Test Cricket Resurgent?

Two days, two matches, two results that made the cricketing world sit up and take note.  The extraordinary victory by the West Indies undoubtedly put a smile on the faces of those who love and care for the game, and while the Australians as usual thoroughly enjoyed England’s demise, their schadenfreude lasted barely 12 hours before they fell to defeat against a Bangladesh team who have progressed rapidly and are now stiff opposition to anyone, at least at home.

It all demonstrates a game in rude health, where the minnows can turn over the giants, and those who have been struggling can still show what they can do when given the opportunity.

If only that were true.

Little has changed from a week ago concerning the health of the game generally, the prevalence of T20 leagues shows no sign of abating, and in the midst of the two Tests Mitchell McGlenaghan requested he be released from his New Zealand central contract in order to ply his trade as a freelancer in the T20 game.  In his case, he’s not an essential part of the Black Caps international line ups, and it has been some time since he played, indeed he rated his chances of playing international cricket again as “pretty slim”, but it’s still an instance of a centrally contracted player seeking to strike out on his own. The self-imposed absence of AB De Villiers from the South African Test team put a huge hole in their batting (and the Kolpak desertions just as much) during the most recent series in England, and of course the numbers of West Indians unavailable for their international team is well known.  So much of that is self-inflicted by a dysfunctional board, and in that regard at least there are more recent signs of an improvement in the governance, and the bringing on board of people like Jimmy Adams and Jeff Dujon who might just care more for the game than for the politicking that has afflicted it for so long.  It’s an ironic thing in the wake of the victory that Chris Gayle has indicated he wants to play Tests again.  Whether that would be welcome is less the point than that it would be beneficial for the West Indies to be able to select from their full pool of players.

What hasn’t changed is the dispersal of funding centrally, the question of a meaningful Test programme and ensuring that all teams get to play.  Bangladesh’s win over Australia follows one over England on their last tour, suggesting that at long last they are becoming competitive.  But Tests remain relatively rare for them, they’ve only had one three Test series in the last decade (against Zimbabwe), and there were efforts to downgrade the latest Australian tour to a one day only series without Tests.  Their next series is in South Africa, and that too is just the two Tests.  It’s not uncommon for them to go the best part of a year with no Tests at all.  Perhaps the improvement in their cricket will lead this to change, but it seems a little unlikely.

It’s possible that the two results will not only fail to change the current Test match situation, but even make it worse.  If the response to them is to believe that all is well in the garden, then that ironically doesn’t help at all, for the battle to save Test cricket isn’t even close to being won; it is being lost.  There are many villains in the piece – the easy money that T20 in particular generates taking precedence over everything else.  The ICC is not a governing body in the normal sporting sense, subject to the whims of its members and their vested interests in a way that isn’t healthy.  The general principle that such a body should be in place to look after the interests of the game simply doesn’t apply, and while there are few examples of those who act altruistically for the sake of sport, the ICC remains extraordinarily opaque in its decision making and doesn’t engender trust in any way.

What the two matches did do was offer a timely reminder that in cricket, there is simply nothing remotely as exciting as a match that last five days (yes, five) and builds to a climax.  The number of one sided matches is a real problem, but when the sport gets it right and the matches are close it reaches a level of tension that is extraordinarily rare.  The unfolding of a fine Test match is without compare, and given the context of a proper series, that is close and hard fought, it creates a narrative that sucks in even those who wouldn’t normally pay attention.  The final day of the 2005 Ashes series is always going to be the case in point to that, but of course in that case the play was on free to air television…

Let’s be positive about it.  The wins for the West Indies and Bangladesh reasserted what Test cricket is all about.  If for no other reason than as a reminder that it’s worth something, they were exceptionally welcome.  If it caused those who had been advocating four day Tests to quieten down, that is even more welcome.  There is nothing in that proposal that improves the game in any way; there would be fewer overs, matches would be wrecked by weather to a greater degree than is currently the case, and the prospect of getting teams to actually bowl the overs they are supposed to by increasing the daily workload is quite simply laughable.  The proposal is there for the benefit of boards and money men, not cricket.

One final point.  When it comes to the media, there’s a rule that generally applies.  If a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is no.

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70 thoughts on “Test Cricket Resurgent?

  1. d'Arthez August 31, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Excellent writeup, and agree with it wholly, when it concerns the global game.

    Sadly, I had to miss both those climaxes, due to an extreme case of food poisoning. I’ll see if I can track down some highlights from both those games.

    Like

  2. LordCanisLupus August 31, 2017 / 3:11 pm

    A quick point, only tangentially related.

    There is no live cricket on Sky Sports Cricket today.

    In fact, there is no cricket at all, if you count highlights as “cricket”.

    The entire schedule is masterclasses. those Cricket Greatests you’ve seen a billion times before, oh, and an ICC approved “How the 2011 ICC World Cup was won” load of bilge.

    Those long Autumn and Winter hours are going to fly by with this insipid scheduling.

    Don’t get me on how Sky mess about with the slots for their highlights now, so that is pot luck recording them on Virgin.

    Good article by the way.

    Like

    • Mark August 31, 2017 / 5:42 pm

      They should of been at The Oval where someone fired a crossbow arrow onto the ground. By all accounts it was fired from outside the ground. Pretty scary though. Play was ended straight away.

      The ECB seems to have sold exclusive rights to a broadcaster who doesn’t want to show much domestic cricket. 20/20 is all they are interested in. 20/20 Finals day is the new cup final.

      Trouble is no one else can show it because Sky has exclusive rights. Even the kids on the Internet can’t watch it. Wasn’t that supposed to be the new thing?

      Like

      • stephenfh September 1, 2017 / 7:11 am

        Agree entirely with the sentiment of the post about the five day game.

        As for the Oval yesterday, there was a delay of 15 minutes or so between the players leaving the field and spectators being told to take cover, during which time, if the nut with the bolt had been inside the ground as the security staff initially seemed to think, the Pavilion was in the parlance of the US military ‘a target rich environment’ (even on the 4th day of a county game).

        Not sure the response will be any better next time if the MSM simply play reassuring noises and try and smother the awkward bits, which is the hand some of them are showing.

        Some snaps from the ground at http://www.bythesightscreen.com

        Like

  3. Sri.Grins August 31, 2017 / 3:26 pm

    I think test cricket will not survive by just paying fancy salaries to cricketers.

    It comes from the willingness of the population to engage in cricket. The sub continent has this interest in spades. It is also cursed or blessed by a burgeoning population depending on whether you are looking at money ea in cricket is not therned by top players, commentators or you are looking at money earned by the rest of the population.

    The money in cricket is not the attraction. it is the passion and consequent popularity that drives the sport.

    Rather than keep talking of the demise of test cricket, it is important to understand that sri lanka, bd and now afg are recent entrants to test cricket. earlier test cricket was played in very few countries and considering the poor quality of indian sides away, it was only wi, oz, eng and pak which were strong. India away even now is mostly a mismatch.

    Simply attributing lack of money to players as the reason for test cricket’s demise is really being a bit lazy. How many people write letters by hand today? yet good letter writing was an art and many famous books were penned in the form of letters.

    Solutions based on money to popularize or improve quality of test cricket is never going to work, The population needs to fall in love with the game. The sub continent has been in love with the game even in the 50s,60s and 70s when indian players were paid a pittance.

    To just attribute decline of test cricket to money is honestly becoming too repetitive

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dannycricket August 31, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    The greatest issue that I see with Test cricket is that there are currently no great teams. Whilst it’s true that the gap between the best and worst teams is closing, unfortunately it’s because the best teams have got worse and not because the worst teams have got better. India are the closest we have to a dominant team, but they are fairly weak away from home and seemingly don’t dare face Pakistan. No one else seems to have both a settled batting lineup or an incisive bowling attack.

    In the Good Old Days™, you knew where you stood. Even winning a single game against the West Indian or Australian teams (home or away) was cause for celebration and the kind of thing that made legends from players. The players in those dominant teams were household names around the globe. I would imagine 90% or more of the people you could ask on the street in England couldn’t name a single current Indian player.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sri Grins September 1, 2017 / 12:51 am

      The players in the dominant teams were household names in cricket playing countries which were only a few. Actually, the number of cricket playing countries has increased now.

      I agree that the players are currently not as good as the time when West indies or Oz ruled the game.

      Like

      • dannycricket September 1, 2017 / 7:01 am

        Yes, that is true. Unfortunately for Test cricket fans, a large portions of people around the world appear to favour the shorter formats. Globally, cricket overall may be stronger than ever but Test cricket seems weaker. In addition, cricket in the UK appears to be in decline and we’ll have to wait until 2020 to see if the new T20 competition with 8 or so games on the BBC has any effect on that.

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        • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 8:24 am

          My view is that the T20 competition in England will be a success. It will bring more fans to cricket and hopefully some of them may start liing test cricket.

          As you mention, more people prefer the shorter formats over test cricket in most countries which play cricket with proportions preferring test cricket higher in countries like England, Oz relatively though I would assume that even in England and Oz, money is veering to the shorter formats.

          With all the tools of communication, my kids do not seem to feel the sense of leisure I felt as a kid. I used to be on the roads most of the day playing some game or the other or reading books but now the younger generation have different interests.

          My take is that rather than worrying about the changes in preferences, adopt the strategy quebecer has suggested to make the players more visible and rather than getting into an antagonistic position on short form cricket or money, try and communicate the pleasure of watching test cricket through advertisements and programs.

          There is bound to be a much better reaction than constantly carping about limited overs cricket or the injustice of how money flows. After all, injustice of money distribution is true in life too and would anyone who talks of spending money on getting WI to focus more on cricket, spend money on the countries in africa and asia and agree to a cut in their income to uplift the poor?

          Like

          • thelegglance September 1, 2017 / 8:53 am

            You can’t ignore the money I’m afraid. It isn’t about money per se, that’s normal, it’s about the distribution of it and the concentration in the hands of only a few countries. Sport isn’t like a normal business, that’s why the laws for sport differ to those in general commerce – the collective Premier League TV deal would be an illegal cartel in any other business, but sport is deemed a separate case because of the need to ensure all can compete.

            I’m sorry if it’s tiresome, but it’s a fact that if the national boards cannot afford to pay their players a salary to keep them in international cricket, then they will go where the money is. I don’t blame them either.

            So the responsibility for the ICC is to divide the money more equitably to support the international game, and that’s not what they do because of the vested interests. It’s basic sporting economics, and why the most rampantly capitalist country in the world, the US, operates a system in their sports that’s akin to communism, and does so deliberately.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SimonH September 1, 2017 / 10:22 am

            Sri, I’ve responded politiely to your posts in the past and I went out of my way to praise the BBCI for saving five-day Tests on the last thread so I can hardly be accused of being just anti-India. Also, I haven’t seen one comment on this site recently blaming WI’s troubles on lack of money. People have been blaming the WICB.

            Surely you’ve noticed that countries like SA and NZ can’t get their best XI on the pitch because players find it more profitable for play T20 or go the Kolpak route? The B3 can pay their top players central contracts worth 7 or 8x what the others can afford. How is that remotely fair or sustainable? Nations with a small domestic market are never going to be able to generate the revenues that India or England can.

            The book ‘Soccernomics’ showed that 90% of matches are won by the team with the higher wage bill. Why would this (or something very similar) not also be true of cricket?

            Liked by 1 person

          • KidVicious September 1, 2017 / 11:26 am

            I think it’s also worth pointing out that money isn’t just for the top players, it’s supposed to filter down to the grassroots. The less wealthy cricket boards are just not going to be able to provide facilities for keen young people to be able to take cricket to the next level – not that it’s particularly great with wealthy boards like the ECB either.

            Yes anyone can pick up a bat and a ball and have a knock about, and you hear stories all the time about players like Lasith Malinga who developed his action via beach cricket, but if there isn’t a platform for people to develop, they will eventually walk away from the game. This issue is compounded if the game isn’t visible on TV or the players aren’t household names – what child wants to emulate someone they’ve barely heard of and couldn’t pick out of a lineup.

            Things are different in India and the rest of the subcontinent due to sheer weight of numbers. I’m sure there is talent that slips through the net, but there’s a lot to choose from. Countries like SA or NZ will not have that, and those cricket nations will continue to shrink if things stay the way they are.

            Like

          • Mark September 1, 2017 / 11:35 am

            In sport you need someone to play against who is at least as good or not better than you. In business that’s not true. Supermarket giants don’t have to even come into contact with each other on a daily or yearly basis.

            As to learning to love the one day game……sorry…..can’t do that. Cricket for me is test cricket. I view 20/20 as not even the same sport. Just because they have bats and a guy bowls 6 balls in an over for me it’s not the same game. Now maybe test cricket is doomed. I think it is likely over the next 25 years test cricket will wither away. If people don’t want to watch it, and prefer the shorter format then that’s just market forces. But I don’t have to like it, or have to watch it.

            I find endless 20/20 very boring. There is little variety to each game. They are very formulaic in style. The model seems to be to have endless matches that leads to a finals day that can be decided in about 10 overs of crazy hitting by one batsman.

            I don’t have any solutions to these issues becuase you cant force people to watch cricket if they don’t like it. If they want losts of 20/20 and that’s what makes money and money is the only thing of importance then test cricket is finished. I maintain the powers that be have already decided this, and are just managing the decline of the gsme for old timers like me before they kill it off.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 12:29 pm

            @thelegglance, I do agree with you on the fact that some players may choose to go where the money is. The point is that rather than use these as examples, focus on how you can get interest in the game in countries which do not pay enough money. Life is not only about money. If the player is good enough, he will be able to play all forms of cricket and make good money anyway.. if the player is good only in test cricket, the country does not pay the money, he wishes to pursue an alternate sport because of money, my thinking is that we should be prepared to lose him. It is more important in work or sport to enjoy what you do rather than focus on how much money you are making.

            These are my principles in life and I have followed them in my career too. I could have made n times the money I have and at times I have regretted it but net net I am happy with what I have done.

            Like

          • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 12:35 pm

            @simonh,

            I am not accusing you of anti india bias or even anti sub continent bias. I find that people on this site are very passionate about cricket and it is wonderful to read their thoughts and points.

            I just simply think that we cannot make someone choose test cricket based on money. Once you go down that route, you will find that it is short lived.

            Forgive me if you thought that my earlier post is not polite.

            Test cricket love cannot be initiated by money. What do you think the ranji trophy players in India get despite the money in India. compared to the counties, just peanuts.

            How good do you think the facilities in India or other parts of the sub continent for cricket enthusiasts? extremely poor.

            My thoughts are that we cannot make a player play a sport simply by dangling money in front of him/her. It does not bring the best out of him/her nor does it ensure performance of the team.

            Just think of India in test cricket away. All the money in the world does not ensure that we perform well. 🙂

            Like

          • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 12:46 pm

            @Mark,

            Sure. you are entitled to consider cricket as only test cricket. Everyone has different perspectives.

            Personally, I do not mind standing and watching kids playing with rubber ball and stones as stumps and a piece of wood as bat. I have even participated or fielded or kept wickets for such kids. I enjoy it.

            Each to his/her own.

            I disagree with you on test cricket. Test cricket will be played in new countries after 25 years. These may not be the traditional power houses of yester years but does that matter?

            After all, India was known for making various things when the British ruled over India or even 25 years ago. Now, manufacture of these items is winding down. there are simply other countries which are able to make better or cheaper stuff. Change is a part of life. So Test cricket may not be played very well by NZ for example or SA but maybe afghanistan, china may end up being better at it. Is our idea the survival of test cricket wherever it exists and appreciating it or ensuring survival of specific countries whose population may value making money in other endeavors over playing test cricket or watching it by paying enough money?

            I simply think that we cannot afford to pump in money beyond a point based on sentiment if the local population values money over playing test cricket

            Like

          • d'Arthez September 2, 2017 / 6:58 am

            “Just think of India in test cricket away. All the money in the world does not ensure that we perform well.”

            It is not about India having money. It is about others having no money. Why would you play Test cricket if it cannot pay the bills? Why would you go into chess, or any other sport if it cannot even pay the bills? You either opt for a sport that does, or take a safe career, whether that is in law, psychology, or any other profession. Passion does not pay the bills.

            Just ensure that no one of note plays Test cricket in all those difficult places (New Zealand, South Africa), because it does not pay the bills. So you just have to beat a bunch of amateurs, and it will be labelled a historic tour. That is what lack of money does.

            So I do hope you can enjoy the extremely challenging tour by Sri Lanka of India in two months time. Because of course it is next to unthinkable that India will beat a team they have whitewashed away just 2 months prior, across all three formats (in all likelihood).

            Like

          • Sri Grins September 2, 2017 / 8:08 am

            @d’arthez
            I disagree with you. It is not that playing test cricket does not allow you to pay bills. It may not allow you the luxuries that playing t-20 will get you. If you really wish to know what is really loving cricket enough to spend time on it without getting money to pay the bills, come and meet the cricketers who played ranji-trophy-2016-17 trophy for states in India. They played because they lived long form cricket not because they got enough money to pay the bills. Personally, I think we are well off without people who will play long form cricket only if they get a lot of money. You are welcome to disagree. Let is agree then to disagree on what is vital.

            Like

          • Sri Grins September 2, 2017 / 8:31 am

            @d’arthez
            I disagree with you also on Sri Lanka. Are you claiming that Sri Lankans are doing badly in tests and odis because they don’t earn enough money to pay bills? Mismatches have nothing to do with lack of money mostly to do with lack of talent at that time or lack of experience as Indian fans see each time we tour away. Mismatches have happened, are happening and will happen in test cricket. Just a few years ago most journalists and fans not from India were claiming that Bangladesh was given premature test status because of bcci wanting a vote. Yet you can see the strides they have made. It is this tendency to attribute everything to lack of money I object to.

            Like

    • tejasvi anand September 19, 2017 / 9:26 am

      I think that it’s unfair to say that India are weak away from home since they haven’t toured since Kohli took over (except Sri Lanka and West Indies, but that doesn’t count). While I’m not saying he’s a better captain than Dhoni, the team has undergone a transformation of sorts, with the coming in of Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and the form of our bowlers in general. The tour in South Africa will be a test, and its not fair to judge before that. As for Pakistan, I can assure you that the reason India aren’t playing Pakistan is not because they don’t dare to, but because of increasing political tension between India and Pakistan. I am also extremely sure that in all cricket watching households Kohli is a household name. 4 centuries in Australia is no small feat. However I can’t speak for how many people in England do watch cricket.

      Like

  5. Quebecer August 31, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    As an addition to Danny’s point, one consideration is that no great teams should in theory mean a more even playing field and therefore closer games. In reality, what we’re seeing is a predominance of one sided games. Answering why this is might be informative on the desired future course. I’m sure that’s bound to happen.

    But the point that I wanted to make was not about the lack of great teams, but the lack of great players. There’s a small handful of very good batsmen (Smith, Kohli, Root, Williamson), and while certainly very good, I think it could be argued that none are ‘great’ (not in the Lara/Sach/Viv category). I know this point can be debated, but one that I think is beyond debate is the lack of great bowlers. There’s none. Not even close. Dale Steyn was the last you could see being world class in any era and I can’t think of anyone else close to that category in the last decade. (Btw, this is why despite finding him terrifying, I think Pat Cummins is so important to work cricket)

    People don’t fall in love with the game because of teams. They fall in love with the game because of players. I mean, didn’t we all? One of my first real recollections of cricket was kid was watching the ’81 Ashes, but I wasn’t thinking ‘come on England’. I sat thinking, ‘come on Ian’.

    My memories in cricket are far more to do with individual players than individual games. At the time the result mattered, but it’s not the match I remember at Lords in ’84, but being there and watching Gordon Greenidge – and I swear I can still see that flashing Tusker cutting boundaries. I know England lost to Pakistan at Lords with me there, but all I can recall is watching Imran bowl.

    The game needs greats. It needs heros. Kids need to want to be someone.

    So putting them on TV would seem a good idea too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance August 31, 2017 / 6:38 pm

      Whenever it comes to the question of there not being great bowlers, I always ask the same question: if it was instead that batting was better now instead, how would it look any different?

      Like

      • dannycricket August 31, 2017 / 8:35 pm

        I do think that batting overall has undoubtedly improved, particularly in the lower order. Improved padding and helmets allow modern batsmen to play without fear of serious injury. Covered, well-drained, flat pitches all take away elements which helped bowlers in the past.

        My suspicion is that bowlers weren’t necessarily quicker in the olden days, but the bounce and movement off the pitch might have been more unpredictable and with worse body protection most batsmen would concentrate on saving themselves over their wicket. Because raw pace wasn’t needed on more lively pitches, bowlers could bowl more overs in a day and continue playing into their 30s and 40s.

        It’s not completely a one-way street, DRS has probably helped bowlers get LBW decisions that they wouldn’t in the past. Overall though, modern cricket probably favours batsmen now more than before.

        Like

        • thelegglance August 31, 2017 / 9:13 pm

          One of the other major changes that undoubtedly helped batting in the last sixty years was the change of the no ball rule from back foot to front foot. Some of those guys were bowling off 18 yards back then.

          Still, it’s an arms race between batsmen and bowlers. DRS is an excellent case in point, batsmen changed their technique to cope with it.

          Like

      • quebecer September 1, 2017 / 4:12 pm

        TLG: If you have a minute, could you detail exactly what you’re saying with that? It’s an interesting point, but I’m not 100% exactly what you’re saying the relationship is about batting and the position that compared to the 80s, 90s, and 00s, there have been no great bowlers in this decade. Are you saying it’s a causal relationship explaining why?

        Like

        • thelegglance September 1, 2017 / 4:24 pm

          Sure! First thing to say is I’m not necessarily saying batting or bowling is better or worse than it was, it’s more a philosophical question.

          It’s kind of like the anecdote about someone saying to a scientist that it was understandable people thought the sun went round the earth because it looked like it did, and he answered “and how would it look if the earth went round the sun?”.

          Essentially, if for argument’s sake the standards of batting had improved over say 20 years, but the standard of bowling remained identical, then from our perspective we would look at it and think that the quality of bowling had gone down. In that example it hadn’t at all, it would simply be that batting had got better, but because it’s impossible for us to objectively do a raw comparison in the bowling (we judge it against the batting, not in its own right) we would assume that the bowlers weren’t as good, even though they were exactly as good.

          Conversely, if the bowlers were on top in an era, it might be because the bowling was better, but it might also be that the batting wasn’t as good, so the bowling looked fantastic. And of course if that was the case, the best bowlers would pick up most of the wickets – it skews matters, it’s not one where everyone does better equally, because the best bowlers a) bowl more and b) are more likely to get people out.

          Now personally, I would say that generally speaking the standard of batting and bowling probably improves incrementally over time anyway, and stays roughly equal, and of course you have so many different variables from pitches to the balls themselves to make it totally impossible to judge. We just have a feeling. But my point is that if that feeling were 100% wrong, and it was actually the other discipline that had changed more, from our perspective it would look identical to our assumption.

          Does that make sense?

          Like

          • quebecer September 2, 2017 / 1:16 am

            🙂 Yes.

            I wonder, therefore, if this is essentially an ontological problem, where we’re left baffled about the true nature of the universe and which aspects of it are human constructs and which are truly tangible.

            Or it’s bigger bats.

            Liked by 1 person

          • AB September 4, 2017 / 3:17 pm

            But there are other ways to judge the quality of batting and bowling other than simply looking at some of the basic statistics.

            Good batting vs good bowling may see the same statistical outcome (eg average of 30 per wicket) as bad batting vs bad bowling, but it looks very different indeed.

            Like

          • thelegglance September 4, 2017 / 3:36 pm

            The margins are too small to be able to tell.

            Like

    • dannycricket August 31, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      I think your point about hero worship is important. It’s been my contention that the ECB has been making a major mistake by focussing their efforts on increasing participation through projects like Chance To Shine or All Stars Cricket. A more effective means of not only increasing participation but also the number of cricket fans in England (or customers, as I assume the ECB calls them) would be to increase the public’s awareness of English cricketers.

      When most of us started playing cricket as kids, a large portion of us would have been imitating our favourite cricketers. We’d want to bowl like Botham, or bat like KP. Right now, most kids apparently can’t name or identify English cricketers. If they can’t even pick them out of a police lineup, it seems unlikely that they’d want to pretend to be them on a cricket field. By refusing to help publicise the game and its players, the ECB fails to use their best tool for ensuring the long-term future of the game.

      It doesn’t necessarily require live cricket being on TV (and right now the options in that regard are limited until the end of the next deal in 2025, I think), there are other ways of allowing people to get to know and like the current players. It is a bit degrading though. Basically, we have to treat them like Z-list celebrities. Get them on every chat show, news program, reality show, format show, quiz show, newspaper and magazine interviews, anything with half-decent ratings. Have Root and Bairstow turn up in Emmerdale, Anderson and Buttler in Corrie. Just put everyone out there all the time, eventually it will produce an increased interest in cricket.

      Like

      • nonoxcol September 1, 2017 / 7:09 am

        Cook has been on Countryfile!

        Not sure it had much impact, other than on those who were already starstruck by his politeness, lambing skills, marksmanship and devotion to the long-suffering Alice.

        Also, regarding dramatic roles, some of us still shudder to recall Kenny Dalglish in Scully and Graeme Souness in Boys from the Blackstuff. The performances of the current lot in Waitrose ads suggest they wouldn’t exactly be an upgrade.

        Incidentally, does Swann still present Sunday Brunch?

        Like

        • dannycricket September 5, 2017 / 6:22 am

          You’re absolutely right, the impact would be small from each individual appearance, unfortunately I’m not sure there’s anything else the ECB could do which could be more effective in the next 7 years to promote Test cricket. Their hands are tied by the TV deals, and almost every other type of marketing would cost them money, which I’m guessing they wouldn’t spend.

          Like

      • Mark September 1, 2017 / 8:29 am

        I don’t think putting players on Emmerdale or a walk on part in Corrie is going to make cricket popular I’m afraid. If only it were that simple. Perhaps you put the best looking one on Love Island? Pringle used to rave about Cooks good looks. Would Alice want him to go on? Would they want a 30 year old who says “um, er” all the time? If any can player can sing put them on on X factor. Ramprakash went on come dancing. Didn’t do much for the sport.

        I see more kids walking around today with Real Madrid & Barcelona shirts on. Foreign football teams are more popular with the young than English cricket players. I did see Gooch and his wife walking around Cheltenham town centre in the early 1980s once.,He was there with Essex to play the Cheltenham festival. To be fair, I don’t think many knew who he was then!

        Like

        • dannycricket September 5, 2017 / 6:58 am

          A lot more people in the UK know who “Marcel from Love Island” is than “Alastair from the cricket”, or any other current player. Therefore I would absolutely try and get a cricketer on there. The reason celebrities and wannabe-celebrities go on those shows (apart from a payment of £50-100k) is that it is an opportunity to launch their brand and get enough people following them to start their own TV show. I’m saying that if we can treat Test cricket as the spinoff project which can draw off the publicity from the popular shows like Love Island, I’m A Celebrity, Corrie or whatever else.

          It’s obviously not the ideal solution, but the TV deal prevents all the obvious answers. Test and first class cricket won’t be on Freeview until at least 2025, barring perhaps the odd day on Pick. English Test players won’t even be available for the new T20 competition which will have 8 games on Freeview. If you specifically want Test cricket to survive and prosper in the UK, there will only be one path for non-cricket fans to become Test fans in the next 7 years. They see T20 cricket on BBC, subscribe to Sky Sports Cricket, watch a Test and like it.

          The mention of kids wearing Barcalona & Real Madrid shirts is interesting, because I would assume that most of the kids don’t follow those teams and may not have seen them play on TV. If I were to guess, their main exposure to Ronaldo or Neymar would be through playing the FIFA games, clips online and marketing. I think this shows the high point of how popular you can make sportsmen without most people actually seeing them play, and is therefore something for Test cricket to aim for.

          Like

      • jomesy September 2, 2017 / 10:00 pm

        When I was a kid I was only allowed to watch the BBC 6pm news. ITV? With its adverts?! In your dreams.

        That lead to some school yard difficulties. I knew Neighbours was on before said news but what was Home & Away? Seemed to me it was more exotic than Neighbours…which I’d glimpsed…but…

        I’d already fallen in love with cricket by then. Didn’t need a hero. Just loved it. And I could listen on my handmedown walkman, provided I put it high enough.

        Like

      • AB September 4, 2017 / 3:22 pm

        That’s a silly idea. Literally no-one is going to get interested in a sport because they saw a protagonist on a quiz show. There are two ways and only two ways of getting interested in a sport: playing it and watching it live. Ideally, both at the same time.

        Like

        • dannycricket September 5, 2017 / 7:17 am

          “There are two ways and only two ways of getting interested in a sport: playing it and watching it live.”

          I agree with one of those. Watching Test cricket (or first class cricket) live is a great way to create new fans. Unfortuately, the current and future TV deals preclude that happening until 2025 at the earliest. Playing it, or participation as it seems to be referred to, is something I am thoroughly unconvinced in its ability to create fans.

          There’s kid and parent-led activities like All Stars Cricket. Take, for instance, ballet dancing. There are maybe 10-15 ballet schools within a few miles of my home training 1000s of children. The nearest ballet theatre is maybe 100 miles away. If participation leads to a lifetime of interest, why doesn’t every town and village have their own ballet company?

          And then there’s enforced participation at schools with programmes like Chance To Shine. Most kids played rounders at school, has that created a groundswell of rounders or baseball support in the UK? I played field hockey at school, couldn’t name a single player or team.

          Schemes like Chance To Shine and All Stars Cricket aren’t entirely worthless, they will boost the numbers of kids who attend their local clubs and so possibly give us a few professional players who we might not have reached otherwise. What they won’t do, what they can’t do is create cricket fans. It’s just not how people work.

          Like

          • AB September 5, 2017 / 8:14 am

            All-Stars cricket age group is too young to be a fan of any sport. But if they keep playing cricket, then obviously they’re going to be more likely to develop an interest in watching it over a kid who can’t tell a pad from a paddle sweep.

            From personal experience, none of the 9-15 year olds I coach really knew anything at all about cricket when they joined. They had briefly tried it at school found they could do it, heard there was a local club, and come along because one of their friends said it was fun. About half those who come for 1 session come back, and about half those who play a season stick around for the whole junior programme.

            When they join, one of the things I ask them along with all the usual H&S questions, is how much cricket they watch. They all say “none”.

            Many of the kids who are in their 2nd year of playing cricket, and starting to understand the nuances of the game, are now starting to show an interest in the England team. One of the kids asked his dad to take him to the test match, and came back very enthusiastic about the England wicket keeper, Joe Root.

            Its worth noting that as we don’t live in a major county, there is absolutely zero interest in domestic cricket. They’ll sit and enjoy it live (ie at the ground) but when I tried showing them a game on the tv, they couldn’t care less. Its England or nothing. Some of them now watch the test match highlights on C5.

            Like

  6. man in a barrel August 31, 2017 / 10:20 pm

    I think there is a great tendency, to which I am far from immune, to over-estimate the qualities of the teams we saw when we were younger. The team with which Illingworth won the Ashes in 1970-71,for example had, as a key player, Brian Luckhurst – a decent county pro, and a weak middle order where an out of sorts Cowdrey contended with Hampshire and Fletcher. The pace attack, if you subtract Snow, was mediocre and one of the more successful ones, Shuttleworth was promptly discarded once Z scored 278 at Edgbaston (?) in 1971.

    When Windies were so great in 1976 and 1980,how many runs came from #3? Who remembers Jumadeen and Padmore? The figures are great but Damien Martyn or Doug Walters? Who can name all 11 of Bradman’s Invincibles ?

    And a few years ago, on being asked about Victor Trumper, Tufnell said, “Was he one of theirs?”

    Like

    • quebecer September 1, 2017 / 2:21 am

      Oh please. Barnes Morris Bradman Miller Brown Hassett Johnson Talon Lindwall Johnston Toshak.

      Everyone knows that.*

      * What with wikipedia and everything these days.

      Like

      • Rob September 2, 2017 / 7:05 pm

        No Neil Harvey ! What a shocking lack of knowledge .

        Like

    • d'Arthez September 1, 2017 / 4:51 am

      Well, to be fair to the naming Invincibles question: it is easier if you have seen them or played against them – that tour included 32 fixtures if I am not mistaken – so I honestly would not be surprised if total attendance to the Invincibles tour would be north of 1 million. From a single tour!

      So if you’d ask an average English cricket follower in 1954 (6 years after the tour), you would probably get slightly more correct answers than you would in 2017, with regards to the same question: which 11 players (barring injury) took England to #1 in 2011? Despite of course there being a lot more coverage / repeats etc. in these modern days.

      Like

      • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 8:30 am

        Without looking at the internet Strauss, Cook, Bell, Trott, KP, Prior,Swann, Anderson, Broad, Bresnan, Morgan, Bopara/another?

        Like

        • quebecer September 2, 2017 / 1:19 am

          Oh well done, Sri! And I respect you enough to think you know you go the middle order the wrong way around.

          Like

          • Sri Grins September 2, 2017 / 2:59 am

            Yes. I did. Trott, kp, bell. But, I just put it down as I remembered the names in no particular order. In fact, even the bowlers would be in a different order going by batting positions. Brilliant team at the height of their powers especially in non sub continent pitches. They deserved to be no 1 even if it was brief and the sa tour to England marked the end of their no 1 ranking and the beginning of the impulses that gave birth to this blog. No regrets of course that this blog got created. Wonderful posters on here

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 2, 2017 / 3:27 am

            Sri. I started How Did We Lose In Adelaide, the originator of this blog, back in 2010. Been round the track longer than most!

            Like

      • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 8:31 am

        Being part of the follower of a defeated team watching with hope fading by the hour :-), memories are quite sharp. 😀

        Like

    • Mark September 1, 2017 / 7:43 am

      We are all guilty of looking back through rose tinted glasses on sport of the past. However you mix up different issues. Whether someone was great, and whether Phil Tufnell can remember them are two separate issues.

      “Who can name all 11 of Bradmans invincibles?”

      Very few I expect, seeing as they would have to be at least 75 years old to have seen them live, and remember them.” Now if you are saying not all of that team were great players then fine. But they were still a great team.

      “When Windies were so great in 1976 and 1980,how many runs came from #3?”

      Sure, but they were still a great team. I think by 1980 Viv had moved to number 3. I certainly remember him. Point is they had many great players in those teams and they were a great team.

      Have a lot of non great players played test cricket? Absolutely. But in the eras you talk about the players who did play were drenched in the culture of test cricket. There were no 20/20 techniques. Batting for the draw and not giving your wicket away was much more normal. Also look at the kit they had then. Going out to face Lille and Thompson without a helmet and no Arm guards, and body protection want much fun. I expect by modern 20/20 standards Victor Trumper would be seen as an average hitter of the ball. But then he didn’t have a modern day bat. He had a linseed oil job.

      Maybe comparing differnt eras is unfair to players from both times. It’s almost a different game. I Have watched sport for about 40 odd years, and you get a felling at the time you were watching something exceptional. Most people who saw the the 2005 Ashes thought it was special. Sometimes you are wrong. And the dreaded claim “in my day it was all great” is of course not true. But Cook has stated that today’s test cricket is as good as it has ever been. I don’t buy that I’m afraid.

      Like

      • Sri.Grins September 1, 2017 / 8:38 am

        Agree that today’s bowlers are not as good as those in the past.

        The batsmen may be marginally inferior but i think the standard deviation coefficient is less. By that what I mean is that there are a lot of batsmen who are average whereas in the past, there were teams with outstanding batsmen and teams whose batsmen were poor.The odi and t-20 skills have helped them to do well in run chases. 322 would have seen the team go for a draw from the first over in the 30-40 years ago or even 20 years ago. Even the indian team with all the greats was not aggressive.

        In fielding as well the standard deviation has come down. in the 70s we had the spin quartet out of whom only venkat could be relied on the field.

        Given that certainly cook’s statement can be seen as a way of defending the contemporary batsmen especially himself.

        Like

    • SimonH September 1, 2017 / 9:00 am

      The ’70/71 Aussies were between the Lawry and Chappelli eras and not a great team (especially the bowling). I can’t remember anyone claiming they were a great team.

      Their batting still contained Chappelli, Chappellg, Stackpole, Walters, Redpath and Lawry – all had Test career batting averages over 40 (most well over). Defending 220-odd in the last Test with Snow injured was a great achievement. England’s spin attack of Underwood and Illingworth was high quality as was Edrich in the batting (perhaps both just short of great but in the very, very good category for sure). England’s win must also be seen in a broader context of a No.1 world ranking and a run of unbeaten series around that time. Finally, there’s the oft-cited stat that England won that series despite not being awarded a single LBW decision!

      I take your broader point MIAB (like I pointed out on the last thread Australia’s current team has plenty of problems too with injured bowlers and at least two possible holes in the batting) but don’t think you selected the best example. Perhaps the 1987 Ashes’ win would have proved your point better?

      I must be particular dense not to get your point about West Indies No.3 in 1976 and 1980. Viv was No.3 on both tours of course but they also had Fredericks, Greenidge, Haynes, Kallicharran, Rowe, and Lloyd on one or both tours who were all very, very good players. Only Bacchus in 1980 of their batting regulars on those two tours did not enjoy a significant Test career.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH September 1, 2017 / 2:54 pm

        Correction, Stackpole averaged 37. Still a strong batting line-up, mind

        It’s also worth pointing out the ’70/71 Ashes was the only home series Australia lost against anyone between the 1954/55 Ashes and the 1978/79 Ashes (or the 1979/80 series against West Indies if one excludes the Packer-less Australian team).

        Like

  7. Sri.Grins September 2, 2017 / 10:26 am

    Btw, Anderson wants to play till 40 and if so, he will probably rack up another 300-400 wickets assuming he plays 60 odd tests in 4 years. Would be an amazing career. Excellent fitness and skills.

    Murali’s record is finally under a genuine threat in terms of numbers just as sachin’s test century and runs record is under threat from cook who can also technically play till 40 given his focus on test cricket and ability to focus and fitness. Cook can theoretically play another 100-20 tests over the next 8 years.

    Cook and Anderson may not be the most likable of individuals from the view points of fans but a remarkable achievement it would be if they can get these records.

    Like

    • thelegglance September 2, 2017 / 10:30 am

      Anderson is the one who has been really remarkable, because of the way his overall record keeps improving. That average was well over 40 for a big chunk of his career, and just keeps dropping. If he plays for anything like that long I wouldn’t be surprised if it finishes around 25, which is genuinely exceptional (if not quite great) for a seamer. And longevity at that level in a bowler always impresses me far more than a batsman.

      Like

      • Sri.Grins September 2, 2017 / 12:37 pm

        True that Anderson has been brilliant since 2010. His economy rate and wickets per innings have been terrific though not yet muraliesque.

        He has been brilliant considering that he is a pace bowler. His away bowling average against major countries is still an issue as it is mostly in the late thirties or forties though not bad unlike Ashwin.

        .

        Like

  8. SimonH September 4, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Looking at the headlines (I can still find them) on Cricinfo this morning:

    1) Bangladesh win the toss and bat first. None of their top seven has made a fifty (so far) and every wicket has fallen to spin. Conclusions to draw about the pitch seem obvious.
    2) Cricket isn’t going to be in the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Dobell writes:
    “The 2022 version of the Commonwealth Games is scheduled for July and August, meaning it would clash with the CPL, the new-team domestic T20 competition in England and an international tour of England by India. As a result, several Full Member nations within the ICC were far from convinced of the virtues of involvement in the Commonwealth Games”.
    Deerstalkers on to work out who those “several Full Member nations” might be….
    3) CSA expects a loss of R159m for 2016/17. (And no, I’m not blaming that entirely on external factors and yes, I’ve noticed that some of that loss comes from building themselves a nice new HQ, but….. ).

    Another day in global cricket governance.

    Like

    • Pontiac September 4, 2017 / 4:01 pm

      Word is that the wicket actually isn’t spinning. And Lyon is having a good day…

      Like

    • nonoxcol September 4, 2017 / 5:47 pm

      No home Ashes in 2022 then, contrary to one or two reports from a while back about Hants and Glam.

      Something, I suppose.

      Like

  9. Silk September 4, 2017 / 10:22 am

    Probably not the place to post it, but I’ve deleted my Guardian profile and have nowhere else to go.

    So… What drugs are the Australian selectors on?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. SimonH September 5, 2017 / 8:22 am

    ” if you lift your head above the parapet, and talk about match-fixing, you’re unlikely to come off well.” (From the Chris Lewis interview in the Guardian)

    Words to ponder….

    Anyone interested in fixing in sport, try the work of Brian Tuohy (especially ‘The Fix is in’ or listen to him discussing his work on Youtube). He comes across as a serious and credible journalist to me with his evidence coming from FBI files obtained through FOIA requests.

    Like

    • BoredInAustria September 5, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      PS – Lovely comment from quebecer under that article. .. amongst the other garbage

      Like

    • Mark September 5, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Cheers for that Simon. I had not heard of this guy at all. Very interesting stuff. I have watched a few of his videos today. Doesn’t surprise me.

      Whenever there is big money in something, and the media are all saying…..”nothing to see here”….that is usually good grounds for suspicion.

      Like

  11. Mark September 5, 2017 / 11:44 am

    I see the ECB is going for the full trio next year. Pakistan coming for 2 test matches then a sandwich filling of the Aussies for some white ball cricket just in case you hadn’t had enough of them after the ashes. Finally the full India 5 test tour with ODIs and 20/20.

    If any bowlers can still walk after that then good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glenn September 5, 2017 / 1:08 pm

      I’d rather have three Pakistan tests then four India as India get a bit bored playing back to back 5 test series in England.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston September 5, 2017 / 4:57 pm

        I don’t think anyone’s boredom threshold (least of all the players’) is the administrators’ concern in programming the now seemingly obligatory biennial India vs England five Test series. It’s a cash cow due to the TV rights – that’s literally all that matters.

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol September 6, 2017 / 8:09 am

      I’ve had enough. It’s a bollocks schedule – a Test starting on a Saturday and so-called domestic showpiece (T20 finals day) on 15th September!

      Like

      • nonoxcol September 6, 2017 / 8:12 am

        Oh, and TRIPLE back-to-back Tests against India. Jesus wept, that’ll go well…

        Like

        • Silk September 7, 2017 / 8:23 pm

          Bored already. Why not give Pakistan 3 Tests? India only need 4. A 2-2 draw is pretty unlikely.

          Like

  12. tejasvi anand September 19, 2017 / 9:16 am

    I fully agree with you. The recently concluded India Sri Lanka test series has probably been one of the most one sided, boring test series ever, and is going to be followed by another India Sri Lanka series in India this time. All because the Sri Lankan board supported BCCI during the pay model restructuring. Its proof that one of the reasons why test cricket is dying is because of politics between cricket boards.

    Like

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