World Cup Matches 44 & 45: Sri Lanka vs India, Australia vs South Africa (and a bit of TV, FTA and the ICC)

And so we arrive at the end of the group stage, and more by luck than judgement, there is even a little bit to play for in the last two games. Not in terms of qualification though, after Pakistan’s always likely to be vain attempt to gatecrash the top four ended in victory, but not by enough, against Bangladesh.

Thus, it’s merely the order of the top four that is in question, and the incentive, such as it is, of who plays whom in the semi-finals. The most likely outcome is that Australia will play New Zealand at Old Trafford, and that India will play England, once again at Edgbaston. It’s probable that India and Australia would prefer to play New Zealand, both because of their recent stumbles, and also because England are unquestionably a side everyone else fears somewhat, even if they would certainly feel they can be beaten. But it’s hard to see beyond victories for both the Big Three members playing tomorrow, and that the semi-finalists includes them plus England is unsurprising, if somewhat depressing. But then, the whole structure of cricket at a global level is intended to allow them to maximise their income and power, so it is exactly as desired in the corridors of power. In most sports, an unexpected outcome in a tournament is something to be celebrated, only cricket responds by trying to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Today Sky Sports announced that if England reach the World Cup final, it will be broadcast free to air. At present it isn’t quite clear what “free to air” would mean, but it appears highly unlikely it will be via a mainstream channel with a large reach. This isn’t so surprising, there are other major sporting events on the same day, such as the men’s Wimbledon final and the British Grand Prix (another outstanding piece of scheduling for cricket), and clearing the decks for six hours of cricket at short notice is somewhat impractical, albeit it would be amusing to see the response if a main broadcaster expressed interest in doing so. What seems more likely is for it to be on something like Sky Mix, or even online via Youtube or Sky’s own app and website – the BT approach to screening the Champions League final.

Such an initiative is to be welcomed, but the focus and pressure on Sky to allow it to be shown free rather lets the ICC specifically, and the ECB more generally given this tournament isn’t in their purview, off the hook. The World Cup is behind a paywall because the policy of the ICC, as instructed by its members, was to maximise revenue in their TV contracts. The moment that was the intention, pay TV was always going to be the only outcome. The principal contract for England, India and Australia is held by Star Sports, who paid $2 billion back in 2014 for the rights to ICC tournaments up to 2023. It was for them to then sub-contract to national broadcasters and, naturally as a business, to maximise their revenue accordingly. Everything stems from that, the drive for revenue at every stage, and the reason why such tournaments not only won’t be on free to air, but effectively can’t be.

This isn’t Sky’s fault, they too are a business trying to make money, but it is the ICC’s for making the financial aspect the key one. To suggest, as some notable employees of Sky have done, that this is down to the free to air broadcasters failing to bid is a specious argument – they simply cannot financially compete on the same level as pay TV, and see little point in spending money preparing bids, or even considering preparing bids, for something they cannot win. It almost certainly is the case that the kind of wall to wall coverage required is now only in the purview of the satellite broadcasters here, but it’s still a matter of justifying the status quo by pretending that the creation of this situation is entirely separate from the bidding processes in the current market.

Where it does get more interesting is in the argument as to whether some cricket on free to air would benefit Sky themselves. This is one of those that only those inside broadcasting (we’re outside that too) can answer, but holding expensive rights to a sport in major decline cannot be a healthy financial position for them either, even if the fear in the future is that cricket sinks so far that Sky will be able to buy all the rights for a song as no one else cares. It seems unlikely this will happen for as long as there is more than one pay TV broadcaster, for cricket is a boon for them, filling lots of screen time for comparatively little cost compared to, say, drama. In any case, to say no one else cares about cricket is a weak defence. Firstly, the single positive of the Hundred, that there will be some shown on the BBC, implies otherwise to at least some extent, but more than that, if more cricket is of no interest to the terrestrial broadcasters, it’s because cricket isn’t of sufficient interest to them. But it was, at one point. And now it isn’t. For the ECB to have failed to nurture their broadcast partnerships over the last 15 years has been an abrogation of their responsibilities to the game. At another time, a World Cup the majority were unable to watch would have provoked howls of outrage. Now it is largely indifference whether they can or they can’t, and limited awareness that it’s even on.

Equally, there is the wider argument about the role of the various governing bodies. It is simply wrong to argue that all the ICC can possibly do is sell the contracts to make as much money as possible, because it isn’t what other sports do at all. Wimbledon could certainly make far more from selling off their event to the highest bidder, but refuse to because they value the exposure they get on the BBC. More pertinently, World Rugby, for their own showcase World Cup, specifically talk about finding free to air partners. Indeed, their wording is very precise:

“Securing deals with major free-to-air broadcasters who are passionate about sport is central to World Rugby’s mission to make rugby accessible in a global context. With each Rugby World Cup we are broadening the sport’s reach and appeal through a broadcast and digital strategy that is aimed at reaching, engaging and inspiring new audiences within existing and emerging rugby markets.”

This is completely alien to the approach taken by cricket, to the point that it is diametrically opposed in almost every clause in that paragraph. Very few people are so single minded as to believe that everything should be on free to air, irrespective of contract value, and given World Rugby’s activities and attitudes in other areas, it’s hardly that they can be held up as notable supporters of the common man and woman in every aspect. But it is a striking difference in strategy, to intend the widest possible audience for their blue riband event.

It is highly noticeable that Sky appear to feel they are on the defensive about this whole subject. It’s not necessarily why they’ve made the decision to offer the final conditionally free, but also how some of their staff appear to be spending considerable time messaging cricket supporters and blogs with impassioned defences of their position. It’s a different approach, certainly, and perhaps not a coordinated one, but the righteous indignation, when it isn’t even them who are bearing the brunt of the annoyance, is interesting.

What the viewing figures might be for any final, broadcast for free, with England in it will be interesting. It really isn’t just the free aspect either – buried away on a minor channel that only subscribers are aware exists is not going to cause a dramatic change, although in a perfect scenario, a very tight, exciting final might just allow word of mouth to spread, and for non-adherents of the game to seek it out.

For this is a positive, without any question. How big a positive is more debatable. If the stars were to align, then just maybe it could grab attention, even with all the competition. This is what every cricket fan surely wants.

One other small item. It’s been reported that the other counties are displeased with Warwickshire for offering guaranteed contracts with the Birmingham Phoenix franchise in an effort to lure them to the county. This is the kind of esoteric, obscure item that barely anyone notices, but has a big impact. For the Hundred franchises are meant to be entirely separate to the counties. But what did the other counties expect? That this would be adhered to? That it wasn’t really going to go down the route of concentrating power and wealth in the hands of the chosen ones? We get accused of being cynical too often, but to not see this coming is extraordinarily naive on the part of those upset by it. It’s more likely to have been a deliberate strategic approach by a governing body that has long disliked having 18 counties to deal with.

Update: the article concerning the recruitment for the Hundred has been pulled, and according to George Dobell, a retraction sought. Curioser and curioser.

Comments as ever below.


70 thoughts on “World Cup Matches 44 & 45: Sri Lanka vs India, Australia vs South Africa (and a bit of TV, FTA and the ICC)

  1. Marek Jul 5, 2019 / 7:33 pm

    Well, I guess that whether the Warks/Birmingham thing is a secret little plan of those lovelies at the ECB will be revealed by how they deal with it. Isn’t it illegal in the rules of the Big Bash League? I wonder whether it will be in the rules of the Hundred and/or the county competitions.

    By the way, was it really that predictable before the event that Australia would be one of the semi-finalists? I know they had seemed to be on an upward curve since around March, but even last winter they were in a bit of a mess in all formats…and a lot of people were predicting in March that West Indies would be one of the semi-finalists based on the impression that they were on an upward curve!


    • quebecer Jul 5, 2019 / 11:39 pm

      I suppose one thing is that when they looked a mess, they were shorn of their best two batsmen., as well as going through a huge upheaval (self inflicted, of course). That’d do it for a lot of teams.

      One point about the suspensions given to Smith and Warner – they were always going to be back in plenty of time for this World Cup.


  2. Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 7:52 pm

    I hope the counties excluded from the 16.4 enjoy their pay off from the ECB. It was totally predictable that this would happen. Some may suggest this was the whole reason for franchise cricket in the first place.

    It’s not as if Warwickshire didn’t telegraph the road ahead when they rebranded their 20/20 team into Birmingham a few years ago.

    Don’t see the point of Sky employees tweeting out about FTA coverage. They don’t make the decisions. I hope they are not being told to do it by management. It just increases the general cynicism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 7:54 pm

      That’s the interesting thing Mark. I don’t mean office juniors, I mean senior, publicly known staff. They’re not tweeting it, they’re contacting people on Twitter and messaging directly about it all. It’s decidedly odd.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 8:25 pm

        I can understamd they want to defend their corner, but really odd for staff no matter however senior to get involved. (Unless they have been told to spin)

        It’s all academic unless England get to the final anyway. I was wondering if England didn’t get to the final, if it might be more likely they would show it FTA. After all, Australia Vs India on the same day as the Wimbledon final may not be a big draw in the UK, except for the Indian community.


      • Rooto Jul 5, 2019 / 8:26 pm

        We know that it’s the ICC to blame, but I reckon a lot of fans just equate Sky with sports coverage, for better or worse, and are ignorant of the technicalities. (I didn’t know about Star Sports’ international role until now). So I could easily believe that the company is getting grief on Twitter, etc, and would feel the need to get their side of the story out there.


        • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 8:29 pm

          Very few people pay much attention to any of this stuff. It startles me how many of my friends, cricket fanatics, tell me they don’t understand half of what we post. It really throws me. Mention the downgrading of the RLODC and they’re amazed.

          People don’t know, or indeed care.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Jul 6, 2019 / 8:57 am

            That is very true!

            Although, I think some people who didn’t necessarily agree with us on the KP issue have slowly had their eyes opened about the true nature of the ECB and it’s agenda in the last year or so.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Rooto Jul 6, 2019 / 9:11 am

            This is so true, Mark. The County Cricket blogs which I frequent – while still being as whimsical and as much of an acquired taste as ever – are a hotbed of anger and mistrust towards the ECB nowadays. They have virtually no defenders amongst cricket fans.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Jul 6, 2019 / 9:27 am


            I think this is why loyal supporters of the 16.4 have moved their position from saying people like me are not the target audience, and dismissing traditional cricket supporters as a problem to some tame journalists now begging us to “give it a chance.”


          • thelegglance Jul 6, 2019 / 10:15 am

            My favourite is the use of the politician’s syllogism:

            We must do something
            This is something
            Thus we must do this.

            And they think it should be supported on that basis. Personally, I do think that some cricket on FTA is a good thing, and a tacit admission they’ve made a Horlicks of it, but it didn’t need to be at such cost.

            Likewise, I’ve had many an argument with journalists about the way they talk about “the game” and only mean the professional, county players and staff. They do not mean the game.

            Liked by 2 people

    • Riverman21 Jul 6, 2019 / 10:26 am

      Hi Mark.

      Whilst I share your frustration I don’t have the same condemnation for the non Test playing counties signing up. They were in the proverbial train carriage in Compeigne.

      We have seen how dissenters at Surrey were dealt with.

      The ECB recognised the opportunity assisted by several factors. Opposition would not be mobilised through social media. What % of county members would be regular users of Twitter? Counties accept their existence depends on ECB money and members realise the counties are in a bind. However it is a quid pro quo as without them who will nurture new talent? We can now see talent will be fast tracked toward franchise counties.

      It’s not a particularly cunning plan but it will do the job… As long as the 100 gets off the ground. This is the final battle. A mass grass roots boycott by current fans of t20 would be the final chance to stop the destruction of the county system. Lancs Action Group @lancscccaction are beginning to mobilise under #notofranchisecricket

      If people reading think county cricket is worth saving I encourage you to get behind it.


      • Mark Jul 6, 2019 / 3:18 pm

        Riverman 21,

        I agree with you that the counties are not in a strong position, but I think they have been very naive in the way they have taken on face value what the ECB have told them. I also think they have sold themselves very cheaply, and if the story about Warwickshire is true and this is the beginning of the 16.4 counties tempting away many players from the smaller counties the money they got from the ECB will be scant compensation.

        This is why I will have nothing to do with it because I see what the agenda really is. As you say, if the 16.4 gets off the ground English cricket will be completely changed in a way that has no appeal to me. Now it may turn out to be a huge success, and makes a load of money. Well good luck to them.

        One of the problems and I have said this for years is the counties are incapable of acting together. They could have prevented the ECB from taking an unhealthy control of the game in England. At the end of the day they have the grounds, and the players under contract. They could in theory break away from the ECB and run cricket themselves. (Won’t happen of course and too many big counties would not go with them. )

        What annoys me is that chap (I think he had something to do with Somerset.) who was at the ECB who voted for all this stuff and then resigns and starts moaning about it all.

        I do not see any difference between the launch of 20/20 and the launch of the 16.4. Except the franchising of cricket. That is what this is really about. And if they can break the smaller counties they won’t care if the 16.4 is a failure. It will have done, as you say, its job.


  3. Rooto Jul 5, 2019 / 8:19 pm

    What is the general feeling about the idea expressed by the Guardian OBO writer today? Namely that this Sky ‘backtrack’ was always likely, in order to get some good headlines, and that it’ll probably happen again if India beat England on Thursday. Another backtrack, further good headlines and the Indian community in UK being more switched on to cricket and so actually more views if their team plays. So, it’ll be shown with or without England.
    That was the idea, but it seems a bit far-fetched to me. After all, major media companies (Sky, and the newspapers which would generate the positive headlines) don’t generally take the BAME groups into account much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 8:38 pm

      I think it’s quite possible that they were going to do it, although the haste in which Liam Plunkett had to “clarify” his comments yesterday might suggest that it was not the plan to go FTA. I’m afraid I take anything the Guardian says about Sky with a pinch of salt. They seem to have become Sky’s biggest cheerleader since Murdoch sold the company.

      The thing is, I can’t imagne many people are going to sign up for just the final. So it’s not as if Sky will lose much money by offering the final for free. If you like cricket and can afford it surely you would have signed up for the whole World Cup?

      I think the woman’s World Cup and the start of Wimbledon with a 15 year old knocking out a Williams sister on FTA has been an unwelcome background to a cricket World Cup that has past by un noticed by most people.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Marek Jul 5, 2019 / 8:24 pm

    Wow! A retraction sought! It really is true then.

    Maybe somebody’s words were twisted…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 6:45 am

    Pakistan got eliminated on rain (and anyone who was making a case for India’s aborted run chase against England on Net Run Rate must have feared losing by 600 runs against Sri Lanka or something of the sort – very realistic).

    New Zealand lost all games against the top 5 teams (barring India, rain), but beat all teams ranked 6 to 10, including a heavy win against Sri Lanka that boosted their NRR beyond anything that Pakistan could overhaul. Pakistan beat teams #3 and #4, but was more inconsistent than the lower-ranked teams. Also, their defeat against India was heavy, denting their Net Run Rate.

    So basically, New Zealand got rewarded twice for the washouts. One that Pakistan could not boost their Net Run Rate against Sri Lanka (while New Zealand certainly did), and once that they were saved Net Run Rate by no play being possible against India. For a first and second tie-breaker that is appalling to say the least – again no team controls the rain, so to be penalised on the first two metrics for no fault of their own is a bit much.

    The only metrics that are not affected by washouts are tiebreaker 3 (head to head) and 4 (seeding). I am not a big fan of using head to head as a second tiebreaker (after points), but at least it makes more sense than penalising / rewarding teams twice for a washout.

    Would probably have made more sense to include a SB-tie break (used in chess for instance). You get SB points: 0 for a loss, half of the points of your opponent in case of a washout / tie, and full points for defeating a team. That would have left:
    New Zealand 32.5 (with India, South Africa and Sri Lanka still in the mix, so the number would increase for them) Pakistan 39 (with South Africa, Sri Lanka still in the mix for them, the number might increase). Since the results against South Africa and New Zealand mirror each other, New Zealand cannot gain ground on the basis of that game. They can gain ground on Pakistan, but that requires India to win, and that would gain them a relative 1 point on SB – not enough.

    In other words Pakistan would have qualified, since New Zealand cannot overtake Pakistan on this metric. It is also a metric that ensures that all games are relevant, and rewards teams for causing upsets. But we all know how the ICC is most afraid of two things:
    1. Good governance
    2. Upsets

    Liked by 1 person

    • Metatone Jul 6, 2019 / 7:53 am

      One suggestion I saw was a tweaked DLS (Duckworth etc) based system. AIUI it would not have automatically given Pakistan qualification but would have given them a target for beating Bangla that was at least plausible in the context of the tournament. (I can’t remember the exact figure, but I remember thinking “well, at least it’s possible…”)

      Not as good as SB, but perhaps easier to sell overall.


      • Metatone Jul 6, 2019 / 8:03 am

        One thing that annoyed me was people defending NRR as “being like Goal Difference” – but the problem is that if you get a real bowlers pitch and end up batting first, you can get skittled… and the way cricket works is that 9 times out of 10 the opposition knocks off the low total v quickly, T20 style (if you only need to get 105, as the WI did, there’s basically no fear about wickets, so you just hit out) and the NRR gain/loss is too massive to reel back over 8 games.

        A comparable massive win in recent football WC terms is Germany 7-1 Brazil – but across 8 more matches, it’s certainly possible to get the GD back to positive.


      • dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 8:59 am

        A tweaked DLS could work, but I fear that it is extremely hard to get the math right in the face of reality (changing conditions, changing behaviour of the wicket becoming more pronounced as the game goes on, injuries, batting depth of different sides – England’s tail is much better than say the tail of India or West Indies but DLS does not care; teams may also decide to play a pinch hitter up front, but that gets counted as a full specialist batsmen, even if he is just a #8 / #9 slogger). How do you mathematically determine a par score to begin with?

        If you bowl out a side for 120 due to overhead conditions, and are struggling to stay ahead of the DLS par score in good batting conditions, have you really played better than if you bowl out a side for 120 on a good batting wicket, but are also struggling with the bat?

        For individual games these problems are far less important than in a tournament.


        • Marek Jul 6, 2019 / 11:34 am

          Call me a cynic, but what they really need to get sorted is reserve days.

          It really isn’t very difficult–it just needs to have three sets of TV equipment in one country at the same time rather than two, and a willingness to have (potentially) three games running simultaneously instead of two. That is, it’s an issue of willingness not logistics.

          They managed it fine in 1999, which had six fewer games in eight fewer days.


          • thelegglance Jul 6, 2019 / 11:37 am

            They have them for the semi and final, but I do have a degree of sympathy for them on this – in that it’s not quite as straightforward as that, given the number of additional staff as well as having to calibrate additional sets of DRS equipment.

            Having said that, some suggested that it could be done by loading the spare days for the end of the group stage one after another, and that does make sense logistically and financially.


          • dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 1:22 pm

            You could also, in case of good weather (ie. reserve days not being necessary) have some exhibition games, by teams who are already eliminated. Public outreach or something of the sort.

            They could even have used them in 2019 to promote the Hundred … (and since they presumably want to attract international stars to the gig, really don’t see the problem with potentially having a fixture between say West Indies and South Africa in the format, just to see what it will be like)?

            Obviously there might be a rights issue, but nothing that cannot be solved.


  6. Metatone Jul 6, 2019 / 8:06 am

    I’d love SA to surprise Aus, partly because I’m already bored of the “invincible Aus” narrative starting up – and partly for the good of the game as a whole it would be great if SA could get some kind of morale boost. I really fear the SA game is going into a vicious circle where lack of international success feeds into reduced economics for the domestic game, throw in some general economic troubles in the domestic game and you can see how it can all bump along the bottom for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Metatone Jul 6, 2019 / 8:06 am

      (Of course, I have no expectation that SA can surprise Aus.)


    • dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 8:41 am

      It looks like cricket in South Africa is going down. Accelerated by Kolpak-signings, but going to happen regardless. Kolpaks ensure that there is no chance of success (and given that quite a few South Africans have access to a second passport, they could also opt to go that route; Marchant de Lange did for instance go and play domestic cricket in England courtesy of his wife’s citizenship), which will only feed into the cricket exodus.

      The money is not there (the Rand has crashed against major currencies, thanks Zuma), so money for salaries, and investment in infrastructure and talent is hardly there. Anything that brings in money will have to be pursued, and yet they have to balance that with transformation targets (getting Black kids to play).

      Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that is basically similar to forcing England to pick 10 state school kids, and just one public school kid, with none or maybe one of the state schools having any cricketing infrastructure. This is simply due to the economics of opportunity: as a proportion of the population Black kids have fewer opportunities compared to White kids. So while the White pool is small, the Black pool is even smaller, and yet the majority of players have to come from that smaller Black pool. Ntini was truly the exception to that rule, and he started playing more than 20 years ago.

      A top notch South Africa central contract is worth roughly $120 000 a year (so you can imagine what domestic players actually make). A T20 specialist can make that in the course of a few weeks, for far less work. Or pull a Keaton Jennings: get a central contract in England for one year, and make as much representing a country in one or two years as he could have over the course of his entire career for South Africa.

      It is no coincidence that after years of abstaining from T20, Amla suddenly decided to cash in a few years ago. It is simple economics, and given that cricket in South Africa has been in this state for quite some time, expect the next batch of players to be focusing far more on T20 than any other format of the game.

      So, if we’re lucky South Africa will end up like the West Indies, with T20 mercenaries plying their trade all over the world. If we’re less lucky, they may even go the way of Zimbabwe. There is massive discontent in the domestic game, so as dreadful as it sounds, I would not rule out the latter option.

      Either way, that basically means that in a few years time, only Tests between India, England and Australia are even remotely interesting. Against any other opposition, expect the opponents to need at least 3 innings to get whatever runs the other teams to get in two.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Jul 6, 2019 / 12:44 pm

        I think the decline of SA saddens me more than anything else. It makes the Big 3 hegemony feel depressingly inevitable in the longer term. In 2014 SA’s position as Test no.1 made it easy to oppose the Big 3 takeover on the grounds of merit and natural justice. It felt righteous. Now that argument isn’t really there, for so many reasons that you have been outlining for months.

        I don’t think my outrage was widely shared at the time, but the canary in the coal mine came in 2012, when a Test series between England and SA was reduced to three Tests due to England squeezing in a “one-off” ODI series v Aus. That series ended up being a shootout for World Test no.1. For 17 years these two countries had never been separated by more than one Test, every Test series except the first one post-readmission had been at least 4 matches, and every series had at least one classic match (well, 99/00 was unforgettable for a different reason I guess).

        Every Eng v SA series since has been deeply ordinary, Rabada notwithstanding, and SA have played like a side with a handicap more often than not. And now their last two modern greats are gone.

        I can’t help but resent these developments. Mark especially has often pointed out on here that Test cricket post-2014 bears almost no comparison with the sport over the previous 20 years. Particularly the bowling. I think any one of 4 sides from the 90s or 5 from the 00s/early 10s would dominate today without breaking sweat.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. stephenfh Jul 6, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    A good read, thanks. I agree that showing some of The 100 on the BBC is a positive, although again the question is how much of one it will be. Its proposed timing is to start sometime mid-July, presumably after the Wimbledon fortnight, which gives it little more than a week before the Tokyo Olympics start on the BBC; with its in effect competitor sports also trying to get those who don’t know they like them yet to find out that they do. Competition to the glory moments in a few days, 5 or 6 weeks later in the case of The 100. This looks too long by a distance, when no-one knew how popular a CWC would be at first, the much remembered WI v AUS final in 1975 was two weeks after it started.

    Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 1:26 pm

        Yes,the Olympics will start then. If only some form of cricket were in the Olympics, thus ensuring it would be broadcast to 200+ countries …

        Liked by 1 person

        • stephenfh Jul 6, 2019 / 1:58 pm

          If The 100 was or at some point shrinks to T10….


  8. dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 2:53 pm

    Looks like JP ‘The Finisher’ Duminy will retire with a grand total of 0 ODI 50s in England.


    • thebogfather Jul 7, 2019 / 6:52 am

      Surely now is the time for D’Arthez to give us the eulogy that this loss to International cricket deserves…

      Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Jul 7, 2019 / 8:00 am

        Where to start? He played over 300 internationals, on the back of one innings in Australia, or rather one partnership with Dale Steyn, who made his career best of 76 in that partnership. Funnily enough I was on holiday at the time, in the Drakensberg (near the border with Lesotho), so I could not watch the game live, and only learned about it through a local newspaper.

        So obviously, the guy had the ability (as also evidenced by his First Class average). You don’t boast a 50+ FC average (excluding Tests) if you don’t have ability. What it does suggest, like his rather mediocre returns form ODIs (0 100s against teams in this World Cup, despite a career spanning 199 games), that he struggled with the mental aspect of the game, far more than anyone else (maybe Hick and Ramprakash come close, but they can at least argue that they have never been given the same selectorial backing JP was given). His averages are highest in T20Is, then ODIs and only then Tests.

        But of course there is more to the mental game than backing from selectors. Media, newspapers, his own expectations, doubts that may creep in, etc. In short the moment people expected something from him, he fell short, due to his own mental frailties. It is probably no coincidence, that the format he was best in, was T20 – where the loss of his wicket, due to the nature of the game was never going to be as important as in the longer formats.

        One can argue that his ODI stats are not helped by playing in the team with an inform Amla, AB de Villiers, Kallis and a number of other good batsmen, whenever the team had to rely on him to bail them out, the pressure seemed to have been too big. Failure after failure really did not endear him to the fans, thus putting more pressure on him. And that can become a vicious cycle.

        That is why in a career spanning a decade in Test cricket, there have been just two series in which he made more than 1 score of 50. One of which was his debut series, the other series was at home against a rather hapless Sri Lanka (back in 2016/17, if memory serves) – in the first there were no expectations, and Australia had not lost a series at home in more than a decade, and in the second the Sri Lankan bowling was rather weak (winning margins in those games were north of 200 runs).

        But obviously, given the lack of mental resilience, the selectors should have pulled the plug on his international career long before he himself did. No one in the general public understood why he was being picked time and again, after a consistent string of failures, or mediocre returns at best. As much as he drew the ire, the selectors are just as much to blame.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark Jul 6, 2019 / 6:28 pm

    This is getting interesting……

    Hold onto you hats folks because England might be playing Australia. What is more, Khawaja may have done a hamstring, and Stark was limping….

    119/4 chasing 325 and Khawaja is retired hurt….


    • dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 7:21 pm

      Australia need not worry. Not with Shamsi and Duminy bowling.


      • dArthez Jul 6, 2019 / 7:46 pm

        You have Rabada with 2 overs, Morris with 2, Pretorious with 4, with 7 overs to go, so you opt to bowl Shamsi’s filth. And that is probably an insult to filth.


        • Mark Jul 6, 2019 / 8:43 pm

          I’m glad you said that and not me. I couldn’t understand why Pretorious was left with 4 overs and a couple of wickets and the lowest average as it became clear he wouldn’t bowl his full quota.

          At one stage it loooked like everyone was going to be given a bowl. I’m still not sure if this is good for England or not?


    • Rooto Jul 6, 2019 / 7:33 pm

      Was about to post a message saying, “they’re going to bloody do it”. But now Warner is out after a great innings. SA getting through the wickets sufficiently. I really hope the booing is worked out of the spectators’ system (but I also really hope the Aussies lose).


  10. thebogfather Jul 7, 2019 / 9:55 am

    So, are you all ready for ‘The Edge’ ? (Coming to a cinema not very near you for one night only soon)
    See Flower smile, Sir Cookie mumble, LoveJoy not being humble, BigCheese meltiing, Trotty melting, Monty melting, Broady and Jimmy on the roundabouts and swings, KP just saying things…


    • Mark Jul 7, 2019 / 10:14 am

      They lost me with their idiotic hype and tag lines…….

      “This is test cricket like you’ve never seen it before.”

      Really? Or how about…..

      “The team helped redefine what success meant.”

      Oh please!

      “Between 2009 and 2013, the England Test cricket team rose from the depths of the rankings to become the first and only English side to reach world number one since ICC records began. Captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower took over a team including some of the true greats of the English game and transformed them into a phenomenal winning machine before the pressure and scrutiny began to fracture mind, body and soul.”

      Sounds like England cricket’s version of Escape to Victory. Who does Sly Stallone play?

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Jul 7, 2019 / 1:14 pm

        Numerous ‘trust’worthy hidden from the big screen stars up for the role… Mood Hoover, Big Cheese and Comma…


      • dArthez Jul 7, 2019 / 5:47 pm

        They also redefined the terms of failure in 2012. Think that was the first time a #1 ranked team were whitewashed in a series.

        That winning machine won all of 8 series (2 against Bangladesh, 2 against West Indies (both at home), 2 against Australia, 1 against Sri Lanka, and one against India), 6 of which were at home. In between they drew South Africa in South Africa (which was probably their best achievement of the time (how Strauss decided to bat first in the last Test of that series is still a mystery to me).

        If I am not mistaken, they only gained the #1 ranking after trashing a hapless India (with the notable exception of Rahul Dravid) in England. So as a #1 ranked team, they were whitewashed by Pakistan in the UAE, and beat West Indies in England, before losing to South Africa.

        If that is the definition of success as a #1 ranked team, I wonder how the makers of the film define failure. But maybe the clue is already here:

        As far as I know, England were ranked #4 at the beginning of 2009 (and even before the Ashes in Australia, they were ranked fourth). If those are the depths of the rankings, then pray tell why is everyone in the media so excited by the #4 ranked team nowadays? Yes, that is England in 2019.

        It was such a short period, and they were massively helped by the schedule (and playing Australia at their weakest in Australia, when conditions were rather unusual and advantageous to England as well). Not to say, getting to #1 was not an achievement, but as 2012 showed, South Africa were probably always the better side in the 2009 – 2013 period (just try to imagine who’d be picked for a composite XI over that period).

        Liked by 3 people

        • nonoxcol Jul 7, 2019 / 9:10 pm

          Shush. Don’t question the genius of Andy Flower.

          The greater achievement for me will always be going from the actual bottom of the world rankings in 1999 to first of all win in Pakistan in 2000, and then to create the team of 03-05 which won in SA and beat an Australian side only very slightly past its peak (Waugh had retired, Gillespie was shot, Clarke was not yet what he became, everyone else present and correct).

          But all of that was achieved without Sky money and the Godlike Teflon Genius of course.

          Liked by 1 person

          • dArthez Jul 8, 2019 / 7:54 am

            Agreed on the 2000-2005 period. Sure Waugh had retired, and Gillespie was not as good as he used to be. But that was still a formidable Australian side, and not easy to beat at all (it took a few more retirements before they finally lost a series at home).

            At the end of the 2005 Ashes, the sport had captured the public imagination. Don’t think the same held when England got to #1 after defeating a really poor Indian side in 2011. And the public imagination is crucial: it directly feeds into participation and interest in the wider game. The current malaise in English cricket can be viewed as a result of that.

            Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Jul 7, 2019 / 5:14 pm

      “Often hilarious”.

      Not if Lovejoy has anything to do with it.

      (But I am willing to bet they think the sprinkler dance is the film’s comedy highlight)


    • Marek Jul 7, 2019 / 7:25 pm

      Fucking hell. I made it as far as the first paragraph!

      “Cricket is a special game. Fast and slow. Long and short. An art and a science. A test of body and mind. A team game, where individuals perform. It is a simple game, with layers of complexity”.

      It’s written by Chris Morris, isn’t it? “Y’see Waj, when you THINK it’s fast, it’s actually slow, and when you think it’s slow, it’s actually fast PRETENDING to be slow…”


      • nonoxcol Jul 7, 2019 / 9:13 pm

        Stimulation of Shatner’s Bassoon by biologically metasturbile drugs (cake, for example) does indeed alter one’s perception of time.


        • Marek Jul 8, 2019 / 11:04 am

          Would taking too much cake make 20 turn into 16.4 in your opinion?

          And for everybody, or only women, children and South Asians?


  11. dArthez Jul 7, 2019 / 2:44 pm

    For the sake of the ECB (and the tournament) let’s just hope the England men do better than the ladies today. 21/6, chasing 270, after 9 overs. Perry already has a 5-wicket haul.


    • Metatone Jul 7, 2019 / 4:38 pm

      Sad thing about women’s cricket is that right now only Aus have a decent domestic setup and it shows very much. England have a semi-pro setup and that puts them ahead of many of the other countries, but you can see the gap. And of course England peaked successfully for the World Cup and are half-rebuilding.

      (India have a lot of talent but the domestic situation is just so bad when you consider the amount of money floating around Indian cricket.)


      • Metatone Jul 7, 2019 / 4:39 pm

        Notably, shows very much across a series. England and India were both able to peak in the knockout format of the last WC.


  12. Metatone Jul 7, 2019 / 4:40 pm

    Random thought inspired by the collapse of the England Women (Cricket) against the Aussies and watching the USA women roll over the Netherlands (football) – actually one-sided contests aren’t that much fun unless you’re a fan of the winning team (and sometimes not even then…)


  13. nonoxcol Jul 8, 2019 / 7:14 am

    Now then, what were we saying about the Guardian BTL and Sky last week?

    Just a few comments in, and we get this. A particularly special example, i think TLG will agree:

    “World cup package was 30 quid… thats less than one pound, 100pence, a quid a day…
    Most of the people whining on here spend 3 times that or more of a fucking latte or a vegan wrap most days.
    For a pound you get 10 hours or more cricket. Thats 10p per hour..”

    For the record, I would just like to clarify that I don’t drink coffee and I make my own sandwiches for work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thelegglance Jul 8, 2019 / 9:14 am

      Indeed a fine example.

      Interesting part of that article is Marks saying how touchy Sky and the ECB are about this subject. One of their ilk has been extremely touchy about this particular post. Weird behaviour.


      • Mark Jul 8, 2019 / 11:56 am

        Well they shouldn’t keep calling themselves “partners” then! They decided to promote themselves as a joint lot , so they will both have to take the criticism.

        There is a bigger question for me, which is……who exactly is running English cricket? Because if securing the biggest amount of money means you give away pretty much all control as to when, and how cricket is broadcast then it is not unreasonable to enquire if Sky are calling the shots?

        I find it bizarre that the governing body of a major sport has just let their own home World Cup (something they have claimed his a huge deal to the point where they have cleared the decks for this competition ) be left to the vagaries of TV executives deciding they might bung the final on free to air. Where is Harrison’s grand plan, and stratergy he earns his large salary for?

        Metatone makes the important point that it’s not about who can pay, and who can’t, it’s about growing the game (something the governing body claims to care about)

        I get pissed off when people start trying to break down the cost of things. I wonder if the genius who has no problem paying for his cricket, and can’t wait to tell everybody else how cheap it is will mind paying £30 the next time he wants to see a doctor? After all, it’s only a few coffees, and seeing the doctor is more important than watching cricket..

        Perhaps all those football fans who buy replica shirts of their team should first pay for their health care? After all, football shirts are not that important are they?


    • Metatone Jul 8, 2019 / 10:21 am

      It’s remarkable that people can’t get it that it doesn’t matter if I pay and watch or decide to not pay and not watch, the point about FTA is that people who don’t know the game well get exposed.

      Look at the viewing figures and attendance figures over the last couple of years for women’s football and you can see what a challenge growing a participation and fan base is… but progress is being made and FTA is definitely part of that.

      As I’ve noted, I actually had a NOW TV voucher that made paying for this WC decent value – although it’s only really true b/c I’ve been working from home a lot. But also, I’ve been a cricket fan all my life. If someone had said “pay an equivalent, it’s good value, to watch the World Cup of Baseball” I probably wouldn’t, even though I quite like baseball.


      • thelegglance Jul 8, 2019 / 10:32 am

        Yes. I have Sky, I can afford Sky. My opposition to the game being behind a paywall the last 15 years is absolutely nothing whatever to do with my monthly bills.


  14. Leningrad Cowboy Jul 8, 2019 / 9:54 am

    Did anyone else watch the programme about the 2005 Ashes series that was on Channel 4 yesterday evening? It didn’t offer much that hasn’t been said before, but a couple of things stood out to me:

    1) How downbeat Simon Jones was looking back at the series compared with the rest of the team (understandable considering that he never played for England again after the match at Trent Bridge).

    2) Michael Vaughan’s statement that he ‘blagged it’ as captain in the series, which supports the analysis that he was more of a lucky captain than a good one.


    • Metatone Jul 8, 2019 / 10:08 am

      Recipe for a “great” England captain = 1 batter like Kevin Pietersen, 1 opener like Tresco, 1 allrounder like Flintoff, a couple of bowlers in the form of his life with special talent like Jones and Flintoff and a supporting cast of decent talent generally in good form…


      • thelegglance Jul 8, 2019 / 10:12 am

        I’d argue that was why Nasser Hussain really was a great captain. He didn’t have any of that, and dragged them up by their bootstraps to be competitive with everyone bar a far superior Australia.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Metatone Jul 8, 2019 / 10:22 am

          Yes, I’d agree… although in both cases I realise I left out a key ingredient that I think was very important:

          Recipe for a great England captain = a coach like Duncan Fletcher.

          Liked by 2 people

  15. pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 9, 2019 / 6:58 am

    Hi all. Just returned from a long weekend, there match cricketing tour of the Netherlands. It has to be said that it was a destination of choice for rather a lot of the team given the availability of certain herbal products. Anyway three rather contrasting opponents. The first side was mainly Dutch with a big hitting Aussie opener threatening to win the game single handed until he tried one big hit too many.

    The second game was against a team with a significant South Asian contingent. The third side was a mixture of Dutch, Asian and South African with the Saffers introducting a rather worrying drinking game for those who commit grave errors in the field.

    I asked the Dutch guys about the absence of freely available cricket on English domestic tv (that they used to pick up) and whether or not that had affected visibility and participation. They said unequivocally that it had and it was no surprise. The increase in South African and South Asian communities has kept the game going but it is hard to see it being self sustaining. The game there is increasingly short form based with coloured clothing and the red ball going out of fashion.

    Some of the facilities were top notch, especially in Utrecht and municipal multi sports clubs seem to be supported by the wider community. Seems a really good setup but can’t see that type of thing ever being popular with the private orientated culture we have here. shame really.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dArthez Jul 9, 2019 / 10:32 am

    Undoubtedly it used to help that cricket was broadcast on the BBC (which is easily accessible in the Netherlands).

    Cricket is pretty much invisible in the Netherlands. Even if the Netherlands make it to a World Cup, at best they get a 2-minute segment at the end of the sports programme (which tends to be dominated by football). Participation numbers are low (slightly over 5000 people across the country), so obviously the numbers do justify that. That does not even compare favourably with local sports like ‘kaatsen’, which is pretty much limited to one sparsely populated province in the country. Even boxing and ice hockey, sports for which the Netherlands is not exactly known, have more membership than cricket. Cricket is slightly more popular than 10 x 10 draughts (and when is the last time anyone saw anything draughts in the media?) Even rugby is bigger than cricket, and I don’t think the Netherlands ever even qualified for the World Cup.

    I think it would also be useful to look at another typically British sport (snooker), to see how much difference accessible broadcasting makes to playing numbers and interest in the game across Europe. Even getting cricket on such a platform as Eurosport, flawed as it is, could provide a more than welcome boost. It even worked for sumo, which is not exactly a traditional European sport. As always the ECB (as being the only Full Member board in the whole of Europe, until Ireland got elevated to Full Membership recently) and the ICC are happily selling off the future of the game for 30 pieces of silver, the consequences be damned.

    Due to the limited numbers, and limited exposure it is hard to raise the profile of cricket, or to get access to funding (sponsorship and otherwise). The ECB’s (in particular) insistence that cricket should not be Olympic does not help either, both in terms of funding (I am guessing that would be at least 300 000 Euros, if not more for the Dutch cricketing board alone) as well as visibility.

    So it is really not surprising that the sport ends up being sustained by the expat community. It is very hard to get interested in a game you don’t know (and pray tell, who would fork out a small fortune for television coverage for a random sport they don’t know? All these people who’d say it is just 30 pounds for a Now TV subscription, would they happily part with 30 pounds if they got the equivalent of clay pigeon shooting, go, or some other sport they have never even heard of?). I am not even sure if there is a legal way to get access to live cricket coverage in the Netherlands!

    The best hope for the Dutch is that they do reasonably well in the ODI league, and get some good results, so that the profile of the game is increased. Even if they have to field 2 or 3 South Africans, and a number of Aussies to get there (the side that beat Zim contained among others a few young Aussies, and Roelof van der Merwe). But even then it will remain a struggle, as obviously there is no capacity to develop a fully professional domestic setup. Even if the next AB de Villiers happened to be a Dutchman, he’d need to have at least 6 or 7 decent colleagues before anyone in the wider game will notice him (that is the bane of team sports, when you’re from a small country).

    Liked by 1 person

    • pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 10, 2019 / 9:52 am

      Thanks for that, nothing you said above comes as a surprise to me. I got told that the player base was around 5k and that was the official club membership. There are probably more expats playing unofficially but that doesn’t help the common themes. You mentioned snooker, but I thought darts was the big one, a quintessentially British pastime that is now very popular in Netherlands and they’ve had a whole host of very successful players.

      However if there is going to be no TV outlet for people to see cricket, and I don’t know how darts has grown in NL, then as you say there is little prospect of people being drawn to the game. Baseball is reasonably well followed there and one guy had recently taken up cricket and played as a wicketkeeper having taken on a similar role (backstop?) within that sport. I know we have a few baseball fans here so they can put me right on it?


      • dArthez Jul 11, 2019 / 4:29 am

        Sorry for the late response.

        With darts, it was mostly due to Raymond van Barneveld, who was very good, and got far in the World Championships (not the PDC, the other organisation – the name slipped my mind). Think he won that World Championship a number of times, and the result is that the playing base grew tremendously. That is why you see quite a few Dutch players in these professional darts tournaments these days, and doing pretty well too.

        As it is a simple game to play (just 3 darts and a board), it is very easy for people to come and try. Or even buy a board and some darts and play at home. It is a simple to play game, and that helps to popularise the game. Darts is pretty popular. Not exactly mainstream, but the television audience figures for tournaments are pretty decent (judged by non-football coverage numbers).

        I don’t think the comparison is entirely fair to cricket, which requires some infrastructure (a snooker table is not exactly something everyone can put in their house, especially in the Netherlands). And while Dutch sporting facilities are pretty good, it is not like there are many places where you have space to play a game of cricket. So an impromptu game of cricket is anything but easy to organise there, even if you have the equipment.

        The Dutch billiards board (which covers billiards, snooker and pool) now has about 33 000 members. And while pool is undoubtedly the most popular among the younger segment (due to the relatively straightforward nature of the game). Snooker is still not big in the Netherlands. But the game is being played, even informally.
        With a sport like snooker it takes time (due to the game being multifaceted) for talent to come through. Just like cricket there are obstacles that people have to overcome (it is not a cheap sport to take up; in the case of cricket you need to find people to play with as well). But with the strategies in place, tournaments being held all over Europe, they are moving in the right direction. It is a long term strategy, but one that will pay off in the long term.

        So obviously between snooker and darts, it is easier and cheaper to popularise darts, and get people playing. Which points to the fact, that coverage would really help. Because at the moment, the only way “local” people get in touch is either by hanging out with members of the passionate ex-pat community, or by taking a gap year to South Africa / Australia or the subcontinent. That makes it impossible to grow the game in a structured, planned manner.


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