s Prospect District Cricket Club (PDCC), was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) “for services to cricket” in this week’s Australian Queens’ Birthday Honours List, cricket's second such OAM in this round of Aussie awards (PTG 2162-10969, 13 June 2017).  For over 40 years from 1972-2012, Lowrey scored in 32 Tests played at the Adelaide Oval plus another two in Darwin, and he is number 57 in Australia’s all-time Test scorers’ list (PTG 1985-9499, 9 August 2016).  

A scorer member of the PDCC since 1963, Lowrey has been its historian since 1978, a Life and committee member since 1985, and Assistant Secretary from 1985-1994, 2000-06 and 2008-15, 2000-2006.  He scored for South Australia for 44 years from 1968-2012 and has been an South Australian Cricket Association Honorary Member since 2012.  In 2001 his work was acknowledged with an Australian Sports Medal, and with a SACA 'Services Rendered Award’ in 2012.  He has also been involved in scorer education.

In addition to his Tests, Lowrey also recorded the details of 168 Sheffield Shield matches, 71 One Day Internationals, 98 domestic List A fixtures, and 22 international tour matches.  All-up he scored in well over 1,100 games during 50 years plus in the game. Part of the citation that accompanies the OAM honour says it is awarded to recognise Australians for either their “achievements or meritorious service”.  Given his record, in this case it is most likely both.

Former Indian Test umpire dies.

PTG Editor.

Indian media reports.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

PTG 2163-10975.

Former Indian umpire Ramachandra Rao, who stood a single Test in Ahmedabad in March 1987, a game between India and Pakistan, died in Bengaluru on Sunday at the age of 85.  Rao made his first-class umpiring debut in a Ranji Trophy match between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in Aligarh in November 1975, going on to officiate in 20 such games, including four involving touring international teams. He also stood in three One Day Internationals and two other List A games.

Slow over-rate fine for Pakistan.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

PTG 2163-10976.

Pakistan has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against Sri Lanka during its last Champions Trophy Group fixture against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday.  Match referee Chris Broad imposed fines after Sarfraz Ahmed’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.  Sarfraz pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing.

In accordance with International Cricket Council regulations that pertain to minor over-rate offences, players are fined 10 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount.  As such, Sarfraz has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee, while his players have received 10 per cent fines.  Should Pakistan commit another over-rate offence during its semi final against England on Wednesday, Sarfraz would, if his team qualifies for Sunday’s final, be suspended for that game.

Monday's charge against Pakistan was laid by on-field umpires Bruce Oxenford and Marais Erasmus, third umpire Chris Gaffaney and fourth umpire Ian Gould.

Broadcaster's woes could impact on CA revenue forecasts.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

PTG 2163-10977.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) next Big Bash League's (BBL) broadcast rights deal and perhaps even its coverage later this year have, suggest media reports, been pushed into uncertain waters by a grim financial outlook for its BBL current broadcasting rights holder, the Ten Network.  Ten announced on Tuesday that it had requested a two-day trading halt on the Australian share market (ASX) because two of its major financial backers don't intend to renew their financing of the company after Ten's current $A200 million (£UK118 m) loan expires in late December.  In April, Ten posted a $A232 million (£137 m) loss for the first half of the 2016-17 financial year.  

Ten’s current five-year BBL deal with CA, which the company paid $A100 million (£59.1 m) for in 2013 (PTG 1117-5431, 5 June 2013), expires at the end of the next austral summer, after which CA will be asking for bids for the new deal for the period from 2018-23.  The BBL has been one of Ten's greatest success stories in recent years, attracting bumper ratings, a result that has attracted the attention of rival broadcasters. As a result media experts have suggested the current $A20 million (£11.8 m) a year Ten pays for BBL could grow to $A50-60 million (£30-35 m) year for the new five-year contract.  

Ten's rival the Nine Network, which has for over three decades held the rights to international matches played in Australia, has made it clear they want to acquire BBL rights (PTG 2106-10683, 18 April 2017).

Colin Smith, who is described as one of Australia's "eminent sports media-rights strategists”, was quoted by the Australian Associated Press as saying:  "I can't see how [CA] could do a deal with Network Ten under the current circumstances.  You won't want to sell your rights to an organisation without some sort of bank guarantee if there's on-going concerns. That's a serious issue for [CA]. It wouldn't surprise me if they either delay the rights or have some other party underwrite it”.

CA is currently involved in protracted pay talks with players and won't turn its attention to the TV rights deal until later this year, but Ten’s status could in the long run impact on CA revenue.  Should Nine not have serious competition in the bidding the suggested $A50-60 million a year CA could earn from the BBL may not be reached.   There was also a report late last month that the BBL is currently running at a serious financial loss to CA (PTG 2153-10924, 31 May 2017). 

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) has based its pay negotiations with CA on its assessment that $A2 billion (£1.18 bn) could flow to the national body over the next five years, a figure that is based largely on what the ACA's experts believe will be a significant television rights deal (PTG 2084-10559, 25 March 2017).  For its part though CA has consistently warned there is considerable uncertainty about just what its earnings from 2018-23 will actually be, something Ten’s current plight appears to illustrate.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,164

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

(Second edition)

 

• BCCI's four-person CoA set to lose second member [2164-10978].

• Business as usual for BBL coverage despite financial turmoil, says Ten [2164-10979].

• New Forest vandals fail to stop play [2164-10980].

• 'Travellers’ stop play then ruin pitch [2164-10981].

BCCI's four-person CoA set to lose second member.

Press Trust of India.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017.

PTG 2164-10978.

Veteran Indian banker Vikram Limaye, who just six months ago was appointed by the Indian Supreme Court to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) overseeing the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) implementation of the Lodha report (PTG 2035-10307, 31 January 2017), is to leave the CoA to head the country’s National Stock Exchange.  News of Limaye’s departure comes two weeks after another CoA member, Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, resigned saying that the BCCI's ‘conflict of interest’ issues remain “unaddressed”, and that the "superstar culture” in the organisation had "gone berserk” (PTG 2155-10932, 3 June 2017).

Limaye's departure from what had been a four-person CoA was, said Diana Edulji a former Indian womens’ captain and one of the CoA’s two remaining members, "a big loss”.  She said “his inputs have been excellent in all the meetings and has been a particularly big help in financial [issues].  When he represented the BCCI at the [International Cricket Council] meeting in February, he grasped the issues being discussed in really quick time”.

A former Infrastructure and Development Finance Company chief executive, Limaye will leave the CoA at the end of the second week of July leaving just Edulji and the group’s chairman Vinod Rai, a former Indian national Comptroller and Auditor General.  What the Supreme Court now plans to do regarding CoA membership is not known.  On his departure Guha expressed his dismay about the manner in which former BCCI office-bearers, disqualified by the Court, repeatedly defy the bans and attend Board meetings (PTG 2127-10780, 8 May 2017).

Business as usual for BBL coverage despite financial turmoil, says Ten.

Andrew Wu and Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017.

PTG 2164-10979.

 

Australian broadcaster Channel Ten is confident it will be able to fulfil the final year of its deal with Cricket Australia (CA) to broadcast the Big Bash League (BBL) and could yet remain in the frame to retain rights to the popular tournament for the period from 2018-23.  The network went into voluntary administration on Wednesday after its billionaire shareholders said they would no longer guarantee a key loan, putting the company at risk of insolvency (PTG 2163-10977, 14 June 2017). 

Ten has appointed KordaMentha as its voluntary administrator.  It said in a statement: "Customers, employees and other stakeholders are assured that the administrators intend to keep the business running. Viewers can expect the same content they currently enjoy on Network Ten”.  If Ten were to close its doors, it's understood CA has a provision to award the 2017-18 rights to another network.

But Ten's dire financial position has raised questions as to whether it would complete the final season of its $A100 million (£UK59.5 m) five-year deal to cover CA's domestic Twenty20 tournament, which has been a ratings success despite losing money, one estimate being $A33 million (£19.6 m), for the game's governing body (PTG 2154-10927, 1 June 2017).  The turmoil at Ten has potentially serious implications for CA, which is set to go to market for international and domestic rights for the 2018-23 period within a couple of months.

An administrator such as KordaMentha may not believe it to be prudent for Ten to bid a large sum, possibly as much as $A60 million a year (£35.7 m), to retain the rights though it would also not want to diminish Ten's value for a future owner. Should Ten not enter the process, that could leave Nine as a sole bidder for the next five-year deal.  The BBL has increased its number of games next austral summer from 32 to 40, and there has been talk of 60 by 2019 (PTG 2033-10294, 28 January 2017), but there are no plans to expand beyond its current eight teams.  

CA want the majority of BBL matches to remain on free-to-air television, wary of the troubles the sport has encountered in England since it moved to pay TV over 10 years ago, something the England and Wales Cricket Board is very keen to claw back (PTG 2137-10831, 17 May 2017).

New Forest vandals fail to stop play.

Neil Perrett.

Bournemouth Daily Echo.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017.

PTG 2164-10980.

A Hampshire League Division Three match between the Lymington and Bashley clubs was played from one end last Saturday because vandals had damaged the prepared pitch at Lymington’s home ground. Although the circumstances are believed to be rare, a spokesperson for ‘Wisden' said they were “fairly certain” it had happened before, meaning they would be unable to guarantee an appearance in the next edition of 'the bible of cricket'.

Lymington skipper Chris Tollerfield said he "had a call on Saturday morning to say someone had done something to the pitch”.  "They had got hold of the posts which surround the wicket and had dug holes in one end. We tried to fill them in but deemed it too dangerous to play on.  Both teams had a lot of kids playing and we wanted them to feel comfortable. Thankfully, Bashley captain [Chris Lewis] said they wanted to play and we weren’t going to let these hooligans stand in our way”.

Neither team batted their full allocation of 40 overs as both were bowled out fairly cheaply, Bashley’s total of 109 surpassing Lymington’s 102 by seven runs.  Despite losing Tollerfield said: “We had a cracking game and, bizarrely, it took half the time.  People didn’t have to keep moving positions and, if you had similar type of bowlers, it was just a case of handing over the ball to someone else and getting on with it.  Batsmen just had to change ends after every over and that wasn’t a problem at all. The whole thing was really quick”.

The Lymington captain said it was "a pragmatic answer to what was a really difficult position for us. In the league we are in, we have so little cricket at times and it takes such a long time trying to get 11 people on the pitch. We just wanted to play.  It was brilliant of Bashley to agree and we had a great afternoon. If it hadn’t been for [Bashley skipper Lewis], it wouldn’t have been possible.  Other teams may not have been prepared to do it. But we had both worked so hard to get teams out and we just wanted to play the game”.

Bashley chairman John Neal said he had initially been “concerned” when he heard about the damage, particularly in light of both teams fielding so many young players. But he commended both captains for reaching what he described as “a resourceful solution”.

'Travellers’ stop play then ruin pitch.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017.

PTG 2164-10981.

‘Travellers' who descended on to a village cricket club in Essex and used its water supply to wash their trade vehicles on the pitch have been evicted after four days on site.  About a dozen caravans set up on the Eight Ash Green Cricket Club’s ground last Thursday and reports claim that when they departed on Tuesday evening they drove 'donuts’ all over the square.  ‘Travellers' is the name given in the UK to a group of "Gypsies of Romani origin".  

During their occupation, local residents reported loud music, late-night fighting, and threats of violence, a situation that led the cricket club to cancel a fixture that had been scheduled to be played there on Sunday.  On Tuesday, Essex Police served the group with a Section 61 notice, which means they are prohibited from returning within three months.   Travellers have caused problems for other cricket clubs around the UK on a number box occasions in the past (PTG 1606-7804, 30 July 2015).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,165

Friday, 16 June 2017

 

• White ‘Dukes' to address one-day bat-ball imbalance? [2165-10982].

• Claims of discrimitation in BCCI umpire exams [2165-10983].

• No mixed gender rule sees cricketer excluded from ‘Jewish Olympics' [2165-10984].

• Sports get together to try and solve officials shortage [2165-10985].

White ‘Dukes' to address one-day bat-ball imbalance?

Richard Edwards 

The Independent.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2165-10982.

When a Marylebone Cricket Club XI meet Afghanistan in a one-day game at Lords next month (PTG 2099-10637, 8 April 2017), they will play with a white ‘Dukes' ball, rather than the ‘Kookaburra’ which has been the ball of choice in the one-day game for a generation.  The experiment will, according to ‘Dukes' owner, Dilip Jajodia, offer a window into a more equitable future in the battle between bat and ball.

At Taunton on Tuesday, supporters of Somerset and Nottinghamshire bore witness to a run-fest, the likes of which would have once been unthinkable.  In 100 overs of cricket, the two sides racked up 834 runs between them (82 fours and 28 sixes making up 496 of the runs). The poor bowlers were left wondering where it had all gone wrong. 

“You look at that game at Taunton, it’s just crazy – the ball doesn’t do anything”, said Jajodia (PTG 2112-10712, 25 April 2017). “It has been the case in the Champions Trophy too, everybody has said that there’s absolutely no movement and the reason for that is that it’s a machine-stitched ball (PTG 1265-6101, 7 January 2014).  The shape is different and the seam is different and therefore it won’t swing, or if it does, it swings  only briefly".

Jajodia says there is now a worldwide interest in his white ball because it will last 50 overs, therefore you don’t need to have one from each end.  “People don’t understand that the supporters will get bored if there’s no contest between bat and ball and cricket is in danger of becoming a game where the bat completely dominates.  How are you going to persuade a young cricketer to take up bowling when all they see is balls disappearing out of the ground? The bowler has nothing going for them”.

Since the ‘Dukes' ball was used at the 1999 World Cup in England, the ‘Kookaburra' has been routinely thrashed around grounds across the globe.  Of the 30 highest one-day scores in history, only one was scored before 2005 – Sri Lanka’s 5/398 against Kenya at Kandy at the 1996 World Cup – and three of the top five have come since 2015.  Bowlers now see going being hit for 60 off their ten overs as being a heroic effort.

“We need to bring bowlers back to where they should be”, says Jajodia. “If you introduce the white ‘Dukes', we’re not suddenly going to see sides being taken down for 80 all out but you won’t keep getting scores of 380 or 400 because from 50 overs that’s over the top. Everything is in favour of the batsmen at the moment and when the ball does move, you see that a fair few of them haven’t got the first idea of what to do. I can’t see how that’s helping cricketers or cricket itself develop".

“You have to make batsmen think again and having the one ball throughout the innings does all sorts of good for the sport. The ball will move around and then it will settle down and then the spinners will still have a ball that’s round and reasonably firm and has a seam on it. Everybody can get into the game”.

Having made inroads into Australian cricket, ‘Kookaburra' – which has had exclusively ball supplying rights to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa since 1946 – will not cede ground in one-day cricket easily. But Dukes, which made its first ball as far back as 1760, is hoping its quest can strike another blow for tradition.  They can count on the backing of bowlers the world over.

Earlier this month the International Cricket Council was reported to be looking into the possibility of allowing a captain to select one of the two balls used in a One Day international (ODI) innings and stick with it for the final 20 overs of an innings in the hope that it produces reverse swing (PTG 2155-10929, 3 June 2017).  That report said there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of reverse swing in the 50-over game and the ICC was concerned about the balance between bat and ball in ODIs.

A year ago New Zealand Cricket (NZC) indicated it was open to the prospect of adopting ‘Dukes’ balls for home Tests in 2017-18 (PTG 1842-9225, 2 June 2016).  Cricket Australia used ‘Dukes’ in the second half of its 2016-17 Sheffield Shield season (PTG 2141-10858, 21 May 2017).

Claims of discrimination in BCCI umpire exams.

Vijay Lokapally.

The Hindu.

Thursday, 15 June 2017.

PTG 2165-10983.

Umpires who sat a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) exam in a number of states across India last week, say the paper they were required to provide answers to had a significantly higher level of difficulty than the same level exam given to candidates in other states just three days before.  The first set of exams were held in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Kolkata Wednesday week ago, and the second in Indore, Pune, Chennai and Visakhapatnam on Saturday. 

A candidate who sat the paper in Mumbai said “except for a couple of questions it was straight out of the law book, [but] the other paper was full of tricky and hypothetical situations where a lot of thinking was needed”.  Many claim that the earlier paper was set to help a certain set of candidates. "I feel the whole process was to deny candidates from some associations”, said one umpire.  "Even [umpire educators] who saw the [second] paper on the day of the exams were clueless about some of the answers”, said another.   

An umpiring administrator said: “It takes close to five years to become a BCCI panel umpire.  And then for such exams to discriminate in such a fashion can be very disheartening”.  The BCCI is yet to comment on the matter.

No mixed gender rule sees cricketer excluded from ‘Jewish Olympics'.

Simon Griver.

The Jewish Chronicle.

Wednesday 14 June 2017.

PTG 2165-10984.

Naomi Eytan has been banned from playing in the Israel Under-19 team in next month’s 20th Maccabiah Games because mixed gender teams are not allowed.  The 14-year-old Tel Aviv resident has been a permanent feature in the Israel youth team over the past year but has been told by Maccabiah officials that teams that include both males and females contravene the regulations of the Jewish Olympics. Naomi's mother Carmel Eytan, who is spokesperson of a women's labour movement which fights for gender equality, says she plans taking the matter to court if Maccabiah organisers do not relent. 

  

Eytan junior said: "I've been playing cricket since third grade and over the past year I’ve broken into the national junior team and I was really looking forward to the Maccabiah and representing my country.  When they told me I cannot play because I’m a girl I was surprised, then disappointed, then very angry.  There isn’t even a girl’s team I can play for. My mother has always taught me that as a girl I can do everything that boys can. But it seems my mother lied. The sky is not the limit for girls”. 

  

The Israel Cricket Association is backing Eytan and has asked the Maccabiah organisers to show flexibility.   Israeli International Olympic Committee member Alex Gilady and the European Cricket Council have also reportedly expressed support for her cause. 

  

Eytan’s coach Yonni Sidelsky says he is stunned by her exclusion. “I have been working with her for seven years. She is a good bowler who has taken wickets in the national league against men. She is an aggressive batswoman, left-handed and a good fielder and is not scared of the ball. She is very determined in everything she does.  I travelled with her and the Tel Aviv team to London recently where we played some games and she blew me away with her maturity, bravery and leadership qualities”. 

  

Maccabiah chairman Amir Peled is adamant that Naomi Eytan cannot play.  He said: “Just a couple of years ago an Israeli umpire was killed when he was hit by a ball” (PTG 1472-7119, 1 December 2014).  When asked if he was suggesting that cricket is too dangerous for girls but not boys he added: “I didn’t say that. We have our regulations and we cannot allow mixed teams”. Olympic Committee of Israel Secretary General Gili Lustig said: “We cannot change regulations at the last minute. We can discuss whether mixed gender cricket teams should be allowed, but it is too late for this Maccabiah. Maybe for the next Maccabiah”, which will be in 2021.

  

This year's Maccabiah Games are due to start in two weeks when, with or without Naomi Eytan, there will be a record 10,000 participants from 85 countries competing in 41 sports. Competitions at the Maccabiah are organised into four distinct divisions – Juniors, Open, Masters, and Disabled.  Cricket matches are played in either 40 and 50 over formats depending on which level is involved.

Sports get together to try and solve officials shortage.

The Northern Echo.

Thursday, 15 June 2017.

PTG 2165-10985.

Cricket and football managers in northern New South Wales have got together to try and solve the perennial problem of the lack of officials to manage their respective competitions.  Cricket NSW regional development manager and soccer referee Jared Seiffert had an informal chat with former refereeing colleague Luke Mackney who is now the general manager of Football Far North Coast, at which the suggestion was made that FFNC write to all of its referees to suggest they consider becoming a cricket umpire in summer with cricket reciprocating.

An email has now been sent to some 130 soccer referees, to the delight of top local cricket umpire David Went, who is well aware of how challenging it is to attract new umpires. Mackney said: "While each sport has its own demands, by using local contacts these simple gestures demonstrate commendable values of open communication and a desire to promote sporting activity”.  Such cooperation recently led to FFNC and local netball administrators sharing office accomodation, Mackney saying he was happy to support other sports where possible.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,166

Friday, 16 June 2017

(Second edition)

 

• Discarded glove results in five run penalty [2166-10986].

• Palliyaguruge, Sharfuddoula for WWC? [2166-10987].

• Tasmanian Match Officials Manager resigns [2166-10988].

• Concerns ‘pitchsiding’ may move into amateur sport [2166-10989].

• Australian pay talks crawling two weeks from deadline [2166-10990].

• Will the BCCI change its conflict of interest rules? [2166-10991].

Discarded glove results in five run penalty.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10986.

Five penalty runs were awarded to Bangladesh when they were batting in their Champions Trophy semi-final against India at Edgbaston on Thursday.  After a ball was hit into the outfield, India wicketkeeper MS Dhoni discarded one of his gloves as he prepared to catch the return from the field in order to be ready to throw it either at his stumps or to the bowler’s end.  

Dhoni’s subsequently attempted to hit the stumps at his end with a flick of the hand resulted in the ball making contact with the discarded glove as it lay on the ground, after which umpire Richard Kettleborough signalled five runs to the batting side.  Indian captain Virat Kholi is seen in the video asking “what was that for?” 

Palliyaguruge, Sharfuddoula for WWC?

PTG Editor.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10987.

Sri Lankan umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Sharfuddoula, his Bangladesh colleague on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier International Umpires Panel, have been in Scotland over the last week standing in fixtures there, games that may well be precursors to their participation in the forthingcoming Womens’ World Cup (WWC).  The ICC is yet to announce who the WWC match officials will be, as yet the names of only four of the anticipated 16 umpires being required seeing the light of day (PTG 2126-10776, 7 May 2017).

Sharfuddoula stood in a four-day, first class Intercontinental Cup match between Scotland and Namibia and then two List A, World Cricket League games between the same sides in Edinburgh, the last of which was played on Tuesday.  On Thursday, Palliyaguruge stood in a One Day International (ODI) between Scotland and Zimbabwe at the same ground and is scheduled to do so again there on Saturday weather permitting.

The match referee for the Scotland-Namibia matches was David Jukes from the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel, and for the ODIs Javagal Srinath.  Saturday’s ODI will bring to 199 his match record as a referee in ODIs and he will thus become the fifth person to pass the 200 ODI mark sometime later this year.

Tasmanian Match Officials Manager resigns.

PTG Editor. 

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10988.

Roy Loh, who took up the then new position of Match Officials Manger with Cricket Tasmania (CT) two years ago, has resigned from the position, a move that comes formally into effect at the end of this month.  His departure was not unexpected and comes the day after he completed his support for Cricket Australia’s three-day post-season managers’ meeting which was held in Hobart (PTG 2162-10967, 13 June 2017).

Loh, who started with CT as its Umpire Development and Administration Officer in 2014, was elevated to the position he is now vacating in August 2015 after long-serving State Director of Umpires Richard Widows moved into the state's High Performance Umpire Coach spot (PTG 1630-7964, 29 August 2015).  

During his time in the job Loh worked as a match referee in Cricket Australia’s Futures State Second XI competition, Womens’ Big Bash League matches and Womens’ Under-18 Championship series.  Just when CT will be seeking a replacement is not known at this stage.

Concerns ‘pitchsiding’ may move into amateur sport.

Jack Kerr

ABC Radio.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10989.

International gambling sites are collecting play-by-play data on suburban basketball and football games around Australia, raising the spectre of match-fixing.  ‘Sportradar', a company that monitors match-fixing a number of sporting bodies including Cricket Australia (PTG 1238-5979, 21 November 2013), is using a low-profile subsidiary to collect data from amateur sporting competitions on behalf of offshore live-betting sites.  So-called ‘pitchsiders’ have been a problem fhigher-level cricket has had to deal with in recent years (PTG 2020-10219, 5 January 2017).

The subsidiary, whose name is Real Time Sportscasts, targets students through university job boards, then sends them to amateur, semi-professional and low-level sports to collect the live data.  The scouts feed data into a call centre, where it is distributed to international gambling websites.  There is concern that the use of the data by those international gambling organisations may lead others to encourage match fixing on local Australian games.

Scott Boucher, administrator for Tasmania's Southern Basketball League, one amateur competition targeted by scouts, says players were shocked when they realised odds on their games were available around the world.  "They don't believe that someone would come along just to set up gambling on their games”, he says.  The implications are obvious though, said Boucher:  "I could see people backing themselves to lose when the odds were right, or not turning up to play, other people outside getting involved and coercing people to throw matches.  Wherever money's involved, there's always someone with an extra interest”.

Australian federal Senator Nick Xenophon, a strident opponent of gambling, said: "The potential for corrupting those sporting codes, the potential for compromising players and officials is just too great.  We can't let our amateur sporting codes, our amateur games, be infected with gambling in this way.  It seems that these people have no shame. It wouldn't surprise me if they decide to target an Under-10 football team somewhere in the country sooner rather than later, because right now, there are no checks, no controls, on the way these jokers operate”.

Chris Eaton, a former Interpol officer and former head of security at football’s world governing body FIFA, has flagged serious concerns about at least one international gambling website facilitating live betting on these matches. Eaton says this site may be owned by criminals that have used other sites to facilitate match-fixing in international football.  "If you want to control not just the match fix but the betting fraud, [you] manage a piece of the market so that you can not only manipulate odds to the favour of a fix, but be in a better ... informational position to determine the flow of the fraudulent wagering”.

There is no evidence of such activity happening in Australia as a result of this site, and Sportradar's managing director of strategy and integrity, Andreas Krannich, defended Real Time Sportscasts' use of scouts at local games. "Sending scouts [to] matches, to different sports, to smaller events, to big events, is not something which is putting the respective sport into trouble or into risk”, he says.  "If we do not send our controlled scouts to these events, you will see the scouts coming from bookmakers, and they will not be controlled". 

Senator Xenophon has concerns over a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Sportradar and the Australian Federal Police in 2015.  "We need to see that [MoU]. If the AFP won't provide that willingly, then there is a mechanism through the Senate to have an order for production of documents, and that's something I'll be putting up”, he says.

Will the BCCI change its conflict of interest rules?

Indranil Basu.

The Times of India.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10990.

If the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) formally adopts, at the behest of the Indian Supreme Court’s Committee of Administrators (CoA), the new conflict of interest rules at its special general meeting (SGM) on Monday week, the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly will have to forgo their dual roles.  Gavaskar would have to choose between live match commentary and his management company, Ganguly will not be able to head a state association and also comment on the game on TV, and Dravid will have to choose between his BCCI and Indian Premier League coaching contracts.

CoA chairman Vinod Rai said on Thursday: "The Lodha Committee's reforms are not targeting anyone individually. This new conflict of interest rule is laid out in principle and the BCCI SGM will have to adopt it.  Whosoever has a conflict can't be seen doing two jobs”.  The CoA has already directed BCCI management to ensure that all contracts henceforth entered into by the organisation are compliant with the new conflict of interest rules. 

Cricket historian and author Ramachandra Guha, while tendering his resignation from the CoA earlier this month, expressed strong reservation over individuals like Gavaskar, Dravid and Ganguly continuing to serve the game in dual capacities (PTG 2155-10932, 3 June 2017).

Despite the CoA setting out the Lodha requirements of one-state one-vote and increasing the number of selectors from existing three to five, the state associations of Tamil Nadu, Saurashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana continue to oppose such moves or reforms such as the 70 years age cap for administrators and maximum total term limits across the BCCI and its state units (PTG 2019-10215, 3 January 2017).

The forthcoming SGM will need a three-fourths majority to pass the reforms but there are BCCI members in the board who want to wait until the next Supreme Court hearing in four weeks to make any moves.  That hearing is expected to determine who should fill the two CoA positions that have opened up following the resignations of Guha and Vikram Limaye (PTG 2164-10978, 14 June 2017). 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,167

Saturday, 17 June 2017

 

• Erasmus-Kettleborough to stand in CT final [2167-10992].

CA looking to expand top match referees’ panel [2167-10993].

Betting, ratings bonanza tipped for CT decider [2167-10994].

CA ‘furious’ at football booking days before Ashes day-night Test [2167-10995].

Australian pay talks crawling two weeks from deadline [2167-10996].

Erasmus-Kettleborough to stand in CT final.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2167-10992.

Marais Erasmus, 52, of South Africa and Richard Kettleborough, 44, from England, the current and former holder respectively of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) ‘Umpire of the Year’ award (PTG 2011-10172, 23 December 2016), have been named to stand in Sunday’s Champions Trophy (CT) one-day series final at The Oval.  The Playing Control Team for the match will be overseen by match referee David Boon of Australia, while his countryman Rod Tucker will be the television umpire and Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka the fourth umpire for the game.

Both Erasmus, 52, and Kettleborough, 44, played first class cricket in their respective countries before taking up umpiring and the CT’s decider will coincidently be the 71st time each will have stood in a One Day International (ODI).  While it will be Kettleborough’s third major ICC final on-field after those of the 2015 World Cup (WC) and 2014 World Twenty20 Championship series, it will be Erasmus’ first, although he was the television umpire for the 2015 WC final. Dharmasena stood in the final of the 2015 WC with Kettleborough (PTG 1543-7420, 28 March 2015).

Boon, 56, will be working as a referee on Sunday for the 94th time in an ODI but for the first time in a major ICC final, while Tucker, 52, and Dharmasena, 46, will be filling their respective umpiring roles in an ODI for the 35th and 9th time.  Like Erasmus and Kettleborough, Boon, Tucker and Dharmasena all played first class cricket in their younger days, Boon and Dharmasena featuring at Test level (PTG 395-2095, 24 March 2009).  

The appointments for the final and those of other CT matches over the last two weeks suggest Erasmus and Kettleborough are currently ranked either first or second by the ICC, with Tucker at three and Dharmnasena four.   While it did so in the past, the ICC no longer makes public the umpiring decision-making or rating statistics of individuals.

CA looking to expand top match referees’ panel.

PTG Editor. 

CA advertisement.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10993.

Cricket Australia (CA) is looking to expand its National Panel Match Referee (NPMR) group to six ahead of the 2017-18 Austral summer, a advertisement this week calling for applications for the job to be submitted by the end of June.  CA currently have five on the NPMR:  Steve Bernard, Daryl Harper, Peter Marshall, Bob Stratford, and David Tallala.  Their line manager, CA Match Referee and Umpire Selection Manager Simon Taufel, also undertook limited higher-level referee duties during the 2016-17 season.

CA says NPMR members are responsible for supporting and assessing umpiring across all of its competitions, and ensuring it continues to produce "high quality umpires for interstate and international cricket". 

The advertisement lists CA referees as having a range of duties that include: providing accurate and timely performance assessments for the umpires in the match they are overseeing; upholding the spirit of the game; and ensuring the game is conducted according to the Laws and the standard Playing Conditions, Codes and Policies that are applicable.  

They also: assist with the responsibilities of the Playing Control Team; participate in pre-match meetings with the umpires and captains where necessary; liaise with ground authorities to ensure all aspects of player safety is looked into; and overseeing the Code of Conduct process and manage any reports that arise in the match.  There is also a requirement to attend "such cricket matches, camps and meetings as needed".

Those applying need to: demonstrated management and leadership experience; have experience in managing conflict; a strong knowledge of cricket Laws, Playing Conditions, Policies and interpretations; highly developed interpersonal skills and stakeholder management ability; sound organisational and administrative skills; be proficient with administration tasks and report writing; and have sound IT skills.  It is deemed “desirable” that applicants have a "relevant tertiary degree”, and a “knowledge of cricket umpiring skills and techniques”, but there is no stipulation that actual time on ground as a cricket umpire is a key feature.

The advertisement describes current NPMR members as “full time individuals”, but emphasises that "the vast majority of the Match Referee’s workload" will usually be in the seven months from the first day of September to the end of March.

During the 2016-17 season, Bernard, Harper, Marshall, Stratford and Talalla each spent between 27 and 36 days managing CA first class, List A and Big Bash League T20 matches alone. In addition, and it varied between individuals, there were also womens’ and Under-19 One Day Internationals, an Under-19 Test, womens’ Twenty20 Internationals, plus a range CA lower-level fixtures and tournaments.

Former Test umpire Harper’s health is currently under a cloud and his availability for the season ahead may not become clear for several months, so that is another issue Taufel will have to manage (PTG 2153-10922, 31 May 2017).  In addition to his CA work, Bernard is also a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier Regional Referees panel. His ICC duties sometimes take him away from Australia or Australian competitions during the September-March period.  Such trips have recently included events in Japan, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates. 

Betting, ratings bonanza tipped for CT decider.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10994.

More than $A500 million (£UK298 m) is expected to be gambled illegally on the Champions Trophy (CT) final between Pakistan and India on Sunday.  The final at The Oval in England shapes as being one of the most watched matches in history between the two political enemies. The two countries have never met in a global 50-over decider.

While the CT does not carry the same prestige as a World Cup, that India and Pakistan have won through to the final will more than ease any frustration officials may have had after the host nation was beaten in the semi-final.

There will be plenty of feeling between the teams, whose cricketing clashes have been restricted to key events either through the International Cricket Council or the Asia Cup for more than four years because of escalating political tensions. This has meant they have not played a Test match since 2007 or a bilateral series since 2012-13. 

What is clear is that the two nations will generate enormous betting on the sub-continent, and in India, in particular, where it's illegal to bet on cricket largely due to The Public Gambling Act of 1867.  Pakistan-India one-day matches generated about $A500 million from gambling almost a decade ago, but that figure almost certainly would have grown in recent years, particularly with technology making it easier to lay a bet on all sorts of machinations.

Betting syndicates still abound, although the two major parties, one run by the D Company in Mumbai and another run by a former partner of that firm, are said to be not as dominant as they once were. Syndicates have now spread to regions including south-east Asia and South Africa.

A growing issue for anti-corruption chiefs is ‘pitchsiding', where, in India, a delay of about 12 seconds between on-field action and the live broadcast allows some spectators to pass information to bookies, or to bet themselves (PTG 1997-10078, 7 December 2016). This has meant players are less likely to be needed for corruption purposes.

Pakistan and India have a combined population of about 1.5 billion (not to mention those living elsewhere around the world), with a third to half of that figure expected to tune in at some stage to this latest game. Almost one billion tuned in to the 2011 World Cup semi-final between the nations. Queues at airports in India have been known to almost come to a standstill when the two countries have met.

That a world title is on the line has added to the sense of occasion for this latest clash – and one which officials say could be one of the most watched matches in history. The time difference – India and Pakistan are four hours behind England – will also suit audiences. 

CA ‘furious’ at football booking days before Ashes day-night Test.

Richard Earle.

Adelaide Advertiser.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10995.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland is furious at plans by the Australian Football League (AFL) to stage a match of its 'International Rules’ (IR) series at Adelaide Oval two weeks before the first ever Ashes day-night Test which is to be played at the ground starting on 2 December.  IR is a hybrid game that combines elements of the rules of both AFL and Gaelic football, the hybrid allowing players from both sports to play at international level, something that is otherwise denied them.

Sutherland said the proposed Adelaide Oval schedule, featuring a possible IR game on 18 November, 14 days ahead of the Tests start, was simply not feasible.  “This is absolutely prime cricket season and I don’t need to tell anyone how critical this period is in the preparation of what promises to be a huge Ashes Test match in front of a global audience. CA certainly supports the South Australian Cricket Association’s [SACA] stance on this”, said Sutherland from London.  An IR game is likely to tear up the Oval and require transplanting of drop-in pitches.

The AFL has not yet to confirmed match venues but it is understood  the revamped Adelaide Oval as well as Perth are leading contenders to host the contests.  CA and SACA are upset football’s push into summer so close to the Ashes Test in Adelaide.  They are concerned about the Oval’s recovery following the football, and that the lead-up to cricket’s glamour Ashes game could be consumed by the AFL-sanctioned event.  

"We are very aware that the new Adelaide Oval is and needs to be a multi-purpose venue but flexibility comes with the need to plan ahead and manage risk”, said Sutherland.  “I’m very surprised to hear about this possible event now, just five months out. Well over a year ago we began consultation on our schedule for this Ashes summer, and the tour schedule has now been locked down for nearly six months.  We cannot take a risk with the Test match preparation. Based on our ticket sales to date — and indications of overseas visitor traffic — this may well be the biggest sporting event ever held in Adelaide.  Days one and two of the first ever day-night Ashes Test are already sold out, which just shows the huge interest in this game”.

SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw said:  “The eyes of world will be on Adelaide so we want to make sure everything is perfect in terms of the event.  We are not against the [IR] games it but it would be preferable to not stage a clash so close to such an historic game.  [Adelaide Oval curator] Damian Hough is a genius, if anyone can get the Oval ready it is him but it will be tough".

The ground’s Stadium Management Authority (SMA) has been approached by the AFL to hire Adelaide Oval for the IR match. SACA’s opposition to the timing of the event stands to be overruled in a test of SMA relations with football.  SMA general manager Darren Chandler did not wish to elaborate on events that were yet to be confirmed but said any announcement would come from the hirer.  “We review each event on its merit, what it takes to make it happen”, said Chandler.  “It is up to the venue hirer to make an announcement in due course”.

AFL spokesperson Patrick Keane said the SMA had offered no negative feedback in discussions about venue hire.  An AC/DC concert days before cricket’s inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand in 2015 meant 800 square metres of turf had to be re-laid (PTG 1694-8343, 24 November 2015).  There have been simmering tensions between AFL and cricket since the AFL women’s grand final between Brisbane and Adelaide was shifted from the Gabba last March due to Ashes Test pitch related concerns (PTG 2080-10532, 21 March 2017).

The Adelaide Oval will also welcome the England squad for a four-day, day-night match against the Cricket Australia XI at Adelaide Oval just before the proposed IR fixture.

Australian pay talks crawling two weeks from deadline.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2166-10996.

Time is fast running out to avoid damaging dislocation to Australian cricket, after precious little progress was made in two days of meetings between Cricket Australia (ca) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ace) ahead of the end-of-June expiry of the two sides’ current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The negotiating teams for CA - led by Kevin Roberts - and the ACA - led by its chief executive Alistair Nicholson - met on Wednesday and Thursday, with plans for further discussions next week still being finalised. CA's chief executive James Sutherland is in London for the Champions Trophy and International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Chief Executive Committee meetings next week. 

It has been learnt that the two parties remain very much at odds over the fundamental of a fixed revenue percentage model for the next MoU, with CA as adamant as ever about breaking it up while the ACA seek to retain it, albeit in modified form.

This impasse means fewer than two weeks remain to reach any sort of agreement about a way forward, opening up numerous grim possibilities. These include out of contract players being left unemployed from 1 July, the players' intellectual property passing from CA to the ACA's new commercial arm 'The Cricketers Brand’  (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017), and the board consequently being in breach of many existing commercial and broadcast contracts involving the use of players.

CA is currently trying to secure a raft of new sponsors following the conclusion of major deals with the Commonwealth Bank and an alcohol sponsor (PTG 2114-10721, 27 April 2017), while also entering the final year of its existing broadcast rights contracts with the Nine and Ten networks. Ten, this week, announced it was being placed into voluntary administration, potentially affecting its ability to bid for the Big Bash League after the current deal expires (PTG 2164-10979, 14 June 2017).

While the women's World Cup squad currently in England have been provided with short-term contracts that go beyond the start of July, CA has announced men's squads for the Australia A tour of South Africa later in July and also the Test tour of Bangladesh in August, without reaching any agreement on how those players might be paid. State players are currently training having been given letters of intent to offer them contracts, but have no further certainty beyond the end of this month. 

"Selectors have also chosen this Bangladesh squad irrespective and independent of the status of the MoU”, CA's team performance manager Pat Howard said. "We are working towards a resolution being in place by 30 June and look forward to continuing to support these players to perform at their very best on the global stage”.

It is understood that the negotiator Roberts has remained totally committed to CA's original pay proposal and its dismantling of revenue sharing. But the ACA has argued it cannot progress without knowing more of the financial detail behind it - mainly how the cash being allocated to male and female players over the next five years measures up if counted as a percentage of cricket revenue over that time.

While CA has repeatedly offered up information relating to how much the players' pay will rise depending on numerous scenarios in terms of broadcast and sponsorship revenues, it has equally declined to provide an illustration of how much it thinks the total "pie" will grow over that period. At the same time, it has contended that the ACA's estimates have overinflated the amount of money available to the game from 2017 to 2023, the proposed term of the next MoU. 

Equally, the ACA has sought greater detail of how pay will be broken down for domestic players in particular, but to date has only been given the "average" figures present in CA's initial pay offer. The board has argued that much of the detail sought by the ACA is commercial-in-confidence, and beyond the level of information a collective bargaining agent should be entitled to.

Greg Hunt, Australia's minister for sport, has indicated that the federal government would be willing to provide independent mediation should this dispute threaten the looming home Ashes series (PTG 2150-10910, 29 May 2017). Neither CA nor the ACA wished to comment on talks.

Sutherland and Nicholson spoke last week in a rare instance of direct communication between the two chief executives, but CA's chief executive and its chairman, David Peever, are now preoccupied by a raft of ICC issues. Chief among these items is work to ensure the passing of a new constitution for the global governing body that would fundamentally change the shape of cricket politics (PTG 2115-10731, 28 April 2017).

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,168

Sunday, 18 June 2017

 

• Tethered bails trialled in Lord’s MCC match [2168-10997].

• Sixteen officials named for Womens’ World Cup [2168-10998].

• Canterbury Cricket rejigging junior program [2168-10999].

• International cricket remains inherently elite and conservative [2168-11000].

Tethered bails trialled in Lord’s MCC match.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Friday, 16 June 2017.

PTG 2168-10997.

 

 Tethered bails were used for the first time at Lord’s on Thursday during the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Universities Challenge Final between the Cardiff and Loughborough campuses. Such "mechanisms” are allowed under the new Laws Code as a safety measure provided they do not impinge on the normal ability of the fielding side to dislodge bails (PTG 2102-10655, 12 April 2017).  

 

The tether connecting this batsman’s leg bail to its stump is clearly visibly in this dismissal, 

the off bail following its stump as it is knocked out of the ground.

The MCC sights such incidents as that that led to South Africa’s Mark Boucher sustaining a career-determining injury in 2012 as being behind the innovation (PTG 976-4734, 12 August 2012).  The new Law 8.3.4 states: "Devices aimed at protecting player safety by limiting the distance that a bail can travel off the stumps will be allowed, subject to the approval of the Governing Body for the match and the ground authority.  

MCC Laws Manager, Fraser Stewart, said: “MCC have been working with two companies [one from South Africa and the other the UK] who have designed similar products aimed at safeguarding the players, especially wicket-keepers.  The Club approved of the concept and felt it was right to allow such devices within the Laws, subject to approval from the body responsible for the match.  We felt that the MCC Universities final prevented a good opportunity to trial the innovative design [and] if it prevents further injuries, it must be a good thing for the game”.

The UK version is said to comprise two holes drilled down into the off and leg stumps, and a tiny, lightweight ball, attached to a piece of cotton (PTG 2103-10662, 13 April 2017). The ensemble rests on a platform, so that there is no weight pulling on the bail, which is then able to travel no further than eight centimetres when the stumps are put down.  

Earlier this year Stewart was said to concede that adapting the mechanism for electronic flashing ‘Zing' bails could be problematic given their reliance on sensors to trigger the lights.  There may also be implications for run-outs on occasions when the stumps have already been broken.

Sixteen officials named for Womens’ World Cup.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Sunday, 18 June 2017.

PTG 2168-10998.

A total of 16 match officials umpires, at least one from each Full Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) except Sri Lanka, are to manage matches in the Womens’ World Cup (WWC) in England over the next month.  The presence of four women umpires amongst the group, a number the ICC says is "the highest number yet for an ICC global event”, is of no surprise, they being Kathy Cross of New Zealand, Sue Redfern of England, Australia’s Claire Polosak and the West Indies’ Jacqueline Williams (PTG 2121-19758, 2 May 2017).  

The other officials named for the 8-team, 30 day, 31 match event, are umpires Gregory Brathwaite (West Indies), Chris Brown (NZ), Anil Chaudhary (India), Shaun George and Adrian Holdstock (both South Africa), Ahsan Raza (Pakistan), Langton Rusere (Zimbabwe), Sharfuddoula (Bangladesh) and Paul Wilson (Australia), plus match referees Steve Bernard (Australia), David Jukes (England) and Richie Richardson (West indies).  Cross will be officiating in her fourth ICC Women’s World Cup and Jukes his third and the others their first.  

The four women are members of the ICC’s third-tier Development Panel of International Umpires and their male colleagues from the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), while Bernard and Junes are on the world body’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel, and Richardson its top Elite Match Referees Panel.  The IUP members will be under close scrutiny during the series as the event will be a key part of their evaluation as future potential appointees to the ICC’s Elite Umpires Panel.

Ten of the 31 matches which will be broadcast live on television, the Umpire Decision Review System being introduced into the women’s game for the first time.  Prize money has also seen boosted to nearly $US2 milllion ($A2.7 m, £UK1.55 m), which is up significantly from the $US200,000 ($A269.820, £154,820) available at the previous event four years ago (PTG 2124-10767, 5 May 2017).  

Canterbury Cricket rejigging junior program.

New Zealand Herald.

Saturday, 17 June 2017.

PTG 2168-10999.

Parks and ovals in Canterbury, New Zealand, are set for a cricketing revolution this summer.  That is because Canterbury Cricket have rejigged their junior program in a bid to keep children in the sport and win the support of parents taking them to games,   The changes are based on research by Cricket Australia and are endorsed by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) (PTG 2095-10609, 4 April 2017).

The transformation will come on grounds with shorter pitches, smaller boundaries and teams with less fielders, to enable what the Major Association described in a statement as "a faster-paced game". The changes aim to have "more balls in play, more runs scored and increased fielder activity".

Cricket is renowned for its "character-building" traits. This can perhaps best be summed up if a player gets out for a first-ball duck. They have to resist the urge to sulk, support their teammates, and stew on the inside until the following week's opportunity. The Canterbury solution won't cure the golden duck blues but it might mitigate the risk of losing frustrated players and create a game in which more people want to be involved. The hope is it will sustain the boost in junior numbers since the co-hosting of the 2015 World Cup.

Children entering the game in Year 1 of their schooling will play on 12 metre pitches. The length increases by 2 metres every two years until they play on the full length 20.12m pitch from Year 9. Boundary sizes will increase from a maximum of 30 m to 50 m over the same time frame.

Team numbers will also change to reduce the duration of games and create more space for batsmen to exploit.  At Year 1, players will operate as pairs learning the skills of the game before entering seven-person teams at Year 5, nine-person teams at Year 7 and a full XI at Year 9.  A modified ball at development level gradually morphs into the 156 g hard ball when players reach secondary school.

Busy parents are also given consideration by the match timeframes. They will range from 75 minutes for beginners (12 overs per side, bowled from one end), to four-and-a-half hours (45 overs per side, bowled in five over blocks per end). Bowling in blocks will save time by reducing the need for players to swap fielding positions between overs.

NZC is expected to implement the changes by the 2018-19 season to ensure consistency nationwide.  Feedback from the pilot programs in Australia showed the shorter pitch resulted in fewer wides and no balls, and match scorecards showed more balls were in the strike zone for batsmen.  The hope is it will also reduce the potential for injury through appropriate transitioning up the ranks.

International cricket remains inherently elite and conservative

Tim Wigmore.

The Independent.

Saturday, 17 June 2017.

PTG 2168-11000.

It was, perhaps, very Scottish to make history this week while the cricketing world was focused elsewhere. As India were setting up a Champions Trophy final with Pakistan, 480 km north Scotlandwere defeating Zimbabwe. In sporting terms, this was no shock, and yet it was deeply historic: Scotland’s first ever One Day International (ODI) victory over a Test nation. 

And it represented something altogether more. Scotland’s victory in Edinburgh felt like a riposte to the inequities of the world game. It reaffirmed the ludicrousness of the antiquated, Victorian status which stymies the sport’s growth.   As a Full Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Zimbabwe receive about £7m a year more than Associate nation Scotland. The ODI was Scotland’s first against a Test nation since the 2015 World Cup, since when Zimbabwe have played 23 ODIs against other Test opponents. 

Most remarkably of all, it had taken Zimbabwe 25 years after winning Test status to finally deign to meet Scotland in an ODI - not because of other commitments but because, as one ICC insider put it a couple of years ago, they were “scared” of playing and losing to ICC second-tier nations. Such is cricket’s warped approach to expansionism.  

Scotland’s win was opportune timing indeed. In London from Monday, the ICC will meet for what looms as one of the most seminal weeks in the sport’s history.  By the time the ICC’s Annual Conference is completed, it is expected that Ireland and Afghanistan will attain Test status: a remarkable development in a sport with cricket’s conservatism. Not since 2000 has a new nation been permitted into the sport’s most exclusive club; not since the 1930s have two new countries played their first Test in the same decade. 

The ICC also hopes to introduce a new structure for Test cricket - with nine countries in the top league and Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe underneath, and a view to expanding the main league to 12 in time - and create a 13-nation ODI league. More prosaically, the ICC is also working to divide up cricket’s wealth more equally. Under the ‘Big Three’ model, agreed in 2014, Australia, England and India receive more than the ICC’s other 102 members combined. 

All these changes bode well for Associate nations, especially Ireland and Afghanistan, the flag-bearers for the non-Test world. Afghanistan’s intoxicating progress continues: legspinner Rashid Khan, perhaps the most exciting teenager in world cricket, took 7/18 in an ODI victory in the West Indies last week, and he is supported by an enviable depth of fast bowling talent. Ireland, meanwhile, have dipped precisely at the time they have received more on-field opportunities, even if the sport’s structure there has never been better. 

At full-strength - four probable starters missed yesterday’s win - Scotland would expect to defeat Ireland. Yet, even as the gap between the two narrows on the field, it is being extended off it. Despite toppling two Test teams in a month - they also thumped Sri Lanka three weeks ago, though the game did not constitute an official ODI - Scotland face being locked out even of the 13-team ODI league, with the Netherlands on course to qualify for the final berth. 

For all these frustrations, finally Scotland have a flagship victory - and, perhaps extra cachet when the ICC meets to determine cricket’s future direction. “Having demonstrated we can perform that well on the pitch people will listen to what I have to say that much more closely”, says Tony Brian, the chairman of Cricket Scotland. 

Over the last decade Scotland’s aims have appeared tentative set against Ireland’s unashamed ambition, even though Scotland’s cricket traditions lose nothing by comparison. Now, Scotland intend to follow Ireland in gaining Full Member status and the extra cash and fixtures it brings.  “It’s certainly our aspiration to become a Full Member. We’ve made that clear to the ICC”, says Brian. He thinks that is possible “within the next two or three years”. Scotland may even ultimately play Tests, too.

Before then, Scotland await one of the most exciting summers in their cricket history next year, with an ODI against England, the World Cup qualifiers likely to be co-hosted with Ireland, and Pakistan also possible visitors.  

Such promise does not disguise that, after the second ODI with Zimbabwe on Saturday, Scotland’s international summer will be over. Finance, naturally, is the major constraint. “We need that funding model sorted as soon as possible but it’s not a simple discussion”, Brian explains. Cricket Scotland’s current turnover, £2.3m, remains about half of the smallest counties. 

It encapsulates cricket’s failure to globalise, and how expansionism has been undermined by the sport’s inherent snobbery. These deep-rooted attitudes are not easily eroded, as evidenced by the contraction of the World Cup to ten teams and the continued obfuscation over whether to bid to join the Olympic Games. Yet, for all these obstacles, the quality and potential beyond the sport’s 10 Test nations is more abundant than ever before. This decade, participation in the 95 Associate and Affiliate nations has trebled, to more than 1.5 million.

So cricket has never been better-placed to expand beyond its traditional frontiers. It just needs administrative vision to match.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,169

Monday, 19 June 2017

 

• Player seeks injunction over ‘Jewish Olympics’ participation [2169-11001].

• Seven decisions overturned on review during Champions Trophy [2169-11002].

• Suspended four-match ban handed out for coach criticism [2169-11003].

• Players 'won't budge' on revenue, says Aussie VC [2169-11004].

Player seeks injunction over ‘Jewish Olympics’ participation.

Stuart Winer.

The Times of Israel.

Sunday, 18 June 2017.

PTG 2169-11001.

A teenage girl campaigning to keep her place in Israel’s otherwise all-boys national cricket team so that she can play in the upcoming Maccabiah Games took her case to court Sunday in a bid to force officials to let her back into the team.  Naomi Eytan, 14, has played in Israel's national Under-19 cricket team all season, the only girl in the squad of the top 15 youth players in the country.  But with the Maccabiah Games set to start next month, she was told by organisers that she couldn’t play with the team because it is for men only (PTG 2165-10984, 16 June 2017).

Eytan and her mother filed a complaint with the Tel Aviv District Court against the Maccabiah Games Committee and Maccabiah International.  The Israel Cricket Association has put itself squarely on Eytan’s side, with chairman Steve Leigh contributing an affidavit to Eytan’s court petition in which he detailed the selection process, based solely on merit, that earned her a place in the team.  “I am baffled as to why the Maccabiah is digging its heels in”, said Leigh.  "All I know is that this young lady is good enough to play on our team”.

Roy Hessing, a spokesperson of the Maccabiah Games Committee, said that the committee decision against Eytan was based on regulations laid down by the International Cricket Council (ICC).  According to him ICC regulations relating to gender separation were intended to make the sport fair and safe.  “There will not be a precedent” set for Eytan, he said. “It is not a rational request in relation to international regulations.  We operate according to regulations and not public demands”.

The particular rule cited by Hessing was from ICC regulations that relate to transgender players.  The Gender Recognition Policy states in part: “Most relevantly for present purposes, because of the significant advantages in size, strength and power enjoyed (on average) by males over females from puberty onward… it is necessary to have separate competition categories for males and females in order to preserve the safety, fairness and integrity of the sport for the benefit of all of its participants and stakeholders”.  Hessing said that if necessary the Maccabiah Games Committee will defend its position in court.

Eytan senior dismissed as “unreasonable” a decision to ban her daughter on the basis or regulations concerning transgender players.  While not common, women play in men’s cricket teams, and mixed-gender sports events are gaining popularity.  The International Olympic Committee decided recently that the 2020 games in Tokyo will include relay swimming and running events for teams with members of both genders.

Seven decisions overturned on review during Champions Trophy.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 19 June 2017.

PTG 2169-11002.

Seven decisions made by umpires during the 15-match Champions Trophy series were overturned following a request for a review by either the fielding captain or batsmen at the crease.  Of those, 6 were in relation to LBW and the other for caught; 3 of the 7 coming at the request of the bowling side and 4 from batsmen.  Thus just 3 of the 190 wickets that fell during the series, or less than two per cent, did so because technology suggested the original on-field decision was flawed, while another 4 wickets didn’t end up falling because of technology.

The overturned decisions made up just on a third of the total 24 requests for reviews (22 LBWs, 2 caught) made across the 7,665 legal deliveries sent down (1,276 overs) in the 15 games, two-thirds or 17 of the reviews going with the on-field umpires’ original decision.  Of the total reviews, 13 were requested by fielding sides and 11 from the batting XI, such requests coming on average once for each 52 overs bowled. Altogether though, 13 of the 30 innings saw no reviews requested at all.

England led the way with review requests with 6, 2 of which were successful (6/2), then came Pakistan 5/3, South Africa 4/1, Sri Lanka 4/0, New Zealand 3/0, India 1/1 and Bangladesh 1/0.  Australia was alone in not requesting a review at all.  

Of the umpires, Paul Reiffel had 6 requests for reviews of his decisions, all for LBWs, 2 going in favour of the players (6/2), while Aleem Dar, Kumar Dhamasena, Nigel Llong and Sundarm Ravi all had 2/0, again LBWs being the decision involved.  Bruce Oxenford and Ian Gould also had none overturned, they each being requested only one for a review, both again for LBW calls.  

Richard Illingworth had his decision for one appeal for LBW changed (0/1), while Rod Tucker had two of his decisions changed (0/2), one LBW and one caught, both being overturned and both coming in his semi final.

The two umpires that stood in the final, Marais Erasmus and Richard Kettleborough, both had two reviews requested of them during their four games on-field during the event, one each of which was overturned - again LBWs being involved.  Chris Gaffaney was the only one of the 12 umpires who did not attract a review request.  

Dharmasena and Tucker had 3 matches on-field during the series, Erasmus and Kettleborough both 4, and the other eight all 2.

Suspended four-match ban handed out for coach criticism.

PTG Editor.

Indian media reports.

Sunday, 18 June 2017.

PTG 2169-11003.

India opener Gautam Gambhir has been handed a four-game suspended ban for making critical comments about his domestic side's head coach.  Gambhir publicly criticised Delhi coach KP Bhaskar’s selection policies last March, in particular questioning why young batsmen Unmukt Chand and Nitish Rana had been left out for parts of a domestic one-day tournament.  

A three-person committee set up by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) to look into the matter described Gambhir’s actions a "serious disgrace”.  "Mr Gambhir's actions towards [Bhaskar] were premeditated, had the intent of humiliating the coach and were highly inappropriate and of serious nature”, said DDCA administrator and former Supreme Court Justice Vikramjit Sen.

According to him: "The position of a coach among the team members is of high respect and dignity. It is a serious disgrace to a coach to be humiliated in front of team members by one of the team members even if it is a senior player”.  He went on to say: "The actions of Mr Gambhir, however well intended, cannot be said to be in the interest of the team, or its performance or the game as it was done on the very last day of the season and therefore could not have been any corrective effect”.

Players 'won't budge' on revenue, says Aussie VC.

Daniel Brettig.

Cricinfo.

Sunday, 18 June 2017.

PTG 2169-11004.

Australia's vice-captain David Warner has underlined the willingness of the nation's top players to go without employment in order to achieve the retention of the fixed revenue percentage model at the heart of the pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA).

Less than two weeks remain before the expiry of the current CA-ACA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with CA and the ACA making very little progress in talks over how to reach a compromise on the next deal. CA is adamant in its desire to break up the revenue sharing model and fix the wages of all but the top male and female players.

Warner, who has been the most outspoken critic of the board in recent weeks after CA chief executive James Sutherland threatened they would be left unemployed if the ACA did not agree to CA's terms (PTG 2157-10943, 8 June 2017), told Channel Nine that the players were committed to ensuring all cricketers shared in the game's upside, not just an elite few.

"We're prepared as players to give a little bit more in that revenue share [percentage]”, he said of the ACA's proposal to reduce the players share from around 26 to 22.5 per cent with more money to go to grassroots levels. "But that's what we want. We're not going to budge from the revenue sharing model, we want equality, and a fair share for domestic and female players. That in a nutshell is what it's all about". 

"We've been offered contracts and we've knocked them back. That's because we want to make sure the female players and domestic players are in this revenue share model. In the decades that have gone past, the past players that have been in our situation have stood up for us. I was a domestic player, I was a young kid coming through, we're doing the same as what they did as well”.

CA last week named a squad for the scheduled Test tour of Bangladesh in August, but Warner stated bluntly that there would be no players boarding the plane for the series if no agreement had been reached. He also reiterated his view that the Ashes, too, would be threatened by a lengthy dispute.

"From our point of view I want to play for Australia and so do the other boys”, Warner said. "But if there's nothing that's put in place for what we're trying to achieve here, from both point of views, we're not going to tour Bangladesh, there might not be an Ashes if we don't have an MoU.  From July 1, we're unemployed. We've been threatened with that. We're hopeful there's going to be an agreement done -- it's a sticky situation”.

There has been a contrast in Warner's outspokenness next to the more measured words of the national team captain, Steven Smith. Warner said he was happy to stick his head above the parapet on the issue, though admitted Smith could perhaps also be more vocal as the days tick down to the MoU expiry.

"From where I stand and the position I take on this, I try to take as much heat off [Smith] as possible. He does lead us on the field, and rightfully so off the field as well, he does a great job”, Warner said. "In this circumstance I'm willing to go out there into bat for everyone. Yeah sometimes he could probably push a little bit more, but I think he's doing a great job, as well as the other players like Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood as well”.  Talks between CA and the ACA are expected to continue this week.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,170

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

 

• ECB investigating suitability of new hybrid pitches [2170-11005].

• IPL, PSL owners snap up South Africa T20 franchises [2170-11006].

• CA-ACA MoU saga drags on at T-10 days [2170-11007].

ECB investigating suitability of new hybrid pitches.

PTG Editor.

ECB media release.

Monday, 19 June 2017.

PTG 2170-11005.

Two “hybrid” pitches, in which twisted yarn has been incorporated into a natural turf grass surface, have been installed at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough. The ECB calls the move, which been “inspired" by what is says is the positive impact of similar surfaces in Premier League football, “ground breaking”, and that it may eventually have advantages for the recreational game.

The yarn makes up around five per cent of the surface of the pitches, and football experience is that it has led to considerable improvements in stability and durability. As a result the ECB are able to investigate whether there could be equivalent advantages for cricket, especially at recreational level.

Chris Wood, the ECB’s Pitches Consultant, said the work now being undertaken "goes back several years to a conversation I had with Darren Baldwin, Tottenham Hotspur’s Head Groundsman.  The majority of Premier League venues now use hybrid pitches, and even to the casual observer of football, I think it’s obvious that those pitches have been of a far more consistently high quality, around all clubs and throughout the season".

“That is”, continued Wood, "because introducing a relatively small amount of artificial twisted yarn greatly improves the stability of the surface underfoot, and allows the sward [the upper level of the soil in which the grass sits] to endure the long football season with a consistent playing performance.  It is fitting that we have installed the pitches at Loughborough, as our centre for innovation around cricket”.

Wood said the ECB "have had to wait to apply this technique to cricket – there have been semi-hybrid pitches, but using artificial turf with cricket loam infill rather than natural grass. But now the ‘SISGrass’ company have developed a new, more compact stitching unit than has been used for football. We took the machine to Loughborough last week and have laid one pitch on the square and another in the outdoor nets".

“We’ve used a straw-coloured yarn, rather than the brighter green in use in football, to make it look as authentic as possible. They still need to be seeded and enhanced, but we hope they will be playable in the near future.  Possible advantages are increased durability of pitches for matchplay and practice, with prolonged uniformity of grass cover. We need to see whether the ball moves off the seam, and if there are significant impacts on bounce and carry".

“Clearly there will also be changes to the character of the game if pitches are deteriorating less. But it is possible that the introduction of the artificial yarn may lead to the ball ‘grabbing’, and therefore turning more consistently. We have already seen from a semi-hybrid pitch facility in Loughborough and at the International Cricket Academy in Dubai that the ball does turn".

Will Relf, the Sports Grounds Manager at Loughborough University, will be taking charge of this trial, as he has done several other research projects that have allowed a study of a variety of surfaces.  “Will is excited by this latest trial, and so am I”, said Wood.  “It could be one of the most interesting projects in my time with the ECB”.

IPL, PSL owners snap up South Africa T20 franchises.

Firdose Moonda.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 19 June 2017.

PTG 2170-11006.

Two South African businessmen, two Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises, two Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises, and representatives from Hong Kong and Dubai, were unveiled by Cricket South Africa (CSA) as the owners of the eight teams in that country’s  new Twenty20 Global League. The owners, the cities and their marquee players were unveiled at an event in London on Monday (PTG 2162-10971, 13 June 2017).

Durban, Benoni, Pretoria, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth will each host a franchise, which left no room for the likes of Kimberley, East London and Potchefstroom, who host normal CSA franchise cricket. The Stellenbosch franchise will likely play at Boland Park in Paarl.

International buyers own three-quarters of the franchises with the biggest name being Shah Rukh Khan. The prominent Bollywood actor added to his Knight Riders brand with the purchase of the Cape Town franchise to add to the Kolkata IPL side and Trinidad in the Caribbean Premier League (PTG 1571-7553, 19 June 2015). There was also a second IPL influence. The Delhi Daredevils' holding company GMR sports bought the Johannesburg franchise. 

The two South African-owned franchises are based in Pretoria and Stellenbosch and run by South African businessman Osman Osman, who owns a lifestyle brand, and ‘Brimstone', a company owned by Mushtaq Brey. 

Two PSL owners, Fawad Rana of the Lahore Qalandars, and Javed Afridi from the Peshawar Zalmi, bought franchises in Durban and Benoni respectively, while the Bloemfontein franchise was bought by Hong Kong's Sushil Kumar and the Port Elizabeth team by Dubai's Ajay Sethi. Both have previous involvement in cricket, Kumar owns a Hong Kong franchise while Sethi is involved at Channel 2 in the United Arab Emirates.

CSA also unveiled eight “ambassadors” for the project, all former South African national players: Graeme Smith, Andrew Hall, Ashwell Prince, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Adams, Allan Donald, Andrew Hudson and Paul Harris.

Despite no Indian players being available for the tournament, its overlap with the Bangladesh Premier League, the chances of Australian players being scant given the clash with their summer and the England and Wales Cricket Board's refusal for Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy to attend the launch, CSA president Chris Nenzani was hopeful the competition would receive global support.

"We thank all other cricket boards and we hope that they will support this venture in the manner that we have helped and supported their leagues. We hope they will help us to make it a success”. he said.  More than 400 players have registered their interest with a draft scheduled for August.

CA-ACA MoU saga drags on at T-10 days.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017.

PTG 2170-11007.

A series of Australian media reports published on Tuesday morning are suggesting talks Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) are conducting to set up a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) remain in deadlock, however, they give differing views as to whether an agreement will be reached by the 30 June deadline (PTG 2169-11004, 19 June 2017).  One quotes a CA spokesman as saying: "We're confident we'll have something in place by [the] deadline", another that the ACA is similarly “hopeful".

Fairfax Media are reporting that the staging of unofficial exhibition matches involving leading Australian players is being contemplated as they "face the looming reality of being locked out by [CA] and the state [associations]”.  Such a move would, says the report, "serve as a powerful message that they can continue to play outside the umbrella of CA”.  "Talks between the warring parties having proved fruitless so far", says Fairfax, with "sources close to the negotiations admitting there is next to no chance of a resolution by the end of next week”. 

A story in ‘The Australian’ says Australia’s upcoming One Day International tour of India in October is looming as the "brightest flashpoint in cricket’s pay war" as the "days tick down" to the end of June deadline.  Previously the pay war has been linked to August’s tour of Bangladesh and the home Ashes series at the end of the year.   "Offending India could jeopardise [CA’s] reciprocal agreement that has India touring Australia in 2018-19”, states the report.

‘The Australian’ goes on to say “both sides say they are committed to striking a new [MoU] before the June 30 cut-off”.  If the parties remain estranged, "the players will be locked out of their jobs next week but it remains to be seen if they are also locked out of their workplaces", continues the article.   It says CA is "refusing to directly answer questions" about whether players will be allowed to train at CA and state association grounds when they fall out of contract on Saturday week.

In "a further complication", says ‘The Australian’, training while uncontracted — and unpaid — means the players "might also be training without ­insurance”.  As a result "insurance has been added as an agenda item to the CA and the ACA talks now they have resumed at last". The ACA hopes to have something “definitive” regarding insurance to take to its members later this week.  CA is said to have refused to comment on the insurance issue.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,171

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

 

• New course underpins CA match management, umpire, standards [2171-11008].

CA moves to consolidate match referee panel structure [2171-11009].

• ICC to ponder future of Champions Trophy [2171-11010].

• Players not impressed with CA's latest pay dispute move [2171-11011].

New course underpins CA match management, umpire, standards.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2171-11008.

Cricket Australia (CA) has developed a Match Referee accreditation system that formally sets out the role's responsibilities and lays down the standards CA expects those who referee Australian domestic matches to consistently demonstrate.  Referees play an "integral role" in managing "all aspects" of a game, says CA, and the insightfulness and quality of their assessments is seen as a key to ensuring a robust selection system that supports Australia’s aim of producing "high quality umpires for interstate and international cricket” is in place. 

 

What is expected to be around 14 Australian referees will be required to undertake the new accreditation process "before and during" the 2017-18 Australian season (PTG 2171-1109 below).  A three-day “induction” workshop has been scheduled for Brisbane in mid-September, which will "explain, demonstrate and allow candidates to engage with course topics facilitators”.  That  face-to-face gathering is designed to complement on line resource material and knowledge based assessment tasks.  All new referees selected to join CA ranks after next austral summer will be required to successfully complete the accreditation process.

 

The purpose and intent of the accreditation program is, says CA, to: "clearly outline the functions and expectations of the role; establish, outline and effectively communicate the performance standards and benchmarks required within each of the role criteria; better prepare referees for the challenges they face; and produce a higher quality referee who is then able to better service umpires and other key stakeholders in the game”.  

 

The syllabus is made up of six separate modules, each of which deals with a specific part of the referee’s role.  All-up the modules have a total of 23 sub-sections, and further sub-subsections, each one of which has a ‘benchmark’ statement as to what competencies CA “expects” its match referees to be able "to demonstrate” in the job. 

 

Module one goes through the position’s job description, match preparation and venue, supporting the Playing Control Team, post match, leadership, and goal setting.  The second module, titled ‘Umpire Assessment’, covers the assessment objectives and processes involved in observing and reporting all umpires involved in a match, as well as what’s involved in completing a game's key decision-incident log and just how the information so gathered is used in the wider on-going context.  

 

Module three deals with Code of Conduct issues and covers policy and parameters, processing and reporting and the conduct of hearings; while the fourth, 'Managing People and Critical Incidents’, has sections titled 'Managing Stakeholders' and 'Difficult Conversations'.  Laws, Playing Conditions and CA Policies’ is Module five; and the sixth covers overall ‘Reporting’ principles, types and standards, including CA’s 'Athlete Management System’ via which umpire observations are collated.

 

Accreditation course reference material, both documents and videos, will be available to invited participants via a CA provider secure web page. Those selected to seek accreditation need to study that information prior to September's workshop, says CA.  The course will have an assessment component that needs to be completed under CA supervision, but "prior performance and competencies will be taken into account without having to be re-observed or assessed”.

 

CA says the on-going performance and output of each match referee it engages will be closely monitored to ensure the highest possible standards become the norm.  In addition to monitoring match logs and umpire reports generated by the referees, CA 'Match Referee and Umpire Selection Manager’ Simon Taufel plans to personally observe each of them during at least one four-day, 50 and 20 over one-day games during the coming austral summer.  

“CA has invested significantly and strategically in the new system”, says Taufel, and “it is important we take the opportunity to support our Referees in the field and provide them with in match feedback as they continue to play a key role in managing our umpires at matches”.

 

When it established the position that eventually became Taufel’s last year, CA emphasised that job's role included ensuring its "umpire assessment criteria and processes are robust, consistent and fair”, and that the selection of umpires to CA umpire panels is "meritorious” and “lawful” at all times (PTG 1888-9458, 30 July 2016).  

 

CA says that “despite the importance of [the referees’] role in the game", cricket "does not have a strong history of inducting and training” those who take on the role.  The new program is it says "one of the game’s first steps towards providing increased support to Match Referees and to reaffirm the importance of what is a privileged role in the game”.  The nature of the role means that referees work "remotely and independently”, says Taufel, and "we need to improve the support we give them so they in turn can continue to provide an appropriately  high level of service to the game as a whole”.

 

CA moves to consolidate match referee panel structure.

PTG Editor.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2171-11009.

In conjunction with the work Cricket Australia (CA) has undertaken over the last six months to develop its new Match Referee accreditation system, arrangements that set clear bench marks for those chosen to work in those roles (PTG 2171-11008 above), CA has also taken parallel steps to consolidate the make-up of, and arrangements that apply for, the two Match Referee panels that oversee all of its games.

 

CA’s top, soon to be six-person, National Panel Match Referee group looks in the main after first class, List A and senior Twenty20 domestic games and some tour matches; while a CA centrally contracted state-based second-tier group of around eight, now known as the Supplementary Match Referees Panel, oversees Futures League State Second XI, womens’, youth and similar fixtures.  

The position descriptions, requirements and expectations for those who occupy spots on both panels are virtually identical, the key difference being that while National Panel members are employed full-time, those in the Supplementary group will have no retainer, rather their earnings will come via the match fees paid for each of their games. 

 

Applications are currently open for a sixth person to join the National Panel (PTG 2167-10993, 17 June 2017), while a revamp of the Supplementary group, is simultaneously in progress.  The eight or so individuals who have made up the now Supplementary Panel in recent years included the six State Umpire Managers (SUM), plus another 7-8 others from around the country, the majority being former first class umpires, several of whom have stood at Test level.

 

In the main the now Supplementary group were primarily based in their home cities, travel outside their state or metropolitan area to manage CA matches being limited.  Under the new arrangements, those selected "can expect to travel interstate occasionally and officiate approximately 30 days across the cricket season between September and March".  

 

CA still plans that the Supplementary Panel to be made up of around eight people, some of whom could eventually be female, however, the decision has been taken to exclude the SUMs from the group.  That move was made to ensure any perceived conflict-of-interest SUMs may have in formally assessing their own umpires against those from other states who visit their areas, is removed.  That change, plus the retirement of at least one of last year’s secondary panel, means CA is at this time seeking to recruit several new members for the Supplementary Panel.

 

To that end, SUMs have been provided with details of the Supplementary Panel jobs by CA and asked to approach individuals in their states they believe have the potential to meet the position requirements. They in turn can, should they choose, submit expressions of interest in the positions to CA, their applications being required by the first Friday of July.  Part of the requirement is that those interested “must”, says CA, be available to complete the three-day Match Referee Accreditation course scheduled for Brisbane in mid-September.  After that they will be required to stay on in that city to take part, a few days later, in CA's pre-season National Match Officials Workshop.

ICC to ponder future of Champions Trophy.

Australian Associated Press.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017.

PTG 2171-11010.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering ditching the Champions Trophy in favour of staging the World Twenty20 on a biennial basis.  While Sunday's final of the ICC's secondary 50-over competition between Pakistan and India at The Oval attracted an estimated televised audience of hundreds of millions, the world governing body is keen to capitalise on the exponential rise of its shortest format (PTG 1862-9335, 25 June 2016).

 

India are currently slated to host the ninth staging of the Champions Trophy in four years’ time, but ICC chief executive David Richardson revealed it is far from a certainty.  This month's Champions Trophy, held intermittently since 1998, was contested between only the top eight sides in the world, while the World Cup is currently scheduled to include just 10 teams. It is a similarity between two of its biggest events that has led to a rethink, while Richardson expressed his hope that future World Twenty20 Championship (WT20C) series could become more inclusive with up to 20 nations invited to participate.

"What we want to do is differentiate our global events from each other so that they can be standalone and create maximum interest every time the event happens”, said Richardson.  "At this stage, the next Champions Trophy is still scheduled for India in 2021. Whether that gets changed, the consideration has been given to changing to two T20s in a four-year cycle which would mean swapping the Champions Trophy for a [WT20C].  The fact is that [WT20Cs] do attract a lot of interest, they generate significant revenue for the television companies, but most importantly from our point of view they provide us with an opportunity to give more opportunities to more teams".

"A 16-team [WT20C] – even a 20-team [WT20C] – down the line is something that we would like to look at.  With a 10-team World Cup we're hoping to increase the competitiveness of matches and the standard of the tournament as a whole.  It might not be necessary to continue with two 50-over tournaments going forward”.

Players not impressed with CA's latest pay dispute move.

Andrew Wu and Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017.

PTG 2171-11011.

Cricket Australia's (CA) latest attempt to end a deadlock in its bitter pay dispute with players has been met with a "lukewarm" reception.  Less than a fortnight before the deadline for a new Memorandum of Understanding, CA has sent chief negotiator Kevin Roberts around the country to directly address the players. Roberts is believed to have started the talks last week and spoke on Tuesday with the NSW squad in Sydney.

Players, however, are less than impressed with the national body's latest attempt to persuade them from parting with the revenue-sharing pay model first agreed upon in 1997.  While CA said on Tuesday it remains committed to brokering a new deal by 30 June, the players have interpreted the talks as another sign the governing body does not want to reach a compromise.

Sources have indicated Roberts' address was no different to the controversial video presentation he gave last month that was strongly criticised by vice-captain David Warner (PTG 2158-10949, 9 June 2017).  Roberts' nationwide presentations come as former Australian all-rounder Brendon Julian turned the heat on CA chief executive James Sutherland, declaring the CA chief must spearhead stalling pay talks.

Sutherland has appeared only once in a dispute that has dragged on since December. Players could be locked out – and not paid – in little more than a week.  Julian, now a commentator on Fox Sports, which broadcasts Australia's overseas campaigns, has called for Sutherland to take charge.

"Cricket's at a knife-edge point, I think, and it should be chief executive to chief executive” at this late stage, said Julian.  "It should always be like that in negotiations of this importance. And if you can't get anywhere, then you go to mediation. I'm just so surprised it's gone along like this. I think it's time the chief executive steps in takes this thing a few steps forward.  I don't think they're intentionally seeing it as 'us and them', but I think [CA’s] got to make sure they negotiate, pure and simple, and listen to the players. The whole atmosphere of it feels like we've gone back 20 years”.

Australian Cricketers Association chief Alistair Nicholson has taken a more public role than Sutherland when it's come to detailing the players' submission, and what they dislike about CA's bid. The ACA has also turned to Greg Combet, the former union secretary and ex-Labor minister, for advice (PTG 2146-10894, 26 May 2017).  Sutherland, however, could not be expected to be in Melbourne this week, for he is in London at a meeting of International Cricket Council chiefs where, amongst other issues, a new structure for Tests and One Day Internationals is being debated.

On Tuesday, the 850 players with the Australian Football League (AFL) signed off on a bumper $A1.84 billion (£UK1.1 bn), six-year pay deal.  The agreement will see the average player wage climb to $A371,000 (£222,765) and the team salary cap from $A10.37 million to $A12.45 million (£6.2-7.5 m ), plus marketing allowances of more than $A1 million a club (£600,445).  The agreement equates to 28 per cent of total AFL industry revenues but could be even greater if club and league revenues rise above forecast projections.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,172

Thursday, 22 June 2017

 

• ICC set to introduce new nine-team Test schedule [2172-11012].

• SCG curator departs worn down by player criticism [2172-11013].

• England one week, the Caribbean the next [2172-11014].

• Football pay deal sparks new battleground in cricket war [2172-11015].

• Free fans arrested for cheering Pakistan, says Amnesty International [2172-11016].

• MCC members give plan for new flats at Lord’s the cold shoulder [2172-11017].

ICC set to introduce new nine-team Test schedule.

Tim Wigmore.

The Independent.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2172-11012.

Test cricket could be revolutionised if the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) proposal to create a new nine-team league structure for the Test game is passed at the world body's on-going 2017 annual conference week in London.  The ICC has long believed that Test cricket needs proper context and structure if it is to remain relevant. After a string of recent proposals, including a two-divisional structure and conferences, have floundered, the ICC is cautiously optimistic that the new proposal will pass, its Cricket Committee recently supporting the concept (PTG 2146-10891, 26 May 2017).

Under the plans, the top nine Test nations in the world would each play three home and away series over a two-year cycle. At the end of the cycle, the top two nations would meet in the World Test Championship final. The first final is likely to be played at Lord’s in 2021, with Eden Gardens and the Sydney Cricket Ground also viewed as suitable venues to host the final in the future.

Previously, it was envisaged that the nine team structure would entail all teams playing each other home or away over the two-year cycle. However, it is now accepted that the onerous modern schedule, with domestic Twenty20 leagues competing with international cricket, will make a balanced structure impossible. 

The reform is viewed as imperfect but far preferable to the status quo (PTG 2168-11000, 18 June 2017). It is believed that the extra context of matches will improve interest in them. A great advantage of the new structure is that fans will have an extra reason to follow Tests involving other countries, as these will impact whether their country reaches the Test Championship final. 

The ICC would try to make the competition as fair as possible by working to equalise each team’s schedule, to prevent some countries from having a far easier fixture list than others. Each series would have a certain amount of points attached to it - perhaps even as simple as three points for a win and one for a draw - allowing a league table to be formed.

Pragmatically, then, countries could adjust their overall number of Test matches depending on the appetite for the format; some teams could play as few as 12 Test matches over the two-year cycle, while others like England would play considerably more.  The structure would deliberately leave the number of matches in each series at the discretion of the boards organising the series, with anything from two to five games possible. As a result, the Ashes would be unaffected and could continue to be played over five matches. 

Afghanistan and Ireland, who are expected to be formally elevated to Test status on Thursday, would join Zimbabwe in being outside the nine-team structure. These three nations would predominantly play Tests against each other, topped-up by some one-off Tests against the top nine: for instance, Ireland would hope to play a home Test against countries who toured England. In the long-term - perhaps in five years or so - the ICC hope that the three nations could be elevated to the main Test league. 

Meanwhile, the ICC also hopes to pass the proposed new 13-team One Day International league. This would commence in 2019, after the next World Cup, and would involve all teams playing a three-match series home or away against each other over a three year cycle. The standings would be used to determine automatic World Cup qualification, and are another attempt to give international cricket greater context, to help it co-exist alongside thriving domestic T20 leagues.

SCG curator departs worn down by player criticism.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2172-11013.

A new curator will prepare the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) pitch for a potentially deciding Ashes Test in January after the resignation of the long-serving Tom Parker, who admits he is leaving after being worn down by criticismfrom the modern generation of players and administrators.  The sight of the unassuming Parker atop the roller or briefing the press on the eve of a New Year's Test has been a fixture since he became the ground's eighth curator in 1997.

However, he does not hide from the fact the more recent pressures associated with the job have taken their toll, not least the challenges of juggling the priorities of the venue's tenants, cricket, and the Australian Rules Football side the Sydney Swans.  "I always said I'd do this job until I don't want to do it anymore and it sort of got to that point”, said Parker.  

"The SCG is like a fishbowl with everyone looking in. Everyone is an expert. The players today ... they're different to what it was it was 10, 15 years ago. Everyone's expectations are well and above reality.  It's very hard to win an argument against elite sportspeople. You've got someone who is the best in the world in whatever code it is say something everyone listens and they'll listen to you last. In years gone by the administrations or the players themselves were probably a bit more understanding of the needs of what we had to do”.

In April the SCG was rated by state captains and match referees as the worst first-class venue in Australia (PTG 2103-10663, 13 April 2017).  Parker was stung previously by criticism by Australian coach Darren Lehmann of the last Ashes Test pitch in 2013-14 after the hosts completed a 5-0 sweep of England in three days.

"What would happen if they lost this Ashes [next January] and it's over in three and a half days? Are we going to go through the same scenario again or is someone going to put their hand up and say 'we weren't' good enough?' It's always the blame game and it's never their fault”, he said.  "That can wear you down after a while and you think 'I don't need that in my life’".

Parker is also adamant that officials erred in one of the most controversial episodes of his tenure – the abandoning of a Sheffield Shield game between NSW and Victoria in 2015 which ultimately cost NSW a place in that season's final (PTG 1686-8286, 12 November 2015).  "I believe they got it wrong and I was actually told some months post that by some officials in Cricket Australia that in hindsight that they probably made a kneejerk reaction”, he said.  "It was very hard to take. I've moved on from that but I don't want to deal with that anymore” (PTG 1727-8579, 3 January 2016).

Parker will, however, leave in September with countless precious memories, from Shane Warne's 300th Test wicket to Steve Waugh's "perfect day" century.  "I've been very lucky to be at the top of the tree in my career and I'm really appreciative of that. I don't want to be known as the whinging curator who's crying into his beer because he's had a bit of criticism. I've had some great experiences here”, he said.

England one week, the Caribbean the next.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2172-11014.

A week after working in the Champions League series in England, David Boon, Kumar Dharmasena and Chris Gaffaney, are now in the Caribbean to officiate in the five-match One Day International (ODI) series between the West Indies and India.  Boon will oversee the games in Trinidad, Antigua and Jamaica as the match referee, while Dharmasena will be on-field in the first, third and fifth matches with Gaffaney the television umpire, the latter two swapping roles in games two and four.

Three of the four West Indian members of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel will be on-field during the series, the fourth in that group, Gregory Brathwaite being in England for the Womens’ World Cup (PTG 2168-10998, 18 June 2017).  Leslie Reifer will get a second chance to get on to the ground in an ODI in the last match of the series, what was to have been his debut earlier this month being washed out (PTG 2160-10958, 10 June 2017), while Nigel Duguid and Joel Wilson will each stand in two of the games.

The series will take Boon’s recored as a referee in ODIs to 99, Dharmasena to 82 on-field and 44 as a television umpire (82/44), Gaffaney to 52/27, and Wilson, Duguid and Reifer to 43, 4 and 1 on-field respectively.

Football pay deal sparks new battleground in cricket war.

Jon Pierik and Andrew Wu.

Fairfax media.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2172-11015.

Cricket Australia (CA) and its players have found another reason to be at loggerheads - this time the Australian Football league's (AFL) new collective bargaining agreement.  The AFL and its players confirmed a new six-year, $1.84 billion (£UK1.1 bn) pay deal on Tuesday, at a time when cricket's pay discussions have stalled (PTG 2171-11011, 21 June 2017).

AFL chairman Richard Goyder and chief executive Gillon McLachlan were quick to emphasis the "partnership" the league shared with the players, reinforced in what all parties said was a "genuine win-win", with the players securing about 28 per cent of league revenue, including an extra 28 per cent of un-budgeted AFL revenue and 11.2 per cent of club revenue.  Conversely, Australia's top cricketers believe CA is no longer interested in a partnership, for the governing body wants to all but end the set-percentage pay model they have used since 1997.

While the two sports have different economics, Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief Alistair Nicholson was quick to praise the AFL and AFL Players Association (AFLPA) chief Paul Marsh (a former ACA boss) for "embracing the virtues" of a partnership.  "Partnership works - that's the message. And it's what the AFL and the AFLPA are starting to embrace. Players and administrators growing the game for everyone as partners is how to make a sport successful”, said Nicholson on Wednesday.  

A CA spokesman said the AFL agreement differed to cricket's current pay model.  "First, [the AFL deal] only contemplates a share of revenue above budget forecast, rather than a fixed percentage of defined revenue streams. Second, it takes the costs of generating that revenue into account, whereas the current cricket model does not and is simply a gross share”, he said.  "So this model is very different to cricket's and in important respects is much closer to the modified model that CA has proposed”.

Nicholson said the "AFL is at a different stage of evolving the partnership than cricket”.  "But what's clear is that this sense of co-operation is the way to go. And that this deal was also based on the AFLPA having access to the necessary financial information provides a telling message in their partnership approach”, Nicholson said.

The ACA maintains it has been frustrated by the lack of financial detail in CA's submission for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). CA has countered by claiming 80 per cent of its revenue is "unsecured" and too difficult to predict at this stage. CA will soon officially go to market for a new broadcast rights deal for international cricket and the Big Bash League at a time when the major networks are struggling financially (PTG 2164-10979, 14 June 2017).

As previously reported, CA lead negotiator Kevin Roberts has begun a national roadshow, preaching to state players why CA's submission should be accepted (PTG 2171-11011, 21 June 2017).  During a meeting with state players in Sydney, at which Roberts and Cricket NSW chief Andrew Jones were present, CA's head of team performance, Pat Howard, pointed to the current troubles Rugby Union has in Australia due to the national side, the Wallabies, poor on-field performance, dwindling participation numbers and the strength of other football codes. 

Howard, a former Wallaby himself, argued the incredible growth of the Australian Football League and rugby league was because those codes did not have a revenue-share model, which both Rugby Union and cricket currently have.   A key thrust of CA’s MoU proposal for the next five years is the ditching of the current revenue-share agreement.

The ACA and CA are expected to have more unofficial discussions this week but rapid progress will be needed over the next nine days to get a deal done.

Free fans arrested for cheering Pakistan, says Amnesty International.

The Guardian.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2172-11016.

Nineteen cricket fans arrested in India for celebrating Pakistan’s win against India in the Champions Trophy “should be released immediately”, says Amnesty International.  On Monday police in Madhya Pradesh arrested 15 people in Burhanpur for allegedly committing “sedition” by shouting “pro-Pakistan” and “anti-India” slogans. Four more cricket fans were arrested in Karnataka allegedly for celebrating Pakistan’s 180-run win.  The 19 men were accused of spreading “communal disharmony” which is considered sedition and is punishable by life imprisonment.

Amnesty’s India programe director, Asmita Basu said:  “These arrests are patently absurd, and the 19 men should be released immediately.  Even if the arrested men had supported Pakistan, as the police claim, that is not a crime. Supporting a sporting team is a matter of individual choice, and arresting someone for cheering a rival team clearly violates their right to freedom of expression”.

According to Amnesty, the initial report by Madhya Pradesh police states: “[The accused] chanted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in support of the Pakistan cricket team … They celebrated Pakistan’s win by bursting crackers and distributing sweets … Their actions suggested that they were trying to conspire against the Indian government by supporting Pakistan in the cricket match … Because of them, there is an atmosphere of unrest in the village”.

'India Today', however, reported that police were not concerned by which team the men supported but by the pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans. But the local police chief, Raja Ram Parihar, told the AFP news agency the men were arrested after “a complaint from a local Hindu man who accused them of celebrating after India lost the match”.  Indian law defines sedition as any act or attempt “to bring into hatred or contempt, or … excite disaffection towards the government”.

Basu said: “These cases show just why the sedition law should be immediately repealed. This law is excessively broad and vague and makes it easy to silence people who are legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression. Nobody should have to go to prison merely because they are accused of causing offence”.

MCC members give plan for new flats at Lord’s the cold shoulder.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

PTG 2172-11017.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) could be risking the wrath of its members if it approves a plan to build 97 new flats at Lord’s after the development proposal was loudly opposed at a meeting on Monday evening.  The plan drawn by David Morley architects to build flats either side of a new Nursery End pavilion at the ground in St John’s Wood, London was one of two options presented to members (PTG 2158-10950, 9 June 2017).

The Morley plan would provide the MCC with £UK100 million ($A167 m) cash and £UK35 million ($A58.3 m) in new facilities, but it is understood those who made impassioned speeches against any residential development on the estate were given loud applause by most of the room.  The MCC say that the committee will listen very carefully to the views of members coming out of the consultation but if the mood at the first of five national consultation events is anything to go by, it is unlikely there will be overwhelming support for the Morley plan.

The second option would see the Nursery End of the ground developed without any residential facilities but would be paid for by MCC reserves and with some borrowing.  Monday evening’s event at Lord’s was attended by around 200 MCC members and hosted by MCC chairman Gerald Corbett and chief executive Derek Brewer. David Morley was there but was not asked separately to present his proposal.

A number of issues were raised by members including why there could not be a third option of no development at all although it is not felt that is viable given the increased competition from other grounds including The Oval, which has announced plans to increase its capacity to 40,000 (PTG 2158-10955, 9 June 2017).  One member suggested that any decisions should be delayed until the England and Wales Cricket Board have announced England match allocations between 2020 and 2024 when the MCC will know whether it will continue to be given two Test matches per summer (PTG 2159-10956, 9 June 2017).

There were also questions raised about whether planning permission would be granted to build residential properties without the developer agreeing to a certain percentage of the development being either social or affordable housing — what’s known as a section 106 agreement. No response was given on this point.  MCC members have been asked to respond to a survey on the future of the ground by the end of July, after which the club’s committee will put forward a recommendation to the members to be voted on at a special general meeting in September.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,173

Thursday, 22 June 2017

(Second edition)

 

• Changing times leads NSW association to look at competition revamps [2173-11018].

• Court acquits two in 2009 Lahore terrorist attack case [2173-11019].

• Key Champions Trophy 'no-ball' used in traffic safety campaign [2173-11020].

• Cricket bat fence draws tourists to small WA town [2173-11021].

• Former bank chief executive keeps MCC finance role [2173-11022].

Changing times leads NSW association to look at competition revamps.

Michael Parris.

Newcastle Herald.

Thursday, 22 June 21017.

PTG 2173-11018.

New South Wales' Newcastle District Cricket Association’s (NDCA) first-grade cricket games would start 90 minutes later and shrink by 20 overs under a proposal to go before clubs next week.  The proposal, if adopted, would push back first-grade starting times from 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. for two-day games and reduce the number of overs from 90 to 80 each day.  The suggestion comes from a NDCA committee formed to review two-day, one-day and Twenty20 competitions throughout the grades.

Newcastle first-grade playing days currently comprise three two-hour sessions separated by a 40-minute lunch break and 20-minute tea adjournment, mirroring first class cricket, but the committee is looking to align first grade games with those of second grade. The NDCA said in an email to clubs last week: “The major themes in the report are to simplify and align the structures of the NDCA competitions to provide more unity across the grades and assist volunteers with the management of their clubs and players”.

NDCA chairman Paul Marjoribanks said that the report also aimed to make the game more attractive for players with families and asks: “What can be done to keep people playing, especially in their thirties”.  We’re the only non-capital-city competition playing that old-fashioned 11 o’clock, one o’clock lunch break”, he said.  “We’re no longer what you’d call a feeder competition to NSW first-class cricket. Unless you’re discovered at 17 or 18 in any sport these days, you’re not going to get snaffled up. So it was let’s look at what might work best in this town, and that was one of the options. Rather than a lunch and a tea break it’s just a 20-minute break in the middle of it all".

Under the proposal being put to clubs, all three game formats now contribute towards the first-grade points table, but the committee’s report suggests hiving off the first-grade T20 competition into a stand-alone carnival format.  Twenty20 games for Under-15s, Under-19s and second grade would be played together on Sundays.  First and second grade would play finals in the one-day, 50-over, format. The proposal also floats the idea of a new Saturday one-day competition to cater for player development and father-son teams.  

The committee’s report will be presented to clubs at an NDCA information session on Tuesday and feedback will be invited before the board considers just how to move forward.

Court acquits two in 2009 Lahore terrorist attack case.

The Nation.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2173-11019.

An Pakistan anti-terrorism court acquitted two people accused of involvement in the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team and match officials in March 2009 that killed eight Pakistanis and wounded six others (PTG 380-2021, 4 March 2009).  Obaidullah and Ibrahim Khalil had been accused of providing arms and training to the ten terrorists fired rifles and used grenades and rockets, three of whom police have claimed they killed last year, and another three in United States’ drone strike. Most international cricket tours to Pakistan were subsequently cancelled and the country was forced to play all its "home" games in the United Arab Emirates (PTG 2034-10306, 30 January 2017). 

Key Champions Trophy 'no-ball' used in traffic safety campaign.

Ashish Mehta.

Times of India.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2173-11020.

Traffic police in Jaipur, India, have launched a road safety campaign by putting up posters and pictures of the overstepping 'no ball' Indian bowler Jasprit Bumrah bowled to Pakistani opener Fakhar Jaman during last Sunday’s Champions Trophy final in London.  Jaman got a nick and was caught by wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni but to no avail because of the ‘no ball’ call, and then went on to score a century that many observers in India believe cost India the match.

 

 

The posters the police are distributing, which are being plastered on signs and hoardings across the city of over three million, and distributed on ‘Twitter' and 'Facebook’, have the punchline: "Don't cross the line. You know it can be costly”.  Sanjay Agarwal, Jaipur’s commissioner of police, said: "Usually youths don't care about traffic rules, thus we have used the cricket action which is very contemporary and relevant to teach them that jumping a red light or crossing the zebra line at crossings can prove costly to their lives”.

Deputy commission Traffic, Lovely Katiar, said the campaign’s aim was to “educate the masses about keeping the vehicles behind the zebra crossing line”.  She said the post on Bumrah's no-ball got 362 retweets and 320 likes, adding that traffic police have been using their ‘Twitter' and 'Facebook 'accounts on traffic awareness.  Police plan to keep sending out messages on a range of traffic rule issues.

Cricket bat fence draws tourists to small WA town.

Lisa Morrison

ABC News.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2173-11021.

A small cricket club in regional Western Australia is home to what is believed to be the only boundary fence in the world built from cricket bats.  The unique fence at Narrikup Cricket Club, south-east of Perth between Albany and Mt Barker, escalated from a gate local resident Tony Poad made to honour club Life Member Chris Norton when he retired in 2011.

Norton played on the Narrikup cricket pitch for almost 40 years, and his family has a long connection to the club.  His grandfather George Norton was the club's original president, his father Eric was a long-serving member, and his son Jarrad is a current player.  Five old cricket bats were recycled to created 'Norton's Gate’ through which players and umpires enter and exit the oval during home matches.

 

 

Narrikup Cricket Club's Jarrad Norton and his father, Life Member Chris Norton, with Norton's Gate.

The gate was such a big hit that in 2014 the club decided to extend it into a fence.  "It is the only fence if its kind in the world”, said Poad, in what is a twist on the traditional white picket fences at bigger cricket ovals.  The fence is a talking point and helped put the small town on the tourist map.

According to the 2006 census Narrikup has an estimated population of 515.  “Small country towns are dying so it is a way to generate some interest”, continued Poad.  "We get people from all over.  There have been times you could not get in the carpark because of all the caravans and buses parked here”.  He said the project had also brought the community together.  "I think it's made people really proud of the area.  People are dragging bats out of their shed that were going to go rotten but they can now be part of the fence”.

An enormous eight-metre high cricket bat next to the clubhouse is also popular with tourists. "It's the biggest cricket bat in the Southern Hemisphere”, claims Poad.  The bat was donated to the club after Poad spoke on ABC Radio sometime ago.  "This bloke rang up and said 'I've got a bat for you but I'm not sure you're interested’.  I said 'it doesn't matter if it's cracked or damaged, we will take anything’.  He said 'it's in perfect condition but it's 8 metres long'. I couldn't believe it”.”

Poad said the club needed a total of 2,500 cricket bats to complete the fence.  So far they have received 425 from around the country.  "We've got them from Victoria, Melbourne, Meekatharra, all over the place”.  Some of the bats have been decorated by young children while others have been autographed by players after they have scored centuries.  "We've got a bat there that a six-year-old kid first used and now he's playing A-grade.  There's a lot of character”, said Poad.

The latest addition is a panel of blank cricket bats for visitors to sign.  Once the bats are covered in signatures, the panel will be added to the fence.  Poad said it was a way for people to be part of the project if they did not have a cricket bat to donate.  "Hopefully as the word gets out we will get more and more bats and we will get it done in the next few years”, Poad said.  Information about how to donate a cricket bat is available on the club’s Facebook page.

Former bank chief executive keeps MCC finance role.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2173-11022.

John Varley, the former Barclays Bank chief executive, will not be standing down from his position on the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) finance committee after he was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by the Serious Fraud Office and a further count of unlawful financial assistance over his part in a rescue deal with Qatar during the 2008 global financial crisis.

Varley, who sits on the MCC committee responsible for monitoring the club’s income and expenditure, became Barclays’ finance director in 2000 and the bank’s chief executive in 2004 before retiring in 2011. Until this week Varley was chairman of the cancer care charity, Marie Curie, but has stepped down from that and non-executive director roles, including one at mining company Rio Tinto.

The MCC has confirmed that Varley had not offered to step down from his role on its finance committee, nor would the MCC’s main committee be asking him to do so. If convicted, Varley faces up to 22 years in prison.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,174

Friday, 23 June 2017

 

• Afghanistan, Ireland now eligible to play Tests [2174-11023].

• Test, ODI leagues closer to reality [2174-11024].

• ICC approves a new constitution for themselves [2174-11025].

• BCCI accepts previously ‘unacceptable’ ICC revenue share [2174-11026].

• ECB expect £UK1bn as companies prepare for TV rights bidding war [2174-11027].

Afghanistan, Ireland now eligible to play Tests.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2174-11023.

Afghanistan and Ireland have been approved as Full Members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), a decision at this week’s ICC annual conference that means they are now eligible to become the world's 11th and 12th Test-playing nations.  The ICC said the move is the result of each country's dedication to improving performance both off and on the field, and that both "have clearly demonstrated" they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to Full Membership”. 

Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Shafiq Stanikzai said: ”For a nation like Afghanistan, it is a huge and remarkable achievement, the entire nation will be celebrating.  Afghanistan cricket has gone from strength to strength and we dared to dream that this would happen and today it has become a reality” (PTG 2137-10829, 17 May 2017).  Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom expressed similar delight, saying: “We are delighted and proud with this historic announcement. It is an extraordinary testament to the talent and endeavour of thousands of passionate players, coaches, volunteers, staff, clubs and committee people”.

‘The Guardian’newspaper is reporting that Cricket Ireland will hold talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board over a possible Lord’s Test in 2019.  Neither Ireland nor Afghanistan have a set date for their inaugural Tests and one option is a meeting between the pair in 2018. But Ireland are eyeing a return to Lord’s, where they played the second of two One Day Internationals for the first time in against England last month.

Test status marks the end of a long road for Ireland, who were given the one‑day equivalent in 2006 and have since made a habit of causing upsets in the past three World Cups with wins against Pakistan, England and West Indies. They have also dominated the ICC’s first-class competition for ICC second-tier associate nations, the Intercontinental Cup.

The decision to upgrade the two nation’s membership status followed the unanimous adoption of an extensively revised ICC constitution which transformed the world body’s membership process through the adoption of new membership criteria (PTG 2174-11025 below).  The last nation to be elevated to Test level was Bangladesh 17 years ago, the country playing their 100th Test earlier this year (PTG 2064-10453, 3 March 2017).

Test, ODI leagues closer to reality.

Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 22 June 2017.

PTG 2174-11024.

Efforts to contextualise international cricket are a step closer to reality after the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Chief Executives Committee (CEC) worked out a viable schedule for Test and One Day International (ODI) ‘leagues'.   Option C, as the proposal is known, includes a rolling Test league starting in 2019, in which the top-nine Test teams will play 12 Test series on a home-and-away basis over four years (PTG 2172-11012, 22 June 2017). 

As it stands, the Test league does not have any space for either Ireland or Afghanistan (PTG 2174-11023 above); Zimbabwe, the lowest-ranked Test side currently, will also not be part of the league. The proposal also contains an ODI league of the top 13 teams to be played over two years from 2020.  Last month the ICC's Cricket Committee again supported the general league concept (PTG 2146-10891, 26 May 2017).

Option C now awaits ratification by the ICC Board which meets on Friday. But that is being looked upon with optimism, given that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who had been staunchly against potential structures proposed previously, has backed the new proposal. If approved by the Board, the ICC will formalise the plan, add in specifics such as dates, terms and conditions, and present a more detailed schedule to the CEC for approval at ICC meetings in October.

The new Test League is likely to start immediately after the 2019 World Cup and run until the beginning of the 2023 World Cup. It will conclude with a play-off between the top two teams at the end of the cycle.

Under the proposal, each country is allowed to play a maximum of 12 Test series - with a minimum of two Test matches per series - over the four-year cycle. Half of the series will be at home, half away. In any given year, one side will play two home series but only one the following year (three home series in two years, or six in four). Twelve Test series over four years is not far off from what Full Members played in a four-year stretch from 2011-15: Australia played 12, England 13, India 12, South Africa 12, New Zealand 16, West Indies 13, Pakistan 14, Sri Lanka 14, Zimbabwe 9 and Bangladesh 10. 

One of the main obstacles to creating these new structures has been the lack of space in a calendar now bearing the weight of international cricket as well as a growing domestic Twenty20 league calendar. One of the main concerns raised by the ICC in April to the structure discussions was the need to schedule less Test cricket, but make it more meaningful - that has brought down the number of Test series each side plays in four years from 16, in an earlier proposal, to 12.

Member boards retain autonomy over who they play. Countries are allowed to play bilateral series outside the Test league, though the windows are likely to be limited to marquee series like the Ashes. The latest structure essentially allows teams to build home seasons into the calendar, increasingly a growing concern for a number of members. The BCCI is likely to split its home seasons between September-November and February-March. 

The glaring bilateral omission from the schedule is, of course, India and Pakistan, who have no series planned for either league. The BCCI has made it clear to the Pakistan Cricket Board that without the permission of the Indian federal government, it cannot play a bilateral series even on neutral territory. 

ICC approves a new constitution for themselves.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2174-11025.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) "unanimously" adopted an "extensively revised" constitution at its 2017 annual conference in London, and what they describe as a radical new governance structure is set to change the way cricket would be run and administered.  

Last April, Full Members on the ICC Board voted 8-2 in favour of carrying out various changes to the governance structure, including having just two levels of memberships, Full and Associate, an independent female director on Board, increasing the votes on the Board, creating a new position of deputy chairman who would chair board meetings in the absence of a chairman, and creating a membership committee which would monitor the status of all members. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India and Sri Lanka Cricket were the only two boards that opposed the governance structure in April. However, negotiations between them and the ICC in the intervening months seems to have resolved the knotty issues and all those changes will not come into force. 

ICC Chairman, Shashank Manohar said via a media release that the new constitution is significant because the members had accepted to "improve governance" to benefit them. "Throughout this process we have shown the strength of a collective and unified approach and I would like to pay tribute to my Board colleagues who have been so determined to reach consensus. They have not focused solely on their own country but have ensured cricket around the world benefits”.

BCCI accepts previously ‘unacceptable’ ICC revenue share.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2174-11026.

India's share of world cricket revenues will increase from the eight-year, 2016-23, $US293 million ($A389 m, £UK231 m) proposed earlier this year to $US405 million ($A537 m, £UK319 m) under a new deal agreed at the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual conference in London.  That’s a sharp drop from the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) projected $US570 million ($A756 m, £UK449 m) allocation under the so-called 'Big Three’ model of 2014.

$US405 million is the same figure acting BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary described in April as not "anywhere even close" to the Indian board's contribution to global cricket revenues (PTG 2119-10747, 1 May 2017).  That led to threats to withdraw from this month’s the Champions Trophy series in England unless the revenue-sharing deal was restructured (PTG 2117-10743, 29 April 2017).

Other revenue allocations agreed to in London across the eight years were: the England and Wales Cricket Board $US139 m ($A184 m, £UK110 m), Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies all $US128 m ($A170 m, £UK101 m), and Zimbabwe $US94 m ($A125 m, £UK74 m).  ICC second-tier Associate Members, together with Ireland and Afghanistan, will collectively receive funding of $US240 ($A318 m, £UK189 m).  The figures are based on the ICC earning $US2.7 billion ($A3.6 bn, £UK2.1 bn) from the new rights cycle to 2023.

ECB expect £UK1bn as companies prepare for TV rights bidding war.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2174-11027.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has set a deadline of Tuesday next week to receive bids for its next live television rights deal which is expected to raise £UK 1.2 billion ($A2 bn).  Broadcasters have been told to submit their financial offers to Lord’s on Tuesday with the possibility of an announcement within 24 hours, although it is likely to take a little longer with a second round of bids a possibility.

The ECB has received presentations from broadcasters over the past three weeks for its next rights deal to run between 2020-2024.  It is understood the BBC delegation was led by Lord Hall, the director general, underlining the corporation’s desperation to win the rights to the 12 Twenty20 matches that have been set aside for free to air television.

But it is the bidding war between pay TVs 'BT Sport' and ‘Sky' that is going to decide if the ECB realises its target of raising its £1.2 bn target.  The BT board has cleared the way to make a substantial bid for the rights which if successful would be a huge coup as it would break the ‘Sky' monopoly on cricket that it has held since 2006.

But ‘Sky' will be desperate to keep hold of its cricket content, particularly after losing Champions League live rights to ‘BT' earlier this year. ‘Sky' still has two years to run on its current deal with the ECB and managing that relationship in the event of ‘BT' winning the rights from 2020 will be one issue the board will have to take into consideration.

The ECB has been hearing from broadcasters how they intend to widen the game’s reach both in terms of its production and digital offering but also a commitment to grassroots sport and initiatives aimed at clubs. ‘BT' has promised to deliver a wide reach through its 17 million broadband and telephone customers. ‘Sky' would possibly launch a standalone cricket channel, a move that could be replicated across other sports.

The ECB’s All Stars cricket program was launched this year with the aim of attracting more children to the sport and could also be supported financially by the winning bidder (PTG 2080-10533, 21 March 2017).  The board is concerned about its reach which is why it offered a free to air package including ten games in the new Twenty20 city based competition and two England Twenty20 Internationals.

Earlier this year Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the ECB, stated “we have no ambition to be the richest, most irrelevant sport in this country”, suggesting money will not be the only driving factor in the decision (PTG 2137-10831, 17 May 2017).

But the board has promised the 18 counties a £UK1.3 m ($A2.2 m) annual payment from the new Twenty20 tournament and the set up costs of the competition will also be huge so a big number will be needed.  The ECB made a loss last year of £UK37 m ($A62 m) although most of this was budgeted and caused by extra payments to the counties.

But the board has asked for an upfront £UK100 m ($A168 m) payment from the winner of its new broadcast rights, money that will help to bridge the gap caused by the loss of financial value in selling rights to India. The ECB, and other boards, previously made huge sums from selling its television rights in Asia but the market has declined for cricket not involving India.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,175

Friday, 23 June 2017

(Second edition)

 

• CA ‘blinks’ in pay impasse but union not buying [2175-11028]. 

• MCC appoint new ‘Laws of Cricket Advisor' [2175-11029]

CA ‘blinks’ in pay impasse but union not buying.

Chris Barrett and Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2175-11028.

The stage has been set for the rancorous pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) to career off the "cliff" beyond the 30 June deadline after the players' union branded as "insufficient" a revised CA pay offer and advised players not to sign individual contracts issued by the governing body on Friday.  

With a week left to the deadline and a break to the impasse not in sight, CA on Friday offered a concession of sorts in a letter from lead negotiator Kevin Roberts to ACA chief Alistair Nicholson, saying all domestic players would be included in a share of the game's surplus and have their annual pay rises topped up.  It has not served, however, as the circuit breaker that is desperately needed for a resolution to be found to the ongoing saga, which hinges largely on the players' desire to retain a share of the game's revenue.  

In a video message filmed for players late on Friday, Nicholson said: "Whilst any movement is welcome, this movement is insufficient. The letter containing this offer is not an accurate reflection of how far apart the parties remain with a week to go”.  "It's not revenue-sharing for all players. Also CA has provided inadequate financial information to us, meaning we cannot provide you with the best advice you need to make informed decisions”.

Nicholson also told players that CA's sending of individual contracts on Friday had been done without the ACA's consultation and the contracts did not contain terms and conditions. "Our advice is to please do not sign”, he said.

CA hit back on Friday night, claiming that "full financial information was provided to the ACA in confidence" this week.  "The ACA currently has all figures and scenarios that [CA] is working with”, said then national body in a statement. "This information is sufficient for players and their union to assess CA's pay offer. As CA has explained many times to the ACA, 80 per cent of cricket's revenue is uncontracted for the next five years, and confidential scenarios are the appropriate and financially responsible way to approach the issue.  Details of this offer are able to be negotiated with the ACA, which CA has indicated today."

The players' union had earlier called for the intervention of CA chief executive James Sutherland to engage in emergency mediation with Nicholson in an effort to "rescue cricket from the 30 June cliff”.  Sutherland has been in London this week attending the International Cricket Council’s annual conference week.

CA also made no reference to the contentious $A29 million (£UK17.2 m) of adjustment ledger it proposes to carry over to the new deal in its revised offer, but said it would increase the $A20 million (£UK11.9 m) cap on the share of international cricket surplus to include all domestic players.  CA's planned model had included international men sharing in up to $A16 million (£UK9.5 m) of surpluses, with the leading women sharing in up to $A4 million (£UK2.4 m). Sheffield Shield players were to be excluded for the first time since the maiden 1997 deal was brokered.

Roberts wrote in his letter to Nicholson: "Player feedback suggests that the sharing of international cricket surpluses with male and female domestic players and the level of pay increases for male state players are critical issues for them.  CA is now offering to increase the international cricket surpluses that are shared with players; include all domestic players in the sharing arrangements, and increase annual pay rises to male state players (with commensurate increases for WNCL [Womens’ National Cricket League] and WBBL [Womens’ Big Bash League] players to maintain gender pay)”.  Roberts said that contracts had been distributed to players so that they could seek advice and "conditional upon a new Memorandum of Understanding being agreed". 

There are plans for emergency ACA executive and player meetings if next Friday's deadline passes, as appears likely, without at least an agreement in principle on a new pay deal.  ACA president Greg Dyer said on Friday that the union would step up plans to secure new commercial sponsors for players through their new image-rights company, 'The Cricketers’ Brand’ (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017). This could also lead to players forming a breakaway competition if a broadcaster can be found.  The ACA is also preparing to help pay players through a hardship fund (PTG 2139-10840, 19 May 2017).

Dyer said: "As things stand, from 30 June most of Australia's elite male and female cricket players will be unemployed, jeopardising upcoming tours and ultimately the summer of cricket. This creates uncertainty for broadcasters, sponsors, players and administrators, and potentially stains the game, in the eyes of fans, and Australia's reputation in the international community”.

Australian captain Steve Smith bought into the debate on Friday, declaring the players were united behind the ACA. "The players are completely united behind the ACA in these negotiation terms. We know they're working incredibly hard for us to get the best outcome for the game and the fairest share for the players as well”, he said.  Australian batsman Aaron Finch said players were determined to retain the current model, saying: "we are not asking for what we haven't had in the past. It's just about what is fair and reasonable for the players”.

CA's pay offer, on face value, would appear to be lucrative for elite female players, with average annual salaries to leap from $A79,000 (£UK46,970) to $A179,000 (£UK106,430). The average pay for state-based female cricketers will rise from $22,000 to $52,000 (£UK13,080-30,915) at a time when the WBBL remains in a fledgling state.  Players also want $A29 million (£UK17.2 m) of adjustment ledger money from the existing MoU paid out now, rather than carried forward into next deal, which CA has indicated it wants to do.

MCC appoint new ‘Laws of Cricket Advisor'.

PTG Editor.

MCC media release.

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2175-11029.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has appointed former senior sports journalist Jonny Singer as its  'Laws of Cricket Advisor’ position.  Singer, who commenced in the Lord’s-based job on Wednesday, fills the vacancy that arose following the retirement of Mark Williams late last year (PTG 1485-7182, 17 December 2014).  

A specialist in African football, Singer has reported on tournaments played in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and also worked as an online news editor at the London newspaper the ‘Daily Mail’.  Part of the latter work involved heading up their live text commentary of Test cricket, an activity that led to him covering international series around the world from the Mail’s Kensington office.  While he is both a qualified soccer and rugby referee, the MCC say cricket has long been his principal sport, and he still plays and umpires in the recreational game.

As the Laws Advisor title implies, Singer will carry out work that relates to the game’s Laws and be responsible for producing and reviewing market on-line training and education materials for match officials at all levels and all around the world, work that is aimed at eventually awarding various degrees of accreditation (PTG 2052-10397, 18 February 2017).  

Other key projects include investigating commercial opportunities that may exist in relation to the MCC’s ownership of the Laws, assisting with the production of Laws of Cricket animations, and looking into illegal cricket equipment issues.   The role also covers all Laws related administration, writing content for the Lord’s website and the annual summary of the work of the Laws sub-committee for the Club’s Annual Report. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,176

Saturday, 24 June 2017

 

• ICC accepts ’send offs’ for ‘violence’, but no ’sin bin' [2176-11030].

• Batsman becomes first ‘Obstructing the Field’ dismissal in a T20I [2176-11031].

• Cricket Ireland target new €6m stadium [2176-11031].

• Technological progress puts edge on players’ skills [2176-11032].

ICC accepts ’send offs’ for ‘violence’, but no ’sin bin’?

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

PTG 2176-11030.

International umpires will have the “power" to send off players from the field in response to "the most serious incidents of player misconduct, such as violence on the field”, after the board of the International Cricket Council (ICC) accepted "the majority” of changes to the Laws that will come into force in October.  That change flows as a result of of a number of recommendations submitted to the board by it’s Cricket Committee following its 2017 annual meeting late last month (PTG 2146-10888, 26 May 2017). 

Under the new Laws Code, send off offences include ’threatening an umpire’, ‘physical assault of another player, umpire, team official or spectator’; or 'any act of violence on the field of play’ (PTG 2068-10464, 8 March 2017).  In such circumstances the new Law says that in addition to the departure of the player concerned, a substitute for him of her will not be allowed for the rest of the game and five penalty runs are to be awarded to the opposing side.  Should the player sent off be batting, they will be ‘Retired Out’, and if nine wickets are down at the time of the offence, their team’s innings will be completed.

It would appear from the wording of the ICC media release, that the ‘sin bin’, or  ‘temporary' dismissal from the match, provision of the new Code will not apply, but that is yet to be confirmed.  To attract that sanction, a player must be judged to have conducted offences such as: ‘intimidating an umpire by language or gesture’, or ‘threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator’.  In ‘timed’ matches the player deemed to have committed such a breach will have to leave the field of play for ten overs, and in limited over games for one-fifth of the number of overs available to each side “at the start” of a match.

Other Laws changes accepted by the ICC board that are mentioned in the media release that detailed its decisions, include the restriction on the thickness of edges and depth of bat (PTG 1998-10084, 8 December 2016), and that a batsman will have made his or her ground when a bat bounces after being grounded behind the crease by a running or diving batsman (PTG 2067-10462, 7 March 2017). 

There was no mention of other changes such as: substitutes being allowed to wicketkeep (PTG 2102-10652, 12 April 2017); batsmen formally being prevented from taking strike in the Protected Area (PTG 2102-10653, 12 April 2017); the bowling of deliberate front foot ‘no balls’ being treated in same way as deliberate full-tosses (PTG 2102-10654, 12 April 2017); and the allowing of “mechanisms” that tether the bails to the stumps in the hope injuries to wicketkeepers will be reduced (PTG 2102-10655, 12 April 2017).  There is no reason to think though that they have not been adopted.

Other proposals put forward by the Cricket Committee that were accepted included: that the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) be used in all Twenty20 Internationals, that teams not lose a review when an LBW review comes back as 'Umpire’s Call, and that the 80 over top-up of reviews in Test cricket be removed (PTGV2146-10892, 26 May 2017).  Minimum standards for the use of the UDRS for international cricket were also agreed, including the mandatory use of accredited ball tracking and edge detection technology.  

However, there was no mention of Cricket Committee recommendations that third umpires in international matches being given responsibility for calling ‘no balls’ where instant replays are available in games (PTG 2146-10889, 26 May 2017), or that a two year trial of ‘concussion substitutes’ be conducted (PTG PTG 2146-10890, 26 May 2017).  That does not necessarily mean though that they will not actually proceed.

Batsman becomes first ‘Obstructing the Field’ dismissal in a T20I.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

PTG 2176-11031.

England batsman Jason Roy became the first batsman to be given out ‘Obstructing the Field’ in a Twenty20 International (T20I) during his side’s second game of the three-match series against South Africa in Taunton on Friday.  Whilst trying to regain his ground, Roy veered off a straight course, the result of which he placed himself between the incoming throw from the outfield at the stumps, the ball hitting him on the heel.

South African players immediately appealed and, after on-field umpires Rob Bailey and Michael Gough referred the decision, Roy was given out by television umpire Tim Robinson.  Bailey appeared to give a ‘not out’ soft signal in asking for the review.  England captain Eion Morgan insisted later it had been a "50-50 call". "Everyone in the changing room thought it could go either way, so it’s not massively controversial [but] you can see why the umpires gave him out”.

Across all formats, Roy is the third England player to be dismissed in this fashion. The first ever case of a batsman being declared out ‘Obstructing the Field’ was another Englishman, Len Hutton, in 1951, the so far only dismissal of its kind in Test cricket. The second instance was in 2015 when Roy’s current teammate Ben Stokes was declared out in One Day International (ODI) against Australia (PTG 1639-8021, 7 September 2015).

Roy is also only the eighth player across formats to be out for obstructing the field. The list includes Hutton, Pakistan players Rameez Raja, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Anwar Ali, India’s Mohinder Amarnath and Stokes. In the women’s game, India’s Thirush Kamini remains the only player to have been dismissed in such a way, that being in an ODI against West Indies in 2016.

Cricket Ireland target new €6m stadium.

Nick Royle.

The Times.

Saturday, 24 june 2017.

PTG 2176-11032.

Cricket Ireland (CI) intends lobbying the government for €3 million ($A4.4 m, £UK2.6 m) to help build a national cricket stadium at the Malahide Cricket Club in the aftermath of the International Cricket Council’s decision to award Ireland full member status (PTG 2174-11023, 22 June 2017).  Work proposed includes a new pavilion with television and media facilities, and 1,500 permanent seats.

CI now hope to build a new €6 million ($A8.9 m, £UK5.2 m) stadium at Malahide Cricket Club, which will include a new pavilion with television and media facilities, and 1,500 permanent seats.  Warren Deutrom, CI’s chief executive, said: “We want a stadium that is future-proofed for 25 years.  We don’t want to build something small that will do us for now. We want to build something that matches our ambitions”.

CI spent €1 million ($A1.5 m, £UK874,700) on hosting the recent Tri-Series in Dublin involving New Zealand and Bangladesh, and “risked the house” on building and selling out a 10,000-seat capacity pop-up stadium for the One Day International (ODI) against England in 2013.  Fingal county council estimates that that 2013 ODI against England brought in an extra €1 million to the local economy, and CI will argue that a new, permanent stadium in Malahide would financially benefit the whole region.

Speaking at a meeting to celebrate Ireland’s promotion to Test status, Brendan Griffin, Ireland's new Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, hinted that the government would financially back the proposed new stadium.

Technological progress puts edge on players’ skills.

Andrew Faulkner.

The Australian.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

PTG 2176-11033.

The Australians made an early exit from the Champions Trophy but before leaving they were one of the most enthusiastic early adopters of technology unveiled in the tournament.  David Warner, Aaron Finch and Travis Head all had electronic ‘BatSense’ “pucks” fitted to the top of their bat handles to record bat speed and blade angle.  The devices feed information to the commentary booth and will soon be coming to a mobile phone or laptop near you (PTG 2153-10921, 31 May 2017).

The technology will hit the Australian market in August. It will retail for about $A200 (£UK118) and be targeted at club players and coaches.  It maps minor changes in a player’s bat-swing that might just be the reason why he or she is ­edging to slip instead of peeling off fours through cover.  It also adds another layer of data to a game that is as much about facts and figures as it is about athletic pursuits.

Leading players have been offered the ‘Batsense’ technology for free by its manufacturer ‘Speculur’.  The firm will focus on marketing the product to the next tier down — the millions of aspiring players and their coaches across the world.  The company's managing director Atul Srivastava said ‘BatSense' was a “powerhouse” that had the potential to reveal secrets such as how some players time the ball better than others. “The bat is the weapon of the player so let us unlock the bat”, he said.

Anuj Dua, director of marketing for computer chip manufacturer Intel’s New Technology Group, said the bat sensors would open a whole new set of insights into how the best players execute their strokes, from the ramp to the late cut. “Bat speed is a common terminology used in broadcast, right? But it’s used very casually, where a commentator says: ‘Wow, he’s generated a lot of bat speed’. But what does that number look like? Now with this bat sensor we will be able to give you that information precisely”.

Intel Sports vice president Sandra Lopez chose a curious analogy to describe developments in computer technology.  “Data is the new oil, but it won’t deliver value unless you refine it”, she said in London.  “It’s about the technology bringing the data to the fans.  We’re entering the next rev­olution of technology: The ­miniaturisation of computing, computational power to compute complex data sets, and for that matter the rise of artificial intelligence”, Lopez said.

Faulkner travelled to the Champions Trophy courtesy of computer chip manufacturer ‘Intel’.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,177

Sunday, 25 June 2017

 

• Counties in ‘leap of faith’ with first floodlit games [2177-11033].

• Fielder apologises after images show catch was a six [2177-11034].

• Sport nears the end of its innings as TV’s cash cow [2177-11035].

• Ashes sponsors nervous as pay dispute drags on [2177-11036].

• ‘Facebook’ tipped to net ECB cricket highlights clips [2177-11037].

Counties in ‘leap of faith’ with first floodlit games.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2177-11033.

County cricket will take a “leap of faith” this week with a round of floodlit championship matches designed to prepare England players for the first day-night Test in this country.  The counties will see that rare sight of an England Test player in their dressing room for this week’s matches which start on Monday, with Joe Root back for Yorkshire and Ben Stokes for Durham (PTG 2162-10970, 13 June 2017).

The fixtures fall a few days after the longest day so the floodlights will be barely used but the county schedule is so tightly packed, with Twenty20 cricket played in a block for a month from the first week of July, that this round of matches was the only option ahead of the floodlit Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August.

A pink ball made by ‘Dukes', the company that manufactures red balls used in Test and county cricket in England, will be used after it was successfully trialled in the Champion County match in Abu Dhabi in March. That game was a low-scoring affair with the ball behaving differently in the twilight hour before the lights took over and proper darkness descended (PTG 2141-10858, 21 May 2017).

There is likely to be a much longer twilight this week, which poses a few tactical questions for the counties. When do they attack the pink ball, do they bowl spinners earlier and how do batsmen approach the twilight session? With the modern game dominated by the bat, this could be a good week to be a bowler. England bowler Stuart Broad described the seam on the pink Duke ball as “lovely” when he bowled with it for the ‘Sky TV' cameras last week and if there are cloudy evenings next week then games are unlikely to last the distance.

Matches start at 2 p.m. with ‘lunch’ at 4 p.m. and tea at 6.40 pm with a cut off at 10 p.m. Counties are offering discounts after the first session to try to lure the after-work crowd who will have a rare chance to see some of the best players in England in domestic action.

With floodlit Test cricket spreading around the world, England are playing a day-night Test in Adelaide this coming austral summer (PTG 2003-10125, 13 December 2016), there will be more rounds of County Championship cricket played under the lights in the future.

It is not for every county. Kent ­declined the offer of a floodlit match believing their members would prefer more traditional championship cricket and Middlesex are not playing at Lord’s due to restrictions on using the lights. Instead they play at Chelmsford, where Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir will make his debut for leaders Essex, a challenge for the Middlesex batsmen with a red ball, let alone the pink one.

Alan Fordham, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s operations manager in charge of scheduling, said: “The floodlights are not all about playing under a dark sky, it is about being able to start later with an ­opportunity to bring in a crowd after work.  There are unknowns about it and we are up front about that and it is a challenge to get a full round of matches in where the lights are available. We have a Test match in August, so if there are any problems we are going to learn from this.  You have to take the leap of faith to find out what the answers are”.

This week the sun will set after 9.15 p.m. at all nine county venues.  When England play their first home Test under lights in Birmingham in August, sunset will be around 8.35 p.m., less than half an hour before the scheduled close.  But a good crowd turnout this week may depend on the great British weather.

Fielder apologises after images show catch was a six.

PTG Editor

Agence France Presse

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2177-11034.

Zimbabwe’s Ryan Burl has apologised after claiming a catch with his foot over the boundary line rope in his side's one-day match with the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday.  Home side opener Stephan Myburg lofted a delivery towards long-on, where Burl juggled the ball before throwing it up to himself and claimed a successful catch.  Photographs later clearly showed Burl with his feet over the rope, and seemingly with a clear view of his out-of-bounds position before claiming the catch.  

 

 

The images were soon circulated on social media and Burl later used the same medium to apologise. "I would like to sincerely apologise again to Stephan who I spoke to after the game, all the Netherlands players and supporters.  I have seen the pictures and it clearly shows a six.  I thought at the time that I had caught it fine.  I then turned around and asked the ball boy and family behind me if it was a clean catch or not to make sure and they said it was clean. I would never intentionally claim something that I did not think was out. Apologies again”.

Dutch captain Peter Borren accepted the apology. The teams had agreed pre-series to take the fielder's word for contentious catches with no third umpires in use for the three-match series that, because the Netherlands has lost their one-day international status, is being played as List A games. 

Sport nears the end of its innings as TV’s cash cow.

Simon Duke

The Sunday Times.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2177-11035.

Seven years ago, Surrey county cricket club was bowled a bouncer. The summer was a washout and a match-fixing scandal erupted in the middle of England’s series against Pakistan (PTG 669-3286, 17 September 2010).  For the club, this proved a calamity. After failing to sell out a five-day Test match at The Oval, it plunged into the red. “It was a disastrous year. We lost a lot of money”, said Richard Thompson, Surrey’s chairman.

Since then the club has enjoyed a renaissance. Surrey took a big punt on Twenty20 — cricket’s popular shortened format — and turned its home ground into a corporate events destination.  Now its fortunes could be transformed anew — thanks to a huge influx of television cash. 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is poised to announce the winners of an auction of broadcast rights, with the five-season deal expected to pump about £UK1 billion ($A1.69 bn) into the game. “It’ll be a windfall for every county. For us, it’ll help turn The Oval into the biggest cricket ground in the country”, said Thompson (PTG 2158-10955, 9 June 2017). At £UK200 m ($A338 m) a season, the new broadcasting deal is nearly three times the current £UK75m-a-year ($A127 m) contract with ‘Sky'. The hyperinflation that has minted multiple football millionaires is about to sweep through England’s cricket clubs.

Yet this battle could prove the high-water mark in the war for live sports between ‘Sky' boss Jeremy Darroch and Gavin Patterson, his counterpart at ‘BT'. Both need cricket to fill the voids on their sports channels during the fallow summer months. But there is growing evidence that subscribers are turning away from the main staple of their broadcasting schedules: live football.

Average viewing on Sky’s live sports channels fell 14 per cent over the course of last year’s Premier League season, yet the contract to broadcast the games cost the satellite giant two-thirds more than its previous deal. Sky paid £UK 4.2 billion ($A7.1 bn) to broadcast 126 Premier League games a season for three years — equivalent to £UK11 million ($A18. 6 m) a match. The deal ends in 2019.

Toby Syfret of Enders Analysis said: “The Premier League may be reaching its limits. When you look at how much ‘Sky' in particular is investing under the current contract, it’s a huge increase for them to absorb.”

‘BT', meanwhile, saw its average audience drop about two per cent last season. The telecoms giant paid £UK960 million ($A1.6 bn) to air 42 games a year for three years, but that is just the start for the embattled broadband giant. Patterson recently outgunned ‘Sky' in an auction of Champions League and Europa League football games, with a £UK1.2 billion ($A2 bn)  three-season bid.

There are reasons to explain the dismal viewing figures. Newcastle’s ejection from the Premier League saw thousands of fans in the northeast cancel their pay-TV contracts. Nevertheless, it is becoming harder for ‘Sky' and ‘BT' to justify the cost of sports rights to their shareholders.

The bets both companies have made are staggering compared with pre-Premier League days. In 1990, the BBC and ITV paid about £UK3 million ($A5.1 m)  to screen 14 top-flight games — a sum that would barely cover the wages of a journeyman Premier League player today. The dwindling TV audience makes it much harder to justify the outlay. Viewing habits are changing — the Millennial generation is less inclined to sit through 90-minute games, preferring to watch snippets on a smartphone or tablet.

Illegal streaming services are also on the rise, spurred in large measure by the hefty cost of a pay-TV package. ‘Sky' and ‘BT' are battling to embrace the digital hordes. Sky’s pay-TV streaming services, 'Sky Go' and 'Now TV', are growing rapidly.  ‘BT' broadcast the Champions League final live on YouTube: of the 6.5 million viewers who watched Real Madrid thump Juventus, 2.1 million did so on BT’s YouTube channel or its website or sports app.

Those numbers may look encouraging. But as news publishers and music labels have learnt, the internet is far less lucrative than their traditional terrains.  However costly sports rights are to acquire, it could cost broadcasters even more to quit the field of play. ‘BT' made its foray into sports to stop broadband customers defecting to ‘Sky'. It would be hard to quantify how many would jump ship if Patterson withdrew. “Football rights are an expensive luxury which BT’s consumers now expect to be maintained”, said Robert Grindle, an analyst at Deutsche Bank.  For now at least, ‘BT' must remain in the game.

Ashes sponsors nervous as pay dispute drags on.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Saturday, 24 June 24, 2017

PTG 2177-11036.

Australian cricket’s ugly contract dispute is threatening to undermine the Ashes series as sponsors, adver­tisers and broadcasters watch nervously ahead of what appears to be next week’s inevitable lockout.  There was a flurry of activity on Friday as contracts were mailed to players, instructions were issued not to sign those contracts and counterclaims flew from both sides and the first ­tentative signs of a concession came from Cricket Australia(PTG 2175-11028, 23 June 2017).

The dispute has widespread ramifications. CA does not have key sponsors for the men’s Test, One Day International and Twenty20 sides and it is understood negotiations are problematic because of the impending lockout. The organisation is believed to be in talks with a sponsor for the Test and T20 deals, but is hampered by the lack of certainty and the players’ decision to withdraw their intellectual property if a deal isn’t done.

The Nine Network will take the Ashes into the advertising marketplace next week, but can’t be sure what it is selling with no guarantee the elite players will take part. It is ­unimpressed by the crisis.  Player managers are complaining that because the players signed their intellectual property over to the ACA, it has become an issue for them negotiating personal deals for their clients.

The lockout will be felt on Monday among state players who are doing pre-season training. States are unlikely to prevent players from using facilities, but if it comes to that, there have been discussions about cricketers running their own training at ­suburban venues.  The Australia A tour of South Africa is due to begin on 12 July and will be the first affected, then August’s Test tour of Bangladesh is the first major tour in doubt, followed by a one-day tour of India in October.

CA owes 300-odd male players almost $A60 million (£UK35.5 m) from the last contract period, a sum that is in dispute. The organisation says it should be retained by the players. But the money owed to the players will help sustain them if the dispute drags on into the summer.

The ACA reiterated its plea for emergency mediation despite previous pleas being rejected, ­accused CA of failing to provide financial disclosures and said concerns about pregnancy provisions in females’ contracts had not been properly addressed.  CA responded by saying it has listened to domestic players’ concerns and wants to offer them a share of any surplus, but that is well short of players’ demand that domestic players are included in revenue share arrangements, as they always have been.

‘Facebook’ tipped to net ECB cricket highlights clips.

Simon Duke and Daniel Dunkley.

The Sunday Times.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2177-11037.

‘Facebook' is tipped to win the rights to broadcast clips of England cricket matches on the internet, as part of a deal expected to generate more than £UK1 billion ($A1.69 bn) for the sport (PTG 2174-11027, 23 June 2017).  The social media giant is understood to have tabled a bid for a package of rights, allowing it to show clips of England international and county matches on its site.

On Tuesday the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will unveil the winners of its auction, which has been designed to break Sky’s decade-long stranglehold on the game. It has reserved a portion of games for free-to-air broadcasters, with the BBC and Channel 4 vying for the package. The bulk of the cash is expected to come from BT or Sky.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,178

Monday, 26 June 2017


• UDRS comes to womens’ internationals [2178-11038].

• No sign yet of mooted EUP expansion [2178-11038].

• Neutral match referee for Lahore World XI T20Is? [2178-11038].

• CA seeking 'government support' to expand National Cricket Campus [2178-11038].

• Srinivasan again takes part in BCCI meeting [2178-11038].

UDRS comes to womens’ internationals.

PTG Editor.

Match reports.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2178-11038.

An umpire decision was overturned on review in a womens’ international for the first time on Saturday, Indian skipper Mithali Raj asking for a referral for a catch at the wicket at the Country Ground in Derby on the opening day of the Womens’ World Cup (WWC).  England’s Natalie Sciver tried to sweep the ball that went through to wicketkeeper Sushma Verma but on appeal umpire Ahsan Raza of Pakistan said ’not out’.  

Given the vehemence of Verma’s appeal, the captain asked for a replay which showed a faint nick off the glove, and third umpire Shaun George of South Africa asked Raza to overturn his original decision.  The captain asked for a second review later in the innings, this time for LBW, Raza again being involved, but the replay showed the ball would have missed the stumps.

The International Cricket Council is using Umpire Decision Review System technology across 10 of the 28 WWC group stage matches, plus both semi-finals and the final (PTG 2124-10767, 5 May 2017).  Eight Hawk-Eye cameras are being 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.

No sign yet of mooted EUP expansion.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 23 June 2017.

PTG 2178-11038.

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) annual conference week has come and gone but so far there has been no announcement about the mooted expansion of the world body’s Elite Umpires Panel (EUP) from 12 to 14 (PTG 2044-10353, 10 February 2017).  Just how the proposal, news of which surfaced publicly four months ago, has actually gone should be known sometime this week for the ICC normally releases details of panel members for the year ahead by the end of June.

The last increase in EUP numbers occurred in 2008 following a review of international umpiring structures the year before (PTG 126-868, 1 November 2007), however, the number of international fixtures having expanded significantly in the time since.  In addition, the need since 2008 for EUP members to work as television umpires in matches in which the Umpire Decision Review System is in operation, has increased the demand on panel members' time.

One of the key points made in the 2007 review was that the then increase from 10 to 12 on the EUP would allow those involved to spend "less time away from home and more time mentoring up-and-coming officials, and working on their own skills, in their own nation's domestic competitions".  In fact in the time since it is only English members of the EUP who have regularly appeared in their home nation’s domestic first class, List A and Twenty20 matches, while those from the nine other ICC entities have done so either very spasmodically or in most cases not at all.

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

Neutral match referee for Lahore World XI T20Is?

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2178-11038.

Plans for the full resumption of international cricket in Pakistan have moved forward after the sport’s global governing body “agreeing to support” in principle the sending of a World XI to the country later this year.  With the exception of Zimbabwe’s tour two years ago, Pakistan have had to play all of their ‘home’ matches outside of the country since a 2009 terror attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore (PTG 380-2021, 4 March 2009).

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to support a three-game Twenty20 International (T20I) series between Pakistan and a World XI in a bid to help revive international cricket there.  All the matches would take place in Lahore and be accorded full Twenty20 international status.  

That means the ICC, if it follows normal practice, is likely to appoint one of its match referees to oversee the series, however, the umpires would normally all come from Pakistan’s three members on the ICC second-tier International Umpires Panel, Ahsan Raza, Shozab Raza and Ahmad Shahab, ICC Elite Umpire Panel member Aleem Dar also being in contention.

CA seeking 'government support' to expand National Cricket Campus.

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2178-11038.

Despite estimates by some that Cricket Australia (CA) could earn around $A2 billion (£UK1.2 bn) over the next five years, the national body says it is seeking "government support”, read money, to help it "realise its vision of an $A18 million (£UK10.6 m) National Cricket Campus (NCC) in Brisbane”.  Plans call for CA’s already existing National Cricket Centre at Allan Border Field some 4 km north of the city centre to be refurbished and “integrated" with a new facility to be developed at Shaw Road, Kalinga, 5 km to the north.

 

The CA Board and its Queensland Cricket (QC) counterpart recently committed $A4.25 million (£UK2.5 m) in funding towards the creation of the National Campus.  It would, they say, "provide improved standards and access for all male and female national teams and performance squads as well as become the premier venue for State and National age championships, international youth events and female tournaments in all formats".

 

Under the plans the Shaw Road Precinct, which is currently the home of QC Premier Cricket Club Northern Districts, would be upgraded to enable it to host "senior men’s Domestic One Day matches, women’s International series games, International A series and Tour matches". "It would also deliver increased community access to junior and senior club cricket".

 

Work proposed at Kalinga includes: A new pavilion catering for male and female teams; lighting of the main oval and training areas; the provision of 16 new turf practice nets and wickets; and renovation of the playing surfaces and wicket blocks.  Allan Border Field, which CA currently describes as a "$A29 million [£UK17.1 m] centre that provides world-class training facilities to Australia’s national and emerging cricketers”, would also be redeveloped, including "refurbishment of QC’s main building, additional training and playing pitches, a new amenity building, new electronic scoreboard and lighting of the ground and training areas".

 

CA’s Executive General Manager Team Performance, Pat Howard and QC chief executive officer Max Walters said the NCC proposal would create a fully integrated world class indoor and outdoor high performance training facility to allow the world’s best players to train, play and compete.  Howard said the demands and scale of high performance facilities were far greater now than they were five years ago, with success at the elite level by Australian teams putting pressure on current capabilities.

 

Walters welcomed the refurbishment of Allan Border Field and the utilisation of "existing underdeveloped green space" at Kalinga to create assets that "benefit both the local community and wider Australian Cricket demands".  “This would be a model for the future with the project’s strong links and access to community cricket providing a leading example for Premier clubs and key regional facilities to aspire to”, he said.

  

Howard said that pending funding, Australian Cricket was aiming for the Campus to be in use in time for 2020 when Australia hosts both the men’s and women’s World Twenty20 Championship series.  “With support, we believe the place for the next generation of cricketers to develop, train and master domestic and International cricket will be in Brisbane through the [NCC]’’, he said.

Srinivasan again takes part in BCCI meeting.

Press Trust of India.

Sunday, 25 June 2017.

PTG 2178-11038.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Sunday took part in discussions ahead of organisation’s special general meeting (SGM) on Monday between India's state cricket associations and the Indian Supreme Court appointed BCCI Committee of Administrators (CoA).  Srinivasan’s attendance 

Srinivasan, who represented Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), walked into the BCCI headquarters and spent two hours there, however, he did not speak to the waiting media.  CoA head Vinod Rai said on Saturday that it was not his committee’s mandate mandate to decided the eligibility or ineligibility of the people attending the meeting. TNCA’s Executive Committee nominated Srinivasan to be the association’s representative at the SGM. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,179

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

 

• More Tests for EUP contenders Fry, Wilson [2179-11043].

• Captain’s change of mind about toss, or confusion, denied [2179-11044].

• Three more years on EUP for Oxenford? [2179-11045].

• No deal in sight as Aussie pay dispute hits crisis point [2179-11046].

• CoA asks BCCI to implement all Lodha panel reforms [2179-11047].

• Ireland may have to wait until 2019 for first Test [2179-11048].

• Sky’s monopoly on the ECB’s cricket rights is set to come to an end [2179-11049].

• Aussie broadcaster Ten’s financial woes deepen dramatically [2179-11050].

• Bovine intruder stops play [2179-11051].

More Tests for EUP contenders Fry, Wilson.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11043.

Australian umpire Simon Fry and his West Indies' colleague Joel Wilson, both of whom are in contention for promotion to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), have each been appoInted to stand in another Test.  News of their selection to the four-match England-South Africa series in July and early August comes in the week when the ICC is expected to announced just who will make up the EUP for the 2017-18 year, and whether the group will be expanded from 12 to 14 members (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017).

The first two matches of the coming series, at Lord’s and Trent Bridge, will be overseen by match referee Jeff Crowe of New Zealand, his 82nd and 83rd in that role.  In addition to Fry, his umpires are EUP members Sundarum Ravi of India and Fry’s countryman Paul Reiffel.  The latter will be on-field in both games, Ravi being on-field at Lord’s and Fry at Trent Bridge, Ravi and Fry being in the television spot when not out on the ground.  Reiffel’s games will be his 31st and 32nd as a Test umpire, while Ravi’s record will have moved to 21 on-field and 17 as the TV umpire (21/17) by series end, and Fry 6/6.

The last two Tests, at The Oval and Old Trafford, will have Rajan Madugalle as the referee, games that will take his Test referee record to 177, another centurion Aleem Dar being on-field in both matches, his 112th and 113th, as he edges towards Steve Bucknor’s all-time Test record of 128.  Wilson and Kumar Dharfmasena of Sri Lanka will work with Madugalle and Dar, Wilson (5/5) being on-field at The Oval and Dharmasena (46/12) at Old Trafford, and the television umpire when not on-field.

Captain’s change of mind about toss, or confusion, denied.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 26 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11044.

West Indian captain Stafanie Taylor won the toss in her side’s opening match of the Womens’ World Cup in Taunton on Monday and is reported to have told opposition skipper Meg Lanning, in front of match referee David Jukes, that she would “bat", but then when interviewed immediately after on the live streaming feed said: "We're going to have a bat, sorry, we're going to have a bowl”.  Lanning was then interviewed and realised Taylor had announced publicly that the West Indies would bowl, after which she asked Jukes to clarify the outcome of the toss.

Taylor was then recalled to the middle and after several minutes of what one Australian report claimed was a "heated discussion”, Jukes apparently ruled that the Windies' original decision must apply and that Australia would bowl, which they did.  The referee would have taken that decision because Law 12.5 says: "As soon as the toss is completed, the captain of the side winning the toss shall notify the opposing captain and the umpires of his decision to bat or to field. Once notified, the decision cannot be changed”.

There was also confusion about team sheets provided by the Australians.  Officials said that the issue had been cleared up almost immediately. Of the four team sheets exchanged, three of them, including the ones handed to Taylor and Jukes, had the correct lineup. However, the one handed to the press was incorrect. 

Three more years on EUP for Oxenford?

PTG Editor.

Media report.

Monday, 26 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11045.

Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford thinks he may have “about three years” left as a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel (EUP), according to an interview he gave to Queensland’s ‘Gold Coast Bulletin’ late last week.  Asked by journalist Terry Wilson "How much longer can you go on for?”, Oxenford, who will turn 60 in March 2020, said there are "no actual age restrictions but history would tell you there’s only a handful of umpires at the elite level who go past 60".

Oxenford, who currently has 41 Tests, 82 One Day International and 20 Twenty20 Internationals to his credit and is just concluding his fifth year on the EUP, told Wilson he’d “love” to reach the 50 Test mark.  He has he said “six coming up later this year”, but how many of them are on-field is not clear.  His "one regret is that I can’t stand in a Test match in Australia, [or] any Test match involving Australia anywhere”, a situation that flows as a result of the ICC’s neutral match officials policy.  

Currently, a total of 20 Tests across 8 series that do not involve Australia, or for which match officials have not yet been announced, are scheduled between now and year’s end: Sri Lanka-Zimbabwe (1), Sri Lanka-India (3), England-West Indies (3), South Africa-Bangladesh (2), Sri Lanka-Pakistan (3), Zimbabwe-West Indies (2), South Africa-Sri Lanka (3), and New Zealand-West Indies (3).  Whatever his appointments are, Oxenford's third on-field will be his 100th at first class level, the last 34 off his current 97 straight being Tests.  He last stood in a domestic first class game in November 2012.

No deal in sight as Aussie pay dispute hits crisis point.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 26 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11046.

Australian cricket is on the verge of crisis, with players having taken it as a personal affront that Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has refused to join pay discussions and fearing they will be unemployed come Saturday.  Players were bewildered on Monday why Sutherland had not intervened in discussions ahead of next Friday's deadline for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – a drama that could leave this summer's Ashes series in doubt (PTG 2177-11036, 25 June 2017).

Sutherland has been in England for meetings with the International Cricket Council and attended Monday night's women's World Cup opener, but players have questioned why he has not even joined Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief Alistair Nicholson in discussions via video link.

CA officials, in response, are questioning why the ACA insists Sutherland is needed, for lead negotiator Kevin Roberts is an experienced business and sports administrator. They question whether the ACA believes Sutherland would roll over, for CA had not followed through on a bid to change the revenue model five years ago before the current MoU was confirmed.

CA insists the current model is fundamentally flawed and has to change for the benefit of the game. Players are due about $A500 million (£UK297 m) over the next five years.  The players also claim there is a philosophical barrier, for they want to remain a "partner" in the sport. They claim CA, under the guidance of David Peever, a former Rio Tinto Australia boss, now wants them to essentially be an "employee". CA maintains that is not the case.

Players maintain CA's revised offer on Friday is unacceptable, for it still does not maintain the set percentage model players at international and state level have prospered under. 

It is understood two formal meetings between the parties have been planned for later in the week but these had been in the diary for months. However, such is the degree of frustration, even ill-will, between the parties, that each says the other must make the first serious move this week. For the ACA, that means bringing Sutherland to the table.

The ACA has slated an emergency meeting this weekend if there is no agreement or even a tentative deal on the major issues.  "I just can't see a deal getting done now," one player agent said.

CA says it handed over detailed financial information about future projections last week to the ACA. The players are also at loggerheads over this, insisting CA only gave financial models. CA says 80 per cent of its revenue, including new domestic and international broadcast deals, is not locked in and it's impossible to provide concrete data.

One option for the two parties would be to buy more time and roll the current deal over, even for a couple of months, but the players maintain they won't agree to that.

If there is no deal by Friday, next month's Australia A tour of South Africa will be in doubt – unless players accept a tour-by-tour contract. The players trained in Brisbane on Monday, still hopeful the trip would go ahead. It would also leave August's Test tour of Bangladesh in doubt, and raise concerns about this summer's Ashes series. It would be a public relations disaster for CA and the players if cricket's showpiece series had to be scrapped.

There is an ACA golf day in Sydney on Tuesday to raise funds for the hardship fund, with money awarded to past players in need of assistance. One agent said on Monday that if players were locked out come Saturday, these funds may soon have go to those who do not enjoy lucrative CA contracts.

Australia's top cricketers average incomes of $A1.17 million (£UK695,120) a year, with CA's original proposal increasing this to $A1.45 million (£UK861,475). Top rated players including Steve Smith and David Warner earn about $A2 million (£UK1.19 m).

CA did give some ground on Friday, increasing the percentage of surplus funds the players would be able to share in. Under this revised offer, state-based players – who had been excluded fully from any percentage share under a new deal – would also be able to share in a percentage of surplus funds. The average incomes of state cricketers is about $A200,000 (£UK118,825) a season.  The top female cricketers, to be included in the MoU for the first time, will also be able to earn about $A200,000 a season. Grassroots cricket is also a battleground between the two parties (PTG 2159-10951, 9 June 2017).

CoA asks BCCI to implement all Lodha panel reforms.

Rishikesh Malkhede.

NewsBytes.

Monday, 26 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11047.

The Indian Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has told the state associations and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to implement all the reforms put forward by the Lodha Committee.  The state associations had opposed some of the recommendations earlier and now plan to seek the Court's intervention to suggest some changes in the reforms.

The ‘one-state-one-vote' reform suggested by the Lodha Committee has received severe opposition by the state associations of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Associations have also opposed other reforms such as reduction in the number for national selectors from five to three, three-year cooling off period between terms, and the age cap of 70-years for office bearers.

However, the CoA is reported to have asked the BCCI to adopt all the reforms before going to the Supreme Court. The CoA has said that if BCCI adopts the reforms, they will have an upper hand when they seek Court's intervention to re-consider the reforms.

A BCCI source said, "The CoA had promised us that they'll request the court to reconsider a few of these reforms, but they've gone back on their word and want us to do that. Do you think that the court will change its decision once we implement the reforms”,  He added that it was unlikely that BCCI will pass the reforms.

Former BCCI president Narayanaswami Srinivasan attended the meeting with the CoA as a representative of the Tamil Nadu State Association (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017).  He is reported to have expressed his displeasure over BCCI losing its major share of revenue from the International Cricket Council (ICC).  India's share of world cricket revenues for the eight-year s from 2016-23 was increased to $US405 million ($A537 m, £UK319 m) last week, well short of the $US570 million ($A756 m, £UK449 m) mooted under the so-called 'Big Three’ model of 2014 when Srinivasan was ICC chairman (PTG 2174-11026, 23 June 2017).

Ireland may have to wait until 2019 for first Test.

BBC Sport.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11048.

Ireland may have to wait beyond 2018 to make their Test debut, their chief executive Warren Deutrom has warned.  Both Ireland and Afghanistan were granted Test status by being awarded full membership to the International Cricket Council (ICC) last week (PTG 2174-11023, 23 June 2017).  "To be honest there are so many pieces of the jigsaw”, said Deutrom.  "We are probably somewhere between not wanting to wait years for our first Test match versus making sure we have the appropriate sense of occasion”.

The two countries were voted in unanimously to become the first newcomers since Bangladesh in 2000 and take the number of ICC Fiull Members to 12.  Ireland have been playing as associate members since 1993 and have recorded famous victories over Pakistan, England and the West Indies in that time.  Deutrom said last week they were hoping to play England in a Test match at Lord’s.  But scheduling a first match may take some organising and he believes it could prove difficult to arrange around the other nations' full schedules.

"Another consideration is that we are ready to play our first Test match as we haven't played a five-day game yet.  History would suggest that new full members play their first Test, at home, against a big nation within a year. But I know how much busier the full members are with their own schedules so trying to find a gap within 12 months in an already-congested schedule is incredibly difficult.  We are going to do our best, we will have as many conversations as possible, but I can't put any members on the spot, although quite a few have been generous to say 'let's have a conversation’.  I know how packed those schedules are”.

With most Test-playing nations having fixtures planned, it could be that Ireland make their bow against fellow newcomers Afghanistan, with neither Deutrom nor his Afghan Cricket Board counterpart Shafiq Stanikzai ruling out that possibility last week.

Sky’s monopoly on the ECB’s cricket rights is set to come to an end.

Martha Kelner.

The Guardian.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11049.

The bidding war between ‘Sky' and ‘BT' for the bulk of the rights to the England and Wales Cricket’s  Board new broadcast deal for the period from 2020-24 is too close to call (PTG 2174-11027, 23 June 2017).  Money will be a major determinant in the outcome of that duel, not least because a £UK1.3 million ($A2.2 m) annual payment to the 18 counties from the new Twenty20 tournament has to be accounted for, as well as the initial expense of establishing the competition.

The rights have been split into five packages and are expected to bring in around £UK250m per year with an announcement on the TV future of the sport expected early next week at the latest.  The more money raised by the ‘Sky' versus ‘BT' battle, the freer the ECB will be to take a broader approach towards the 12 Twenty20 fixtures which have been promised for free-to-air television.

It is thought the five-strong panel charged with making the decisions recognises the value of returning live cricket to the BBC after an 18-year absence.  Those five are Tom Harrison, chief executive of the ECB, Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, Barry O’Brien, chairman of Glamorgan, Lord Patel of Bradford, an independent director on the ECB board, and Sir David Scott, a former Channel 4 executive.

Whatever happens, Sky’s monopoly on the ECB’s cricket rights, which it has held since 2006, will come to an end. The decision is seen by many as crucial to the future of the sport.

Roger Mosey, former director of sport at the BBC, said the ECB giving ‘Sky' exclusivity was always short-sighted and he extolled the benefits of bringing live cricket back to the corporation.  “We always said as terrestrial broadcasters that it was a mistake for cricket to put all its eggs into the pay basket”, he said. “There’s a neatness in exclusivity and a huge amount of money by going with one paid broadcaster but taking live cricket off terrestrial completely always looked like a mistake".

The BBC is expected to face competition for the free-to-air games package from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. It was originally thought Discovery, which owns Quest, was also in the market for the rights but it is understood the company never considered bidding (PTG 2132-10808, 13 May 2017).

BT Sport underlined the seriousness of its intention to take on Sky over live cricket rights last year when it signed up to a five-year deal to Australian cricket with Cricket Australia.  Reports at the time suggested it paid more than $A120 million (£UK71.5 m) for the privilege, ousting ‘Sky’ the previous rights holder (PTG 1959-9860, 26 October 2016).

Aussie broadcaster Ten’s financial woes deepen dramatically.

Jeff Whalley.

Herald Sun.

Monday, 26 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11050.

Australia's Ten Network, which has the rights to broadcast Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League during the forthcoming austral summer,  is to be put in receivership as the broadcaster’s financial woes dramatically intensify after it went into voluntary administration last week (PTG 2164-10979, 14 June 2017).  It is believed insolvency specialist PPB Advisory will act for the Commonwealth Bank (CBA), which is the broadcaster’s biggest lender.

The revelation comes after a meeting of creditors of the besieged free-to-air broadcaster on Monday, but has not been triggered by that meeting.  Ten has a $A200 million (£UK119 m) debt facility, effectively a line of credit, from the bank that is due to expire two days before Christmas.  That debt facility was guaranteed by two high-profile Australian investors, however, Ten fell into administration earlier this month after they withdrew their support.

It is not known how much debt facility Ten has left to draw on, but it is believed the CBA has appointed receivers to better protect its interests during the administration process.  While the receivership move will not effect Ten’s ability to keep broadcasting in the short term, it significantly complicates the on-going process of administration.

Ten’s board appointed restructuring expert KordaMentha as administrator of the company two weeks ago.  KordaMentha will now need to work with PPB if the network is to be restructured and recapitalised or sold to a new owner.  The situation raises questions for CA's next BBL broadcast rights deal for the period from 2018-23, and television coverage for that competition late this year (PTG 2163-10977, 14 November 2017).

Bovine intruder stops play.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Monday, 26 June 2017.

PTG 2179-11051.

What looked like a bull or steer stopped play briefly in a Chesire Cricket League Division 5 match at the Kerridge Cricket Club on Saturday when it invaded the ground during the home side’s match against Mossley.  A video posted on line shows the animal sauntering on to the field of play from a nearby farm before gathering pace and charging at one player, then brushing past square leg umpire Ken Hockenhull, before leaving the ground, somewhat appropriately via cow corner. 

Spectators are heard laughing before one lady shouts “oh my god” as the animal narrowly misses the player and Hockenhull,  the latter who kept his hands firmly in his pockets and simply swayed out of the animal’s way!  What happened to the animal after it left the ground is unknown.  It isn’t the first time cattle have stopped play in recent years, for it happened in April 2012 during a North Manchester League third division match between Roe Green and Thornham.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,180

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

(Second edition)


• Five asked to tour South Africa on 'no payment' contracts [2180-11052].

• CA warned of legal action as pay crisis ‘cliff’ looms [2180-11053].

• Shamshuddin takes another step on EUP pathway [2180-11054].

• Full day's play in first ever County day-night round [2180-11055].

Five asked to tour South Africa on 'no payment' contracts.

Chip Le Grand.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2180-11052.

Some of Australia’s best cricketers will be given the invidious choice of playing for free or damaging their claims for a Test spot as a protracted pay dispute between players and administrators reaches an unprecedented crisis.  With the pay dispute lurching towards a 1 July “cliff’’ that will result in more than 200 players on single-year contracts joining the ranks of the unemployed, Cricket Australia (CA) is planning a series of contingencies to fill touring squads and enable Test players to keep preparing for the Ashes summer late this year.

The most radical response is so-called no-payment contracts, currently being drawn up, that will be offered to five national players already selected for an A side tour to South Africa that is scheduled to depart next week.  It is understood that Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Jackson Bird, Ashton Agar and Travis Head will all be offered the contracts; in effect, an invitation to tour and play as amateurs until CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) strike a new Memorandum of Understanding to underpin pay arrangements for the next five years.

The offer presents an acute dilemma for Khawaja and Maxwell, who are both batsmen on the fringe of Test selection. Bird is a fast bowler who would be hoping to use the South African tour to press his case for the national team spot vacated by the injured Mitchell Starc.

Unless the players and CA can strike a new deal in the next few days, some 210 national squad members and state players on single year contracts will be out of a job. The rest of the touring squad to South Africa is made up of state and CA Big Bash League players on multi-year contracts. Those players will continue to be paid after 1 July.

CA is negotiating with insurers to allow uncontracted cricketers to continue to train at a range of venues around the country. Coaches, physios and other support staff will be provided for the out of work players.

ACA president Greg Dyer urged CA chief executive James Sutherland, who is due to board an overnight flight from London to Melbourne, to personally lead negotiations.  “The players are dismayed, I’ve got to say”, Dyer said. “We are hugely disappointed that we are where we are”.  CA  though argues the players have not given proper consideration to a revised pay offer put to the ACA on Friday (PTG 2175-11028, 23 June 2017).

The dispute hinges on a revenue sharing model that has funded player contracts for the past 20 years. The ACA says the model is “fundamental’’ to a good working relationship between the players and the game. CA argues it unduly limits their ability to best manage the broader interests of the sport.

CA warned of legal action as pay crisis ‘cliff’ looms.

Andrew Wu and Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2180-11053.

Former Australian all-rounder, a member of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) executive, warned Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday morning it will face legal action if it does not grant clearance to players to take part in international Twenty20 leagues should a new pay deal not be reached by Friday's deadline.  As tensions escalate between CA and its players, the ACA on Tuesday reiterated a new Memorandum of Understanding was unlikely to be brokered this week, forcing both parties to "jump over the cliff".

If no deal is reached by Friday, the players are set to be locked out, leaving next month's Australia A tour of South Africa and the Bangladesh Test series in August in the balance (PTG 2180-11052 above).  ACA president Greg Dyer said he did not expect a resolution by Friday, while Watson said it would be a "disaster" if the dispute was to jeopardise Australia's Ashes preparations. "It is extremely likely that as of 1 July this will occur, we will be jumping over the cliff together”, said Dyer.  "We're at the cliff point and we've been walked to that point gradually over the last six to eight months”.

If there is no deal, players will be effectively unemployed, making them free agents to join rival competitions should broadcasters make a pitch to the ACA's new image rights company, 'The Cricketers’ Brand’ (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017).   Watson said CA would have no right to stop players from seeking outside employment.  "If CA knock back an NOC [No Objection Certification] that's a significant restraint of trade as well.  In the end, I've got a Big Bash contract. Of course, I've got to get a NOC signed. For them to restrict my potential to be able to play and be employed somewhere else, there would be some pretty serious legal issues there”.

At an ACA golf day raising money for the player hardship fund on Tuesday (PTG 2139-10840, 19 May 2017), former Test batsman Ed Cowan questioned the legality of multi-year state contracts, which were signed under the current revenue share model. Several players in the Australia A squad are on multi-year state deals, and technically may have to strike.  "They don't mean much, do they. They're contracted but if they're not being paid, there's no obligation to then fulfil those contractual obligations”, Cowan said of the contracts.

Under CA's initial plan, those state players would no longer share in the revenue share model although, as of last Friday, CA has allowed them to now enjoy a slice of surplus revenue (PTG 2175-11028, 23 June 2017).  Dyer said CA's revised offer, which also included a pay rise for state players, was unsatisfactory.  "It lacked detail, it lacked any sense of method by which the thing was going to be calculated. It wasn't sufficient”, he said.  "We still lack the financial detail to properly assess where the players are likely to end up. So it wasn't an offer which was capable of acceptance and CA knew that."

Dyer said CA and the players "remain a long way apart”.  "The fundamentals of the deal are nowhere near resolved. We see the retention fo the revenue share model as being fundamental from our perspective”, Dyer said.  "We have not been able to engage sensibly. The players have been very flexible, they've said we can look at alternative ways to address that model. We can be flexible but we've not had any response in return.  We've twice sought mediation and now I'm calling for the intervention of [CA chief executive James Sutherland]. To date we've not had a reasonable response to any of those requests”.

Shamshuddin takes another step on EUP pathway.

PTG Editor.

ICC appointments.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2180-11054.

Indian umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin has been appointed to a neutral television umpire in a Test for the first time in the one-off Test between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in Colombo next month. Shamshuddin will work with three English match officials during the match, Chris Broad the referee and International Cricket Council (ICC) Elite Umpire Panel members Ian Gould and Nigel Llong who will be on-field during the game.  

The ICC clearly has Shamshuddin, 47, on its pathway towards a potential EUP spot in the next one to two years.  Over the last 18 months he has been selected by the world body to work as a neutral over seven separate One Day International (ODI) series that did not involve India, including the West Indies-Afghanistan ODIs earlier this month (PTG 2158-10953, 9 June 2017).  His previous three third umpire stints in a Test have been in India, the last being in December when he had to move into the spot at short notice after EUP member Paul Reiffel was injured by a ball strike to the head (PTG 2001-10111, 10 December 2016).

The Test will be Broad’s 88th as a match referee, while Gould and Llong will have stood in 61 and 43 Tests respectively by the time the match ends.

Prior to the Test, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will play a five-match ODI series, the first two games of which will be played in Galle and the last three in Hambantota.  Broad will be the match referee while Gould is to stand in three of the games and Llong two, each working as the television umpire when not on-field.  By series end Broad will have overseen 290 ODIs, Gould stood in 122 and worked in 38 as the television umpire (122/38) and Llong 112/66.

Sri Lankan members of the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel, Ranmore Martinez, Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Ravindra Wimalasiri expected to work in the second on-field and four umpire spots during the five matches.

The appointment of EUP members Gould and Llong to the Test and ODIs, plus those of Aleem Dar, Kumar Dharmasena, Sundarum Ravi and Paul Reiffel to the England-South Africa Tests (PTG 2179-11043, 27 June 2017), of Bruce Oxenford to “six Tests later this year (PTG 2179-11045, 27 June 2017), appears to confirm their presence on the EUP for the 2017-18 year (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017).

Full day's play in first-ever County day-night round.

PTG Editor.

Media reports.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017.

PTG 2180-11055.

All eight teams who won the toss in the first ever full round of day-night County first class matches that got underway in England and Wales on Monday chose to bat.  The exception was at Chester-le-Street where there was no toss because visitors Worcestershire elected, as is allowed under England and Wales Cricket Board matches, to field first.  All nine games went well into the evening with either 94 or 96 overs being sent down during the day’s play.

In total, 2,984 runs were scored and 96 wickets fell in the nine games being played across Divisions One and Two.  A BBC report from the Warwickshire-Lancashire fixture at Edgbaston said there was "no noticeable difference in attendance when compared to a normal Championship match”.  "It was free to get in for the final session but, instead of people arriving after work, the crowd thinned, [but] the weather may have played a part in that”.  

Other BBC reports indicated Edgbaston was not alone in seeing the crowd diminish rather than increase, as was hoped, during the final session. At Chelmsford (Essex-Middlesex) and Southampton (Hampshire-Somerset) the number of spectators are said to have been less for the last two hours, but at Chester-le-Street (Durham-Worcestershire), the crowd was "a bit bigger and certainly noisier than usual”, while at Trent Bridge the crowd was said to be “pretty decent all day”, although the image below appears to betray that.

 

 

Play underway at Trent Bridge very late in the evening session on Monday.  If the image is a true representation of the lights' coverage it would suggest their power is considerably less than in other parts of the world where the day-night pink ball game has been played.

Across the nine games, there appeared to be more concern over the visibility of the pink ball for spectators and fielders than for the batsmen - and any additional movement compared to the red ball seemed negligible. This is arguably backed up by the number of wickets to fall. So far this season, Division One matches have seen an average of one wicket every 11 overs on the opening day of matches, while on Monday a wicket came on average every 10.3 overs.

"I would say it was very similar to the red ball”, explained a BBC commentator at Northampton. "There was a little early swing in the day and the Leicestershire bowlers did find some movement with the older ball. But, in the final session with the lights taking good effect, there was much more movement than with the new ball earlier in the day".

“The new pink ball was better to pick out than the red but towards the 50-over mark, with no floodlights on, it became quite hard to pick up”, said another report.  "When the floodlights came on, it shimmered in the lights like the white ball never does - but it was still difficult until the floodlights took full effect very late in the day”.  A commentator at Headingley (Yorkshire-Surrey) said there had been some suggestions that, after about 20 overs, the ball not only becomes duller and softer but also gets bigger because it retains moisture.


PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,181

 Thursday, 29 June 2017


• Suitors ready as Australian pay dispute careers towards deadline [2181-11056].

• Australian cricketers must face up to revenue reality [2181-11057].

• Out of contract Aussie players could boycott South African tour [2181-11058].

• Pay fight hampers BBL import signings [2181-11059].

• Pakistan women cited over slow over-rate but no fines [2181-11060].

• WICUA members prepare for 28th Biennial Convention [2181-11061].

• Chinese company pays $A90m/year for IPL naming rights [2181-11062].

• Twenty20 cricket falls to global cash moguls [2181-11063].

Suitors ready as Australian pay dispute careers towards deadline.

Chris Barrett.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 29 June 2017.

PTG 2181-11056.

Australia's cricketers will convene at a Sydney hotel on Sunday in one of the most extraordinary assemblies of players in years as Cricket Australia (CA) faces the prospect of watching their top players'' image rights being sold offshore next month.  With talks having broken down, only the most optimistic of observers believe there is any chance a new pay deal, or even an agreement in principle, will be struck between CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) by Friday's deadline and suitors in India and England are ready to pounce on the looming lockout.

CA sent letters to players yesterday officially informing them they will be unemployed by Saturday if a deal is not reached. The letter, from high-performance manager Pat Howard, tells players they must seek permission if they want to play in other Twenty20 leagues. The warning followed a suggestion by former Test player Shane Watson that some players could seek employment in foreign T20 series (PTG 2180-11053, 27 June 2017).

The likes of David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell are huge names on the subcontinent and with CA no longer controlling their intellectual property rights after their contracts expire this week and they are effectively rendered unemployed, the game's escalating industrial crisis could be seized upon by opportunistic foreign entities.

The players' union, which has set up a division called 'The Cricketers’ Brand' to source revenue for players beyond 1 July in the event of no new deal (PTG 2145-10883, 25 May 2017), revealed on Wednesday that they had had inquiries from India about sponsoring a collective of Australia's most high-profile players should the pay dispute not be resolved by Friday.  "The negotiations have obviously created interest overseas and there has been genuine interest from the Indian market in regards to players’ [intellectual property] and taking that offshore”, said Tim Cruickshank, the former NSW batsman and ACA commercial manager who is heading 'The Cricketers’ Brand'.

How aggressively to push ahead with such potential commercial tie-ups in Australia and abroad will be one of the main agenda items at a post-deadline player summit scheduled for the Hilton hotel in central Sydney on Sunday.  Dozens of players are expected to either front up or dial in from interstate or overseas – Test captain Steve Smith, for instance, is on holidays in the United States –  at what will also serve as an emergency meeting of the ACA executive, on which current and former internationals Watson, Aaron Finch, Moises Henriques, and Lisa Sthalekar sit.

The gathering of players will also consider their final position on next month's Australia A tour of South Africa, which in the absence of a five-minutes-to-midnight agreement on Friday is in major doubt of going ahead (PTG 2181-11058 below), whether or not they would accept tour payments for August's Test series in Bangladesh and their stance on players who already have a contract rolling into the 2017-18 season.

Two days later in Sydney's eastern suburbs Channel Nine will hold its launch for the Ashes, a series that is also technically in jeopardy should the impasse continue for months (PTG 2177-11036, 25 June 2017).  The game's long-time broadcaster of home internationals and CA sponsors, which is going to the Ashes advertising market next week, are watching closely as the pay crisis approaches the "cliff", as ACA president Greg Dyer has described Friday's Memorandum of Understanding deadline, beyond which they will lose access to players' image rights.

Adding to the approaching maelstrom is that several player agents have held talks with rivals to CA sponsors, opening up the uncomfortable possibility for the governing body of players spruiking for competitors to their aligned brands such as the Commonwealth Bank and Toyota.  The interested parties from India are understood to include a company with significant media links while another figure from England has also been in touch about sponsorship.

ACA representatives, meanwhile, spoke to players from the Australia A squad on Wednesday ahead of next week's scheduled tour departure. The players' union was bewildered by reports that five members of that squad – Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird and Travis Head – would be offered unpaid contracts to tour South Africa in July (PTG 2180-11052, 27 June 2017). The inclination of players, even those with ongoing contracts, is understood to be not to tour in solidarity with the wider playing group (PTG 2181-11058 below). 

The ACA and players have demanded the intervention of CA chief executive James Sutherland in discussions, such is their dissatisfaction with CA's lead negotiator Kevin Roberts. In a demonstration of just how far the process has deteriorated, sources said ACA representatives had this week refused to return Roberts' phone calls.  Sutherland is due back in Melbourne on Thursday from England, where he attended International Cricket Council meetings and visited the Australian team ahead of the Womens’ World Cup. 

Australian cricketers must face up to revenue reality.

Greg Baum and Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017.

PTG 2181-11057.

It is "unrealistic" of Australia's cricketers to insist that revenue-sharing is the only way forward, says the man who signed off on the first revenue-sharing deal 20 years ago, Malcolm Speed the then chief executive of the Australian Cricket Board (ACB), Cricket Australia’s (CA) predecessor.  In 1997, after long and tense negotiations, he reached an agreement with the then newly formed Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) that has held to this day, but which CA now wants to scrap (PTG 2171-11011, 21 June 2017).

Speed, who went on to become the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, said on Wednesday: "The players are entitled to ask for revenue-sharing to continue, but they have to recognise that a lot has changed.  No one said then the new system will be there forever. That's unrealistic. Things have changed. Cricket has changed significantly. It doesn't make sense for the cricketers to say, 'We like this model, we want to stick with it come hell or high water’'.

In 1997, the ACB/CA's revenue was $A40 million (£UK23.7 m) a year, split evenly between gate money, sponsorship and broadcast rights, Speed said. Now it is more than $A400 million (£UK237 m) a year, 80 per cent of it from broadcast rights. It necessitates another look.

Originally, players received 20 per cent of the $A40 million, rising to 25 per cent if and when revenue reached $A60 million (£UK35.5 m). Immediately it did, providing a windfall for all. "Until then, players were  genuinely underpaid, especially Sheffield Shield players”, Speed said. "The good thing was that they weren't any more.  But business and sport in the past 20 years has gone through lots of changes”.

On this, Speed is not yesterday's man. He is executive director of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, an umbrella body that coordinates the interest of various high profile sporting bodies, including CA, where their interests align.  He also sits on the boards of Golf Australia and Australian Rules Football's (AFL) Richmond club.

Speed said that throughout the history of revenue-sharing in cricket, the mix always had changed. Some streams counted in one agreement, but not in the next, and vice versa. New streams emerged, altering the mix again. It was up to CA now to present a cogent new model. "There has to be some give and take”, he said.

Pay negotiations were like heavyweight bouts, Speed said. They were scheduled for 15 rounds, but only sometimes went all the way. He thought the AFL and its players had shaken hands on a draw well inside the distance in their recently completed negotiations (PTG 2172-11015, 22 June 2017). He thinks CA and the ACA are currently at about round 10.

Meantime, former Australian coach John Buchanan said CA and the ACA both were paying only lip service to the importance of grassroots cricket in a new deal (PTG 2152-10920, 31 May 2017).  "The expenditure on grassroots growth and development ranges from 6-10 per cent per annum, depending whose figures you read. This compares with nearly 40 per cent spent on elite players and programs and over 50 per cent on the administration and operational management of cricket”.

Buchanan said that as a starting point, the bodies had to agree that minimum expenditure on grassroots should be 30 per cent, then start talking from there (PTG 21149-10904, 28 May 2017).  "While I have read both parties arguing for greater grassroots spending, I have not seen any percentages mentioned”, he said. "Yet both parties seem to be able to come to specific numbers when it comes to  revenue sharing, or profit sharing for players. Of course, this does not mean that it is not happening. It would seem that it is more noteworthy what is happening at the elite end, rather than at  grassroots sport”.

Last month Buchanan called on CA and the ACA to show "significantly greater leadership as individuals and as organisations" in negotiating their next Memorandum of Understanding (PTG 2151-10915, 30 May 2017).

Out of contract Aussie players could boycott South African tour.

Russell Gould.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017.

PTG 2181-11058.

Cracks could be starting to appear in the unified player stance against Cricket Australia (CA) with some advocating a boycott of next week’s Australia A camp, and the tour of South Africa, if a new pay deal is not done.  

Offers of “unpaid” contracts for those with national deals that expire on Friday, including Test players Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja, will be knocked back with a refusal to go on the “A” tour (PTG 2180-11052, 27 June 2017).  But other players who are locked in to long-term state deals are indicating their desire to show up for the squad’s camp in Brisbane next Monday to avoid being in breach of their contracts and continue to push their international claims.

In the absence of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), CA has confirmed those players would continue to be paid under the terms of their current agreements.  But there remains confusion within Australian cricket ranks with some believing contracts binding players to their states beyond 30 June aren’t valid after Friday because they are linked to the expiring MoU.

Those inside CA however have maintained that if contracted players who continue to be paid refuse to fulfil obligations, like state training or participating in the “A” tour, that would constitute a strike.  Potential action against any striking players has not yet been discussed at CA headquarters, where officials remain hopeful of reaching a deal to ensure 230 players do not become unemployed.

The ACA has continued to ignore requests for meetings as the deadline nears, intent on waiting until the return of CA boss James Sutherland on Thursday morning.  Most in cricket now fully expect both parties to “fall off the cliff” together after Friday, that the South African tour could be sacrificed and all energy would be focused on getting a deal done before the Test tour of Bangladesh in August.

But even that could be put off and a one-day series against India in October would become the real crunch moment. Australian cricket cannot afford to miss the cash windfall a one-day tour of India would provide, or to upset the Indian board.  The huge value of cricket in India was underlined onn Wednesday when Chinese mobile phone maker ‘Vivo’ paid a huge sum for the Indian Premier League naming rights, a 440 per cent increase on the last deal (PTG 2181-11062 below).

Pay fight hampers BBL import signings.

Australian Associated Press.

Thursday, 29 June 2017.

PTG 2181-11059.

The effects of Australian cricket’s protracted pay saga could soon spread overseas, with Cricket Australia (CA) Big Bash League (BBL) clubs currently hamstrung in their pursuit of international talent.  The eight BBL franchises are among many stakeholders hoping for a breakthrough in stalled ­negotiations between CA and the players’ union. CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) continued their standoff yesterday, two days ­before the current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) expires.

BBL clubs are in a state of flux. They are unable to sign the world’s best Twenty20 freelancers because deals will be shaped by the next MoU. CA lifted its embargo on domestic BBL player signings last week, so it could issue ­proposed contracts. That window will close on 14 July, although the ACA has instructed players not to sign offers.