Posts Tagged ‘Last Journey’
A hot and sunny morning on the allotments! We wandered about in a daze for this was a very rare experience, the sort of day when Blackpool beach sounds like a treat rather than the equivalent of Scott’s last journey. It was also the sort of day to trigger thoughts of cricket. Right now those are not positive thoughts, and I am not referring solely to yesterday’s bizaare Twenty20 between England and Sri Lanka. Pieterson and Morgan apart, this England side couldn’t have beaten a Co-op egg! Why players such as Bell are excluded is one of the great mysteries of the age!
But far more worrying is the gradual takeover of the administration of world cricket by India. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is cricket’s equivalent of football’s Fifa. In every sense! The ICC is already heavily influenced by the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), its present chairman is the former head of the BCCI, Sharad Pawar. Under the present rules there is a fixed term for ICC presidents and no one country can hold the office for two consecutive periods. At today’s ICC annual meeting in Hong Kong, India is proposing that once appointed a president can rule for life! Now that is even worse than Blatter at Fifa, he at least stages the occasional election, albeit a corrupt one of course.
Ridiculous, it simply can’t happen. Oh yes it can! As in the case of football many of the countries that vote scarcely play cricket. How can Argentina, Afghanistan etc be allowed to decide Test match schedules? But hovering in the background is Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the power in Indian cricket, the owner of Chennai Super Kings and the chief executive of India’s board. What he wants he gets. Remember the plan to reduce the next world cup to the top ten teams to eliminate all the one-sided and meaningless games that marred the last one? During a recent tea-break at a meeting in Singapore, the man of power talked to the various chief excutives who had just ratified the decision. When the meeting resumed the majority reversed the decision and the next world cup will be just as tedious as the last.
How is this overwhelming influence obtained? Geoffrey Boycott has no doubts. “Many countries that play cricket are frightened to death of India’s financial power. You’ve got TV stations queuing up in India to beam the coverage of their tours in to India and they pay a lot of money for that” says the outspoken Yorkshireman. He is clearly right, India has a vast audience for cricket and filming rights produce a bonanza for authorities often reduced to counting the piggy-bank.
So the odds are that this week will see a new order at the ICC with an Indian president taking the top job on a permanent basis. Two outcomes are obvious. The new umpires’ Decision Review System will be scrapped. It has proved popular with the fans but India has already refused to use it on the forthcoming tour of England. Of greater importance, there will be an eight week period each year when no international cricket will be allowed. This will give free rein to the Indian Premier League. That will be a financial body-blow to England. But even more important than that is the threat to good governance.
We all know from the scandal surrounding last year’s Test series with Pakistan that a cancer of corruption is spreading within the game. This emanates from Indian bookmakers who make fortunes, often in distinctly unethical ways. Millions of pounds change hands daily on such obscure things as the number of ‘no-balls’. The only body that can even attempt to keep this under control is the ICC. Need I say more?
The complex game of cricket is open to corruption like no other. It is already losing its reputation for fair play and a strong incorruptable ICC is the only hope. The idea that any single country should hold sway on a permanent basis is appalling, the idea of that being India, the home of cricket manipulation, even more so.
If this goes through Fifa will look a paragon of virtue by comparison. The English, Australian, New Zealand and South African delegations should walk out if necessary. That may only account for four votes but world cricket without the four would be less of a money spinner to say the least. India may hold all the power but matches played against Afghanistan and Argentina would soon show where the pulling power really rests!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1. Germany 2. Italy 3. Alan Titchmarsh 4. Gennell 5. Ernie Wise 6. China 7. Westlife 8. Potter 9. Holly 10. Colin Farrell.
HIGHEST SCORE SENT IN SO FAR; 8 BY J ROACH. HOW DID YOU DO?
Every few minutes the allotment shed door bursts open and in steps someone looking for all the world as if he has just returned from Scott’s last journey. Then follows a chorus of Larry Grayson-like ‘shut that door’ and a great shaking of drops which cause the stove to hiss angrily. Another day and another monsoon, England in the autumn is not always what it’s cracked up to be. The inevitable outcome is that few are feeling remotely charitable. It is the perfect cue for those who complain about the fact that the foreign aid budget has been excluded from the Osborne massacre.
A few days ago I wrote about the high life lived by executives at the Commonwealth Development Corporation, people who clearly believe that the first call on the vast amounts of taxpayer’s money they are responsible for is their own lavish lifestyle. But that is only the tip of an ugly iceberg. This year the Department for International Development has spent a staggering £9.1 billion on aid, funding 90 different countries. Immediately pictures of wide-eyed starving children comes to mind and we all rightly conclude that however great our sacrifice, it is justified. But sadly little of our largesse reaches the deserving poor and distressed.
Some money does go to nations in desperate need such as impoverished African states on the brink of famine. The nightmare here is that millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money leaks into the pockets of corrupt officials and warlords. Our self indulgent overseers are too busy indulging themselves to ensure that the cash reaches those for which it is intended. In other cases however, Britain is paying huge amounts in aid of projects of questionable worth.
In South America, for example, we indirectly fund an organisation which represents sex workers called RedTraSex which refers to itself as ‘a movement in high heels’. Then there is China. Last year we paid no less than £32 million to the superpower which is now officially clssified by the World Bank as a middle-income country and is on course to become the biggest economic power in the world within five years. Yes there is poverty in China but should we really be enabling the wealthy state to stand back from its own responsibilities? And then there is India, the single largest recipient of UK overseas aid. It has already received £1 billion in aid and two years ago Gordon Brown agreed to hand over another £825 million by 2011.
Over the past ten years British aid has almost trebled. This despite the fact that the Indian economy is ranked 11th in the world and is pedicted to overtake the Britsh economy as the world’s fifth largest by 2015. Of course India has millions of poor people but why are we shielding an increasingly prosperous administration from its own moral responsibility? To add to the paradox, the Indian government now refuses to allow our aid administrators to work directly with local Indian charities, insisting instead that the funding be processed through official channels. The result is that, according to a select committee there is ‘difficulty in tracking money trails or their outcomes’. According to India’s Auditor General almost £14 million has been spent on such things as cars and luxuries for officials, one even used aid money to buy four luxury beds at a cost of £17,754!
All that said, around half of our huge gifts do go to the African continent. An example is Malawi where we have spent £312 million, despite evidence of widespread corruption. Indeed, a commission has recommended prosecution in 118 caes of aid fruad whilst a parliamentary select committtee has expressed concern at £23 million being spent on surplus fertiliser at peak prices! Vast sums have gone to Ghana where we subsidise security payments and £800 million has been pledged to Egypt and others to support ‘clean technology investment’. In all such cases there is little evidence of monitoring the cash trail. In many cases there is substantial evidence of corruption.
In Afghanistan we have increased aid to a whopping £700 million despite concerns expressed by the charity Christian Aid that much of the money will be diverted by warlords. Small wonder that MPs have put down a motion urging ‘greater tansparency and better monitoring of all projects. Meantime the cash continues to flow out of the British economy.
Research doesn’t need to be too exhausting before it shows clearly that little of our generous aid reaches those in real need nor that we are enabling states whose economies are sounder than our own to duck out of their responsibilities to their own citizens. In most cases we are still acting as if we are still a major colonial power, and our officials are living out an indulgent fantasy within which we hand over fortunes safe in the knowledge that the recipients are in any case governed by British officials in feathered hats.
It all adds up to a conclusion that we should only provide aid where we have irrefutable proof that it reaches those whose plight touches even the hardest heart. We should surely not be slashing services here to our housebound infirm and vital security services to provide warlords with the wherewithal to maintain their corrupt and inhumane practices.
So the message from the shed on this dark and dreary Sunday is that charity should begin at home unless the government can get its aid supervision in order. And if recipient nations refuse us the right to check we should refuse them gifts without strings!
BROWN AND BLAIR RE-UNITED!
Surely the funniest picture in today’s papers is the one of our two ex-leaders sitting together in the presence of the Pope. Grumpy Gordon looks grumpy and Blair has that hideous leer we came to know only too well. Both were listening to the Pope’s sermon. It was hard to follow exactly what he was saying but one hopes that he chose as his text ‘and ye shall love one another’.
After all, miracles do happen. Anyway all credit to GB whose self understanding forbade him to pretend!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Mamie 2. Gene Hackman
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Jimmy Nervo died in 1975. Who was his partner in the ‘Crazy Gang’? 2. Airey Neave was killed by a car bomb in 1979. Where did it happen?