It’s quite interesting to start from fresh. Although it isn’t really starting from fresh, as it is more a case of getting people over here from the old place without being too obvious about it.
Today’s online cricket debate seems to be revolving around the World Cup format, and whether the Associate nations are an invigorating presence or a total waste of everyone’s time. I can’t say I have a view really, because this is what it is, and it is symptomatic of modern sport. Money and bigger deals get the attention now, not the good of the sport. I could write a book on it. How the Champions League has made 4th place in the Premier League the holy grail, and not winning trophies. How the Premier League is a recipe for disaster for all but about 8-10 teams, and how possibly the worst thing that could happen to Bournemouth for its long-term future is to get promoted. How the Ashes is now so commercialised, and so frequent are the meetings between the two teams (going to go a couple of years between the test series, lets bung in an ODI series instead) that it is rapidly devaluing the sport. Then there’s golf selling its last crown jewel for £3m more to Sky, and thus cutting off mainstream coverage. The Cricket World Cup isn’t really seen as the pinnacle in this country, India will only give a toss if they win it (and give not a toss if, by a miracle, they were eliminated) and it seems only the Southern Hemisphere countries really have a shout. Meanwhile West Indies cricket withers on the vine, Bangladesh remain stillborn in their progress and as for Zimbabwe? Who the hell knows?
Arguing about the format of the World Cup, where TV insists on x number of India games, and rigging the draw to make sure one of them is against Pakistan, is like banging your head against a brick wall. At some point, you will feel pain. This format isn’t perfect, but probably, like democracy, it’s better than the alternatives. The format in 2019 will be lauded by the pundits, but to see what it could be like, look at how some of the T20 groups in our own Blast play out. A team could lose its first two games and be out of contention, and then they just give up. They may sneak a win in game 3 or 4, when they’ll still be fighting, but come the last round of matches, teams may be playing teams on the plane home who put up a huge fight against others earlier on. Unless all the last five matches are played at the same time to avoid some collusion, or giving someone the advantage of knowing their fate before they play, it’s ripe for all the problems we don’t want to see (see fixed matches). Imagine India needing a win in the final game to proceed to the semis, but results beforehand have seen, say, West Indies eliminated. You get my drift….
Developing the Associates so they compete with the big boys consistently is to include them in the big boys playing schedule. By that, I mean regular games, but even then there are no guarantees. You only have to see how massive European football powers whinge and moan about their £100k a week plus players have to traipse off for World Cup Qualifiers around the world, or their home-grown stars might have to shin up in some dark and dingy Eastern European stadium (their prejudice, not mine), or play some minnow that should really be forced to “pre-qualify” to see how sport is going. So what’s the point in kicking up on this? I probably need to read Peter Miller and Tim Wigmore’s book to get the rage fully injected.
Other things that caught my eye included the death of Richard Austin, a West Indian cricketer who went on the 1982-3 rebel tour. There was an excellent article on him in Cricinfo a few years ago. Many will not have sympathy for a man who took the dreaded Apartheid purse, and the scorn and anger his presence elicited in the Caribbean. But he paid for it. I am slightly too young to remember him, and also our days pre-Sky had no international coverage, but all that saw him said he was a talent. He was also a talent that had no chance of unseating a top order for the WIndies cemented in place. Greenidge, Haynes, Gomes, Richards, Lloyd, Dujon (and with Richie Richardson not far behind). A chance to earn money at the elite level would have turned many a head, and the torture behind the decision, only he will know. But he’s not the only one. Herbert Chang doesn’t look to be long in following. David Murray too.
Vitushan exhorts us with a Twitter cry of rationality:
Fine. But we all know that this team doing well cements the Dowtons of this world in place. There are few players in this team I don’t have time for and wish well – I might struggle a bit with Broad and Anderson, and if Bell is one of those senior players mentioned by Downton in the last interview, he’s going on the sh*tlist too – but I genuinely want to see Root, Buttler and Moeen do well with the bat, and Finn get back to his best with the ball, while any success Woakes and Tredwell have is a real boost to the country stalwart, improving incrementally with experience. Those of us who work hard at our jobs, not blessed by outrageous talent or confidence, can relate to these sort of chaps. I’m genuinely conflicted.
Other articles that caught my eye, include the latest from Gideon Haigh, a great piece from my old, and probably first supporter proper (other than Angus from Hong Kong) at the previous place, and Osman Samiuddin’s “Wish I Weren’t Here” piece on the World Cup everyone hates.
For those of you who have made it over here, and judging by the hits, that’s not many of you, welcome. Starting from a low base is daunting, but I hope we’ll have some fun here.