Dirty Weekend – Guest Post

Simon H has been casting his eye over the latest goings on within the ICC and has kindly penned this article for us. As usual, with guest writers, don’t be as tough on him as you would on us!!!!

Take it away….

Dirty Weekend

By Simon H

It seems as if the weekend is a time when many, not least English cricket journalists, follow the game less closely. This is of course understandable – there are other attractions, other sports, family, friends, sleep. And then on Monday, you have a change of captain! But the trouble these days is that you can tune out for 48 hours and when you re-tune in you find the game you once loved has gone. The developments at the ICC board meeting last weekend haven’t quite gone that far perhaps but they’ve set in train a process that is going to have a serious impact on the game for a long time to come and will be more significant than England changing captain.

good-luck-manohar
The Man With A Plan?

The issues under discussion fell into two broad categories. The first was finance. Here the impetus for a quick decision was greater. Whether this was because discussions were more advanced or because the BCCI was in temporary disarray after the downfall of Thakur is a matter of taste. The crucial point was to roll-back the 23% share of ICC revenue India had obtained in the 2014 Big-Three Power-Grab. The precise detail of what has been agreed remains opaque. Together with the already agreed removal of permanent status on some key committees, this has been presented as amounting to the death of the 2014 changes.

However there are some reasons to pause about this. The new financial arrangement was based on a set of flowery principles – but info on the precise details of what was agreed and how it was reached is clear as mud. It looks based on a formula of who was able to at that moment grabbing what they could. It doesn’t create any permanent structure to distribute ICC revenue so further ructions are almost certain. The ICC desperately needs a formula to agree revenue distribution based on agreed principles (and by principles I don’t mean vacuous drivel but quantifiable factors like wealth, population size, player base and the like). Agreeing these principles may prove impossible but there’s no sign of any effort even to try. I suspect the big divide is how much should be based on “need” and how much on “contribution”. I also suspect that any re-thinking ICC revenue from first principles would lead to England and Australia getting a lot less so that’s why it wasn’t going to happen.

afghanistan-v-ireland
What sort of test would it be?

The other major issue was the structure of scheduling and in particular the desire to create more context for bilateral games. The extent to which “context” is a Trojan Horse for “fewer Tests, more T20” is another matter. Anyway, there was agreement to create a Test Championship with two divisions split 9-3 with the top two teams in D1 playing off every two years. Every team would play each other in one series within those two years with one match being regarded as a possible series. Teams would play their home fixtures as away fixtures in the next two years of the cycle. The three teams in Division Two (presumably Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland) would play each other in matches designated ‘Tests’ but with no points at stake. There is no promotion, nor relegation. Fortunately the press release didn’t embarrass itself by using the word “meritocracy” this time. The performance of D2 teams is to be “assessed”, whatever that means. D1 teams can play extra matches outside of their required fixtures. Many details (like the location and format of the play-off – what to do in the event of a draw has been one of the perpetual stumbling blocks) will go to a working party and put to the next meeting in April.

The ODI and T20I schedules have also been revamped – but the details remain obscure. ODIs will become a 13-team league and results there lead to WC qualification. How exactly that’s going to work I haven’t got a Scooby. T20I WC qualification will be on a “regional” basis but there is no information how. Two other changes were f/c status for Afghanistan domestic cricket and the use of DRS in T20I with one review per side.

The reforms were voted on as a package and achieved a 7-2 majority with one abstention. India and SL voted against with Zimbabwe abstaining; the three associate members present had no voting rights (they will be gaining them as part of these changes – although that will leave 92 associates with still no voting power). The measures will be voted on again in April and India need four FMs to block them. SL have said their objections were more procedural than to the substance of the proposals. A furious battle for the votes of SL, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe now looks certain (does the ECB’s insistence on touring Bangladesh look a little more understandable now?). The possibility of an extremely angry backlash from the BCCI can’t be discounted.

So, what do we think? What would be an appropriate funding model for ICC revenue? What should teams be getting? And can a Test Championship along these lines work? How would the play-off be organised? Selvey wants a three-match series of home, away and neutral venues – would that be a good idea? Should there be promotion and relegation and how many teams should play Tests?  How do we feel to be represented by Giles Clarke?

clarke-001
You Taking My Name In Vain?

My thanks to Simon (pictures and captions are on me, not him) and hope to hear more from him soon.

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77 thoughts on “Dirty Weekend – Guest Post

    • simplyshirah February 10, 2017 / 9:39 am

      Well what happens to Giles Clarke and his money-grabbing empire now? Must confess every time I see his mug-shot I want to scream. The damage done by this man to England Cricket is incalculable. Not sure I understand completely what is happening in the ICC but with him involved it’s sure to be bad. Cheers Simon.

      Like

    • Alec February 10, 2017 / 12:04 pm

      I actually got a surprising distance into that piece before giving up in exasperation. (In case you were wondering, it was the paragraph headed “the fairer sex”, which noted the patronising attitude of authorities to women while also being incredibly patronising itself).

      Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol February 10, 2017 / 12:10 pm

        Superb. Gotta love #39.

        Like

  1. BoredInAustria February 10, 2017 / 8:44 am

    A good read – thank you Simon for trying to make sense of this ..rather depressing
    I liked the Bangladesh tour put in context

    Be careful, this is almost JOURNALISM!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mark February 10, 2017 / 10:22 am

    I have always argued against a Test Championship.(I know many on here disagree) I see no point in it if the aim, as is often claimed, is to make the game more exciting and attract new people. I believe it will fail in both of those aims.

    My biggest gripe is it just takes too long. They know this, which is why they have tried to streamline it down to 2 years. Because of this we are told a one off test match can constitute a series. Really? Is that going to be the barometer of Test quality? And what happens as the event unfolds and two teams get out in front? What is the incentive for the other teams to bother putting in a performance when they have no chance of getting to the final? In an age when more and more players are opting out to play privatised 20/20 the whole thing will just end up as a a washout. And this before we bring in the reality that over time teams lose form, players retire, players get injured, but over two years the whole thing becomes meaningless.

    Test match cricket is not football or Rugby where an entire league can be done and dusted in 9 months. It’s not an Olympics where you can turn up once every 4 years and complete the whole thing in two weeks. A test series is an event in itself. 3-5 matches played over a couple of months when two teams go at each other. The obsession with being the number 1 test team seems to have overtaken the more important issue. Which is creating good competitive series of substance. When we think back to the Ashes of 1981 or the Australia series vs WI at their peak or some of the great contests between India vs Pakistan does anyone care who was number one at the time? Was the bodyline series notable because of who was number one?

    Improve test match quality by improving pitches, and bringing back better bowlers. A better match up between bat and ball. Finally, we already have a system for judging the number 1 ranked side in the world. (If that is so important to you) It’s called the test match rankings. It’s not perfect, and could be tweaked a bit. However it’s up to date on a series by series basis.

    According to 39 the Ashes is the only series of any importance. Would the average England fan want be number one or win the next Ashes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Benny February 10, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      Agree with every word

      Like

    • Russ February 11, 2017 / 1:47 am

      Mark, this is a nonsense. There are many means by which a test championship can be played over a reasonable period. The main problem is the ICC has a strange insistence on a) having an all-play-all league structure when that will take too long (or in this case, necessitate uneven series lengths and home or away fixturing – though the Davis Cup survives on that) and b) having every test as part of the structure even though some series (such as the Ashes) could happily coexist beside a smaller championship.

      The survey I conducted indicated that people only want a championship every four years in any case, so there is ample time to conduct a one-year qualification, a one-year championship, and still set aside two seasons for friendlies. My preferred model now looks like this. A 12-team competition with a 6-team elite division, 4 match h/a final and ample cricket and opportunities for other members. I’d like to think it would be substantially more interesting than the ICC model too.

      Like

      • Mark February 11, 2017 / 10:09 am

        Hi Russ, sorry you think my thoughts were nonsense. At the end of the day they are just my opinions on this subject.

        Maybe it’s just my age, but I grew up in a time where each test series stood on its own merrit. There wasn’t really much interest in who was the number one side in the world. Each test series had its own uniqueness. Fast bowlers on quick pitches. Spin bowlers on turning wickets. It was all part of the complexity and depth of the game. I guess the fist time I remember people talking about it was with Clive Lloyds team of the 1970s. This was a bit of a slam dunk because it was so obvious they were better than everyone else. Their results proved it all over the world over many years. In addition they won the newly emerging ODI World Cup in 1975 and again in 1979.

        You say a Test championship can be played over a reasonable time. I would be interested in what is your definition of a ‘reasonable time?’ You seem to imply a one year qualification period. I find it very artificial to try and stuff all these test matches into a one year competition. It doesn’t interest me at all. It sounds very contrived. But I aknowledge other’s may find it exciting and worthwhile.

        I would also be interested in how many people your interviewed for your survey? I just do not believe it is going to make any difference to attracting new people to the game. I think there are more important issues to be dealt with. Namely the quality of pitches and attracting back into the game quality fast bowling. We already see a worrying trend of test series won by the home team in conditions that have been “helped” by the home board. In addition there is a growing concern that many of the mid ranked sides are going backwards in terms of quality. Sri Lanka, NZ, WI seem to be struggling to find players to play test cricket and who would rather play 20/20 for money. A test championship is not going to be able to generate anything like the money these completions can raise.

        Sorry but I just think there are bigger issues for the game. But I will be delighted to be proved wrong.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Russ February 12, 2017 / 12:23 pm

        Hi Mark, I grew up when each test series stood on their merits too. But I also grew up in a period when there were 6 test nations and a weak Sri Lankan team that barely toured. When there was no expectation that players would play domestic T20 or endless ODI series, and earn much better money for it, and when the schedule could reasonably accommodate a leisurely summer-long tour.

        Those days are done. England and Australia can reasonably expect to get reasonable support around a summer touring schedule, but other nations can’t. The short edge-season series that make no money aren’t helping test cricket, and while I know there are people who think it can be sustained with three or four nations I don’t see it. Test cricket needs to be broadly accessible and popular or it will get swallowed up by competitions that are. THAT is the bigger issue here. Though even the ICC is prone to forget it – such as when they proposed the four-team championship, and in this nine-team league too.

        It is a broader issue than money for players too. Test cricket ought to be the means for a player to prove themselves. but if those opportunities aren’t there to play meaningful fixtures, then the players will find competitions that give them those opportunities. And meaningful fixtures, ultimately, means fixtures they need to win. A two test series in May will never achieve that, and there aren’t enough weeks (or English players) to support every aspiring test nation to have a long tour. A championship gives that context. Win and take your team to the next round, challenge the best – fail, probably – but make your name.

        I linked to a reasonable schedule for a championship but you can find a longer explanation here:
        http://idlesummers.com/post.php?postid=1969

        There is no cramming of matches in, just six home tests and six away in line with the current season (less, in fact, for England), and a four match home/away final over Sept/Oct for the finalists. That’s a bigger stretch, but the calendar and weather allows for it, and a final has its own gravity.

        The survey was completed by 1070 people. No small number. The results are available here:
        http://idlesummers.com/post.php?postid=1948

        Like

  3. Andy February 10, 2017 / 11:55 am

    Really good write up Simon. I have no idea where you have got your info from given the lack of coverage that the MSM have applied to this (not that I’ve been looking that hard!)

    I’m going to build a really ropy metaphor but bear with me on this.

    Test series are like the current run of superhero films.

    It used to be that one film / test series was the focus above all. The film / series was the most important thing.

    Now all the films are so heavily slanted to building momentum for the next film that they seem to lose focus on the story of the film they are showing.

    Cricket with its test championship is going the same way – it is all about something 2 years away then the focus on the current series becomes meaningless.

    Every series should be important, but the MSM inparticular love to write off anything but the Ashes. Loose a match to Bangladesh – its not important as its a warm up series.

    Lose to India. Well it was a strong battle and we didn’t lose 5 nil.

    The team can now build for the next ashes….. etc etc

    As for the nebulous idea of the associates having their tests ‘assessed’. Sounds like such a waffly idea. They need to clearly state what Ire / Afg have to do to get a proper test against England etc.

    Sure they will probably beat england – but without the carrot they may never know…. I jest but….

    If they cannot occasionally try themselves against a bigger test team – then what is the motivation. Play a few ‘tests’ against another team who has no experience of tests, probably infront of 12 people and a dog?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark February 10, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      Yes, your film analogy is a good one. It’s all about wealth extraction. The next thing or the next thing, or the next thing. Sport is good when it matters. Too much of a test match championship wont matter for most teams.

      The old European cup was exciting because a team could go out in the first round. Interesting stuff. The Accountants of the richest clubs hated it, so they turned it into group stages because the richest clubs didn’t want to go out in the first round. You give them numerous matches so that they can have another go, and another go. So much of modern sport is giving the best sides a mulligan if they screw up.

      What is terryfiing about this test championships is after 2 years the whole thing starts again. It never ends. So England might go down to Australia and get a 2-2 test draw and retain the ashes. (A good result) but not good enough to go to the grand final. Al series will become secondry to the magical final.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah February 11, 2017 / 8:15 pm

        Oh well said Mark. And I thought you other piece up the thread was also spot on. Cheers.

        Like

    • simplyshirah February 11, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      I’d forgotten about that Simon. What is it about these people that results in them getting away with just about anything? I don’t understand. I still believe that Giles Clarke was the worst person to ever get involved in Cricket. Every time I see his picture I want to get a copy pin it on a dart board…. Cheers Simon.

      Like

  4. Benny February 10, 2017 / 2:26 pm

    Simples. Forget the championship. Just appoint England number 1 for two years and then review. Every other country will be lining up to mash them. OK not completely serious

    Like

  5. Mark February 10, 2017 / 11:36 pm

    “Steely Broad enters Test captaincy frame” Oh ffs what is it with steel and the ECB?

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/story/1081836.html

    As usual they are not going for a man of the people……”Speaking to reporters at Buckingham Palace after receiving an MBE from Prince Charles.”

    “It’s important that players who’ve been involved, and who you see leading the team forward in the next few years, are consulted.”

    Why? Should the players pick the captain? Why have a captain if the players are going to run things. Also note the phrase “leading the team forward in the next few years.” So who was leader for the last 4 years?

    “”We’ve got a lot to get through but we are building a team that can challenge Australia in Australia.” ” Building”……..BINGO, a Strauss favourate. And just to drive it home.

    “”When he was captain, Andrew Strauss was one of the best decision-makers I’ve ever played with and, now he’s moved into the top of English cricket, I’m sure he’ll consider all options and malke a very sensible and good decision.”

    I think I’m going to throw up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BoredInAustria February 11, 2017 / 8:10 am

      I am missing Captain Cook already….
      On second thought, not really

      Liked by 1 person

    • simplyshirah February 11, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      It does take the biscuit and that’s for sure. I wonder if the ECB know that Steel isn’t the definition of the strongest material? Just thought I’d throw that in. How about Tungsten man? I always thought of Cook as Teflon man!!! Sorry if this offends but whenever I think of Strauss now i get a picture of a really boring man saying same old, same old and then using that word I hate so much like a parrot suffering from gut rot. Perhaps these bozos come out with this claptrap because they haven’t anything really important to say? I understand and share your frustration Mark.

      Like

  6. SimonH February 11, 2017 / 9:19 am

    The FMs have served up some magnificent competitiveness in the last couple of days with Bangladesh conceding nearly 700 in India (who thinks Kohli only declared so India’s highest score record remained against England?) and SL losing 5-0 in the SA ODI series after having lost the Test series 3-0.

    FDP seemed highly motivated to get his side to ODI ranked No.1 and has achieved it.

    Like

  7. thebogfather February 11, 2017 / 9:27 am

    May I just say that the quality of writing and insight this week, from LCL’s glorious ‘Not A Love Story’ (one of your ‘greatest ever’ Sir) through to Simon’s ‘Dirty Weekend’ and many comments btl, are just superb, and proof that there is a true love of our game, despite and because of the weak MSM and the self-centred idiots who ‘control’ it.
    Thank you All

    Liked by 3 people

  8. amit garg February 11, 2017 / 9:55 am

    I must confess I have mixed feelings on the ICC model, that’s just been referenced on the cricinfo website.

    Link below:
    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/story/1081598.html

    Let me state at the outset that I do favour a more equitable distribution of money from ICC to the smaller boards.

    But, I do have some issues with what I have read so far.

    Aside from being nebulous in a few areas, it doesn’t seem to have considered issues with different boards. A few million dollars given to WICB or to ZC have the potential to improve infrastructure in the region, but given the corruption prevalent in the respective boards, and their willingness to get abusive towards their players in a relationship that’s largely abrasive, it is not really a recipe for success.

    Likewise, as much as I like Pakistan for its cricket history and agree that giving them money may improve their infrastructure in Pakistan – will it do anything for their international prospects? No international team is still prepared to tour Pakistan and till that changes, money will only go to individuals and not where it is intended.

    The money allocation is one thing, but the distribution has to be dependent upon reforms that need to be managed by ICC.

    On the other hand, the BCCI stands to lose almost 200 Million. I am sure that BCCI has issues that it needs to resolve. But I am also certain that BCCI has invested a tremendous amount in developing the infrastructure in the country.
    As such, I do think a reduction as big, is probably not a fair representation of what is required to sustain the game in India.

    Let’s just look at 2 areas where this can have an adverse impact:

    1. Impact of population – India is a land of over 1.3 billion people and probably has more players playing the game or trying to make a living out of the game. If BCCI is forced to cut corners, a lot of these players will not have access to the requisite infrastructure.

    2. Venues –
    India probably has more cricket venues (both international and domestic) than any other country. It takes substantial amount of money to maintain them. State boards that currently receive money from BCCI, might be forced to look elsewhere if that feed starts to drop. Given that the gate receipts are dwindling around the world, unless BCCI can maintain revenue, this infrastructure will suffer.

    I would like to think that intuitively, there is a direct correlation on the quality of infrastructure, team performance, access to the game and the followers. All of these impact how much revenue any board can generate through TV rights. To that end, I think BCCI are probably right in crying over being shafted.

    I understand that BCCI alone doesn’t generate that revenue or that fans such as myself are the people who actually pay and we pay when the quality of game is better. So developing the game in smaller countries and sustaining the game through subsidies in places like NZ or Afghanistan is a great philosophy. But if as a result, the game would suffer in India, or any of the bigger nations, then it is probably going to hurt ICC more. Would the incremental benefits be worth it?

    These restraints on revenue could jeopardize the current structure, where ICC gets to control the game globally. ICC might have had the right idea, but they need to look at different revenue streams and expanding the game in more countries to increase the base rather than continue to squeeze it out of countries that are certainly doing some things right. That is the only way International cricket will survive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine February 11, 2017 / 3:58 pm

      Good comment, Amit, and your last paragraph is spot on.

      Liked by 1 person

      • amit garg February 11, 2017 / 5:04 pm

        thanks 🙂

        Like

    • SimonH February 11, 2017 / 4:36 pm

      This is a massively complex issue and this is more a couple of quick thoughts than a full response:

      1) Every FM (except SL) has set up a T20 franchise-type competition now so they are making an effort to generate their own revenue. Nobody wants them to be dependent on ICC handouts – but a good number of them, however well run, are not going to generate anywhere near the revenue of the big boys.
      2) One big revenue stream for some countries would be through Olympic status – which the BCCI and ECB have denied cricket. Thakur had seemed a bit more open to the Olympics than Srini – but now getting any decision out of the BCCI looks difficult. It’s not the only way Big Three countries have blocked others from generating revenue.

      Like

    • Sri Grins February 12, 2017 / 1:26 am

      I agree with you. The trouble is will railing against the dying light in countries like Zimbabwe or WI help or should we be looking at countries where cricket has a passionate following and poor infrastructure and existing revenues should be shared on that basis?. New revenues have to come in from newer members and the attempt should be to identify countries where the interest ensures that the existing pool is not required to support these countries over a long time period

      Like

    • d'Arthez February 12, 2017 / 10:46 am

      To be fair, I really wonder why India needs so many international stadiums. Simply because there are not that many games going around (unless the ICC create completely separate Test, ODI and T20I sides and calendars), and thus questions of financial sustainability will have to be asked. The same holds true in say England, Sri Lanka (are some of the new stadiums really financially sustainable?) and a few other places as well.

      The game needs to expand to become sustainable. It is not like cricket is an unthreatened monolith in the 10 Full Members. South Africa, New Zealand have rugby, England has football, Australia has Aussie Rules, West Indies have the American sports, the subcontinent has kabbadi and the increasingly more popular football. Even in India, people may lose interest and become more interested in other sports. To some extent that is already happening worldwide.

      Lack of competitive cricket (when the game result is basically guaranteed after 1, or at most 2 days, such as the 2015 Ashes) won’t help the cause (and credit where credit is due, that was not the case in the India – England series).
      Inconsequential series (pretty much all ODI and T20I cricket outside World Cups) won’t help.
      Poor, overpriced facilities facilities for fans certainly won’t help.
      There is too much tinkering with the wickets going on to maximise home advantage; and it happens everywhere, and that needs to be addressed. As much fun as it is to get tourists out for 60 or 70 time and again and take 200+ leads on first innings, what does it do to make cricket sustainable? Nothing. It just means that the only cricket people will be interested in is at home. All the other results will simply be met with a shrug of the shoulders (eg. Australia with their results in Asia; or bigging up a 4-0 loss in India as a “good result”).

      What I do agree with is that India needs a large chunk of revenue. A population of 1.3 billion, means that a lot of costs need to be made to invest in infrastructure (not necessarily international stadiums), to get kids to play cricket, make coaching available etc.

      A lot of that still depends on parents being wealthy enough to allow for this. Ideally, that should not be the case.

      And potentially increase the competitions (at various levels); 1 state association / state, boils down to 20 professional cricketers on a population of about 45 million people – it certainly would not hurt to look into ways to increase those numbers. An increase in competitions (even if second-tier), could also mean that stadiums get used more, and thus that at least some money is coming in to pay for the upkeep as well.

      Funding models need to be transparent, and precise, and not be nebulous – this will help boards to know what to expect, and what needs to be done to access funding. Part of the funding can definitely be based on sporting merit (in terms of player participation in the member countries, organising of competitions, etc).

      Like

    • amit garg February 12, 2017 / 2:08 pm

      @ D’Arthez
      For a nation largely starved of sporting success at the international levels in most sports, Cricket has been the most followed sport in India, where India tasted success in 1983. I think what has also helped, is that it has been run by a private body (BCCI) as a professional sport with high visibility and has had little intervention from the government or the sports ministry. The state of affairs at most of the state run organizations is just plain shabby. Take Hockey as an example where India are 8 times Olympic gold winner and yet, the situation has been in shambles for many years.

      The lack of political intervention has meant that BCCI has largely been free of issues of a different kind. Sure, it has had functionaries that also happen to be politicians, but none of them have really managed to screw it up like other sports have been, in India. And yes, there are issues at state level including allegations of nepotism and if corrupt practices. Those are almost impossible to get rid of, whatever structure is in place. BCCI does however wield the stick hard with state associations.

      As for stadiums, the Wankhede, Chepauk or other well known stadiums are also used in domestic games – they just don’t generate revenue close to international games for those.
      I believe that the practice has been for BCCI to pay state associations, a share of revenue for international games held. Having different state associations host international games, usually through an (imperfect) system of rotation has allowed the game to be visible in remote areas and promote the game, as well as created different playing conditions within India.
      So yes, India does need almost as many international stadiums in different state as they do.

      The situation w.r.t. the following for other sports, is improving.
      IPL success has led to similar leagues in other sports but they have a long way to go before they get the big bucks associated with Cricket. Whether its the gate receipts, advertising, or TV rights, Cricket reaches more people in India than any other sport. And, that is unlikely to change significantly in near future.

      Like

      • d'Arthez February 13, 2017 / 6:36 am

        @Amit Garg,

        Obviously domestic games will not generate the same kind of revenue as international games. But if a game is being held, at least some money and some people will be coming in – that is better than no money and no people at all. And I suspect gate receipts could improve a bit, if you don’t have to travel to the state association office (which sometimes is not that close to the venue) to get tickets. There is definitely room for improvement, and I suspect we’ll see that happening soon. Not that it will become a massive source of funding, but it would help.

        I have no idea how that funding model works, but is it really necessary for every state in India to have at least one international stadium? What does that do with the “share of the revenue for international games”, for each one of those state associations, since it will become a trickle. As long as the BCCI does not get the idea of the ECB – make the counties bid for hosting rights which effectively have threatened to bankrupt several counties.

        Even in England, most international (Test) grounds get about 2 games a year. In the past 2 years London has had 34 days scheduled of international cricket (Lord’s has had 22 and the Oval 12). Southampton has had 4, Nottingham has had 8. Manchester 9. Leeds and Birmingham have had 12 each. Durham (Chester-le-Street) has had 6, and went nearly bankrupt in the process, so as reward for the ECB’s willful stupidity they won’t get to host international cricket again.

        More stadiums means fewer games per stadium. More stadiums mean more maintenance requirements, which in turn means that state associations need more money, just to maintain the infrastructure. All that money cannot be spent on getting kids to play cricket, organising events, improving coverage, and access to cricket facilities, coaching, etc.

        I would certainly be looking into other models for financing the domestic game, and maintenance of infrastructure. Building a $100 million stadium that gets one game a year is probably not the most effective way to get people interested in cricket.

        A balance has to be found – 20 stadiums seems to be already pushing it, even for a country the size of India. Basically you need two major tours for every stadium to get 1 game; so that is roughly 5-6 months of international cricket in India. The issue is not space, or population, but fixtures. Add in IPL (in terms of taking time away on the calendar with the Indian players getting no rest), and tours away from India, and you can see how international fixture allocation becomes a struggle – at least as long as T20I ODI and Tests do not have separate and independent calendars from each other. That is probably not going to happen in the near future, as smaller nations with a more limited cricket-playing base (New Zealand, Zimbabwe and West Indies are the obvious examples) cannot do that. It will simply destroy the format that is the least financially attractive, i.e. Test cricket.

        Like

  9. SimonH February 11, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Vic Marks drops a bit of a bombshell –

    “I once congratulated him on recalling Pietersen for the triumphant tour to India in 2012 and was taken aback by the response: “If it had been left just to me I would not have picked him.””

    Like

    • SimonH February 11, 2017 / 12:35 pm

      The first “him” is Cook, of course.

      Like

    • Mark February 11, 2017 / 1:25 pm

      *KLAXON * KLAXON * KLAXON *

      Huge revelation this by Vic Marks. And I completely believe him, because I once heard him on one of those cricket panels, I think TMS. He argued that you keep a player like KP in a team as long as he his performing, even if he is hard work. However, when he stops performing he would be dumped very quickly.

      If what he says is true then the whole narrative of the Australian tour was false. It was already in the mix. They couldn’t wait to get rid of him.

      What a pathetic person Cook is. If he had, had his way England would not have won that Indian series then?

      ” But, but he always puts England first”………..oh wait….

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH February 11, 2017 / 1:45 pm

        I always thought the most likely scenario was that Clarke ordered Flower and Cook to take him back against their wishes because of the legal situation –

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/kevinpietersen/9568883/ECB-facing-1m-legal-threat-over-Kevin-Pietersen-contract.html

        Both were in no position but to acquiesce in the decision. That was turned by parts of the press into “Andy/Alastair (whichever was required that day) was the driving force in Pietersen’s reintegration, how magnificent of them and how rotten of all you naysayers to think otherwise”.

        The only other possible explanation is that what Cook told Marks isn’t what he said at that time. Cook is now so embittered that he believes that’s what he thought back then. It’s just about possible, but seems highly unlikely…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ian February 11, 2017 / 2:43 pm

        If true then more evidence Aggers was incorrect about Cook being the person to get KP back in the team.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Zephirine February 11, 2017 / 2:46 pm

        This was almost as interesting:
        A small example from way before he took on the captaincy comes to mind: we once discussed county cricket and Cook said 14 counties would be infinitely preferable – a very sound argument but how do you get there? “Simple”, he said. “Get rid of whoever are in the bottom four of the second division at the end of the season.” At the time two of those positions were occupied by Surrey and Yorkshire. The implications of their expulsion, while briefly amusing to me, did not seem to have any impact on his thinking.

        The more you think about that, the odder it gets. Someone who, while not yet captain, was presumably already well established in England cricket, coming out with a plan as ill-thought-out as an off-the-cuff BTL comment.

        The article (and comments so far) definitely worth a look;
        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/feb/11/alastair-cook-england-officer-new-commander-former-captains-run-scorers

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 11, 2017 / 3:23 pm

        ( “Simple”, he said. “Get rid of whoever are in the bottom four of the second division at the end of the season.” At the time two of those positions were occupied by Surrey and Yorkshire.” )

        Jeez, more and more he sounds like a sort of Blimp like figure.

        The media seem to have invented an entire identity for him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez February 11, 2017 / 8:23 pm

        I wonder how he would have reacted if the same plan was mooted for international cricket in, say 2000 …

        Like

      • simplyshirah February 13, 2017 / 9:22 am

        It’s all coming apart. Oh what a tangled web we weave….

        Aggers had a go at Piers M about it just the other day and called him “deluded” for saying that Cook had a part in sacking KP. Then Cook announced it himself.

        Question: Why didn’t Marks say anything till now? Hmm.

        Like

    • Clivejw February 11, 2017 / 2:32 pm

      This isn’t actually a new revelation, but a confirmation of something that had been reported already. It was Clarke who insisted on KP’s being picked for India, but the ECB tpld media to put it out that Cook had demanded KP’s presence. I can’t remember the source of this story, but definitely remember reading it and commenting on it. Will update if I find it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • amit garg February 11, 2017 / 5:03 pm

        I hadn’t seen that comment before, so surely surprised to some extent.
        Also, because Cook (and the press as well) doesn’t seem to have done much to debunk the myth that he was behind the decision to recall KP for that tour.

        Though, in hindsight, it would make sense that ECB credited Cook as the man behind the decision, if only to achieve 2 things – one, to prove that Cook is his own man and second, that a “brave” call such as this would surely rally the troops behind a new captain.

        But clearly, the undercurrent of antipathy remains.

        To an Indian supporter, the 2012 series in India was a weird one. It was a series, where Compton outscored Bell and where even Ashwin and Yuvraj outscored Sachin in an entire test series. It was also probably the first test series in India where England had better spinners as Ashwin and Jadeja were still new and Chawla wasn’t quite test class. Ojha picked up 20 wickets but Bhajji (proven performer at home) was a failure.

        While Cook was certainly in imperious form right through the series, KP’s innings in Mumbai changed momentum. In that context, glory for the series went towards KP in my view.
        I can’t recall how the general mood (in the English camp) towards KP was, but I don’t recall any negative incidents either.
        Can’t stop wondering on how could it end up the way it did!

        Like

      • simplyshirah February 13, 2017 / 9:23 am

        It was probably hidden away somewhere. Everyone on here & TFT were saying Cook didn’t want KP but many were hounded by the usual suspects. Now we find they were all telling porkies. Nice.

        Like

    • simplyshirah February 11, 2017 / 8:32 pm

      So can someone please tell me why Aggers continued, ad nauseam, to say that Cook was never involved in Pietersen’s sacking and then lo and behold Cook says he was, indeed, involved. If this little nugget from Marks is true then this vengeful stuff went on for years? Oh and I did ask Aggers why he believed what he said about Cook and where he got his information when it was patently untrue? Still waiting for an answer.

      Like

    • Mark February 11, 2017 / 1:39 pm

      But nobody, nobody knew Cook was going to resign Monday morning? It came as a complete shock to the pundit class? Priceless.

      Looks like New England, is going to stink just as much as old England under The ECB.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah February 11, 2017 / 8:34 pm

        You mean England aren’t in yet another “New and exciting phase in England Cricket?” Hells bells and pass the bucket.

        Like

  10. Sri Grins February 11, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    Sorry to post this here. But, did any of you run across this from Vic Marks? I was under the impression that Cook wanted KP in the team. This seems at variance with what I read in cricket articles for the last 4 years across various sites?


    I once congratulated him on recalling Pietersen for the triumphant tour to India in 2012 and was taken aback by the response: “If it had been left just to me I would not have picked him” “

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine February 11, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      See comments above, Sri – it’s a nice little bombshell. Certainly runs counter to the accepted narrative of the noble Cooky being determined to bring KP back.

      The lawsuit explanation makes a lot of sense.

      Liked by 2 people

      • simplyshirah February 11, 2017 / 8:35 pm

        Yes indeed. So these so-called journos – who have told us all how “close” they are to all the players for past 3 years, were not exactly as “close” as they thought and didn’t report the actual facts? Blimey.

        Like

    • BoredInAustria February 12, 2017 / 5:26 am

      It does somehow show the news blackout on the KP issue – the most basic of questions and answers now surfacing that debunks the official mythology…

      Liked by 3 people

      • pktroll (@pktroll) February 12, 2017 / 8:34 am

        There does seem to be a lot of revisionism at work from Cook. On the one hand, he wanted to be seen as the man who helped re-integrate Pietersen at the time (late 2012) and then seem later to be the one who felt he was betrayed so as to create a narrative that Pietersen undermined him in the ‘difficult winter’ (although anyone with half a brain wouldn’t buy that at all given that you only have to recall the games to come up with a very different analysis).

        Clearly Cook genuinely did feel affronted by the criticism he got on the social media that he claimed not to know about because his antipathy wasn’t something that seemed to actually come from Pietersen pos his exile, although maybe Cook felt that Morgan (Piers) was in effect his proxy.

        Anyway onto some actual cricket. It looks like Bangladesh will have a reasonable shot at saving the test v India in Hyderabad after a reasonable first innings performance. That said their last day capitulations v New Zealand don’t necessarily bode that well for such a task. Just as a small point, India’s game management 2nd innings puts to shame the way England set up the last day in Rajkot with too much dithering in the first session by Cook when it required more pro-activity earlier in the day. Even Pujara and Rahane have shown a good deal of pro-activity and the former you wouldn’t accuse of being the most aggresive of batsmen.

        Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty February 12, 2017 / 11:40 am

      Rumblings in the Shires, backed up by more rumblings from those pesky players. Some ECB stooge will paint it all as Flintoff’s doing ……cue Simon Hughes?

      Like

      • oreston February 13, 2017 / 1:55 am

        The players??? Good grief, what idiot asked THEM? They should pipe down, concentrate on executing their skill sets and be as dumb cattle grazing the rich pastures that the ECB in its imperial beneficence at the present time sees fit to provide.
        Don’t they realise what a simple matter it would be to bankrupt half their counties and force through the Super League with big name international stars fleshed out by Kolpak journeymen? Not that that’s the plan, of course not – oh no, you mustn’t think that for one moment…
        Mwahahahaha!

        Liked by 2 people

  11. pktroll (@pktroll) February 13, 2017 / 8:49 am

    According to Nick Hoult, Root has accepted the captaincy for the test team and it will be announced later today officially. Processes and procedures at an end for now so the comma gets to opportunity to make himself look useful.

    Like

  12. Sri Grins February 13, 2017 / 10:32 am

    Wish all of you a happier time with Root as captain of England. Cook whether journos like to accept it or not was too self obsessed to be a very good leader.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine February 13, 2017 / 11:14 am

      Exactly right, Sri. The job didn’t suit Cook and it didn’t bring out the best in him as a person.

      Generally, Joe Root seems like a normal guy who just plays cricket extremely well. I’m hoping that he’ll be allowed to simply be the Test captain and we won’t have all that weird cultish nonsense about his steel backbone and being accused of disloyalty if you breathe a word of criticism.

      In fact, Root’s backbone isn’t steel, he has a recurring back problem which is always played down as nothing serious, but it recurs. With England’s record of injury management, it’s a slight worry.

      Like

      • SimonH February 13, 2017 / 11:33 am

        Some words from Colin Graves!

        https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/332540

        “Joe is a fine player and a fine person who has the respect of the players, the selectors and all at the ECB”.

        Well, 40% is stuff that matters….

        Like

      • simplyshirah February 13, 2017 / 11:46 am

        Oh dear. When they start saying this sort of stuff I start getting worried. I do hope Root copes okay with captaincy. I can’t see him being indecisive and having dodgy interviews at the end of games. Of course Root really liked KP and learned a lot from him. Sad they didn’t get the chance to play with each other again.

        Like

  13. Zephirine February 13, 2017 / 11:31 am

    It’ll be nice to get behind the Test team again. Even though Steely Al will still be there – but I suspect not for long.

    Like

    • emasl February 13, 2017 / 4:14 pm

      yeh but Broad and Anderson are still there and so I still find it difficult

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Mark February 13, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    Graves says Root is the “perfect” choice as captain. Dobell says he is really the ‘only’ choice. The only choice has just captained 4 times in first class cricket. So there is a lot of gushing about honnor and privilege but not much about is he actually any good?

    No one really knows if they can lead until they try it. Some take to it like a duck to water, others not so much. Stokes is the vice captain, which is an interesting choice. Stokes according to Dobell said about becoming leader……… “you have to be boring like Cookie.” Well in The ECB you do.

    I wonder if Stokes appointment is quite inspirational or a case of keeping your potential enemies closer.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sherwick February 13, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    “Root really liked KP and learned a lot from him”.

    He’s doomed.

    Like

      • LordCanisLupus February 13, 2017 / 7:43 pm

        I’d actually wager good money that he didn’t. Not that it matters. I mean Root liked KP.

        Like

        • simplyshirah February 13, 2017 / 10:44 pm

          Never mind. I know I said it yesterday somewhere. Not a problem But perhaps it is why comment is in quotes?

          Like

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