OK. I went off one one last night. As the lagging keyboard on the laptop got worse, so my anger rose. These people, these so called guardians of the game, transient here today gone tomorrow sorts, convinced of their own views to such an extent that they couldn’t give a shit what you think, are actively floating the four day test idea. More than actively floating it, they’ve put a date on it (the year after an Ashes series). I have had a brief read of an article on Cricinfo which suggests this four day idea isn’t particularly new:
The four-day idea has been championed since 2003 by Andrew Wildblood. “Don’t be scared to fail. We’re going to die wondering if we don’t do something soon”
Andrew Wildblood? No, me neither. It seems as though he was a former senior vice-president for International Management Group. Now I wonder who worked there? Who might be in a position of power?
Tom was Senior Vice President for the leading international sports agency IMG…
Original old groupthink, eh. But importantly, according to Lawrence Booth in the Mail today, Costcutter Colin is claiming considerable credit, as he has been its champion. He consulted no-one I know of in the lead up to floating this nonsense, has not consulted anyone I know of since then, and if form goes its way, has no intention of meaningful consultancy with anyone, certainly not paying customers, before we see a final decision.
I had little hope for both these two when they came to power. Yes, Downton and Clarke are a pairing not to yearn for, in any way, but both were bumbling morons with little to suggest they were going to go headlong into a pitched battle with the existing customer base outside a difficult winter and a disinterested player. After that war, and the disaster at the 2015 World Cup both had shown the scars and were taken from the frontline. We heard plenty of nonsense, but good grief, they didn’t think they could do everything.
Harrison shows all the traits of a zealot. Graves shows all the signs of a dictator. Empowered by making the county turkeys vote for Christmas they weren’t going to stop at that. Where those who loved the ECB’s bastard child, the Blast, were labelled as obsessives by these charlatans, now we will see the term “traditionalist” used as an insult. If you quite like your five day tests, with the capacity to absorb some loss of time, to enable results on all forms of wickets, where roads have to be true roads, and still can provide some excitement, then you will gradually be filed under the Luddite category, and not being innovative, flexible or with the times. We aren’t suddenly going to get four day 420 over test matches. Leave off. We’ll get four day 360 over tests if we are lucky. We’ll make the game more exciting by having all the things that get disparaged in county games of yore. Limited first innings. Declarations of a ridiculous nature. The higher the level of the sport, the less teams are prepared to lose in the pursuit of a win, especially in an Ashes series, for example.
So let’s take a look at the quotes in the Guardian I posted last night.
ECB has no firm position on the staging of four-day Test matches. We can see benefits that more compact scheduling might deliver but are sensitive to the potential effects of any change to the traditional format. Careful consideration is required to support the right decisions for the wider game, and on-field matters are key.”
ECB does have a firm position. Both Graves and Empty Suit want them. They put the position, get the others to agree, usually with coercion and meaningless consultation and only something that might cost them their jobs can stop them. The weasel words in this are not those after the first 10. It’s the first 10. No-one I can recall, has really called for 4 day test matches. Many many more have called for a Test Championship, but somehow, some way, a format has never stuck, and ironically one of the arguments against is “what if the Final is a draw”? Well, to make that event less likely, let’s shorten the game. That should work. Hey, as soon as the Gruesome Twosome open their traps, it’s game on.
It’s not shortening test matches, it’s “compact scheduling”. Or as I call it, taking your punters for mugs. And as far as these people are concerned, they’ve already carried out their “careful consideration”. They don’t just put these things out there by chance. They get a journo, in the same stable as Shiny Toy, an advocate for all these ECB ideas, to put it out there. We have had enough experience of Nick Hoult, a top journo, to know he doesn’t make this shit up. These things seem to be done for a reason. I’d plump for kite flying.
Further consultation will therefore take place before far-reaching decisions are made. “We would welcome more insight on the effects for players and fans in order to help the game make a fully-informed decision on any proposal,” added the ECB’s spokesman. “It is important that cricket is prepared to innovate in all formats of the game where it can help drive interest, accessibility or improvement.
I’d be more impressed with your commitment to consultation if you hadn’t already flagged what you want, haven’t got a firm proposal to put to anyone on over rates, floated this two years ago, been told what was wrong with it, and still have no clue what to do, but you plough on regardless because, let’s be frank, you need your space for the new T20 competition that has hardly grabbed the imagination because we don’t really know how you intend to make it work. Meanwhile you’ve signed a massive deal with Sky who aren’t going to be too impressed if “compact scheduling” means less international cricket. So what precisely are you going to consult with us. A fait accompli from the brains of IMG, in alliance with ISM, and flogged to you by a Costcutter genius. People who are in their posts with not one vote cast by the paying public. Happy days, eh?
Also, when someone innovates and drives accessibility, my hand gets even tighter over my wallet.
Let’s finish with the final words of the ECB on this matter.
“Above all, ECB is committed to a healthy and competitive future for Test match cricket, here and around the world.”
The Big Three money grab never really happened, did it?
Scheduling 15 Ashes tests in 2 years never really happened, did it?
L’Affaire Pietersen never really happened, did it?
Playing injured bowlers never really happened, did it?
If they are committed to it, Lord help us.
Actually, it’s not the end. I can’t let this lie…
Last year Graves said about four-day Tests: “Every Test match would start on a Thursday, with Thursday and Friday being corporate days and then Saturday and Sunday the family days.
There’s your sporting leader (and sounds like there’s plenty of open-mindedness), right there. Care about those corporates, let the rest fend for themselves. It’s as if the “family” days are where these keen fans can take over those wonderful corporate facilities, and stuff you ordinary Joe if you want to be there for the first two days. I can’t believe a man steeped in cricket could ever think like that. The first two days are for low-grade bribery, the last two are for the peasants. What a leader. What a clown.
Wow youmare on a roll Dmitri. Amd rightly this has got under your skin. Everything we have been complaining about on here for the last 4 years.
If a former IMG employee is involved you can bet it’s all about the money. And there are plenty of people in the media who have vested interests and conflicts of interests to be pushing this too. 4 day tests are not going to bring in any new people. Find me a person who sits at home for the first 4 days of a test match paying no attention to it, but will suddenly say he is coming if they reduce it to 4 days. Why not come to any of the first 3 days if you feel like that? It’s a crock.
This in my mind will create many drawn games, and will devolve into a classic find solutions to a problem that didn’t need to be created in the first place. A bit like taking a giant dump in the middle of the living room, and then trying to come up with solutions to the mess. Instead of taking the dump in the toilet as tradition demands or clearing the mess up quickly people start to suggest fencing off the turd, and placing a flag in it so people won’t walk into it. Buying gallons of air fresher to waft away the stink.
As the draws pile up the experts will suggest we have shorter boundaries to encourage more attacking play. Or because they can’t get the overs in before dark having floodlit matches with both a red ball and then switching to a pink ball as it gets dark. The list of fuck ups will roll out to cover for the fact that it was a stupid idea to begin with.
Why I liked cricket in the first place was because of its complexities. Different skill sets, tactical strategies, the idea of playing for a draw if winning was out of the running. All the things IMG and American backers can’t stand. Dumbed down sugarery shite is what the public wants in their minds (and they specialise in dumbed down morons) and so they will give it to us in great big shovel loads.
Time for player power I feel. That is if the players want to keep 5 day cricket they will have to make a stand. The county chairman are hopeless surrender monkeys, and have proved themselves useless at standing up for the game. As to the fans, the old test lovers are too small in number so we can shout but we will be ignored.
What I resent the most are these thieves, and mafia types who have stolen the game from us. It doesn’t belong to you…… so stop destroying it for a quick buck.
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I reckon that what we need is an Indian Kerry Parker who realises that the market for long format cricket, if properly sold, is fucking enormous (sorry for the language, I’ll pay into the swear box). He/she can buy out the ICC and make a killing. I say that as a committed anti-capitalist who hates media oligarchs. I see little other hope (unless Atherton’s opposition is evidence of News Corps’ position).
Either that or we go full on Kurdish style and take over the game ourselves. A las barricadas, companeras
Nice article. While I do think that test cricket has a lot of problems in attracting audiences currently and except in a few places does not turn a profit (given current payments to players, associations etc), I do not see how reducing it to 4 days will attract a bigger audience.
The same issues that plague 5 day test cricket will plague 4 day test cricket in addition to new ones like more injuries to players. It is not likely that new audiences would come to a 4 day test match instead of a 5 day one.
So, the real intention is to cut costs of the extra day. While this saving could be significant, if in any case, you are funding test cricket with t-20/odi moneys, why tinker with the format?
After all how much of cost would you save? most countries play less than 12 tests a year and costs of 12 days is not really going to be significant unless one schedules a odi in the day saved to make more money or a t-20
This would be like killing the golden goose.
As it is, even in India, there is a sense of fatigue with bilateral odis after t-20s and ipl. It is masked thanks to the fact that by luck or by design, we have a good possibly great team and thus people are still tracking the team but definitely there is a shift to the ipl and away from odis which can be seen once the bcci cricket revenues are auctioned.
Bilateral odis are not seen as meaningful especially. because india is beating all comers, there is still interest but I would call it a flagging interest and t-20s would be more popular than odis over time in India.
So , solution has to be to reduce bilateral odis to 3 an t-20s to 3 at the max rather than attempt to have 5/6 odis and if boards are interested in earning more money have a world cup every 2 years in both formats of t-20 and odis in every alternate year.
Though not relevant, I guess you guys will enjoy reading Rahul’s approach to India A and the emerging players. As of now, he seems to be doing a great job.
A great ex-pro in India, bringing along talent, giving back, being a force for good.
Meanwhile an ex-captain uses his considerable influence to get a (former) client (is he still with ISM in any capacity) in the test team for Australia on very limited evidence. Christ, Hales was a massive success compared to his prospective number 3.
If he’d used anything more modern than (literally) a felt-tip pen, he might have heard that TRJ is crocked, that Wood is too and that ‘Balance’ has two Ls in his name. His number 3 was predictable, but still made me snort.
I hope the reply from ‘jamestaylorjt’ saying “Vince? Are you insane?” really is from the ex-Notts guy (who would probably have sewn up said no.3 position by now)!
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Haven’t had time to keep up with LCL’s torrent of articles this weekend! Will do so asap, promise. Perhaps print them out to peruse in a leisurely manner over the long Autumn evenings after the season finally finishes. 🙂
In the meantime, Tim Wigmore has, once again, shown up the G’s staff writers by writing what needs to be said. $500,000 lost for every test. And yet those that make money on them are hoarding it all.
Wigmore’s wonderfulness isn’t in dispute – but I’d like to see some detailed examination of this claimed $500K loss and how it has been calculated.
That’s just to convince an old cynic like me that it isn’t self-serving bollocks.
Conspiracy hats on.
Somerset need to win to catch up the clubs above them and stay in division one. The two teams above are Middx and Hampshire. So yesterday from 170/3 Somerset collapsed to 230 odd all out. And then opened with a spinner and had Middx 18/3.
Meanwhile Hampshires opening day at Birmingham is washed out. If Somerset win, Hampshire need to win in 3 days to stay up.
Low and behold a pitch inspecter has turned up from Lords to look at the pitch. If he finds against Somerset then they are relegated, and two seasons running the relegation will have been decided off the field in a commitee room. And maybe benefiting the same club.
Need an apologist to argue that unfettered turbo-capitalism will save us? Step forward….
I particularly liked:
“The IPL’s popularity, however, is also driving adjacent business plans in the entertainment industry. Netflix in India recently unveiled plans for a new drama series based on cricket and corruption. Amazon is already streaming Inside Edge, a glitzy ten-part series drawing on similar themes”.
So the healthy of cricket is proven by two dramas about corruption in the game? A corruption manifestly obvious to those outside the game looking in but never examined seriously by insiders like Smith?
Incohate rage is the only reaction I can muster to the rest of it.
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And taking things to the next level we have:
Did I sleep through Christmas and it’s April 1st?
Lawrence Booth gets extra ECB brownie points for shoe-horning in Morgan’s form to the broader issues.
Once maybe “good journalism” but twice is a case of bad plumbing:
“Alex Hales will be considered but there is a feeling in the England camp that he might be susceptible to quick bowling on Australian pitches”.
Unlike Ballance and Vince who obviously look rock-solid in that department.
“England look certain to include two uncapped players at Test level”.
I thought they only wanted players they’d already looked at? One rule for batsmen and one for spinners/keepers it would appear.
“Mason Crane, who is considered a star in the making”.
I hope they’re right but based on a f/c career average of 42 and a T20I career of 8-0-62-1 the supporting evidence looks pretty thin.
“England are carefully monitoring Durham’s Championship match against Worcestershire before they decide whether to pick the hugely talented but fragile pace bowler Mark Wood”.
Ah yes, one CC game is proof-positive of fitness for a tour of Australia!…
“Wood impressed after joining England for practice at Bristol”
….as is our old friend looking good in the nets!
I am so glad I could no longer give a monkey’s toss.
What an utter farce.
Oh, and then there’s Durham being asset-stripped in true turbo-capitalist style.
I used to think I could never grow to hate cricket in the same way I grew to hate football.
How terribly naïve that was of me.
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A crucial week in cricket-as-we’ve-known-it heading for the knacker’s yard and what does Bull do? Recycles the Selvey playbook about No.3….
I thought it was only polite to contribute to the demolition job.
The DT Ashes’ selection panel have Vince at 13 in their hierarchical rankings and references to hints from highly-placed sources.
Their profile of Wood mentions “an injection” (of what? the winter flu virus?) in the CC game against Sussex. Is anyone keeping count of how many that is?
I really don’t know why they bother having a selection panel. The Vince thing was being signaled a week ago with various leaks.
(THE ECB DO NOT LEAK, AND NEVER HAVE LEAKED.)
As for Hales I don’t know for sure if he will make it at Test level but he is a destructive batsman who is in form this year, and on flater pitches albeit bouncier he may be a very dangerous player.
I still don’t understand why they rate Rashid for ODI cricket but not tests. His run rate at tests is apparently the problem. So wouldn’t that be a bigger problem in ODI cricket? They want him for his wicket taking in ODI cricket but not test cricket? Odd to say the least.
Once again they don’t pick on merrit or form and face fitting is very important.
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Some breaking news:
Just after I finished tomorrow’s preview. Remarkable how that didn’t leak.
Why on earth was Stokes playing in this utterly irrelevant series in any case; ditto Root, Bairstow and Ali?
Of course that isn’t a question uberfurher Strauss would ever dare answer
Yes,it’s amazing what they can keep secret for a few days when they want to.
And yet at other times people know exactly what hsppened in a meeting that was held 5 mins ago.
Hales involved as well so that’s his trip to Aus up in smoke if he had one in the first place.
To quote Barney Ronay, was it mbargo’d?
Is this the future of cricket? Is punching somebody in a bar or nightclub now part of the person spec. for being vice captain in a team contesting the Ashes? (Obviously it’s a Police matter and investigations are still ongoing, innocent until proven gulty, blah, blah…)