World Cup Match 18 – India v New Zealand (But Lots More On Other Stuff)

I’m publishing this early. Have a look tonight, people, before any possible game tomorrow.

A short intro into for the contest. Both teams have 100% records. New Zealand making the most of what, on paper, looked like a nice start by beating the weaker three of the Asian nations. India taking out South Africa and Australia. All is set for a really exciting clash. Are New Zealand for real? Are India as good as they look? Will Trent Bridge contain two sides of considerable power?

Ah hell. The weather…

It is set to rain very heavily overnight, then the forecast for tomorrow is:
Mostly cloudy and largely dry at first tomorrow, though there may be some early brightness. As the day progresses, showers will become widespread and heavy at times.

The rain radar projection suggests the afternoon will be drier, but who the hell knows these days.

India have to replace Mr Dhawan, and it will be intriguing to see how they go about it. Will we see Risabh Pant? I hope so. Good luck to all concerned. I’ll be in meetings most of the day.

I can’t comment on today’s match between Australia and Pakistan as I was detained in the office as we are short staffed at the moment. I’m writing this just before I retire to my bed, so please forgive me. Australia now move to three wins out of four, Pakistan have three points from four games, and people are comparing this to Australia 1992…. oh well, I guess they always will.

As you may have guessed from the comments left on the Australia v Pakistan game, there have been a number of articles that have left me shaking my fist at a cloud once more. There was Andy Bull just coming to the conclusion that 14 years of England international cricket being hidden behind a paywall might have done some totally unforeseen damage to the participation levels. I don’t know if these idiots thought cricket was nearer to football than it was to say, rugby league, but they’ve been proven terribly wrong. Trying to tell us that they’ve been on the side of the angels all along is just taking us for mugs. I don’t have time, and my memory has somewhat erased, to remember the trigger, but Bull has rarely been on the side of the great unwashed and too easily persuaded by administration and perhaps his previous guiding light at The Guardian. The fact is that if the sport is on one of the major TV channels, it gets people watching it. This tournament could be on Sky One, and it won’t get the audience they think it should. There’s little rhyme and reason, but there were, are, plenty who will tell you otherwise.

The twitter diversion from Selvey was as crap as usual. He comes on to say that just because he didn’t (on behalf of his county) vote to continue with Graves’ retention of the Chairmanship didn’t mean he was disagreeing with the ECB on the Hundred. We never felt it would, Selvey, we never for one minute. Before you knew it we were on to 2019’s version of “move on”. If you don’t know what I mean, stop me if you’ve read this before. “They’ve decided this is the way forward, and for the good of the game, it has to succeed, so we should get behind it. That’s because the alternatives are much worse.”

I’m just not even surprised at these clowns and their chutzpah. It’s not the long-suffering cricket fan’s fault that Giles Clarke put the money raising of Sky above the long-term health of the game, kicking the can as far down the road as he could on the back of the 2005 Ashes, which, remember, he was lucky to get in the run-in to the new Sky contract. So they gained some cash, and lost a generation. Oh happy days. Then you’ve peddled the unproveable “truth” that without the cash, the game would die. Would have died. We should all be really grateful for a ruthless business like Sky giving the sport its honourable support.

By coincidence Sanjay Patel was at it in the Standard in an interview with Will MacPherson. Sean linked it in the comments below, but it’s magnificent in its arrogance.

“Even Patel — who refers to The Hundred as “countdown cricket” in reference to the new scoreboard, designed to make the game easier to understand — is aware that it is not a panacea to cricket’s problems, an ageing audience and declining participation.”

Remember people, and as someone soon to be moving into his 6th decade I am categorised in this, ageing audiences are the problem. We, us, me, are the problem. A nearly 50 year old man, still writing a blog, dedicating time and effort to a game I love and care about, and I am one of cricket’s “problems”. You should be on your knees thankful we still give a stuff, Macpherson and/or Patel. We aren’t your problem, we are keeping the game alive with our income PAYING for SKY, our income PAYING your ticket prices, and as you will see later, the people you NEED to sell your effing Countdown Cricket.

“We launched a strategy in January, Inspiring Generations,” he told Standard Sport. “In it, there are 25 initiatives to grow the game in England and Wales. The Hundred is just one of them. We don’t think for one second that you can put one tournament in and have mass growth. It doesn’t work like that. It’s about everything working together.”

A pity the ECB didn’t think of that back in 2005, but hey, blame the audience, not the architects for the poor sound quality of the auditorium. WHY CAN’T THEY HEAR?

But it’s this that set my blood pressure rising on the 126 home today.

Patel explained: “Whether you’re a cricket fan who likes The Hundred or not, we all share a love for the game and have a desire to see it get bigger.

“I’d say to people who don’t like it, I respect and understand that but use this as an opportunity to bring your grandkids, your kids, your family. This format will deliver for those audiences, so use it as a chance to grow the game.”

A desire to see it get bigger! You have to be kidding me. Who the f*****g hell (sorry, I just can’t do this without an expletive) shrunk the game? It wasn’t us. It was your precious organisation who are now as addicted to Sky money and India baling us out every four years when they visit, as any heroin addict is to their next hit. I can’t live without it….. You took a sport at the most recent peak of its powers, with some real star names, charisma, excitement and achievement. Then you hid it away behind a paywall so the players, and your administrators, could rake in a few more quid. You took T20 and milked the golden goose (yes, I know you can’t milk a goose), and then now treat it as a mangy old bird. You took England stars further away from the domestic game, and wondered why county cricket struggled even more. You did everything in your power to shrink the game for additional money, and now you sit there, and have the absolute gall to tell me that it is up to me, and my generation to bale you the hell out? I think I’ll quote my response:

We (the ECB) brought this in when few people wanted it. We did research that we didn’t share. We can’t handle basic stuff like releasing team names yet we call you obsessives. We lie to you in interviews. We don’t answer questions. We discuss nothing until we’ve decided and then it’s a load of nonsense. We pay ourselves ludicrous money, and charge you more to watch England. We decide you abide.

You have treated us with contempt. Your organisation told us to pipe down and move on. You created a schism in the fan base over a scapegoating. You insulted our intelligence with Downton. You had the press singing from your hymn sheet. You had the insulting contempt to label those not in your cabal “outside cricket”. You lied, you obfuscated, you sold out, you swivelled, you cited trust when it suited, you did everything in your (lack of) wit to get shot of the problem few. You have a supine, almost ridiculously so, ex-pro cabal sucking at your teat. You had the nerve, your CEO, to label people who quite liked their county team as “obsessives” as if those that stuck by the game were the oddballs, and not those who actually celebrated pissing the next generation up the wall for a few quid. Words cannot adequately summarise my rage at these charlatans asking me to make the game bigger. Here’s who gets the credit if it somehow works. One guess. It won’t be us 50 year old plus cricket tragics. They’ll just ask us to pay more. It’ll go to Harrison and Patel, and they’ll demand they are paid more.

“Everything we do has to be designed to make cricket reach above where it is,” he said. “We are keen to talk to young people. Three-quarters of fans learn to love the game before 16, so how do we nurture that? There’s been a major process to get to that point. We have done lots of work in all these cities, we asked young people what it means to come from there. We think it will appeal to a broad set of people and current cricket fans, too.”

Except putting an Ashes test live on free to air? How might that help, Sanjay, given you are doing everything to make cricket reach above where it is? No. You’ve made sure that the next five years, we might get a token T20 international friendly for the plebs to watch, where our C team might get a game. Oh, and the Hundred. I’ll leave the taking apart of countdown cricket to Danny. He doesn’t need my help.

If this article hadn’t made me mad enough, then come Chris pointing out the Times of India article about Michael Holding criticising the umpires in the West Indies v Australia game. Let’s not worry too much about the umpire-bashing for that’s a red herring. What this is about is commentary is now not about telling you what’s happening, adding insight occasionally and insightfully, aiding and educating the watching spectator, bringing the joy, and anger, of the game in front of you. It’s about cheerleading, and promoting the product. Ex-pros with the odd broadcaster there to sell you the game, not tell you the game. It’s not new. It’s the way of the world. Sport isn’t about the competition, it’s about the money. It probably always was, but it is certainly without doubt now. The evolution must be monetised. The product sells, and we don’t want someone pointing out where things aren’t working. Good on Mikey for standing up for himself. Stay in Newmarket, sir. Those horses respect more than the donkeys running the game.

There’s more. Lawrence Booth’s piece in the Mail redefines insipid. The ICC turning the players into cats has enraged some:

This is funny, because we know something about who is working for the ICC at this World Cup and also, if it weren’t so misplaced, it rather reflects on how we feel the press have been with our governing authority – tame pussycats. Remember Downton aplomb. Damn site more nonsensical than the above “horseshit”. Critics of this piece often talk about making love to cover drives, for heaven’s sake.

I’m off for a lie down. I’m feeling quite unwell.

Oh, before I go, and before hell freezes over, Paul Newman wrote a very moving piece on his interview with Robin Smith. Nonoxcol linked it in the comments to the game before last. I do recommend it. It’s one of the reasons Newman annoys me. No-one doubts his love for the game. I certainly don’t. But he’s doing no-one any favours most of the time, siding often, not always, with the rampant mob running our sport. A damn pity he pulls his punches with them.

Comments, if the game is played, below. Hope you enjoyed the return of angry me. I feel like exploding.

Dmitri

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World Cup Match 17 – Australia vs Pakistan

Rain, Rain go away, come again another day. After 2 washouts in a row, which will no doubt have the Aussie fans whingeing that the tournament shouldn’t be held in England, the prognosis for today’s play doesn’t look a whole lot better. The weather in Taunton looks to be a mixture of cloud punctured by the odd regular shower and we don’t yet know how the drainage at the ground will cope with the sheer amount of water that has been dumped on it for the few days. The ICC have come out and said that it wouldn’t be logistically possible to have reserve days for all of the games, which I do actually agree with, it’s just a shame that a freak weather front is wreaking havoc with the schedule at the moment.

If we can fashion some sort of play today, then it wouldn’t surprise me if it were a reduced overs game, which might actually benefit Pakistan rather than Australia. Pakistan continue to be an enigma wrapped in a riddle, superb as they were against England one day and then poor as poor can be as they were against the West Indies. I suppose that just adds to the entertainment as to which Pakistan side will actually turn up but it must be a nightmare to be an ardent follower. As for Australia, the 36 run defeat against India, who must now be seen as tournament favourites, rather flatters the Aussies as to how competitive they were in that game. The bowling is still stronger than the batting, especially if David Warner decides on another ‘go slow’ approach to the innings, which often leaves Steve Smith having to rescue the innings with one or two rapid contributions from the lower middle order.

On another note, it has been reported that an average of only 550,000 people tuned into the first few England games of this World Cup, another shiny example of why short term greed does long term harm. There isn’t another sport that would purposely hide a World Cup away from Terrestrial TV (and the Channel 4 highlights at 1am in the morning are just a pathetic joke), but I suppose cricket isn’t like other sports. The ICC have made it clear with a 10 team World Cup that cricket is for the privileged few and certainly not for growing the game amongst the masses. If England do end up exiting the competition early, then i dread to think what the viewing figures will end up looking – it certainly won’t be pretty either way!

As ever, if we do get some form of a game on today or if you just fancy a rant about something else, then please do comment below.