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AUGUST 2017
THE MONTH’S HEADLINES
TOTAL OF 20 EDITIONS PUBLISHED
(Story numbers 11245-11327)


Click below to access each individual edition listed below
 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,218

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

 

• Batsman declared ’not out’ from 5,550 km away [2218-11245].

• Free CA courses to apply to male umpire candidates? [2218-11246].

• Pay war may be nearing end after marathon talks [2218-11247].

• Future of pink-ball cricket in India hazy as BCCI remains silent [2218-11248].

• BBL expands into first week of February [2218-11249].

• Afghanistan in talks with Zimbabwe for full series [2218-11250].

Batsman declared ’not out’ from 5,550 km away.

Colin Thompson.

The Royal Gazette.

Sunday, 30 July 2017.

PTG 2218-11245.

The Bermuda Cricket Umpires Association (BCUA) have vowed to review “on-field protocols” and enhance their training curriculum in the wake of a controversial dismissal that marred last weekend’s Eastern Counties knock-out cup match between holders St David’s and challengers Bailey’s Bay.  St David’s batsman Lionel Cann was declared 'run out' after being bowled off a no-ball in the first-round game, a situation that led to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) 5,550 km away being asked, as the guardian of the game’s Laws, to give their view on the dismissal.

The incident came when Cann was bowled, but the umpire called a ‘no ball'. While Cann went through the motion of playing the shot he should have played he walked out of his crease, at which Bailey’s Bay wicketkeeper Sinclair Smith pulled out a stump with the ball in hand.  After a lengthy discussion between the umpires Cann was given declared to have been ‘run out'.  

Cann said he “didn’t think for one minute the umpire would give me out.  I didn’t see the umpire’s finger go up. I heard guys celebrating and turned around and thought, ‘Oh my gosh’.  I walked off and told the umpire it was the wrong decision because you can’t be run out off a no-ball if you’re not attempting a run.  It was a good thing that video coverage of the incident is available therefore exactly what happened cannot be denied”.  Cann believes that his dismissal changed the complexion of the match, which Bay won by 61 runs to dethrone the current holders.

According to the Laws of Cricket, a batsman can be 'run out' on a no-ball but only if attempting a run, something which video footage clearly demonstrates Cann was not trying to do.  After arguing his point with both the Eastern Counties Cricket Association and the BCUA, Cann took matters a step further and provided video footage of the incident to the MCC, who said he “should not have been given out”.  Jonny Singer, the MCC’s Laws of Cricket Advisor, said after outlining what the Laws say about the situation concluded by saying: “I understand that you were the batsman in question, so my sympathies to you over what was clearly an unfortunate dismissal". The video referred to is not available on-line.

Responding to the incident, Emerson Carrington, BCUA secretary, said his association "has read with interest the many comments and opinions currently circulating in the press, surrounding the dismissal.  We have also been made aware of the opinion of a member of the MCC, based on his interpretation of what transpired. As an Association has always strived for fairness and professionalism in all our games, fully recognising that it is impossible to get every decision 100 per cent right, 100 per cent of the time.  It is therefore our intention to review our on field protocols and augment our training curriculum for the continued improvement of our members”.

Cann said he felt compelled to set the record straight to avoid similar incidents from reoccurring.  “I don’t mind people making mistakes, but the problem I have is when people don’t know the Law”, he said.   “This is a big issue because a lot of people still don’t know the Law and think you are out.  I just wanted to clear it up for the betterment of cricket and I think everybody should know the Law in case it ever happens again”.

Free CA courses to apply to male umpire candidates?

PTG Editor.

CA media release.

Monday, 31 July 2017.

PTG 2218-11246.

In what Cricket Australia (CA) describes as “a first for cricket”, CA and State and Territory cricket associations are to provide free, basic "Community (Level 1) coaching courses" that normally cost participants $A120 (£UK73), this austral summer.  The aim is said to be to boost activity at grassroots level, a sector of the game the funding for which has been part of the on-going pay dispute between the CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association.  Given the timing of the free course offer it appears likely to be related to the politics of that tussle, however, no specific mention is made of CA’s Level 1 umpiring course also being offered free to males.

CA says the initiative will "develop coaching skills around Australia, with an emphasis on junior cricket, by making the courses more accessible to parents, volunteers and all budding cricket coaches”. Its Head of Junior Cricket, Belinda Clark, said via a media release: “Grassroots cricket is the lifeblood of cricket in Australia, and we are committed to investing accordingly at this level of the game. Whilst some associations have been supporting coaches to obtain accreditation, the chance to approach this nationally and provide the opportunity across Australia was important.  To be able to offer the Community coaching course free of charge across the country is a significant part of our commitment. We hope this initiative encourages more Australians to get involved in coaching". 

 

Clark said CA wants "all Australian cricket participants to have an enjoyable and safe experience, and ensuring our grassroots coaches have the training and resources to be able to provide this is important.   Australian cricket clubs rely on their volunteers - and their coaches - to devote their time to the game. It’s where all our current male and female cricketers have developed their skills. It’s vitally important for us to support these volunteers to retain players at all levels of competition, to help drive participation in our great game and produce future Australian stars in the years to come”.

According to CA, more than 3,000 people across the country are expected to undertake the free course, which will be run by accredited staff trained by CA, during the 2017-18 season.  In addition to presentations, the course will provide coaches with access to online resources, and will include training about the revised Junior Formats which are currently being introduced around Australia (PTG 2095-10609, 4 April 2017).  There is no mention in CA’s media release though of such largesse being applied to the national body’s Level 1 umpiring course for males, that course having been offered free to females for several years now as part of attempts to attract more women into match officials roles.

Pay war may be nearing end after marathon talks.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Monday, 31 July 2017.

PTG 2218-11247.

By late Monday players were quietly confident Australian cricket's damaging pay war is on the verge of resolution with marathon talks set to avert the need for arbitration.  There is growing belief an in principle agreement between the governing body and the players union could be reached as early as Tuesday night.  After a nine month dispute, it's the final day for a deal to be struck on cricket's pay war before arbitration (PTG 2217-11209, 31 July 2017). 

While Cricket Australia (CA) is not as bullish, it agrees progress is being made. Any agreement would have to be signed off by the CA board, the executive of thew Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) and the players, which means it's unlikely any announcement will come before Wednesday.  After marathon talks across the weekend, intensive negotiations continued into Monday night as both sides close in on an agreement which had seemed improbable throughout the bitter dispute. So poor have relations been between the two sides nothing can be taken for granted until both parties sign the dotted line.

CA and the ACA have in the past two weeks both believed they were nearing a resolution only to be blind sided by the other party.  ACA chief Alistair Nicholson sent a draft heads of agreement and tour contracts to CA last week only to be accused of stalling tactics. It came a week after CA rejected a terms sheet sent by the ACA, plunging the game back into crisis (PTG 2211-11840, 23 July 2017).  However, there has been greater urgency in talks since CA announced last Thursday it would take the case to arbitration if a new deal was not agreed by early this week (PTG 2216-11207, 29 July 2017).

Cricket's feuding parties were locked in talks into the early hours of Monday morning, after which the ACA held an internal briefing which did not wind up until 2.30 a.m.  Despite the progress, relations remain tense as seen by both sides' insistence they are responsible for the recent breakthroughs. There is also a feeling the high stakes has expedited progress.  CA says the call for arbitration had brought the matter to a head and believe that its proposal for players to be re-contracted was important. That both parties had not met for four days before the ultimatum was further proof of its effectiveness, CA say.  But the players believe the governing body increased their urgency after being told an arbitrator would not help their case. 

The ACA could have asked for an international sports expert who may have ruled CA needed to share as much as 40 to 50 per cent of its revenue, instead of 22 per cent asked by players, in keeping with major US sports.  Players have stuck firmly to retaining revenue-sharing in a hybrid pay model though it may be termed differently so both sides can be seen to save face.  A resolution this week would mean the upcoming tour of Bangladesh would go ahead.

Future of pink-ball cricket in India hazy as BCCI remains silent.

Indranil Basu.

The Times of India.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017.

PTG 2218-11248.

It is common knowledge that the proposed day-night Test match on Indian soil has been put on the back burner for a while, but along with it, one more important element is losing its sheen - pink-ball cricket. It was introduced in domestic cricket in last year's Duleep Trophy series with much fanfare about the possibility of day-night Tests in India (PTG 1932-9710, 27 September 2016), but a year on from that tournament there is no clarity as to whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will repeat the experiment in the upcoming domestic season.

BCCI sources admit that the board hasn't done much after last year's Duleep Trophy because of the legal battle it has been entangled in over the Lodha report (PTG 2202-11150, 15 July 2017). "With India having different playing conditions, there is also a huge question mark over the future of pink ball. It may not work well here in this part of the world”, said a top board functionary on Sunday.

Senior officials like former president Anurag Thakur and former secretary Ajay Shirke, who were instrumental in initiating both pink-ball cricket and the concept of neutral venues last season, had to leave their posts because they failed to efficiently implement the Lodha Committee reforms. Since then, there has been no effort to take the initiatives forward, to the extent that no one knows what has come of the inputs shared by several Duleep Trophy captains and selectors.

With questions already raised over the continuance of the pink ball in domestic cricket, board officials have already admitted that the BCCI hasn't had a dialogue with domestic players on the matter. Even ball manufacturers in India who were told categorically to start mass scale production have not been given any further advice about pink ball production (PTG 1856-9304, 19 June 2016).  "Last year, we were told to make pink ball and supply them to the National Cricket Academy. But this year, nothing has been said.  "We [do not know] whether the pink ball will continue to be used or not this year”, said a representative of one prominent ball manufacturer.  

A BCCI technical committee meeting was scheduled for Monday and it appears that the future of pink-ball cricket in India is in the hands of Sourav Ganguly. As the head of the Bengal Cricket Association, Ganguly has already conducted a pink-ball event at the local level in Kolkata over the last two years (PTG 1820-9105, 5 May 2016). And in his capacity of chairman of the BCCI’s technical committee, if he is able to raise the issue and insist on another pink-ball event to continue along with some other officials, it may still see the light of day.  Perhaps the suggestion of current head coach of the Indian cricket team, Ravi Shastri, who said last year the BCCI should switch the timing of first class matches to run from noon to 8 p.m. in order to make pink-ball cricket viable in the country, will be heard.

BBL expands into first week of February.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 31 July 2017.

PTG 2218-11249.

Cricket Australia’s (CA) Big Bash League (BBL) and its womens’ WBBL equivalent will run into early February next austral summer. The expansion means that the semi-finals and final for both competitions will be played in the first week of the Australian school year, outside the school-holiday period that has been such a successful window for the T20 tournament.  The semi-finals are locked in for February 1 and 2, a Thursday and Friday, with the deciders to be played on the Sunday. 

CA had announced in January that eight additional BBL matches would be fixtured for next season (PTG 2033-10294, 28 January 2017), though at the time the BBL chief, Anthony Everard, said CA believed they "could fit the extra games within the existing window if we wanted to”.  The increase means one extra home game per BBL team, the intention being to take matches to new markets. Launceston will host a WBBL and BBL double-header on 30 December, while other new venues are yet to be announced.

Everard said: "Both the BBL and WBBL are firm family favourites during the summer school holidays, and with even more matches we hope fans will continue to vote with their feet, support their club, and help us surpass last year's attendance, which exceeded 1 million for the second consecutive season.  The eight additional BBL matches for this season have been scheduled to complement the existing regular season fixture, take the BBL and WBBL to more locations, and encourage more people to give cricket a go.  The opportunity to take matches to markets such as Launceston is particularly exciting as it represents the growing popularity of the [BBL] nationwide, and we are hopeful of extending it's footprint even further this season”.

Afghanistan in talks with Zimbabwe for full series.

Nagraj Gollapudi and Osman Samiuddin.

Cricinfo.

Monday, 31 July 2017.

PTG 2218-11250.

Afghanistan are closing in on playing their maiden Test, and are in talks with Zimbabwe for a full series later this year. The series is likely to be hosted by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB). Afghanistan, together with Ireland, became eligible to play Tests in June this year (PTG 2174-11023, 23 June 2017).

It is understood the series is likely to comprise one Test, five One Day Internationals (ODI) and between two to three Twenty20 Internationals. With Afghanistan not in a position to host cricket at home, the ACB is looking at hosting the series either in India or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the latter being where Pakistan normally plays its ‘home’ fixtures.

It is understood that Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) sent an e-mail to the ACB last week giving an in-principle nod. Both boards will take a final decision once ZC finalises the dates of the scheduled tri-series in Bangladesh, which is to be played between January-February next year. Ideally, ZC wants to play Afghanistan in the UAE and then travel to Bangladesh.

If the plans materialise, it will give Afghanistan a significant boost, after they have hopped into the top echelons of international cricket since gaining ODI status in 2009.  During this period, Afghanistan registered memorable results, including three consecutive limited-overs series victories against Zimbabwe before recently drawing the ODI series in West Indies in June.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,219

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

 

• Ashes saved as cricket pay peace deal brokered [2219-11251].

• NZC drop West Indies Test with eye to the future [2219-11252].

• Christmas Day BBL match still on radar but not in 2017 [2219-11253].

• CV chief executive announces his departure [2219-11254].

Ashes saved as cricket pay peace deal brokered.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017.

PTG 2219-11251.

Grassroots and women’s cricket should be the big winners in a $A500 million (£UK302 m) contract deal expected to be announced on Wednesday by Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), but while future tours including the Ashes have been saved, Australian cricket appears to be the poorer after a bruising, unedifying spectacle that has dragged on for 10 months.  The players will, barring a last-minute backflip, retain the revenue-share model they had said was non-negotiable and one that CA had become adamantly opposed to.

The positive developments come at a critical time ahead of the Test tour of Bangladesh. Players are due in camp on 10 August and the tour, which was cancelled in 2015 over terrorist threats, was given an all-clear on the security front on Tuesday.  If a deal is announced as expected, it will be just the second tour of the nation by an Australian Test side.

The players seemed excited yesterday at news from negotiations. The cricketers are expecting to win backpay for the period since the last contract expired as a show of good faith even though that money had been diverted into a grassroots fund by CA who had said it could not be recovered (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017).

Australia captain Steve Smith, who was part of a phone hook-up with the ACA on Tuesday, said there may have been compromise but not on the key issue.  “We’ve said from ball one that the revenue-share model for every player in Australia has been crucial for us”, Smith said on Fox Sports. “That’s something we’ve been incredibly strong on. And I must say, the unity and strength the playing group have shown through this whole dispute has been outstanding, particularly the Australia A guys to forgo [the South Africa]) tour and an opportunity to put their foot forward for Australia. Those guys showed some real courage and leadership and I’ve got to tip my hat off to them for what they did for the whole playing group in trying to get this resolved”.

CA denied reports that its board had “scuppered” previous negotiations when parties thought they had a deal, pointing out that the terms sheet drafted two weeks ago by the ACA was not presented to the board or its industrial relations committee and no other deals had been overturned by the directors  However, any Heads of Agreement (HoA) will have to be signed off by the board and approved by the ACA membership.

There had been increasing optimism surrounding the progress around the talks this week which come on the back of an ultimatum from CA chief executive James Sutherland that the intransigent parties find common ground or take the dispute to private arbitration (PTG 2216-11207, 29 July 2017). It was hoped an announcement would be made on Tuesday but the to-ing and fro-ing between the sides had dragged on longer than expected. CA and ACA spokesmen said last night there was no press conference scheduled. However, if a HoA is reached, both parties are expected to approve and publicise it quickly.

It is understood some of the players were advised on Tuesday that the revenue-share model would now be known as the “modernised revenue-share model” but was for all intents and purposes the same. The players believe they will get 27.5 per cent of Australian cricket revenue with 2.5 per cent additional in performance bonuses. This makes their share of projected revenue over the five-year period around $A500 m.  The adjustment ledger, which addresses any above-forecast revenue, will remain but has factored in rising returns to grassroots from the players.

The two parties have been locked in intense negotiations since the last contract period ended on 30 June. The urgency increased after Sutherland laid down his demand for arbitration.  They met until midnight on Sunday and worked late into the evenings of Monday and Tuesday. Negotiations have been followed by separate meetings that have stretched into the early hours of the morning. The ACA updated its executive, including the men’s and womens captains and vice-captains, in a phone hook-up on Tuesday morning.

Of greatest concern to parties who were prepared to speak on Tuesday was negotiating a peace that would see the two sides brought closer together. The two groups have accrued grudges against each other during the period.  Despite attempts to split the playing group by offering top players lucrative deals, all players have remained solid through a period where the pressure was on the more lowly paid domestic cricketers who haven’t been paid for a month. CA has also had to stand up to the pressure from commercial partners and broadcasters anxious about the withdrawal of co-operation by the elite players.

NZC drop West Indies Test with eye to the future.

Cricinfo.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017.

PTG 2219-11252.

New Zealand's first home day-night Test, against England next March, remains an uncertain prospect with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) still awaiting approval to stage the match under lights at Eden Park (PTG 2209-11180, 22 July 2017), while one Test has been dropped from West Indies' visit with an eye on the future structure of the international game.

Whether floodlit or not, England will play New Zealand in Auckland from 22-26 March followed by the second Test in Christchurch from 30 March. Those games will conclude New Zealand's home summer which also includes a limited-overs tour by Pakistan during January in an overall schedule which has 13 One Day Internationals (ODI) and 10 Twenty20 Internationals (T20I)  - four as part of the tri-series with Australia and England - alongside just four Tests.

When the venues for New Zealand's 2017-18 season were originally announced last year, West Indies had been pencilled in for a three-Test series but they will now play just the two - at the Basin Reserve and Hamilton - with NZC expecting a new Test Championship to be approved later this year which will shape the make-up of many future international tours.

David White, the NZC chief executive, said: "If we look forward to the way Test cricket will probably go in the future, we are very hopeful that in October the International Cricket Council will sign off on a new Test Championship commencing in 2019-/20.  A typical tour will be two Test matches, three ODIs and three T20Is so we are trying to get aligned with what we'll have in the future.  We've got four Test matches which will be the norm going forward, with two tours, with 13 ODIs which is a lot but it is the start of our preparations for the 2019 World Cup”.

The hopes of the first floodlit Test in the country hinge on gaining approval from Auckland council to use the Eden Park floodlights on a Sunday. New Zealand faced Australia in the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide in 2015 while, if it goes ahead, the match will be England's third in eight months - they play their first day-night Test against West Indies, at Edgbaston, later this month followed by the Ashes encounter in Adelaide during December.  "We've completed a resource consent hearing with Eden Park and we're hopeful within the next week or two we'll have a result from the independent commissioners on whether it will proceed”, White said.

Christmas Day BBL match still on radar but not in 2017.

Russell Gould.

Melbourne Herald Sun.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017.

PTG 2219-11253.

Plans for a Christmas Day Big Bash League (BBL) event and even a Christmas Eve match remain on the table at Cricket Australia (CA), however they will not be a feature during the extended 2017-18 austral summer series which starts earlier and extends in to February for the first time (PTG 2014-10193, 29 December 2016).  As cricket’s pay war moved perilously close to conclusion, apparently amid a consensus over the sharing of extra cash set to flow from a new BBL TV deal, no-one at CA was prepared to push too far on the festive season days.

It was revealed last December that project “Jingle Bash” was established to test the waters of playing BBL matches on both December 24 and 25.  Franichses including the Sydney Thunder expressed interest in playing on Christmas Day, and while BBL boss Anthony Everard said the CA board gave the go ahead to explore the option, it wouldn’t happen this year.  “We will continue to gauge the interest of clubs and explore new avenues for the competition”, said Everard at the time.  Not everyone is excited about the prospect of Christmas Eve of Day matches though (PTG 2002-10121, 12 December 2016).

The BBL teams are currently in a holding pattern for signing new players with an embargo in place until the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association is finalised.  It’s believed up to half the available quota of international player spots has been filed among the eight franchises, with more big-name additions and other player movement to take place once the new MOU is agreed.

CV chief executive announces his departure.

Jon Pierik.

Fairfax Media.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017.

PTG 2219-11254.

Cricket Victoria (CV) chief executive Tony Dodemaide has revealed he plans to step down, coming at a time when a rival ticket wants to challenge the governing body's board of directors (PTG 2095-10610, 4 April 2017).  Dodemaide, 53, told the CV board on Monday night of his plans to quit in April next year, when the new Victorian Cricket and Community Centre at the Junction Oval will be finished.  In April he was reported as saying CV was on the right path in pushing governance reform (PTG 2096-10615, 5 April 2017).

As reported in April, there has been agitation for change from former players and Premier club officials for some time, and this has culminated with former Victorian players Geoff Richardson and Phil Hyde, along with Essendon Cricket Club president Simon Tobin, former Prahran president David Jones, former WACA delegate Peter Williams and Melbourne Cricket Club committee member Jane Nathan forming what has been called the "New Six” ticket.  They remain confident of toppling the six elected CV directors at CV's annual general meeting late this month. There are also three appointed seats on the board. The New Six have made their feelings clear to CV chairman Russell Thomas and will need 13 of 25 votes to take charge.

They insist there is nothing "personal" in their fight. Rather, they claim there has been a "complete breakdown in confidence" with the board, pointing to an inability to set out a clear agenda for all levels of cricket, particularly at the Premier level, while also lacking in communication with delegates. In an email to clubs, they also claim CV has failed to provide "full financial transparency in relation to many of its decisions”.  The elected directors under fire are Thomas, Tim Considine, Michael King, Paul Jackson, Claudia Fatone and David Maddocks.

The votes are held by Premier clubs (18 votes), the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association (two), Women's Premier (three), Victorian Metropolitan Cricket Union (one) and the Victorian Country Cricket League (one).  CV patron Malcolm Gray, the former Cricket Australia and International Cricket Council chairman, said he had met with both parties in the hope of bringing peace. However, the challenge is set to still go ahead, with delegates being consulted in recent days.

Dodemaide, a former Australian and Victorian fast bowler, has overseen great change in the sport since taking charge a decade ago.  "As an administrator, he has overseen a decade of impressive on- and off-field achievements”, Thomas said. "These notably include the long-desired new home for Victorian cricket, arguably the most successful on-field period in Victorian cricket history and strong Victorian representation in Australian teams.  This is in addition to the establishment of two thriving Big Bash subsidiaries, record levels of participation and the full integration of women's and girls' cricket into Cricket Victoria's core business”.

The time was right for change, says Dodemaide, who is looking forward to a life outside of cricket.  "Of course there will always be new challenges on the horizon but, for me, the completion of, and transition to, the new home of Victorian cricket at the Junction Oval - a facility that will set up the sport in this state for the next 50 years - is an obvious and appropriate time to pass on the baton for a new phase of leadership”, he said.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,220

Thursday, 3 August 2017

 

• Aussie pay talks stall as pressure mounts [2220-11255].

 

Aussie pay talks stall as pressure mounts.

Chip Le Grand and Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Thursday, 3 August 2017.

PTG 2220-11255.

Attempts to resolve the cricket pay crisis have slowed to a crawl, with pressure mounting on Cricket Australia (CA) to submit to independ­ent arbitration and salvage­ this month’s scheduled tour of Bangladesh.  Despite optimism from both parties earlier in the week that a deal was imminent, talks have stalled in the past 48 hours (PTG 2219-11251, 2 August 2017).

 

It is understood CA and the players’ union have accepted a new “modernised’’ revenue-sharing model that would ­provide administrators with more financial flexibility while guar­an­teeing players a set share of above-forecast revenue.  The model is loosely based on the pay deal struck earlier this year between the Australian Football League (AFL) and the AFL Players Association, herald­ed by both sides of that negotiation as a financial partnership between the sport’s governing body and the athletes.

 

However, it is understood that no agreement has been reached on the final pay scales for international and domestic cricketers over the next five years and CA is still refusing a demand by players for back pay since they went out of contract at the end of June.  CA said a month ago it will invest all money saved from unpaid players’ wages into the development of local cricket (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017).  Studies undertaken by CA are said to have revealed around $A237 million (£UK143 m) is required to address grassroots cricket for issues ranging from improving facilities to employing up to 120 more development staff, however, no specific details that claim have been made public to date.

 

The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) is asking for a 30 per cent share of cricket revenue to divide among male and female players, a sum of $A500 m (£UK301 m) on current CA reven­ue forecasts. CA has not agreed to this figure: it is offering about $A450 m (£UK271 m).  The question of how best to distribute $A58.5 m (£UK35.2 m) owed to the players from the last pay deal is also not settled.  CA wants to redistribute­ half the money to women players and local cricket. The ACA wants all the money to go to the male players, as agreed to five years ago.

 

CA chief executive James Sutherland threatened last Thursday to refer the dispute to binding arbitration unless all substantive issues were resolved early this week (PTG 2216-11207, 29 July 2017). With his deadline elapsing on Monday without action from CA, any sense of urgency has now evaporated from the talks. The negotiating teams, which include lawyers and accountants, have not been in the same room for two days.  Arbitration has again become a live option for a CA executive and board determined to honour its internation­al commitment to play Tests in Bangladesh, cricket’s poorest nation. Australia has not played a Test in Bangladesh for 11 years (PTG 2216-11208, 29 July 2017). Both CA and the ACA declined to comment on the negotiations.

Australia’s Test squad expected to assemble in Darwin next Thursday for a training camp ahead of two matches in Bangladesh.  In a positive sign that tour may go ahead Test batsman Peter Handscomb has returned from a county cricket stint in the UK after weighing an option to stay when the tour was in doubt.


 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,221

Friday, 4 August 2017

 

• Players called the winner in Aussie pay stoush [2221-11256].

• Some shares are more equal than others [2221-11257].

Players called the winner in Aussie pay stoush.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 4 August 2017.

PTG 2221-11256.

What one media report called the "bruising, divisive and protracted" pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and its players that commenced ten months ago has ended.  The two parties signed off on the new “in principle” deal which is expected to be formalised via a new five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in early September, thus ensuring that this month’s series against Bangladesh, October’s against India and the Ashes at the end of the year, can go ahead.

Under the principles agreed to there is: One agreement for all male and female players for the first time in Australian cricket; A revenue sharing model, ensuring all players — male and female — are partners in the game of cricket; A gender equity-pay model; and the biggest pay rise in the history of women’s sport in Australia - up from $A7.5 million to $A55.2 m (£UK4.5-33.4 m).    Players will share up to 30 per cent of agreed CA revenue, estimated at around $A500 m (£UK303 m) over the next five years – an increase of nearly $A120 m (£UK73 m), or all-up close to $A100 m (£UK61 m) a year. 

The players have been turning up for work since 1 July but have not been payed, however, they will now receive the monies involved in full.  CA had said that money, a total each fortnight of around $A1.2 million (£UK726,320), would be allocated to the grass roots game (PTG 2185-11077, 1 July 2017), but it will not now be available to the grassroots area. 

However, the new MoU will see approximately $A25 m (£UK15.1 m) flow directly to grassroots investment via the ACA’s Grassroots Investment Fund.  That contribution will be matched by an estimated $A25 m CA plans to acquire from monies saved by trimming some of their current administrative expenditure.  The total of around $A50 m (£UK30.1 m) over five years, or a relatively paltry $A10 m (£UK6.1 m) a year, will be administered by a committee made up equally of CA and ACA personnel who will align the funding it hands out to game development strategies for the next five years.

The ACA will retain ‘The Cricketers’ Brand’, which covers players’ intellectual property rights, for commercial activity and players will have a greater say on scheduling through a new Standing Scheduling Advisory group, an innovation strongly endorsed by the players who have expressed concerns about such issues in recent years.  There will be an improved player retirement fund which will also include female players for the first time.  It will also be overseen by a CA-ACA panel.  And the 2012-2017 ‘adjustment ledger’ will not be rolled over into the new deal but rather expended in accordance with its current design.

Multiple media reports are portraying the outcome as a victory for the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), the players’ union (PTG 2221-11157 below).  CA chief executive James Sutherland said the agreement delivered much-needed certainty for cricket in Australia, calling it "the result of sensible compromises by both parties”.  He conceded though that the bitter dispute had caused damage.  “Relationships have been tested and I know that has been a bit of a turn off for fans”, he said.  “Both parties acknowledge and regret that. We are beginning to repair relationships, especially with the fans. We want the focus to be back on the cricket”.

While ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson was measured in his approach in announcing the deal, his president Greg Dyer took a thinly veiled swipe at CA for its role in the dispute.  Dyer said in a statement the lengthy negotiation process should be a cautionary tale, implying the players had been largely blameless. "The players did not choose this route and did not enjoy being on it. In fact, the players resented it deeply. This was not a fight the players started. The players defended themselves as is fair and as is their right”.

Some shares are more equal than others.

Greg Baum.

Fairfax Media.

Friday, 4 August 2017.

PTG 2221-11257.

The body language of the two tall men who sat down together at a hastily set table in the Melbourne Cricket Ground nets on Thursday evening was its own announcement about the outcome of the cricket pay saga (PTG 2221-11256 above). James Sutherland, the board's man, was deadpan, although to be fair, he would always have been. Alistair Nicholson, the players' man, only just managed not to look like the cat who got the cream. Against the backdrop of hostility between board and players these past 10 long months, that effort not to appear triumphant amounted to a mark of respect.

Because cream for the players it was. The spoken language made that clear. Sutherland artfully avoided uttering the words "revenue sharing" until he was asked. Finally, he admitted that in the agreement just signed, there appeared this term: "Player payment and revenue sharing principles”. "Revenue sharing," intoned Nicholson as often as he earnestly could. 

Well could Nicholson smile. When Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) began to talk last October, the board under David Peever made it abundantly clear that it believed revenue sharing was redundant. It is the profits that should be divided up. On Thursday, Sutherland revised this history a little, saying that in CA's proposal in March this year, the grail was "modernised", "modified" revenue sharing, loosening up funds for grassroots.

Sutherland said neither side got all it had sought. Nicholson said the players had asked only for what they had previously - that is, revenue sharing and its corollaries - and got it.  As industrial battles go, this was hardly the type of stoush as the long-running Australian waterside workers dispute of 1997. Rather, it was how a rich sport was going to divide its spoils between mostly well-paid athletes for the next five years, leaving a bit for park players and kids, and yet it dragged on for longer than Patrick Stevedoring versus the Maritime Union of Australia.

First, last and always, the issue was revenue sharing. All week, lawyers and accountants from both sides have been poring over the paperwork, alert for catches, convolutions and time bombs. As late as Thursday morning, the ACA's forensic people were still at it, convincing themselves that it was indeed revenue sharing. Would that every workforce in the land had the luxury of bickering over the device by which they will be paid more, substantially, in some cases lavishly. Of course, the cricketers do not see themselves merely as a workforce. But the board was tactless in being seen to treat them merely as hired hands.

Elitism acted as a tripwire for both sides. The cricketers moaned about being "unemployed", but instead of manning picket lines, posted on Instagram updates from exotic Pacific islands and exclusive Californian retreats. Meantime, the board heavies scarcely budged from their ivory castle. When anyone did deign to explain, it was through such organs and in such a way as to make clear they were speaking first to the business community whose fears they needed to allay. Whether shared or doled out, there still had to be revenue.

Both sides talked about respect, but at times displayed only contempt. They underestimated one another, as individuals and organisations. It is pretty clear that CA thought the players would cave in once they were not being paid. But it is also clear that the players expected CA to soften in its hard line once commercial realities began to pinch. Meantime, trust and respect went by the wayside, and so did an "A" tour to South Africa.

Deductively, this became the crunch. Sutherland did not enter negotiations until late, but once he did, the focus sharpened and the pace quickened. In 1997, when the ACA was formed, the players had proved stronger and more indivisible than the board had anticipated, and now they were again. They were as thoroughly unionised as few unions are now, though some would blanche to think it. Sutherland must have seen and weighed this.

Sponsors and broadcasters wanted answers, and now there stood in the balance a Test tour of Bangladesh, no-one's idea of Shangri La, but if cancelled would cast Australia poorly in the eyes of the cricket world, since it hardly ever stoops to play there (PTG 2216-11208, 29 July 2017). Cricket needed to be winner.  And so, suddenly, it was. But even as Sutherland and Nicholson put on their faces, the figures released in emails separately from CA and ACA did not quite tally.  The ACA won because revenue sharing has been neither bastardised nor scrapped. But CA will convince itself that because the model has been modified, the door is open to further massaging in the future.

The fall-out will be measured by Geiger counter. Between players and board, the bruising will fade, because they have few usual dealings anyway. Board men do not much go to the the changeroom, nor do players stalk mahogany row. But philosophically, they remain poles apart. Both preach the gospel of grassroots, but have radically different ideas how to fund them adequately. CA still thinks too much of its money is committed to the elite, the players that CA would have more for grassroots if it did not squander what it had so egregiously in the first instance.

Notionally, these become matters for next time. In truth, the work needs to begin now, with new protocols and better mutual understanding, because a prosperous sport usually so blessed with public favour should not again be so demeaned by its own hand.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,222

Sunday, 6 August 2017

 

• BCCI looking at pay rise for domestic match officials, players [2222-11258].

• A third of Pennine umpires may leave the game [2222-11259].

• World XI players being offered $US100K plus to play in Lahore [2222-11260].

• Club sacks professional after eight-week ban confirmed [2222-11261].

• Finding the good hidden in the bitterness of pay fight [2222-11262].

BCCI looking at pay rise for domestic match officials, players.

Press Trust of India.

Friday, 4 August 2017.

PTG 2222-11258.

Match officials who oversee and support matches run under the auspices of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) could receive increases in pay of 50 per cent or more during the forthcoming 2017-18 season under a proposal currently being examined by the board. “Senior" umpires, who since 2012 have been paid 20,000 Rupees ($A395, £UK240) for a first class game would, under the proposal, now earn 30,000 Rupees ($A590, £UK355), their “junior" colleagues as well as match referees getting a rise from 15-25,000 Rupees ($A295-490, £UK180-300).

Scorers, whose pay since 2012 for a first class fixture has been 5,000 Rupees ($A100, £UK60), could now get double that amount, while a ‘senior' video analyst will earn 12,000 ($A235, £UK145) instead of 7,500 Rupees ($A150, £UK90), and a ‘junior’ video analyst a significant 8,000 Rupees ($A160, £UK95) compared to their previous fee of 3,000 Rupees ($A60, £UK35).  

First-class and Under-23 series players, who have since 2007 been paid 40,000 Rupees  ($A790, £UK475) for a four-day match, look like having that fee increased by a half or more, as do those in BCCI Under-19 and Under-16 competitions, their match fees over the last decade have been around 3,000 Rupees ($A235, £UK35) per match day.  Earlier this year Indian domestic players expressed serious concerns about their pay-rates (PTG 2083-10547, 24 March 2017).

The BCCI's acting president CK Khanna said on Thursday that following discussions by its technical committee, the board is working on a plan to ensure that domestic cricketers of all age-groups  and officials get a substantial pay hike.  "The domestic players’ pay structure needs to be reviewed and I have had discussions with our treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhary and he is working out the details”, said Khanna.  He believes that the pay increases can be funded via expected increases in returns from Indian Premier League broadcast rights deals.

A third of Pennine umpires leave the game.

Kevin Richardson.

Oldham Evening Chronicle.

Thursday, 3 August 2017.

PTG 2222-11259.

Of the 46 Pennine Cricket League (PCL) umpires who replied to a recent questionnaire sent to them to gain an indication of where umpires see their futures once the PCL's competition ceases in September, almost a third indicated they were seriously considering retiring from the game.  

Of the replies received, twelve indicating they would be joining the Lancashire League's roster in 2018, eleven the Greater Manchester Cricket League, four they were likely to sign up for other competitions, six were unsure and thirteen intimated they could give the game away altogether.  

PCL chairman Nigel Tench, who is also an umpire, described the survey results as "very worrying”. "It is a mixture of things, including players' behaviour, which are driving away umpires.  If similar numbers think the same way in leagues across the country, there could be quite a few thousand less [recreational] umpires next year” in England, said Tench.

World XI players being offered $US100K plus to play in Lahore.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, 6 August 2017.

PTG 2222-11260.

Former England coach Andy Flower is in line to coach a World XI in Lahore next month with players being offered $US100,000 ($A126,115, £UK76,640) to play in the series which the International Cricket Council (ICC) hopes will revive cricket in Pakistan eight years on from the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team.  The ICC squad that will play three Twenty20 internationals at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore at the end of September (PTG 2178-11038, 26 June 2017).  

A security report will be delivered this week by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) which will go a long way to persuading players whether it is safe to go. The $US100,00 covers playing the three matches over six days plus a pre-series training camp in Dubai.  The FICA report has been compiled by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s security officer Reg Dickason, who visited Pakistan last month to review security plans. It was Dickason’s report last year that cleared the way for England to tour Bangladesh last year.

Earlier this year FICA warned players not to travel to Pakistan but the hosting of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore in March, which passed without incident, strengthened the ICC’s resolve to organise the three World XI games in September.   Overseas players were offered up to £UK50,000 plus a guaranteed contract in next year’s PSL to play in the final in March.  The coming international matches are seen as an important step towards Pakistan once again hosting international cricket.  

All of thew ICC’s top seven match referees are eligible to oversee the World XI series games.  Whether they are also being offered a financial incentive to travel to Pakistan for the three matches is not known.  The umpires involved will be Pakistanis from either the ICC’s second-tier International Umpires Panel or Aleem Dar from its Elite Umpires Panel.

Club sacks professional after eight-week ban confirmed.

PTG Editor.

Oldham Evening Chronicle.

Friday, 4 August 2017.

PTG 2222-11261.

The Pennine Cricket League (PCL) disciplinary committee has banned the Norden Cricket Club’s professional Naveed Zamurad for eight weeks after he was reported for “tripping” a Walsden opponent while bowling in a match last last month, a censure that rules him out from playing for the remainder of the current English season.  Zamurad, who was bowling at the time, completed his over after the tripping incident, but did not bowl again in the match.  

Zamurad subsequently lost an appeal against the league's action and Norden's general committee met 24 hours later and decided to cancel the Pakistani's contract with immediate effect.  Meanwhile, Siraj Kadodia of the PCL’s Ashton club, has been suspended for six weeks for "prodding an opposition player with his bat", and the Royton side's Liam Brown handed a two week ban for "hitting the stumps with his bat”.

Finding the good hidden in the bitterness of pay fight.

Gideon Haigh.

The Australian.

Saturday, 5 August 2017.

PTG 2222-11262.

Thursday was a good news day for Australian cricket. An all-inclusive Memorandum of Understanding agreed to in principle. Respectable pay rises for men, hearty pay rises for women. Industrial peace ahead of a long and ­potentially intriguing austral summer.   It’s a measure of the sheer strangeness of the past 10 months that the general impression was of abject defeat for Cricket Australia (CA) (PTG 2221-11256, 4 August 2017). After all, they had anathematised the idea of a pay model partaking of revenue, asserted that the ­majority of players were being ­rewarded unsustainably, ridiculed the idea of cricketers being partners in the game.

Grassroots? What would players know about grassroots? Apart from, you know, having sprung from them, and usually not so long ago … How did CA end up in a ­position of such extremity, where all but 70 male players and every ­female player was out of contract, training for nothing, living on ­subsistence?  How did they end having ­figure-eights skated run around them by an Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) so small it does not even have a receptionist, and whose sixteen staff have been on short rations since the end of June?

We may never have the complete answer to the latter question. But it looked suspiciously like George Santayana’s definition of fanaticism — redoubling one’s efforts after losing sight of one’s aims.  So much about CA’s approach to this dispute smacked of someone’s cockeyed idea of cleverness: courting Steve Smith and David Warner over the banquet table; turning the ACA away from the first scheduled meeting because of objections to this newspaper ­reporting the pregnancy clause in female contracts; the huffy ­players-must-not-be-distracted charade around the Boxing Day Test; the paradoxical delay in tabling a formal offer until the eve of the decisive Test against India in Dharamsala.

There was the shameless stunt of allocating the players’ forgone pay to grassroots, which must now be dealt with. There was the ­brazen attempt to spin the adjustment ledger as something male players were greedily keeping from females, which few people grasped anyway.  Above all, perhaps, there was the ploy of holding CA chief executive James Sutherland back from negotiations, as though ACA boss Alistair Nicholson was just a monkey who had no business socialising with organ grinders.

A result of this, however, was that while the ACA had a variety of credible and effective spokesmen, nobody owned CA’s ­message. It was an empty suit, seemingly hung on chairman David Peever’s coathanger — an irony given that the ostensible purpose of the exercise was to ­reclaim money for the egalitariat.  In the end, CA could not even stay on terms with its corporate peers. These sponsored cricket in order to align with well-known and popular players, not to fund a campaign to position those same individuals as an impediment to cricket’s future. So much for those hand-picked top-end-of-towners who were going to shake sleepy cricket out of its fusty old ways.

What was learned about the players? Obviously that, as the ‘Wobblies' sang, there is power in a union, even if the ACA is of a very particular kind — with its relatively small membership and total coverage, as much an old-fashioned craft guild as a modern ­industrial grouping.  If the rhetoric of labour was widely used, the solidarity probably arose more simply. It is instilled from the first in Australian cricketers that the team comes first, and that senior players set the example. That can sometimes make for a dull conformity; but who would have wanted to be the first player to break ranks in this dispute?

Not that there weren’t enticements. This was the first Australian sport-industrial relations dust-up to feature women in a ­significant role.  CA offered them every incentive to look after themselves, and male players have not in the past gone out of their way for female colleagues. Had the cricketers ­fissured along gender lines, the ­optics for the ACA would have been challenging. But, led by Meg Lanning and Alex Blackwell, ­Australia’s women showed remarkable collegiality, especially given their lesser resources and ­alternative prospects.

What now? There is justifiable concern about the impact on cricket of whole laundries of dirty linen being publicly aired. At the same time, it’s not clear that the public took sides so much as held tighter to existing prejudices.  A certain proportion of fans will always feel that players are overpaid prima donnas; a certain proportion that administrators have cloven hooves. Neither is true, of course; fortunately, ­neither is inconsistent with a love of cricket. The Ashes is also a great unifier. It cannot come quickly enough.

Between CA and the ACA, the administration and the players, tensions will be longer abating. That their joint press conference had to convene on neutral ground, that CA’s chairman left his luckless chief executive to mouth the necessary pieties, reflected a marked departure from previous days of accord.  These tensions were fore­ordained, regardless of outcome. They were allowed to worsen heedlessly.

Peever’s haughty communique three weeks ago and ­Sutherland’s awkward doorstop last week sounded like the political phenomenon to which US Senator John McCain referred a week ago in his floor statement on bipartisanship, where being seen to “win” is felt more important that any outcome. Cricket will bear the cost of those eroded bonds of trust.  But let us all try to concentrate on the good to which I first referred. Certainly it is not a bad thing that male, female, international and first-class cricketers have been reminded of their ­reciprocal obligations, and even that cricketers at lower levels have a stake in what they do.

In divisions of sporting spoils, the community often receives short shrift, because it is too ­dispersed to be represented. CA’s ­attempts to redress that here were crude, but not meaningless.  A vow might be worth contemplating: ask not what your club can do for you, but what you can do for your club. In fact, I’ve hardly met a player who did not care deeply about where they were from. But more can always be done. If cricket has not been the winner these past 10 months, it need not have lost so badly.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,223

Monday, 7 August 2017

 

• Multinational officials’ panel for 2017 CPL series [2223-11263].

• Third day night Test for Ravi, Lord’s debut for Gaffaney [2223-11264].

• ‘Duke’ pink balls ‘five years’ behind ours, claim ‘Kookaburra’ [2223-11265].

• Indian fined, suspended for one Test, following ‘dangerous throw’ [2223-11266].

• BCCI bringing back captains' reports on umpires [2223-11267].

• How one man is giving cricket-loving refugees hope in Serbia [2223-11268].

• Tax system offers chance for Aussie game to grow grassroots [2223-11269].

• Jamaican CPL franchise to move base to Florida? [2223-11270].

Multinational officials’ panel for 2017 CPL series.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 7 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11263.

Eleven match officials from nine countries, Bermuda, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe, plus five Caribbean nations, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica plus Trinidad and Tobago, have overseen the early matches in this year’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) series.  Devdas Govinjee of South Africa and Denavon Hayles from Jamaica are the match referees, while the umpires are Sameer Bandekar, Zahid Bassarath, Gregory Brathwaite, Emmerson Carrington, Johannes Cloete, Nigel Duguid, Myron James, Leslie Reifer and Langton Rusere.

Of the non-West Indians, South Africans Cloete and Govinjee have each returned for their third CPL, while it is a first appearance for Indian-born Bandekar of the United States, Rusere of Zimbabwe and Carrington of Bermuda.  The West Indians are Duguid of Guyana for whom it is in his fourth CPL season, Brathwaite and Reifer of Barbados and Hayles of Jamaica who are all in their, its a second season for Trinidad and Tobago’s Bassarath, while for James of Antigua its his first.  

Govinjee normally works as a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) second-tier Regional Referees Panel and Hayles as a Cricket West Indies referee.  Bassarath, Brathwaite, Cloete, Duguid, Reifer and Rusere are all current first class umpires, while Bandekar stood at that level in India from 1992-2011.  Carrington’s record outside of Bermuda appears to be very limited as is James’ in the Caribbean.

Third day night Test for Ravi, Lord’s debut for Gaffaney.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 6 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11264.

Indian umpire Sundarum Ravi will officiate in his third day-night Test when England plays the West Indies in the first of a three game series in Edgbaston starting on Thursday week.  Ravi, who stood in the first-ever day-night Test in Adelaide in 2015 and worked as the television umpire in the second in Brisbane late last year, is one of four neutral match officials the International Cricket Council has named for the series, the others being David Boon of Australia, Marais Erasmus of South Africa and Chris Gaffaney of New Zealand.

Boon will oversee the three games at Edgbaston, Headingley and Lord’s respectively, as the match referee, while Erasmus, Gaffaney and Ravi will each be on-field in two of the games and work as the television umpire in a third.  Erasmus will be on-field with Ravi in the first Test, the latter with Gaffaney in the second, and Gaffaney with Erasmus in the third.  The latter match will be the New Zealander’s first on-field at Lord’s, although he has worked there as the television umpire three times before, once in a Test and twice in One Day Internationals.  Ravi was on-fielf at Lord’s just last month in an England-South Africa Test (PTG 2179-11043, 27 June 2017).

The coming series will take Boon’s record as a referee in Tests to 44 matches, Erasmus to 45 on-field and 30 as the TV umpire (45/30), Ravi to 23/18 and Gaffaney to 15/13.

‘Duke’ pink balls ‘five years’ behind ours, claim ‘Kookaburra’.

Lawrence Booth.

London Daily Mail.

Sunday, 6 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11265.

Australian ball manufacturer ‘Kookaburra’ that their pink balls are five years ahead of the equivalents currently available from the English ‘Dukes’ company. Despite criticism during the recent round of floodlit county championship matches that they go soft too early (PTG 2184-11075, 30 June 2017), pink ‘Dukes' will be used in the day-night Test at Edgbaston between England and West Indies in two weeks time. 

‘Kookaburra', whose pink ball has been used in the four day-night Tests so far – three in Australia, one in Dubai – believe their version stays harder for longer, and are lobbying for the chance to use it in England.  Shannon Gill, the company’s head of communications, said: "If we get the chance to trial our pink ‘Turf' ball in [county] championship matches we’d welcome it.  There was a county second XI trial last year but the ‘Kookaburra' ball tested was not the current ball – it was an older, inferior ball from some years back" (PTG 1909-9578, 27 August 2016). 

Gill indicated that the feedback from all of the Australian players he'd spoken to who played with the pink ‘Dukes' in the county championship round in June is that it’s "about five years behind the pink Kookaburra”.  His view received support from England all-rounder Liam Dawson, who scored 53 in 139 balls opening the batting for Hampshire against Somerset in that round of games, and later said: "If you are going to keep on using those balls then you are going to get some pretty boring cricket. It just goes very soft, very quickly”.

But the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) head of cricket John Stephenson said bad weather had hampered June’s day-night county games.  "We’ve used the pink ‘Dukes' ball during day-night county season openers between MCC XIs and the champion county in Abu Dhabi [since early this decade], and we’ve never had a problem with it going soft.  But we’ve listened to the feedback from the players [involved in the June games], and it may be that the bad weather had an effect.  ‘Kookaburra' have been doing good work with the pink ball, but MCC believe it’s about preserving the traditions of Test cricket in this country as much as we can, and in England we’ve always used the ‘Dukes'. We’re confident we have an excellent ball, but we’ll continue to work on improving it”.

The Edgbaston game is the first of two, and possibly three, day-night Tests England will be playing over the next eight months.  After the West Indies match at Edgbaston later this month, the second will be against Australia in Adelaide and then possibly a third in New Zealand early next year (PTG 2209-11180, 22 July 2017), although only the first of those will be played using pink ‘Dukes’ balls.

Indian fined, suspended for one Test, following ‘dangerous throw’.

PTG Editor.

ICC media release.

Sunday, 6 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11266.

India spinner Ravindra Jadeja has been suspended from the third and final Test of the current series against Sri Lanka after accumulating six demerit points inside a 24-month period.  Jadeja went into last week's Colombo Test with three demerit points earned for repeated Protected Area incursions during a Test in Indore last October (PTG 1942-9765, 10 October 2016), but has now been found guilty of having thrown a ball at Sri Lankan batsman Malinda Pushpakumara* "in a dangerous manner” on Sunday.

On-field umpires Rod Tucker and Bruce Oxenford reported Jadeja for  "throwing a ball at or near a Player, Player Support Personnel, Umpire, Match Referee or any other third person in an inappropriate and/or dangerous manner during an International Match”.  The Indian admitted to the offence and accepted the sanction imposed on him by match referee Richie Richardson. In addition to the demerit points, which tallied up to a suspension, he was fined half of his match fees. 

Under the International Cricket Council’s Code of Conduct, four demerit points equate to two suspension points, and eight demerit points amount to four suspension points. If a player picks up two suspension points within a 24-month period - as Jadeja has - he is required to be suspended from one Test or two One Day Internationals (ODI) or two Twenty20 Internationals (T20I), whatever comes first. If he picks up four suspension points during the period, he will be suspended from two Tests or four ODIs or four T20Is, whatever comes first.

BCCI bringing back captains' reports on umpires.

Arani Basu.

Times Of India.

Saturday, 5 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11267.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to go back to having captain's report on umpiring and playing conditions after every match, an approach it abandoned ahead of the 2015-16 Indian season.  

An increase in the number of complaints about the quality of umpiring in domestic competitions since then has forced administrators to have a rethink, one BCCI official close to such matters saying: "It is assumed that the umpires started to take things lightly as they knew no player was authorised to file an official complaint and we felt the need to counter that.  Prior to cutting out captains’ reports it was believed that they were driven by bias and that some comments provided didn't reflect the actual performance of umpires with losing captains [tending to give] an extremely negative reports”, said the official.

In another change ahead of the 2017-18 season on the sub-continent, the BCCI has decided to ditch the use of neutral venues for all of its Ranji Trophy first class games as it did in 2016-17 and will now return to the normal home-and-away format (PTG 1939-9756, 6 October 2016).

How one man is giving cricket-loving refugees hope in Serbia.

James Montague.

BBC.

Sunday, 6 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11268.

Vladimir Ninkovic has arrived early to discover that, just an hour before the scheduled start of play, most of his players are still asleep.  The general secretary of the Serbian Cricket Federation (SCF) is standing in the middle of the Krnjaca Asylum Center, a few kilometres outside of the capital Belgrade, waiting to begin what has become a regular match for him and the Afghan and Pakistani refugees who live here.

Twice a week he comes to the camps, by public bus, often dressed in cricket whites, eliciting strange looks from his fellow commuters. At his feet is a bag stuffed full of batting pads, balls and a single box. The handle of a bat is poking out of the zip.  "There are not many cricketers in Serbia”, he says, and although there are several well-established clubs and a full national team, as well as youth teams.

But in 2014 something changed. It became a key transit point on the Western Balkans refugee route in to Europe. Tens of thousands of Iraqis, Syrians and Afghans passed through here, heading for the Hungarian or Croatian border, hoping to get to Germany or Austria.  When those routes were closed last year, thousands were effectively stuck in Serbia - unable to go home, and unable to get past the newly erected fences on the Hungarian border.  The vast majority left were young men and boys from Afghanistan and Pakistan. And the game of choice to pass the time in the refugee camps was cricket.

Enter Vlada, and the SCF, which in 2015 was given associate membership by the International Cricket Council.  The Serbian commissariat for refugees recognised that a strange game they barely understood appeared to be doing some good. After a few phone calls, they found Vlada and asked him to organise some matches.  "We have about 10,000 refugees in 17 camps across the country”, says 35-year-old Vlada, who began coming to the camps in April.

"During these two hours, twice a week, it gives them a few hours where they don't think of themselves as refugees or migrants or inmates, just good cricketers”, he says. "They are extremely passionate and enthusiastic about the game. And they have quality. I'd say 70 per cent of these players could play club-level cricket in England”.

One Afghan player who plays for Vlada's Mirijevo club is Noor Ahmad Sherzad.  "I used to have a job as a police officer in the anti-narcotics department”, the 32-year-old says of his life in Afghanistan. "We had a lot of problems with smugglers from the Taliban side. They called me and threatened me, so I left”.  Sherzad is one of the few refugees here who has claimed asylum in Serbia. "Serbia is a transit country”, explains Vlada. "Less than one per cent want to stay”.

For Sherzad though there were few options.  "When I was in Afghanistan I played for my police team in the academy”, he says. "When I got here, after three months I told my lawyer: 'I like to play cricket’. And he called Vlada. I went to training. I am happy, I am alive and have friends, a small job and a cricket team”.

Tax system offers chance for Aussie game to grow grassroots.

Peter Lalor.

The Australian.

Saturday, 5 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11269.

There’s a rich man out there somewhere who recently poured $A2 million (£UK1.2 m) into his passion for golf. Instead of building a course or ­investing in a game with an American president the benefactor ­donated the money to support youth coaching programs.  Another benefactor gave $A3 m (£UK1.8 m) to Australian Rules Football (AFL) projects.

Cricket Australia (CA) launched an all-out industrial war with its ­players because it had identified a lack of funding for the games grassroots. It measured itself against the AFL in terms of ­employing development officers and found it came up short (PTG 2100-10644, 10 April 2017).  It also comes up short when it comes to community and philanthropic fundraising compared to the football body cricket compares itself with.

The Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) was set up in the 1980s in response to the country’s so-called “failure" at the 1976 Olympics. It created an umbrella group that ­effectively gives sports fundraising charity status so money donated to coaching, club rooms or the like is tax deductible. While the $A2 m flowed to golf coaching it effectively cost the donor a lot less than that.

Figures released by the ASF prove cricket has failed to ­embrace the opportunity.  Last year a record $A44.75 m (£UK27.2 m) in fund raising attracted tax exemption through partnership with the ASF. The AFL harnessed its ­resources to attract $A20 m (£UK12.2 m) or $A31.42 (£UK19) per participant, Rugby Union $A8.89 (£UK5.40), Golf $A6.24 (£UK3.80), Rugby League $A1.73 (£UK1.05) and soccer $A1.11 (£UK0.65 ) . Cricket managed just $A530,858 (£UK322.600) which equates to just under $A1 (£UK0.60) per participant.

ASF chief executive Patrick Walker points out that if cricket could get the same amount ­contributed per participant as cricket it would have raised $A17.7m (£UK10.2 m) last year.  “We haven’t had precise discussions with cricket about grassroots funding, but I know [CA chief executive] James Sutherland was quoted as saying they would seek other sources for grassroots and that is exactly why we are here”, said Walker.

“People who want to donate money to support grassroots cricket — and that includes the players, the communities involved or philanthropists — can get a tax deduction if the money goes through us and that means the money can go further and more money will go into the sport.  We are certainly keen to have that discussion with the Australian Cricketers’ Association and CA.  The AFL has set the benchmark for all the major sports in this country and the minor sports as to what is achievable if you engage with your supporter base, your members, former players, fans and supporters who have a ­passion for your support.  If you show them what you need help for and where your needs are the evidence is they will donate to sport”.

Walker wants to protect the identity of major donors, but says they are an example of what can be achieved, pointing to the $A2 m (£UK1.2 m) which went to junior development in golf.  “It was very much a philanthropic donation where his organisation funded youth coaching to get more people into the sport of golf, so it was genuinely trying to set the sport up for the future and playing the game that individual love”, he said.  “CA did a nationwide facilities audit and the biggest issue is poor nets, poor facilities, poor wickets, lack of changing rooms and that is the sort of situation where local clubs can engage with their communities to raise funds (PTG 2196-11123, 10 July 2017). We are doing that with a lot of sports but in cricket not as much as we’d like to”.

Jamaican CPL franchise to move base to Florida?

Peter Della Penna.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 5 August 2017.

PTG 2223-11270.

The Caribbean Premier League’s Jamaica Tallawahs side may soon become the Fort Lauderdale Tallawahs, or find a new name altogether, if the team's new owner has his way. Florida-based businessman Kris Persaud, whose Worldwide Sports Management Group (WSMG) purchased the Tallawahs last month (PTG 2214-11200, 27 July 2017), has declared his intentions to hopefully shift operations for the franchise from Jamaica to Lauderhill in Florida where the team would call the Central Broward Regional Park their new home. It would make them the first USA-based cricket franchise in any of the world’s major Twenty20 franchise leagues.

Persaud took over the Tallawahs reins from former owners Ron Parikh and Manish Patel, two Indian immigrants based out of Texas who were content to keep the team in Jamaica. However, Persaud's vision differs, and he is hoping to use the Tallawahs as a springboard for attracting more matches to the stadium in Lauderhill.  Earlier this year, WSMG signed an agreement with the Central Broward Regional Park for exclusive rights for staging international cricket at the facility with a guarantee of three international events per year. Games involving the Tallawahs would ostensibly be a part of that number.

A CPL spokesperson played down Persaud's statements when asked about them. "While the CPL has been open about pursuing opportunities to expand the number of franchises in the future with the possibility of a new franchise based in the USA, the CPL remains committed to keeping our original six franchises at home in the West Indies”.  An International Cricket Council (ICC) official responded with similar surprise when told of Persaud's comments and stated that as with any other cricket hosted in the USA, Tallawahs ownership would need to receive sanctioning permission from the ICC or ICC Americas. 

The proposed move for the Tallawahs away from Jamaica is odd for several reasons, first and foremost to do with the franchise fees. Ownership groups looking to purchase one of the six existing CPL franchises were informed there needed to pay a yearly franchise fee of $US2.5 million ($A3.2 m, £UK1.9 m) but that $US2 m ($A2.5 m, £UK1.5 m) is subsidised by a "support payment" from the CPL, in effect making the annual franchise fee $US500,000.  However, CPL documents state that "should the franchise move to the USA/Canada, CPL will reduce its annual support by $US1.5 m per year ($A1.9 m, £UK1.1 m), so the net franchise fee will be $US2 m ($A2.5 m, £UK1.5 m) per year”.

In terms of fan and media interest, Jamaica’s Sabina Park had strong crowds for every Tallawahs home game last year during their title-run, but there was sparse support for the Tallawahs during their visit to Lauderhill in 2016, with their fan numbers dwarfed by those cheering for the Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinbago Knight Riders.  Similarly, ticket sales have been slow for this year's games in Florida, with only about 5,000 expected for Saturday's opening double-header in the 10,000 capacity Lauderhill facility, well below the sellouts that were achieved for 2016's set of weekend games in Florida. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,224

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

 

• Two Indian umpires earn $A80K for seven week IPL stint [2224-11271].

• Aussie pay deal built on shaky fortunes, says former CA reviewer [2224-11272].

Two Indian umpires earn $A80K for seven week IPL stint.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017.

PTG 2224-11271.

Indian umpires Sundarum Ravi and Anil Chaudhary each took home 4.1 million Rupees ($A80,294, £UK48,748) as a result of their seven-week, 16-match stints in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) series, according to information release by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday.  Their fees topped those paid to countrymen Nitin Menon and CK Nandan who, according to earlier data provided by the BBCI, each earned 3.9 m Rupees ($A77,419, £UK46,764) for the 14 IPL games they supported over a period of six weeks (PTG 2206-11167, 19 July 2017).  

The newest data also indicates two other Indian umpires, Chettihoy Shamshuddin (16 games) and Virender Sharma (9 games), were paid 3.6 m and 2.6 m Rupees respectively, monies that are equivalent to $A71,117, £UK43,177 and $A50,470, £UK30,641.  Shamshuddin spent six weeks on the IPL roster for 16 games and Sharma five weeks for nine.  In addition, English umpire Nigel Llong took home 3.2 m Rupees ($A63,881, £UK38,784) for eleven games over a period of seven weeks, a time during which he flew to and from Ireland to undertake International Cricket Council duties (PTG 2134-10820, 14 May 2017). 

IPL costs released so far for 14 of the 24 match officials involved total 47.7 m Rupees ($A878,053, £UK568,636).  Information is yet to be released on pay earned by Andrew Pycroft who worked as a match referee in 10 games, or umpires Abhijit Deshmukh of India (9 games all-up), Marais Erasmus of South Africa (9 games), Chris Gaffaney of New Zealand (8 games), or Indian umpires Sunil Chaturved and Vengalil Kutty (both 5 games).  During the 2016 IPL series Erasmus earned 3.2 m Rupees ($A62,925, £UK37,070) (PTG 1896-9508, 10 August 2016). 

Just what basis IPL match officials are paid, time served, per game, or a basic contract fee, is not known.  Pay ‘per match’ for those umpires whose data has been made public varied between Shamshuddin with 224,595 Rupees ($A4,444, £UK2,700) and Llong with 293,444 Rupees ($A5,805, £UK3,529), whereas referees’ per match figures were between 259,870 and 299,460 Rupees ($A5,142-5.924, £UK3,124-3,600).

Aussie pay deal built on shaky fortunes, says former CA reviewer.

Chip Le Grand.

The Australian.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017.

PTG 2224-11272.

The businessman who reshaped Australian cricket earlier this decade says the game has embarked down a commercially risky path by committing ­itself to paying players a share of revenue it has yet to secure (PTG 2221-11256, 4 August 2017).  Don Argus, a former BHP Billiton mining company chairman whose landmark Cricket Australia (CA) review resulted in an over­haul of how Australian teams are selected, led and prepared (PTG 818-4005, 23 August 2011), says if cricket were a ­normal business, the pay deal would be scrutinised by financial regulators.

Argus said any sustainable pay model would be based on earnings rather than revenue.  He questioned whether players under­stood the difference and whether, in strict accounting terms, last week’s in-principle wage deal had exposed the game as a going concern.  “If you were in business and you committed an expense to a revenue base you haven’t got, you could be in trouble with the regulators”, said Argus.  “It is the accounting convention and the way business goes about it: you generate revenue, then you deduct your costs and your free cash flow is the money you can actually use to develop your game”.

The pay deal between CA and the Australian Cric­keter’s Association (ACA) assumes revenue of $A1.68 billion (£UK1.1 bn) from broadcast rights, sponsorship and gate receipts in the next five years.  With the game yet to sell its television broadcast rights for most of the period covered by the new CA-ACA agreement, about 80 per cent of the forecast revenue is ­unsecured. Argus said ­although the finances of the game had been beyond the remit of his 2011 review that examined the high-­performance structure and culture of the sport, he had identified the problem then.  The erosion since of TV advertising by digital broadcast platforms heightened his concerns.

“When we reviewed the team in 2011, I highlighted that as a ­potential risk going forward”, he said. “The reality is, people are finding different ways to look at sporting events.  It could well be that the TV revenue is not as attractive down the track. Where do the players go then?’’  Argus questions whether the 10-month industrial campaign will have career ramifications for players under intense pressure to justify generous pay packages.  “What are the consequences from this protracted dispute which had all the ugliness of green naivety, mistrust and ­resentment?  I suspect there will be casualties, as some participants will be physiologically damaged and struggle to perform at optimal level after such an upheaval”.

Argus said since his 2011 review, the only form of the game in which the Australian men’s team had consistently performed was in One Day Internationals (ODI).  According to last month’s International Cricket Council rankings, Australia’s male team is ranked second in ODIs, third in Test cricket and seventh in ­Twenty20 Internationals.  Argus believes the clear winners from the pay dispute were Australia’s female players.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,225

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

 

• English clubs cry foul over new ruling on amateur status [2225-11273].

• Sreesanth eyes return after Court lifts life ban [2225-11274].

• Pay dispute over so ‘Magellan’ signs CA sponsorship deal [2225-11275].

• Why it is time to reduce Test matches to four days [2225-11276].

English clubs cry foul over new ruling on amateur status.

Diane Taylor.

The Guardian.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017.

PTG 2225-11273.

Amateur cricket clubs in the UK have complained that new Home Office immigration guidance could bar talented young overseas players from the country and permanently diminish the English game.  For decades, amateurs from Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa have been as much a part of English summer cricket as grass-stained whites or afternoon tea. But now an update to Home Office rules on sports visitors could put that tradition under threat.

The new rules, which refine the definition of amateur status, have so concerned the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that it has requested a meeting with the Home Office. The move comes after clubs warned that the updated guidance, which is supposed to simply be a clarification, makes it harder for promising young players to come to the UK.  A lawyer who represented an overseas player forced to abandon playing for an English team has warned that the move will be “counterproductive” and “unlikely to be helpful to the development of English cricket”.   

The Home Office has insisted the changes are intended to protect opportunities for British players, but at least one English club has brought a legal challenge over the guidance.  Amateur teams said they were frustrated at the change, which they saw as unnecessary political interference. “We’re playing a game we love and now politics has come into it”, said John Hepburn, a member of a club in Colchester, Essex. “Our league doesn’t want to have a register of players and start checking people’s passports”.

Some young players have in the past stayed and became celebrated English players. The South African Kevin Pietersen, who went on to captain the English team, first played in the UK in 2000 for amateur club side Cannock in the Birmingham Premier League, helping them to win the competition. During the apartheid era, Basil D’Oliveira, a South African of mixed race, played for central Lancashire team Middleton before becoming a British citizen and playing 44 Tests for England.

The principal issue is the definition of a professional sportsperson – currently defined as someone who provides services as a sportsperson, playing or coaching, in any capacity at pro or semi-pro level.  The updated definition clarifies that this also includes someone who has in the past derived a living or seeks in the future to derive a living from playing or coaching at any level of sport. In the context of recreational cricket this means that the current definition can extend to young cricketers in youth development squads at regional or national level overseas.

A reduction in overseas amateur cricket players because of the change could mean there are more openings in the amateur game for British players. However, clubs argue that British amateurs would lose out on opportunities to gain valuable experience playing alongside their overseas counterparts.  There are also fears that any move to stop young overseas players coming to the UK could lead to reciprocal vetoes by countries such as Australia and New Zealand, where young British players have long travelled to improve before returning to the domestic game.

An ECB spokesman said that the body was “aware of club and leagues concerns regarding this issue”. He said that the ECB would be “seeking further clarification and guidance from the Home Office”. It is understood that a meeting will be held in autumn.  But Colchester’s Hepburn said that any further intervention by the government would be a mistake. “This kind of thing strangles the game in red tape”, he said. “I would have thought that the Home Office had quite enough on its plate without interfering with cricket”.

A court challenge by Frinton-on-Sea Cricket Club in Essex could provide evidence of the legal basis for the updated guidance. The club launched its action against its local league on the grounds of discrimination over its interpretation of the guidance after being penalised for fielding an overseas player deemed to be ineligible.

Colin Yeo, an immigration barrister who represented an amateur cricketer refused a visa to play in the UK, said that the changes made little sense. “It is unlikely to be helpful to the development of English cricket to isolate promising young English cricketers from competing with and against young, unpaid foreign players to hone their skills”, he said. “Applying a version of the ‘resident labour’ test to cricket seems counterproductive and likely to deskill young players... It is impossible to understand the purpose of this crackdown”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our definitions of professional and amateur sportspeople have not changed – we have simply provided further clarification. A sportsperson can come to the UK as a visitor for up to six months to join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport if they are an amateur.   The system is designed to protect opportunities for sportspeople resident in the UK who are hoping to make a current or future living in the sport”.

Sreesanth eyes return after Court lifts life ban.

Ramesh Babu. 

Hindustan Times.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017.

PTG 2225-11274.

Former Indian international Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who was banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the wake of the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing case (PTG 1188-5731, 15 September 2013), wants to return to the game after the Kerala High Court revoked the ban on Monday. Two years ago a special court in Delhi had acquitted him of having engaged in such activities, but despite that the BCCI refused to lift the ban it gave him (PTG 1602-7771, 26 July 2015).

After that 2015 verdict, Sreesanth approached the BCCI to remove the 2013 ban but his plea was turned down. Later, he approached the Kerala High Court saying that though the Delhi court had given him a clean chit, the BCCI continued to "harass him". He said his sports career was being ruined because of the ban.  “He was acquitted in the case. Then how can the BCCI impose a ban on him? It is denial of natural justice”, a judge on the Kerala High Court said on Monday.

Sreesanth, now 34, said his first priority was to get into the Kerala team and that he was physically fit and ready to go.   “Many people supported me in thick and thin. They stood with me. I am really indebted to them and I will not let them down”, he said. 

The BCCI chose not to react to the Kerala court order. Asked about the BCCI’s stand, acting president C K Khanna said: “The judgement has come today. The BCCI’s legal team will study the judgement and give its observations. Obviously, their feedback will be taken and placed at an appropriate forum”.  BCCI vice-president TC Mathew said personally he was of the view that the BCCI should not go in for an appeal in a higher court.

Pay dispute over so ‘Magellan’ signs CA sponsorship deal.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017.

PTG 2225-11275.

Now that the Australian pay dispute is over, Sydney financial company ‘Magellan' has signed a three-year deal to be the new naming rights sponsor of the the national team’s home Tests, starting with the coming Ashes series.  ‘Magellan’ had virtually agreed to terms months ago but held off on signing on the dotted line until the pay dispute saga was sorted and the Ashes was set in stone (PTG 2198-11132, 12 July 2017).  It is understood the deal could be worth as much as $A6-7 million, although some doubt was expressed from elsewhere in the finance industry that an investment company making its first foray into sports sponsorship in a bid to create "brand awareness" would splash that much cash.

Cricket Australia (CA) have had to restructure its major sponsorship arrangements after the Commonwealth Bank made the decision to scale down its broad commitment to the international game and focus more on sponsoring women’s, grassroots and disability cricket (PTG 1950-9814, 18 October 2016).  Under the previous deal the Bank held naming rights for the Test series itself as well as logo rights on the Australian Test and one-day shirts.  However, CA has now split the domestic sponsorships into two compartments with ‘Magellan' sponsors for the series, but not to appear on team apparel.

It’s understood CA are hoping to announce a Test, one-day and T20 shirt sponsor within the next fortnight, with ‘MasterCard' rumoured to be in the running.  ‘KFC' has recommitted as major partner for the Big Bash League and Twenty20 International series cricket and all signs suggest Cricket’s financial prosperity has not been impacted by the pay war.  It was way back in early April that CA was anticipating it could soon announce its new list of corporate partners.  However, that was all put on hold when the pay war escalated into one of the ugliest disputes since World Series Cricket.

‘Magellan' co-founder Hamish Douglass said his company had full faith in cricket’s ability to deliver for major sponsors.  “Test cricket is the premium form of the game and its attributes of patience, skill and dedication to excellence are aligned with Magellan’s approach to preserving and growing our clients’ wealth over the long term”, he said.  “Test cricket has a large and diverse following throughout Australia and this partnership with Cricket Australia represents a unique opportunity to highlight the benefits of global investing and to position ‘Magellan' as a trusted partner in that journey”.

Why it is time to reduce Test matches to four days.

Alistair Tweedale.

London Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017.

PTG 2225-11276.

As England finished South Africa off for the second match in a row on Monday a half-full Old Trafford was left with a feeling of relief that this Test had not gone into a fifth day.  This four-match series, played in the most English of summers, where rain played a typically prominent role, still saw only one match require the fifth day. 

Only the third Test at The Oval went the distance, when England batted well into their second innings and set South Africa an unnecessarily large target of 492 to win. The visitors were dismissed some 240 runs short, with the last day's play witnessing just 135 runs and six wickets. Had England declared earlier, the fifth day might not have been needed at all.

It is increasingly rare to see a fifth day played in Test cricket and much rarer still to see the match's result actually decided on that fifth day. Usually, the final day's play is little more than a formality, if it happens at all.  There have been calls for a number of years now for Tests to be reduced to four days, and this latest series follows a continuing trend in the unlimited over format that suggests it may be time for a change.

Data reveals a trend in the length of Test matches that stretches back decades.  Since scorecards started logging this information regularly in 1975, there has been a gradual decrease in the proportion of Test matches that went into a fifth day.  More than three quarters (75.2 per cent) of Tests between 1975 and 1979 went into a fifth day, rising to 77.1 per cent in the 1980s. That figure has dropped to just 58.3 per cent this decade. After England's series against South Africa, just 52 per cent of Test matches in 2017 have gone to a fifth day.

Explanations for this trend range from the rise of short-form cricket and a resultant lack of Test specialists who can bat for long periods, to an increase in the number of Test matches taking place, which could mean players are more fatigued and also that patience during a big fourth innings run chase can wear thin more quickly.  Whatever the reason, it is a shame that a sport such as cricket would so rarely come to an exciting conclusion at its natural end. Getting rid of the fifth day of Test matches would increase the chances of that happening.

Take the third Test of the just finished England-South Africa series, for example. With a day of play taken out of the equation, England captain Joe Root would have instructed his team to attack during their second innings, declared earlier, and given the packed ground on Sunday the finish they wanted. Instead, a fifth-day crowd best described as modest watched England wrap up an already assured victory.

The fifth day of a Test match almost always takes place on a weekday, and so is usually played in front of a half-filled stadium - the sight of which is something that broadcasters say puts channels-hoppers off.  Four-day Test matches could, as a rule, always start on a Thursday, and would therefore tend to reach a conclusion on Sunday night, with a greater chance of a full stadium and better viewing figures than a Monday afternoon would be likely to draw.

England and Wales Cricket Board Chairman Colin Graves recently said that playing without a fifth day "would save a hell of a lot of money from the ground's point of view and the broadcasters”, also stating his view that games which go on to a fifth day often lose money if they finish early.

But clearly, this is not a straightfoward debate: there are plenty of factors at play, not least how much we value the essence of a Test match in being able to go to five days if needed, and how happy we are for them to be finished off in the background while the majority of the public has returned to work.  Cricket is an incredible sport that deserves a greater share of the limelight, particularly when endings to Test matches are at their very best. The more of those we get, the better, and if reducing Tests to four days is the way we get that, so be it.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,226

Thursday, 10 August 2017

 

• ICC earning demerit points for inconsistent system [2226-11277].

• Behavioural issues to be factored into football league standings [2226-11278].

• August Test matches under threat from new ECB T20 competition [2226-11279].

ICC earning demerit points for inconsistent system.

Sidharth Monga.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

PTG 2226-11277.

Are match officials more tolerant of poor player behaviour in some series than in others, and why do some players get pulled up for dangerous throws when some others don’t?  That’s a question that must be asked after Indian player Ravindra Jadeja was this week  suspended for a Test for accumulating six demerit points, three of them for throwing a ball at the batsman Malinda Pushpakumara in "a dangerous manner” in Colombo last week (PTG 2223-11266, 7 August 2017).

Jadeja already had three demerit points to his credit for running on the pitch in the Indore Test last October. Demerit points stick to players for two years, and it is conceivable that if Jadeja so much as sneezes on the field at any point before next October - that's when the three points from Indore will be expunged - he might accumulate eight points, which could have him suspended for two Tests or four One Day Internationals or four Twenty20 Internationals, whichever is next. Apart from losing 2.25 million Rupees (one full Test and half a match fee he was fined in Colombo), 22 times India's per-capita annual income ($A44,890, £UK27,209), Jadeja could even end up losing his number one Test bowler ranking.

If you haven't followed these sanctions properly, you can be surprised by how arbitrary they can be. According to an International Cricket Council (ICC) press release, Jadeja throw's manner was deemed "dangerous" because it missed the batsman narrowly. It was Jadeja's last ball of the day. It was an unnecessary throw as the batsman had no intention of taking a run. Such throws are a puerile attempt at gamesmanship or some sort of psychological one-upmanship, and they need to be dealt with.

However, the umpires have to be kidding if this was the only unnecessary and dangerous throw they have seen this series, let alone since the demerits system came about. There have been at least two throws from Virat Kohli that have missed Kusal Mendis narrowly, once in Galle and once in Colombo. They both came from midwicket, and on neither of the occasions was Mendis interested in a run. On both occasions, Mendis brought the umpires' attention to the throw. You could even go into some of the archives on bcci.tv, as a reddit user did and dug out an instance of a much more furious throw from England’s Joe Root that nearly cleaned out KL Rahul. In this case, Root was bowling, just like Jadeja.

If you were to go through archives from India's home season, you are likely to see much more poor behaviour during the series against Australia, which was tolerated by the ICC match officials. This was some of the ugliest cricket seen. A captain practically called his opposite number a cheat but without using the word. Any kid can tell from some of the visuals of send-offs in that series what was being said. There were no sanctions in that series - no bans or fines, and no one even earned a demerit point (PTG 2082-10541, 23 March 2017).

And yet, when South African Kagiso Rabada was heard saying something similar on a stump mic in an otherwise good-natured series in England last month, he received demerit points, which resulted in a suspension (PTG 2201-11145, 14 July 2017).

The message was clear. You can, in a pre-determined way, in an official press conference, accuse an opposition of systemically working the system if you avoid a certain word. You can mouth off at anybody if you are away from the stumps. However, in a moment of joy, you can't exult in the vicinity of a stump mic. You can throw the ball at the batsman, but you can be pulled up for it randomly.

The process, of course, is not objective. It is the umpires who decide what is dangerous or inappropriate. They report it to the match referee - who gives the player a hearing and then decides whether a sanction is needed and what the sanction is. However, if the next time a bowler is being reprimanded for throwing the ball at the batsman, it will be worthwhile arguing against it, armed with tapes of many other such throws. Bruce Oxenford was the third umpire when Root threw at Rahul; he was on the field when Jadeja threw at Pushpakumara, and when Kohli threw at Mendis.

Umpires are human, their LBW decisions are often completely different in similar scenarios, but these are not LBW calls. These are considered decisions made at the end of a Test match. There has to be some consistency in how the match officials approach these issues, otherwise the ICC will never be able to shed its image. And that image is of a body that allows far more poor behaviour in the name of passionate cricket in series that involve the big three playing against each other (only one sanction out of 51 overall since last September); outside that web, players get suspended for far less. That even within the big three, it is extremely wary of pulling up the superstars for their behaviour (see Root, see Kohli). It seems like a reputation well earned.

Behavioural issues to be factored into football league standings.

Brett Stubbs.

The Mercury.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

PTG 2226-11278.

For the first time in Tasmania, the behaviour of players, coaches and supporters will help determine the ladder positions of junior Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams.  After a spate of unsavoury incidents, AFL Tasmania and the Southern Tasmanian Junior Football League (STJFL) will implement the Environment Points (E Points) system for Under-13s to Under-18s that has been used so successfully in Western Australia (WA).  Competitions there have reported a drop in negative behavioural incidents of between 40 and 60 per cent after introducing E Points.

AFL Tasmania chief executive Rob Auld said it was time to change to curb unruly behaviour on junior footy fields.  “The 12 months I’ve been here, self-regulation isn’t working in the way we would want it to work”, said Auld.  'You’ve got to look at options where you might intervene and what I like about this is the evidence out of WA suggests the incidences have reduced significantly and it is a reward-based system.  If you set the right standards and the right codes of conduct and you create the right culture you can actually benefit from this system”.

Under the system, teams will still be awarded four points for a win.  But poor behaviour – such as players receiving red or yellow cards, or coaches, volunteers or supporters abusing the opposition or umpires – could result in up to all four points being deducted.  Alternatively, good behaviour can result in up to four points being awarded to a team.  It is the total of the competition points and the E Points that will determine a team’s position on the competition ladder.

Umpires will distribute or deduct the E Points, while clubs will have a chance to appeal the E Points via an independent body.  Auld said it would be implemented next year in the STJFL and also hopes to go statewide to the Northern Tasmania Junior Football Association and the junior arm of the North-West Football League.

“It is communicated as a reward system because you can actually benefit from being closer to the bottom to the top in a competition sense but if you run a really good club and your officials and your players are exemplary in the way they go about their week to week bonus, you can enjoy a lift in the ladder provided some others in the competition aren’t behaving as equally well”, said Auld.  “Ideally you’d love to have it so it is not affecting ladder positions because all clubs are behaving so well that they are all getting the bonus points and the win-loss is what it is.  That’s ultimately what success looks like”.

In July the STJFL was forced to investigate a clash between an adult and a player in a match at New Norfolk, an investigation that was never concluded after the adult failed to appear before the tribunal.  The STJFL is yet to officially tick off on the E Point system but president Jim Horne backed the move.  “We want everyone involved with the STJFL to enjoy their football experience and we are looking at systems that incentivise being good football citizens”, said Horne said.  “These sets of actions we hope will help educate and promote the standards of on-field and off-field behaviour that we strive for”.

August Test matches under threat from new ECB T20 competition.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

PTG 2226-11279.

There may be very little Test cricket in England and Wales during August from 2020 onwards so that England players can help to make the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new eight-team Twenty20 tournament a success. The ECB is aware that the best players need to be available for as much of the competition as possible to attract new audiences and fill stadiums.

The tournament will run from 17 July to 23 August 2020. When the draft schedule was circulated to county chiefs this year it was done so on the basis of seven Test matches a year and showed three Tests against Sri Lanka during that 38-day window. However, it is likely that particular series will contain only two Tests, which could be completed by 4 August. If the one-day series were delayed until after 25 August, England players could be available for at least half of the tournament, including the final.

From 2020 the international summer schedule will contain only six Test matches (and five in an Ashes year) as opposed to the current seven and it would, in theory, be possible to ensure that these were all played before the end of July or just into August. It would also ensure that all the large international grounds where the teams are likely to be based were available for most of the tournament.  All centrally-contracted England players will be allocated to one of the eight T20 teams via a draft separate to the main player draft.

The ECB’s major match group, headed by deputy chairman Ian Lovett, will decide by early next year the allocations for Tests, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals for 2020-24 as well as the locations of the teams in the new competition. The ECB will announce its decision next February. It will also review the schedule for 2019 to ensure England players have a chance to play red-ball cricket after the World Cup and before the Ashes.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,227

Friday, 11 August 2017


• Tribunal decision threatens overseas players in UK club game [2227-11280].

• Bowden returns to the international scene [2227-11281].

• No free courses for new Aussie male umpires yet [2227-11282].

• ‘Dukes’ responds to Kookaburra's pink ball claims [2227-11283].

• To card or not to card, that is [still] the question [2226-11284].             

• No sign yet of call for CA Umpire Educator applications [2226-11285].  

Tribunal decision threatens overseas players in UK club game.

George Dobell.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 10 August 2017.

PTG 2227-11280.

Frinton-On-Sea Cricket Club in Essex have lost a tribunal appeal and have been penalised 36 championship points for fielding an overseas player deemed to be ineligible in a match against Malden five weeks ago.  The issue is linked to UK Home Office immigration issues  (PTG 2225-11273, 10 August 2017), and is such that the ruling that could have far-reaching consequences for young cricketers hoping to mix travel by playing sport in different countries.  

While Frinton's case against the Two Counties League (TCL) might not, at first glance, appear significant outside the cricketing environment of Essex and Suffolk (it resulted in the points deduction which saw the team drop from 6th to 11th place - the relegation zone - on the TCL Division one league table, plus the banning of a young, Australian cricketer), it could set a precedent that will change the organisation of recreational cricket across the UK.  The decision could have immediate repercussions for around 110 cricketers currently playing in leagues across the UK. Indeed, it is understood an investigation into another Australian player in the same league has already been opened.

The crux of the case against Frinton was that Blake Reed, a 22-year-old Australian, should be considered a professional player as he had represented Western Australia at Under-19 level.   While the Western Australia Cricket Association provided evidence that he was no longer part of their system and Frinton provided evidence that he was not employed as a sportsman - he works as a labourer both in the UK and in Australia - the appeals tribunal concluded that he should be viewed as "an aspiring" player or coach and must therefore be viewed as a professional. As such, his 'Youth Mobility Visa', which specifically prohibits employment as a sportsperson, was viewed as insufficient to allow him to play or coach.

The TCL Appeals Tribunal were swayed, in part, by the fact that Reed described himself as "an aspiring" player on the website cricketmentoring.com (a website offering 'a holistic approach' to coaching) and in part by the Home Office immigration rules, the guidelines for which define "professional" in sporting terms.  The tribunal quoted those guidelines which state: "A person may also be considered as "seeking to derive a living" if they have played as part of a player pathway. A player may be considered to be on a "Pathway" and therefore classified as a "Professional Sportsperson", if that person has played cricket above Under-17 at state/province/territory level (paid or unpaid) in any country”.

That definition could potentially mean that a large body of young cricketers who have tried but failed to make the grade will be denied the opportunity to follow the long tradition of mixing social cricket with travel.  Taken to its logical conclusion, it means that any player with "aspirations" will be excluded from playing league cricket. While some will be eligible for a 'Tier 2' visa, they will have to have played a certain amount of international cricket to do so. A six-month holiday visa might also allow overseas cricketers to play in England, but they would be prohibited from being paid either for their cricket or any other form of work during their stay.

When Frinton were originally notified of action against them, they sought to take out an injunction on the TCL to compel them to allow Reed to play. But, after the league's management board - all of whom are volunteers - called a vote of confidence from the league over the matter, threatening to resign on block if they were defeated and expel Frinton if they were backed, the club and league agreed to the appeal process as a compromise. Both parties accepted its conclusions as final and binding.  As a result, it is not thought likely that Frinton will seek further legal action.

It is understood, however, that Reed is pursuing action against both the TCL and the Home Office. He claims the league breached their contract by first registering him - and thereby convincing him it was worth booking a flight to England - and then deeming him ineligible, while he maintains the Home Office have discriminated against him (and other non-UK players) by defining 'professional' in terms that he alleges differ depending on whether the individual is a UK citizen or not. Reed played in Somerset in 2016 without difficulty.

There may be some sympathy for both Reed and the management of the TCL. While Reed's plans for the season are clearly ruined, officials from the league have been dragged into a complex legal situation far beyond the remit of the day-to-day running of a cricket league.  Throughout the ruling their frustration at the Home Office's lack of clarity or leadership can be felt. At one stage they refer to the "weasel words" of the Home Office spokesman and point out that, although they have "failed to give the Appeal Tribunal any real assistance" they also issued "thinly-veiled threat to Mr Reed and Frinton" over the possibility of "enforcement action".

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) declined to confirm or deny whether they paid for the TCL's legal costs, but the league did utilise the ECB's retained lawyers, Onside Law.  The ECB said: "We are aware of clubs and leagues' concerns regarding this issue and will be seeking further clarification and guidance from the Home Office”.  It is also understood that the Immigration Department of the Australian government has requested a copy of the judgement and is currently studying it. If they respond in a tit-for-tat manner there could be repercussions for dozens - if not hundreds - of 'aspiring' young cricketers who travel to play Grade cricket each English winter. 

It was reported at the end of last year that  Australian authorities had clamped down on visa requirements (PTG 1968-9916, 5 November 2016). Ironically, while the justification for the Home Office (and perhaps the ECB) crackdown might be presented as a worthy intention to provide further opportunities to 'homegrown' young players, the result may well be to stifle long-available opportunities for many.

Bowden returns to the international scene.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 10 August 2017.

PTG 2227-11281.

New Zealand umpire ‘Billy’ Bowden, a former long-term member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Elite Umpires Panel, is making his return to the international game in Samoa this week in the East Asia-Pacific qualifier series for next January’s 2018 Under-19 World Cup. Bowden, who the ICC describes in a media release about the qualifier as a “crowd favourite”, is taking part in the event as a “mentor umpire”. 

The week-long, 12-match, series, which involves teams from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu, is being oversee by match referee Steve Bernard of Australia, a member of the ICC’s second-tier Regional Referees Panel, and involves five umpires in addition to Bowden: his countryman Shaun Craig, an ICC second-tier International Umpires Panel member, plus Mervyn McGoon (Fiji), Hitesh Sharma (Philippines), and Papua New Guineans Bri Olewale and Alu Kapa.  Kapa is a member of the ICC’s third-tier Development Panel of International Umpires.

No free courses for new Aussie male umpires yet.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 10 August 2017.

PTG 2227-11282.

It would appear that males in Australia who want to undertake Cricket Australia’s (CA) basic Level One Umpire course will still have to pay for the privilege.  That’s in contrast to females and those who line-up to do the organisation’s Level One ‘Community’ coaching courses which normally cost participants $A120 (£UK73), but are now being offered for free as part of CA’s new-found interest in the grassroots game (PTG 2218-11246, 1 August 2017).  So-far unconfirmed reports suggest there is not enough money in the umpiring budget to allow free courses to be offered.  One knowledgable observer described the apparent non-consideration of the umpiring issue in CA’s free course push as "a blatant example of the failure to promote, or even consider officials as part of the game".

‘Dukes’ responds to Kookaburra's pink ball claims.

Richard Edwards.

The Independent.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

PTG 2227-11283.

The head of UK-based ball manufacturer ‘Dukes' has rubbished claims by its Australian counterpart ‘Kookaburra’ that their pink ball is way ahead of its English rival.   Shannon Gill, Kookaburra’s head of communications, said last weekend that the feedback they had received from Australian players in the County Championship suggested that the pink ‘Dukes' ball used in the recent round of matches was five years behind its ‘Kookaburra’ equivalent (PTG 2223-11265, 7 August 2017). 

Dukes’ pink ball will be used for the first ever day night Test in England next week, when the home side meet the West Indies at Edgbaston. ‘Dukes’ managing director Dilip Jadojia has dismissed Kookaburra's assessment and believes the Australian company, which has enjoyed a monopoly on the supply of Test match balls to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand since 1946, is running scared. And despite ‘Kookaburra' trying to muscle in, Jadojia is confident that it will pass what promises to be a stiff exam.

“If anyone knows anything about the way cricket is organised, then you’ll know you’re not going to get a ball swapped ten days before a Test match”, said Jadojia. “We are actually organised in England, we have things under control.  Do ‘Kookaburra' think the authorities are going to listen to what they’ve said about the ‘Dukes' and suddenly change over? It’s utter madness”.

Dukes have already been making inroads into the Australian market, with the company’s ball being used in the second half of the most recent Sheffield Shield season.  It also has a number of advocates Down Under, including former Test batsman Ed Cowan. In February, the New South Wales opener, went so far as to call for the ‘Duke's to be used in Tests in Australia in place of the ‘Kookaburra’ (PTG 2039-10325, 5 February 2017). 

That said, there was a certain amount of criticism levelled at the Dukes’ pink ball used during the first day night round of County Championship matches, with some players claiming the ball went soft far more quickly than its red equivalent. Jajodia, however, says that he believes the ball held up well under lights that were, for the most part, unnecessary in June.  

“Visual was not really an issue, no-one said they couldn’t see it because it was pretty bright anyway.  The way the games panned out also didn’t suggest there was too much of an issue. Some games had big scores, some had lowish scores, bowlers did well and batsmen did well – there was nothing unusual.  Nothing really pointed to anything being drastically different. The England and Wales Cricket Board’s general view was that there was nothing to be concerned about. There was the odd comment that the ball appeared to go soft. Before I supply the balls, I’m banging them on bats all the time but the last batch that came through sounded a little bit harder, not a lot but a little.  Let’s see what happens in the Test match. I’ll be at Edgbaston for two days so I’ll be watching very closely to see how things go”.

The game in Birmingham will be the fifth day-night Test in the format’s 140 year history and the first  played with a ‘Dukes' ball. The previous four – three of which have been played in Australia and one which was played in Dubai – have all used the ‘Kookaburra'. For ‘Dukes', which produced its first ball as far back as 1760, it will represent an historic first. And for ‘Kookaburra' it will represent another unwelcome incursion into their territory. 

To card or not to card, that is [still] the question.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 10 August 2017.

PTG 2227-11284.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) may have flagged its intentions last December to include ‘send off' and ‘sin bin’ clauses to the new Code of the Laws, and confirmed that intention in April (PTG 2102-10650, 12 April 2017), but it is still not clear to what degree cricket associations around the world will apply the requirements of the new Law 42, "Players’ Conduct’, in the Playing Conditions that apply to their various competitions.  That new Law gives, in the words of the MCC, "an in-match consequence for poor on-field behaviour" (PTG 2068-10464, 8 March 2017).

It would appear national bodies are waiting for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to spell out the approach they plan to take.  There were indications from the world body two months ago that international umpires will be given 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” (PTG 2176-11030, 24 June 2017).  That suggests the ‘sin bin’ provisions of Law 42 will not apply.

ICC Full member bodies generally tend to adopt the world body’s Playing Conditions for their national-level competitions, but that is not necessarily so, particularly for those at Premier League level and below in more general leagues.  Meanwhile, pre-season Laws Schools, which normally run for 4-5 weeks, have started in a number of nations whose season starts in the next few months.  They are proceeding with the hope that by the time the last part of those courses are reached, just how they are required to apply Law 42, or not, will have been spelt out by competition organisers (PTG 2112-10706, 25 April 2017).

No sign yet of call for CA Umpire Educator applications.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 10 August 2017.

PTG 2227-11285.

Cricket Australia (CA) Umpire Educator Bob Parry may be stepping down from that role in September to take up a CA match referee position (PTG 2212-11188, 25 July 2017), but as yet there has been no call for applications to fill his current position.  Parry, a former first class umpire, moved into the Educator position just over four years ago (PTG 1116-5426, 4 June 2013), however, since then there have been changes to the internal structure of CA’s Match Officials Unit (MOU), most particularly the engagement last year of former international umpire Simon Taufel as its Match Referee and Umpire Selection Manager (PTG 1902-9544, 18 August 2016).

While details are not known, as CA keeps a tight lid on such things, it seems likely that the current internal structure and workings of the MOU will require close consideration of just what the duties of the next Umpire Educator will be, and just how they will interact with both other parts of the CA unit as well as the State and Territory associations.

When the position was last advertised four-and-a-half years ago, the selection criteria for it called for it to "be responsible for the development and implementation of umpire training resources and professional development programs to meet the needs of Australian Cricket".  The person chosen was to "work with national and state based organisations to develop and implement systems and education for the improvement of cricket umpires and umpiring across all levels of the game" (PTG 1082-5273, 29 March 2013).

Key responsibilities listed for the position then included: education and leadership of umpiring in Australian cricket; setting clear goals and performance standards; seeking new and advanced training techniques and methods that develop Australian umpires to be the best and most respected match officials in the world; and the development and implementation of Australian umpire education and training programs and resources.  Just how much of that has been achieved over the last four years is questioned by some knowledgable observers.

Previous umpiring experience was not a prerequisite for the position in 2013, however, applicants were told they "should possess": knowledge of the game and the laws of cricket; a demonstrable understanding of elite sport; outstanding leadership, communication and presentation skills; an ability to build and manage relationships with a large variety of stakeholders; and appropriate tertiary qualifications.  

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,228

Sunday, 13 August 2017

 

• Boundary pole collision leaves fielder with broken neck, leg [2228-11286].

• Another Aussie player ‘participation’ record [2228-11287].

• Census data not much help in the match officials area [2228-11288].

• Volunteers praised for role in game’s reported growth [2228-11289].

• BCCI to appeal against Court order on Sreesanth ban [2228-11290].

• Helmet strike costs side the match [2228-11291].

Boundary pole collision leaves fielder with broken neck, leg.

Bimpe Archer.

The Irish Times.

Saturday, 12 August 2017.

PTG 2228-11286.

Cricket is not generally regarded as an extreme sport but for one teenager in Ireland an accident during a club match last week left him with a broken neck and leg.  Aaron McDermott, 19, who was playing for the Burndennett Cricket Club, was chasing a ball to the boundary and trying to prevent a four, however, despite his best efforts to stop himself, his head and leg hit a steel pole at the edge of the ground.

McDermott's attempt to turn and avoid the pole added to his injuries, his momentum twisting him round and causing his leg to break as it too struck the pole.  He was taken to Altnagelvin hospital in Derry before being transferred to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.  There, the cut on his head was so severe that doctors were able to check that his skull had not been fractured by looking inside the open wound.

As a result of his injuries, McDermott’s neck has been completely immobilised by a neck brace which he will have to wear for at least four months.  His mother Paula said his injuries were such that at one point she feared she was going to be told he had not pulled through.  "When you send them out to play a game of cricket you don't expect something like this to happen.   I know we were so lucky. We were so lucky”.

Despite the experience though McDermott is determined to eventually return to the game.  "I have to realise it was an accident”, he said.  "I'll definitely be going back to cricket, but in my own time. It might not be this year or next year, bit I'm going back. It's the sport closest to my heart”.

Another Aussie player ‘participation’ record. 

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 12 August 2017.

PTG 2228-11287.

According to numbers derived from Australia’s latest National Cricket Census (NCC) the game around the nation has, as in the past four years, again grown significantly with 1,429,529 “participants” involved during the 2016-17 austral summer, the highest figure ever and a nine per cent rise over that of 2015-16.  Solid increases in “participation” levels have been reported across all but one sector of the game, a key one - “club and community” - where there was a drop, however, while the survey’s statistics are better coordinated this year, those provided for match officials require questioning (PTG 2228-11288 below).

A ‘participant’ is defined by CA “as someone who takes part in at least four sessions of a formal cricket program”.  In terms of the game’s overall scene in Australia, of the reported 1.4 million participants more than 27 per cent are said to be female.  A total of 393,735 of them are now playing the game, a massive increase of 78,799, or 25 per cent, in a year.  That rise contributed to a total of 363 new female teams being formed across 46 "new all-girl competitions” (PTG 2228-11289 below), while “nearly half” of the 799,939 involved in schools games are said to be female.  

Statistics for the “club and community” area show 444,570 participants were involved, a fall of 2.2 per cent on that for the 2015-16 season when the number was reported as 454,657.  During the latest season 30 per cent, or 135,223 of participants were aged “5 to 12”, 23 per cent or 102,106 fell into the 13-18 age group, while nearly half, or 47 per cent, a total of 207,241, were 19 and older. 

What is missing is information on the number of cricket associations and clubs in 2016-17.  Last August’s NCC stated 422 cricket associations and 3,741 clubs were engaged in the game nationwide in 2015-16; while 581 “girl’s and women’s teams played 11-a-side "cricket at clubs”.  Census data released for 2014-15 did not mention such numbers at all, but the one before that stated 477 associations and 3,995 clubs were involved in 2013-14 (PTG 1411-6815, 12 August 2014).  

The 2015-16 and 2013-14 numbers for that area of the game represented a somewhat unbelievable drop of 55 associations and 254 clubs in two years, a change that raised questions about what the situation really is.  This year’s NCC published data does not clear up questions raised by those two data sets.

Other 2016-17 data released shows ‘Indigenous’ player numbers rose from 36,900 to 54,326, a very significant growth of 47.3 per cent, or says CA "up 580 per cent since 2013”.  Across Australia’s 87 Premier League first grade teams some 60 of the 1,000 or players were recorded as being from Australia’s first peoples.  

“Multicultural" participants rose to 222,120, up 18.3 per cent, while players labelled as having a “Disability” totalled 23,172, up 32.5 per cent. In the “Indoor" game the participation number is put at 185,015, a 2.4 per cent rise.  However, as has been the case in the past, no mention is made of the number of participants in the Over 40, 50, 60 and 70 categories, areas where CA’s interest and support is seen by many as limited at best, but where growth appears to have continued to be strong.  

While there have been concerns over the last few years that the NCC’s published numbers were seriously inconsistent from year-to-year (PTG 1611-7832, 5 August 2015), the percentage rises contained in the information tabled this year actually tally when compared with those released a year ago for the 2015-16 season.  

However, the total numbers of 1.4 million in 2016-17 and 1.3 million in 2015-16 are significantly different from a survey conducted for the latter season by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), a corporate entity within the Australian Government’s Department of Health.  The ASC result suggested the player numbers in 2015-16 were 562,669 for senior and junior club participants (PTG 2000-10101, 9 December 2016).  While some discrepancy in the NCC and ASC data sets can always be expected such large differences raise questions about just which provides a truer picture of the Australian game.

The 2016-17 NCC has, as in recreant years, been compiled by "specialist researcher" Street Ryan, the data he used coming from the "cooperative efforts of CA and each of the six state and two territory cricket associations".  Those organisations are responsible for recording the number of programs, teams and registered players within their regions for each cricket program area.  They of course also have an interest in seeing participant numbers increase each year.

Census data not much help in the match officials area. 

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 12 August 2017.

PTG 2228-11288.

This year’s 15th Cricket Australia (CA) National Cricket Census (NCC) may indicate record numbers “participated” in the game in that country during the 2016-17 austral summer (PTG 2228-11286 above), however, once again the published data it provides in the match officials’ area suggests such information has only been added as somewhat of an after thought; although it wasn’t totally forgotten as it sometimes appears to be (PTG 2227-11282, 11 August 2017).

The latest NCC data set limits itself though to indicating there were 7,099 “active umpires” and that 3,586 of them were “accredited”.    That’s all.  There is no break-down on the competition levels those seven thousand were involved in, how many of those “accredited" were Level 1 ‘Community’ (schools or junior) umpires, or hold the standard for Premier League officials, a Level 2 ‘Representative’ qualification.  

Unlike other areas of the census where statistics for females are trumpeted, there is no indication as to just what their contribution to the umpiring component of the game was.  Also this year, as has been the case since the survey began in 2003, there is no information at all on those who have scorer qualifications, or what overall numbers in that specialty are.    

Such a data poor situation is nothing new.  There was no mention of match officials in the published 2015-16 data set, in 2014-15 the only reference was “1,611 umpires trained”, and in 2013-14 the single reference was to "4,353 umpires” being involved.  CA has indicated on its web site for some time now that “over 5,000 registered umpires” are involved. If it has better data it has not bothered to share it with the wider community.

If the lack of solid data is at it appears, it means it is impossible to adequately track the success or otherwise of recruitment and retention in the match officials area, information that could contribute to forward planning and the provision and targeting of resources.  CA itself said in releasing NCC data that the census "has become an important information system for game development, setting targets, and monitoring successes and trends for the long‐term enhancement of Australian cricket”.  Apparently not though for match officials. 

 

Volunteers praised for role in game’s reported growth. 

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 12 August 2017.

PTG 2228-11289.

The continued growth in the number of participants in the Australian game in 2016-17 is "a great achievement and a tribute to the 50,000-plus volunteers around the country who dedicate so much of their time to our national sport”, according to Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland. CA’s latest National Cricket Survey, which was released on Friday, indicated that a new record of over 1.4 million “participants” were involved in the game last austral summer (PTG 2228-11287 above).

Sutherland expressed particular pleasure in the "growth in participation amongst women and girls”, pointing to CA’s 'Growing Cricket for Girls Fund’ (GCGF) which was established last year with an initial investment of $A1.5 million (£UK915,840) (PTG 1950-9814, 18 October 2016).  It is said to have played a key part in associations and clubs creating 363 new teams across 46 new all-girl competitions, something Sutherland said "demonstrates both the huge demand and the need for sport to create the right environment”.  Total GCGF investment will be $A6 m (£UK3.7 m) over four years – "the single biggest investment by an Australian national sporting organisation into teenage girls sport”.

The chief executive went on to say the introduction of new junior formats, via which the game was adapted to the physical capabilities of children, had also been very successful (PTG 2095-10609, 4 April 2017).  “We invested $A500,000 [£UK305,280] into this trial, and it proved conclusively that it made cricket more accessible and enjoyable". In addition to shorter pitches, boundaries and fielders to suit the players’ size and physical capabilities, the new formats "mean everyone has an opportunity to bat and bowl and games are finished in 2-3 hours".  “The end result is that children learn the skills faster, and develop great confidence and passion for the game”, said the chief executive.

Sutherland also reiterated it was also "cricket’s ambition" to create 500 more "female-friendly pavilions by 2022” (PTG 2196-11123, 10 July 2017).  According to him CA has worked "very closely with over 400 councils across the country to undertake a national facilities audit to make sure that we have collected the right data, so that together we can develop effective plans to address the future facility needs of our sport. We can only address these with everyone working collaboratively and partnership with government, local communities and other sports is going to be of importance”. 

CA spent, in addition to the junior format trial, another $A500,000 (£UK305,280) on conducting the facilities audit, money Sutherland said "is an investment in the future [for] we can only provide the best support for the grassroots of our game if we understand what the needs are”.  He indicated “by way of example, the approximate cost of constructing another 500 female-friendly pavilions by 2022 is $A1 billion" (£UK611 m).  "That sort of investment needs all parties to have the right sort of information to set the priorities, and CA is pleased that its audit will be a core part of that decision-making”, concluded Sutherland.

A month ago CA said it has so far invested $A4.5 million (£UK2.7 m) in 410 facilities projects worth $41.6m (£UK24.5 m) through the scheme over there past three years, and that “the remaining amount to fund the projects [completed] has come largely from local, state and territory governments” (PTG 2196-11123, 10 July 2017).  While three examples of such projects were publicised by CA at the time, no consolidated list of the remaining 407, and the $A3.755 m (£UK2.2 m) CA suggests it allocated to them, has yet been released.

BCCI to appeal against Court order on Sreesanth ban.

Arun Venugopal.

Cricinfo.

Saturday, 12 August 2017.

PTG 2228-11290.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is set to appeal against the Kerala High Court judgement that had ordered the board to lift the life ban on fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in the 2013 Indian Premier League spot- fixing scandal (PTG 2225-11274, 9 August 2017). A BCCI official has indicated that the board would approach the court "very soon".

In its judgement on Monday, the Court observed that the BCCI's refusal to lift the ban was a violation of natural justice. After Sreesanth and two other Rajasthan Royals bowlers, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, were arrested for alleged fulfilling of promises made to bookmakers in May 2013, they were banned for life by the BCCI (PTG 1188-5731, 15 September 2013).  

The court's observations factored that in 2015 Sreesanth had been exonerated of spot-fixing charges by a Delhi trial court due to insufficient evidence under a special law passed by the Maharashtra state government to tackle organised crime syndicates and terrorism (PTG 1602-7771, 26 July 2015).

Helmet strike costs side the match.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 12 August 2017.

PTG 2228-11291.

Instead of having his helmet taken from the field late in his side’s stint in the field in a Twenty20 match against Worcestershire at Edgbaston last week, Warwickshire wicketkeeper Alex Mellor placed it on the ground behind him, a move that ended up costing his side the match.  

Even though Mellor was standing back to medium-fast bowler Aaron Thomason, Worcestershire batsman Brett D'Oliveira was somehow able to slice the ball through the wicket-keeper legs, after which the ball ran on to hit the helmet directly behind him.   After consulting with his square leg colleague Alex Wharf, umpire Jeremy Lloyds signalled a five-run penalty, Worcestershire eventually going on to win the game by five runs.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,229

Monday, 14 August 2017

 

• Lankan board president wants team to tour Pakistan [2229-11292].

• Former NZ Test umpire dies aged 92 [2229-11293].

• CA selects 12 for inaugural High Performance Workshop [2229-11294].

• ‘Admin error' costs club cup final win [2229-11295].

• Overseas work trips for Aussie officials [2229-11296].

• Tasmania appoints new Match Officials Manager [2229-11297].

Lankan board president wants team to tour Pakistan.

BBC Sport.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2229-11292.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala wants his team to tour Pakistan for the first time since their bus was attacked by gunmen in Lahore.  Since that 2009 attack, Zimbabwe have been the only full international side to tour Pakistan, playing five limited-overs games in Lahore in 2015.

Sumathipala said he was "keen to take my team to Pakistan”.  "We have three Twenty20 games against Pakistan in September and we would like to play at least one in Lahore”.  Pakistan have played most of their "home" games since 2009 in the United Arab Emirates, although they "hosted" Australia in England in 2010.

As well as Sri Lanka, Pakistan are also hoping to host an International Cricket Council (ICC) World XI in September (PTG 2222-11260, 6 August 20170, which has led the Pakistan Cricket Board to recall its players currently playing overseas, in English county cricket and the Caribbean Premier League.  However, in June, a series of proposed games between Pakistan and Afghanistan were cancelled following a bomb attack in Kabul, while Pakistan and India have not met in Test cricket since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Speaking at the Asian Cricket Council's annual general meeting in Colombo, Sumathipala added: "We have had our security experts visit and make an assessment, and things look positive with things improving all over the country and especially Lahore being cleared.  There is always risk [but] we must be as accommodating and understanding as possible with our members and extend our fullest support to them as the cricketing family of Asia".

"Sri Lanka suffered through three decades of terrorism and war and at one stage no one wanted to come here - Pakistan stood by us then, as did India”, concluded Sumathipala.

Former NZ Test umpire dies aged 92.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2229-11293.

Former New Zealand umpire William Martin, who stood in 49 first class games in the period from 1958-78, 15 of them Tests over the 10 years from 1963, died earlier this month at the age of 92.  Martin, who was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1978 for services to cricket, took up umpiring because of back problems that severely limited his playing career.

After his second serious operation on his back in his late twenties his wife Dawn suggested he take up umpiring.  One lot his sons told the ‘Bay of Plenty Times’: "He never listened to anybody in his life, really, but he took up that advice and ran with it and he had a passion for it, but he also had a gift for it.  He used to umpire in Wellington a lot and Wellington can get pretty miserable with the weather.  He used to come home wind burnt and red in the face. But he just loved it.  He umpired every international [cricketing] nation in the world in his day, something he was quite proud of".

Martin made his Test debut at the age of 38 in the second Test between New Zealand and England at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.  Later that month he stood the third game of the series at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, where England fast bowler Fred Trueman took his 243rd Test wicket.  His son said his dad thought Freddy Trueman was the greatest quick bowler he had ever umpired.  One of the Nelson-born umpire’s other Tests involved South Africa in Wellington in February 1964 - a game notable for being disrupted by damage to the pitch caused by anti-apartheid demonstrators.

His MBE came as a "total surprise”, said his son.  "He just had no idea. It was a special moment in his life, for sure ... that recognition of all he'd done and all he'd tried to do.  Cricket was a passion that would last his whole life”.

CA selects 12 for inaugural High Performance Workshop.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2229-11294.

The newest member of Cricket Australia’s (CA) National Umpires Panel (NUP), all six from its second-tier Development Panel (DP), and five who are on the fringes of the latter group, are reported to have been chosen to attend CA's inaugural four-day High Performance Officiating Workshop which is due to get underway in Brisbane on Thursday week.  

No details of the new course, which is effectively a Level 3 qualification, have yet been made public, although CA’s ‘Cricket Umpires Australia’ web page has been making clear for months that participation is “by invitation only” and that details of its “framework” will be made available “soon”.

Half of those selected for the forthcoming workshop come from the DP: Nathan Johnstone; Donovan Koch; Simon Lightbody; Claire Polosak; David Shepard and Ben Treloar, with Polosak and Shepard also being members of CA’s Project Panel (PTG 2159-10952, 9 June 2017).  The others are NUP member Anthony Wilds, plus Stephen Brne, Darren Close, Anthony Hobson, David Taylor and Troy Penman.  

Six of the twelve are from New South Wales, two each from Queensland and Victoria, and one each from Tasmania and Western Australia, but there is no one from South Australia, a state that over the past two decades has produced three Test umpires.  All except Brne, Close, a former first class umpire, and Penman, current hold, or have held, year-long National Officiating Scholarships awarded by the Australian government’s Sports Commission (PTG 2042-10347, 8 February 2017).

‘Admin error' costs club cup final win.

Alistair Bushe.

Belfast Newsletter.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2229-11295.

Carrickfergus Cricket Club in Northern Ireland won the Northern Cricket Union’s (NCU) knock-out Intermediate Cup final on Saturday but were stripped of the trophy hours later after it was revealed they had an ineligible player in their line-up.  The news came through via the NCU’s ‘Twitter’ account as Carrickfergus celebrated the win against Donaghcloney Mill back at their home ground.

Teenager Luca Johnston joined Carrickfergus during the current northern hemisphere summer, but crucially after registration for cup competitions including the Intermediate Cup. The final was only his second match with the team.  It is believed the NCU were alerted to his ineligibility by another club shortly after the final ended.  Carrickfergus official Roger Bell tweeted: “Luca was registered on 19 June, cut-off date for cups is 31 May (Comp Rule A22) Unfortunately admin error by the club. Gutted”.

Overseas work trips for Aussie officials.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2229-11296.

Two members of Cricket Australia’s Match Officials Unit travelled to the United States and the UK respectively in July-August.  Simon Taufe,l its Match Referee and Umpire Selection Manager, attended a conference in the United States, while Wiltshire-born Umpire Coach Ian Lock is reported to have flown to England to assist the England and Wales Cricket Board with compliance issues related to International Cricket Council accreditation.

Taufel is said to have taken part in a three-day workshop in Louisville, Kentucky, two weeks ago that was run by the United States-based National Association of Sports Officials (NASO).  The gathering, which involved match officials and their administrators from more than a dozen sports, was NASO's 35th 'Sports Officiating Summit’, the theme this year being: 'Driven by Data – Analytics Demographics Sports Officials’.  Just what was learnt from his attendance and how it might be applied to CA activities is yet to be made public.

NASO’s work focuses on three main areas — "protect, educate and advocate for officials”.  It says it protects its officials via insurance benefits, educates officials through a monthly magazine and the annual conference, provides training materials to local officials’ associations across the US, and advocates for officials in a wide variety of strategic and ad hoc efforts, including providing a voice in major media outlets in defence of officials and officiating.

Tasmania appoints new Match Officials Manager.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2229-11297.

Cricket Tasmania (CT) have appointed Gerry O’Dea, who is currently the Western Australian manager for Australian Sailing, as its new Match Officials Manager in place of Roy Loh who left the position six weeks ago (PTG 2166-10988, 16 June 2017).  O’Dea has been in his current position for two-and-a-half years, before that was General Manager of the Perth Flying Squadron Yacht Club, and for nearly five years from November 2008 the chief executive of the West Perth Australian Rules Football (ARF) Club.

The Hobart-born sports administrator has a Bachelor of Arts (Recreation) degree from Perth’s Edith Cowan University.  He has been a part-time coach of a senior ARF team in Perth, a board member of a womens’ ARF league, and has experience in broadcast issues related to the Australia’s unique football game.  Reports say he is due to commence with CT in mid-September just before the start of the new cricket season there.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,230

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

 

• Player banned, both sides docked points, after clashes [2230-11298].

• South Australia more than doubles funding for girls’ game [2230-11299].

• Geelong Cricket Association struggling for umpire numbers [2230-11300].

• ‘Buy your own tickets’: CA sponsor to staff [2230-11301].

Player banned, both sides docked points, after clashes.

Birmingham Mail.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017.

PTG 2230-11298.

Two West Midlands teams have been docked championship points and one player banned for ten matches after a Birmingham Premier League (BPL) second division fixture between Fordhouses and Old Hill in late June saw players and spectators clash in what one report at the time said involved “serious violence”.

During the fracas Pervaiz Akhtar, the father of a Fordhouses player, fought with Old Hill player Nigel Davenport.  Umpires Saeed Batthi and Rob Murphy reported seeing Davenport punch Akhtar's son with a clenched fist as the argument escalated.  At the BPL’s disciplinary hearing into the matter, both teams made allegations about their opponents behaviour, Old Hill for example suggesting that "a number of Fordhouses' players entered the pitch" before "violence was used by Davenport, first toward Akhtar Senior and then Akhtar Junior”.

After hearing all available reports the disciplinary committee banned Davenport for ten games, while Fordhouses had 48 championship points, and Old Hill 24 points, deducted.  Following an appeal Fordhouses’ censure was later reduced to 36 points.  As a result Fordhouses dropped from second to third on the league table and Old Hill to last place.

A statement published on the BPL website states "we received clear evidence from umpires Bhatti ands Murphy that Davenport struck Akhtar Senior.  As described hitherto, the incident escalated, Davenport was also seen by both umpires to punch Akhtar junior with a clenched fist.  Whist this was denied by Davenport he did admit contact with Akhtar Junior and using the language described by other witnesses.  As regards Davenport, were it not for the fact that his behaviour was, we accept, entirely out of character, the penalty would have been considerably more severe.  The 24-point reduction, the team penalty, was in our view merciful, but no doubt reflected the fact that the Club would be without a senior player for the duration of his suspension".  

The hearing itself was not without its problems, for the disciplinary committee’s statement went on: "The tribunal did not take into account the physical/facial expressions of dissent seen frequently during the course of the hearing.  Those who behaved in that way may choose to reflect on their conduct.  We would urge both Clubs to re-double their efforts to ensure that standard of behaviour required from players, members and spectators and the consequences of breaching those requirements is understood by all”.

South Australia more than doubles funding for girls’ game.

Rob Greenwood.

Adelaide Advertiser.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017.

PTG 2230-11299.

Lauren Ebsary says she needed thick skin as a young girl playing cricket with the boys in the Snowtown Area School yard 150 km north of Adelaide.  The former South Australian captain and Australian player had no female competition to participate in as a child in the mid north, meaning she did not play her first competitive match until she was 14.

Ebsary, the South Australian Cricket Association’s (SACA)s female community engagement co-ordinator said that situation “threw up a lot of challenges for girls coming through playing the non-traditional female sports.  You had to have a fairly thick skin back then growing up and coming through the ranks playing with the boys.  But we’re a long way down the track of our mindset changing ... and making cricket a sport that everyone can play not just boys.  It’s exciting to see girls are now getting so many more opportunities to play cricket at a young age and then being able to progress"

Those opportunities will surge this summer after SACA more than doubled its investment in girl’s cricket.  Its 'Growing Cricket for Girls Strategy' will receive $A195,000 (£UK118,030), up from $A75,000 (£UK45,400) last year, to fund 23 clubs’ and 35 schools’ participation in the Adelaide Strikers Girls Cricket League.  New competitions will also be introduced in the Great Southern, Barossa and Light, Eyre Peninsula, and Murray Towns associations, as well as Adelaide’s western suburbs.  The move will result in more than 1,200 females aged 11-18 playing cricket across the state from Port Lincoln to Mount Gambier.

“It’s had a fantastic uptake”, said Ebsary, who represented Australia on 34 occasions across all forms of the game.  “We’re bringing together the pieces of the puzzle to make sure these girls can transition from the grassroots into the next program with ease”.  Ebsary hoped government funding to build female changerooms would continue to increase in line with cricket participation numbers growing among girls (PTG 2228-111289, 13 August 2017).  

She said it was an exciting time for women’s sport in general, as the likes of the Australian Rules Football Womens' and the national soccer team attracted widespread media coverage and sponsorship.  “The sports are somewhat competing against each other, but more exposure for any women’s sport is a good thing.  Girls can finally see their role models playing sport, whereas before they didn’t get access to that”.

Geelong Cricket Association struggling for umpire numbers.

Alex Oates.

Geelong Advertiser

Tuesday, 15 August 2017.

PTG 2230-11300.

Victoria's Geelong Cricket Umpires Association (GCUA) is in the grip of a crippling shortage as the 2017-18 season nears.  GCUA president Greg Illingworth revealed numbers had fallen below 40 for the first time in several years, leaving the association in danger of filling the minimum number of appointments.

“This year there’s more urgency than ever”, Illingworth said of the need to recruit umpires.  “We’re a few down on last year and things aren’t flash numbers wise. Obviously we’re doing our best to cover first and second XI games and that’s becoming increasingly difficult.  We’re trying to encourage new umpires to take it up”.

The GCUA will hold a meeting on Wednesday evening with prospective umpires urged to attend.  “Last year we had 43 umpires and we’re down to 28, so it’s not like we’ve had a huge dive in numbers, but we need more”, Illingworth said.  “We’d still like more than 43 but it just makes it difficult. It means some games don’t get umpires at all and I don’t think that’s good enough.  If you’re playing cricket, you deserve an umpire, and in some games where we need two umpires there will only be one".

“In the first division on turf, we have two umpires in each game. That’s our immediate need and then we fill the gaps.  We’ve got a few umpires who are getting on in years and we give them games in the lower grades on the hard wicket, but ideally, we just need an injection of 10 or a dozen umpires and that would make a massive difference.”

Illingworth said the GCUA required 40 umpires to be “comfortable.  If we could get 50, we’re in a good place”, he said.  “We got close to that and now we’ve gone down again. There’s a couple unsure, so we might end up with 40.  We’ve had one main meeting to see what numbers are like and a couple of guys were umming and arring”.

“The money is quite good”, Illingworth said.  “An umpire will earn $A280 £UK170) for a two-day game, $A150 (£UK90) for one-day and $A50 (£UK30) for a T20 and it’s tax free and it doesn’t effect pensions either.  I’ve always said ‘the money is nice but you have to love cricket’. You can’t do it solely for the money.  It’s ideal for people who have an interest in cricket or want to stay involved if they can’t play any more”.

‘Buy your own tickets’: CA sponsor to staff.

Myriam Robin.

Australian Financial Review.

Monday, 14 August 2017.

PTG 2230-11301.

Fresh from settling a spot of bother with its cricketers, Cricket Australia (CA) last week finally announced one of the worst-kept secrets in the sport: 'Magellan Financial Group' is to become the sponsor of its home Test series (PTG 2225-11275, 9 August 2017).  The deal will see ‘Magellan' with its branding in stadiums and naming rights to the Ashes, among other things. 

Before the three-year deal was confirmed, we wondered what could be behind it. Surely the fund manager doesn't plan on becoming a household name like previous sponsors the Commonwealth Bank, Carlton and United Breweries and Vodafone. We hadn't thought fund management was, as they say, a fast-moving consumer good. Which meant the deal, we figured, could be about one of two things: the size of Magellan chief executive Hamish Douglass' ambitions, or the perks.

Well, turns out it isn't the perks! At Magellan's latest product launch in Sydney on Wednesday, our spies attempted to find out more about the, um, benefits of the deal, but were rather poorly received for doing so. Douglass, it turns out. isn't in it for corporate box at the Ashes, or even a side named after him. As for Magellan's staff, he insisted, they've been told to buy their own tickets to the Ashes.  Guess we'll have to find someone else to get us in ...

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,231

Thursday, 17 August 2017

 

• Batsman dies after being struck by a bouncer [2231-11302].

• CoA asks Court to remove BCCI's top office bearers [2231-11303].

• Changes ahead for CA's top umpire panels [2231-11304].

• Broadcaster’s loss again highlights rights return uncertainties [2231-11305].

Batsman dies after being struck by a bouncer.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 17 August 2017.

PTG 2231-11302.

A batsman in Pakistan has died after he was hit in the head by a bouncer during a club match in the city of Mardan 100 km north west of Islamabad on Monday.  Zubair Ahmed, whose is believed to be aged 19 or 20, played four Twenty20 matches for the Quetta Bears in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) 2014-15 season domestic Twenty20 series.  Late on Wednesday the PCB said on its ‘Twitter’ feed: "Tragic death of Zubair Ahmed is another reminder that safety gear i.e. helmet must be worn at all times. Our sympathies to Zubair's family”.  Reports claim he was not he was wearing a helmet when struck.

On Tuesday, Australia vice-captain David Warner was also struck on the neck by a bouncer bowled by teammate Josh Hazelwood during an intra-squad practice match. However, Warner is recovering well after and is expected to be fit for the upcoming two-Test series in Bangladesh.  The left-hander dropped his bat and slumped to his knees after an attempted hook shot went awry at Marrara Oval in Darwin on Tuesday, but quickly picked himself up and walked off the ground.  He was wearing a helmet but it was not fitted with StemGuards which Cricket Australia “recommends” be used (PTG 1946-9788, 14 October 2016). 

CoA asks Court to remove BCCI's top office bearers.

Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017.

PTG 2231-11303.

In another damning indictment of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Indian Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has asked the Court to remove the three office bearers of the board with immediate effect.  The CoA felt such a blunt measure was necessary only because the three - CK Khanna (acting BCCI president), Amitabh Choudhary (secretary) and Anirudh Chaudhry (treasurer) - had failed to ensure the implementation of the Lodha Committee's recommendations despite having given a written undertaking in January.

The CoA said the court had already set the precedent in January when it had removed the two senior-most BCCI office bearers - Anurag Thakur (president) and Ajay Shirke (secretary) - after the pair had failed to implement the reforms, thus violating the court's order delivered in mid-July last year (PTG 2019-10215, 3 January 2017). Simultaneously, the court stated that if Khanna, Choudhary and Chaudhry wanted to continue as office bearers, they would need to make written submissions saying they would help the BCCI implement the reforms. The CoA said that it has been more than six months and the three office bearers are "not in a position to make good" on their undertakings and hence should be sacked.

"The current office bearers of the BCCI have demonstrated scant regard for the directions issued by the [CoA] and continue to flout the same with impunity”, the CoA noted in its fifth status report, which is likely to be heard by the Supreme Court on Friday. "There is a need to direct that the existing office bearers of the BCCI shall forthwith cease and desist from being associated with the working of BCCI”.

The report also said that with fresh BCCI elections scheduled for September, the running of the board should be entrusted "exclusively" with the COA, which would work closely with the board's professional management led by its chief executive Rahul Johri. "The governance, management and administration of the BCCI may be entrusted exclusively in the hands of the [CoA] along with the professional management of the BCCI headed by the chief executive until elections are held in accordance with the New BCCI Constitution and a new set of office bearers take charge”.

The stonewalling by the BCCI and majority of the state associations against implementing the reforms has finally started to test the patience of the CoA. Vinod Rai, the committee's chairman, admitted in an interview last month that his "consensus-building" efforts paid no dividends. Disappointed but not disheartened, the CoA asked the court in the fourth status report to issue an order under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution that would enforce the implementation of reforms.

The latest instance, the COA said, came around the BCCI's last special general meeting (SGM), on 26 July. Two days before that gathering, the court, responding to the "urgent" intervention sought by the CoA, had directedthat only qualified office bearers/representatives from state associations could attend the meeting.  In an interim order on 24 July, the court had also indicated that it was willing to reopen debate over some of the reforms. "All concerned (BCCI and state associations) shall implement the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee Report as far as practicable, barring the issues which have been raised pertaining to membership, number of members of the selection committee, concept of associate membership, etc”.

At the SGM, the BCCI agreed unanimously to implement all but five broad reforms: membership status which includes the one-state-one-vote reform, disqualification of office bearers, ministers and government officials based on eligibility criteria such as the age cap, tenure and cooling off period, the strength of the Apex Council - which replaces the existing working committee, the division of powers between the office bearers and the professional management, and strength of the national selection committee.

The CoA was disgruntled with the office bearers also because they did not send it the minutes of the 26 July SGM despite being asked to. The CoA also took strong exception to the BCCI's decision, asking Johri and the BCCI administrative staff, including the board's legal team, to leave the SGM, which it said was "pre-planned and orchestrated”.  When the CoA checked with the office bearers as to why they did not "reprimand" the BCCI members who asked Johri to leave the SGM, their response was "ingenious", saying he had "left of his own accord”. "The conduct of the office bearers is such as to demonstrate that they are unfit to continue and ought to removed”.

Changes ahead for CA's top umpire panels.

PTG Editor.

Thursday, 17 August 2017.

PTG 2231-11304.

Ten weeks after it announced the make-up of its twelve-man National Umpires Panel (NUP) for the 2017-18 austral summer (PTG 2159-10952, 9 June 2017), Cricket Australia (CA) is understood to be in the process of making a change to the group.  Details are not expected to be made public until early next week, however, the change appears likely to involve the departure of one the twelve previously named NUP members and the promotion of a current member of CA’s second-tier Development Umpires Panel (DUP) on to the NUP in his place.

Just what could be behind the need to make a change this late in preparations for the summer ahead, with pre-season matches in Queensland and national seminars due to be held over the next four weeks, is difficult to determine but it is unlikely to be being made lightly.  The only unusual thing that appears to have occurred in relation to CA panels this year has been the organisation’s failure to detail, as it usually does at the same time as the NUP announcement, just who will occupy the two on-field and two television spots on Australia’s section of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel.  

As to who will be moved up from the DUP to the NUP to fill the expected vacancy, analysis has in the past suggested the DUP’s Simon Lightbody, who made his first class and List A debuts last season (PTG 2034-10303, 30 January 2017), has the front running.  In  turn he is likely to be replaced on the DUP by either Victorian Stephen Brne, Tasmania’s Darren Close, David Taylor of Queensland and New South Welshmen Anthony Hobson and Troy Penman.  

Close, who stood in 20 first class matches in the period from 1986-92 (PTG 1884-9439, 24 July 2016), Lightbody, Brne, Taylor, Hobson and Penman, have all been chosen to attend CA’s inaugural High Performance Officiating workshop in Brisbane next week (PTG 2229-11294, 14 August 2017); while Hobson is currently in the midst of a year-long Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship, Taylor having been awarded and completed one last year (PTG 2042-10347, 8 February 2017).

Broadcaster’s loss again highlights rights return uncertainties.

Adrian Proszenko.

Fairfax Media.

Thursday, 17 August 2017.

PTG 2231-11305.

There are fears the value of the next broadcast deals for sports in Australia such as cricket and rugby league could plateau or even plummet after the country’s Seven Network posted a $A745 million (£UK454 m) loss for the 2016-17 financial year.  Global Media and Sports boss Colin Smith, who previously helped the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Rugby Union bodies broker media deals, has echoed the view of Seven West Media boss Tim Worner, who claimed sports rights had reached a "tipping point”; a claim that has been made several times before by others in recent months (PTG 2188-11090, 3 July 2017).

Seven West Media's overall revenue was down 2.7 per cent to $A1.6 billion (£UK976 m) in comparison to the previous year, which included the Rio Olympics. The free-to-air network invests heavily in sports, including the AFL and tennis' Australian Open, with the shock result raising fresh questions about the future broadcast value of those and other sports.

The Nine Network holds the broadcast rights for Australia’s home international cricket and the NRL (PTG 2199-11138, 12 July 2017). Nine has had the rights for home cricket internationals since 1979, although the current deal will expire at the end of the 2017-18 summer. Big Bash League (BBL) rights are about to be up for renegotiation and uncertainty over the future of current rights holder Channel Ten will likely decrease the competitive tension in the market (PTG 2163-10977, 14 June 2017).

Nine's new NRL contract kicks in for the 2018 austral winter season and runs for the next five years, a deal that – in partnership with those done with News Corporation, Fox Sports and Telstra – will bring in $A1.8 billion (£UK1.1 bn) for the NRL. While that sum represents a 70 per cent increase on the previous rights deal, there could be a downside in the future.

"We are fast approaching the tipping point”, Smith said.  "The broadcasters' costs are rising and by acquiring content such as AFL and NRL they're not getting more revenue. That's not sustainable long-term.  Then you have the issue of whether one of the free-to-air networks survive, and if it does, in what form?  It's not like there's a feeding frenzy out there attempting to acquire rights.  The idea that there is going to be significant growth going forward is going to be challenged”.

"Given changes in the market, price rises are not sustainable. We have to reach a position where the economics stack up for all parties [and] where the power and reach that free-to-air brings [to sports]”, Worner said.  He pointed to the popularity of the BBL as an example of why networks should be rewarded for growing the popularity of sports, saying “these sports code have to start to recognise the power of what we bring to them.

There are hopes that "disruptors", such as ‘Netflix', ‘Google', ‘Facebook' and ‘Amazon', will enter the race for future sporting content, therefore pushing up the price.  But while Smith said their entry into the market was inevitable, it might not happen in time for the next NRL or cricket rights cycle.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,232

Saturday, 19 August 2017

 

• CA issues new youth pace bowling guidelines [2232-11306].

Cardiac arrest delays start of play [2232-11307].

Testing clears bowler’s remodelled action [2232-11308].

CA issues new youth pace bowling guidelines.

Andrew Wu.

Fairfax Media.

Saturday, 19 August 2017.

PTG 2232-11306.

Cricket Australia (CA) has changed the emphasis of its fast bowling policy from not over-bowling to bowling enough in a bid to reduce the number of back stress fractures among future quicks.  Players are now being set "targets" to reach rather than "restrictions" as part of a raft of changes in Australian cricket's new youth pace bowling guidelines. In some cases, juniors will be allowed to bowl more.

The management of the nation's fast bowlers has become a controversial topic with many old timers believing workload limits imposed by sports science were leading to more injuries rather than preventing them.  While there are still recommendations on how many balls a junior should deliver a week, new research has found the frequency of bowling had a greater bearing on a bowler's susceptibility to injury rather than volume.

Back stress fractures are an occupational hazard for fast bowlers until they reach the age of 24 when bones harden. Test quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson have all suffered serious back injuries in their early years. Pattinson, 27, was forced out of the upcoming tour of Bangladesh due to a back issue.

CA believes the changes will improve the resilience of players entering elite ranks by narrowing the gap in workloads, prevent bone injuries later in their careers and help retain talent that would otherwise be lost due to injury.  Under the new measures, players are being advised to avoid bowling more than two days in a row and on no more than four days a week.  "We're thinking during that developmental stage if you give the bone a hint of loading on one day, we know physiologically it needs some hours, days to repair itself, just like muscles do”, CA's sports science and sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris said.  

"When you go to a gym and feel sore the next day, that's the muscle repairing itself and making itself bigger and stronger for the next session. Bone does the same thing, you just don't get bone pain so you don't feel it.  If you bowl 150 balls in a week, you're better off bowling them in three or four sessions rather than five or six. Having that time to recover between sessions is valuable.  We're hoping the bones become stronger and more resilient by taking this approach”.

In other changes: the change in age groups to align with CA pathway programs means Under 14s, 16s and 18s, now competing with 15s, 17s and 19s respectively, can bowl an extra two overs a day; and players will also be allowed to make up for overs they do not get in a game at training, which will help conditioning and skill development.

While Kountouris said players would still be vulnerable to injury until their bones matured, he believed CA's guidelines would create a "higher threshold" during that period.  "We're hoping you maximise the strength of the bone during the developmental phase”, Kountouris said.  "That's the fundamental difference between a 17-year-old and a 28-year-old – their bones have hardened up and they can tolerate a lot more.  If we get them as pristine as possible we'll get them through their whole career”.

Cardiac arrest delays start of play.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 18 August 2017

PTG 2232-11307.

The start of play in Thursday's Essex-Kent Twenty20 match in Chelmsford was delayed for 20 minutes after and air ambulance landed on the outfield to attend to a steward who had suffered a suspected heart attack.  After the helicopter landed players were not allowed to warm up on the ground while paramedics dealt with the incident.  The helicopter eventually departed just before the scheduled 7 p.m. start time for the game which eventually got underway a little late.

Testing clears bowler’s remodelled action.

PTG Editor.

Friday, 18 August 2017

PTG 2232-11308.

Queensland player Georgia Prestwidge has been found to have a legal bowling action following re-testing by the Biomechanics Department at Australia's National Cricket Centre.  Prestwidge’s action was deemed illegal after an initial test last October and, as such she was suspended from bowling in Cricket Australia sanctioned matches with immediate effect (PTG 1977-9962, 15 November 2016).  After re-modelling her action Prestwidge opted to be re-tested in early July, the assessment revealing that all deliveries were within the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the regulations, with her action now deemed legal. 

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,233

Sunday, 20 August 2017

 

• Major domestic competitions revamp on cards in NZ [2233-11309].

• Concussion substitutes to be trailed in Sheffield Shield [2233-11310].

• Vandals in Derbyshire pitch attack [2233-11311].

Major domestic competitions revamp on cards in NZ.

Mark Geentry,

New Zealand Herald.

Saturday, 19 August 2017.

PTG 2233-11309.

Times, they are a changing at New Zealand Cricket (NZC) as its Plunket Shield first class competition looks set for a major shakeup ahead of the 2018-19 season.  NZC chief executive David White has indicated tat changes are inevitable to the current Plunket format of two full rounds in which each of the six sides side play 10 games and the series is made up of a total of 30 matches.  However, the 120 days of red ball cricket involved each season are more often that not played at empty grounds. 

With Test cricket cutting back too, White won't rule out halving what has long been NZ’s premier national competition to a solitary round, or five matches per team and 15 overall.  “Maybe there is some other cricket that can bridge the gap from first-class to international cricket a little bit more”, said White.  Getting the "right mix" of domestic cricket meant some serious discussion around future schedules.  White said: "If we've got in a four-year period of two World Twenty20 Championship series and a 50-over World Cup and two Test match competitions, what is the right mix of cricket domestically to ensure we're competitive at international level? That is something we're absolutely looking at right now”.

Currently, it costs NZC up to $NZ5 million ($A4.4 m, £UK2.9 m) per season to run its top domestic competitions, something to which the Plunket Shield offers no financial return. It exists primarily to prepare first-class cricketers for Test level - even to the point of devaluing the competition when internationals swan in and out mid-game - but there have been only minimal recent success stories.

NZC's Twenty20 'Super Smash’ series is moving even more into cricketing prime time in 2017-18 and will run from mid-December till mid-January, a further shift from last season to take in more of the holiday period when punters are actually sighted at domestic matches. Still it's a tough sell, clashing with the national side's home Twenty20 Internationals and One Day Internationals as well as Australia's Big Bash League across the Tasman.

The coming 2017-18 season is the final year of the current 'master agreement' between NZC and the NZ Players' Association, the equivalent of Australia’s ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, the negotiation of which caused so much angst this year (PTG 2188-11088, 3 July 2017).  Both bodies are expected to start negotiations on a new agreement later this year.

Concussion substitutes to be trailed in Sheffield Shield.

Ben Horne.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 19 August 2017.

PTG 2233-11310.

Concussion substitutes will be approved for Cricket Australia’s (CA) Sheffield Shield competition this summer and look set to be ratified in Test cricket within two years following the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to adopt the landmark change last month (PTG 2190-11096, 5 July 2017).  The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) Cricket Committee is discuss the introduction of such a Playing Condition in county cricket prior to the 2018 season (PTG 2199-1134, 12 July 2017), but how many other ICC Full Member nations, most of whose seasons start around the same time as Australia, will trial concussion subs is not yet known.

For as long as the game has been played, first class cricket has always strictly been about the XI chosen and if injury occurs, it’s either battle on or let your teammates suffer the consequences.  However, in light of compelling evidence about athletes and brain trauma, that attitude simply doesn’t cut it in modern sport.  A CA spokesman said his organisation "has been a strong advocate for concussion substitutes and we have successfully introduced this into our [one-day and Twenty20] competitions (PTG 1936-9734, 2 October 2016).  “We look forward to formalising the introduction of this rule into the Sheffield Shield ahead of [the coming] season”.

New South Wales opener Daniel Hughes became the first player to be officially subbed for concussion in CA’s domestic one-day series late last year when he was struck on the helmet and replaced in his side's batting line-up by Nick Larkin (PTG 1956-9840, 23 October 2016).  However, with current ICC rules not allowing concussion subs for last year’s Shield, there was an incident in a first-class match between Victoria and South Australia where the latter refused their opponents a keeping replacement after gloveman Sam Harper was inadvertently hit in the head with a bat standing up to the stumps (PTG 2046-10367, 12 February 20170.  The coming rule change would remove those decisions from the hands of players and umpires and make the head sacrosanct when it comes to the treatment of injuries.

Vandals in Derbyshire pitch attack.

Elizabeth Ammon.

The Times.

Saturday, 19 August 2017.

PTG 2233-11311.

Derbyshire are investigating an incident of vandalism at the County Ground. It is understood that there was a break-in at the club on Thursday night during which the ground covers and equipment used by groundstaff were damaged.  The incident was caught on the club’s CCTV and the footage is being reviewed by security staff at Derbyshire County Cricket Club (DCCC) and the England and Wales Cricket Board. The club had recently upgraded their CCTV equipment.

The damage was not extensive but involved the tyres on the wheels of the covers being slashed, and some chemicals being poured into the petrol tank of the blotter and on to the pitch — although the chemicals did not cause any damage to the playing surface.  The DCCC said in a statement ahead of their Twenty20 match against Worcestershire on Friday evening: “An incident which resulted in some limited damage is being investigated by the club. The incident does not threaten the Worcestershire fixture  which will go ahead as scheduled”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,234

Monday, 21 August 2017

 

• NZ Players' Association concerned about potential Plunket cut [2234-11312].

• Player dies after collapsing in village match [2234-11313].

• Changes to CA IUP and national panels confirmed [2234-11314].

• Part-time off spinner reported for suspect action [2234-11315].

• ‘Kookaburra’ under pressure as NZ prepared to ‘test’ ‘Duke’ balls [2234-11316].

NZ Players' Association concerned about potential Plunket cut.

Mark Geenty.

New Zealand Herald.

Sunday, 20 August 2017.

PTG 2234-11312.

New Zealand's top cricketers have reacted badly to a potential cut to the Plunket Shield first class competition for the 2018-19 season, according to NZ Players' Association (NZPA) chief executive Heath Mills.  Plans to review domestic cricket and potentially halve the Plunket series have escalated tension ahead of talks getting underway for a new ‘master agreement’ between New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the NZPA (PTG 2233-11309, 20 August 2017).

The current NZC-NZPA agreement is due to expire next July and talks are expected to be robust, with the recent high drama and extended standoff in Australia providing a backdrop. New Zealand's players look certain to follow suit and seek a fixed percentage of NZC's annual revenue. Currently they don't have certainty around their payment pool while grassroots cricket has ring-fenced funding, and the six major associations are also propped up by annual grants from the national body.

Former Otago all-rounder Sam Wells, who is now a board member on the Players' Association, questioned NZC's move to cut back on Plunket Shield while expanding their commercial team.  "We're still hopeful that's it's a positive, constructive process. But when players hear the competitions are going to be cut, it raises the antenna as to how the negotiations are going to go”, said the NZPA’s Mills, for “the players believe very strongly in the domestic competitions and their value to New Zealand Cricket”.

Clearly the players will, as did their Australian counterparts, want full disclosure of NZC's revenue and where it's going when discussions get under way. Any moves to reduce first-class cricket, as NZC becomes more and more a corporate entity with a rapidly expanding staff of 70-plus full-time employees, will escalate tension between the sides.  

Saving money would be one NZC justification for reducing the Plunket Shield series. Domestic cricket costs NZC up to $NZ5 million ($A4.4 m, £UK2.9 m) a season, and its Twenty20 'Super Smash' is increasingly the focal point, last year's NZC annual report declaring revenue from it of $NZ52.5 million ($A48 m, £UK30 m), but an overall organisational  loss of $NZ2.16 million ($A2 m, £UK1.2 m) .  

Mills described the Plunket Shield as "the heart and soul of our high performance program [and] the bedrock of cricket in New Zealand”.  "My view is we ought not to be cutting cricket programs for the sake of it, and we need to ask ourselves why they're being cut, when we know that NZCs revenue has increased significantly over the last 4-5 years.  We don't mind having a conversation about the structure of domestic cricket but it is absolutely the heartbeat of our high performance program. We think it is very important and we would like to ask questions about where the spending priority is? Domestic competitions are costing no more than they did five years ago”.

White has previously expressed confidence NZC and the NZPA will find common ground in their talks, as they've done in recent years when signing off variations in the master agreement.  But the next set of discussions are about to get interesting, lengthy and potentially feisty.

Player dies after collapsing in village match.

London Daily Mail.

Chris Ballinger and Patrick Lion.

Monday, 21 August 2017.

PTG 2234-11313.

A player has died after he suffered what is believed to be a cardiac arrest and collapsed during a village match in Surrey on Saturday.  The father-of two, who is understood to be middle-aged, was playing for Effingham Cricket Club against Newdigate Cricket Club (NCC) in a Surrey Country Cricket League (SCCL) when the tragedy occurred.  Despite the efforts of players, paramedics and hospital staff, the man died at King's College Hospital, south London.

Friends, teammates and rival clubs have taken to social media to pay tribute to the player - who in addition to his children also leaves behind a wife.  His name is not being released at this stage due to a request from the club and his family, as not all of his next of kin have been informed.

The Effingham club has posted a statement on its web site that reads: "It is with the utmost sadness that the club has to report the tragic death yesterday of one of our senior players who was taken ill at the 1st XI match at Newdigate.  We are shocked and saddened at the loss of a highly respected and much loved friend, team-mate and club member and send our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to all his immediate family".

The SCCL website records the match as ‘“abandoned" following Effiingham's batting innings due to a "serious medical matter to one of Effiingham's players”.  SCCL chairman Gordon Robinson said: "This is tragic. This player went out on a Saturday morning as hundreds of us do to play a sport he loved, probably with a cheery 'see you later' to his wife and children. Sadly, he did not make it home.  As a league we extend our deepest sympathy to his family and team mates, and our thanks to everyone at Newdigate who tried so hard to help. We are in regular contact with Effingham, and are looking at ways we can help”.

NCC chairman Roger Bailey, chairman of Newdigate Cricket Club, said: "On behalf of everyone at our club I would like to pass on my deepest sympathies to his family and everyone at Effingham”.

Changes to CA IUP and national panels confirmed.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 21 August 2017.

PTG 2234-11314.

Reports from multiple sources indicate that Perth-based Mick Martell, an on-field member of the Australian section of the International Cricket Council’s second-tier International Umpires Panel (IUP), has stepped down from Cricket Australia’s National Umpires Panel (NUP), and will retiring from higher-level cricket.  News broke last week that a change was in the wind (PTG 2231-11304, 17 August 2017), however, details have only emerged over the weekend.

CA is yet to formally announce Martell's departure, which leaves a vacancy on the IUP that is to be filled by NUP member Gerard Abood, while Simon Lighbody is to move up to the NUP from CA’s second-tier Development Panel (DP), while Darren Close in turn moves into Lightbody’s DP spot.  Abood will move into an IUP television spot with Sam Nogajski while Paul Wilson is expected to be elevated into an on-field position alongside long-serving Simon Fry.  

Part-time off spinner reported for suspect action.

PTG Editor.

Sunday, 21 August 2017.

PTG 2234-11315.

Part-time West Indian off spinner Kraigg Brathwaite has been reported for a suspect bowling action following his side's first Test against England at Edgbaston.  Brathwaite, whose main role is an opening batsman, sent down six overs for six runs in England’s single innings. He will now be required to undergo testing within 14 days but is allowed to continue to bowl in international cricket until the results are known.  During his 38 Tests to date Brathwaite has taken 12 wickets in in the 192 overs he has bowled including a haul of 6 for 29 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

‘Kookaburra’ under pressure as NZ prepare to ‘test’ ‘Duke’ balls.

Mark Geentry,

New Zealand Herald.

Sunday, 20 August 2017.

PTG 2234-11316.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) will, as it has done since 1946, be using Australiasn-made ‘Kookaburra’ balls in its home international, domestic first class and top one-day and Twenty20 competitions this coming austral summer, but that might not be the case in the seasons after that.  After widespread dissatisfaction with the ‘Kookaburra', primarily from bowlers who struggle to consistently swing it, NZC has extended its ball supplier deal with the Australians for the 2017-18 season only, and will decided after a trial English manufacturer ‘Dukes’ balls over the next six months whether to use them from 2018-19 onwards.

‘Dukes’, whose harden balls have as the more pronounced seam and are preferred by swing bowlers, have pushed hard to take over from “Kookaburra” after their 70-year reign in New Zealand. While NZC remained loyal to ‘Kookaburra’, its chief executive David White said ‘Dukes’ ball testing is being carried out with a view to potentially switching to them in 2018-19.  "We've extended the ‘Kookaburra' contract for one more year, however the agreement with them this time gives us a lot more flexibility to start trialling other balls including Dukes”, White said.  Trials of the ‘Dukes’ are to occur “at a level below first-class cricket".

White said New Zealand and other countries had raised concerns around the ‘Kookaburra' and its lack of swing and issues regarding their balls going out of shape. He noted though it did hoop around for New Zealand's bowlers in the final Test of last summer in Hamilton.  ‘Kookaburra', desperate to retain its status, was working hard on designs and modifications, White said. Cricket Australia used Dukes balls for parts of the Sheffield Shield to help prepare their players for Ashes series in England, and White said the feedback had been positive.  "If you talked to Trent Boult and Tim Southee I think they quite enjoy the ‘Dukes' but there's a lot of work to do”.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,235

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

 

• Neutral officials for Bangladesh-Australia Tests announced [2235-11317].

• CA calls for Umpire Educator Manager applications [2235-11318].

• Lord’s Taverners Australia, CA, launch 'Sporting Chance Fund’ [2235-11319].

Neutral officials for Bangladesh-Australia Tests announced.

PTG Editor.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017.

PTG 2235-11317.

New Zealand’s Jeff Crowe, Aleem Dar of Pakistan and Englishmen Nigel Llong and Ian Gould, have been named as the neutral officials for the two Tests Bangladesh and Australia are to play over the next three weeks.  Crowe will oversee the series as the match referee, while Llong is to stand in both games and Dar and Gould in one each.  Llong and Dar will be on-field in the opening game in Chittagong and the two Englishmen for the second in Dhaka, Gould being the television umpire in match one and Dar in the second.  The series will take Crowe’s record as a referee in Tests to 85, Llong to 45 on-field, Dar to 114 on-field and 20 as the television umpire (114/20) and Gould to 62/20.

CA calls for Umpire Educator Manager applications.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 21 August 2017.

PTG 2235-11318.

Cricket Australia (CA) has called for applications for its Umpire Education Manager position that will be vacated by current incumbent Bob Parry next month ahead off the 2017-18 austral summer season (PTG 2212-11188, 25 July 2017).  The job’s role ranges from looking after to the development of the nation’s top umpiring groups to, says CA, and “in line with its on-going commitment to supporting the grassroots game, focus on the delivery of world class educational and recruitment programs for community level match officials”.

CA lists the job’s specific tasks as: managing the umpire national accreditation model and accreditation programs; ensure CA's umpire pathway below the professional level is clearly defined; developing and publishing umpire training materials that are aligned with the pathway and meet the needs of the modern game; continually review and update the CA umpire technique guidelines; coordinate and deliver umpire professional development program at selected National Underage Championships; be a conduit regarding changes to the Laws of Cricket and how officials are trained on the Laws; develop support programs for the network of umpire trainers to improve the standard and consistency of umpire education; and develop and publish scorer training materials and programs.

In addition they are to lead the umpire recruitment and retention approach nationally to: produce effective marketing and promotional campaigns; ensure engagement processes are welcoming, supportive and effective; retaining current officials in the game; and increasing the number of accredited umpires.

The person selected is expected ted to be "a strong communicator, adept at speaking in front of large groups, and have a passion for influencing change”.  They are required to “demonstrable experience in delivering education and training programs, instructional design skills and knowledge of e-learning systems”, while "proven experience with marketing will be advantageous".

CA says its "has a clear vision and strategy” and that “given the sport’s ambitious objectives within the ever-changing sports and entertainment industry”, the person selected "will find [the] job fast-paced, challenging and exciting”.  It offers a "competitive salary package and extensive employee benefits including, salary packaging, gym access and discounts with our corporate partners”.  Those interested in the role have until Friday week to submit their applications.

Lord’s Taverners Australia, CA, launch 'Sporting Chance Fund’.

PTG Editor.

Monday, 21 August 2017.

PTG 2235-11319.

Cricket Australia (CA) and Lord’s Taverners Australia (LTA) have announced a new three-year partnership between the two organisations that will see LTA become what is described as CA's "Lead Community Partner".  The arrangement will see the realisation of the 'Sporting Chance Fund', a joint initiative that generates revenue to help grow CA’s 'A Sport For All Program’ (ASFAP) and initiatives that focus on grow participation in the game by "girls and women; multicultural communities, Indigenous Australians, and people with a disability”, the latter covering blind, deaf and intellectually impaired players, to become engaged in the game of cricket.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said via a media release that "more than 1.4 million participants in our sport last year, we’re excited to be able to team up with [LTA] to deliver this new initiative.  By 2020, we are hoping to inject in excess of $A2 million (£UK1.2 m) back into the ASFAP, which will assist grass roots cricket throughout Australia in expanding and improving the experience for participants in their diversity programs".

Sutherland said CA's "partnership with sponsor the Commonwealth Bank will be "vital to this” and that “centred around our [ASFAP], funds from the Bank’s sponsorship creates new opportunities for diversity and growth in cricket participation. Complementary to this, we welcome the partnership with [LTA] and the organisation’s ambitions to support and grow cricket in Australia”.  Data released by CA earlier this month indicated substantial growth in the female, multicultural, indigenous and disability areas of the game over the last year (PTG 2228-11287, 13 August 2017). Late last year CA announced that the Bank would be supporting the ASFAP initiative over the three years from 2017-20 to the tune of $A5 m (£UK3.1 m) a year (PTG 1950-9814, 18 October 2016).

Former Australian player Paul Sheahan, who is LTA’s national president is excited about the opportunity the new partnership would bring.  “In partnership with [CA], this is a wonderful chance for the Taverners to significantly expand opportunities for Australians of all abilities across the nation to realise their dreams. The Taverners relish what lies ahead and feel excited that new areas of support will emerge for the benefit of women, the blind, hearing and intellectually impaired, and Indigenous Australians.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,236

Thursday, 24 August 2017

 

• Supreme Court issues notice to BCCI office bearers [2236-11320].

• ECB considering annual day-night Test [2236-11321].

• CA to resell nearly 3,000 scalped Ashes tickets [2236-11322].

• Equipment theft fast becoming a curse of village cricket [2236-11323].

Supreme Court issues notice to BCCI office bearers.

Nagraj Gollapudi.

Cricinfo.

Thursday, 24 August 2017.

PTG 2236-11320.

India's Supreme Court has issued notices to and summoned three office bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) - acting president CK Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry (treasurer) - for its next hearing on 19 September, asking them to explain why they have failed to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations of January 2016 (PTG 1730-8585, 5 January 2016).

The court was responding to the latest status report filed by the Committee of Administrators (CoA), in which the committee said that there was a "need to direct" all three office bearers to "forthwith cease and desist" from continuing in the BCCI till fresh elections were held (PTG 2231-11303, 17 August 2017).

The CoA had also asked the court to order that the committee, along with the BCCI's professional management led by its chief executive officer Rahul Johri, take complete charge of the board in the interim. But the court deferred a decision on that request, effectively meaning Khanna, Choudhary and Chaudhry can continue in their posts.

The court's pronouncement cannot be misread as a relief to the office bearers, however. Khanna, Choudhary and Chaudhry had given written undertakings to the court in January saying they would ensure the BCCI implemented the reforms. Those undertakings were sought by the court after it sacked Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke, the BCCI president and secretary, for failing to honour their written submissions where they had stated the board would implement the reforms (PTG 2019-10215, 3 January 2017).

On Wednesday, the court also directed the two-member CoA panel (comprising Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji) to draft the new BCCI constitution as per the approved reforms, barring the three it said it would revisit during the previous hearing on 24 July. Back then, the court passed an interim order asking the BCCI to implement the reforms as far as "practicable" so that the "'gentleman's game' remains nearly perfect". The court had also said that it was willing to reopen debate over some of the reforms "pertaining to membership, number of members of the selection committee, concept of associate membership, etc”.

ECB considering annual day-night Test.

Nick Hoult.

London Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017.

PTG 2236-11321.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is looking into the possibility of making a day-night Test an annual feature of the English summer after the first game at Edgbaston was hailed as a success.  Warwickshire enjoyed their biggest crowd for a non-Ashes Test on the second day of the match between England and West Indies and despite the one-sided nature of the contest the club exceeded all its commercial targets for the game

It is understood the ECB is now considering holding a floodlit Test every year in order to build up momentum for the concept in the country. The board are will hold a detailed review of last week’s match both on and off the field and will examine whether details such as start time was right or if floodlit Tests should be held at a different stage of the summer.

Next year India tour England along with Pakistan. One stumbling block for the 2018 northern summer will be that a later start time here would not be popular with Indian broadcasters given the time difference between the two countries would mean the Test finishing in the early hours of the morning in Asia.

In 2019 Australia tour England and it had been assumed the next day-night Test would be in 2020 because Ashes tickets do not need the novelty of a floodlit match to sell. But the ECB worry that waiting until 2020 for another floodlit Test could be too long to wait and if the floodlit Ashes Test in Adelaide is a success later this tear then there will be momentum for repeating it here in 2019. Also the pink ‘Dukes' ball did not behave unexpectedly at Edgbaston and with England to play two day-night Tests in Australasia this southern summer the players will become accustomed to the concept.

Birmingham City Council estimate the floodlit Test was worth £UK15 m ($A24.3 m) to the local economy because the later start time saw more hotel rooms sold than usual bringing more money into the West Midlands area.  “From a club perspective it was great and commercially we exceeded all our targets in terms of ticket sales, retail catering and merchandising even though it was finished in three days”, said Neil Snowball, the Warwickshire chief executive. “It was very good for the city as well. It was good for the profile of Edgbaston and from our point of view a terrific success”.

Becoming an annual host for floodlit Test like Adelaide in Australia is not on the agenda for Warwickshire.  They are instead lobbying for Edgbaston to host the first match of all high profile series because of England’s strong record at the ground.

CA to resell nearly 3,000 scalped Ashes tickets.

Australian Associated Press.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017.

PTG 2236-11322.

Cricket Australia (CA) has recovered almost 3,000 scalped tickets for December’s Ashes Test in Perth that were being sold on eBay for the third of Australia’s five-Test series against England.  The 2,890 tickets will be placed back on sale through CA channels next Monday in what the sport’s governing body is a warning to scalpers.

“This is a very clear message to those who try to take advantage of the system and scalp tickets at inflated prices”, CA’s executive general manager, events and leagues, Anthony Everard, said.  “We will identify and cancel tickets. Our message to all fans is to not support this practice.  Whilst we understand this leads to disappointment with some days of our Tests sold out, you should only purchase from official ticket agencies to ensure you only pay the official prices”.

Everard said fans buying tickets from unauthorised resellers, such as eBay, Viagogo, Ticketmaster Resale and Gumtree, risked paying too much or being given invalid tickets.  “Unfortunately we are unable to assist fans or verify any tickets purchased through resellers”, he said.

Equipment theft fast becoming a curse of village cricket.

Simon Burnton.

The Guardian.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017.

PTG 2236-11323.

In May, as cricket clubs across the UK were gearing up for the start of the season, there was a spate of break-ins at clubs. A storage unit at Swindon’s ground in Staffordshire was broken into but nothing taken. Hinton were burgled. And then, on or around 11 May, thieves stole equipment including three mowers, three strimmers and a hover mower, from Oldswinford and Stourbridge. “We have had graffiti in the past, things going missing. But this was something else, it was a professional and clearly planned job”, the vice‑chairman, Paul Hatton, says.

This was not an insubstantial amount of equipment. It would certainly have required a van of a decent size to squeeze everything inside. “It was at our third- and fourth‑team ground”, said the treasurer, Brian Whitticase. “Essentially, thieves got into the container – one of those metal containers – and took the mowers and other bits and pieces. Our insurance claim is about £UK14,000 ($A22,665).

“Some of the clubs they targeted are very remote – Swindon’s is well set back from the road and fairly isolated, so they’re a soft target in some ways. Ours, there’s houses all around but it’s happened in the middle of the night and nobody noticed anything. I’ve been at the club for about 15 years and I’ve played cricket for the best part of 40 years and it’s the first time I can remember anything like this happening at any of the local grounds. I’ve been treasurer for 12 years and we’ve not had any claims in that time”.

Early one Saturday morning about two months later, and 50 km away, someone walking a dog in Armitage, Staffordshire, passed the village cricket club and noticed that the doors to their metal container were lying open.

“We’re a pretty small village club, as you can imagine”, the secretary, Richard Harris, says. “We’ve got two sheds; one’s like a shipping container, with pretty sturdy padlocks on it. They’d taken a sit-on mower, new this season, which had cost about £UK2,500 ($A4,045), another mower and two strimmers. There’s no CCTV or stuff like that. You try to secure the place as best you can but, if they really want to get in, there’s not a lot you can do about it”.

Armitage were uninsured, having struggled to find anyone willing to cover equipment left in an isolated, unalarmed storage container. “We’re absolutely gutted”, Harris adds. “Financially we do all right but it’s a major setback. We’re going to have to spend money that could have been invested in new equipment, like sorting out the nets, and spend it on replacing everything ready for next season”.

On the night of 2 July at Queensbury club, between Bradford and Halifax, thieves broke into the storage unit and took an outfield mower, a small tractor and two walk-behind mowers, collectively valued at around £UK20,000 ($A32,380). “The ground is somewhat isolated like many cricket fields, on the edge of the village in an area of farmland”, the secretary, Neil Myers, says. “They’d opened up the roller shutters, taken what they’d wanted and when they left they shut all the shutters and replaced the locks. On visual inspection we thought we were OK but when we moved the locks they just fell apart. The police told us it must have been a professional job".

“We’ve had three break-ins in about the last 10 years but this time they took the really big stuff. It was an outfield mower with blades 107 cm wide – it’s a big hefty thing. They would have needed a substantial vehicle. We’ve upgraded our alarms and security now, but how far do you go? If someone’s determined to get in, they’ll get in”.

The club were covered by an insurance policy arranged through the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and have already replaced much of the equipment. “We’d held the cup final the previous Sunday afternoon, made a bit of money and were quite pleased with ourselves”, adds Myers. “We’re a purely amateur club, all of our money has been raised by members. We’ve had lots of support from the cricket family but it’s a kick in the teeth”.

And so it continues. On the very same night a generator worth £UK3,774 ($A6,110) was stolen from Coldharbour club in Surrey, the third to be stolen from them in the past three years. “I was gutted when I heard because you can’t keep losing generators and replacing them”, the chairman, Peter Mason, says. “The cost of that really can bring a club like ours to its knees”.

The following day two generators, a lawnmower and a leaf blower, as well as “hundreds of cans of alcohol”, were taken from West Monkton club in Somerset. “It may appear like petty crime to some but incidents like this can really affect the operations of a cricket club”, a spokesman says. “There’s a lot of people that put in a lot of hard work at the club and incidents like this set us back both physically and mentally”.

On 25 July police investigating a call from a neighbour arrived at Kirkstall Educational club in Leeds to find two vans, engines running, containing all of the club’s ground-keeping equipment, including a tractor, four mowers, a lawn-spiking machine, a strimmer and a leaf blower. The thieves escaped on foot.

On 6 August thieves drove a van into and over security fencing in order to steal £UK11,000 ($A17,810) of equipment, including mowers and strimmers, from Longridge club in Preston, Lancashire. “This has had a massive impact on this small cricket club and has resulted in them having no equipment to maintain the pitch and surrounding grounds”, said police officer Heather McAtee, who is investigating the crime. “Given the lengths the thieves have gone to to gain access, we believe this must have been a targeted burglary”.  Three days later New Longton club, 25 km away, was targeted and a ride-on mower, among other equipment, was taken.

Village cricket clubs are often fairly remote, and own decent ground-keeping equipment. And as a basic rule, if there is an opportunity for humanity to disappoint, sooner or later someone will take it. Clubs are obvious targets for criminals and always have been. There does, however, appear to be an epidemic of van-driving thieves criss-crossing the country laden with the most valuable equipment. The market for this loot would seem small – this is niche equipment, unsuitable for domestic gardeners, liable to tempt only conscience-free groundsmen responsible for other cricket clubs, football pitches and bowling greens.

The ECB reports that the number of incidents it has been made aware of this summer is similar to those reported in recent seasons, so in fact there has not been a marked spike.

It operates an emergency fund which can assist clubs that are affected by serious crime (or other significant and unforeseen problems, such as flooding). “We will always offer support and advice to clubs who are victims of vandalism or any other similar incident”, says a spokesman. “This is done on a case-by-case basis working closely with the relevant local county cricket board.”

Having spoken to people involved with several of the targeted clubs, and to the police force investigating one of them, it seems that – other than the foiled raid in Leeds – none of the stolen belongings have been recovered and none of the criminals have been arrested. Someone, somewhere, is cutting their grass with one of these things, unless they have all been melted down for scrap.

One way or another, the clubs make do. They cash in on their insurance, they lean on their friends or, as Armitage are doing, they make do with old or borrowed equipment. Most importantly, the teams keep playing. This is a circle of strife, a reality that illustrates the nature of the game and our times, and it is a thoroughly depressing treadmill of callous thoughtlessness, opportunistic criminality and repeated misery.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

NUMBER 2,237

 Saturday, 26 August 2017


• Skipper again suspended for 'serious’ over-rate offence [PTG 2237-11324].

• Broadcaster again pushes CA on new rights deal deadline [PTG 2237-11325].

• Pitch preparation for India’s domestic game under scrutiny [PTG 2237-11326].

• New housing estate residents concerned about cricket noise [2237-11327].

Skipper again suspended for 'serious’ over-rate offence.

PTG Editor.

Saturday, 26 August 2017.

PTG 2237-11324.

Sri Lanka captain Upul Tharanga has been suspended from the next two One Day Internationals (ODI) against India after his side was found guilty of a serious over-rate offence in the second match of the five-match series in Pallekele on Thursday.  Match referee Andy Pycroft  imposed the suspension after the Sri Lanka side was ruled to be three overs short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration. The International Cricket Council defines three overs or more behind as a “serious” over-rate offence.

Tharanga and his team mates were fined 10 per cent of their match fees for the first two overs and 20 per cent of their match fees for the third over their side failed to bowl in the allotted time, a total fine of 40 per cent, but the captain also received two suspension points.  The latter equate to a ban from one Test or two ODIs or two Twenty20 Internationalss, whatever comes first for the player.  As a result Tharanga has been suspended from his side’s matches against India in Pallekele and Colombo on Sunday and Wednesday respectively.

It is not the first time Tharanga has been suspended in such a manner as his side was found to have committed a “serious” over-rate offence during the Champions Trophy in June (PTG 2157-10939, 8 June 2017).  Should Sri Lanka commit another serious over-rate breach in an ODI between now and early June next year with Tharanga as captain, it will be a third serious over rate offence and he will receive a sanction of a minimum of eight Suspension Points*.

The charge against Sri Lanka was laid by on-field umpires Ranmore Martinesz and Paul Reiffel, third umpire Joel Wilson. and fourth official Ruchira Palliyaguruge.

Broadcaster again pushes CA on new rights deal deadline.

Darren Davidson.

The Australian.

Friday, 25 August 2017.

PTG 2237-11325.

Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks is putting pressure on Cricket Australia (CA) to get a television rights deal done by the end of 2017 at the latest.  Marks said he is pushing for a new broadcasting deal for all forms of the game “towards the end of this year before talks with advertisers” commence (PTG 2106-10683, 18 April 2017), as cricket’s governing body seeks to delay the process until next year (PTG 2188-11090, 3 July 2017)..

During a conference call with media analysts for Nine’s full-year results on Thursday morning,  Marks also indicated his desire to snatch the rights to the Big Bash League (BBL), and predicted “less competition” from bidders for international cricket.  (CA) is making about $A600 million (£UK368 m) from its current five-year deal — $A500 m (£UK307 m), or $A100 m (£UK61 m) a year, from Nine’s international rights, and $A100 m (£UK61 m), or $A20 m (£UK12.2 m) a year, from broadcaster Ten’s BBL rights.  The BBL is expected to fetch up to $A250 m (£UK153 m) over the 2018-23 in the next round of negotiations.  It’s believed CA wants to wait for as much competitive tension as possible between the three commercial networks and pay-TV.

Nine slipped to a $A203.4 m (£UK125 m) full-year loss due to previously announced write downs of assets including its free-to-air TV network. Total revenue slipped three per cent to $A1.24 billion (£UK760 m) but a group-wide five per cent reduction in costs helped Nine lift its underlying profit 2.7 per cent to $A123.6 m (£UK75 m).  Nine Network’s TV revenue dropped 4.4 per cent in the year, with the company blaming a soft ad market and the Olympics.  Total television ad revenue market shrank by 3.5 per cent in the year, with the metro market declining 3.7 per cent.

Pitch preparation for India’s domestic game under scrutiny. 

Vijay Lokapally.

The Hindu,

Friday, 25 August 2017.

PTG 2237-11326.

The preparation of pitches for domestic matches will come under intense scrutiny of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) during the forthcoming season on the sub-continent.  A new practice, similar to one followed for international fixtures, will come into force as the administration looks to prop up the character of domestic cricket. 

According to a senior BCCI official: “Curators appointed by the Board will monitor pitch preparations.  The decision was taken by the BCCI’s Ground and Pitches Committee. It will deploy curators who would work with the host ground staff to oversee pitch making. It was not a practice prevalent for Ranji Trophy matches in the past. They will give directions to the local curator so that the first-class matches are played on fair pitches — helping the seamer in the beginning and spinners later”.

Following complaints of poor umpiring for the last couple of seasons, the BCCI has decided to revive the process of captains’ report. “The idea had been discontinued because the captains were not taking interest in providing the data. Now they have been told to fill up the form meticulously and rate the umpire. This will be one of the parameters to rate the umpires. The other two are umpires’ review committee and the match referees”.

Attention is being paid to ensure the quality of balls. Over the last few seasons the BCCI had not been happy with the standard of those supplied. Recently, manufacturer ‘SG' introduced a brand of balls produced from imported leather.  “It was tried in the latter stage of the last season. It was an improved product and we hope to overcome this problem from this season”, said the official.

In a move that would receive appreciation from the coaches and the captains, Ranji matches have been spaced out to accommodate a four-day gap between the fixtures.   “It has been done with the sole aim to manage the workload of the bowlers. It will give them an extra day to attend to their niggles apart from the much-needed rest. Four home matches is also a step in that direction”, he said.

The success at the Twenty20 World Cup has highlighted the need to promote women’s cricket and the BCCI has lost little time to take a few steps.   “We are starting a T20 tournament for Under-19 women and also introducing an Under-16 one-day inter-State competition which would be restricted to within the zone to start with”, said the BCCI official.  A one-day tournament for men under-23 is also an addition to the calendar.

The BCCI was hopeful the domestic cricket would not be played in front of empty stands. “Home matches should bring more fans. We will also invite schools and colleges to come and watch for free. Watching home teams would evince interest”, concluded the official.

New housing estate residents concerned about cricket noise.

Leon Watson.

London Daily Telegraph,

Friday, 25 August 2017.

PTG 2237-11327.

If one were looking for the quintessential sound of an English summer, few would argue with the gentle thwack of leather on willow.  But the noise of cricket being played has got too much for residents living near Darlington Cricket Club (DCC) in Durham after they took exception to the disagreeable sound of the players' grunting.  The unlikely dispute started when the DCC, which plays in the North Yorkshire and South Durham Premier League, submitted a retrospective planning application for a new all-weather practice area, including two tracks within cages and nets.

Neighbours living on a newly-built housing estate bordering the south side of DCC’s ground at Feethams, where the club has been playing since 1866, launched fervent appeals against it, citing a series of concerns. Chief among them is the hoarse exhalation fast bowlers have been making as they release their delivery. Or, as they put it, "the effort of batting and bowling”.  One letter complained about men "dropping their trousers to remove thigh pads and boxes in their underwear”.

In the planning application, the club said that there have been practice nets previously positioned on the south boundary of the cricket ground for many years but the previous nets had deteriorated and were in need of replacement hence the erection of the new nets.  The plan is to make the practice pitches available seven days a week to club players as well as local schools between April and September.

However, the club's nearest neighbours have raised a number of concerns about the noise coming from the practice nets.  The joint objection, from a number of residents, states: "Based on our experiences of last season we are concerned over noise from bat on ball, bats striking frames of the nets, noise from the effort or bowling and batting; and noise and foul language from patrons and observers"

"The level of noise is dependent on the type of training and practicing being undertaken. Groups congregate around a bench at the bottom of the gardens and those not actively participating have in the past entertained themselves by kicking a football about or by trying to hit crickets balls into our gardens.  We cannot use out first floor balconies due to the noise.  There are more suitable locations on the field to house this training facility rather than the back of houses which will affect the quality of enjoyment for the residents”.

Members of Darlington Borough Council's planning committee will hear complaints from residents whose homes overlook the club's ground.  The application has been recommended for approval by council officers with a number of conditions attached.

 

 

End of August 2017 news file.