Mark The Week

My blogging world, as you may be able to tell, is in a little bit of turmoil. I am hopeful that I will soon be able to at least reinstate the old blog (on a different URL) for you all to refer to as needs be. I am sure most of you might know that I deleted the original URL, but all posts are backed up. I may have more of an idea on that in the middle of next week. That will also dispel one of the better guesses as to why I deleted it – the ECB suing me for libel – which hasn’t happened, but that would have put a few stripes on my shoulder if they had….. although let’s not go there.

So what’s to talk about? The guys on here are doing the greatest job in disrobing the pretence of equanimity by Dave Richardson. The two games this week between UAE and Ireland and Afghanistan v Scotland were fantastic entertainment. The latter may even be game of the tournament as Afghanistan pulled victory out from nowhere with a joy unconstrained. For that is what sport is about – watching great matches whoever plays them. There’s too much focus on the “big teams” who rarely put on great games it seems. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, only Scotland have played one of the four best teams so far – New Zealand – and UAE v India tonight will be important, because an associate giving India a run for its money would be incredibly important. Australia v Scotland could also see some rancour from those who just want to see the big boys playing each other.

We can have this debate in full after the World Cup group stages in particular, but it’s pretty clear what side of the debate is in the ascendancy at the moment. Games between the full test nations have been, with one disgraceful exception, a case of bat first, hammer the opposition. So while we’ve watched a double hundred by Chris Gayle, and the second passing of Hurricane ABe, the fact is that chasing any sort of target has been unachievable by a full test team against another one. D’Arthez is all over this on the comments.

Elsewhere we have had the leaked document – how jolly unfortunate that was – from the new bigwigs at the ECB. Clearly thinking the unthinkable, we are presented with the sort of “we’ve got to change things” bollocks that is less about the future of the game and more about some sort of legacy for the marketing geniuses and new head honchos. I’m sick to death of this sort of nonsense. Test cricket should not be touched, and yes, I’ve heard all that death of test cricket twaddle for the best part of 20 years and funnily enough it is still here. 40 over ODIs are a load of bilge. Yes, the 50 over format doesn’t appear to be loved, but that’s because the matches are so frequent that often many players are rested, they are played on roads, especially at some notorious venues for bowlers, and when the main competitions come around, there is some sort of ODI fatigue. Three day county championship cricket is a classic example of if you hang around long enough the old ideas come back around. As for franchising in, you didn’t seriously think this load of brain boxes were going to replace the county stuff, did you? This is pure League Cup to FA Cup jollop.

So Colin Graves, elected of course (hang about, did I miss this election?) to the head position in the ECB was disappointed this was leaked. He’d better get used to that. He then says that he didn’t want to be accused of leaving any ideas out, which is, of course, utter twaddle. The new David Collier is obvious one of those sorts who thinks you think the unthinkable, and I’m just getting the impression based on nothing in particular, that he’s the cricket equivalent of this bloke. (note NSFW – well the very last word is).

There’s so much wrong with the document that I can’t fathom why it was leaked 🙂

Meanwhile on press row, there is a world out there where paul newman gets nominated for cricket reporter of the year (last year of all years!!!!) and George Dobell doesn’t. Yes, that thing you saw flying out of the window was that organisation’s credibility. Of that grouping, if Nick Hoult doesn’t win, then there’s a bit of a stitch up. But at the end of the day, they can do what they please….

I have had just fleeting watches of the Cricket World Cup, but have all the games played so far on highlights. I also ran off a game last night, and just happened to have the whole of AB deVilliers 162 not out live. I think I might be watching that a little.

I’ve also done no analysis on the competition as yet. I think a lot of us had Ireland as the first associate to defeat a test team, and some of us went a bit OTT on the run outs! I’ll look to see what I can do on that this weekend.

But what I’ve seen, and what I’ve read of this World Cup, I’ve enjoyed it.

Looking forward to being able to live blog through tomorrow night’s game. Not sure I’ll be around much for the games tonight and tomorrow morning (sleep and chores).

Thanks, as always, for the comments. I do read them all. Top stuff.

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10 thoughts on “Mark The Week

  1. Arron Wright Feb 27, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    Can’t wait for the John Player Sunday League “World Cup”, I must say. Are we still having a 10 over powerplay at the start? 8 overs max for the bowlers? Two new balls? Look, even when I was a kid, the B&H and NatWest were miles – absolutely bloody miles – more interesting to watch than the JPSL. Off the top of my head, every single great one-day match I’ve ever seen was either an ODI, B&H or NatWest. Almost everything in that document looks like a retrograde step, pandering to the T20 audience and shitting on everyone else. 40 feels way too close to T20 for me, sorry. And how many other countries play a game that was, basically, designed around Sunday licensing hours dating back to 1914, and long since superseded?

    Anyway, I just watched AB de Villiers on ITV4. I don’t know how these useless bastards even dare to propose something that would deprive us of such an innings.

    Like

  2. SimonH Feb 28, 2015 / 12:11 am

    Like

  3. d'Arthez Feb 28, 2015 / 12:32 am

    I just don’t understand the thinking in taking out the middle overs in List-A and ODI cricket. Sure they can be boring, but they also give the batsmen the time to get settled (or out). Even the best batsmen need to get their eye in before they can fire on all cylinders. And it is not like the middle overs always produce say 75/0. Far from it.

    Sri Lanka lost their clash against New Zealand in the middle overs. At around the 20-over mark there was little to separate the teams (127/1 vs 112/1, but at the 40 over mark the difference was massive (229/4 vs 209/7).

    Or even more extreme:
    India were 83/1 at the 20 over mark against South Africa. They replied with 92/2. Those figures became 227/2 and 175/9. Hardly suggesting that the middle overs did not matter much in that match.

    Just because it appears to be “boring” hardly makes it irrelevant. That is something that applies to a fair number of sports. Cricket, chess, marathons, and other long distance running events, golf, to name some wildly divergent sports.

    To an outsider, the middle-game in chess can look puzzling, and moves may come at a relative snail’s pace. If you don’t understand chess well, that may appear perplexing, but decisions in chess have longterm consequences (in cricket it may be a bit more obvious, because anyone can understand that the loss of a wicket affects the game). You have to have a reasonable understanding of what is going on, and what both the players are trying to achieve, to be able to appreciate all the nuances involved.

    Chess has seen its rule changes with regards to time controls. Due to the technological development, they had to get rid of adjournments, since it would be impossible to control for the use of engines to assess those games, thus giving an advantage to the players with the best support. They have sped the game up a bit, but not to the extent, that it has become a significantly different game.

    The proposals with regards to “revolutionizing” cricket, however do significantly alter the game(s), and are probably paving the way for filling the calendar with even more international games than are currently being played (and thus generate more money by inflating the number of games even further).

    The issue with ODIs is simple: lack of relevance. Because honestly what relevance do the 38 or so ODIs that England have played against Australia since 2009 have, the odd Champions Trophy and World Cup fixture aside? Are Australia that more “competitive” than say South Africa (11 ODIs), or New Zealand (9 ODIs)? You don’t solve a lack of relevance by tinkering with the rules of ODIs, and yet that is the only thing the ICC have done in the past decade or so.

    That being said, if they’re going to change the rules for ODI, it might be an idea to threat bowlers as key ingredients in a game, rather than designated cannon fodder.

    Like

    • Rohan Feb 28, 2015 / 4:41 am

      Great post Mr Lord and excellent response D’arthez. I agree completely. Your India v SA example is the perfect illustration! I also agree with the previous post about the B&H and NATWEST matches. I remember some absolute crackers, but cannot really remember any good 40 over matches from the Sunday league.

      Looking forward to some more stars stuff from Lordcanislupus.

      Just one more thing. Graves states he was unhappy about the leak. Do we really believe this? Could he have known and agreed to/sanctioned it, but then pretends not to have known so he can try to win some PR points……

      Like

  4. Arron Wright Feb 28, 2015 / 9:22 am

    Meanwhile, Fred66 has ABdeVd Selvey into the stands for shovelling yet more horseshit about Cook in his latest piece.

    Hey Mike: the last time Cook chose to miss a series was the last time England won one.

    Like

    • hatmallet Feb 28, 2015 / 11:12 am

      I like this comment:

      “You are simply spewing vitriol at an intelligent, knowledgable commentator for speaking a truth you dislike.”

      What is this truth?

      That Cook was considering skipping an ODI series less than six months before a World Cup?

      That England saw the series as a “team bonding session” rather than a series to win (against opposition who only a few months earlier had beaten us in both Tests and ODIs)?

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Feb 28, 2015 / 1:01 pm

        There remain those who still have faith in Selvey. One cannot assist them.

        Like

  5. hatmallet Feb 28, 2015 / 11:08 am

    I’m glad that Groves is prepared to look at any and all options. But can’t say I agree with a lot of it. I don’t think there is a drastic need to mess with the fundamentals.

    Get the scheduling and volume right, at both international and domestic level. Make ticket prices more inclusive. Get more cricket on free-to-air TV.

    All easier said than done, but three ideas the ECB (or CEW?) should be looking at more than dumbing down the game.

    Like

    • d'Arthez Feb 28, 2015 / 1:31 pm

      I think part of the problem is that English cricket has too many major counties (ie. the ones playing First Class cricket, List-A and T20 cricket). How many days of cricket are there in the English domestic season, not counting the MCC opening fixture? 84 or so? That is more than other nations manage, even though the likes of South Africa and Australia do have friendlier weather conditions to deal with. And that is before I even bring up with scheduling clashes.

      The only country that can possibly come close is India, with the Ranji, Syed Mustaq Ali, IPL, Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, and Vijay Hazare Cup. I am discounting the Irani Cup, which is the Ranji champion vs. a team drawn from the best players of all the other domestic teams.

      If they could actually up with a two tiered system, in which you have say 6 major franchises, who each have 2-3 feeder counties (eg. a London based franchise is only allowed to pick players from the Surrey and Middlesex feeder counties), you could have the top domestic cricketers slugging it out for the Championship. That would definitely improve the quality of the domestic scene, and thus lessen the gap between domestic cricket and the international scene.

      You could easily do something about the allocation of domestic fixtures, so that none of the grounds get left out of it (and you could easily compensate for that by having the T20 competition at precisely those counties that do not get the “home” first class games).

      You could have the “lesser players”, exciting young prospects, and those coming back from injury play in the “second division”. And before people say that this is demeaning, how long have we not heard the demeaning of the efforts made by players in Division 2 of the County Championship anyway? How many complaints have there been had about some of the lesser players not belonging to Division 1 of the County Championship to begin with? So it is not like those counties that are not HQ for one of the franchises suddenly won’t have first class cricket anymore.

      With a 6-team franchise competition, you could play a double round robin taking 40 days instead of 64 for the elite competition. If you want to add a final, you can add 4 or 5 days to that. Assuming you just go with the double round robin, without any additional frills, that is 24 days shaved off the calendar, enough already to have a proper EPL, if you want.

      This is not even bringing up the financial incentives counties get for picking enough U-26 players (I cold be wrong about the age limit), and other artificial means that are employed to get the youth in. I feel the ECB has over-complicated the domestic calendar, and the incentives it offers to counties.

      Compare that with the 3-day FC idea, and the franchise solution would free up more days, while at the same time improve the standard of domestic cricket.

      It has been done before, in South Africa, with the feeder teams playing a three day competition. The last time I checked, it works reasonably well.

      But I fear the insularity in the counties will mean that none of this will ever materialize. Not until the first 3 or 4 counties go bankrupt, and cease to exist. Turkeys won’t vote for Christmas. So don’t expect anything major. Expect fiddling at the margins, that does little to actually increase sustainability of the domestic structures.

      Like

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