Posts Tagged ‘World Cricket’
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?
Another beautiful day! Some of our colleagues on the allotments are complaining about lack of rain but the pessimist in me says that, come the full summer, they will get more than they want. But we old ‘uns live for the day and right now we are enjoying the sensation of warm sun on our creaking backs. Apart from an outbreak of egg-pecking all is well, and even that is quickly dealt with via eggshells filled with mustard!
And of course we are into the cricket season once again. Most of us are also soccer fans and we are enjoying the tensions of the last few games in the Premiership, and still hoping that Blackpool avoid the drop. Sadly, the chances of that are now akin to my regaining a head of hair but hope springs eternal on golden days such as this.
But our thoughts are at least half focussed on the new cricket season and the forthcoming Test matches against the Sri Lankans and Indians. More importantly we are uneasy at persistent rumours that the England coach, Andy Flower, may be lured away to manage India. If he were a Premiership manager the deal would be done by now for there are many stacks of cash on the table. It would certainly be a huge blow, for Flower has performed near-miracles since taking over the national side. After two Ashes wins, a World Cup Twenty20 title and overseeing, together with Andrew Strauss, a revival to the point where we have a realistic chance of becoming the No 1 ranked team in Test cricket, Flower has become one of the most highly regarded coaches in world cricket.
But if the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is also worried about Andy Flower being tempted by Indian cricket’s largesse, it clearly does not know its man. Everyone that knows him tells the same story, loyalty and integrity are his life’s guiding principles and while money most certainly talks in modern sport, Flower will be deafer that most to its siren call.
In a recent interview wicketkeeper Matt Prior said that he “couldn’t sing the coach’s praises highly enough”. He went on to say; “The main thing I love about Andy is he is honest. He is a good human being. There are no politics. Any decision he makes is because he thinks it gives England the best chance of winning”. The chairman of the ECB, Giles Clarke, agreed; “Andy Flower is open, straight and direct”.
Like attracts like and Andrew Strauss is apparently the same kind of personality. The result is that no one needs to look for hidden meanings in anything they say. They are exactly what the appear to be, and that is an asset beyond value. How many soccer managers does that apply too? How many politicians?
Cricket’s reputation for fair play has taken a battering of late, and one hopes that Flower and Strauss will be around for a long time. But there is one thing that demands urgent attention. Michael Yardy recently became the second England player to leave a tour suffering from depression. He was simply a burnout victim. Unless something is done to reduce the toll, he will not be the last, and every cricket lover should hope that Andy Flower makes a reduction in the length of tours a condition of his signing the new contract.
Matt Prior also covered this in his interview. After paying tribute to Yardy’s courage in being open about his problem, he went on to warn that many others are suffering in silence. “Being away from home for over 5 months is a long time and very taxing when you are playing continually” said Prior who added that; “You are also involved in an intense environment and for that length of time it is exhausting, both physically and mentally”. Flower will need no convincing of this for he became increasingly frustrated with England’s schedule last winter . He has a young family but was away for many months and, apart from a two-day break to have skin cancer treated, he had no time off from a high profile role
Hopefully Flower will show the ECB that money is not everything. Hopefully they will reciprocate by never again arranging successive tours plus enough one-day internationals to last a lifetime.
Lets hear it for a totally upfront and honest man. Such men are decidedly thin on the ground in this money-mad age !
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; FOOD; “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti”…Sophia Loren “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you are hungry again”….George Miller “Britain is the only country in the world where the food is more dangerous than the sex”……..Jackie Mason “The great British contribution to world cuisine is the chip”…..John Cleese “English vegetables taste as though they have been boiled in a strong soap”…..W C Fields “If the Germans can’t stuff it into an animal casing they won’t eat it”…..Tim Allen “Never eat lettuce in Mexico unless it has been sterilised with a blowtorch”……Benjamin H Kean “Oysters are supposed to enhance your sexual performance, but they don’t work for me. Maybe I put them on too soon”…..Garry Shandling
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. A hovercraft 2. b, Nerve
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who famously stopped a concert by Manfred Mann Earth Band in Miami University? 2 Why?
Let me reassure Peter and other readers that Gadaffi is alive and well. For the benefit of those who haven’t followed the saga I hasten to explain that the mad Colonel has not sought political asylum on the allotments. We are referring to our bullying hen. She is now in splendid isolation and has the added punishment of being in Albert’s care. My old pal is not in a good mood and this morning alternated between muttering about the mindless thugs who attacked policemen in London, and the inept performance of the England cricketers who were hammered into the ground by Sri Lanka.
In fact so poor was the bowling and fielding performance that Messrs Tharanga and Dilshan were able to knock off the required runs with ten overs to spare.Without doubt this Sri Lankan team is an excellent one but, with the honourable exceptions of Trott and Morgan, England lacked guile, energy and just about everything else.
With England on the plane home it is clearly time for a post mortem, for one-day cricket is important and we seem incapable of producing a winning team. One wonders if there is a mental block on the part of the selectors and cricket authorities since we continue to treat the shortened version of the game as being a minor distraction. All of our efforts are devoted to the Test arena which would be fine if that was the general view of world cricket. But it isn’t. Support for Test cricket is falling almost everywhere and, with the exception of the Ashes, the number one priority in every major cricket-playing country is the 50 over game, laced with some Twenty20 excitement. Cricket purists like me may regret that but the reality has to be faced.
One only has to study the lack of preparation for what has become cricket’s major tournament to find support for this argument. Our players followed a hectic summer with a five match Ashes series in Australia. Not surprisingly some of the players such as Jimmy Anderson were by then showing signs of wear and tear. What did our authorities agree to then? Seven one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games that’s what! By the time that the squad flew home after a gruelling four month tour, they had just three days at home before flying out for the World Cup. The same applied to Australia you may retort, I can only reply by asking what happened to them? Like us they received the order of the boot.
The earlier games in the tournament did not all go well. We lost to Ireland and Bangledash as one player after another had to head for home with an array of stress related problems, damaged backs, torn hamstrings and assorted other problems. By the time we face Sri Lanka we had players on the field who were either not up to this level or were simply mentally exhausted.
How else would on explain the fact that in the first 25 overs of the Sri Lnakan innings, not one slower ball was attempted by any of the England seamers? On benign pitches such as Colombo, bowlers have to conjure up wickets against good players. On low, slow surfaces for one-day matches, bowlers need an extra ingredient. They found none, and clearly learned nothing from having faced an attack that maintained nagging accuracy and deployed regular ‘yorkers’ into the blockhole. Our batsmen were rooted to the crease and rarely used their feet against the Sri Lankan spinners. Once Morgan was out at 186 for four the England batsmen froze in the face of balls speared into their feet, slower balls looped teasingly, and skiddy bouncers. It really looked like men against boys, yet just a month or so ago we were Test heroes.
The sad fact is that we still prioritise Test cricket in our coaching, team selection and most other things. In fact we don’t even play 50-over cricket in this country. A few years ago I would have sighed and said well it doesn’t matter, supremacy in cricket means winning Test series. Like it or not, those days are disappearing fast.
If we want to be a top cricketing nation in tomorrow’s world we have to change our priorities. It sounds like blasphemy but we will have to focus our coaching on bowling to contain and batting to score quickly. We will have to be prepared to rest from Test series those players crucial to our one-day success. We will have to play less cricket of the long-form and reintroduce 50 over matches at County level. If we don’t we will be in danger of being champions only in the one form of cricket that the punters across the world have deserted.
The only thing to be said in defence of Strauss and his weary warriors is that they maintained a decent standard of sporting behaviour. They never descended into the level of boorish behaviour shown in the New Zealand defeat of South Africa. And they most certainly didn’t behave like the 300 or so yobs who in London yesterday attacked bobbies, who themselves are subject to cuts and redundancy.
Given a fresh focus and resolve there is still hope for the England cricketers. There is none for spotty-faced thugs who believe that hurling missiles into crowds containing small children is acceptable!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; THE KISS ” A kiss is an application on the top floor for a job in the basement”…..Brian Johnson “I feel great and I kiss even better”…..Emo Philips “it takes a lot of experience for a girl to kiss like a beginner”…..Jaon Rivers “Kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler”….Tony Curtis “With lips like those Mick Jagger could French-kiss a moose”…..Joan Rivers “Buy me a Mercedes and I’ll make your neck look like a relief map of the Andes”…….Roz Doyle “Kissing Edwina Currie was like kissing a can opener”…..Godfrey Barker “People who throw kisses are mighty hopelessly lazy”….Bob Hope “I wasn’t kissing her. I was just whispering into her mouth”……Chico Marx “How about a Spanish kiss under the mistletoe? It’s like a French kiss only a little further south”….Lorna Adler “I was dating a guy for a while because he told me thatb he had an incurable disease. I didn’t realise it was stupidity”….Gracie Hart
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. 12 2. 5p
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who was the author of ‘The Realm of Gold” (1975)? 2. Where was Jean Drapeau a political leader?
The world of cricket has been plunged into one of its worst crises of all time. Shortly after the close of yesterday’s play in the final Test match between England and Pakistan news broke of an investigation by the News of the World which appears to show that members of the Pakistan team have been involved in match-fixing during the game. Video footage of a meeting between Mazhar Majeed, a 35 year old business man, and a reporter posing as part of an Asian gambling syndicate shows the 35 year old accepting money and promising that three ‘no-balls’ had been organised with the Pakistan team.
He specified when the no-balls would be bowled and that is exactly what happened. As he had promised, Amir bowled no-balls as the first ball of the third over on Thursday and third over on Friday, Asif did likewise with the sixth ball of the tenth over on Thursday. Replays of these deliveries on today’s Sky coverage showed that on all three occasions the bowlers overstepped the crease by a significant margin. In the video Majeed also claimed that the forthcoming one-day series of matches too had been earmarked for rigging.
Last night a 35 year-old man was arrested by police on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers and the cricket authorities announced their own investigations. Meanwhile there was televison coverage of police taking material from the hotel occupied by the Pakistan team. We must of course remember that no one is guilty unitl proven so but the evidence appears irrefutable. The implications for cricket are absolutely horrendous!
There are of course many unanswered questions. Were other players involved? To what extent did the magnificent innings of both Trott and Broad reflect deliberate lack of effort by the bowlers? Were any of the previous matches, in which Pakistan performed unbelievably badly, quite what they seemed? How can the forthcoming one-day series take place and, if it does, will the paying public be able to believe in what they see? The list goes on and on.
A huge amount of betting on cricket takes place on the sub-continent. A great deal of it is based on what is known as micro-betting. Cricket is uniquely vunerable to fraud in this way for any bowler can specify in advance deliveries that will constitute no-balls ( his front foot over the line) and any batsmen can specify how and when he will be out. There are no equivalents in soccer where even total match fixing would require the involvement of the entire team. None of this once mattered because the name of cricket, above all others, was a euphemism for honesty and fair play. No more!
Pakistan have been at the centre of match-fixing claims before, most notably in 2000 when former captain Saleem Malik and bowler Ata-ur-Rehman were both found guilty and banned for life. However, Rehman was made available for selection in 2006 and Malik’s ban was overturned in 2008. The most infamous instance of match-fixing was former South African captain Hansie Cronje receiving money from bookmakers in return for match information. Cronje was also banned for life but was sadly killed in a subsequent air accident.
The International Cricket Council does employ regional security officers who attend every international match. Their remit is to keep an eye on dressing rooms and CCTV pictures and to ensure that players and coaches do not use mobile phones during play. But the task is a near inpossible one especially if there is free access to the players as happened at Edgbaston. Temporary dressing-rooms were in use there and a corridor was open to any hospitality guest. It is understood that a key figure in the News of the World’s allegations had access to this corridor.
Anyone involved in international cricket knows that for some time there have been unsubstantiated rumours that all is not as it seems to the paying public. A near paranoia has developed around any unusual trend in any match. The most innocent no-ball, run-out or rash stroke has provoked speculation and the vast majority of honest players have understandably resented questions. The reality is that any corruption involving individuals and negotiated away from the dressing room or ground is almost impossible to detect. Until the guilty are weeded out all are damned.
The future of cricket hangs in the balance. If found guilty the individuals in question must be banned for life and if it should be found that other members of the team -as alleged during the video – are implicated they should be banned also. There should be no later reprieval, life must mean life. Depending on what emerges over the next few days it may be necessary for the forthcoming one-day series to be cancelled
There can be havering on this whatever the financial implications. Cricket is a much-loved sport and belongs to the millions that delight in it’s symbolic decency in a troubled world. No team, country or player is bigger than the game, the purge must be absolute.
It is impossible to feel other than great sympathy for the nation of Pakistan. It is experiencing appalling misfortunes and the players, after their victory in the third Test, made play of the fact that they performed for their country. How tragic then that it now appears that some of them at least may have performed for themselves!
THERE IS NO SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP!
The revelation that George W Bush and Tony Blair conspired against Gordon Brown should come as no surprise to those of self understanding. It followed a meeting held by the then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Mr Brown as a result of which she reported misgivings to the President. Even then it was common knowledge that Brown resented the seemingly cosy realtiuonship between the President and British Prime Minister, on ewhich led to Blair agreeing to join the USA in the invasion of Iraq. Claerly America did not need our armed power but they did need a ‘second party’ to give the impression of an international venture.
After Mr Bush had told Blair that he had “grave doubts” about Brown’s willingness to toe the line the britsh Prime Minister announced that he intended to stay on at No 10, a plan that was thwarted when supporters of the Chnacellor stgaed their now famous ‘coup’.
When david cameron visited Washington he caused uproar by remarking that we were a junior partner to America in 1940. it was an appalling exmaple of his lack of historcal knowledge but ironically he used the right phrase albeit in the worng context. the Uk has always been the junior partner and my studies using such sources as Churchills own war diaries and the work of Max Hastings show clearly the extent to which ant-Britiosh sentiments prevailed during and after the second World War.
Indeed there is substantial evidence that had Japan attacked only British forces the United States would have remained largely neutral. I shall return to this theme on another ccasion but for now I wanted to at least use today’s media stories of Bush and Blair to restate my conviction, and that of many historians that, the flirtation between Margaret Thatcher and Ronal Reagan apart, there has never been the place in American hearts for Britain implied by the well-worn phrase of special relationship.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Cambodia 2. Abuja
TODAY’S QUESTIONS: 1. What did Snow Knight win in 1974? 2.What happened at Lixborough in that year?