All Stars Cricket: Why is it Failing?

This is a guest post by Danny Frankland – and first appeared at http://www.dannycricket.wordpress.com.  You can also contact him via Twitter @dafrankland

If the ECB wanted to attract new people to the sport with the All Stars Cricket programme, perhaps it shouldn’t be more expensive than existing juniors cricket coaching or almost literally every other single thing a kid could be doing instead?

For those who might not be aware, the ECB recently launched a new initiative which aims to reverse the decline in youth participation in cricket. Named ‘All Stars Cricket’, the scheme is designed to get 5-8 year old boys and girls to “fun” coaching sessions at their local cricket clubs. The parents pay £40 to the ECB a few weeks before the sessions start, and in return they receive eight hour-long training sessions and a backpack containing a personalised cricket top, a water bottle, a hat, a cricket bat and a ball. The coaching is carefully designed by experts to be help children in their fitness and hand-eye coordination, as well as being entertaining.  In addition, there are videos online featuring current men’s and women’s England players, and suggestions for cricket-based games the parents can play with their children in their back garden.

At the launch a mere 7 weeks ago, the ECB were suggesting that they were targeting approximately 50,000 boys and girls to take part. They had announced a collaboration with MumsNet, an influential parenting website, and promised a marketing campaign to extend All Stars Cricket’s appeal beyond the children of existing cricket fans. 10,000 children who sign up before May 10th will also be randomly selected to meet and play with current England players at various events around the country.

Matt Dwyer, the Director of Participation & Growth at the ECB who is responsible for All Stars Cricket, was on Test Match Special on Sunday talking about it. The thing which immediately jumped out at me during the interview is that he said it’s on course to have around 20,000 children participating this year. This is 40% of the ECB’s own target, which begs the question: Why has it all gone wrong?

Cost And Value

The first thing that jumps out at me about All Stars Cricket is the cost. £40 upfront is not a small amount of money for a lot of people. Apart from excluding children with poor parents, it also represents a gamble even for cricket-loving middle-class parents. If they sign up their child only for the kid to hate it and refuse to go back, the parents will have paid £40 for the backpack and one hour of training.

And what do you get for £40? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen cricket bats with balls in one of my local pound shops, as well as water bottles and caps. The personalised shirt and backpack might be a little more expensive, but not much. I’d personally be amazed if the ECB was paying more than £4 for every child’s full kit.

As for the coaching itself, £40 still seems a lot of money for 8 hours of junior cricket coaching. To take the example of my local cricket club, they offer a weekly 90-minute training session for under-11s for £2.50, plus an annual junior membership of £5. For the same money as All Stars Cricket, a child gets 21 hours of coaching. It’s presumably by the same coaches, teaching the same skills and probably in quite similar ways. Perhaps it seems like better value in more expensive parts of the country, but it’s hard to see All Stars Cricket as anything other than a rip off where I live.

An important thing to remember is that All Stars Cricket isn’t just competing with existing cricket coaching, if parents have £40 to spend on making their child happy they have much better ways to spend it available to them. They could buy at least five or six new DVDs for them to watch, which is almost certain to offer more than 8 hours of entertainment. They could buy a new console game for around £40, again you’d expect more than 8 hours fun from that. They could buy 40 cheap crappy toys from their local pound shops, way more than 8 hours of fun there.

It might seem like an oversimplification but if the ECB wanted to attract new people to the sport with the All Stars Cricket programme, perhaps it shouldn’t be more expensive than existing juniors cricket coaching or almost literally every other single thing a kid could be doing instead?

Forward Planning

The other obvious flaw I see in All Stars Cricket is that it requires forward planning by the parents. The whole training plan is based around the kit the kids will get in the backpack. Each one has to be personalised and then delivered, which obviously takes some time. If someone heard about their local cricket club’s All Stars Cricket sessions the day before they started, they couldn’t just drop their kid off on the day with £40. If a kid who has signed up enjoys it, nothing they can do could get their friends to join up until the next year. If a family has a holiday booked for one of the weeks, the child will miss out and potentially be left behind the other children taking part. And of course the parents will still be paying for the hour’s training that the child misses.

All Stars Cricket, like most ECB-run schemes, suffers from rigidity and over-centralisation. If a new kid turned up at my local club’s regular junior coaching session, they wouldn’t be expected to pay anything up front. They’d almost certainly get one free trial session to meet everyone and see if they enjoyed it. They wouldn’t need any of their own kit.  Kids who forget to bring their weekly fees or pay their membership are still allowed to play, with a gentle reminder to bring them next week. With more than 8 hours of coaching every summer, if a child is away one week they won’t miss out on specific skills they might need to play cricket at the same level as the rest.

I’m also a little curious what happens with a club’s All Stars Cricket programme if some of it has to be cancelled due to rain. Can the club schedule an extra week, or do the kids lose out on some of the carefully selected activities due to lack of time? Again, and I hate to keep banging on about it, I doubt the parents get a refund either way.

Marketing

I don’t have any children, so I suppose it’s possible that the marketing is great and I’m just not seeing it. Obviously people who are already active with their local cricket clubs will almost certainly be aware of All Stars Cricket. I’d assume there are probably articles about it in many local newspapers, and some clubs will have managed to put up posters, handed out flyers, talked at school assemblies and so on. The usual kind of local unpaid outreach done largely by selfless volunteers.

I’ve not been able to find any evidence of the collaboration with MumsNet which was much heralded at the scheme’s launch. The only things which show up when searching for “All Stars Cricket” on MumsNet.com are an invitation to the launch event in March and a handful of posts in localised forums. I honestly find it a bit embarrassing.

Beyond that, all I’ve seen are social media posts and articles by national cricket journalists. The thing about these is that they’re only going to be seen by existing cricket fans. For a programme which many people had suggested could reach out to children without a cricket-loving parent, I’m not seeing any evidence of the ECB even trying.

Conclusion

In short: The ECB (which tries to solve everything with lots of money, mediocre marketing and no understanding of the general public) has tried to solve poor youth cricket participation with lots of money, mediocre marketing and no understanding of the general public. I’m honestly a little surprised even 20,000 kids will sign up.

As always at the ECB, despite creating a colossal failure no one will lose their job. It was probably all KP’s fault. Or it was the public’s fault for not understanding what a great deal the ECB were offering them. Clearly no one can be held responsible for this, or is so incompetent that they need to be replaced.

Feel free to insult me, or the ECB, in the comments below.

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120 thoughts on “All Stars Cricket: Why is it Failing?

  1. thebogfather May 8, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    Read this first on his wordpress, liked and tried to share to see
    The truth is within to encourage thirst, spiked by the lies of ECB
    Cheers Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Baz May 8, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    Firstly what would be a successful ASC initiative is very different for the ECB than say it is for a small local club. The 50k target should come with a caveat that most of these will not be new to cricket. The percentage will differ by market area mainly reflecting the existing cost of childcare or activities. The good news is that numbers have gone up even in poor weather.

    In defence of ASC in some areas £40 is good value for any hour of sport / child care + kit and it has in our case increased numbers through local advertising in schools, banners and the local county community team working VERY hard to make it happen, in fact too hard.

    However much a club was charging in previous season for their coaching services few parents will turn down a bargain and so the Club misses out on £35 in every £40. Some clubs will take the hit others will miss out on revenue that offsets other costs – such as coaches for the older players we so desperately need to retain (do we put up their subs) .

    ASCs most valiant objective is trying to bring parents and families into the club and getting to play something other than football with their children. But they do have to volunteer their services a real seed change for the childcare generation who want organised quality activity to educate the next England star on their pathway to a sports scholarship and T20 franchise fame.

    I would also defend Matt Dwyer and say he has probably had far more bureacracy to deal with here than he did in Oz. But the elephant in the room is that this initiative has not directly targeted schools or reintroduced cricket as our national summer game to state schools. Chance to Shine for all its good work (and £1.25m extra funding) does not link schools to Clubs the way ASC could and should.

    There are a couple of questions to be answered:

    1. Where is the big ASC commercial sponsor to take advantage of this target market?

    2. What happens next year – same again?

    Like

    • dannycricket May 8, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Yeah, I accept that the cost of junior coaching can vary greatly across the country, so what seems very poor value at my local club is great value at another. This might suggest that a fixed national price is a mistake. If you want to make it a national success, it should seem like good value everywhere.

      On a side note, I’ve always been dubious about the efficacy of getting cricket back in schools. Several generations of kids played rounders at school, and not a one of them became a baseball fan or player because of it. Participation, particularly when forced, does not lead kids to liking a sport.

      I must confess that I’ve not like Matt Dwyer since I first read an interview he did on AOC. It was atrocious, full of marketing jargon and management buzzwords. He’s been better since, but it’s hard to shake off a bad first impression.

      The scheme not having a sponsor is very surprising. This seems like the kind of thing junk food makers like McDonald’s or Pepsi would jump at, to make their brands seem healthier. It would also help make it cheaper, of course. If the ECB did try to get sponsorship, why weren’t the companies interested? And if the ECB didn’t try, why not?

      As for next year, can it be sustained at this level of take up? With 20,000 kids at 1,800 clubs, that’s an average of just 11 kids per club. What’s the point?

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance May 8, 2017 / 10:05 pm

        I’ve always been sceptical about the oft heard lament about schools cricket. I went to a cricket playing school, so I guess some would say that was fortunate. But all it involved was occasional nets and matches. Unless we were up against one of the public schools, that was the same for the opposition too. The teachers gave up their time alright, but they weren’t coaches and I would rather doubt many are now.

        Albeit by necessity, the quality of youth cricket at clubs up and down the country now is vastly, vastly superior to anything that was in the schools back when cricket was a sport there. The opportunities, facilities, coaching, it’s all massively better. I tend to think there’s a lot of rose tinted spectacles involved in the one hand, and a lack of understanding of how good the clubs are on the other.

        Like

      • Baz May 9, 2017 / 11:24 am

        What I mean is that the approach used has not directly incentivised schools to take part in ASC. Every school does football but when it comes to the summer – cricket has to fight for its spot and this could’ve helped link Clubs with schools. As getting on the after school club curriculum is a challenge in itself.

        If you just one those 11 kids brings a family and friends to the club it will help smaller clubs in the longer term we have to hope. Its about the future of Clubs as well as cricket as a game.

        Like

      • sillypointcricketsite May 9, 2017 / 7:22 pm

        That really hit a chord. My last two years at a supposedly sports driven high school spent playing softball every P.E. lesson!

        Like

      • Del Harris May 12, 2017 / 10:29 am

        As an ASC activator I’m glad the programme isn’t being sponsored by McDonald’s or Pepsi – otherwise I wouldn’t have got involved.

        Like

      • dannycricket May 12, 2017 / 9:58 pm

        That’s fair enough although, with Diet Pepsi, Tropicana, carrot sticks & salads, both would claim to have “healthy” options. What they would offer, apart from money, is a great way of advertising both All Stars Cricket and cricket generally to a wider audience. McDonalds in particular is great at marketing towards kids. If All Stars Cricket packs came with a Happy Meal, there’d be a lot more than 20,000 kids with a new cricket bat and ball right now. A lot more.

        On the other hand, the ECB is terrible at marketing to kids, and everyone else. Having a partner which could make up for this deficiency would be a massive bonus. The cost of alienating some parents (and this would definitely happen) is probably be worth paying, considering the larger benefits.

        Like

  3. northernlight71 May 8, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    I give way to no man or woman in my implacable despair at the ECB, and the way they ruin everything that they run. They are the Establishment in microcosm, where your background and your face matter much more than your talent or your probity. Like the aristocracy, they need to occasionally mix with the lesser orders to ensure the gene pool doesn’t become too toxic, but basically they have no interest in anyone who doesn’t fit their profile of a good company man. A decent chap. And it will almost always be a chap.

    I also agree that the marketing of ASC has been rubbish. The only reason I know about it is because I’m already linked in to cricket websites and cricket pages and cricket fans. I doubt anyone else in my circle has heard about it. There doesn’t seem to have been a deluge of information about it. It’s really not that hard to get my daughter’s primary school to slip a flyer into every child’s bag about sports clubs or activities out of school hours. But the last couple of months have just been the ubiquitous football camps, a bit of Karate and the local council pushing their summer holiday ‘childcare dressed-up-as-general-sport’ events.
    It’s also true that it seems a bit inflexible, although if you set something up to happen a limited number of times over a set period of time that’s kind of inevitable. I’m not sure there’s much the ECB could do about that.

    I’m not so sold on the money aspect that seems to be often brought up, however. As an unemployed Dad with a limited family budget, I wouldn’t baulk at the cost. It’s the same as I already pay for 10 half hour swimming lessons run by the council. I can see that for some people it would be a lot of money, but then in that case so might the bus fare or petrol costs of running your child back and forth every week. I don’t think it’s the reason for the poor uptake of places to be honest.

    No, the main problem for the ECB is that not enough people know about it, and that they are targeting the wrong age group. My daughter is 8 and she would just about be able to get interested in this if she wasn’t already doing 10 hours a week of gymnastics…. but if she were 5, I wouldn’t bother taking her to something like this. 5 and 6 year olds don’t really want an hour a week of cricket, and even if they do the chances are they’ll lose interest the next time they see Peppa Pig playing volleyball. This should be designed for 8-10 yr olds, the age when children can start to get obsessed by something. The ECB is trying to compensate for hiding cricket for the last decade and more by targeting really young children. I suspect few of the people behind this scheme have much experience of children. My guess is that even if any of them actually have them, they may be off at prep school or in the care of somebody else much of the time….

    Sorry, that turned into a much longer post than I planned.

    Liked by 2 people

    • dannycricket May 8, 2017 / 10:18 pm

      I agree that £40 is not a massive amount for most parents, but it is a large enough amount to make quite a few of them weigh the value of ASC compared to other things. If it was, for example, £10 then that’s clearly a massive bargain and parents would be significantly more likely to buy it on impulse.

      The main issue, as I see it, is that most young kids don’t want to play cricket because they don’t know much about it. Most parents will only send their kids to things they’ve already shown an interest in. You mention Peppa Pig playing volleyball, I think it would have done more good if the ECB had given the makers of Peppa Pig a few thousand pounds to make a cricket-centric episode.

      The best way to increase youth participation long term is not to run schemes like ASC but to increase the number of young fans. That’s pretty hard without live games on Freeview, but not impossible. Getting cricket regularly featured on children’s and family TV would be a good start on this.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. SimonH May 8, 2017 / 9:06 pm

    I found this both exhilarating and depressing: exhilarating that Danny put together such a splendid piece of research; and depressing that the ECB are once again caught with their pants down and that the MSM would never produce a piece as good as this.

    The ECB’s target of 50,000 is just typical of their numbers: think of a big number, double it and pass it off as some sort of reality comfortable in the knowledge they will never be held to account. It’s expelled from the same orifice that gave us how much money cricket in the Olympics would cost and how many fans will flock to the new T20.

    ” The thing about these is that they’re only going to be seen by existing cricket fans. For a programme which many people had suggested could reach out to children without a cricket-loving parent, I’m not seeing any evidence of the ECB even trying”.

    And yet cracking this nut is exactly the foundation on which the new T20 is based. Be afraid, be very afraid….

    I hope some posts this on tomorrow’s ‘The Spin’ thread when Bull hides behind his latest tedious, irrelevant whimsy. I’d do the honours but I’ve deleted my Guardian account in disgust (not at cricket but at some real world stuff that actually mattered and some very sinister things were going on).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. oreston May 8, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Nice article. I’m sure plenty of people hereabouts will be watching with interest to see how this pans out.
    Having hoped that nobody noticed the original (and quite preposterous) 50,000 participants target, and then floated the 20,000 figure, it’ll be interesting to see what the true 2017 take-up is. Confidently saying in May that they’re on course for 20,000 is one thing, but where they actually are in September might be quite another. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of scope for trying to spin the stats – like the old trick of eventually announcing an (at first glance) impressive figure for “attendances” instead of “participants.” If it’s really bad they’ll probably just pretend the whole thing never happened and bury a couple of figures in some obscure appendix to the ECB annual report.

    Like

  6. SimonH May 8, 2017 / 10:07 pm

    Not a TMS fan myself, and it is Charlie Sale, so make of it what you will:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-4485886/BBC-s-Test-Match-Special-fight-Ashes.html

    TalkSport seem just about the only people willing to employ Selvey these days (he’s been on there talking about IPL matches recently which sounds like a marriage made in heaven).

    And if you enjoy some ridicule of a certain well-known pundit, don’t stop at the end of the first article….

    Like

  7. AB May 9, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    I have mixed feelings about All-Star cricket. On one hand, it just feels like the output of an ECB meeting where they talked about things like “monetising unrealised assets” and someone mentioned all the coaching that goes on in clubs across the country and some brightspark had this idea to act as a middle man between the kids and the clubs in order to extract value (Of course they provided some nominal marketing and merchandising that would have cost them peanuts to justify their intervention).

    Its not a matter of playing vs watching, its a matter of both. Getting kids playing the game at school or in a programme like this makes them more likely to watch it on the telly (should a game ever be available), and seeing it on the telly makes it more likely for kids to want to play the game. The two things HAVE to go hand in hand.

    As for the age its aimed at, maybe its a bit young, I’m not sure. Certainly most of our enquiries as a club come from the parents of 8-9 year olds, and that was the age that I first became interested in cricket. (I went from no knowledge of the sport at all to completely obsessed over the course of a single summer)

    As for cost – £40 for 8 hours is a hell of a lot compared to existing cricket provision (we charge £10 a year for 10-15 games and 40 hours of coaching), but its not a lot compared to several other sports.

    Like

  8. Mark May 9, 2017 / 12:45 pm

    I question what the ECB are trying to achieve with this. Are they really trying to indroduce cricket to youngsters in the hope they will take up the game?

    Or

    On the other hand, is the real agenda here to find future “customers” who will pay money to watch Team ECB in its many guises?

    I suspect it is the latter, and this is noting more than a giant marketing routine to find the paying customers of tomorrow. In which case……..A floppy hat, and a backpack and a day out in the sun in exchange for £40 might just do the job.

    Seems more about branding than discovering a new invisible sport.

    Like

    • dannycricket May 9, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      If that is the case, and I suspect it is one of the things the ECB would like to achieve with All Stars Cricket, it literally could not work. Even if it was wildly successful and 250,000 kids signed up, it would not create a significant number of new fans.

      The evolution of a sports fan roughly follows the following path:
      Ignorance > Awareness Of The Sport > Interest In The Sport > Fandom > Participation
      The issue for All Stars Cricket is that it is only ever going to appeal to parents of children who are already interested in cricket. Even if it was widely marketed to non-cricket fans (which so far it hasn’t been), most parents have so much choice available for after-school activities that they have no need to pick one they aren’t already reasonably sure their child would like.

      The link between playing a sport as a child and becoming a paying fan in later life is also pretty spurious, in my opinion. Take the example of ballet dancing. A significant portion of children aged 5-8 will go to ballet lessons, virtually none of whom will pay to see ballet as adults. A quick search finds at least 8 ballet schools within a few miles of where I live. You know how many ballet theatres there are near me? None. Participation has virtually no correlation to being a fan, or “customer”.

      The greatest issue facing English cricket is not that enough kids aren’t playing, it is that most kids are almost entirely ignorant of the sport. Besides perhaps a vague knowledge of the shape of a cricket bat, ball and stumps, I would wager a majority of children are wholly ignorant of the sport. They have no knowledge of players, or teams, or results. If the ECB was able to remedy this in a significant way, then the number of fans and players would both rise proportionately. This would be great both for the ECB (getting more paying customers in the future) and clubs (getting more players through the gates). Unfortunately, the ECB seems focussed on trying to remedy participation numbers to the exclusion of all else.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark May 9, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    The BBC is doing what they do best.

    Putting on a complete and utter failure in football management, and claiming he is some sort of expert. Step forward and be bored out of your mind by Steve McClaren.

    Number two to Sir Alex Ferguson, and then virtual failure everywhere else he went except a brief season in Holland. If you want endless drivel, and corporate buzz words this is your man. And along side they put on Henrry Winter who has never seen a gimmick he doesn’t fawn over.

    There are some very important issue to be debated. McClaren is not the man to put them. He has no credibility. The Wally with the brolly may be harsh but he has proved it correct with his endless failure, and bullshit excuses. No doubt Joey Barton will soon be appearing here as well. The BBC do so love putting on people who have achieved little dressed up as experts. It’s the English way.

    So,according to McClaren we were no good 25 years ago. really? Did English clubs and British managers not dominate European football in the 1970s and 1980s. Did England not get to the semi final in Italian 90? Last year we lost to Iceland. McClaren is talking bollocks.

    Sorry, I know this nothing to do with cricket but is a classic example the idiocy the dominates in English sport.

    Like

  10. AB May 9, 2017 / 6:53 pm

    I might be wrong, but it and to me that the population of playing cricketers and ex cricketers is almost identical to the paying spectator base. You’re either into cricket, in which case you both watch and play, even if just very casually, or you’re not, in which case you do neither.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus May 9, 2017 / 8:24 pm

      Nothing to see here we were told when he was packed off to the ICC. Now the day of reckoning is on its way. Thoroughly depressing.

      How do you feel now you useful idiots?

      Like

      • Mark May 9, 2017 / 9:00 pm

        It’s like a Tudor plot.

        As Simon pointed out at the time of Selveys trip to Pakistan it didn’t pass the smell test. And low, Pakistan are going to back Clarke according to the article.

        What a clusterf***

        What are his policies? Does it matter? International cricket deserves what it will get.

        Like

      • SimonH May 9, 2017 / 10:05 pm

        Like

      • SimonH May 10, 2017 / 5:51 am

        The instinctive reaction of every right-thinking person:

        Pity the Dutch don’t have any actual say in the matter but you can’t have everything. I’m sure Clarke will take this magnanimouslyand not add “the complete annihilation of cricket in the Netherlands” to his ‘To Do’ list.

        Like

    • dannycricket May 9, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      I’ve never understood why Giles Clarke’s deal with Sky Sports was ever considered a success. As the events leading to the creation of a new T20 league have shown, the TV deal was never enough even to sustain English cricket. Worse still, by being 6-7 years long it’s prevented the ECB or anyone else fixing this mistake. Any major progress on financing the sport or spreading its reach is now on hold until 2020, and that is in large part Giles Clarke’s fault.

      Like

      • Mark May 9, 2017 / 9:34 pm

        The deal was not good for cricket as a whole, but was very lucrative for a small elite at the top. (Standard model on everything these days.) A bunch of insiders got very nice pay rises, and the game was sacrificed on the alter of invisibility. Or is that exclusivity.

        Hence why the ECB is now farting around with hats and backpacks desperately trying to make the game relevent to a group of youngsters who couldn’t pick out Joe Root in Waitrose.

        But you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and someone has to pay all those big salaries at the ECB.

        Like

  11. dannycricket May 10, 2017 / 6:52 am

    One thing I hope the ECB does is ask the parents who sign up a number of survey questions. So immediately​ after it finished you could ask all of the obvious questions like did the kid enjoy themselves, would you sign them up again next year, and so on. More interesting to me would be questions about the family and cricket; Is one of the parents a cricket fan, is any of the family already a member of their local cricket club, has the kid been to their local club before, etc.

    I personally suspect a large proportion of sign ups for All Stars Cricket will say ‘yes’ to almost all of these questions I’ve suggested, which would mean despite costing quite a bit, it won’t achieve anything significant. Of course in that case the ECB would never actually release the survey results, but it might at least help them realise why it failed.

    Like

  12. SimonH May 10, 2017 / 8:10 am

    Manohar to serve out his full-term:

    Will we ever find out what that “personal reasons” business was all about?

    Like

    • Mark May 10, 2017 / 12:06 pm

      That might imply a deal behind the scenes has been worked out with India. We will have to wait and see.

      The BBC losing TMS will be another sign of the changes in sport, and disappointing particularly to another Murdoch operation. (Was this why Selvey has been so relaxed about how few people are watching cricket on Sky? ) As Simon says he has been appearing on talk sport. (Don’t bite the hand that feeds hey Selvey?)

      Once Murdoch and talk shite have stripped the BBC of all tv and radio sports wait for the Murdoch owned papers to ramp up their calls for the end of the licence fee and the final end to the BBC. Murdoch will be allowed to take full control of Sky after the election. Mrs May knows which way her bread is buttered, and who really governs Britian. And It ain’t the politicians.

      Like

      • thebogfather May 10, 2017 / 1:27 pm

        TMS lost out to talksport for Eng tours in the early/mid 00’s. If i remember correctly they put together a reasonable team with MCJ and Boycs to the fore. Adverts weren’t too intrusive either.
        Even in recent times tS has picked up live cricket broadcasts -ODI’s v Bang, World cup games, IPL, and more, and although much of it has been comms from TV or feeds from other providers, at least they’re filling a hole.
        Even hearing Selfey or Derek on the IPL coverage, with their monotone meanderings is preferable to ThePlagiarist, Lovejoy or LadyHawHurgh on BBC
        I am a complete TMS addict btw, but the difference between the two easily available radio options is closing- and it’s something the BBC need to recognise before the dumbing-down of their output becomes a flatliner.
        Commentators, analysts (no, not just #39) and ex-players all, should evoke the event for the listener, not espout self-love or ignorance of the game as the norm

        Like

      • SimonH May 10, 2017 / 1:29 pm

        Odd that the radio story should appear a few months after the ECB was reported to be having a love-in with the BBC as a potential platform for the new T20 tournament!

        ONe might almost think that T20 story was a cynical plant to help the new competition get approval from traditionalists….

        Like

      • Mark May 10, 2017 / 3:12 pm

        Bogfather, I’m in complete agreement with you about the BBC and their dumbed down coverage and their numerous “agendas” and boxes they have to tick. They have pissed off the very people who support the BBC for many years in a desperate attempt to curry favour with those that want the BBC dead and buried.

        Not so many people will bother coming to their defence now because quite frankly so many don’t give a stuff anymore. Once radio 5 live looses the premiership football to talk sport the BBC sports wise will be finished.

        Oh shit, we will get even more of their monotone style of output with joint male/ female double acts sitting on sofas doing fake, matey cosy chats. Horrible!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas May 11, 2017 / 4:51 pm

        Re. Simon – I think that the ECB do value their relationship with the BBC and I would be hugely surprised to see TMS disappear during the English summer. We have seen the ECB and BBC tie up online video clip rights last year and the BBC’s extensive county cricket coverage is also appreciated by the ECB.

        It’s worth noting that this rights deal is with Cricket Australia and as Bogfather has said above there is a history of TalkSport taking overseas rights ahead of the BBC back in the early-00s.

        In fact, TalkSport outbid the BBC for the rights to the 2002/3 Ashes but then gave them back to the BBC because they realised that they couldn’t get enough ad revenue from their through-the-night coverage to cover the extortionate amount they had bid for the rights! Hence, the BBC had to put coverage together at short notice and they shared coverage with ABC radio that year, with Aggers joining the Australian radio team.

        But, TalkSport did successfully broadcast tours of South Africa (1999-2000 and 2004-5) and the West Indies (2004), as those tours took place in more lucrative timezones. (And possibly the tours to Asia in 2000-1 and 2001-2? I can’t quite remember)

        It would be a shame to see the BBC fail to get the rights to the Ashes this winter, but I don’t think it will have much bearing on the renewal of the ECB rights package, whenever that comes up.

        Like

      • SimonH May 11, 2017 / 5:24 pm

        So, to clarify, every away Ashes of modern times has been carried on the radio by the BBC? Not doing so would therefore be a major change, however one tries to present it.

        You’re right to say that Cricket Australia are formally in charge of awarding these rights. CA are in a tricky situation at the moment and seem to be following the ECB’s position closely on major issues (like backing Clarke for ICC Chairman). I’d surmise (and it’s no more than that) that if the ECB made it clear they wanted the BBC to retain radio coverage, CA would be extremely loathe to go against that.

        As for claiming the ECB value the BBC highly, pardon me while I take a pause for some hollow laughter…. The BBC are a dumping ground for everything Murdoch doesn’t want. If the ECB valued the ECB, they would have secured Test highlights for the BBC instead of caving in to Murdoch’s demands for a monopoly of coverage and they wouldn’t have spent thousands of pounds on a campaign to keep home Tests off the crown jewels’ list.

        Like

      • Nicholas May 11, 2017 / 6:02 pm

        I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be a major change, but it’s not the same magnitude of change as the BBC losing the summer rights package, especially given that TalkSport have history of having the rights for winter tours (although, I accept, never the Ashes).

        Let’s agree to disagree on how much influence the ECB has on CA’s distribution of media rights. You say (not unreasonably) that the ECB are in Murdoch’s pocket – why, therefore, did the ECB not pressurise CA to award the Ashes rights to Sky? CA awarded that rights package to the highest bidder (BT Sport). It is likely that they will do the same with the radio rights.

        And I do think that the ECB values the BBC’s radio coverage. There isn’t much money to be made from the radio rights and I think they know that having TMS spearheading radio/online output from the BBC is good exposure for the game. I would be staggered should the BBC lose the ECB contract in the near future.

        Like

      • SimonH May 11, 2017 / 8:53 pm

        Nicholas, getting BT Sport into covering cricket and provoking a bidding war with Sky is very much part of the current ECB agenad (I suspect they’d still like Sky to win out in the long-term but would like a credible threat to drive their bids up).

        Has anyone put in a serious bid for home Test radio coverage to take it off BBC? (Genuine question – as I said up the thread, I’m no great TMS fan and haven’t followed the history of radio rights that closely).

        Like

      • Mark May 11, 2017 / 10:36 pm

        Jeez, what is Agnew going to do this winter if the BBC lose the rights for the Ashes?

        Like

      • Nicholas May 12, 2017 / 11:45 am

        @Simon: Sure, I was expecting you to say that, and I don’t disagree with BT’s entry to the market being a boon for the ECB. But I simply don’t think that the ECB are influencing CA’s rights tenders. BT Sport bid more for the CA rights package than Sky, because the rights are worth more to them than to Sky. I honestly don’t believe that there was any ‘foul play’ from the ECB in the matter. But I’ll stop labouring this point now.

        As I said earlier, the last big threat from TalkSport came in the early 00s, and I found an article from 2000 when the BBC actually bid less than TalkSport for the home rights, but the ECB went with the BBC’s greater exposure. I know that this is a long time ago (so can’t be taken as any sort of indication of the ECB’s intentions now), but it is my understanding that that was the last time that the BBC had a threat for the summer rights. I still say, though, that I would be hugely surprised should the summer rights leave the BBC.

        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2000/mar/09/cricket1

        @Mark: Aggers would likely still go to do news reports into 5 Live and probably a round-up show/podcast – just like they did for those tours that TalkSport covered in the mid-00s.

        Like

    • thebogfather May 10, 2017 / 1:05 pm

      So Test (and international) cricket gets a year’s reprieve from Sir Vile Snark…

      Like

  13. Benny May 10, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Oooops. I’ve just thought of a positive aspect to this ECB bright idea. There’s that old chestnut that many people avoid cricket because they don’t understand it so, at least, shoving the little darlings down to an All Stars boot camp might open a few eyes.

    Like

  14. SimonH May 10, 2017 / 5:47 pm

    Selvey cheers himself up by getting several of his great loves into one Tweet:

    Like

    • Mark May 10, 2017 / 6:19 pm

      He’s just trolling us. If he’s not then he is completely insane.

      Having said that, if you go to Cooks wikipedia page there are 100s listed from his childhood in with his test career. So Bedford farmers might be very important!

      On the other hand Selvey is just showing why his so called journalistic career was completely compromised by his strange obsession with the England opener.

      Like

  15. Mark May 10, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    BBC putting on the intellect of Robbie Savage tonight to tell us that there is no problem with agents representing both the player and the club at the same time. Conflicts of interest not a problem for dear old Robbie.

    Jeez, so now Savage is saying the ends justify the means . Whatever it takes to buy any player. What a cock? This is the guy who attacks refs for getting it wrong, but doesn’t want tv replays. The man is a jerk.

    Just another reason why supporting any football team is fools gold. Of course it would never occur to Savage that a agent could rip off a player because he also acting for a club. Modern punditry by morons.

    Like

  16. SimonH May 11, 2017 / 9:49 am

    A lot of deserved flak flying the way of #39 for his comments at 10.30 here:

    It’s the first time I’ve listened to one of these and it’s like being dunked in a pool of pigswill from the opening shilling for a financial company to the immediate predicatble overhyping of England (“England are immense”) to #39’s vaingloriously putting Paul Stirling’s batting at Lord’s down to his own sage advice. For all #39 is getting flak about YJB, he wants him in the ODI team – and three guesses who he’d drop (one of the spinners… guess which one, most of the time…. oh, go on, you’ll never guess…. ).

    Like

    • Mark May 11, 2017 / 12:10 pm

      39 is rapidly turning into a real life version of Forrest Gump. Moments of history with Gump (sorry 39) in the picture. Take the bizarre case of Prince Philip’s opening of the stand at Lords. There is 39 in the background looking goofy……… ” life’s a box of choclates” he could be saying in his ill fitting suit and tie. There is no earthly reason for him to be there in shot. Aren’t there endless shots of him standing next to Cook for no good reason?

      39 has created a sort of oddball character profile who just shows up at various events unexplained. Numerous self appointed names such as Yosser and The analyst seem to have given himself a status out of proportion to reality. He anoints himself the 39 most influential person in cricket……for no reason. He decides that with a career average of 11, he’s the man to write a book on the complexities of batting technique. A book advising Mary Berry how to bake cakes would be less ludicrous.

      This is the man who seems to be the go to person if you want a defence of all things ECB, and they seem quite happy to use him. He’s sort of their real life Ronald McDonald.

      Like

    • SimonH May 12, 2017 / 9:48 am

      That’s weird, this version of #39’s podcast doesn’t seem to have the section in it that I was mainly referring to.

      #39 called Bairstow either “unpopular” or “not popular”, put it down to him not socialising enough (which he in turn put down to his father – about whom he then told an anecdote in a supposedly-hilarious mock-Yorkshire accent) and then said that given the choice between “a good lad” or not, you’d always select the “good lad”.

      I’d almost be doubting that this really happened, and that I must have dreamt it, is it wasn’t for several replies on #39’s Twitter account that make it clear some people had heard what I heard (and were not at all happy about it). #39 has said that the “good lad” point wasn’t about Bairstow specifically and that he wasn’t saying that he agreed with this views on Bairstow, both of which I accept – but for crass insensitivity, repeating tittle-tattle and an insight into the values around the England set-up it was quite revealing.

      Like

      • Mark May 12, 2017 / 11:53 am

        So Simon, assuming you are not imagining what you originally heard he is now censoring his own pod casts? To his endless titles, and skills we can also add censor, and stand up comedian apparently.

        But he has given the game away about the thinking at the heart of the English thought process. Skill is secondary to being popular. (Whatever popular means) We have known this for years with the crass comments about right kind of family’s and schools. We also know that skill is secondry to other factors like mental toughness. Problem is they never define what all these things mean. And who decides?

        Mental frailty in a top sportsman is a problem, but we are often told this without any evidence, and where this view has come from. Instead it is repeated with relish by sycohantic media stenographers. 39 and others seem to have a direct line to someone (captain? Coach?) Whoever? this person likes to put out their own players faults to the media. Isn’t that the job of the opposition?

        Once again I wonder why anyone would want to play for team ECB these days. If I was Bairstow or any other player I would be keeping a wide berth from 39 and Nasser these days. They seem to be the gossips of the court.

        Like

    • Mark May 11, 2017 / 8:39 pm

      I can’t believe they would make him up, but it does sound too good to be true. He’s a Middx fan. Perhaps he knows 39?

      Like

  17. Del Harris May 12, 2017 / 10:47 am

    I see a lot of people moaning about ASC here and elsewhere. I agree it has many faults but I wonder how many of you are doing anything to get more kids involved in cricket by volunteering as coaches or becoming an ASC activator? It’s easy to cast stones but maybe more people need to roll up our sleeves and give it a chance?

    Like

    • Mark May 12, 2017 / 11:34 am

      Can you define what an “ASC activator” is please? Is that modern corporate speak for coach?

      While your point is valid that it’s easy to cast stones, it’s a bit rich for the governing body, who has made cricket invisible to most kids for the last 10 years (Dart players are more well known to kids than A Cook or J Root ) to expect the public to grow their sport for them while they sit on mountains of tv money.

      This site is critical of the ECB, (the governing body of domestic cricket) and how it has run cricket for the last two decades, as the game as withered on the vine. I for one will not appologise for that criticism. If you are getting involved then good for you, and I wish you luck.

      In the current climate, You will need it.

      Like

      • Del Harris May 12, 2017 / 4:15 pm

        Hi Mark – an activator is what they’re calling the people who will be running the ASC sessions – they’re intentionally not calling them coaches as they wanted to get more volunteers involved. I’m not a qualified coach but volunteered as I wanted to help bring more kids into the club, having seen the benefits my two sons have got from playing the game. I’ve been to a training session for activators as well as doing some online training. The other activator in our club is a Level 2 qualified coach however so between us I’m hoping we’ll be able to deliver some fun sessions which is what ASC is all about. We’ve got 14 new kids signed up so far who’ve had nothing to do with the club before, which in a club which only has 50 youth members is very welcome. How successful it will be we’ll have to wait and find out.

        Like

      • Mark May 12, 2017 / 6:08 pm

        Thank you for your reply Del,and I am certainly not going to criticise people like you who are rolling up your sleeves and trying to make a difference. I’m glad your boys have benefited from being involved with the sport. I have even more respect as you are not a coach, and have taken the time to do this.

        In many ways your work is an indictment of both central govt and the ECB. Much of what you are doing should be done by the schools. It appals me that children have to go to special courses just to move and be active. This should be standard on the curriculum.

        Perhaps all these people at the ECB who seem to like taking govt honnors should be putting pressure on the govt to try to get more cricket into the schools. There just does not seem to be much joined up thinking at the top these days. Kids are unfit, and yet they do less sport. And cricket has removed itself from the shop window.

        Like

    • SimonH May 12, 2017 / 12:44 pm

      Del, no-one here has been critical of the coaching, the criticisms have been about the ECB’s organisation. Have you deliberately muddled the two together? I would be interested to hear what people who experience ASC make of the quality of the coaching but nobody’s mentioned that here. We simply don’t know yet.

      Your final two sentences are very close to saying “pipe down and get with the programme”. Danny made detailed, legitimate criticisms and you haven’t really addresses any of them directly. He’s supplied detailed info about, for example, value for money – it’s up to people what they make of that and if they choose to go. “Cast stones” is a metaphor based on physical violence about an article that uses nothing but reasoned argument.

      As for “roll[ing] up our sleeves”, some regular commenters here have regularly said how they are involved in coaching and/or club cricket. I was in education for quarter of a century so I’ve done my bit for the kids (I ran extra-curricular cricket in a school and then a college for over a decade until a 40% increase in my day job destroyed my health and I had to give it up).

      Like

      • Baz May 12, 2017 / 1:49 pm

        Simon as a coach and an Activator – I think many coaches did the training to (a) comply with ASC requirements for their Club and (b) to see if there was anything new involved.

        All Stars Cricket is not coaching cricket it is about fun, movement and skills that can be linked to cricket as a sporting choice for children.

        Activators are supposed to lead children and hopefully their parents through the activity programme and if done well they will comeback and graduate onto ‘real’ softball cricket and beyond.

        To be honest quite a few of our 7-8 year olds who have signed up are already playing school or cricket or are not new to the game, they just want the kit. So we will stream them into Kwik cricket sooner to meet their needs – they want the T20 version.

        Like

      • SimonH May 12, 2017 / 2:52 pm

        Baz, thanks for the reply. Do you agree, as some have argued, that it’s aimed at the wrong age group? Also, any thoughts on the quality of the kit?

        Like

        • Baz May 12, 2017 / 3:38 pm

          ASC had no choice but to hit Key Stage 1 age group as all sports seem to target that age group. The children’s kit seems robust enough – haven’t seen our kit bag yet due this week before ECB official launch date later this month. Wondering what happens next year….

          Like

      • Del Harris May 12, 2017 / 4:23 pm

        Hi Simon – I didn’t say anyone was criticising the coaching so no muddling on my part. However, the kids signing up to ASC are not expecting coaching which is why those running the programme are called activators – it’s about fun and learning more about cricket not necessarily learning about technique etc. You’re right we won’t know how successful it will be until the end of the programme and I apologise if anyone took offence at my comments based on my reading these comments here as well as on other sites, and not everything posted on this site previously. I’m sure many people have put in a lot of time and effort previously and all our kids are grateful for those efforts, and I’m sure you’re right in that the ECB could be doing a lot more. I simply tried to say that we need to give the programme a chance and I’m hoping that it has a positive effect for the future.

        Like

    • dannycricket May 12, 2017 / 11:03 pm

      Well for a start, I would like to say that this article focussed on pretty much two things: The cost and the ECB’s marketing. It doesn’t matter how great All Stars Cricket is in practice if a) People don’t hear about it and b) don’t want to pay £40 if they do hear about it. I also praised the unpaid work done by volunteers like yourself to promote it.

      As for how many of us are doing anything to help get more kids involved in cricket, I have two points. The first is that we’re fans and paying customers of a sport, we don’t owe it any more than that. In fact, we don’t even owe it that much. It’s a form of entertainment, and a business, and it’s their job to keep people interested and bring in new fans. The idea that I’m somehow obliged to promote cricket to random children is no less ridiculous than the idea that I should try and get random kids to listen to musicians I like.

      Second, the idea that a professional sport like cricket is so poorly run and marketed that you think a few dozen random men and women from a blogging site would make an appreciable difference to anything is a damning indictment of the ECB. We, unlike the ECB, have no control over anything whatsoever in the sport. We can’t change the broadcasting rights, we can’t make the players turn up to events which market the sport rather than the ECB’s sponsors, and we certainly can’t fund a national advertising campaign for schemes like All Stars Cricket. The ECB has all of the tools it needs to make cricket significantly more popular, but unfortunately lacks the ability to use it.

      And don’t mistake this article for schadenfreude. I don’t take any enjoyment from the ECB’s failures, and I certainly don’t want them to fail. It is a simple fact that the number of sign ups for All Stars Cricket is a colossal failure by the ECB’s own measure. I looked at it for a bit and tried to explain why I thought it had happened. If they fix things and next year it’s a success, I’d be delighted.

      Unfortunately I can’t really see that happening. The ECB’s inability to promote English cricket has been an issue for so long that I can only conclude that the problem is systemic and institutional. I genuinely fear that the decline in popularity will continue unabated until cricket in England becomes a semi-professional sport.

      Like

  18. SimonH May 12, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    Strangely, while #39 is one of the first to declare Twitter a useless measure of public opinion, self-selecting Twitter polls to meaningless questions are just hunky-dory:

    Like

    • Mark May 12, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      But it’s not exactly a mind shattering question is it?

      “Do you think the new city t20 will work?”

      Define what you mean by work?

      The privatised railways “work” to an extent, but few like them, and they eat up a fortune in govt subsidy. And having paid your taxes for this service, the railway companies then milk you with complex ticketing tariffs and over priced food.

      Sounds familiar?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark May 12, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      The last paragraph could be applied to most sports these days. In particular cricket.

      “But success for the elite has come at a time of falling sports participation in Britain, with the decline greatest among the poor. For all the successes, the question lurking beneath this book is an uncomfortable one. In an era of austerity and impoverished grassroots sport, has the price of these medals been too great?”

      Like

  19. SimonH May 14, 2017 / 9:00 am

    Ian Chappell (who has his faults but at least his thoughts are his own) on an expanded IPL:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/1097558.html

    “I’ve been under the impression for some time that many cricket officials believe the game can survive on T20 alone”.

    It’s a pity he doesn’t expand on the point (like which “cricket officials”) but the overall meaning is clear. It’s noticable he doesn’t even use more moderate language (“some” instead of “many”, mostly” instead of “alone”) and that he doesn’t just mean the BCCI.

    Like

  20. SimonH May 14, 2017 / 9:56 am

    After another Saturday with no English county cricket, the game is virtually invisible in the UK press this morning but there’s this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-4503144/Moeen-Ali-hits-unfair-critics-targets-No-5-role.html

    ” The perfect role would be to bat at No 5″

    The DM’s own graphic shows he’s had 24 Tests at No.5 and averages just 30 with 1 century and 1 fifty (with an even worse record at No.6). He’s had 24 Tests at No.5 which apparently, according to the article, doesn’t constitute a “long-term crack”.

    “he is learning his trade as an off-spinner.”.

    Really, how long can they keep going on like this about a player who’s almost 30 and has bowled nearly 18,000 f/c deliveries?

    “In 2014, in his second Test series, he took 19 Indian wickets at 23 apiece, encouraging the notion that he was ready to fill the role of first-choice spinner. Instead, his 76 Test wickets since that series have come at the less flattering average of 46”.

    I can think of some circumstances where the difference in those figures would raise a few
    eyebrows….

    “I still consider myself to be the No 2 spinner because I’m more of a batter. It’s unfair on Adil Rashid as well; he is a spinner and I’m a batter.”

    And yet there’s currently a difference of less than 4 in their f/c batting averages. Rashid has never had the chance to bat higher up the order.

    “Part of Moeen’s charm is his lack of ego, though it can count against him as well. While spikier characters might agitate behind the scenes for their preferred role, Moeen admits he has never pestered any of his England coaches”.

    It’s worked for him the other way too. He’s been given an astonishingly easy ride by the press and TV commentators.

    Overall, I can’t escape the feeling that there’s a certain nervousness around Moeen and his backers (Booth put him on the front of Wisden in 2014 – has anyone else been put there on so the basis of so little achievement?). While I don’t doubt that the likes of Booth had good motives, I’ve always had the feeling that Moeen’s elevation was part of a marketing strategy from some in the ECB-Sky megalith designed to crack the potentially lucrative Asian audience. Is it a coincidence that Moeen’s apparent slide in the selectoral hierarchy has happened at the same time as the emergence of Hameed?

    I doubt though that Moeen fans have too much to worry about. My suspicion is that against stronger opposition, they’ll always back Moeen over Rashid.

    Like

    • Mark May 14, 2017 / 11:29 am

      I have no beef against Moeen, however the contrast in the way he is treated by the media compared to other players who haven’t performed is night and day. As you say Simon, it once again highlights how the media seem to turn against players not based on the journalists own judgement, but what the England set up tell them to write.

      And there is no doubt he was the poster boy for trying to lure in the Asian market in the UK. Even better if he never says anything critical of his coaches. That’s how they like them these days. I think Cook liked him because he was a batter first and foremost down the order who just happen to bowl spin. (Not Cooks forte) Bailing out Englands top order from time to time with a flashy 50 or so. He was a spinner to prop up an end for 10-15 overs to give the paceman a rest. It was the only type of spin bowler Cook could deal with.

      Like

  21. SimonH May 14, 2017 / 10:09 am

    Vic Marks had strayed off the reservation recently – but he’s resolutely back on message here:

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/may/14/england-champions-trophy-favourites-status-eoin-morgan

    1) The CT is a wonderful tournament
    2) England are deserved favourites (to be fair, he doesn’t actually quite say that – but it didn’t stop the headline writer)
    3) England’s players have been managed splendidly.

    At least there’s no explicit hymn to Strauss this time – but give it time….

    Like

  22. Mark May 14, 2017 / 11:43 am

    Time to get the popcorn out witht he Aussie wage dispute. We could looking at a cancelled Ashes if they can’t get a deal. That could be quite funny.

    Doubt it will come to that mind. Too much on the line for players and tv companies and governing bodies. Not a great time to start a player dispute on the eve of a home ashes though.

    Governing bodies do seem to be taking the “no your place” model of negotiating. Its why the ECB want to own and control city 20/20. If they don’t, they become more irrelevant and less powerful.

    Like

  23. Mark May 14, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    So Ben Stokes is earning his high fee in the IPL, but apparently he is then going to brought home by the ECB even though if they knock off the 73 today they are throught to the finals.

    Isn’t this a bit idiotic, and makes it a total farce of the whole thing?

    Like

    • thebogfather May 14, 2017 / 12:23 pm

      Training camp due in Spain prior to ‘Champions’ Atrophe… More paella than pie-throwing

      Like

      • Mark May 14, 2017 / 1:00 pm

        Ah yes, team bonding is so much more important than the White Heat of competition.

        Like

  24. d'Arthez May 14, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Also it seems extremely unlikely that the English summer will feature Dale Steyn (at best a county stint). So the best fast bowler of the last decade will have featured in all of 5 Tests in England (2 in 2008, 3 in 2012).

    Now injuries may have come at an inopportune time and all that, but he would have needed to keep fit for a decade, and in front of the selection queue to get to 11 Tests in England. How long does it take for fast bowling relative non-entities from India to amass such figures? Ishant Sharma is already on 7 since 2011 (he missed 2 games), and may add another 5 to that tally in 2018, and perhaps another 5 in 2021.

    Either way, with Rabada, Philander, Morkel, there will still be a seasoned core left for South Africa to fall back on. One more injury though, and a relatively inexperienced pacer (Olivier?) may be required. The problem however will be with the batting, especially #4.

    Like

    • SimonH May 14, 2017 / 3:18 pm

      Hi D, any news on Parnell’s health?

      Like

      • d'Arthez May 14, 2017 / 3:57 pm

        As far as I know, Parnell had a heart scare, but has been cleared to continue playing. CSA are monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis (he has a a history of heart issues). Other than that, CSA seem tight lipped about this – can’t find anything beyond that in any of the South African sporting media.

        Nothing wrong with that to be honest; as a player I would not want medical issues being splattered all over the pages.

        Like

  25. d'Arthez May 15, 2017 / 3:59 am

    Pakistan managed to win the final Test in the Caribbean, and thus their first ever series there (mind you they had gotten close before, such as in 1988, when they drew the series, after losing the last Test by 2 wickets).

    Roston Chase the stand-out performer, with 101 runs from 239 balls. Shannon Gabriel played an inexplicable shot on the last ball he’d have to face (there was just 1 over left after that).

    Chase also had the best series (in terms of runs) for a West Indies batsman in the last 5 years (403 runs at a touch over 100). Other than that, WI batsmen mostly disappointed, and cost them the series. Only Holder managed to average above 30.

    So West Indies are left defending drawn series at home to Sri Lanka and England. All the other (most recent, split on home and away) 12 bilateral series against the Top-8 teams have been lost.

    Like

  26. SimonH May 15, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Latest transmission from Planet #39:

    1) He “doesn’t think” people will get bored of T20. If you call yourself The Analyst, shouldn’t you offer some analysis? What are the attendance patterns? Has anyone seen any evidence of this year’s IPL attendances for example? Should the future of the game be based on his hunches?
    2) “Cricket without the boring bits”. Yes folks, that’s the contempt for the nuances of the game that he has. The reason I loved Richie Benaud was he saw it as his duty to educate the viewer to understand the game – and it’s why I’ve nothing but contempt for Hughes now.
    3) “Around since 1960s” – WTF is he going on about?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark May 15, 2017 / 11:40 am

      Just makes me more suspicious as to what his own financial stake is in all of this?

      He doesn’t sound like a lover of cricket, more an investor. I think he should divulge what interest he has in this new racket.

      “Cricket without the boring bits?” But he wrote a book on the complexities of batting. Most of that book will become redundant in the new glorious morning of blacksmiths swiping the ball over reduced boundaries at backward fine leg.

      Like

    • RufusSG May 15, 2017 / 1:12 pm

      Yeah, that’s complete nonsense from him. Not only is his belief that the format can’t suffer from overkill seemingly based on nothing but his own surmise (I enjoy the IPL but it could easily cut at least half the group matches and avoid the ennui of the later stages), but the third point – I can only assume he means that T20 or similar short-form cricket has been played below the professional level since that time, or something – then it’s spectacularly disingenuous, since T20 cricket never had the same sort of exposure and reach than it did before 2003: there was never the opportunity for wider audiences, the TV audiences the ECB clearly values, to get bored in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez May 15, 2017 / 4:00 pm

        I have not followed a full season of IPL in years (and I have moderated on several streaming services). After 2 weeks boredom sets in. Each individual match is next to inconsequential, since there are about a dozen of games to make up for a loss here or there.

        I expect the same thing to happen with the 2019 World Cup – if I am still interested in cricket, since it is so grossly mismanaged, that it is becoming less a sport, and more organized / legalized fixing (by the various boards). Pity the ACSU can’t be bothered to investigate that bit.

        Like

      • AB May 15, 2017 / 4:43 pm

        I have no problem with a long season – I love following the baseball season – it allows the story arc to involve. Players grow, they progress, teams gel, collapse, get on a roll, A bad start can be overcome with a strong finish, a smug, winning team can suddenly stumble.

        However, its the non-stop intensity that does my head in. T20s are very samey when played every single day. At least with baseball you get to watch different pitchers each day. Maybe its the pitches, maybe its the shitty fielding, maybe its the mindless commentary, maybe its the fact that none of the teams have any history or tradition and hence I don’t really care about them either way, but the IPL seems far less nuanced than NWB cricket – more merciless hacking, less tactics.

        Like

  27. SimonH May 16, 2017 / 11:37 am

    Some excellent long-term context for the current dispute in Australia:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/1098043.html

    This:

    ” CA’s AGM in October 2012 heralded the start of the new regime, including the arrival of three independent directors – two of whom were David Peever, the former Rio Tinto managing director in Australia, and Kevin Roberts, former global senior vice-president of Adidas and a Sheffield Shield cricketer for NSW. The new directors were referred to as “captains of industry”. Peever held strong industrial-relations views, and had spoken at a mining conference that year in favour of direct engagement between companies and employees, “without the competing agenda of a third party constantly seeking to extend its reach into areas best left to management”.

    Peever became CA chairman late in 2015….”

    Like

    • Mark May 17, 2017 / 8:58 am

      What makes Saracens the most special team in rugby?

      I don’t know, but if I wanted to find out I wouldn’t ask Mathew Syed. Let me guess….. 10,000 hours of practice? Or black box thinking? ( his latest pet theory)

      Perhaps its just the same old boring things that have always made great teams. Talent, and the recruitment of talent, & good coaching. Everything has to have a crack pot theory these days.

      Like

    • Mark May 17, 2017 / 9:05 am

      They will want the free to air tv shows now to promote their new 20/20 money making venture. Once they have promoted it to a new audience, they will go back behind a pay wall.

      Like

    • Sophie May 17, 2017 / 10:00 am

      Apparently it’s only T20, and not all of it either, because they want more T20.

      Like

      • Mark May 17, 2017 / 10:13 am

        Yes, just enough to promote it, and allow them to claim there is some free to air cricket.

        They like employing marketing bullshit slogans at the ECB. So how about……

        “The ECB, making English cricket invisible for over 10 years.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 17, 2017 / 1:26 pm

        So international T20 and the new domestic T20 tournament will be on FTA TV and Tests, ODIS, the CC and the NWB won’t.

        Which parts of the game are they trying to kill off? Hmm….. that’s a tough one….

        Liked by 2 people

  28. Mark May 17, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    An interesting point on the Aussie pay dispute is the claim that Cricket Australia have a veto of allowing players to play in various 20/20 competitions around the world under ICC rules. I’m not sure if that is just players who are under contract with various boards or if it includes all players, including those out of contract?

    If true, it would mean the boards could refuse to allow players to play in 20/20 franchises after they have stopped paying them at national level. This smacks of restraint of trade, and could put all top flight cricketers on a collision course with the nations cricket administrators, and the ICC. I’m surprised that the WI board haven’t played this card if true, because they would be able to stop all their players going off to play elsewhere.

    One of the things that is quite alarming is how draconian the various boards are becomming lately. Simon has pointed out the sort of characters on the board of CA. And look at the ECBs model of player relationship over the last few years if your face doesn’t fit. I’ve always had an uneasy feeling that city cricket is more about the ECB muscling in on a giant revenue stream. And then being able to contol a part of the game that is slipping out of their octopus like control.

    It seems to me it’s increasing about over paid administrators protecting their big salaries rather than greedy players. If you get rid of a model of revenue sharing and the amounts coming in go up, that’s more for the executives rather than the players. Nobody comes to see the administrators, and though these geniuses may come from the corporate world, sports administration is not a business. The head of CA and ECB is not answerable to shareholders, and a stock price.

    Like

  29. Rooto May 17, 2017 / 7:22 pm

    Just realised that this thread is still live, and have to vent some steam about the TV rights story (blood pressure not helped by having to be calm and reasonable on the Guardian site).
    Who the fuck decided to lump the CC in with the tests in the same, unaffordable rights package? Is it the same overpaid arsewipe who, when noticing that Sky have shown approximately 2 CC matches in two seasons, said “yes, that’s the type of national coverage we want for our premier domestic competition. What’s that? Other broadcasters might want to actually broadcast it? Screw that! They’ll get the shitweasel sandwich of our new shiny T20 toy, and they’ll fucking have to like it.”
    Aargh! The ECB is no longer just letting the CC die with inattention, it’s progressed to pushing it onto a plane bound for Switzerland.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nicholas May 17, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      I’m staggered by the make-up of the packages, I really am. Now, it’s good news that we get some guaranteed FTA, and international T20 is a pleasant surprise to go alongside the new comp. The ECB now need to be very careful to sell that package to a proper FTA broadcaster (be that BBC, ITV or Channel 5) rather than to Sky for Pick TV or to BT for BT Showcase or to Quest. I wouldn’t put anything past them at this stage.

      But that Pack 1 beggars belief as you say. Fucking hell – it’s a joke to effectively have the current one big Pay TV package replicated again. They really don’t know what they’re doing.

      What they have done, which is very sneaky, is to oblige any broadcaster bidding for the big international and county pack to also bid for the new T20 and vice versa. Therefore, basically enforcing BT and Sky to go for both. I would put money on Sky getting Package 1, BT getting the new T20, the BBC or ITV getting the live FTA pack and C5 keeping the international highlights (package 5).

      Bloody ECB, just when you think they might be turning a corner…!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus May 18, 2017 / 8:03 am

        Back from Bangla but in several different time zones in terms of sleep etc.

        Where is the go to article on this?

        Like

      • SimonH May 18, 2017 / 8:20 am

        Elizabeth Ammon in ‘The Times’ is the only one who’s seen the details in the bidding document that Nicholas refers to.

        That’s my understanding of it at this stage anyway – I’d happily stand correction.

        Like

      • Nicholas May 18, 2017 / 9:49 am

        Hi Dmitri,

        Yes, as Simon says, The Times had the document ‘leaked’ to them. (I won’t make the obvious comment)

        An astute poster on a media forum that I hang out on has posted all the key details, and here they are (shamelessly) copy-and-pasted:

        Pack 1:
        All international
        All county

        Pack 2:
        All T20 league – men
        All T20 league – women

        Pack 3:
        Two international men’s T20
        One international womens T20
        10 T20 league games – men
        8 T20 league games – women

        Pack 4:
        Digital clips

        Pack 5:
        International highlights

        Pack 6A:
        Radio – international + T20

        Pack 6B:
        Radio – county

        Packs 3 and 5 are reserved for FTA broadcasters only.

        Anyone can bid for other packs.

        So the games in Pack 3 will also be shown by whoever wins Pack 1 / Pack 2.

        ——

        International matches per summer:

        – 6 Tests in total except only 5 when Ashes (ie no 2nd series when Ashes)
        – 6 ODIs
        – 6 T20s

        ——

        Bidding timetable and evaluation process:

        June 28 (between 9am and 10am) – all bids to be submitted

        Five man panel reviews bids and decides which bids to accept (implies not automatic that they go for highest bid in each case).

        Panel comprises:

        Colin Graves (ECB chairman)
        Tom Harrison (ECB Chief Executive)
        Barry O’Brien (Glamorgan Chairman)
        Lord Patel of Bradford (ECB non-executive director)
        Sir David Scott (former head of Channel 4)

        June 30 (5pm) – bidders notified of results

        June 30 (7pm) – press conference to announce results

        ——-

        These rights will be for 5 years – 2020 to 2024 inclusive.

        I hope this is useful info for you all!

        Like

      • AB May 18, 2017 / 11:10 am

        That packaging seems expressly designed to provide as little coverage of county cricket as possible.

        Its also very, very clear that they want test cricket to go away. International T20s but no tests is a right knee in the balls for the 9m people who watched the 2005 ashes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 18, 2017 / 11:46 am

        Some things that some implicit in that ECB packaging:

        1) India are not going to be playing any more five Test tours of England.
        2) Some teams are going to play Tests in England very infrequently, especially if Ireland and Afghanistan are added and Bangladesh are treated like everyone else. Let’s also not forget that back-to-back Ashes are not going to be some one-off (an article on the BBC a while back implied another one was envisaged in the early 2020s). It seems probable that some teams will have one Test-playing tour next decade. Alternatively, more teams could play if they play shorter series – and let’s also remembered one-Test series are on the ICC table.
        3) One team is going to undertake a white-ball only tour during an Ashes’ year (assuming England aren’t going to play 6 ODIs and 6 T20s against Australia).

        The agenda to drive down Test cricket seems transparent. I’m okay with scrapping May Tests and England have played too many Tests in recent years. But it should be expected that England play a series of at least two Tests against every Test nation twice at home in a decade (allowing for special circumstances like apply to Zimbabwe for example).

        Like

      • SimonH May 18, 2017 / 11:57 am

        #39 is your man if you need TheAnalysis 12 years too late:

        (Even then, he can’t bring himself to name “the guy”, nor can he point out that Sky are partly to blame for undermining the foundations of one of their assets).

        Like

  30. Mark May 18, 2017 / 11:55 am

    If I was a free to air broadcaster I wouldn’t bid for any of it. I’m looking at it just from the men’s game perspective (call me sexist if you want. I don’t care) Pack 3 (which is the only one I could afford) has just 2 international 20/20 mens games. That’s it! Just 2 international 20/20 mens games!!

    I also get the privilege of paying to help promote their new city cricket. 10, just 10 20/20 league games. Does that include the final or semi final? Who knows? Doubt it.

    No Tests or 50 over….. which I take it is in package 1? This is small beer.

    This whole thing is a giant con to basically keep most things as they are, but to let the free to air broadcasters help the ECB push their new city baby. (Dressed up to look like they care about the sport as a whole.) If it dies on its arse, you are on the hook for it, and if it takes off, and you help promote it they will no doubt put it behind a pay wall next time.

    Is it really the job of the BBC or ITV or Channel 4 to help sell Sky subscriptions?

    There is no imagination here at all. Why not separate test cricket from county cricket? County cricket is not worth that much, (hence why Sky shows so little of it) and a free to air broadcaster might show more. There is an opportunity to be really radical with county cricket, but they don’t want to do it.

    Like

  31. SimonH May 18, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Here comes the softening-up process:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-4516500/England-star-Ben-Stokes-10m-man.html

    “I know there will be traditionalists who believe it is wrong for stars to play domestic matches in India and miss internationals, as they will have to do again this summer. It is expected, for instance, that Stokes, Buttler and Joe Root will miss the three T20s against South Africa after the Champions Trophy in June and fans who have spent hard-earned cash on tickets might feel aggrieved. I can understand that but we cannot have old-fashioned thinking on a very modern situation”.

    Traditionalists… old-fashioned…. obsessive….

    As always, the likes of Hussain never consider the ticket-pricing implications for those coughing up to watch an understrength team. (And why is Buttler missing those games? He’s hardly played all that much in the last year).

    Like

    • Mark May 18, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      Why can’t they just admit KP was right, and Andy Flower & Strauss were wrong?

      It is now acceptable for top players to miss International matches while playing in the IPL. This was all KP wanted…… which he was denied, by the same people who now say we all have to get with the new programme.

      How come Nasser & his Essex chums didn’t get with the programme 5 years ago? And if the likes of Flower and the ECB had just been a bit more flexible, and not tried to cram so much cricket into May we wouldn’t have this problem. Test matches in May are usually crap anyway. Shit weather, usually pushed into the north of the country where the weather is likely to be unsettled.

      And now we are lectured at about what is acceptable by the very people who for years stood in the way, and said KP was being unreasonable. KPs biggest mistake was not being called Ben Stokes.

      Like

    • AB May 18, 2017 / 4:09 pm

      “I know there will be traditionalists who believe it is wrong for stars to play domestic matches in India and miss internationals, as they will have to do again this summer. It is expected, for instance, that Stokes, Buttler and Joe Root will miss the three T20s against South Africa after the Champions Trophy in June and fans who have spent hard-earned cash on tickets might feel aggrieved. I can understand that but we cannot have old-fashioned thinking on a very modern situation”.

      I wouldn’t say it would be traditionalists who would be annoyed, but anyone who has an interest in selling out future England games, which one would assume, would include the players who rely on that revenue to pay their wages.

      If people are expected to pay £80 to watch England, they want to watch the full team, not some 2nd XI. Attendance at games is liable to drop off swiftly if the ECB start playing fast and loose with the strength of the team.

      Like

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