October 18, 2013

Cricket: run by bankers

Why the game could use more experts from the world of high finance

English cricket is jolly pleased with itself that it has appointed Paul Downton, the former England wicketkeeper turned banker. Here's how Mr Downton can turn his experience in the City to cricket.

1) Like banking in the UK, cricket knows that it has to attract the top talent from around the globe, no matter what the cost. Expect generous incentives for foreign cricketers to come and play here, although their player registrations will, of course, be held in the Seychelles.

2) Cricket has far too many arcane rules. Under the Downton regime, expect cricket to be deregulated to let cricketers do whatever they want, unimpeded by laws.

3) With its finger on the pulse of the nation, the ECB knew what the public wanted: to see a banker finally catching a break. It's understood that their first-choice appointment, an estate agent who also does a bit of tabloid journalism on the side and led a colourful life as a BBC pop music presenter in the 1970s, was unavailable.

4) It is hoped that Mr Downton will use his connections in the finance world to deliver the one thing that can make watching cricket better in England: more City boys on a corporate jolly at Test matches.

5) It's understood that Mr Downton, using his experience from the world of banking, has negotiated a deal under which he will still get all his salary if England never win a game again. If England do win zero matches, he will receive an attractive bonus package as a reward.

6) Should Mr Downton and the ECB waste all their £100million-pound budget, it is understood that the taxpayer will underwrite any losses and ensure that bonuses are still paid on time.

7) Self-regulation has been successful in finance and can be applied to cricket as well. To ensure that run totals continue to increase game-on-game, umpires are to be chosen by batsmen and given serious powers to regulate run-scoring, with penalties of up to one run knocked off the team total if a batsman is clean-bowled three balls in a row.

8) Encouraging signs are already in place, with England's seam bowling attack widely held to be "too big to fail".

9) Under Mr Downton, any fan wishing to attend the Lord's Test and eat lunch there will have an expert re-mortgage adviser on hand.

10) The most obvious immediate impact of the new Downton regime is the rumour that Giles Clarke is delighted he's no longer the biggest merchant banker in English cricket.